The down side of shopping cart races

A few days ago, I posted something here on the site about the clandestine shopping cart race that takes place in Ann Arbor every August, at the end of Punk Week. Well, after posting the story, I began hearing from people in Ann Arbor who wanted me to know why they were against the races. Some cited safety concerns, but most talked about the damage done to the neighborhood. And, one of those individuals, to prove his point, sent along photos of the aftermath… Here, in a photo taken the morning after, if I’m not mistaken, we see the cardboard carcass of the shark featured in that earlier post.


So, here’s what I’m wondering… Can one not be both punk and courteous in 2009?

Maybe someone can convince me otherwise, but, in this case, I think I’m on the side of the residents. I’ll defend people’s rights to tag (within reason), flyer, put up stickers, and occasionally disrupt the peace, but this, it seems to me, is different. And I’m not saying this to point the finger at “those bad punks” (some of whom I consider friends) who left their crap strewn across downtown. I’m just mentioning it in hopes that maybe, in the future, things can be done differently. And this probably deserves a much longer, more thoughtful post on “kids today” and how they could do a much better job of advancing their own causes if they understood how things worked. And maybe this isn’t the perfect illustration. There are better ones.

How many house parties, for instance, have been shut down by cops, when a simple $20 noise permit would have done the trick? How many people take the time to talk with their neighbors first, before having a band play, and make it a point to organize volunteers the next morning to pick up beer cups scattered around the neighborhood? Yeah, I know that there are instances when “the man” really does have it in for you, and there’s nothing you could possibly do to change that, but some of it is within your control. So there’s my advice, for what it’s worth…

And, yes, I know this makes me look like a very old, incredibly uncool douche, like Bill Grundy.

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  1. JJ O
    Posted August 23, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Just like woo. d stock lock and empty barrels.

    It’s all about body image.

    OOOoooh. Look at my long gold stained goldicocks.

    Drink cock a cola.

    Ooooh. The manufactured outage.

    Shopping cocks. Irony …. gurgle … no, just more waste and crap rolls.

    Preteen. Preteen. Preeteen Patricks preteens herding elk in gold tighty whitey.



  2. JJ O
    Posted August 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    weeeman want wooooman. so pi-u-nk-e.

  3. Marion
    Posted August 23, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    I think that is so punk rock.

    Really, seriously impressive cardboard.

    Like I said. So punk rock.

  4. Posted August 24, 2009 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    It should be noted that Marion’s link is cartoon PORN and shouldn’t probably be opened in the workplace.

    And thank you, I think, for ushering in a new era of trolling on the site. Variety is the spice of life.

  5. punky
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    real punks do not schedule “punk week”, or anything for that matter. everyone and their mother knows about the “clandestine” shopping cart races — how punk is that? the only vaguely punkish thing about the whole thing is leaving a bit of litter around the neighborhood — ooooohhh, the horror. so much for “f-cking shit up” which used to be what punks liked to do.

  6. Mr. Barry
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    No, we all know real punks are busy leaving comments on MMcom at 8:00 AM.

  7. Mike
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Before this devolves any further into a shouting match over what “real” punks do and don’t do, I thought that I’d mention that I like the rotting shark carcass.

  8. Bob
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I think it can be argued that there are no more real punks. Certainly in Ann Arbor. Punk died. If you’ve got a Mohawk now, you’re just a douche. Face tattoos are the new punk rock.

  9. David N.
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Pick up your shit, kids. I don’t have a problem with stealing shopping carts. But pick your shit up.

  10. Ryan
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    A quick note on house parties… It’s my experience that if you get a noise permit the cops will just be more likely to come shut you down at 10 sharp and stand there acting like intimidating dicks from 9 – 10. Also, even if you inform the neighbors and nobody seems to mind that you’re having people over and making noise, the cops will either lie and say they got a call or inform you that they can shut any party down that they can hear from the street (which I guess is a real law, as fucked up and ridiculous as it may be). Anyway, I just wanted to chime in and mention that it isn’t as simple as getting a noise permit.

  11. Cal
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    If you’re going to do it, do it right. Don’t just litter. Throw the fucking cart through the window of Starbucks when you’re done with it.

  12. steve
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I beg to differ about there not being real punks anymore, Bob.

    Here’s my evidence.

  13. Alicia
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always wanted to at least watch the shopping cart races. I never picked up on the cues in time though (are they more obvious than they used to be? the flaming cart and a date?). Too bad there’s residue from a cool event.

  14. Posted August 24, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Ryan, you’re right, of course. My choice of Noise Permits as an example was kind of weak. It’s the first thing that popped into my head, though, that wasn’t terribly complicated… I probably should have just left it out, but I was trying to get at something. I was trying to convey this idea that people are less inclined to shit on you if you don’t shit on them. Maybe I should have just said that… And I acknowledge that, in my youth, I wouldn’t have accepted that kind of advice from someone like me. So I know it’s probably not one of my most affective posts. Still, I felt like I should say something more than just, “Pick your shit up.” And, again, this isn’t to say that sometimes anti-social behavior isn’t called for. I just think, in this context, it was laziness.

    Posted August 24, 2009 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Racing shopping carts is awesome, and its probably necessary to leave a mess once in a while for the greater good, but goddamn, show some craftsmanship! Craftsmanship, I beg of you!

    That cardboard shark is weak. I started drifting away from anything called punk when I realized it had become nothing more than (or maybe always was) a synonym for “crappy”.

  16. Patrick
    Posted August 25, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    As the pusher of one of the two carts in the photo, I wanted to comment. I’m not going to defend leaving our cart parallel parked across from the train station (as we did so out of laziness to be sure (and also our curiosity as to whether or not a cardboard shark could get a parking ticket – so far, it hasn’t)) but I would like to mention that the last time I attempted to return a shopping cart to Ypsilanti we were pulled over by the police, who insisted that we remove the cart from our car and abandon it on the sidewalk. The cop didn’t give us a ticket or reprimand us, he just insisted that we abandon the cart on the side of the road because it was blocking the rear view. Next year the plan is to build a cart that will spontaneously combust as soon as it crosses the finish line just to make everyone happy.

    As far as craftsmanship is concerned, I couldn’t agree more that this was a incredibly shoddy, aesthetically unappealing piece of crap – most of which fell apart during the race – but it was still fun to race and for being a last-minute thing we threw together it got us where we were going. I don’t have any desire to debate what “punk” is or isn’t, but this thing was totally crappy and not something that was premeditated or towards which we extended any great deal of creative energy. It was just a fun, last-minute thing we threw together with the limited resources we had. One cart that did stand out to me this year was the one with the propane stove where the rider was making vegan pancakes for everyone. I loved the concept and … well, the pancakes.

    At the end of the day, the shopping cart race is a lot of fun and it’s a blast to see everyone outside, having a great time. That’s why I love it.

  17. Steve
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the note, Patrick.

    Was there really a pancake cart?

  18. Patrick
    Posted August 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Yes, there was a pancake cart with a propane stove and a frying pan. One person was walking with them holding a bottle of syrup. It was a delicious cart!

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