Drumming for Dollars Downtown

Hour's pounding bloodies palms
Liberty Street Busking with drum.

Liberty Street busking with drum.

You’re standing at the corner of Main and Liberty streets in downtown Ann Arbor. An out-of-towner shows you his bleeding hands and asks, “Is there any place around here I can buy a Band-Aid?” The Chronicle had an answer. For readers who’d like see how their own answers might match up, it’s left to the end of this article.

What trauma led to the blood on Rick Hale’s hands? He’d spent the previous hour pounding out improvised rhythms on his djembe just outside the Parthenon restaurant.

Hale lives in Wayne, but attends school in East Lansing at Michigan State University, where he’s now a creative writing major after switching from jazz. He now gets his music fix by playing every kind of drum he can find. The djembe he found under the Christmas tree this year. Well, not exactly under the tree – his mom bought it for him on eBay. It wasn’t a competitive auciton, because the seller had four drums, in different colors, and she exercised the “buy it now” option.

hand bloodied from drumming

Rick Hale's hand bloodied from drumming on the djembe for an hour.

Hale said that on average when he plays on the street it works out to an hourly wage of around $5. This was the second time he’d played in Ann Arbor. The first time was the previous day, New Year’s Day, and Hale said comparatively, it was pretty dead downtown. He’d had better luck on the second try. During the 10 minutes The Chronicle spent listening to Hale pound out a rhythm, we saw three people throw some cash his way.

None of the three people we saw contribute to Hale’s cause seemed perturbed by the irony of a drummer using a guitar case as a receptacle for their dollar bills.

Back to our question: Where can you buy Band-Aids in downtown Ann Arbor? On Christmas Eve, we’d seen a pregnancy test on the shelf at the BP gas station on the southwest corner of Main and William. Based on that, we figured they’d probably have Band-Aids, too. So that’s where we directed Hale.


  1. January 3, 2009 at 10:08 am | permalink

    You can also get band aids at Acme Mercantile.

  2. By Tom Brandt
    January 3, 2009 at 10:20 am | permalink

    If you can buy motor oil at a drug store, I suppose it makes sense that you can buy a pregnancy test at a gas station.

  3. January 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm | permalink

    How about pantyhose? God knows I avoid pantyhose at all costs, but I posited this question to someone (was it you, HD? Or maybe someone at an A2B3 lunch?) and they didn’t know the answer. Then again, I probably asked a guy, who would likely have even less reason than I to know where pantyhose can be purchased. :)
    Anyway, I posit the question again…. :)

  4. January 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm | permalink

    I’m sure Acme Mercantile has pantyhose, though I don’t think they have motor oil.

  5. By KT
    January 3, 2009 at 6:56 pm | permalink

    i would have suggested white market on william near state, but probably the gas station is closer.

  6. By Scot
    January 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm | permalink

    and you needed the pregnancy because….

  7. By Mary Morgan
    January 3, 2009 at 7:54 pm | permalink

    No no no!! Observational only re. the pregnancy test. Also cigars, newspapers, Cheese Puffs….items of curiosity, not necessity.

  8. By Juliew
    January 4, 2009 at 12:27 am | permalink

    Acme, White Market, Village Corner, Bivouac, Mathilde’s Imports (Kerrytown), and Village Apothecary do carry pantyhose. Ayla, Footprints, Soul Sisters, Thredz, Four Seasons Lingerie, Urban Outfitters, and the gas stations probably have some. Should you want pantyhose made in America, American Apparel has a full selection.

  9. By Bob Martel
    January 4, 2009 at 9:13 am | permalink

    I miss the drugstore that used to be where Shalimar is now located on the east side of Main just south of Washington. Since their demise, there is so much that you can no longer buy on Main Street, like chewing gum or Lifesavers, for example. Though I never had a need for one, I’m sure that they had pregnancy tests (MM: did those exist back then?)

    But, I do enjoy Shalimar quite a bit so i guess that it’s a trade off.

  10. January 5, 2009 at 9:16 am | permalink

    Hey, thanks everyone!
    I do wish that we had a drugstore downtown…that’d be cool. Ooh! Or an old-fashioned dime store (I just heard that the last Woolworths is closing in England)

  11. January 5, 2009 at 3:52 pm | permalink

    Bob, you can get movie candy at Liberty St Video, so there might be chewing gum there.

  12. January 5, 2009 at 5:01 pm | permalink

    You can buy chewing gum, Lifesavers, etc. at both gas stations on Main St and at the party store on N. Main.

    Or is there a much more narrow definition of Main St being considered?

  13. By James Hanley
    January 16, 2009 at 1:54 pm | permalink

    But why would anyone help a bongo (or djembe, or whatever) drummer find bandaids? The sooner he’s bandaged, the sooner he starts torturing the public again.