The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition - Thursday, September 7, 1989 - Page 15
The Birth of Ann Arbor
A small group of pligrims lands
on the banks of the Huron River.
4 riven from the old country where
their George Winston albums were
burned by oppressors and they were
imprisoned for watching The
Wonder Years, they have come to
The first winter is hard. Their
sprout crops decimated by the harsh
weather, they huddle together and
sig "A Winter Shade of Pale" for
5omfort. The howling winds and
rugged terrain capriciously out off
NPR reception- sometimes, right
:in the middle of "All Things Con-
sidered." Many forget their
mantras, and during that January,
fully one-third of the colony lose
touch with their inner-selves -
thousands of miles from the nearest
analyst or sensory deprivation tank.
.But the winter lifts, and with it,
their prospects. They strike up
friendships with a local tribe, who
show them the ways of their new
land and the treasures of the New
World. Frozen Yogurt. Poetry
readings. OAT BRAN. The settlers
and the tribe sit down and relate for
three days to celebrate, capped by.
Capt. Myles Mona ghan's
announcement of a successful
o 'field of dreams', but there sure is a lot of corn
hostile buyout of
"Come visit me
the tribes land.
that I figured out just exactly what I
think of the land of milk and
DAVENPORT, Iowa - Let me
explain two things.
First, why I'm here. If you told
me a year ago that I'd be in Iowa
right now, I'd have laughed in your
face. If you told me that now, I'd
still laugh in your face because I'm
trying to repress that fact and frankly
I'm a little off-balance. Remember
that farmer who you saw every night
on the evening news during the
drought last summer, looking pained
as he knelt in his corn field and let a
handful of dust trickle through his
fingers for the cameras? He's my
next door neighbor. I'm here because
I have a crazed fantasy of being a
professional newspaper writer and
here is the only paper that would
hire me for the summer. The
population is a couple hundred
thousand, not counting livestock and
Second, why I'm telling you
this. It's not so, I can write an
article with a dateline from another
state and The Daily can look all
worldly. No, its because after three
years, with small interruptions of
living in Ann Arbor, it wasn't until
now - 400 miles away, in a city
named after a piece of furniture -
$50 million to establish, and addi-
tional $15 million annually to main-
tain. The $15 million figure is
nearly three times what Ann Arbor
currently spends for solid waste
City council members have had
to explore many options for funding.
The city applied for grants from the
state Clean Michigan Act. The
grants are given on a competitive
basis to cities who show both a need
for solid waste funding and the will-
ingness to implement innovative
waste management programs.
Competition for the diminishing
landfill space is growing throughout
the state. 01
Had you asked me that before,
while I was surrounded by Ann
Arbor on all sides, I would have
choked. I'd have sputtered a long list
of buzz words which would have left
you unclear as to whether I was
describing a city or a surgical
The first, of course, would have
been "liberal". Well, what the hell is
that supposed to mean? Unless you
are planning on running for office
there, it's as inflammatory a
description for a city as "octagonal."
I mean Mike Dukakis was a liberal.
And while I voted for the guy, if he
was a city, I definitely would not
want to live there.
Soon to follow would be "college
town." Sorry, but in my mind a
"college town" has a lot more ivy
and a lot fewer McDonald's. Then
"artsy" - having a 16 screen
cinemaplex disqualifies you for this
one - "yuppie" - I won't dignify
that, that word is an insult - and so
on down the line.
But here, buried beneath the
crumbs of America's breadbasket
surrounded in a John Cougar
Mellencamp song come to life, by
all of this not Ann Arbor, it
becomes clearer. Because when
you're a stranger in town, pardner,
people ask you two things.
-Where are you from?
"Ann Arbor," I say, but implied
is "and not here. Do you understand?
-What's it like?
And I give them which ever
above mentioned buzzword that will
get them off my back first. But what
is it like?
I got into this conversation with
a guy at the paper last week. Like
most people working there, one of
his favorite pastimes is daydreaming
about working somewhere else, so
he thinks of other areas in terms of
their newspapers. "Ann Arbor's
newspaper s okay, but it's so
snooty. They're always going on
about art and films, and hey, it's
just Ann Arbor," he says.
Yeah, damn right were snooty.
There's the key to the city. I know
I'm going to sound like the biggest
elitist for saying this, but Ann
Arbor is smart. Screw false
modesty. The University is the
city's biggest employer. Hence, a
huge chunk of the population is in
the business of being smart, getting
smart, or helping other people get
smart. Per capita, we're smarter than
other cities. Period. So step on my
glasses and call me a snob.
But wait - that's not all. Ann
Arbor, for good or bad, is deeply
rooted in the Midwest, a region that
bold-facedly prides itself on being -
well "simple." No look, I lived in
Monroe, Mich. (pop. 25,000) for 18
years, I'm allowed to say that. Much
of the Midwest sees its mission as
keeping alive the basic values of our
forbearers, such as honesty, hard
work, and illiteracy. It feels proud of
U-M when it sees Mike Gillette in
the Rose Bowl, not when it sees
Chinese Studies expert Mike
Oksenburg on MacNeil /Lehrer.
And here is what endears or
damns Ann Arbor. It is unnatural. It
is not supposed to be here. It's as
weird for it's Midwestern normalcy
as its cosmopolitan intellectualism.
Truly weird - much more so then,
say, New York, which is weird in
exactly the places you'd expect it to
be weird. New York is just too damn
big to contradict itself; "it's easy to
stick Donald Trump and Rev. Al
Sharpton in the same city of 10
million, but try cramming Tom
Monaghan and John Sinclair in a
town 1/100 of that size. Here you
have McDonald's, but without the
arches. Here women take the streets
by thousands to rally for their rights
annually on an April night -- but are
also passed around like flour sacks in
Michigan Stadium during football
games. Here you can go to the Hash
Bash and leave early to cram for your
physics final. It's a Little Yurt on
the Prairie; a freak of nature.
Ann Arbor: We've got something
to piss everyone off.
But take heart; there are worse
places. Trust me. I've been to Iowa.
Later, the pilgrims survey their
new lands. You can almost hear
Phillip Glass music rising from the
surrounding hills as they plan, as
they dream. "Well put the cookie
store there. And the cappuccino
place there. And another cookie
Someone begins humming
"Peace Train" then stops because
Cat Stevens is no longer politically
correct. This is home. U
Jim Poniewozik's column will
normally appear in the Weekend
Magazine in Friday's Daily.
Continued from Page 14
separates waste likes leaves and
grass. That waste then decays in a
special facility until it decomposes
into fertilizer or fuel.
Midland, Michigan has a suc-
"essful composting program in place
'Which has reduced the cities waste by
10 percent. The task force hopes
Ann Arbor will reach that percentage
Of course, all these program
will cost the city millions of dollars.
According to task force estimates the
programs will cost between $20 and
Continued from Page 8
-ure in January? I thought back to
,ll those winters when my face was
so cold I couldn't even smile at
passers by. It must be 10 degrees -
_wrong again. 24 degrees was the an-
swer and the annual average tempera-
ture is 48.6.
Next up an arts question: Name
iwo rock music icons from Ann
A' rbor? Everyone knows that Iggy
Pop and Bob Seger both were born
hiere. (At this point my opponent
burst into a rendition of "Night
' Another right answer! I took the
lead 4 tickets to five. The game was
in my hands. I could feel it! The
momentum had swung my way.
A science and nature question for
y opponent. These are usually
ard. What place is home to 50 dif-
ferent species of trees? He didn't
know it was the Arb. He thought it
was just a place to take a date on a
sunny day. With all those trees it's
4o wonder that Ann Arbor is known
Continued form Page 5
community members. Occasion-
ally as students we are confronted
with that "other world".
For example when we spot a
homeless person searching through
the garbage cans in search of a re-
turnable bottle. Then we must
choose whether to focus our eyes on
the pavement, or on the eyes of this
homeless man, woman or child. Too
often, we choose the former. We
turn from that which disturbs our
Part of a well-rounded education
is experiencing people much differ-
ent from ourselves. Although the
students at the the University of
Michigan come from a myriad of dif-
ferent backgrounds, there is a basic
similarity; they all are on so-called
"right" path, working towards some
goal, and facing he probability of
achieving that goo.
But, the kids at Ozone House are
different: they are in need of inner-
strength and guidance, so that they
too, may find a path which satisfies
them. The kids need supportive, car-
ing individuals to help them: people
who can look beyond the youth's
tough appearance and see the soul,
crying for help.
During the six months I have
worked at Ozone House, I have an-
swered numerous crisis calls, during
which time I leave my surroundings
and enter the caller's world. Often, I
will never see the face which
matches this troubled voice. But if
that caller feels somewhat calmer and
more self-confident when we hang
up, then I have made a difference.
I return to my. apartment that
night, passing that same Graduate
library and diag, but knowing, on
the walk back to campus, I have re-
ally helped someone today. I have
not only made a difference in some-
one else's life, but I have been re-
minded that there is life beyond my
personal existence. To me, that, as
much as books, classes and socializ-
ing, is education and happiness.
(There will be Ozone House
training infOctober..)all 662-2222
for more info.)
ARE A GREAT
WAY TO GET
-University of Michigan-
Just What You're Looking For!
esomething for the '90s!
Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1360 Pauline Boulevard
Bob Hoepner, Campus Pastor (662-0663)
as Tree City USA.
The game lasted long into the
night, but I eventually won. Some
facts I learned in the game really
According to one question, Ann
Arbor is is the third less stressful
city in the country. Whoever did
that survey obviously never went
through the CRISP process.
Libraries have always had their friends-
especially great libraries.
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id't~ftLTJ4"- : .. . . .. _ .TI~Ttl
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