Archive for November, 2009

Paul Saginaw: We Want to Change the World

Paul Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman's, spoke about building a local "living economy" at Monday night's Think Local First annual meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

Paul Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman's, spoke about building a local "living economy" at Monday night's Think Local First annual meeting. (Photo by the writer.)

Paul Saginaw joked that during his senior year of high school, he was voted Least Likely to Have a Positive Impact on Society. The remark drew a laugh from the crowd of more than 100 people attending Think Local First’s annual meeting on Monday night – most of them know the Zingerman’s co-founder is an advocate for socially responsible business, as well as a driving force behind the nonprofit Food Gatherers, which launched 21 years ago this week.

For many years, that high school description was “so true,” Saginaw said. “But for the second half of my life, I’ve been trying to prove them wrong.”

Saginaw, the evening’s featured speaker, talked passionately about the need for local economies built around “human-scale” enterprises, with businesses as a positive force for social change. He described several ways that the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a national group, is supporting the efforts of small, independent businesses. The goal? “What we want to do is change the world,” he said. [Full Story]

A2: Movie

The blog Jaunted notes that Ann Arbor isn’t among the choices in a competition held to see which city will get a sneak peek at the new Michael Cera movie, “Youth in Revolt”: “It seems Ann Arbor, MI, the one college town that is an obvious choice for the competition, has been suspiciously left off the list. Most of the movie was filmed in and around Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, last summer. Maybe they’re saving UM for the rumored Youth in Revolt Comedy Central College Tour that is supposed to begin on Dec. 1, though there has been no official schedule announced as of yet.” [Source]

Washtenaw: State Taxes

The Detroit Free Press reports on a proposal by state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith (D-South Lyon) to raise $6.5 billion in revenue by closing tax loopholes, expanding the state sales tax and implementing a graduated income tax. From the report: “Smith said she presented the proposals to her colleagues in the Legislature this morning, and would like to see action on the business and sales tax initiatives by the end of January. The new revenue could be poured into public school, welfare and Medicaid programs that suffered devastating cuts in the budget enacted last month by the Legislature, she said.” Smith is making a bid to be the Democratic candidate for governor in 2010. [Source]

Chelsea: Holiday Lights

Chelsea Update reports that the city will be bedecked in LED holiday lights this year. The item quotes Robert Pierce, executive director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce: “Our old method of lighting the downtown was limited to a few strings of lights per tree. They looked nice, but this will have that wow factor we have been trying to achieve for several years.” [Source]

A2: Governor’s Race

The Detroit News reports on results from a poll that asked how “negative characteristics” might affect someone’s decision to vote for various gubernatorial candidates: “Republican Ann Arbor venture capitalist Rick Snyder could be damaged by Democratic Party claims he shipped jobs to China when he was a top executive at Gateway computer company, the survey indicates. It shows 84 percent would be less likely to vote for ‘a corporate CEO who shipped American jobs to China.’ Jake Suski, a spokesman for Snyder, replied: ‘Rick didn’t outsource jobs to China. In fact, he’s the only candidate with job creation experience. He created hundreds of jobs in Michigan.’ [Source]

Column: Dead Duck for Thanksgiving

At Thanksgiving, a flesh eater’s fancy turns heavily to thoughts of a dead bird. What better time of year, then, for cartoonist Jay Fosgitt to serve up a pair of them?


Panel from Jay Fosgitt's "Dead Duck." (Image links to higher resolution file)

Meet Dead Duck, the title character of Fosgitt’s debut graphic novel, and his sidekick, Zombie Chick. They work for the Grim Reaper (aka J. P. Yorick); their task is to haul the reluctant chosen over to the other side (aka Rigormortitropolis) by any means necessary.

Happily for us all, bringing in the dead has always been a rich lode for historical references, literary allusions and rude humor.

“Dead Duck” takes off on all three, with riffs on the Salem witch trials, Beatlemania, the Canadian health care system, the Crusades, Punch and Judy, the “Vagina Monologues,” Chaucer, SCTV’s Doug and Bob McKenzie (Fosgitt has great affection for the Great White North), Nazi porn and blaxpliotation flicks, just to skim the colorful surface.

“Dead Duck,” Fosgitt freely advises, is “not profane, but it’s certainly not for little kids.”

The book, published by Ape Entertainment, is due out next month – though Fosgitt is expecting a FedEx delivery of 200 copies to his home today, according to his blog. The weekly comic also has been appearing since February at That’s where you’ll find Fosgitt’s commentary on his inspirations for that week’s strip and the technical aspects of cartooning, as well as other observations. And you’ll find Fosgitt at Ann Arbor’s Vault of Midnight on Main Street from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, where he’ll talk about “Dead Duck” and sign copies of his book. [Full Story]

Liberty & Division

Workers on lift using no chemicals, just elbow grease and a green scrubby pad, to clean up copper-plated building face. [photo]

A2: Think Local First

Vicki Honeyman, owner of the Heavenly Metal shop at 207 E. Ann, posts photos and writes about Monday night’s Think Local First annual meeting, held at Big George’s: “Everyone at the meeting was geared up for a strong holiday season and feeling positive that the Buy Local movement is as strong in Ann Arbor as it is on other communities around the country.” [Source]

Broadway Bridge

Film company encampment in the DTE parking lot along the Huron River:  tents, trailers, and tractor trailers.

Parks Update: Golf, Birds, River Art

Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission (Nov. 17, 2009): With the golf season coming to an end, the city’s Park Advisory Commission got a status report from Ann Arbor’s director of golf, Doug Kelly. He did not, however, provide a recipe for his chicken salad, which he added to the menu this summer at the two city-owned courses. Then again, no one asked – but someone did ask when the golf courses were expected to break even.

The sign for the city's Huron Hills Golf Course at the corner of Huron River Parkway and Huron River Drive. (Photo by the writer.)

The sign for the city's Huron Hills Golf Course at the corner of Huron River Parkway and Huron River Drive. Though the city's Leslie Park Golf Course closed for the season on Sunday, Huron Hills will be open "until the snow flies," according to its website. (Photo by the writer.)

Also at the meeting, PAC honored Roger Wykes, the 2009 Natural Area Preservation volunteer of the year. Wykes helps out with the city’s breeding bird survey – commissioners heard details about that project from ornithologist Dee Dea Armstrong.

And an artist who’s spending this year as a visiting lecturer at the University of Michigan made a pitch for an art installation along the Huron River – a project that he envisions will help build a bridge between the university and the community of Ann Arbor. [Full Story]

A2: Cranksgiving

Ypsivelo announces that Cranksgiving – an annual bicycle race to benefit Food Gatherers – will, in fact, happen this year, after doubts surfaced previously: Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. starting from Busch’s parking lot at Main and Ann Arbor-Saline. [Source]

A2: State House

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports that state Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) has introduced legislation to “establish a two-year moratorium on new digital billboards until a federal analysis is completed and safety recommendations are issued by the end of 2011. Under the proposal, the state would issue no permits for new digital billboards or conversion of existing static billboards to ones with moving animation or flashing lights until Jan. 1, 2012. It would allow existing electronic billboards to remain in use.” [Source]

Pioneer H.S.

A murder of crows on Pioneer High lawn scavenging the remains of the last tailgate of the season. Nevermore …

Jackson Road

Police car has traffic completely blocked off at eastbound Jackson Road near Weber’s.

Dave Sharp’s Seven Not a Jazz Secret


Dave Sharp (Photos by Dave Askins.)

Last Friday, The Chronicle took a break from reporting on government meetings to pay a visit to Live at PJ’s on the western edge of downtown Ann Arbor at the corner of First and Huron.

The occasion of our visit: The release of Dave Sharp’s Secret Seven CD. The music, self-described as “Jazz, World Music and Rock together with a grooving sound for all ears” was available for sale on CDs as well as re-usable, eco-friendly USB drives – because, as Sharp put it, “This is Ann Arbor, right?”

Sharp, of course, knew right where he was, because he teaches bass at the Ann Arbor Music Center on Ashley Street a couple of blocks away from PJ’s.

His students, as well as the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, were represented in the crowd. After the jump, we share some photos to document the evening. [Full Story]

401(k) Incorrectly Defined

In an article about the Nov. 18 Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting, we incorrectly described the 401(k) as a defined benefit plan. It is a defined contribution plan. Additionally, the transfer of most county employees from the Money Purchase Pension Plan to the Washtenaw County Employees’ Retirement System has occurred over the last year. We note the errors here, and have corrected the original article.

N. University & Fletcher

Smashed cellphone in the crosswalk, broken into bits. Guessing that someone’s not having a good day.

County Budget Moves Toward Final Vote

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting (Nov. 18, 2009): The county’s administration and elected officials have been grappling with the 2010-2011 budget for nearly a year, and passed a milestone at Wednesday’s meeting with approval of the budget during the board’s Ways & Means Committee meeting. They’re expected to take a final vote at the Dec. 2 regular board meeting. Staff members who attended the meeting seemed visibly relieved.

The board also got an update on the 2009 budget, made appointments to more than a dozen commissions and committees, and approved emergency funding to help provide shelter for the homeless during the winter months. Details on these and other agenda items after the break. [Full Story]

UM: Athletics

Detroit New columnist Lynn Henning writes that Michigan’s biggest concern isn’t the football coach – it’s finding the right person to replace retiring athletic director Bill Martin: “Michigan needs to make its new AD the best personnel call of this decade. The Wolverines need someone to lead and to heal. They need another Don Canham in the sense that intellect must be matched to integrity and to humility. It’s the only way to blend factions that have been gnawing at the Wolverines’ football program and product.” [Source]

UM: Football

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reports on the aftermath of Michigan’s loss to Ohio State, ending its season ranked last in the Big Ten. The article quotes beleaguered football coach Rich Rodriguez: “How much does a man got to get humbled? Got humbled last year. Been humbled before and will be humbled again. In this profession, there’s enough humility to go around for everybody. I’m getting tired of being humbled.” [Source]

Main & Kingsley

Left-turning Prius almost smacked by Jeep running yellow light. Traffic leaving stadium extra grouchy?

Ashley & Liberty

Community standards officer handing out parking tickets. Can attest that Ohio license plated cars do not automatically receive tickets, even on Ohio-Michigan game day.

Food Gatherers and “The Biggest Loser”

On Nov. 25, Thanksgiving eve, NBC will air a special show that catches up with the lives of former contestants of “The Biggest Loser,” a series in which people compete to lose weight. Pete Thomas of Ypsilanti was a contestant in the show’s 2005 season, and he’ll be among those featured in the upcoming special.

Pete Thomas, right, pulls carrots out of the ground as NBC cameraman Neal Gallagher shoots from below. Dan Calderone is to the left, almost out of view.

Pete Thomas, right, pulls carrots out of the ground as NBC cameraman Neal Gallagher shoots from below. Dan Calderone is to the left, almost out of view. (Photo by the writer.)

What you probably won’t see on that show is a segment shot on a cold October morning at Food Gatherers. An NBC film crew spent a couple of hours taking footage of Thomas at the Food Gatherers warehouse and gardens off of Dhu Varren Road, on Ann Arbor’s north side. The segment was originally intended to be part of a broader profile of Thomas, who dropped 140 pounds during and after his appearance on “The Biggest Loser.”

But a couple of weeks after the shoot, NBC told Food Gatherers that their segment was being cut from the show – instead, producers planned to highlight a marathon that Thomas going to run. The Food Gatherers spot might air on, but that’s uncertain.

The Chronicle got to tag along during the Food Gatherers portion of the shoot. Here’s a look at what goes into making a reality-ish show – even the parts that might never make it on TV. [Full Story]


Michigan fans biking up Packard to the game, seat pads hanging from handlebars.