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October 07, 2004 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-07

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12B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 7, 2004
HF: Breakinth chain

The Michigan [
word. with Dan Mullkoff

By Bernie Nguyen
Daily Arts Writer

State Street is a hodgepodge of
mainstream urbanity: Urban Outfit-
ters, Bivouac, Cosi and Stucchi's. It's
got everything you need to feel cool,
look cool and act cool.
However, if you'd rather stand out
from the hordes of Cosmo disciples,
Henrietta Fahrenheit, a new boutique
located in Nickels Arcade, is the shop
for you. HF, sandwiched between
two other gift stores, lends a hip,

Henrietta Fahrenheit carries only independent designers at their boutique.


0 10/10

alterna-rock vibe to the calm dignity
of the Arcade. The little shop, which
recently relocated to Ann Arbor from
Ypsilanti, is painted a vibrant red and
announces itself as "Indie Fashion
and Gifts."
Stacks of Crimewave, Venus and
other lesser-known magazines lie
against the back wall; colorful racks
of unique, eye-catching clothing are
scattered throughout the store. Zip-
pers, buttons, bright stitching and
creative combinations individualize
the merchandise. Owner Jennifer
Albaum, says that her business is
"developed on the independent vibe.
I wanted to open a place where peo-
ple could get things that were unique
and edgy."
As soon as you enter, the atmo-
sphere hits with mellow, indescrib-
able music that falls right between
soothing and upbeat. HF carries
everything from handbags to T-shirts
to jewelry, and the selection is always
changing. The unique thing about HF
is that it stocks only merchandise
from independent designers. Its most
mainstream brand is Built by Wendy,
an independent clothing line that is
sold in many upscale boutiques as well
as Barney's in New York. According
to Albaum, many people from New
York who now live in Ann Arbor
come to her store simply because HF
is the only store in Michigan that car-
ries Built by Wendy.
Otherwise, every item in the store
is from an independent designer
- and, often, is handmade. Brands
like Who's the Freak from Boston
and Leroy's Girl from Philadelphia
have only five or six people working
for them. Everything is personally
designed and sewn by hand.
"It's that D.I.Y. feel and that D.I.Y.
mentality. I think that's what makes
it special, is that you can buy some-
thing from HF and not see it on
someone else when you walk down
the street. Plus, everything I get from
[those labels] is such amazingly high
quality," said Albaum.
In addition to the handmade cloth-
ing, all the jewelry in the store comes
from metalworkers. She continued, "I
feel like anyone can take some vin-
tage beads and string them together,
but it takes real talent to melt down

metal and turn it into something
you can wear, so we only use metal-
smithers." Albaum does not deal with
fashion representatives - she goes
directly to the designer for every
piece of merchandise that HF stocks.
When asked about how HF got
started, Albaum laughs and explains
that its beginnings lay in the fact that
she is a shop-a-holic. "I have some
weird gene in me that just makes me
shop. About five years ago, I was
shopping in Ann Arbor and I just
couldn't find exactly what I was look-
ing for, conversation pieces that were
interesting and individual. I thought
that if I was looking for these things,
other people must be too, so I decid-
ed to open a shop here in Ann Arbor
where people could get unique items,
instead of having to go to New York
or Chicago or San Francisco.
"I came into this as a shopper,
really," she confessed. "I have abso-
lutely no background in retail, so
everything I chose was based on my
own personal taste - things I would
like to buy. This has really helped me
out and in the two and a half years
I've had the store. I've really devel-
oped a sense for what people like. All
of my thinking comes from a shop-
per's point of view and I think that
really makes a difference." Albaum's
emphasis on the individual is the key
factor to the store. In a world of iden-
tical closets, HF provides an eclectic
touch that adds extra spice to any
HF is extremely customer-ori-
ented. Albaum proudly says that her
favorite part of owning HF is making
her customers happy. "I love seeing
how excited they get when they find
something really cool and different.
I feel like I'm increasing the inde-
pendent community and providing
a connection to this creative, indi-
vidual culture. We're trying to take
the corporateness out of shopping
and we're promoting the designers as
well." Those who desire truly distinc-
tive pieces will find HF a great place
to shop. Besides the one-of-a-kind
merchandise, the service is friendly
and comfortable. Albaum says hap-
pily "I like to say that our items have
attitude, but we don't. We're super

ohn Kerry's Francophilia
"plays into the stereotype of
the effete, French-speaking
northeastern Massachusetts liberal
elitist," the Republican consultant
Whit Ayres commented. "The fact
that his position on Iraq seems rea-
sonably close to that of Jacques
Chirac is just icing on the cake."
A less formally spoken consultant
might have considered the senator's
and the French president's accor-
dance gravy, with the foodstuff
receiving the gravy normally omit-
ted. (Is it coincidence or hypocrisy
that Ayres chose the cake rhetoric
of the French queen Marie Antoi-
In an interview with Chicago
Public Radio earlier this year, Dave
Isay, the creator of a group called
StoryCorps, described his pro-
gram's goal as providing a meaning-
ful experience for citizens, adding,
"Any broadcast that comes out of
this is just gravy, it's just icing on
the cake."
So despite both phrases signi-
fying "unexpected or superfluous
benefits" and often being preceded
by the colloquial adverb form of
just (signifying "merely"), why can
one leave out the object of the gra-
vy's use but must include the iced
cake? Why must one say cake but
not biscuit?
Given that icing and gravy serve
the same purpose of improving the
flavor of the food they cover, one
must look at the inherent differ-
ences between cake and biscuits,
potatoes, turkey, and other gravy-
related sundries. Though biscuits

sure are good, any Southerner
worth his white flannel suit will
tell you that they are empty with-
out a healthy dose of gravy. Cake,
on the other hand, has for centuries
held a positive connotation; accord-
ing to the Oxford English Diction-
ary, "cake is often used figuratively
in obvious allusion to its estimation
(esp. by children) as a 'good thing,'
the dainty delicacy, or 'sweets' of a
repast." Furthermore, cake has at
various times been used as a slang
term for "money," including as a
"new musicians' term" replacing
bread and as Cockney low slang for
"a pile of currency or banknotes."
Aside from negative phrases
such as that's small potatoes,
which hardly implies that big
potatoes would be of great sig-
nificance, gravy does not often top
foods which themselves connote
good things. Gravy had signified
"money" in U.S. slang since the
early 1900s, and in the 1920s rail-
road men coined the phrase gravy,
train to describe "a run on which
there was good pay and little work"
or the state of being prosperous
(riding the gravy train).
Is gravy's superior ability to
stand alone with a clear meaning
a result of its greater versatility as
a topping? On the contrary, icing
has plenty of uses beyond cakes:
danishes, cupcakes, coffee cakes,
glazed poundcakes, etc. Gravy
is still often used with qualifiers
(gravy on their meat-and-potato
menu of skills, gravy on the situ-
ation, the latter taking the phrase
even further from its culinary ori-

gins), but can also stand alone,
unlike icing.
I suppose we should just accept
this discrepancy as the histori-
cal will of English speakers, and
should we eventually encounter a
neologism such as that's just icing,
consider it merely gravy on the bis-
A metaphor is life and death
When the MSNBC host Chris
Matthews asked Sen. Zell Miller
(D-Ga.) if he was sincere in suggest-
ing that John Kerry would defend
the U.S. with spitballs, Miller spat
back, "That was a metaphor, wasn't
it? Do you know what a metaphor
is?" The senator then became infu-
riated, and eventually lamented
that the age we live in prevented a
duel between Matthews and him-
self. Though he ignored the host's
follow-up question, "What do you
mean by a metaphor?" Miller prob-
ably did intend spitballs in the met-
aphorical sense, meaning a weapon
of insignificant strength.
However, Miller's adamant
defense of his figure of speech
raises interesting questions. What
if a journalist attempted to strip
Governor Schwartzenegger of his
preferred literary device, the cin-
ematic allusion? ("He has ter-
minated hope. He has terminated
opportunity. And now it is time
we terminate Gray Davis," in his
stump speech for governor; "This
is like winning an Oscar! As if I
would know! Speaking of acting,
one of my movies was called 'True
Lies.' It's what the Democrats
should have called their conven-

tion," at the Republican conver
tion.) Dueling may not be Arnold
style, but perhaps machine-gunnin
his way out of the governor's mar
sion against scores of Gray Davi
loyalists would suit him.
Presumably no one misundei
stood the metaphoric nature of ou
vice president's eloquent reflexiv
imperative directed at Sen. Patric
Leahy (D-Vt.) this summer'. N
physical attack ensued, though i
the past inflammatory words hav
touched off violence both by a sil
ting vice president (Vice Presider
Aaron Burr killing former Secretar
of the Treasury Alexander Hamilto
in an 1804 duel, following years c
antagonizing comments and action
by the two politicians) and by a sil
ting senator (Sen. Preston Brook
(D-S.C.) caning Sen. Charles Sum
ner (R-Mass.) on the Senate floc
following Sumner's harsh remark
regarding slavery and the state o
South Carolina in 1856). Perhaps i
today's political scene, attack rhet
oric is so commonplace that it wil
take more than calling someone
"bad Catholic" or boldly suggest
ing that they take a metaphorica
course of action, as Cheney did, t
incite violence. Or perhaps Leahy
got off easy ...
1 For a more Cheney-esque an
less family-friendly description o
the exchange, try typing "Chene
Leahy altercation" into your pre
ferred search engine.
E-mail Dan at mullkoffCwumich,





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