Archive for July, 2009

A2: Autos

A Reuters article about problems with the federal “cash for clunkers” program reports that Dan Pasick of Ann Arbor  was almost ready to trade in his old Lexus for a new Mazda. At the last minute, the deal got cancelled because the dealership feared the rebates would be suspended. Says Pasick: “It was going to be the first new car I ever owned.” [Source]

Downtown Alley

The famous Liberty-to-Washington-Street alley visited by Ann Arbor couple on their way to dinner on Main Street. [photo]

Main & William

The LINK isn’t running anymore, but a shuttle bus for the electricians conference that’s in town is, with a temporary stop set up near the corner of Main & William. [Photo]

A2: Arts & Politics

The Arts Alliance surveyed candidates for local office in the Aug. 4 primary, asking them two questions: 1) “What is your position on public funding for arts and culture?” and 2) “If elected, what measurable actions will you take to ensure that arts and cultural offerings survive and thrive in Washtenaw County? Please be specific.” All candidates for Ann Arbor City Council turned in answers. [Source]

A2: City Place

The city’s planning department, via its GovDelivery email alert system, has announced that a meeting will be held August 12, 2009 at 6 p.m. at the downtown Ann Arbor District Library [confirm date] to introduce a  revised version of the City Place project. This version – a PUD –  would preserve most of the footprints and exteriors of six of the seven houses along the east side of Fifth Avenue just south of William Street where the project would be built.  At its last meeting, the city council postponed consideration of a “matter of right” City Place project until January 2010.  [Source]

Fourth & Liberty

Guy standing at the street corner poking a pen through a dollar bill and holding it up. “Is it a magic trick?” He shakes his head no.

SELMA Acronym Wrong

In a July 29, 2009 article about Friday Mornings @SELMA, we incorrectly reported that the L in SELMA stands for Lutz. In fact, it stands for Liberty. We note the error here, and have corrected it in the original article.


On the Nieman Journalism Lab, Ben Cohen reports on the launch of He writes: “The first thing I noticed on is, well, the first thing I was supposed to notice. The bare home page doesn’t even try to do the traditional newspaper editor’s job of defining which stories are the most important or pressing. It’s simply a time-sequenced river of news. Think of it as Times Wire, except without the choice to click back to The New York Times’ spiffy home page. This is the home page.” [Source]

UM: Obama

CNN looks at the importance of Barack Obama’s “likeability” in his role as president and in the ability to push his agenda. The article quotes Vincent Hutchings, a UM associate professor of political science, regarding Obama’s comments about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.: ”Obviously, he had no authority over that whatsoever, but as the chief communicator … they [the media] ask him for ceremonial and symbolic reasons.” [Source]

Main & Huron

11:30 p.m. Scrub-a-Home truck with on-board power washer being used to remove obnoxious advertising painted on downtown sidewalks. Operator said city is having him remove the ads due to numerous complaints. Also said the ads were more than just chalk and would not have come off in the next rainstorm.

Friday Mornings @SELMA Finds a Home

Nametags from people whove attended Friday Mornings

Nametags from people who've attended Friday Mornings @SELMA await their return. The tags are stuck to cabinets in a laundry room/entryway. (Photo by the writer.)

The Chronicle recently reported an amicable resolution between local government officials and organizers of an event in an arguably unorthodox location: An art show in an industrial park.

Many of the same elements were a part of the saga of Friday Mornings @SELMA: An event in an unorthodox location, a spike of concern from local officials that raised the specter of shutting it down, compromise, and an ultimate resolution that satisfies regulatory issues while keeping this fundraising event alive.

“It’s always cool when the government does something that makes sense,” said Lisa Gottlieb, who runs Friday Mornings @SELMA with her husband, Jeff McCabe, and a corps of volunteers.

What exactly is Friday Mornings @SELMA? Why did the government get involved, and what did they do that “makes sense”? And how is all of this related to the local food movement? We tell the tale after the break. [Full Story]

UM: Storytelling

On the Speechworks blog, Joey Asher describes a recent trip to UM for his son’s freshman orientation: “The school had a well-organized series of sessions for parents. And it reinforced for me one major point about public speaking. Almost no one knows the value of a story. Over and over college administrators, health professionals, professors, and public safety professionals would stand up to talk to us about what our kids could expect at the University of Michigan. And over and over we’d get a series of bullet points, delivered somewhat randomly.” [Source]

A2: Bike Hoops

The blog Two Fell Swoops critiques the new Ann Arbor “art” bike hoops: “Forget about the sketchiness about the process of these bike hoops’ creation. What really bothers me about these things is how they remind me of the young ‘creatives’ I know who have moved away because there are no jobs here or because Ann Arbor is too expensive and has no affordable space downtown for artists to use or reimagine. Yet our town gives itself this big, public, whimsically-colored pat-on-the-back for being so arts-friendly.” [Source]

Law Quad

Stopped and watched the ghosts of all the incoming freshmen classes over the decades, play night football in the Law Quad.

Farmers Market

Best name encountered today: “Pig Licking Cake” – because, says the baker, it’s so good it makes you eat (or lick) like a pig.

Chelsea: Business

The Detroit News reports that Chelsea-based Bear Claw Coffee has partnered with Askar Brands, the owner of Mr. Pita Sandwiches, and will open a co-branded franchise within the next few months. Bear Claw’s founder, Debi Scroggins, told the News that her business might co-brand with other Askar franchises in the future. Askar franchises include Papa Romano’s Pizza, Stucchi’s Ice Cream and CJ’s Brewing Co. [Source]

Main Street

Jolly Pumpkin coming soon (sign in window) into Pepperz space; U-Haul and dumpster parked in front.

South State

Smell of meat cooking on new outside grill mixes with ripe stone fruit odors; aisles inside nearly impassable. Lunchtime at the Produce Station is always intense.

Tolle on the Totter: Newspapers


[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

Last Thursday, 23 July, 2009, The Ann Arbor News published its final edition after nearly 175 years in business. I spent part of that morning talking on the teeter totter with Brian Tolle about what people “hire” newspapers to do – besides provide them with news and information.

The notion of “hiring” newspapers – by subscribing to them – to do a “job” is a way of thinking about products that comes naturally to Tolle. He works in the field of organization development, providing consulting services to technology companies on the people side of the equation.

Tolle has a tolerance, even enthusiasm, for change and innovation. So when pitched the idea of reading a newspaper on a high-tech paper scroll, he did not fall off the teeter totter laughing. [Full Story]

A2: Torture

Three religious leaders from different faiths – including Robert Dobrusin, rabbi of the Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor – write an op/ed published in the Detroit News, urging the government to abolish torture without exception. They write: ”As religious leaders, our primary concerns are moral and spiritual, but we are also concerned about the practical issues of torture. Some people support torture, believing that it will make them safe. Torture will not keep us safe. It puts us more at risk.” [Source]

Main & Huron

Art on a wire at Main and Huron. A doll + water bottle (sorry for the small pic) [photo]

UM: Environment

A New York Times article about the oxygen-starved “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico quotes UM researcher Donald Scavia, who helped prepare a forecast of how large the zone would be. It’s not nearly as large as predicted. Says Scavia: “But the model is based on predictions of what the zone would look like in a normal physical environment. But this year we didn’t have normal physical conditions.” [Source]

Liberty & Ashley

Front door of former Bella Ciao restaurant is ajar – it’s painted powder blue, as is the wainscoting. Remodeling under way for Grange Kitchen & Bar. A worker says of the color, “It’s lively….lively.”


Sweetwaters Kerrytown: Somebody’s cooking up something good. Smelled delicious BBQ wafting though, now basil (pesto?).

A2: Rick Snyder

The blogger A Conservative Teacher isn’t supporting Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder for governor. An excerpt of his reasons why: “Snyder is inexperienced, and we know from our experience with Granholm and Obama that putting a novice in charge of the state does not work well. Snyder is a socially ‘moderate’, which means that he feels that the ‘life’ portion of ‘life, liberty, and property’ is optional – as if you can pick and choose what are natural rights given to us by God. Snyder’s support for gay marriage and racial preferences also demonstrate that he is not in tune with voters on the issues, and I’m getting sick of politicians who talk about moderation but on the issues are … [Full Story]