Delayed because I spent the majority of last week moping around with the worst cold I can remember having in years (I’m mostly better now), and because the first item was supposed to be its own blog post but the damn thing just didn’t sound right and yesterday I finally had to admit that the more narrative version wasn’t ever going to work. So. Having said that …
▪ Wednesday morning I got up at the crack of dawn, swallowed some Advil Cold & Sinus, and drove 45 minutes to Always Brewing Detroit for a free cup of coffee. I didn’t, of course, just go for the free coffee: I was there because ABD was one of the 200 or so cafes across the country participating in a pop-up promotion for Netflix’s Gilmore Girls reboot. From 7am to noon, the coffee shops were re-branding themselves as “Luke’s Diner” (an important spot in the show) and handing out free coffee to the first several hundred Gilmore Girls fans to show up. I picked ABD only because it was the closest “Luke’s” to Ann Arbor, but it turned out to be a good choice, as the line was short and the shop never so crowded that people couldn’t find seats. Other spots were much busier; I read stories of people waiting in line for three hours to get into their local Luke’s, and ABD’s phone rang multiple times during the hour I spent hanging out there, the callers phoning from lines at other Detroit locations wanting to know how long the wait would be if they jumped ship for ABD.
Like Megan Garber at The Atlantic, I found the Luke’s promotion simultaneously fun and a bit of a let-down. First, the let-down: obviously, the whole thing was just a way for Netflix to advertise Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (coming November 25!), and they clearly knew they could put in a pretty minimal effort and fans would still go crazy. The whole “we’re turning coffee shops into Luke’s” thing translated into: a cardboard “Luke’s” sign for people to take photos with, hats and aprons for the café staff to wear, a copy of Luke’s famous “No Cell Phones” sign to hang behind the counter, and special Gilmore Girls coffee cups and sleeves. (Some shops also got cardboard cut-outs of Luke as well, but Always Brewing Detroit wasn’t one of them.) I’m not sure exactly what else I wanted, but I wanted … more.
Now, the fun part: it was nice to spend a Wednesday morning hanging out in a busy-but-not-overcrowded coffee shop with a few dozen other Gilmore Girls fans and share our appreciation for a show that was by no means perfect but will always be one of my favorites. I sat at a table with a woman and her teenage daughter (who was wearing a Luke’s Diner t-shirt) and we chatted a bit about how much we’re looking forward to seeing new episodes next month. Amanda, the ABD owner and also a Gilmore Girls fan, kept people in line entertained with questions for discussion, like “Who was the better best friend for Rory, Lane or Paris?” One girl wearing a “Babette Ate Oatmeal” t-shirt (if you watched the show, you understand—otherwise I’m not even going to try to explain that one) took what seemed like a hundred photos with every piece of Gilmore swag in the shop. In the end, I found the whole experience mostly enjoyable for the sense of community and nostalgia it engendered.
Although the coffee was really damn good, too.
▪ Having moved around so much over the past decade, I’ve become quite a connoisseur of public libraries: Philadelphia and New York have the advantage of being big and owning great collections, but their staffers are often overworked and short-tempered, and the facilities frequently not in great shape; Newport Beach and Princeton are both shiny and immaculate, with many copies of new releases but less depth in their collections overall. The Ann Arbor District Library is more like the latter type, with the additional benefits of a really strong public events schedule and the ability to check out unusual items like die cutters and binoculars that you might need for a short time but don’t want to buy. One of my new favorite features at the library is the “Up for Grabs” shelf—filled with a few copies of super-popular books that go to the first person who nabs them. (There are also many additional copies of those titles that are loaned out to the people on the traditional waitlist.) I scooped up Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City* when I saw it up for grabs on Friday, and I’m hoping that Born to Run* or Hillbilly Elegy* might land on that shelf soon (I’m numbers 29 and 143, respectively, on the waitlists for those books). The only small downside is that Up for Grabs books are only loaned for a week and can’t be renewed, so you have to read fast. Still, this isn’t something I’ve seen elsewhere, and I think it’s pretty cool—like stopping by the library and finding an unexpected treat. (Yes, I’m a huge geek. You know that.)
▪ If after reading my review of Ann Little’s fantastic book, The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright*, you’d like to dive a bit deeper into the nitty-gritty historical details, listen to Little on the latest episode of John Fea’s The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast. She’s also listed as an upcoming guest on Ben Franklin’s World with Liz Covart. Unlike me, those hosts are both specialists in early American history, so they have a firmer grasp than I do of the political and historical significance of events in Esther’s life—I read and reviewed the book from the perspective of someone interested in gender history and how to write biography.
▪ Although Ann Arbor has a nice library, it is seriously lacking in another important (to me) institution: a good Chinese restaurant. I’ve looked on Yelp and I’ve asked friends and co-workers, all of whom agree that A2 is somehow the one college town in America with terrible Chinese food. I think I might need to pull out my never-used copy of Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice* and attempt some mapo doufu, because I’m starting to go into Sichuan peppercorn withdrawal.
▪ In the meantime, though, this butternut squash soup is in my immediate future, as are laundry, vacuuming, and other fun household chores before the debate tonight. Happy Sunday, all.
* Amazon Associates link. If you make a purchase via this link, I will receive a small commission from Amazon. Thanks for your support! ~Maura