Archive for June, 2009

A2: Michael Jackson

Brian Woolridge has been channeling Michael Jackson for years, dancing in the alley next to Michigan Theater where he’s become know as the “Michael Jackson guy.” (Here’s a link to a Chronicle article about Woolridge published in May 2009.) In the wake of Jackson’s death on Thursday, Quinn Strassel went in search of Woolridge, and has posted this video shot in the graffiti-splattered alley. Strassel said when he heard that Michael Jackson had died, “I immediately thought of this guy, the Michael Jackson guy, and what must he be thinking….If there’s anybody I wanted to talk to about this process, just to vent with, it was the Michael Jackson guy.” Woolridge doesn’t show, but the YouTube video is titled “the michael jackson guy ann … [Full Story]

M-14 & Gotfredson

Horse trailer with two horses sticking their heads out of window, having time of their lives.

Michigan Theater

4 p.m. Wedding rehearsal in progress in the main screening room. Barton Theatre pipe organ being put to good use.

Main & Catherine

Overpowering scent of mulch as workers landscape the area around the county administration building. Cedar or pine? Can’t tell.

UM: Welfare

A Wall Street Journal article reports on the status of welfare applications in Michigan, which are expected to increase in the coming months. The article quotes Kristin S. Seefeldt, assistant director of UM’s National Poverty Center, who says a requirement that applicants enroll in a job-search program has discouraged people from signing up: ”It’s just perceived to be this roadblock to getting assistance.” [Source]

A2: Auto Industry

Detroit News columnist Frank Beckmann writes about how ignorant lawmakers are about the auto industry. He quotes David Cole, head of the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research: “The thing that bothers me is how loud people will talk with the ignorance that they have.” [Source]

Still Time for Top of the Park

These kids had visited the face-painting tent at the Ann Arbor Summer Festivals Top of the Park opening night.

Some of these kids had visited the face-painting tent at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival's Top of the Park opening night on June 12. (Photo by the writer.)

If you’ve been to Ingalls Mall any evening over the past two weeks, you’ll likely have witnessed something similar to what The Chronicle observed on June 12: People standing along the sidewalks, sitting on cement walls and gathering on blankets on the shaded lawn. They push strollers and set up folding chairs. Children tumble with each other on the grass, shrieking, their faces painted with serpents and cherries.

All of them come for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Top of the Park, with its free concerts, movies and food at Ingalls Mall. And if you haven’t been yet, there’s just over a week left to take advantage of this free, quintessential Ann Arbor event, which runs through July 5. [Full Story]

Downtown Library

7:02 p.m. Ann Arbor District Library downtown location main branch: Allen Creek drain and creekshed presentation getting under way. [photo]

Veterans Memorial Park

Lightning struck a tree at Veterans Memorial Park again. About four trees south of the last one to get struck. Along Maple South of Dexter. It’s still standing but the middle of the tree looks twisted and shredded.

A2: Iran

Writing on The Huffington Post, Diane Tucker describes visiting an Iranian in Ann Arbor recently and discussing the post-elections strife in that country: ”While visiting Ann Arbor this week to check out the city’s summer music festival and the new University of Michigan Museum of Art, I drove over to see Ahmad. I wanted to hear what he had to say about events unfolding in Iran. I figured he would say he was pro-Mousavi, and very eager to see Iran revert back to the modern country it once was. I was wrong on both counts.” [Source]

South & East U.

Prospectives, parents and siblings stand in the shade by the West Hall arch during a campus tour.

Column: Our Name In Lights

Coming soon to the Michigan Theater marquee

Coming soon to the Michigan Theater marquee: "The Ann Arbor Chronicle."

Giddy doesn’t begin to describe the first time I saw my byline in a newspaper – slobberingly gaga comes closer – and I’m anticipating a similar can’t-help-grinning-stupidly jolt when The Chronicle’s name goes up on the Michigan Theater marquee on Sunday.

As our publication grows, we’re looking for ways to let people know what we do. And we’re looking to do that in ways that make sense for us. For example, you probably won’t see us putting flyers on car windshields in the Walmart parking lot – unless, perhaps, we’re doing it as performance art. What’s more our speed? An ad in the program for Burns Park Players’ “Annie Get Your Gun” in February. I was pretty gaga over that, too.

But when I met with the Michigan Theater’s Lee Berry a few weeks ago over breakfast at the Broken Egg and he told me about the possibility of sponsoring the 1939 classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” – well, the fit seemed just about perfect. [Full Story]

Farmers Market

90 degrees as the last vendor packs up and the ice cream man (bow tie and all) gives out FREE ICE CREAM!

Free Stuff

These heads are also free for the taking

These sculpted heads are among the many items free for the taking at the Ann Arbor Art Center's studios on Felch.

By the time The Chronicle arrived at the Ann Arbor Art Center’s studios at 220 Felch St. on Wednesday afternoon, it was less than 24 hours after the center had made its “free stuff” posting on Freecycle and Craiglist – but much of the initial batch of furniture set outside the building had already been picked over.

Inside, quite a bit remains, including ceramic molds, low-fire glazes, unclaimed finished pottery and other items. And over the next few days, they’ll be setting out more furniture for the taking, too.

The center sold its 11,000-square-foot building to ICON Creative Technologies earlier this year, and is consolidating at its 117 W. Liberty location. Taking a break from packing, ceramics studio manager Suzanne Poulton told us the new studio space at the Liberty Street building is about half the size of the Felch Street property, so they need to unload quite a bit. For anyone interested in picking up some deals, the Felch studios will be open from 1-8 p.m. every day this week. [Full Story]

Bernstein to Leave Ann Arbor Chamber

Jesse Bernstein, Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce president

Jesse Bernstein, Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce president, has resigned his post. His last day in that job is June 30.

On a downtown street corner recently, The Chronicle had occasion to witness an informal idea pitch from Hal Davis to Jesse Bernstein,  president of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce: Busker Week for downtown Ann Arbor – where independent musicians would explicitly be invited to come perform in Ann Arbor’s downtown. Bernstein’s reaction can fairly be described as positive.

But if Bernstein helps Busker Week to join Sonic Lunch on downtown Ann Arbor’s summer musical calendar, it won’t be as president of the chamber. Bernstein told staff at 4 p.m. Tuesday that his last day leading the organization will be June 30, 2009. It ends three year’s of Bernstein’s leadership of the area business organization. [Full Story]

UM: Recession Generation

USA Today writes about how the recession is affecting spending habits of the generation now in their 20s. The article quotes economist Richard Curtin, who directs consumer surveys at UM: ”This is the time where a lot of their attitudes are set. The long-term is still in question, but it has the potential to have a big impact and change the views that they’ll have throughout their lives. They’ll be more oriented toward economic security and relationships, more toward savings and less toward spending.” [Source]

Subterranean Start-ups

graffiti on a door

The TechArb offices are accessible via a graffiti covered door in the alley next to the Michigan Theater. (Photo by the writer.)

Behind a graffiti-covered door, at the end of the alley next to the Michigan Theater and one floor below street level, a handful of entrepreneurs are working at all hours in some pretty unusual office space.

Under the umbrella of TechArb, a coworking space for University of Michigan students, 10 start-up technology companies have set up shop in 30,000 square feet of commercial basement space that has been vacant for years. With 18-foot ceilings, imposing columns and no natural light, there is feeling of total isolation from the hubbub of Liberty Street, just one story up. The seclusion allows the 30 entrepreneurs to focus intensely on building their businesses.

They’re hard at work because the clock is ticking. They’ve got the rent-free space for this summer, and this summer only. [Full Story]

Liberty & Mulholland

East bound car turning left onto Mulholland, the white SUV behind veers right, into the bike lane and up onto the curb to pass, and is off to downtown. Because waiting for the 8:30 pm traffic to clear on Liberty takes too long? Fellow onlookers speculate on what is making people crazy on a Tuesday night.

Third & Liberty

One car flies through the stop sign heading west on Liberty, other stopped drivers honk, the next one heading east 15 seconds later brakes ever so lightly and runs it as well.

A2: Food

Slashfood published an interview with Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig. Among other things, he talks about how Zingerman’s sets its prices: “You start with what it costs, you calculate freight and then you work out a range, a percentage set for each category and charge somewhere in that. I’d say the public’s perception of profit margins in the food business are way off: People perceive that food business make money like crazy, but it’s generally lower than they think. We could charge 15 to 20 percent more than what we do now, like fast-food companies. If you’re paying $8 for cheese there’s a reasonable assumption that someone’s charging a lot of money for it, but if you go to the farm … [Full Story]

Tuition Example Incorrect

In our report on the June 18, 2009 meeting of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, we incorrectly paraphrased remarks by regent Julia Darlow, who voted against a tuition increase. Her example that a 5.6% increase will contribute only an additional $12.9 million, or less than 1% of the general fund total, referred to the increase for resident undergraduate tuition only. We note the error here, and have corrected it in the original article.

The Arb

The “peonies are blooming” sign has been taken down from the entrance to the Arb.

Detroit & Kingsley

11:00 a.m. Film Crew in front of Zingerman’s Deli on Detroit and Kingsley. Shooting an ad for the Chamber of Commerce or Visiter’s Bureau. Lots of trucks, equipment and a police blockade near Community High. Smiling Zingernaut taking orders on the sidewalk and assures passers-by that they are open nonetheless.

Washington & Ashley

White paint getting rollered onto the metal fence around the surface parking lot that was formerly a parking structure and will probably in the future be the site of City Apartments, based on the recent extension of the agreement granted by Ann Arbor city council. The fence has also been re-spot-welded since this [previous item].