Like Aristotle”s polis, Ann Arbor is almost a city-state unto itself. It”s indie enough to keep the economy local (Ben and Jerry”s be damned!), small and chill enough to walk almost everywhere, tolerant enough to accommodate our bleeding hearts and filled with enough distractions to keep us all coming back. For some of us, it”s the only place we really feel at home. And now that the pace is slower and the weather conducive to wearing shorts, I”m not going to write about anything too important. So there!
Having spent some time stalking the streets and meeting the freaks, crawling into special spaces and working long nights at the Daily while fantasizing about breaching the University tunnel system, I”ve learned a few things about this town and met a few interesting people. Moreover, I”ve sought a sense of place in this schizophrenic city. And found it.
Since we all have to live someplace, and someplace is better than noplace (i.e. the mall, South Quad or Wolverine Towers), something must be said about my abode, which, in truth, is the home of many.
That”s because, like a few hundred other people this summer, I live in a house with a bunch of crunchy co-opers. Being a share-holding member of the Intercooperative Council, at the moment I share meals and I share expenses. I pay rent as a proportion of my yearly income and had to abandon all personal property. Kidding.
Some of us may have aspirations for a socialist paradise, but the co-ops are only socialism light. If anything, the emphasis is on cooperation. Imagine that. Where else is it that everyone in your immediate environment gladly forsakes other priorities to give back to their community? Few places have the sense of community that co-ops provide. If I suddenly moved out, I think I”d suffer an identity crisis.
That”s because there is always something going on. Always an interesting story to be told. Always something crazy to be involved with. It”s not paradise, but it”s close enough for my tastes. It”s a place. And a sense of place is not a location as much a state of being.
Some of my housemates have interesting states of being and a lot house pride. The former president of the house, who we”ll call “Chuck,” is one of those zealous coopers. On a drunken bet (probably) el presedente loco climbed to the top of the smoke stack near the Hill where he hung a sign that read “Mich House Rocks Harder.” “Chuck”s” fun was short-lived, however, because the cops were waiting for him on his descent. Obviously not keen to cooperative ideals, the capitalist pigs beat him to a pulp and arrested him. He has the scars to prove it.
Or there”s the interesting anomaly in Minnie”s co-op, the purple house next door to Mich, where the majority of the men affiliated with the house this summer are gay. Imagine that! A gay majority. Have you ever heard such a thing? We”re kind of like Latinos in California.
But I digress and suppose I must find some time to play, so I”ll wrap things up.
Since we”re all stuck in Ann Arbor for some reason or another this summer school, work, Biener”s Wieners (or perhaps a postmodern hiatus) we all have our special spaces in the city. Some of these places are mundane, while others can”t be found anywhere else. My goal is to seek out some of the more interesting people, places and spaces in our quietly bustling city. The bubble of this fine little college town is just the place to explore the persistent presence of the past, and the people and events that shape our surroundings and make the city spin. So sit back kiddies, sip a Beck”s, summon up a sense of place and come on, take it easy really. That”s what summer is for.
Your place is your own.
E-mail feedback to Josh at email@example.com. Let him know a place where you find the soul of the city. And stop by Mich/Minnie”s to find out what the shwanky van is.