Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Today on Stateside:

  • John Austin, president of the State Board of Education, joins us to discuss how teachers in Michigan should be evaluated.
  •  Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush and MI Curious question-asker Jeff Salisbury talk about the number of Michigan lawmakers with kids enrolled in traditional public schools.

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Many years ago, I was having lunch at the old London Chop House in Detroit. I was there with a very erudite Frenchman from one of the great wine families.

The host asked the entire table to name the best wine we had ever had. After some awkward answers and evasions, our French guest simply raised a finger and announced “I have one.”

It seems that his parents, wanting him to have a truly international education, sent him off to Harvard Business School in the 1950s.

He arrived here shy, with English as his second language, and felt very out of place.

Erna Roberts has had a full life. As a survivor of the WWII Nazi takeover of her homeland, Latvia, as well as two separate Russian occupations, still living on her own at the age of 97 is the least of her feats.

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan has been thinking about diminutives lately, particularly "ette."

"The word 'cigarette' is clearly more diminutive than 'bullet,' but they actually share the same diminutive suffix," Curzan says. 

"I did an interview recently about suffixes for women – like 'ess,' 'ette,' and 'trix,' and it had me thinking about some etymological facts that not everyone is aware of about the history of 'ette.'

Detroit native Steffanie Christi’an is a musician and writer. She has collaborated with some of the top producers in New York City, including Big Proof of D12 and Emanuel (Eman) Kiriakou.

FLICKR USER MSTEPHENS7 / FLICKR

There’s a delicious backstory to how the Michigan sparkling wine, “Sex,” sold under the M. Lawrence brand, got its head-turning name.

It happened during the 1980s, Hour Detroit magazine’s chief wine and restaurant critic Chris Cook said, when Larry Mawby, owner of the Mawby winery was “fretting around for names for certain things.”

In that day, the trick was getting names and images for wine labels approved by the somewhat “prudish” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

“At that time, they were being very picky about certain things,” Cook said.

Overdrive Interactive

Senior technology writer for Slate, Will Oremus, has a hard time “getting” Snapchat. He says the app makes him feel old, and recently wrote an article about his struggle.

Oremus is 32 years old.

Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social apps in the world. So this raises the question: Are newer apps trying to keep older users out of the loop?

Kimberly Springer, Michigan Radio’s social media producer, doesn’t think so.

The U.S. National Archives on Flickr / Flickr

Patricia Majher's book Great Girls in Michigan History profiles 20 girls in Michigan who accomplished great feats before the age of 20.

Majher says while the girls were from all over the state with different areas of expertise, they all shared some personality traits. She describes them as precocious, self-driven, and not allowing obstacles to stand in their way.

The book includes stories of Betty Ford's dedication to dance at a young age. Ford founded her own dance studio in Grand Rapids at the age of 15, where she taught little girls and their mothers too.  Her career eventually led her to dance at Carnegie Hall.

Flickr user Chris Smith / Flickr

The Detroit Public Library turns 150 years old this week and will be celebrating Wednesday with an event that includes architectural tours of the historic main branch. The 1921 building is an architectural wonder, and is the fourth-largest library in the nation, with more than 7 million books.

Detroit choir heading to the Vatican

Mar 24, 2015
Wolfgang Stuck

Pope Francis may not have plans to stop in Michigan when he visits the U.S. next fall, but a Detroit choir is planning to go see him.

The Archdiocesan Chorus of Detroit already had plans to visit Rome in January when they received an invitation to sing in a mass at the Vatican.

And yes, His Holiness will definitely be there.

Today on Stateside:

  • Charlie Moret, president of Invest Michigan, talks about his “fresh view” on the Michigan startup community in The Next Idea.
  • Randy Olson, a computer science doctoral candidate from Michigan State University, joins us to describe his “Pure Michigan Road Trip, Optimized.”

  • Finland Calling, the nation’s only Finnish-language program in the United States, is coming to an end, and host Carl Pellonpaa is here to talk.

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The Upper Peninsula is facing the end of an era. After 53 years, Finland Calling, the only Finnish-language program in the United States, is coming to an end.

Marking the retirement of host Carl Pellonpaa, the final show will be on March 29.

Bruce Giffin / Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Aaron Dworkin, founder of the nationally recognized Sphinx organization – which runs scholarships and competitions for black and Latino students in classical music – is leaving to become the new dean of the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theater & Dance. 

"Sphinx has really been my life's work," says Dworkin, who's passing the baton to his wife and Sphinx's current artistic director, Afa Dworkin. 

"Even the most euphemistic terms we have for where the toilet is, can sometimes not feel quite euphemistic enough."

That's what University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan said on "That's What They Say." 

And it's true: We have lots of different names for the place where we perform that private function. 

LEG Management

The first federally-funded housing projects for African-American families were built in Detroit in the 1930s. They were the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, located on Detroit’s near-east side.

If you want to hear why they were built, listen to our recent story here. Mary Wilson from The Supremes tells us about what she learned from growing up in the projects, in a story you can listen to here

For the most part, former residents who lived in the area in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s speak highly of their time in the projects. But life in the Brewsters got much tougher in the 1970s and '80s.

FLICKR USER HEINRICH KLAFFS / FLICKR / Yusef Lateef visualized his music in his drawings, said Alhena Katsof, curator of "Yusef Lateef: Towards the Unknown."

Yusef Lateef – a master musician, composer, writer and artist – died in 2013. However, his history lives on in Detroit, the city where he came of age musically and otherwise. He went on to become one of the first artists to combine jazz with world music.

This Friday, an exhibition called Yusef Lateef: Towards the Unknown will open in the Trinosophes art space on Gratiot in Detroit. It will run through May 10. 

Rebecca Mazzei, co-owner of Trinosophes, thinks the exhibition will be important for all people to see – whether they’re familiar with Lateef’s work or not. She said the exhibit will speak to “why he was so important to the city and why the city was so important to him,” though she added that he also brought some “important cultural movements to the national scene as well.”

Nationaal Archief (Dutch National Archives)

Today on Stateside, we’re getting the inside scoop from former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects about what it was like growing up in the Detroit projects. 

Their answers are overwhelmingly positive.

Ruby Straughter lived in the Brewster-Douglass projects from 1957 to 1972. She remembers people in the projects taking good care of each other.

“If a family couldn’t pay rent, neighbors would throw a rent party and they’d give the money to whomever needed the rent paid.”

She says no one ever went hungry or made fun of anyone else for being poor. Straughter remembers parents were strict with their own kids, and looked out for other people’s children as well.

There was also lots and lots of singing in the Brewsters. People sang four-part harmonies on street corners, in the parks, on porches and in the stairwells, where the echo was best.

But why was music such a huge part of living there? 

Let’s Review is a new podcast from Michigan Radio focused on current events, pop culture, identity, and the tricky art of navigating life.

Your hosts are All Things Considered host, Jenn White and Michigan Radio's social media producer, Kim Springer.

Flickr user University of Wisconsin Sea Grant/Water Resources / Flickr

The Freep Film Festival begins its four-day run tomorrow.

This will be the festival's second year. It will open with a double feature of films from two of the Detroit Free Press' own videographers and photographers.

The first is Fire Photo 1. It revolves around Bill Eisner who has been the unofficial photographer for the Detroit fire department for over 50 years.

Here's a trailer:

Emil Lorch collection/Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan

All this week on Stateside, we’re looking at the history of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. If you’ve ever wondered about why they were created or what it was like to live in them, we’d love to fill you in with our three-part series. Here's part one:

If you remember the projects, you might picture the six identical high-rises on the city’s near east side. Those were the Frederick-Douglass Towers, and they were built in the 1950s and finally destroyed in 2014.

Flickr user Lotus Carroll / Flickr

The South by Southwest conference taking place in Austin, Texas right now showcases some of the most creative, leading-edge thinkers, musicians, writers and artists.

Joe Voss with Creative Many Michigan, previously known as ArtServe Michigan, wants to make sure Michigan's creativity is on display there. The organization's mission is to develop creative people, places and an economy that will boost the state.

FLICKR USER 21INNOVATE / FLICKR

 In the spirit of the Irish on this St. Patrick’s Day, let’s peek back through their history in Detroit, where the Corktown neighborhood wears its Irish heritage proudly.

In an article for the Detroit News entitled, Irish helped form Detroit for centuries, Bill Loomis sifts through the several “waves” of Irish immigrants to Detroit, the first of which came in the early 1800s.

We're humans, and we don't always get along, but there are degrees of disagreement – and some colorful words to describe them, like "brouhaha."

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan says the word comes from French.

Flickr user Marion Doss / Flickr

One of the oldest structures in Detroit is being moved. The house, built in 1837, is the former home of Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant's residency in Detroit began when he was a young army officer when he was fresh out of West Point and transferred to the Detroit Barracks, according to Dan Austin of the Detroit Free Press and HistoricDetriot.org.

Chuck Anderson / Courtesy of The Oblivion Project

The Oblivion Project is dedicated to performing the music of Astor Piazzolla, the late Argentine composer who is regarded as a "godfather" of Tango Nuevo.

The group is appearing throughout the Midwest, including a performance at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor on March 14, this coming Saturday night.

Cellist, band leader and Ann Arbor native Derek Snyder describes Tango Nuevo, saying, "It expands and goes in a lot more directions than traditional dance tango."

FLICKR USER URS SREINER / FLICKR

As much as we seem to love checking our Facebook feeds, the result may not be what you’d expect.

Ethan Kross from the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan recently published some of his findings involving Facebook in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Institute of Arts is debuting a new exhibition about the year Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo spent in Detroit in 1932. It opens Sunday, March 15, but Michigan Radio got a sneak peek at a media preview.

The exhibition is the brainchild of DIA director Graham Beal and curator Mark Rosenthal. This will be the last major exhibition for Beal before he retires this summer. 

Mercedes Mejia

While best known for her self-portraits portraying death and dark subjects, Frida Kahlo also had a love for life, and she loved to cook.

The Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit exhibit will open at The Detroit Institute of the Arts this month. In the same spirit, three Detroit-area chefs are paying tribute to the renowned Mexican artists. They’re guided by a book written by Guadalupe Rivera, Diego Rivera’s daughter, called Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo.

Flickr user ashleystreet / Flickr

This month, the Detroit Institute of Arts will unveil a major exhibition focusing on two of the most fascinating and influential artists of the 20th century.

Courtesy of Toko Shiiki

This week marks the four year anniversary of the magnitude nine earthquake that hit the coast of Japan and triggered a tsunami, leaving well over 15,000 people dead. The tsunami also caused the largest nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

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