Monday, January 31, 2011

Saginaw, the cussin'ist place in Michigan

Daniel Huffman has created a map of profanity in the United States. Grain of salt: the ranking is based on per capita normalized tweets of curse words. You can see the entire map below or download the .pdf (12 mb). I have to wonder though, what's everybody so upset about in Saginaw.

Better with age?

More in books today: Nicholas Delbanco, University of Michigan English professor, discusses his most recent book at the downtown Borders tonight at 7 PM. "Lastingness" investigates the effect of age on the work of the artist. The Times calls the book "more amuse-bouche than meaty repast," but the subject matter in itself provides adequate fascination for this reader.

Palestinian doctor on Gaza

I previewed Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's discussion of his book, a personal history of his life in the Gaza Strip and his vision for the region, for the Michigan Daily this week. The book starts from a very personal place: three of his daughters and his niece were killed by an Israeli tank shell in his home. After speaking with Abuelaish about his story, I started reading the book myself.

Abuelaish will speak at the Michigan Theater at 7 PM this Wednesday.

Miserable northern winter

Guess what city the commentor is talking about. Drum roll please... Ann Arbor! Perhaps it's that the video is set to a pretty dreary song. It is always interesting to see an outsiders perspective on Ann Arbor.

I feel like I should say something about technology and the democratization of media here...

Snowpocalypse tomorrow?

Yesterday's NOAA 3 day composite probability map. The top right panel says there is at least a 70% chance of at least 20 cm (8") snow accumulation. The bottom left panel says there is at least a 40% chance of 30 cm (12") snow accumulation. Looks like we could be in for some snow.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cedar Rapids

EJ and I went to see locally filmed Cedar Rapids on Friday at the lovely Michigan Theater. Overall, the movie was pretty damn funny and painted Midwesterners as loveable, good-natured, and somewhat naive. Spoiler alert! John C. Reilly is topless more often than not in the movie, so if that's a turnoff then you might want to skip Cedar Rapids when it makes its way back to Ann Arbor in early March.

Happy Sunday

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The mystery deepens

Oh London Homicide, if you only knew the truth. Seems nice enough though and He's got a show tonight at the Pig.

Bike Porn

Mmmm the cojones on that mountain bike... This picture was taken during the Art Fair by Tim Chilcote. Thanks Tim!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ann Arbor is...

According to this video Ann Arbor is a lot of things. According to the Google, "Ann Arbor is":
...a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County.
...'most desirable address in the region'
For mural lovers and mural artists, Ann Arbor is the place to be
...partnering with RecycleBank.
...Ready to Go

Good to know Google.

A shout out to the Chronicle for pointing us to the video.

Heart Graffiti jewelry at Renaissance this Sunday

My phone call with Sara Jones, president and founder of Ann Arbor jewelry company Heart Graffiti, ended before I even knew what was going on. You can tell a lot about a person by the way she ends a call: some people kind of putz around, waiting for the other person to pull the trigger; some people will talk forever, and you feel rude cutting them off because it's been an hour and a half and you have to get to the gym before it closes. Personally, I do the passive-aggressive "Well, I guess I have to let you go," as if, given the opportunity, I would spend the rest of my life on the phone with that person.

Jones is completely no-nonsense: "I have to be off the phone now." As in, she allotted half an hour of my busy life for this call, and now that half an hour is over, so she's going to her next appointment.

And then she's gone.

You have to admire that.

On invasive species

On a debate is raging. Saline residents are concerned for a local swan that may be injured. Initially, locals worried the swan was unable to eat, but they have successfully been feeding the bird organic lettuce. So here's the kicker the sawn in question is an invasive mute swan. Most swans in Michigan now are mute swans, they have driven down populations of the native trumpeter swan. Here's the kicker: the DNR classifies mute swans as invasive nuisance species, so it's illegal to rehabilitate these pests. People are outraged that the animal might die. It has a mate, it makes babies! Really folks? You are saying we need to give this invasive species medical care because it is a successful reproducer? People we need to be smarter than this. Just because an animal is cute doesn't mean it can't cause substantial disruption to native ecosystem processes.

Bike Porn

More Bike Porn! This time submitted by a reader (Ely Taylor). On the left we have a 1979 Raleigh Super Course with a flip-flop rear wheel. On the right a Surly Cross-Check showing some great bar tape. Spotted in front of the Dana Building.

Fell free to submit any pictures of hot bikes you see around Ann Arbor to DAMN (dot) ARBOR (at) GMAIL (dot) COM

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Michigan's dying cities, a rebuttal

Newsweek's article on dying cities earlier this week has stirred some resentment in Michigan. As it turns out, Grand Rapids is not in fact dying. In a letter to Tina Brown, the article's author, Mayor George Hartwell writes:
Dying city? Surely Newsweek must be joking! Would a major medical School (Michigan State University School of Human Medicine) move its campus to a dying city? Would a dying city have seen $1.4 Billion in downtown construction in the past seven years?...Would a dying city have more LEED certified buildings per capita (2009) than any other American city?

The Mayor goes on to invite Tina to visit the G.Rap for the Lady GaGa concert this spring. Good job touting your cities accomplishments Mayor, but you forgot one key point: would rapper-turned-movie-star Curtis "50-cent" Jackson be buying a house in a dying city? We think not.

Just an inch

Two weeks ago, I took advantage of the free classes offered at the grand opening of the Center for Yoga's campus location, attending three Hot Vinyasa classes between Friday and Sunday. The studio space is simple and no-frills, and the location right off State Street is very convenient. I made a friend, dragged along some friends and in general had a very positive experience in some very close quarters among some very impressive yogis.

Until my final class on Sunday evening.

Crime wave

Does this really require a police report?

There is an editorial in the Michigan Daily today about the crime wave sweeping Ann Arbor. It begins by saying: "While it’s no Detroit, it’s no secret that Ann Arbor hasn’t exactly felt like the safest place lately." Really?

South by Southeast

Too often we end up stuck in 48104. I am not especially fond of driving, but I am even less fond of drunk driving - and thus it's hard to go out further afield than downtown Ann Arbor. Sure, we have our favorite bars, but too often they become our default choices.

Winter morning

From ImageMD's flickr.

Bike Porn

Saw this hot Rivendell Bleriot yesterday on the Diag. I think I need to work on my photo skills thought. Should have snapped a close up of the fenders and lug work.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Michigan!

Today Michigan turns 174. Wondering how to honor the momentous occasion? First I would recommend learning about our tumultuous path to statehood. Remember folks, a certain neighbor to the south (Ohio) blocked Michigan's statehood for several years because of a little border dispute.

Second, I would recommend checking out U of M's Water Semester keynote speaker Sylvia Earle. Sylvia is a world renowned oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and 2009 TED prize winner. The Sturgeon General's lecture is entitled "The World is Blue." What better way to celebrate Michigan's birthday than by learning about our state's most valuable resource: fresh water. Sylvia's lecture is at 7:30 pm tonight in Rackham Auditorium.

Photo via erikadotnet

Locally filmed movie showing locally

The 2011 Sundance Film Festival USA rages on at the Michigan Theater, with the shorts polishing up tonight. Tomorrow night will be the first full-length film, Win Win, starring Paul Giamatti as an attorney/high school wrestling coach engaging in some shady dealings.

That's all well and good, but we're really looking forward to seeing Cedar Rapids, which plays Friday and was filmed in town. We played "I know that place!" with the trailer, and we'll play it with the movie.

Thermostat set to: skinny

In the winter, we usually keep our thermostat well below 60 degrees. This is attributable to two facts: (1) we are environmentally conscious students who are concerned about our energy consumption but mostly (2) we are environmentally conscious students who don't have any money. And our house leaks hot air like Rush Limbaugh at a pride parade.

But wait! It turns out we're not being cheap! We're just being thin.

Politics by myse-elf

Every third Tuesday of the month, I trudge over to cover the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees meeting for The Washtenaw Voice. Usually, I'm the only student there. And when there are other students there, they are, for the most part, either other writers for The Voice or receiving some sort of recognition.

I get why nobody comes to these meetings. They're super boring, and half the time, the real, meaty news of the meeting is presented like the most vanilla stuff in the world. New parking structure worth millions? Motion to pass, everyone mumbles in happy agreement and we're already onto things like watching a presentation about the most recent golf outing fundraiser. Color me captivated.

Even so, these people are deciding what to do with many Washtenaw County citizens' tax dollars. And the whole board, save for the one current appointee, was voted into office by the area. Yes, you, Ann Arborites, made it your business to go out and vote for these people, if you voted at all.

It's time you all started giving a shit.

LED street lights on the national scene

LED street light on William between Division and Fifth

National Geographic has an interesting story about Ann Arbor's LED street lights. I've always been a fan of LED street lights--not only are they more efficient than high pressure sodium lamps, they produce higher quality light too--before reading the article though, I never really knew the difficulties involved for a municipality to switch over to LEDs. Specifically, most street lights are owned by utilities and unmetered. When Ann Arbor began switching out its old high pressure sodium lights, DET kept billing the city at the same rate. It is interesting to see stumbling blocks a city encounters when trying to switch over to a more environmentally and economically sustainable product.

This brings me to my question: does anyone know what the little blue lights are for on the backs of the street lights on William between Division and Fifth (picture above)? At first I thought they were LED throwies, but upon further examination I think they may be part of the light.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Audrina Patridge wants to make Detroit the new "it" city. Or at least that's what ET is reporting. The reality star (apparently she was on "The Hills") is moving to The D to film her new web series "Dream Maker" about a talent manger who moves from Hollywood to Detroit. While I like seeing things that showcase the region in a (hopefully) good light, I'm a little confused. Since when did people start moving to places to film web series? I thought a web series was something you filmed in your backyard when you had no budget.

Photo credit: Glenn Francis,

Ragstock: the clothing store for people who hate clothing stores

I am not a good shopper. I attribute this condition to my earliest memories of shopping, as my mother and grandmother speed-walked through department stores at the mall, fingering through clothing racks and performing some fashion-quality-price-size calculus in their heads as I tried on fancy hats. I had a hard time believing that any of the clothes I saw on the mannequins could become clothes I wore. "Do you see anything you like, Erika?" I just didn't know. My sweaters were all at home in my closet; why did I have to try to come to terms with this new sweater that I knew nothing about, that knew nothing about me? And why this sweater, above all the other sweaters in the store? What about the sweaters in other stores?

I also had trouble picking out ice cream flavors.

Dying cities

Three Michigan cities made Newsweek's list America's Dying Cites: G.rap #10, Flint #9, and Detroit #7. Newsweek's list stings a little bit, but it's important to keep in mind their ranking was based only on percentage decline in population between 2000 and 2010. While declining population can certainly contribute to a city dying, it doesn't really capture the big picture of life in that city. Case in point: Pittsburgh, Forbes 2010 most livable city in US, beat all the cities in Michigan earning the number six spot on the list.

Brennan biographer at the law school

Stephen Wermiel, American University Washington College of Law professor and half of the writing team of the recent Brennan biography, will speak about his book, Brennan, the Court (past, present, future) and his own career at the law school today at 12:20 PM.

I got a sneak preview last night when the law school chapter of the American Constitution Society took Wermiel out to Sava's. Highlights from dinner:

Learning to love the helmet

All too often I see people riding their beloved bikes without their trustworthy helmets. I know the feel of wind in your hair is great, but check out these figures from A Case-Control Study of the Effectiveness of Bicycle Safety Helmets:
Of the 99 cyclists with serious brain injury only 4 percent wore helmets. In regression analyses to control for age, sex, income, education, cycling experience, and the severity of the accident, we found that riders with helmets had an 85 percent reduction in their risk of head injury (odds ratio, 0.15; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.07 to 0.29) and an 88 percent reduction in their risk of brain injury (odds ratio, 0.12; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.04 to 0.40).
We conclude that bicycle safety helmets are highly effective in preventing head injury. Helmets are particularly important for children, since they suffer the majority of serious head injuries from bicycling accidents. (N Engl J Med 1989;320:1361–7.)

Makes you want to grab that helmet.

Conference Center or Central Park

Despite our abundance of parks, Down Town does lack green space. A group is calling for the city to build a central park on top of the controversial library lot. I think it would be nice to have more green space downtown, but at the same time I imagine the city would like to bank on the property taxes of an expensive commercial property.

Image via A Central Park for Ann Arbor

Monday, January 24, 2011

What do you want downtown to be?

DDA member Newcombe Clark tweeted this last night, and I thought I would pass it on to you gentle readers. What do you want downtown Ann Arbor to be? What would you like to see there in the future?

Personally I would like to see density increase gradually, more stores to buy regular things (i.e. wastebaskets, Cheerios) and of course more bicycle parking.

Celebrity spotting in Ann Arbor

With The Dark Knight Rises and The Ides of March being filmed in the area this spring, you can see why the blog George Clooney Slept Here says Ann Arbor is quickly becoming one of the best places to spot celebrities. If you would like to increase your chances of meeting a celeb, you could try your hand at being an extra.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Parks

Rep. David Agema (R-Grandville) would like to divert 80% of funds from Michigan's Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for road and airport improvements. He also says, "It’s getting to the point where the state of Michigan will own the state and the people won’t.” I can't see how this plan could negatively impact the state's $17.5 billion tourist industry, especially in light of the $200 million maintenance backlog for state parks.

Human Trafficking in Ann Arbor

I'm pretty sure there isn't human trafficking in Ann Arbor, but the Michigan Journal of International Law is hosting a symposium on the topic on February 4 and 5 at Michigan's law school. Full disclosure: I am on the editorial board for MJIL so this is kind of a shameless plug, but nonetheless I invite all of Damn Arbor's loyal followers to attend.

The speakers are some really prominent people in the field of human trafficking monitoring, including Luis CdeBaca, who was appointed by President Obama to the position of Ambassador-at-Large to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Other speakers include law professors and the heads of non-profits.

There will also be free food! Visit the journal's website for the full schedule.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Taco Carts Coming Soon to Ann Arbor

What's next, pupusas? But seriously, Downtown Home and Garden will be featuring food carts starting this April. I'm salivating.

Photo via J. Stephen Conn

Saturday is a great day for samples at Whole Foods.

News from the Ground Up

The homeless, a growing population across the United States, particularly Michigan, is left without a voice. The prevailing attitude seems to be that if you are homeless it is entirely your fault or, at the very least, "not my problem." That's a viewpoint that alleviates the guilt we feel as we rush past to deal with our busy days and our own financial situations. It takes more effort, physically and emotionally, to care about and help others when most feel they have very little to spare to begin with.

Groundcover News looks to give marginalized viewpoints a voice. As part of the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA) they are informing the public about homelessness and poverty while employing those suffering because of it. The vendors are hard to miss; look for neon green shirts on busy street corners downtown. You buy a paper and your street vendor gets 75% of the profits. Help give these unique, and often ignored voices, an audience and a chance to get back on their feet.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ann Arbor: A Place for Bikes

This map confirms it.

More @ People for Bikes

The Credit Fairy

I was reading for class in the Union when an older man in a Viking hat handed me a tiny piece of paper telling me to visit a site and vote for"The Credit Fairy." Here is the 90-minute video about the evils of credit cards that I found there:

Apparently, there's some kind of contest to "Shred Your Credit Card." The random sampling of the entries I partially watched were all weird.

But not as weird as this one's Viking theme.

Nobody Say the "G-Word"

A feud between two groups of people that leads to a series of shootings? Why that sounds a lot like a...

Read more here.

Taking the bitter with the 'sweetie'

While she was interviewing him about his retirement from the Senate, Joe Lieberman called Arianna Huffington "sweetie."

State of the State reporter Ryan Stanton has some great pictures of the State Capital building up on his blog. As for the State of the State, you can read more about it here.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Stanton

A leopard in wolverine country

With no intent to rip off As Seen in Ann Arbor, I would like to feature this bit of street fashion I came across walking home from school the other day. Behold Andrew, whose Paul-Bettany-in-A-Knight's-Tale bit of flair caught my eye. He bought it at Value World, a staple in the local thrift scene. "I don't think they'll be getting any more like this anytime soon," Andrew said.

Is RiSny's Commitment to Rail Waning?

In a recent interview with, Governor Rick Snyder gave a noncommittal response when asked about the viability of high speed rail in Michigan. Transport Michigan is worried:
Michigan needs a 21st-century transportation system. A commitment to "look pretty hard at it" is not enough. We've been "looking" at various transit systems for about a century.

Owl Fail

You can go ahead and skip to 0:21. There the commercial calls these owls "Snow Owls." Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they meant snowy owls. Unfortunately those are not snowy owls, they are in fact barn owls. I think GoalieMonster45 put it best:

Indeed GoalieMonster. Does no one in advertising do basic research? I was pretty sure everybody knew what snowy owls looked like because of HP.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Goodbye Restaurant Week. You've been good to us.

Ann Arbor Movie News

Pierce Brosnan as a Holy Roller in Salvation Boulevard--Creepy

Locally filmed Salvation Boulevard, will premiere next week at Sundance. I'm super excited for this movie for three reasons. One, several scenes in it were filmed across the street from my house. Two, my brother did works with the props crew for the movie. Three, Marisa Tomei. Unfortunately, there are no trailers for Salvation Boulevard out at this time.


Why is this rotting pumpkin in the computer lab? It's hardly the season.

Grupo Corpo at the Power Center

Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo perform at the Power Center this Friday and Saturday at 8 PM. Grupo Corpo dances a mix of ballet, modern and samba. The weekend is filling up quick; we hope we can get student rush tickets to this performance!

Carless in Ann Arbor

I've just spent a 10-day stint without a car in our little town (which seems much bigger when you've only got a bicycle to get around). It was largely uneventful - I got a friend to drive me to Trader Joe's so I could get cheap food for a dinner party - but a little bit frustrating. Actually, that's generally how I imagine life in A2 to be without a car, or roommates with a car to borrow.

I didn't use the bus system, but I did bike distances much further than I would normally, including a two mile ride down Packard to watch Top Chef at the house of two friends. They worried about my returning home late on a cold January night with only some blinking lights to prevent an accident. Luckily, nothing remarkable happened.

The whole episode has certainly made me value my car more. I also wonder if the city might consider some improvements to the bus system (or other mass transit options) to help those without cars. I know BCB has blogged extensively about the city's plans, but are there other things local government might take into consideration?

Please Walk Bike

I see this sign everyday and I don't get it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

They took our post!

As Damn Arbor rises in prominence on the local media landscape, it is inevitable that haters will start hating. Such is the case today, when published an article about Under the Radar Michigan only 2 hours and 44 minutes after our own post on the same subject:

Sure, apologists will say the content of their article was fundamentally different than ours. They will say the similarity in timing of the posts is merely coincidence. That we probably just got the idea for our posts from the same place: a tweet from @zingermans this morning. But I trust that you, gentle reader, will be able to see through these falsehoods.

'The Babysitters Club' does Ann Arbor


In this post from The Hairpin, we learn what all of the babysitters (even Logan!) are up to now that they've reached the age of 37.


Saw this in The League. Reminds me a bit of when Biggby was unfortunately named Beaners. Seriously, why don't people think that calling caf├ęs "Bean-" might be a bad idea?

Is Zingerman's Under the Radar?

Found this gem on YouTube this morning. I don't know if I would call Zingerman's "under the radar." That is, unless you think U of M is Michigan's best kept higher education secret, or consider GM a regional manufacturing company. Still, Under the Radar Michigan looks like it could be a cool show.

Worst Comment of the Day

This one's a twofer! Never underestimate the ability of an article on climate science to bring out the crazies. First we have an entry from suyts:

First, he calls Heather, the article's author, "dear." Second, he confuses permanent snow extent with seasonal snowfall extent. Finally, he is a climate change denier.

Then we have Meme Mine:

Borders Stock Roller Coaster

Borders Stock Prices over the last month

The Detroit News is reporting that Borders Group stock fell 16% yesterday morning on reports that the company has hired a law firm to protect it from bankruptcy. I think the graph above speaks for itself.