“Oh, my God, did he say Ypsitucky?”

When I first moved back to Ypsi, Linette and I made some shirts that said “Buy Indie in Ypsi.” We thought that we were doing a good thing – encouraging people to support the locally owned, independent stores in their community – but some folks didn’t see it that way. We received complaints from a vocal minority, telling us that, by using the term “Ypsi,” we were hurting this community that we’d moved back to be a part of. Apparently, by not using all of the letters in the formal name, we were somehow denigrating the entire community, and moving the City backward. I can’t recall how, if at all, I replied, but, if I did, it’s likely that I used words like “shortsighted” and “ridiculous.” Well, it looks like we’re finding ourselves in another one of those teachable moments here in Ypsi.

Apparently, this time, it’s Erik Dotzauer of the Depot Town CDC that’s the offender…. Yup – it seems as though he’s kicked the “Ypsitucky” hornets’ nest pretty hard.

I received a note from a community leader not too long ago, telling me of Erik’s plan to promote an “Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival,” and asking me to send a letter of complaint to the City Council, telling them that I objected. Instead, I sent a note back to the man who had contacted me, saying that, as a person from Kentucky, I didn’t find the association all that objectionable.

Apparently, however, some well-intentioned folks in the community feel otherwise. Some, it would seem, think that this is going to send Ypsi into a tailspin from which it can’t recover… To listen to them, you’d think that it wasn’t the prostitution, or the crime, but the word “Ypsitucky” that’s keeping good, honest, hardworking people from our community. (Believe me when I tell you, having talked with a number of people in Ann Arbor about why they don’t visit Ypsi, it has absolutely nothing to do with their fear of confronting a barefoot person in overalls, playing a fiddle.)

So, long story short, the City has called a special meeting of the Ypsi Human Relations Commission for May 18, 2009 to discuss it. (The meeting is to be held at City Council Chambers, located at One South Huron Street, at 7:30 PM.) I’ll have to go check my notes, but I don’t think this commission was even called together when an unarmed David Ware was shot in the back and killed while fleeing from undercover police during a drug bust a few years back. So that should give you some idea as to the overwhelming magnitude of this issue.

Those of you who have been spending time here on the site for a while might remember that I got swept up into the Ypsitucky mess myself some time ago, when I came to the defense of Zingerman’s for using the term to promote a Harriette Arnow tribue dinner celebrating the Appalachian heritage that many of us here share. Well, as you may recall, holy hell broke loose. Someone even went so far as to suggest that it was a hurtful term because Kentuckians were kidnapped and brought here against their will in the 1940s to work in the factories of Ypsilanti. (As you might recall, this particular city leader claimed to have heard personal accounts, but, when asked for details, could never provide them.)

So, what’s my point?

My point is that, even if the word Ypsitucky was used as a pejorative decades ago by people outside of Ypsilanti, it doesn’t have that meaning today. And, even if it did, who’s to say that we can’t embrace the term and transform it in the process? Maybe my judgment is clouded, as my roots are in the Bluegrass State, but, in an era when so much around us seems fake and manufactured, I like that our beloved city has even a tenuous claim to an authentic American culture of some kind. Granted, it’s not sophisticated, but it’s real, and I think that resonates with people.

So, I know there are lots of people out there encouraging folks to complain, and I might be the only person other than Erik on the other side of the fence, but I’d like to ask you to really give it some thought before you do. The term, in and of itself, isn’t bad. The term is what we make it. When I hear it, my mind doesn’t conjure up images of Ann Arbor snobs laughing over glasses of merlot and pointing to the east. Instead, I’m reminded of the really wonderful people from Kentucky who I used to meet on Saturday mornings at the old Freighthouse, in front of the wood stove, listening to Ken and his friends play their banjos. And, I don’t see any reason why others can’t be encouraged to develop similar positive associations of their own. It’s for that reason I think that the Ypsilanti Bluegrass Festival might be a very good thing indeed.

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  1. Posted May 13, 2009 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    My thought was that even if the term was used in a negative way in the past, a *Bluegrass* festival which celebrates music that comes from Kentucky and by extension the cultural heritage that is part of Ypsilanti, it is a perfect time to reclaim the word and turn it into something positive.

  2. kristin
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    That “Ypsitucky is bad” thing is pretty old fashioned. I wonder if people in Detroit were non-plussed over “Motor City” when that started up. Of course I have family from the hills myself; I may be biased.

  3. NativeOfYpsiRU?
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    In your previous blog about the term, I notice how none of those so called “PC”, “we can’t use a piece of local vernacular because we might offend someone” has even thought about how the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky feel about us likening our fair town to their entire state. It’s all about “me” with these types, isn’t it? Mark, as a Kentucky expatriate, perhaps you could poll other Kentucky natives about how the term “Ypsitucky” makes them feel?

    Seriously folks, it’s a word, nothing more. If you’re offended by it, don’t use it. I think the old saying “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” applies here. Why can’t we channel this energy to thinking about how to capitalize on and even promote Ypsi’s southern heritage instead of suppressing it?

    Mark, excellent blog btw. You’re not the only one on the “other side of the fence” on this one.

  4. KateL
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I have no opinion on this one. But the use of “Ypsitucky” to mean low income white people who are ignorant and rough is not a term of the past. I still hear it used that way. I also think the term can be taken up and turned around and used as a proud -of -the -town’s -heritage thing. And has been on many occasions. Seems like 6 of one half dozen the other to me in this issue

  5. Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Regardless of the term, which I am now leaning towards accepting, I am very, very excited about the Bluegrass Festival. From strictly a marketing standpoint, I would go with Ypsilanti Bluegrass Festival – with the potential of this becoming an annual event and drawing lots of people into town, let’s have the Ypsilanti brand stick. It’s like the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz festival would have lost a ton of crediblity if had started as Tree Town Blues and Jazz Festival or something. Let’s take this event more seriously but explore other ways to celebrate the term Ypsitucky.

    I actually posted a recording of a song called “Ypsitucky” on my site. It was recorded live at the Casa Nova bar on Michigan Ave, probably around 1970, by Wynn and John. Maybe we could get a band at the festival to play this.

  6. Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I’ll throw in my $0.02 as another Kentucky expat: I think Erik has a great idea. I’d love to see a bluegrass festival in Ypsi.

  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    If “Ypsitucky” became associated with an annual bluegrass festival it would certainly transform the meaning of the word. Bottom line is it’s a good name for a bluegrass festival, and the YHRC doesn’t have any power to change the name.

    Although, as a native of North Carolina, I think “Ypsirolina” would be a nice compromise.

  8. Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    We’re playing the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Fest. I was thinking about not playing if the name were changed, but that doesn’t really hurt the pushy PC sonsabitches that are trying to tell Erik and everyone else how to talk. Perhaps instead I’ll refer to it as the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Fest no matter what, on all our flyers, online, and on stage, and perhaps list off the names of all the bullying assholes who want to force their offendedness on everyone else while on stage, so we can all point them out and laugh. I hope they have as much fun being upset and kissing my ass as I’ll have playing the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Fest. Back to tanning groundhog hides.

  9. Posted May 13, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    I’m all for Ypsitucky; I think it’s a nice way to remember the time when the city and the region were literally building the engines that powered the defense of liberty around the world.

    Is reminding the world that people of Appalachian descent lived in Ypsilanti in large numbers pejorative? Not having a connection to the Appalachia, I can’t be sure, but a couple weeks ago, I happened across a 2-hour documentary on the History Channel called “Hillbillies,” narrated by Billy Ray Cyrus, that showed a whole region of the country claiming “Hillbilly” as a term of pride, not degradation. My ancestors are proud to be called “Yoopers,” although some might find that to be an insult.

    The only objection I have to “Ypsitucky” is that “Ypsissippi” sounds much better, even if it’s less historically accurate. Oh, and I love bluegrass, and will be delighted to see some played around town.

  10. Steph's Dad
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Can anyone produce a person of Kentucky heritage today who finds this offensive? What I’ve read, following the links to other previous discussions, is a lot of people saying that it’s offensive to people of Kentucky (because they were brought here as slaves?), but no one from Kentucky actually echoing that concern. It seems to me that the issue could be that a certain subset of the community is offended at being lumped in with Kentuckians more than it is a case of well meaning people looking out for their friends and neighbors from the bluegrass state.

  11. Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Referring to Ypsilanti as Ypsitucky is like calling your spouse “baby.”

  12. Andy French
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I was recently added as a board member of the Depot Town Community Development Corporation. When I heard about the plans for the Ypsitucky Jamboree I was excited for this festival.

    Many of us in Ypsilanti have roots in the south, and I am excited to have a festival that celebrates this. The term Ypsitucky has been around for decades and it seems to me to be a perfect name for a bluegrass festival.

    I am aware the term has been used as a perjorative in the past, but that is not the case today. Naming the festival the Ypsitucky Jamboree gives us the opportunity to identify Ypsilanti with its southern roots in a positive way and can change any remaining negative stereotypes.

    I was born and raised in Ypsilanti and I have heard the term Ypsitucky used to describe Ypsilanti my whole life. Now, I have never found the term to be offensive. That maybe because my family moved here from Tennessee and I am proud of my southern roots.

    Our website is still being updated, but here it is http://www.ypsituckyjamboree.com.

    The website for the Depot Town Community Development Corporation is http://www.depottowncdc.org.

  13. Lisele
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    “…trying to tell Erik and everyone else how to talk” — why is it that people who want to use slurs bring it down to an issue of my “right” to say anything I please, no matter how offensive? As a “dyke” I can tell you, I find it offensive when the ignorant use the word to identify my targeted minority group, OK? I also find it offensive when white men pass judgment on the neutrality & acceptability of terms for less privileged groups.

    One, can I safely assume Jake is comfortable with using the n-word, dyke, fag, wetback, cracker…? Two, it’s fallacious to say that because the “–tucky” part of the word refers to the state of Kentucky, it’s not a slur. Bollocks. The word “heeb” derives from “Hebrew,” yet I can tell you it is offensive and a slur. Just because one can identify the origin of the word doesn’t make it acceptable. I think Kentucky is the most beautiful state in the union, yet I know that people who use the word “Ypsitucky” are not paying us a compliment. It’s disingenuous to pretend it’s a neutral term.

  14. Ken J.
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    My question was, *when* is the festival to be held?

    A few MySpace pages for performers list a September 5 date.

    I’m there…

  15. Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    As someone who was born and raised in Ypsilanti I can tell you that there should be no offense taken at the term YpsiTucky. The thought that people would be offended that we are associating ourselves with a large part of our heritage are absolutely nuts. As a kid I learned an awful lot from my Kentucky born neighbors which made growing up in Ypsilanti so much more interesting than living in a cookie cutter suburb. As an adult I worked at WSDS (when it was still Country) and found out even more about the Kentuckians that came here.

    The fact that so many of the folks I grew up with from Kentucky have taken buy-outs from the big three and moved back South is a tremendous loss to the city. Many of these people were great helpful neighbors that knew how to fix what you couldn’t, plant gardens, and live modestly.

    If it is in your head that Kentucky is a horrible and backward state that we should be ashamed to be compared to you are absolutely wrong. Kentucky is a fabulous state with first rate cities and people.

    I look forward to the meeting so I can confront the anti ‘Tucky’ folks.

    I’m also pretty sure the event will be the “Ypsitucky Jamboree” so it can offer more styles of music than Bluegrass. I’ve seen the list of bands and it is good Roots and Americana stuff.

    If you want to see some good old fashioned bluegrass and some real life YpsiTuckians. I think there is still a picking session at the Senior Center on Clark rd. on Wednesday and Saturday mornings (from 9am till noon).

  16. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Lisele, why is it okay to write dyke, fag, wetback, and cracker, when you use the indirect term n-word? Should people take offense?

    Is the crappy economy coaxing the puritanical out of us?

    Again, if offense isn’t obvious and is obviously not intended, then why make a case for it? Just because one can?

    And also again, when asked if we will ever have fascism in the United States, Huey Long replied, “Yes, but we will call it anti-fascism.” Let’s all try to avoid taking political correctness to an extreme. Is harm being done? What harm? In the previous thread, we had difficulty in tracking down people who were personally offended (whatever that means) by “ypsitucky.” How many personally find it offensive? If only one is offended, then surely we shouldn’t ban or censor the term. So, how many offended people should we have before we censor the term? Can that be quantified?

    If I’m offended when other people say they are offended, then does that mean we should ban them from saying they are offended?

  17. Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Hello friends,

    I would like to comment. My name is Don Sicheneder and I am the Director of the “Ypsitucky Jamboree”. I cannot thank you all enough for the outpour of support I have received for not only the name, but the Jamboree in general. Lets make this clear. We did not choose this name for press, to offend anyone or to cause a stir. We chose the name because of the direct relationship between our southern roots and the people we are today. It is time to embrace and not put roadblocks for progressive thinking and individuals who are trying to make Ypsilanti and surrounding communities a better place. I went to college at EMU and live and work in this community. The Jamboree is one of a kind. There is no other like-festival in Washtenaw County. For those who have been paying attention to the music scene in Washtenaw County, you will know that we have become a “hot spot” for talented musicians and artists nationally. It is reminiscent of the time when local artists hit the scene such as MC5, Bob Seger and Iggy Pop.
    The Ypsitucky Jamboree is a non profit created to benefit Frog Island and Riverside Parks. We are doing this out of love and commitment to the area. We are creating an event, not branding a city, that invites all surrounding areas to come and enjoy the area’s top talent, artisans and celebrate community and diversity. It will be a safe venue to bring your family out and to spend 2 days with us.
    Once again our intention was not to offend anyone. We believe in “Ypsi Pride” and feel honored to be a part of this community. With all of the economic hardships we are facing as a society, we should be focused on our roots, where we come from, what makes us unique and what will make us stronger. Bringing progressive thinking individuals into this area through music is the perfect avenue to change the old way of thinking and migrate to new thoughts, ideas and events.
    Once again, I thank you so much for the continued support.

    Here is a list of some of the great talent we have assembled:
    The Ragbirds
    The Macpodz
    Daisy May and Seth Bernard
    My Dear Disco
    Laith Al Saadi
    Dick Siegle
    Dragon Wagon
    The Bearded Ladies
    Black Jake and the Carnies
    Back 40
    Orpheum Bell
    Daughters of Newgrass
    October Babies
    Sound Hound

    We would love to have you at the Ypsitucky Jamboree. We will have ticket links up on the site shortly. If you are interested in volunteering, supporting or just want to say hi, please send me a note through http://www.ypsituckyjamboree.com – Contact Us.

    May we all find hope, love and community through music.

    Don Sicheneder
    Director, Ypsitucky Jamboree

  18. Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    You Yips really need to lighten up.

  19. Paw
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Kentucky is much better off economically at the present moment than Michigan. If anything, adding the “tucky” is a compliment. 60 years ago, it may have been that Kentuckians were slack-jawed yokels, but that’s not the case today. Now, if someone were to call Lexington Lexitoit, that would be an insult.

  20. Posted May 13, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    One, can I safely assume Jake is comfortable with using the n-word, dyke, fag, wetback, cracker…?

    You can assume I have 6 nipples if you want to. Free country.

  21. Posted May 13, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Amen, Don Sicheneder. Great website!

  22. Alicia
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    A Milanite (now THERE’S a backwater for you) from the old days, I still think of Ypsitucky as a pejorative. The little I know now and what I remember from my youth is of an Ypsilanti — like many communities — with many neighborhoods and strata.

    I dated someone from the Ypsitucky “region” (yes?) near Willow Run. That seemed a very different place from Normal Park or Depot Town or what is now Ypsi Township.

    My guess is that reactions to the ‘Tucky tag vary depending on one’s a) neighborhood and b) relative nativeness to the city.

    Interesting post as always.

  23. NativeOfYpsiRU?
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    In response Lisele’s statement that:

    “I also find it offensive when white men pass judgment on the neutrality & acceptability of terms for less privileged groups.”

    I find it extremely offensive when lesbian women (or anyone else for that matter) erroneously assumes that everyone who disagrees with them is white, and assumes that I am anymore privileged than anyone else. Just who are you to decide someone’s ethnicity and station in life without truly knowing them? Ahh, hypocrisy at it’s finest…..

  24. Posted May 13, 2009 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    The term Ypsi-tucky is totally offensive. Nobody should treat Kentucky in such a horrible way as to relate it to Ypsilanti.

    Have your festival in Ypsilanti Township, I’m sure they’d be glad to have you. Like many local businesses.

  25. Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    One more vote for Ypsitucky! There are a lot of people in this area who are proud of their Kentucky and/or southern heritage. One of the reasons we have a thriving scene for bluegrass and other roots music in the area is because of this heritage. I am sure there are those who are talking down about our fair city when they they use the term “Ypsitucky”, but if we can make this festival as cool as I think it can and will be, those people will be lining up to buy tickets and t-shirts next year.



    P.S. Get The Ypsitucky Colonels on the bill!

  26. West Cross Len
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The only problem I have with the whole thing is that the banjo on the website has only 4 strings. I’m guessing the website designer forgot the fifth. Might want to change that before some celtic/ragtime fans get their hopes up.

  27. Posted May 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I find it absolutely incredible that this conversation holds such seriousness here. You know what else was a pejorative? Michigander. And these days its predecessor (Michiganian) isn’t even recognized in spell check. There’s something to be said of embracing a word and reversing its meaning, especially a word as mild as “Ypsitucky.” Just ask the New York Yankees.

  28. Kerri
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The name is perfect. People need to lighten up.

  29. Candace
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all so much for the outpouring of support. I, too, sit on the DTCDC Board and when I first heard the name I thought it was ever so ‘kitchy’ and perfectly described the festival.

    I have lived in Ypsi for 7 years and have grown to love it so much I work here and volunteer on WAY too many boards here as well; frankly, I try to never leave!

    and now that the Corner Brewery is in town I really don’t have much reason to leave ;-).

    I admit that I have spent so much ‘extra’ energy on fighting this name that it’s wearing me down. I am so busy trying to be ‘active’ and getting people to move INTO Ypsi and so focused on being positive and optimistic that this stuff is just wasting my energy.

    I had never even heard of the ‘Human Relations Committee’ before and when I read their guidelines I don’t see how this name fits into holding a special meeting. They are designed to watch for ‘trends’ in prejudice and discrimination – not for one-time events.

    I am also wondering why the website that depicts an adult film site that is under the web site name ypsitucky.com and owned and operated by one of the people who supports the petition and supported by an ‘Elected Official Councilman’ is not also on the agenda for Monday’s meeting?

    I am deeply offended that an elected official would blog about that very adult web site and support it and that the owner of that web site would tout our city – with a picture of our water tower on it – as an adult film web site???

    Something seems amiss on this one.

    We would certainly LOVE, and welcome, seeing any of you supporters at the Monday HRC meeting at City Hall @ 7:30.

    and Definitely CAN’T WAIT to support the MUSIC scene expansion at the Ypsitucky Jamboree, http://www.ypsituckyjamboree.com on Labor Day weekend!!!!

  30. Posted May 13, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Rain or Shine youll find me at the Ypsitucky Jamboree! A day of gathering and friendships around a fine bottle of wine or pabst will do.

  31. Pat the handyman
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Recently I was asked “What do you think about calling a Bluegrass festival in Ypsilanti , The Ypsitucky Jamboree” ?

    This is my response I sent to some of the organizers ,when I heard that some folks want to bury the term “Yspitucky ” and have asked that the organizers call it something else …..

    Some folks have a problem with the term ” Ypsitucky ” ….but as far as calling a Bluegrass New Grass and Roots Music Festival the “Ypsitucky Jamboree ” I think it celebrates a great history of the area ,that some want to bury , but like all truth , even when you try to bury it , it will resurface .
    Maybe their parents aren’t from the south , maybe their family is from Quebec .

    However to try and deny the fact that there was a mass migration to the area
    in the 1940’s, to supply man and woman power to the war effort , which war the
    USA won , is to deny history . Why would we want to deny an inescapable heritage ?

    Ypsilanti has a predominate southern population, lineage and history .

    Henry Ford , dead set against the war , finally got involved . That is
    a monumental historical fact and a turning point in the war efforts. Ford Motor
    brought to Aircraft what was missing . He mass produced them ,made parts
    interchangeable, something no one had ever done before, on tanks, jeeps ,and
    of course the B-24 Liberator . Which flew
    in every theatre of battle and was enlisted in many other countries air
    forces until the mid 1950’s . Consolidated’s design , built by the folks at Ford , Buick , Singer and more , right here in Michigan , specifically Ypsilanti.
    The industry had to have manpower in support , had to have airstrips
    locally( Carleton area and the Airport Schools area ) to store aircraft and
    housing , groceries, stores, shops ,and so much more to care for the
    military and civilian population ,that was bursting at the seams of
    Ypsilanti . Places Like the “Bomber ” restaurant.

    My own family were all enlisted in the construction of ” The Bomber Plant ”
    I am proud of that fact and would say more, but there’s just not enough room here to write about
    all the accomplishments of the southern families that sacrificed their
    hometowns to move north .

    Ypsilanti went form being a coed college town , to becoming one of the
    largest manufacturing centers in the USA …..The Arsenal Of Freedom ,
    really can’t deny this can we ? Maybe we ought to capitalize on it .

    The flood of workers from the south is documented in the film ” The War ”
    by Ken Burns, he highlights the migration north (and back south on the weekends
    by some ) on Route 23
    .http://www.pbs.org/thewar/at_home_war_production.htm Also Showing the
    determination to win the war as fast as possible , and get back to living .

    Or as Dwight Yoakum has in one song paid tribute to Route 23 . Being the
    highway used in to head north to the manufacturing centers of Ohio and
    Michigan .

    So to deny that more than a small proportion of Ypsilantians actually hail
    from the south , is to deny that there is air , to deny the fortitude of
    Americans to come together in one cause and deny that we have the freedom to
    do so in the USA .

    As an addendum to my letter,
    I would like to ask
    How many Businesses were started ,churches founded , car dealers opened ,
    grocery stores , restaurants , etc by and for the southern population that came here

    to the Ypsilanti Area during WW 2 .

    How many friends do I have that are from south of the Mason Dixon Line , or
    are the children of them .
    How many of these folks have contributed to and changed for the better our
    How many Local Heroes originally came from the south to end up in WW 2 ?

    How Many are buried here ?

    Pat L…Ypsilanti ,Mich ..
    Proud to be from Ypsitucky ….See You at the Jamboree….

  32. Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    The more that I think about this and read your comments, the more I’m convinced that this isn’t as much about people being offended by the way us Kentuckians are being treated, as it is about them not wanting to be identified with us.

    Someone mentioned it earlier, but is there anyone of Kentucky lineage who’s offended by this?

    And sorry, Lisele, you know I love you, but I’m not buying that Ypsitucky and the N-word are equivalents. They’re just not… I don’t deny that some who use the term may mean it to be taken negatively, but I don’t think it’s so ingrained that we can’t reclaim it.

    And I didn’t mention it before, but I’m excited as hell about this festival… Here’s hoping that, whatever’s decided, we can put this debate behind us come summertime and enjoy some good music together in the park.

  33. wtf
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure, but I think my eyes are bleeding. I can’t believe anyone would be upset about the term “Ypsitucky.” If it was called the “Ypsilantikentucky Jamboree”, would that also be offensive? For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see, there will be an answer. Let it be.

  34. rodneyn
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Why have a “Human Rights Commission” if they are going to go and make such completely human errors in judgment?

  35. Posted May 13, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    The things you say sometimes are just hilarious, Mark: “My point is that, even if the word Ypsitucky was used as a pejorative decades ago by people outside of Ypsilanti, it doesn’t have that meaning today.”

    As another member of the Depot Town Advisory Board, I too received a petition protesting the use of the name signed by something like 140 people. These aren’t yahoos and wackos. They are:

    Our current mayor, several city councilpersons, a former candidate for mayor, people instrumental in fighting to preserve our human rights ordinance, two Ypsi High Sports Hall of Famers, current and former members of the HDC, current and former members of many City of Ypsilanti Boards and Commissions, the President and Vice President of the Ypsi School Board, successful businesspeople, active members of some of our neighborhood associations, a former Gateway board member and more than a boatload of your neighbors and mine.

    If indeed “it doesn’t have that meaning today,” then what is the source of the controversy? Could it be, because it DOES have that meaning today to at least all the people listed above who signed the petition? If you really want to have a debate, then perhaps the focus ought to be on the issue of how one reconciles a name that is meant as cute and humorous but is perceived by others as a pejorative. Because that’s what it seems is the actual problem here.

    I personally couldn’t care less what the festival is called. I am weary, however, of the chronic pattern our community displays when it seems all too willing to allow rather benign debates to spin out of control into polarizing arguments. I doubt this one will be so easily left behind.

  36. Ytown
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Lisele find something else to be angry about. Or are you mad at everthing because you’re a dyke?

  37. Posted May 13, 2009 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    If anyone’s interested, above is the link to info and audio on John and Wynn’s “The Ypsitucky Song”. It’s good historical reference as the lyrics and their explanation show that the term has been around for decades here, and that they took pride in the term, or at least had some fun with it, when they cut the song around 1970. Pretty novelty, but worth preserving.

  38. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Trusty Getto: “If you really want to have a debate, then perhaps the focus ought to be on the issue of how one reconciles a name that is meant as cute and humorous but is perceived by others as a pejorative.”

    Perhaps you didn’t follow the other thread. Still, it has been addressed here. We still haven’t found a person with Kentucky roots who is offended by the term, have we? There are many reasons why the people you listed would speak out against the term. For example, they might be controlling types who seek to censor and restrict others–because they can. Or they might be posturing politically so as to wind up on the right side of the controversy. Maybe they have appointed themselves the Offense Police, so they feel they can decide what should and should not be offensive to others. It could be that they want the Kentucky part of Ypsilanti swept under the rug (or kept there, if that is how it has been).

    Answer this, though: if they don’t have Kentucky in their heritage, then what is offensive about the term? They are offended by what they project another group should find offensive? Who are they to say? Wouldn’t it be offensive if they told people of Kentucky heritage what they should and should not find offensive?

    It’s not enough to merely say something is offensive. One should have to make a case for it, show the harm it does, show how many are harmed by it, and quantify this somehow.

  39. What's In a Name
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I found Hipsilanti to be highly offensive. Where was the Human Rights Commission on that? And that had nothing to do with Ypsilanti heritage what so ever. What’s next, ElvisFest because Elvis was Southern and known to act in a way that was not so becoming? Oh, and lets be sure that Southern heritage is banned from Heritage Fest too (which doesn’t seem to do much around actual heritage the past few years) if we’re banning the phrase Ypsitucky.

    Seriously though, I’m not getting what the big deal is over Ypsitucky. It’s a fact of Ypsilanti history/heritage, like it or leave it. Many of those raising the biggest stink may have had relatives that used the phrase themselves regularly as a put down for those living on the east side of town and in the Twp. From what I understand from old timers it was the City folks who used the term the most as a protest/jab against the southerners who were moving up here in droves and “weren’t from around here.” Ironic that they’re now taking the biggest offense to it.

    Festivals like this usually generate tens of thousands of dollars in profit. The Depot Town CDC has said they will invest those profits straight back into the maintenance and improvement of Riverside Park if they’re allowed to have the festival in Riverside Park. But if they’re not allowed to have the festival in the park the festival will probably go elsewhere. With a line up like what’s on the website someone will gladly provide a venue for it. I bet you the Twp. Parks & Rec. Dept. would love to have the festival in one of their parks. Imagine that: the City refusing tens of thousands of dollars over a name that a few people are worked up over and the Twp., elected leaders and all, welcoming the festival with open arms. Wouldn’t that make for great headlines.

    Keep in mind that the City was seriously talking about shutting down Riverside and Frog Island parks a few years ago and the Depot Town CDC stepped up and figured out a plan to keep them open. I see the Depot Town CDC truck driving around and doing maintenance in Riverside and Frog Island Parks and a private company mowing the grass, not the City. If the City says no to one of their major plans for revenue, I doubt they’ll want to keep up a park for a City that doesn’t like them.

  40. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Couz. Thanks, that was delightful. I’m guessing the Ypsitucky upper crust was snubbing their noses at that song, too. Brings down property values.

    Trusty G String,

    They’re not “yahoos”? I’d say that’s their problem. I guess all of us “yahoos” will be celebrating in the late summer sun, raising money for the parks, and generally trying to put Ypsi, sorry, “Ypsilanti” on the map.

    Nice use of pejoratives, by the way.



  41. Magpie
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    If the human relations committee upholds this, does anyone else want to join me in getting the fuckingly stupid term “hipsilanti” removed from street signs?

    As someone who is sick of being labeled a hipster I find the appropriation of that offensive term offensive. You think I’m kidding. I want to take that insult before the committee. Plus anyplace where 150 people would sign a petition saying their offended by “tucky” doesn’t deserve the word “hip” being associated with it.

    Jesus grandma. Flush and get off the throne.

  42. Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to point out again that so far no one from Kentucky has come forward to state their objection to this term. This clearly isn’t about protecting me, a Kentuckian by birth, from feeling the sting of prejudice. I’m beginning to think it’s quite the opposite. While I thought at first that these individuals were well intentioned, if misguided, I now think that it’s likely a good number of them are themselves the ones harboring feelings of prejudice.

    And I would like it if someone could tell me whether or not this Human Rights Commission meeting on Monday was convened in the wake of David Ware’s death. I’m truly perplexed as to why they’d meet over the term Ypsitucky, but, if it’s true that they are meeting over this, when they didn’t even convene to discuss the killing of an unarmed young black man by police, then I’m more than perplexed – I’m angry.

    And, for what it’s worth, my offer is still on the table to Steve Pierce. If he can bring forward just one of these individuals who he claims were kidnapped and brought to Ypsi against their will from Kentucky, I’ll dedicate whatever time and resources I have to seeing that their stories are recorded and remembered. I haven’t mentioned it here, but, in the wake of our last discussion on this matter, I contacted the nation’s two most distinguished scholars on the southern migration and asked them if they had ever heard any stories of people being brought to the north against their will. Both of these men, who have published extensively on the Kentucky migration to Michigan and Ohio, indicated that, in all their years of research, they have not met one person to convey such a story. If Steve has access to such people, as he’s claimed in the past, it’s critically important that he encourage them to come forward and tell their stories.

    And my apologies to all the longtime Ypsilantians, who may have grown up hearing folks in Ann Arbor spit out the word “Ypsitucky” with haughty contempt. I know it can’t be easy to hear folks like me defending the term now. And I certainly mean no disrespect in doing so. Like you, I love this town, and want to see it thrive. Unlike you, though, I think the terms “Ypsi” and “Ypsitucky” are assets to be used in the turnaround.

    And, as I mentioned before, regardless of how all of this turns out, I hope that we can meet this summer and enjoy some bluegrass together.

    Oh, how’s this for a compromise…. What if we call it the Ann Arbor is Overrated Bluegrass Festival?

  43. E. G. Penet
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    “… I think that the Ypsilanti Bluegrass Festival might be a very good thing indeed.”

    I agree … precisely with your concluding sentence, Mark.

    For those above who profess to be in touch with “popular culture”, may I remind you that L’il Abner, Green Acres, The Real McCoy’s, The Andy Giffith Show, and Hee Haw have gone the way of the Clampets … nearly a generation long gone.

    The music industry, however, has moved on to raise the bar in Nashville, Branson and Vegas. Despite the zaniness of Foxworthy and his imitators, the image of a professional bluegrass star or group is leagues above the image of a migrant worker parking his F-100 on a lawn in front of his apartment on Hamilton Street.

    My conclusion from a marketing POV looking out from today … 20-20 … this is a part of our history, yes … but it’s NOT the “brand” our community may wish to perpetuate. (The folks over in Poland near Auchwitz don’t make a big deal about bar-b-que, do they?)

    In fact, the real reason the “tucky” thing doesn’t work is that those feelings are still very much alive in our local culture and politics. This whole ugly debate (I cite Cameron’s comments above) underscores our self-shame at how we regarded those folks … and still may. Complicated, eh? You bet. (Very revealing.) We have some work to do.

    The awful “beauty” of a pejorative is that the ones intended to be offended don’t “get it.” And this also seems to be working well in this case. Hence the “Heee Haws” around town. (Shame on us.)

    For those in the younger generations, who don’t “get it,” ignorance is no excuse for perpetuating the nasty myth.

    So, what it comes down to is our own shame.

    Best cure … wallow in it … de-sensitize … rent a copy of “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” … watch it sober and let Homer … not Homer & Jethro … but the authentic Homer waterboard us through our own shame with pictures and music and show us how we have shown total disregard for the generation of the hardest working folk in American history … the folks who REALLY were the backbone, blood and sweat of the Arsenal of Democracy.

    Hoo Haw!

  44. Dee Taylor
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Someone called me “gay” once or twice. I think they meant it as negative although it might of been a come-on. Kicks me that I’ll never know. Based on my experience, I think YPSILANTI (did I say that right?) should never have a “gay” festival. Some people think that gay is bad. Almost as bad as “tucky.” But not quite. Gays have good teeth. Tucky, not so much.

    I think everyone should ban both gays and tuckys. Negative energy. The only non offensive term left is straight-suburban. People WILL talk!

    I’ve been going for “Ypsifucky” for generations. But I’ve never been good with names. It never caught on. The name I’ll leave up to the lesbians. They’re so sensitive to what other people want.

    Oh yah. I heard someone once talk about the “blacks” in Ypsitucky. We should get rid of any reference to those along with all the dykes, queers and rednecks. Don’t want to OFFEND! God!!

    Fucking messed up town full of weirdos.

    Embrace it all lovers, or leave it.

    I dug my grave.


  45. Posted May 13, 2009 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    How about a compromise… We use the term for this kick-ass annual event, but promise never to use it outside of that context? No shirts. No posters. Nothing.

  46. sb
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    From mlive.com

    City Council Member Michael Bodary said it is a derogatory term used by outsiders that look down their noses at the Southern heritage of the Ypsilanti area.

    Bodary said he has long heard of the term Ypsitucky and even used it a couple of times. He said the term took on new meaning when he learned his mother was refused an apartment in 1945 and was told, “I’m not renting to any dirty hillbillies!”

    Bodary’s family is from Kentucky.

  47. Posted May 14, 2009 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    Dirtgrain: I guess an important difference between you and I is that I don’t decide for other people what ought to offend them, and then if I think they ought not be offended but know that they are, go ahead an continue offending them anyway. Also, when someone raises an issue, my first inclination is to try to address it rather than question their motives.

    OEC: I guess my rather lame attempt at irony went unnoticed by all except you.

    Mark: Do you really think that if someone from Kentucky is offended, you will change your mind? I find that difficult to believe. Those who are offended don’t need to be Kentuckians to have a valid point. It’s totally unclear why you think that’s the case.

    I used to be prosecuting attorney every once in a while in Taylor, MI. I heard Taylor-tucky used pejoratively on numerous occasions. Though the use of the suffix as a pejorative the denial that some are legitimately offended by it is.

  48. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Ahah. A person with Kentucky roots who is offended: Bodary. So then, how many offended Kentuckians would justify censoring this term?

  49. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    We need another “Shovelgate” because this topic is weak — last week. All those tight asses who signed that petition need to lighten up.

    And that, my friends, is what makes Ypsitucky special. WE can laugh at ourselves and have a great time doing it. I don’t want to live in a city where we can’t take the piss out of ourselves every now and then.

    Let’s go to the fest!!!

  50. Steve
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Bodary “has family in Kentucky.” Is that like “having a Jewish friend”?

  51. Posted May 14, 2009 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Mark: In a stunning admission that I am spending way too much mental energy on this topic, I have to admit that on my commute to work, I recalled Steve (way back last summer) offering to have a discussion with you about this. http://markmaynard.com/?p=415#comment-6815. He even left his phone number for you to make it easy. Did you call him? Did you talk with him about it? Or are you just taking cheap shots? I’d like to think you’re above that.

    Also the last sentence of my last comment included a key typo. I meant to say: “Though the use of the suffix as a pejorative is nothing new, the denial that some are legitimately offended by it is.” Sorry for that. Shoulda been more careful.

  52. sameoldstory
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I think a giant congrats is in order for the CDC. They have found a way to get everyone talking about their event. It is just sad that said publicity comes at the expense of Ypsilanti’s reputation. The only thing this post served to do was a) promote an event on the grounds that it has an incendiary name and b) give Ypsilanti a black eye.

    I am wholly disappointed in both this blog and the CDC. By planting the seeds for squabbles like this to grow, Ypsilanti appears chock full of egomaniacs and loose cannons.

    Shame on you, CDC. You should be concerned about the overall well-being of this community and not so focused on your own agenda.

  53. West Cross
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Historically Ypsitucky was probably meant as a real reflection on the southern heritage. These days I think it is meant to project a backwoods/hick image, like the “Taylor-tucky” example above. In the rare occasion I have heard it used negatively it’s more of a condescention thing, sort of a testimony of how a lot of us northerners think about the south.
    I for one am looking forward to the festival, don’t much care what it is called.

  54. Colonel Will
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Does this tempest in a teapot mean we have to change the name of our band to the Colonels of Southern Extraction?

    Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue …

    Col. Will
    The Ypsitucky Colonels

  55. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Everyone has the right to be offended, but no one has the right to never be offered offense.

    I feel bad for people who aren’t at least a little bit hillbilly.

    I also hate the Hipsilanti cool city thing. It reminds me of the feeling Bart got when Marge Simpson set up a “play date” with him and Ralph Wiggum.

  56. Alan Lollar
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I hope that the word “Ypsitucky” would keep you from helping out the community in this jamboree. Relax!

  57. Posted May 14, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    You Yips don’t seem to get it. Like I said, your city being called “Ypsitucky” is like a woman being called “babe.” If it is coming from an outsider or a hostile, the intent is demeaning. However, if it is coming from a loved one or insider, it’s a term of endearment. So each side of this Ypsisilly debate points to that group of people who share their own attitude, and then think they’ve proven something.

    If you don’t love Ypsilanti, or have limited knowledge of the place, and call it Ypsitucky, you’re just a jackass trying to insult. If you love Ypsilanti and you call it Ypsitucky, it’s sweet.

  58. ytown
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Robert, you’re smarter than you look!

  59. Burt Reynolds
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t really matter if Ypsilantians find Ypsitucky offensive or not. As long as everyone has a clear understanding that when people call Ypsi that, they are making fun of it and you. Whatever your personal feelings are are irrelevant.

  60. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Sameoldstory: “Shame on you, CDC. You should be concerned about the overall well-being of this community and not so focused on your own agenda.”

    Is it your contention that people from Kentucky are bad for Ypsilanti? That we should sweep them and Ypsilanti’s Kentucky roots under the rug?

    Trusty Getto: “I guess an important difference between you and I is that I don’t decide for other people what ought to offend them, and then if I think they ought not be offended but know that they are, go ahead an continue offending them anyway.”

    Ironic that in a discussion about offense, it seems that you attempt to dismiss my comments with mischaracterization, ad hominem style (by the way, I don’t know you well enough to infer important differences between you and me). I have not decided what ought to offend others; I only stated that the supposedly offended (you assume all who signed the petition are personally offended?) should make a case for what is offensive about Ypsitucky. I don’t know that people are personally offended by the term (Bodary, maybe–but, again, one offended person should not dictate that we ban the term).

    Trusty Getto: “Also, when someone raises an issue, my first inclination is to try to address it rather than question their motives.”

    Okay. Say I’m offended by the name Ypsilanti. We should ban it. Please address this. Shouldn’t I have to first justify what is offensive about the name Ypsilanti?

    I have not seen the language of the petition. Does it indicate that all signers find the term personally offensive–and for what reasons?

    I and others wonder if the protest of the term Ypsitucky comes from higher socio-economic class Ypsilanti residents not wanting to be associated with lower socio-economic class Ypsilanti residents. It might be about money and status–that some want to project Ypsilanti as higher on the socio-economic ladder–a white-collar, higher class college town. Claims that the term is offensive to people with Kentucky roots might be pretense, covering up this motive.

  61. Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    So are dykes a particular type of lesbian? Are they the ones that seem the most like the white males?

  62. ytown
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Dykes have clipped hair and mean faces.

  63. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Burt Reynolds: ” It doesn’t really matter if Ypsilantians find Ypsitucky offensive or not. As long as everyone has a clear understanding that when people call Ypsi that, they are making fun of it and you. Whatever your personal feelings are are irrelevant.”

    But you are making a case that intent is relevant. So, then, if the intent of using the term for the festival is all good, then it should be fine?

  64. Wait A. Second
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Trusty Getto, I think I’m offended by your name. Why do you call yourself ‘Getto”? Because you live in Ypsi? I think I’ll get a petition going to put an end to that.

  65. Wait A. Second
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Trusty Getto, I think I’m offended by your name. Why do you call yourself Getto? Because you live in Ypsi? I think I’ll get a petition going to put an end to that. Start thinking up a new name for your blog, please.

  66. Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Yes, ytown, like white men.

  67. kjc
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink


  68. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    More Paul Lynde! More Paul Lynde! More Paul Lynde…

    …and Ypsitucky gets the center square!

  69. ytown
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    White men have mean faces? Minorities have pleasant faces? Robert, I was wrong earlier, you aren’t smarter than you look.

    Go Ypsitucky, yeehaw!

  70. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Getto is his last name. Now he’s probably offended.

  71. Andy French
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain: Here is the letter that was given to our advisory board.

    Dear Advisory Board Member:

    We support the Depot Town Community Development Corporation’s (DT-CDC) operation of events and festivals in Riverside Park. However, we do not support the use of :Ypsi-Tucky,” or any other kind of stereotype, in the name of heritage preservation, tourism, economic development, or for promoting the City of Ypsilanti.

    We ask that you act, in your capacity as a member of the DT-CDC’s Advisory Board, to work with the DT-CDC on changing the name for its 2009 Bluegrass, Folk & Roots Music Festival, currently promoted as “Ypsi-Tucky Jamboree” Our request is based on the following:

    1. The DT-CDC’s lack of widespread community conversation with city residents prior to selecting its name for this event.

    We believe that the DT-CDC exhibited poor judgement in selecting this “loaded” stereotypical term, uded for the past 50-60 years to convey disrespect and contempt for Ypsilanti citizens migrating from the southern United States (much like the n-word has been used to depersonalize and disparage African Americans).

    2. The name “Ypsi-Tucky” is still offensive to many city residents, and thus divides, rather than unites our city. The use of this term re-opens old wounds in our community.

    3. There has been a steady stream of local community leaders who have individually expressed concerns to DT-CDC representatives and suggested/requested a name change for this festival.

    4. The DT-CDC’s consistent response has been “no” to all comers making this request individually.

    5. The “Ypsi-Tucky Jamboree” creates a “brand” identity associated with the City of Ypsilanti.

    6. Acceptance of the use of this stereotype will then open the door for the use of stereotypes for other events.

    7. A simple change to “Ypsilanti Jamboree” or Ypsilanti Bluegrass, Folk & Music Festival,” or “Ypsilanti Bluegrass Music Festival” etc., would more positively and accurately reflect the music to be performed. Bluegrass music is a whole musical genre, and “Kentucky Bluegrass” (a respectful name) is just one variety of the wider genre. The festival’s musical line-up is not focused exclusively on performances of Kentucky Bluegrass music, but the whole Bluegrass music spectrum, as well as Folk and Roots music.

    We plan on addressing this petition at the Human Relations Committee.

    To say the term Ypsitucky is similar to the n-word is outragous.

    We did speak with people in our community about this festival and received positive responses. We may not have spoken to the “vocal minority” and asked their permission, but why does their opinion trump many others.

    To say a steady stream of local community leaders have come to us with their concerns is an exaggeration. Erik invited people who had a problem with the name to meet with him so he could explain why we choose the name. The last I heard Erik has met with two people who had concerns. We have called meetings with some of our council members to explain why we choose the name and a couple of people have written us letters. That’s about it.

    We never just said “no” to the concerns people had. We explained our reasoning and said we may have to agree to disagree on this issue.

    Andy French

  72. jean
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I, for one, from far off Ann Arbor, love it that the feelings evoked by the term “Ypsitucky” are discussed with humor, intelligence and passion within your community. A bunch of suits with marketing degrees should not craft your city’s message… or control it. Reclaim the name and have a blast doing it. Ann Arbor would have done the same once upon a time. Ypsi has a remarkable capacity to turn lemons into lemonade, to recognize the opportunity in an obstacle and act on it. I’m reminded that Mark had suggested an ‘Ypsitucky’ history project or conference as well when this first erupted— maybe one could be kicked off by the festival. I will heartily encourage family and friends in Ann Arbor to come visit when you do. Draw lots of people to town for the event and the marketeers will quiet up fast. Kudos and don’t let the wordsmiths keep you down.

  73. J Nowicki
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Given the current economic conditions facing Michigan and it’s cities, I think it’s time to get past our petty differences and bring together a community in the name of fund raising.

    “Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend you hand, for the times they are a changin”
    -Bob Dylan

  74. Posted May 14, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if there’s some way to work the Ypsitucky Varmint Fest (or groundhog fest or whatever we want to call it) into the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Fest.

  75. BrianB
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    In Ferndale, they call Hazel Park “Hazeltucky”. I think the -tucky is a fairly common putdown for residents who want to boost their neighborhood’s importance by putting down another neighborhood nearby. It’s a stupid insult though and playfully embracing it by naming a bluegrass festival after it is brilliant. I can’t believe people take it so seriously as to take offense and sign a petition. People in Pleasant Ridge even call the part of their own city on the east side of Woodward Ave “Peasant Ridge”. I think they should follow our lead and host a renaissance fair named after it.

  76. Posted May 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    As the director for the Depot Town CDC, I would like address some of the issues relating to the Ypsitucky Jamboree. I’ll start by acknowledging we understood that some people would consider the term derogatory. We had a feeling the number of people opposed to the name would be relatively small, and from the responses we have received, that seems to be true (an independent poll on mlive.com with almost 500 respondents showed about 10% opposed to the name). What we did not anticipate was the collective effort of a small group to vigorously oppose the name of the festival. I won’t mention any names, but I found it very discouraging that this would generate this much time and energy wasted. When we announced the name of the festival, a string of emails circulated around town with the intent of putting political pressure on us to change the name. None of these emails were sent to me directly, but many were forwarded to our attention. I should also mention that after receiving the negative emails, I sent out an invitation to meet with the people who were opposed to the name to explain the motive behind the festival and to listen to their concerns. Only one person took up our offer. Against my better judgment, here is a snippet from one of those emails:

    “several of us in the historic downtown take great exception to the term Ypsitucky being used to title a Depot Town event in the park this summer. We find the term to be degrading and even racist to a point. Many of us down here are working hard to create a more positive Ypsilanti brand and allowing Depot Town to use Ypsitucky isn’t helpful. I hope that you can look into this and put a stop to this. If this kind of thing continues, I think you will start seeing a lot of new T-shirts out there advertising Depo’tucky. After all, they are the ones by the railroad tracks. If they want to engage us downtown by degrading a proud Ypsilanti name and then highlighting themselves as Depot Town USA, well the “divide” will only get greater.”

    The tone of the above email really surprised me, to say the least. Being relatively new to the political environment here, I’ve heard plenty of stories about how Downtown and Depot Town could never get along and work together. The same goes for the city and township. As new community leaders and businesses have emerged in recent years, I thought the environment had shifted into a more positive and collaborative situation. Based upon some of the threatening emails, I probably shouldn’t be such an optimist. I can say that the CDC is working to promote the entire city, not just Depot Town or the parks. This summer we are launching a destination marketing campaign that will feature festivals and events throughout the city (including downtown) and township.

    So you may ask, why not just change the name? To me the answer is simple. Integrity. We gave serious consideration to the name and the premise for the event. For us, this festival is about community, culture and history – and the name ties all of this together. By using Ypsitucky as a label it allows us to take any perceived sting out of the word and demonstrate how our heritage has graced our community. I was born and raised 10 miles from the Kentucky border and my family is from Kentucky. I have nothing but great memories of the people and state, and hope that our detractors are not focused on the affiliation reflecting an uneducated, toothless, squirrel eating, tobacco spitting stereotype. Anyone who has visited the state knows they have friendly people, vibrant cities, world-class universities and vast tracks of unspoiled forest and land (which I’ve had the pleasure of spending weeks visiting, hiking and camping within).

    To me, the word Ypsitucky in and of itself is harmless, it’s the way the word is used that can be offensive. When I lived in New Orleans and worked 10 miles from the Mississippi border, I was regularly called a Yankee and treated like I didn’t belong (and trust me, it wasn’t a friendly manner in which it was spoken). Is the word Yankee pejorative? If so, why isn’t anyone calling out the New York baseball team using the name?

    Community leaders acknowledge that to thrive in the 21st century, we must shift from an industrial based economy to a knowledge based economy. To accomplish this we must make our city attractive to the 20 and 30 somethings who have the education and skills that employers desire. That starts with quality of life – having a thriving arts scene, entertainment, amenities and accessibility that cater to this crowd. Ypsilanti is perfectly positioned to capture this demographic (last time I checked, Ann Arbor is quite expensive and I don’t see them lining up to live in the suburbs), particularly with EMU as an anchor in the community. Millennials generally look for an inviting place to live before they look for a job, and the good jobs generally follow where the talent goes. What’s my point? That this Ypsitucky brand we are projecting strikes a chord with this crowd. It is lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek and somewhat pointed. But isn’t that what Ypsi is trying to be – a little edgy, eclectic and off the beaten path? I can’t even begin to recall how many people have supported this name and have encouraged us to strongly defend it. I don’t however, have the time to walk around town collecting signatures. I really hope it doesn’t come down to that.

    I hope to see you all down in the parks September 4th and 5th. I encourage anyone interested in discussing our motivation behind the name to contact me. And perhaps most importantly, I challenge anyone opposed to the term “Ypsitucky” to agree to disagree, and even voice your concerns to the city and through other public avenues. But I ask that at the end of the day, you can look past this one issue and continue to work and support the community as a WHOLE and not let this incident stop us from working together on behalf of our greater good.

    Erik Dotzauer
    Executive Director
    Depot Town CDC

  77. Posted May 14, 2009 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain: It’s kind of funny to hear you complaining about any perceived ad hominem aspect of my comment. I recall when I endorsed Alma Wheeler Smith for state rep, your initial response on this very blog was to refer to me as an asswipe. I guess hypocrisy doesn’t bug you much.

    Wait A. Second: Yep, it’s my last name. My soon-to-be-wife doesn’t like it much either, so she’s keeping hers.

    Am I offended by my own last name? No. But it probably would have been easier growing up with a different one. You know, like Mike Hunt or something like that.

  78. Posted May 14, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Let’s see… How should I say this…. Way back when, when Steve first made his claim about my fellow Kentuckians being brought here against their will, I took him at his word. As I believe I may have mentioned at the time, I’m incredibly interested in the collection and sharing of oral histories, especially as they pertain to the American working class, who tend to have their stories lost to history. So, when Steve brought up that he knew people forced into coming to Ypsilanti from Kentucky, I expressed interest. And, in addition to writing to Steve, I wrote to a few historians focusing on the WWII-era migration north. They said that they doubted such stories, and, given the subsequent messages from Steve, I started to have my doubts as well. At any rate, not wanting to cause him undo embarrassment, I dropped the subject. And it would have probably stayed dropped if not for this new, ridiculous debate on the use of the word Ypsitucky.

    As for Steve and why I didn’t call him on the phone, he knows why I didn’t. And, again, I wouldn’t bring it up here under normal circumstances, but, seeing as how you’re challenging me, I don’t suppose I have a choice… After hearing from several individuals in the community that Steve was attributing quotes to me that were not mine, I decided that it made sense for me to institute an “only communicate with Steve in writing” policy. And I shared this with Steve. I didn’t do so in a mean way. I didn’t accuse him of lying to these people who I’d talked with. Not wanting to prolong what I found a distasteful episode, I just chalked it up to experience, and moved on. At any rate, as I mentioned, this wasn’t something that I wanted to share publicly, but, since you asked, that’s why I didn’t call Steve. I did, however, write to him. I hope that answers your questions, Cameron.

  79. Posted May 14, 2009 at 11:16 pm | Permalink


    Here is the last email I received from you on July 6, 2008


    I’d wanted to call you before leaving town, but I didn’t have an opportunity. I’m out of town now, but will call you when I return. I’ll also be in sporadic email contact, if you’d like to discuss things that way… As I mentioned in my last comment, I’ve been talking with two researchers in this area, and both are keenly interested in hearing more about the cases of abduction and forced labor you mention. If you could set up a meeting with these individuals, I’d like to meet with them. If it would help, I’d be happy to write letters to them that you can deliver, explaining my interest, etc. Just let me know how many individuals we’re talking about, and I’ll provide the letters upon my return.


    This is the complete email, the … are yours, I didn’t not remove any text.

    I then responded to you two days later, on July 8, 2008


    Look forward to talking to you when you get back. Have a good trip.

    – Steve

    That was the last I heard from you.

    Mark, you said you would call, you didn’t keep your word. Then you post 10 months later “Steve knows why Mark didn’t call.”

    Really, Mark I have no clue why you didn’t call me. All I know is you promised to call me and you didn’t.

    As far as quotes I allegedly said about you, I have no freaking idea what the heck you are talking about.

    I had a boss a long time ago that once told me, “I don’t know, what I don’t know.” Mark, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    If you want to find out what I might or might not said or were offended about something I may have said, just ask me. But I have no clue what I may have said to offend you and if I said something to offend you I am very sorry.

    But don’t take a lot of stock in what some third party over heard. You want to find out what I said, just ask.

    I live three blocks from you Mark, the Southside of Washington is safe, you can come visit any time.

    I would love to show you around the house and you can see what we have done to restore this grand old beauty, we can sit out on the back porch and have a beer.

    My offer to talk and have have a beer with you is still open today as it was 10 months ago. Let me know when and I will make sure the beer is cold.

    But Mark, don’t tell me you are going to call me, then post up on your board something entirely different some 10 months later. That isn’t cool.


    – Steve

  80. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Before this becomes another dogpile on Steve thread, let’s all just acknowledge that no matter what, the thing is going to be called the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Fest, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So it doesn’t really matter who says or thinks what. Sharp tongues are not teeth.

  81. dave french
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    *E.G. Penet: Auchwitz? BarBQ? In a discussion about what to name some music fetsival? YIKES!!

  82. Patrick
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    West Cross Len wrote,
    “The only problem I have with the whole thing is that the banjo on the website has only 4 strings. I’m guessing the website designer forgot the fifth. Might want to change that before some celtic/ragtime fans get their hopes up.”
    Would it be so bad to have tenor benjo players “picking in the parking lot” of the festival? The Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe employed many different types of instrumentalists in his outfit (even accordions) before he found his signature five string banjo sound. That sound was in great measure due to Earl Scruggs, a Carolinian who played with that impressive three finger, five string banjo style. Before Scruggs, Monroe had played with “Old-Time” banjo players such as Stringbean. After Scruggs, there was Don Reno, another Carolinian with a completely different three finger style from Scruggs. No big deal to the music, I suspect. I would think at the festival, variety would be welcome.
    Monroe and his bluegrass boys toured all over the Appalachians with his act. In the early days, there was a part of the act that featured a man in black face crying, screaming and falling all over the stage. I think Ypsilanti could do without the reenactment of that part, but….

  83. Patrick
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Sorry. That last comment was impertinent. I was trying to say that as a ragtime and celtic lover, I don’t think I would be disappointed to hear good music of any kind at the festival.

  84. Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    I did send that email, Steve, and, as I recall, I ran into you a few weeks later, at Dos Hermanos, if I’m not mistaken, and, it was at that point, I believe, I told you that I’d rather correspond by way of email. And this conversation we’re having now reminds me why I wanted to do that. I, unfortunately, do not have a recording of our conversation… At any rate, like I said before, I don’t hold any ill feelings over this. I happen to admire much of the work you do in Ypsi – I just learned through experience that written communications work best for us.

  85. Curt Waugh
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    In light of the lovely letter that Andy shared with us, I vote we re-christen downtown “Buzzkill-tucky”. We could trump up a whole “Buzzkill vs. Depot Town” thing – sorta like east coast vs. west coast rappers. The feud will ultimately lead to a winner-take-all hot dog eating contest on neutral ground – Water Streetucky.

    I’m sure Ypsituckians would respond to that long-ass letter that Andy received, but they’re too busy having sex with kin, drinking Mountain Dew and eating babies.

  86. jorj
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    A local homebrew moonshine taste test would really be fun! Might help wash down the bbq whistlepig.

    You know, a bunch of the bands playing aren’t bluegrass anyway, technically. Bluegrass aficionados might look down on all the not-technically-bluegrass roots/americana bands, so if anything, I’m offended at the “bluegrass” in the title. How about: “Go Ypsituckyourselfest”?

  87. Posted May 15, 2009 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Re: Bluegrass in the title

    Hey Jorj,
    The official name of the fest is The Ypsitucky Jamboree. http://www.ypsituckyjamboree.com We are featuring roots music of Washtenaw County and beyond. Bluegrass is a big part of the idea, feel and what we are basing the Jamboree on. We have a great number of bluegrass bands involved, but wanted to represent local- roots music including Bluegrass, folk, rock, americana and jazz. Hell, I believe that we may even have a gospel choir open up Saturday. We were originally going to call it Ypsitucky Bluegrass Jam, but because of the talented musicians we have in the area, we did not want to limit ourselves. My Band, Dragon Wagon, could be considered a bluegrass band. However, we also play Americana, Gypsy, folk and folk rock. So to bluegrass purists, which I consider myself one, calling a festival “Bluegrass” , or Dragon Wagon Bluegrass, could have indeed turned away people.

    I am still blown away at the response to this festival. For all of these posts and emotion, where are the offended ones? Seems like a pretty small minority. For those who are interested, we are meeting with the Human Relations Committee on Monday at city hall. Whatever your opinion, we want to speak to you and for you to be there. The CDC and myself have invited all naysayers to voice thier opinion. Our conversation has been open. The issue has been that very few have come out and disagreed!

    What is the real issue here? Is it the name? Is it the control? Is it individuals trying to stand in the way of a progressive festival? Is it that instead of doing something constructive for the community, a select few waste their energy and time on matters like this? Hipsilanti, Serious? I guess we will see on Monday. In my opinion, we have much bigger fish to fry in this area. What we are doing is great for the area and community. We are maintaining the parks to keep our area a safer place to live. Since the CDC VOLUNTEERED to take over the parks when the city of Ypsilanti cut all funding and wanted to barracade them, here is a sample of what they have done.

    Created a community Garden
    Installed beautiful light posts throughout Riverside
    Made the entire park wireless, to attract students and professionals
    Tore down and are rebuilding the Gazebo
    Maintain the grounds and landscaping

    Once again, making our area a better place to live. No matter your opinion of the name, I truly hope to see you there. We may lose some attendees that are “offended”, but really were they going to come in the first place? It has been my experience that if you are uptight and snobby, music festivals are not generally where you would spend time. Have fun at the art fair. I guess it is a much more chic place to be. (not that I have anything against the Art Fair. I go multiple times throughout the week and love it!) We are getting down and dirty in Ypsi for the Jamboree. Ypsilanti has always been a layed back place to be and the jamboree will be a place to kick your boots off, shake your bum and enjoy your family and the beautiful park. Thanks for the emotion and opinions.

    Hope to see you all on Monday at City hall.


  88. Posted May 15, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Ytown, as I’ve said before, I don’t like it when people call me white. I prefer the term “colorless” or “person of no color.”

    I was trying to bait Lisele into a response, but instead somehow I hooked you. It’s like going Marlin fishing and reeling in a Flounder.

  89. galan
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I am a long time resident of Ypsilanti so I speak with some idea of the history of this term “Ypsi-Tucky”. I personally don’t think it is about being from the south or not. The term “Ypsi-Tucky” separated itself from the individuals who came here from the south long ago and became a term that people use to put the city down.
    It’s not “Ypsi-Tuckeyans” jamboree, it’s “Ypsi-Tuckey” jamboree as if the whole city was described by this one term. In other words, it’s not about the people, it’s about the city’s negative past reputation. It’s not about the content of the festival either, it’s just about the NAMING of the festival. I think most of us who live here embrace our history, but do not want to harken back to a negative past when we are in the middle of trying to move forward. I personally had the term used in a negative way not more than a month ago by a person under the age of thirty from outside our city when they learned that I lived in Ypsilanti, so to say it is not currently used with a negative connotation is false. It is also wrong to imply that it only refers to the people from the south because it became a term of derision for THE CITY, not it’s residents or individuals from the south long ago. “Ypsilanti Jamboree” has a nice ring to it. Let’s go with that.

  90. S.
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I grew up in Kentucky and commented last time. I’m not offended at the term unless it’s used in a negative context, which sometimes happens. The Ypsitucky Bluegrass Fest is not one of those times and I’ll be there! I’m proud to be a Kentuckian and am homesick even after 12 years in Michigan. So, no offense taken. Anyway, I moved out to a lake in Hell, Michigan a year ago so I’ve got bigger issues now.

  91. galan
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    With all due respect to “S” above, this is not about any individuals like you or Mark M. or anyone else, and whether or not you personally approve. As I said before, the term “Ypsi-Tuckey” long ago stopped referring to any individuals and began referring to the city of Ypsilanti in a negative way.

    I am sorry that the DTCDC was not more thoughtful in their decision-making and wish they could be more responsive to the objections of citizen’s, many of whom are their “bosses” in city government.

  92. jorj
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Ypsitucky Jamboree is exactly perfect.

  93. kjc
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    oh well if it’s the “bosses” who object, then i really don’t give a shit.

    i’m not from kentucky or from ypsi or from MI for that matter. i only live here. but back when i lived for 8 years in ann arbor, it was pretty clear that “ypsitucky” was purely a negative reference. so i agree with galan that it has been, for many, divorced from any historical context.

    but i also think this term can be reclaimed and i hope it will be and i hope the people who don’t see this possibility will let it go. it’d be pretty sad to always live in reaction to petty shit out of ann arbor (or elsewhere). why isn’t it preferable to RESTORE the historical context, rather than go on about how it’s been erased? it also seems unfair to suggest that this naming reflects a lack of thoughtfulness on the part of the DTCDC. from the comments i’ve seen on here, the people who are reacting against the name seem much less open to the other point of view.

  94. Posted May 15, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink


    Your recollection of our chance encounter at Dos Hermanos is a bit fuzzy.

    I was at Dos Hermanos searching for Coke with sugar, I looked up and saw you and your lovely daughter and said ” Hey Mark, Welcome back, how was your trip?”

    You said your trip was good.

    I asked when did you want to get together. You said you were very busy at work and you would email me. That was the entire 30 second conversation.

    It s beyond me how, 10 months later, you can say Steve knows why Mark didn’t call or that Mark only wants to talk to Steve by email from that 30 seconds at Dos Hermanos.

    In your email to me, you said you would call me.

    In an aisle in a Mexican grocery store, you said you would email me.

    So far, you have done neither.

    My offer for a beer and conversation is still open any time. Really, the Southside of Washington is not that scary. If you don’t want to come alone, heck I don’t care, bring as many folks as you wish. I have plenty of beer.

    Too often in this society we give too much credence to email, twitter and blog postings.

    We are social beings, the best conversations are when we meet face to face and simply talk.

    Mark, our door and our home is always open to you and your family.

    We would welcome you into our home as we would any friend, with a smile, and handshake, and an offer of a beer or Coke (with sugar of course).

    I even make pretty killer Root Beer floats. Just don’t ask me to make coffee, everyone that has come over knows I make terrible coffee. Let’s talk.


    Steve Pierce

  95. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Trusty Getto: “I guess hypocrisy doesn’t bug you much.”

    Well, it’s just a guess (and a mischaracterization). I believe I labeled those who use misleading, manipulative tactics in local elections as asswipes.

    I wasn’t complaining about an ad hominem attack, by the way; rather, I meant to point out the logical fallacy behind it, that it did not support your arguments.

    But I’ve been an asswipe before, surely. I’m probably being one now for getting off the topic of this thread. My apologies.

  96. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink


    How about you just back up your claim about people from Kentucky being brought here against their will? Likely, you’ve written more words in this thread than it would take to do that.

  97. S.
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I’m grew up in Kentucky and commented on the last Ypsitucky post. Two years later, I’m not so offended by the Ypsitucky label as long as it’s not meant to be a knock on my fellow hillbillies. I’m proud to be from the beautiful Commonwealth of Kentucky, Louisville specifically, and every thing that it stands for and I’ll definitely be at the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Fest. But no moonshine for me…Maker’s is my choice.

    P.S. Considering the high rate of prostitution in Ypsi, or so I’ve heard, would a “Gettin’ Lucky in Ypsitucky” t-shirt be in order?

  98. ytown
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Steve, How much beer do you have? I will be there! When and what time? I will talk about what a tool Mark is.

  99. S.
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    And by the way, I moved recently from Ypsitucky to Hell, Michigan so I’ve got bigger problems than those hillbilly references.

  100. galan
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    “S” and others. It’s not intended to be a slur on the “other hillbillies” as you say, it’s a negative comment about the entire city regardless of where you may be from, long removed from any reference to Kentucky, hillbillies, or anyone or anything like that at this point in time. So, as I see the controversy, this is not about you, it’s about the image of the city that we wish to portray in an event that we ourselves (the city of Ypsilanti) are hosting. Besides, “Ypsilanti Jamboree” would also be more fitting for the various types of music being presented since much of it is not exclusive to Kentucky.

  101. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Mark & Steve: I’d rather you two John Everymen have this conversation here on the blog where everyone can see exactly what you say and reference it later for honesty’s sake. That seems the most courageous and honorable way to have a public debate to me. We can all crack open our own beers on our own couches, or at least not sour our face-to-face fellowships with each other with divisive arguments best left for the blogosphere forum. So, discuss it here.

  102. jorj
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    galan: our city is Ypsituckyish. If people call us that, it’s because it’s true. I like it that way. Deal with it, embrace it, don’t try to whitewash it or sweep it under the rug. Our city exactly the way it is is the image of Ypsilanti we want to portray.

  103. Colonel Will
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink


    Your argument suggests that there should be some shame over Ypsituck … we, Ypsilanti’s southern heritage. I would argue the opposite. I would argue that the opposite is true. I would argue that the emigration of southern workers is a point of pride for our community. We don’t seem to be ashamed of the bomber plant or the auto factories that are part of our heritage, yet none of those would have been what they were without our friends and neighbors whose families came here from Kentucky, etc. Ypsitucky isn’t a slur; it’s a contraction of two proper nouns that describe geographic places. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Col. Will

  104. ytown
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Lets have a bar night where all of Marks readers can meet in person. I like to meet some of you knuckleheads like fish-belly white person of non-color robert or the anonymously annoying dude. Then after some over-priced , over-hyped beer at the self-righteous Corner B. we can have some real discussion.

  105. Posted May 15, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Steve for illustrating perfectly why I want to correspond in writing.

  106. Ytown
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Mark for illustrating perfectly what a tool you are.

  107. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    ytown started off with a small y, now he has a capital Y, suggesting that he had to retype his name since his last post. This could mean several things.

    It could mean he used a new computer.

    It could mean he deleted his browsing history and all that.

    Or, it could mean that ytown switched back and forth from an alternate identity since his last post.

    The only other person to post something in between ytown’s posts was Mark.

  108. Ytown
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    B A you are very attentive. I did indeed switch computers. Well done!!

  109. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Sure you did.


  110. elviscostello
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    As a born and bred “Eastsider” whose father, grandfather, uncles, and even me (for a short stint), I’m pretty sure that those who are bitching (and I’d like to see the list of names on the petition) never worked on the east side, or god forbid, lived there. I grew up around George School (Mrs. Bodary was one of my teachers) and all my friends were sons and daughters of autoworkers. Most of us were 2nd generation Ypsilantians. The only time we felt embarassed by our southern roots was when the west side kids and the teachers who lived there made us feel that way. This argument is less about old hurts because I’d bet most of those on the “list” don’t have family from the South. Betcha don’t see them at the Eagles Club and they never went into Shane’s. I have no problem with the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival and with Dick Siegel and Seth and Daisy May on the bill, you can bet your ass I’ll be there!

  111. elviscostello
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Also, it’s great that it will be held at Riverside. I remember in my teens going there for outdoor free concerts.

  112. erma
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Pro-YpsiTucky folks: You do not need to understand WHY the name offends me, and you do not need to “feel” my pain. You only need to understand that I (and at least a couple of hundred community members) AM offended.

    Why would you knowingly offend your neighbors (and possibly friends)? You should be ashamed.

    The only reason the Monday evening will be a “waste-of-time meeting” (I believe those were the words of one “YpsiTucky” supporter) is that it’s already been made clear that the name will NOT be changed.

    Again, you should be ashamed.

  113. Ytown
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Good point elvis, it should be called the EastsideYpsitucky Jamboree!

  114. Marion
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Meeting people online, chatting a bit, then suggesting they meet in person for some intimate face-to-face because they’ve got a fridge full of beer is exactly what internet sexual predators do.

    Just saying.


  115. Marion
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Beer with sugar, of course? Root beer floats?

    I never thought South Washington was scary before, but I think from now on I’ll take the long route home, thank you very much.

    Seriously, how easy would it be for Steve Pierce to explain himself here (with regards to the kidnappings) rather than in private?

  116. Evers
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Shovelgate and ypsituckygate? Goddamitt. I liked it here before all the rebels without a cause took over. It’s turning into fucking ypsiyuppie if you ask me. It’s like a soccer match where everybody’s falling down holding there ankles pretending they’re dying to get a call. It’s a stupid sport. Everybody can spot faker.

  117. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    erma: I am offended that you are offended. Unlike you, I’ll tell you why.

    I was born in North Caroline, lived in Georgia, have many dear family members in Tennessee. I’m deeply offended by northern and western stereotypes diminishing southern culture.

    I can see no other reason to find offense with a name associated with a southern state other than feelings of shame/embarrassment at being associated with a southern state. I find that repulsive and objectionable.

    I am sincerely offended. You have offended me, many of your neighbors and possibly friends. Everyone who contends that “tucky” is offensive offends me. You should be ashamed.

    I would like the YHRC to address the northern, elitist, devaluation of southern culture that is implicit in the 150 signatures that signed this petition indicating they are ashamed of southern culture.

    I would like them to condemn this anti-Ypsitucky campaign for the regional and socio-economic prejudice that it is.

    You should all be ashamed.

    If you think I’m joking, you’re wrong.

    You, erma, should be ashamed.

    As for me, I proud of where I came from and where I live.

  118. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    One last thing.

    This is a festival started by IN Ypsilanti, BY Ypsilanti, and FOR Ypsilanti.

    The organizers, are your neighbors, FROM Ypsilanti. Many of the bands, are your neighbors, IN Ypsilanti. The money earned will benefit Ypsilanti parks. These are the people erma suggests should be “ashamed.”

    It’s worth noting, that these attacks on the name are attacks against your neighbors. Neighbors, who value history and are attempting to do something good for our future.

    Anyone who signed the petition, any politician who supports it, should keep in mind that this is attack on current, active citizens.

    Perhaps various members of City Council should show how sincere they are in there objections to the name by vowing to turn down the money donated to the parks? Perhaps they could pass a special measure condemning all who perform at or attend the festival? Why doesn’t someone who is deeply offended by a contraction tying our city to the south lobby their allies on Council for that? What say you Bodary? How can you accept money from such a horrible act?

    As an aside, if there’s any Mauer still reading this blog, I’d like some explanation of how, as you said of Kentucky in the A2 News, “It’s a complete negative connotation.” You know, before I visit any local ethnic bbqs.

  119. Patrick
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Steve wrote, “In an aisle in a Mexican grocery store, you said you would email me.”
    Now, sir, you have gone too far. What happens south of the border stays south of the border.
    And why is everybody calling Kentucky “southern”?
    And is anybody going to mention “Mountaintop Removal” in this thread?

  120. kristin
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    OEC is exactly right Emma. Your problem is that you are “offended” by association with our Appalachian brethern. I’d wager a goodly portion of the local population originated in those parts, probably more than your army of two hundred. My father’s family was in Ypsilanti in the early nineteenth century, and their descendants STILL refer to people from my mother’s side, recently(ish) from Tennessee, in an incredibly condescending way. I only hope to capture on film some day the look on my mother’s face when my grandmother says “But they’re such good people…” I am quite sure the term Ypsitucky has been used in a pejorative way. So what? Move on! This is a new era.

  121. maryd
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Way to get all wacked out. It is getting downright ugly on this post. I love bluegrass and love the idea of more music at the parks. Why be so damn ugly about it!
    Steve is a great host and an even better conversationalist. He listens politely, he is inclusive and I have always found him to be very helpful., in person and on email. I cannot imagine why our host MM would have ever post such a ridiculous response to Steve who is ever passionate about our fair town. This whole ugly argument is shameful. No one can decide what hurts another and that their hurt is invalid. What is the deal, are hard times gonnna bring us together or have us continue to chew each other up?

  122. Ypsilanti Comfort
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget the Downtown Hoedown in Detroit this weekend. They don’t seem to have any problem using the -ucky reference in their promotional literature http://wycd.com/pages/4164190.php

    At the intersection of Interstate 75 and Nine Mile Road, you will find “Hazel Park”, Michigan. An unassuming suburb just outside of Detroit, lovingly dubbed “Hazeltucky” by its residents and just a stones throw from the original Model T factory. This is where JoCaine forges southern rock with Yankee pride. Back by popular demand to the 2009 WYCD Hoedown!

  123. Ytown
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Mark is still a tool.

  124. James Madison
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I do not understand most of the comments posted on this trend. What’s the fight about, anyway? It seems opaque from my perspective.

    But as for southern culture — well, I have heard from good Authority that one of the leading figures of what could be called southern culture is performing a free concert n Detroit tomorrow night. Willie Nelson at Hart Plaza, 9:15pm scheduled start time, as part of the “Country Hoedown” free music festival. Might want to check it out. I hear he is from Texas, not Appalachia, but he sure can sing, and as we used to say in the 18th century, he’s the real thing. Age 76 and going strong.

  125. rodneyn
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    To me, this whole Ypsitucky business illustrates why having a City of Ypsilanti Human Rights Commission is a very dumb idea.

  126. Tat
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    White slavery in Ypsitucky was brought up awhile ago and never proved. It is not Mark’s job to prove another person’s claims. Especially when that person has a long and proven track record of making outrageous claims that turn out to later be false. The burden of proof is on them.

    Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival is a great idea.

    Using the human relations commission for this is a horrible idea.

  127. Andy C
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    First off, “Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival” is what they’re calling the event not the city.
    Have you all ever heard of “Kentucky Bluegrass”? See it’s a very popular type of grass.
    “Kentucky Bluegrass Festival” plays on the type of grass and the type of music.
    Now replace “Ken” with “Ypsi” and BAM! you have “Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival”.
    A very clever play on words.

  128. Lisele
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    “It has been my experience that if you are uptight and snobby, music festivals are not generally where you would spend time ” and “Your problem is that you are ‘offended’ by association with our Appalachian brethern.”

    I think it would have to occur to me that “-tucky” is somehow honoring a Southern heritage before I could attempt to distance myself from that culture and our Appalachian brethren. I actually have a southern heritage myself, as does my partner (coincidentally her family emigrated from Germany to Louisville KY). I don’t associate Ypsitucky with southern heritage, as so many seem to believe is the case. I don’t generally think of myself or the others who are offended as snobby and uptight. But I do believe in the power of language.

    I’m against it because it is used as a slur to denigrate my home town. So, I get that some people believe it’s cool and useful to reclaim the word. I disagree–coupla short examples: I was teaching a class at the Senior Center a couple months ago and actually got a call asking if it was “safe” to come to Ypsilanti at night. I assured my potential student that she could visit Ypsilanti and hope to live thru the experience. I hear negative talk about Ypsi with regularity working in Ann Arbor. Recently a former co-worker was buying a house and, though she could only afford a microscopic place in AA and could get a much better place for her money in Ypsilanti, she would not even consider looking for a home here. The prejudice against my beloved home town is alive and well.

    I don’t know if reclaiming the word is possible. I think exploring our history of migratory workers from the south is a GREAT idea — I won’t be holding my breath that any such goal is a part of the Jamboree organizers’ plan. I think the choice of name was all about inciting controversy for their own marketing goals. It seems a cynical form of self-promotion.

  129. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    How about “Ypsipoopypanties Time-out Box Schoolmarmarama”?

  130. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink


  131. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Oh, man. BA, look what Ypsipanties have done to this town’s reputation.

  132. erma
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with Lisele, especially her last paragraph, and ESPECIALLY: “I think the choice of name was all about inciting controversy for their own marketing goals.”

  133. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Good Lord.

  134. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    If that’s so, you suckers are getting played every time you have voice a problem with the name.

  135. elviscostello
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    If you think that not using “Ypsitucky” will help change the image of the area, I think you are deluded. I love my hometown, but there are crime problems, unemployment, poor decision making by our elected leaders, etc…You and the anti-Ypsituckians are picking the wrong fight. WE need to deal with much larger issues than the name of a festival. IMO.

  136. Rob
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Mark, please post some additional material so this thread will be pushed off of your front page…………… This topic should have died around post 50 or so.

  137. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    No. I want it to go on. I say we demolish the Big Dick. I’m ashamed to live here.

  138. Jake of all Trades
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I think that ‘Ypsitucky Jamboree’ is the perfect name. I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, but when I came back to the area for college, I went to Eastern Michigan University and lived in Ypsilanti. So much did I fall in love with Ypsi and the people of it, that I lived there for about twelve years of my adult life. Between me and my friends Ypsitucky has always been a term of endearment. One of the things that I love about Ypsi so much, over Ann Arbor, is that the majority of people are much more down to earth and much less pretentious. To me the name Ypsitucki represent one of the best and most endearing qualities of Ypsi. For those that want to see it as a derogitory name, they need to get over the bigotry of the past, for it is they that keep it alive by making this an issue. Though born in Ann Arbor, I am proud to call Ypsitucky home. Instead of being ashamed by the heritage of this great city, they should get over themselves and embrace a positive festival to tranform the energies of what used to be a derogitory name. That way the whole county, the whole state, AND the whole country will hear us together as we cry, PROUD TO BE YPSILANTI!! PROUD TO BE YPSITUCKY!!

  139. ypsilistener
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Tomorrow night, as coincidence would have it, there are 2 big meetings at 7 p.m. One you have been arguing about ad nauseum for the past several days. The other has not warranted even a mention on this blog.

    So what else is happening on Monday night? Oh, just the last chance to hear the school board and the rest of the superintendent search team discuss the pros and cons of the two remaining superintendent candidates. The decision will be made the following night, also at 7.

    While I do appreciate the need to debate the importance and impact of names upon a community, I wonder which decision will have the greatest ramifications on Ypsilanti–whether a music festival may use the term “Ypsitucky” in its name, or who will lead the school district during this most challenging time?

    About a month ago, there was a lengthy debate about education on this blog (http://markmaynard.com/?p=4635). Several commenters urged participation in the superintendent selection process as a significant step toward making progress in our public schools. One of my favorite comments (from Kristin) was:

    “Instead of abandoning the existing schools, why not say that that they are our number one priority? One we put before all others? As much as freight houses and pedal-powered movies are entertaining and potentially positive for the community, what if we harnessed all of that energy for the schools? If we can get a large group of citizens to show up to protest snow removal charges, can we get them to show up for public forums that pertain to the district?”

    A lot of you who post here claim to have great concern about the educational options for your children. You want better public schools so that you can feel good about sending your children to them, but when it comes to expending a little effort to get those schools, many will take the easy way out and simply choose a different option, while blaming the public schools for their perceived failures.

    I have attended every single meeting and interview of this lengthy superintendent search process. I know virtually everyone else who has shown up, and I’m pretty sure that none of them posts on this blog. If I overlooked one of you, please accept my apology.

    Seriously, is it really that difficult to attend a couple meetings? How much time do you spend reading and writing on blogs?

    I guess we should all just cross our fingers and hope for the best on this one, eh?

  140. Dirtgrain
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    “I guess we should all just cross our fingers and hope for the best on this one, eh?”

    Nice tone.

  141. erma
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it’s unfortunate that so much energy has been spent on this topic; but I believe that ALL of us are concerned about the economy, education, poverty, crime and yes, the school board election. Apparently some of us also have the capacity to be concerned about the image of this community as it is communicated in language. It’s not an either/or proposition. All of these issues are important, and they all deserve thoughtful consideration. You pro-YpsiTucky folks need to buy a clue. But . . . well . . . you won’t. So enjoy your free-for-all tomorrow evening. I won’t be wasting my time by attending. The CDC will do as the CDC will do. And the devil take us all.

  142. maryd
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilistner is so very right. The hiring of a new superintendent for Ypsilanti Public Schools is big. Leadership of our district in these precarious times is especially vital to the health of our schools and our town. We have a great candidate that has proven to be a leader that cares about the students in our district. Please support good leadership in YPS. Monday May 18 YHS. 7 PM

  143. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    We should rename the city Mount Molehill.

  144. Ytown
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain you are a tool also.

  145. Rich Investor
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I was going to buy up Waterstreet and turn it into a worker-owned flying soy-powered car manufacturing plant, entirely decorated in and out with local art I’d purchase at any price, but not if you rabble celebrate your southern heritage I won’t.

  146. Ol' E Cross
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Erma, okay, how much to “buy” a clue since you still aren’t willing to give any on why you find “Ypsitucky” particularly offensive.

    So far, the biggest objection I’ve heard comes from Lisele which is that some people use Ypsitucky as a pejorative.

    Here is a big, big clue, free of charge for you and Lisele.

    “Ypsilanti” is a pejorative.

    I’ve heard “Ypsilanti” used dozens of times as such: “I haven’t been to Ypsilanti in years” … “Ypsilanti is full of x” … “it’s not safe in Ypsilanti” …

    Again, let me say very clearly, the name of our city is used as a pejorative far, far more often than the “tucky” deviation.

    Again again, “Ypsilanti” is a pejorative. Just as actual benign terms for things, girls, boys, gays, straights, blacks, whites, etc. are used as pejoratives.

    Take a moment, please, to reflect on the reality that the most frequently used pejorative for “Ypsilanti” is “Ypsilanti.” Again, I know I’m belaboring, but the most frequently used term to speak of our city in a negative way is “Ypsilanti.”

    So, change the city name, again and again. Or … celebrate as a positive what others use as pejorative. Don’t deny what you are; celebrate what you are. And in your celebration make the accusers blush and envy. Expose them. Expose their prejudice. Don’t pander to it. Affirm yourself through your lens; don’t deny yourself through theirs.

    We are Little Detroit. We are Ypsitucky. We are Hipsilanti. We are all that and much more.

    We are Ypsilanti.

    We should not be ashamed. Their pejorative is our pride (for those of us who have pride).

    So, erma, how much to buy a clue to tell us which of us you are so ashamed of? Why don’t you give us one. We’ll owe you.

    (As an aside, I also feel like this post should end, but anything that brings out Dirtgrain I like to prolong… and, on the school board, good point.)

  147. dragon
    Posted May 17, 2009 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    A Cletus by any other name, wouldn’t feather his mullet so neat.

  148. Maynard Krebs
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    I think that Douglas Adams might find enough material here for a new novel……a few rational individuals might murk up the water but these posts are indeed proof that Ypsilantians (Ypsituckians?) are best at shooting themselves in the “feet” (our own and any other footsie within gunshot) while a few hard-working individuals are doing their volunteer best to promote our city and region. And while I mentioned “Ypsilantian”,…
    Our Michigan legislature passed a resolution several years ago declaring that the citizens of Michigan should officially be referred to as “Michiganians” rather than “Michiganders”. There was a strong GOOSE lobbying effort that year or maybe it was the folks from Gander Mountain…I never did hear the true story.
    I was born and raised in Michigan and no overzealous “Politically-Correct” legislative edict will cause me to ever refer to myself as anything other than a true MICHIGANDER.
    That brings me back to the “tucky” issue.
    I have respect for both rational sides of the issue.
    I have more respect for people who are donating their time, energy and expertise to build and promote our community rather than those who simply snipe from the sidelines and contribute nothing.
    I would like to further comment that any complaint has no legal basis to be brought before the Human Rights Commision under State and Federal Law.
    The Monday meeting promises to be great theater worthy of Shakespeare, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

  149. Loquoulm
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    As a linguist, I find this contemporary conversation at redefinition (amelioration) quite engaging.

    I will contribute that more terms than you may realize began as pejoratives. They cease to be pejorative when the group who had been “previously ascribed negative attributes” establishes power. This power can be actual (for example, a voting majority) or self-actualizing (for example, continuing to operate in defiance of the “values” implicit in the voting majority’s labels).

    I won’t weigh in on this debate other to say this perhaps is a truly defining moment in your history. One vital question all minority and oppressed populations face is what definition they accept and affirm about themselves. Various groups’ ability to transform terms rather than being subjugated to them is a powerful predictor to their eventual success.

    My favorite case studies are “going Dutch” versus “Quaker oatmeal” although “Ypsitucky,” among Michigan’s many “-tuckies” deserves a fuller analysis.

  150. EOS
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink


    Had you been listening to the school board for any duration, you would realize that they were the people responsible for the public indignation over a long used name. The Braves are no longer at the High School. (As are the Hurons no longer at EMU.) Yet the Red Wings can still play the Blackhawks – who arguably have the best jerseys in the NHL, and there’s still Huron St. and Lake Huron. As we have been educated by school boards and University Regents, it doesn’t matter that the original intent is one of respect. The only issue is whether anyone might be able to misinterpret and find offense. It follows that a Human Relations board hearing is necessary to determine the extent of restriction to free speech. And after they piss off 90% of the population, they will declare that we are a much stronger community as a result. Go ahead and play the reel but we’ve seen it all before.

  151. ypsilistener
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Maynard Krebs-
    Thank you, thank you, and amen.

    I wondered how long it would take to bring the Braves issue back into this. Of course it’s the same story, just change the names.

    I need to correct your first sentence, as it was not the school board that instigated that issue; they just addressed it once it was clear that it wasn’t going away.

    It’s almost amusing the way you are directing your anger about that decision at me, simply because I brought up the school issue. Are you trying to say that, just because “90% of the population” is “pissed off” by the mascot issue, that we should just let the schools fail? I know people who feel that way, and it’s both shocking and disheartening.

    If I was not clear in the first place, let me try again. I acknowledge the importance of the discussion. I don’t think the issues are “either/or,” EXCEPT for the fact that both meetings occur at the same time tonight. I just find it disappointing that the Ypsitucky meeting will probably draw all sorts of fired-up citizens, and the impacts will likely be limited, whereas the superintendent meeting will likely have a meager crowd, and I already know how dramatically this decision can impact the greater community.

  152. Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:00 am | Permalink


    I have to confess. I have very little interest in the public schools. Whenever I have bothered to take an interest in the past, I’ve been told that my opinions dont matter because I dont have children. And there is something to that. My own opinions about education are not very mainstream. If I were to suddenly put a lot of energy into changing how YPS does things, I suspect that a lot of parents would be upset. Understandably too.

  153. EOS
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:08 am | Permalink


    Wasn’t intending to direct my anger at anyone – I’m not even angry. Was just making an observation. I actually agree with you very much that the selection of the new school superintendent has far more importance than whether any individual in the community might feel “bad” because the term Ypsitucky is used. Or maybe, with the school system going bankrupt, the community might consider hiring no one, selling off all assets and joining a more solvent school district. The schools have already failed, the MEAP test scores are among the worst in the state. The question is how much more money do you invest in a sinking ship?

  154. Posted May 18, 2009 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    EoS believes that the solution to improving the schools is to get rid of the Jews, the blacks and the children of gay people.

  155. EOS
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Dude thinks that we won’t need schools if we just ended all pregnancies in abortions. Not all communities are capable of raising kids, right Dude?

  156. Posted May 18, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Actually, that’s a great idea. We could save lots of public money. I think you’re on to something.

  157. McKechnie
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    While speaking to an Ypsilanti business owner, in store, the term Ypsitucky came up: She is offended because, “We’re trying to make Ypsilanti more classy; the name YpsiTucky isn’t classy.” What wasn’t classy was her husband; business owner, board member, fun Governor, ‘artist,’ was in his bathrobe lounging around while cutomers were in the store.
    To people saying Ann Arbor laughs at Ypsilanti, (1. who fucking cares. (2. remember that ol’ saying, “Ann Arbor: Six square miles, surrounded by reality.”

  158. Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I just moved to Ypsilanti in April, and I’ve been enjoying Mark’s blog since that time. The comments on this post were particularly inspired, so thanks for sharing your thoughts on such a personal a topic.

    However, such an emotionally charged topic may be better suited to an intimate conversation between friends, or a physical setting where body language and inflection make our words human, not just English. We all believe what we believe for a reason and respecting that fact is the first step to intelligent discourse.

  159. Ytown
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Bunchofstring, why don’t you go and fuck yourself.

  160. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 18, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Uh oh, DiNero’s in town. Now we’ve done it.

  161. Posted May 19, 2009 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    So, did anyone go last night?

    I hear there’s going to be video up on the YpsiCiti site today, but, as of right now, there’s nothing there.

  162. Posted May 19, 2009 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    As for DiNero, I suspect he spent his evening at Mr. Mike’s. From what I understand, that’s where all of Hollywood’s elite like to drink when they’re in town.

  163. Kerfuffel
    Posted May 19, 2009 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    The video is up on the Ypsi Citi sight now, and it’s hi-larious.

  164. Posted May 19, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I went. I thought it was a relatively interesting and mostly civil discussion.

    Oddly, I thought both sides more or less shot themselves in the foot using arguments that seemed to offer ammunition to the opposition. For instance, the organizers of the festival kept referring to how they knew the name would offend a some people, but that they decided to go with it anyway. I probably would have left that part out when pleading my case. On the other side, it seemed as if the opponents were a little too eager to equate “Ypsitucky” with the “N-word” in term of its power to dehumanize. The fact that one can actually *say* the word “Ypsitucky” in a public place I think says a lot about how empty that comparison is.

    There were maybe three or four people of southern extraction who got up and spoke, as well as several others claiming to be sympathetic to how injured those three or four must feel. I’m not sure I’m buying it, though, as it seems as if much of their motivation has more to do with how some of these community leaders want to “brand” the community and whether the term “Ypsitucky” is appropriate for said branding.

    Overall, people opposing the term outnumbered those supporting it, which is in direct contradiction with what I’ve heard as I’ve talked to people in the community. Not sure what this means.

    Oh, and I buried the lead. Here’s the real news: The Corner Brewery is going to start distilling Ypsitucky Barrel Bourbon.

  165. Tom Dodd
    Posted May 30, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Mark, for getting this discussion going. As usual, you touch the soul of Ypsi.

    Many contend that even “Ypsi” is an insiders’ sobriquet, never to be used casually by outsiders.

    I look forward to the September 2009 issue of The Depot Town Rag which will attempt to explain it all under the rubric of market branding.

    -Minister of Propaganda

  166. France Hilda
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Have you ever considered writing interesting blog posts on this site?

  167. tangledcat
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I am still disappointed that the Ypsitucky Jamboree did not take off. Here is it years later and I remain miffed. RIP colonel will

  168. Frederick
    Posted June 18, 2021 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks Mark. My thought was that even if the term was used in a negative way in the past, a *Bluegrass* festival which celebrates music that comes from Kentucky and by extension the cultural heritage that is part of Ypsilanti, it is a perfect time to reclaim the word and turn it into something positive.

  169. Matt Jones
    Posted March 16, 2023 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    And to top it all off, the festival totally sucked.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Jamboman on April 26, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    […] just come to my attention that the folks behind the Michigan Roots Jamboree (formerly known as the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival), have rolled out an official mascot. His name is Jamboman, and, according to Facebook, he wants […]

  2. […] just come to my attention that the folks behind the Michigan Roots Jamboree (formerly known as the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival), have rolled out an official mascot. His name is Jamboman, and, according to Facebook, he wants […]

  3. By The abduction of Jambo Man on August 11, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    […] recall, got off to wobbly start a few years back, when it attempted to get off the ground as the Ypsitucky Jamboree, but, from what I’ve heard, things went well this time out at the newly rechristened Michigan […]

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