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Posted on Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 8:22 a.m.

The last night on Earth in Ann Arbor

By Richard Retyi

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Colonial Lanes is packed for the End of the World Zombie Party

This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper - T.S. Eliot

This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, with backed up toilets at Melange and cosmic bowlingRichard Retyi

More than 30 schools in Michigan closed their doors for the holidays two days early, partly out of end-of-the-world fears. For a cool $12,021, you could have rented an entire floor of the Curtis Hotel in Denver stocked with doomsday supplies and a tattoo artist on hand to usher in the end. It got so bad that even NASA felt the need to post insights on the pressing issues of our times like “Will the world end on December 21, 2012?”, “Is Earth in danger of being hit by a meteor in 2012?” and “Is there any credible evidence that a giant water dragon will rise above the earth, vomit endless streams of water and drown us all?"

This isn’t March’s Rapture. The Rapture prediction was based on scratch-pad math from a retired civil engineer. The Mayan end of the world prophecy is a PROPHECY—based on super-old carvings made around 1,000 B.C. and the infamous Dresden Codex, with its neat little boxes, math (gross) and the aforementioned water-vomiting dragon beast.

I’m a huge fan of spectacle and speculation and theme parties, planting the end of the world squarely in my wheelhouse. With permission from my head-shaking editors at, I got permission to roam the streets of Ann Arbor on the last night on earth and see just how the populace was taking the news of the impending end. Win-win for my bosses. If the world ends, they don’t need to pay me. If it doesn’t end, hey, something to publish on Saturday morning alongside stories about how sweaty Brady Hoke looks in his polo shirts down in Florida during Outback Bowl preparations.

It’s 34 degrees outside and the wind whips and whistles through Mayans-know-what, since I’m in the middle of a giant parking lot. On the walk to my first stop of the night I pass a girl dressed all in red, complete with a giant crimson bow in her hair; a dapper gentleman wearing a sparkly red hat; and the sign to Ann Arbor’s new Skin Bar swinging in the wind suspended by a single carabeener.

Alley Bar is pretty quiet at 9 p.m. but I’m not the only solitary soul drinking away the last few hours on Earth. A guy with fingerless gloves and apocalyptically long hair drinks at the bar. An older gentleman with an expensive haircut sips a martini and cackles out loud reading a collection of New Yorker cartoons.

I ask the waitress about her take on the last night on earth. “I have an 18-month old daughter and I told her it can’t be the end of the world if the mamas and their babies can’t be together.”

First, how is an 18-month old aware of ancient Mayan prophecies? Second, I can’t make another stupid comment after that little bit of sweetness.

Fingerless gloves slips away into the night and expensive haircut pumps his fist after a particularly hilarious cartoon and ushers the waitress over to show her his find. I almost drink from the candle on my table and I’m not even one Manhattan in. It’s time to move on.


The first sign of the end of days? Melange closed because of a sewage problem.

I head over to Rush Street to check on my good friend Andy Garris. The place is pretty dead but a waitress gathers two bottles of champagne and a bunch of glasses and I follow her to a table of pediatric dentistry graduates. Four December graduates (of a class of six) sip Domaine Ste. Michelle, toasting the end of 10 and-a-half years of schooling. I ask them about the last night on earth and the mother of one of the graduates takes the lead.

“Say goodbye to those bills,” she laughs. They’re having a great time. Three of the grads are single and looking for companionship. “We always have time for boys,” one laughs. “We’ll create time if necessary.”

It’s a shame that such cute and gainfully employed women will die alone. They moved to Rush Street after being ejected from Melange. A sewage problem.

“It’s the first sign of the end,” one jokes. “It’s coming from the sewers,” someone adds. “(expletive deleted)’s full!” and they all break down. The end of the world is pretty fun with pediatric dentists.

Every bar with a TV is showing the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl except the 8-Ball, which has a tribute to Eddie Murphy on one screen and HLN mystery detectives on the other. The 8-Ball is buzzing with an end of the world reunion show for the Pussy Pirates kicking off at midnight upstairs at the Blind Pig. The bar is full of tall skinny girls with tattoos and straight hair and tall skinny boys with tattoos and straight hair. There’s a smog river of witch hazel and patchouli hanging in the air. It’s worse than a river of lava.

If it’s to be the last night on Earth, I need to read the signs. A $5 cover at Circus. $4.99 Pillow Pets at CVS. Two stretch vehicles idling outside bars. People still doing stuff in Cherry Republic after 10 p.m.

Colonial Lanes’ End of the World Zombie Party is where it’s at so far. The lanes are packed, cosmic bowling is in full effect and, is that Skrillex? The Lanes is hosting a last night on Earth party with all you can bowl, drink specials and a prize for the best zombie costume, though I don’t see any zombies present. All this for less than $10.


Necto's End of the World Party featured a countdown to the end and shirtless doods.

Necto was hosting its End of the World Party, so I ponied up the $5 cover and checked it out. Immediately I notice that there’s 48 percent more making out and 15 percent more wispy mustaches than in any other last night on Earth party so far. I head down to the Red Room when the countdown to the end begins. There are quite a few doods down here, some shirtless, most of them very nice and friendly. The Britney Spears "Till the World Ends" plays on four screens while the DJ counts down to midnight. The video is insane. The Red Room looks exactly like the club shots in the video, with less choreographed dancing, fewer blondes and a bunch more doods.

Following the countdown and the non-end of the world, the DJ follows up with Kool and the Gang’s "Celebration," then Kylie Minogue, then Madonna. Do they have a camera in my shower capturing my playlists? These fellas really love their Madonna, or maybe they’re just really happy that the Mayans were just really lazy finishing their calendar on December 21, not predicting doomsday prophecies.

Random pro tip: Opening an interview with “Hey, you look like a doomsday prepper,” is a bad way to start any conversation. They never taught me that in not-journalism school.

I ended my evening at Ann Arbor’s most popular bar of 2012 --The Bar at 327 Braun Court. On the ground floor was an amazing gathering, the End of the World Masquerade Bash, a birthday party for Lindsey Leyland thrown by her boyfriend Mike and all her friends. Guests were dressed to the nines in suits, fancy dresses and masks, dancing and drinking and counting down Lindsey’s special day and the end of it all. I cornered the birthday girl outside and she offered her special insights on the end of the world.

“The past few days have been a little rough,” she says. “It can’t have anything to do with stress about life goals and ambitions. But I was born on the end of the world. Me and anyone born on December 21 will be okay. We’re going to inherit the world. All the plush beds and furs in the world!”

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Terribly blurry photo of Lindsey Leyland, her boyfriend Mike and the Doomsday Clock.

When I press her on why beds and furs are at the top of her list, Lindsey is very straightforward.

“I like soft things and my bed sucks.” Makes sense.

The party is amazing. A homemade Doomsday Clock hangs on the wall and Lindsey kindly offers me a glass of champagne and we toast the end. The clock strikes 1 a.m. and no lava or demons or planet alignments or water-vomiting beasts. I meet the sister of an NPR personality, watch a guy sleep in the corner of the bar and make eye contact with Jeremy Wheeler. It might not be the end of the world, but it’s a night to remember. I’m sure there will be another end of the world prophecy in the next few months and when that date is kookily predicted, I’ll be on the apocalypse beat once more.



Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Bummer ... I missed cosmic bowling! However, in January I am buying a solar panel, a gun, a taser, and I'm going to start stockpiling food and water so I can hide in my crawl space while the aliens take over...haha


Sun, Dec 23, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

Well, I just heard there is an asteroid heading toward earth. Have not read the article yet, but on AOL they are talking about it. Maybe this is a warning sign? Good luck.


Sun, Dec 23, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.



Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Go Blue

benjamin dorian

Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

This was the end of the world.... for the two bottles!

Richard Retyi

Sat, Dec 22, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

Many bottles did not survive the night. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.