From Ike to Mike: advice for a trip to Ann Arbor

Two days before Christmas ’14, braking to avoid a Chilean weiner dog while rolling down a potted hill threw me into a ditch where the landing fractured and dislocated my shoulder while bruising my brachial plexus. I found ways to practice without a right arm and within 6 months I was managing to do most everything I’d done before. But dexterity and strength were slow in coming. By February ’16 I was sufficiently frustrated with UofM’s therapists to seek help elsewhere, with crazy Mike Barwis, strength and conditioning coach for Rich Rodriguez’ Michigan football team. His shop in Plymouth – Barwis Methods – drew pro and amateur athletes from around to country for his rigorous and unorthodox programs. Civilians like me came too, manly “weekend warriors” nursing an injury or just seeking to up their game. I guess wrecking a shoulder biking counts as a sports injury. I knew they wouldn’t coddle me, and my trainers Mike and Sara didn’t. By August, my arm and hand were 90% as good as before the accident. I was pleased. Here’s the team that did it.

The team at Barwis Methods, Plymouth MI. Mike, Ike, Mike Barwis (proprietor), girl trainer whose name I’ve forgotten. Photo taken by Brandon Graham, DE, Philadephia Eagles.

When young Mike began seeking advice about what he and his friends might like to do on an Ann Arbor visit, I gave him tidbits for a while then offered to write the advice down. When Mike found that a good idea, I set to work describing how I like to see Ann Arbor. From my 2020 perch, I can now say I’ve lived here all but 8 of the last 50 years. So I know what’s here and I know what parts of it I like. It goes kinda like this:

So, if your friends are insisting you come west to this leafy town of Commie eggheads, “Seven square miles surrounded by reality”, “Twee town”, you might want to know a few spots where someone like me would go for sustenance.  What I’ve laid out here is less a tour than a collection of suggestions.   For mundane info like streets and directions, this should help: (1)

Breakfast.  The most important meal of your day, whether it comes on the fore end of your assault on a new town, or at the close of a night of debauchery.  For the latter, see “Fleetwood” below.  If you really do get to AA early enough for breakfast, there are 2 spots where you couldn’t go wrong.  The Northside Grill, near me on Plymouth just past Maiden Lane on the north side of the street, is a busy place but they get everyone fed.  They’ll serve you coffee outside as you wait for your table.  Parking is available behind and aside the place, and around the abandoned structure next door.  Order the “Kitchen Sink” with a couple eggs over easy on the side from your tattooed waiter with the ankle tether, and be sure to douse ‘em with lots of Clancy’s Fancy.  If you’re not burning 5000 kCals/d in Barwis’ gym, you could consider sharing.  Kathy and I always do.  Or, there’s Angelo’s, down towards campus on the corner of Glen and Catherine.  If you had a U of M parking pass, you could park kitty-corner north at the NIB lot, with the “naked family” sculpture right in front.  Tell me that “dad” isn’t executing a Jerry Sandusky move on the held “boy”.  They do drape portions of the sculpture during Homecoming week.  My office is in NIB 7th floor, but hardly tourist worthy.  Angelo’s has a little lot to the side.  Otherwise, you’ll need to park at Palmer Commons and walk the several blocks up.  Many academic deals are cut here.  The pair sitting next to you may be an up-and-comer and his chief, the former’s career hanging on the latter’s granting of more lab space.  Oh, and the food’s terrific.  Some walk in and just order “the song” based on local talented but never-made-it-big singer Dick Siegal’s hit (2).

Parking.  Driving is hard in AA with all the one way streets, and parking is worse.  If you want to start your assault on AA by taking on the diag (my recommendation), there are 2 big lots.  The first is under Power Center, big glass and steel theater building just off Jackson Road.  According to the U-M Parking web page, this is no longer open to the public.  Palmer Commons, round the North U. corner is.

Once situated, walk North U west.  Check the Pumas out in front of the Natural History Museum.   Inside there’s dinosaur skeletons, stuffed wolverines, everything (3).  .  If you take a right and walk over the bridge you’ll find yourself in the back yard of Stockwell Hall, famed “virgin vault” girls’ dorm that was home to Madonna during her one year here. Then walk over to Ingalls Mall, which runs from the steps of Rackham (grad school) to the Grad Library.  Highlights there include the Bell Tower (Burton Tower) (which houses the Baird Carillon given to the U by the AD who had hired Fielding H. Yost) and the fountain “Sunday Morning in Deep Waters” (4). The Bell Tower was site of a famous dive, when troubled Regent Sarah Power tossed herself onto the ground below at 10 AM Tuesday 3/25/87, when crowds of students from nearby classrooms were scurrying through there on to their next classes, providing an ample audience for the spectacle. Regarding the fountain, at orientation students are asked to walk through the fountain on Ingalls Mall, they walk “towards” campus or the diag.   Then after graduation, students are supposed to walk the other way through the fountain “away” from campus, but towards graduate school, representing the journey towards further learning and education.   I haven’t heard that dipping a body part in it might confer extra intelligence on the dipper.  And any body of running water gives me a certain urge, but my wife has always stopped me so I don’t know the consequences, other than a “come-and-see-us-again” invite from the AA police.

Then, cross North U onto the Diag!   Much has happened here over the years.   Your only touchpoint should be the big brass M, gift of the class of ’53, in the very center of the diag.  Legend has it that any Freshman who steps on the M before taking his first exam will fail that exam.  One common sight on graduation day is seeing new grads in their robes jumping up and down on the M.

Are you getting thirsty?  Go back around the back of the Grad Library and find the little walkway between The Clements Library and The President’s (Dr. Schlissel’s) house.  I’ve been through 6 presidents at U of M and Dr. Schlissel is the best.  Hey, he hired Jim Hackett and Jim Harbaugh, and so far he’s left me alone.  You’re about to cross South U, site of some memorable street riots in ’69.  As one witness famously described “They was fornifuckatin’ in the streets!”(5).

From lawlessness to William Cook’s famous law school quadrangle (6). Take a little right and go in through one of the small openings through to the inner courtyard.   Many famous alums.  My favorite: Ann Coulter (U of M JD ’88). 

As you walk out of the law quad towards the B school, see the little house with the big porch across the way.  That’s Dominick’s, beloved outdoor watering hole of generations of U-M students (not just lawyers)(7).  The beer comes in old canning jars, but the selection is good.  They also feature their own homemade sangria and something pink called “Constant Buzz”, which you can only buy in a 2 quart jar.  Food’s not bad, either.

Why anyone would want to leave Dominick’s, I can’t understand.  But if you must, you’ll want to walk back up to South U.  The B-school is right there on the same street as Dominick’s, but there’s nothing to see there.  On South U, corner of East U, right in front of Ulrich’s is the McDivitt-White Plaza, honoring U of M’s 2 Apollo astronauts, Jim McDivitt, who circled the moon in Apollo 8 and Ed White who suffocated with 2 others in the Apollo I fire while the capsule was still atop the unlit booster.   Going east on South U a block or 2, you’ll run into Goodtime Charlies, a sprawling student bar with a nice outdoor area.  I don’t go there myself, but youngsters seem to like it.  Another block or 2 then right on Forest gets you to Ric’s Café Americain.  You won’t find Bogie there, but I’m sure more than a few Bogie lines have been tossed by young men seeking hookups, for which Ric’s is the clear campus leader.

Time to head back to campus.  If you walk back west on South U, you’ll cross State St. right over onto the steps of the Michigan Union.  It was here at 2 in the morning on an October ’60 campaign stop that John F. Kennedy first laid out his vision for the Peace Corps.  There’s a small plaque commemorating the event.  The Union’s a cool old building.  Until ’69, co-eds were not allowed to come up to the 2nd floor to use the pool tables, which are still there.  Progress?  They had the League (over by the fountain). 

Now way south on State St is Schembechler hall and the football museum.  I’ll mention that later among the “non-contiguous attractions”.   Just north of the Union you’ll come to a little plaza framed by the Fleming Admin building, LS&A Bldg, Admissions Building.  It’ll be easy to pick out the attraction: the cube, a black metal cube perched on a corner and spinnable.  Go nuts.  There are no cautionary tales for the cube like there are for the block M.  Up this same little street for a few blocks and you’ll come to Hopcat.  Not the original (which is in Grand Rapids) but pretty darn good just the same.  Great deal on burgers and beers Monday happy hour.  Burgers great any day, “crack fries” (now called “cosmic fries” out of deference to crackheads everywhere) outstanding.   Now go back south a little and enter Nickels Arcade.  Some oddball shops maybe your female fellow travelers would like, with Comet Coffee the star.  In a town full of coffee houses, Comets’ the coolest.  Individual pour-over’s the feature, and “drinkable chocolate”.  Just on your left before exiting the Arcade is Van Boven’s, a men’s clothing shop that’s dressed the town‘s fuddy duddies for decades.  Van Boven’s carries the exact same tie Jim Harbaugh wore at his first press conference at Michigan; a friend had secretly bought him that and another Van Boven‘s tie and shipped them to him in San Jose 2 weeks before the hire was announced.  The tie is the one on the far left of a display of M ties in the back, navy blue with maize cross stripes and little M’s.

You’re now on State street.  You can see across from you several shops featuring M gear.  Around the corner off North University is Moe’s, the oldest.  In summer, especially just before Art Fair (when you’ll be there), they have clearance sales.  Might even be bigger this year with the Adidas ->Nike shift.  Also on State Street are Bivouac (outdoors stuff) and Urban Outfitters.

That should just about wrap up Campus.   You could just go ahead and walk Liberty to Main.  If you want to drive, there’s a parking structure at Washington, and some open lots off First.  If you park on Washington St, you’ll spill out right onto Arbor Brewing, which has some nice tables out front, if somewhat mediocre beer.   Just try to keep the girls out of the chocolate shop next door.  If you’ve come on Liberty, you’ll see RoosRoast, best coffee source in town, cooler location is on Rosewood, south of town (8).  Also on Liberty: Kilwin’s ice cream.   Washington is one block north.  For a break from food, drink and M-gear, check out Sam’s, on Liberty between 5th and 4th,across from the post office.  When my hippie gear from college days goes all threadbare and shrunk, I know I can get faithful replacements at Sam’s.  I’d love the place even if the former owner wasn’t a sometime patient of mine and his son the genius who designed and rebuilt my house 10 years ago. Onto Main, there are several good places: Pretzel Bell, right on corner of Main and Liberty, owned by a bunch of ex-UM footballers with the support of the Grizzly Peak folks (great collection of M memorabilia inside); Black Pearl, right next to the Ark, more of a cocktail place, Jolly Pumpkin, which has rooftop seating and original beers. There’s good eats to be had up and down Main, but the really good stuff is a few blocks westward, by Mark’s Carts, which is a rotating bunch of interesting food carts.  And just south of Mark’s Carts, behind the Home and Garden store, is Bill’s Beer Garden.  Wonderful place, good selection, but turns into a meet market for millennials in the evenings.

If you look across from Bill’s, you’re within eyeshot of the two most iconic eateries in Ann Arbor.  That shiny metal diner is the Fleetwood, which has fed many the last meal of early morning generations of Ann Arbor carousers.  Recommended: “hippie hash”, chili cheese fries.  And just to the west, across First, is the new home of Crazy Jim’s Blimpyburger.  Commander Cody’s Museum of Modern Art Award Winning video “Two triple cheese side order of fries” was inspired by Krazy Jim’s.  I post it here to serve as sufficient intro to this place (9). Krazy Jim’s even got a visit from Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive Ins and Dives crew (10). Other media have visitied, including Dine in the D from Detroit’s channel 4 (11).  Some of us AA old timers are a little concerned for the fate of these icons, as the buildings housing them are among the acquisitions made by Dr. Reza Rahmani, of TV lasik surgery fame, who has been snatching up downtown AA real estate for the past 7 years (12). 

With a new owner comes the need exists to bring the building up to code, which can be expensive, which can be handled by ejecting the “dirty” operation and replacing it with a simpler, cleaner one, like a cute little gift shop.  So far, he’s chosen to keep the businesses intact.

And down from here is another ice cream place.  New.  Pretty good.  Blank Slate Creamery, in a house corner of Liberty and First, was judged by TripAdvisor as the best of AA’s 21 ice cream shops (13).  If you’re this far out on Liberty, you can walk out a few more blocks to check out the whole farm-to-table thing.  If you can’t make Farmer’s Market (Wednesday and Saturday AMs), check out Argus Farm Stop (14).  They also have a coffee shop and great pastries.  Worth it just to catch the freakshow Ann Arborites and see how much they’ll pay for green stuff if it’s “special”.  That said, we’re friends with the owners, a young couple who got their start selling RoosRoast coffee, and are happy for their success.

So, my wife says to hell with TripAdvisor and implores me to tell you of the Washtenaw Dairy (15).  A little again south and west of town, probably too far for a walk.  They do have 70 plus years on Blank Slate, and the loyalties of tens of thousands of Ann Arborites who have going there for special ice cream.  Donuts are outstanding, too.  They don’t make their own stuff anymore, but what they purvey is varied and good, and comes in ample portions.

Which leaves us with “non-contiguous attractions”

Keeps the student riff-raff down that you have to drive to Wolverine State Brewing (16).  Liberty to Stadium. South on Stadium, look for the sign on the right calling you to pull in in front of what used to be Ace Hardware (maybe a bicycle shop now).  If you’ve gone to Pauline, you’ve gone too far.  Best beer around, good food too.  The outdoor seating is just some metal tables on the edge of a parking lot, but everyone still seems to be having a good time.

Finally, it’s time to trod on hallowed ground.  You can’t get inside Michigan Stadium (corner of Main and Stadium) without a ticket any more, but you can walk the perimeter and see the tops of the scoreboards.  Up over to State and almost to Hoover, there’s Schembechler Hall, nerve center for M Football, home of Jim Harbaugh’s office.    A renegade athletic department built the place in the 80s without consulting the University architecture advisors.   To them the resultant building, which featured walls angling out from the entrance that looked like the most welcoming pair of spread legs you’d care to see, was beneath University standards. You have to wonder how many a recruit was subliminally seduced by the image.  “Renovations” over the past 2-3 years have covered up this unique characteristic.  But out front stands a statue of Bo and just inside is the Football Museum http://www.mgoblue.com/fanzone/towsley-museum.html.  Open 9-4 M , Th, F and on game days.

If you really want to go all “hallowed ground”, you can haul yourself over to the cemetery corner of Observatory and Geddes, by Stockwell.  There, right in a walkable row, are the graves of Bo, Fielding H. Yost and Bob Ufer (former U-M track star and hyperenthusiastic Michigan football broadcaster ’45 –‘81).   Since the early 90s, a local fan has convened the “grave walk” the Tuesday before the Ohio State game.  We start at Burton tower and walk over the bridge to the cemetery.  I went on my first one last year, which was pretty memorable as Harbaugh and dad joined us while Jim cracked a buckeye on Bo’s headstone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz9oSk82hmU.

Where can you go from there?  Well, you could stop at XXXX Harbal for good beer and music, a smokin’ babe (for 57) plus the best view in the city.  You’re welcome anytime (734-XXX-XXXX or XXXX@umich.edu).

Bob Ike

UM BS ‘74

UM MS ‘75

UM postdoc fellow ’83-5

UM faculty ’85 – ????

Barwis Method victim 2/16 – present

references

  1. M facilities and operations. LOGISTICS, TRANSORTATION & PARKING. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. Maps. https://ltp.umich.edu/maps/

2. Dick Siegal. Angelo’s. wmv. YouTube 1/31/12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb1ZbFCjWHQ

3. M. MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. https://lsa.umich.edu/ummnh

4. Old School: Ingalls Mall fountain sculpture. University Record 3/24/14. Old School: Ingalls Mall fountain sculpture

5. Glenn A:. The Battle of Ann Arbor June16-20, 1969. Ann Arbor Chronicle 6/16/09. https://annarborchronicle.com/2009/06/16/the-battle-of-ann-arbor-june-16-20-1969/index.html

6. M. MICHIGAN LAW. Michigan Law Architecture. The Timeless Law Quadrangle. https://michigan.law.umich.edu/quick-links/about-michigan-law/michigan-law-architecture.

7. Facebook. Dominick’s. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dominicks/117498354935062

8. RoosRoast Coffee. https://roosroast.com.

9. Two Triple Cheese Side Order of Fries – Commander Cody. YouTube 5/2/13. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1Cvg5VCpT4

10. Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger | Food Network. YouTube 5/27/09. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCr8WX61FAc

11. Dine in the D: Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger.  YouTube 11/8/19.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PtZbPtkvK8

12. Dunn P.  Eye doctor’s growing Ann Arbor holdings raise concerns.  Detroit News 6/1/15.  https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/real-estate/2015/06/01/eye-doctors-growing-ann-arbor-holdings-raise-concerns/28338177/

13. Tripadvisor. Blank Slate Creamery. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g29556-d7110233-Reviews-Blank_Slate_Creamery-Ann_Arbor_Michigan.html

14. Argus Farm Stop. Our future is local. https://www.argusfarmstop.com/

15. Washtenaw Dairy. https://washtenawdairy.com/

16. Wolverine State Brewing Company. https://www.wolverinebeer.com/

0:22 / 7:48

see Sam

On January 4, two days after I learned Sam had died, I compiled an email with pictures of and about Sam, old and recent, annotated, and sent it out to some mutual friends. Here it is, with a few clarifications in parentheses for those of you who weren’t around Vicksburg, Michigan with the 2000 or so rest of us in the late 60s.

As promised, here come some pictures of Sam.  The old ones I had, thanks to Darai, and are from a trip VHS sent us on to DC in early 1969.  The rest I kyped off Sam’s Facebook posts, which I reviewed back 17 months.  Slow going, because you’ve got to read his posts: droll mundane comments on a host of everyday things.  Sam advised me several years ago to keep politics out of my posts, which has been hard to do.  No doubt I’ll spend some more time scrolling back through Sam’s as far as I can.

Before I describe the pics, allow me one correction and one embellishment.  First, June had a son, not a daughter.  But it is to the ex daughter-in-law they’ve bonded.  So Sam liked being a stepfather-in-law.  And I think its cool that the road from Santa Fe to Nathrop CO, long before it became US-235, was and is the last 234 miles of the Santa Fe Trail.

First, see senior Sam with a shadowy Tom Horn (our basketball coach, and also a teacher in “Man’s Cultural Heritage”, the school’s attempt to meld history, english and socialstudies) lurking down the hall.

Next, see our group posing on a statue in DC. 

You’ll also recognize blonde Jean Van Allsburg (’69), the lovely Darai (still Linda then; she took her middle name in college), and brunette Pat Burns ( ’69) along with the tall dorks in the back.  The rest are our hosts from Robert E. Lee HS in Alexandria.  Paul Schudder (math teacher and coach, whom my class had affectionately nicknamed “Captain Cosine”) took the picture and was charged with keeping us in line.  The picture at the end of all the posted images here, which the good Captain also took, is our group horizontal. 

We spent a lot of time in bed on that DC trip.

Now, move forward 50 years and see Sam decked out for Halloween ’19.

Next, Sam and June with their Nathrop neighbor Terry Wagner.

And Sam by not-his-truck

Next see Sam take some nourishment (Vienna sausages)

Nice picture of Sam and June on their birthdays June 14, ’18

Finally, some shots of the dream home he and June built in the Rockies (8400 ft), starting with the house itself, last January.

Then, views: Mt. Antero (14,235 ft) from their master bedroom last February,

and Mt. Princeton (14,196 ft) looking north October 2018.

I know some of you know Sam only as the kinda dorky, sometimes obnoxious, but always funny doctor’s son knocking around the corridors of VHS, even managing to letter in football and basketball.  He grew up still holding on to all those traits (except the athleticism) and was someone you’d feel lucky to befriend.  Sure was true for me.  I hope these pictures help to stir up whatever your own memories might be and help as you get about learning to miss him.

Losing a friend makes you appreciate the ones you’ve got left, and I sure do

Best wishes

Bob

a more perfect Union

Kathy and I took in the open house at the newly renovated Michigan Union today. Here are my impressions:

The Michigan Union is my favorite building on campus, more than the Law Quad or even Michigan Stadium.  Standing tall (‘though only 4 stories) at the base of south University on State, this 1919 structure of brick, stone, and stained glass resembles a small cathedral to secular scholarship, which it is.  My generation reveres it for being the platform for JFK’s first description of the Peace Corps at 2 A.M. when he came to Ann Arbor a month before being elected 35th president.  Nine years later they let co-eds come upstairs to the Union’s pool halls for the first time.  I’ve lounged, eaten, studied, slept and shopped in that building, proudly showing it off to out of towners.  Shopping at the now defunct University Cellars in the Union’s basement – distinguished from the town’s other local bookstores by being entirely student-run – I did well on deals for texts, course supplies, and $3.25 records.  I even worked there for a while my senior year.  Workers at the U Cellar were represented starting in 1979 (4 years after I’d gone) by Local 660 of the Industrial Workers of the World; at the time, the union local was the largest of the Wobblies, representing 10% of total union membership worldwide.  The place ceased operation in 1987. The Union was always worth a stop on a campus amble, particularly when it included the sublime pleasure understood only by men of relieving myself into the old all-the-way-to-the-floor urinals.

In July 2016, the Regents authorized $85.2 million to renovate the place.  Just today, enough work had been done to tear down the barriers and open the place up to the public.  Kathy and I stopped by to take a look.  Walking in, after we passed a crowd doing something rhythmic, we saw the first level is much more open.  The beautiful if unnamed “study room” to the right is unchanged, but to the left are two large lounging areas separated by a glass see-through fireplace (gas-fired, unlike the rest of the old Union’s fireplaces).  The airy courtyard, which used to be an outdoors space, is now under a glass dome.  The University Club is still closed, but a banner hanging from its arch advertises for workers at the Pantera’s that will exist there.  The second floor is a warren of meeting rooms, “IdeaSpaces”, 2 “Movement rooms”, ready for any physical activity that only requires a wooden floor and a mirror, and the untouched spaces of the Pendleton Room and renamed Rogel Ballroom, another consequence of the Rogel family’s $188.5 million gifts.  Some nice little touches are here, like surrounding the new drinking fountain/water bottle filling installations with Motawi tile.  My check into the men’s room found that the old urinals had unfortunately not been restored, but mine did sport a shiny new tampon dispenser.

The third floor houses the expanding student government bureaucracy: Center for Campus Involvement, Debate, Student Organization Accounts Service, Spectrum Center, Multi-Ethnic Affairs Center, Central Student Government, University Unions Administration, Conference & Events Services, and Student Life Administration.  By this level, the architects had given up on adding anything new, different, or interesting, so the young apparatchiks will not be distracted from their duties.

The fourth floor is given over to needs of mind and soul.  Counseling and Psychological Services is there, as well as Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness.  The open door of the Wellness Center beckons with  2 large massage chairs.  There’s a small chapel (I mean “Reflection Room”) whose four walls bear no trace of cross or star, but did include three Muslim women on their knees praying away when we looked in.  Open unmarked rooms abound, so emerging needs will have places to be addressed

Outside the Barnes and Noble in the basement, across from the soon-to-be open Taco Bell (which will join eateries Subway, Mama DeLuca,’s, MI Burger, Panda Express, and Blue Market down there), were the tables of PNC bank and the UoM Credit Union, offering goodies to would-be customers.  Kathy got us inside to get her specially priced wolverine squishy.  Looking past all the rather lame Michigan wear and other paraphernalia, we did finally find two tables of actual books, one containing Michigan sports books, including 14 titles that I do not yet own, and the other a collection of lefty self-help and biography titles.  Down the hall was the site of Computer Showcase, which through the years has offered great deals to faculty and staff.

We took one last trek up to the main floor, seeing again the long line of students stretching out to enter the “study room”.  The guide from the Events Staff showed us what was going on.  Wolverine Press, which publishes academic material, had set up a small but genuine printing press . Its output today was a lovely line drawing of the Union.  To claim one’s own copy, each student had to select one of three colors blank stock and present it to the pressman, then claiming the finished product.  It was heartening to see the young so enthralled by such old fashioned technology, perhaps fitting in that they were drinking up the special atmosphere of this very old fashioned building that was now theirs in which to roam.

So back down the stairs we went, noting the new wheelchair ramp that had been worked in, exiting north and lower, on to the drive that passes by the Admin building and West Quad’s Chicago House (where I’d lived my first 2 years).  Set we were to venture up Maynard, past the backsides of LS&A, Barbour, Kelsey Museum and the stone Congregational Church where Kathy and I were married in October ’86.  Hopcat was our destination, but our hearts leapt much before that when we saw that the 2 chain link fences which had engulfed the Cube in the summer during the LS&A and Union renovations had been torn down and the Cube was free again.  We took our turns spinning, of course.  Our hearts were light as we traipsed on to Hopcat.

Hail to the Victors!

the other Detroit restaurant, day after Christmas 2019

my foodie friend Tim found the email I’d sent him with impressions of Albena, a tiny, exquisite and unique place hidden in downtown Detroit

Have you and Kathy been to Albena in Detroit?  Kathy and I just had a seven course tasting dinner there last night that was absolutely fantastic.  Very minimalist Norwegian/Japanese.  The place, named after chef Lipar’s grandmother, is tucked in the back of the Siren Hotel on Broadway just across from the Detroit Opera House.  Almost a speakeasy route to even get there. The small room features an 8 seat bar (where they seek to sit only 4) behind which chef and his two assistants work their magic before your eyes.  A supreme experience well worth your while. 

restaurants

my wife and I have been to 2 of the finest restaurants in Detroit over the past few weeks. Here’s what I wrote to a foodie friend about one of them after a January 2 outing. I’ll post the other if Tim can find it on his server.

Hey Tim.  Happy New Year to you and Kathy.  Have you been to Republic Tavern in Detroit?  Kathy and I enjoyed another delightful 6-course tasting dinner with pairings there yesterday, a treat before Cirque de Soleil.  The restaurant – they’ve mostly dropped the “Tavern” part – is located on Grand River just off 75 41 minutes from our house in the imposing stone 1897 Grand Army of the Republic castle, taking up the first floor with a large open space featuring wood, brick, an old tin ceiling repurposed as a wall, exposed ductwork, big windows showing the Christmas lights of Beacon Park to the front and Cass & Adams with the backsides of Woodward’s Foxtown buildings to the back, with unisex bathrooms  decorated with postcards of old Detroit.  The food surpasses the architecture.  The chef follows the farm-to-table ethos, and the ingredients are cooked and sauced to unique exquisitiveness.  I’ve attached last night’s menu so you can see what we were sampling.  We started going there at Julia Welch’s recommendation, whose niece Sarah was executive chef when the restaurant won Eater Detroit’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year.  Sarah was fired 2 years later, went independent for a while, then opened up Marrow, a fun meaty place on Kercheval (also worth a trip) that the Freep called 2nd best new restaurant in Detroit last year.   Frankly, Republic hasn’t missed a beat in her absence.  Compared to Albena, this place is more traditional, warm and fulsome.  But you and Kathy would enjoy either place, just emerging a little more full from Republic.

Trying to load in the pdf of the menu I scanned in from this particular night failed, but you can look at a typical Republic menu at https://www.republictaverndetroit.com/menu/. The carrots never change. The link no longer works as the restaurant is tragically defunct, victim of COVID. Here’s a representative menu from its heyday.

Michigan 84 Purdue 76 (2 OT)

I wrote this to share with a few friends late Thursday

Nice win by our Wolverines in a pretty thrilling double overtime contest against the Boilermakers of Purdue tonight.  Their big guy #50 Trevion Williams (from Henry Ford Academy in Detroit!), who replaced the very tall skinny but injured Haarms was a beast in the post, much more than our big guy Teske could handle.  He scored more points tonight than his whole team could muster against the Illini in their last game. But we really took it to ’em in the second OT.  Our foul shooting and some refs’ calls made it tighter than it should have been.  My old friend and mentor Chicago’s (and Illini) Bill Arnold says it was a character builder.  For those in the audience it’s an excuse to stay up late and continue drinking in an attempt to unwind from the tension of the game.  Go Blue!

For those of you who weren’t at Crisler, you also missed the hype video they play there before every game.  Here’s how we’re feeling about Michigan basketball these days:

https://youtube/jGWGcS9ZWPM

 This is Michigan Basketball – YouTube youtu.be Hype Video played before each Michigan Basketball game at Crisler Center. Features Moritz Wagner, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Tim Hardaway Jr.

This was supposed to be the first post

Just learning this site. I wrote this when I first was presented with this space last night. But I don’t see it either side of “Goodbye Sam” . which is the first time I saw . page with a “Publish” button.

Just what the world needs: another boomer blogging from his Lay-Z-Boy. But here it comes, all the mundane stuff my email friends have already had too much of. Maybe if spread over a larger audience, the impact will be more tolerable. Thanks to the welcome advice of my dear recently departed friend Sam Rogers, there will be no politics here, or anything very serious at all for that matter. We are all in this life bumping into all sorts of things that annoy and amuse. Me too, and what those things do to me I promise to share with you. I retired as a doctor last June, and I know that the patient can often feel remarkably better after just telling his story to the doctor. Likewise, I see this whole blogging thing as therapeutic, unloading my tales of the day to gain the clarity that comes with telling them, and hoping someone out there might hear them. I’m very much looking forward to the enterprise, not just because I now have a URL to put on my new business cards.

Goodbye Sam

I wrote this last Wednesday and sent it to a few mutual friends.

My friend Sam died Thursday.  We’d both gone to little Vicksburg High and big Michigan, he a year ahead of me, but we didn’t interact much beyond teams and organizations, until a few years back when we connected on Facebook.  We enjoyed each others’ posts enough to arrange a lunch in Santa Fe – Sam lived in nearby Los Alamos working at the National Lab – as Kathy and I passed through to see her brother Bob 3 Decembers ago en route to my sabbatical in San Diego.  We later saw Sam and his wife June at their nearby home then and twice again more: next spring at their new retirement home in the Rockies and finally in Santa Fe again last August.  Of course we kept up electronically, and from June’s text 2 weeks ago I learned Sam had been sick since September and was in ICU.  Monday June texted his doctors said there was no more they could do and she was putting him in hospice.  He died 3 days later at 5:30 in the morning, mountain time.   In pulling some pictures off Facebook to add to something I would distribute to mutual friends, I came across a 3 day old post from his best friend Gary, who spelled out that Sam had an auto-immune disease that had affected several of his organs, leaving him too sick to receive the liver transplant he needed.  So the bastard had one of my diseases!  And a rare one at that, based on my guess at his diagnosis.  Sam was always unique.  I had so looked forward to being his friend in these leisure years.  We complemented each other.  He was the smart, funny, collegial guy I’d always hoped to become, and I was the egghead classmate who’d made it in academia, a little, at our old alma mater.   I pray for his wife June, a strong funny woman in her own right, who was childless by Sam and now won’t get to dote on him in his old age like Kathy does with me.  There’s a big crowd out there shocked by Sam’s passing and missing him terribly, and I’m sure right there with them.  If you begin to notice my posts and writings are a little goofier and more mundane, that’s Sam whispering in my ear to lay off the serious stuff and write what people might actually care about and find entertaining.  Thanks Sam.  It was too damn short but I’ll never forget you.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

%d bloggers like this: