AGGRO-TOURISM: MICHIGAN

Welcome to Aggro-Tourism, EDSBS's roaming safari tour of all those foreign cultures that spring up on fall Saturdays, right here in America. Now playing: The Michigan Wolverines.

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We've assembled a crackerjack team of key-janglin' panelists to guide neophytes and continuing-education drunkards through a weekend in Ann Arbor. Read on and learn well. Oh, and we were a little light on photo submissions this week, so we've helpfully supplied our own.



SHIT TYRONE GET IT TOGETHER

burgler
[Welcome to] The Worlds Largest Outdoor Introverts Convention.

Dave M.
We're classic old money college football: we don't really care about your team, your team's lame (and short) tradition, or really much about you at all. We do have a bit of bitterness toward new blood schools with too much success (I have a feeling that a Boise State fan would find a surprisingly cool reception).

burgler
The stereotypes are true, and trying to fight them would be as foolhardy an attempt as anything UM's linebacker's would do this season (as a side note, the only thing missing from the hallowed "Stuff Maize and Blue People Like" was "Overly Complicated Metaphors").

Dave M.
Even if we don't say anything, though, we do appreciate people making the trip up to see what we think is one of the best traditions around. We act standoffish, but we secretly want you to like the experience as much as we do. As such, you can definitely get some free food/booze at a tailgate if you suck up a little and compliment the atmosphere. HOWEVER, allllll that shit gets thrown out the window for Ohio State.

 

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PARK YOUR ASSES

burgler
Everyone will be parking people, so pick the house with the gimmick sign that appeals most to you.  While at UM, in an effort to realize my destiny as the villain in every John Cusack movie from 1983-90, I was on the rowing team, which meant I got off the water and back to my house at around 10am on football Saturdays.  Without fail, as I rounded the corner, I could count on my roommate sitting on a cashed keg in the middle of Arch St., drinking a coffee pot full of malt liquor, holding a sign that said "PARK HERE SO I CAN BUY BEER."

burgler
Alternately, you can look for an off-site location that runs a shuttle bus.  The local bus system, imaginatively named "The Ride," runs shuttles from various hotels and large parking lots.  The schedule is here. The more fun options involve off-campus places like the Wolverine State Brewing Company, a brewpub on the west side, that also features a shuttle bus along with a lovely selection of beers.

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THEN WHAT?

jwgillam
You have to decide before you get to Ann Arbor if you are going to just tailgate near the stadium, or if you are going to bar hop and house party hop near campus before the game.  You really can't do both.  Tailgating on the golf course is beautiful and easy, but I really prefer to hang on campus.

burgler
The RVs concentrate at the Pioneer High School parking lot, located kitty-corner across Main St. and Stadium Blvd. from the stadium.  The Gatsby crowd likes the Golf Course, just across Stadium.  The best option for anyone of the EDSBS persuasion is no doubt to head to the student neighborhoods to the east of the stadium.  Any house in the State St./Packard Ave./Hill St./East University Ave. area should be putting cars up on lawns.  The kids will always kick you a beer and some hot dogs, and if they don't, tell them they are letting the alums down, and to go fuck themselves. 

MT
The golf course is the standard (and best) parking option for those that plan to tailgate. It does fill up early though. A good back-up option is the Elbel parking lot. It doesn't open until the band finishes their morning practice and it always has space; it'll cost you, but it's paved and is a short walk from the stadium. Try to catch the band's final warm-up and drum show in front of Revelli Hall on the south end of Elbel field.
 
Dave M.
If you're under the age of 28 or look young enough to crash a college party (or don't mind being that creepy old person at the party), you'll definitely want to check out State Street before the game. From the Union all the way down to Yost Ice Arena, parties line the front yards of the houses. They start around 7:30 and by 9 (for a noon game, probably more like 10:30 for a 3:30 game). Even when the weather sucks, the lawns and porches are jammed with kids drinking Natty Light (no microbrews here) and rocking out to music blasting out of the houses. It's one of the advantages of having your stadium right in the heart of town - everyone can get fucked up on the comfort of their lawn (with 500 other random people) and stumble over to the game. Do note that at Michigan, house parties are always free.

Dave M.
If you can't find a good tailgate, you can always grab a hot dog/sausage/barbecue from one of the food carts real quick on Hoover Street.

burgler
The big tailgates with the rented tents are on the golf course or around Crisler Arena.  Places like Randy Wise Chevrolet have big tents where old players stop by and food is plentiful.  As far as Fight Juice goes, Meijer is just south at exit 175, and there's a Busch's between I-94 and the stadium (local supermarkets).  If you want something a little special, like Cachaça for Caipirinhas (unlikely this weekend, admittedly), or some Macallan that isn't contaminated from all that pesky background radiation from post-1945 nuclear detonations, try Morgan and York on Packard.  The wine staff and cheese staff at M&Y also deserve special recommendations.  If beer is your thing, go Beer Depot, a place the only recently closed their drive-through to make way for an even more prodigious selection.

Dave M.
Most of the best tailgating happens on the golf course or in the parking lots right next to the stadium (where you need an expensive pass). People are grilling, massive deli plates are laid out, televisions abound, and people drink good beer (Bell's is the popular Michigan microbrew, but there are several great Michigan beers like Founder's, Dark Horse, New Holland, etc.).

MT
Sadly the chardonnay is too often associated with the alumni crowd. Kegs of canadian beer make regular appearances. The Midwest does a damn good job with craft beer, so you'll see plenty of that as well. Just be sure to drink plenty of whatever you can find as you'll need the liquid coat.

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IN THE LAIR OF THE INEXPLICABLY WAGGLING KEYS

jwgillam
Yeah, the keys.  I know.  A "key" play!  Woo!  Clever!  I don't know when it started, but it's definitely been well over 20 years.  It's part of our game tradition, though, so we jangle the damn keys on a big 3rd down.

ScreaminOwl
HATE

MT
 I wish I knew. It sucks. I keep hoping that somehow the tradition transforms into a stabbing motion with the keys, like if you were trying to fight off a mugger. Then maybe opponents would see us as both aggressive and resourceful.

blanx73
A nice thing to do on the way to the stadium- walk through the Law Quad-  it is gothic, and beautiful, and the reading room is where undergrad girls go to try to bag law students.  And vice versa.

Dave M.
You do want to get to the stadium early. First, Michigan is entirely bleacher seating, so you need to stake out your spot before the rows fill up, even though you do have an assigned spot (this is especially true in the student section).

ScreaminOwl
The design of the stadium is a thing of genius, as what looks like a fairly unimposing stadium from the outside opens up into a massive 110,000-seat shrine to football, and it's quite a sight to behold. Tackiness (or anything perceived as such) is kept to a minimum: you will find exactly zero advertisements inside the bowl of the stadium.

burgler
In general, people at a UM game are just trying to stay warm (and are secretly afraid of everyone else finding out that they are much bigger pussies when it comes to the cold than people in Minny or Wisconsin), so anything warm and blueish will be just fine.  When it comes to getting your Fight Juice inside, small bottles of the hard stuff stuffed into trousers are the only way to go.  The place has hosted speeches by Presidents Clinton and Obama for two of the past three graduation ceremonies; they know how to do security.

ScreaminOwl
The one thing I would encourage everyone to do is to stick around at halftime. The Michigan Marching Band always puts on excellent performances and is usually good for one mind-blowingly amazing performance every season, such as this year's Wizard of Oz show during the Illinois game.

burgler
The students are clustered in the northwest corner of the stadium, and are generally good about following instructions re: shirt color.  If there is no "blue out," "white out" or other "tard out" for the game, they will most likely be in the "official football shirt," which is the lovely color of Particularly Noxious Hi-Liter this year.  Attire for the rest of the place is much more free form.  My 87 year-old grandfather wears his navy blazer or his tweed coat if it's going to be cold, and grumbles about how people are too casual nowadays. 

ScreaminOwl
The student section will invariably be dressed in maize, with most sporting the yearly football shirt despite Adidas? continued inability to figure out what color maize is. Red and green are highly discouraged for obvious reasons.

MT
It doesn't matter; it's all under a parka anyway.

burgler
STAND UP OLD PEOPLE. The large number of alums who either never left Ann Arbor, retired to Ann Arbor, or pilot the Town Car in from West Bloomfield ensure that crowd shots of any section aside from the northwest corner of the stadium could double as footage from an outdoor Lawrence Welk concert.  Tickets tend to stay in families, as is the case with my other grandpa, who made sure to give my uncle his first name as a middle name, so that when he died, my uncle could keep renewing the tickets without a hitch.  This is not an uncommon practice.

burgler
Don't worry about being too loud.  Yes, people may secretly think you are weird if you demonstrate those things called "enthusiasm" and "drunkeness," but you should have at least one or two nearby allies wherever your seat is.  If not, no one will bother to say anything.  They are too cold, too polite, and too subject to The Bystander Effect/Genovese Syndrome to bother you.

Ben L.
Shout out to the glee club concert following the game at Hill Auditorium. The website is ummgc.org and tickets are available online, by phone, or at the door.

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SUSTAIN THYSELVES.

Dave M.
If it wasn't a particularly bad loss, then we'll be down to party, but we're not necessarily Wisconsin-level "Fuck it, let's party!" forgiving. Our reputation is one of arrogance (people joke that the "AA" of Ann Arbor stands for Arrogant Assholes), and, well, yeah, that's totally accurate. And underratedly, we love independent corroboration, so if you love it, too, let us know, and we will love you right back. If we lose in a shitty-enough way, the bars will be a little easier to get into because everyone just goes home and starts drinking whiskey on their porches. Otherwise, good luck.

MT
Thanks to the nearly standard noon kickoff, there is no pre-gaming at commercial establishments to speak of. The real pre-game is Friday night when you load up on Jaegar bombs and go to the hockey game at Yost. Post-game: head to Ashley's on State St. You'll have TVs to watch the rest of the day's games and more beer options than you'll ever need.

ScreaminOwl
You'll probably get a ton of people singing the praises of Ashley's and the staggering selection of beer there -- and they would all be correct. But one thing that gets lost in that conversation is the also-quite-staggering selection of scotch that they have. If you have any interest in trying obscure, unpronounceable single-malt scotches, you can easily spend a fortune there and not scratch the surface.

jwgillam
Dominick's by the Law Quad is also a nice spot for some beers. Post game: Scorekeepers.  Pure sports bar, tons of TVs for watching the evening games.  Late night snack: Fleetwood Diner, 300 S. Ashley St.  Try the Hippie Hash.  

burgler
Sidetrack Bar and Grill/Aubrees - these are owned by dueling members of the French family, and located across the street from each other in the Depot Town neighborhood of Ypsilanti.  they're about a 20 minute drive from downtown AA, and you have a slightly higher chance of getting stabbed, but both offer incredible specials (like $2.75 for 25 ounces of anything on tap after 10pm).

Dave M.
Food-wise, you have some great options. Everyone else will probably tell you about Zingerman's. All you need to know is the line sometimes wraps around the block, the - albeit huge - sandwiches are like fifteen fucking dollars, and you won't care about either of these things because they are probably the best sandwiches ever. EVER. This is coming from an East Coaster, too.

burgler
The famed Zingerman's Deli is in the Kerrytown neighborhood, and is great if you want to wait an hour for a $14 pastrami on rye.  It's the only pastrami on rye to which I've offered my hand in marriage, but it's still a goddam sandwich. 

The much better bet is Zingerman's Bakehouse, which is in a confusing maze of warehouses south of I-94 by State Street (exit 177).  I have not yet killed someone for one of their scones, but I have stared daggers and cried blood at a stranger so intently that they decided to go with a cinnamon roll instead of provoking my wrath. 

Dave M.
If you want to beat the crazy crowds, and you're sober enough to drive, head down Washtenaw toward Ypsilanti, drive past Route 23 and take your pick between Haifa Falafel or Tup Tim. Haifa has the best falafel outside the Middle East (maybe the best in the world). Tup Tim has the best Thai food I've ever had in America. I have no idea what either of these places are doing in Ypsilanti, but I'm telling you, if the lines are too long, this is where you need to go.

burgler
Also worth drinking at is the Heidelburg, a German joint on the north end of Main.  Go to the basement, order 2liter boots of Bavarian beer for $20, and enjoy a suprisingly solid, classic rock focused jukebox. 

ScreaminOwl
We do have two of the best microbreweries in the country just across the state: Bell's, based in Comstock, and Founders, based in Grand Rapids. Bell's Oberon was always my brew of choice to load up on for the September games, and the Founders porter once it started to get chilly.

blanx73
Grizzly Peak, Arbor Brewing Co- good local microbrews/craft pubs.  The Jolly Pumpkin is getting rave reviews for their beer, but if you ask me, it's overpriced and I just don't much care for sour beer (Belgian style is what they are known for).
 
burgler
The 8 Ball - one of those places that smells worse now that the smoking ban is in place.  Turns out cigarettes cover up the smell of urine rather well.  The jukebox seems to play nothing but Slayer at Jet Engine on the Tarmac volume, the bartenders/clientele have more tattoos and piercings than the average Herman Melville character, my buddy Tom swears they water down the Old Style on tap, but it's still the most dependable bar in town.

Dave M.
The Brown Jug and Good Time Charley's are the big two places on South University, with cheap beer and booze aplenty. If you go to Charley's, definitely hit up the Longest Island Iced Tea, a giant mason jar filled with 6 shots worth of liquor for only $9.95. They even give you two straws so you can suck it down faster (or maybe share... I'm not sure).

burgler
In Ann Arbor, even the fine dining establishments are somewhat lassie faire when it comes to dress code, so if a blogger wants to punch above their income class, I recommend they take advantage of this and hit The Earle, home to the only wine cellar ever praised by Jim Harrison.

ScreaminOwl
Quickie Burger -- potential blasphemy: better than Blimpy Burger.
Mr. Spots -- fantastic cheesesteaks
Oriential Express -- hands-down the best Chinese food in Ann Arbor, cheap and huge portion sizes.

burgler
Blimpy Burger.  MMMMM.  As the slogan says "cheaper than food!"  According to the math people, there are 2,147,483,648 different combinations of ways to order the burgers.  Lord knows I've tried to hit as many as is humanly possible.

Dave M.
If you want a grimy, disease-ridden dance floor, hit up RIck's (right by Charley's on Church Street). If you want to pick up high school girls, go to Touchdown's near State Street. For the classier joints, head down to Main Street (if you can find Babs, it's a cool choice... it's in the basement of a random office building - it feels kind of like a secret world) or check out Arbor Brewing Company on Washington St. (a great brewpub).

burgler
BTB Cantina - formerly known as Big Ten Burrito before Jim Delaney's Asshole Lawyers came and rained on that parade, they recently opened up a bar.  They will feed you burritos (what they lack in flavor, they make up for in size) and serve you margaritas/paint strippers, and you probably will not catch VD from the couches.

MT
Sunday morning, fight the hangover with breakfast at Northside Grill. You'll wait, but there's free coffee outside.

burgler
Breakfast options abound come Sunday - see my prior discussion of Zingerman's Bakehouse.  You may hear people yammer on about Angelo's, but the "best-kept secret" for brunch is the autbar.  Housed in several interconnected buildings surrounding a central courtyard, a gay bar by night, it turns from a damn solid bar for gays and straights alike to a damnner solid breakfast place come the A.M.

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TALES OF INTEREST.

Dave M.
I was once in Bangkok, sitting at a table in a random bar at 4 a.m., listening to some stupid South African girl go on and on about how useless Americans were. When I called her out for A) never having been to America and B) never having met any Americans, she confessed that she'd only met one other one - just that evening, in fact - and actually liked us both. I asked her who the other one was, and she pointed to a kid sitting at the bar across the room. We call him over, and it turns out he went to Michigan. Graduated a year ahead of me. So we end up staying at the bar until 6:30, drunkenly ranting to the other people at the table (all non-Americans) about the wonders of a Michigan football game day, probably freaking them all out. I'll never forget the look on the hotel check out girl's face when she saw me stumble in at 7 and had to remind me that my check out was in a few hours. This is one of my favorite little stories because that's Michigan. No matter where you are in the world, you are part of that family. And we are all over the world: I've sung The Victors on three different continents.

burgler
The next door neighbors who started the practice of shouting at passing strangers from a megaphone, and then yelling back "I CAN'T HEAR YOU, YOU DON'T HAVE A MEGAPHONE."

gomaize11
There's this guy, we call him Bongo Man, and he is fantastic at life. He usually sets up on Hoover in front of the IMSB pool building and jams on Bongos as the mass of people walk bye. The best part is the free-styling rhymes he comes up with. For a sampling of his rhymes, check out this mgoblog thread. I'm pretty sure he's been around forever.

Ben L.
When Michigan State rolled into town in 2006, there were lots of green-clad tailgaters sprinkled among the folks wearing maize and blue. We were singing The Victors for a group of Michigan fans when a 45 year old momma Sparty dunkenly staggered over to us and yelled "Sing our fight song too!" We told her we didn't know it. She replied "I'll show you my tits!" Before we could assure her that we had no interest in that (she was a dog), she lifted up her shirt and screamed "Go Green! Go White!" Then she fell down.

So thank you, Michigan tailgating, for showing me my first pair of college boobs, even if they were saggy and belonged to a drunk Sparty as old as my mom.

ScreaminOwl
Also, during the 2007 Michigan-Ohio State game, as we sat in miserable weather and watched our team roll up all of 100 yards of offense and a field goal, a sad drunk man near me sat in the aisle and played the song "Piano Man" over and over on a harmonica. Definitely the most agonizing 3 hours of my life.

jwgillam
Went to the downstairs bar at Ashley's this year after the Michigan State game with some friends that had flown in from Vegas.  One of them complained about the bartender pouring a weak drink, so the bartender took the drink, threw it away and cut us all off, whining about how he was unappreciated.  Seriously, even the bartenders at Michigan can be emo.

Thanks this week to our stalwart Michigander correspondents: Dave M., burgler, blanx73, gomaize11, Ben L., @jwgillam, ScreaminOwl, and MT.

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