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Sunday, November 17, 2002

The worst and the best: Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan are a study in contrasts (much like this blog is a study in cliches). The city is mostly liberal, with a city council willing to pass living wage ordinances and political statements like opposition to war with Iraq (I hope). The University has world-famous experts on every conceivable subject, is a hotbed of research, and is a place where lectures and discussions on the latest topics take place daily.

And then there are those seven Saturdays every fall when UM has a home football game. Giant SUV's, most with two car flags (most have two UM flags; some have one UM and one US), invade the city hours before the game. They park and set up "tailgate" parties where they consume mass quantities of dead animals and alcohol. I had the dubious privilege yesterday of joining that mob at the game when I was given a ticket by someone at work. It's a spectacle, for sure, 110 thousand people sitting on cold bleachers to watch the game, the bands, and the banner-towing planes advertising "adult entertainment." It's also a cure for any sneaking suspicions you may have about there being hope for humanity. Aside from preppy and obnoxious, there are very few attitudes prevalent among the 110 thousand. There were several drunks in the seats around me, one of whom said something about every 20 seconds, all of which were variations on the theme of "Wisconsin sucks." Michigan won (yay) and I didn't see any players carted off never to walk again, so I guess it was a success. But it is scary that the most popular non-TV entertainment in Ann Arbor is one in which people spend $40 and up to go be total jerks for four hours.

On the other hand, the best entertainment in town started several hours later. This was the Amazin' Blue a capella singing group. While the football players use their considerable talents in smashing each other, the students in Amazin' Blue use their abilities to brighten the world with music. And while I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only one who was somewhat miserable at the football game, and certainly not the only one who was glad when it ended, there is no doubt that no one at the Amazin' Blue concert was at all unhappy until it ended. So I experienced the worst and best of Ann Arbor in a ten-hour period. And I'm almost thawed out.