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September 06, 2011 - Image 52

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-06

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2F - Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Ann Arbor's pets: Why
campus is nuts for squirrels

Film tax cut helps A2 business

a law
tax in
cant a
ers an(
ed the
in exc
ing cc
and C
film i
Film C
that t
the on
by the

Hotels, T-shirt According to Burnstein, in benefits of shooting in Michigan,
2009 film crews in Michigan the quality of the films produced
mpanies see more spent 2,000 nights in local hotels. in the state is increasing as well.
Local restaurants, catering busi- Burnstein said that five films shot
siness when film nesses and t-shirt companies in Michigan were entered into
have also had increased sales. the Toronto Film Festival last
crews arrive Jerry Kozak, one of the found- year, three of which were shot in
ers and owners of the Ann Arbor Ann Arbor.
By JENNA SIMARD T-shirt Company, said he saw his The tax incentive is, not only
Daily StaffReporter company's sales increase within beneficial to the state economi-
only a few months after the com- cally but also socially. Both Beg-
. 6, 2010 - Since becoming pany started two years ago. The noche and Burnstein emphasized
in 2008, the Michigan film company has had a number of the gravity of Michigan's "brain
centive has received signifi- films place large orders, which drain" and hope the increased
ttention from both support- he says has had more than just an film production will keep young
d opponents. economicbenefit. people in the state.
th increased sightings of "Outside of the money itself, "When we passed the law,
ities around the state, many it's also given us some credibility migration of students to L.A. and
ganders have been ques- since we are a young company, New York stopped," Burnstein
g whether the law - which only two-years old," said Kozak. said. "It's got a lot of young people
a 40-percent tax rebate to The company has provided to want to stay here."
anies that shoot films in shirts for movies such as "Stone" Michigan's increased screen
gan - has actually provid- and "Sunset Boulevard," Kozak time has also helped its morale,
state with tangible benefits said, adding that this summer it said Burnstein. Troubles with
hange for the tax break. also provided $6,000 worth of the auto industry prior to the
:Jim Burnstein, screenwrit- shirts for "Scream 4" and did a passing of the law caused many
oordinator in the Univer- personalized order for director Michigan residents to lose con-
Department of Screen Arts Wes Craven. fidence in their state. Burnstein
ultures and a veteran of the Michelle Begnoche, the com- said that the film industry may
ndustry, has only positive munications advisor for the have helped reverse that effect.
to say about the incentive. Michigan Film Office, said that He said he believes Clint East-
s working beyond any- this year's in-state production wood's movie "Grand Torino,"
expectations" said Burn- expenditures will be more than which was filmed in Detroit, was
who is now on the Michigan $300 million from more than 40 a significant turning point that
)ffice Advisory Council. He films. She added that in 2007 the helped instill a sense of pride in
that it creates a lot of jobs state of Michigan produced three Michiganders.
ly in film production, and films with only $2 million spent "A perception of ourselves
he most important jobs are in production. began to change with all of these
ies that don't get measured As more production compa- brightlights," said Burnstein.
critics' reports. nies are beginning to see the Ann Arbor has been a hot spot

for Michigan film production.
Stars such as Michael Cera, Clive
Owen, Hayden Panettiere and
Hilary Swank have all been to
Ann Arbor to film since the law
"Answer This!" a comedy
filmed this year in Ann Arbor and
which will be premiering at the
Michigan Theatre on Friday, has
even deeper roots in this city. It
was directed by University alum
Chris Farah. Farah said that it
was his dream to film here inAnn
Arbor and the tax incentive made
it possible.
"Without the incentives, we
really wouldn't have been able
to make it here," Farah said. "It's
pure economics."
Farah added that though
Michigan is now a competitor
with Tinseltown, it still lacks
the cinema infrastructure of Los
Angeles. His team had issues
finding a certain crane for his
cameras, which he said could
have been found within minutes
in Hollywood.
Though Michigan isn't quite
Hollywood, these incentives have
certainly aided many film produc-
ers. Begnoche said that films can
receive up to a 40-percent credit"
if they meet certain qualifications
and hire enough Michigan resi-
dents to work for their films.
"You need to have that kind of
incentive to come shoot in Michi-
gan," said Farah.

A squirrel poses for a photo on the Diag. According to Prof. Philip Myers, Ann
Arbor squirrels get too much food from all their human interaction.

Expert: Squirrels'
odd behavior result of
human interaction
Daily StaffReporter
Nov. 23, 2010 - Though most
students were probably reaching
for umbrellas and raincoats dur-
ing yesterday's torrential down-
pour, according to Ecology and
Evolutionary Biology Prof. Philip
Myers, they should have been
looking atcthe squirrels.
"Next time you're out in a rain
storm, watch the squirrels," said
Myers, whose research focus is
in small mammals. "Watch how
they use their tails; they use it as
an umbrella. They are able to be
active almost irrespective of the
The strange behavior of squir-
rels in Ann Arbor has become a
source of fascination for both stu-
dents and visitors to the city. And
according to Myers and squir-
rel enthusiasts at the University,
their chubby looks and friendly
demeanor are largely due to the
increased human interaction they
experience around campus.
The city's squirrels have grown
accustomed to the rich source
of food humans provide them,
which to an extent increases their
chances of winter survival, Myers
He added that humans' behav-
ior toward the squirrels affects
their reproductive patterns as
well. Squirrels have two breeding
periods; one in the fall and one in
the spring. When resources are
scarce, they will only breed dur-
ing one period. But given their
abundant source of food, Myers
said Ann Arborsquirrels probably
breed during both periods.
However, Myers said the
townie squirrels consequently
act a little differently than com-
mon squirrels due to their con-
stant feeding and interaction with
"It makes them act in aless nat-
ural way," Myers said. "However,
it doesn't have any detrimental
effects on their well-being."
He said squirrels have also
been known to make their disap-
proval of certain human activities
"They've learned to expect
people to feed them," he said.
"They'll let you know that they're
annoyed if you don't feed them."
Myers added that since urban
squirrels already live in unnatural
conditions, it's reasonable for peo-
ple to feed them. He said squir-
rels, more than any kind of wild
mammal, seem more comfortable
around humans.
However, Myers said, there are
some dowsides to the constant
attention given tothe squirrels.
"From our perspective, squir-
rels can be pests sometimes and
we encourage them too much," he
said. "You also don't want to get
too close to them, they could bite
The food given to them also
leads to "unusually high density"
squirrels, Myers said. Larger
squirrels have a higher chance of
losing most of their fur as well as a
higher probability of transmission
of parasites.
Though these fatter squirrels
are pretty easy to spot on campus,

they've become a more visible
part of campus culture partly due
to the University's Squirrel Club
that was founded a few years ago.

Club founder and Univer-
sity alum Jason Colman said the
group started asa late night dorm
conversation and grew into a
group full of squirrel enthusiasts.
"First of all, it's fun." Col-
man said. "Secondly, a lot of peo-
ple enjoy feeding the squirrels
because they miss their pets at
home. The squirrels are the cam-
pus pets and they are cute and
fuzzy. It's also a stress reliever."
He said the best way to feed
and interact with the squirrels
is to master the "squirrel noise"
which he demonstrated by mak-
ing continuous clicking sounds.
"It's absolutely key that you
have a good squirrel noise," he
said. "Practice. Practice infrontof
the mirror when no one's around."
He said that making the squir-
rel noise, crouching down and
holding out a peanut will capture
the creature's attention, making
it get on its hind legs and observe
you curiously as it approaches
Current Squirrel Club presi-
dent and LSA junior Peter Feng
said the group is still around
because it's a curious novelty of
the school and a source of pride
for tour guides in explaining the
wide range of campus groups.
"This legend keeps it alive,"
Feng said.
He said there are over 900
members on the mailing list and
speculates these students were
attracted to the group because
of how "small and chubby" the
squirrels are. He added, "A lot of
people think they're pretty cute
The 900 or so Squirrel Club
members aren't the University's
only fans of these furry critters.
LSA senior Evan Begun said
he is "obviously a big fan" of the
"I only like the ones in the
Diag and the Law Quad though
because they are receptive to
human advances," Begun said.
He also said he feels bad for the
"scrawnier ones" in Ann Arbor.
LSA senior Scott Schwartz said
the Ann Arbor squirrels are "fan-
"They're docile and they're
smart," Schwartz said. "They
know a lot and they're not easily
scared. I like that."
However, LSA senior Honesty
Lee said he likes the squirrels but
doesn't like the idea that they are
constantly being fed.
"They become really fat and
that's why they become docile,"
Lee said. "That's why they've
become, I'd say, unnatural. You
know, squirrels aren't supposed to
be enormous."
"I'd say they're abnormal," he
Medical student Tom Michni-
acki said he enjoys the squirrels
despite their size.
"They're entertaining," Mich-
niacki said. "I think there could be
repercussions to feeding them but
they seem pretty hygienic. I doubt
they have that many diseases so
it's probably not that bad to feed
Myers said the category these
squirrels fall under is "tree squir-
rel" but there are two other types
of squirrels on campus that one
wouldn't expect to fall under the
squirrel category: chipmunks and
woodchucks. The chipmunks zip
around campus at their leisure
during the summer months and

the woodchucks are usually found
on North Campus. Both of these
animals hibernate, whereas the
fox squirrels don't.


Local feel of Main and State injeopardy

Some say city still
friendly to locally
owned businesses
Daily StaffReporter
Dec. 7, 2010 - Though the
face of Ann Arbor is chang-
ing with independently owned
stores like Shaman Drum clos-
ing up shop and chains like Five
Guys Burgers and Fries moving
in to replace them, local busi-
ness owners and leaders in the
State Street and Main Street
areas say they believe the city
will continue to be a thriving
hub full of locally-owned res-
taurants and shops.
Maura Thomson, executive
director of the Main Street Area
Association, said Main Street
caters to those looking for high-
end fashion, home decor and
food. She added that the area's
success can be attributed to its
solid businesses and low turn-
over rate.
"We have quite a bit of lon-
gevity," she said.
Thomson said that despite
the turbulent economy in the
recent past, the Ann Arbor com-
munity has been consistently
supportive of local businesses.

"The past couple years have
been really tough, but we are
really lucky," Thomson said,
mentioning that this past year
saw an increase in sales for busi-
nesses in the the Main Street
Area Association.
While Main Street establish-
ments continue to attract con-
sumers interested in supporting
local businesses, turnover on
State Street may lead to a great-
er presence of national and glob-
al chains on campus.
Ed Davidson, owner of Biv-
ouac - an outdoors supplies
store that has been located on
State Street for 37 years - said he
remembers the campus McDon-
ald's that opened on Maynard
Street in 1976 and hopes that the
fast food restaurant wouldn't
survive today if it re-opened on
campus. Davidson also said he's
concerned about the 7-Eleven
location that will open its doors
at the end of the year on South
State Street in the space formerly
occupied by Ritz Camera.
"In the last few years, it's
been more national chains or
regional chains versus locally
owned," said Davidson. "I wish
it weren't so."
Davidson said this trend may
be due in part to the inability
of local businesses to compete
with national chains, which

generally have more money at
their disposal. Throughout his
time on State Street, Davidson
said he has had to change his
products to meet the evolving
demands of his customers to
remain competitive.
Despite the fact that national
chains like 7-Eleven and CVS/
Pharmacy will be moving to
State Street soon, Davidson said
he's confident Ann Arbor will
remain a vibrant city that is wel-
coming to independently owned
"It has a great future because
there's so many people ...
between students and professors
and tourists," said Davidson.
Tom Heywood, executive
director of the State Street
Association, agreed saying he
still has faith that Ann Arbor
will stay healthy, regardless of
the apparent influx of national
chains to State Street.
"While it seems there is a lot
of national chains ... society has
more national chains than it
does independent businesses,"
Heywood said.
Heywood added that land-
lords always need tenants and
national chains are always look-
ing for good opportunities, while
independent businesses are also
looking for affordable spaces.
Heywood said he thinks Ann

Arbor businesses are able to sur-
vive in the financial downturn
due to the 60,000 University-
affiliated people who frequent
local businesses.
"(Ann Arbor) is one of the
healthiest downtowns in Michi-
gan, primarily because of the
residents and the University,"
Heywood said.
Heywood said the shops
along State Street have been
able to adapt to the ever-chang-
ing environment either by keep-
ing up with shifting product
demand or by constructing
new stores. He added that it is
impossible to predict the future
of State Street, but he is confi-
dent the area will keep its spirit.
"I think the neighborhood is
going to get even more vibrant
in the next five or six years,"
said Heywood. "I'm optimistic."
David Jones, owner of White
Market, said that in his 27 years
as owner of the store, he has
seen many businesses come
and go in the State Street and
greater downtown areas. The
turnover, he said, is just part of
"Things change all the time,"
Jones said, adding that he has
seen five or six different busi-
nesses occupy the space next to
White Market during his tenure
as manager.



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