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November 20, 2003 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-20

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4B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, November 20, 2003

The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazinebi
Thne AIs b read winner has arrivi


By Aliya Chowdhri
Daily Arts Writer

My dear fool: In the last several
weeks, I have found myself at
a rather unsatisfactory junc-
tion. My career as a member of the cam-
pus' fourth estate is over, and less than a
month separates me from the great
beyond. I am pensive about the state of
the world around me. Personal issues
have been plaguing me.
So, recently, I sought Christopher
Hitchens' advice to the "young and rest-
less" in his "Letters to a Young
Contrarian" - apparently a contempo-
rary classic among young progressives,
free thinkers and fellow journalists. I
thought to myself: Surely the celebrated
essayist would be equipped to inspire me
toward a more confident worldview.
I was acutely mistaken in my assump-
tion. All that I could observe in Hitchens'
prose were the cynical polemics of a bit-
ter man. As I read, I cheerlessly began to
see a parallel between Hitchens' exces-

sive skepticism and the ubiquitous cyni-
cism that has infected the rhetoric of
budding campus politicos. I pursued the
edification of my idealism. I happened
upon the disillusioning principles of the
worst type of person - the cynic.
My critique of Hitchens stems not
from his widely discussed abandonment
of the Left. It is not about his apparent
adoption of philosophies not congruent
with mine; none of this concerns me. I
actually respect the haughty Brit's style;
the flair with which he writes impresses
me greatly. Yet, his journalistic elo-
quence masks a cynicism that I find
unpalatable. My reading of the Hitch's
discourse on the pedagogy of the con-
trarian was affected greatly by my four
years living in an environment, sadly
marred by pretension.
As I grew increasingly aware of poli-
tics, I began to conjecture about the par-
adoxical failures of progressiveness on a

progressive campus. And as naivete gave
way to prudence in my associations with
groups and movements, an answer began
to crystallize in my mind. It is difficult to
say how long I have considered cynicism
to be the architect of division within our
community. But, my revelation was cer-
tainly vindicated upon my acquisition of
Hitchens' book.
I believe that you, the cynic, are
responsible for the collapse of the pro-
gressive ideal of this community. I've
observed how you have tactlessly belit-
tled your adversaries in public, pointing
only to their shortcomings as silly justifi-
cation for debate. I see your distrust for
their motives, your contempt for those
who waver only slightly in their support
for you. I see that you are both sides of
every spectrum. You are everywhere.
Cynicism a la Hitchens is a pungent
dish. His trenchant ad hominem attacks
breed only discord, not progress. He does

not truly believe in the progressive indi-
vidual - only the malcontent. Must the
contrarian model be the only solution to
social ill? Unfortunately, I know a great
number of prominent personalities who
say yes. I have never been fond of name
calling, and will thus refrain from fol-
lowing that cheap route. But you know
who you are - you cynics who channel
your passion solely toward undermining
the causes you simply don't agree with. I
know your ways, and I must say that they
disgust me. You are the ones that perpet-
uate polarization between conservative
and liberal. You are the ones that make
peaceable alliances impossible. Your
cynical exercises are far worse than plain
ignorance, in my humble opinion.
Some have told me that a certain
degree of cynicism is necessary. I tell
them to stuff it. True "open-mindedness"
is lacking at the University. Cynics fool-
ishly equate this notion with intellect,
judging fellow peers with startling cal-
lousness. This misguided conviction
inspires in me a mixture of bemusement
and outrage. Tell me, friend - why is
cynicism necessary?
I wonder what the future will hold for
the University - this bastion of so-
called "progressiveness" among institu-
tions of higher learning. The difference
between liberalism and conservatism in
our country is being rapidly eroded in
practice. However, members of each
political sect are being driven apart, due

mainly to a sad shortage of respect for
one another. Through this, the problem
leaks to virtually every other point of
controversy. We are considered to be
among the nation's "elite" students, but I
don't feel very elite.
My proposed solution to the problem
is the removal of the cynics from every
seat of power. This is where my "fight"
lies --with you, the self-righteous cynic.
You hide behind facades of idealism,
sophistication, worldliness. Yet, all you
are is a petty skeptic. I oppose you not on
the grounds of your political beliefs or
your personal philosophies. My problem
with you is your attitude. Attitude and
action are inherently linked. If the former
is tainted with negativity, the latter will
duly reek of it.
So, it appears that the "Art of
Mentoring" moniker of the series
Hitchens' book belongs to is quite the
misnomer. Under the guise of contrari-
ety, Hitch preaches cynicism - the only
thing I am ardently skeptical of. Wilde
once said the cynic is "a man who knows
the price of everything and the value of
nothing." He was quite a wise fellow.
I entreat all detractors to offer me a
legitimate counterargument. Since I am
convinced none exist, I will wager a pint
at your preferred bar. As I'm sure you
will appreciate, Mr. Hitchens, the offer is
open to you, as well.
- Contrarily Yours, Neal George Pais,
npais@umich. edu.

The "coming soon" sign in the
windows of the South State and Hill
street corner for the past few months
has made Ann Arbor residents eager
to welcome the Atlanta Bread
Company. This Atlanta-based com-
pany operates on the mission to
deliver the "premier bakery cafe
experience." Mission accomplished.
Walking through the doors, one
immediately notices the well-lit,
wooden decor. Classical music pro-
vides a cozy atmosphere and just the
right cover to block out the constant
background chatter. Atlanta also
offers its customers more than ade-
quate seating. The bi-level cafe pro-
vides customers ergonomically
crafted chairs and wooden tables.
ABC's goal is to satisfy the cus-
tomer - even the technologically
advanced customers. Numerous out-,
lets along a wall downstairs provide
a haven for laptops with poor bat-
tery life. The numerous menus dis-
played throughout the seating area
upstairs are daunting for the indeci-
sive type.

Moving straight ahead to the
counter, I first had to decide
whether I wanted soup, salad or a
sandwich. My impulsive stomach
made my decision simple: a char-
grilled chicken pesto panini milano,
which consists of chicken tossed
with Italian pesto, topped with
havarti cheese and fresh tomatoes
and placed on freshly baked focca-
cia bread. The first bite provided the
perfect combination of pesto flavor
and tender chicken that was grilled
to perfection. ABC also has vegetar-
ian sandwiches and at least one of
its four daily soups caters to the
strict herbivores.
Choosing from the numerous
breads is a treat in itself, since one
can choose from thinly sliced sour-
dough, French, rye, pumpernickel,
thick-sliced nine grain, cracked
wheat or honey wheat. For those
who need a little extra flavor in their
carbs, ABC also offers asiago
cheese, Italian pesto, sun-dried
tomato and rosemary focaccia. The
options do not end there; bagels,
croissants and the ABC roll are also
delectable options for that perfect

If you are in search of that perfect
breakfast food in the morning or
even at night, ABC is, once again,
the place to be. With a variety of
muffins (including zucchini, cran-
berry-orange, pumpkin and the tra-
ditional blueberry), danishes and
croissants (ranging from French,
apple, cheese, almond, raspberry
cheese and chocolate), there is
something to satisfy every taste.
The bakery selection does not end
with breakfast sweets as Atlanta
presents its customers with bagels,

cookies, key lime pie and my per
sonal favorite, cheesecake. Any a
these would be perfect with th
gourmet chais and coffees.
The ABC experience does not en
once you leave the cafe. ABC offer
catering services, as well as cus
tomized cheesecakes or bread wit
only 24 hours advanced notice. An
the best part of ABC? Every good i
baked fresh. Day-old goods ar
offered to local food donation centers
Already, the word is quickl
spreading that warm soups, fres



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Hot bread, Zeke. The hottest thing since, well, sliced bread.

Bela Fleck
and the Flecktones
featuring Victor Lemonte Wooten,
Future Man and Jeff Coffin

Power Center
Friday, December 12, 8 p.m.

---. Ann Arbor
- -t-i- *CM E318 South State St. ....734-761-2011
wWA 2775 Plymouth Rd. ....734-761-8690
MI E 9IAM BIG PRINT CENTRAL Cranbrook Village ......734-662-2777

Tickets by Phone: Or in Person:
Call (734) 763-TXTS Stop by the Michigan Union Ticket
Office or any TicketMaster Outlet


On the web:

11 suppoRT FRoM

Visit the Ark online at

For more info, contact Jackie Livesay @ 764-9505 or jlivesay@umich.edu


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