...but for me, it doesn't mean anything. First of all, even though I went to U of M for a while, I don't consider it my alma mater in any shape or form. I don't wear the maize and blue, deep down I'm a Michigan Tech Husky at heart - I wear the black and gold. When I was an MBA student at the U of M in the early 90s, I used to buy season tickets to the football games for others with my student discount, and I even attended one (actually a half) of a game, and decided I wouldn't need to go back any time soon. Your "seat" is actually only a marked 18 inches of allowable butt width on a bench, and evidently a lot of U of M fans are super fat, at least they were in my row. So I never got to sit down, and it was blisteringly hot and very, very crowded. So, unless I get invited to one of the new sky boxes, I think I'd just rather watch the football game at home on TV. But I think it would be fun to go to the tailgate parties instead of the actual game, maybe I'll try that this year. The funny thing about U of M football fans is that they are usually people that would never, ever be accepted into the university...you'd think that for that reason alone, they'd root for Michigan State. But no, it seems that the Wolverines attract a certain segment of the population that has been dubbed the "Walmart Wolverines" in this spoof of the Pure Michigan ads.
So, what image best conjures up Ann Arbor? Maybe it's John Sinclair....
There are places I am very fond of visiting in Ann Arbor, such as the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market...
...but I can't say that it brings the city of Ann Arbor to my mind right away. For many people, especially the tourists, I guess Ann Arbor means Zingerman's....
...and while I like Zingerman's, should a city's iconic image be a business? I don't think so. Maybe the Ann Arbor Art Fair?
Nah...it's another tourist destination avoided by most locals and, like Ann Arbor's hippie counter culture, is a shadow of it's former self.
I guess the bottom line is that the essence of Ann Arbor really can't be captured in an image, because it is so many things to me. I'll try to use words to describe it instead:
- Smart people - sometimes too smart for their own good. In Ann Arbor, you can always find someone that knows (or thinks they know) more than you do about something. This can be helpful sometimes and irritating a lot of the time.
- Multicultural - In Ann Arbor, it truly is a melting pot of people from all over the place. For that reason, if you are looking for an obscure ingredient to make an ethnic dish you once read about in Saveur, you can find it somewhere in this town.
- Open minded - say you want to do something a little out of the mainstream, like have a blessing ceremony for your same sex union on the vernal equinox presided over by a warlock, you can do it in Ann Arbor. It would be easy to pull together in a few hours. You want to walk down the street wearing a bishop's mitre and a racoon skin coat and orange corduroys? Go right ahead - no one will bat an eye. I've seen it done - in fact I used to play guitar with a guy that this was his regular "about town" outfit.
- Temporary - Ann Arbor is a town that many people spend some time in, but few people spend their life here. People are always moving from and to Ann Arbor, as a result, I find I know people all over the world now that I met here first. I'm one of the minority that has hung around - it will be 20 years this fall.