Fairy Doors Cited for ADA Non-Compliance

Downtown Ann Arbor’s iconic fairy doors are visited by thousands of children every year, all of them hoping to catch a glimpse of the magical beings who use these tiny portals. Now, recent actions by Federal and State accessibility regulators have put the doors into questionable legal status,  and they may be closed or require expensive work to remain open.

“The proliferation of Fairy Doors definitely raises accessibility issues that clearly violate State and Federal building codes.” Says Warren Pesstolsty, a mid-ranking Federal official instrumental in the investigation and complaint. “If they were human sized entrances, they would never get approval from any agency, let alone pass inspection.”

It seems that the main reason this inequity escaped regulatory notice for so long is because the doors are built for creatures generally invisible to adults. As is the story in so many cases, it is the voices of the truly marginalized unseen, creatures of folklore living with disabilities, that are now being heard for the first time.

“It’s like we were standing in the weeds, unable to fly, and shouting for help for centuries.” said Vernal Buttercup, a member of Fairies Living In The Shadows (FLITS), an advocacy group and party to the complaint (Their name has been changed to protect them from potential repercussions).

The government action is causing tremors throughout the dominant Fairy culture and professional community, including the Washington DC based Business Advocates for Diminutive Doors (BADD). At this point, the aftershocks promise to continue for years, for FLITS literature points directly to broader diversity and intersectional issues, such as access for giants, yeti, and other shadowy figures who, literally, can’t fit through the doors others have constructed.

Radiohead to Headline Water Hill Music Festival

Overly serious, white, mostly male music lovers in Southeast Michigan received exciting news today when Ann Arbor’s Water Hill Music Festival announced that alternative musical group Radiohead would be headlining this year’s festival. The festival debuted in 2012 and has traditionally been a grass roots and decidedly non-commercial event featuring Water Hill residents playing and singing on their front porches and in their yards.  Now the festival has reached a turning point as it seeks to grow beyond its humble beginnings.

“I’m sure people will say we’ve sold out, that we’re just raking in a bunch of cash for our own selfish purposes, that this has become all about the almighty dollar,” said longtime Water Hill resident and festival founder Jim Robertson, with apparently nothing more to add.

Food and beverages have never before been offered at the festival, but that too is changing. Concessions will be handled by Killan, the same group that manages concessions for other major events and venues in Southeast Michigan. Accordingly, a large Budweiser or Heineken will be $27.50. A small plastic cup of wine will be $29.50, and a sad water-logged greyish hotdog will be $18.50, though a more appetizing version can be had for $5 more.

“We want to accommodate different tastes and income levels”, said Robertson.

In addition to gaining big-name acts, the festival is attracting major corporate sponsors, the reason behind its transition to a new name for next year’s event in 2017, “Domino’s Pizza’s ‘Rock the Hill’ Festival.”

“There’s no doubt that Hiscock will be … throbbing with excitement”

As usual, much of the action will take place on Hiscock Street. In fact, Hiscock has been enlarged to make room for the erection of a large stage crafted in the form of a front porch in keeping with the festival’s theme. Given this year’s bigger crowds, some residents are worried that Hiscock might become engorged with spectators creating a massive logjam and resulting in a potentially messy incident. Festival president Blanca Hamilton says the worries are overblown. “There’s no doubt that Hiscock will be absolutely throbbing with excitement,” she said, “but we have a firm grip on [the situation], and will be working it diligently.”

The new direction has certainly proven popular with local music lovers: tickets went on sale earlier today and sold out within a single second according to festival organizers. It is less popular with the Water Hill residents, who’ve previously been the only stars of the show.

One controversial aspect of this year’s festival is that some ticket holders will have access to local homes. Residents near the main stage will be required to vacate their homes during the event so that the festival’s “Platinum Porch Supporters” will have a place to stay and enjoy the show. Some of these residents are crying foul, but are fighting against a little known aspect of eminent domain that allows cities, neighborhood leaders, and alpha males to take temporary possession of homes when they determine it is in the economic and cultural interests of the community.

Robertson dismisses the critics as jealous for attention: “It’s sour grapes. These folks are just upset because they’re not the center of attention anymore. Now they’ve got some real competition. If they really want to be the stars again, they should stop whining and start practicing.”

Editor’s note: 

“All joking aside, the Water Hill Music Festival is a truly great event and one which the Sentinel endorses wholeheartedly. 2016’s event took place on Sunday, May 1st from 2pm – 6pm. See http://waterhill.org for more info.”

Ann Arbor Skatepark to Add ‘Leap of Death’

Since it opened in 2014 Ann Arbor’s skatepark, located on the west side of the city in Veteran’s Memorial Park, has been a booming success and can be found bustling with activity on almost any day where weather permits. Now skatepark advocates are proposing the first major addition to the park since its original design was approved: a startling 60 meter steep slope that ends with an upward ramp, sending the skater flying into the air at a high speed and with no soft landing. If built, the structure also uses an innovative motorized cable system that lifts skaters to the top before they take the plunge. Critics of the new attraction have dubbed it the “leap of death”, but lead skatepark organizer Scott Thomas says the risks are exaggerated and the nickname is alarmist.

Ann Arbor Skatepark Design with Proposed High Velocity Air (click image for larger view)

“We skaters call this a high velocity air, or HVA for short, and it is anything but a ‘leap of death.’,” says Thomas derisively, rolling his eyes, “If anything, it is an ‘HVA of death.'”

“Skateboarding is an extreme sport, and is constantly pushing the extreme boundaries of extreme possibility, and the HVA is one more extreme leap toward the extremities,” Thomas added,”The fact is, we expect few actual fatalities from the HVA.”

“Oh, I Love it… I want to see all of them on it” – Skatepark opponent Kathryn Gray

The controversy over the HVA has also created some strange bedfellows. Kathryn Gray, a neighbor of Veteran’s Park and a long-time vocal opponent of the skatepark, has strongly endorsed the HVA. Despite vehemently opposing the original construction of the skatepark and frequently complaining about the skater culture it draws to the area, Gray seems sternly enthusiastic about the new attraction.

Kathryn Gray, a vocal opponent of the skatepark, strongly supports the new ‘leap of death’

“Oh, I love it. I love it. Oh, I want to see all of them on it,” said Ms Gray grim-faced and slowly shaking her head, “Every. Single. One of them. I’m bringing my lawn chair.”

Thomas welcomes Gray’s support and has been working to calm parents’ fears about safety.

“I really feel that the alarmist reaction to the new HVA is overblown, and while it was not an intentional part of its design, I want to note that the exit ramp faces toward the nearby [St Joseph’s Maple] Urgent Care which is conveniently located across the nearby Dexter-Maple intersection.” Thomas explained, “So the higher the velocity and further the skater travels, the closer they will be to any medical help they may need after landing.”

Jeff McLovin, a 14 year-old skater with a serious skating addiction, a sassy haircut, and an attitude to match, says the new slope is just the thing to help him deal with his divorcing parents. Though he broke his arm skating in the park three weeks after it originally opened, McLovin expresses no fear about using the new park attraction. “I’m going to wait until I see my parents walking up and then I’m going to go down backwards,” Says McLovin, “[My friend] Dave is going to take a video so I can post whatever happens. Maybe it’ll go viral.”

Off-Leash Cat Park Slated for City’s West Side

Under pressure from local enthusiasts and political action groups, the Ann Arbor City Council has changed plans for the vacant lot that was once the North Maple Estates housing development on the west side of the city.

The original plan for a 42-unit apartment complex has been scrapped and the area will now become one the nation’s first off-leash cat parks. Popular in countries like France, Japan and Denmark, the as yet unnamed cat park will be the second such undertaking in the United States. The park’s construction is being funded, in part, by a generous anonymous donation from a cat-loving resident.

The donation was made under the condition that the park will be named after one of the donor’s three cats: Alexander the Great, Mr Pussybottoms, and Princess Snowball Snuggywuggums. “It’s been a difficult choice, ” said an insider familiar with the process, “but I think ‘Alexander the Great’ is in the lead at this point regardless of any historical connotations.”

Contracted to the same folks who designed the “Cat Recreation And Play Park” (CRAPP) in Santa Cruz, California, the Ann Arbor cat park will be a bit wider and twice the length of the original CRAPP.

“… attractions under consideration include a hummingbird garden, a hummingbird memorial, a butterfly house, a butterfly memorial, and … Laser Land”

Sentinel staff caught up with the park’s lead designer, Swedish landscape architect and lifelong cat lover Riley Ardensen, to chat about the proposed design. “People think only dogs deserve parks, but dogs are very dirty, smelly, humping monstrosities – ridiculous animals, really. Have you seen how a dog poops?”

After some minutes outlining his strong feelings about dogs, Ardensen talked about the new park.

“We are still working on the final plans for the park, but it will certainly have some popular features of the Santa Cruz park. For instance, the large sandlot, the climbing towers, and the catnip courtyard are definitely in the Ann Arbor design,” says Ardensen, “And no dogs will be allowed anywhere near it, none at all.”


A few other attractions under consideration include a hummingbird garden, a hummingbird memorial, a butterfly house, a butterfly memorial, and an experimental interactive attraction called “Laser Land.”

As of publication, organizers have set aside the tentative date of Saturday July 16 for the grand opening ceremonies. Park advocate and board member Julie Simmins gave us a little teaser of some of the festivities. “We are hoping to inaugurate the park with something we call the Rodent Roundup. We have been working with ULAM (Unit of Laboratory Animal Medicine) at the University of Michigan to secure unclaimed laboratory mice. Think of the event as something akin to an easter-egg hunt, only with more carnage.”

Local enthusiast, Louise Grimes is excited about the park. “I love the idea, but I have a bejesus of a time trying to get my cat into the car. I am going to try a line of treats with my boy, Frisky the 7th; but if it is anything like my other cats, Friskies 1 through 6, he will just run away as soon as I open the door,” Grimes added sheepishly.

The details are still unfolding, but with City Council unanimously voting in favor of the park, it seems like a done deal. Be assured that as there are developments in this story, the A2 Sentinel will be on top of it.

Main Street Retailer “Life is Good” Expands, Launches New Brand “Meh.”

Owners of the Main Street lifestyle retailer “Life is Good” have expanded into an adjacent space with “Meh.”, a new concept developed here at the Ann Arbor location.

Life is Good targets consumers who have a rosy, content view of life and who want to share their state of happiness with others, but co-owner Whitney Spencer says not everyone feels this way.

We hear from many customers who … say ‘Life isn’t very good right now. I can’t wear this.’

“We hear from many customers who have mountains of student loan debt, have trouble finding a decent job, or listen to the news and say ‘Life isn’t very good right now. I can’t wear this.'”, said Spencer, “We wanted to be able to offer those customers another message that resonates with their life experiences and their jaded, weary, sad-sack view of the world. That’s how we came up with Meh.”

Co-owner Deborah Workman agrees. “You should see some of the miserable Eeyores that come in here,” she said, sporting a wide, toothy grin, “I wanted to call this place ‘Life is Great’, because I think life is great, but I can’t sell anything to these gloomy millennials. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the thing that finally made them happy was the ability to express their pitiful world view through their hats?”

After Successful Deer Cull, City Council Sets Sights on Herds of Locavores

With the recent deer cull pronounced safe, efficient, and cost-effective for taxpayers, March’s first City Council meeting included a preliminary discussion of what they termed the “Summer Cull.”  Deliberations quickly focused on the increasing herds of locavores in the downtown restaurant ecosystem. 

There was broad agreement with the goal of the cull, summed up by the comments of UM activist Wendy P. Fredericks, “Restaurants for regular dining tastes are just being crowded out.”

Several council members cited studies indicating that locavore levels were already critical and at the point of inhibiting the options of diners with other tastes. Others agreed, adding that since local food production hits its peak in summer, the timing was optimal. Council members representing the north side of the city expressed concern about options for the cull, with the location of blinds an especially nettlesome issue.

Several protesters interrupted the proceedings and were escorted from the building. Martin Z. Peterson, dressed as a spring garlic, silently held vigil at the end of the meeting, holding a sign in black marker that simply said: You Will Not E-Scape Our Vote in November.

Festifools Adopts ‘Bad Trip’ Theme, Cautions Parents: ‘Leave the Kids at Home’


Festifools, the annual Ann Arbor event that celebrates foolishness and whimsey, will take a dark turn for its 10th anniversary coming up in April. Festival organizers are adopting a nightmarish “bad trip” theme for an event already known for its psychedelic and bizarre imagery. Parade Coordinator Roland Fowler says the darker motif is meant, in part, to appeal to those dealing with traumatic unresolved episodes of drug experimentation.

“Many of us have experimented with psychedelics in our youth and experienced the panic of nightmarish hallucinations and delusions, wondering when it would end and realizing we were only three hours into what would probably be a seven or eight hour trip,” said Fowler, “This may provide some catharsis or maybe even some nostalgia.  Others may want to experience it for the first time. We feel like this is a great way to mix it up and create some lasting, disturbing memories.”

…counselors will be on hand to assist any children or adults who may feel overwhelmed by the display

While the traditional puppets and floats will portray a wide array of horrific scenes, major sub-themes will include disease, decay, grisly injuries, parasites, deformities, and the inevitability of death. Traditionally a family event, organizers have urged parents not to bring anyone under the age of 16, however a number of counselors will be on hand to assist any children or adults who feel overwhelmed by the display. In addition, Fowler said a troop of angry, demented clowns will aggressively patrol the event, ensuring that spectators show adequate appreciation for the parade and that no one leaves before the fun is over.

“Everyone’s excited about this year’s event, and about making a lasting impression that you won’t be able to forget even if you want to,” Fowler said, “Maybe next year we’ll swing back toward a brighter, funnier brand of whimsy but this year’s show is going to leave a mental mark.”

Sanders Wows at Crisler with Illusions, Message

A flock of doves appears as if by magic in Sanders’ dramatic finale Monday night at the Crisler Center

The crowd went absolutely crazy. Arms spread, lowered by wires amidst billowing fog and rotating spotlights to the moving strains of “The Final Countdown,” Bernie Sanders made a dramatic entrance Monday evening for his address at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, descending onto the stage like an angel brought down from Heaven. Sanders visited Michigan in an effort to boost his showing at the Democratic primary on Tuesday and snatch victory away from the athletic jaws of Hillary Clinton. He addressed a receptive audience of thousands with his progressive message and his hypnotic stagecraft.

After a warm message of gratitude to the adoring throng, Bernie turned to a familiar target: Wall Street.

“The fat cat bankers and Wall Street billionaire class thought they could bring our economy to its knees and everything would come up roses!”, said Sanders swinging his arm as a bouquet of roses appeared in his hand from seemingly nowhere. The crowd gasped and erupted in applause.

“But America is not going to lie down and take it anymore” yelled Sanders, his indefatigable voice holding up after four straight months of yelling his hopeful message of economic revolution at receptive young voters, “They’re going to get a wicked caning from the Sanders administration!”

A tony walking cane appeared as he flung his hand down and Sanders nimbly twirled the cane in his fingers. Audience members looked at one another, stunned at his expert sleight-of-hand, before returning a roar of approval.

“Now I need a volunteer”, shouted Mr Sanders, “Someone who’s fed up with corporate money and willing to join me in taking on the oligarchy that is taking over our country!”

After an expertly executed illusion where a young woman with dreadlocks and multiple piercings was apparently split up into multiple cabinets and reassembled, Sanders held the crowd in his palm. He continued with illusion after illusion, weaving in his message of equality and progressive taxation, all perfectly dealt with a fast-paced rhythm.

“after extracting an endless string of colored scarfs from the cupped hands of a surprised University of Michigan undergrad, Mr Sanders finished his address by conjuring a flock of doves from nowhere”

Finally, after extracting an endless string of colored scarfs from the cupped hands of a surprised University of Michigan undergrad, Mr Sanders finished his address by conjuring a flock of doves from nowhere, calling out “The American spirit of opportunity and equality must fly free” as the birds flew up and away.

After the emotional and technically deft address, local voter Frank J King said he was still somewhat undecided, “I like Bernie but I’m not sure if he’s electable. I figure I’m voting for either Bernie or Trump.”

Kraft Beer* Comes to Ann Arbor


You’ve no doubt heard of craft beer, the popular revolution in brewing, but what about Kraft beer? Kraft Foods, the Chicago-based maker of Velveeta cheese and Oscar Mayer meats, has jumped onto the craft beer wagon and will be testing some new beverage products in Ann Arbor this summer. In the process, popular local watering hole Bill’s Beer Garden will be transformed into Kraft Processed Beer Product® Garden, a name even Kraft admits isn’t all that catchy, but is required by law to use.

“We want to be sure we adhere to all FDA regulations and recommendations,” said Kraft spokesman Joshua Curl,” And while Kraft Processed Beer Product isn’t an old-fashioned beer in the strict and boring legal sense of your dad’s beer, we think we’ve come up with a new, zestier twist on what people call beer.  We feel confident that our customers will find it a very satisfying alcoholic beverage consumption experience, and you can definitely get blotto with it.”

Kraft plans an extensive marketing campaign to appeal to younger drinkers who have just become adult alcohol consumers.

“We have several sick videos lined up that are going to go viral.”, said Mr. Curl, nodding his head and glancing at his notes, “This new beer is hella ill. We want young people to know that they can Netflix and chill with their bae while they responsibly enjoy Kraft PBP.”

Michigan is a hotbed of microbreweries, brew pubs, home brewing, and heavy drinking

The craft beer movement has grown into a global craze, and Michigan is a hotbed of microbreweries, brew pubs, home brewing, and heavy drinking. In recent years, Ann Arbor has gained HopCat, the Beer Grotto, Bill’s Beer Garden, Wolverine Brewing, Blue Tractor, and Jolly Pumpkin. Kraft Foods will be entering a crowded marketplace and will be fighting against a culture that values local brewers and real beer.

While Curl admits his product isn’t technically beer, he chafes at the notion that Kraft’s new beverages aren’t made locally.

“All Kraft Processed Beer Products are fully reconstituted locally with pure 100% locally sourced water using trained, local mixologists. The artisanal syrup base is imported from China, which most people don’t realize is actually the world’s largest beer market by volume.”

“People grew up with Kraft brands like our iconic macaroni and cheese and Jell-o Brand Gelatin. Kraft beer is just a new way for Kraft to comfort adults and numb them to their daily troubles – with a great beer-like flavor and a potent buzz.”

*Kraft Beer is a processed beer product.

MLive Comments Linked to Cancer, Despair in Rats



Rats exposed to high levels of anonymous online comments were four times as likely to develop brain cancer and six times as likely to develop ocular cancer. In addition, the exposed rats were significantly more likely to experience feelings of despair and worthlessness. These findings were part of a multi-year study conducted by University of Michigan professor Kristopher Padilla and published this week in the Journal of Applied Informantic Science.

Padilla explained that the rats were suspended in front of computer monitors which displayed slowly scrolling Internet content. Half the rats were exposed to highly rated kitten videos and the other half were shown an endless page of bile-ridden comments from Southeast Michigan’s online news site “MLive.com”. The rats watching the comments experienced much higher incidences of cancer and self-loathing.

“We think the mechanism involves interference with cellular mitochondria,” said Padilla. Mitochondria are the biological engines of living cells. Padilla says researchers think that the nauseating sewage-as-text drains the life-energy from the cells, leaving them helpless to cancer causing mutagens and oncogenes. The exact mechanics of how this gag-inducing Internet content can steal away energy from exposed cells is unclear, said Padilla, who hopes to continue to study the toxicity of the ungodly content.

“Pregnant women should avoid this cesspool of humanity altogether, until we better understand how badly a fetus is deranged by the mother’s consumption of these fetid messages.”

“I know I want to blind myself with a spoon when I read the Mlive comments. That’s what originally gave me the idea for the experiment,” said Padilla, “Now we know that parents should be very careful about exposing children to unfiltered and undiluted MLive comments.  Pregnant women should avoid this cesspool of humanity altogether, until we better understand how badly a fetus is deranged by the mother’s consumption of these fetid messages.”

MLive spokesperson Tabitha Thornton disagrees with Padilla.

“Our readers consider the comments section an important and rewarding part of their online news consumption experience”, Thornton said with the flat soullessness of a well programmed automaton. “We consistently hear that endless anonymous sniping between close-minded trolls is a valuable feature for MLive and a beneficial way to fully process local content.”

“This Tabitha Thornton unit is now in sleep mode,” she added.