Obama takes on Trump and the Birthers at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Speaking of Trump, did you know that, in 1989, he spent $85,000 on ads calling for the death penalty for 14 year old boy who was later exonerated of the crime? And then there’s the fact that he’s been lying about how he avoided military service during the Vietnam War.

Posted in Media, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Today’s graduation day protest against Rick Snyder

Our friend Glen was in Ann Arbor this morning for the big protest against the Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who was the keynote speaker at today’s University of Michigan commencement. Here’s his report.

I just returned from Ann Arbor, where I was one of approximately 3000 people (my estimate) who turned out to protest Governor Snyder, who was at Michigan Stadium to address the University of Michigan’s 2011 graduating class.

Some highlights:

– At approximately 8 a.m., as people were filling the bleachers of the Pioneer High School football field, folks were entertained by the “Koch Brothers,” two actors wearing tuxedo jackets and top-hats, joking about how Snyder had been “one of their better purchases,” and singing “This land is my land, this land is MY land …, etc.”

– As the crowd grew, it became clear that red was the color of the day, with many of the union members in attendance encouraged to wear red t-shirts, jackets, hats, etc. There were many people of all ages, including many families with small children, and many carried pre-made and homemade signs.

– At one point, a plane began circling overhead, pulling a banner sponsored by the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council, which read, “Governor Snyder: Some Cuts NEVER Heal” … which brought a big round applause.

– At approximately 8:30 a.m., the formal program of speakers kicked off, including State Senator Rebekah Warren, UAW International President Bob King, former U.S. Representative Lynn Rivers, and many representatives of local unions including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Michigan Federation of Teachers, U-M Graduate Employees Organization, fire department unions, police unions, etc.

– As speaker after speaker detailed the terrible impacts of Snyder’s policies on education, the environment, the poor, working people, etc., a “theme” began to develop many of them would ask the rhetorical question, “Is that right?” and the crowd would chant back, in unison, “THAT’S NOT RIGHT!”

– At one point in the program, Alexie Salazar, a 5th-grade student from Haslett, Michigan spoke to the crowd about the importance of supporting education,about how she is worried how budget cuts might impact her dream of studying to be a zoologist, and asking why the Governor doesn’t seem to understand why these cuts are such a bad idea. Then, at the end, she held up a sign that read: “Governor Snyder, Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?”

– At around 9:20 a.m., the formal program ended, and the crowd began lining up for the march to Michigan Stadium. There were so many people that — as the first protesters began arriving at the Stadium (at the Corner of Main Street and Stadium Boulevard.) there were still protesters leaving Pioneer …

– Once the bulk of the crowd neared the stadium, they were directed by “Protest Marshals” to form two groups, once forming a long loop on the sidewalk on the Main Street side of the stadium, and other other along Stadium Boulevard.

– I cycled back-and-forth between both contingents … enjoying the overall atmosphere, as well as the many clever signs. Various chants would ebb and flow throughout the ever-moving crowd, among the most notable were: “Hey-hey, ho-ho, plutocracy has got to go,” … “What does democracy look like? THIS is what democracy looks like!” … “Money for jobs and education … end the wars and occupation!,” etc. But, by far, the most popular chant was the simplest and most direct: “RE-CALL RICK!”

– At some point, around 10:15 or so, word was spread by the “Marshals” that Governor Snyder was about to speak. At that point, virtually the entire crowd turned toward the wrought-iron fence and began loudly chanting “RE-CALL RICK! RE-CALL RICK!” with the sound echoing back from the brick walls of the stadium. After a few minutes of this (and just about as I got the sense the crowd was beginning to tire of chanting) two young women from inside the event ran up to the fence to tell us that we were, indeed, being heard by the folks inside. This news spread among the protesters, and our chants grew even louder.

– Before long, word began to spread that Snyder was through speaking, and the crowd began assembling near the corner of Main and Stadium, preparing to wind down the protest. As the crowd began snaking its way back toward Pioneer, the Ann Arbor Police blocked traffic (as they had earlier) so groups of protesters could safely cross the intersection, and I saw many people shaking hands with and thanking individual police officers for their assistance.

– Overall, I’d say the prevailing “mood” of the event was very peaceful, and even somewhat festive. While it is hard to know what impact, if any, this event may ultimately have, I think it was good to see so many people showing up to express their objection to Snyder, the Republican majority, and these disastrous tax and budget cuts.

– While I didn’t really get a chance to take any decent pictures during the event, local (Ann Arbor) blogger Chris Savage (who I recognized, and had a chance to meet this morning) has some good pictures, along with some additional reporting and commentary on his site, “Eclectablog”.

And here’s news coverage from Chanel 7.

Posted in Ann Arbor, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Totally Awesome Fest is this weekend in Ypsi

taf2011posterRemember how, last year, I told you about a totally great event called Totally Awesome Fest? Well, it’s about to happen again…. And, it’s not nearly as informative as the interview we did last year, but here’s a little conversation I just had with festival spokesman Patrick Elkins.

MARK: Ready to do an interview?


MARK: Will there pancakes again this year?

PATRICK: Yes, this year we will be having a “pancake walk” at the Turkey Point at noon on Saturday, April 30. Participants will have multiple opportunities to win delicious vegan pancakes and other somewhat exciting / potentially underwhelming prizes.*

MARK: What, if anything is different than in years past?

PATRICK: This year people will walk for pancakes instead of wrestling for them.

MARK: Will anyone play on top of a strip club?

PATRICK: Aimee Adams will make all final decisions regarding when events will be moved due to inclement weather.

MARK: How about in the strip club?

taf19bradaPATRICK: According to the Deja Vu marquee, there is a “Big & Beautiful” contest on April 27 with a grand prize of $500. While this is not an official Totally Awesome Fest event, one would assume that the strip club chose this date because of its proximity to the Totally Awesome pre-festival cleaning / decorating party the next day.

MARK: What’s up with the liquor license?

PATRICK: The Dreamland Theater has secured a temporary liquor license for all three days of the festival. This means that folks who are 21 or older with valid identification can purchase beer or wine at the theater until 2:00 a.m. Due to the nature of the license, people can not bring their own alcohol to the theater. All of the proceeds from the bar will go to the Dreamland Theater. All donations at the door will go to gas money for bands from out of town.

MARK: What are you most looking forward to?

PATRICK: I’m looking forward to the pancakes and the live painting and the fashion show and the video installation and the burlesque performance and the book safe workshop and the “Awesome Amazing Ypsi Race” and the puppet show and the music. I’m also looking forward to everything else.

MARK: Is there anyone that really sucks that you let in anyway?

PATRICK: The band “Video Games” is generally pretty terrible. It’s a group that consists of one or more people drinking beer, hula hooping, and playing brass instruments simultaneously while wearing customized tee shirts.

MARK: How did you trick Jason and Maria (the residents of Turkey Point) into letting you use their estate?

PATRICK: I bet Jason that he couldn’t eat five saltine crackers in one minute without drinking any water.

MARK: What happens if it rains?

PATRICK: In the case of rain, events will be moved to the Dreamland Theater. See my answer to your question “Will anyone play on top of the strip club?” for more details.

MARK: What happens if there’s a stampede?

PATRICK: According to wikipedia, a group of herd animals or a crowd of people will collectively begin running “with no clear direction or purpose”.

MARK: Are the security forces? Can I carry a taser?

PATRICK: We have a fantastic group of volunteers who will be helping to make sure everyone has a safe and (totally) awesome time. We are encouraging people who aren’t local celebrity bloggers to leave all weapons at home.

MARK: Are there people who shouldn’t attend?

PATRICK: No; however, there are people who should attend.

taf8brad2MARK: If you could invite a celebrity, who would it be?

PATRICK: Hob the Troll.

MARK: If you could travel through time and bring one person back against his or her will to witness TAF, who would it be, and why?

PATRICK: I’ve always wanted to walk for pancakes with Kathy Acker.

MARK: Will every band be selling shirts with my picture?

PATRICK: Only bands that generally write songs exclusively about birds and/or the state of Florida.

MARK: Will anyone be protesting this year?

PATRICK: I imagine that some small and ugly people may be upset with the event on the 27th, but, as I stated earlier, this activity is not associated with the Totally Awesome Fest in any way.

Events begin Friday at 5:00 PM sharp at VG Kids with a performance from Long Whisker!

[note: This year’s poster was designed by Jimbo Easter. The Lord of the Yum-Yum and Tommy Spaghetti & Friends photos featured above were taken by Brad Koski.]

[*Speaking of underwhelming prizes, I’ve been asked if I’d consent to eat breakfast with a stranger on Saturday. And that, I believe, is one of the better prizes. So, that should tell you something.]

The complete lineup, and the address of each venue, can be found by stepping over this line.

Read More »

Posted in Art and Culture, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Pencil Paparazzi: Jason Segel, other famous people at Old Town

We’ve got another entry for our ever-expanding pencil paparazzi file. This one comes from a young woman named Nina Eggers, who just happened to be having drink at Ann Arbor’s Old Town Tavern, when a half dozen famous folks came in for drinks. Here’s her entry. Jason Segel, as you can see, was apparently carrying a large photo of Robocop.


In addition to Jason Segel, the group, which settled into the front window at Old Town, included such notables as “the guy who plays Jim on The Office,” and “a girl from Community and Scream 4.” According to the local press, they’re all in town shooting a film for Judd Apatow called The Five Year Engagement.

And, remember… If you see someone famous, don’t snap a photo. Sketch him on a napkin instead. Use lipstick and cigarette butts if you have to. It may not seem important to you, but it’s absolutely critical to those of us who have no lives. So, no matter how seemingly inconsequential you think it might be, please send it in. Lives of giant, wheezing couch potatoes could depend on it.

Posted in Ann Arbor, Art and Culture, Special Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I’d love to see Bernie Sanders in the next Presidential debates

Every few days, I come across a quote from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders that I feel compelled to share. For the most part, I’m able to restrain myself. But, every once in a while, there’s something that I just can’t hold back. Today, it’s footage from the Daily Show, where Sanders appeared yesterday, promoting his new book, The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class. Here it is, in two parts:

I don’t have time to transcribe the whole thing at the moment, but here’s a quote from Bernie that I found particularly noteworthy… “I think at the end of the day, the vast majority of the people support medicare, support Social Security. You go and ask anybody about the wisdom of giving tax breaks – a trillion dollars in tax breaks, which is what the Ryan plan is – to the wealthiest people in this country, while you cut back on education and environmental protection – very few people agree with that.

And, here, while we’re at it, is another great quote from Sanders on the Ryan budget… “(This budget) is the most extremist legislation I’ve ever seen, it’s a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest people in this country. This isn’t about deficit reduction. They want to give a trillion dollars of tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country.

Why isn’t this guy a guest on every television show in America?

[I was going to say “every non-sitcom television show in America,” but then I thought about it a while and realized how cool it would be if he were, for let’s say the period of a week, on every single network show, regardless of it’s format, subject matter, etc. I’ve never watched Two and a Half Men, but I find it hard to believe that it couldn’t be made better with a cameo by Bernie Sanders, playing an opinionated handyman. Or, what if he just showed up on a raft during an episode of Survivor?]

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments


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