Milestone: Zooey, Ukes, Parades, Calendars

Mark your calendar for ukuleles in Ann Arbor's 4th of July parade!

In this monthly update, I will explain what Zooey Deschanel and Ann Arbor, Michigan have in common.

I’ll hazard a guess that some regular readers of The Chronicle’s local government news coverage might wonder: Who is Zooey Deschanel? OK. So here it goes. She’s that actress from New Girl – not the one who plays CeCe, but the one who plays Jess. Right. So Jess is the one who might wind up with Nick, but we don’t know for sure, but we’re still totally rooting for them to get together as a couple – because they’re both so, like, you know, quirky that nobody else would have them.

Calendar Listing for Ukelele Group

Extract of The Chronicle’s calendar listing for July 4, 2013. Other events between this “double entry” were digitally removed.

Ah, yes. New Girl is a TV sitcom, broadcast on FOX.

If that doesn’t give Ms. Deschanel enough cred for you to read any more of this column, try this: She gave a musical performance at Hill Auditorium last night, as part of the duo “She & Him.”

She was performing around the same time when regular readers of The Chronicle were following along with our live updates from the meeting of the Ann Arbor city council. [Spoiler alert: The council was all sorta Nick-and-Jess about their agenda last night, and postponed a bunch of stuff.]

Those city council meetings, by the way, are listed out on The Chronicle’s new-and-improved event listing display, along with myriad other happenings in Ann Arbor. I wrote about the basic technology behind that event listing earlier this year. If you’d like to add all your organization’s events to our listing all-in-one-go, it’s pretty easy.

The lead art for this column is made out of a screenshot taken from The Chronicle’s event listings. For calendar purists, this might be evidence that we are doing it wrong: The 4th of July parade is listed twice. Twice? That’s like making Jess and Nick go on a double date with CeCe and Schmidt, am I right?

Actually, I think that “double listing” illustrates perfectly why our approach to event listings is exactly right. 

Ukulele Group

The Ann Arbor Ukulele Group in the 2012 4th of July parade.

First, how did this “impure” double listing happen? Our listing draws from the iCalendar data feeds created by the organizations whose calendars we are aggregating. So it’s possible that more than one organization could list the same event. The display that Microsoft’s Jon Udell has crafted for us (as a part of the elmcity project) will actually coalesce identical events into a single item in the display.

But in the case of the Ann Arbor 4th of July parade, you can see that the Ann Arbor Jaycees and the Ukulele Group chose slightly different titles for the parade in their calendars: “Ann Arbor Jaycees 4th of July Parade” versus “Ann Arbor 4th of July Parade.” Shouldn’t we have a way of giving deference to the calendar maintained by the true event host – which is in this case the Ann Arbor Jaycees? I don’t think so.

For one thing, even though the Ann Arbor Jaycees are the actual host of the event, in their calendar they didn’t include specific time information. They’ve got it listed as an all-day event. For the Jaycees as an organization, it probably is an all day event. This other organization, called the Ann Arbor Ukulele Group, listed a specific time – so you know it’s a morning event. It’s slightly better than the information provided by the event host. The 9:30 a.m. time, however, is when the ukulele players are supposed to gather. It’s not the official parade start time, which is 10 a.m.

But here’s what I enjoy about the fact that the Ann Arbor Ukulele Group’s 4th of July parade event shows up in our listing: Because it’s there, we get a little preview of one of the parade entries. From that listing we get the idea: There’s gonna be ukes in the parade! It makes me want to go to the parade!

And when you click through from the event listing, you land on the ukulele group’s MeetUp page – which is the platform that automatically generates their iCalendar data feed. There you find their set list for the parade:

  1. “This Land Is Your Land”
  2. “When The Saints Go Marching In”
  3. “You’re A Grand Old Flag/Yankee Doodle Boy”
  4. “Ukes On The March”

One of the group’s organizers, Hilo Greg aka Greg Gattuso, responded to my emailed query by explaining that this year will mark the group’s fourth appearance in Ann Arbor’s parade. You can also download the music for the songs from their MeetUp page, and join them in marching in the parade.

And that brings me back around to Zooey Deschanel. She could, if she really wanted, march in Ann Arbor’s 4th of July parade with Hilo Greg and his friends. Not because she’s a pretty girl. But because she’s a pretty girl with a uke.

That’s just like Ann Arbor will be on July 4th this year: a pretty girl … with a parade of ukes.

Dave Askins is editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle. For the first four years of publication, a milestone column was published every month in The Chronicle. Now the column is only an occasional feature. When the milestone column does appear, it’s on the second day of the month – to mark the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s Sept. 2, 2008 launch. It’s an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication. It’s also a time that we highlight, with gratitude, our local advertisers, and ask readers to consider subscribing voluntarily to The Chronicle to support our work.