The impressive street value of my dog

Apparently I’ve got quite a commodity. This evening, after responding to a young man’s question about Ollie’s sex, I was given the following piece of advice… “Get some puppies out (of) that bitch,” he said enthusiastically, “and make some money!”

As I didn’t want for him to laugh in my face for being a sucker, I just thanked him for the tip, and walked on, choosing not to mention that I’d actually just payed a few hundred bucks to have her spayed. Now, though, I’m wishing that I’d told him.

No more than ten minutes after receiving the above advice, another young man stopped me. He asked what kind of breed she was, and I told him that she was some kind of bull mastiff mix. Taking a step closer, he then asked if she’d been fixed. I told him that she had, and that was apparently all he had to hear to immediately lose interest. He walked away without another word. While I don’t think that he would have necessarily picked her up and run off with her if I’d said that she hadn’t been fixed, it was a strangely tense conversation, and it makes me wonder if maybe I need to make a little vest for Ollie that says something like, “No Uterus” on one side, and “Zero Street Value” on the other.

Here’s a photo I took of Ollie this evening. I’m not sure what it is about her that’s attracting so much attention today. I guess, though, that maybe some people can sense it when “bitches” come of age.

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Speaking of dogs in Ypsi, has anyone else noticed that there are more giant, unleashed dogs just laying around in people’s front yards than ever before? I can deal with rabid dogs running along fence lines, barking and flashing their sharp, foam-covered teeth, but it kind of sucks when you’re dependent upon someone sitting on a porch drinking beer to come down and grab the collar of a lunging dog just so that you can just make your way down the sidewalk.

Posted in Mark's Life, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Mittenfest to return to Ypsilanti

During last night’s episode of The Saturday Six Pack, some pretty huge news was broken. Amanda Uhle, the executive director of 826michigan, announced that everyone’s favorite fiercely-Michigan winter music festival, Mittenfest, would be returning to Ypsilanti. This year, according to Uhle, the multi-day event will be taking place in the cavern beneath Bona Sera, beginning on Tuesday, December 29, and running trough Saturday, January 2. Asked why the festival would be returning, after having moved to Ann Arbor last year in the wake of Woodruff’s having closed, Uhle said, “Ypsi has always felt really right.”

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This is great news for Ypsi, and I cannot express how appreciative I am that Uhle and others put in the effort to bring this feel-good end-of-year event back to Ypsilanti from Ann Arbor. Not only is it an awesome festival, but all of the money raised over the course of the event goes toward funding 826michigan’s programs in Ypsilanti, helping our kids unlock their potential and become great writers.

A few quick thoughts and ideas…

1. While the good folks behind Mittenfest haven’t yet officially started taking applications from bands around the state that would like to perform, their contact information is online, and I’d encourage interested parties (especially those in bands that I like) to start reaching out to them as soon as possible.

2. I don’t know if such a thing would be possible, but it would be great if this year’s big event could be kicked off with Lee Osler performing his classic, Back to Ypsilanti. It would be both incredibly appropriate, given the return of the festival, and amazingly beautiful.

3. Given that the last day of Mittenfest is a Saturday, I’m thinking that we might be able to work it out so that The Saturday Six Pack could host some kind of complimnetary event. I’m not yet sure what it would look like, but I’m suspect that we could figure something out. Maybe we’d have kids from 826 in the studio, reading their work between recorded highlights from the previous nights’ shows. Or maybe we’d just leave our door open, and invite people in to talk as they make their way in and out of Bona Sera, which is right down the block from the AM 1700 studio. If you have other ideas, let me know.

4. I’m not sure how it would work, but it would also be cool if the work that Matt Jones has been doing to identify and record musicians around the state could somehow be leveraged for Mittenfest. Again, I’m not sure what it would look like, but, as the two things seem to share certain pro-Michigan spirit, I think it would be cool if a way could be found for the parties involved to work together. Maybe, for instance, Matt could reach out through his rapidly evolving network to get more musicians here from other parts of the state for the event. Or, maybe, if there are some folks on the bill who he hasn’t yet documented, he could record them for his project when they come into Ypsi for Mittenfest. Or maybe he could even release some of his recordings in the run up to Mittenfest, drawing attention to the depth and breadth of work being produced here, in the mitten state. Now, that would be cool.

OK, that’s it for now… If you still want more, check out this interview I did a while back about the origins of Mittenfest… And do buy tickets for this year’s event, once they go on sale. 826 is doing great work in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Detroit, and they deserve our support.

[The above Mittenfest poster, to which I added “Back to Ypsilanti,” was designed by Jen Harley.]

Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Zine Show… coming soon to Ypsilanti’s 22 North Gallery

On Saturday, October 24 there’s going to be a big zine show at Ypsilanti’s 22 North Gallery. [Doors open at 6:00 PM and close at 10:00 PM.] Here, with details on what to expect, is a quick interview with two of the show’s curators, Erin Anderson-Ruddon and Katy Shay, the latter of whom will also be joining me on the Spetember 19 edition of Saturday Six Pack to talk about the show in more detail.

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MARK: So, what can you tell me about the zine show you’ve got coming up on October 24?

ERIN: There will be zines and original artwork from over 75 artists. A majority will be from the people in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, but we’ll have work from people around the country on display. We’ll also have a few speakers talking about the value and greatness of zines, and Matthew Nisbett will be playing some of his wonderful music for us.

KATY: Displaying zines is really difficult in an art gallery, but Erin has some great ideas. I think it’s going to be beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what she does with the space… I’m going to be speaking about zines, their power as artistic expression, their physical meaning in an increasingly digital world… Zines are having a resurgence right now, and I feel like it’s partially because they give us a way to engage outside of the computer, in a more intimate and physical way.

MARK: And this is something that you’ve done before, at Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor, right?

ERIN: Yes, the Vault of Midnight has been so amazingly supportive. They’ve hosted many of our pop-up community art shows over the years, including the last Zine Show.

KATY: We did the last Zine Show in 2013, I think. It was amazing! So much fun. Izzy Johnson played, and the Vault was a terrific venue. The artists, writers, and zinesters who participated came up with a really wide variety of stuff. I was incredible.

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[above: Beloved Favorite No.1 by Grace Rother]

MARK: Other than the location, how is this year going to be different?

ERIN: We’re really excited about how much the show has grown since the last one, in terms of the number of people getting involved. I think we featured the work of around 20 artists at the 2013 Zine Show. There are over three times that many participating this time, though. We’re thrilled to be working with such a talented group of artists, writers, and zine makers, and we can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. We’re also excited to be setting up this year’s Zine Show in the beautiful gallery space at 22 North, as we’ve typically adapted our community art shows to spaces that aren’t traditionally used as galleries. This has always been part of the fun of it, but we’re looking forward to doing it in a gallery. The 22 North space will be perfect… a much deserved showcase for the works of art, and labors of love, that zines typically are.

KATY: Because we invited a lot more people to participate in this show, the content will be a lot more wide and varied. We have people from all over the country participating. And we didn’t put any restrictions on what the zines can be about, so it’ll be really fascinating to see what people are going to come up with.

MARK: Will you be contributing zines of your own?

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 11.24.57 PMKATY: Yeah. My zine is going to be a hodge-podge of weird shit I’ve written, drawn, thought about in the last three or four months. It’s interesting to put a zine together like this, it’s different than coming up with a concept and executing it. I’m letting the content shape the zine. [right: Image from Hot Tee no. 1]

In fact I came up with the zine name, Hot Tee before I really thought about what would go in it. I just wanted it to hark back to the old-school zines of the 90’s, before the internet.

I remember being really into this one zine where a girl wrote a review of a Cibbo Matto concert she went to in New York and how she got ice cream alone afterwards. I thought she was the COOLEST. The other things in the zine were about bands she liked, and the way people treated her at school. I want Hot Tee to be like that, episodic, with no real connection between the pieces beyond personal interest/desire to share.

MARK: How about you, Erin… will you be contributing a zine for the show?

ERIN: Yes. Right now I am working on an artist zine which is a sort of peek into several of my current and past sketchbooks. It’s a lot more freeform than the one I contributed to the last Zine Show. My creative process if often pretty structured, and I’m really enjoying the looseness this time of recombining the elements of creative play and experimentation that often live in an artist’s sketchbook, but don’t always get shared or seen by others. I also have a smaller, more object-based zine in mind that I would like to produce. As it currently exists in my head, it will be a hand-printed, accordion fold linoleum block print piece, but we’ll see if time affords itself! [below: Untitled work in progress by Erin Anderson-Ruddon]

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 11.22.19 PMMARK: Are there any submissions that you’ve received thus far that you’d like to mention, to give people a sense as to what they might see if they come to the show?

ERIN: Right now, we haven’t actually seen many of the works in progress that people will be contributing to this year’s show. However, most of the artists/writers/makers are folks that we have worked with on various community art shows over the years, and there will definitely be a broad spectrum of styles and content based on this experience. We will be having a get-together mid-September to share and workshop our zines, and I look forward to seeing what everyone has been working on then. We really have an amazing group of people assembled for this year’s show and I cannot wait to see how it all comes together… I know it will be great!

MARK: How did you both get interested in zines?

hotteeKATY: My very cool friend Beth introduced me to Riot Grrl music and zines because I had a crush on a boy with a chelsea haircut who was into Seven Year Bitch and L7 and stuff. I was immediately hooked. I love the physical intimacy of a zine. I love holding it close to you and that cozy space between you and something someone made with their hands. It’s like seeing someone else’s bedroom when you’re a teenager. You learn a whole lot about them. [right: Hot Tee no. 1]

A lot of Riot Grrl zines had personal stories of abuse at the hands of family, boyfriends, schoolmates and writings about depression and anxiety. I really connected with it there was nothing like that out there for a teenaged girl living in Western Michigan. Again, it was before the internet and finding zines and music… It was like a the clouds opened and the heavenly chorus sang. It made me feel like I wasn’t the only girl in the world.

Beth and I made a zine together called Fresh! which was a send up of Seventeen and Sassy type magazines. It was pretty stupid… we were thirteen. We made fun of preps and jocks and eventually I stopped pulling my weight and Beth took Fresh! over. In 9th grade I made a zine called Laugh it Up Fuzzball which was TERRIBLE.

I got more into zines after taking Linette Lao’s zine class at Eastern. Linette is awesome, and really encouraging. I was really proud of the work I did in that class… both as a writer/author but also as a peer to my fellow students. I really liked helping other students figure out ideas, do storyboarding, and so on. After that class, I was just totally zine crazy. I’ve produced like seven in the last three years. Doing the last zine show was just wonderful. I got to see how my friends played with the medium. And these are really creative people, painters, writers, comic artists, designers… pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and trying a new thing either in medium, or just in the actual physical constraints of a zine.

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[above: 2015, work-in-progress page from Lucy Cahill’s “Famous Freak-Outs” zine. This is a scene from “Empire Records.”]

ERIN: I first learned about and got into zines when I discovered punk rock music and it’s inspiring DIY culture. The earliest zines that I collected were mostly political in nature, including a copy of the well-known feminist zine Hot Pants, which I still have on my bookshelf to this day. My initial attempts at making zines in middle and high school were earnest but pretty hilarious, and were mostly comprised of strings of expletives and collaged images and text. I revisited zine-making again in my last year of college, and my senior project was a collaborative zine that I published and released at a show I held at the Blind Pig. I have admired zines for a long time and it’s really great to see how the medium and culture continue to evolve. There are so many wonderful, different kinds of zines out there, from the political, informational and how-to, to the incredibly brave personal narratives, to gorgeous image-filled artist zines and comics. They are such a wonderfully democratic and versatile platform for expression.

MARK: And you’re currently accepting submissions?

KATY: We’re actually not accepting any more submissions. The deadline has passed. But I do want to encourage people to bring their zines to the event! Some of the artists, including myself, are really into trades!!!

ERIN: And we’ll have a place for attendees who are interested in participating in future shows to sign up for more information. We would love to continue to grow this show each year. And we definitely encourage local makers who are not exhibiting at this year’s show to bring their zines to share and trade at the opening if they would like to do so.

[Show flyer above by Lucy Cahill.]

Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Author and illustrator Phoebe Gloeckner on the new film adaptation of her book The Diary of a Teenage Girl, 826 Michigan’s Amanda Uhle on the future of Mittenfest, and Pete Larson flies in from Kenya to perform live …on this weekend’s edition of the Saturday Six Pack

DiaryOfATeenageGirlWe’re not quite sure why, but the woman behind the most talked about coming-of-age movie in the country this summer, author and illustrator Phoebe Gloeckner, has agreed to come on the Saturday Six Pack this weekend and tell us what it’s like to see your young, semi-autobiographical self projected on the silver screen in front of people made painfully uncomfortable by unflinching depictions of young female sexuality. Maybe she thinks I’ll get at things that Terry Gross didn’t uncover when they spoke last week. Or maybe she just wants a friendly place to vent and have a drink after wrapping up an intense promotional tour, traveling from city to city to answer the same questions over and over again. Either way, it promises to be an interesting evening, especially for those of us who have read Gloeckner’s intensely personal and painfully honest novel that spawned the film, The Diary of a Teenage Girl… Here, for those of you who are not familiar with her work, is the trailer for the film, which begins a three-day run at the Michigan Theater this Friday.

In addition to Gloeckner, we’ll also be visited by two other folks this Saturday evening. One of them is someone who has been on the show before, our friend from Kenya, Dr. Peter Larson, who will be stopping by to tell us about mashed potato borne illnesses and playing some of the songs that he’s been sending into the show each week from Africa. Speaking of those songs Pete has been writing for us every week, here’s a version of one that he just recently recorded with drummer Taiko No Tettsu in Osaka. [If you like it, be sure to come to Ypsi on Sunday, September 6th, when Pete will be playing a free show on the Washington Street porch of J.T. Garfield.]

And we also have a last minute bonus guest… Amanda Uhle, the executive director of 826michigan, will be dropping by to talk about the work the creative writing non-profit has been doing in Ypsi, and share some big news concerning this winter’s Mittenfest event.

And, here, thanks to AM 1700 graphic designer Kate de Fuccio, is this week’s poster, in case any of you want to print it out and leave it laying around your workplace.

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FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NEVER TUNED IN TO THE SIX PACK BEFORE, HERE ARE THE DETAILS ON HOW TO LISTEN:

Unless you live inside the AM 1700 studio, chances are you won’t be able to pick the show up on your radio. As that’s the case, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of TuneIn.com.

And for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

One last thing… If you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, feel free to share the Facebook event listing.

And do call us if you have a chance. We love phone calls. So please scratch this number into the cinder block wall of the recreation room of whichever facility you’ve been assigned to… 734.217.8624… and call us between 5:00 and 7:00 this Saturday evening. The show is nothing without you. And I mean that. [And you read that right. This week’s show is going to be starting an hour earlier, at 5:00, as the owner of AM 1700 needs to hightail it early so that he can drink beer in the woods with Germans.]

Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

“1000’s of Live Girls and 3 Undead Ones”

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Maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Walking Dead, but, when I was cutting through the parking lot behind Deja Vu with my dog yesterday, and ran into this car of theirs, my mind went immediately to zombies. As I’ve never seen it rolling around town, I imagine they only use it in case of stripper emergencies. Still, though, I can’t imagine it’s good for business.

As for the title of this post, it’s a reference to the strip club’s much-dispised slogan… “1000’s of Beautiful Girls and 3 Ugly Ones“.

Posted in Local Business, Mark's Life, Marketing, Observations, Photographs | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

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