Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Search for images of Detroit and you're likely to find pictures of abandoned buildings and crumbling walls filled with graffiti – urban blight captured by the camera's lens.

In recent years, however, communities have embraced some graffiti artists.

The increase in the amount of sanctioned graffiti art is the focus of our most recent "Michigan Radio Picture Project." The Picture Project is a forum for photographers who capture Michigan's people, places, events, and issues.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The streets of Grand Rapids are alive today as ArtPrize gets underway.

More than 1,500 works of art are in competition for more than a half-million dollars in prize money.

Christian Gaines is ArtPrize’s executive director. He says they’ve revamped the competition to let the public and art experts pick the top 20 pieces.

Erik Paul Howard

You want to build a stronger community. You have limited money. However, there's untapped potential in the people around you. How do you leverage that potential and take advantage of the unique qualities of your community to create positive change?

The Alley Project, or TAP, in Southwest Detroit found a way to do just that. I spoke with Erik Howard, one of the founders of TAP. Here's our conversation:

You can see images from The Alley Project by visiting their Facebook page.

Erik will be presenting at The Detroit Design Festival which kicks off today. You can find more information on the festival at detroitdesignfestival.com.

mconnors / morgueFile

Is there anyone who hasn't scanned the radio dial on a long road trip and endured noisy static,  angry talk shows, and music that disappoints  in a desperate search for a classic rock station?

But who knew the classic rock concept was born in Michigan almost 30 years ago?

Fred Jacobs, an Oakland County-based radio consultant, was part of that birth in 1985. He said WMMQ in Charlotte, Michigan, was the first classic rock station, and the format quickly spread across the country.

Jacobs said he was inspired by complaints from listeners who couldn't find the music they had grown up with and loved. 

Jacobs said classic rock is not the same as "golden oldies." It is about the golden age of rock – music people will still be listening to in 100 years. 

Jacobs said classic rock started with music from the 60s and 70s and musicians like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Eric Clapton. 

But he said it's all about the music of your youth that you never get tired of hearing.  And as generations move on, classic rock has added 80s and even more recent music to its roster.

Vulfpeck

We’ve heard it before. The music industry is changing.

But the band Vulfpeck is challenging the music industry with silence.

Vulfpeck is a funk band that got its start at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

They are in the middle of a cross-country tour.

They aren’t charging admission, they aren’t paying out of pocket.

Their tour is completely funded from an album they put up on the online music steaming service Spotify – an album that was completely silent.

Michigan Capitol Confidential

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore no longer will serve on the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council after Republican Gov. Rick Snyder named a suburban-Detroit businessman to replace him.

Moore joined the council as an appointee of then-Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Snyder announced Thursday that he was renominating a second film council member whose term was expiring along with Moore's.

    

Even competent spellers can trip over the word flier/flyer.

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says most dictionaries give both options, so the good news is you’re always right.

“What I was struck by, in many of them, was that if you look up flyer with a “y,” it will say it’s a variety of flier, and then when you look up the spelling with an “i,” you get the definitions,” says Curzan.

“I looked on Google Books, and it turns out the spelling with a “y” is much more common over the last 40 years – yet it is still seen as a variant.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - Utility crews mistakenly dug up 100-year-old bricks near Bay City Hall.

The Bay City Times reports Saturday the work was being done on the last street in the city where historic bricks are exposed.

Streets manager Kurt Hausbeck says a Consumers Energy subcontractor was installing a high-pressure gas line when workers decided they needed to dig up more road and sidewalk than originally anticipated, and that included removing some of the bricks.

ArtPrize

Art Prize will once again take over the streets of Grand Rapids starting on Wednesday.

The annual art extravaganza known as Art Prize is in its sixth year.

Nearly two thousand artists have created more than 1500 works of art for the competition. There’s more than a half million dollars in prize money on the line during the 19 day art festival.

By the time Art Prize comes to a close in mid-October about 400,000 people are expected to visit the 174 art venues around town.

Music artists Calvin Harris (left), Lana del Rey (right).
Carlos Delgado - wikimedia commons / Beatriz Alvani - Flickr

How do we know this?

Well, we don’t, but Spotify does.

The Swedish streaming music service released data on “How Students Listen” naming  the “Top 40 Musical Universities in America."

The report is an obvious way to attract attention to itself (and get more subscribers), but the data released is interesting in that it shows what these online services know about certain populations.

Both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are named in their “Top 40” List.

U-M prof receives MacArthur "genius award"

Sep 17, 2014
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today the selection of a University of Michigan professor as one of this year's 21 recipients of its prestigious "genius grants."

The foundation recognized Khaled Mattawa for his creative translations of the work of highly respected Arab poets – as well as for his own poetry. 

He is the author of four books of poetry, has translated nine books of contemporary Arabic poetry and co-edited two anthologies of Arab-Amercian literature. 

Main stage of Hart Plaza, Detroit
User: The #technoMeccaMixtape / screengrab detroitsoundproject.com

The power of music to build bridges.

In this case, electronic and techno music is building bridges between Detroit and South Africa.

That's the focus of a documentary film called Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project. The short film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

Filmmaker Kristian Hill is based in Los Angeles, but he is from Detroit. Hill says in exploring the underground electronic and techno music scenes in Detroit and places like Tokyo, Russia, and South Africa, he got to meet people from all over the world.

Hill says he found music lovers who have a real interest in Detroit music -- beyond just Motown.

“We’ve met people who tell us that you know, Muslims go to Mecca, but techno lovers go to Detroit,” says Hill.

* Listen to our conversation with Kristian Hill above.

Watch a trailer of the documentary:

There will be a screening of the film on September 27, 2014 at Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit. You can get more information on the screening and the progress of Hill's film on his website.

    

If some one gives you fulsome praise, is that good or bad?

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says that question came up during a family game of "Cranium" recently. 

These were the choices:

  1. Excessive or fake praise
  2. Disgusting or offensive
  3. Abundant or copious

That game was stacked, because Curzan happens to be on the usage panel for the American Heritage Dictionary, which tackled "fulsome" in 2012.

It turns out there's a lot of confusion about what "fulsome" means.

Michigan State University College of Arts and Sciences

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Figures that appear to be holding guns and binoculars stand sentry on a downtown Grand Rapids rooftop.

They are a statement of art, not a call to arms.

The Grand Rapids Press reports  Saturday that crews have been installing "...there's something happening here..." on the roof and terrace of the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts. The work is Henry Brimmer's fourth entry in Michigan's annual ArtPrize competition, which opens Sept. 24.

The flag flying at Fort McHenry today. Francis Scott Key wrote the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" on September 14, 1814. He was inspired by a battle he witnessed there.
user Bohemian Baltimore / Wikimedia Commons

A tune that reverberates through ballparks, auditoriums and community gatherings is getting an amped-up workout during its 200th anniversary.

One of the biggest and flashiest salutes to "The Star-Spangled Banner" comes Saturday at the University of Michigan. The Ann Arbor school's marching band, a 500-voice choir and dance team combine during a football halftime show.

The university also plans a sing-along Friday, the same day it opens an exhibit on the national anthem's cultural history.

More from AP:

Major festivities also are happening in Baltimore, including a flag-raising ceremony Sunday at Fort McHenry National Monument. That's where Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics on Sept. 14, 1814, during a pivotal War of 1812 battle.

Many events nationwide are encouraged by the Star Spangled Music Foundation. It's founded by Michigan musicology professor Mark Clague.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 2000.
Joshua Schwimmer / Flickr

The state of Michigan owns public parks, roads, buildings, and even some historic artifacts. Among those artifacts are the original architectural drawings of the World Trade Center.

This is a story of how the state of Michigan – its taxpayers – came to own the works.

Thousands of people visit the 9-11 Memorial in New York every day.

Children play by the fountain that surrounds the footprint of what once were the world’s tallest buildings. Some people take the time to read at least some of the names of the people who died here on 9-11.

Iggy and The Stooges performing in a concert in London, England
User: Aurelien Guichard / Flickr

It's no secret that Michigan has turned out some powerful figures in the world of pop music. Musicians and artists whose influence rocketed out of Michigan and spread around the world.

A great example of this is in the United Kingdom. Many artists there were influenced by the R&B and Motown music: The Beatles, the Stones, the Who, and so many more.

http://www.michigan.org/property/grand-rapids-ballet-company-peter-martin-wege-theatre/
Michigan.org

Yes, there is a professional ballet company in Grand Rapids.

In fact, they're the only one in the state. 

And they are really fed up with people not knowing that.

“We used to have letterhead that said ‘Michigan’s best kept secret’ or something, and I was like, let’s get rid of that,” laughs the company’s executive director, Glenn Del Vecchio.

But the city’s ballet has long had support from one of West Michigan’s biggest philanthropists, Peter Wege.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The fate of the 90-year-old Irish Hills Towers could be decided Wednesday.

Cambridge Township officials may decide the effort to save the iconic wooden towers has run its course, and it’s time to demolish them.

Bupkis. Zip, nada, zilch. 

Those are all words that mean nothing – as in you've got nothing.

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says a game of cribbage with her mother led to a discussion about the word bupkis, and where it came from.

"It's such a great word. It's clearly Yiddish," Curzan says. "And then we started talking about other words for 'nothing.' There's zero, which is borrowed from French in the 17th century, but it goes back to Arabic. Nada, which is Spanish, goes back to the 19th century."

User: Patrick Julian / facebook/Beyond Olympia Stadium

On Sept. 6, 1964, the Beatles came to Michigan.

The familiar sounds of the Detroit Red Wings playing at Olympia Stadium gave way to something completely different: 30,000 teenagers screaming for John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

They played two shows at Olympia Stadium.

Bob Green was right there, seeing Beatlemania unfold in Detroit.

He was a disc jockey on WKNR, Keener 13, the legendary Detroit radio station. He wasn't just there as the Beatles played Olympia, he was onstage introducing them.

DETROIT (AP) - Former President Jimmy Carter has told a group of Muslim Americans in Detroit they should take a role in supporting peace and justice efforts.

Carter delivered the keynote at Saturday's Islamic Society of North America convention at Cobo Center.

The society is among America's leading Muslim groups. The Detroit area has one of the nation's largest Muslim populations.

The Detroit News reports that Carter said he hopes Muslim Americans "will use the principals of Allah to bring peace and justice to all."

dwaynegill.com/comedy / dwaynegill.com/comedy

Michigan State Police Sgt. Dwayne Gill uses his day job as a reference pool for his stand-up sets.

Gill said that comedy came first for him, but open-mic nights did not bring in enough money, so he became a police officer.

“They knew that I was doing stand-up in the academy and I was called 'Recruit Joker,'” Gill said.

Gill started his comedic journey in 1989. He signed up for an Apollo Night contest in April 1995. After getting booed off the stage, he decided to quit comedy and focus on his police work.

Seven years later, he went to a retirement party for a trooper at the Ann Arbor Showcase, and said that gave him the itch to try comedy again.

He read books, took a class in New York, and learned more about comedy. September 11, 2002 he was back on stage, and started getting paid for his jokes in 2004.

Now he has opened up for celebrities like Tim Allen, and recently for Aretha Franklin.  

Gill has been working in law enforcement for 21 years. He is now the Michigan State Police liaison to the Legislature, and he still continues to do stand-up work.

*Listen to our full interview with Dwayne Gill above. 

A Detroit Jazz Festival float.
Maia C / Flickr

The 35th annual Detroit Jazz Festival is this Labor Day weekend. It is the largest free jazz festival in the world, and it will be held in downtown Detroit at Campus Martius and Hart Plaza.

Chris Collins, the artistic director, and Jim Gallert, jazz broadcaster, writer and researcher, joined Stateside today to talk about the history of this festival and of jazz in Detroit.

“The Detroit Jazz Festival celebrates not only the greater jazz landscape, but, in particular, this amazing legacy of the city of Detroit,” Collins said.

Detroit came into the jazz scene in the early 1920s. Gallert said Detroit was an important feeder city. A lot of Detroit bands set the style for bands in New York.

“Many of us think of Detroit as the New Orleans of the north,” Gallert said.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is a year round effort to spread the gospel of jazz and support jazz artists. They work with students in Detroit Public Schools in what is called the "Jazz Infusion" where professional jazz artists work with the students to teach jazz, form bands, and put on shows.

The Detroit Jazz Festival runs this Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit. You can get schedules, artists and all the information at their website.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Collins and Jim Gallert on Stateside at 3:00 pm. Audio for this story will be added by 4:30 pm. 

Jimmy Carter at a book signing in 2010.
Geoff Holtzman / Talk Radio News Service/Flickr

The former president, who will turn 90 on October 1, will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference for the nation's largest Muslim group.

The Islamic Society of North America's 51st annual conference will be held at the Cobo Center from August 29 through September 1. The theme of the conference will be on "elevating Muslim-American culture."

More from the Toledo Blade:

President Carter will talk on the subject of his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, at a luncheon Aug. 30.

That night, at a session called “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim-American Culture” -- the same title as the entire conference theme — the outgoing president of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Magid, and four other Muslim speakers will offer ideas for Muslim-American advancement over the next five years. A “secret special guest” is also on the bill.

The Blade reports Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will speak at the opening of the conference, which will also feature "Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the national leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim member of Congress."

Here's one of the Society's promotional videos for the conference:

Pierre Metivier / Flickr

Language, language everywhere

A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor asked me what the scoop is with the phrase all of a sudden.

“I was thinking about it the other day,” she said, “because I would never say ‘a sudden.’ And I thought, ‘I should ask Anne.’”

A few days later, I was chatting with one of my colleagues over lunch, and he told me he had just learned the slang term thirsty from his students and was wondering if I already knew it.

markgurman.com

Mark Gurman started his tech journalism career in high school. Now he's a junior at the University of Michigan and he's still making good money by breaking stories about Apple Inc.

Michigan Radio's Kate Wells reported on Gurman last year predicting "We will all be working for this kid someday."

SM Giovanni and SM Angela with Edmund Cardinal Szoka.
Felician Sisters of North America / Flickr

DETROIT - Cardinal Edmund Szoka, the former governor of Vatican City and the head of the Detroit archdiocese, has died. He was 86.

The Archdiocese of Detroit says Szoka died of natural causes Wednesday night at Providence Park Hospital in Novi, Michigan.

Pope John Paul II made Szoka a cardinal in 1988. Not long after, he became the Vatican's point man for finance. By 1998, he was running the Vatican City, one of the world's smallest countries.

Since his retirement from active ministry in 2006, Szoka had been living in the Detroit suburb of Northville.

Metro Detroit Ethnic Communities Collection/Walter P. Reuther Library

There’s a joke that historical organizations are stuck in the past when it comes to how they do things. You know, like they don’t have a grasp on using social media, and their museums and events are outdated and uninspiring.

And that joke might extend to the people who run historical organizations – many of whom are senior citizens and have often run their group in the same way for a long time.

Wikimedia Commons

Michigan embraced the Union cause before the first shot at Fort Sumpter was ever fired. And Michigan soldiers and sailors were involved in virtually all of the campaigns and battles of the Civil War.

A new book looks at the ways Michiganders were a part of the Civil War through photographs of some of the 10,000 Civil War re-enactors in Michigan.

It's called "American Civil War Years: The Michigan Experience (The Reenactors' Telling)."

“We really wanted to pay tribute to these people who are out there in 100-degree weather in wool,” said iMichigan Productions’ Donna Ullrich, the editor of the book.

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