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October 14, 1973 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1973-10-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

magazine editors:
tony schwartz
marty porter
contributing editor:
laura berman

inside:

Sunday

magcazlfle

Books in review-page 4
Man and his dog-page 5
Looking Back-page 5

Number5 Page Three

October 14, 1973

uising

the

forgotten

parts

of

town

'Somehow the image Ann Arbor casts is larger than life;
cleaner than clean ... my cab had taken me to people and
places that had been all but swept under the rug and ig-
nored. I found a totally different world in Ann Arbor and
it bothered me that more people didn't know about it.'

By JOHN PAPANEK
THE EIGHT HUNDRED block of
South. Maple might just as well
be in Mississippi; that's how conspic-
uous it is in the context of Ann Arbor.
The Burma Road was probably
smoother and the bombed out ruins
of Dresden may have looked more ap-
pealing. The thirty or so low income
units there probably looked fresh and
modern when they were built some
eight or nine years ago, but now doors
hang on single hinges, dirty canvasses
cover broken windows and bony dogs
forage through festering garbage
dumps. The project parking lot has
ten or twelve cars, all but one or two
stripped or sitting on flat tires. Sev-
eral dozen adults and children occupy
various corners of the parched, grass-
less courtyard.
I wheeled my red, white and blue
Veterans Cab into the lot and sound-
ed my horn once, then several more
times, until my passenger emerged
and approached my cab. He was dud-
ed up: shades, leather jacket, spiked
heels and a wide-brimmed black hat
studded with silver bullets. His face
looked menacing.
"HOW YOU DOING?" I smiled and
chose my words carefully.
"Ann Street." That was all he said,
with a long Aaannnnnn, and a short
Street.

job, intent on making money and not'
expecting to make any startling so-
cial revelations. I.had seen ,middle
class Ann Arbor before, I had run into
the honkies in the bars downtown.
And I had driven by Ann Street be-
fore, and the Model Cities; I wasn't
ignorant of that part of Ann Arbor's
black community, and I had a vague
n'otion that all in Ann Arbor wasn't
as rosy as it seemed to be.
But my preparedness (hardly soft=
ened the blow when my cab began
taking me to people and places whose
presence in the All-American City
was all but swept under the rug and
ignored. I shouldn't have been shock-
ed, but somehow the image that Ann
Arbor casts is larger than life; cleaner
than clean. It wasn't so much the
discoveries of projects like South Ma-
ple, Hikone and Pontiac Heights that
bugged me. I am aware of Ann Arbor's
rapid growth, and the increasing
numbers of largely black working
class people that are migrating here;
What shocked me was that I found
a totally different world right here in
Ann Arbor, and it bothered me that
more people didn't know about it.
IT DOESN'T take a cab driver very
long to get to know Ann Street.
On that single block are two pool
rooms, the Derby, the Red Shield

repose there for a snootful after a
hard day's work, but also the central
clearing house for pimps, prostitutes
and drug traders who administer the
large hard drug market in Ann Arbor.
ANN STREET'S incongrous location
-it sits between the County Jail
and the Ann Arbor Police Depart-
ment - doesn't seem to inhibit dope
czars in the least. Every once in a
while there's a shooting or a stab-
bing or a big bust. Several weeks ago,
a squadron of Ann Arbor cops burst
into the Derby with drawn guns hop-
ing to stymie a big dope deal they
heard was in progress. Instead of
nailing Mr. Big, they blew the cover
off a crew of Detroit narcs who were
posing as dealers in trying to trap
the Detroit-Ann Arbor traffickers.
"Ann Street's the only place we
got to go," one of the regular ex-
plains. "Ain't nobody's secret, what
goes on there, shit. You want a wo-
man? A color television? I can get it
for you. The police? Shit, they come
every now and then, but most of the
time'things stay cool. You know what
I mean."
* * *
I STARTED to cruise away from Ann
Street when a middle-aged man
waved for me and I pulled to the curb
to let him in. He was conservatively
dressed with a few drinks already un-
der his belt.
"Okay," I said and wheeled the cab
onto Main heading south.
"Hey, man I said the Elk's. Where
you going?"
"The Elk's is right down here on
Main and William."
"Noooooooo. That's the white Elk's.
I'm going to the colored Elks, on
Sunset Street.
I laughed in disbelief. "You mean
that there's a separate Elk's Club for
blacks?"
To him, the answer was obvious.
"Well, we not allowed into the white
peoples'."
ANY READER still clinging to the
belief that Ann Arbor 'is just a
nice place to live is invited to visit
North Maple Park, still another
swept-under-the-rug housing project
about a mile north of the Maple Vil-
lage shopping center. North Maple is
the headquarters of the "Forty
Thieves," a dastardly group of 13 to
15-year old outlaws bent on petty
larceny and varied sorts of mischief.
As a rookie cab driver, I thought they
were a bunch of cute kids.
They had me surrounded one night
-there must have been a dozen of
them - jiving with me, playing with
my microphone, grabbing cigarettes
from my pack, playfully climbing all
over my cab. I was having as much
fun as any of them when -thwap!-
the right hand door was openand a
little bandit was in and out, taking
with him my coin changer, my FM
radio and a lot of my faith..
That episode repeated itself several
times with other cabbies climaxing on
Labor Day when the same group of
kids robbed a driver, ripped out his
cab radio, punched him and sliced
his arm with a rusty nail.
* * *
THERE ARE crazies in Ann Arbor,
and the champion of them all is
Maddie Moss, a raving but harmless
40-ish woman. She's a frequent cab
rider and the dispatchers have an
understandable passion for sending

unaware rookies out to get her. My
number was up.
"I tell you right now I don't like
no white peoples," she begins, "so you
just take me where I want to go and
don't ask me no questions. You white
peoples asked enough questions al-
ready. You don't never know what's

Doily Photo by KAREN KASMAUSKI
"Man if you're black in Ann Arbor there's ony one block on Ann Street."

so smart after all. And you know, I'm
gonna give you a tip 'cause you white
peoples needs lots of help."
HER BANTER finally stopped when
I pulled into Woodland Hills sub-
division. "I ain't gettin out of this
cab, colored man, and you ain't get-
ting no money." She sat mum, arms
crossed, refusing to budge.
"Lady," I said, "if you don't get out
I'll have to take you to the police sta-
tion." She was silent, so off I went,
trying to break her along the way.
She still sat like a wooden Indian
when I pulled into the station. Two
officers came out and scowled when
they recognized her.
Maddie loosened up and handed me
a ten dollar bill. "Here, white boy,"
she said, "share this with them cops,
they need some help, too;"

Y CAB DRIVING day was four or
five hours old; visions of wierdos,
drunks, superflies, red necks and old
ladies lingered on my weary mind. I
pulled in front of the. Union, grateful
for a chance to rest and glance at
some of the porno magazines the day
driver had-left me.
A hip young lady in an A2 Blues
and Jazz tee-shirt bounced up and
iflopped into the back seat. "Hi!" she
bubbled. "Isn't it a beautiful day?".
"Yeah. Uh-huh."
"You know, I can't believe what a
beautiful place Ann Arbor is. I've
been all over - San Francisco, Colo-
rado, Boston - and Ann Arbor is the
nicest. There doesn't seem to be any-
thing bad here. It's like a paradise."
I can usually control myself, but I
suppose this girl just sent me off too
far. I had heard enough of the Ann

Arbor as Utopia myth; in fact I may
have held that conception myself not
too long ago. After all, where else
could you smoke dope on the street
and only get tapped for five dollars?
Ard isn't Ann Arbor chosen year after
year As "one of the top ten places in
America in which to live?" What
about the booklet the Chamber of
Commerce puts'out, the one with the
lush color pictures of 'the' campus in
autumn, sailboats on the Huron -
hand-ho.ding couples on the Diag, a
collage of scenes that bring to mind
the sickening appelation of "The All-
American City."
I turned around and shook my
head. "Why don't you try opening
your eyes?"

John Papaneck is a
ex-Daily Sports Editor.

cab driver and

Vy RICK STREICKER

In

the

streets

Daily Photo by KAREN KASMAUSKI
For the kids at North Maple Park a playground
is an automobile graveyard.
"Uh, Ann Street . . . uh, right . . . Store and Rush's Barber Shop. Be-
Ann and what?.. . Imean what block cause Ann Arbor's black community is
of Ann Street? I live on Ann Street chopped up 'into little pieces and
myself . . . down near the hospital." tucked into every backroads pocket
I saw a cooly disinterested face in in the city, "The Block" represents
my rear view. "You must be a new its only common ground.
driver." On summer afternoons and eve-
"RIGHT. Yeah, I am a new driver." nings, the crowd spills out of the Der-
'by and the pool rooms into the
"'Well, man, you know where the street and the adjacent parking lots.
Derby Bar is at?" Flashy green Cadillacs and white
"Oh, shit yes, the Derby Bar? Sure, Mark IVs sit in the few metered park-
I know where the Derby Bar is. You ing places on the block. There is nev-
want to go to theDerby Bar." er a parking problem here. The un-
"No man." He was getting irritated, written rule says, "If you ain't driving
and my ignorarce was fuel for the some baaaaad muthafuckin car, it
fire. "That's Ann Street. Where the don't belong on the block." There's.

HERE WERE a lot of oohs and aaahs from the fres;i-
men and sophomores a couple of weeks ago when
two wandering minstrels from Berkeley opened up shop
and played for pennies on the diag. They were pretty
good, too - sort of an updated version of the Smothers
Brothers. But they couldn't hold a candle to John
Lennon and the boys.
Back in the fall of 1970 and again in the fall of 1971
John Lennon and his friends gave a daily concert on
the diag. John Lennon wasn't his real name, of course,
but his friends called him John and he was the spitting
image of the real John Lennon before the real John
Lennon cut off all his hair.
There were a bunch of people who used to sing
with John Lennon at those concerts, but the two main
ones were Peter the Red and Chet Morton. Peter the,
Red was a guy with curly red hair, and Chet Morton
was a fat guy with a moustache who looked just like
you'd picture the fat friend of the Hardy Boys. The,
fall of 1970 was the absolute height of the hysteria over'
Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, and- somehow these
three guys managed to sing all four parts perfectly.
The music was great in those days. Everybody, on
campus must have owned CSN&Y's two albums as well
as Sweet Baby James, The Band, Everybody Knows This
is Nowhere and Volunteers. All albums you don't listen
to anymore, but they were hot then. Everybody knew,
the words to every song, so if you were walking to your
two o'clock class -in Angell you'd see this huge crowd
of people on the diag and hear "Do-do-do-do-do, doot-
doot-do do-do-do," the end of "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,"
and naturally you'd have to put off going. to your
class to find out what the next song was going to be.
JOHN LENNON was in the middle of a crowd with his
guitar. Peter the Red and Chet Morton would be
sitting beside him. Completing this inner circle would
be a couple of other friends and a gaggle of groupies.
The groupies were always breathtakingly beautiful
girls. There was one girl with curly black hair, a like-

watched him every day you could predict what the
song was going to be by the way he played this chord,
but most people had to wait until John and Peter arid
Chet began singing before they could join in.
The high point was always the chorus. A good
heavy song like "Long Time Gone" would give every-
body on the diag the chance to get funky and indulge
in their fantasies of being a rock-and-roll star.
THERE WAS A great girl who was there every day and
who used to dance until her excitement was so
great that it would be an orgiastic frenzy. She'd sing,
too, in a high, piercing voice with all the painful eno-
tion of post-adolescence. She used to station herself
right around the ring of bicycles, where everyone could
see her. She didn't know John Lennon or his crowd, but
she wanted to.
She probably never got to know them, though.
They were intent, those birds. John Lennon rarely look-
ed up from his guitar. If the words were really mean.-
ingful and the harmony tight, he and Peter and Chet
would look into each others eyes while they sang in
order to goad each other on to greater depths.
It was hard to crack that little circle. They were
the people on the inside, and they knew it. What the
captain of the football team or the captain of the
cheerleaders were in high school, John Lehnon and his
friends were in college. You went to see them. every
day - why, it was more than you did for your pro-
fessors!
You could always spot the guitar players in the
crowd - when they weren't peering intently at John
Lennon's fingers to learn'the chords, they would wave
their hands in the air-playing a phantom guitar. It
was the heyday of that sort of thing, and even if you
walked across the diag at three in the morning you
were sure to meet someone soming the other way mov-
ing his mouth and playing that imaginary guitar.
NOW THESE guys from Berkeley who came here and
played on the 'diag - they never gave you any-
thing as valuable as an imaginary guitar. At best they

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