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|Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|Population (2000)||101,001 (excluding those outside Michigan Stadium)|
|Motto||My affectations, your earnings - together, a stronger community|
Geographically, the city, in the southeastern corner of the state, is the first settlement that immigrants from Kentucky encounter on their northward migration on US-23 (those who are not attracted, en route, to the prison in Milan or the nearby Cabela's outdoorsmen's superstore). They can water their horses in the Huron River, and themselves at the Rathskellar and dozens of other local venues.
Ann Arbor was once the pet name of an experimental fungus, which frontier entrepreneur Caleb Saginaw harvested from his mattress in preparation for a science fair. Later, however, he and Iggy Pop had a falling-out and Mr. Pop formed the Stooges, a splinter faction. Saginaw wound up the affairs of the business, named The Northwest Territory, as he and Pop had constituted the entire payroll, selling the assets to Community High School, which turned it into a vegetative-states laboratory called Foundations of Science and continued botanical research on Saginaw's mattress. Later, this unwieldy name was shortened to Wazoo.
Ann Arbor became sentient in 1967 when the immortal John Conyers took refuge at Wazoo after an attempt on his life. Conyers possessed a secret about why Michigan is the way it is. To keep this secret out of the wrong hands, Conyers endowed Ann Arbor with a brain--but not a mouth. The secret could now be stored, and would never be disclosed. Ann Arbor was essentially the first write-only memory; and no one yet knows why Michigan is the way it is.
Not just another gigolo
Ann Arbor, in fact, became a person; as there were once persons named Allen Park, Benton Harbor, and Northville --though there was never anyone named Paw Paw nor Sault Ste. Marie.
But another organ that Dingell denied Ann Arbor was a skeleton. Held together entirely by cartilage, his flexibility attracted national attention as "The Rubber Boy."
Origins of the university
The Central Intelligence Agency first contacted Ann Arbor between tapings of his second appearance on television's Laugh-In. The CIA had pioneered covert research within academia and, with the help of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, had already dosed several famous scholars with McUltra, the substance eventually exploited by McDonald's for customer mind control. With research underway throughout the Ivy League, the CIA needed a public land-grant university devoted entirely to secret research for the Vietnam War. The wasteland astride the Huron River was perfect for "The Corridor."
McUltra was extremely addictive; some of the CIA's finest minds were putting on pounds. Dr. Timothy Leary had documented the hallucinations and delusions of grandeur resulting from such adipose torrents penetrating his brain, the fat-head. However, over lunch of Brillo pads at the famous art studio of Mama Cass (near Cass Lake), all was forgotten when Ann Arbor heard about the Corridor. The two agents present, Agent Smith and Agent Orange, promised Ann Arbor that the first research funded via the Corridor would be his own robotic exoskeleton, letting him stand up straight like other boys.
It was Ann Arbor himself who, at that auspicious first meeting, originated the code name "University of Michigan." Even before he slurped down the last of his own McUltra, Ann Arbor had revived his childhood fantasies.
Delusions of grandeur
Inserting a large Plexiglas tube (perhaps a bong) into a bodily orifice of Ann Arbor began the covert work. Celebrity guest Harlan Hatcher christened the insertion by breaking a bottle of champagne over the tube.
The painful ceremony was a mere frost heave on young Ann Arbor's color tour, as intravenous needles fed his brain a steady diet of McUltra. His brain immersed in fantasy, he saw himself throwing footballs, squeezing shapely co-eds, and working overtime on landscaping with new, bionic arms.
McUltra imbued him with a feeling of omnipotence. He saw himself expanding, with new roads screaming out into the countryside. He gave them names: Liberty, Jackson, Stadium, Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor-Saline. And at their ends, he imagined residential housing projects encircling him like a beige-brown halo. He saw a bowl in which tens of thousands of eager worshippers would gather and praise him with feverish chants, each sappier than the last.
He would strip them all and gird them in uniforms of blue and maize: Blue for the sky, a symbol of himself; and maize for the maze-like street layout--a tangle that would only worsen in future years, though it does serve to deter or at least confuse foreign invasion.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the CIA had recruited a faculty, as accomplished in research as they were indifferent to delivering lectures to undergrads.
Fleshing out the Quad
Once U of M was operational, Smith and Orange quickly realized that, without students, the project would draw ridicule and they, tar and feathers. Hours of dithering held at the huge but empty campus produced a plan: Using their state-of-the-art black ops training, Smith and Orange went to work on the gullible population of Kentucky. Polls indicated that many of its truckers and shit-kickers would move north; and, if enough could be convinced to enroll in college, that graduation would never pose a threat.
Most Kentuckians did not even know what a "liberal arts curriculum" was--the very words had been banned there since 1900, when the nation was still struggling to recover from the trauma of the McKinley assassination. Fortunately, Dr. Gottlieb had refined a powerful new version of McUltra--Chicken McNuggets--which Smith and Orange introduced into Kentucky's municipal water supplies until everyone was quoting Susan Sontag and the New Critics. Smith and Orange commissioned new dormitories (named Dexter, Milan, and Ypsilanti) tailored to the unique tastes of Kentuckians.
As the first drooling, illiterate Kentuckians arrived, a great tower was erected and a petition to rename Ann Arbor "New Greenwich" was brought to the City Council by the peg-legged Pirate Davidson, a serviceable if minor Michigan villain. The first time the cold knock of his false appendage echoed in the Council chamber, one felt that a great portent was underway. Indeed it was, as this was the meeting in which the War Against Time would begin. No one knew that this struggle would define Ann Arbor, but one hint was that few speakers noticed that their allotted time had expired.
Ann Arbor's commercial center is Briarwood Mall, a huge shopping center with a head, thorax, abdomen, internal watershed, continental divide, and artificial gravity provided by its five anchor stores. Old-timers on its benches recall when Arborland, an open-air strip mall, was "a huge shopping center," or even when Montgomery Ward was chic enough to be an anchor store. The difference is that people bought stuff back then. These oldsters come to Briarwood to people-watch, as even J.L. Hudson's is gone, and the only other visitors are penniless third-world families, in Sunday dress, socializing and waiting for the next cholera outbreak.
Actual Ann Arboroids, of course, buy stuff using web commerce.
Famous Ann Arboroids
Unfortunately, the benefits of living in Ann Arbor are not without costs. Those of lesser means can live in nearby Ypsilanti or--God help you--even Willow Run, and you don't even have to assemble fighter planes, these days. In your spare time--if you have any spare time, between working three jobs--you can visit Ann Arbor, saunter down the streets, perhaps wearing a beret, smoking a French cigarette, and talking as though you had a personal relationship with Che Guevara, and sample the good life.