Tags: goodbye ann arbor


Political Pączki

It's Fat Tuesday, and what better way to digest my lard-laden strawberry delight than with a quick public 2¢ on a few political issues -- one local, one national.

In Local News...

I heard today through friends' blogs and aaio's post that after nearly a decade of growth and success in downtown A², Leopold Bros. brewpub is skipping town and resetting up shop in Colorado.

Is the ailing local economy to blame? Is there some massive business drive to move to a particular region? Nope. It is, in fact, the opposite. According to a comment on the AAIO blog by owner Todd Leopold (which i'll take the liberty of assuming has been validated), the skyrocketing rents for their downtown location has made doing business there unbearable.

"It's just supply and demand", some might say, but i say that -- as usual -- Ann Arbor needs to start thinking harder. Your carefully-cultivated and well-marketed reputation for progressivism may only last you so long, people. You may want to start making some better decisions about what you really wish to be, and who and what you'd like to support as the backbone of your community.

...and in case no one's mentioned it, i'll remind you again: altruism and living in a better world just might cost you a few bucks.

In National News...

For those of you voting in a primary today -- one that actually might count, even -- i'd like to offer some friendly food for thought.

I hold a very realistic cynical view of national elections and major parties. Bush's exceptionally poignant terms in office notwithstanding, i generally feel that, given our corporate major political parties and laughable somewhat-compromised national election system, the real execution of the Presidential race marks neither a democratic process nor a terribly influential outcome.

What i believe is that the real votes that change the shape of our nation are cast every day. They're cast when we go grocery shopping or select vendors for our businesses. They're cast when we talk to our friends, or interact with our fellow human beings. They're cast in the ideas we carry forward, the philosophies we embody, and the assertions that drive our daily decisions. I believe that what is far more important than who wins any election is what message and thoughts we bring to the world.

Given this philosophy, i almost don't care at all how the election goes or who wins the Presidency, but i care very much about what message and which concepts for consideration will be slathered all over our media for six months, discussed and reprocessed on our blogs and at our dinner tables, and brought to mind countless times for us to soak in and think about.

For this reason, i'd like you to consider voting for Barack Obama. I don't know or care about his electability. I know a little about his platform, but have not studied it in depth, nor do i need to. My consideration here is based solely on one assertion: Whether it be real or fake, lasting or transient, pragmatic or fantasy, purposeful or accidental, Obama's campaign has become associated with a concept of national unity. The campaign -- either by design or merely by those who've gravitated to it -- appears to be snowballing ideas about breaking down political boundaries between people, being more progressive about citizen-driven government, and focusing more on the United States as a nation with a unified and responsible populace.

I remind you: whether or not Obama can win and/or execute any of his platform is irrelevant in my philosophy. The power of his campaign is in what it can represent in the minds of people, and the long-term effect, win or lose, of the message that it sends to all of our elected officials, regardless of who they be, about what we feel is important.

Regardless of your political persuasions -- even if you plan to vote 3rd-Party (as i usally do) or Republican in November -- please consider the benefit that a mere idea and symbol can have on the nation in the interim.

...and with those tasty little glazed and calorie-laden pastries of thought, i welcome your comments, and wish you a happy Fat Tuesday and a good rest-of-'08.


Ann Arbor's "Drinking Problem": A Possible Diagnosis

I'm writing a rare public post in the hopes that it might get some attention from the larger audience of folks interested in analyzing and shaping the downtown and campus areas of Ann Arbor. At the very least, it might kick off some discussions about the nature of the issues at hand.

My post is inspired by a recent article pertaining to the controversy surrounding The Arena (a local sports bar) and the recently-formed grant-supported organization, "Ann Arbor Campus-Community Conversations" (A2C3). The article outlines some of the concerns that the University and City have about "excessive drinking" on and around campus, and about some of the initiatives -- both reasonable and questionable -- that may be afoot to address them. The article also quoted some related material from the popular website Ann Arbor Is Overrated (but failed to provide a link or URL), which seeks to humorously dispel oft-prevailing hype about the town, and light-heartedly raise awareness about some of its less-publicized shortcomings.

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Until then, everyone. Please link, discuss, and spread the word. I do, on my good days, still believe we can make a difference.