September 23, 2021

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

This week

Fall is officially here. For Ann Arbor natives, it’s both a magical time, and one where we have to get used to our town being crowded again, with students, returning faculty, and most noticeable, football fans. Michigan has already played three home games, and its fourth in a row comes up this Saturday, after which we’ll have the town to ourselves for the following three weekends (the Wolverines are getting a byweek on October. 16 - here's the schedule.) 

Recently, my friend Frank Langfitt, NPR’s London correspondent, paid a quick visit to Ann Arbor, and I explained the term “anthill” to him. It refers to Ann Arbor residents who stay home on football Saturdays--until the game starts, when many of us run out for a quick round of errands, like ants leaving an ant hill. We keep track of the action on radio or our phones, and once the fourth quarter starts, we scurry home to avoid the post-game traffic, like ants flowing back to the mound. 

Thanks again to Jim Manheim and John Hilton for their help this week!

Apologies for the two sends this week - our first email had last weekend's events listings. 

Micki Maynard, editor

A historic house on S. Main near Michigan Stadium burned on Saturday night (see the News, Briefly, below). Photo by Ann Arbor Fire Department.   

The News...Briefly

Covid-19: As of Wednesday morning, there were seventy-nine confirmed cases (up from fifty-two last week), no hospitalizations, and one death reported in Washtenaw County in the previous twenty-four hours. The positivity rate is down slightly, to 3.5 percent.

Detroit Free Press education writer David Jesse reports that tensions have been brewing between the U-M Board of Regents and president Mark Schlissel, and may have reached a boiling point over the summer. Points of contention include Schlissel's handling of the sexual misconduct case involving former provost Martin Philbert, and a major setback for the university's Detroit Center for Innovation. Regent Mark Bernstein acknowledged the tensions but called them normal workings for a board. A regents' meeting scheduled for today will decide on a raise for Schlissel; the outcome may give an idea of which way the winds are blowing.

The Michigan Daily surveyed members of the incoming class of 2025 about their experiences and views. The paper's staff could teach their mentors a thing or two about data visualization. Some nuggets: fewer than half the freshmen who responded are from Michigan, and 7.3 percent are from another country. Seven residence halls on campus (Alice Lloyd, Mosher Jordan, Couzens, East Quad, North Quad, Stockwell and West Quad) now have air-conditioning, and among the students least satisfied with their residences were those in Bursley and Baits halls on North Campus, which don't. Of the 10 percent of students who said they were most interested in joining a fraternity or sorority, 82 percent had their first drink in high school. Of the 22 percent of students who characterized themselves as most excited about partying on a Friday night, just 12 percent said they would mask up at a house party. Nevertheless, Covid cases at the U-M are headed down, perhaps due to aggressive testing—nearly 16,000 in the first two weeks of September—to catch and quarantine “breakthrough” cases.

Students looking for housing will find themselves in the middle of back-and-forth between renters and landlords that’s unusually intense even by the standards of Ann Arbor's long history of antagonism. City council fired the first shot in August with a measure substantially extending the time tenants have before they must commit to renewing their leases or consent to having their apartments shown. Last week that drew a lawsuit against the city (MLive, subscriber-only) from a landlord group. The latest salvo came Monday night when council approved the formation of a new Renters Commission (Michigan Daily). After considerable debate, the commission will include landlord members—but they won’t be able to vote.

What’s more important: electricity or trees? On one side are people who’ve lost power after falling limbs severed DTE lines and are demanding that the company do more to prevent outages. On the other are people chagrined at the ungainly cutouts left by what councilmember Lisa Disch calls “tree butchering.” One pro-power post on Nextdoor has been removed, but MLive goes in depth on the pushback over tree trimming (subscriber exclusive)

Ann Arbor will have a new congressperson if a plan released last week goes into effect. The city is now in Debbie Dingell’s 12th District, whose odd V shape was created in a partisan gerrymander twenty years ago: Michigan was losing a congressional seat, so Lansing Republicans put two Democratic incumbents in the same district. The state is losing another seat this year, but this time, the lines are being drawn by the voter-created Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission—and instead of two incumbents, the proposed new District 7 has none. (Dingell would be in a redrawn District 2.) The commission is taking comments on its website and still updating its maps. But, if the new 7th takes shape as shown, expect a wide-open primary in 2022.  

The Ann Arbor Fire Department's Facebook page has dramatic video of the fire that tore through a historic home on S. Main on Saturday. “Sad to see it burn,” emails Patrick McCauley. McCauley and Susan Wineberg, the authors of Historic Ann Arbor: An Architectural Guide, report that it was built c. 1868, most likely by a member of the pioneering Brown family, in a hybrid style. Sadly, photos show both its Greek Revival roof and square Italianate tower entirely consumed in flames. 

On Monday, city council approved the purchase of a new AAFD emergency vehicle. According to the Facebook page, the current Rescue 1-1, which dates to 1981, is its busiest vehicle, making 1,322 trips thus far in 2021. While Rescue 1-1 rides on an intermediate truck chassis, its successor will be based on the Ford F-350, a super-duty crew cab pickup. 

The Regional Transit Authority's Ann Arbor-to-Detroit bus service returns next month. D2A2 has been off the road since early in the pandemic, but reservations will reopen on Wednesday for trips starting October 18. One-way fares are $8, $6 advance, or $5 in books of ten. The service will run sixteen hourly round trips daily, leaving from Blake Transit Center and dropping off at Grand Circus Park with easy transfers to Detroit's People Mover or QLine tram. 

Huron River Renaissance: When Grace and Stan Shackman were newlyweds in the mid-1960s, they’d walk to Argo Park and never saw another visitor there. Now it’s so busy they park across the river and take the new pedestrian tunnel. Grace explains the transformation in her feature for the Observer’s 2021-2022 City Guide. 

Marketplace Changes

Douglas J Moves To Kerrytown: Douglas J Salon, a long-time fixture on E. Liberty, is now at Kerrytown, where it has merged with Encore Studio. Hair product fans knew Encore as Ann Arbor’s largest retailer of the Bumble & Bumble lineup (yours truly has purchased everything from shampoo to hair oil), and Bumble items are still being sold at Douglas J, along with a full selection of Aveda products. The Kerrytown salon is among four in Michigan named for Douglas J. Weaver, who founded the business in Okemos.  There are also six Douglas J beauty schools; the Ann Arbor one remains on Maynard. 

Moge Tee Arrives: Another empty Espresso Royale Cafe has a new occupant: Moge Tee is now open. in the Traver Village Shopping Center. It’s the second ERC to fill in lately - M36 Coffee Roasters has taken over the South University location - and the original ERC on State is set to get a coffee bar soon, too. Moge Tee is at least the third global boba tea franchise to land in Ann Arbor, where others include Sharetea and Coco Fresh Tea and Juice. There are plenty of local boba shops, too, like newly opened UniTea near campus and Boba Tea House on Jackson Road. Read more about them here. 

Halloween Shops Have Returned: Halloween is an $8 billion holiday, according to the National Retail Federation, and sales held up even during the pandemic. Local Ann Arbor fans of the ghostly season have at least two sources to find costumes and other gear for kids and adults. Spirit Halloween is open in Briarwood’s J.C. Penney wing, and Halloween City is back at Arborland. Look for more about the Halloween merchants in October’s Observer.

More Time For Ice Cream: Like many local businesses, Ypsilanti’s Go Ice Cream cut its hours severely during the height of the pandemic--at one point, to just a few hours on Saturdays. But thanks to new hires, it’s been able to build back days and hours at its alley window near Washington St. downtown, adding Wednesdays this week. Its newest flavor is cookie butter, much fancier than the kind you get from a jar. First, Go makes its own cookie butter, with ginger and peanut butter, then layers it into Vietnamese coffee ice cream. Go also is among a group of local shops offering plant-based desserts, which you can read about in my Observer story from 2020.

After a pandemic delay, the Eberwhite Elementary community is seeking volunteers for the final phase of its playground rebuild project.

The Helpers

4,000 volunteer hours needed! Last fall, the Eberwhite Elementary School community had to cancel a playdate they’d been planning for years: the final phase of their playground rebuild project. Now it's back and scheduled for October 12-17. They’ve got more than 1000 four-hour shifts available for skilled (comfortable using power tools like a circular saw) and unskilled (think paint, carry materials, spread mulch) volunteers to rebuild the iconic playground structure in compliance with current safety, accessibility, and environmental standards while maintaining its timeless appreciation for fun and community. Individuals and groups can sign up here. 

Want to check out the drag trend, maybe win a prize, and support Alzheimer's research all at the same time? The Alzheimer's Association is presenting a Drag Bingo fundraiser October 9 at Conor O'Neills downtown--drag performers will alternate with bingo rounds. The organizers say that tickets usually sell out.

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

23 Thursday: Learn how to prepare a Korean BBQ meal for two with hands-on guidance (by way of Zoom) by Miss Kim owner Ji-Hye Kim. All the ingredients are included in a take-home kit available for pick up today between 4–6 p.m. at Miss Kim in the Kerrytown Market & Shops. 7 p.m., to preregister see Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels Fundraiser. $55. 


24 Friday: Watch the Encore Musical Theatre Company in Smokey Joe’s Cafe (every Thurs.-Sun., September 23-October 10). The hit 1996 Broadway musical revue features thirty-nine Lieber & Stoller songs, from "Charlie Brown" and "Poison Ivy" to "Hound Dog" and "Jailhouse Rock" to "There Goes My Baby" and "Stand by Me." 7:30 p.m. (Thurs.-Sat.) & 2 p.m. (Sat. & Sun. matinee), Encore, 7714 Ann Arbor St, Dexter. Tickets $42-$50 in advance at Masks required. 268-6200.

25 Saturday: See Susan Werner at the Ark. A talented singer-songwriter known for a jazz-inspired, classically trained vocal style she describes as "pop illiterate," Werner writes incisive, vividly imagined songs in a variety of moods. 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), the Ark, 316 S. Main. Tickets $25-$50 in advance at the Michigan Union Ticket Office and online at the Ark, and at the door. Proof of vaccination and mask required. 761-1818.

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

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