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#28 Ann Arbor Stories: The Blind Pig

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 5:30am

On February 23, 2017, Swisher Commercial listed the Blind Pig and 8-Ball Saloon for sale. 6,970 square feet, two stories, two half baths, no bedrooms, and no list price. Best offer only. Liquor license included. The origins of the building, the Blind Pig and how this isn't the first time Ann Arbor has freaked out about the future of the Pig.

Music by Lightning Love.

Parental Listener Warning: This episode contains references to alcohol, topless go-go dancers, Soundgarden, and blues music.

Learn more about this story in the AADL Old News archives.

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#27 Ann Arbor Stories: The Torch Murders

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:30am

In the pre-dawn hours in August 1931, a farmer in Ypsilanti reported a car on fire at the edge of his property. When police and firefighters arrived and extinguished the flames, they found a grisly scene that shocked the state. Four bodies, burned nearly beyond recognition, were found inside the vehicle, which was intentionally set on fire.

They called them the Torch Murders, and the entire story—from the crime itself to the manhunt that apprehended the killers to the insane criminal proceedings, would forever change law enforcement and the justice system in the state.

For more on the the Torch Murders, visit

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Mark Ribowsky about Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams.

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 2:22pm

After he died in the backseat of a Cadillac at the age of twenty-nine, Hank Williams -- a frail, flawed man who had become country music's first real star --- instantly morphed into its first tragic martyr. Having hit the heights with simple songs of despair, depression, and tainted love, he would, with that outlaw swagger, become in death a template for the rock generation to follow. Six decades later, Mark Ribowsky now weaves together the first fully realized biography of Hank Williams in a generation. Examining his music while also re-creating days and nights choked in booze and desperation, Ribowsky traces the miraculous rise of this music legend from the dirt roads of rural Alabama to the now-immortal stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and finally to a sad, lonely end on New Year's Day, 1953. The result is an original work that promises to uncover the real Hank beneath the myths that have long enshrouded his legacy.

The interview was recorded on January 26, 2017.

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#26 Ann Arbor Stories: Henry Ford's Enforcer

Thu, 03/02/2017 - 5:30am

The most powerful person ever to live in Ann Arbor was Harry Bennett—Henry Ford's right hand man, union buster and general enforcer. Bennett lived behind the walls of Bennett's Castle at 5668 Geddes Road, where he ran the Ford Motor Company security division by fear and intimidation. He employed murderers, gangsters, and bad men of all types, and he was a signature away from becoming the president of Ford so many years ago. This is his story.

Music by Chris Bathgate

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Smell and Tell: Serge Lutens: Collaboration in Luxury Fragrance Design

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 2:11pm

Michelle Krell Kydd, trained nose in flavors and fragrance and editor of Glass Petal Smoke, tells the story of noted perfumer Serge Lutens and the iconic scents he has developed. Kydd offers a guided tour of Lutens' start and rise to prominence in the luxury perfume world, his long-running partnership with Christopher Sheldrake, and his catalog of 50+ distinctive scents.

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Author Tom Stanton Discusses His New York Times Bestseller: “Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-era Detroit”

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 3:14pm

Award-winning author Tom Stanton weaves a stunning tale of history, crime, and sports. Richly portraying 1930s America, "Terror in the City of Champions" features a pageant of colorful figures: iconic athletes, sanctimonious criminals, scheming industrial titans, a bigoted radio priest, a love-smitten celebrity couple, J. Edgar Hoover, and two future presidents, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. It is a rollicking true story set at the confluence of hard luck, hope, victory, and violence.

Detroit, mid-1930s: In a city abuzz over its unrivaled sports success, gun-loving baseball fan Dayton Dean became ensnared in the nefarious and deadly Black Legion. The secretive, Klan-like group was executing a wicked plan of terror, murdering enemies, flogging associates, and contemplating armed rebellion. The Legion boasted tens of thousands of members across the Midwest, among them politicians and prominent citizens—even, possibly, a beloved athlete.

The book opens with the arrival of Mickey Cochrane, a fiery baseball star who roused the Clutch Plague’s hardest-hit city by leading the Tigers to the 1934 pennant. A year later he guided the team to its first championship. Within seven months the Lions and Red Wings follow in football and hockey—all while Joe Louis chased boxing’s heavyweight crown.

Amidst such glory, the Legion’s dreadful toll grew unchecked: staged “suicides,” bodies dumped along roadsides, high-profile assassination plots. Talkative Dayton Dean’s involvement would deepen as heroic Mickey Cochrane’s reputation would rise. But the ballplayer had his own demons, including a close friendship with Harry Bennett, Henry Ford’s brutal union buster.

Tom Stanton’s other books include the critically acclaimed Tiger Stadium memoir "The Final Season" and the Quill Award finalist Ty and The Babe. A professor of journalism at the University of Detroit Mercy, he is a former Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

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#25 Ann Arbor Stories: The Red Light District

Thu, 02/16/2017 - 5:30am

There was a time in Ann Arbor’s not-so-distant past when a part of town was widely known as the red light district. Adult bookstores, topless massage parlors, prostitutes, hoodlums, and bums—all just blocks from City Hall and Ann Arbor police headquarters. Cops were raiding massage parlors every few months, rounding up a dozen massage workers at a time, but the arrests never made a dent. Crackdowns on prostitutes and the johns who solicited them didn’t make much impact either. The red light district regenerated. Persisted. Grew stronger.

How did Ann Arbor become home to this kind of brazen adult fare?

Music by FAWNN

Learn more in the AADL Old News Archives.

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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author David Oshinsky Discusses His New Book “Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital”

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 12:43pm

The U-M Center for the History of Medicine and AADL are pleased to host Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Oshinsky, Ph.D., as he discusses his new book, Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital, a riveting history of New York's iconic public hospital that charts the turbulent rise of American medicine.

Bellevue Hospital, on New York City's East Side, occupies a colorful and horrifying place in the public imagination: a den of mangled crime victims, vicious psychopaths, assorted derelicts, lunatics, and exotic-disease sufferers. In its two and a half centuries of service, there was hardly an epidemic or social catastrophe—or groundbreaking scientific advance—that did not touch Bellevue.

Oshinsky chronicles the history of America's oldest hospital and in so doing also charts the rise of New York to the nation's preeminent city, the path of American medicine from butchery and quackery to a professional and scientific endeavor, and the growth of a civic institution.

With its diverse, ailing, and unprotesting patient population, the hospital was a natural laboratory for the nation's first clinical research. It treated tens of thousands of Civil War soldiers, launched the first civilian ambulance corps and the first nursing school for women, pioneered medical photography and psychiatric treatment, and spurred New York City to establish the country's first official Board of Health.

The latter decades of the twentieth century brought rampant crime, drug addiction, and homelessness to the nation's struggling cities—problems that called a public hospital's very survival into question. It took the AIDS crisis to cement Bellevue's enduring place as New York's ultimate safety net, the iconic hospital of last resort. Lively, page-turning, and fascinating, Bellevue is essential American history.

David Oshinsky, Ph.D is a professor in the NYU Department of History and director of the Division of Medical Humanities at the NYU School of Medicine. In 2005, he won the Pulitzer Prize in History for Polio: An American Story. His articles and reviews appear regularly in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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#24 Ann Arbor Stories: Proud History of Punching Nazis in the Face

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 5:30am

Police spotted the Nazis in their rented U-Haul at the edge of the city around 11 am— two hours before anyone expected them to arrive. Fifteen members of the S.S. Action Group out of Westland—sitting three in the front and 12 in the back, riot shields and jackboots bouncing over every pothole.

It was March 20, 1982, and a crowd of 2,000 anti-Nazi demonstrators were about to show the world what Ann Arbor thought of their Aryan visitors.

Music by Diego and the Dissidents.

Learn more about this story in the AADL Old News Archives.

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#23 Ann Arbor Stories: The Clairvoyant Physician

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 5:30am

In a time of spirits, specters, and the people who could contact them - Daniel B. Kellogg fit right in. The good doctor could diagnose you in person or halfway across the country—see inside you and prescribe the perfect cure—despite having no formal medical training. He needed only his keen sense of the spirit world and the ghosts of two medicine men to help with long distance cases. This is the story of Ann Arbor's clairvoyant physician and the family empire he built right in Lower Town.

Music by Hollow & Akimbo.

Special thanks to Katie Reeves for suggesting this topic, and our enduring thanks to the Ann Arbor District Library archives staff for providing many of our research materials.

Learn more about this story in the Old News archives.