Milestone: A Pitcher Worth 1,000 Words

Contributing to The Chronicle is like putting money in the pitcher when it's passed around at Old Town on Sunday music night

The monthly milestone column here at The Ann Arbor Chronicle provides a regular, systematic way to express our appreciation to readers and advertisers for their financial support. That support was strong enough to sustain the publication through its fifth year in operation. Thank you.

Pitcher passed at the Old Town Tavern on Jan. 1, 2014 for the annual Townes Van Zandt memorial show performed by Chris Buhalis – on the anniversary of Van Zandt s death, now 17 years ago. (Photo by the writer).

Pitcher passed at the Old Town Tavern on Jan. 1, 2014 for the annual Townes Van Zandt memorial show performed by Chris Buhalis – on the anniversary of Van Zandt’s death, now 17 years ago. (Photo by the writer.)

As we flip the calendar to a new year, the regular milestone column is also a chance to remind readers: To sustain itself, the business really does rely in part on “voluntary subscription” dollars.

The Chronicle’s continued ability to document local government and civic affairs depends on you and it depends on you now – not on someone else at some other time. So I’m asking you to think right now about using the online system or the old-fashioned check-in-an-envelope method to make a financial contribution to The Chronicle: Subscribe!

As a reminder, in case we don’t write a column about this in some given month, I’ve added a recurring monthly item to our event listings for the second day of every month: Time to Contribute Financially to The Ann Arbor Chronicle.

It’s worth pointing out that The Chronicle’s event listings are pretty extensive, and currently include somewhere around 15,000 local events. That’s made possible through the work of Jon Udell as part of his Elm City Project. Granted, 15,000 events might sound a bit overwhelming, but we have begun categorizing them into smaller mini-calendars that some readers might find easier to parse.

One of the regular events you’ll find listed in The Chronicle’s event calendar is live music every Sunday night at the Old Town Tavern. Customary at the Old Town, after the band has played its set, is for someone to carry around a pitcher to collect up money for the musicians. It’s somewhat like a secular version of passing the collection plate at a worship service in the Christian tradition.

When someone is holding the pitcher out in front of you, that’s the time you are called upon to act – not later.

So I’d like you to think of this month’s column as the Internet-equivalent of passing the pitcher for The Chronicle. Below the fold, I’m going to beat briefly (I promise) on this same drum. So if you’ve made a recent contribution, you should feel free to imagine that the pitcher has moved on to the next table.

If not, imagine you’re sitting in the equivalent of your Old Town Tavern. Someone is holding a pitcher out in front of you right now. Here’s a list of terrible reasons not to put money in that pitcher at the Old Town.

Why I Won’t Put Money in the Pitcher: 9 Terrible Reasons


  1. Where? I don’t see a pitcher.
  2. I put money in the pitcher last time. 
  3. The Old Town should be paying them, not me.
  4. It’s not like those musicians expect to make a living at this.
  5. The other people at my table already put money in the pitcher.
  6. I would put money in the pitcher if they had played songs I like.
  7. I don’t carry any cash around any more.
  8. If everyone gave a dollar, that guy would be making like $75 an hour! That’s crazy!
  9. If they had a CD for sale, I would buy that, but this would be like paying for nothing.
  10. I just can’t afford it.

The one possibly good reason is (10). The rest, I think, are just self-evidently dumb. Each one of those has an analog to making a financial contribution to The Chronicle.

As we get set to tackle 2014, thanks again to those of you who helped us get through 2013.

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 usually 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.


  1. By Herb
    January 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm | permalink

    Perhaps you should limit the posting of comments to paid subscribers. Then stop the “please be generous” policy, print whatever comments the paid subscribers send it. Venom and malice will flow but so will money.

  2. By Jeff Gaynor
    January 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm | permalink

    Reason #10. I reckon if you’re paying to drink beer, you can pay for the entertainment. Point well made though. And yep, probably time to drop off another check at the Chronicle Headquarters – though likely not today.