A friend of mine named Dave Morris left the following comment on an earlier thread, and I thought I’d move up here so that we could discuss it.

Mark- I think you should do city tour podcast and start a site. Kind of like a ” Tour of the Stars”, but maybe info about corporate scandals, crooked politicians and other interesting historical tidbits slathered with sarcasm. Actually, I think that Brett and you together could probably do a damn fine job of it. You could sell ads/ endorsements to smaller independently owned shops, restaurants and hotels.

The idea of a podcast guided tour of cities that no one goes to is even more intriguing.

“Maynard & Schutzman’s Guide to the Road Less Traveled”

You could go the other route and do a few sample cities, shop it around and get funding to do more and put a site up. Then the tough thing would be traveling all the time, and that is not always as fun as it sounds.

I think that Virgin is doing something like this as an add-on service to their airline. There is something else called iToor or iTour that is similar.

So, here’s my question to those of you familiar with Ypsi — if such a podcast city-tour were ever to be produced for our town, regardless of who makes it, what should be on it? What would absolutely have to be included?

The “Michigan Murders” house? The church where Phyllis Diller sang? The occasional reference to Iggy Pop? A few of the more noteworthy historic structures that are still standing? A mention of the time our city was featured on “48 Hours”? Something about the unsolved mystery on Michigan Ave that got us on “Unsolved Mysteries,” or perhpas about the time Tom Thumb came to visit? All punctuated, of course, by the occasional (purchased) restaurant review… What am I missing?

I don’t know that I’m the guy to do it, but I think the idea’s got potential. I’ll add it to the list of things I have to talk to Brett about. Maybe, if we don’t do this, we might be able to do something else that requires a little less time, like just wondering around from bar to bar with a tape recorder rolling and releasing our conversations as podcasts… We could give people the layout of each bar, suggest things on the menu, discuss drink specials, tell you which of the regulars to stay clear of, maybe even throw in a few “conversation starters” for those folks who might be planning dates. (“Hey, did you know that a bouncer here once followed a patron as he made his way home on foot, beating him to death in Riverside Park? He claimed that voices told him to do it… I hear the pickled eggs here are good… Are you enjoying our date so far?”)

I’m still sick, so that’s going to be it for tonight. If you’re still looking for something to do, there’s a good discussion on Creationism with University of Minnesota professor Paul Meyers taking place over at EvolveTV. I’m only about half-way through it, but it’s pretty good so far.

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  1. Ken
    Posted October 4, 2005 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I think that the meal of the tour would have to be the seventeenth best burger in the world, according to GQ magazine.

  2. Posted October 5, 2005 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    Hey Mark.

    I think that a walking tour of the trees of Ypsi would be a very worthwhile venture. There is a park on the northeast corner of Prospect and Cross that would be interesting to look into. I just looked it up. Apparently, it was a cemetery that predated Highland Cemetery. The park name is Prospect Park

    There are a lot of nice trees in the Highland Cemetery off of River street too.

    Another interesting burial ground is the area around Summit Street by the water tower. My understanding was that the Indians buried their dead there- something to do with the high ground ( which is likely why the water tower is there taking advantage of gravity. )

    I am also very fond of the trees in Ypsi. Many older trees are still hanging on that are representative of types planted a hundred years ago. They are being replaced these days with the tamer hybrid trees that architects and developers prefer, due mostly to their better manners – like not invading sewer lines, heaving sidewalks, or dropping lots of leaves, branches, and fruits.

    A lot of old nut trees, like buckeyes and walnuts, as well as a few older osage oranges are still around. There is an Osage Tree set back at the intersection of Hamilton and Forest I believe. Indians use to cut wedges out of them to make bows. They make giant grapefruit size fruits that look like brains.

    I think that Donald Culross Peattie’s writing style on the subject of trees would be a worthy inspiration as well as some of Karl Blossfeldt’s photos:

    Blossfeldt’s Photos

    Peattie’s Natural History Trees: Eastern and Central North America

    So, the short is that I think that Ypsi has a large dispersed collection of 19th century trees and could be considered an arboretum.

    I think that there could be a very interesting script written about the older trees that were planted by the people occupying the graves and what those trees meant to them.

    The Blossfeldt photographs revealing geometric patterns also brings up the idea of vamping off Christoper Alexanders Pattern Language too. Using a podcast as a tracing vellum over different views of Ypsi using the Pattern Language.

    Sorry if this comes off scatterbrained. I don’t have time to edit it. I’m trying to pack for a business trip.

  3. Posted October 5, 2005 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    When I lived in Texas I was told by the locals that the Osage fruit was a natural roach deterrent. Cut in slices, strewn about.

  4. Posted October 5, 2005 at 9:39 am | Permalink


    first off, it would have to be “Schutzman & Maynard’s Guide to the Road Less Traveled.” I think that has a better ring to it.

    secondly, I think that to some extent the idea of podcasting is a good one, though due to the name and the fact I’ve never been enamoured with iPods, and have a dial-up connection which makes downloading such files prohibitively tedious, I’ve never really looked into the matter seriously.

    Something similar I have considered, though, pending the purchase of a new video camera to replace my broken old 8mm, would be to make a few short ‘on the scene’ newscasts from ypsilanti, which I’ve thought might be a product that local public access cable could be a good outlet for (i think i brought this up at an early spitting cats meeting). Similarly, I’ve been wanting to do some historical tours along the same format. I think there’s certainly aspects of both which would transfer well to a purely audio format, though.

    Getting back to my earlier comment on your “pocsasts”[sic] thread, I’m a big fan of old school radio shows, and this would probably provide my biggest motivation for engaging in such a project. The “Bob and Ray” show comes to mind immediately as an example of a tongue-in-cheek ‘anti-news’ program that was very far ahead of its time.

    Finally, Dave, I think we’ve established that the water tower was placed at that high point due to the smell caused by drying squids.

  5. Posted October 5, 2005 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Research suggestion:

    Momus’s city walking tours are eminently listenable: http://www.imomus.com/momusradio.html

  6. Shanster
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Speaking of the water tower…
    have you noticed the cross in the bricks about 8 feet above the door facing west? There is a story told among local masons (bricklayers) that the person who put that cross in there was a Christian who often placed bricks in a cross pattern as a blessing to the structure and as his personal trademark. When the bosses found that he had put it there, they fired him, but never undid it. Can anyone confirm or repudiate?

  7. Posted October 5, 2005 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    No need to do one grand walking tour of Ypsi podcast … why not a series? “trees of ypsi” “ypsi’s musical history” etc…

  8. Tony Buttons
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Smeets, queefing ghosts, and the man with no face. Oh, my!

  9. Teddy Glass
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I believe that adult film actor Ron Jeremy was once arrested there as well. You can leave that out.

  10. Posted October 5, 2005 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    it’s a shame what they did to the “Michigan Murders” house.

  11. chris
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    OK, Ron Jeremy AND Phyllis Diller? I know where our next family vacation will be. Yeah, the Osage fruits are supposed to deter quite a few other things. Except, of course, Christ hating masons…or should it be Masons with a capital “M”? Shanster, that sounds like christian right urban myth, akin to the Proctor Gambel moon and star insignia being a sign of a pact w/ the devil. Anyone remember that one?

  12. mark
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    So, are you telling me that I’ve been wasting the last five years of my life, praying to this roll of Bounty paper towels and making ritual sacrifices to Crest Teeth-Whitening Strips?

    As for the efforts to rehab the so-called “Michigan Murder” house, I’ve written about them briefly here, but the story really deserves a few before and after photos. I’ll add it to my list of things to do.

  13. mark
    Posted October 5, 2005 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    If it were up to me, they would have arrested Ron Jeremy and Phyllis Diller for what they were doing on stage… I can’t believe they let her get away with it.

  14. Posted October 6, 2005 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I think such a project would definitely be worthwile and spreading it to other lesser known towns would definitely be a good thing. In fact I think it could fill a short series of podcasts. Any
    sound-seeing tour of Ypsilanti must include the most phallic building in the world and the automotive heritage museum in Depot Town. Of course you should also discuss how a town in southern Michigan came to be named for a relatively obscure Greek general and of course the ElvisFest and the Orphan Car Show. If you decide to go ahead with this and want some help let me know.

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