The FBI and ATF are investigating yesterday’s fire at the Islamic Center of Ypsilanti

[The above image comes from the report which aired last night on Detroit’s NBC affiliate.]

Yesterday, at approximately 4:00 PM, firefighters were called to 5905 West Michigan Avenue to fight a fire at the Islamic Center of Ypsilanti. While Pittsfield Township Fire Chief Sean Gleason has gone on record saying that there’s no indication of arson, several in the community seem to think, given that no activities were taking place in the building at the time, and the rise in anti-Muslim violence across the United States, that the fire might have been deliberately set. And, it would appear that officials with both the FBI and the ATF share that concern, as both entities sent teams of investigators to Ypsilanti last night to initiate an investigation.

Regardless of the cause, though, the structure will have to be rebuilt. And, with that in mind, a crowdfunding effort has been initiated to raise $20,000. If you would like to contribute, just click here. [As of right now, they’ve already raised almost $6,000.] And, I think it goes without saying that, if you should know anything at all about the fire, you should contact the authorities. [The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has offered a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.]

Posted in Civil Liberties, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

And, as if by magic, good economic news is no longer fake news

Back when Obama was our president, Donald Trump would greet positive job growth reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics with skepticism…. Actually, it was more than just skepticism. He said that they were fake numbers. “Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,” Trump said in February 2016, when asked about a report detailing job growth under the Obama administration. He went on to say, “The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”

Now that he’s President, though, he’s a little less anxious to call such positive economic reports “phony.”

Yesterday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 235,000 new jobs had been added to the U.S. economy over the past month, Trump, through While House press secretary Sean Spicer, said that it was now safe to trust these numbers.

“I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly, ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now,'” Spicer said with a chuckle.

And the White House press corp, for what it’s worth, laughed right along with him.

This might seem like a trivial thing. I mean, most of us already know that Trump is a liar. But, Jesus Christ, this gets under my skin, this kind of winking acknowledgement of the fact that, ‘Yeah, everything he says is bullshit intended to manipulate the suckers in the Make America Great Again hats, but we know that it’s just a game, right?’ So, yeah, let’s share a big, hearty laugh about it now. We’re all in on the joke, right? The whole thing just infuriates me, and the fact that the press corp laughed along just makes it that much worse.

I mean, I knew that Trump was never going to “drain the swamp,” and that he didn’t really give a damn about Hillary Clinton using a private email server. I knew that his whole administration was built on a foundation of deceit. I wouldn’t say that I was alright with it, but it made sense to me. This, though, seems different to me. I didn’t think it was possible, but this is even more insidious. They aren’t just lying, but they’re simultaneously lying and laughing about it. They’re acknowledging that it’s all bullshit. And they know there’s not a damned thing that we can do about it. We’re so far down the alternative fact rabbit hole, we don’t even know which way is up anymore. All we can do, I guess, is laugh right along with them.

Posted in Politics, Rants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

There used to be four times as many grocery stores in Ypsilanti as restaurants

Remember how I was telling you a few days ago that I’d gotten my hands on a 1933 Ypsilanti phone book? Well, here’s a little something that I thought you might find of interest. Back in ’33, there were roughly four times as many grocery stores in Ypsilanti as restaurants. Granted, the shops in question were likely all very small, but, even so, the thought that our city, which only had a little over 10,000 residents at the time, could have kept 23 grocery stores in business, is kind of astounding. Here, for those of you who are interested, is the list. [It’s worth noting that this list doesn’t include either butcher shops or dairies.]

Now, in comparison, check out the list of restaurants that Ypsilanti had at the time.

So, what do you make of the fact that grocery stores once outnumbered restaurants by about four to one Ypsilanti? I suspect that, to a large extent, it can be explained by changes in the workforce, the growing desire for immediate gratification, and the ready availability of credit, but I’m sure there are other drivers as well. Regardless of how it came to pass, I find it absolutely fascinating. And I can’t help but wonder if the pendulum might ever swing back the other way, with more people cooking at home than going out. But, of course, a lot of that was built on an system in which a majority of families could be supported by a single income, leaving a second adult free to visit multiple stores, prepare home cooked meals, etc. And I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to that. One wonders, however, what things will look like in another 84 years. Will grocery stores exist at all? Will restaurants, as we know them today, even exist? Will there be something new altogether? Where do you see all of this headed? I’m envisioning a network of nutrient sludge distribution kiosks. but, then again, I think we’ll all be living underground by then.

Posted in Food, History, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

How proud are you to be living in a country where, on International Women’s Day, our President receives trademark approval for Trump branded escort services in China?

It’s being reported today that, after years of waiting, our President’s trademark application for Trump branded escort services in China has finally been approved.

Happy International Women’s Day!

While I suspect it’s just a precautionary move on Trump’s part, a proactive legal strategy to keep other vile men from from making a buck by using the valuable “Trump” brand to sell sex in China, I suppose, given Trump’s history when it come to pimping out young models, he could actually be positioning himself for a lucrative career in the international sex trade post impeachment. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

For what it’s worth, it wasn’t just his trademark for escort services that got preliminary approval today. Trump received approval for 37 other trademarks in China as well. He also got word that the Trump brand would be protected relative to hotels, spas, real estate companies, bars, massage parlors, and any number of other things. While Hong Kong intellectual-property officials told the Associate Press that the trademarks were approved much more quickly than usual, a partner at the Beijing law firm that represents the Trump Organization, Spring Chang, told reporters that she didn’t, “see any special treatment” on behalf of America’s new President.

Thankfully, elected officials, like Senator like Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, don’t seem willing to just let this pass without mention. In fact, Cardin is asking for a hearing, arguing this very well might be a violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which states that no-one holding elected office in the United States should “accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever” from a foreign government. And this really does look like a present on behalf of the Chinese government. Why, after denying Trump for over a decade, are they approving these trademarks now? What’s changed? And, come to think if it, why has Trump still not made good on his promise to address his multiple conflicts of interest?

Posted in Other, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Landline Creative Labs is almost open

There’s stuff I want to do tonight. I want to read more about this Republican answer to Obamacare, with the hope of better understanding how exactly it’s going to fuck my family. I want to do some research and see if there might be anything to this theory that it was the “catfishing” of Anthony Weiner by the Russians that ultimately opened the door to a Trump victory. And I want to watch Orson Welles in The Third Man, while it’s still on Netflix. But, instead, I’m just going to sit here, in my bed, sadly watching videos about how to operate a Diamabrush Wood Tool without either ripping my arms from their sockets or severing my toes.

Now that we’re in the final stages of preparing the second floor of 209 Pearl Street for Landline Creative Labs, this is what my life has become. While we’ve been working pretty constantly over the past ten months, now that we’re in the homestretch, things have really accelerated, and every spare minute, it seems, is being spent doing things like studying how to remove “gummy coatings” from 100 year old wood floors, or debating the merits of various electronic door lock systems.

And, really, that’s just about all there is left to do at this point. This week, the new doors go in, the bathroom fixtures get installed, and we finish the painting. The only big things left after that are refinishing the hardwood floors in a few of the spaces where we haven’t already put down new flooring, and assembling the light fixtures for the main hallway, which are going to be constructed from the old, glass, telephone line insulators. Other that that, there are just a million little things that we’ve got left to deal with… Whereas last night was spent slowly drilling through boxes of glass insulators, a few of which exploded in my hand due to the heat of the drill, most of my time tonight is going to be spent searching the web for high-res images of switchboard operators, like those who once worked in the building, in hopes of finding one that might work as a graphic on one of our doors. [I forgot to mention it, but 209 Pearl was built by Michigan Bell Telephone in 1926, and it’s where we had our local switchboard for a number of years.]

Here, in case you’re interested, is what an insulator-drilling sweatshop looks like.

As for the space, it’s super beautiful and we’re really happy with it. And, if all goes according to plan, we’ll begin moving tenants in on April 1. As for who those tenants are, as of right now, we’ve got leases signed with two video production firms, a photographer, a graphic design company, and a few other folks that I’ll be telling you more about soon… Now, though, I need to finish learning about the Diamabrush Wood Tool, and then transition archive searching mode, looking for the best local switchboard photo ever taken. Wish me luck.

Posted in Local Business, Locally Owned Business, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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