Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Jonathan Craven

It has been quite a journey for Northport native Nathan Scherrer.

Four years ago, he moved from Michigan to Los Angeles with a few hundred dollars and was working as an intern, hoping to find a way to get into the business of making music videos. He was living off of macaroni and cheese, barely making ends meet, and now, this Monday (Feb. 15), he will be at the Staples Center hoping to hear his name called at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

Nike Air Jordan I, 1985
Nike Archives / Courtesy American Federation of Arts

Would you pay $1,000 for a pair of sneakers? How about $1,000 for a pair of sneakers that you would rarely put on your feet? If this sounds outrageous to you, then you might have trouble fitting in the world of “sneaker culture.”

How did the hobby of collecting shoes evolve into a high-demand art form where people are willing to pay as much as four figures – sometimes more – for a pair?

Doug Coombe

Carey Gustafson spent hours in her bedroom as a kid, sketching images of rock stars and actors and her favorite pop culture characters. She especially loved drawing Pac-Man and The Monkees and E.T. and Rick Springfield.

Gustafson says back then, she did not have a well-developed sense of identity. But she did have a good sense of humor. Plus she loved rock-n-roll and pop culture, and found plenty of inspiration in music and books and art.

It's getting hammy in here

Feb 7, 2016

At the behest of a colleague, University of Michigan Professor Anne Curzan started poking into the history of ham. The word, that is.

“When you think about it, ham-handed is a really weird way to say something is clumsy or awkward,” says Curzan.

So how does a beloved lunch meat also become an idiom for the ineffectual?


Jennifer Harely

Michigan’s Chris Bathgate has gotten national acclaim in recent years, touring the country playing music and even being featured in one of NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts.

For the past four years, he’s taken a little hiatus.

He stepped away from performing for a while and tucked away an EP he had, until now.

Chris Bathgate is touring again and is releasing that EP. It’s called Old Factory


Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

 

Rapper Jon Connor says he’s "Flint to the bone."

He was born and raised in the city, but moved to California around two years ago after he was signed to Dr. Dre’s music label: Aftermath.

But Connor says his heart still remains in his hometown.

Flint’s water crisis drew Connor back home these past two weeks. He came home to check on his friends and family.

He also took time to volunteer at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Boys and Girls Club in Flint. He also wrote a song while he was in town. It’s called Fresh Water for Flint.

flickr user Lee Carson / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

A new theater group in Michigan is bringing a fresh approach to funding and producing plays.

It’s called Kickshaw Theatre and its first production, “The Electric Baby,” is at the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth in Ann Arbor.

Iggy Pop at the Grande Ballroom, 1968
Leni Sinclair

Leni Sinclair’s camera captured the music scene of Detroit in the ‘60s and ‘70s even as she played a seminal role in the growing countercultural movement in Southeast Michigan.

Sinclair was born in Königsberg,  East Germany, and escaped to West Germany three years before the Berlin Wall was erected. She was 18 when she emigrated to America in 1959, settling with relatives in Detroit. 

Sinclair photographed musicians from John Coltrane and the MC5 to Iggy Pop, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley and many, many more.

She and her then-husband, John Sinclair, helped to found the White Panther Party, later the Rainbow People’s Party. They fought against the Vietnam War and racism, and worked to legalize marijuana and reform the prison system.

Now Sinclair has been named the 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist. She becomes the eighth artist to receive the $50,000 award in recognition of her contributions to the art, culture, and people of Detroit.

Few words carry the cultural weight of a decade like the 1960s mantra, groovy. It can seem hard to separate the word from the period, but, according to University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan, the ‘60s were not the birthplace of the groove. Nor has the word always meant what we use it to mean today.


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Now that Stateside is on Fridays, we thought we’d offer a toast to the weekend. Every once in a while Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings will tell us about a Michigan related drink.

The first is a classic cocktail called The Last Word. It was created at the Detroit Athletic Club during Prohibition.

Vishavjit Singh as Sikh Captain America in New York City
Fiona Aboud

Since 1941, Captain America has been a symbol of American identity, and it continues to be for Vishavjit Singh.

Singh has traveled the country dressed as Captain America, but he's put a Sikh spin on the iconic character: his Captain sports a turban and a long beard.

Featured in Salon and various media around the country, Singh’s Captain has taken the online world by storm.

S.S. Badger
Madmaxmarchhare / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the historic designation was already official.

It looks like the SS Badger will have to wait a little longer before it's named a National Historic Landmark. 

Last week, it was reported the Badger had already earned the designation.

According to a post on the National Historic Landmark Program's social media page, the vintage car ferry's application is still under review:

Ira Glass hosts the 73rd annual Peabody Awards Ceremony
flickr user Peabody Awards / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Ira Glass is living proof that an internship can be a portal to an astonishing career.

Glass began his career in 1978 as a 19-year-old intern for NPR. Since then, he’s filled just about every chair imaginable at NPR Washington, from writer to editor, reporter to producer.

Seventeen years after starting at NPR, he created and began hosting a little show called This American Life.

Ovi Gherman/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Wayne State University has received a $7.5 million gift from Detroit philanthropist Gretchen Valade to transform the university’s programming, teaching and scholarship in jazz performance and education.

Chris Collins, director of Jazz Studies at Wayne State, says Valade’s support is so much more than just financial.

John Keogh/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

We commonly use the pronouns “he” and “she” to refer to someone, but what if that person doesn’t identify as male or female?

The Washington Post recently gave a green light to using “they” as a singular pronoun.

The gender-neutral title “Mx,” pronounced “mix,” is making its way into dictionaries.

The issue of generic pronouns may be fresh in our minds, but according Anne Curzan, University of Michigan English professor, it’s one that’s been on the table for a while.

“You’re going to feel a little pinch.” We’ve all heard some variation of this phrase before, either at a doctor’s office or a clinic, and we all know what follows: some type of medically necessitated pain.

But is it just the shot that’s hurting us?

For University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan, the answer might be more than just the bloodwork. “Can the words we use actually affect the experience a patient has in terms of pain?” she asks.


What it means to be from "Downriver"

Jan 14, 2016
Jodi Green / flickr

If you follow the Detroit River south of the city, you’ll hit the working class communities of River Rouge, Ecorse and to the west, Taylor. These, so called “Downriver” cities sometimes get a bad rap. As part of our Community Vibe series, Michigan Radio’s Emily Fox introduces us to two long-time residents of River Rouge who are trying to help shape the next generation of residents.


When prospective parents consider the possibility of adopting a child, they think about what advantages they might offer a child: a loving, stable home with economic and education advantages that the child might not otherwise have.

But as the years go on and that child grows up, there can be pitfalls and problems that no one can foresee.

And, if the child is of a different race and ethnic background than the adoptive parents, the pitfalls can be especially challenging.

Sarah Welch, executive chef at Republic Tavern in Detroit
Sarah Welch

A recent Washington Post story declares that “one of the country’s poorest cities is suddenly becoming a food mecca.”

It highlights the growing scene of young chefs and restaurateurs setting up shop in Detroit.

Sarah Welch is one of them. She’s the executive chef at Republic Tavern, located in the restored castle-like Grand Army of the Republic building in Detroit.

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

As part of this week’s Community Vibe series. We’re exploring one interesting thing about different towns across the state.

Today, we go to northern Mid-Michigan, which is home to a large Amish population. For some Amish families there, their traditional lifestyle is starting to evolve and change.


MSU will not sell off its broadcast frequency

Jan 11, 2016
Communicat Arts and Science building on Michigan State University's campus
MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities

Mid-Michigan Downton Abbey fans are likely resting a little easier tonight.

Michigan State University says it will not auction off the broadcast frequency used by its public television station, WKAR-TV.

Instead, MSU is partnering with Detroit Public Television to offer more programming across multiple platforms. 

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon made the announcement at a Monday press conference.

"We want to be the intellectual partner for the station as we think community engagement, and as we think about the needs of the community," Simon said.

Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society Collection

This week Michigan Radio is airing a series called Community Vibe. We’re showcasing one interesting thing about different towns across the state.

Today we’ll visit the neighboring communities of Saugatuck and Douglas. They’re artsy, waterfront resort towns in West Michigan. Although Saugatuck-Douglas sits in what’s known to be the Bible belt of the state, it’s also home to a vacation destination to a large gay community. Michigan Radio’s Emily Fox reports on how Saugatuck-Douglas became the gay resort of the Midwest.


Kurt Nagl

Imagine driving through a war zone in Iraq to report on the latest offensive against ISIS. As you nervously head toward the frontlines, you turn the car's radio dial and suddenly hear an Eminem song. That's exactly what happened to reporter Kurt Nagl. 

In his latest article for Bridge Magazine, Nagl tells the story of Michigander Noor Matti. Born in Iraq, Matti's family fled the country while he was still a child and made metro Detroit their home.

Courtesy of Erin Wilson

West Michigan, you're getting a chance to see unique performance art in the form of music, movement, choreography, film happening Jan. 8-17 at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids.

A Gallery Exhibition of New Works in Screendance is a collection of three short films along with dance photography and video all presented by ArtPeers and Dance in the Annex.

The short film “Pull Me Back” features actor Joshua Burge (The Revenant) and tackles the theme of addiction.

Courtesy of Lynne Settles

When Ypsilanti High School art teacher Lynne Settles first arrived in town, she was unaware of the city's history. After a walking tour with a local historian, Settles was amazed by Ypsilanti's rich yet little-known African-American heritage.

"I was totally blown away and shocked by how much history was here," Settles tells Stateside host Cynthia Canty.

That experience ultimately led her to organize students to work together to create murals to celebrate Ypsilanti's African-American history. 

Larry and Priscilla Massie

Historians Larry and Priscilla Massie have opened Massie's Michigan Books (by appointment only) at their Allegan home.  

“For the last 35 years I’ve stuck away any book about Michigan that I came across with the intention of opening a book shop,” said author Larry Massie, who has written numerous books about Michigan. 

Massie built an addition on his home for the new store that houses about 5,000 books from fiction and poetry to railroading and shipwrecks.

Ryan Grimes

Linda Gregerson’s poems explore a wealth of themes from parenting to social inequality, the environment, illness, and so much more.

She has won a wide array of honors, from Guggenheim Fellowship to finalist for a National Book Award. She is Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a professor at the University of Michigan.

And now, she’s out with her first collected volume: Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014. The collection includes 10 new poems and 50 poems pulled from some 40 years of writing.

The Rust Belt is home to the Inland North accent
wikimedia user Uwe Dedering / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

We Michiganders tend to think of ourselves as having no accent, instead speaking with a perfect, neutral broadcast voice. But according to Ted McClelland, that’s not the case.

In his piece for BELT Magazine, McClelland argues that we in the Midwest speak a strain of English that’s shaking up millennia-old conventions.

Mitch Albom signing autographs in Taipei in 2010
Wikimedia user Shack / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The latest novel from Mitch Albom is a magical walk through much of the 20th century’s best music.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto tells the story of a Spanish orphan who becomes the greatest guitar player anyone has heard. Through his life, he encounters some of the biggest names in 20th century music and changes lives with his musical talent.

Albom first made his mark here in Michigan as a sports columnist for The Detroit Free Press, a role he continues 30 years later.

Book Covers courtesy of Library of Michigan

The Library of Michigan announced the 2016 Michigan Notable Books over the weekend. These 20 books are recognized as stories that prove "that some of the greatest stories are found in the Great Lakes State."

Here's that full list, with descriptions from the Michigan Notable Books team, and links to interviews with many of the winners from Stateside with Cynthia Canty.

Pages