Page 8-C-Thursday, September 10, 1981-The Michigan Daily
CALABASH PIPES, OLD HATS, TATTOOS, AND FL YING SAUCERS
Specialty shops a local specialty
By JOHN ADAM
"You know, Sherlock Holmes never
really smoked that kind of pipe, the
calabash," the proprietor of A-Square
Tobacconist said with the smile of
someone who knows. "In his books, he
smokes a bent briar pipe, not a
He went on to tell me that the gourd,
not the meerschaum, imparts the
unique smoking taste. A customer
walked in, fat cigar hanging from his
mouth, and i took the opportunity to
browse over the various brands of
tobacco, with names like "Pride of
Copenhagen" and "Pride of Istanbuy."
THIS LITTLE specialty shop is the
home of a couple of thousand pipes,
ranging from a $2 corncob to a $400 car-
ved, Turkish Meerschaum. Even non-
smokers would be interested in the
anecdotes about the rush of expensive
cigar purchases for the Rose Bowl last
year, or about the Turkish monopoly on
precious meerschaum and the
"coolies"Awho mine the stuff on the
shores of Lake Tanganyika.
It's like that in a lot of specialty shops
around town; these places are, in fact,
Ann Arbor's own specialty. Here the
pleasure is found not so much in the
purchase, as in the act of purchasing.
I've spent'several afternoons lately
looking into these shops, never making
a purchase-although I will probably
return to some.
ONE OF THE MORE inexpensive
places I hit was Second Hand Rose, a
small thrift shop near City Hall. It has a
surprisingly good selection of jackets
and vests, old hats, ties, and dresses,
all at bargain prices.
Fantasy Fashions is a slighly more
bizarre second hand store. The window
displays manikins of Wendy Williams
and her lead guitarist with a mohawk
hair cut dyed light green. Inside, more
life-like manikins give the place the air
of a wax museum funhouse, with New
Wave/punk rock music piped in.
The store offers clothes "from the
conservative to the totally absurd,"
says the shop's owner. Indeed, the
racks display everything from gray
flannel suits to outrageously bizarre
costumes that would shock even the
most avant garde. All the clothes are
second hand, and can be altered by a
seamstress in back.
FANTASY FASHION will also make
custom designs. The shop is an in-
teresting alternative to many of the
stores around town, and even has "un-
dertones of a community center" for
the more artistically inclined, says the
"The spirit of adventure runs through
our shop," she says.
I A little way up the price ladder, and
with something radically different to
offer, is the Velvet Touch. On the
establishment's window panes are the
words, "New Girls, New Girls, New
Girls." I went up the dimly lit stairway
to ask about a massage. Two girls were
at the head of the stairs, walking along
a dark corridor. Both were in loose
shorts, one wearing a tube top, and the
other a shirt that looked more like a
night slip tucked into her shorts.
IN A GLASS BOOTH at the top of the
stairway lies the manager's office. "W-
e-1-1," he said when he say my youthful
face. It didn't help to tell him I was
from the Daily. "Last time I did this
(provided information) with the
Michigan Daily they totally . . . . me
over. I don't want anything to do with
them." So, I left. Oh well.
Beneath the massage branch of
Velvet Touch is the "general store,"
where I had no fear of being kicked out.
Students and a few jacket-and-tie
businessmen from the area browse
through "Butts 'n Buns," "Whoppers"
and "40 plus," to name but a few of the
erotic magazines (sealed in cellophane
so one can only browse at the covers)
Flashing lights near the back of the
store drew my attention to the 25¢ peep
shows. Unfortunately, they didn't open
for another hour, so I continued my
browsing. Joy Jelly "flavored
lubricant," a small assortment of
pipes, bongs and scales, an assortment
of vibrators and dildoes, busty posters,
porno films for home showings, an
assortment of crotchless panties, and
open holed bras, and for the more
cultured, some paperbacked erotica
books. Fine. I pulled up my overcoat to
my lowered head as I went out to the
TIME FOR A change of pace, I
dedided: Mickey Rats Video Circus.
Fans constantly flock to these elec-
tronic space games, which thrive on a
steady diet of quarters. This upstairs
shop has four or five little cubicles filled
with "wizardous" machines. The crazy
space sounds compete energetically
with piped-in music of Eric Clapton or
Bob Seeger, making for an interesting
But I can't deny it-one of my
favorite places, although it is one which
I may never be able to bring myself to
patronize, is Ann Arbor Tattoo. In the
corner of the shop hangs a Norman
Rockwell poster. In it, a burly, bald-
headed sailor is having the name of his
latest lover tattooed beneath the
crossed-out names of his former loves
in different ports of call.
WHEN YOU GET that thing put on
you, you got that forever," said John
Ardner, owner of the shop. As I walked
in, "Painless John" was putting a new
See SPECIALTY, Page 10
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Daily Photo by PAUL ENGSTROM
PAINLESS JOHN, proprietor of Ann Arbor Tattoo, has (counting the stars) '
more than 100 tattoos on his body.
A Nickels Arcade tradition
Magazine salesman Alvin "
' j Neff reviews his career
By PAM FICKINGER
Imagine standing in Nickels Arcade
for about nine hours a day, six days a
week. Come January, Alvin Neff will
have been doing exactly that for 50
years. Alvin sells magazines there and,
he says, the Arcade "hasn't changed at
But Alvin will tell you about plenty of
other things he's seen change in that
time. He can remember when The
Bivouac and Drake's Sandwich Shop
were banks, and when Follet's was a
"1 REMEMBER," he said, pointing
from his newsstand in the direction of
Angell Hall, "when Haven Hall burned
down a long, long time ago." ,
But the biggest change, he says, has
been in the students-they aren't as
friendly as they used to be. He fondly
recalls a football player who used to
stop by to see him every day, years ago.
Another change Alvin has seen in the
students is their dress: they "now come
in jeans," whereas in years past there
were a lot more ties and suit coats.
They even pack their clothes differently
now-in suitcases, rather than the
trunks he remembers watching them
A 66-YEAR-OLD native of Ann Arbor,
Alvin got started in the magazine
business by helping his brother, Floyd,
and then taking the stand over when his
In the beginning, the two had only a
small stand set up -in front of the Ar-
cade. Today, Alvin sells more than 20
different magazines, from Scientific
American to Penthouse.
He used to sell newspapers, but he
says he stopped because they were a
Cosmopolitan and Glamour are big
sellers, Alvin says. "You know, the
girls buy those a lot."
Men, on the other hand, buy Playboy
and Penthouse. Why? "I don't know ".
Alvin says. "Some of the girls will cone.
in and buy Playgirl or Playboy, an!
they give me the old story that they're
getting Playboy for their boyfriend," he
Glancing at the skin magazines on his
rack, he explains, "I've got to sell what
people want." Alvin is very religious,
as is his wife, Lillie. "She's a doll," he ;
They have been married since 1967,.
and Alvin says Lillie is a very special
wife, "especially considering my con-
dition. There aren't many like her.
Alvin was stricken with polio at age
14, and it left him with a mild limp and
If he weren't selling magazines, Alvin
says he doesn't know what he'd like to
do.\ At one time, the University offered
him a job. He would have started the
job in 1942, and he could have retired at
age 62 with a good pension-but he,
didn't take it.
Alvin says that selling magazines is
hard work, but he really enjoys what
he's doing; he likes working in the Ar-
cade and seeing all different kinds of.
people there. He could retire tomorrow,
but, he says matter-of-factly, he doesn't,
know if he'll do that, either.
Daily Photo by JACKIE BELL
ALVIN NEFF, selling magazines in Nickels Arcade for nearly 50 years, has
seen a lot of changes.
SHORT or LONG
Men and Women
" 615 E. Liberty-668-9329
s 3739 Washtenaw-971 -9975
0 613 N. Maple-761-2733
9 611 E. University-662-0354
Tips for avoiding theft
(Continued from Page 6)
THE BEST WAY to keep students
from getting "ripped off" is to teach
them how to prevent burglaries them-
selves, said Price, who for the last year
has provided the community with an
extensive public service bibliography
of pamphlets, slide presentations, and
various community awareness
Ann Arbor is a special target for the.
programs in light of the densely
populated areas filled with students,
many of whom are "relatively
wealthy," according to crime preven-
The Crime Prevention Unit itself
oversees everything from the "Neigh-
borhood Watch" burglary prevention
AI E WRTH3an PatIG
A NAME WORTH REPEATING
program, to the recent expansion of an
anti-rape program. + .~
According to Prevention Unit
publications, most citizens actually aid..
the burglar in the perpetration 9f.a
crime. Reasons cited include:
-unlocked doors and windows ,,:
-lack of interest and concern .,
-inability to describe circumstances.
surrounding the crime.
-obvious signs of absence from tie
home or apartment
-failure to cooperate with police
There are over two million burglaries
in the United States each year - that's
one every 15 seconds, according to
There are several ways an individual
can help secure the safety of property, V
but the three most important
procedures are: taking security
measures in and around home, being
concerned about what happens in your
neighborhood, and finally, cooperating
with law enforcement officials.
If you think your home has been en-
tered, go to another phone and call the
police immediately, crime prevention ;
officials advised. Don't touch anything
in your home; leave everything exactly
as you found it. Don't attempt a per- ;
ink~'E'i~ ~ U