That show you loved is back in style… The return of Twin Peaks

    I know I should be writing about something other than Twin Peaks tonight, as everyone else in the world is posting their thoughts about today’s big announcement right now, but there’s really nothing else I want to write about. I mean, I sat here, trying to write about Naomi Wolf’s descent into madness, but my mind keeps coming back to David Lynch, and how absolutely poetic it is that Twin Peaks will be coming back on the air after 25 years… One wonders if this was Lynch’s plan all along, given what Laura Palmer promised Agent Cooper that time in the red room. [See the video below.]

    25yearsLaura

    For the five or six of you who may not have already heard… According published reports today, Showtime has committed for 9 episodes, to be set in the present day Twin Peaks, and following plot lines established during the show’s somewhat frustrating, yet still occasionally brilliant second season. And, best of all, all 9 episodes are to be directed by Lynch. While no official statements have been made relative to casting, word is that Kyle MacLachlan will be reprising his role as FBI Agent Dale Cooper, and I would imagine that almost everyone else on the original cast would love to join him. (Sadly, Jack Nance (Pete), Frank Silva (Bob), and Don Sinclair Davis (Major Briggs) have all passed away.)

    Coincidentally, I had just started re-watching Twin Peaks on Netflix last weekend, a few days before Lynch started dropping coded messages by way of Twitter, hinting at the return.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 2.30.43 PM

    [Trying to keep from getting hurt, I suppose, many Lynch fans were setting their sites low, not allowing themselves to get too worked up, for fear that the show might not really be coming back, despite the talk of our favorite gum coming back in style. One of my favorite theories floating around the internet was that Lynch was planning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show by launching a Twin Peaks brand of chewing gun.]

    Maybe it’s because Twin Peaks came onto the scene at a time when I was craving something that challenged me more than Matlock, or maybe it’s just because, when I lived in LA, I used to spend a lot of time in the Bob’s Big Boy where Lynch did so much of his writing, but, to this day, I have a lot of love in my heart for the man, and the incredibly ambitious series that he was somehow able to sell to ABC. It’s impossible for me to imagine a world without Twin Peaks, as it kind of reverberates through everything around us these days.

    And I know that the whole thing could very well suck. I know it’s probably very unlikely that anything made today could ever hit me as hard as Twin Peaks did when it first aired. But I’m extremely thankful that Lynch is being given an opportunity to once again work his way inside the minds of the American public, even if it means that, after over a decade without television, I may have to break my vow and go crawling back.

    As for potential plot lines, I don’t want to speculate. I am hoping, however, that there’s at least passing mention of the the Twin Peaks breastaraunt chain

    Now here are those video clips that I promised.

    Laura Palmer, “I’ll See You In 25 Years”:

    Today’s announcement from Lynch and Showtime:

    And it still amazes me that something like this was ever allowed to air on commercial television:

    Posted in Art and Culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

    Secret Art Show this Saturday

    subterraniangallery2

    I’m in the basement tonight, breathing in black mold and trying my best to make good on a promise.

    For the past few years, I’d been kicking around an idea for a tiny subterranean micro-gallery, which would be visible to only one person at a time, though a tiny window cut into the ground. The image, as it exists in my mind, is beautiful… just a small, glowing porthole in the ground, among the dirt, rocks, and grass, that, when stared into, reveals an illuminated object of some sort… The thought of just stumbling upon such a thing makes me incredibly happy.

    Well, I told an artist friend about this idea of mine some time ago, and he made me promise to complete my first prototype by October 11… and that’s why there’s no real post this evening. I’m busting my ass, trying to get something built. The hole has been dug, and I’m now building the box, which will reside below the earth, lit by a solar-powered light. As it’s the first iteration, it’ll likely suck, but it feels good to be making art again, and I’m already envisioning how I’ll improve the next one.

    As for the show, which this new piece of mine will be a part of, I’ve been asked not to publicize it. All I can say is that, if you wonder around Ypsi this Saturday, and keep your eyes open, you should find us… And, once you find us, be sure to look down. There might be art beneath your feet.

    Posted in Art and Culture, Mark's Life, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

      Bee Roll on wanting to grow Beezy’s and how you can help

      Bee Roll opened Beezy’s, her “simple, honest” restaurant in downtown Ypsilanti, on November 8, 2008. Over the past six years, quite a bit has changed. Beezy’s has become a vital anchor in downtown Ypsilanti. Among other things, it’s a place for people to meet over great food, a safe environment for kids to study in the evenings, and a lab for budding local food entrepreneurs. It’s a shining little beacon of light right at the heart of downtown Ypsilanti. And, according to Bee, that warm, flickering light is about to start burning a little brighter. Beginning on the weekend of November 7, Beezy’s will begin extending their hours on Friday and Saturday nights… That’s right, Beezy’s will be serving dinner… The thing is, Bee and her team need our help to make it happen.

      Gj8DbIj17LMNFElubape7NDKQK6MQ1IjuYNBWw00oO9QTyEeWYacSb_HFZiTbFF-t_MXKg=w1176-h509

      MARK: So, I hear there’s big news afoot… something about an evening menu.

      BEE: Well, a few things, yes! Starting November 7, Beezy’s will be open until 9:00 PM on Friday and Saturday nights.

      MARK: Are we talking “breakfast for dinner” type stuff, or something more?

      BEE: We’ll start with what we do best. Well have our signature soup and salad menu. We’ll have breakfast for dinner. And we’ll be rolling out some dinner friendly specials as well.

      MARK: I’m curious as to what you have in mind when it comes to “dinner friendly” specials. Would I be right to picture 1950’s comfort food?

      BEE: I’d say “70’s favorites,” but without the condensed soup as a base. Things like tuna casserole, meatloaf, goulash, and chicken pot pie to start. We’ll probably have two simple dinners in the beginning – one vegetarian-friendly, and one meaty. And a special outside of that. And we’ll have everything on our regular menu, which will include all of our breakfast items, until we close. Currently we serve breakfast until 2:00 PM every day – this facilitates staffing and clean-up more easily. Staying open later on Friday and Saturday means we’ll just keep the griddle fired-up through the afternoon.

      oHopqMGEfskIC7xBcaAFRZwuCQ2uFUHTarnRHRZu1iMYJp7vMmvNzITtPLlTP0fKZ3SbAQ=w1176-h509MARK: And why’s this something you’re thinking about now, after almost 6 years in business? Are you seeing more hungry people stumbling down Washington Street at night than you have in years past?

      BEE: We’re lucky in that almost all of our customer complaints have to do with how busy we are. People are always telling us that they’d like to eat at Beezy’s but can’t, because we’re packed during lunch, and they can’t get here before we close at 4:00. We hear the same things on weekends about brunch. So we thought that we’d try serving dinner a few days a week.

      MARK: If I’m not mistaken, when you first started out, you were open later than 4:00, right?

      BEE: Yeah. When we first opened, we didn’t close until 6:00 PM, and then we tried 7:00 for while. But there just wasn’t enough evening traffic to make it work. We shifted gears and put our energy into extending our breakfast hours. We started serving breakfast later through the week, and began opening on Sundays, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. And it worked fabulously. But it’s time to test the waters again, and I like trying out new things during “cozy time.” (Cozy time is my patented phrase for mid-autumn.)

      MARK: If there wasn’t enough foot traffic to make evening hours viable 5 years ago, why do you think that it’ll work now? Is there more foot traffic? Or is it just that the Beezy’s brand is strong enough now to pull people from farther away?

      BEE: I don’t think it’s that there’s more foot traffic necessarily, but there’s other good stuff going on downtown in the evening, more destination traffic for Red Rock, Bona Sera, and the Mix Studio Theater. And there’s certainly larger brand awareness for Beezy’s. I think we’ve also established ourselves as incredibly trustworthy in the consistency department – people trust we’ll be good and service will be good, and I think that’s an underrated aspect of going out to eat. I’m not reinventing the wheel with my menu, ever, but I’m constantly looking for ways to streamline service, while delivering a consistently amazing experience. I think providing the high level of engagement we do, and being a place to get a solid meal without booze, makes things move at a different pace. Relaxed and independent, but thoughtful and thorough. Not relying on folks getting inebriated means more pressure for us in many ways, but I’d rather be a meaningful stop for someone on their way to an event, or to pick up a nice 6-pack to enjoy on their stoop. There’s just not a lot of straightforward food available around town after we close. You can get upscale (Bona Sera) and bar food galore, but I think Beezy’s fills a gap for fast, fresh, fun food.

      wOOKKULZ7S0tLeAl80XixXnaWfEd4gikLyFv-M8L_6Vrya4sqqh4fvrrONOY2MMWz2qblw=w1176-h510MARK: Why do you like rolling new things out during cozy time? Is it just because things are slower, and you have more time to work stuff out?

      BEE: Yeah, it’s a good time to practice and gain insight. I also think the food I’m attracted to lends itself well to fall and winter.

      MARK: And what happens when winter ends?

      BEE: We start hosting the 826michigan Washington Street Tutoring Lab again in October, and that takes over our space Monday through Thursday evenings for the duration of the school year. But, after that, depending on how things go on Friday and Saturday evenings, we could open up more nights with a new spring/summer menu.

      MARK: So, any other thoughts as to why this is a good time to explore growth?

      BEE: Yeah. I have a magnificent staff that wants to make beautiful, messy food for people. It’s a sort of like therapy, making food for people. And making food for people in the winter is particularly uplifting. It brings people together in a way that they just can’t in warmer seasons. I mean, there’s a special survival quality about Michigan winter. And we love the idea of people intentionally bundling up and trekking down Washington Street to Beezy’s. We want to be a destination for ridiculously delicious, hearty winter foodstuffs. And, then, maybe we’d inspire some sledding in Riverside Park with a warm, full bellies and hearts. We’ve all been talking about building snow forts, and snowcoming (like a homecoming dance in high school but during the snowy times… not sports related, at least not in my mind!), and snowball fights, and making winter not suck this year, so, that’s probably why more than anything else!

      MARK: Anything else you’d like for folks to know?

      BEE: Well, I’ve also been giving some thought to hosting a pop-up dinners. Like a tap takeover, but for our tiny kitchen, with different cooks coming in and showing us what they can do.

      MARK: Assuming there’s anyone in the audience right now that loves Beezy’s, and wants to make this happen, is there some way that they can help? I know, for instance, a couple of years ago, when you were trying to recover after having money stolen from your safe, you pre-sold Beezy’s cards as a way of raising capital. Might you explore doing something like that again, to help you through this “cozy time” launch?

      BEE: We’ve had a couple of giftcard fundraising campaigns in the past, and they’ve proven to be very successful. People essentially pre-bought their meals, by purchasing giftcards, and we took that money and put it toward immediately improving some aspect of Beezy’s. Our customers eventually got all of their money back, in the form of food, and we were able to ensure a long lasting, more sustainable Beezy’s.

      MARK: It’s kind of a difficult balancing act, isn’t it? I mean, when you go that route, you want to bring in as much money as you can, but, at the same time, you have to be remember that eventually people are going to be coming in with those cards, wanting that food that they pre-purchased, and you don’t want to be hit with that all at once.

      BEE: We’ve always been conservative about it. We’ve capped the amounts, and made sure that we’d be able to honor everything. Which we have. As of right now, I believe that all of those earlier cards have been depleted. So, yes, we’re thinking that now might be a good time to do it again. Expanding dinner service is going to take some investment on our part, and we think that this would be good way to do it. The bank is a slow moving beast for me and my tiny operation and because I’m not wildly profitable, or operating with conventional credit, I’m not an attractive risk for the bank. The gift card premise is a winning model for smaller scale investments. There’s always only so much that can get done, but the whole “it takes money to make money” adage is true…

      qJ1xom6wxsjuzYw30fSnnMn5F2lPCqlwBtnXkJyHoAmqyCCUlw2qhBmj6za4f-e4HLKXKg=w1176-h509MARK: So, how would you structure it this time?

      BEE: We’ve been talking about changing things up a bit. The basic idea would be the same – people would be pre-buying the food they love at Beezy’s – but we want to change things up a bit. Most recently, we’ve been talking about setting up a “Beezy’s Plate Club,” where Beezy’s would have a plate in your name that would stay here in a Hoosier style cabinet.

      MARK: So, if you were to invest in, say, $1,000 worth of Beezy’s cards, you’d get to eat from your own special plate whenever you came to Beezy’s?

      BEE: Yeah, that’s what we’re thinking. We’re also thinking that, as someone who invested in Beezy’s, you’d also get first dibs on any special dinner events, and things like that.

      MARK: By “special events” are you talking about the Kitchen Takeover nights that you mentioned earlier, or do you have something else in mind… like maybe the occasional big, family style dinner on a Sunday night, where you just sit a limited number of people, serve everything family style, and let people bring their own wine in?

      BEE: Yeah- stuff like that. With the tutoring lab on a school year schedule, I can see holiday dinners happening, or self-serve family style community dining. I’m not a fancy events kind of gal, but some good mingling in a cozy space with hearty, unpretentious food is no less something fun to do.

      MARK: Assuming there are folks out there who would want to help out, but don’t have the money on hand to purchase $1,000 in gift cards, is there something else that they can do? Will there be different levels of support?

      BEE: Yes – well, first, there’s always giftcards for sale. These are always a great way to support a business. To simplify the process, I want to promote the $1,000 gift card package for now, though. I’ve set a cap of 25 for the initial push. If people wanted to pool their resources, though, and go in on one plate-share, I’m all for it.

      MARK: So your intention isn’t to offer lesser levels of support, at least at this time?

      BEE: I haven’t put much energy into thinking about different investment levels, but I’m open to it. I’m not great at “prizes,” though. I think we all have enough t-shirts and trinkets. Instead, I want to put the money into making Beezy’s work better. And I think people will be OK with that. People, I think, see Beezy’s as a hub for positive activity in Ypsilanti, and I think they’d like to know that their money is going toward that. But, yeah, for the time being, I’d like to focus on finding 25 supporters who are willing to pre-buy $1,000 worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. With that said, though, we’d love to sell people giftcards of any denomination… They make great holiday presents, rewards for staff, for yourself!

      AivGa4YQKkYj5CoNVN3IgCiXZm8IrDfvLgit061cAhbK1rTzAtm1AqVMZZigaB1tdXu5Rg=w1176-h509MARK: So, if people should want to help make this happen, and want to get a gift card, what should they do?

      BEE: Just send an email to beezy@beezyscafe.com, I’ll prepare a card, and we can arrange to make a transfer… I’’l also ask you to sign a giftcard agreement with some basic rules, like “you agree not to spend this all in one day” and “it never expires as long as Beezy’s is in operation.” If you come in and see me at the right alignment of the stars, I may pick you up and spin you around. Sort of depends on how many babies I’m carrying at the time and your size. I don’t think I can spin over 200#. But jazz hands, there’s always jazz hands.

      MARK: Anything else?

      BEE: I don’t know. Lots? I want to rail about how the world works, and how I grew up poor, and that affects every aspect of my thinking. Asking for help is hard. People with money get money. Beezy’s bootstraps. We’re not fancy. We focus on doing a great job, making simple, honest food. I employ 14 people that live locally. I believe I make a difference in their lives. And, in turn, they make a difference in our community. Making dinners for people is gonna be great. It gives us another few hours to help change the world.

      BeeBee2

      [All photos, except for the very last one, were taken by Alex Mandrila… And, if you’d like to know more about Bee and Beezy’s, check out our interviews with her on her first anniversary, and on her fifth.]

      Posted in Art and Culture, Local Business, Locally Owned Business, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

      All our Heroes are Probably Assholes: Tom Morello edition

      morello2

      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.

      Screen shot 2014-09-30 at 9.08.53 PM

      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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

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