Ypsi Immigration Interview: Lee Azus

To make up for yesterday’s Ypsi Exit Interview, which seems to have upset a few folks, here’s another in my series of Ypsi Immigration Interviews. I hope you enjoy it.

MARK: What’s your name, and what is it that you do?

LEE: My name is Lee Azus. I owned a bookstore for 15 years in San Francisco. I moved to Ypsilanti in January, 2011 and closed the store down a week before leaving San Francisco. What I am currently doing, besides auditing a French grammar class and organizing the book section at a local charity shop, is 1) reading all the books I couldn’t read these past years; 2) bicycling all over Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor; 3) exploring Detroit; and 4) learning to experience the ecology of this new, strange region.

MARK: Can you tell us a little about the store you left behind in San Francisco?

LEE: I owned and ran a bookstore specializing in travel. Besides guidebooks, we carried international fiction, international history, politics, architecture, maps, gear and globes. The store was on a triangular corner, so was sort of slice-of-pie shaped. There were 12 foot windows along two sides, which were beautiful, although a frequent target for acid etching or a random brick. We hosted a lot of authors over the years and had a loyal following. But things changed very quickly due to the economy, the weak dollar and the smart phone apps. The last two years were not fun.

MARK: Is it possible that there are other entrepreneurial ventures in your future, perhaps here in Ypsilanti?

LEE: Every city needs a good baker and a good coffee roaster. I would have added ‘and good bookstore’ but that’s still a sensitive issue. Luckily Ypsi has first rate coffee beans and bread. So, those businesses are well covered here. I have absolutely no desire to wade into another entrepreneurial venture.

MARK: What brought you to Ypsilanti? Would I be correct in assuming that you’re here because of EMU?

LEE: I am here because my boyfriend of 21 years was offered a terrific job at Eastern Michigan University. (I don’t like the word ‘partner’, though we are legally domesticated partners under California law, which turns out to be less than meaningless in Michigan.)

MARK: As you may know, we recently lost a family of Ypsilantians to the San Francisco area. Do you have any advice for them?

LEE: I hadn’t heard about a family of Ypsilantians moving to San Francisco, so hesitate to give advice. Having just returned from a summer back in San Francisco, I can say that the pace is much quicker there, which is a blessing and a curse. There is so much going on culturally, gastronomically, politically. It is exciting yet can be exhausting. The other bit of advice is to be sure to pick the wild blackberries on Bernal Hill. They’re still in abundance until October. Oh, and Day of the Dead, November 2nd on 24th Street and Garfield Park.

MARK: Were you at all apprehensive about moving here? And, what do you think of Ypsilanti thus far, now that you’re living here?

LEE: I have only lived in metropolitan areas with no less than 4 million people, so Ypsilanti is a big change. I was completely apprehensive about moving here. I love San Francisco. I have legal rights as a gay person in California that the Michigan Supreme Court aren’t about to recognize any time soon. I found the lack of recognition as a couple not only insulting, but a good reason to fear what Michigan would be like. Plus, those weird militia guys are from South East Michigan. So, I was not overly optimistic about life here. We came to Ypsilanti for four days in May 2010 to look for housing. It was my first visit to Michigan. Within the first hour, I was walking on Cross Street to dinner at the Sidetrack. I liked Sidetrack. The next morning we walked along the Huron River, through the parks. I loved the river. Then we ate the most unusual baked french toast at Beezy’s. I liked Beezy’s. We looked at lots of funky old apartments that had a lot of charm. I was happy to see that Michigan Avenue wasn’t derelict and boarded up, but had some nice stores and restaurants. Have you ever been inside the Wolverine? Wow. And the food at Dalat? I didn’t expect that in Ypsilanti. But the places that made me realize that Ypsilanti would be a nice place to live were the Ypsilanti Food Coop, The Ugly Mug and the Corner Brewery. Obviously, knowing almost nobody here, I was relying on these places as markers in a way, as to the kind of people that might live here. On our last day, before returning to San Francisco, I started feeling this overwhelming sadness. I knew that, because I could gladly live in Ypsilanti, I would be cutting many of my ties with San Francisco. That still makes me sad.

MARK: Is there anything that you would like to find here that you haven’t been able to find so far?

LEE: So, on the one hand the Corner Brewery makes the best beer I’ve ever had in my life; and the Coop’s River Street Bakery makes really good bread. On the other hand, the cafe/restaurant/local fast food here is pretty monotonous. As much as I love the coffee at The Ugly Mug, for example, I think they could do a whole lot better in the food category. Burritos were my staple food back in San Francisco. They are now fond memories. (To be fair, the tacos at Dos Amigos are great, as long as you don’t want chicken or vegetarian.) Most of all, though, I miss the random conversations with strangers and acquaintances in bookstores, cafes, on the streets. I learned so much from them.

MARK: Despite your initial concerns about coming to Michigan, how have you found things here, non-legislatively speaking? My sense is that we’re a fairly welcoming community, but I’m probably not the best judge of such things.

LEE: Everyone in Ypsilanti has been really friendly. My first day here, back in January, I went to the post office and damn, if the clerk didn’t have a long conversation with every single person who came to her window. It was incredibly frustrating, yet, also my first glimpse at how things are done around here. We moved into a new (to us) house last month and on the first day, two sets of neighbors came by and said, “You must be the guys from California.” Uh, yeah. Hi. Today I met the next door neighbor whose back yard opens to our side yard. Her name is Jackie and she is as friendly as they come. I also have the sense that Ypsi is pretty liberal; so, while I won’t go out of my way to talk politics, I won’t avoid the subject.

MARK: I’ve heard that you did a lot of research before deciding to move here. Among other things, I heard that you joined Bike Ypsi before even being in the state. I’m curious as to what you thought of the information available about the town and its various organizations online, and how it reflected the reality of the situation once you got here.

LEE: Before moving here I spent a lot of time on-line looking at websites about Ypsilanti. I think the only one I followed continuously was annarbor.com. But I did find out about BikeYpsi, the B to B Trail, and Growing Hope. I was excited to see they were doing good work here. One thing I did on-line, before my first visit here was look at Ypsilanti’s streets through Google Maps Streetview. It really screws with your sense of place, since you have no idea what you’re looking at. Some of the streets just looked sad and ugly. But, I have no idea which part of town I was looking at. Being here, I find it all kind of attractive. Yesterday I rode my bike around the old Ford plant and thought it was terrific. How many small towns in America have a closed down Ford plant? Not many. (I just remembered that GM recently closed down its NUMMI plant in Fremont, just east of San Francisco. That was really a shame.)

MARK: As you owned a store that primarily dealt with travel publications, I’m curious as to how you might pitch Ypsi to potential tourists. Is there, from what you can tell, potential here? Is there a niche, given your experience, for a vacation destination such as Ypsi?

LEE: Tourist destinations are weird things. Many of them are sheer artifice, like Universal Studios or Disneyland. And cities that are interesting in their own right, still manage to steer tourists to the cruddiest confections, while passing it off as authentic. In San Francisco, what could be more of a waste of time than Pier 39 or Ghirardelli Square? Rob and I rode our bikes over to Fort Mason a couple years ago, and passed through Ghirardelli Square. (This is in San Francisco.) The line for the overpriced, mediocre ice cream sundaes was maybe 300 long. Go over to Bi-Rite Creamery’s ice cream shop on 18th Street. It’s one of the two best locally made ice cream in San Francisco. On a busy, busy day, when the sun is shining on a weekend afternoon, there are maybe 25 people in line. So, yeah, I don’t really understand tourist destinations.

We’ve had maybe four or five friends come visit us in Ypsilanti. And, frankly, the tour lasts about 45 minutes at most. If you include a beer at The Corner Brewery, it goes on another hour. You can’t experience a place in 45 minutes, but you can see it pretty thoroughly. I always tell people who are coming to visit that Ypsilanti is actually beautiful. And it is. The Huron River flowing through town along its natural banks (until it gets to Ford Lake and the dam, that is) is so lovely. I grew up with creeks in L.A. and they were all paved and straight as an arrow. I’m still surprised that greed and capital haven’t made a total mess of the Huron River (again, except for Ford Lake and its 80 years of heavy metals, mercury and other sewage sitting on the bottom.) Having said that, it would be hard to imagine Ypsi as a weekend getaway.

MARK: I’d like to know what, if any, encouragement you got from the University after your boyfriend was hired, to settle down in Ypsilanti? Could the University, in your estimation, do more to encourage new faculty to live in the City?

LEE: I don’t think we got any encouragement from EMU about settling down in Ypsilanti. But, where else would we settle down in? I romanticized living in Detroit (I still do) but who wants to be on the freeway every day? Ann Arbor is a nice place to visit, but I don’t want to live there. It reminds me of Berkeley, but without the good food, or the bookstores, or the Pacific Film Archive or the views of the Bay. In short, it has little in common with Berkeley. I just don’t find it as appealing as Ypsilanti. And, frankly, in San Francisco I rode my bike to work for over a decade, in rain and shine. I don’t like to get in a car if I don’t have to. And, living in Ypsilanti, it is only a 10 minute bike ride (7 if I go quickly) from our house to Jones Pool, in the center of campus. Maybe EMU does encourage its new faculty to live in town, but I never heard about it. I am going to assume they don’t do outreach on the subject.

MARK: It doesn’t really have anything to do with your moving here, but I’m curious, as a former bookstore owner, what you make of the Borders liquidation? I’d also like to know what you think about the future of independent bookstores.

LEE: The expansion of Borders and Barnes & Noble in the 1990s was a very bad thing for book selling. Luckily, their impact in San Francisco was nil. But their attempt to grab market share by discounting New York Times bestsellers by 40%, hardback books 30% and so on did no one any good, not even consumers. The French government has it right. Bookstores are cultural institutions, and books are not the same sort of commodity as a chair. They, therefore, limit discounting to 5%. As a result, it is illegal for Amazon to offer free shipping in France, since it gives them a price advantage. But, with on-line shopping, especially in Europe, where you can order from Amazon in Britain, and get the discounts and free or almost free shipping, French bookstores are starting to suffer now, too. Anyway, I am just counting the days until Barnes & Noble will morph into something like Radio Shack: they’ll both sell electronic goods (e-readers and other such nonsense, in the case of B&N) but you know that once upon a time, they both used to be completely different businesses. Radio Shack gave up on the ‘build-your-own-radio-with-our-radio-parts” model, and I honestly think Barnes and Noble will treat books as a sideline. Because, to them it is just product. Goodbye, Borders. As my dad always says in his most sarcastic tone about something or someone he is criticizing, “Goodbye, Good luck.”

MARK: If you haven’t heard yet, the Republicans in Lansing are once again trying to revoke domestic partner benefits from state employees, which would include the faculty and staff of state schools. As the partner/boyfriend of a university employee, I’m curious to know your thoughts, and whether you agree that backward, homophobic moves like this will make it more difficult for our universities to be competitive, and, for that matter, stay relevant. My hope that the Governor will veto this, but, should this pass, would it affect your decision to stay and make your home in Michigan?

LEE: As for the Neanderthals who just passed a law in the Michigan Assembly stripping Domestic Partner benefits from state employees, as well as universities, and all union bargaining agreements: I feel like I’m watching Oprah around 1985, when her show was still more of the tabloid model. She’d have some panel on gay rights, pro and con, with each side supposedly getting equal say. And you’d sit there and listen to the lies and ignorance about gay people, especially as it concerned AIDS, or employment discrimination, and you couldn’t believe that any one believes that crap. The worst part was, the rhetoric was always couched in love. “I have nothing against gay people but…” “God says love the sinner, hate the sin…” And you think to yourself, “You motherfucking hypocritical morons.” Here we are, all these years later, facing the same bigotry, but now we can call it ‘fiscal responsibility’. (In fact it will be a huge pay cut, once I have to buy individual health coverage. As it is, the Federal government taxes us on our health insurance benefit – at its market rate, not the rate we actually pay for it – since they do not recognize LGBT couples.) Michigan Neanderthals – ok, let’s just call them what they are, Republicans – think the solution to attract talent and capital to this state is by cutting $1.5 billion in corporate tax, as well as Domestic Partner benefits to its state and university employees. I can only speak for myself and not my boyfriend, but if that bill is signed into law, I’m telling Rob, “Get your tenure, and let’s get out of here.”

MARK: And I wouldn’t blame you. On the positive side, though, we’ve been pretty good at beating these guys back the last few times that they’ve tried… Speaking of gay stuff, I’ve always thought that our area could support another gay-centric bar in addition to Ann Arbor’s Aut Bar. I know you’ve only been here a short while, but I’m curious as to whether you think Ypsi could support such a place.

LEE: I’m not that interested in bars of any kind, unless one considers The Corner Brewery a bar. But, from an economic standpoint I don’t think a gay bar could survive in this town. A far more interesting approach would be to have a ‘gay night’ at Woodward’s, or that place on Michigan and Washington. I heard there was once a weekly gay night called “Elbow Deep” or something like that at the Elbow Room.

MARK: The crew that did the Elbow Deep drag shows at the old Elbow Room is now at Woodruff’s. They’re not every week, but I believe there’s one coming up this Saturday. If you’re interested, let me know and I can introduce you to folks… One last thing… I was wondering if you might have any questions for our readers?

LEE: Everyone is telling me how fun it will be to pick apples and go on hay rides. This sounds exactly like I’m from San Francisco, but, where can you pick organic apples? I have never gone cross-country skiing. Where can you go nearby to ski, and where can you rent skis? Where would you go for a weekend getaway within maybe 3 hours of Ypsilanti? Besides Toledo, of course. Finally, what amazing thing(s) do I have to see in Detroit (besides the Heidelberg Project, the Fischer Building, the Guardian Building, Mies van der Rohe’s buildings, Fort Wayne and the old train station.)

Please join me in welcoming Lee to the community, and be sure to leave a comment if you know where one might go to pick organic apples.

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28 Comments

  1. Heidi
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Not sure about apples, but Makielski’s Berry Farm has the best raspberries:
    http://www.makielskiberryfarm.com/

    And here’s a guide to You Pick Places, may want to call the farms to find out if they are organic or not..because I’m 99.9% sure Makielski’s is, but it’s not listed as organic on this page:
    http://www.pickyourown.org/migl.htm

    and if you want a real treat try Tecumseh’s Evans Street Station, (sorry it’s not Ypsi..) they use only locally grown produce: http://www.evansstreetstation.com/

    As for Mexican in Ypsi…La Fiesta Mexicana on Cross Street..used to be amazing, haven’t been there in awhile…might have to make a trip just to eat there now.

  2. Forest
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    This was a fascinating interview.

  3. Edward
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    I don’t know about organic apple picking. As for Detroit, I like the DIA, Avalon Bakery, Traffic Jam. And you can rent skis, I believe, at most of the Metro Parks. Here’s a link. And welcome to the neighborhood.

    http://www.metroparks.com/content.aspx?ID=19

  4. Steve Pickard
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Welcome Lee!

    I guess was one of the ones that found the paeans to that old hipster cliche of immigration to S.F. or Portland aforementioned articles oft-putting.

    It seems to me that there is nothing so un-original as going to those places “to make it while we’re young!” It takes originality thesedays to settle down, settle your dust, and get old in one place and learn all about it you can.

    I’m happy to see this positive counterpoint. S.F. is a hard city to live and make it in, for any duration, so it’s nice to not read about the sunshine, gnomes, pots o’ golds, roses, and unicorns that live there & in Portland and instead hear some nice things about round here again.

    Thanks.

  5. Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    We usually do our apple picking at Wasem Fruit Farm, just south of Ypsi, but I don’t know if they’re organic (probably not).

    For weekend getaways within three hours, I’d look to West Michigan (South Haven, Saugatuck, etc.). You can also probably make it to Cleveland in about three hours, but once you’re there…? If you don’t mind going a little farther, Cincinnati’s about four hours, southeast Ohio is 4:30 (and very pretty in the fall), and Chicago is about 4:30 (plus traffic) by car or 4:45 by train (from Ann Arbor). Welcome!

  6. gary
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    if by giving up hollis, we ended up with lee, I’d say we totally ripped off the west coast.

    it won’t be long before someone will call and ask for a do-over on that trade.

  7. Tom
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Rolling Hills and a couple of the metroparks have trails and ski rental. REI and sun and snow do rentals.

    Picking Apples is a odd thing. Most places that have U-Pick apples are touristy. I always just go to family outside of town if I want to pick an apple or two. Not too worried about organic labeled stuff. If you have questions about what practices they use just ask them. Most small farmers don’t bother with the hassle/expense of getting certified and if they do use chemicals they use the minimum they can get away with(pesticides cost money). We usually buy and process a few bushels of apples every fall from Steve Karpo at the farmers market.

    Vacation spots….Grand Rapids is withing 3 hours, Petoskey is 4.5. Both have nice things to do. There area also the smaller towns along the coasts.

  8. Jamie
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Try Lesser Farms for apples. Not U pick, but it’s a great place to get apples from and I am certain they are organic and they have the best cider around! Talk to the farmer, you will be glad you did. Then stop at Jenny’s Farm Market for some donuts.

    Check out Traverse City for a weekend getaway. Cook’s House for dinner or lunch. It’s about 4 hours away but well worth the drive.

    Welcome to Ypsi!

  9. Mr. X
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    But I thought the Republicans were all about luring knowledge workers to the state of Michigan, and retaining the creative class. This confuses me.

    Here we have two contributing members of society that want to live here, pay taxes, and put down roots, and the Republicans are trying to pass into law legislation that would make it impossible for them to do so – a law, I would add, that is clearly unconstitutional on its face, that singles GLBT individuals out and punishes them out for being who they are. How is this any different than saying that black spouses cannot receive benefits?

  10. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Lee –

    Welcome to Michigan! And, um, yeah — we’re sorry about the state’s repeated attacks on your family.

    As far as a weekend getaway, Detroit’s not a bad option, if you’re not worried about getting too far away. Stay at the Inn on Ferry Street (http://innonferrystreet.com/), hit the DIA, MOCAD, Science Center, take a guided bike tour from Wheelhouse Detroit (http://www.wheelhousedetroit.com/tours/) and an architectural walking tour from Preservation Wayne (http://www.preservationwayne.org/tours.php), picnic on Belle Isle.

    Grand Rapids is also not a bad town. You might try to hit it during ArtPrize, in the next few weekends (http://www.experiencegr.com/events/artprize/); visit the Meijer (as in the store) Gardens & Sculpture Park; take a side trip to Lake Michigan at Saugatuck (supposedly west Michigan’s gay mecca); try out their microbreweries (Founders, right downtown, is wonderful).

  11. Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    On the other hand: “Yesterday I rode my bike around the old Ford plant and thought it was terrific. How many small towns in America have a closed down Ford plant? Not many.”

    Jeez. You are so freakin’ new to the Midwest, aren’t you?

    Ypsi’s Ford Plant was purchased by a company with plans to relocate a few hundred jobs here immediately, and more from operations on the east coast in a few years: http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/ypsilanti-planning-commissionto-consider-site-plan-for-portion-of-former-visteon-plant-approval-coul/ I think those plans may have been put on hold a bit by the upheaval in the state’s tax code and economic development incentives, though–it’s rough to have the state’s economic policy completely overhauled out from under your corporate restructuring plans.

  12. kjc
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    “Jeez. You are so freakin’ new to the Midwest, aren’t you?”

    you don’t have to flatter him Murph. He’s already here.

  13. Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Welcome, Lee!

    Someone else suggested La Fiesta on Cross St. for Mexican & I definitely recommend that. I assume you’ve discovered the Border to Broder bike trail that picks up on EMUs campus & is a great ride into AA? Also, we go to Wasems for apple picking [still busy, but less of a carnival].

    As for Detroit, it’s not too late to sign up for this year’s Tour De Troit – a 22 or 62 mile bike ride around the city: http://www.tour-de-troit.org/. Mudgie’s is nearby & they have amazing sandwiches/desserts & Astro Coffee is next door to Slows & is a great new shop. I take classes at the Detroit Flyhouse & they have a Day of the Dead event that will be awesome: http://detroitflyhouse.com/workshopsevents.php.

    One of our favorite quick getaways is to Marshall, MI. Stay at the National House Inn & walk down to Darkhorse Brewery: http://www.nationalhouseinn.com/ & http://www.darkhorsebrewery.com/index-entrance.asp.

  14. Heidi
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    If you really want to get away trying going across the Mackinaw Bridge and head north towards Lake Superior, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful…. (Grand Marais is wonderful) http://www.lakesuperiorphoto.com/

  15. TaterSalad
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    San Francisco…….this explains it all, along with the Nancy Pelosi loons:

    http://www.zombietime.com/walking_tour_of_sf_protests/

  16. Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Toronto and Chicago are both great cities that are close and very different from Detroit, but the thing to do is go to the UP.

    Go to detroit to mexicantown in detroit for mexican food — don’t even bother with anything in Ypsi/Arbor.

    Oh, and always vote against prop 2, whatever it turns out to be that year.

  17. anonymous
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I like this guy, Lee. I want to say that up front. I think he sounds like a great guy, and I look forward to standing in line with him at the Post Office, should we still have a Post Office in the future, and wave to him while shopping at the Co-op. I have an issue, however, with something said above about his value as a citizen being more than that of Hollis. And I know this isn’t something that Lee himself said, so I hate to mention it in this thread. With that said, though, I’d like to point out that, as of right now, Lee hasn’t done much in the community. (I wouldn’t expect him to in his first months here.) Say what you will about Hollis, but he made things happen, and he was a vital part of this little community of ours. Lee’s household may pay more in taxes, but Hollis contributed in other ways. I hope it turns out that Lee contributes 100x more than Hollis over the years he spends here, but, as of right now, I think it’s somewhat offensive to say that we got the better end of the deal in trading Hollis for Lee. And, like I said, I hate to have to say this in a thread that’s so positive toward Lee’s coming here. I’m sure he’s a great guy. I just don’t like to see people being dismissive of Hollis.

  18. Amber
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Lee, what emu department is your beau in?
    Welcome, welcome! I hope to meet sometime since I feel some sort of connection to you after reading the interview. I visited S.F. in May, and didn’t make it to the highly recommended bi-rite, but I did score a burrito from Cancun that was world-changing, spent some time relaxing in Dolores park, and during the day met some friendly people at Adobe books that would later be my company for the evening.

    As the former long-term produce manager at the coop here, I can say with some authority that it will be hard to find u-pick places around here that are certified organic. All the certified apples and cherries come from the Traverse Bay area. All the downhill skiing is in that area too- Knubs Knob, Boyne Mountain, etc. Look out for the Appleschram labels for cider and apples, they are certified from Lansing and available at the coop when in season. Good Neighbor Farms is also certified. Ypsi has some nice uncertified yet cared for produce to be found at such places as the downtown market that goes on behind key bank on Tuesdays (2pm-6pm), and the Sat morning market in Depot Town. Just watch for the produce that look really bright, turgid and not roughed.

    Ann Arbor food-
    Ann Arbor’s last remnant of it’s legacy as a out-of-the-box place: Earthen Jar
    Korean: Arirang
    Burrito: BTB on State St, tho its college-y and not as good as Mission burrites.
    Avoid Sava’s or anything that looks too normal.

    It sounds like you visited most good spots in Ypsi, but you could try cafe Ollie.
    I like to take runs in Highland Cemetery and Lefurge nature preserve.
    Meeting some nice people is what makes this area shine.

    Detroit is really fun, I wouldn’t get too freaked by the news media. Its mostly empty and deserted so it’s statistically unlikely that anything too bad would happen to you. Although, if you spend enough time there your car with be messed with.
    Try to visit King Books, and the Diego Rivera court in the Detroit Institute Arts. Movies at DFT (behind the museum) are nice to go to. There is lots of food in Detroit, you just have to find it. Hamtramck has some amazingly weird and good places and my favorite is Detroit Zen Center, a Buddhist raw-food cafe that operates on donation. Le Petit Zinc is nice, and there is a new coffee place that I hear of being good called Astro.
    Avalon bread and Goodwells are right next to eachother in the Cass Corridor. Mexicantown is hit or miss but if you go to a taco stand, you will never be disappointed. Honeybee market is good for Mex ingredients. Belle Isle is a fun place to go to on a nice day.

    The northeast side of Michigan is great for cross-country skiing, but I’m not sure about around here. I hear Chelsea has some trails.

    This is a lot of information but I enjoyed writing it out! feel free to email me: animalponcho@gmail.com

  19. Amber
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    oh and for a getaway, absolutely go to Empire, MI.. it’s the public part of Sleeping Bear Dunes. There is a trail there called Empire Bluffs that is stunning, and so peaceful since it’s less trafficked by tourists.

  20. Posted September 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    These are all such lovely notes. Thank you, everyone. Hopefully I’ll find the energy to boil everything down into a “Cool things to do ins SE Michigan” post someday.

  21. Heidi
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    At the risk of too many post and sounding like a rah rah cheerleader for Michigan…(which I’m not) Hidden Lake Gardens has some really nice cross county trails/hiking trails. http://www.hiddenlakegardens.msu.edu/hiddenlakegardens/winter

  22. Posted September 18, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    And no one picked up on this particular part of the interview, but I do wish that, when EMU hired new faculty, they’d at least mention the possibility of living in the city. I’d love it if they went even further and did something like covering closing costs for faculty buying homes in the city, or something, but, at the very least I think they could encourage people to look at Ypsi before going off to buy homes in Ann Arbor, as may faculty do.

  23. bee
    Posted September 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    welcome Lee!

    wondering which unusual concoction of my french toast you had at beezy’s?

    I haven’t visited mm.com in a minute- but read the sort of point/counterpoint and thought I’d add that I’ve recruited my sister to move here from Portland. One of the [many] interesting things about her perspective, or rather, the thing that really *resonates* with me, is that she feels [at 26] that people are too pleased with themselves, too… complacent and self congratulatory. She’s excited to move here and engage in ways she doesn’t need to out West, she feels she can make some kind of difference here, dare I say… make a name for herself doing the things she cares about and is interested in.

    [she’ll be here by December- I hope!]

    Maybe I just don’t need a lot of stimulation, but I find that SE Michigan has everything [except politics] just about right, a veritable goldilocks of goodness. Parks galore, close proximity to Canada, a 5 hour drive to just about anywhere great, great music and art… it’s simple but it’s real, and I love that about Michigan.

    Next time you pop into beezy’s, Lee, please say hi. I’m usually hiding in plain sight in front of my tiny range, flanked by my much more personable staff.

  24. Posted September 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Bee, let me know when your sister gets here. I’d love to interview her, if she’s up for it.

  25. Bee
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Sure thing Mark- as long as you dont interview her in bed!

  26. Meta
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    There are still people in the Ypsi/Arbor area who aren’t too keen on partner benefits. If you don’t believe me, check out today’s AnnArbor.com article on Ann Arbor City COuncil’s decision to condemn the act of Lansing Republicans.

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbor-goes-on-record-opposing-state-ban-on-domestic-partner-benefits/

    Take this one for instance.

    Stick to your jobs. It’s not City Council’s place to concern themselves with anything outside of the operation of the City of Ann Arbor. Individual council members can have their own personal opinions it, of course, but as a body they have no business getting involved in this, the war in Iraq, or a law enacted by the State of Arizona That’s not what we put them in office for. Get back to work. On second thought, after seeing what they’ve done with public art, the underground parking structure, and new parking garage for the U of M, the new misguided pedestrian law, and police and fire departments, I think “Don’t get back to work” would be better.

    By the same reasoning couldn’t one say that it’s not the place of our representatives in Lansing to dictate whom we can and cannot love?

  27. Meta
    Posted October 31, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    AnnArbor.com has an article today on UM and EMU faculty who are considering leaving the area due over Lansing’s insistence on ending same-sex partner benefits.

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/mass-exodus-university-of-michigan-tries-to-fight-domestic-partner-benefits-ban-as-employees-begin-t/

  28. Meta
    Posted November 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman: ‘Families may well leave’ if domestic partner benefits ban passes.

    Coleman said that this year 570 adults and 48 children receive domestic partner benefits through a U-M healthcare plan. The average cost per person to the university is $3,072, or $1.9 million total, she said. That’s 0.7 percent of U-M’s $302 million total healthcare cost.

    “In the absence of benefits that are widely offered elsewhere, employees currently responsible for providing health coverage for their families may well leave, and other top candidates will choose not to come,” Coleman wrote.

    http://annarbor.com/news/coleman-knocks-proposed-michigan-domestic-partner-benefits-ban/?cmpid=NL_33_block_headline

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] interested in this subject are encouraged to read our interview with Lee Azus, who recently decided to settle in Ypsi when he boyfriend was hired at EMU.] This entry was […]

  2. […] the economic argument would resonate with him. As we’ve heard again and again on this site, people will leave if this is allowed to become law, and we cannot allow this to […]

  3. […] Mark | May 4, 2012I’ve been pushing for a long time for EMU to get more aggressive about incentivizing their faculty and staff to live in Ypsilanti. And, happily, it looks like there’s finally some positive movenent in that direction. The […]

  4. […] people like Bee Roll, who made life in Ypsi exponentially better by opening Beezy’s, or Lee Azus, who chose to move here from San Francisco when his boyfriend took a job at EMU, or Scott Straley, […]

  5. […] five years ago now, I interviewed a new transplant to Ypsilanti by the name of Lee Azus as part of our ongoing Ypsilanti Immigration series. Well, since then, Azus has been keeping […]

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