ypsilanti opens her needle tracked arms to incoming students

I’ve written plenty of sensationalistic stuff in my life. And God knows I’m lucky that, when I was 19, I didn’t have access to a printing press. So, I’m inclined to cut the young author of this piece in “emYOU” magazine a little slack. There was probably a time in my life when I would have done worse. What I can’t understand, however, is why the publisher decided to run a piece that goes so far over the top in attacking our city. And, in case you haven’t seen it, that’s what this piece, entitled “That’s My Ypsi,” does. Here’s a clip to give you an idea:

The city of Ypsilanti’s light shines bright. Her light shines brighter than the glitter on the inner-thigh of a DejaVu stripper. It shines brighter than the flashing lights of a squad car hunting down a potential rapist. Our beloved city shines like a beacon of light calling all of the homeless people of Southeastern Michigan to converge on her in a whirlwind of dissonance and reluctance…

Behind every crack whore-infested-corner and under every used needle-ridden footstep is a land unlike any other…

So welcome freshman and welcome back returning students. Ypsilanti has her needle tracked arms open and waiting to embrace you…

I’m not as irate about it as some folks I know are. There are people in our community that want the publisher’s head. They’re pissed that this magazine, which is offered all around town for free, is being picked up by new students and their families, and that this is the image of our town that they’re being left with. They’re convinced that the article is going to further divide the students from the city at a time when it seemed as though the trend was going the other way. Personally, I don’t think that it will have much of a long-term impact. I just think that it’s probably bad business, as the magazine, which is published by an EMU alum, depends on advertising dollars from the outside business community, and benefits from a good relationship with the University. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t imagine that, with this kind of reckless shock-n-awe journalism, the ad dollars from local restaurants are going to flow in, or, for that matter, that the President of EMU would ever again agree to pose for the cover. I’m not suggesting that people boycott the magazine, but they should demand better. It’s true that our community has its issues, but, if one takes the time to look for it, there’s also an unbelievable beauty.

And, not to rehash bad things from the past, but it is kind of ironic that, while they suggest that it’s dangerous for young coeds to come into the city, they don’t mention that the only coed raped and murdered in recent history had it happen to her on campus, in the safety of her own dorm room, by, not a local person, but another EMU student.

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21 Comments

  1. whatuthinkin
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Hey dude, you gloated on one post about how finding crack bags in your lawn made you some sort of open-minded hero.

    suck up da honorz.

    Or call criminals criminals and DO something about it.

    Yur call, homie.

  2. The Perfect Storm
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Between all their hard-hitting articles about the newest bikinis, latest craze in boots, and their tributes to the messy ponytail, I’m surprised emYOU found the time to publish this piece.

    With emYOU’s track record, I wouldn’t be surprised if the same crack whores and serial rapists who were written about, also contributed ad dollars.

    For that matter, it wouldn’t shock me if said crack whores and serial rapists were friends with the publisher. After all, those are the only people emYOU writes about.

  3. the beautiful blizzard
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    It’s almost like an emYOU contributer wrote the first comment. The grammar and writing style is very similar to what you would find in the actual “magazine” aka ad supplement.

  4. Brackache
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Fuck ’em, it’s a free country.

    Now if it was someone from Austin TX who said that, it’d be a different story.

  5. mark
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, when the snow melted in my yard this spring, I mentioned that, beneath it, I found crack baggies. And, a few years ago, when my daughter found a needle in our garden, I mentioned that too. Both things actually happened. I didn’t exaggerate. I didn’t tell people to stay in their homes. And I surely didn’t say either made me “an open minded hero.” We live in a complicated community, and I do my best to make sense of it here on the blog. I write about the good and the bad as it happens. I’d like to think that I’m pretty balanced in my reporting. I neither try to paint an over rosy picture, or an overly negative one. I just tell what I see.

  6. mark
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    And, yeah, I don’t have a problem with freedom of the press. They can write what they want, even if it’s over the top. Maybe I didn’t make myself clear… I was just saying that I don’t see how it could be seen as a good business decision…

  7. Citizen Blogger
    Posted September 16, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I read the whole article and thought it was kind of sweet. The person who wrote it does clearly love Ypsi, warts and all, but maybe got a little carried away when presented with an opportunity to say so.

    “A good business decision”? Maybe not. But, Mark, are you trying to suggest that publications think of the bottom line first and honesty or artistry of expression, clumsy as it may be, second? Somewhat unlike you.

  8. mark
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Like I said, it’s bad writing, but it’s not worth launching a boycott over… And you’re right, Citizen Blogger, I do tend to make decisions when it comes to my own projects that lose money. Fortunately, however, I’m not dependent on them for my livelihood. If I were, I’d have to focus a lot more on the bottom line. My impression is that they want “emYOU” to prosper financially. I’m simply stating that publishing pieces like this makes that outcome less likely.

  9. Posted September 17, 2008 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Uhh…. Ypsi has always been a haven for addicts.

  10. Brackache
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Didn’t mean to sound like I was accusing you of disrespecting freedom of the press, mark.

  11. Posted September 17, 2008 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Wait a second – are you referring to Orange Taylor? He wasn’t an EMU student, was he?

  12. McGruff
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Has crime been so bad in Ypsi lately? I mean, a few robberies and such. Ann Arbor had that attempted rapist just a few weeks ago. Is the crystal city to the East so much better?

  13. John
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Yes, he was a student. This is from the Detroit News:

    But as Dickinson coped with the loss of his daughter, EMU was investigating a revised account of her death. On Feb. 23, he received another call from the university: Laura was raped and murdered, and campus police had just charged fellow student Orange Taylor III, 20, with the crimes.

  14. Posted September 17, 2008 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Yup, you and Mark are right. My bad. Thanks, John.

  15. Robert
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    God knows it wasn’t luck that kept you from having a printing press when you were 19, Mark. It was God! Thank God! It’s also pretty clear that it was Satan who set you up with this blog.

  16. Publius
    Posted September 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    From their website, “Pakmode Publications number one priority is to help the students. emYOU! The Magazine, a subsidiary of Pakmode Publications, is geared toward highlighting the positive aspects of Eastern Michigan University”

    OH the irony~!

  17. John Edwin
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    That article kind of nails the whole student perspective on the head. I lived in the “ghetto” of Ypsilanti for all four years of my undergraduate and I had COUNTLESS run ins with junkies. It’s just part of the life, and it’s not necessarily a negative thing. It makes life more interesting and frankly, junkies have to live somewhere.

    Why are you taking offense at what an obviously student-centered magazine has to say about “your city?” Live in the crack-corridor of Emmet-Ballard-Hamilton and we’ll talk. Until then, I don’t think y’all have much room to speak.

  18. John Edwin
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Post Script:
    Did you ever think that the “dirt lifestyle” is part of the allure that Ypsilanti has for younger people? It certainly reeled me in.

  19. Ol' E Cross
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know. As I read it, it says that the city of Ypsilanti shines brighter than its “problems.” It acknowledges that incoming students may find some sites in Ypsilanti a little grimy, but says the town is more than that. I much prefer that to the “don’t leave campus” mentality I’ve heard stated from some at EMU. (I’m quite serious that some at EMU actually warn students about the safety of leaving campus.)

    Smart business cuts both ways. If I were a business owner/advertiser, I’d be concerned with whether my ads were reaching potential customers, whatever the articles said. Seems like worse business not advertise in a publication that reaches thousands of new folk simply because I don’t like something they wrote…

    Truth is, the magazine has already done more to promote Ypsilanti in its brief run than most anything I’ve read in the Eastern Echo over the past several years. I like the Echo; it’s has had some good Ypsi articles, but nothing like the flow of Ypsi love I’ve seen in emYou. They even covered the crust covered Shadow Art Fair for God’s sake…

  20. Posted October 1, 2008 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    I would first like to thank Mark for the initial post and others for their comments and thoughts. It’s almost surreal to think that our little emYOU! The Magazine has hit the Big Time with Mark’s blog. I was reminded today, the 6th most read blog in Michigan?

    We’ve recieved a number of emails in regards to the “That’s My Ypsi” story that ran in our Welcome Back issue. As co-owner of Pakmode Publications, proud EMU alumn and Ypsi resident (7 years) I would agree with most of the criticism that has been expressed with the article. The misunderstanding comes from those who have never read our magazine or Mr. Stemen’s writing style. He writes entertaining, fun, sarcastic angles to stories. Did he go way over the top and cross the line with this story? He not only crossed the line, he long jumped it! I’ll be the first to take the blame for not toning down his rather obscene and highly exaggerated statements of “crack whores” and “needle tracked arms” but the point of the story was to laugh and poke fun at the less glamorous parts of Ypsi. As a publication we poke fun at ourselves all the time. The point of the story was to tell students to embrace all that is Ypsi and be proud that this is where we call home, even if at the surface level it seems less than perfect. By making references to “No Face” who seems to run into every EMU student atleast once in their career at EMU, it was to be like a right of passage, we’ve all experienced it.

    I wanted Mr. Stemen to point out the “grimey” and “dirty” sides of Ypsi because I love Ypsi for being a little grimey and rough around the edges. It’s fair to say I let my personal feelings get involved in the story. I take personal offense when people who live in Ypsi, tell their friends they live in A2. Much the same when someone, anyone who has never lived in Ypsi talk down upon the city. It’s like when you can say whatever you want about a family member and its ok, there’s still love, but the second someone outside your family says something…there’s going to be trouble!

    I’m rambling…

    As far as the business side of things go, again, I appreciate your concerns and understand that it probably wasn’t the best decision to run the story considering our advertising dollars majorily come from Ypsi businesses. However, we’ve lost advertisers in the past over articles that have ran, ie) The Perfek Storm, and at the same time have gained advertisers for certain articles, ie) The Perfek Storm. Shout out to the above Perfek Storm tribute artist, who was kind enough to chime in on the topic.

    In closing, I take full responsibility of all the good and the bad that runs in emYOU! The Magazine. Please don’t hold anything against my two business partners, or our staff of 15 EMU students and alumni. I encourage you to read more than just one article and I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find. Thanks for being so passionate about Ypsi and for opening my eyes to an audience I was, until now, in the dark about. Feel free to offer any story ideas or further comments to me. Mark, good luck with the upcoming Winter Shadow Art Fair!

  21. James
    Posted October 25, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Mark,
    I lived in ypsi for 25yrs, some of my favorite memories are from that area; Playing football at Frog Island Park, the Heirtage Festival, Sidetracks, Abes, The Elvis Festival. There are tons of great places and fun things to see in Ypsi. However, it is because of the “rough edges” that this is not an environment in which I wanted to raise my children. I’ve seen first hand the crack whores on the corner at Johnson and Michigan Ave. I’ve seen first hand the rise of the gangs in the public schools.
    I love Ypsi and wish it the best but since the Gm Plant shut down in the early 90’s it has been a down hill slide. I think the good things come with the bad. Every city has a bad side, or bad area’s. I think that the article did a great job calling that out.
    Also I am certain the same guy who wrote the article in question wrote a rather flattering article about your Shadow Art Fair.
    Everyone is entitled to thier own opinion and this is just mine. Thank you for your passion about all things Michigan. Keep up the great work.

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