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8B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 30, 2004
under the radar |overlooked in Ann Arbor
Biener's Wieners staple of Ann Arbor, 'U community
The Michigan Daily -
ADAM ROSEN - WELL, THAT'S LIKE, YOUR OPINION, MAN
By Tian Lee
For the Daily
The aroma of sizzling hot dogs
has wafted around the corner of
South State Street and North Uni-
versity Avenue for 23 years. A
smiling face asks students how
they're doing and flips some dogs
on the grill. It's a familiar place.
Students who go to it are loyal cus-
tomers, almost as if this place held
a little piece of home in this some-
times gargantuan campus that can
seem to mercilessly swallow stu-
Parked outside the Michigan
Book and Supply bookstore is the
Bj ener's Weiners hot dog cart, a small
nugget of Ann Arbor bliss. You'll see
the Biener's vendors almost every
day from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and if
you're lucky, you'll even get to meet the
owner, Alan Fineran. Describing this
hot dog connoisseur as a warm friendly
man, many students return to the cart
on a regular basis because Fineran has
proved he can make hot dogs with the
best of 'em.
He's a hot dog man who cares.
When he asks students how they
are, he really means it.
So did his business and life part-
ner, Barry Biniarz, before he passed
away in March. He was the former
owner and originator of Biener's
"The other day, a student asked
me where the nice chummy man
with the gray hair was. It's hard to
tell the students what happened to
Barry," said Alan.
As much as the dogs were a
treat for poor students looking for
a cheap lunch, so was Biniarz to a
stressed out student who just need-
ed a smile and a $1 dog.
"Barry sincerely loved the kids,"
Fineran said. "He really enjoyed
them. Everyone who knew him
loved him. You couldn't have had
a better person sell a hot dog to a
When students have an empty
stomach and wallet, Biener's long-
standing tradition, which the late
Biniarz began, has been to let
students "buy now and pay later"
if they are a little short on cash.
"They always come back to me
later to pay for it," Fineran said.
Barry and Biener's Weiners sin-
cerely had a magic touch with stu-
dents. "I met Barry last year, and
the one thing we had in common
was that he would just be himself
with me," LSA
stand on this
corner and tell
jokes. When I
out at classes or
just had a rough
day, I came here
to get food and
be with friends.
Today, I decided
that we would
walk across the
Diag to get a hot
dog here instead
of buying it at
the cart near
us. They're the
best here, and
the people here
are always smil-
ing. They've Alan Fineran prep
been here long his cart on N. Univ
enough to see
people come in and out - and they
can just understand students."
It is a difficult task for Fineran
to explain to students daily about
Biniarz's passing. "I've had several
students crying their eyes out when
I tell them the news."
Fineran himself knew he had to
get back out there on the corner
after spending six weeks in bed and
suffering two blood clots as a result
of mourning Barry.
It's quite the simple combination:
cheap food, nice
LSA senior Josh
said. "I see
<y' familiar faces
when I come to
buy food and
you just really
can't beat it."
As the face
of Ann Arbor
ing faces of the
there remains an
aura and charm
of the town that
will forever stay
the same. In the
JEFF LEHNERT/Daily same way that
hot dogs at the aroma of a
erslty Avenue. delicious, juicy,
sizzling hot dog
floats above State and University, so the
same enchanting magic of the people
in Ann Arbor permeates the campus.
People like Biniarz and Fineran.
"I won't change nothin' on it,"
Fineran said. "It's always going to
be the same."
REAPIN THE FAITH
Here's a theological ques-
tion I pose to all of the
would-be soul savers and
self-appointed guardian angels
who hang out around campus
every day: (in my most sarcastic
tone) who asked you, anyway?
I didn't appreciate it when Jews
for Jesus tried to get me to accept
Him into my life when I was
walking to the Big House last
I definitely don't enjoy listen-
ing to the occasional apocalyptic
right-wing Christian fundamen-
talist proclaim all homosexuals,
Jews and liberals are going to
hell as I pass through Central
Campus. And I definitely think it
is despicable when I'm hurrying
through the Diag on my way to
class, my head cloudy with the
after-effects of last night's party,
and I'm brutally forced back to
reality as I see pictures of abort-
ed fetuses staring me in the face,
tacked up to a sandwich board by
some pro-life nutcase.
What all three of these all-too-
frequent groups have in com-
mon is that each and every one
of their advances is unsolicited
- all of these groups of people
think it is their divine right to
throw their morals and values on
me, with or without my consent.
If one of you people is reading
this, take note: If I, or anyone,
wanted your opinion, I'd ask for
I think anyone whose occupa-
tion in life is to shame, scare,
or connive people into adopting
their beliefs are just people with
otherwise empty lives looking to
make their mark on the world.
They're all the same, but the
vehicles are different - whether
it's a group of overly aggressive
evangelists, a cult, or people like
the self-anointed "gay converter"
on "The Ali G Show," the end
result is usually the same: We
are right and you are wrong, so
accept this or be less of a person,
or just die. In my mind, it's even
sleazier to prey on college stu-
dents. College is a new time in
the lives of students, especially
freshmen, and many students are
very vulnerable and trying to find
For example, look to the
film "Higher Learning" where
a socially awkward, shy kid is
having a difficult time making
friends and being accepted by his
peers. Guess who steps in to fill
the temporary void in his life?
The resident neo-Nazi group.
Obviously the people demonstrat-
ing, or, should I say, aggressively
recruiting, on the Diag aren't
neo-Nazis, but the point is the
College students are impres-
sionable. To take advantage of
this is just wrong. Not to men-
tion, many college students who
don't want to be "converted"
or told that their way of life is
wrong aren't prepared to go head-
to-head with someone whose job
is to prove people wrong.
When some Jews for Jesus guy
came over to me the other day, I
told him "I'm already Jewish," to
which he replied "challenge me."
How am I going to challenge
him? I got expelled from Hebrew
school, and that was 10 years ago
- not exactly the qualifications
of a rabbinic scholar. The only
Bible passage I knew by heart
is Ezekiel 25:17. Of course he'd
win "the challenge" - it's not a
Oh, I get it. These people are
just looking out for my best
interest - I'm just an ignorant
heathen who doesn't know any
better. These people all argue that
I and the rest of the world must
take Jesus, Yashem, Allah, Vishnu
or Zeus as the "true" one, lest
my soul be lost forever. Why?
Because it's written in a book.
Fair enough. But, these books all
say a lot of things. Without hav-
ing my ego spill onto this page,
I'd like these people to know that
they aren't the only ones famil-
iar with scripture: I'm currently
reading the Bible in one of my
classes this semester. Here are
a few of the passages that I'm
Proverbs: 31:7: "Let him
drink, and forget his poverty, and
remember his misery no more."
Hmm ... I'm sure all the home-
less people in Ann Arbor only
wish the police department
brushed up on their Bible read-
2 Kings: 2:23-24: "And he
went up from thence unto Beth-El
...there came forth little children
out of the city, and mocked him,
and said unto him, Go up, thou
bald head; go up, thou bald head.
And he turned back, and looked
on them, and cursed them in the
name of the Lord. And there came
forth two she bears out of the
wood, and (mauled) 40 and two of
Who would have thought laugh-
ing at bald people could be so
Before you brand me a heretic,
let me say that I didn't write
the above to mock the Bible. I
wrote it just to show that the Old
Testament, the New Testament,
the Koran and the Scientology
handbook that Tom Cruise uses
say a lot of things, not just what
certain people want you to hear.
If people feel passionately abou
something and want to let the
world know about it, they have
every right to. But what about my
right not to be harassed?
If I'm up at 5 a.m. because I
can't sleep and I tune into Pat
Robertson or Jerry Falwell, then I
have made a choice to be "saved."
But when I'm walking through
the Diag, aggressively pursued by
evangelists and shouted down by
fundamentalists, they have violat-
ed my privacy and my space - I
have not consented to any of this.
And I definitely did not request
to see pictures of aborted fetuses.
It's really not difficult; in fact, it's
all about respect.
So next time some Bible-
pusher, Satanist, atheist, (choose
Rastafarian, Branch Davidian,
Jehovah's Witness, or sun wor-
shipper accosts you against your
will, tell them to back off, and
say, "respek!" Booyakasha!
As is painfully obvious, Adan
wrote this column out of a deep
desire to be Ali G. Help him live
out this fantasy, and e-mail him at
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Thursday, September, 30th