Thursday, June 29, 2017

Ann Arbor Stories Walking Tour

Ann Arbor Stories is changing things up a bit this episode. Instead of just telling you about the city's history, Rich is taking you on a walking tour of Ann Arbor history. If you want to experience this episode in all its glory, you are going to want to download it and head on down to Fourth Street and Huron before hitting that play button. Be warned though, this episode contains references to sex, pornography, murder, riots, death, ghosts, gay bars, and bankers. Sounds really exciting.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Arbor Teas Summer Reading Series kicks off today

Last year Arbor Teas had their inaugural Summer Reading Series. For the series, they released a chapter of "The Wintree Waltz" once a week for 10 weeks. This year, the Summer Reading Series is back and there is a kick off event tonight at the Pittsfield Branch of the Ann Arbor District Library. For the reading series, local author David Erik Nelson is serializing his science-fiction novella “Expiration Date."

The Summer Reading Series Launch Party starts at 7:30 this evening and goes until 8:00.

Where is the best neighborhood fireworks display?

Apparently all of our file photos of fireworks images were actually Vines and they disappeared. Here's a graph showing fireworks related air pollution from our good friends at NOAA.

A new Ann Arbor resident asked /r/annarbor where the best local fireworks display is. The days of Ann Arbor's municipal fireworks show ended long ago and the discussion centered around which neighborhood has the best unofficial fireworks show. According to the redditors suggested Hunt Park and Burns Park have good fireworks displays on the 4th. I know there's usually a good show at Maryfield Wildwood Park on Ann Arbor's west side too. Gentle readers, where are your favorite neighborhood fireworks shows? Are there any in Ypsilanti? Since we are living in this libertarian-fireworks-hellscape, we might as well enjoy it, right?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Buddy's Pizza coming to Washtenaw County this Fall

Gentle readers, I have a confession: until last Tuesday, I had never eaten Buddy's pizza. I had the good fortune to attend a press event at Buddy's first Washtenaw County location, by the Meijer on Ann Arbor Saline Road. Detroit-style pizza has been gaining critical acclaim recently and Buddy's is where it all started, so it's exciting we'll be getting one soon.

The occasion for the press event was the hoisting neon sign at the new Buddy's location. You can see one of the three neon signs the restaurant will feature in the picture above.

Friday, June 23, 2017

German Park tomorrow

Gentle readers, the first German Park of the season is tomorrow night. German Park is located just north of town on Pontiac Trail. The club has public celebrations on the last Saturday of June, July, and August. If you've never gone, it's a great place to drink beer from buckets, polka, and watch traditional German folk dances. If you're lucky, you might even see some traditional Bavarian slap dancing.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Geraldine Seeback's Music Mobile today on Ann Arbor Stories

Rich Retyi's got a new Ann Arbor Stories for you. Today's episode is all about Geraldine Seeback and her converted Ford Condor motorhome that provided music lessons on wheels. Also, if you're playing the AADL Summer Game, you won't want to miss this episode. There are sound effects in this episode that offer clues to questions on the AADL Summer Game site.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Affordability and gentrification in Ypsilanti

Gentle readers, if you haven't yet, you should head on over to Concentrate and check out my first piece freelance journalism, Is there still time to nip Ypsi's affordability crisis in the bud?. Affordability and gentrification are really sticky topics and I appreciate the time all the interviewees took to speak with me for the article.

The most striking thing I learned writing the article was that while average rents in Ypsilanti rose 6.1 percent between 2006-2010 and 2010-2015, median household income dropped about 10 percent. The mean household income was essentially flat, growing 0.27% during the same time period. When you look at the time span, what you see in Ypsi incomes is what you see through a lot of the country of the country: an eroding of the middle. If you compare 2015 census data to 2010 census data, there are about 350 more households earning less than $35k as well as 80 households earning more than $150k. There was also a loss of about 400 households earning earning between $35k and $150k between 2010 and 2015.

The good news is that Ypsilanti is in a position to do something about gentrification. The investment that gentrification brings can be used to address some of the issues that gentrification creates. Hopefully there is enough political will to begin to construct a plan to fix some of these problems before it is too late.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Get hype for election 2017

Gentle readers, the 2017 Ann Arbor Primary Election is just around the corner: August 8th. Except for Ward 2, where incumbent Councilmember Jane Lumm is an independent, the August primary will in all likelihood determine the winner of the November general election. This is election is also super exciting because it's the last odd year city council election before the city switches only even year elections. Turnout will likely be low, which means your vote counts even more (relatively). If you want great information on the election, you should check out Ann Arbor Votes, a local voter education non-profit.

Here's a quick rundown of the important dates and as well as the candidates. Important dates:

Monday, July 10 -- last day to register to vote in the August Election
Saturday, August 5 -- deadline to request an absentee ballot application by mail
Monday, August 7 -- deadline to request an absentee ballot in person
Tuesday, August 8th -- Election day
Candidates for the August Primary:
Ward 1:
Anne Bannister, campaign website, campaign twitter
Jason Frenzel (incumbent), campaign website, campaign twitter

Ward 2:
Jared Hoffert, campaign website, campaign twitter

Ward 3:
Zach Ackerman (incumbent), campaign website, campaign twitter
Stephen Kunselman, campaign website, campaign twitter

Ward 4:
Jack Eaton (incumbent), campaign website, campaign twitter
Jaime Magiera, campaign website, campaign twitter

Ward 5:
David Silkworth, campaign website, campaign twitter
Chip Smith (incumbent), campaign website, campaign twitter

Remember to get out there and vote gentle readers.

Friday, June 16, 2017

We're in the Minimall

It’s been six years since Ann Arbor’s own Tally Hall released Good & Evil, but the protean quintet’s legacy lives on in LA-based five-piece Minimall, whose first EP dropped today.

HUH! features five tracks, from the upbeat and melodious “My Full Moon” to the grooving and pensive “Pyrrhic Victory.” The single, “Don’t Tell Me,” has a fiery drive and is an absolute hook-fest—with fuzzy synths, compelling harmonies, and cathartic rhythms.


Minimall’s sound is unmistakably Tally Hall-ish: quirky and whimsical, sincere even in its cheekiness, at times poignant and melancholy. Tally Hall called it “wonky rock,” Minimall calls it “kitsch pop,” but the spirit is more or less the same.

Each song occupies a unique space both sonically and lyrically, keeping the EP fresh through its roughly seventeen-minute length. Where Tally Hall tended to focus on grandiose themes and self-referential absurdism, Minimall feels more grounded, focusing instead on imagery and a sort of classical symbolism.

Take these lines from “Pyrrhic Victory,” the final track:
We’ve only got ourselves to blame
The cannons, they fall, and they rust in the rain
The day still spins, despite complaints,
And you won’t feel the same
It’s hard to write about Minimall without referencing its antecedent. It wasn’t so long ago, after all, that Minimall was an all-female Tally Hall cover band called Titty Hall (commence guffaws or groans depending on your taste in puns). Minimall’s name references Tally Hall’s namesake, a now-defunct Farmington Hills foodcourt, and even the group’s wardrobe—coordinated pastel letterman jackets—harkens to Tally Hall’s color-coded necktie and white shirt combo that was essential to their image.

Tally Hall's neckties.

And while many of the musical similarities can be attributed to songwriting, there’s an additional “secret” ingredient in the form of Bora Karaca, a long-time Tally Hall collaborator and University of Michigan alum who engineered three of the tracks on Minimall’s EP.

While all of these similarities are evident, Minimall has enough individuality to keep them from sounding derivative. Most bands spend their earlier, mimetic years a bit more subtly, but Minimall has so far found a happy balance between tribute and originality that I suspect will only tilt in their favor as they continue making music.

In the meantime, check out HUH! for a dose of energetic kitsch pop that is both unconventional and—for all those wistful Tally Hall fans—pleasantly familiar.



Minimall will be performing at Ghost Light in Hamtramck on 6/24.
You can purchase HUH! at http://minimall.bandcamp.com/album/huh.

Ann Arbor Book Festival Book Crawl in Ypsilanti tonight

The Ann Arbor Book Festival is this weekend. For part of the celebration there will be a book crawl tomorrow evening at Black Stone Bookstore & Cultural Center and the Downtown Ypsilanti Library. I recently had occasion to interview the Black Stone's proprietor, Carlos Franklin, for an article I'm writing and his bookstore is pretty great. I highly recommend checking the place out. The Ypsi part of the book crawl starts this evening at 5pm at Black Stone and continues to the Down Town Ypsilanti Public Library at 6pm. Both events will feature author talks.

The Ann Arbor Book Festival continues Saturday downtown in Ann Arbor. There is a downtown Ann Arbor book crawl, which starts at Blue Nile at 4pm. There is also the main Book Festival event during which the Washington between 4th and 5th will be blocked off. Check it out.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

PSA: Juneberry season

Whether you call them juneberries, serviceberries, shadberries, or saskatoon berries, you have to agree, the fruit of Amelanchier species are delicious. The fruit on the trees in the Ypsi-Arbor area are just approaching peak ripeness. If you've never tried one, you totally should. They taste like blueberry applesauce and are one of my favorite native fruits.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Nerd Nite tomorrow

June's A2 Nerd Nite is tomorrow at Live. The presentations will cover misconceptions about psychopaths, pacifying pathogens and malls. One of the presenters, Britain Woodman, has a cool new blog, a2retail, where he covers the retail scene in Ann Arbor. I know it sounds weird, but you should check it out.

Doors are at 6:30 and the talks start at 7:00. There's no cover thanks to the Ann Arbor District Library.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Debunking Ann Arbor's founding myths today on Ann Arbor Stories

John Allen

We all know the stor, John Allen and Elisha Rumsey founded Ann Arbor in 1824. They named their new town after their wives, who were both named Ann. It's a nice story, but If you want to dig a little deeper and learn about our founder's sordid pasts, you must listen to today's Ann Arbor Story: Dirty Rotten Founders. Spoiler alert: both of the founders had a history that involved fleeing debts.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

First Annual Ypsi Pride fest tomorrow

Ypsi Pride is tomorrow. For the event, they are blocking off Washington between Pearl and Michigan Ave. Ypsi Pride coincides with June's First Friday celebration. You don't want to miss either.