The Michigan Dailv - Monrday un I13 _' 205 - 5
Keep Ann Arbor weird
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Take your free ride and shove it
ALEXANDRA JONES CEC\ NaST P u PE )RE-4
By RICHARD MURPHY
I've been shopping at The Under-
world on South University Avenue
for over a decade. It's closing this
month, claiming rising rents and stag-
nant sales. No doubt it will be replaced
by downtown's third Aveda salon.
Harry's Army Surplus, another place
I've been shopping at since high school,
closed this spring for the same reasons.
These are not lone data points. How
much of the Daily's current readership
r even remembers lining up for midnight
releases at Wherehouse Records? Or
before Schoolkids was In Exile? I don't
necessarily think Ann Arbor is over-
rated, yet, but when my friends with the
"Keep Austin Weird" t-shirts wistfully
remember their hometown when it real-
ly was weird, or Boulderites talk about
how their town used to be, I can't help
but see similarities.
Of course, the decline of good,
diverse, useful downtown retail isn't
the only thing this college town shares
with Boulder. There's also the cost of
housing. In order to live within walk-
ing distance of downtown and campus,
I live in a room of a house shared with
eight other people. A former office-
mate who recently moved to Chicago
has an apartment - hardwood floors
and all - two blocks from an "U'
stop for what my room costs. If my
access to fun and useful amenities is
decreasing annually, why isn't my rent
doing the same? What am I paying
for in Ann Arbor? Others have asked
the same question: The artists of 555
Studio, for example, moved from Ann
Arbor to Ypsilanti (and recently on to
Detroit) because no affordable studio
space could be found in Ann Arbor.
Fleeing artists are always a hallmark
of "Cool Cities," right?
Tonight, the Ann Arbor City Coun-
cil will have a public hearing on two
visions of just what ought to be done
for Ann Arbor. On the one hand, the
Downtown Development Authority's
"Three Site Plan" considers the eco-
nomics of development in Ann Arbor
and attempts to address some of the
factors that are pushing up rents,
driving out small local stores and
allowing developers to call $350,000
lofts "affordable." The DDA's plan
would consolidate three downtown
parking lots into a structure on half
of one of the sites, allowing the city
to sell the other two lots to develop-
ers - on terms guaranteeing that
these lots would become commercial
space that independent businesses
could afford, and housing within the
reach of the average graduate. The
other half of the site with the parking
structure, at First Street and William
Street, would become a park and part
of a greenway, a pathway dedicated
to pedestrians and cyclists running
along the edge of town, connecting
housing, businesses and small parks
on another and to the larger parks
along the river. Additionally, the plan
would clean up soil contamination
from old industry on the site, improve
a rail crossing that meets no stan-
dards of safety and shore up an aging
underground creek to reduce flooding
- with all of these goodies included
in the parking structure's price.
On the other side are the Friends
of the Ann Arbor Greenway, a slo-
gan-toting band of nearby homeown-
ers who have decided that this looks
like an excellent opportunity to
score themselves some pork. Sorry,
"park." The Friends are demanding
that no parking structure be built
and that the site be devoted entire-
ly to parkland. They've dismissed
the DDA's park as a "token park,"
demanding a "full-scale" greenway
instead - a difference of perhaps
an acre. They've silenced down-
town business owners who support
the DDA's plan, mocking or threat-
ening those who openly support it.
They seem to have some issues with
money: Anybody who supports the
DDA's plan is "in the pockets of the
big developers" (my kickbacks must
have been lost in the mail), and they
studiously avoid talking about where
the money is going to come from for
their version of the park, let alone
all of the other sitework needed.
They're deceptive - simplifying
the issues to "parks, not parking
structures!" - and they're just plain
mean, openly booing a student who
said at a city council meeting that the
DDA's plan would benefit the whole
city, while the Friends vision would
only benefit their neighborhood.
The council is leaning toward
the DDA's plan, but politicians are
weak creatures, and the Friends will
be out tonight in force. The council
needs to hear a variety of opinions,
and students live in this city too.
Google the Friends and the Three-
Site Plan to find out more, catch up
on the discussions at ArborUpdate.
com and AnnArborlsOverrated.
com and let the council know what
you think. No decision will be made
tonight, so you can e-mail thoughts
to council if you don't read this in
Murphy is a College of Architecture
and Urban Planning graduate student
and a contributor to arhorupdate.com.
lost his job. While
the prospect of
employment in Ann
Arbor during the
summer is so bleak
as to make one
question one's innate value as a human
being, we tried to stay calm. But after
more than a month, the B.F. hadn't any
luck. Trust me, this guy gets more ironic
enjoyment from daytime TV than any-
one else I know, but sitting around alone
feeling useless all day really sucks.
With no job, Boyfriend can't save up
cash to start chipping away at that dou-
ble arts education/history degree in the
fall. Judgment from his family as well as
my frustration with our lack of financial
stability made him feel like a freeloader,
and although I don't mind supporting
him in tough times and know that he'd
do the same for me, the pressure was
really getting to both of us. Then, dur-
ing one tearful, late-night conversation,
he said, "I'm joining the Army."
To me, this was true desperation;
this was rock bottom. "Deal-breaker"
doesn't really begin to describe it. My
grandfather peeled potatoes in the
Canadian Army during World War II,
but besides that, no one in my family
has served for any nation in any war.
I've always been taught that violence is
wrong, that military life is a miserable
existence - and for the pacifist liberals
that make up my family, I don't doubt
that that's true. War is bad, governments
that lead their countries to war are worse
and people who support or participate in
such are ignorant and misguided or sim-
Although he agrees with me on most
issues, Boyfriend's background is dif-
ferent. In high school, he was hard-
core into Army ROTC. He won prizes
in drill competitions and delighted in
behavior typical of the armed forces:
learning how to use firearms, boss-
ing subordinates around and making
life harder for others in a way that was
sometimes physical. Happily, he dis-
covered guitar and stopped giving a
shit about school or ROTC.
Army recruiters must love our sort
of desperation: An Associated Press
story last Saturday reports that the
Army, Army National Guard and Army
Reserve fell 18 to 29 percent short of
recruitment goals this month, exempli-
fying a trend that's plagued recruiting
since February. The Army, along with
the Marines, has suffered the most casu-
alties in Iraq. Recruitment may also be
down because parents are "increasingly
wary" of their kids joining up. Military
service hasn't been seen as an admi-
rable, or even viable, career move for
young men for about 40 years - now,
it seems, those who enlist are either fol-
lowing in ancestors' footsteps or too
damn poor, stupid or unlucky to make
it in the real world.
Then Boyfriend went so far as to
research the Michigan National Guard.
He'd recite the whole "one weekend
a month, two weeks a year" line of
bullshit. You know, maybe some time
stationed in Germany. Oh, and he might
have to do a month of service in Iraq.
Yeah, um, fuck that.
The violation of our shared principles
isn't what bothered me most about the
possibility of the B.F. getting shipped
off to die or go nuts in the desert (I didn't
even want to contemplate that last part -
incidentally, he's dropped the idea since).
What got to me was the sick power that
the promise of three squares a day and
money for college has over people, even
when that comes along with sheer dehu-
manization. How can the job market -
we're talking part-time, minimum-wage
food service positions - be so desolate
as to make an experience during which
your chances of survival, let alone happi-
ness, are drastically diminished look like
a career opportunity?
For some, military service offers
a decent living and a source of pride
- good for them. Young people are
entering a society that demands we
jump through more and more hoops to
earn a living and achieve a respectable
status; we face inflated tuition bills that
just keep growing. But even those of us
who have fallen on hard times won't
sacrifice our safety, our principles or
our dignity to serve in an Armed Forces
whose orders are unjust, whose actions
we and many others oppose. Keep your
free ride - we'll make our way on our
Jones is a Dailyfall/winter associate arts
editor. She can be reached at
The American way: Anyone can be president
KARL STAMPFL ONE-; lD ,NVESAI)S'l
f you're bored in
,. whether the kid sit-
ting next to you is
likely to become a
future president of
the United States,
ask yourselves these
questions about him
(or yourself, if you want to become the
commander in chief one day).
Has he won a Rhodes Scholarship to
study at Oxford University in England,
like Bill Clinton?
Has he ever told his father that the let-
ter grade "D" stood for distinction, as last
year's Democratic candidate John Kerry
did while at Yale University?
Is he a member of Michigamua, the
underground society at the University of
Michigan that counts Gerald Ford as an
alum, or Yale's Skull and Bones, which
boasts both members of the Bush father-
Is he still an only child, unlike every
president in this country's history?
Is he the editor of his campus news-
paper, as Franklin Roosevelt was at
Has he ever been arrested for stealing
a wreath from a fraternity house, like our
Is he planning on going to attend law
school to become the 25th president with
a law degree? Or do people strongly sus-
pect he will enter the clergy after gradua-
tion, as Woodrow Wilson's classmates did
at Davidson College in North Carolina?
Is he a prominent varsity athlete, like
Clinton (rugby), Ford (football), George
H.W. Bush (baseball) and Ronald Rea-
gan (football)? Did he turn down contract
offers from the Detroit Lions and Green
Bay Packers to go to law school (Ford)?
Is he an actor, like Reagan?
Did he have to refuse an acceptance
to Harvard because his family couldn't
afford its steep price tag, like Richard
Nixon? Does he play violin for the school
orchestra, as Nixon also did?
Is he on pace to complete college in
three years with a degree in economics,
like George H.W. Bush did?
Is his main concern in college swim-
ming, as John F. Kennedy's was?
The point is that it's futile to judge
presidential candidates by their college
careers - a recent fad in last year's
presidential election that has been con-
tinued with last week's release of Ker-
ry's transcript. Presidents' careers have
been too diverse to do that. Maybe you
don't agree with Kerry's or Bush's poli-
tics, but it's not fair to blame it on their
As future candidates roam the halls
of our finest (or not so fine) institu-
tions, it's a crapshoot - to use a term
rarely associated with the presidential
selection process - as to who among
them will rise to this country's highest
office. So what if Bush's efforts topped
out at an 88-percent grade or if Kerry's
best was a 79 in political science? We
all know that grades aren't the only
important part of college by a long shot.
Maybe Bush could have done better but
chose not to, electing to spend his time
at the fraternity instead of the library.
Either way, I haven't found any evidence
correlating a person's performance in
Modern European Poetry in Translation
to his ability to lead a nation of 295 mil-
lion people. Bush may not have under-
stood, for example, the finer points of
the sonnet. That doesn't mean he's not a
Remember voting for the person
most likely to become president in
high school? Turns out your predic-
tion couldn't have been very accurate,
because even during college, future
commanders in chief are often hidden
beneath the disguise of -poor grade-
point averages and All-American foot-
ball honors. That's assuming they're
even in school, unlike nine presidents,
including George Washington and
Abraham Lincoln, who never even set
foot in a college classroom.
Stampfl is a Daily fall/winter administra-
tion beat reporter. He can be reached at
LETTER TO THDE EDITOR
TO THE DAILY:
Michigan wins NCAA Women's
World Softball title!
Congratulations to the women's
softball team. I didn't get to see the
exciting nail-biter of a second game,
but, boy, the third game had it all.
Ten innings of hard-fought base-
ball by two ace teams, but Michi-
gan proved that it earned its stripes
with its phenomenal season, its
poise and its exceptional athletes.
And the first team east of the Mis-
sissippi to win the title!
Again, congratulations, Michigan.
What a proud moment for your school.
Oak Park, Ill.