Paul Saginaw reminisces about his uncle “Chickie” the bookie, Stef Chura sings of alien love, and local historian James Mann insists that he’s not a ghost… on episode 8 of The Saturday Six Pack

Any lingering doubts that I might have had about this past weekend’s show faded away five minutes before we went live, when local historian James Mann barged into the AM 1700 studio demanding that I touch him while on the air, and confirm for the people of Ypsilanti that, despite the claims of a well-respected local blogger, he is not a ghost. Here he is, making the case that he is, just like the rest of us, a mere mortal.


For what it’s worth, I did not touch Mr. Mann. In his defense, though, I did try to look through him while he was in the studio, with no success. Make of that what you will. (I encouraged listeners to come to the intersection of Pearl and North Washington to attempt to pass their hands through him as he left the building, but I don’t believe anyone took me up on the idea.)

[If you would like to listen to the episode in its entirety, you can find it on both Soundcloud and iTunes. Or, if you want, you can just scroll down to end of this post, where you’ll find it embedded.]

Our first truly human guest was Zingerman’s co-fouder Paul Saginaw. In addition to talking about the history of Zingerman’s, the importance of raising the minimum wage, and all of the other stuff that someone in my position has to ask about when interviewing Paul, we talked quite a bit about his early years, the ad in Boys’ Life for a $109.95 Indian mini-bike that prompted him to get his first job at 13, and the promise of “free love and cheap drugs” that attracted him to Ann Arbor in ’71. Theres’a lot to like about the interview, but, if you’re pressed for time, I’d suggest you fast-forward to the 20-minute mark, which is where Paul starts talking about his uncle, Charles “Chickie” Sherman, one of Detroit’s most colorful and beloved bookies. It’s fascinating stuff. If you have the time to invest, I wouldn’t stop there, though. After we discuss his youth in Detroit, and his childhood collection of small animals preserved in formaldehyde, things take a somewhat serious turn when Paul talks about a friend’s suicide in the late ’70s, and how it caused him to reevaluate what he wanted to do with his life. It was this event, it would seem, that set in motion a chain of events that led to his dropping of our graduate school, and starting down the path he’s been on ever since… Here’s Paul telling us about the FBI investigation that brought down uncle Chickie and 16 Detroit cops on his payroll.


Toward the end of Paul’s visit, Ypsilantian of the Year Bee Roll, the owner of Beezy’s, dropped by to fill us in the progress of her recently launched ZipCap campaign… For those of you aren’t familiar with ZipCap, it’s a startup that helps small, independent retail businesses secure favorable credit terms from lenders by helping them to demonstrate that they have strong community support, and are therefore represent relatively safe investments. In Bee’s case, she was hoping to have 100 people sign up through ZipCap, pledging to spend $475 a year at Beezy’s, thereby demonstrating to lenders that a revenue stream existed which could then be borrowed against… so that, the next time she’s faced with an unplanned expense, she won’t be forced to go to a predatory lender that charges criminally high rates, thereby throwing Beezy’s into a death spiral. [Bee was accompanied by Evan Malter, the guy who started ZipCap.] Here’s Bee hugging Paul, for whom she used to work at Zingerman’s.


And, at the 53-minute mark, we played Peter Larson’s most recent musical contribution to the show, a cover of a Mississippi hill country blues number performed in Gambia on a cheap West African mini kora. [Pete also sent in this week’s opening theme, which he recorded in the presence of several women singing the praises of a prominent Gambian. Apparently, according to Pete, this is not an uncommon occurrence, as many women publicly praise people for money. And it’s the voices of these women that you hear at the beginning of this week’s intro. Pete thought, given how some have said that The Saturday Six Pack is just an platform from toadies and sycophants to kiss my ass, that it would be appropriate to make the connection.]

And, at the 58-minute, a few minutes ahead of schedule, our favorite Ypsi bar manager, Brigid Mooney, came down from the Wurst Bar to introduce us to a man named Brian Quinn. Brian, she assured us, was incredibly funny. And he was. I’d like to say more, but, as it wouldn’t make a lot of sense without the proper context, I’d just encourage you to just check it out… if only to learn the difference between a Classy Mooney and a Dirty Mooney.

Then, at 1:06, Stef Chura came in to chat for a while about the Detroit scene, and play a few songs. She was accompanied by drummer Ryan Clancy, whom, we were told, she met at a Jewish rave. As always, they were great… Here they are making rock and roll in the studio.


At 1:34, two local teens, Lily Gates (16) and Chloe Gates (15), came in for a phone-in segment we called Ask-A-Teen, during which several people phoned in with questions. For the most part, it went well. I got these sense, however, that their mom, who was with them in the studio, may have regretted it once the conversation turned to sex, and the their thoughts on the fertility of their babysitting clients. Here are Lilly and Chloe with their mother, Brooke, in the background, looking on.



Chloe, Lilly and I talked until the 2:07 mark, but there’s a brief break at 1:51, during which we played two short interviews sent it by our man on the street, Chris Sandon, who had been making his way from bar to bar during the show, asking Ypsilantians about their lives. His first interview subject was a man at the Tap Room from Columbia, who explained the differences between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. The second was a man who, if I understood correctly, shared a story about ejaculating in his pants. [Chris, as always, is brought to us by a generous grant from the FaceThruster Foundation.]

And, at 2:07, we were joined by bartenders from the Corner Brewery, who came by to share a few bonus beers and pitch the idea of a bartenders’ roundtable on a future show.

Thank you to everyone who called in, especially the fellow who initiated the conversation about asparagus the most bourgeois of vegetables.


If you like this episode, check out the past six in our iTunes archive.

[A big special thanks to the folks at 826michigan who once again hosted a listening party at their downtown Ann Arbor Robot Supply Store… and AM 1700 staff photographer Kate de Fuccio for all of awesome photos above.]

This entry was posted in entrepreneurism, Local Business, Locally Owned Business, Special Projects, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted March 9, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink


  2. Anonymous
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    My childhood would have been better with an Uncle Chickie.

  3. Dennis
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I showed up at that intersection like you said, but didn’t see James Mann. I could hear him, however.

    Is there something else you could do to prove he’s not a ghost?

    Maybe on air vivisection?

  4. idea man
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    On your first anniversary show, all of the guests inside should be sipping Classy Mooneys, while the riff raff outside chug Dirty Mooneys.

  5. Eel
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    I listened very carefully and he never says definitively that he’s not a ghost. Even if he did, though, that would not preclude him from being a time traveler.

    And I would like to request a debate between Jewish goths and Jewish revers.

  6. Demetrius
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Just in time … I have definitive proof that James Mann is not a ghost.

    The other morning, while backing out of my driveway, James Mann passed by on the sidewalk and set off my car’s my motion-detection sensor “beeper.”

    Could a ghost do THAT?

  7. Bee
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I love Paul. What a better world we have thanks to his contributions, his affinity for foul language, and I really like that he said on air that I’m “extremely intelligent”. He coulda just said “smart”.

  8. Kit
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Why is everyone so happy in Ypsilanti?

  9. Bee
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    i don’t know that we’re happy, but we’re usually having some kind of fun

    These are the smiles of shenanigans.

  10. Brooke Gates
    Posted March 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    This is great, the interview with Paul Saginaw was my favorite. Now the girls can say they’ve been on a radio show, their ONE and ONLY time on the radio, after the whole “I don’t like to read” and “boyfriends sleeping over” thing, I think I will nominate someone else’s kid for the next Ask a Teen – Bee Roll.

  11. Meta
    Posted March 12, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    There’s a new documentary about the death of the Jewish deli in America.

    When you hang out with deli men, the jokes get morbid.

    Which only seems natural. Delis—Jewish delis, that is—are not known as bastions of health. It’s pastrami by the pound at these artery-clogging establishments, chunks of chopped liver and babka in bulk. This food, to paraphrase Abe Lebewohl, the late owner of the Second Avenue Deli, will kill you.

    Speaking of death, the slow yet steady disappearance of the Jewish deli inspired Erik Anjou to direct his latest documentary, Deli Man. David “Ziggy” Gruber, who owns a deli in Houston, is the film’s star, and on a recent afternoon at the Second Avenue Deli, which is now located on 33rd Street between Lexington and Third, Mr. Gruber, Mr. Anjou and Jack Lebewohl (Abe’s brother) discussed the fate of the Jewish culinary tradition over pickles, barley soup and Dr. Brown’s soda.

    There are now about 150 delis across North America. In the 1930s, though, there were roughly 1,500 just in New York, “the de facto world capital of Jewish delicatessen,” as David Sax puts it in his 2010 book Save the Deli.

    “Forget about one on every block,” Mr. Lebewohl recalled. “You could have had several on a block. My brother started the Second Avenue Deli when I was a kid, in 1954, and at that time there were three delis on Second Avenue alone.”

    Read more:

  12. Kim
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Paul and Ari are speaking at the spring commencement.

4 Trackbacks

  1. By The Six Pack Portrait Project on March 12, 2015 at 9:48 am

    […] [Hear the episode where Paul tells us about his uncle Chickie.] […]

  2. […] This is the continuation of a conversation that began a few weeks ago on AM 1700’s Saturday Six Pack, where Even and Bee discussed how they’d come to find one another, among other […]

  3. […] loyal customer base, she was hopeful that they’d be able to establish a small line of credit. They, however, turned her down, forcing her to go to a predatory lender, where she ended up paying an annual interest rate of almost 80%. And, with that, debt began […]

  4. […] conducted here in Ypsi is getting so much positive national press. As we’ve discussed before, the work Evan is doing is incredibly important, and it’s good to see that people are beginning to recognize that fact. Hopefully this […]

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