Top Ten Myths About the State of Michigan

Now that I have lived in the Great State of Michigan for a year, I feel it’s about time I write something for those dear readers who live outside the Oven Mitt and U.P. to provide an insight into this particular stretch of the Midwest…

Top Ten Myths About the State of Michigan

10) The State Song is “Wango Tango” by Ted Nugent.
Categorically false. There is no official state song, and there is some controversy to that. Besides, the Nuge does not even reside in Michigan anymore. He resides in Texas.

9) Amway is dead.
Surprisingly false. Contrary to what is popularly believed in the other 49 states, Amway is alive and well…and Amway distributors are ALWAYS needed! In fact, Amway is still going so strong that last year Dick Devos, the former president of the company and son of it’s founder, spent an outrageous sum of his own personal fortune in order to become Governor of this state. He lost.

8) Detroit is a Ghost City that has been sold for scrap metal.
Technically false. Over 800,000 people still call the city of Detroit home. Though I have yet to meet anyone who will admit to it. If you ask a person from a suburb of Chicago or New York or L.A. where they live, they will say the name of the city and then for clarification tell you the name of the suburb. (There are, of course, exceptions to those three cities and they are: Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Oak Park, Brooklyn (still not giving in to being a mere borough of New York City), and that area known as “Jersey.”) Those in suburbs of Detroit will tell you the name of the suburb and then for clarification will admit that it is “near” Detroit as if it was some sort of indiscretion that unfortunately could not be helped.

7) Everyone is leaving the state.
Demographically false. Though it would seem so, what with the rocky times the Big Three U.S. Auto-makers are having and with all the layoffs and forced retirements. Many are leaving. But the latest census figures show the state still has over 10 million people residing within its borders. We have a long way to go before everyone has left. And there are still many jobs going unfilled in the state.

6) You’re not a true resident of the U.P. (or “Yooper” as they are called) unless you have hit at least a dozen wild deer with your car.
Oh ya, dat’s false. The qualifications aren’t so severe. You only have to hit 4.

5) Everyone is a member of the Militia.
Demonstrably false. Though its current devoted membership believes all citizens would be better off and safer from the government if all were fully-armed and well-trained in the art of wilderness survival. Though I am often suspicious of my government, I’m not sure how being a good shot or knowing how to survive in the wild will protect us from warrantless wiretapping.

4) Ferries are a wonderfully economical and convenient way to traverse the beautiful waters of the Great Lakes.
False. Big-Time. I have never taken one of the many ferries that cross Lake Michigan or Green Bay. I have never been able to afford the price of the ticket for one of those slow-moving ferries. They are expensive and inefficient.

On my recent U.P. vacation, my in-laws looked into taking the ferry from Menomonee to Door County, WI and back. It would have cost us $40 per person each way. There were four of us plus my toddler son. And it would have taken an hour and a half (not including boarding time) to cover the 16 miles of bay. We drove it one way in slightly over 2 and a half hours in our car for much less than the price of filling up a Honda Civic.

Clearly, the ferry system is for people who can actually afford inefficiency.

3) There is no public transit in Michigan.
Oh so slightly true. No surprise given that the state is home to the Big Three Auto companies. If you want to get around, buy a car, preferably one with an American name on it, even if the parts are sourced from somewhere else. Some cities have a bus system. And yes, Detroit does have a People Mover. It is less Japanese bullet train than the Springfield Monorail of Simpson’s fame.

2) Everyone Eats Cherries.
Very sweetly true. Yes everyone does. Including me. It’s in the state constitution. We all have an assigned quota we are required to eat. There is even a Cherry Festival up in Traverse City every year with cherry pies, cherry crumbles, cherry ice cream, cherry crepes, cherry turnovers, cherry coffee cakes, cherry jam, cherry sauce, cherry syrup, dried cherries, chocolate-covered dried cherries, dark chocolate-covered dried cherries, etc. There are even some restaurants that have been known to serve, I kid you not, cherry omelets.

1) Hunting is the State Religion.
Spiritually false. Hunting has a long and proud tradition in this state. But the time, energy, and resources directed at hunting game pale in comparison to the time, energy, and resources mustered in the service of supporting the State’s True Religion: the rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.

The careful contemplation of selecting, buying, and maintaining guns and bows is dwarfed by the energy expended in maintaining the football rivalry. The devotion of this state’s citizens to this rivalry (everyone must choose sides as in Chicago’s White Sox/Cubs rivalry) is enough to make any Reverend, Minister, or Rabbi quiver with jealousy. National Championships are very important. But the only football game that really matters in any season is the MSU/U of M game. All you Buckeyes, sorry to disappoint you, but the Ohio State game is merely an interesting sideshow in comparison to the clash between Michigan’s two Big Ten universities.

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