Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The March 2004 Ann Arbor Observer magazine had an interesting story on what had become of the town's music/record/CD stores over the last four decades. I used to pick up the Observer regularly when I lived in Ann Arbor and then when I moved away in 1989, I signed up for a subscription that I've maintained to this day.

According to the article, Ann Arbor was at one time "the Midwest's mecca for recorded music buyers."

Apparently referring to various points in the span of time from the 1960s through the 1990s, the article notes:

"On Liberty Street there were the Liberty Music Shop, Borders Books and Music, Schoolkids' Records, and SKR Classical. Around the corner on State Street were Discount Records and Harmony House. Across campus on South University, there was Tower Records. At their peak, those seven stores alone took up almost 40,000 square feet of prime retail space and took in approximately $15 million annually."

Now, however:

"For the past couple of years, Borders has been the only store of the original seven still standing, and its music department is a joke among collectors..."

Schoolkids has survived also, but in a different location (below Bivouac on State Street) and with a new name, Schoolkids in Exile.

The article also notes that two venerable used-record stores, Wazoo and PJ's, have remained. (I remember meeting PJ.) There's also another used-record store called Encore Recordings.

Why the huge decline? As the article notes, the combination of online purchasing of CDs and downloading of music cut into the stores' business.

I bought a decent amount of music (cassette tapes) during my UM years, but was never a huge purchaser. My reaction to the changing nature of the recorded music industry would be as follows. Ann Arbor is a great walking town and being able to engage in window-shopping or actual shopping is part of the atmosphere. To the extent that music stores seem to be disappearing from this scene, then a portion of the town's history and social fabric will have been lost.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Visiting with Michigan-Linked Developmental Psych Folks at Society for Research on Adolescence Conference

Just got back from the Society for Research on Adolescence conference in Baltimore. I added another Pizzeria Uno to my national dining list (see earlier posting on my favorite Ann Arbor restaurants) and also took the tour at the Baltimore Orioles' baseball park at Camden Yards.

As I've alluded to previously in connection with the overlap between the social and personality psychology programs at Michigan and the joint psychology-social work programs, boundaries between intellectually kindred programs tend to be very permeable. This is also the case, to some extent, for the social and developmental psychology programs, with extensive research in social development.

I personally was a late comer to the social-developmental intersection, in fact not until my postdoctoral work at the Research Institute on Addictions in Buffalo from 1991-1997. It was there that I applied my social psychology training to the study of adolescent and young-adult drinking and really began incorporating literatures in adolescent development and family studies into my research. The first SRA conference I attended was in 1996, and this research track propelled me to a faculty position in Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University.

Back when I was in grad school at Michigan from 1984-1989, I related to the developmental psychology students pretty much exclusively on a social/collegial basis. Now when we see each other, we talk about common research interests.

Jacque (pronounced Jackie) Eccles, who has spent most of her 30-year faculty career at Michigan, continues to lead an extensive program of studies involving numerous graduate students and postdocs under the rubric of the Gender & Achievement Research Program (GARP). Not only that, but Jacque served this past biennium as the President of SRA.

I ran into several current and former GARP researchers at the conference. The first person I always look for at SRA is Bonnie Barber, with whom I was friends not only during graduate school at Michigan, but also as undergraduates at UCLA (the Michigan-UCLA connection, of which Jacque Eccles is also a part, is a topic on which I plan to do a future entry). Bonnie has been at the University of Arizona for the last several years, and also remains an "affiliate" to GARP according to the aformentioned GARP web link. I also saw Jan Jacobs, now a Vice-Provost at Penn State and also a GARP affiliate.

Other GARP researchers and affiliates I saw (including some I met for the first time) included Oksana Malanchuk (who overlapped with me in the social psych grad program), Katie Jodl, Steve Peck, Robert Roeser, Mina Vida (web links for these individuals are available at the GARP site), and Pamela Frome.

I also had a chance to visit briefly with Christy Miller Buchanan, who was in the same course with me on socialization at UM (taught by Joe Veroff and Libby Douvan). Among Christy's numerous publications, she authored the following major one with Jacque Eccles that I use as lecture material in my Problems of Adolescence course at Texas Tech:

Buchanan, C. M., Eccles, J. S., & Becker, J. B. (1992). Are adolescents the victims of raging hormones?: Evidence for activational effects of hormones on moods and behavior at adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 62-107.

Another contemporary of mine from grad school days I saw was Liz Mazur. We entered the same year, so presumably took first-year proseminar and stats together.

Also, I saw two leading researchers who study longitudinal change in adolescent problem behaviors, Wayne Osgood (another UCLA-Michigan person), who was a Research Scientist in the UM's Institute for Social Research on Marty Gold's delinquency project in the 1980s and is now at Penn State, and John Schulenberg, who since 1991 has been with UM's Monitoring the Future study of high school drug use.

Lastly, to close out this maize-and-blue weekend, I met an interesting person sitting in the very next seat to me on the flight from Baltimore to Dallas-Ft. Worth (a leading connecting hub). He looked to be reading some academic-type papers, so I asked him if he indeed was an academic. The gentleman, named James Adams, turned out to be a political science professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Michigan Ph.D. at that! He noted that he had taken a group behavior class from social psychologist Gene Burnstein while at UM.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

"Michigan Thursday" Clothing Tradition

Today's Thursday, so I thought I'd tell everyone about the "Michigan Thursday" tradition I started shortly after arriving as a faculty member at Texas Tech University in the fall of 1997.

As early as my Texas Tech job interview in February of '97, I was told by some of the faculty members in the department (Human Development and Family Studies) that faculty and staff members throughout the campus were requested to wear the school colors of red and black on Fridays. As someone who has always had a lot of school spirit, I have adhered to the "Red and Black Fridays" dress code at probably a 99.99% rate during my seven years (thus far) at Texas Tech. Not only that; I sometimes nag new faculty members about wearing red and black on Fridays (in a friendly kind of way).

I don't know why, but early on it somehow occurred to me that I could start my own tradition of wearing maize and blue University of Michigan clothing on Thursdays, hence "Michigan Thursday." Probably the most fun aspect of Michigan Thursday is the reaction of students in my undergraduate classes, whom I inform about my tradition right at the beginning of the semester. The students seem to get a kick out of it, and I've even had a couple of students join in with me in wearing Michigan items (e.g., shirt, cap) on Thursdays. One of my departmental faculty colleagues told me once that her father had attended UM Law School. While up in Ann Arbor a few years ago, I bought my colleague a "Michigan Law" T-shirt for her birthday, and she's worn it a few times on Thursdays.

Upon learning of the tradition, people ask me if I have a "UCLA Wednesday" in honor of my undergraduate alma mater. I don't (it would mean having a majority -- three-fifths -- of my weekday clothing decisions governed by rules and I don't want to cross that line). I do, however, frequently wear UCLA clothing on an ad hoc basis.

Talking about school spirit, an article about a teaching activity I organized with colleagues from 20 colleges and universities around the nation on measuring school spirit has just come out. With a primary focus on how to define and measure a conceptual variable (in this case, school spirit), we had students in our research and statistics classes go around our respective campuses counting the number of students wearing school garb, displaying school decals on their cars, etc. The reference is shown below or you can contact me to receive a faxed copy (see right-hand side of page for web link to me, which contains an e-mail link).

School Spirit Study Group (A. Reifman, organizer). (2004). Measuring school spirit: A national teaching exercise. Teaching of Psychology, 31, 18-21.