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February 20, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1974-02-20

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

Ma r's:

A

local

coffeehouse

By DAVID STOLL
j ARK'S COFFEEHOUSE at 605
E. William closed in Decem-
ber and won't reopen. The story
is sad, familiar, and in conformity
with the honorable Mark's tradi-
tion.
Threatened by debt and b a c k
taxes variously estimated to total
between $20,000 and $35,000 by
those who really don't know for
sure, the owner slipped out of town
before Christmas for parts un-
* known. In so doing, she followed
a precedent set by the previous
owners four years before.
Unlike them, however, before
she left she sold everything of
value in the place, precluding any
attempt by someone else to make
another go of it. The collective of
workers who operated the place
disbanded last summer.
Mark's was just about the only
place in town where patrons had
to deal with the problem of one
guitar player drowning out ano-
ther. Different kinds of people got

woman named Pat Reynolds. Oth-
er bidders reportedly dropped out
when they heard she was repro-
senting the employees. That fall
Pat signed for $12,000 in loans
from friends, relatives and busi-
nesses around town in order to get
Mark's started again. She hadn't
just bought the business, of course,
because with the bankrupt c:t-
feehouse came a loyal body of
friends and workers.
In the next two months these
people worked hard, and for little
or no pay, to carry out .he exten-
sive renovations needed to reopen
the place.
The new Mark's that wel pomed
home the homeless in late 1%69 fea-
tured a grill, which promised to
bring in more money than ever be-
fore. A few months later the PIn-
ball Wizard moved in.- a collec-
tion of shakeand-lever machines
in the basernnt which laid most
of the rent. '
Though the classical music was
gone forever, most of the old famil-

" .' \ n, .'SSm.S'Sm....'SSS'S "S. , 4m ' n "' ....
"Of course, it's impossible for anyone to run a
place like that for very long, here in Ann Arbor
or in any other city. But these places have a
natural life. They get started, go for a while, and
die. But people still keep on trying."
-friend of Mark's
q{+"Va x" . ,""s + } :xt}p " wa s;s. .}ra .y} (. ..:t,"v ;. vy e rnV. ../}.;: "t,

was money in the bank and Pat
was trying to sell the place for
$30,000.' She never found a buyer
though, maybe because the with
holding taxes hadn't been paid f r
better than two years.
There were other problems too
It seems that nearly evezwone who
was going berserk in town custom
arily chose to do so in Mark's.
Once a customer chased an em-
ployee around with a butcher
knife. An old Mark's worker re-
ports going ont to the dayroom at
Ypsilanti State Mental Hospital
and seeing all his old =ustonmer
there.
THE PINBALL machines in the
basement began to draw a coliec-
tion of burnt out personalitie:^,
street indigents from Detrit and
young toughy from Saline and 'p-
silanti, whose end-of-the-world man-
ners inevitably grated on the more
conservative citizens pstair:".
The best that can be said of the
pinball freaks is that they "en-
livened" the place. At worst they
stole anything at hand, begged for
food, and demanded money from
customers. Drug dealers hung
around playing the ma'hines until
they scored a deal. Far a time
several pimps sold utniar high
school-aged girls over the public
telephone. Junkies shot u:, in the
bathroom. While out in the main
room the chess players played
chess - a curious breed indeed -
very intent on their game and
completely oblivious to everything
that went on around them. The
chess players woud take up entire
tables for days, mental c o g s
turning in constant ratiocinatton,
and if they didn't buy in propor-
tion to the time spent there, who
gives a damn? who can do any.
thing anyway?
One afternoon some angry per-
son stuffed a roll of oilet paper,
in the washbowl and left the water
running. Maybe it was an angry the per
junkie or an angry pimp, because them ot
that was just after the manage- ers took
ment had taken out the public tele. hind th
phone and painted the bathroom guns, a
red so that the junkies couldn't feelings
stand it anymore. they kn
The puddle of water which After
spread from underneath the wa'h- usually
room door engulfed a table where ever. T
two chess players weregfitting. sors g
"You feel yer feet gettin' wet, friends
kid?" queried black kindly. returne
"Nope. Bishop to pawn," mat- moneyt
tered white. Unmoving amid the depend

and

fo ds

Eighty-three years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
nord St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48104 News Phone: 764-0552
" b.

420 Mayr

-- -

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1974

Support GEO demands

jHE UNIVERSITY has long neglected
the needs and rights of its more than
2,200 graduate employes.
The lot of the teaching fellows, re-
search assistants, and staff assistants
have, not without just cause, been char-
acterized as that of slave laborers.
They carry the brunt of undergradu-
ate teaching - the most vital task at this
university - thus freeing the professors
to publish rather than perish.
Yet the administration has steadfast-
ly refused to give the teaching fellows
adequate compensation for their work,
arguing that these people are granted
the privilege of pursuing graduate de-
grees in exchange for their teaching.
The teaching fellows do not receive an
Editorial Staff
DANtEL DIDLE
Editor in Chief
JUDY RUSKIN and REBECCA WARNER
Managing Editors
TONY SCHbWARTZ .................. Sunday Editor
MARTIN PORTER ................... Sunday Editor
SUE STEPHENSON..................Feature Editor
MARNIE HEYXN ........,.... ,..... Editorial Directorx
CINDY HILL .....................Executive Editor
KENNETH FINK........ ...... .. Arts Editor
STAFF WRITERS: Prakash Aswani. Gordon Atcheson,
rLaura Berman, Dan Blugexrman, Howard Brick,
Bonnie Carnes, Charles Coleman, Barn Cornell,
Jeff Day, Della DiPietro, Mike Duweck, Ted Evan-
off, Matt Gerson, William Heenan, Steve Hersch,
Jack Krost, Andrea Lilly, Mary Long, Jean Love,
Jeff Luxenberg, Josephine Marcotty. Beth Nissen,
Cheryl Pilate, Ann Rauma, Sara Rimer, Jim
Schuster, Boi; Seidenstein, Stephen Seibst, Chip
inclair, Jeff Sorensen, David Stoll, Paul Ter-
williger.
I 4e2/? . .4 e Rt*y .. 3

adequate living wage, any Job security
or fringe. benefits grudgingly accorded
other University employes.
Now, by organizing a union and at-
tempting to carry out a strike vote, the
Graduate Employes Organization (GEO)
has made large steps toward improving
the status of University teaching fellows.
GEO has done this with little help from
the University. President Robben Fleming
made the eleventh-hour offer of an elec-
tion held under the auspices of the Michi-
gan Employment Relations Commission
(MERC), but such an election might take
months to prepare and would come with
no guarantee of union recognition by the
University.
SENSING THAT the moment for most
effective action was at hand, GEO
called a strike vote. The vote failed last
night, but the efforts of the infant teach-
ing fellows' union have brought desper-
ately needed attention to one of the Uni-
versity's most severe inadequacies.
TODAY'S STAFF:
News: Dan Biddle, Della DiPietro, Steven
Hersh, Cheryl Pilate, Judy Ruskin
Editorial Page: Brian Colgan, Cindy Hill,
Paul Hoskins
Arts Page: Ken Fink
Photo Technician: Allison Rutton
dcdn.4c1t d{1 eQcluvu a.
k /6d _

together there, Ann Arbor individ-
uals of every description. Go sit
in Mark's, one of its most dedicat-
ed habitues has observed, and with-
in an hour you could see everyone
you knew in town, because they
all made a point of dropping in
every hour or so.
THERE REALLY was a Mark, a
sculptor who hangs out at the Del
Rio now and helped start the place
back in 1967. His partners were
Lloyd Cross, an expert in lasers
and holography, and Paul Melton,
an old bohemian and avid rea:er
of the Catholic Worker.
Their coffeehouse was after the
European model, with pastries,
giant sandwiches, soups and five
kinds of coffee. It was a place
where people could sit and talk,
play chess and listen to poetry.
And in the evening there was
sweet music, classical guitar or
:hamber, played by local music-
ians or artists on tour who stop-
ped in after performing at Rack-
h-am.
The clientele then was probataly
more genteel than it later became.
Professors flocked there in ap-
preciable numbers, as well as sti-.
dents with briefcases who spread
their work out an the tables be
fore them, talked for a while and
then worked a little. Long-hared
young men and ungirdled women
were still quite outnumbered, even
on State St., but the coffeehouse
became one of their places too In
Mark's the hippies and the intel-
lectuals got together, discussed the
latest news from California and
bemoaned Sheriff Harvey's latest
outrage.
As Mark's drew people oif the
street, however, it also drew with
them their afflictions. Daughters*
of deans were shooting up and get-
ting laid. The early Mark's was a
classic hassle scene, drawing not
only city health inspectors I i k e
flies, but also police looking for
drugs and runaways.
THE STREET was gentler than

iars came back.
Mark's again became the locus
of concentrated good times: poetry
readings, chess tournaments in the
fall, and jazz bands or folk singers
one Sunday a month.
AS THE coffeehouse took hold
again, Past handed mare and more
of the resiponsibility over to the
"c o l1 e c t i v e," Mark's wasn't
really a collective, because there
was an owner with personal liabil-
ity for debts and the worlkers were
just employees. Still there was the
dream: equal ownership, profirs
shared and decisions made demo-
.cratically.
At one point the talk about a co.
operative became serious enough
that a charter was drawn up. But

"No books worthy of the name were ever kept.
Withholding taxes were taken from employes'
paychecks but never handed over to the govern-
ment."
se nsM .v.'{+ {r;t6A , a S . ev4 A.S . :.v .. v::'"i;,i">.? i ar

the papers of incorporation were
never signed, the financial arrange-
ments never made, because if
Mark's was open again, it was
never so very far from closing.
The dace was wrhat it was be-
cause of the great variety of char-
acters who hung out there, but it
needed financial support in order
to survive. There was no bad guv
to order the indigents nut of the
place when they were choking up
the lunch rush, or to rag the em-
ployees into keeping at their jobs,
or to stop the constant hand-outs.
Nor were any books worthy of
the name ever kept. Withholding
taxes were taken from employees'
paychecks but never handed over
to the government, supposedly be-
cause the money was needed to

cries of despair and mess of clean-
up which descended upon them,
black and white kept on with their
game.
OF COURSE, the chess players
couldn't have stayed if theyphadn't
been wanted. When times got .so
rough that no one else would conme
in, when even old friends doing
their laundry would stay down the
street at the Cottage Inn, the chess
players hung on. They were very
important.
The falls and the winters were.
the worst, because the cold drove
the street indigents who hadn't left
town yet inside. With nn money
and no place to go, they would try
to go to Sleep on the tables. Bu*
the poor hadn't inherited the earth
yet, not even in Mark's, because

thing wx
togethe
lectivet
a core
didn'tt
selejs
ers, just
into bel
keep go
There
even s
place in
chicken
people
to have
BUT'
ated a
the rel
worker
the hig
es pile
In th
ball m
where{
would
chine's
mosphe
counter
much h
Even
their in
who a)
making
eg foo
foo yur

ople in charge wouii. thrxv
it. That was whe the work-
k to keeping lead pipes be-
he counter, even carrying
nd on the evenings had tight
in their stomachs because
new trouble was commirg.
things became worse they
turned better again, how-
Though most of the profes-
'radually went away, t h e
and lthe customers lways
d and began to soend the
upon which the coffeehouse
ed again. The remarkable
'as that the workers kept it
r. Membershin in the co-
had turned over slwly. but
remained. If the vwjrkers
believe in their individual
they did believe in the nth-
st enough to fool each other
lieving that the place coul:l
oing.
was this other dream,
illier than the iv- t, of a
n the country with pigs and
s and a restaurant. to which
would come from the city'
e a good meal.
THE finances only deter-or-
nd with them deteriorated
ltions between Pat and the
s. The longer Pat hung on,
her the debts at back tax-
d up on her.
e summer of 1972 the pin-
-achines left for Ypsi.andi,
their owner thought they
make more money. The ma-
departure lightened the a:-
re, may have improved
sales a bit, bur made it
harder to pay the rent.
the workers admt that
itiative declined. The people
lways made soup stopped
soup, the man who made
yung stopped making egg
ng, the baker stopped bak-

ing. During the 100-order 1 u n c h
rush some workers would refuse
to take over the grill.
IN AUGUST of last year matters
finally came to a head. One day a
notice from the management ap-
peared op the bulletin board an-
nouncing a meeting for that night.
"No show, no job," was scrawled
in big letters at the bottm. or
employees who had run the place
virtually on their own fi the last
three months, this was too much.
When Pat tried to make up a
new work schedule chat night,
someone stood up and gold her off.
Most of the employees walked out
of the meeting and never came.
back.
Since there was no one left to
work the place, hours of bu'siness
were slashed to banker's lv o u r a.
Counter service deteriorated, re-
ceipts dwindled, the place got dir-
ty.
WHEN MARK'S finally shut down
in early December, it didn't give
up the ghost with any kind of com-
motion. One morning there was a
sign on the door: "closed to re-do
the floors." Sometime during the
next two weeks all the fixtures in-
side vanished and legal-looking
pieces of paper appeared on the
floor. The batteries ran down, the
works stopped when Pat became
paranoid enough to break away
from Ann Arbor. It gets cold here
in the wintertime anyway.
"BUSINESS AND youto" mut-
tered the owner of the Fleetwood
Diner, shaking his head. He was
thinking of taking over tne build-
ing at 605 E. William after Mark's
closed but decidedthat the rent
was5 too high and the s trnctue in
need of too much renovatio.
"These people around hers think
they can do anytin-g;" he said
with sad contempt, "so they try to
run a business half-assed." Disil-
irsioned, he added: "Even y ou r
best friend demands serv'ice when
he comes up' to the-counter, and
if he doesn't get it, hc'll go some-
where else."
ONE AFTERNOON a street in-
digent who'd been in and out of the
local psychiatric wards freaked out
in Mark's. This particular person
needed lots of Vitamin C to keep
himself from coming apart, so he
wanted someone to stake him to a
nick-'ip truck and gas money, so
that he could drive down to Flor-
ida and come back with a load of
oranges. No one in the place took
his proposal very serion sly, of
course, and as they lost patience
with him he became increasingly
paranoid, turned violent and began
to sob hysterically.
After a collection of people had
calmed him down a little, he ask-
ed to be taken to the University
Hospital emergency room. As long
as the two Mark's workers w h o
drove him over there touched him,
he was all right, but as soon as
they took their hands off him he
started going crazy again. So
they hung on to him, and after a
while he was feeling fin, laugh-
ing and cracking jokes about him-
self. Suddenly someiing struck
him; he stood up as if he had
something to say.
"If yon ever go crazy," he an-
nounced to the emergency room

.}{;{ {{ ',:: .vrr..r ;ruYi?: p{. p '*"-' SW.V'fl. ASyv a cp~ ": } } }d:
!." ~ i Y5 }.fi?'4 ~ ..:.i%.:iifr:.. ;;:".,.< :Cv. . ."r ' Ft W'r5{i~ }:S.b'd i^{ . .{'. . 4 G . + 7:0

"For a time several

pimps sold junior high

school-aged

girls

over the public telephone.

Junkies shot up in the bathroom. While out in
the main room the chess players played chess..
::"" :"a ::: ";r sa :: r'vy,:r::t;: 1:y;": af '; ss : t"ees .;;...,,+."s i ,.,:,.; .}y." :

U

c /.tt . 6 2 Lt 1 ;- da

I

v

rr.

it is now, however, or at least peo-
ple who were around then remenm-
ber it that way. Recalls one form-
er flower child: "He (Paul Mel-
ton) took me off the street and
gave me a job. First le made me
a janitor, put a broom in my
hands and showed me how to
sweep the floor. Then he showed
me how to handle the counter, and
after a while he taught me how to
make soup for a lot of people."
There were also the heroes, or
the people who would later be-
come heroes and be remembered
fondly. Commander Cody played
in the basement and was int'o.
duced to several of his band mem-
hers there. Joni Mitchell used to
relax at Mark's until it was time
for her to go around the corner
to perform at the old Canterbury
House.
But the coffeehouse accumul3ted
debt and tax trouble, as establish-
ments run by bohemians inevitably
do. In August of 1969 state treas-
ury agents descended n the place
and slapped a lock on the door.
Dnoanidi bv revAners and credit-

a~o~tZ~~1 pe42
o~Fa y.

keep the place going. Although
there were savings in the bank,
sales tax due the state would go
unpaid for long periods of tine,
then under threat of lock-out be
handed over with tthe addition of
heavy penalties.
FORMER WORKERS blame the
financial mismanagement on Pat.
Worker David Bass has described
her as a "melting pot of beer,
country and western music, ear-
splitting belly laughs, adrenalin
and tequila."
The workers liked her and were
afraid of her, because she mother-
ed Mark's with her good humor
and ruined it with her neglect.After
the first year-and-a-half her de-
dication to the place suffered cur-
ious lapses. Sometimes she wound
hardly stick her head through the
door for months; and in her ah-
sence financial complications
would mount like film in a movie
projector gone off the track arnd
kept running.
Of course the workers, even the
insiders, don't really know w h a ±

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