Unconstitutional, scientifically unsound, fiscally irresponsible, suspicion-based drug testing of welfare recipients comes to Michigan

In what seems like a pretty clear attempt to appease the far right and drive more of Michigan’s poor from the public assistance rolls, Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation on the day after Christmas giving the State the power to collect and test the urine of welfare recipients suspected of using drugs. [“Merry Christmas, welfare queens!”]

The bundle of legislation, which includes House Bill 4118 and Senate Bill 275, allows for a one-year pilot program to be implemented in three as-yet-to-be-determined counties.

Leaving aside for the moment that similar programs have failed miserably elsewhere, I’m curious as to how State officials will be selecting individuals for testing. Will there be specific things they’re looking for? Will they be looking for track marks? Will being pale and disheveled be enough to bring out a piss cop to escort you into the restroom? Will race factor into it? Will a skinny, young black man in drooping pants, for instance, be more susceptible to testing than, say, a middle-aged white man, like myself, wearing a suit? I’d love to read their guidelines as to what a “possible drug user” looks like…

One wonders if they’ll have a book of photos that State employees can refer to when trying to asses if someone looks like a drug addict. And, if so, one wonders if it will include a photo of Congressman Trey Radel of Florida, who was arrested last year for cocaine possession, shortly after he voted in favor of a Republican bill that would allow states to require a clean drug test before making food stamps available to those in need. But he, of course, wasn’t a poor person of low moral character who just chose to indulge in drugs. No, according to him, he was a man struggling with “the disease of alcoholism,” who simply made “a poor choice.” Sure, both he and the food stamp-collecting drug user spent our tax dollars on illegal substances, but the difference, as they say, is black and white.

Earlier, when I mentioned that programs like this “rarely” worked, I misspoke. I don’t think there’s even a single instance of a system like this working anywhere in the United States. In Florida, their program was found unconstitutional. And, in Tennessee, when they decided to test welfare applicants, they found only 1 out 800 to be a user of illegal drugs. If there’s a place where this has actually helped people, and saved a state money, I’ve yet to see it. In Virginia they were smart. They did the math and figured out that the cost of such a program, about $1.5 million, would be over five times the amount that would be saved in unpaid benefits, so they killed it. [Here in Michigan, the Senate Fiscal Agency estimates that a statewide program would cost $700,000 to $3.4 million to run, while saving anywhere from $370,000 to $3.7 million in caseload reductions.]

My guess is that Snyder knows this, and that’s why we’re looking at a three-county rollout and not a new statewide program. This will allow him to say to those on the right that he tried to ferret out those lazy, good-for-nothing, crack-smoking welfare queens without having to actually flush away too much money. And it will probably keep several people who could use assistance from seeking it, which is clearly the objective. This isn’t about finding an addict and getting him help. This is about bullying the average poor person, and letting him know that, if he wants to eat in Michigan, he’s going to have to piss in front of us. It will invariably fail, though, as it has everywhere else. I just hate the fact that we have to go through this charade. We know that this program is, as the folks at the ACLU have so eloquently summed it up, “unconstitutional, scientifically unsound, fiscally irresponsible, and one more way the ‘War on Drugs’ is an unfair war on America’s most vulnerable populations,” but, because rich, white Republicans want it, we’re going to do it anyway. And, when it fails, we’ll just move on to find a new way to demonize the poor during our next lame duck session.

According to research by the Detroit Free Press, “Michigan has roughly 80,000 welfare recipients, 21,000 of them adults age 18 and older who could be subject to drug testing depending on which counties are selected for the pilot.” Assuming this program costs somewhere in the order of $3.4 million to run, should it go statewide, that’s about $162 for each one of these 21,000 people. Just think how much good could be done with that money, if they State really cared about the health and welfare of its citizens, and not just saving money by forcing them from welfare programs.

If I had more time, I’d look into how much the state budgets for the treatment of drug-addicted welfare recipients. My guess is that it’s not too much, though, and that it’s dropping every year. And I suspect that $3.4 million, if directed to such a cause, could be extremely beneficial. But, instead, we’ll single out poor people who look like drug addicts and we’ll have them pee in cups while being watched by State employees. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

And what happens to these people when we kick them off the welfare rolls? Do they just stop eating, wither away, and disappear? Or do they have the audacity to continue living, finding other, perhaps illegal ways, to stay alive? And, if so, one wonders what the costs to society might be as petty theft, prostitution and robbery rise… But surely the Republicans in Lansing have considered this, right?

urineI would never suggest anyone send piss though the mail, as doing so would probably get one labeled a terrorist in today’s America, but I really love the idea that Republican legislators could arrive back to work after the holiday break finding gallons and gallons of angry, stale piss waiting for them… Actually, now that I think about it, maybe mason jars full of water and yellow food coloring would do the trick, sending the message without opening anyone up to prosecution… What do you think?

Posted in Civil Liberties, Michigan, Politics, Special Projects, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Working within Common Core to introduce social justice and sustainability into the Ypsilanti public school curriculum

The Ypsilanti-based nonprofit Creative Change, which works with schools and universities around the country to develop sustainability and social justice curricula, just recently completed a project inside the Ypsi Public School system. As I was curious as to how things went, I reached out to Susan Santone, the founder of Creative Change, and asked if she’d be willing to talk. What follows is our conversation.

santone1MARK: Recently, a fellow in Indianapolis wrote to me, asking for advice as to whether or not he and his wife should move to Ypsilanti. I posted his letter on my site, and, in the resulting conversation, a number of people suggested that, because of the schools in Ypsilanti, he’d be better off in Ann Arbor. You, as I recall, pushed back at the suggestion that Ann Arbor schools were “better.” Why?

SUSAN: The question I raised in my comment was, “What do we mean by better schools?” I asked readers to consider how we measure this. Do we mean the A2 schools have “better” teachers, or are we gauging quality by test scores? If it’s the latter, I noted that that there’s a strong (and even predictive) correlation between a child’s test scores and his/her parents’ income. Based on this, we can conclude with some certainty that many children in Ann Arbor come from higher-income homes. What we can’t conclude (and I’m not saying anyone implied this) is that A2 schools (or any other district) has better teachers. There are great teachers in all corners of our region, but my aim was to highlight some of the outstanding educators and programs in the Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS). The new district has a bold vision and a strong commitment to equity.

MARK: And how is it that you’ve seen this “bold vision and strong commitment to equality” play out in Ypsi schools? What tangible, positive changes have you seen since the launch of the new district in 2013?

SUSAN: Well, two of district’s five pillars are Cultural Competency and Restorative Practices, approaches grounded in the principles of democracy and responsibility to the larger community. I saw these principles come to life through a course at the middle school focused on diversity, equity and sustainable communities. The project was a partnership between the district and Creative Change. The course, taught 2013-2014 school year, wove topics such as racial equity and community change into social studies and language arts instruction. Three interdisciplinary teams of teachers delivered the program, reaching over 300 students. I worked with the teachers to help plan the program, and provided a collection of lessons to support the instruction.

MARK: So your job, at least in part, was to ensure that the lesson plans fulfilled curriculum objectives laid out by the state…

SUSAN: Yes, of course. The standards must be addressed in any type of program we offer. Interestingly, Common Core does not dictate specific texts or content; rather, the standards provide learning outcomes that teachers can meet in multiple ways. Many schools rely on commercially-developed materials that promise alignment to the standards, but the Ypsilanti teachers used compelling, authentic content as a context for meeting the outcomes. That’s what makes their work so unique.

MARK: And what did these 300 students address in this course?

SUSAN: Through the course, students investigated diversity, equity, and community vitality, all in the context of history and literacy instruction. The program also engaged students in tough conversations about race and discrimination. For example, students explored race-based land use policies after World War II and their role in regional segregation. They also examined their own stereotypes and the sources of their beliefs.

MARK: And I assume that, at the end of the term, these students were tested, right? What did those test reveal?

SUSAN: We administered a pre- and post-test to assess changes in key literacy skills such as interpreting graphs and charts and supporting claims with evidence. These skills are among those emphasized in the new (and controversial) Common Core standards your readers may have heard about.

The test consisted of a reading selection with multiple-choice and essay questions. The reading focused the race-based housing policies after World War II and their impacts on regional segregation. Students had to interpret data to explain changes in Detroit’s demographics. For the written question, students used evidence to assess if the housing policies supported institutional discrimination. Overall, we wanted to evaluate students’ ability to think about equity from a systems perspective–one that connects causes and effects at the policy level.

We worked with the University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program to score the tests. The post-tests showed gains of up to 20%, with clear improvement in writing. Students also brought in ideas from the history and literature they were studying as part of the course… If you’re interested, the final report is available online.

MARK: I have no idea how such things are studied in academia, but I imagine that, in order to state definitively that one curriculum is “better” than another, you need to follow pretty rigorous protocols, screen students carefully, establish control groups, etc. In other words, it’s great that these students improved, but it’s conceivable, isn’t it, that other factors may have played a role? Assuming that’s a possibility, do you have plans to move forward with a more rigorous study?

SUSAN: You make a good point. We’d love to do a study with a control group. Unfortunately, the resources aren’t there for that.

Overall, the project provided rich and challenging content delivered by highly skilled teachers. They made the material engaging and appropriate for students’ developmental levels while also connecting the content to the standards. I feel quite confident that these factors had a positive impact on achievement. The teachers also reported that achievement increased on other assessments they administered, and that the learning climate improved.

Too often, “diversity” instruction is superficial or watered down to feel-good slogans or one-time cultural events. It’s truly rare to engage students in deeper investigations of institutionalized inequalities–and rarer yet to do this in ways that support literacy skills.

MARK: I don’t think there’s any question that kids learn better when they relate to the material that they’re given, when it make sense to them within the context of their own experience…

SUSAN: Absolutely. “Culturally responsive” pedagogy means (among other things) grounding topics in students’ lives and experiences, and using that as a bridge to academics. This is exactly what the teachers did. (It’s worth noting that the district provided teachers with extensive professional development on these approaches as part of its commitment to cultural competency.)

MARK: As someone who develops curricula, I’m curious to know your thoughts on both Common Core and this new test-driven environment we seem to find ourselves in. Personally, I’m more inclined to say that we should hire great teachers, pay them well, and give them the freedom to teach their classes, within reason, as they see fit, assuming, of course, that the children in their classes can demonstrate some level of proficiency. It seems to me, however, that we’re moving into a world where teachers are seen by those in government as little more than script readers, who should be rewarded by how well the children in their care memorize things, and not by whether they can help kids discover what they love, and turn them into good, bright, innovative, free-thinking, contributing citizens. I could go on, but I think you’ve probably heard this a thousand times before…

SUSAN: This topic is certainly big enough for its own discussion, but here are a few thoughts: While the Common Core standards are new, high-stakes testing is not. The 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) ushered in an era of testing tied to escalating sanctions for “failing” schools. In response, many schools have narrowed the curriculum to focus on the two tested areas, English and math. Common Core continues the NCLB policy, but with new. and more demanding, tests. Backers of Common Core claim the standards support higher-level thinking skills, but if “teaching to the test” intensifies, critical thinking will be the first casualty.

MARK: As you said at the beginning, we know that there’s a strong, and even predictive, correlation between a child’s test scores and his/her parents’ income. Given that, it’s hard for me to see NCLB as anything but an attempt on the part of the Bush administration to cut funding for poor schools, paving the way for privatization. I try my best not to indulge in conspiracy theories, but, given the way that things have played out, it seems logical to me that NCLB was passed with the intention of privatizing public education under the guise of helping kids in “bad” schools, thereby weakening the teachers union. I don’t have a question for you here. I just find it difficult to talk about NCLB without venting.

SUSAN: You don’t have to be much of conspiracy theorist to make those conclusions. Over the past decade, we’ve seen that schools attended by low-income students and students of color are more likely to be labeled as “failures.” This subjects the schools to restructuring schemes that strip control from teachers and communities — witness the The Educational Achievement Authority — while often funneling resources to private, for-profit companies. Corporations have also made millions from the testing industry that grew from NCLB.

The fingerprints of private interests are also all over Common Core, from its developers to its funders and advocates. Achieve, one of the organizations involved in Common Core, has long worked with the corporate community on education “reform.” The testing industry was heavily involved in the development of the standards and is making tens of millions of dollars on the new tests. I agree that businesses, like all sectors of society, have a stake in quality education. But their goals are economic, not civic.

The Common Core mission statement is especially telling. It focuses on “college and career readiness” so that our communities can “compete in the global economy.” A strong economy is crucial, but will it be an economy that sustains the environment it depends on? Answering that question requires the critical thinking Common Core aims to deliver. But can that happen when the standards are built on the mindset of global competition? I believe that citizenship, not economic competitiveness, is the purpose of schooling. It’s time to reclaim that civic mission.

MARK: Speaking of politics, I’m curious to know what kind of response you’ve gotten with the Creative Change curriculum. Have you gotten any pushback on the content? We do, after all, live in a society in which several people refuse to accept the reality of global warming, and become incredibly defensive at even the the most casual mention of the racial inequality that exists in this country.

SUSAN: Sure, there is a faction that is vehemently opposed to the type of work we are doing. They label education for sustainable development as “education for sustainable tyranny,” and believe that it is “prepar[ing] children to accept the total transformation of America under global totalitarian control.” They decry teaching children concepts such as interdependence — the idea that people, societies, and the environment are all connected. Fact: Interdependence is not a totalitarian plot; it’s a basic principle about how the world works, with a firm grounding in fundamental laws of physics and biology.

Overall, though, Creative Change has been very successful in a range of settings, including conservative communities and religious schools. No matter who we’re working with, we frame our work with this question: “What will it take to create healthy, democratic communities where all can thrive?” And I’ve yet to find a single person who does not want this. Granted, how we get there can certainly become political, but having common ground at the beginning enables us to continually ask, “Is this policy/economic approach/etc. getting us to that healthy community?

Moreover, the military sees issues such as climate change as a security concern. The economic and social instability created by extreme environmental changes will escalate conflicts. But there are some incredible visionaries within the military. I would highly suggest people read “A National Strategic Narrative,” a treatise on sustainability authored by two top-ranking Pentagon officials. The document questions the Cold War agenda of zero-sum competition and puts forth a national vision grounded in diplomacy, human rights, sustainability and education. Here’s my favorite quote: “Dominance, like fossil fuels, is not a sustainable form of power.” I have been so inspired by this work.

Here’s the bottom line: Today’s students must learn how to adapt to climate change, transition to renewable energy, feed a growing global population, provide clean water for all, and build democratic and peaceful societies. When the military is paying attention to these issues, it’s hard to say they’re an agenda designed to dismantle US sovereignty and deliver us into the hands of a one-world socialist government orchestrated by the UN. (Yes, this is some of the thinking out there.)

As far as this concerns Common Core, here’s the good news: As I mentioned, the standards do not dictate specific texts or content (although some are recommended). Teachers can use sustainability topics as a context for teaching Common Core skills such as defending a position with evidence, or determining an author’s purpose. This is exactly what the Ypsilanti teachers did. And they’re doing it again this year in the middle school world history curriculum. Students will examine ancient civilizations and the environment, economic and social influences that led to success or collapse. Armed with these insights, students will investigate the environmental and economic changes facing the region (including climate change), and develop ways to create a more sustainable and resilient future. We’re planning a community event as part of this, so stay tuned.

Readers interested in these approaches may benefit from these short videos, which provide strategies for meeting the language arts and math standards through sustainability topics.

MARK: I’m curious about that space… that wiggle room you have around the perimeter of Common Core and No Child Left Behind… where you still have some freedom to operate and try new things. Is there any fear that this space might become more narrow?

SUSAN: I think Common Core is here to stay in Michigan. Teacher evaluation is the next frontier for accountability, and many are concerned these evaluations will rely too heavily on students’ standardized test scores. I’ve yet to meet anyone who is against accountability; however, given the heavy influence of out-of-school factors (such as parents’ income) on test scores, educators are right to question the weight those scores should have in teacher evaluations. If policies echo the punitive nature of NCLB and use inaccurate measures to punish “bad teachers,” it’s reasonable to conclude that teaching to the test will intensify. This will narrow the space for trying new things as you describe.

On the other hand, I think the new Next Generation Science Standards present a good opportunity for educators. These standards identify specific topics — including climate change — while emphasizing scientific processes and “cross-cutting concepts” such as systems thinking. I find much to like about these standards, and think they will support the scientific literacy students need to make informed decisions. At this point, science is not a tested subject under NCLB. That alone may provide more room for teachers to use innovative approaches.

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

Happy Holidays from your friend in Ypsilanti


Posted in Mark's Life, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

The New York Times says a special prosecutor should look at the role Bush and Cheney played in CIA torture program

I’m happy, of course, that the New York Times came out today advocating for the prosecution of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and those in their administration responsible for green-lighting the use of torture against those thought to have knowledge of terrorist activities directed at the United States. I can’t help but wonder, however, how much more impactful this might have been had it taken place a decade ago, before the 2004 election. I know that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture was just issued, but does it really say anything that we didn’t already know a long, long time ago? Haven’t we known for well over ten years now that the Bush administration violated federal law prohibiting torture, as well as the international Convention Against Torture, which we ratified in 1994? Maybe the new Senate report makes it official, but wasn’t there enough evidence during the Bush Cheney administration to at least suggest that a formal inquiry might be in order?

I’m glad that the folks at the New York Times are now attempting to get on the right side of history, but I’m never going to forget the role they played in selling us the Iraq War and everything that went along with it.


Here’s a clip from the Times piece, for those of you who haven’t read it.

…The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are to give Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. a letter Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate what appears increasingly to be “a vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.”

The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.

But any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos. There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen…

Posted in History, Other, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Krampus 2014 recap


Late last week, I got a call from a writer at National Geographic. She wanted to know why the people of Ypsilanti had decided, five years ago, to summon the spirit of Krampus back to earth. Now that Krampus events are becoming more commonplace around the United States, she wanted to find out where it had all started, and apparently this quest led her back to Ypsi. We talked for half an hour or so. I told her how we were motivated, among other things, by the over-commercialization of Christmas, and the ridiculous notion put forward by religious conservatives that Christmas is “under attack” by the left. I’d like to think that I was eloquent in my explanation, and made it clear why it was only natural that this happened here, in the bizarre and magical little town of Ypsilanti. Apparently, though, none of that made the cut.

My only quote in the article is this: “We’re not devil worshipers. We’re just having a party.

I wish they’d gone into a little more detail, but I can’t really complain. It’s an accurate quote. I can actually remember saying it in the context of Black Jake’s appearance on Telemundo. The woman from National Geographic was asking if we’d experienced any pushback from the community. I told her that I knew people weren’t universally enthusiastic about the reemergence of Krampus, and noted the fact that a least one of the people interviewed in the Telemundo piece saw Krampus as anti-Chirstian. With that said, though, I told her that we hadn’t experienced anything like that in Ypsi. “It’s not like churches are holding prayer vigils outside this event,” I think I said. “People know it’s tongue-in-cheek.” But, yeah, when you boil it all down to its essence, we don’t worship the devil, and we love to party.

And this past Saturday was one hell of a party.

As I spent 90% of my evening working far from the debauchery, I’m probably not in the best position to comment on how things went at Ypsi’s fifth annual Krampus celebration, but I will try my best. Here, for what they’re worth, and in no particular order, are my abbreviated thoughts.

1. Being antisocial by nature, I volunteered to work behind the bar, pouring wine and filling glasses with beer for our volunteer bartenders, Morgan and Casey. So, for most of the night, I had my back to the crowd, hunched over a keg. And, as a result, I missed most of the fun stuff. Case in point, I just now happened across a photo of a young woman getting her ass spanked by what I’m pretty sure is the Mark Maynard puppet. I had no idea that this was happening at the time. If I had, it would have probably made me cry like Cinderella. There I was, covered in beer, furiously pumping away at the keg in order to keep our guests hydrated, while my puppet was living it up with the ladies. I know I brought it on myself, but it’s still not fair… One’s puppet should never be having more fun than oneself.


This photo comes by way of Jim Leach, who posted his notes about the event on a site called Daily Nightmare. If you haven’t already, check it out. He’s got some good stuff.

2. Ypsilanti’s Dreamland Theater worked well as a venue… We made the decision this year to move the event away from the Corner Brewery, allowing us more time to set up and decorate. At first, we were thinking of doing it as a house party somewhere, but then it occurred to us to see if Dreamland was available, and everything started falling into place. It took quite a bit of work to get everything just the way we wanted it, but it worked out beautifully. Not only did we have an awesome time there, but we were also able to raise over $400 for our local puppet troupe, who kicked the evening off by performing a play about the intoxicatingly warm glow given off by Santa’s ass during the yuletide. (Brian Bruxvoort, one of the Dreamland puppeteers, wore Santa’s ass on his head the entire evening.)

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 3.08.11 PM3. People seemed to enjoy themselves. Here’s one of many such notes that have been sent my way over the past 24 hours. I’ve talked with the woman who sent this, by the way, and she’s fine. After a quick nap, she was able to make her way to shelter.

4. People danced their asses off. Given that all the cameras we shaking, and fog was being pumped into the room, the documentation is somewhat limited, but here’s a pretty good shot taken by Ryan Dawson, who spent the night in the DJ booth.


5. No one caught the reference, but my mask for this year’s event was created in homage to the BBC series Black Mirror… And, no, I don’t know why I look crazy in this photo. It’s the only one that I have of the mask, though. (Oh, speaking of Black Mirror, I just heard that there’s a Christmas special coming up starring John Hamm. We should set up a viewing party somewhere.)


6. My friend Gene’s ass has been getting a lot of well-deserved love on Facebook. These shots were posted by Alice Jo Gannon Boss, who just moved here to Ypsi a few weeks ago. Hopefully she’s not having second thoughts about having bought a home here.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 2.56.49 PM

7. This year, we were joined by an authentic Balkan marching band, ρυτά μουσική (Rhyta Musik), and they were incredible. You’ll find video of them marching through the dark streets of Ypsi below, but here’s a photo of them on the dance floor, just before heading out on our midnight, torchlit procession.


8. There were a lot of awesome costumes. I remember talking with a Krampus hunter that I thought had a beautiful horn. (Her outfit, she said, was made from pieces of Krampi that she’d tracked and killed.) I also have a vague memory of my fellow organizer Chris Sandon interviewing a person on stage who had come dressed as “a blood-covered sheet.” And there was a guy wearing studded colander on his head. I assume he was an acolyte of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but I didn’t ask him. Instead we talked about his daughter going away to graduate school at MIT. And there were, of course, lots of Krampi. And Jessica Sheeran made some lovely, little cloven hooves for herself, which you can see below. And there was some kind of time-traveling, mullet-having bounty hunter. And we were joined once again by the silver god, who insisted upon checking IDs for us. I could go on, but I think that should give you a sense of just how eclectic the audience was.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 3.53.13 PM

9. If I had to identify one thing that didn’t go well, I’d have to say it was having my face set on fire.


Don’t worry. It’s an optical illusion. The woman on the left was just lighting her cigarette off of my torch, which was actually a few feet in front of my face when this photo was taken… The photo, by the way, was taken by Mike Perini, who also took the photo at the very top of the page, as well as the one of the band that I just shared. Mike, when he’s not reading the news on Michigan Radio, has has a show on WCBN called Pandora’s Lunchbox, and it was in that capacity that he interview Chris and I few days ago about our plans for Krampus. It’s a bit choppy, but, if you’d like to listen, here are the links. (Part 1. Part 2.) The best part is toward the end, where we talk about tMike playing Charlie Brown in a “Peanuts on Ice” reboot starring Krampus.

10. Also awesome were the Dirty Snowball Sundaes and Vegan Dirty Snowball Sundaes being served up by our friends at Go Ice Cream. Here’s a photo of a young woman eating a bit from one of her talons. If you’d like to know more about how the Dirty Snowball Sundaes were made, just follow these links to hear Mike Perini talking with Rob Hess, the man behind Go Ice Cream. (Part 1. Part 2.) Rob is a lovely man, and his ice cream is incredible.


11. As always, my favorite part of the night was the midnight march, which this year, in addition to torches, and kick ass music, also had shadow puppets projected on a bloody sheet. Here’s video of the march.

KRAMPUS 2014 from dirty bros. quality productions on Vimeo.

More videos of the march can be found here, here, and here.

12. We ended the night standing around a barrel fire on Water Street. We had the lid close by, in case we needed to smother it. And we had a fire extinguisher on hand. We did everything right. In spite of that, though, I was incredibly panicky all day, worrying that something would go wrong. It didn’t, though. And I’m thankful for that. I couldn’t have asked for the whole thing to go any better. And the memory of people standing around the barrel, tossing in the receipts and other scraps of paper in their pockets in order to get it going, is one that will stay with me for a long, long time. It was one of those beautiful Ypsi moments… people coming together when called on to make something magical happen.

Happy holidays, Ypsilanti.

As I can smell Christmas cookies being baked downstairs, I think it’s time for me to wrap this up. Before I do, though, there are several people I’d like to thank… Andy Claydon, Linette Lao and Jason Wright for watching the door, Morgan Cox and Casey Dawson for bartending, Brad Perkins for stepping in to pump beer when I had to light my torches, Ryan Dawson for DJing, Jason Youngs for running out and buying more beer for us when we ran out, the Dreamland team for everything that they did, Patrick Elkins for breaking out the shadow puppets, Canton Belanger for his basement slideshow, the cops of Ypsi for looking the other way and allowing us to do our thing, Go Ice Cream for bringing the dirty snowballs, Mike Perini and Patrick Dunn for spreading the gospel of Krampus, Rhyta Musik for putting the whole damn thing over the top, and Chris Sandon, my partner in all things Krampus, for making it all happen. I’m sure I left people out. If I did, I’m sorry.

And, if you came out, thank you. I hope you had a good time.

Oh, according to the New York Times, Krampus fever is spreading around the world, so don’t be surprised if next year things are even bigger and more awesome.

The following images are from Jennifer Albaum, Chris Sandon and Alexa Dietz.





For those of you interested in how Ypsi’s Krampus celebration has evolved over time, here are four links. If you follow them, I think you’ll get a pretty good sense of things: 2010 recap, 2011 recap, 2012 recap, 2013 recap.

Posted in Special Projects, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments


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