Inherit Mark’s much-loved copy of “To Be or Not to Be”

51LDMenz01L._SY300_A few years ago, I decided to invest in a copy of the 1942 Ernst Lubitsch film “To Be or Not to Be” starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. The brilliantly quirky little black comedy, set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw in the run up to WWII, had long been a favorite of mine, and I’d gotten it into my head that I’d like to share it with Clementine, who was, by that point in time, starting to show signs of Billy Wilder fatigue. (As we’ve discussed previously, I’m trying, as best that I can, to raise my daughter on a severely restricted pop-culture diet which eschews anything even remotely modern.) Unfortunately, Clementine’s “To Be or Not to Be” indoctrination was cut short by her mother, who felt as though six was still a bit too young for “the Nazi talk,” but I’ve spent several late nights with it, and my love for the film has only grown. In fact, my appreciation has grown so much that, a few months ago, when I read that the Criterion Collection was going to be releasing a refurbished print with all kinds of bonus material, I decided to do the fiscally irresponsible thing, and order a copy. So, as a result, I now have two copies of “To Be or Not to Be” on DVD… Which brings me to the purpose of tonight’s post.

I want to give away my old copy. And I’m looking for a good home.

I know it’s unlikely that I’ve got a bunch of Jack Benny fans in the audience, given the fact that he’s been dead for almost 40 years now, but I’m hoping that I can get at least one of you to express an interest…

So, if you’d like to own one of the best comedies ever made, just leave a comment and let me know.

Or, on second thought, don’t just leave a comment telling me that you want it. I don’t know how likely it is, but, on the off chance that more than one of you expresses interest, you’d better take a minute and let me know why I should choose your home. Are you, for instance, a homeschooler presently contemplating a semester-long course on the films of Ernst Lubitsch? Or, do you have a dying uncle who could use one more good laugh before shuffling off into the great unknown? Or, do you just really want to see it. Assuming there’s not competition, that might be enough. Just do me a favor and say something nicer than, “Give it to me,” if you want it. How about something like, “If I win the movie, I’ll go out and pick up trash for half an hour”? Or, “If I win the movie, I’ll pay it forward by giving away an extra copy of Sullivan’s Travels that I happen to have laying around”? …I’d much rather do it this way than put it up on Ebay.

And, if no one wants it, I’ll just go down this weekend and put it in the little library on Water Street.

Here, for those of you who have never seen the film before, is how it begins.

Posted in Other, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

It’s getting hard to read the tiny print

LunchtimeEjaculator4b

Posted in Mark's Life, Other, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Ypsi/Arbor Exit Interview: Kelly Weger and Bethany Schultz

While they’re not yet completely divested of Ypsilanti, Kelley Weger and Bethany Schultz are well on their way to being former residents of this town we’re all so fond of. What follows is their official exit interview.

BethanyKelly3a

MARK: What were the circumstances around your first coming to Ypsilanti?

KELLY: I came to town for the first time to go dancing at a smoke-free venue – Electronic Saturdays – at the Keystone Underground, the bar that was in the Kresge building, below what is now Bona Sera Café.

MARK: How about you, Bethany?

BETHANY: I moved to Ypsilanti in either 1992 or 1994. I’ve lived downtown, south of Michigan Avenue, and in Depot Town. Even back then I liked the vibe of Ypsi better than that of Ann Arbor. I resented comments like, “You only live in Ypsi because it’s cheaper.” That was never true. I’ve never been gay-bashed or called a “dyke” in Ypsi, and I have been in Ann Arbor. I haven’t had to “fight back” in Ypsi for who I am, ever. Ypsilanti is more diverse and accepting than most places I’ve lived or visited.

MARK: Did you meet one another in Ypsilanti?

KELLY: Yes. I met my soulmate dancing that first night I came to Ypsi. It was December 5th, 2009. She was organizing the DJs, and we were introduced by a mutual friend. Bethany and I were fast friends, long-lost best friends, until I finally realized that I was head over heels in love with her. Her love totally surprised me. Within months of meeting her, I left my ‘normal life’ behind, including my house and my husband in Saline, and moved to Ypsi.

MARK: I had no idea that scandalous stuff like that was happening in the Keystone Underground.

BETHANY: I loved the DJ cooperative we had going at Keystone… I started that project after TC’s closed. The S/He-bang! series, which had been at TC’s, needed a new home, and Dave Curtis, who then owned J. Neil’s Mongolian Barbecue, on the ground floor of the Kresge building, offered us the Keystone space in the basement… Dave usually supported my ideas. The first year of the Washington Street concert series now known as DAYfest, he was pretty much our sole financial supporter. When I started that, my vision was to see people from all walks of life dancing together in the street, and I’m glad to see that it’s continued to grow in that direction. I think it’s changing people’s perceptions about Ypsilanti.

Back to Keystone… On Wednesdays we did the S/He-Bang! for a bit longer, but it was becoming more of a happy hour. So, I turned my attention toward trying to make something happen there on Saturday nights, with the local dance crowd. And that’s when the DJ Co-op came into being. It included Kenyatta & Ayinde (who had been bounced from their Tap Room gig), Sean Ike (of 3rd Coast Kings fame), DJ 45, Dannyboy and myself. We decided to call it Electric Saturdays, or E-Saturdays, because the one thing we all had in common, we thought, was that we made the dancefloor feel electric. I think some may have also seen a bit of a drug reference there too, but I prefer to keep it clean.

Anyway, one fateful Saturday night, this amazing woman walked into my life and when she touched my wrist it was electric! I knew we were soulmates and the rest is our-story. (I like “our-story” better than “history.”)

It didn’t take long for word to get out that the place was hopping. We’d max-out about about 80 or 90. More often, though, we were lucky to reach 50. Weather was bad. We had no signage. And there was competition. Everywhere else, people could stay inside and drink, smoke and dance. And our target audience of non-smokers was small. It was so nice to see gay boys out and enjoying themselves within walking distance of their homes, though. Enjoying a martini in Ypsi! As it unfolded, more and more people learned about the space, and, within about six months, Keystone was featuring live music 4 to 6 nights a week, as it’s more of a draw. So, one day, they cancelled E-Saturday with no notice. And that was the final straw. It was the 40th birthday of one of the DJs. People were coming in from far away, and they yanked the space from us, giving it to the band Dragon Wagon. It was an unfortunate end to a good idea… Dannyboy does Halcyon Sundays at the Corner Brewery now, but that’s more downtempo and chill. Not the same vibe, but good in a different way.

MARK: Where are you now moving, and why?

KELLY: After circling around jobs from Ann Arbor to Detroit, I began searching for a better job in sustainability. I was offered a dream job in Indianapolis, and my wife selflessly pushed me to accept the opportunity.

MARK: What will you be doing in your new job?

KELLY: My title will be, “Lead Project Specialist – Sustainability.” Basically, I’ll be using my experience as an architect and program manager for energy efficiency programs in Michigan to work with Indiana businesses. But, instead of just focusing on energy, I’ll get to tackle the bigger topic of sustainability. I learned years ago that my passion is actually educating others and raising awareness on sustainability, and now I get to coach business owners and CEOs on how to plan, implement, and create positive change for their triple bottom line. It’s one of my dream jobs!

bethanykelly1MARK: Would you have stayed in Michigan, had there been similar opportunities here?

KELLY: Without a doubt! Ypsilanti is the first place I’ve truly felt at home. I only lived here 3 ½ years, but I’m going to miss it dearly.

MARK: How about you, Bethany… What will you be doing in Indianapolis?

BETHANY: Networking and making stuff happen, like I’ve done in Ypsi…

The simple answer is, I don’t honestly know yet. I’m still fleshing it out, but I’ve always wanted to own my own space to create community around vegetarian and vegan food. I think that whatever I’ll be doing, I’ll be advocating on behalf of better food and nutrition. I have this nutrition curriculum “farm to table” concept that I was never was able to bring to fruition at Summers Knoll, the school in Ann Arbor that I’d been working at. I’ve been working most recently with Swaroop Bhojani at Hut-K-Chaat on a non-profit about nutrition, and the concept that we need to start with kids.

I will probably start off with nutrition counseling and education, and see where that takes me. Unfortunately, Indianapolis is a bit of a food desert, so, if I can find the space, I may blaze the trail for food carts and more farmers’ markets. The one they have is on Wednesdays, during the day. I still have a lot of homework and research to do… Sorry to ramble on… Let’s just say the future is not in clear focus yet.

MARK: All I know about Indianapolis is that there’s a Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library there. I interviewed the woman who runs it a few years ago and she seemed cool… Other than suggesting that you go and check it out, I don’t really have any good advice for you… Are there things you’re looking forward to? Have you done a lot of research?

KELLY: Research? Ha! You should hang out with us more often. Research is what we do. We research in our sleep. Research, planning, and organization is like flirting for us! Before I took the position, Bethany & I read everything about the city to see if we could stand to live there. We analyzed stats on farmers markets, food co-ops, vegetarian restaurants (there are none), cultural centers, biking, mass transit, LGBT community support, racial diversity, economic diversity, multi-use zoning, rivers and lakes, cost of living, LEED buildings, sustainability movement, and more. We knew what we were getting into.

BETHANY: YAY! You know about the Vonnegut museum. There’s also an art museum, a museum of contemporary art, and a Native American museum…There are also random art installations throughout the city. This past Labor Day, we saw organized muralists taking back walls in Fountain Square, which is the area we’ll be moving to.

On paper the, stats are similar to Austin. Indy is the 12th largest city in the US! There are several distinct neighborhoods, and we’ve fallen in love with Fountain Square. The enthusiasm for community is strong there. It’s similar to Ypsi in that regard.

MARK: What will you miss the most about living in Ypsi?

KELLY: The community! I love that people here are passionate, creative, entrepreneurial, and helpful. It’s heartbreaking to leave so many great friends.

BETHANY: I’d echo what Kelly said. I’ll miss all the support and passion of Ypsilanti. And I’ll build on what she said by adding the diverse food options that we enjoy in Ypsi. If we mention to an owner, “Hey, you should try offering something more vegetarian friendly,” it’s taken to heart. I love that we can walk into several places like Wurst, Bona Sera, Cafe Ollie, Corner Brewery, and Dalat and have a “choice of protein.” I think this comes from education, and we already have our new favorite place in Fountain Square, PURE Eatery, which offers dishes featuring tofu.

MARK: You’re presently trying to sell your house in Ypsi. I’m wondering what that experience has been like? Are you finding that people interested in living downtown?

KELLY: We just listed it about three weeks ago, but we had a great turnout at the Ypsilanti Open House, and have already had a few serious inquiries. I think that younger generations are far more interested in urban living, and car-free lifestyles, and our house is within walking distance of everything. If you love local, sustainable living, you can’t go wrong in downtown Ypsi.

BETHANY: It’s been great! We’ve received so many positive responses about how nice our home is.

MARK: What kinds of questions are you hearing from people considering moving here?

KELLY: We’ve actually hosted a number of people visiting Ypsi, and they typically ask about the mass transit options, local restaurants and bars, and walkability.

MARK: Tell us about your neighborhood in Ypsi, and why you chose to buy a home where you did?

KELLY: We used to live on Ainsworth, which is just a few more blocks away, but, in the dead of winter, it was far enough away from stuff to discourage us from walking to dinner on occasion. Since walkability is so important to us, and we like to bike or ride the bus to Ann Arbor, the spot where we bought our house, which is near the AATA station, was perfect for us. We LOVE our location, just a block or two from the bus station, library, post office, and lots of shops and restaurants. We also walk to the park, the food co-op, and Depot Town. When I get home from work on Friday, I park my car and walk everywhere until Monday morning.

BETHANY: I can only add, “It’s walkable to EVERYthing!”

MARK: Is it just that I happen to know a ton of lesbians, or is Ypsilanti the most sapphic city in America?

KELLY: Ha! There do seem to be a lot of us here, huh? I know that we’ve recruited some friends to buy in this area, because we feel safe here. It’s a very open community, where I feel completely comfortable and embraced. People in Ypsi seem to appreciate when two people are in love, regardless of gender. Besides, somebody has to balance out all the testosterone in our water tower.

BETHANY: I have never walked in fear in Ypsi. Ever. People want to live where they feel safe.

MARK: While we’re on the subject of “gay” stuff, the last few years have been pretty bad in Michigan, legislatively speaking. I’m curious to know if that factors into your decision to leave Michigan at all.

KELLY: Sadly, no. While I suspect that Michigan is on the verge of a bill to repeal the constitutional ban on gay marriage, we are moving to Indiana, which is debating a vote to do the same thing Michigan did 10 years ago. We will continue to fight for equal rights, and against paying the “Gay Tax.” At least we have the victory of federal marriage rights, and I no longer pay a tax penalty on a thousand heterosexual marriage perks. But, with 13- now 14- states offering equal rights, and more on the way, it’s only a matter of time before there are more midwest options to choose from and we can move somewhere that treats us fairly.

BETHANY: I am following a lot of groups in Indy on twitter, and I am secretly hoping for this initiative to go to the ballot, because I don’t think it will pass like it did in Michigan. I plan to be very active in the campaigns against it there. It’ll be a race, between Indiana and Michigan on this issue. I caught a soundbite about Snyder “looking at this issue” when DOMA was knocked down, but haven’t heard much since.

MARK: You mentioned before that you’re married. I’m curious as to how and when you did it?

BETHANY: We eloped to Buffalo, New York on 11.11.11, and took a mini-moon in Niagara Falls. It was going to be a quiet ceremony with just 2-3 friends. . . Well, one thing led to another, and we became the featured couple for same-sex destination weddings in Buffalo, just six months after it was legal in their state!

MARK: You share a single email address. What’s that like?

KELLY: Funny, I actually have five email addresses, each with a specific purpose – one personal, one professional, one work, one for facebook, and one joint. We set up the ‘bethanyandkelly’ account when we were planning our wedding. I rarely use it, but it’s set up to forward to my personal account, so I know what’s going on with shared matters. It works pretty well, actually.

BETHANY: LOL! I have my narrowed down to four plus this one: school, personal public, personal private, my new Bethanyschultz@outlook, and this one.

I’ll take the blame for having the joint email: It is really nice when we meet folks traveling to have it. We’re such a “WE-TEAM” that people remember it even if wine is involved! …It helps build connection if people can easily follow up with you. We love sharing ideas and conversation in the moment, but it is good to be able to follow-up and keep those genuine connections. We each have it forward to our personal emails, so either of us can respond.

MARK: Kelly, you were on the Ypsilanti Planning Commission, right?

KELLY: Correct.

MARK: What was that experience like?

KELLY: I loved it! For a newcomer, it was an amazing insight into how the city is growing and changing. I loved seeing how progressive the City is with advocating for safer streets, bike parking, rain gardens, and thoughtful, adaptive reuse. I got to share my knowledge as an Architect and LEED Accredited Professional, and felt that my skills were valued and well-received. That’s another thing I will miss about Ypsi – it’s easy to affect change, and make a difference in a town the size of Ypsilanti.

MARK: I’m curious as to what you both think your most significant contributions were while you were living here.

BETHANY: I just do what I can. I’ve sat on several Board of Directors, and I’d like to think I’ve made positive contributions to different organizations.

Ironically, of all things, it’s been emotional to sell my PA system. I loved loaning it out to non-profits and the underrepresented parts of our community over the years, so they could amplify their voices. I’m not sure if that’s a hat that I’ll wear in my new community or not. One of my DBA’s was “G-production,” which was solely for the purpose of doing sound cost-effectively. I’ve received some awards for my community ‘activism’ and I hope Ypsilanti is a little better for it. I like that, when I stepped away from a project, several people stepped in, which brings that much more diversity to the table. I think that’s one of the best things I’ve done for my community: recognize when it’s time to for my role to end. Some people in the community hang on because they’re afraid of change, to the detriment of growth and visions coming to fruition. It can be painful to watch.

KELLY: My most significant contribution? My wife. Mayor Schreiber calls her the “unofficial mayor of Ypsilanti.” Bethany is such a huge spokesperson for this community, and she’s had such an amazing positive influence over the years. She’s the first person to insist we go try a new restaurant and offer feedback. She’s a driver of change, and passionate, and oh-so-lovable! Nothing says “Welcome” quite like her beaming smile.

MARK: Advice for the new people who move into your home?

BETHANY: Enjoy this gem! It is an amazing home with great energy & close to everything!

In general I’d say get out and about. Volunteer doing something you love. Enjoy all the great things that Ypsilanti has to offer! Nightlife, local food scene, EMU, summertime Riverside park festivals, Depot town on Thursdays, the museums, the Riverside Art Center, and more! <3 KELLY: I agree with what Bethany said. If you’re new to Ypsi, just go for a walk, make eye contact with strangers, smile, and say “hello.” You’ll be surprised at how many great friends you will meet just by the simple act of reaching out. Your friendliness will be returned tenfold.

[If you enjoyed this, and want to know more about why people leave Ypsilanti, check out our Ypsi/Arbor Exit Interview archive.]

Posted in Special Projects, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sunday Mourning… Lou Reed is dead

loureeddiedRolling Stone is reporting that Velvet Underground founder and rock-n-roll icon Lou Reed has died at the age of 71, some five months after undergoing a liver transplant. Here’s a clip:

…”Produced” by Warhol and met with total commercial indifference when it was released in early 1967, VU’s debut The Velvet Underground & Nico stands as a landmark on par with the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde. Reed’s matter-of-fact descriptions of New York’s bohemian demimonde, rife with allusions to drugs and S&M, pushed beyond even the Rolling Stones’ darkest moments, while the heavy doses of distortion and noise for its own sake revolutionized rock guitar. The band’s three subsequent albums – 1968’s even more corrosive sounding White Light/White Heat, 1969’s fragile, folk-toned The Velvet Underground and 1970’s Loaded, which despite being recorded while he was leaving the group, contained two Reed standards, “Rock & Roll” and “Sweet Jane,” were similarly ignored. But they’d be embraced by future generations, cementing the Velvet Underground’s status as the most influential American rock band of all time.

After splitting with the Velvets in 1970, Reed traveled to England and, in characteristically paradoxical fashion, recorded a solo debut backed by members of the progressive-rock band Yes. But it was his next album, 1972’s Transformer, produced by Reed-disciple David Bowie, that pushed him beyond cult status into genuine rock stardom. “Walk On the Wild Side,” a loving yet unsentimental evocation of Warhol’s Factory scene, became a radio hit (despite its allusions to oral sex) and “Satellite of Love” was covered by U2 and others. Reed spent the Seventies defying expectations almost as a kind of sport. 1973’s Berlin was brutal literary bombast while 1974’s Sally Can’t Dance had soul horns and flashy guitar. In 1975 he released Metal Machine Music, a seething all-noise experiment his label RCA marketed as a avant-garde classic music, while 1978’s banter-heavy live album Take No Prisoners was a kind of comedy record in which Reed went on wild tangents and savaged rock critics by name (“Lou sure is adept at figuring out new ways to shit on people,” one of those critics, Robert Christgau, wrote at the time). Explaining his less-than-accommodating career trajectory, Reed told journalist Lester Bangs, “My bullshit is worth more than other people’s diamonds”…

So much I’d like so say… But so little time… I didn’t know Reed. The closest I ever got was sitting in Moe Tucker’s house one day almost 20 years ago, when one of her kid’s referenced that “uncle Louie” had called… Still, though, I feel like I kind of knew the man, having come of age surrounded by his music… I’m not much of one for hero worship. While they might be brilliant, people we put on pedestals, I’ve come to learn the hard way, rarely deserve them. And, judging from what I’ve read and heard over the years, Reed would certainly prove that rule. He was, my most accounts, an angry and difficult man. Still, though, the guy could write a fucking song like no one else, and the world is a much sadder place without him in it, even if, toward the end, he was writing music for house pets.

Here, off the top of my head, are a few of my favorite tracks.

If you’ve never listened to any of his music before, I’d suggest you leave your house this instant, walk to your nearest record store (which may well be a few hundred miles away at this point in American history), and buy either the Peel Slowly & See box set, New York or Take No Prisoners: Live. (Yeah, there might be better stuff out there, but I think these are probably the most accessible points of entry for someone looking to set out on a musical expedition.) They’ll change your fucking life. I promise.

Posted in Art and Culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Ypsilanti Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff Department and Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety to increase and coordinate police patrols in the Leforge Road area

In response to the recent surge in violent criminal activity north of the City, and the subsequent public outcry, the Ypsilanti Police Department, the Washtenaw County Sheriff Department and the Eastern Michigan University Department of Public Safety have come together to announce a coordinated offensive that would put more officers on the ground around the Peninsular Place and University Green apartment complexes.

Here’s their joint press release.

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University and area police agencies have agreed to collaborate and immediately increase patrols in the Leforge Road area north of the EMU campus.

Beginning Friday (Oct. 25), the EMU Department of Public Safety, the Ypsilanti Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and Ypsilanti Township each will dedicate officers to begin specifically patrolling the area.

Assigned officers will meet at the EMU Department of Public Safety headquarters each night to coordinate their efforts, EMU Chief of Police Bob Heighes said. “This collaboration is an important step in helping to ensure the safety and security of EMU students and others living in and visiting the area north of campus,” Heighes said. “We are gratified and appreciative to be working with the city, county and township in beginning this increased effort. Residents should quickly be aware and comforted by the increased police presence.”

Ypsilanti Chief of Police Tony DeGiusti said, “The Ypsilanti Police Department is proud join our neighbors in this partnership. The increased police presence that we will be able to collectively provide will certainly increase the safety of our residents and students. However, everyone still needs to remain vigilant in their own personal safety by making good decisions and being involved. Please remember that if you see something suspicious or a crime occur to call the police immediately.”

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton said, “We are all concerned with the security of our neighborhoods and the safety of our residents, our students and the visitors to our community, particularly in light of the recent tragic events. However, I am confident in our ability as a community to come together and address these challenges.”

Demarius Reed, an EMU student and varsity football player who lived at the University Green apartments, located on Green Road, off Leforge and a block from the EMU campus, was shot and killed Friday morning and later found in a hallway in the complex. Two weekend assaults that occurred in the Leforge Road area also spotlighted the need for increased patrols and collaboration by area law enforcement.

Heighes said that the cooperating departments will soon establish a working office in the area, which includes a variety of apartment complexes with a high proportion of EMU students.

EMU and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department will each dedicate two of their own officers to the joint effort, and Ypsilanti Police will dedicate one. One of the two officers provided by the Sheriff’s Office is paid for by Ypsilanti Township. EMU has already begun increased patrolling in the area for visibility, Heighes said.

Heighes said the effect of the increased team patrols would be tracked and evaluated over the next few months and at the end of the year.

The University has also begun working aggressively with several area landlords in discussing further safety measures. Those plans, which presently include the University Green complex, and the adjacent Huron View Complex, could include steps such as adding security cameras, adding emergency call stations, organizing a neighborhood watch program and expanding shuttle hours into the night.

Also, the reward for information leading to helping solve the case of Reed’s death has been increased to $10,000. University Green is contributing $5,000, and Eastern Michigan University and Crime Stoppers are contributing $2,500 each to the reward fund.

Tips can be submitted anonymously by calling 1-800-SPEAK UP (1-800-773-2587), online at http://www.1800speakup.org, or via text to CRIMES (274637).

For further details on the Demarius Reed case and the variety of public safety updates and forums that have occurred at EMU this week, please visit the Eastern Michigan University’s Community Notice website

Posted in Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Connect

Sidetrack ad Aubree’s ad BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Steve