Ypsilanti exit interview: Annie Palmer

    A few days ago, when I learned that local musician Annie Palmer had packed her bags and fled Ypsilanti, I decided to send her an email and ask why she’d gone. Following, with her permission, is our exchange. [And, yes, I start every conversation with, "What's your name?"]

    MARK: What’s your name?

    ANNIE: Annie Palmer.

    MARK: I didn’t know you moved until today. I saw on Facebook that you’d written something like, “I’ve made a horrible mistake leaving Ypsi.” Why did you move?

    ANNIE: I was really needing to step up my game, adulthood-wise. I had the money and the opportunity to live alone in a nice little house for the first time in my life, so I jumped at the chance. All due respect to roommates past, but I was OVER doing other people’s dishes and accidentally eavesdropping on their sexual escapades.

    MARK: How is it that I didn’t know that you’d left? Did you leave in secret, under cover of night?

    ANNIE: I left one drizzly Saturday in August. I mean, I don’t know what to tell you, Mark. I posted it on Facebook.

    MARK: Were you trying to escape something?

    ANNIE: Do you know that guy Carlos with the super long George Clinton dreds? He lived across the street from me. Mostly him. Dude was mad creepy.

    MARK: How long had you lived in Ypsi before leaving?

    ANNIE: Going on six or seven years.

    MARK: What brought you to Ypsi in the first place?

    ANNIE: I discovered, like many before me, that it was the Oakland to Ann Arbor’s San Francisco. Before that I lived in Pittsfield township with my roommate Chris Palmer (no relation) and our two cats.

    MARK: So, what is it that you’re missing about Ypsi, anyway?

    ANNIE: The looseness of it. Nobody gives a fuck, in the best way possible. Everyone is who they are, whether screaming obscenities outside the bus station or hoarding goats in their backyard or getting busted by the cops every week for house show noise violations. That town has personality. Plus the co-op is top notch and the Ugly Mug was like my Cheers.

    MARK: It’s interesting that you mentioned the Ugly Mug. A lot of people that I’ve talked to while conducting these exit interviews have mentioned the importance of the Ugly Mug. What is it about the place that you think people find so appealing?

    ANNIE: I think it’s a divisive place, much like Ypsilanti itself. People either love it or hate it. I happen to love it. I walk in and about 75 percent of the time someone goes “ANNIE PALMER!!”. Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.

    MARK: And, where did you move to, if you can tell us?

    ANNIE: Ann Arbor. I don’t know what I was thinking.

    MARK: So, you just moved to Ann Arbor? I thought that maybe you’d run off to Portland with everyone else.

    ANNIE: That might have been a better idea.

    MARK: Whatever kind of deal you got in Ann Arbor, I suspect that you could have found something as cheap, if not cheaper, in Ypsi… Was there something else that you were looking for in Ann Arbor? What I mean to say is, it probably wasn’t just that you found an inexpensive place where you could live alone, right?

    ANNIE: I found a place with heat included, which is kind of the holy grail of Michigan renting, and no neighbors. It is certainly more expensive than where I was living in Ypsilanti, but the upside is that I don’t have to listen to nearly as many dogs barking or couples fighting on the street outside. And the trees in my neighborhood are really quite pretty. There’s like thirty thousand more joggers, though.

    MARK: I asked before what brought you to Ypsi, and you said because it was like Oakland to Ann Arbor’s San Francisco. You didn’t say, however, why you wanted to be in SE Michigan to begin with. Did you grow up around here? Did you move here for college? Or is this just where your car broke down while driving across country?

    ANNIE: I grew up in Tennessee, and moved here for what was supposed to be a temporary apprenticeship on my way to take Chicago by storm. The apprenticeship turned into a job and then I got a boyfriend and then I got more jobs and different boyfriends and friends and pets and regular hangouts and now it’s 2011 and I still live here.

    MARK: Let’s talk about the differences between Ann Arbor and Ypsi, now that you’ve experienced both. Is there anything unusual that you’ve noticed? Is it like that old Saturday Night Live bit where Eddie Murphy dresses up like a white guy, and discovers that, when black people aren’t around, we don’t pay for anything? Now that you’re an Annarbourite, do people treat you differently? Do you feel like a different person?

    ANNIE: More joggers. Fewer black people. More dog walkers. More white people who jog while walking their dogs. I guess I feel a little more upscale, or something, in my little cottage surrounded by trees and a wooden fence with a clothesline and a swing in the back.

    MARK: What didn’t you like about Ypsi? What could Ypsi do better?

    ANNIE: Never change, baby. Stay just the way you are. Well, maybe stop stealing everyone’s bikes.

    MARK: The other day, what was it that compelled you to say, “I’ve made a horrible mistake leaving Ypsi”?

    ANNIE: Actually what I said was “I never should have left Ypsi”. And none of your business, Maynard.

    MARK: Have you found yourself at all changed now that you’re in Ann Arbor? Are your songs happier? Have you started wearing yoga pants? Do you jog?

    ANNIE: My songs continue to be sad. I walk alone at night sometimes, which I would not have been inclined to do in my old neighborhood. I’ll never jog. NEVER.

    MARK: Do you know that you have the name of a Twin Peaks character?

    ANNIE: I have the names of TWO Twin Peaks characters. I also have the name
    of an infamous figure of Jamaican folklore. And a Johnny Cash song.

    For those interested in knowing more about the new and improved, post-Ypsilanti Annie Palmer, I’d encourage you to check out the new blog she’s started with Amy Sumerton. It’s called Mom and Not Mom, and it’s quite good.

    And, for those of you who would rather hear Annie sing, here’s video of her performing the song, “Won’t You Let Me” in Iowa City.

    This entry was posted in Ann Arbor, Art and Culture, Special Projects, Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

      19 Comments

      1. dan from austin
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

        “I found a place with heat included, which is kind of the holy grail of Michigan renting,” Man, this was also true in Portland, ME. I thought I had scored the fucking Jackpot when I got a reasonable rent with heat included in Maine. Holy shit.

      2. Andrew Jason Clock
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

        Now what will be the #7 thing to do in Ypsilanti? Who will be the new crush?

      3. Edward
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:52 am | Permalink

        Iggy Pop eventually moved to Ann Arbor too, once he got his record contract.

      4. Eel
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Annarbour: More joggers. Fewer black people.

        It should be a bumper sticker.

      5. Watching Laughing.
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        What’s the deal with this woman anyway? Good bye!!

        Watching Laughing.

      6. someone
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        What no complaints about the implication of a higher crime rate in one place than another?

      7. Anonymous
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        Allow me to interpret. Annie might be too nice to say it, but I think I know where she’s coming from. I suspect that she didn’t leave Ypsi so much as she left “the scene” in Ypsi. I don’t fault her for it, by the way. My guess is that she looked around and decided that the arts scene in Ann Arbor was more adult, and more other liking. To each their own. Hopefully it will be a good move for her career.

      8. Watching Laughing.
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Watching Laughing,

        Watching Laughing.

      9. ATF
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        I love Annie’s music. She will definitely be missed. Fortunately, though, she won’t be too far away, and I expect she’ll still come back to play on occasion. As for leaving, I don’t have any problem with people doing it. I think it’s good to experience different places, especially when you’re young. There’s plenty of time later in life to put down roots and stay fixed to a place, if that’s what you want to do.

        Speaking of leaving Ypsi, has anyone heard how Manhole West Coast is doing?

      10. A2 Jogger
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        This is why I don’t want to let Ypsilantians move into annarbour.

        What’s with the jogger hate? White people got to do their thing.

      11. gary
        Posted November 11, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

        i love when middle-class, white people talk about diversity. it’s very cute.

      12. Eel
        Posted November 11, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Yes, middle class white people shouldn’t be allowed to speak about diversity. They should also be prohibited from speaking about poverty. They should limit their conversations to subjects like white bread, 401Ks and Volvos.

      13. Annie
        Posted November 13, 2011 at 12:26 am | Permalink

        WHERE’S YER SENSE OF HUMOR?

      14. anthony anonymous
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        “Allow me to interpret. Annie might be too nice to say it, but I think I know where she’s coming from. I suspect that she didn’t leave Ypsi so much as she left “the scene” in Ypsi. I don’t fault her for it, by the way. My guess is that she looked around and decided that the arts scene in Ann Arbor was more adult, and more other liking. To each their own. Hopefully it will be a good move for her career.”

        ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
        that’s funny (see annie, i didn’t lose my sense of humor!)… she left “the scene” in ypsi… yet, she still pines for the ugly mug and has been at shows in ypsi probably every week since she moved. the arts scene in ann arbor is more adult? i like that. is it more adult like robert mapplethorpe? or more adult like the detroit symphony orchestra? i’d love to know the distinction.

        either way, like the writer of this comment, i also hope this move will be lucrative for your career annie palmer

        see you again soon!

      15. Annie
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        It’s true, Anthony. There are greater opportunities for my career in the far-off and sophisticated metropolis of Ann Arbor. You guys are mad immature and that 8 minute long drive was KILLING me.

      16. anthony anonymous
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        well, you know ypsi will always be here with a hug for you… and some really immature jokes/banter. the good with the not always so good. you know the routine.

      17. C.R.E.
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        I do love me some Annie.

      18. fair o'meowmeow
        Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Tinge of bigotry?

      19. Annie
        Posted November 15, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Oh yeah, TOTALLY. nailed it.

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