Monthly Features

You’re going where?
Kalamazoo is tired of your Creedence Clearwater jokes

Every spring, serious scholars and amateur historians flock from all over the country to attend the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, the largest event of its kind, held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Some of these people arrive in full costume and carrying lutes. I know this because my long-distance boyfriend, David, who’s getting his PhD at Western, dragged me to the conference last year, and my upcoming visit once again coincides with it. This time, however, I’ve learned my lesson. While he’s busy attending roundtable discussions of Middle Low German medical literature, I’ll be exploring the city’s cooler side.

When David told me he lived in Kalamazoo, I didn’t believe it was a real place. I thought maybe Creedence Clearwater Revival just made it up so they’d have a rhyme with “kazoo.” And I’m not the only one, apparently: Once upon a time, the town’s official marketing slogan was “Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo.” Now that I’ve had time to get to know the place, I can confirm that not only does Kalamazoo exist, it’s actually much more interesting than it gets credit for, with vibrant art, food and beer scenes fueled by a young, college-educated population, according to, and reasonable cost of living.

On my last swing through town, I stopped in at the Michigan News Agency, downtown’s only remaining independent bookstore, where I discovered that Kalamazoo also has a surprisingly robust literary scene that includes a number of National Book Award finalists — writers like Bonnie Jo Campbell, whose short stories have been recognized with the Pushcart Prize.

“Long winters mean many of us are great readers,” says Dean Hauck, whose family-run bookshop has been in business since 1947. It has one of the largest magazine newsstands in the country, with 7,000 titles ranging from the Bourbon Review to the Paris Review. After browsing the stacks — “cruising the News,” as Hauck encourages passersby to do — I walked a few blocks farther down Michigan Avenue and stumbled upon Sydney, a boutique in the lobby of the Radisson Hotel. That’s where I found my perfect souvenir: a super-soft, made-in-Michigan T-shirt with green lettering that reads, “Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo.”

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By the time we're twenty, our brains may already be atrophying. Can mental exercise help?"

The News answers with a resounding YES!

Marx writes "The ability of the brain to establish new connections is called plasticity, and brain fitness exercises are predicated on this mechanism. Working out has also been shown to revamp the brain and prevent it from shrinking."

What you want to do is "to reset or, at least, stall the cognitive-countdown clock in order to reduce your risk of decline, through a comprehensive program that includes exercise, physical therapy, massage, nutrition counseling, life coaching, software games, lectures, and other activities."

Sit down in the News and read this report.

Then - if you think one of these 2 books
speaks to you,
spend some time reading what is
relevant to you.

Your choice -

downtown independent bookstore


the e-phenomenon

The mission of the Michigan News is to bring the world to Kalamazoo. We have been doing that 365 days a year since 1947. The world has changed drastically during these 68 years -- the popularity of e-readers is one of my many challenges. As the owner of a brick and mortar bookstore, my job is to educate my diverse populations on the value of coming into my store and becoming a part of an enlightened community. What e-books, digital magazines, and newspapers-on-line do for us is force us to face the hard truth that we are losing more and more of our cultural heritage.

Therefore, thanks to e-books, I am doing an even better job of connecting with the customers that come in the News' door. I am not interested in being a part of the e-phenomenon. I am one of those who still loves the printed copy to mark up, to rip out and paste on my mirror or attach to my refrigerator, or to carry in my pocket and share with a friend.

Treasure this treasure --
See you at the News!

Dean Hauck