The closing of the Savoy, and the launch of Woodruff’s

    As most of you know by now, the Savoy – the Washington Street club managed by Andy “tight pants” Garris – has closed its doors. As I understand it, there were a number of issues, but, in the end, it was the building owner’s non-payment of electrical bills that did them in. But, downtown’s loss is looking to be Depot Town’s gain. As of yesterday, Garris has entered into an agreement with Sandee and Bill French to open a bar in the space that, up until a few years ago, was home to their restaurant, Cady’s. The new bar, according to Garris, will be called Woodruff’s, in reference to Woodruff’s Grove – the 1923 settlement on the banks of the Huron River that would later evolve into the city of Ypsilanti. Here’s a quick video I just shot with Garris.

    As you can see in the video, they’ve already almost completed the construction of a stage, which is good, seeing as how they’ve already got bands scheduled for tomorrow night. While it will no doubt take them some time to find their footing, my hope is that, by the time Mittenfest, DIYpsi and Krampusdeep roll around, they’ll have everything figured out and running at least somewhat smoothly. One would think, having jumped between three bars in just the past six months, that Garris and his crew are kind of getting good at making transitions on the fly.

    And I know I didn’t get into a lot of detail with Andy in this interview, but hopefully we’ll have a chance to chat with him again after the holidays. I’m particularly interested to know what he has in mind for the kitchen, which I’m thinking could make an incredible incubator for small, local food-related businesses.

    Posted in Art and Culture, Food, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

    Krampus beer

    My friend Dan in Minnesota just wrote to let me know that Southern Tier Brewing in Lakewood, New York has a seasonal Christmas beer called Krampus. He didn’t say whether or not he’s tried it, but here’s the label:

    working krampus bottle

    Speaking of special beers in honor of the eternally evil Krampus, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it yet, but our friends at the Corner Brewery have whipped up two special releases for our Krampus Ball on December 11 – one naughty and one nice – and I hope to be able to share details about them both with you soon. (I’ve yet to verify it, but I’ve heard that the naughty one has been filtered through soiled lingerie collected from the Ypsi Community Center’s lost-and-found.) I’m not promising anything, but, assuming I’m finally able to shake this cold that I’ve got, I’d like to get out my video camera and interview Logan Schaedig, the guy who is making both brews, like I did last time. So, stay turned for that, beer lovers.

    Posted in Food, Local Business, Shadow Art Fair, Special Projects, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

      If you support rail in Michigan, pick up the phone Tuesday morning and make a call

      Tomorrow, Michigan proponents for rail, like myself, are being encouraged to pick up their phones and call Michigan Senate Majority Leader Michael Bishop, urging him to call a vote on the $35 million in matching funds necessary if we’re to claim the $161 million federal rail grant we recently became eligible for. Here, with the details, is a note from the folks at Transportation Riders United:

      CALL-IN DAY FOR MICHIGAN RAIL!

      Tomorrow 9:00 AM

      A train from Chicago to Detroit in less than four hours? It could be coming, if the Michigan Senate votes for HB 6484! Help make sure it happens – call Senator Bishop on Tuesday, November 30. Details: Michigan will get at least $161 million from the feds to buy and fix the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Kalamazoo railroad track, if the state provides the required $35 million match. HB 6484 provides that match by allowing state bonds to be used for rail improvement. The House passed it, the Governor supports it. Now the Michigan Senate must pass it – this week! Can we get 500 people to call Senator Bishop on Tuesday, November 30, to make sure it is a top lame-duck priority?

      If you want to sign up to make a call, you can do so on Facebook. You can also share the link with friends, asking them to do the same, as I have here.

      And, remember, if this is going to happen, it has to happen now, as the Michigan Senate leaves for the year on December 2nd.

      Oh, and don’t just call Bishop’s office. Call your Michigan Senator as well, asking him or her to press Bishop to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote. You can find your Senator’s contact information here.

      I should also mention that, before sharing this campaign with you, I first ran it by my friend Richard Murphy, who studies transportation-related issues for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. I wanted to make sure that encouraging calls to Bishop’s office tomorrow was in fact the best way to see this legislation pushed forward. Here, with is permission, is his response, which includes a great deal of useful background.

      Michigan has been awarded $161m in Federal high-speed rail funding for the Chicago-Detroit corridor, IF AND ONLY IF we can come up with the matching funds for it. (About $35m.) The State House has passed HB 6484, which would provide for the match out of existing bonding capacity in the State Building Authority. The bill received statewide, bipartisan support in the House – Republican Wayne Schmidt of Traverse City was the lead sponsor.

      The Michigan Senate only has 3 more days in session this year – Tuesday through Thursday of this week. If they don’t pass HB 6484 in that time, it gets harder for Michigan to tap this funding. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop needs to be convinced to at least let the bill come onto the Senate floor for a vote, if not actually support it himself. Please call or e-mail him, as well as your own Senator (Sen. Liz Brater, for Ypsilantians), and pass the word along to friends and family across the State.

      While the money is specific to the Chicago-Detroit high speed rail project, much of the work covered with this funding would also advance the Ann Arbor – Detroit commuter rail project, which would have a stop in Ypsi, meaning that making the match is especially important to Ypsilanti.

      If you want to know more, check out some of the following sources:

      * PIRG’s “Connecting the Midwest” explains how the midwest high-speed rail network will both support economic development (construction and job creation) all along the line, as well as saving money overall by preventing the need for costly highway and airport expansions.

      * TEN’s “More Transit, More Jobs” talks about the job creation potential of transit projects (20% more jobs per dollar spent than highway construction).

      * A recent survey by the Suburbs Alliance’s Millennial Mayors Congress found that poor access to transit was the #1 issue (even ahead of job availability) for young professionals in southeast Michigan, and therefore an important piece of combatting “brain drain”.

      So, make those calls on Tuesday morning, OK?

      Posted in Michigan, Rail, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

      Reagan’s budget director David Stockman on why taxes on the wealthy must be increased

      I know that I should be writing about TSA pat downs and the new Wikileaks brouhaha tonight, like everyone else with moveable appendages and a blog, but I can’t seem to get with the program. For whatever reason, I feel as though I need to stick with the Bush tax cuts. I know it bores most of you – even those of you that agree with me – to death, but it’s one of those things that I can’t seem to let go of. Maybe it’s the OCD, or maybe it’s just that I’ve watched eight back-to-back episodes of Columbo, but I feel tenacious as hell. So, with that in mind, here’s yet one more post about why I feel as though the Bush tax cuts need to expire… And you’ll notice that I didn’t qualify “Bush tax cuts” by adding “for the wealthiest Americans”, as I have been in previous posts. Maybe it’s that I’ve got a cold, and I’m not thinking straight, but, these past few days, I’ve been of the opinion that we should just let all the Bush tax cuts expire, across the board, including those for the middle class. If that’s what it’ll take to bring the rate on America’s top earners back to the pre-Bush level, then I’m OK with it. If the Republicans want to hold the middle class tax cuts hostage, then I say we call their bluff, and let them have it their way. I’d rather allow all the tax cuts to expire than allow the rich to keep their fucking tax cut, and further the damage that they’ve already done. Anyway, here’s what I wanted to share with you. It’s a video clip from Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday morning program, featuring Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman.

      Stockman, for those of you who don’t plan to watch the video, is of the opinion that our Republicans leaders of today, when they invoke lessons of the Reagan administration as a way of defending tax cuts for the rich, don’t really know what they’re talking about. Reagan, in his opinion, never would have suggested that tax cuts alone could eliminate a deficit. Here’s a quote from Stockman, who feels as though we need “a higher tax burden on the upper income”:

      “I’ll never forgive the Bush administration and Paulson for basically destroying the last vestige of fiscal responsibility that we had in the Republican Party. After that, I don’t know how we ever make the tough choices.”

      He then goes on to say that Reagan’s tax cuts did not, contrary to what the Republicans would have you believe, prove that tax cuts led to increased government revenues. “Reagan proved nothing of the kind,” says Stockman, “and yet that became the mantra and it just led the Republican Party away from its traditional sound money, fiscal restraint.”

      Anyway, I just wanted to throw that tidbit out to those of you in the audience who consider yourselves to be “Reagan Republicans.” Hopefully, at least one of you will listen.

      Those of you who would like to hear more of what Stockman has to say on the issue of tax policy, can see his recent 60 Minutes appearance here.

      Posted in Economics, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

      Sick day spent beading a phlegm-covered ski mask

      I’ve got a cold, and I don’t feel much like writing tonight… It’s not the worst cold in the world, but it’s persistent. I’ve spent the majority of the past two days laying here in bed, coughing up the lining of my throat, and watching episodes of Columbo on my laptop. And, as I’m just now starting to taste blood, I’ll probably be doing the same again tomorrow.

      So, I’ve been laying here for a few days now, in the same soiled clothes, alternating bites of cold turkey and grapefruit, and occasionally picking up my Krampus mask to work on. I don’t want to give too much away, but here, if you’re curious about the mask, is a drawing that I did a few days ago, before the sickness jumped out from the shadows and grabbed me by the throat.

      krampusmask2Mine is the one at the bottom, on the left. It’s evolved a bit since I drew it here, but it still has two eyes, and holes from which to accept food and air. The other drawings are some of Linette’s ideas. I like the one on the top right, which, I’m told, would have involved her covering her head in hot glue and rolling it around in a bucket of graham cracker crumbs.

      Speaking of the big Krampus event, I’ll probably have a few last minute details to share with you in a day or two, so stay tuned.

      Posted in Mark's Life, Shadow Art Fair, Special Projects | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

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