Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and permanent resident of the United States, has likely been murdered by the Saudis, and the Trump administration seems reluctant to act. Why?

On October 2, Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, as you can see in the above photo, was observed entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he’d made plans to pick up documents that he needed concerning his recent divorce. It’s now nearly two weeks later, and he has yet to be observed leaving the building.

According to Turkish officials, Khashoggi, who had once been an unofficial spokesperson for the Saudi royal family, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by Saudi agents working under orders from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had been waging an intimidation campaign against the exiled journalist, who, in recent years, had become a harsh critic of the royal family. [Khashoggi had been living in Virginia.] The following background comes by way of the New York Times.

…After a successful career as an adviser to and unofficial spokesman for the royal family of Saudi Arabia, he had been barred from writing in the kingdom, even on Twitter, by the new crown prince. His column in a Saudi-owned Arab newspaper was canceled. His marriage was collapsing. His relatives had been forbidden to travel to pressure him to stop criticizing the kingdom’s rulers.

Then, after he arrived in the United States, a wave of arrests put a number of his Saudi friends behind bars, and he made his difficult decision: It was too dangerous to return home anytime soon — and maybe forever.

So in the United States, he reinvented himself as a critic, contributing columns to The Washington Post and believing he had found safety in the West…

Saudi officials have denied harming Mr. Khashoggi, but nearly two weeks after his disappearance, they have failed to provide evidence that he left the consulate and have offered no credible account of what happened to him…

While it’s not terribly surprising to hear that Mohammed bin Salman had a journalist killed, as that’s what despots like bin Salman and Putin do, it is surprising that our President, when faced by the apparent murder of a U.S. permanent resident by a foreign government, doesn’t seem all that interested in getting to the bottom of it. While he did say on 60 Minutes that the Saudis could have done it, and that, if they did, there would be “severe punishment,” he also said that Saudi leaders “deny it every way you can imagine.” Furthermore, he’s made it a point to say that, if this did indeed happen, it happened in Turkey, adding that Khashoggi isn’t even a U.S. citizen. And, regardless of what may have happened, Trump has made it clear that he still intends to keep selling arms to the Saudis.

As for why Trump might be acting in this way, it could have something to do with his long, lucrative history with the Saudis, who, it seems, have always come along at opportune times to bail him out in times of need. [Once Trump’s father passed away, he needed other people to cover for his mistakes.]

And Trump has always been appreciative of role the Saudis played in keeping him from bankruptcy. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” Trump told a crowd at 2015 campaign rally in Alabama. “Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

The following background comes by way of the Washington Post.

…Trump’s business relationships with the Saudi government — and rich Saudi business executives — go back to at least the 1990s. In Trump’s hard times, a Saudi prince bought a superyacht and hotel from him. The Saudi government paid him $4.5 million for an apartment near the United Nations.

Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump’s hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump’s hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors.

Now, Trump’s administration is trying to get answers from Saudi leaders about the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — a critic of the Saudi regime who was allegedly abducted, and possibly killed, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week. The crisis has brought scrutiny to Trump’s business ties with the Saudis — and the complexity they add to an already complicated U.S. relationship with the kingdom.

…Saudi royalty has been buying from Trump dating to 1995, with some of the deals coming during periods when Trump was in need of cash.

In 1991, when Trump was nearly $900 million in debt from failed casino projects, he sold his 281-foot yacht to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for $20 million. (The boat had been originally owned by late Saudi billionaire and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a cousin of Jamal Khashoggi.)

A few years later, the prince bought a stake in Trump’s Plaza Hotel by agreeing to pay off some of Trump’s debts on the property.

…Trump’s company is now facing two lawsuits alleging that — by doing business with other governments — Trump is violating the Constitution’s ban on “emoluments” from foreign states.

One lawsuit, filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia, is seeking Trump Organization records about foreign customers at the Trump hotel in Washington.

The other, filed by about 200 Democratic members of Congress, is aimed more broadly — seeking information about foreign customers in all parts of Trump’s business empire. This week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the lead plaintiff in that case, wrote that he hoped to uncover more details about Trump’s business with the Saudi government.

“Is the Saudi gov’t purposely filling Trump’s pockets? If so, what do they expect in return?” Blumenthal wrote on Twitter. “I’m fighting in court to hold him accountable”…

Not that we needed yet one more example of how the Trump administration’s rampant corruption manifests itself in U.S. foreign relations, but there it is.

And, with that, I give you the following from Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.

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Photographic evidence of the old Michigan Ave porn shop

Remember how, a few days ago, we were reminiscing about the peep shows and glory holes of the old Michigan Avenue Bookstore, and how upset I was that I couldn’t find any photographic evidence of its existence online? Well, all of my bitching and complaining apparently paid off. I just received the following photograph (circa 1982) from former Ypsi City Council member Barry LaRue. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Now, if he could just get a higher-res version, so we could read the signs in the windows.

Posted in History, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Are Democrats “too dangerous to govern”?

To all of the Republicans who have jumped on the “Democrats are a danger to the rule of law” bandwagon as a way of delegitimizing protest, and obscuring the fact that regular Americans have very real and legitimate reasons for being upset with their leaders in Washington, who are essentially taking health care from working families in order to hand billions of dollars over too their corporate donors, I offer the following.

Scott Wagner, the Republican candidate for Governor in Pennsylvania, just threatened to stomp on the face of Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf. “You better put a catcher’s mask on your face because I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes,” Wagner said in the following Facebook Live video, which was just broadcast yesterday.

Now, I ask you, which is the party of violence? Is it the party of Donald “knock the crap out of them” Trump, who said that the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville last year, where a peaceful protester was murdered by a member of the far-right, were “some very fine people,” or it is the party of those who made Ted Cruz feel sad by confronting him in a restaurant over his support for a Supreme Court nominee who, almost assuredly, will cast the deciding vote against women’s reproductive freedom, a move which, we know from history, will cost women their lives?

But that’s the world we live in. The wealthy white men in power can essentially do whatever they like to the American people, and, when we finally rise up and demand that they be held accountable for their actions… actions which we know will do significant harm… these same men claim that they’re the actual “victims”… We’ll talk more about Republican victimhood in a moment, but here, first, is the GOP’s new ad, which, picking up on the ridiculous “unhinged mob” theme, is called “The Left: An Unhinged Mob.”

And, with that, the Democrats go from being timid, little “snowflakes,” to a gang of bloodthirsty criminals… It’s funny how fast narratives change these days, isn’t it?

OK, back to the victimhood of the right, did you happen to see what Melaina Trump said a few days ago about being “one of the most bullied people in the world“? It’s hilarious funny, I know, but also it gets to the strange psychology of these people, and their unbelievable narcissism. I would have thought that it would have been clear, but when people don’t like you for being the enabler of a dangerous, authoritarian racist, or suggesting that our first black president wasn’t actually born in the United States, or wearing an “I really don’t care” jacket to visit victims of a natural disaster… that’s not the same as being mocked, ridiculed and lied about just because you’re a Democratic woman running for public office. No, this, from Donald Trump’s friend David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer, is what bullying really looks like.

One would hope that the American people would wake up to the fact that, everything Trump and his acolytes accuse their detractors of having done are actually things that they’ve done themselves. One would hope that people would come to realize that when Donald Trump says, as he did yesterday, that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russian to interfere in the election, he’s actually talking about himself. And the same goes for when he says he and the Republicans are the only ones who “believe in the rule of law.” I mean, we’ve all heard him accuse the Department of Justice and FBI of being corrupt. And we know that it’s the Democrats who, without holding any of the levers of power, are attempting to safeguard the investigation into Russia’s campaign to destabilize our democracy, while he continues to try to kill the investigation. But he just keeps going, lying big, and turning everything around, like Brett Kavanaugh did during his confirmation hearing, when he responded to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s question about whether he’d ever drank so much that he’d blacked out by snapping back, “I don’t know. Have you?

And, in that instance, it worked. By the end of the hearing, Kavanaugh was the victim, not Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who credibly testified with “100%” certainty that, at the age of 15, a drunk Bret Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her. It was a deliberate strategy, and it worked.

As Hitler said, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” And the big lie of the day is that Democrats are violent, and that the true victims here are wealthy, white Republicans. This isn’t the case, and any rational observer could tell you that. But the Republicans know that the only way they’ll stay in power, assuming the voter suppression, the gerrymandering, and the propaganda don’t prove to be enough, will be to start labeling their adversaries terrorists, and scaring them into silence. And what we’re seeing today is the first step. This should alarm all of us.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Can someone tell me what kinds of wild animals are being released along East Huron River Drive, and by whom? Should I be concerned?

I’m imagining giant tarantulas and honey badgers, but maybe it’s nutria.

Posted in Mark's Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Reminiscing about cleaning the glory holes and peep shows of the old Michigan Avenue porn shop

Back when I used to have the radio show, I would occasionally get messages from a listener in Colorado. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call him Jeff… Well, Jeff, in one of our conversations, let it be known that he’d not only spent a good part of the ‘70s in Ypsilanti, but that he had inside knowledge of at least two of our downtown’s most well-known adult establishments, the Art 1&2 porn theater, and the Michigan Avenue Bookstore. I, of course, was fascinated by this, and started a relentless campaign to interview Jeff for the website. And, now, a few years later, I’m happy to report that the interview has finally happened. Here, at long last, is the inside scoop as to what went on in the basement of the Michigan Avenue Bookstore.

MARK: OK, so you claim to have inside knowledge of Ypsi’s old Art 1&2 adult theater back in the ‘70s. Did you work there? If so, can you prove it? Do you have pay stubs? How about photos?

JEFF: I was the night manager of the Michigan Avenue Bookstore, which was an adult bookstore. The same company also owned the Art 1&2 adult theater at the time, as they obviously had a similar “product” and customer base. I worked primarily at the Bookstore, only going to the Art 1&2 to check the cash drawer and provide what they needed in terms of change. This was kind of a “vice versa” situation, as I also had unique change needs. I can get into that later, if you like.

MARK: So, no pay stubs?

JEFF: Sorry, no pay stubs, but I can tell you that the company issuing the checks was Doc Johnson, a regional/national sex toy/product/porn magazine distributor that owned both the Bookstore and the Art 1&2 Theater. At the time, the company was based in Cleveland, Ohio. Twice a month, an “inspector” would come up from Ohio and inspect the premises.

MARK: Can you tell me a bit about these inspections? I’m imaging big, intimidating guys, asking you questions under bright lights, trying to determine whether or not you were skimming from the peep show take, but maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Deuce lately.

JEFF: The inspections were pretty cursory, primarily checking on how merchandise was displayed, how we handled money and the register, and how we interacted with customers.

MARK: When did you start working there, and ow much did you get paid an hour?

JEFF: As I recall, I started in 1976 and made something like $4.50-$5.00 per hour, which was OK for the time, but I really earned the majority of my income from commissions off of the 8mm and 16mm movies I sold. The more movies I sold to a customer, their price would decrease, but my commission would increase.

MARK: Do you remember which titles were your best sellers?

JEFF: The biggest sellers at the time were films from the Swedish Erotica series.

MARK: Were there any titles that had to be kept behind the counter?

JEFF: All movies were kept in a locked glass display case at the front of the store, near the cash register and quarter dispenser.

MARK: How much did the videos sell for, and how much was your commission, if you recall?

JEFF: I think they sold for between $49 and $99 each. I think the commission was $10 for the first one, and increased $5 for each additional one sold. For example, if I sold three movies, I got $45 commission.

MARK: OK, I just looked up Doc Johnson, and they’re apparently still around. They started in ‘76, currently employ about 500 people, and have been called “the Procter & Gamble of sex toys.” Their bread and butter these days seems to be plastic replicas of porn star anatomy… What were their product offerings back when you ran the shop?

JEFF: There were plastic and rubber replicas back then… both male and female. Other products included full-size male and female dolls (vinyl and more expensive rubber), some S&M stuff, lingerie, condoms, and interestingly, an inhaled amyl nitrate liquid called Rush that supposedly increased orgasm intensity, but I can’t attest to it, having never used it.

MARK: I don’t suspect you’d know the answer, but I’m interested to know how Doc Johnson, which was founded by two men in Ohio, neither of whom was named Doc Johnson, came to decide that Ypsilanti was the kind of place they needed to open an outpost. I mean, property in town was likely dirt cheap at the time, and there would have been a pretty significant customer base, as the factories were still going strong in the mid ‘70s, but I’m curious as to why Ypsi made the cut, assuming they looked into multiple opportunities before making the decision to invest here. I’d also be curious… and you may know this… how many other Doc Johnson operations there were around the country. How many bookstores. How many theaters. [The company was started by Reuben Sturman with Ron Braverman, the latter of whom is still at the helm.]

JEFF: I’m sure the relative low cost in Ypsi was the primary motivator. And you’re right about the factories being important to the business. The typical customer at the time was 90% blue collar, and 90% male. I’d also estimate about 5% of our clientele was couples, and 5% was single women. As for other locations, as I recall, the company had stores in Wayne/Inkster and Detroit, but I don’t know how many others there were, or where they were located.

MARK: My understanding may be off, but I seem to recall hearing that the Art 1&2 didn’t start out as a porn theater, but began showing “art” films containing nudity, but no real sex. And everything kind of broke loose in the mid ‘70s, when the laws started changing. My sense is that some entrepreneurial folks began thinking, with the popular success of Deep Throat in ‘72, that obscenity laws might start changing across the country… that it was just a matter of of time before porn became legal… and started buying places up in hopes that they could capitalize once the decision came down. And I’m curious as to whether that’s what happened in the case of the old Martha Washington Theater, which became the Art 1&2 with the removal of some letters on the marquee.

JEFF: Sorry, but that was a bit before my time. I was attending EMU around then, but, if that was going on, I wasn’t paying any attention.

MARK: OK, back to my original question… If you don’t have any evidence to prove your employment, what’s something that only a manager of either the Michigan Ave Bookstore or the Art 1&2 in the mid-’70s would know?

JEFF: Well, the majority of the money made at the bookstore was not upstairs where the merchandise was sold, but downstairs in the 16 peep show booths that ran two-minute porn reels. You had to keep feeding quarters to keep the film running. The movies were changed weekly. Even at $0.25 a view, it was not unusual to collect $8,000-$10,000 a week from those alone. The coin boxes were emptied 3-4 times a day.

MARK: Damn, that’s a lot of masturbating. I had no idea we were talking about those kind of numbers.

JEFF: Yeah, it was pretty astounding. But, keep in mind, each of the 16 booths ran three movies each in a continuous loop, so there were a total of 48 movie choices at any given time.

MARK: When you say “downstairs,” do you mean on the first floor, or in the basement?

JEFF: In the basement, down some ugly maroon-carpeted stairs to an epoxy-coated basement floor. The epoxy coat was essential because the floor had to be cleaned so often!

MARK: Would I be right to assume that a lot of your 16mm sales were generated by customers who, having really enjoyed a film in one of the basement booths, decided that they needed to have a copy for themselves? In other words, were the booths a sales tool for the films, in the same way that some records stores used to have booths where you could listen to records before buying them?

JEFF: We didn’t stock many of the movies that were shown in the peep show booths, but we could special order most of them, although it could takes weeks or months to receive.

MARK: Were the peep show booth projectors easy to operate? Did they have to be repaired very often?

JEFF: The projectors were pretty bulletproof and didn’t require much attention at all beside replacing an occasional projection bulb, which was simple. The movie loops were contained both in reels and later in cassette-like modules that were pretty foolproof. The movies were changed out by a third-party person who came into the store with a pretty hefty suitcase full of new movies.

MARK: I just learned that the Velvet Touch, back in 1975, when it was on 4th Avenue in Ann Arbor, offered escort services. Would I be right to assume that you did not?

JEFF: No, we provided nothing of that nature.

MARK: Did you have any issue with prostitution in the space between the Art 1&2 and the Bookstore?

JEFF: No, that was never an issue.

MARK: I know where the Art 1&2 was, but where was the Michigan Avenue Bookstore? Do you happen to remember the address? I can picture it, as it was still here when I first came to town, but I’m having a hard time placing it on that block.

JEFF: I know it was between Washington and Adams on the north side of Michigan Avenue, but don’t remember the exact address. At the time it was next to a butcher shop that was immediately to the east. There was a maze of interior and exterior corridors and passageways from the bookstore to the theater.

MARK: The butchershop, I’m assuming, was the building I first knew as the Green Room, back in the mid ‘90s. It was named for its green facade, which is still there. The address is 206 West Michigan Avenue, and it’s now a venue called Ziggy’s. Here’s a shot from the street from a few years ago. I’m guessing we’re talking about the light grey building, right?

JEFF: Yes, that’s correct. I remember the (light green) butcher shop had the cantilevered sidewalk cover. I seem to remember that we used the upstairs for inventory storage, but don’t think I was ever up there.

MARK: You mentioned that there was “a maze of interior and exterior corridors and passageways from the bookstore to the theater.” I’m curious as to what you mean by this. Do you mean that you remember going out the back door of the Bookstore, and cutting through the alleyways to get to the back door of the Art 1&2, or was there something more elaborate?

JEFF: It wasn’t that elaborate, just going out the back door, past a couple vertical free-standing walls, and in the door of the theater. There were 3-4 door keys involved when going from building to building, though.

MARK: OK, back to the Bookstore, did you sell non-porn there as well? Were there actually newspapers and magazines? My guess, and I could be wrong, is that the business probably started as a legitimate newsstand, but I don’t imagine that you’d know about that…

JEFF: We sold general circulation magazines, such as Time, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, and so on, just inside the front door, but they didn’t get much activity, or sales. The porn stuff was further back, and bagged in plastic, so people could just see the front and back covers. That was done to discourage browsing.

MARK: So, how was it that you came to be working in this particular field?

JEFF: I had heard from a fellow EMU student, who was an employee, that it was pretty easy work and paid well. I actually got a lot of homework done there while working nights. Prior to working at the Bookstore, I worked at the College Pharmacy on Cross and Perrin, where the Jimmy John’s is today. I was a clerk and delivered prescriptions around the area.

MARK: Was the store open 24 hours a day?

JEFF: No. I think the hours were 10:00 a.m. to midnight, or something like that.

MARK: And when did you first come to Ypsi, or were you born in the area?

JEFF: I first came to Ypsi in 1972 as an EMU student. I’m originally from Dearborn. I got admitted to U of M, but couldn’t swing it financially at the time, so I came to EMU.

MARK: And how old would you have been when you started work there in ‘76?

JEFF: I would have been 22.

MARK: So, what did your job entail at the magazine shop?

JEFF: I checked-in merchandise, placed orders for inventory, bagged magazines, dusted the merchandise, vacuumed the upstairs, mopped the downstairs, made change for the peep shows, reconciled the day’s sales, took the night deposit to the bank, and just did whatever else any retail clerk would do.

MARK: Given that you said earlier that it was kind of like any other retail job, I’m curious if you could talk a bit about customer service within the context of the porn store. Did you direct people toward products that they might like? Did you set things aside for regulars? Did you do other things that people working in retail might do?

JEFF: Yes, I did most of that, at least for customers that wanted it. Women were especially curious, were specific about they were looking for, and were completely open about it, which was kind of cool, and opposite of the typical male customer who often seemed embarrassed or awkward.

MARK: What can you tell us about the owners? What was your interaction with them, if at all?

JEFF: I didn’t have much interaction with them, maybe only twice, largely because I was usually there late afternoons and nights. They struck me as well-dressed regular business guys, nothing out of the ordinary.

MARK: You mentioned in an earlier conversation with me that legendary porn star John Holmes once came to Ypsilanti, while on a tour to promote a film. As I’ve never seen evidence of this visit in the City archives, I was wondering if you could go into a little detail about the event, how it came to be, and what Mr. Holmes did while he was here in Ypsilanti. I don’t imagine he got a key to the City, but was it kind of a big deal? [If I’m not mistaken, General Tom Thumb’s visit to Ypsi is pretty well documented, as was Bill Clinton’s. It’s only fair that John Holmes gets similar recognition.]

JEFF: It was pretty low key. I remember his scheduled appearance was displayed on the Art 1&2 marquee, but nothing much beyond that. He was driven up to the theater in a Cadillac, went into the theater to make a short appearance and sign autographs, and was gone within 45 to 60 minutes tops.

MARK: Did a lot of people come out for the event? Was that the busiest that you’d ever seen things at the Art 1&2, or were they other big draws during your tenure?

JEFF: I don’t recall that event being much busier than usual. For that matter, every day was pretty much the same.

MARK: Did you exchange any words with Mr. Holmes?

JEFF: We just exchanged “hellos” and niceties. He was pretty wasted on liquor and cocaine (I’m assuming), because he was barely coherent.

MARK: Was this film of his showing at the time? If so, would I be right to assume that he didn’t watch the film with his fans while he was here?

JEFF: Yes, he was promoting the film “Eruption,” and it was showing at the time. He did, I think, introduce the movie, but then he left, after signing some autographs.

MARK: Did you have any problems with the City that you can recall? Were there ever protests? Did the police ever hassle your patrons? Or wasn’t that an issue?

JEFF: No, I never encountered any problems while I was there. The front window and door were painted, so you really couldn’t look inside. It was actually a pretty discreet place.

MARK: It was before my time, but there was a period, after the release of Deep Throat in ‘72, when, as we mentioned above, porn kind of flirted with the mainstream, with people who wouldn’t normally go to peep shows and the like, going to check things out. Was that a demographic you were seeing at all in ‘76…

JEFF: Ypsilanti (outside of EMU) at the time was very conservative and blue collar, so we didn’t see many “mainstream” customers in the store or theater.

MARK: What’s the strangest thing you ever saw while working at the Michigan Ave Bookstore?

JEFF: I think I’ll pass on that one, as there were too many to describe only one. All I can say is that I did enjoy the experience, especially the financial aspect of it, and some of the people I met, but I don’t miss it.

MARK: What was Ypsi like back in the mid-’70s?

JEFF: In some respects, it was much like today. It was relatively laid back, real, and relatable when compared to Ann Arbor. Some places that I really liked, but are long gone, include Hungry Charlie’s on Cross, Bimbo’s on Michigan Avenue, and the Alibi Bar in Depot Town, which was about the only viable business there at the time. There was also a Kroger supermarket on the south side of Michigan Avenue and River Street.

MARK: And what about that block of North Washington where the Art 1&2 stood? Do you remember what was around at the time?

JEFF: On North Washington, there was the Spaghetti Bender, which was a favorite place. They had good food and wine, great prices, and family style/picnic tables inside. I never had a bad meal there.

MARK: Speaking of what came before, did you ever hear of any older folks show up, thinking that the Art 1&2 was still the old Martha Washington Theater, or people coming to the Michigan Avenue Bookstore looking for Larry’s Tropical Fish, which I think used to be in that building?

JEFF: No, nothing like that ever happened to me.

MARK: Speaking of Larry’s Tropical Fish, do you remember any sign of things that might have come before? No coral in the basement?


MARK: Well, I just talked with the business owner in the building now, and she thinks she may have found something of yours. Did you ever use “tokens with astrological sex positions on them”? She found some not too long ago and suspect they’re yours.

JEFF: No, we never used tokens for anything, only real coins (quarters) when I was there. I suspect the tokens came after my time. It’s kind of funny that after I quit the Bookstore, I never went back, ever.

MARK: I may well be wrong about this, but I recall hearing, about a dozen years ago, when our remaining downtown porn shops were forced to close down, that the City had been able to do it by citing the presence of bodily fluids, which they claimed were considered a biohazard. While I don’t know if that’s true, I do remember walking by the adult book shop on Cross Street and seeing a crew in hazmat suits dragging out what looked like linoleum flooring… So, with all of that by way of background, I’m curious as to how much you were required to deal with bodily fluids.

JEFF: Mop duty in the peep show area was considered part of the job, and I didn’t think a lot about it at the time. We used gallons of pine scented disinfectant and rubber gloves. The area was cleaned when we knew there was no one anywhere in the store. (We had closed-circuit TV cameras in the basement.) We’d lock the front door when we cleaned. The bigger chore was monitoring and patching the so-called “glory holes” between the peep show booths. This was a continuous process that started with half-inch plywood, which was quickly destroyed. We then went to 2”x6” lumber for persistently breached patches. And, eventually, we started using steel plates.

MARK: Human beings can be incredibly resourceful and persistent… Did you ever catch people coming in with tools?

JEFF: I never actually caught anybody with tools, but the majority of the damage was done with pocket knives and screwdrivers.

MARK: Did you ever catch people in the act of having sex in the building? If so, how did you deal with it?

JEFF: In the Bookstore upstairs, no. In the peep show area in the basement, I saw some soliciting between males and attempts to go in a booth together, but the cameras alerted me, and I intervened with a PA system. Straight couples would come in occasionally, but would just peruse the magazines, movies, and toys upstairs, and never went downstairs.

MARK: Given the amount of business that you were doing, I’m curious as to whether or not you were ever robbed?

JEFF: No, and really never threatened either.

MARK: Do you have any good masturbation stories?

JEFF: A regular customer would come in a get a roll of 40 quarters from me for $10.00, which I assumed would be enough for him to take of business. Without fail, though, he’d come running back upstairs a while later, sweaty, with steamed up eye glasses and untucked shirt, handing me wet, crumpled up dollar bills for more quarters to get the job done.

MARK: So, is there anything else that you’d like future historians to know about the Michigan Avenue Bookstore?

JEFF: It was definitely and literally a different time. More innocent? Maybe, maybe not. I guess the Bookstore served the community for people who needed a sexual outlet for release that didn’t necessarily involve another person. Sounds weird, but that was my take on it… Ypsi was and still is a very unique, welcoming place, and I come back to visit at least 1-2 times a year.

MARK: One more thing… So, why did you leave Ypsilanti?

JEFF: Finally made it to U of M, got a mechanical engineering degree, and moved to Colorado. I moved here because I didn’t want anything do do with the automotive business. (I won’t bore you with the details.) I’ve now lived here for almost 40 years, but still miss Michigan and the midwest. So much so, in fact, that I’m now thinking of moving back to the area that I still consider home. Strange, but true!

update: When I first posted this, I hadn’t been able to find a photo of the Michigan Avenue Bookstore, so I’d used the above photo of the old Art 1&2 to introduce the interview. Well, Barry LaRue just came through with a photo of the old storefront, circa 1982, so I made the switch… And, here, for those of you who might be interested, is how I’d originally ended this post… “I tried pretty hard to find an image of the old bookstore, to no avail. It seems like, given the fact that it was in operation for decades, there would be some evidence of it, but, if there is, I can’t find it. I know I’ve said this here before, but it’s amazing to me how fleeting things are. I mean, I walked past this old porn shop for years, and now it’s just gone, without a trace. There’s something really sad about that… Anyway, if you want to cheer me up, send photos, or drawings, OK? I’ll accept anything.”

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