All our Heroes are Probably Assholes: Tom Morello edition

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By the time Rage Against the Machine came on the scene, I’d already stopped listening to contemporary music, so it didn’t break my heart today when I learned that the band’s frontman, Tom Morello, may have outed himself as an entitled little prick in Seattle a few nights ago.

As is often the case these days, it all started with a Tweet.

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According to published reports, things had gotten heated when Morello, who had been in Seattle to perform at a benefit concert for the grassroots organization 15 Now, was turned away from a place called The 5 Point Cafe. According to folks at the restaurant, there were several people waiting for tables when Morello, accompanied by his entourage, walked up and asked for a “special room.” When they were told to get in line, Morello then, unsuccessfully, played the “Do you know who I am?” card. When that too failed, Morello took to Twitter, not only calling out the restaurant by name, but labeling the bar’s owner “anti-worker.”

The owner of The 5 Point, David Meinert, then responded with the following letter, posted to Facebook.

For the record, Tom Morello — The 5 Point is totally pro-worker. We try to pay more than any other small restaurant, and on top of the higher pay, we offer health insurance, paid sick days, paid time off, retirement and profit share. Sorry if you had an issue with our staff, but typically our staff is awesome, and when they are not, it’s usually a reflection of the customer. Act like a prick = get treated like a prick.

I have to say, your attacking a small business without knowing anything about it, or addressing your problem with them directly before you go on a public rant, pretty much sucks. Just lost a ton of respect for you, and I’ve been a fan for years, both of your work in Rage and your work for workers rights since.

P.S. — rock stars don’t get special treatment at The 5 Point. We couldn’t give less of a shit. Sorry.

And P.S.S. — I’m the owner of the 5 Point and have worked to raise the minimum wage in Seattle and support the same nationally, worked to get paid sick days law in Seattle, and am supporting a City sponsored retirement plan for employees of small businesses. I hope you do the same for your employees on the road…

P.S.S.S. — turns out he and his crew didn’t get let in as the place was at capacity and there was a line. No one was being let in. According to our doorman who I totally trust, Tom and his crew were all totally rude. Quote from the door guys “I knew who he was, we had no room, his whole party was being rude. He wanted a special room in the back. Clearly had no ideas what it is like inside. I’ve told bigger rock stars than him no.

And now the whole thing is taking on a life of its own online, with a lot of people attacking Morello, who fancies himself a champion of the common man, for being just another entitled rock star. Just google “Pancake Gate” and you’ll see what I mean. (Apparently, Morello was in search of pancakes.)

I, obviously, have no idea what happened, but I think it’s reasonable enough to assume that Morello may have tried to get his group into the popular restaurant unsuccessfully, and, then stormed off in a huff to a nearby IHOP. And that, actually, isn’t my problem with this whole thing. As distasteful as it is, I don’t really have a problem with Morello trying to get a table for his friends, if that’s what happened. What I have a problem with is the fact that he took to Twitter and called the restaurant’s owner out for being anti-worker without knowing the facts. (If he really felt that the guy was “anti-worker,” why was he wanting to eat there in the first place?) Clearly he was pissed off, and he lashed out with a label that he thought would hurt the guy, and his business. He flexed his fame muscles in hopes of hurting the guy. And I don’t think that’s cool… Even if the staff of the restaurant was incredibly rude, someone in Morello’s position should know better.

update: Morello has now come out with his side of the story, saying that the door guy wouldn’t let them in, even though there was no line, and people kept leaving. He also implies that racism may have played a role… “I question what underlying motives the doorman may have had. Bad day? Anti-Kenyan? Preferred the Spin Doctors?” (Morello’s brother, who is Kenyan, was in entourage.)

Posted in Art and Culture, Observations, Other, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A message to the poor of Michigan…. You don’t deserve to live in Ann Arbor, that’s what Ypsilanti is for

The Ann Arbor News has a story today about affordable housing in Ann Arbor, and how it’s becoming harder and harder to come by, with Section 8 housing increasingly transitioning to “market rate.” The article revolves around a woman by the name of Megan Mishler, who recently had to relocate to Ypsilanti Township when her Ann Arbor landlord told her that her rent, at the end of the month, would be nearly doubling, from $770 per month to about $1,200. (Mishler had been paying $104 each month, with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) covering the remaining $666 through their Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.) According to the Ann Arbor News, such shifts are not uncommon. Here’s a clip from the article.

…Created in 1986, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program is an indirect federal subsidy used to finance the development of affordable rental housing.

States are allocated tax credits based on population and MSHDA administers the credits to qualified developers that apply for projects in the state. Developers then sell those credits to investors to raise capital, reducing the debt the developer would have to borrow.

Rental rates for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit apartments are adjusted based on the area’s median income as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The program requires developers to keep units affordable for a 15-year compliance period, but landlords can opt to lift rent restrictions once that period expires.

“That is the downside to for-profit developers owning affordable housing in a heated housing market like Ann Arbor,” said Ann Arbor Housing Commission Director Jennifer Hall. “They do not have the long-term mission, like non-profit housing providers, to provide affordable housing. A non-profit provider would try to maintain the housing as below market-rate even after their use restriction expires”…

And, given how hot the housing market is in Ann Arbor these days, it’s not surprising that more and more owners are turning their backs on those people, like Megan Mishler, who have provided steady revenue over the past several decades. According to the Ann Arbor News, “(T)he number of income restricted housing units – which includes public housing, housing choice voucher, Section 8 new construction and low-income housing tax credit units – dropped from more than 2,100 in 2000 to less than 1,600 in 2012.”

Thankfully, though, as a number of people point out in the Ann Arbor News comments section, the poor, who don’t really “deserve” to live in a town as nice as Ann Arbor, can always move east to Ypsilanti… Here, with more on that, is a comment from an Ann Arbor News reader by the name of shepard145.

YpsiForPoor

That’s right. Just price them out of the market… move your “undeserving” citizens to Ypsilanti. Just be done with them, and make your city all the more beautiful in the process.

I don’t have any problem with affordable housing. I think it’s a good thing. What I have a real problem with, however, is segregation. I have a problem with a system where it’s accepted that some towns are “too nice” for the poor. And I find it doubly infuriating when these nice, liberal communities, once they’ve forced their most vulnerable citizens beyond their borders, mount campaigns to stop attempts at regional cooperation, as we recently saw play out in the battle over the AATA’s expanded role in providing bus service within Washtenaw County. Many people in Ann Arbor cried out that they didn’t want their tax dollars going to fund the transportation of people in Ypsilanti, in spite of the fact that many of those people were probably Ann Arborites before they were forced out due to the cost of living. And the same goes for everything from our public schools to our police departments.

It would be one thing if we had comparable schools and city services, but we don’t. The people of Ann Arbor are happy to push their poor to Ypsilanti, but they aren’t so keen to share their tax revenues. So we build more low-income housing, like the Water Street Flats project being planned for our downtown, while, at the same time, we continue to contemplate the merging of our police and fire departments, as we apparently can’t afford to keep the people safe who already live here. It’s an untenable situation, and we’re fast approaching a breaking point.

But things are apparently getting even better in Ann Arbor. In fact, it’s being reported today that they made the Money Magazine list of best places to live… Congratulations!

Posted in Ann Arbor, Rants, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 64 Comments

Torn from the Pages of Facebook… Stewart Beal announces ambitious plans for Ypsilanti’s Smith Furniture Building

Local real estate developer Stewart Beal recently posted the following to Facebook and I’m curious to know your thoughts on it… As I’m seriously light-headed from coughing, and about half way into a bottle of Tylenol, I’ll abstain.

smithfurniturebeal

Posted in Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Totally Quotable Arlo: chicken leg edition

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I don’t remember when it started, but Arlo has taken to calling chicken legs “meat bones.” It’s probably not one of his most noteworthy contributions to the English language, as he’s coined some pretty good phrases in his short time here on Earth, but I wanted to mention it here, as I’ve spent the last several years dreaming of opening a fried chicken restaurant in Ypsi, and I think this may come in useful when I finally sit down and put together my menu. I may be way off, but I can’t help but think that “A Sack of Meat Bones” would go over well.

[If you like the nonsensical ranting of babies, be sure to check out the Totally Quotable Arlo archive.]

Posted in Ideas, Mark's Life, Special Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bona Sera to relaunch later today with booze

BonaSeraInsideOur friends at Bona Sera Cafe, as you may have noticed, have been closed for the past few days. I’m told there’s no reason for concern, though. It’s not like that time, a few years back, when Dave Curtis closed up his businesses along Washington Street, and snuck out of town under cover of darkness. No, this is something different altogether. This is a good thing. Bona Sera, one of Ypsi’s best restaurants, just recently got word, after almost six months of waiting, that they’ll be able to start selling alcohol, and they decided to shut down for a few days to build out a bar, and make some much needed improvements. And they’ll be back open on Friday, September 26 for dinner… They were busy, but I had an opportunity to ask a few questions.

MARK: Not having a liquor license was clearly holding Bona Sera back. I think you’d admit as much, right?

BONA SERA: Yep, it’s definitely going to expand our ability to book events for holiday parties, weddings, etc. in our space.

MARK: Well, given that, what took so long? Was it just coming up with the $25,000, or whatever it is, for a redevelopment liquor license, or where there other hurdles as well?

BONA SERA: The entire process took from March until now. The city of Ypsi has been great at helping us and giving us all we need really quickly. Lansing was much pokier. We came away from the process wishing that Lansing would put redevelopment licenses at a higher priority than others since it ends up benefitting real communities that need redevelopment.

MARK: Not only will you be able to drink at Bona Sera when it reopens for dinner service on the 25th, but I hear that things will look a little different inside as well. What have you got in mind?

BONA SERA: We’re busy repositioning things so that we can have a usable bar and lounge area, and to improve the flow of service in general.

MARK: I hear there’s going to be a Bloody Mary Bar this weekend. Can you describe it to me?

BONA SERA: The Bloody Mary Bar will be a list of options available when ordering that will allow you to create your own specialized drink.

MARK: Are there any drinks in particular that you’re looking forward to serving?

BONA SERA: We’re looking forward to serving Pisco, Absinthe and Wine.

MARK: Will the addition of alcohol lead to any menu changes?

BONA SERA: No menu changes in particular but we are going to start monthly Sunday Suppers with wine/beer pairings, a set menu and a limited number of people.

[Bona Sera’s hours will remain the same after reopening, but extended hours may be considered in the future. A Sunday Funky Brunch Buffet (with DJ Selina Style) is planned for September 28th with a Bloody Mary Bar, Mimosas and Bellinis. For more information, or to make reservations, call 734-340-6335, or reach out through Facebook.]

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

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