But a stroll from the Eastern campus, and sporting a sundry hipster staff and a kind of lower-Manhattan-eatery-in-spring milieu, Beezy's ought to feel like home to many student types, from trendy millennials to floppy-fringed Cro-Magnons to those who look like what would result if you crossed a Paris hipster with Lee Hazelwood. Owner Bee Mayhew knows how to whip up wondrous fare, home-cooked and thoughtful, including two soups daily, fresh-baked bread, and variety of sandwiches and breakfast food. Better, Beezy's is about community, all about the local — working with local vendors, local farmers, local businesses, local musicians, bartenders and any civic-minded cats supporting art fairs and music festivals. Sustainability never tasted so sweet. Besides, would such songsters as Jim Roll, Chris Bathgate or Matt Jones steer us wrong? Salute! 20 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti; 734-485-9625
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, baby.
It's a greasy spoon that never closes. So, no matter the day you find yourself drunk or hankerin' for fries or good ol' hippie hash (something delicious with hash browns and veggies — get it with feta, trust us), dive in. And if you can land a spot inside this tiny diner, your post-bar yearnings shall be answered. It's a bit of a hike from the U-M campus, but if you're at a bar or house party in the vicinity, this is the only place within blocks and blocks that will feed you past 2 a.m. 300 S Ashley St., Ann Arbor; 734-995-5502
It's cheap, it's dirty, it's smoky and generally kinda low-rent. It's more or less a coney island with burnt coffee and plastic cheese, with coney dogs that kill at any hour. But it's open 24 hours, so whatever culinary pretentions you have are quickly tossed out the window when it's 3 in the morning, your head's swimming in booze, and all you need is what's fried and heavy, coffee and an ashtray. Cash only, kiddies. 533 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-544-9707
Don't let its appearance dupe you. Yes, it looks like a small shack on Liberty Street. Well, frankly, it is, but this place knows soup. The crazy combos and somewhat bulky prices (up to $8 for 16 ounces) are worth it. This isn't normal, watery side-dish soup. Swing in Thursdays and Fridays for Le Dog's lobster bisque — it's basically god's gift to cold-weather comfort food. 410 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-2114
La Fiesta Mexicana
Welcome to a mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant that puts corporate and overpriced Ann Arbor establishments to shame. The service may be slow, but that's because the owners are prideful, take the home-cooked idea very seriously, and are often waiting the tables and fielding questions. This is the anti-corporate ethnic flavor that is so needed in our multi-ethnic culture. Anyway, if you're not sure of what, say, mole tastes like, the fine La Fiesta folk will bring you a sample with a homemade tortilla chip. Furthermore, the place is also BYOB! So, sip your fave frothy and relax. It's worth the wait for the homemade tamale, wet burrito, enchilada or taco that's on its way. 529 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-483-1666
Abe's Coney Island
Oh, Abe's, how we love slinking into your battered seats and filling our beered-up bellies with soggy chili-cheese fries. Mind if we take a short little nappy-pooh? C'mon, we both know the chicken tender pita's gonna take way too long to get to our table. Just a short little sleepy-sleep? Fine, bring on two coneys with extra onions and a small Greek salad. Dressing? Nah. What the hell is it, anyway? Looks strange. In the meantime, we'll be at the juke looking for something to piss off late night face in the place, cool? By the way, we love you, Abe. 402 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-485-2008
We'll take this opportunity to tip our hats to its next door neighbor, American Coney Island, but the Lafayette is a 24-hour Dee-troit staple that's a rite of passage for any kid at Wayne operating on nocturnal time. The food's actually good (seriously, they boast the best hot dog in all of the Motor City, and many folks can't argue), the staff's genuinely friendly (hugs aren't uncommon) and, no matter the time of night, the brightly lit interior makes for swell date-gazing, creepy eye-contact or a late-night gettin' sober breakfast. They also sell beer — by the can, god bless 'em — which doesn't hurt, either. 118 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-964-8198
It's widely known that the best thing to consume, and we're obviously talking health, at 1 a.m. after a night of shots and beers and hip hop or rock 'n' roll, is two slices of cheesy, greasy, pepperoni pizza. Yeah! You'll wake up feeling like a million fucks. We're still kind of mystified that the Sarge has yet to break into the whole late-night pizza-delivery thing, but they make up for it with sandwiches, nachos, fries and chicken tenders, which are all decent, especially after a few. Inside the Majestic Theatre center, 4120-4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700, ext. 213.
Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tearoom
Get away from your classmates, your stinky apartment or that hole you once called a dorm room and experience real crunchy Ann Arbor down on Main Street. Earthy and dreadlocked college hippies-punks-artistes, or anyone into, or at least curious about, alt-spiritual practices, should try this place out at least once — if only for five minutes. You and your pals can browse books from 200-or-so categories that focus on body, mind and spirit — it's a veritable wisdom archive on the stuff — or purchase tiny Buddhas or not-so-standard ritual items. Or, instead of sleeping your Saturday hangover away, sip hot tea in ceramic devices in the second floor's tearoom while completing that gut-ache-inducing homework. (OK, you'll be gazing through the picture window ... we understand.) Oh, and the live music (well, acoustic jams mostly) on weekends runs the free-and-easy gamut of godhead songwriter Tim Monger to Joe Summers gypsy jazz. 114 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-665-2757
Like any indie, neighborhood coffee house, Bombadill's has quirks. They're lovable quirks, to be sure, just ask any of its many regulars who frequent the joint. Maybe the music's burdensome at times, but the chill vibe and free Wi-Fi (not just for AT&T customers, like, um, Starbucks) draw those of the more faithful variety. The reasonably priced coffee and too-alluring baked goods add to the accumulation of pluses. The best part's the gracious owner: He works the counter each day and makes it his personal gig to converse with patrons, not because he has to but because you sense he wouldn't know how to interact with people any other way. 217 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-544-5080
DRINKING ON COUCH CHANGE
8 Ball Saloon
Ann Arbor's as liberal a city as they come — thanks in large part to its ubiquitous relationship to the University of Michigan. In 1960, John F. Kennedy unveiled his Peace Corps proposal there, and LBJ first called for a "Great Society" as U-M's commencement speaker in 1964. We're kind of surprised they still allow you to puff on cigarettes indoors; then again, Ann Arborites have embraced Hash Bash for the last 37 years. Still, a grimy dive like the 8 Ball Saloon, which you, rather appropriately, enter from the alley, feels so far away from neo-hippie-dippie A2. And the prices reflect the milieu. The chicks have tats, smoke cigarettes and drink dark liquor, and you can grab a beer for less than $2. That's eight quarters, Spicoli. 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-8555
The Elbow Room
A truth: Where you find quality rock 'n' roll, you find shit beer at couch-change prices. This, kids, is the real American dream. The Elbow Room doesn't disappoint. If you're at Eastern and you're still wanderin' around Ypsi at night, gazing at that funky-ass phallic water tower, getting all existential wondering where life could be, you've yet to find the Elbow Room ... and stumble out of it. Ha! And we'll lay it on you: Once you do find it, your wallet, which has, rather sadly, become accustomed to Ann Arbor bar tabs, will thank you, then tank you. One surprise is that this bar does not maintain a happy hour, but, really, how fucking cheap are you? 6 S. Washington St., Ypsilanti; 734-483-6374
What, you've yet to consume excessive amounts of PBR at Jumbo's? And you call yourself a Detroiter? Hell, you've not even begun to unveil the bevy of booze at your fingertips. The aforementioned Blue Ribbon beers of Pabstville are but $2 — and go swell with a shot of Kessler whiskey, of which they house bottomless amounts. You'll want to see (and hear) the karaoke, but mainly you'll want to take all that coin you got from returning empties and hit Jumbo's for a night you won't soon remember. Also, it's as if you're in another town here. The interior's straight out of post-World War II Pittsburgh. 3736 Third St., Detroit; 313-831-8949
Not to be confused with Tyree Guyton's Detroit hood turned 3-D canvas public art project, Ann Arbor's Heidelberg is a true German rathskeller. Huh? Well, it's a Bavarian drinking den. And it's back from the dead. You could drop real coin on a glorious boot of beer (that's right, a boot: roughly 70 ounces), but you can swill on the cheap too. Bottles of Hofbrau, that lovely Bavarian ale, will hit you at $2.50. But it's really all about the Thursday and Friday Heidelberg happy hour, where if you buy two drinks (wink: five bucks worth of Hofbrau!) you can indulge in Thursday's all-you-hold-down taco bar or Friday's endless array of chips, salsa and chicken wings. Holy shiza! 215 N. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-663-7758
Here's a bar so close to EMU's campus you'd think they held Supply Chain Management classes or something. Funny thing is, the number of students in this place is always the strong minority. What's up with that? They serve up $1 Sloppy Joes (beats ramen for the 100th night in a row, yeah?), and their cocktails, albeit bottom-shelf, haven't changed in price since the Reagan years. Powell's is hazy from smoke, all right, you'll not find craft brews for your discerned tastebuds, and you're more likely to fall victim to a prowling cougar than a nubile bunny, but if it's drinks on the cheap at a bar that doesn't scream school pride, this is your spot. 625 N. Huron St. Ypsilanti; 734-484-1484
Circa 1890 Saloon
Yeah, it's dark. Deal with it. No, the TVs are not flat-screen plasmas. Deal with it. Everyone wants to bum smokes off you? Deal with it. Circa Saloon is tacky and smoky and it's impossible to define any single crowd that frequents the joint, but by the same token it's one of the best places near Wayne State for economical drinking. The juke smokes, the pizza's hand-tossed and super cheesy, and you can grab pitchers and mini-personal-pitchers for a collection of grimy dimes. If you're really tight on funds, go for the trusty $2 Black Label cans. 5474 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1122
Good Time Charley's
It's quite simple. They have pitchers for three bucks from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday. What better excuse for ditching that Biochem lecture that you can podcast anyway? Appetizers are also half-priced at happy hour. We suggest making a meal out of the cheesed-up Count Twists or Pepperoni Styx. Outdoor seating wins, but you and 500 other U-M casual drinkers will be cramming in. Word up: Get here early on a sunny weekday or good luck with that. 1140 S University Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-668-8528
Legend has it that the staff at "V.C." keeps a "wall of shame" plastered with fake IDs. So, fair warning: If you're not of age for a booze purchase, it might behoove you to have an older pal or sibling spring. You'll be bumming your junior and senior friends for beer and cheap vodka for the next year or so. But, provisions such as cheese, cereal and assortments of crackers or other salted goodies are fair game for one of any age. More, alcohol purchasers will grin at the stocked wine selection in the back of the store, which is, you'll note, just a stumble from University of Michigan's Law School. 601 S. Forest Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-995-1818
This is the bar where that guy who called you "fag" in high school (and then pounded your face in) hunts for trophy blondes with his brahs, where he plays neck-muscle-flexing games of beer pong or flip cup. It's also where he'll puke in the bathroom later in the night. So why come to this godforsaken terrain that calls itself a college bar? Cheap libations, mister! Mitch's offers drink specials each night — including $2 "jumbo pitchers" (check mitchsplace.net for the specials schedule). It's smoker-friendly, which is a freedom we can dig, and there's enough smoke to choke a freshman. In fact, you can get drunk — or at least be on your way — for less than the price of a pack of American Spirits. 1220 S. University Ave., # 212, Ann Arbor; 734-222-9209
DRESING ON COUCH CHANGE
This little shop sports a surprisingly varied array of vintage and used clothing at reasonable prices, which is more than overpriced vintage shops can say, or any such shop in a college town. Are you hunting secondhand ruby-red heels? They're here, for only a couple of finsters or so. Looking for three-quarter-length Ginger Rogers white gloves? They've got 'em along with everything from belts and boots, worn by all walks of life, to buttons and iron-ons to suitably worn biker jackets to rings and things. Tailored to men, women and those who fall anywhere in between. 215 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-327-4300.
Value World (Detroit)
The interior looks like a murky black-and-white movie screened on cinderblock. It's dusty and dispossessed and the sun burns through smudged windows giving the feeling that it's always Sunday at dusk. But ditch the gloom because what's found inside these few spacious rooms is outright joy. Between the books (last visit saw nearly everything by Hemingway and Balzac ... weird!), housewares and chairs sits the boon: rows and rows of men's and women's clothes that haven't (yet) been picked through by suburbanites and students slumming it from far-away campuses. How about a perfect Frankie B hip-huggers for, get this, $1.50? We found those. Or a vintage Coach bag for $15? Snagged that too. For a paltry $8, we landed a lovely, striking Persian wool coat befitting Ava Gardner? Got that too. Not yet over the ironic vintage T's? Try it here. And the list of vainglories goes on, but you get the picture. 8300 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-294-0018
Vintage to Vogue
One of the only things better than a solid thrift/resale depot is one that doesn't sling mothball-baked goods. You know exactly what that is. Vintage can be valued, but not if you smell like hell. But such cleanliness comes at a cost; you've been warned. And while some complain that their focus on trendy goods is lacking, we maintain it's there, but like any thrift shop we're making a stop at, you'll have to dig. 407 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-665-9110
Value World (Ypsilanti)
The old chestnut about how "you won't find what you're looking for till it finds you" is a basic truth here. And you're bound to spend more time roaming the racks here than you, um, bargained for. Sure, this Value World isn't glam by any stretch, but it ain't picked through to death either, and you will, in the end, discover that gem among the faded mustard-stained heaps, maternity wear and mom's scarves. Really, who knew about this bottomless trove of thrifty clothes, or that hand-pounded copper ashtray, or those Mac Davis and Syndicate of Sound albums, or that weird Russian painting in what looks like an authentic deco frame from the '20s? This thrift is really that good. 1401 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-728-4610
"Clothing" appears in the name, sure, but this shop has way more than that. Also, it's not exactly couch-change cloth. It's almost impossible to describe: Inside the cavernous and strangely dank room, it's wall-to-wall, floor to ceiling: guitars, mandolins, wigs, creepers, vintage leathers and dresses, floggers, corsets, hip-huggers, Gram Parsons cowboy shirts, shades, "tobacco" pipes and a whole bunch of other treasures that fall into the never-utter-die collegiate world of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Oh, you can even get your ball-gag here. It's a one-stop shop! Nice. 5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-875-9280
In name alone, it could be a strip club, eh? Check the dance-floor butt-quake and wonder if this is where comely women who work poles at Déjà Vu come to relax lower backs and pump-damaged feet after work, but any nudity is only accidental ... most of the time. In fact, this hip-hopified aquarium is the kind of dance club where thick necks in Forzieri button-downs grab butts of chicks, who, in turn, wearing too-small halter tops, grind girl-girl like snakes in a box. College! 23 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti; 734-485-4444
The Bang! at the Blind Pig
One day a month, the multi-hued "The Bang!" is a target if you adore dancing, sweating and getting drunk without worrying about guys in Forzieri button-downs grabbing your ass. Yes, this is where shiny, happy people with "discernible musical tastes" — and who bear no love for contemporary strip-mall aesthetics — come to, um, boogie, just like Reed Rothchild. And theme nights and costumes aren't uncommon to this mix-tape gangbang; disco balls, workout DVDs, exercise bikes and lots of booty talk notwithstanding. Chirp a "hello" to club maestro Jeremy Wheeler and check your self-conscious 'tude at the door, bro. Heads up: cash-only bar, 18-plus. 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-8555; thebang.net
The Cavern Club
The Cavern Club ... no it ain't all Beatle-y, but you might spot a set of Cuban heels or two if you look closely enough. See, the Cavern is really "four clubs in one," all situated inside "the catacombs" — hence its name — of an old A2 brewery, 26,000 square feet in all. One must actually venture into this cavernous and multi-floor and -themed labyrinth to actually "get it," but we can tell you straight up that the booze is cheap, the live music's eclectic (funk to bluegrass to cover bands!) and the place is set to "re-open" on Saturday, Aug. 29, though we're not sure why it even closed. 210 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-332-9900
The Old Miami
Bikers, punks, vets, artists, authors, drunks, forlorn lovers, nostalgic nerds — the Old Miami in the Cass Corridor houses 'em all and then some; anyone who has been moved by the outsiderisms of true rock 'n' roll, really. What opened 30-some years ago as a watering hole for Vietnam vets has since become one of Detroit's archetypal dives. Yeah, the killer vinyl jukebox is gone, but DJs and bands keep the joint alive throughout the week. And the backyard, now imperiled by a real estate dispute with the neighboring garage, is a gorgeous oasis on a summery day. Highly, highly recommended. 3930 Cass Ave, Detroit; 313-831-3830
Northern Lights Lounge
OK, hump day at Northern Lights sees Motown and Detroit guitar hero Dennis Coffey and his quartet carrying the night. Now that says everything about the temperature of this joint. In fact, it's the coolest club/venue in New Center, hands down, from lounge-y romantic scenes and hushed conversations to Northern Soul to deep funk to performing emcees to live rock 'n' roll to out-and-out in-your-face performances. Current highs: There's Coffey on Wednesdays while Thursdays employ a trifecta of hip-hop DJs, Fridays jump-start with the bluesy Baby Pepper and the Family Pleasers band followed by a dance party kept electric by notable quotable DJ Frankie Bank$. And, of course, plenty more. Funk you very much. 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739.
Black Elks Lodge
It's true, the Ann Arbor/Ypsi area overflows with killer DJ nights. There's (literally) something for everyone: Brad Hales and Robert Wells' Ann Arbor Soul Club at the Blind Pig, Todd Osborne at the Elbow Room, Forest Juzuk and Aaron Lindell at Eve, Sole with 14KT and Octane at Goodnite Gracie, or the Bang! or Pride at the Necto. But the gem of them all has to be the Black Elks Lodge on Ann Arbor's west side. A host of DJs rent out the lodge and spin — among them Tadd Mullinix, Chuck Sipperley, Brett Lyman and Dykehouse. Once you've stepped down into the club, it's as if you just walked into an awesome party circa '73. In fact, not much has changed at Black Elks since then. At 220 Sunset Rd., Ann Arbor; no phone or Web site.
RECORDS AND COMICS
Vault of Midnight
Pop junkies and those all hopped up on comic books often get fixed at the Vault of Midnight, which is, please note, one of the finest comic-book establishments in the country. No shit. From Kid Robot and Manga to kickass statues of heroes, T-shirts, DVDs, games and gaming nights and blah, blah, blah, blah. So ... you get it? Everything's here, including up-to-the-moment nerdfests, such as their recent celebration of Marvel's 70th anniversary. Poindexter-up, punk!
Vintage vinyl, the good and rare shit, from the Motor City and beyond, is People's market nook. And writer Laurie Smolenski wrote in MT that "In these times of downloads and iPods, our culture is hastily letting old, lovely things (and shared things) lie forgotten. By contrast, used vinyl carries an evocative, dusty smell and classic aesthetics — scratches and names scrawled on covers are snippets of old stories and music heard in far-off teenager bedrooms decades ago — a testimony to previous owner passions. Ownership of secondhand music provides insight into the untold human experience of an album. ..." That's the essence of the used record shop and a code lived daily at Brad Hales' People's Records. What's more, and we've pointed this out before, the cozy People's contributes to the greater good and quality of life in inner-city Detroit, with its traditional sense of area unity and community.
Besides, it survived an inferno.
Encore Recordings record store sits quietly behind a faded crimson awning on East Liberty Street in Ann Arbor, facing down the sleek monument to yuppiedom that is (the dying) Borders Books & Music. Its bins crammed with tens of thousand of LPs and discs of every musical stripe, and tufts of sheet music and "vintage" music magazines stick from corners. The house hi-fi usually burbles with something ancient or experimental, and record geek shut-ins crouch in its narrow walkways, thumbing dutifully through boxes of 78s and 12-inch singles. Everything in Encore is the color of parchment, it's the kind of record shop that might seem threatening to the casual, walk-in browser, but it's also a place full of potential, and a destination for college kids jonesing for sounds from the fringe. Bringing clarity to Encore's clutter is the fact there's nary a title that can't be found, in any genre, from early African-American jazz culture to white-boy arena rock.
All hail music that you can hold in your hand! 417 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-662-6776.
The Bronx Bar
OK. Where near Wayne State can you get a haircut, a notary public stamp, drop quarters against a pinball wizard, choke down a burger, dig jukebox Clash, get lampshade soused on frothy pints and ounces of booze (which are coin-cheap) and then fall in love with one who can hardly see? Uh, that would be The Bronx, darlin'. It's dark, sexy and cigarette exhales makes serpents in the air; all-purpose dive-y, populated by scenester aesthetes, loopy academics, local rock stars and pre-trend, long-in-the-tooth lifers.
Wait. ... forget you ever heard about it. No, really, it doesn't exist. We lie.
Stairway to Heaven
Get your head on! There are 420 reasons one should trip to heaven. You should, in fact, roll up there yourself and dig on it. Discover more "tobacco" smoking apparati than you knew ever existed, dig on discs for some hippie golf, and drop dough on tie-dye. Heads have lumbered to this legendary head shop for more than 20 years because, truth be told, college accoutrements such as pens, calculators and books sidle up rather nicely with papers, scales and hookahs. 340 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-994-3888.
You know that tweaker pal who lives on espresso shots and red bull swigs? Don't bring him here. There's enough sugar and childhood mirthfulness sprinkled about the place to keep you up and your pupils dilated for 48 hours. For instance, there are bins and bins filled of gummy, novelty and bar candy, and loads of chocolate. Then there are the shiny new toys. The pirate and cowboy shower curtains may border the realm of boyhood dreams of ass-kicking, but the Jesus and male nurse action figures far outweigh any imbalance in the universe. Neat! 103 W Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-483-2291.
The South End
Now a perky, colorful tabloid, The South End newspaper was launched as a force in Detroit's civil rights revolution. In 1967, a coalition of student editors were involved with the revolutionary union movements that were gaining hold in workplaces all over Detroit. On the day of the first Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement election, students scrapped the existing Wayne State newspaper, The Collegian. They formed a new publication that became a citywide voice for both black and white revolutionaries and, funny enough, named it for the side of campus farthest from General Motors Corp. (read: evil corporate empire), then headquartered north of campus. At least in name the paper survives, if not completely in spirit.
S3 Safe Sex Store
For 14 years S3 has wrapped dick and stimulated ... minds. The shop doesn't trade in the deeper depths of kink; no, in that sense they're fairly vanilla. Though, if you're ready for anal sex, or to experiment with cock rings, you can find everything that's needed here — from step-by-step instructions to sex toy apparati. And when it comes to condom selection or info on nookie safety, S3's got you covered. Besides, how much do you really know about HSV-1 or human papillomavirus? And how much do you really know about lube? Chem majors need not answer. 1209 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-741-143
Curl Up & Dye
Detroit's Cass Corridor has seen a slow, steady makeover in recent years, and the addition of Curl Up & Dye — a full-service salon for women and men — is helping propel a Cass notion of neighborhood community and college-town spirit. More, the salon is hip and clean and frequented by local rock 'n' roll stars, and the staff can cut it up with the best of 'em. 4215 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-833-5006
GALLERIES & THEATERS
SH/Aut Performance Space
Located across the quaint little courtyard that separates this performance space from Ann Arbor's Aut Bar, SH'aut is not only one of the most interesting — and sometimes just flat-out weird — art spaces in the state, but it also functions as a theater for art films and documentaries as well as an outlet for live poetry! 315 Braun Ct., Ann Arbor; 734-994-3677; autbar.com
The Washington Street Gallery eventually tired of vowels. It happens. After all, isn't WSG easier to text out? That doesn't mean we've tired of WSG's exceptional exhibitions — and they've yet to exhaust the concepts of how to present them. The focus in their shows leans toward painting and work in ceramics but, throughout the year, they bring in the gamut of art mediums. And at the very least, WSG's good place to meet established A2 artists. 306 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; wsg-art.com
Abreact Performance Space
Easily one of the most vibrant performance spaces around town, the Abreact is an "open forum/venue" for Detroit performing artists and audiences. Originally founded in 2000 by two Detroit actors who wanted a place to hone their skills, the Abreact has since turned into a lively and perfectly weird performance spot that also delves into visual art from time to time. No longer upstairs from Niki's Pizza, they've stayed on Lafayette but moved all the way across town to a new space near Trumbull. And they're bringing back Night of the Living Dead: The Musical for yet another year! 1301 W. Lafayette, Detroit; theabreact.com
Dreamland Theater, Gallery & Curiosity Shop
Dreamland's small and neat and long-overdue for a creative community that's really trying to become the next coolest city (outside Detroit) in Michigan. It really is an imaginative little nook with a little something for all tastes too: puppet shows, concerts, theater and fine art. As for the curiosity? Well that's where you come in. 26 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti; 734-657-2337
Cross Street Book Shop
Like most bookstores worth their salt, this place has weird hours, and once you finally hit it when it's open you find that the books are, though in good shape, scattered on shelves and boxes throughout the joint. But that's part of the dusty charm. If you exercise some patience — we know, not a common trait of college kids (unless hopped up on Adderall) — you can find some rare treasures in the mix. It's not the sort of shop you go to with a specific book in mind, you go to discover. 523 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-484-3000.
You know what Video Hut has over Netflix? Porn. What to do when campus Internet fails from registration overload and all you want to do is unload? Video Hut, chief. DVD rentals at less than $2 for standard releases is pretty hard to beat as well. (Did we just insert "beat" and "release" in the same sentence? University!) 428 N. Hewitt Rd., Ypsilanti; 734-485-4454
Big Book Store
Perhaps one of the Cass Corridor's most overlooked establishments, the Big Book Store, is just that, big, and worthy of spending lots of time perusing titles. It's not John K. King's, but, really, what is? At BBS you can locate comics and classics and many things in between. If you're looking for Dan Brown garbage, look elsewhere. If you're looking for Charles Willeford or Sylvia Plath, or that funky fragrance only found in used book shops, BBS is the jam. 5911 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-8511
Revolution Books Outlet
Sorry Gil, the revolution has been and always will be read. Detroit has a long history of (sometimes) intellectual counterculture warriors, and Revolution Books is where we go to pick up our literary artillery. (Inserted health alert: We recommend neo-cons stay away.) For an education you might not necessarily get in a classroom — on topics ranging from the truth behind Dubya's wars to the creationist vs. Darwinian debate to women's rights in the 21st century, Revolution's got your back. 406 W. Willis St., Detroit; 313-833-7310
You could drop quarters on a used Tim Sandlin or Tom Wolfe or, you could drop a couple grand on some signed limited-edition literary artifact. It's your choice. (C'mon, do you really need that stupid Audi A6 on campus?) This quiet little indie houses everything from killer fiction to occult action. That means cookbooks too. Plus, there's accent on science fiction. 514 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; 734-995-1008