Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Sacramento Knoxx performs at Michigan Radio
Ben Foote

As part of Michigan Radio’s Songs from Studio East series, this year we are exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world.

Today, we meet Sacramento Knoxx from southwest Detroit.

Knoxx is a hip hop artist who blends Mexican and indigenous music into some of his songs.


PURE CUBA: Portraits

Apr 10, 2016
Cuba, Havana, Pure Cuba
Mercedes Mejia

What do Cuban people think about the thawing of relations between their country and the U.S.?

Tracy Samilton and I are in Havana gathering stories about the Michigan connection with the island.

As part of the series Pure Cuba: Portraits, I’m asking residents to share a little bit about themselves and talk about life in Cuba today.

Are you getting fresh with us?

Apr 10, 2016

Two well-known company slogans have raised some grammatical hackles, based on their use or non-use of adverbs.

We know Eat Fresh comes from a restaurant.  

“You won’t be surprised I don’t have a problem with it, Curzan says, "but when Subway started using the slogan there were some folks who said, “we don’t like the grammar of that."

"The question was whether fresh was the right form to be used because people said, “I think you should have an adverb – like 'eat right.' Or 'eat well.' It raised this grammatical question of what exactly is fresh doing in Eat Fresh.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Oberon Sour

  • 2 oz Two James Grass Widow Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1 bsp orange marmalade
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 oz Oberon
  • Garnish: orange wedge

Combine all ingredients except Oberon in shaker with ice. Shake, strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Add Oberon. Add Garnish.

The Man in the City Project
Eric Wheeler

If you’re traveling in Metro Detroit on I-96 you might see something a little out of the ordinary near the Milford Road exit: an orange man.

The orange silhouette of a broad-shouldered man wearing a 1950s-style fedora can be seen on buildings throughout Metro Detroit and in more than 60 locations across the state of Michigan, thanks to the Man In The City Project spearheaded by artist John Sauvé.

Pixabay

It’s no secret Cuba is hot.

Tourism is up 15% since just last year, when the Obama and Castro administrations announced an historic rapprochement.

This article by Oliver Wainwright describes “droves” of people visiting Havana.  He writes, “it can now be hard to move for the throngs of package tour groups.”

Wayne State University Press

Many women can relate to the witching hour. In the middle of the night, you wake up and have trouble falling back to sleep because your mind is racing. Concerns about the upcoming day, anxiety about the mounting to-do list while, oftentimes, your partner sleeps soundly next to you. The Witching Hour is the title of the first story in a collection of “flash fiction” – not short stories – by Detroit-based writer Desiree Cooper, titled Know The Mother.

Atlantic Monthly Press (2002)

The literary world suffered a significant loss over the weekend when Michigan author and writer Jim Harrison passed away at the age of 78 at his home in Arizona.

Harrison wrote more than three dozen books, including novels like True North, Dalva, and numerous collections of poetry.

Casey Rocheteau
Ian Brown


Poetry can have a way of pushing you out of your comfort zone and into a place that challenges your perceptions and makes you question your beliefs.

The Dozen is a new book of poems released by Sibling Rivalry Press. The poems in these pages will really make you think.

The Ragbirds

The Ragbirds have been touring the state and country for the past 10 years. Their sound is a fusion of folk, rock and world music. You can hear that fusion in their latest album, called The Threshold and the Hearth being released today.

Erin Zindle is the lead singer, songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist for the Ragbirds. Zindle spoke with me about the album, motherhood and the craft of songwriting.


A scene from the 2010 production of "LINES"
screenshot / Stephanie Sandberg / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


A Grand Rapids theater company is on a mission: to produce plays that are written by local playwrights and designed to shine a bright light on social issues.

ADAPT. Theatre Company does just that with their new production, LINES: the lived experience of race 2016.

Six actors play 64 members of the Grand Rapids community. They speak of racial issues that affect people in West Michigan, from gentrification to white privilege, education, religion and justice.

Diane Rehm
Getty Images

When couples stand together to speak their wedding vows, they’re very likely laser-focused on the present. But there is that promise: “’Til death do us part.”

If that marriage proceeds the way the couple hopes, they will be forced to confront the reality of those words.

NPR’s Diane Rehm reached that moment of truth on June 14, 2014. That is the day that her husband of 54 years began his withdrawal from life. John Rehm had battled Parkinson’s disease for nine long years, and he decided it was time to stop fighting.

Holy moly! Holy Toledo! Holy whatsit?

Mar 13, 2016

Expletives may be considered uncouth, but we have to give credit where credit is due: They can also be pretty darn creative.

Anne Curzan, an English Professor at the University of Michigan, joins Michigan Radio’s Rina Miller once again to help us better understand one of the most prismatic examples of colorful language: the holy moly.

The holy in “holy moly!” isn’t quite the same usage that we see in, say, the “Holy Bible” or “the High Holy Days.” 

Angela Flournoy
LaToya T. Duncan

Angela Flournoy’s new novel, The Turner House, is receiving praise across the literary spectrum, from The New York Times to Buzzfeed.

It was also a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction.

ArtPrize.org

This year ArtPrize is changing some of the rules.

Regular people who visit the annual art competition in Grand Rapids help pick the winners; it’s what makes ArtPrize different from other, juried competitions.

Charles Steen

Ann Arbor’s Chris Buhalis is releasing an album.  It’s called Big Car town.

A few years ago, when Chris was finishing up the album, he severely injured his left thumb and three other fingers in a table saw accident. He remodels houses for his day job.  As a guitarist and singer/songwriter, there was a point where he thought he would never be able to play guitar again.

In a new study, Jessica Sloan Kruger found a correlation between binge-watching television and higher rates of stress, anxiety and depression.
flickr user flash.pro

There's little doubt that Americans are very attached to their TV screens. The government has even declared TV-watching to be one of the most common leisure activities. 

And now, thanks to on-demand streaming, there's little to stop us from indulging in that TV habit. 

But based on a study by Jessica Sloan Kruger, binge-watchers may pay a price for wallowing in their favorite show. Kruger is a doctoral student in the Department of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

"I came to prison with blood on my hands; I will leave with paint on them" - Johnnie Trice
Johnnie Trice

In all the conversations and policy debates over our criminal justice system, it can be easy to get caught up in the sheer numbers of inmates in our prisons and jails. When that happens, we lose sight of the people in those prison cells – people who bear the same fears, hopes and longings as anyone on the outside.

A unique program called “Humanize the Numbers” is bringing University of Michigan students and state prison inmates in an effort to address this oversight.

  Pacifier, binkie, dummy; we have lots of words for that funny little gizmo babies suck on when they’re teething. In the U.S., we use pacifier the most frequently, and while it might seem like the least funny of the set, the way we use it is kind of interesting.

“While we know theoretically that pacifiers can be people too,” says University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan, “it’s hard not to associate them with those little rubber gadgets for babies.”


Laith Al-Saadi performing on The Voice.
screen grab / YouTube

Last night's episode of The Voice, a reality show singing competition on ABC, featured a hard-working singer-songwriter from Ann Arbor.

Laith Al-Saadi has been playing around this region for a long-time.

"For the last 20 years, I've played over 300 dates a year," Al-Saadi told the judges last night.

Now he's working to up his national exposure -- and it worked.

Watch Al-Saadi's performance on The Voice below:

You may not have much truck with trucks, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never truck some truck.

That sentence might be a little confusing, but it shows something that’s easy to forget: the word truck is pretty versatile. It’s almost like the Swiss Army Knife of the English language! But how does a word like truck come to mean so many things? What’s the story there?


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Recipe for the Michigander:

 1 ounce apple brandy or applejack

1 ounce Cynar

3/4 ounce lemon juice

3/4 ounce honey syrup (2:1 mix)

1 twist of grapefruit peel for garnish

Shake with ice, strain, pour over rocks, garnish.

NPR Tiny Desk Contest
NPR

It’s time to throw away the objective journalist hat for a moment and put on my completely biased music-loving shoes because the submissions are in for NPR’S Tiny Desk contest.

The judges at NPR are pouring through all the entries right now to pick their national winner (their announcement is expected in the first week of March).

In the meantime, I watched all 129 of the videos submitted to the contest from our lovely mitten state.

Here are my top 10 picks.

Shane Ford

    

Detroit-based duo Gosh Pith released their second EP Gold Chain.

Josh Freed and Josh Smith are the artists behind the band. 

Their music is difficult to categorize – think heavy beats and drum loops juxtaposed with soft melodies, easygoing vocals and traces of electric guitar.

These self-proclaimed "children of the Internet" say their musical influences are wide-ranging, from folk and rock to hip-hop, techno, and R&B. But it's ragga – often called dancehall or dub – that has won them over in recent years. 

Rosa Parks archive is now online

Feb 25, 2016
Courtesy Photograph / Library of Congress

The Rosa Parks Collection has been digitized by the Library of Congress and is now available online. It is made up of 10,000 letters, writings, and photographs that belonged to the civil rights icon – as well as her tax returns, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a handwritten pancake recipe. 

"The collection is truly inspirational," said Margaret McAleer, senior archive specialist at the Library of Congress. "And we wanted to make it as publicly available as possible."

flickr user Hung Thai / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Poet and writer Keith Taylor joins us today to offer a quick list of recommendations for some good reading.

Mark Brush

The Flint water crisis has elicited strong reactions from people all over the world. Whether that’s anger, disbelief, compassion, heartbreak or some combination of all those things, many people want to help.

Carrie Metz-Caporusso is a tattoo artist in Ann Arbor and she came up with an unusual idea for a Flint fundraiser.

"Songs for the Union"
University of Michigan Library Edison Sheet Music Collection

Music that hasn’t been played, or even heard, in centuries could be coming to a concert hall near you in the coming years. This is thanks to a rare sheet music collection donated to the University of Michigan that includes tens of thousands of pieces that date as far back as 1790.

Kristen Castellana, a music librarian at the University of Michigan Library, is helping lead the charge on a massive project to catalog and digitize about 115,000 sheets of music. The sheet music collection belonged to Thomas Edison and was donated by the Edison Phonograph Company.

What's the story behind Detroit's Masonic Temple?

Feb 16, 2016
Detroit's Masonic Temple is an imposing building.
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

Ypsilanti's Sue Webster visited the Detroit Masonic Temple twice (once for the Theatre Bizarre masquerade, and once for a lecture). Her visits piqued her curiosity, so she posed her question to our MI Curious project.

“There must have been a huge presence at the Masonic Temple in Detroit at one time. What was it all about?”

Detroit's Masonic Temple is a gray stone building that towers over Cass Park.

If a stranger is blocking your view in a movie theater, how do you respond?

For many folks, the polite response might be, “Would you please move out of the way?” That’s because we use the word please to make requests sound polite, but there are times when a simple please just doesn’t sound gracious enough.  For some people, that sentence might even sound a little aggressive. What’s going with our language?

Fortunately for us, University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan is here to help us better understand the delicate ways of polite speech.


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