Michigan is an oven mitt with a spare thumb. The spare thumb is called "UP", which is pronounced "da Yoo Pee" or "da Yoop" by its residents. These two landmasses, which are separated by the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet, form a state that is a signatory member of the United States.
Michigan builds a lot of cars. Michigan builds a lot of cars so people can get the fuck out of Michigan if they want an economic future other than poverty.
The "Mitten" is officially known as the Lower Peninsula. Many years ago, somebody saw a map of Michigan and said, "Hey, that looks like a mitten." As a result, when ever you ask somebody from the Mitten where they live, they'll hold up the palm of their right hand (or the back of their left hand) and point to the corresponding spot. A non-Michigander's typical response to this is usually "No wonder Toyota is kicking GM's ass."
The "Thumb" is a small appendage on the eastern side of the Mitten. The largest town is Caro. That's about all there is to say about the Thumb. It does have a pretty lakeshore even if it looks all alike.
The Mackinac Bridge
The Mackinac Bridge is the impressive suspension bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. It is quite possibly the most renowned feature of a state interesting only at its shorelines. It looks much like the Golden Gate Bridge except for being teal-gray instead of orange, which probably explains why the Mackinac Bridge is not on the Michigan state quarter. It has the oddity of being partly paved with concrete and having a driving surface that is literally a steel grate -- nothing below but icy water or ice.
Also not clearly part of either peninsula, Mackinac Island is a small island in the Straits of Mackinac, an expensive tourist trap in which (uncharacteristic of Michigan) private automobiles have no access. One gets there by ferry. It also has great fudge, though don't eat the ones that the horses leave on the ground.
"Da Yoop" is officially known as the Upper Peninsula. It's bigger than New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and every New England state except Maine. But its population is smaller than every other state. The largest "city" is Marquette (about 21,000).
Denizens of the UP are known as Yoopers. Most of them speak in a dialect reminiscent of the MacKenzie Brothers[note 1] on SCTV. The dialect is thought to be so unusual for United States residents that it has earned its own Wikipedia page.
The UP is especially isolated because very few roads go there. As a result, the UP is a place people go to hoping to get lost—it's like Alaska, but for people who don't want to be that isolated. The UP is so isolated that the central and western counties are the only places in the country where Finns are the dominant ethnic group.
Typical activities in the UP include drinking beer (especially Leinenkugel's from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin), watching the Green Bay Packers (Detroit Lions fans stay away), and hunting bucks.[note 2] The last is so popular that on opening day (15 November) the news directors of the central UP's three local TV stations[note 3] will sometimes jettison coverage of the NFL, NBA, NHL and other pro sports. Instead, they will cover the first bucks shot that season.[note 4] Actor and Michigan native Jeff Daniels wrote Escanaba in da Moonlight, a play and movie about these typical activities. Don't mention this title to any Yoopers unless you know they have a good sense of humor.[note 5]
An excellent movie, Anatomy of a Murder (it stars Jimmy Stewart and looks like a Hitchcock film except that Otto Preminger directed it) was set in Michigan's UP.
Some Yoopers also partake in "polar bear" activities, like the Heikenpaiva dive in Hancock. Sometimes even little kids join in.
The greatest musical group in the world, Da Yoopers, are from the UP. They operate a store called Da Tourist Trap in Ishpeming.[note 6][note 7] They sing about fishing, hunting, digging rusty Chevrolets out of snow banks, farting like their dads and cheap beer, mostly.
Higher edumacations in Da Yoop
Oddly, for all its isolation and backwoods traditions, the UP has three public four-year colleges—Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette, Michigan Technological University (MTU) in Houghton, and Lake Superior State University (LSSU)[note 8] in Sault Ste. Marie. This means that the UP has more per capita access to public higher education than many states. Go figure.
The UP is also the home of Finlandia University, the last private university founded by Finnish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was originally named Suomi College -- "Suomi" being the Finnish word for "Finland" and "Finnish." It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and is the only private college in the UP. Founded in 1896, it is also the oldest college in the UP.
There are also two community colleges in the UP: Bay College in Escanaba and Gogebic Community College in Ironwood.
Yoopers have never really seen themselves as Michiganders like the rest of the state, Superior, as they call it (ego much?) and have tried many times to become a state. Of course, they would be worse than West Virginia without the Lower Peninsula.
In fact, a) Michigan only claimed the eastern quarter of today's Upper Peninsula (which was already undisputedly inside its borders), and b) they only became Michiganders as a result the Toledo War, a conflict between Ohio and the then Territory of Michigan, because each one believed the city of Toledo and the 468-square-mile strip it was on were theirs to keep and the other butthead should make it like a tree and disappear (Toledo being economically important and all, especially way back when it was at the mouth of a canal, and canals were the main means of long-distance transportation back then). After pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson (since Michigan was fighting to become a state), as well as a dire financial crisis due to funding the militia that was fighting the war, Michiganders forsook the Strip for Ohio, took the Upper Peninsula - the quarter that was already theirs and the other three quarters that were 'till then Wisconsin's -, and Wisconsin, being a territory that was only to become a state some years later, got squat. They were unhappy about the deal because they believed the Peninsula to be barren, remote and wild - until of course they discovered copper and iron there, resources which more than offset Toledo's loss, which made Michigan really happy and Wisconsin really angry!
The Upper Peninsula has some spectacular scenery, including Tahquamenon Falls, Isle Royale National Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. It also has the Soo Locks. It also has a small population that is shrinking even in comparison to Michigan itself, which is a dubious achievement. The First Congressional District of Michigan keeps expanding into the Lower Peninsula, indicating that the population falls short of what one expects of a state. Aside from the Interstate 75 freeway connecting the Mackinac Bridge as St. Ignace and the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie, The Upper Peninsula of Michigan has no freeways.
(This border dispute was not completely settled - again in favor of damn Ohio! - until 1973, when both Michigan and Ohio became saner and went before the Supreme Court. The dispute was the beginning of the Michigan-Ohio rivalry which lasts 'till today.)
Rust never sleeps
They used to make a lot of cars in Detroit, Michigan. Ask Michael Moore - he made a movie about how they had to start killing rabbits in Michigan once they stopped making cars. But now, Motor City is seeing a revival. Not only are they making new cars, they are also making electric cars, streetcars, and even self-driving cars.
Upton Sinclair once wrote a novel about Michigan's auto industry, The Flivver King, which is to the Great Depression what Michael Moore's film is to the 1980s. The more things change, the more they stay the same, sadly.
But, never fear! Laid-off automobile workers can always give Michigan's own Amway a try.
It was never about the lead in the first place. The lead is a byproduct of the pipes disintegrating all the way down to the joints (which are made of lead). The mains are almost all steel pipes, and they have been seriously damaged by running (essentially) an acid through them for over a year. Every single water pipe in Flint now needs to be replaced.
The chemicals needed to keep the Flint water from eating the pipes would have cost $1000 a year. But the Emergency Managers ignored the science people and decided to do it on the cheap.
Flint and towns like it should be getting government aid. Instead, despite not having replaced all the contaminated pipes in Flint, the free bottled water program will soon end while Nestlé expands operations in MI, basically pumping water for pennies. The people of Flint are being charged some of the steepest tap water prices in the country... for poisoned water... to pay for fresh water for Nestlé. That's the free market, baby, you don't like it, why don't you move to Venezuela?
In Flint, the most populous city in the United States with a single-syllable name, the rat population is higher than the human population.
Halls of learning
It has the University of Michigan, which ranks among the best public universities in the United States whose medical school is commonly seen in top 10 lists for its kind. There's also Michigan State University, which also has some top-notch graduate programs.
Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo hosts the annual International Congress in Medieval Studies, the largest conference in the field.
Other colleges include Andrews University (run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church), Spring Arbor University (Run by the Methodist Church), Baker College (A trade school and not a very good one, many graduates never seem to get jobs) and Mott Community College (which is one of the highest rated community colleges in the country).
Besides the host of the medieval conference, Michigan plays host to two universities. The University of Michigan is, despite its somewhat snobbish population, all in all a good institution, but of late its football team has sucked balls (but don't leave yet). Michigan State University's worst academic programs are worse than those at the University of Michigan, yet oddly its best programs are better than the former's best, much to the annoyance of its intelligent students, the jubilation of its stupid ones, and the confusion of its mediocre ones (of course, none of these students feel any of this when they are not soaked in some form of alcohol, i.e. drunk, which is often).
Ohio-Michigan Hissy Fit Toledo "War" started back when Michigan applied for statehood. Both Michigan and Ohio threw a hissy fit because both of them claimed sovereignty over the "Toledo Strip" (technically, Michigan was right). They nearly went to war, and it stalled Michigan's statehood. Both sides added up to only 1,600 people, and the "war" ended with one Michigander injury and no fatalities. Stuff happened, and in the end, Ohio gained the Toledo Strip, and Michigan gained the Upper Peninsula, which Michigan thought was a bad deal at the time, but it turned out to have massive copper and iron deposits and plentiful timber, more than compensating for the loss of the Toledo Strip. None of this is correlated to the Ohio-Michigan "football" rivalry.
Some reasons Michigan is better than your state
- On 18 May 1846, Michigan became the first government entity anywhere to permanently ban the death penalty. (Well, except for treason until 1964. But nobody ever committed treason against Michigan--if you can figure out how that works. Not capital treason anyway, although some Michiganders have elected to attend Ohio State University.)
- Michigan is bordered by four of the five great lakes, more than any other state.
- The shoreline around the two peninsulas measures 3,288 miles (5,326 km). Only Alaska has a longer shoreline - most of which you can't get to anyway.[note 9]
- Those lakes have some awesome beaches, where you can find fossils and copper just lying around.
- They also make for great fishing.
- Michiganders love winter because snow keeps undesirables like Floridians, Texans and Arizonans away. Thinking of relocating to Michigan? Check out this satellite photo.
- All other college rivalries pale in comparison to this.
- Michigan's no-fault car insurance coverage not only covers accident-related repairs to Michiganders' vehicles, it also covers all accident-related medical expenses. FOR LIFE!  Update: Maybe not. Fucking Republicans.
- Alice Cooper
- Aretha Franklin
- Bob Seger
- Grand Funk!!!
- Iggy Pop
- King 810
- Marvin Gaye
- The Miracles
- Stevie Wonder
- The Temptations
150200 breweries, including Bell's, Founders, and recent Hitler Ancient AliensHistory Channel superstars Dark Horse Brewery. Check out some of Michigan's best breweries. Map It
- A common nickname (sorta) for a Michigander is wolverine. Seriously, Michigan is outright obsessed with wolverines. Despite the fact that only one has ever been seen in the whole of Michigan's history.
- It has the largest Christmas store in the world. And it is open all year round.
- Interstate 94 in Michigan is the first cross-state, non-tolled freeway to have been completed in the United States.
- Kellogg's Corporation, whose corn flakes morphed from a health-food fad into a mainstream foodstuff.
...and some reasons Michigan may not be better than your state...
- Great snow due to the Lake effect (except in Greater Detroit), but no really-good ski slopes.
- All of these Michigan Republican mega-donors are Dutch CRC members who went to (surprise) Calvin College. You have the Van Andels, the Princes, the DeVoses, and the Meijers. Early settlers to the state, passage of wealth through the generations, prioritization of greed over compassion, etc. They all seem to be backing Bill Schuette for Governor, who's also Dutch.
- Amway (Scamway) is a pyramid scheme which is headquartered in Ada. But that doesn't change the fact it makes money, and the DeVoses make it rain in Grand Rapids.
- Libertarians successfully lobbied to stop requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. Sure injuries went up, but Freedomz™ also went up. (But see this is actually the government's fault because the government made helmets optional so the best way to reduce accidents is by getting rid of government.)
- On most divided Michigan surface roads and streets one makes a left turn (a Michigan Left) in which one goes through the intersection, makes a U-turn in the median, and then makes a right turn. These can be confusing -- enough so that Indiana and Ohio have yet to adopt them.
- Michigan is a major stronghold of the militia movement.
- Mark Koernke, who called himself "Mark from Michigan," started the "black helicopters" myth.
- Devil's Night in Detroit.
- Detroit also is a city where raccoon hunting is a viable lifestyle. (And no, that's not a racial slur. Can we just A-bomb it and start again on the ruins, already!?)
- Detroit literally has packs of feral dogs roaming the worse off areas. Feral dogs are dangerous creatures on par with bears and Big Cats.
- Insane Clown Posse.
- Rick Snyder. If Snyder had dumped all that money that he seems so eager to spend on legal fees into modernizing Flint's infrastructure, this wouldn't have even been an issue.
- Justin Amash. He's your typical Tea Party anti-government libertarian constitutionalist. He made headlines for denying federal aid for the Flint water crisis and going against Trump on certain issues, and he'll often cast protest votes against his own party for not being extreme enough. He's basically the House version of Rand Paul. He did support the impeachment of Vladimir Putin's puppet.
- Flint has been drinking poisonous water from the Flint river since 2014.
- Ted Nugent is from Michigan.
- So was Jack Van Impe.
- And Kid Rock.
- As is Steven Seagal.
- The Emergency Manager Laws effectively eliminate democracy in cities and municipalities that are placed under the law's influence
- Michael Moore is from here.
- The Lake Michigan Triangle, like Bermuda but colder.
- Domino's Pizza and Little Caesar's Pizza (A RationalWiki user disagrees about the Pizza thing).
- The Detroit Kittens Baseball Team since it traded away or let go to free agency future Hall of Fame pitchers Matt Scherzer, David Price, and Justin Verlander.
- K-Mart was founded here. K-Mart sucks. It now consists of three remaining stores, its last store in Michigan closing in 2021.
- Creepy people have been busted for a plot to kidnap and lynch a Governor for taking rational actions against COVID-19. One participant has plead guilty in a federal criminal court as of September 2021, and a second copped a plea before the other four went on trial in March 2022.
- The dreadful Detroit Kittens Football Team hasn't won a championship or divisional title of any kind since 1957, and once had a 0-16 season. Detroit-area sportswriters invariably tell fans that this perennial cellar-dweller will turn the corner. The team takes two Michigan lefts and simply ends up where it started.
- the Michigan Left. This tricky little maneuver requires someone intending to go left to turn right, make a U-turn in the median and then go in the intended direction... or to go past the intersection at which one wants to head left, make a U-turn in the median, go in the opposite direction and then turn right. At many divided highways, left turns are prohibited except as Michigan lefts. This apparently confuses people from neighboring Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin... and near-neighboring Illinois (especially Greater Chicago) which do not use Michigan lefts.
- Henry Ford's antisemitic Dearborn Independent was published in Michigan, and Reverend Charles Coughlin's Jew-baiting radio diatribes emanated from Michigan.
- Congressional Representative Tim Walberg, who on January 6, 2021, suggested after the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot in the US Capitol, that the result of the 2020 Presidential election be set aside for the electoral votes from his state in an effort to negate the 2020 U.S. presidential election on behalf of You Know Who.
- Interstate 94, which has some of the most heavily-traveled sections of rural freeway in America, is only two lanes in each direction between Benton Harbor and Ann Arbor except in Kalamazoo. As such it is terribly obsolete for its traffic load and is a nightmare to drive.
Some of the better known Michiganders include
- Gerald Ford
- Ernest Hemingway
- Edmund Fitzgerald
- W. Mitt Romney - Former Massachusetts governor, son of George W. Romney, former Michigan governor (1963–69) and American Motors Corporation CEO.
- Tim Allen -- More power!!!
- Jeff Daniels
- Kid Rock
- Chris van Allsburg (writer and illustrator of Jumanji and The Polar Express, both of which became feature films)
- Gillian Anderson (actress who gained fame from starring in The X Files)
- Ted Nugent, Jack White, Bill Haley, Kevin Saunderson, Madonna and Eminem, purveyors of alleged "music."
- Thomas Edison, until he moved to New Jersey, and his buddy, Henry Ford.
- Larry Page (co-founder of Google), at least until he went to Stanford.
- Sam Raimi, director of the Evil Dead movies
- Bruce Campbell, B-movie actor best known for playing Ash Williams in the Evil Dead movies
- Aretha Franklin and a large number of Motown acts. (Aretha even makes a Vernors Christmas ham. If you understand what that is, you're from Michigan.) Now that she is deceased, all that is certain is that it involves a ginger ale well known in Michigan and little known elsewhere.
- James Earl Jones. Yes, Darth Vader grew up here.
- Rashida Tlaib
- Sufjan Stevens, critically acclaimed musician and indie darling until he drove to Chicago and New York City where he would sleep in parking lots and sold his clothes to the state (
and he didn't mind, he didn't mind)
- Derek Jeter, Hall-of-Fame shortstop, was a Michigan resident from age four until he was drafted by the New York Yankees out of Kalamazoo Central High School.
- Charlie Gehringer, Hall of Fame second baseman whose entire career as a player was with the Detroit Tigers, and John Smoltz, Hall of Fame pitcher whom the Tigers traded away for a starting pitcher whose career was practically over
Detroit, as seen from Canada. Probably the best way to see Detroit.
- You Might Live in Michigan if . . .
- You Might be a Michigander
- Michigan High School Helmet Project
- Michigan Highways
- Michigans Thumb
- MichiganRailroads.com - "Your Homepage for Michigan Railroading"
- Pure Michigan (tourism website)
- Some Yooper-centric stuff, eh.
- Eh? You hosers don't remember da MacKenzie Brothers?
- For you hopeless city folk, bucks are male deer.
- Until the 1990s, the UP had one local TV station. The rest rebroadcast programming from stations in Traverse City, Cadillac and Green Bay. That's how isolated the UP is.
- November 15th might as well be a paid holiday in the UP.
- Remember, Finns are the dominant ethnic group. And Germans are the UP's second largest ethnic group.
- Yes, that's a real town. So are Escanaba and Negaunee. And Menominee, too, which is not to be confused with the wrongly spelled Wisconsin towns of Menomonie and Menomonee Falls. (Those damn Badgers can't even agree on how to misspell Menominee!)
- My f***ed-up spell-checker says dat "Menomonee" is correct and "Menominee" is wrong. F***ed-up, Badger-loving spell checker! Dat's why ya can't trust dem spell checkers, eh?
- Most famous for the Banished Words List
- Note for pedants: This does, of course, ignore that bloody fractal problem where coastlines actually have infinite length.
- Escanaba in da Moonlight
- Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association website
- MacDonald, Sean, "Michigan Stopped Requiring Motorcycle Helmets And Injuries Went Way Up, Duh", Lanesplitter (1/21/16 4:30pm). This is where "YOU CANT TELL ME WHAT TO DO" runs head-on with consequences. And walls.
- Jacobs, Samuel P. "Why Militias Love Michigan", Daily Beast website, 31 March 2010, accessed 1 April 2010.
- See the Wikipedia article on Devil's Night.
- Lake Michigan Triangle, Atlas Obscura