Damn you, Borders parking validation…

We went out to dinner tonight and followed it up with a stop at American Spoon for the excellent gelato. Dinner was at Palio, which was the first time we had been there, actually. Pretty good stuff.

Anyway, while the family was finishing up the gelato at American Spoon, I ran across the street to Borders to get my parking validated. I am accustomed to doing this when I am in this part of dowtown and I have to park in the deck there. If you buy something in the store, they will validate you for two hours. If you don’t buy anything, they will validate you for one.

Or, more accurately, they used to do this.

I went up to the register and the young person started into a well-rehearsed speech. “I’m sorry, but we no long validate parking without a purchase. If….” When he got to this part of his speech, I picked up a piece of chocolate at the register. “Oh, well thanks for doing that,” he said.

“When did you guys started to do this? And where is this posted?” I asked.

“Yeah, it sucks, doesn’t it? It’s posted here,” he said, pointing to a completely unreadable piece of paper posted far behind the register. “They’ve posted it for us but not for anyone else.”

“So, can I still get two hours if I buy anything?”

“No, just an hour now,” the kid said. “They told us it had something to do with competition from other places giving validation.”

“No one around here validates parking.”

“Really?!” said the kid, realizing that once again the corporate line from the Borders managers lied to him. At least I think they lied to them; to the best of my knowledge, there is no other restaurant or store or anything that validates parking in town. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, please.

Anyway, this will make me think twice about the need to go into Borders the next time I have to park in the deck. What’s the point?

In the naked news department…

It’s not often that you find a single major story about nudity in the Ann Arbor news, let alone two!

On the front page, there was “Fairs live large with art in varied forms.” It was a story about Ann Arbor photographer Harvey Drouillard who photographs volunteers who pose nude in public spaces. This article tells how Drouillard was able to convince two women and one man to climb a ladder to the roof of the State theater downtown and get them to pose in the buff. Apparently, Drouillard has been doing this same stunt for years.

And then there was this, “The naked truth, on stage,” which is a story about a play the Performance Network is putting on called Take Me Out, which is the story (based on a “true” story, I believe) of a professional baseball player who comes out of the closet. Much of the play takes place in a locker room with the ball players naked most of the time. Natural, I guess.

Disappointingly, there are no good pictures for either of these stories. And I was somewhat surprised to not come across an example of Drouillard’s nude photography via Google. I guess you’ll have to use your imagination….

Say, is anybody going to art fair?

I took a scan through some of the “local-yokel” blogs this morning to see if I could find any “up close and personal” reports on this year’s Ann Arbor Art Fairs, but I didn’t find much of anything. Ann Arbor is Overrated has a little piece about the first annual Townie Party, though if you’ve ever read that blog, you can imagine their scoffs at the whole thing.

I played golf with Steve B. and Bill H-D. yesterday at the Forest Akers Golf Course at MSU— the “East Course,” which is the easier of the two. Nice course with lush lush grass and really difficult to hit out of rough. Before I left for home and while in front of Bill’s house, I told Bill and his wife that they ought to go check out the art fairs. One of them asked if we (meaning me and Annette and Will) were going, and I said something like “Nah, that’s for the tourists.”

Actually, we probably would go if we weren’t both pretty swamped in various work projects around here. Annette and I went the first couple of years that we were here, and Will is probably old enough to endure it now. It is an awful lot of people though, and it is so so huge that it ends up being a significant and all-day commitment. As an alternative, we have gone to the Plymouth “Art in the Park” celebration in recent years because it’s just a lot smaller and easier to manage.

But don’t let me stop you from going….

Taxing Ypsi

Ypsilanti is thinking about a local income tax, and, apparently, so is Ann Arbor. There’s a couple of good write-ups about all of this at Mark Maynard’s blog and at ypsi~dixit.

I don’t know a whole lot about what’s going on with these proposals, I don’t know much about the financial status of Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor (though, given that these places are in Michigan, where the economy is in the crapper, I’m sure things ain’t good), and while I like Ypsilanti, I am not loyal to Ypsilanti. I’m from Iowa; I just live here now. We’re almost certain to move in the next two or three years, probably to Ann Arbor, though maybe to one of the townships (more on that in a second). And I also don’t want to sound like some kind of “don’t you dare tax me or my guns” kind of Republican, either.

But I will say this:

  • I understand the dire straits that the city is in funding-wise, I really do. But charging an income tax for people working in Ypsi doesn’t really seem like a way to attract businesses to town.
  • If Ypsi wants to keep “upper/middle-class professional types” like me in town, then I’m not sure the issue is taxes and city services. People in my circle of Ypsi friends (with kids) often say things like “Ypsi is a great place to live, but the schools get kind of dicey from junior high on, so that’s probably when we will move.” So, it seems to me that if the tax was targeted to something like the school system, and if people saw some benefit to the schools, then I think folks might be happy with that. I know I could deal with it.
  • Ultimately, the problem is the township system in Michigan. We could literally move to a house four blocks away that was not technically in the city of Ypsilanti but in Pittsfield Township and I bet we could save 33% to 50% on property taxes. Which is a lot of money and which is why people move to the townships in the first place. I mean, why not? My kids go to the same school, and, as far as I can tell, I get similar services in terms of police and fire and all of that. And, if we move close enough to Ann Arbor in one of the townships, Will goes to the same Ann Arbor schools as the kids who live in the fancy-pants neighborhoods.

This is all probably a moot point though. Both Mark M. and YD suggest that the likelihood of this tax being passed is pretty low.