Just before 7 o’clock this morning, I got on a bus to Detroit. More than 50 people from West Michigan are also on board. And these are normal, non-politician-type people who are trying to learn more about Detroit.
If you find yourself asking something like, “Why would they do that?” or “What’s to learn from Detroit?” – then join me, you’re on the right track.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians strike may be nearing its end, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to get things back on track at Orchestra Hall.
For starters, the organization has to figure out how to overcome some ‘image’ problems that come with a six-month strike.
Elizabeth Weigandt is a DSO spokeswoman. She says it hasn’t been pretty to watch the strike unfold, and some patrons may not be happy with how things were handled over the last six months, but "we're hoping that as we get back to making music for them, doing what they love, they will be able to let go of what’s happened, just as we will, and move on to an even better future."
Then there's the music. Nearly all of the current season has been lost to the strike, and the summer season was threatened as well. But Weigandt says the summer season is back on and she doesn’t think the 2011-12 season will be delayed:
"Obviously we have to move quickly to get the word out about what next season will be, but we do have a lot of interest. We will probably make the announcement as soon as we can. I would say within the next couple weeks."
Neither side has released details about the proposed contract.
DSO officials have announced a tentative agreement that would end a bitter six-months-long players’ strike.
Detroit Symphony officials canceled the whole concert season in February, when it seemed like feuding Orchestra players and management just couldn’t agree on a new contract. The two sides had deadlocked for months over issues ranging from pay to musicians’ outside teaching obligations.
But under mounting political pressure and after a marathon weekend bargaining session, the two sides hammered out a tentative work agreement.
Musicians’ union President Gordon Stump wouldn’t talk specifics. An official ratification vote will wrap up on Friday.
Stump says musicians are happy the strike will end even though they’re “not crazy” about parts of the agreement.
“I’m sure the management wasn’t crazy about it either. But most of the things that we had a problem with are gone. In that sense, I think it was a resolution we could all live with.”
Stump says the strike was “a long, protracted struggle, and it’s going to take a long time to heal.”
The strike cost the Orchestra some musicians, including its whole percussion section.
Former metro Detroiters in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have formed a network that hopes to lend talent and assistance to the Motor City.
Bryan Fenster co-founded the Detroit Nation chapter in Chicago. He says there are scores of people with Detroit roots who want to help their hometown:
"People have law backgrounds, marketing, advertising, non-profit sector grant writing. It’s kind of all across the board. So when we partner up with more organizations in Detroit, I think we’ll have a better idea of who we can place where and how we can implement that."
Fenster says the first Detroit Nation event in Chicago in December drew about 60 people, and he expects its second event this week will draw twice that many.
Chapters in Seattle and Washington D.C. are expected to be established soon.
The Detroit Symphony announced late this afternoon that orchestra musicians have agreed to return to work before voting on a new contract. The DSO and its musicians' union reached a tentative contract deal over the weekend.
The musicians' union met this afternoon. After the meeting, the DSO announced the musicians will return to work on Thursday to begin rehearsing for upcoming concerts. The union plans a vote on the union contract later this week.
In a written statement, music director Leonard Slatkin expressed the hope that the DSO will emerge strong from the strike that has silenced it for the past six months:
“As we return to our home, I’m confident that the artistic product will continue at the highest possible level. There is much to be done but the DSO will emerge a healthier and stronger institution.”
From the AP: Musicians' spokesman Greg Bowens says the tentative agreement was reached late Sunday. He says musicians will vote this week on whether to ratify the deal.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra says a tentative agreement has been reached with striking musicians that could resolve a six-month strike, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:
Management spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt tells The Associated Press in an e-mail Monday morning that details of the agreement reached following talks over the weekend weren't being immediately released.
A message seeking comment was left with musicians spokesman Greg Bowens... Musicians had said they were given a deadline of last Friday to settle the strike or face losing the summer performance season and jeopardizing the fall season.
This week, we’re changing it up a bit for our “What’s Working” series. Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley is welcoming Michigan Radio Reporter Kyle Norris into the studio to talk about a program in a Kalamazoo neighborhood that revolves around bikes.
Resident Ethan Alexander has organized a program called the Open Roads Bike Program, which teaches kids about bike maintenance. The children learn to perform a number of tasks involved in repairing and taking care of bikes. When they’ve completed all of the tasks, they are rewarded with a bike of their own.
But the bikes are not the only focus of the program. While learning how to take care of bikes provides the children with a sense of accomplishment and pride, Alexander makes sure the kids learn how to respect and get to know one another.
Kyle Norris recently attended a regularly held workshop event in the neighborhood called “Fixapalooza,” where she got to witness what the program has to offer first-hand. She says the atmosphere was similar to that of a block party, plus bikes – many, many bikes.
“It was a total party. There was Michael Jackson on a boom box, blasting. There was pizza. There was a dog running around. And there were a lot of kids, and adults, too, and bikes – bikes flipped over, adults working on bikes, kids working on bikes.”
The program got started when Edison neighborhood resident Ethan Alexander combined two things he had in excess: bikes and an understanding of how to work with children. Norris says it all got started about three years ago.
“He actually created it because he had a lot of bikes kicking around. I think he’s sort of a bike-head, so he had a lot of bikes. But he’s also a social worker, and he knows how to work with kids and get kids to work on their social skills and work on becoming better kids. So he kind of put the two loves together.”
The children who participate in the program don’t have to come very far to join in the fun, says Norris.
“Many of them come from this Edison neighborhood. They come, literally, down the street. Maybe single-family homes, maybe economically challenged.”
Alexander says the program gives the children a sense of confidence that they may not have in other areas of their lives.
“A lot of these kids may not be successful in school. They may not be successful in other avenues. But you put a wrench in their hand, or you put a screwdriver in their hand, and that’s when they kind of light up, that’s when they get excited, and say, ‘Oh, I can do this. This is something I can do.’ And they’re valued and they start to believe in themselves and their abilities.”
After hanging out at Fixapalooza, Norris describes Mr. Alexander as a “zippy” guy. She says his leadership creates the atmosphere of respect.
But according to a DSO press release issued at 5:37 p.m. today, the two sides will continue talks through the weekend:
Conversations with the Musician's leadership via phone and email have been robust this entire week. TheDSO agreed to get together to work through the remaining issues as soon as acceptance of terms proposed by one of our intermediaries had been acknowledged by both parties. The DSO agreed to these terms on Monday. The DSO learned this afternoon that the musicians have accepted this framework as well and we will be scheduling a face-to-face meeting this weekend to resolve all other remaining issues. A decision regarding our summer season is on hold pending the outcome of these meetings.
Earlier this afternoon we spoke to Greg Bowens, the musicians' spokesperson. He said the head of the United Auto Workers and the AFL-CIO have shown their support for the striking musicians:
"The longer that things delay, the more national attention and pressure is put on the DSO to settle this situation."
The current $34-million, 3-year contract under negotiation is similar to a proposal musicians rejected back in February.
An anti-Muslim group might be closer to getting its message on the sides of city buses in Detroit. The American Freedom Defense Initiative bought 4 thousand dollars worth of advertising on Detroit buses last April. But the bus system objected to language used on the posters, which talked about ‘Leaving Islam’.
More than three-hundred works of art are on display at the University of Michigan by artists who are incarcerated prisoners. Independent producer and U of M professor of art Stephanie Rowden visited prisons in Michigan and spoke with several incarcerated artists. She has this audio postcard about why the artists make art and what it means to be a part of the show.
Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates says the vessel sits upright and is in relatively good condition. The group says the sloop's construction and design are consistent with ships built in the 1820s and 1830s.
Video of the wreck is expected to be shown April 16 at an event in Holland.
Cherry blossoms are blooming in Washington D.C. They will be at their peak around the end of this month. The cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. were first planted in 1912 after the people of Japan gave them to the U.S. as a gift of friendship, according to the National Park Service.
The flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant in Japan. It symbolizes the Buddhist notion of impermanence in life.
NPR's Linda Wertheimer visited with James Ulak, senior curator of Japanese art at the Freer Gallery and the Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Ulak visits Japan regularly for his work. He was there just days before the disaster struck.
Ulak spoke with Wertheimer about the symbolism of the cherry tree to the Japanese people and about the artwork at the museum. Artwork that depicts the Matsushima region, a place of great beauty and a place that inspires the Japanese people.
Ulak says the devastation of this area would be comparable to the United States losing the Grand Canyon. From NPR.org:
The bay has been long known as one of the most beautiful places in Japan. Its views of blue water, craggy rocks and twisted pine trees have attracted visitors and artists for centuries.
Would-be writers can take part in a workshop this weekend. Groundcover News is hosting the event Saturday, March 26 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Groundcover is a monthly paper in Washtenaw County that focuses on poverty and homelessness and many of its writers are struggling with those issues.
The workshop is geared toward people who have written for the paper, but anyone can attend.
Freelance writer Vickie Elmer is teaching the class. She says the idea is to have more voices, telling more compelling stories.
The workshop happens at the First Baptist Church in Ann Arbor. Cost is $20, but admission is free if participants promise to write two future articles for the paper.
The Associated Press reports the U.S Supreme Court won't get involved in a fight between Eminem's former production company and Universal Music Group over downloads of the rapper's songs and ringtones.
The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Universal Music Group. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said F.B.T. Productions LLC's contract entitled Eminem and his producers to a 50-50 split with Universal for recordings licensed to digital distributors such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes.
The record label had paid F.B.T. and Eminem 12 percent of sales, the agreed-upon rate for physical albums. F.B.T. discovered Eminem in 1995 before he signed in 1998 with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. Universal's Interscope Records distributes Aftermath recordings. The case is Aftermath Records v. F.B.T. Productions, LLC, 10-768.
Business owners who want to serve as a venue for ArtPrize this fall can now begin registering. The winner of the art competition is decided by the voting public who visit the event in downtown Grand Rapids. The top prize is $250,000.
“ArtPrize has already been open to all these things. The difference is with St. Cecilia coming on we’re being a little more intentional about trying to create a very specific space for it and draw more attention to it.”
St. Cecilia Music Hall opened its doors in 1894. The classically styled gold trimmed music hall will welcome all sorts of performances during ArtPrize this year. The music hall will have listening stations to hear the contestants – in addition to the live performances.
“There have been dances and performance art pieces that have been a part of ArtPrize the first two years. And we see that continuing. We just wanted to continue to press the envelope.”
Artists can begin registering in four weeks. ArtPrize runs from late September through early October.
Tony Dearing is AnnArbor.com's chief content officer. He posted a comment over the weekend on AnnArbor.com about the layoffs. Here's what he wrote:
While personnel issues are an internal matter and we don't discuss them publicly, I can confirm that we reorganized our newsroom this week to put our focus more squarely on local news coverage. As a new organization, we have tried a lot of things. Now that we are well into our second year, the community has told us very resoundingly that what it wants most from us is hard news coverage, particularly in the areas of government, education, police, courts, health, the environment, University of Michigan sports, and business. These areas of coverage account for all but a tiny percentage of our readership and revenue. Meanwhile, we also have put a lot of effort toward other things -- including lifestyle topics like Passions and Pursuits, The Deuce, Homes and some areas of Entertainment coverage -- that our community has shown much less interest in, and we are scaling back in those areas.
We have made tremendous progress since we launched, and we continue to be very happy with the growth we're seeing in audience and revenue. But from the beginning, we said that we would be shaped by what the community wants, and the community wants us to focus more sharply on local news reporting. We have repositioned ourselves to throw our energy and resources into our local news coverage and that is how we will operate moving forward as we continue to grow.
Bridget Bodnar filed the report for Michigan Radio. The story generated a lot of buzz on the Michigan Radio comment page, and got picked up by AnnArbor.com as well.
Bodnar talked to about a dozen women who used Glittersniffer Cosmetics, including one woman who said the eye makeup "started to burn and itch and I just wanted to rub, and dig my eyeballs out of my face they hurt so badly.”
For Michigan's Christian population (including around 2 million Catholics), today marks the beginning of Lent.
During Lent, many adherents give up meat and dairy products.
Over at the Detroit News, columnist Kate Lawson is serving up a scrumptious-looking lemony shrimp with asparagus, a seafood recipe for people looking for something tasty and healthy.
Lawson also notes there are very good non-religious reasons for wanting to increase the amount of fish in your diet.
"At my house, we follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent release of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and eat seafood at least twice each week for heart and brain benefits."
The reasons for eating seafood, and the advantages, are significant. Again, from Health.gov:
"Seafood contributes a range of nutrients, notably the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Moderate evidence shows that consumption of about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease."
But there are some concerns over which types of fish to eat, especially for women of child-bearing age and children. The concern is over mercury exposure and some fish can contain higher levels of mercury than others.
Meanwhile, the New York Times is whipping up vegan recipes for the meat- and dairy-avoiding portion of their readership, including one for baked beans with mint and tomatoes, the kind of dish that goes perfectly with a stack of unleavened bread.
And, at 384 calories per serving, it's pretty healthy.
And, finally, here's chef Bobby Flay with one last seafood recipe for Lent:
On the first International Women’s Day in 1911, thousands petitioned for women’s rights to vote and end discrimination in the workplace. Now it’s a mix. Participants hope to close the remaining gaps where they exist and celebrate achievements women have made in the last century.
Mandy Keller Rodriquez was one of dozens who participated at a rally in downtown Grand Rapids.
“We might feel equal or be okay here, in this little portion in Grand Rapids. I’m not saying we are but – with this being an international event we’re saying we know that there are women out there that don’t have it as good as we do or have the voice that we do.”
Ruth Stein says obviously women in the U.S. have made huge progress. But she points out many inequalities still exist.
“As long as mothers have a harder time getting hired, as long as women don’t get paid as much, and long as that is seen as something as a women’s problem and not as a man’s problem, or a family’s problem – then there’s a measure of inequality and we still need to be out here working for this sort of thing.”
Chrysler’s now-famous “Imported from Detroit” Super Bowl ad is getting recognition from city leaders.
The Detroit City Council honored the Chrysler Group with a testimonial resolution Tuesday.
Councilman Andre Spivey, who sponsored the resolution, says the “phenomenal” ad was about much more than a car.
“I don’t think Chrysler intended it to be what it turned out to be. But I think it inspired many people in Detroit to say hey, this is our city. We have a good city. We have our challenges, yes…but I think we can come back. And I think it gave us a little spark of energy to go on and see what else we can do.”
Chrysler Group President Olivier Francois accepted the award on the company’s behalf. Francois says Chrysler meant the ad as a tribute to Detroit, but didn’t think it would have so much resonance.
“For sure, the Super Bowl commercial has been promoting a lot beyond the car itself and beyond the company. It did I think a great job for the city."
The commercial’s “Imported from Detroit” catchphrase has become so popular Chrysler is putting it on t-shirts and other merchandise.
Francois says some proceeds from those sales will go to four still-to-be-named Detroit charities.
It's Fat Tuesday, and while many of us are toiling away at work, others are gearing up to 'act a fool' in New Orleans.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has a collection of live webcams on nola.com.
On "parade cam" we'll be able to catch the Rex Parade starting at 10 a.m. The Rex Parade is one of many parades taking place today. Here's a description of the parade from their website:
The Rex Procession has been the highlight of Mardi Gras day since the Rex Organization was formed and first paraded in 1872. While there had been celebrations in many forms on Mardi Gras before that time, the Rex Parade gave a brilliant daytime focus to the festivities, and provided a perfect opportunity for Rex, King of Carnival, to greet his city and his subjects.
The theme for this year's Rex Parade is "This Sceptred Isle."
It kicks off at 10 a.m. (it looks a little wet there today):
The Rex Parade will be followed by the parade by the Elks Krewe of Orleanians, and then the Crescent City parade. Enjoy!
By the way, have you ever been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? If you can keep it clean, share your experiences with us below!
This Tuesday is Fat Tuesday, the last day before the 40 days of sacrifice that come with the Christian season of Lent. But in Metro Detroit and other communities with large Polish populations, the day is better known as “Paczki Day.” Sandy Bakic has spent her whole life making the fried, doughy pastries at the Martha Washington Bakery in Hamtramck. That small enclave is the historic center of Detroit’s Polish community. Bakic says the day has become a festival for everyone in Hamtramck, regardless of race or religion. “It’s going to be festive. It’s gonna be a happy time. There’s paczki parties all over town. There’s paczki eating contests still going on. The Paczki Cup is in our window on display right now.” Bakic says she and other employees have been making the sweet treats since midnight Monday. The bakery will stay open all night to serve paczki-seekers from all over southeast Michigan. Hamtramck also celebrates with a Paczki Day parade, lots of free entertainment, and a generally party-like atmosphere.
For this week’s installment of “What’s Working,” Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley speaks with Judy Krasnow, resident and tour guide of the Armory Arts Village in Jackson. Located in what once served as Michigan’s first penitentiary, the Armory Arts Village is a residential community originally set up to provide living, working, and presentation space for artists.
Patricia Clark is an award-winning poet, and the former Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids. When I asked her to participate in our web-exclusive “Michigan on the Page” series, Ms. Clark chose a certain author’s first story collection, a writer who—like many recent college graduates—has made her way out of the state to advance her career.
Ms. Clark first encountered Suzanne Rivecca at Grand Valley State University, where she was, Ms. Clark insists, the most talented student she has seen there.