Changing Gears is asking you about the best and the worst of Detroit, and the factors that are shaping your views of the Motor City. We’ll keep updating throughout the week. Here’s a sample of the first responses.
Detroit is great city, it’s just that people tend to judge before getting to know it. It’s like an old car, it’s broken down, but you love it to death. -Kira Plotivrnkov, Warren, MI
Art deco grit -Garlin Gilchrist II, Washington, DC
What’s the coolest thing about Detroit?
The coolest thing about Detroit is what it used to represent. Detroit was the American Dream. Millions of people were able to go to college because of the salary and benefits that the big three provided for their parents and grandparents.
When I am away from home and I hear someone ignorantly speaking about Detroit, I feel like someone is disrespecting a family member and I always make sure to chime in and talk about all the great things that this area offers. Joe Egan, Royal Oak, MI
It’s attitude. The city and its people genuinely seem to have a sense of community and pride in rebuilding Detroit. The willingness to learn from mistakes and try new civic ideas is appealing. -Michael McAfee, Austin, TX
The state’s popular Pure Michigan tourism campaign is headed to the race track this summer.
Pure Michigan will sponsor its first NASCAR race at the Michigan International Speedway. It will be billed as the Pure Michigan 400. ESPN will be broadcast the race nationwide and run Pure Michigan ads during the event.
Michigan boasts plenty of summer festivals celebrating fruit, vegetables, music, and food. But there’s a relatively new festival that pays homage to the creation of comics.
The third annual “Kids Read Comics” festival happens this weekend in downtown Chelsea, west of Ann Arbor. It features workshops with names like “Make Your Life Into a Comic” and “Nobody Likes a Boring Story.”
His first novel, The Lake, the River & the Other Lake, takes place in Weneshkeen, a fictional boat town on the western coast of Michigan. The novel is filled with scenes familiar to many Michiganders—the conflict between townies and summer people, between farmers and daytripping Fudgies.
Sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. today, at least 50 people file out of Holland City Hall. I hear some say, “They don’t get it, but you tried.”
A few people wearing "Holland is Ready" buttons hug one another -- some are tearing up -- after city council voted 5 to 4 against the recommendation to adopt the proposed anti-discrimination laws. The recommendation included providing homosexual and transgender persons protection from employers and landlords who discriminate against them.
TROY, Mich. (AP) - Friends, family and supporters of the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian have paid tribute to the polarizing assisted-suicide advocate during a public memorial service in suburban Detroit.
A large photograph of Kevorkian resting his face in his right hand stood near his American flag-draped casket during the service in a chapel at White Chapel Memorial Cemetery in Troy.
Kevorkian will be laid to rest later Friday during a private grave-site service for those closest to him.
He died in a hospital last week at age 83.
Kevorkian was an advocate of allowing health care professionals help gravely-ill people die and he claimed he assisted in about 130 deaths. He spent eight years in prison for second-degree murder after "60 Minutes" broadcast video of him helping someone die in 1998.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are a hot topic right now in the city of Holland. That’s because Holland city council is considering adding local laws that protect people against discrimination for being gay or transgender. The ordinance would give them protection from discrimination by employers and landlords. The issue is extremely divisive in the generally conservative city.
Reverend Ralph Houston reads passages from the bible to city council at an informal meeting last night. He says passing the ordinance would lead to moral chaos.
There's no shortage of musicians who got their start in Michigan: Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes come to mind. Problem is, they left the state to make it big.
Emily Fox reports there's a movement to try to encourage musicians and bands to stay in Michigan. On today's Artpod, we look at how local "music collectives" are hoping to keep homegrown talent in the state.
My American Unhappiness, the second novel from Dean Bakapoulos, the author of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, is about an unhappy (surprise!) man working in the humanities in Wisconsin who makes a series of terrible decisions for the ostensible purpose of getting married and keeping his family together.
While the main action of the novel takes place in Madison, WI, the protagonist, Zeke Pappas, has a number of connections to Michigan. His time at the University of Michigan features many references to university and Ann Arbor town life including [mild spoiler alert!] Alice Lloyd Hall, the Fleetwood Diner, and beloved professor Ralph Williams’s popular Shakespeare class.
It was all a part of a scene being filmed as part of the Flint collaboration 25-plus musicians who’ve recently felt led to make an uplifting anthem for the city.
Two months in the making, this scene was among the final, yet most powerful, pieces to add to the original Flint-inspired song and music video.
“It was such a beautiful sight to see,” said Yusuf Bauswell, 38, of Flint.
Bauswell, along with Bernard Jackson -- another Flint musician -- spearheaded the project and sent out a calling for people wanting to support their cause.
The Journal reports that Yusuf Bauswell and Bernard Jackson started writing the song together several months ago. They invited other recording artists to help them out and together they created the song and are now working on making the accompanying music video.
June 20 is the scheduled release date for the video.
Here's a clip of the song along with the call for people to help with the music video:
When Jack Kevorkian died Friday, I was on vacation in the Scottish highlands. For once in my life I was without a cell phone, but someone I was with got the news. I mentioned Kevorkian's death to an Israeli woman on our tour.
"I thought he died years ago," she said. She was not alone.
I've run into plenty of people who didn't know he was still around. And in a sense, Kevorkian the assisted suicide crusader had ceased to exist.
Since being released from prison four years ago, he had mostly faded into obscurity. He largely lived the life of a cranky recluse. He divided his days between the Royal Oak Public Library and a cheap apartment across the street. There was a time when I felt that I knew him better than any other journalist. I covered all his trials for the New York Times, did major pieces for Vanity Fair and Esquire, and saw him frequently for six years in the 1990's.
Here is a piece on Jack Kevorkian from Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett.
In Hulett's story, we hear the thoughts of Jack Lessenberry, who covered Kevorkian for the New York Times and Vanity Fair; the Oakland County prosecutor in 1999, David Gorcyca (who convicted Kevorkian); and Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's lawyer.
Hulett reports that Kevorkian once said that Johann Sebastian Bach was his god - and that nurses caring for Kevorkian played Bach during Kevorkian's final hours.
Update 10:05 a.m.
Here's the 60 Minutes piece that led to Kevorkian's conviction in 1999. Kevorkian administers the lethal injection (previous patients reportedly administered the drugs themselves). He was daring authorities to convict him and adding more fuel to the assisted suicide debate in the country:
The New York Times reports that Kevorkian's advocacy changed how hospitals approached end of life care:
From June 1990, when he assisted in the first suicide, until March 1999, when he was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years in a maximum security prison, Dr. Kevorkian was a controversial figure. But his critics and supporters generally agree on this: As a result of his stubborn and often intemperate advocacy for the right of the terminally ill to choose how they die, hospice care has boomed in the United States, and physicians have become more sympathetic to their pain and more willing to prescribe medication to relieve it.
Kevorkian called end of life treatment in hospitals cruel.
In this 1996 60 Minutes interview with Andy Rooney, Kevorkian said many hospitals take food and water away from a dying patient - treatment the U.S. Supreme Court supported, according to Kevorkian.
"Our august Supreme Court has validated the Nazi method of execution in concentration camps - starving them to death!"
Here's the interview (Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's lawyer is by his side):
Assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, is dead at the age of 83.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will keep its executive director for the next few years. The DSO announced this afternoon that its Board of Directors renewed CEO Ann Parsons’ contract through 2014.
Parsons led the Detroit Symphony through the recent dispute with its unions that shutdown the DSO for much of the past year. The six month strike came to an end after musicians agreed to a 25% cut in pay.
In hopes of luring back its fans, the DSO is cutting ticket prices for the upcoming symphony season.
Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes got their start in Michigan, but they left the state to make it big in the music industry. Today, some musicians want to stop that migration and keep talent close to home.
Kevin Prichard is with Bigger Brush Media in Lansing. He thinks music collectives can help keep people in Michigan.
The Board of Trustees of the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) announced today the appointment of Dana Friis-Hansen as Director and CEO. The Art Museum selected Friis-Hansen, who most recently served as Executive Director of the Austin Museum of Art, as part of a national search effort. Friis-Hansen will begin work at the Grand Rapids Art Museum on July 13, 2011.
The "likes" are outweighing the "dislikes" on the Grand Rapids LibDub video on YouTube (17,752 likes to 361 dislikes... and counting).
More than 1.3 million have watched the video so far.
In a press release, Rob Bliss, the director and co-executive producer of the video, called its viral spread an 'epidemic' (somebody should alert the CDC!).
And co-executive producer Scott Erickson said the video resonates with people:
"People who watch the video are very impressed by the enthusiasm and the level of community support we were able to capture. But they’ve also been amazed by the fact that this was done in a single take. At almost 10 minutes, it’s the longest LipDub on record. I think that’s captured people’s attention and encouraged them to share it with friends."
Today, Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith's story on the LibDub video will air nationally. It will be featured on National Public Radio All Things Considered.
Linda Holmes wrote about Smith's story and the Grand Rapids LipDub video on NPR's blog "Monkey See":
It's certainly a technical accomplishment, and it's great fun, and it's a project that did many, many things right, down to the choice of the lesser-known live version of "American Pie," which includes an almost ghostly audience singalong at the first chorus that's just right for the moment when it appears.
But as much as it's a pure treat to watch, it's also quite moving, and very effective as a response to a list of cities that are allegedly dying...
It's a little counterintuitive, but a massive crowd ballet that specifically identifies no one turns out to be a surprisingly powerful translation of a impersonal economic projection to a story about individual people.
Here's the record-breaking LipDub video in case you missed it:
Active-duty military members and their families will get free admission to more than 1,000 museums in the United States this summer. It’s part of the National Endowment for the Arts Blue Star Museums program. 129 of those museums are in Michigan.
Bob Sadler is with the Detroit Historical Museum. He says this is the second year the museum has participated in the program and they hope to continue:
Rob Bliss is known around Grand Rapids for putting on some crazy events. World record Zombie Walks, giant community pillow fights, water balloon fights, the ‘world’s largest inflatable water slide’, electronic music festivals, sidewalk chalk floods…I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two.
The latest is a professional lip dup video featuring at least a thousand people from the Grand Rapids area.
Here's a video we put together on the making of the lip dub:
You know about agriculture, of course. But what about aqua-culture, or seafood farming? Russ Allen worked in shrimp farming for twenty years in Latin America. When he returned to his home-state of Michigan, he decided he wanted to create a method of aqua-culture that could be used anywhere in the world. He’s working on his dream in Okemos, just outside of Lansing. He’s been farming shrimp there for several years using a special, environmentally friendly method.
Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley spoke with Allen for Michigan Radio's What's Working series.
It was ninth grade, back when ninth graders still stayed in junior high.
I had detention. I don’t remember why. But so did the best looking girl in the class, whom I’ll call Rhonda—because, that was her name.
The catch was, she was dating Benny, the captain of the football team. But, at detention, I learned there was trouble in paradise. Oh yes. They had broken up, with just four days to go before the big ninth grade dance.