Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hydroponic Wall Garden

This is a hydroponic wall garden at Silvio's Pizza in Ann Arbor, part of a set of sculptural installations called "The Sustainability Series" created by Ashley Lieber for her master's thesis at the University of Michigan's School of Art & Design. The series is a creative inquiry on the visual and cultural meanings of sustainability. Here, Lieber has incorporated art with alternative urban agriculture, ecological design, water recycling and material repurposing. She says the system uses very little energy and is performing better than expected, producing high yields in half the time it takes to grow outdoors (and here it's possible to grow year round). "I was inspired to create this installation specifically for Silvio's in light of what I see this establishment to be: a hub for those who share a passion for wholesome, local and organic foods," she says. "It is my aspiration that within this context, we come together to enjoy the harvests of this work, dream and create bright futures that reconnect us to nature with our urban environments, and progress dialogue about the vital link between personal and ecological health."

Team Michigan

These BMX riders called themselves Team Michigan. They hail from all across Michigan and were in Ann Arbor for a ride Wednesday night. They traded stories of scrapes, bruises, twisted ankles and broken bones from their hobby. They were exhausted and (some of them) in pain when I stopped to talk to them. The one entering the right of the frame in the first picture lifted up his shirt to show me his broken rib from a recent stunt gone bad. He said he gets light-headed and woozy when he presses on it. He and others admitted their doctors have advised them not to ride for a while, but they've decided not to adhere to such advice.

Book Worms

This is Tobias "Toby" Wacker, co-owner of lab, a hip new coffee shop on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor. The business is successful in only its first few months, despite the fact that I see Toby outside with his nose buried in a book more than I see him actually working. Here he's reading the 1999 book "Development as Freedom," what seems to be a pretty dense exploration on international development by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, an Indian-born Cambridge economist. Toby's friend is reading Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth," a copy still soggy from the rain she found it in, yet still with the Oprah seal of approval intact.

The Ladder

Ann Arbor firefighter Tilvis Bolen gathers his belongings from a ladder truck at the fire department's headquarters downtown after returning from a call on Wednesday. He says he's sad to see four of his peers lose their jobs.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fourth Ward Debate

Ann Arbor City Council incumbent Margie Teall and challenger Jack Eaton engaged in an hour-long debate Tuesday night at Dicken Elementary School in Ann Arbor's 4th Ward. The two face off in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary. They fielded questions from several 4th Ward residents that touched on the city's budget, the Stadium bridges, single-stream recycling and more. Read next week for an in-depth look at the race.

Whole Foods

Thirty Five

After waiting around like a prisoner in my own apartment until 4 p.m. today, my new 35mm wide-angle Nikon lens finally arrived via UPS. Naturally, this calls for a creepy self-portrait with the new lens. Here goes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Top Of The Park

Funktion, allegedly West Michigan’s premier funk band, took the stage at Ingalls Mall during the Ann Arbor Summer Festival Thursday night. Their music blends classic funk and soul sounds of the 1960s and '70s, while intertwining some of the more contemporary musical elements of rock, R&B and hip-hop.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Daisy May Erlewine and Seth Bernard

Michigan-based songwriters Daisy May Erlewine and Seth Bernard serenaded a crowd in Liberty Plaza in downtown Ann Arbor on Thursday with their own brand of soulful folk music. They have the kind of stage presence where, one song in, you already know you can't leave without picking up the album with the song you just heard. And by the end of the show, you're ordering the entire catalogue. It's also clear that, beyond just being musicians, they're two people who get life and that makes their music all the better. Go here and check them out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jen and Emilio

This is Jen and Emilio from New York City. I met this pair of newlyweds in Vegas back in March and snapped this photo inside the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino. They were married in Mexico and it was legal in the eyes of God, but they still needed to make it official in the U.S., so they flew to Vegas on a whim to get married again after their ceremony in Mexico. Emilio is originally from Mexico but has been in New York for years and works for a German airline. Coincidentally, Jen is from Germany.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

These are two of my old pals from my college days at Central Michigan University. Tommy is living the dream in Las Vegas these days, and Lauren works for Time Inc. in New York City. I believe this photo was taken back in March at the Chicago Brewing Co. in Vegas, and Tommy was pretty close to speaking in tongues at this point if I remember correctly.

GLIP 2010

I stumbled across students and their instructor from the Great Lakes Institute of Photography learning lessons in lighting today in the graffiti alley on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor. I wasn't aware the school even existed until today, but according to its website it appears it recently moved from Traverse City to Ann Arbor. GLIP 2010 is being held June 21-24 at Washtenaw Community College.

Last Words

Jennifer Granholm told a crowd of Washtenaw County Democrats Saturday night it hasn't been easy being Michigan's governor during one of the most tumultuous periods of economic change and struggle in the state's history. But she says she has no regrets about it. "It has been a challenge being governor during this period of time," she said. "But I don't think that I would have wanted to be governor during any other period of time because it's this moment that your decisions make a difference. I wouldn't have wanted to have somebody else whose values I disagree with making decisions at this time." Click here to read the story.

Jamming Outside is hosting free summer concerts at noon on Fridays. Here's last week's band: Sole Transit, which combines elements of funk, jam, New Orleans, blues, jazz and rock into an original mix. Members are Jordan Siden, guitar; Erez Levin, drums and percussion; Daniel Sagher, bass; Leif Gearhart-Hall, trumpet; K-Mo, tenor sax; Will Smith, tenor sax; and Paul Smith, keyboard. I do believe they are all still in high school.

Extreme Home Addition

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Date

I was wasting time waiting for a political candidate at Cafe Verde today at the People's Food Co-Op in Kerrytown when I stumbled upon this scene. Yes, that is a blue-haired troll having lunch with a brown-haired duck. I can't tell whether the adjacent farm animals are their offspring or their next meal — you be the judge. On a more serous note, Cafe Verde has been a great venue this election season, as I've done most of my candidate interviews there.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Feats Of Strength

The spinning cube on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor is listed as one of the "Uniquely Michigan UM-isms". The official title of the sculpture is The Cube "Endover." It was done by artist Tony Rosenthal using Cor-Ten steel painted black. It now stands in Regents' Plaza. It is said to be a gift of the Class of 1965 and the artist, who was a U-M alumnus (1936). Although seemingly massive and immovable, the cube actually rotates on its axis, given a gentle push. The cube measures 15 feet wide by 15 feet tall.

Eat With Your Hands

The Blue Nile is one of my favorite places to eat lunch in downtown Ann Arbor. Dinner here can be pricey, but during the lunch hour you can get the vegetarian plate (all vegan safe) for $9, which includes three dishes. I recommend the Yemisir Kik Wat (split red lentils cooked with berbere sauce, onions, and spices), Defen Yemisir Alecha (lentils blended with onions, spices, and herbs), and the Metin Shiro Wat (yellow split peas roasted, ground, and cooked in berbere sauce with onions and spices). Of course, no need for silverware. Just use your hands and that injera!

Ann Arbor Mayoral Race

My coverage of the Ann Arbor mayoral race has been a hot topic around town for the last few weeks — ever since I shadowed the candidate pictured here and wrote a story that held her accountable for sharing false campaign messages with voters. I received a pat on the back on Friday from Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic. "The headline says it all," Sullivan wrote. "No MSM-style equivocation — but a clear factual statement that a candidate has been lying, complete with evidence of her fabrications. Why can't the NYT do this?" It's not every day you have someone as nationally respected as Andrew Sullivan telling you the New York Times could take notes from you.