Archive for December, 2009

A2: Food

The Epic Portions blog posts a positive review of Jerusalem Garden in Ann Arbor: “(It’s) not too often that I get myself to order anything besides the falafel sandwich with hummus, but the chicken shawarma is also one of the best I’ve had. You can watch the cooks grill your chicken right in front of you, and whatever they marinate it with.. Well.. I’m thinking about breaking in and stealing the recipe.” [Source]

Leslie Science Center Turns Calendar

Hijin Kim, wearing his New Year's Eve mask, salutes the end of 2009 with a pencil. Later, he told The Chronicle: "Masks are scarier than hats." (Photos by the writer.)

Hajin Kim, wearing his New Year's Eve mask, salutes the end of 2009 with a pencil. Later, he told The Chronicle: "Masks are scarier than hats." (Photos by the writer.)

Bob Voakes is sitting in the front room of the main Leslie Science and Nature Center building, encircled by more than a dozen children sprawled on the floor. “It’s a special day today – does anyone know what day it is?”

“New Year’s Eve!” they cry out.

It would be hard not to know the answer – everyone is wearing New Year’s Eve hats or masks that they’d made earlier that morning, using construction paper and markers.

They’re all enrolled in the holiday break camp program, with a full agenda of crafts, sledding, hiking, searching for animal tracks, s’more-making, and “who knows what other exciting things we might do!” Voakes, a staff member, tells the kids.

Just down the hall – in Dr. Eugene Leslie’s former study – someone else has a full agenda, too: executive director Kirsten Levinsohn, who’s getting ready to step down from the post in February, after 20 years at the center. With the sound of children happily hollering in the background, Levinsohn talked about the upcoming transition, and why it’s an exciting time for LSNC. [Full Story]

Packard & Division

Line out the door at Blimpy Burger, unusual for school breaks. Must be the resolute of tomorrow having a hearty final fling.

UM: Stem Cells

The Detroit Free Press reports on stem cell research at several Michigan universities, including UM, a little more than a year after voters eased regulations on that work. The article quotes Eva Feldman, head of UM’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute: “This is a transformative time for medicine. … It’s a new frontier.” [Source]

A2: Year’s Best Food List

Writing on his blog, Hruminations, John Hritz has compiled a list of best Ann Arbor food of 2009 – from Amadeus to Zingerman’s [Source]. The alphabetical listing by venue allows easy comparison with Hritz’s 2008 list [Source].


Ten people standing in line in the below-freezing temperatures, waiting to feed the central parking payment machine at Farmers Market.

Washington btw. 4th and 5th Aves.

Lacking regular Bi Bim Bop location, and meeting on Wednesday not Thursday, the A2B3 lunch group lapses into factions – Indian vs. Cuban for lunch location. 20 plus people choose Indian buffet.

A2: Business

CNN/Money reports on a consumer satisfaction survey conducted by Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results, which showed high levels of satisfaction for Amazon, Netflix, QVC and Apple. The article quotes CEO Larry Freed: “These are the biggest retailers on the Web, and they’ve got the ability to invest in the Web channel and even meet the price points that consumers are looking for in this economy. Smaller and midsized e-retailers may not be so lucky.” [Source]

First & Washington

Two men working on the gate controls at the First & Washington parking lot. They look really cold.

Column: Pedaling and the Price of Recycling

Styrofoam baler

Styrofoam baler with gates open, and the masher in the "down position." In this position, the operator can slide wires through slots in the top and the bottom to wrap the bale securely, before releasing the pressure on the masher. (Photos by the writer.)

About once a month, I load up my bicycle cargo trailer with an assortment of gallon jugs – plastic and glass – plus a mountain of rigid Styrofoam, then pedal off to Recycle Ann Arbor’s drop off station at the corner of Platt and Ellsworth.

When I drop my load of recyclables there, I’m not wearing my Ann Arbor Chronicle editor’s hat. Rather, I’m working as the sole-proprietor of a (very) small bicycle-based business called HD Hauling and Delivery.

I bring this up mostly to establish some sort of credibility as a friend of the environment.

That way when I reveal what I’ve been thinking about recently, there might be a brief hesitation before readers reach into their recycling totes, retrieve a well-rinsed artisanally-crafted mayonnaise jar, and chuck it at my noggin. Not that it will do those readers any good – I generally wear my bicycle helmet, even when I’m just typing.

Now, when I say I’ve been “thinking about” the idea of turning Huron Hills Golf Course into a landfill, I’m not saying that I advocate creating a landfill there. I’m not even saying that it’s a good idea to research the question. I’m just saying that the idea crossed my mind, okay? Why?

It’s because of a recent decision by Recycle Ann Arbor to charge a $3 entry fee for their drop off station, starting Jan. 2, 2010. How do you whack a rhetorical ball all the way from that $3 fee to a landfill at Huron Hills Golf Course? Believe me, you need a lot of club. Fore! [Full Story]

Washtenaw Jail Diary: Chapter 6, Part 2

Return to Sender stamp from Washtenaw County JailEditor’s Note: After the break begins the final installment of the Washtenaw Jail Diary, written by a former inmate in Washtenaw County’s jail facility on Hogback Road. The piece originated as a Twitter feed in early 2009, which the author subsequently abandoned and deleted. See previous Chronicle coverage “Twittering Time at the Washtenaw County Jail.

In now working with the author to publish the Washtenaw Jail Diary, The Ann Arbor Chronicle acknowledges that this is only one side of a multi-faceted tale.

We also would like to acknowledge that the author’s incarceration predates the administration of the current sheriff, Jerry Clayton.

This narrative, which has run over a series of several installments, provides an insight into a tax-funded facility that most readers of The Chronicle will not experience first-hand in the same way as the author.

The language and topics introduced below reflect the environment of a jail. We have not sanitized it for Chronicle readers. It is not gratuitously graphic, but it is graphic just the same. It contains language and descriptions that some readers will find offensive. [Full Story]

A2: Things to Be Missed

Andrew Miller worked a few years in Ann Arbor in the field of Internet search before just recently moving back to Richmond, Virginia.  Writing on YourSearchAdvisor, he has compiled a list of 50 things he’ll miss  about Ann Arbor. An exerpt from that list: …  (30) UM Marching Band practices in late summer (31) Shows at the Michigan Theater (32) (33) Michigan Public Radio (34) Running the Big House Big Heart 5k … [Source]

Chelsea: Gallery

The Chelsea Update is reporting that Chelsea Gallery on Main Street will be closing on Dec. 31. The report quotes a statement by gallery owners Gary and Doris Galvin and Jean Lash: “There is never a good time to share this message, but we must move forward and hope that the relationships that we have developed over the years will continue.” [Source]

Twittering at the Ann Arbor Senior Center

The sound is like heavy rain clattering on a tin roof. “It’s called twittering – yes, we know how to twitter!”


This kind of twittering is also social and interactive – to shuffle the Mah Jongg tiles. (Photos by the writer.)

The “we” is a group of six who’ve come to the Ann Arbor Senior Center on a frigid Monday afternoon to play Mah Jongg, and they’ve graciously allowed The Chronicle to sit in on their game.

It’s a slow day at the center – typically, there might be 16 or more people here to play the traditional Chinese tile game, plus another couple dozen playing bridge – but wind and snow and perhaps the holiday weekend made for a thin turnout.

The Chronicle has covered two meetings of a city task force that’s trying to save the center – it’s slated to close on July 1, unless the task force can come up with ways to cut expenses and raise revenues to overcome a $151,687 operating shortfall.

But we hadn’t yet visited the center to see what goes on there during a typical day. So on Monday, we made the snowy trek. [Full Story]

UM: Air Travel

A Detroit News article reports on air travel under tighter security in the wake of the Christmas Day attempted attack on a Northwest Airlines flight. The article quotes Bob Kennedy, a UM business professor returning from Amsterdam, regarding the threat of an attack: “It’s like driving – 99.9 percent of the time it’s fine.” [Source]

Burns Park

Kids screaming (presumably in glee) as they sled on the small hill in the park.

Washtenaw: Nature Walk

On his blog A Wandering Knight, Ken Knight posts a video of a recent walk through the Brauer Nature Preserve by members of the Ann Arbor Walks group: “The former farm still sees a little farming but is now managed as an open space by Washtenaw County. Some trails exist in the rolling hills.” [Source]

A2: Business

U.S. Banker reports that Taylor Capital Group Inc. has made some key hires from a former Ann Arbor-based business: “In early December, the Rosemont, Ill., company hired William Newman and two dozen other veterans of what used to be ABN Amro Mortgage Group Inc. to start a home loan unit. The $4.5 billion-asset parent of Cole Taylor Bank said it wants to generate fee income and rely less on commercial and industrial and residential real estate development loans, where delinquencies are mounting.” [Source]

Column: Visions for the Library Lot

Local developer Peter Allen and Stephanie Simon, a student in Allen's course at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Local developer Peter Allen and Stephanie Simon, a student in Allen's urban development course at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Simon was part of a student team that had developed a project for the Library Lot – they presented their work to library board members on Dec. 17. (Photo by the writer.)

It was a telling moment. A group of graduate students from the University of Michigan had just finished making presentations to members of the Ann Arbor District Library board. They were part of a class on urban design taught by local developer Peter Allen.

Some of their class projects had focused on development of the Library Lot, and two teams were on hand to show their work to the board.

When they were done, Allen talked about why the student perspective was important – for the worldview they brought, and the insight they could give on how to make downtown Ann Arbor attractive for the 25 to 35-year-old professional.

The moment came when Prue Rosenthal, the board’s treasurer, asked this question: “How many of you plan to stay here?”

Silence – then some awkward laughter. None of the six students, it turns out, intend to stick around Ann Arbor after graduation.

That alone isn’t a big deal – it’s a small sample, after all. But it was striking when combined with the vision these students had for downtown development – a vision very different from what’s typically proposed for Ann Arbor, or from what actually gets built. But it’s a vision that, if realized, might compel these young professionals to make a life here. [Full Story]

Michigan: Iraq Report

Writing on his blog “War Inside My Head” Sky Soldier brings readers up to date on his trip home to Michigan on leave, describes some contrasts between here and there, and describes rain and mud in all of its splendor.

From the part about rain: “There is really nothing quite like standing in a truck with the top half of your body sticking out rolling down the road and getting rained on. If you do not cover every square inch of your face it feels as if hundreds of tiny ice daggers are stabbing you in the face. If you don’t believe me try sticking your head out of your car window next time it rains. If you really do this … [Full Story]

Ypsi: Music

Mittenfest IV is this year’s edition of a multi-day concert by independent musical artists performed around holiday time.  The list of 40 acts for the four-day event, which stretches from New Year’s Eve through Jan. 3, is available on the Mittenfest website. This year’s event takes place at the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti. [Source]

UM: Saginaw Forest

A post on the Saginaw Forest Caretakers’ blog describes where people can park if they want to access the UM-owned forest, located off of Liberty Road, but notes that it’s not a park. “It is a research facility, and access to this facility is maintained primarily for researchers, public safety officers, and the caretaker. Although public use of the facility is welcome from 6am – 6pm, all non-official users must find other legal means of entering the facility, or be prepared to accept the consequences of not doing so.” [Source]

John Leidy Shop to Close in Late February

The entrance to the John Leidy shop at 601 E. Liberty, adjacent to the Michigan Theater. (Photo by the writer.)

The entrance to the John Leidy shop at 601 E. Liberty, next to the Michigan Theater. (Photo by the writer.)

Just after noon on Sunday, several people had already assembled in the John Leidy gift shop on East Liberty: three generations of the family-owned business, and two self-described “Leidy Ladies” – long-time staff at the 58-year-old store.

A Chronicle reader had contacted us with news that the store planned to close. So we stopped by to talk with the Leidy family, who were gathering there after coming from church: John Leidy’s widow, Ann Leidy, their daughter Liz Arsenault, who manages the store, and son Peter Leidy, who’s acting as spokesman for the family.

Postcards were mailed to their customers over the last few days announcing plans to close at the end of February, when their lease is up. But on Sunday, Peter Leidy told The Chronicle that they weren’t yet ready for an interview. There’s a lot of emotion, he said, and gratitude to customers – but it’s a hard time for them. [Full Story]

UM Hospital

Media gaggle breaks camp and has headed for the airport to set up there; they believe the suspect in the Christmas Day attempted airliner bombing has been moved from the UM facility.

The Day a Beatle Came to Town

John Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, playing at the 1971 John Sinclair Freedom Rally at Crisler Arena. (Photo courtesy Leni Sinclair.)

The passage of nearly four decades can dim even the keenest of memories. But to Hiawatha Bailey, the events of that winter afternoon in 1971 are as clear as if they had happened yesterday. Bailey was 23 and working at the communal headquarters of the Rainbow People’s Party in the ramshackle old mansion at 1520 Hill Street in Ann Arbor.

“I was doing office duty,” he recalls, “which entailed sitting at the front desk and answering the phone. Some friends were there, and we were sitting around, tripping on acid, probably, and the phone rings. I pick it up and I hear this voice, ‘Hello, this is Yoko Ono.’”

Bailey, of course, didn’t believe it for a second. “I said something like, ‘Yeah, this is Timothy Leary,’ and hung up. We all got a good laugh out of it.” A few minutes later the phone rang again. This time the voice on the other end said, “Hello, can I speak to David Sinclair, Chief of Staff of the Rainbow People’s Party. This is John Lennon of the Beatles.”

“I wasn’t even that familiar with the Beatles then,” says Bailey, now lead singer for the Cult Heroes, an Ann Arbor-based punk rock band. “I was more into the Stooges and the MC5, more radical rock ’n’ roll. But I knew right away that it really was John Lennon.” He put the call through.

“Dave and John talked for quite some time,” Bailey recalls. “Lennon said, ‘I heard about the benefit that you blokes are putting on, and I wrote a little ditty about John Sinclair and his plight. I’d like to come there and perform it.’” [Full Story]

UM: Terrorist Suspect

The University of Michigan Health System has issued a statement asking the media to contact the U.S. Justice Department for further information about the patient being treated at UM’s burn center, who was charged on Saturday with attempting to set off an explosive device on Christmas Day aboard a Northwest Airlines flight. UMHS also set out media guidelines: “We ask that reporters, photographers and video crews covering this story remain outside our hospital. It is permissible to shoot still and video images of our facility from public sidewalks, and we will allow television trucks to park on the wide sidewalk near the front of University Hospital/Taubman Center.” [Source]

A2: Helen Thomas

The Ann Arbor District Library has posted a video of the Nov. 24 talk given by veteran journalist Helen Thomas at the Michigan Theater. Thomas was in town to promote her new book, “Listen Up Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President To Know And Do.” [Source]

Liberty & Fourth St.

Kid in driveway playing with something he got for Christmas: a Slinky. Did not admonish: “That’s not how you play with a Slinky.”

No. 5 Bus

A teenager telling her friends that Christmas gets on her nerves.