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September 02, 2003 - Image 65

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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n f r
°' N , -

A: RIIB 0 mxqw



Fal 2003


By Emily Kraack
and Ryan Vicko
Daily News Reporters


war with Iraq

A~ "
AbiH of/the
bubbly: imn
Ar bor is" what
you make of it
No two people meet exactly the same Ann Arbor -
everyone's initial experience of the city has its own
distinct flavor. As luck would have it, mine tasted
like Faygo Redpop.
Though I had visited and enjoyed the city many times
before, Ann Arbor and I never really bonded until the
evening of the Fall 2000 New Student Convocation. My
freshman year was about to begin, and I was feeling lucky
in a way you don't want to feel lucky if you can avoid it,
the way you feel after a dozen or so kids from your high
school with grade point averages and extra curricular
activities very similar to your own get rejected from the
institution of higher learning at which you are about to
begin the rest of your life. So I wasn't in the mood to
crowd into an auditorium with a bunch of strange people
who, for all I knew, might not think twice when then-Uni-
versity President Lee Bollinger told them they were the
best of the best.
Instead, I took a walk. It wasn't a nice walk, either.
Because aside from the general unease associated with
being in a new place and not knowing where anything is
and the soul-devouring conviction that if I didn't do some-
thing spectacular here, I'd never amount to anything, ever,
it was also hotter than hell outside. Or at least consider-
ably more humid than hell. In any case, the heat drove me
into a mercifully air-conditioned convenience store, where
I encountered the aforementioned lucky Faygo Redpop.
(Note for the uninitiated: Faygo is a Detroit-based soft
drink company that, despite its comparatively cheap prod-
uct, is actually far superior to every other soft drink com-
pany in the known universe. Hailing from the Detroit area
myself, I grew up on Faygo and found the fact of its pres-
ence in this unfamiliar convenience store uplifting.)
It was then, Redpop in hand, lips and tongue bright
red with dye that probably causes cancer of some
important organ, that I knew Ann Arbor and I were
going to be friends. But it took a lot longer to get to
know the city, to begin to understand what this town is
and how it works and why it seems that no two people can
agree on either.
Ann Arbor is a breeding ground for sentimentality, with
many landmarks at which to have life-altering experiences,
consume mind-altering substances and discuss world-alter-
ing art, literature, philosophy and politics. There's a restau-
rant famous for its toast (yes, toast), a bar where patrons
can play board games while they imbibe, a train station,
two great old movie theaters, the living rooms, porches
and tattered couches of your current and future friends and
everything in between.
Abundant dreamy potential notwithstanding, this town
has a lot to teach us. Ann Arbor is not the six square-mile
bubble of fantasyland that many grumpy adults and cul-
ture-shocked recent graduates would have you believe. It's
true that residents of most American cities don't see nearly
as much of the Royal Shakespeare Company as we do, that
they don't get quite as riled up about national and global
politics as some folks here are wont to do, but the myth
that Ann Arbor is somehow cut off from reality is just a
jealous delusion. In fact, most of these naysayers would be
surprised how much Ann Arbor could teach them about
the almighty "real world" if they'd just step outside their
own heads for a few minutes and have a look around.
Want a crash course in tenants' rights? Sign a lease -
any lease, with virtually any landlord who rents to students
- and wait for the abuse to begin. It's amazing how much
you can learn from fighting a landlord who won't fix the
heater. Want to know what happens to local businesses
when a big corporation snags a prime piece of downtown
property? Take a stroll down State Street and note the
absence of the used record store, the funky gift shop and
the fantastically convenient drugstore, all of which were
located less than a block away from Starbucks when I was
a freshman.
And for you alterna-kids who'd roll your eyes at Star-
bucks employees, perfectly shocked that anyone would dare
accept a polo shirt and a paycheck (signed in the blood of
independent coffee shop owners the world over) from that
evil scum corporation: Try getting a job in Ann Arbor some
summer (and you don't get to use a car - that's cheating).
The hip second-hand bookstores and air-conditioned Uni-

versity libraries hire about six people, and the rest of the
poor unemployed slobs who didn't score crack internships
back in November have to fend for themselves. Rent is due
the first of each month. Starbucks pays well and gives its
employees a lot of free coffee. If you haven't already pulled
the company polo shirt over your ungrateful head, then you,
my friend, are living in a bubble.
And that's really what it comes down to - you, the indi-
vidual. You'll find enough of the familiar in Ann Arbor
that if, for example, Faygo Redpop is your thing, you can
leave Ann Arbor without ever having tempted your
metaphorical taste buds with something new. Or you can
try a different flavor, burst a few bubbles - it's up to you.
In terms of Faygo, I recommend Rock and Rye.
WL Trr-.nsnh i.. "" T CA 001n 1A-h did not docit hor--

More than 2,000 people took to the streets of Ann
Arbor March 20 to voice concern and support for the
war in Iraq. The rallies began in the Diag and grew as
they moved to the Ann Arbor Federal Building on the
corner of Fifth and Liberty streets.
Students on the Diag divided themselves into two dis-
tinct groups - those who were opposed to war gathered
near the steps of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library,
while those who supported using military force in Iraq
gathered toward the back of the Diag.
A dozen student groups sponsored the rally in opposi-
tion to the war. The rally included speakers from the
Black Student Union, Muslim Students Association and
the Michigan Student Assembly as well as a drumming
rally. "We're just protesting the war," LSA junior Lena
Masri, a rally organizer and member of the Muslim Stu-
dents Association, Anti-War Action! and Students Allied
for Freedom and Equality, said. "Iraq is only one part
(of this war). Bush explicitly said this war is going to go
on to other places."
Students supporting military action in Iraq held Amer-

ican flags and expressed support for U.S. troops in Iraq.
"We're going to sit here solemnly and somberly to show
solidarity for our troops," rally organizer and Michigan
Review Managing Editor Ruben Duran said.
Although no violent incidents were reported, the ral-
lies displayed increasing tensions between those in sup-
port and those opposed to the current war.
LSA sophomore and Anti-War Action! member Megan
Williamson stepped in to ease tensions between a group
of arguing protesters.
She said she was not surprised that conflict broke out
during the past week.
"We anticipated that there might be some interfer-
ences from the counter-protesters, but actually we were
expecting them to be more respectful," she said.
Duran, an LSA junior, said that those who came to
join him in his support for U.S. troops were not cohe-
sively organized.
"It's showing that a lot of independent students are
coming out to support this."
LSA senior John Oden said he doesn't believe the war
was about disarming Saddam. "It's not about weapons of
mass destruction. They were armed by the United States
themselves," he said.
See Clash, Page 9F

Ann Arbor resident Eli Lopez debates the war In Iraq with
anti-war demonstrators during a rally on the Diag.

The lights on State

Starbuckization of A2:,
Decreasi~ng number of local
businiesses troubling to the city

As Ann Arbor residents say good-bye to
longtime Ann Arbor businesses such
as Decker Drugs, Ethnic Creation,
Shiva Moon, Lure and Boss Guitar, they will
be saying good-bye to independent mom-and-
pop-type businesses and good-bye to diversi-
ty and originality.
On April 29, one of campus's two drug
stores, Decker Drugs, closed its doors as a
result of the steadily increasing Ann Arbor rent
rates, leaving students with only one campus
pharmacy. Ethnic Creations
is soon to follow as it wraps " the stre
up sales and prepares to '"
move to its new location in Arbor hav
the Westgate shopping center
on Old West Side. The recent shift from
departure of so many local independe
businesses this year has left
students and residents alike stores to a
to wonder who is next and network o
for how much longer Ann
Arbor can maintain its and chain


unique and bohemian motif.
Over the past few years, the streets of Ann
Arbor have begun to shift from a hub of inde-
pendent, novelty stores with local flare to a
commercialized network of franchises and
chain stores. While commercially operated
stores may be easier on the average student's
wallet, many students overlook the importance
of supporting local businesses.
The effort to maintain a local identity in
downtown Ann Arbor has been a struggle for
quite some time.-Ten years ago, Ann Arbor had
a diverse selection of record stores, department
stores, among others. Then, in 1999, Ann Arbor
began to lose its special atmosphere with the
loss of Schoolkids Indie Records and Campus
Bike and Toys.
State Street has been metamorphosizing into
a row of franchised bagel and coffee shops, yet
hidden away, are the independent stores that
supply downtown Ann Arbor with a flare
unmatched by other cities of its size. Local
stores planted the seeds of Ann Arbor, and it is
because of these local businesses that the
downtown has grown into something beyond a
consumer haven; it gained its edge over other
cities by developing a rich cultural experience.

The independently owned stores continue to
make the city attractive because residents can-
not find similar stores anywhere else. Indepen-
dent stores are also dedicated to the city,
involved in its improvement and development.
They are often the first to participate in and
help fund local meta. They also support Uni-
versity club teams and organizations.
Furthermore, quality customer service is far
superior at these institutions, as many local
proprietors take the time to get to know their
regular customers. The
s of Ann independent owners give
themselves wholly to their
begun to businesses, as well as their
h b ofcity. Rod's Diner, for
hU Oexample, would not have
t novelty the same ambience without
the pictures of their
commercial patrons on the walls.
franchises Yet, one by one, these
stores are disappearing.
tores. The closures cannot be
blamed on just one factor,
but a combination of many, including rent
increases, poor economic situations, downtown
commercial competition along with commer-
cial stores that are also beginning to spring up
on the outskirts of the downtown area, drawing
in customers with low prices and more selec-
tion. The continual development of such cir-
cumstances will eventually diminish the
number of options available to consumers. If
local stores continue to vanish from the streets
of Ann Arbor, consumers will be forced to turn
toward chain stores for all of their needs.
The local government, students and residents
must make an effort to keep these independent
shops open. It is time the government allocated
resources and worked with proprietors in order
to aid these local businesses. It is time for stu-
dents and residents to consider shopping at
more independently owned stores. For when
these independent shops go, so do novelty,
diversity and familiarity. In a sense, so does
Ann Arbor.
- Unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
the majority of the Daily 's editorial board. This
appeared in print on an opinion page in last
year's paper.

- J VNIHNIM , ituaq
Only a block from campus, the State Theater, an Ann Arbor
landmark, is a common destination for students.

Ann Arbor's faux diversity: A new economics

By Joseph Litman
Daily Arts Writer
In the Michigan Union yesterday, I spoke
with several MUG custodial employees,
wondering if they had a few moments to
discuss their respective experiences work-
ing in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, none of
them had much spare time (they were on
duty and I was likely a nuisance), but, I was
able to gather some information. Their
most provocative disclosure was that none
of the gentlemen with whom I spoke were
Ann Arbor residents. Instead, they lived in
nearby places like Ypsilanti, forced to com-
mute to work because living closer to the
Union was too expensive.
That these men resided beyond the
boundaries of our fine city piqued my
interest because the University has cham-
pioned diversity as a necessary condition
when teihlichina cnmnnity in which

ers" - non-New Yorkers, non-Jews, non-
whites, non-sensicals - has enhanced my
college experience, and I will graduate
having gained far more than just a better
understanding of what motivated the
authoring of John's apocalyptic vision. Yet
the diversity I have come to value exists in
a fishbowl of sorts, restricted from flow-
ing out onto Liberty street or running
down the hill toward Jackson road: Is Ann
Arbor really diverse?
My sad findings at the Union suggest
otherwise, and that unfortunate circum-
stance illustrates that the diversity from
which our municipality derives fame is
perhaps mostly ersatz - enhanced solely
by the presence of the University commu-
nity - or, worse, wholly fictitious.
There are the more traditional (and given
this university's ongoing litigation, more
notable) indices, like racial composition of
the nonulation that nrove this noint. For

percent of the state's overall population. In
Ann Arbor, blacks are only 8.8 percent of
the populous. However, the lacking diversi-
ty of which I speak is economic.
Surely, one can find a wide array of peo-
ple walking down State Street any given
day - preppies, neo-hippies, professorial
types, myriad others - yet that range of
appearance is a superficial indicator and
does not equate to economic diversity,
income diversity, wealth diversity. Perhaps
the child of two University Hospital doc-
tors is going through a phase right now.
Better indicators of Ann Arbor's clois-
tered nature are the median-average price
for a home in Ann Arbor Township and the
income distribution of Ann Arbor's work-
ing professionals. The Census lists'the for-
mer as $345,000. (For comparison's sake,
the highest average in the state, Bloomfield
Hills, stands at $854,000, while the lowest,
Ahmeek Village. in Keweenaw County. is

annually; more than half of the individuals
who hold jobs make $33,00 more than the
average American household.
Statistics don't always tell a full story
and obviously, there are other factors that
influence who lives where and why. How-
ever, the figures enumerated above paint a
bleak picture for those like the MUG
employees who would prefer to live and
probably raise families in the area yet can't.
The University community, particularly
its students, should also concern itself
with Ann Arbor's not-so-varied demo-
graphics. While students from a broad
spectrum of financial backgrounds
matriculate here, there are a noticeable
number of kids who have lived comfort-
ably for most of their lives. College is rou-
tinely cited as an opportunity to go
beyond one's comfort zone, one's standard
routine. And Ann Arbor, with its abundant
cultural ammenities, is often extolled for


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