September 2, 2021

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image for the answer and more.

This week

Watching May Erlewine and Theo Katzman perform at Sonic Lunch today felt like a strange dream. It's the first show I've been to in almost two years, and it seemed both overdue and premature given the state of things.  I also had a surreal feeling on Ashley as I left the parking lot, briefly overwhelmed by the opportunity to turn left OR right.

More mixed feelings arise in me as I tell you that next week will be my last as editor of a2view. I have accepted a job as development and communications director for a nonprofit in Ypsilanti. But you'll still see my byline in the Observer now and then.

If you have a tip or would like to share your feedback, please write me at 

Jules Gates of Ann Arbor broke the record for the highest number of pogo stick jumps for an eleven year old on December 10, 2020. His submission was accepted by Record Setter on Tuesday. The 10,105 jumps took him an hour and twenty minutes to complete, beating the last record by 105 jumps. 

The News...Briefly

On August 26, the county reached a “high” level of community spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Wednesday, Washtenaw County reported fifty-five new cases, no hospitalizations, and no deaths in the past twenty-four hours, with a weekly test positivity rate of 3.7 percent.

The City of Ann Arbor requires all employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by October 8. Employees who fail to provide proof of vaccination by the deadline will be subject to disciplinary actions that eventually will result in termination of employment. Click on Detroit

The Washtenaw County Health Department issues a mask mandate for county schools, both public and private, going into effect after the Labor Day holiday. Of the county’s ten public school districts, only Manchester is currently mask-optional. MLive

The Blind Pig canceled its “Grand Re-Opening Extravaganza” last weekend when a doorman tested positive for Covid-19 after a shift on Saturday. Talent buyer Jason Berry is skeptical about public concern for the safety of club staff. “No one cares, they just want shows. Demand is such that we've become essential workers, more or less. And by 'we' I mean live music staff and live musicians themselves, all over the Earth. Patrons are exposing us all to Covid on a nightly basis.”

Plans for a new railroad station grind to a halt. After years of costly planning and petitioning by city officials, the Federal Railroad Commission put the brakes on the environmental assessment for a proposed Amtrak station by the Michigan Medicine complex on Fuller Rd., citing exorbitant costs, excessive parking, and lack of need. MLive

A pair of high-rises that will include affordable housing are planned for the Y lot next to the Blake Transit Center. It’s one of several city-owned sites the Ann Arbor Housing Commission is considering for approximately 1,500 units of affordable housing over the next twenty years. About forty percent of the new dwellings would be subsidized affordable apartments, the rest either market-rate rentals or condos. MLive

Members of the Lecturers’ Employee Organization marched in front of U-M residence halls last weekend demanding pay raises for lecturers at the U-M Flint and Dearborn campuses. After nine months of unsuccessful negotiations, LEO is threatening to strike if the university does not agree to a contract by September 8. Michigan Daily

After shutting down most construction during the first phases of the pandemic, U-M is moving ahead with major projects across the Ann Arbor campus. Here is a look at eight of the biggest projects currently underway, totallng $1.5 billion. University Record

Drivers divided: In case anyone doubted it, last week’s a2view survey confirmed that people are polarized on the change to two-way traffic on Ashley and First. We got 262 responses and counted 250 after eliminating multiple entries from the same IP address. Only 18 people chose “I couldn’t care less either way.” Most clustered at the extremes, with seventy-six people picking “I never want to drive again!” and fifty-six declaring “I love it! I am dancing in the streets!” Overall, negative responses slightly outnumbered positive ones, 121-110. 

Providing new fuel to the fire, S. Main St. went on a “road diet” last week, shrinking from four lanes to three (one each way, plus a center turn lane) from William to Stadium to make room for bike lanes. It’s a trial run that will be suspended come winter, but Packard is permanently losing left-turn lanes at State and Hill streets to make room for bike lanes. MLive 

The city’s third protected bikeway is coming to Division between Packard and Catherine. Construction will begin in late September/early October, replacing parking along the east side of Division. Downtown Development Authority

Following storms that caused power outages across the region, councilmember Elizabeth Nelson will propose a resolution to conduct a feasibility study for a public power utility at Monday’s council meeting. The idea isn’t new—the energy commission has been in discussions about a municipal utility for months—and a coalition of climate-action groups is holding an Ann Arbor Public Power Fundraiser at Burns Park on Monday. Over forty municipalities across the state already have public utilities.

The city has replaced approximately 23,500 aging water meters since last year, but 3,000 customers remain unresponsive. The city, which offers contactless replacement, is no longer accepting the pandemic as a reason to delay. MLive

Results of the Washtenaw County Conservation District resource assessment are in. “This was the largest survey the WCCD has ever conducted in our 73 year history,” says executive director Megan DeLeeuw, and results show “residents are most concerned about the impact of development growth, zoning, and land preservation. We also see an increased concern with the quality of forests and woodlots, including loss of diversity and invasive species.” In response, the agency will add education and technical assistance promoting land use and conservation.

Burns Park butterflies. Local environmental educator Lynda Asher spent her post-op convalescence watching pollinators buzzing about her native perennial garden. When she learned that monarch butterfly numbers had plummeted by ninety percent locally, she decided to take action and is raising and releasing hundreds of monarchs every year. The Observer’s Cynthia Furlong Reynolds has our story. 

New murals for Argus Farm Stop on Liberty and Growing Hope on Michigan Ave. Artists Yen Azzaro of Ypsilanti and Mary Thiefels and Danijel Matanic of Ann Arbor were commissioned by the Ann Arbor Art Center and its partner Toyota to create the farm-themed murals. The Argus mural is complete, and the Growing Hope mural is expected to be completed this month. Ann Arbor Art Center

Ann Arbor Observer correction: an article on the new school year in the September Observer mistakenly said that the AAPS International Baccalaureate program was suspended. We'd misunderstood superintendent Jeanice Swift's reference to the district's International Exchange program. "In fact the enrollment numbers at Mitchell, Scarlet, and Huron remain strong and our Diploma Programme results last year were strong," emails district spokesperson Andrew Cluley. Our apologies to IB parents and to Superintendent Swift for the error.

Who Needs Ya?

Arbor Hospice in “extreme need” of volunteers. The nonprofit, which cares for patients at the end of their lives, needs volunteers to do everything from playing music and providing companionship to helping with administrative tasks. Contact Alana Knoppow at (248) 303-6818 or, or visit

Big Brothers Big Sisters is holding its “Fall Evening” outdoor fundraiser on September 12. The event will feature gourmet food, bourbon tasting, a live auction, and live music to benefit the county youth mentorship program.

Marketplace Changes

WSG Gallery reopens. After leaving its longtime space on Main last year, the artist-owned gallery hosted online shows and limited in-person shows on the second floor of the Ann Arbor Arts Center. Now WSG is opening a new permanent home at 111 E. Ann on September 15. Hours for Grand Opening Week are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. September 15 & 18, and noon-5 p.m. September 16, 17, & 19. 

Roeda Studio to close at the end of the year. The family-owned home art and decor store, which opened on Main St. in 2004, announced on social media it will not renew its lease. Their Grand Rapids location will remain open. Roeda Studio 

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum opens STEAM Park, a new gallery designed to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and artists. The interactive exhibits display the inner workings of machines, including the levers, gears, pulleys, and conveyors of a floor-to-ceiling 17th-century clock. The museum’s year-long pandemic shutdown was “crushing,” says executive director Mel Drumm, “but so many good things came out of it,” including the $1.5 million exhibit sponsored by the Toyota Foundation. “Seventy five percent of our budget comes from earned revenue,” Drumm explains, which forces the museum to constantly innovate: “If we’re not relevant, we’re not here.” The museum is open daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 

"A Hidden Fall" by Takeshi Takahara. A multiple color intaglio printed on BFK.  Currently on exhibit at the WSG Gallery. 


The Wolverines open their 142nd football season at noon on Saturday versus the Western Michigan University Broncos. The game will be broadcast on ESPN. Mgoblue

Despite a series of crushing defeats last season, Wolverines football coach Jim Harbaugh managed to hold onto his job. He’s now shaking up his staff to craft a team that will impress the 85,000 season ticket holders returning to the stands for the first time in two years. The Observer’s Craig Ross has our story, with a sidebar by Jan Schlain about last year’s “phantom tickets.” 

The season will see a return to pre-pandemic rules for tailgating, and the Pioneer High School and Ann Arbor Golf and Outing lots will be chock full of revelers. Avoid Stadium and Main which will be jammed. Vaccines and masks are encouraged, but not required, to attend U-M football games. MLive

On football Saturdays, some public parking structures will offer a $15 flat rate, and the Y lot (5th & William) will operate as hourly metered public parking. a2dda

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

19 Thursday: See Horizon Performing Arts’ “Remember The Magic: The Happiest Musical Revue on Earth” (Aug. 19–22). Connor Rhoades directs area performers in this all-Disney musical revue, including songs featured in movies, TV shows, and theme parks from 1929 to today. Masks required; limited seating. 7 p.m. (Thurs.-Sat.) & 2 p.m. (Sun.), Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti. Tickets $15 (students & seniors, $10; kids age 10 & under on Sun. only, $10) in advance (recommended) at and at the door.

20 Friday: Bring a camp chair or picnic blanket to sit on, and treats to snack on while you watch the Penny Seats Theatre Company’s outdoor production “Summer of Love” (Aug. 19–21). Lauren London directs Roger Bean's 2011 jukebox musical about a conservative runaway bride who ends up in San Francisco at the height of the 1960s counterculture. The score features pop music from the era, from Motown to folk-rock and rock 'n' roll. Concessions. 7 p.m., Burns Park Shelter Area, corner of Baldwin & Wells. Tickets $15 (seniors, $12; kids age 12 & under, $10) in advance at, and at the show. 926-5346.

21 Saturday: Watch local kids in Children’s Creative Center’s musical production of “CCC and the Chocolate Factory” (Aug. 18–22). Directed by Gayle Martin, Laurie Atwood, and Abby Vermeulen, it’s loosely based on Leslie Bricusse and Tim McDonald's 2004 stage show that combines elements of both Roald Dahl's classic novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its iconic 1971 film adaptation “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The score includes such favorites as "Pure Imagination," "Oompa Loompa Melody," "Golden Ticket," "I Want It Now," "It's Time," and "Carry On." Proceeds benefit Friends of CCC, which assists homeless and disadvantaged families with childcare costs. 7 p.m. (Wed–Sat.) & 2 p.m. (Sun.), Children’s Creative Center, 1600 Pauline (at Kay Pkwy. east of Stadium). Tickets pay what you can in advance at or at the door. 

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events. 

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