Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chorus Frogs

I was traipsing through my friend's woods this morning and found a pond full of chorus frogs. If you've never heard chorus frogs before, check out the video I took. They sound kind of like car alarms, but with better harmony.

Ann Arbor ephemera: Mayor Lewis' Diploma

Apparently my grandparents lived in a house built by George Lewis, the mayor of Ann Arbor from 1921-1924. Here's his diploma we found while cleaning out their house:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Celebrate International Tabletop Day with Vault of Midnight

Vault of Midnight is hosting celebrations for International Tabletop Day at high noon today. You should go because OG Wil Wheaton wants you to. Also, in the above video at 0:41 does the picture they use for the quad look familiar to you?

Wil Wheaton.

Market things

The market is 'happening' not just happening maybe due to the impending holiday. Tantre farm has put out a monthly digest, filled with writings and artings. Come enjoy the weather and local food.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Violin Monster is back

Ann Arbor's resident violin playing werewolf is back in town! Spring must really be here.

Via @ViolinMonster

Facebook users of Washtenaw County

Percent of users changing their profile picture to HRC's red equality sign. Darker indicates higher values.

You may have noticed everyone on your Facebook feed changing their picture to the HRC's red and pink equality symbol in support of the two marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court this week. Now, this may be because all your friends are uber-liberal and love showing it on facebook. Or it may be because all your friends live in Washtenaw County. Check it out:

Which counties saw the largest increases in profile photo changes? Much to our surprise, we found that Washtenaw County -- home of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the University of Michigan, this author's alma mater, topped the list. Our model estimated that approximately 6.2% of Facebook users who logged in from this county changed their profile photos in response to the campaign.
Hat tip: @rifferaff

Image via Facebook.

Edward II by The New Theatre Project

This weekend is your last chance to catch The New Theatre Project's bold adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's "Edward II" at the Mix Studio Theater in Ypsilanti. The source material follows the largely disastrous reign of a bratty king who struggles with his family, struggles with love, struggles with accepting a place in this world that he neither wants nor excels at. Jason Sebacher's script punches up these highly relatable themes for a decadent but ultimately substantive mix between a coming out story and "My Super Sweet Sixteen." It works.

The scene opens on decorative candles and a glittering cross on the wall, empty prescription bottles and booze huddled in a corner. It's the Sunday-morning bedroom of any hard-partying 20-something twink. Except this twink is King Edward (Chris Jakob), ruler of England. And Gaveston (John Denyer), his favourite, his lover--indisputably; TNTP's production does not play with this ambiguity the way the original material does--is coming home.

Meanwhile, Edward's queen (an impeccable Andrew Papa in drag, lording a few inches over the rest of the cast) is making a power grab. She can't control her otherwise-interested husband, so Queen Isabella lures his brother Kent (Artun Kircali) into her web, and they effect the downfall of Edward II. Isabella is an exciting character to watch. Her ruthlessness is utterly predictable, and yet still enthralling. Is she a woman wanting to rule as a man? A man who has to rule as a woman? It's a gender pretzel where Isabella's only hard-and-fast characteristic is her hunger for power. Delectable.

The veneer of the play shines a cold light on poor Edward, whose gallivanting seems reduced to reality-TV tropes and very privileged teen angst. "It's my country, it's my life!" he shouts; he might be arguing for more time on the Internet, or permission to take the car out on Saturday. But the core of the play is deeply sympathetic to the character, and the re-imagining of "Edward II" around the gay narrative feels natural and redeeming for the failed king. Things would have been different for Edward, this production suggests, in a different time.

Abigail Stauffer "We are Never Ever Eating Bad Together"

Can you spot your favorite farmers in Abigail Stauffer's music video? I see Nate and Jill from Green Things Farm dancing a bit. Shannon Brines from the eponymous Brines Farm is in the background of a shot too. You can find out more about the video's producers, Rap For Food, here.

Via: The Com.

Literati open soon

This is a really terrible picture. What you can't see is the hand written sign that says "Open Soon" on the door. I'm getting excited for the opening of Literati Bookstore.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The wonders of Craigslist's free section

Have you checked out the Ann Arbor Craigslist's free section? It has some pretty great stuff. There's the free trampoline above. A whitetail that wondered onto someone's yard and died. Expired contact lens solution and these 7 bottles of expired apple cider from 2011.

Pretty sweet, eh?

Hawk on the Diag

Saw this juvenile red-tailed hawk perched in the low branches of a kentucky coffeetree on the Diag yesterday. As you may expect, the resident squirrels were freaking the heck out.

Complete and Utter Bullshit

Like most people, I get sad and whiny and want someone else to feel worse than I am. Or be worse than I am. These moments are filled with googling celebrities and hoping they are devolving into slugs. Or looking at the news and wondering how four of nine supposedly smart people can be against gay marriage. During my perusing I found this.

Cut it out Arizona. Michigan has its own problems.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Carmelita Tropicana at Penny Stamps

So Alina Troyano is coming to Penny Stamps, and the description of the lecture is brief. It implies, at least to me, that she could be performing. If that's true, then Carmelita Tropicana will be at Penny Stamps. Carmelita is her stage presence, and she's quite powerful. Before seeing some of her videos I was more on the side of "performance art can't be funny only sad/overcompensating." However, this lady has made it her career to blend culture, art and humor. Performance is at 5:10, at the Michigan Theater and free.

Mark's Carts opening next week

In another sign that spring is nigh, Mark's Carts will be opening next Monday. They will also be welcoming two carts, Sachel's BBQ and El Manantial, which will specialize in Mexican Cuisine.

Why do people leave the Ypsi-Arbor area?

Have you ever wondered why folks choose to leave the greater Ypsi-Arbor area? If so you might want to check out Concentrate Media's event tomorrow night at Conor O'Neill's. Hosted, MC, will be conducting live exit interviews for four folks who have decided to leave the area for various reasons. It's like an IRL continuation of Mark's successful series of online exit interviews. Doors are at 4:45 and "[b]everages will be provided." Space is limited so RSVP through Concentrate's page.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nerd Nite 313

Hey all you Detroiters who occasionally stumble through Damn Arbor, I just thought I'd let you know that some of the fine folks from Nerd Nite A2 are working with Detroit Labs to launch Nerd Nite 313. The innagural event will be this Thursday, March 28th at Great Lakes Coffee Roasting. Doors are at 6:30 and cover is $5. I know Josh has enjoyed our local Nerd Nites so much that he has now presented at one. Though, maybe that was just for the free drinks.

Here's a little video of the first A2 Nerd Nite that might give you a flavor of what to expect:

We The Kings and Hellogoodbye at the Michigan Theater this Friday

Just got an email from Big Ticket Productions, a Umich student group that works to bring national acts to Ann Arbor. They are bringing We The Kings and Hellogoodbye to the Michigan Theater this Friday, March 29th. Tickets range from $20 to $30 and you can buy them by emailing This is pretty cool because it avoids the fees of going through Ticketmaster.

Monday, March 25, 2013

La Marche du Nain Rouge 2013, in pictures

There was a really good turnout for this year's Marche Du Nain Rouge despite chilly weather.


Thought it may not be ideal Oneron weather, these freezing nights and slightly warmer day give us ideal conditions for one of early spring's best treats: the maple sapcicle. With all the broken branches from the storm a few weeks back, I've seen trees that are literally dripping sap onto the sidewalk.

Oberon Day

So what if the high is only 39 and there is a good chance of snow? It's still Oberon Day--the official first day of the spring drinking season.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Legend of La Nain Rouge

La Nain Rouge is a Lutin--a kind of friendly, but potentially troublesome hobgoblin who haunts Detroit. Some say he has always haunted Le DĂ©troit, while others say he followed Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac here from France.

In Montreal in 1701, a fortune teller warned Cadillac of the troublesome dwarf:

"Shall my children inherit my possessions?" asked Cadillac, unconsciously giving utterance to the secret desire of his heart.

"Your future and theirs lie in your own hands, beware of undue ambition ; it will mar all your plans. Appease the Nain Rouge* (Red Dwarf). Beware of offending him. Should you be thus unfortunate not a vestige of your inherit- ance will be given to your heirs. Your name will be scarcely known in the city you founded."

Things were good for Cadillac until Mayday of 1707. On that fateful day, Cadillac finally encountered the Red Hobgoblin:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mitten Madness

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters are doing an interesting take on March Madness this year. In their Mitten Madness, they are letting people vote for their favorite natural features and recreation areas in the state. I'm a little worried about the East Side's ability to compete with the rest of the state.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Beasts of the Northern Wild

Animal Acts: Beasts of the Northern Wild is a "performance festival and symposium exploring the question of the animal through the lens of multimedia solo work." Sounds pretty cool. The performances are tonight and tomorrow at the Duderstadt Media Commons. Be warned though "Performances may include nudity, sexual content and viewer discretion is advised. No one under 17 will be admitted to the evening performances." May contain nudity? Oh Beasts of the Northern Wild, you tease.

U of M Soup

Inspired by Detroit Soup, the first U of M Soup will be this Saturday at Live. Here's the skinny: Soup is a monthly community dinner. You pay $5 and get a simple meal of soup and salad. During the evening, you'll hear proposals for micro-funding local projects. At the end of the night you vote and whichever project gets the most votes get's the money collected that night. Pretty cool. Here's the menu:

1. Lentil and butternut squash soup

2. Zingerman's bread rolls
3. Quinoa vegetable salad
4. Spinach garden salad
5. Zingerman's brownies

Sounds tasty. U of M Soup is tomorrow night at Live.

Fish head on the Diag

I spotted this fish head on the Diag yesterday. Two questions:

How did it get there?

What species is it?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Michigan Dialects

Found Michigan has a great interview with Professor Kathryn Remlinger from Grand Valley's Linguistics Department. It's a pretty great long-read covering everything from the Northern Cities Vowel Shift to the Finnish influence on the Yooper Dialect. This is probably my favorite quote:
And if the person participates in the vowel shift, he or she might say something like “Butsy, do you want these sacks in a bayg?” instead of “Betsy, do you want these socks in a bag?” So this is why people sometimes say Michiganders sound nasally.


Understanding Michigan Accents

Ken Burns at Penny Stamps

These happy people in the video above are just not part of someone's youtube reunion videos. They are also an example of the standard Ken Burns Effect. Set to some jazz. The Ken Burns Effect is something everyone has been exposed to through PBS documentaries or family slideshows. He will be speaking, panning and zooming out tonight at the Penny Stamps Lecture Series. The lecture is, as always, at the Michigan Theater and is free to all. See him around five ten.

Mapping March Madness

Those cool kids over at Facebook have made a series of maps color-coding each county based on the most liked team taking part in March Madness. My favorite map, is the one above, which looks at the geographic distribution of U of M versus MSU fans.

Nerd Nite III

Josh Stoolman, Damn Arbor's senior sports/influenza correspondent
Nerd Nite III is tonight at The Last Word. Damn Arbor's very own Josh Stoolman will be presenting first. He will be giving a talk about "how the flu will kill everybody." Sounds exciting. Make sure you get there early so you can wish him good luck. Doors are at 6:30 and the presentations start at 7.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Rogue Wave

New Beat Happening is bringing Rogue Wave to campus. I don't really understand the organization but I believe that they get money to bring musicians to come hang out and stuff. Then they generate revenue, etc. and the university is happy. Past acts include Atlas Sound and Lupe Fiasco. This year, this friday, they are bringing needed sounds to the Michigan League. I don't know how Rogue Wave translates to a live show, but their single above "Lake Michigan" is pretty catchy. You can buy tickets to see them here.

Washtenaw County ranks 1st for health factors in Michigan

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's County Health Rankings project places Washtenaw County in first place for health factors. In terms of health outcomes, mortality and morbidity, we come in 5th. Not too shabby folks.

Get ready for La Marche du Nain Rouge, 2013

This Sunday is the annual Marche du Nain Rouge in Detroit. I went EJ and I went with some good friends last year and it was totally awesome. Here is my summary of last year's event, originally published on 28 March, 2012.

According to legend, ever since Antoine Cadillac arrived in Le Detroit, the area has been haunted by Le Nain Rouge, the Red Dwarf. Le Nain Rouge has appeared time to time in the city's history and always proceeds a terrible event. For the past three years there has been a parade in late March in an attempt to banish the dwarf from the city. EJ and I were at the scene of the parade last Sunday to cover the event for Damn Arbor. Here are our pictures:

To banish the Nain Rouge from the city, you need to scare him. A scare mask like Jon has is essential.

SB 78

Above, you can see my favorite part of SB 78 which aims to amend PA 451, the "Natural resources and environmental protection act." It's really interesting that, beyond removing conservation of biological diversity as an acceptable criteria for the DNR to use in managing state parks, the authors of the bill want to do away with the finding that human activities are the cause of most losses of biodiversity. Michigan Radio's Environment Report had a good segment on the bill a few weeks back. In it they have this great quote from SNRE professor Brad Cardinale:

Brad Cardinale is a professor of conservation biology at the University of Michigan.

“That is an extremely well justified scientific principle that humans are the direct cause of modern biodiversity loss. By striking it, it leads me to believe that Casperson is perhaps not aware of the vast scientific evidence for that,” he says.

Cardinale says areas with more biodiversity offer all kinds of benefits for people and wildlife... and he says this bill doesn’t consider those.

“And all of the language is essentially arguing that we need to give people higher priority to have access to the land, to be able to extract resources from the land.”

Oh snap, Brad totally burnt Sen. Casperson (R-Escanaba). Brad and I are currently part of a team working on an awesome paper about biodiversity and ecosystem services within agricultural landscapes. Keep you're eyes peeled for it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A2 Happy Hour Club has just announced the A2 Happy Hour Club. If you buy the club card, you get extra discounts at select businesses during happy hour. The first 100 people who order get it for free, and by free, I mean $0.01 plus $0.80 shipping and handling. Still, that's basically free, right?

City Council Viewing Party

Last night's City Council Viewing Party was totally awesome. I just want to thank everyone who came out and give an extra special thanks to the Ann Arbor Chronicle for donating the money that allowed us to rent ABC's Tap Room. All in all it was a pretty exciting meeting. @juliewbee brought some really cool City Council Bingo Cards. In retrospect, bingo is probably a better than the City Council Drinking Game. During long meetings, the drinking game is pretty dangerous. We'll definitely have to do this again. One thing though: does anyone know if it's possible to get some real-time closed captioning for the CTV feed? There can be a pretty huge difference between the volume of different speakers at the council meetings.

Come watch people be terrified at The Moth

The Moth returns tonight to Circus, which is sure to entertain you and terrify the performers. I say that because the theme is "Stranded," and I have a story that would be PUUUUURRRRfect for it that I just could not get together in time, but just the little bit I did get together made me sweat like a turkey on Thanksgiving Eve.

StorySLAM starts at 7:30 sharp, but the doors open at 6. Presale tickets are available here and are $10 plus a $2 "unit fee," whatevah that is. Tickets at the door are $5. Also! You can buy your booze as usual at Circus, but bring cash.

Happy Mothing!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Michigan Monitor

You may remember Joel Batterman, the urban planning student and occasional Damn Arbor contributor. Well, Joel has graduated and is now working at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. He also has himself a new blog: the Michigan Monitor. So far, this Southeast Michigan focused blog only has two articles. Nevertheless, I'm excited to see where it goes.

Ann Arbor City Council Drinking Game: 2013 edition

As you may have heard, ABC has graciously agreed to let us host a City Council Viewing Party tonight at 7:00. Please stop by and say hi. Also, it's happy hour all day, so you really have no reason not to come.

This means it's time to come up with some new rules for the City Council Drinking Game. The game was originally developed by Urban Oasis based on some comments on Ann Arbor is Overrated. We here at Damn Arbor have made up our own rules in the past as well. Here are my ideas for new rules:

If a lawyer subtilely threatens a law suit, drink once.

If a lawyer says they would be "forced to take legal action to protect their client," drink twice.

If a lawyer representing 413 E. Huron says "We will sue the crap out of you hayseeds," finish your drink.

If a CM or public commentor advocates for a shadow study, drink once.

At the start of closed session, everyone bets on how long it will take. Everyone chips in to buy whoever is closest a drink.

Every time someone says "Councilmen Kunselman," drink.

Some folks on twitter have suggested every CM should have a catchphrase, that would make everyone have to drink. Any suggestions for catchphrases or other rules?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The wearin' o' the green

Meijer seasonal displays really do a great job capturing the holiday.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Train Accident in Depot Town

I came up to Depot Town a few minutes ago and came across a nasty accident with a train. I am unsure of what has happened but hope no one was involved or injured.

Edit Of Sorts: No one was involved, the car was abandoned on the tracks. They cannot find the owner of the car. Maybe they were trying to recreate a Looney Tunes scene. Awesome, no one was hurt. 

"He is here. This is happening."

Nope, this is not a quote from the forthcoming remake of Poltergeist in which Stephen Spielberg, as director, is an unseen meta-antagonist in his own movie. This morning, Craig Fahle interviewed Governor Rick Snyder and Kevin Orr about Mr. Orr's appointment as Detroit's emergency financial manager.

It was an uneventful interview with the two guests saying little of substance, but Snyder and Orr made a number of pleas to Detroit's stakeholders — most notably City Council — to come to the negotiating table in order to fix this mess over the next 18 months. Their theme is providing a stable, sustainable framework for longer term success after the emergency financial manager's term is up.

It remains to be seen whether even that relatively modest goal is achievable, but I'm hopeful. Jack Lessenberry recently and cantankerously wrote about the stark realities that Detroit faces right now:
There’s going to be an emergency manager and lots of difficulty to come. We can scream and kick our little feet — or we can rationally start preparing to try to work with whomever that emergency manager may be to try to save Detroit. 
Fighting the inevitable is a waste of time. Detroit and Detroiters, right now, have little of either.
Or in the words of Craig Fahle, "He is here. This is happening."

Detroit Bike City

Detroit Bike City is tomorrow at Cobo. I wonder if the'll let me test drive a Shinola Bike?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

SXSWerewolf (Monster)

It took me a long time to get this video up on Damn Arbor. I have listened to the Victors more in the past few days than in my entire michigan career. Enjoy this follow up to Ben's Violin Monster post. The best part is the howl.

Mapping local food deserts

The USDA's Economic Research Service has released a map of our nation's food deserts. They classified census tracks as food deserts if they were both-low access--meaning "a significant number or share of individuals in the tract is far from a supermarket"--and low-income. They defined low income at the level of census tract using the following criteria:

The tract’s poverty rate is greater than 20 percent; or
The tract’s median family income is less than or equal to 80 percent of the State-wide median family income; or
The tract is in a metropolitan area and has a median family income less than or equal to 80 percent of the metropolitan area's median family income.
The map lets you change layers so you can see just the low-income tracts if you want. You can also set the low-access threshold to 0.5 miles for urban residents which dramatically increases local food deserts:

So what do you think gentle readers, is this an accurate way to assess the presence of food deserts?

Hat/Tip Sarah K.

Appleseed Collective with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys tonight at the Blind Pig

Appleseed Collective - "Life Is Beautiful, I Guess" from GRTV on Vimeo.

Our friends in Appleseed Collective have been on tour with Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys and Big Dudee Roo. Tonight they're coming home and celebrating with a show at the Blind Pig. Doors open at 9:30 and tickets are $8. More details can be found here.

Lindsay Lou & Big Dudee Roo would make a great title for a Dr. Seuss book wouldn't it?

City Council Viewing Party next Monday at ABC

Watching City Council Meetings is fun!

Just a reminder that we will be hosting our first ever City Council Viewing Party next Monday, the 18th of March at ABC. It's going to be awesome. Not only is it happy hour all day ($2.50 imperial pints). But the city council will be discussing the proposed moratorium on downtown site plan approval. Let me tell you, there's going to be some spirited public commentary. It's gonna be off the hook.

So, gentle readers, if you plan on coming, let us know, or RSVP on Facebook. Also, if you have any questions about issues facing the city/city council, or have issues you think we should be discussing on Monday night, let me know.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Violin Monster at SXSW

Loyal reader and Michigoner, Chris Primeau, just sent in the following picture. Break a leg, Violin Monster.

2013 Damnies™: the results are in

Well folks, the results are in and tabulated. Big thanks to the 546 of you that voted. Winners, well those of you who are real human beings, can expect your prizes soon. Runners up, we've got something special for you too. I can hardly wait for next year's Damnies™. Maybe we'll have an award show too. Click through to see the results.

Lynda Barry at Penny Stamps

A Page from One Hundred Demons
Childhood is a really trying time for a lot of people. Awkward bowl cuts, neighborhood bullies, and lack of fine motor control make it tough. Lynda Barry's comics capture anguished moments from her own life in a way that is meaningful for others. A personal favorite is her book One Hundred Demons, the image above comes from the demon of dancing. It'll change how you think about or attempt the hula.

She'll be speaking and sharing at the perpetually free Penny Stamps lecture at the Michigan Theater, Thursday at 5:00 pm. If you aren't going to be doing anything, or even if you are doing something really important, say f*** it and go.

Happy National Vernors Day

Today, 3-13, is National Vernors Day. A day upon which we celebrate all of the great things in Southeast Michigan. So wherever you may be, Michigander or Michigonner, crack open a frosty Vernors and grab a bag of Better Made Chips.

Image via sarrazak6881's flickr

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Squirrel Confession, Missed Connection?

I am going to complain about today's Missed Connections to whomever will listen. Mostly because of this post. I don't think reposting or forwarding chain mail will get you a good love life for two years. Getting off the internet could, should. Or maybe settle down and really commit to the internet. Spend some time doing activities that the internet wants. Listen to the internet when it's talking.

Anyways, this missed connection got a lot of things right and makes me less peeved. It also made me downright hungry for Cheetos, but didn't decrease my Jimmy John's disgust.

Cool show at Cafe Ollie in Ypsilanti Thursday night

Sarah, a dedicated Damn Arbor reader, sent me an email about a cool concert coming up on Thursday at Cafe Ollie. Two bands from Illinois, the Hastas and the Hecks, will be playing with local artist Magics Marker. The show is from 7-11 You can check out a sample of the music below:

2013 Damnies™: voting ends tonight

As I write this, I'm preparing to bike across town to pick up the prizes the Lunch Room has so graciously donated for the 2013 Damny™ winners. Voting ends tonight. Thanks to all of you who have voted.

How to eat a whole pizza and feel good, but still throw up


If you order anything from Pizza House today, be sure to mention Take Back the Night - if you do, 15 percent of your order will go toward Michigan Takes Back the Night. That's right: WE'RE GETTIN' A MILLION HOT WINGS, SO TAKE BACK THE NIGHT GETS 150,000 HOT WINGS.

Hopefully you readers understand math and logic and aren't thrown off by that last statement there.

More deets here.

Bourbon tasting tomorrow at Sidetrack

Perhaps no spirit is more iconically American than bourbon. Though it is most often associated with the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, bourbons can be legally distilled anywhere in the US. If you're interested in learning about this great American tradition and/or sampling a variety of fine bourbons, then you might want to check out the bourbon tasting tomorrow night at Sidetrack. Here are the details from their Facebook page:

Join us as we sample and discuss (at least) 6 bourbons. From local to craft, iconic to rare, we will be tasting an array of bourbons sure to impress any bourbon lover.

WHEN: Wednesday March 13th, 7pm-10pm
WHAT: Bourbon, bourbon-friendly snacks**, bourbon geek commentary, distillery reps & bourbon tasting notes. Basically, bourbon HEAVEN!
WHERE: Our new space (Next to Frenchie's)
WHO: Bourbon lovers and those looking to explore the delicious nuances of this fine spirit. WHY: For the LOVE of Bourbon!
HOW: Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on the Merch page of our website.

There is a rumor that the snacks may include bacon-bourbon chocolate chip cookies.

Monday, March 11, 2013

An important week for outdoor drinking

Today, the first Monday after U of M's spring break, is the official start of Dominick's season. Later this week, Bill's Beer Garden will be opening in observance of St. Patrick's Day. Summer's just around the corner.