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Postcard from the End of America: Ann Arbor

By       Message Linh Dinh       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Rudy List and Henry Herskovitz in Ann Arbor, 2016
(Image by Linh Dinh)
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Say Ann Arbor and people will think of Michigan football, with the second biggest stadium in the entire world, behind only North Korea's Rungrado May Day Stadium. The annual marijuana rally, Hash Bash, may also come to mind.

Downtown is filled with hip cafe's, trendy shops, comfy brewpubs and sophisticated restaurants. These kids have money, I thought as I roamed around, searching for cheap beer. In-state tuition, in turns out, is $28,776, and out of state is $59,784. Michigan has plenty of international students, most notably Chinese.

At Curtain Call, the 30-something bartender, Chris, was from Hawaii. Her dad owned a Maui bar close enough to the beach for surfers to down a few at dawn before hitting the waves. Sounded like paradise. Chris couldn't work for her old man, however, because he was so cheap, so she ended slinging beer in Ann Arbor. Chris had originally gone there to study biochemistry at the university.

This was her first Friday night off in eleven year, Chris confessed, "I don't know what to do with myself."

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"You should go somewhere and drink."

"It's been eleven years since I can do that!"

"That's interesting."

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"For me, it doesn't matter if it's one drink or ten drink, I'll still get a headache in the morning."

"You should drink ten then!"

We laughed.

Jewish, Chris told me Ann Arbor's best deli was Zingerman's.

In my late 20's, I took a girl to a Philly diner. I ordered chicken liver, a favorite to this day. Maria looked at me in horror, "What the f*ck are you eating?! Chicken sh*t?!"

Did I tell you that Jews have been most instrumental in my life? In college, my three most supportive professors, Boris Putterman, Stephen Berg and Eileen Neff, were Jews, with Berg and Neff practically my surrogate parents, they nurtured me so much. Berg bought a painting of mine to put over his fireplace, and lent me money several times. My fiction publisher, Dan Simon, is Jewish, and Jewish Ron Unz has treated me better than any other webzine editor. Novelist Matthew Sharpe has talked me up in the fiction world. I can go on and on. Hell, my first date was with a Jewish girl, and I even lost my virginity to a Jew! I traveled through remote northwest Vietnam with photographer Mitch Epstein, and with 6-9 Lloyd Luntz, explored the Mekong Delta. Jews swarm me, fill my head, course through my veins. I can go on and on.

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My next time at Curtain Call, I chatted with a 28-year-old who wished he was 25. "My last birthday, I said it was the 3rd anniversary of my 25th."

Overhearing this, a guy down the bar shouted, "I wish I was 50!"

Another old head jumped in, "I wish I was 60!"

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.

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