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March 22, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - machigandaily.com

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 3B

Remembering
celebrities tastefully

The arcade's themed pinball machines include "Star Trek" and "Tron." LISON aily
Pi l

In an age of
consoles, Pinball
Pete's still thrives
ByKAVI SHEKHAR PANDEY
Daily Arts Writer
The presence of Pinball Pete's
on South University Avenue is a
real head-turner for passers-by.
The hot-pink awning, flashing
lights, and the buzzers and bells
of pinball games all combine to
entrance us into cleaning out our
pocket change battling the Bal-
rog in the "Lord of the Rings"
pinball game. But the real rea-
son for a double take is, "How in
blazes is an arcade still in opera-
tion?"
After all, arcades are an insti-
tution as antiquated as book-
stores and Blockbusters, even
for Ann Arbor. We now live in
a society in which "gaming"
means temple-running and
launching birds with a flick
of the finger, where kids are
weaned on Wiis and "Call of
Duty" team deathmatches. Yet,
for over 30 years, Pinball Pete's
has endured. While much of
the arcade industry has seen a
precipitous decline in business,
Pinball Pete's has persistently
evolved to succeed and continue
as the last bastion of old-school
gaming in the region.
This propensity to adapt has
been in Pinball Pete's DNA since
its inception. It started in 1973,
when East Lansing native Ted
Arnold and his two elder broth-
ers, all pinball fanatics, pooled
their money together to buy and
refurbish a used pinball machine.
Arnold was just eight years old at
the time, and his brothers were
only teenagers. At first, they only
shared the machine with close
friends, but it soon became the
talk of the town.
"Soon, neighborhood kids
wanted to come over and play
pinball too," Arnold said. "After
school, we'd have about 20 bikes
in the driveway."
A new venture was born -
charging a dime for a game and
a quarter for three, the budding
entrepreneurs started saving
money to boost their business.
Next came aCoca-Cola machine,
followed by a candy counter and
another pinball machine. After
a year and a half, the broth-
ers were running a full-fledged
mom-and-pop operation in their
garage.
Then, the mighty ham-
mer of government bureau-
cracy struck. A city inspector
demanded the brothers cease
and desist their operation, since
they were running a business in
a residential area. But the broth-
ers were ready to run a business
full time, briefly shifting opera-
tions to Monroe, Mich. before
returning to their hometown to
open a proper storefront. Their
first East Lansing location was
in a former doughnut shop with
a life-size fiberglass elephant on
the roof. Here, the pink pachy-
derm logo of Pinball Pete's was
* immortalized.
"We said, 'If we're going to
run this arcade, how are we
going to get people to notice?' "

Arnold said. "'What if we went
up there and painted that ele-
phant pink?"'
Their initial plan was to enlist
their mother to make a paper-
Smbchd cowboy, who would have
been the eponymous Pete, to sit
on the elephant.
"We went up and painted the

elephant pink and had a few cer- games were crucial additions,
vezas, but the next morning we Pinball Pete's never abandoned
realized we didn't have a cowboy its namesake gaming platform,
on it so we left the elephant pink even when other systems seemed
and decided we'll just call him more trendy and profitable.
Pete," Arnold said. John Cross, an Ann Arbor
By then it was the late '70s, and native who has been spending
the very first video games began pocket money on pinball at the
to enter the market. Pinball Pete's city's arcades ever since there
became a hotspot in East Lansing was a Mickey Rat's, noted that
after its proprietors snapped up Pinball Pete's loyalty to pinball
a system that could play Pong, enhanced its appeal and might
Space Invaders and other games. have contributed to its outlasting
"The rest is basically history," of the competition.
Arnold said. "We never looked "There was a time when we
back, continuing to buy more and started seeing all the (pinball)
more games." machines (in other arcades) get-
When the '80s rolled in, busi- ting replaced with DDR and Time
ness was a-booming, so Arnold Crisis," Cross said. "But it's great
and his longtime business part- that (Pinball Pete's) has kept so
ner and friend Mike Reynolds many here that are working."
decided to expand operations Always with a keen sense for
into Ann Arbor even though the customer wishes, Arnold and
city was flush with arcades, such Reynolds haven't stopped sup-
as the Simulation Station and porting their pinball players. In
The Cross-Eyed Moose on East the past year, they purchased
Liberty Street and Double Focus four new machines including
on State Street. Arnold and "Tron: Legacy"- and "Iron Man"-
Reynolds took over the spaces of themed games. Even though the
the arcade Mickey Rat's, which games cost $1 per play as opposed
had a joint on William Street and to the traditional50 cents - much
one in an old Victorian house on to the dismay of some old-school
South University Avenue- the players - patrons loved having
latter of which was set ablaze in new challenges to conquer and
2009. flickering targets to thwack with
Pinball Pete's consolidated silver balls.
its Ann Arbor storefronts and The new games keep custom-
moved to its current location in ers coming through the doors,
1996, tripling its overall square but for patrons such as Scott Nel-
footage. And to counter the '90s son Wood, arcades will have an
boom of home consoles, the own- everlasting, irreplaceable appeal.
ers bolstered their selection of "I like video games at home,
games that are hard to duplicate but it's just something about
at home, such as air hockey, skee- being in an arcade. You get the
ball, Dance Dance Revolution actual feel of things," Wood said.
systems and prize games. "With pinball itself, the way you
"The socialization aspect of move the machine actually has
the arcade is really one of the a lot to do with the game, and
things that has kept us in busi- you learn to become almost 'one
ness," Arnold said. "Because kids with the game.' ... Just like how
realize, 'If I'm looking to go out people have personalities, every
and meet other people, this is machine has a personality."
where I gotta come.'" Opportunities to grow aren't
While the family and social See PINBALL PETE'S, Page 4B
1HE NLLW LINE CIHI E CLUISINE
K#ar
7(maou 9ane
PM4IUtING 1IN I 1fG KOWN, TAAW$L
U6UNIJAN M IRAMSTYLES
734-995-1786
116 S. MAIN STREET
IBE TW W.IMONAND WASKuVW) E
DOWNTOWN ANN A BOB
WWWIKGARDtEN.tWM

high-profile celebrity
death always casts
solemn silence and a
shadow over sunny Hollywood.
For weeks, these incidents turn
the eyes of
America to
the lives of
such celebri-
ties. Their
triumphs
are praised,.
their troubles
are exposed, HALEY
and the true
causes of GOLDBERG
their deaths
are scruti-
nized endlessly on programs like
"E! News" and coverage on CNN.
The media explosion after
Whitney Houston's death on Feb.
11 was no exception. Houston was
found dead in the Beverly Hilton
Hotel, where she was staying
to celebrate the 54th Grammy
Awards in Los Angeles the day
before the event. Upon the dis-
covery of her passing, a media
firestorm instantaneouslybegan.
Tweets from celebrities and fans
alike began flooding the Twit-
tersphere with the news of the
pop diva's death, and according
to TopsyLabs.com, there were
"2,481,652 tweets and retweets"
in the first hour after her death
was announced.
And now, as the initial buzz
following Houston's sudden
death - the cause of which
has yet to be determined - has
faded, we have to wonder about
the motives of Warner Bros. in
"honoring" the singing legend by
re-releasing a famous movie she
starred in, "The Bodyguard," to
theaters on March 28 for a limit-
ed engagement in more than 400
theaters across the country. The

movie w
on Blu-r
mediao
the re-ri
20th an
caveat a
ing whe
original
1992, ac
Would i
Warner
ing on t
movie tc
This1
of whett
between
ing. Woi
to see th
as fans I
movie ir
ing ther
would ti
by Hous
her trag
in profit
made he
her joy t
consum
to know
the diva
Do
Pa
Unfoi
this cro0
ing the s
Michael
er's une:
25,2009
from his
that nev
released
2009. TI
than $7:
BoxOffi

'ill also be re-released those profits truly a way to honor
ay the day before. While Michael Jackson? When I pur-
utlets are claiming that chased my ticket atan expensive
elease coincides with the theater to see the rehearsals of a
niversary of the film, one concert that never was, did I pay
ppears with this reason- my respects?
n looking at the film's Re-releasing movies to honor
release date: Nov. 25, someone strays far from the
cording to IMDb.com. intended effect. We are paying
t be wrong to suggest that money to appreciate someone's
Bros. is daresay capitaliz- artistic work, but hopefully, their
he death of the star of the music and their art is what made
o promote their film? them happy, notthe dollars we
leads to the question spent to consume it. And maybe
her a difference exists in today's society, spending
n honoring and exploit- money is the only way to appreci-
uld Houston be happy ate art. But wouldn't Houston be
ie success of her film happier if we pulled up aYou-
honor her by seeing the Tube video of"I Wanna Dance
n theaters and purchas- With Somebody" and danced
new Blu-ray edition? Or along with the same confidence
he event be looked upon she exudes in the music video? Or
ton as a stunt to exploit even if we sought out an old copy
ic death in order to rake of "The Bodyguard" ourselves,
s? For a performer who not a new modified edition, and
rr living and discovered cried along as "I Will Always
hrough us as an audience Love You" played in the back-
ing her work, it's difficult ground?
'the correct way to honor While there is no correct way
i. to honor a celebrity who has
passed on, it seems the best way
would be to appreciate Hous-
S ned to ton's art for its own sake without
'we n~e tJ handing a corporation asum
ry hom age? om o Pay our respects.
7 @- Houston's life was rocked by the
fortune and fame she received,
but what truly made her a
rtunately, we've come to remarkable woman and some-
ssroads before, follow- one to honor was the work she
imilarly sudden death of produced. Hopefully, Houston's
1 Jackson. After the sing- work captivated her as well, and
xpected passing on June our appreciation for her music
9, the filmed rehearsals and movies will serve as her
s planned world tour ideal way to pay respect to her
er was, "This Is It," were outstanding career.

I in theaters on Oct. 28,
he film grossed more
2 million, according to-
ceMojo.com. But were

Goldberg is singing "I Will
Always Love You." To join in,
e-mail hsgold@umich.edu.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER// @MICHDAILYARTS
F REE showing of the film,.
\ a
School of Public Health I - Room 1755
Film @ 6pm Discussion @ 8pm
Dr. Allison E. Alello, from the UM
School of Public Health and a consultant,
for the production, will lead a discussion
followinAg the film. Refresh menOts!
Open to the public. t
More info: www.uhs.umikh.edukontaglon
Sponsored by PULSE and University Hearth Service

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