Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

ssoosay / flickr

If you had tuned your radio to WXYZ-Detroit on this day in 1936, you would have heard the inaugural broadcast of the masked hero,The Green Hornet.

Each week brought audiences the latest adventures of Britt Reid, a newspaper publisher by day and masked crusader by night, and his trusty side-kick, Kato.

You can listen to a sampling of the original programs at

Alexander Russo is an American media scholar at the Catholic University of America. He says The Green Hornet had a special appeal to listeners during the Great Depression who may have been frustrated with the lagging success of New Deal policies:

“In all of these characters, you have individuals who step outside the socially sanctioned ways of achieving social change and enacting it themselves.”

Today, The Green Hornet is a movie for the second time and has also been a television show.

The Green Hornet was created by George Trendle and Frank Striker.  Their previous radio productions included another masked hero - The Lone Ranger

-Bridget Bodnar, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Clyde Stringer

Writer Bill Harris, a Wayne State University professor of English, has been named the 2011 Eminent Artist by the Kresge Foundation.

The award is given out to one Detroit artist every year. When writer Bill Harris found out he won the award, he was pretty surprised. No one had contacted him during the nomination process. In fact, he's not even sure who nominated him.

Harris was born and raised in Detroit and has been a fixture of the city's literary scene for decades. He's written plays, prose and poetry. The city is so much a part of him that he’s been told he writes with a ‘Detroit rhythm. ’

The Cost of Creativity - A Radio Documentary

Jan 28, 2011

The Cost of Creativity

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thanks to the following Michigan musicians, whose songs are featured in the documentary:

Ben Benjamin, Luke Winslow-King, Midwest Product, and The Red Sea Pedestrians.

Artists at Work (video)

Jan 28, 2011

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People can report vandalism, petty theft, and other crimes that are not emergencies or incidents where the victim doesn’t know who did it to the Grand Rapids Police online.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

One of the state’s most renowned restaurants will close its doors this spring. The 1913 Room in Grand Rapids is Michigan’s only AAA five diamond-rated restaurants.

Doug Small is president of Experience Grand Rapids – the area’s visitors and convention bureau.

“This is not the end of the world for dining in Grand Rapids. It’s actually something to celebrate.”

The French inspired, super fancy 1913 Room will be replaced by a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse this fall. Small says the upscale international chain does their homework before investing in a location.

“They’re seeing something in Grand Rapids that’s alive and well and I believe - the recent numbers that we just published that show that convention business is up. Hotel room revenue is at an all time high during a down economy so it supports their reasoning for coming to this community.”

Small says his group certainly touted having the only 5 diamond restaurant in the state, but says it never closed any deals.

Photo courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.

Today’s Artpod is all art and fashion. There’s even a guest celebrity of sorts. (Hint: "Make it work!") You can listen to the podcast here.

We'll talk with Michael Rush, the founding director of the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.

Plus, we'll meet the man behind Motor City Denim and hear why an auto supplier is now getting ready to make jeans. According to a press release from the company, the line "will begin arriving in stores in early 2011."

lehcar1477 / Creative Commons

Organizers of the proposed “River City Bike Week” expect the five-day event will attract between 50,000 and 60,000 people. But some worry the group is overestimating the economic benefits and underestimating the noise, traffic and potential crime they say is associated with biker clubs.

Kyle Davis is an avid Harley rider from the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming. He’s been missing the annual biker week in Sturgis, MI and would be thrilled to have something like that in Grand Rapids.

“It’s going to be noisy I can tell you that but for the most part, a lot of the Harley community around here gives back to the community a lot. I know my brother has muscular dystrophy and they do a big huge fundraiser every year. So they’re really misunderstood in my point of view.”

If the city allows the event, River City Bike Week organizer Tracy Holt says part of the proceeds would benefit the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation that helps give Grand Rapids students the tools they need to succeed. She says they'll have bike builders, vendors, stunts, races, and concerts by ZZ Top, the Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers.

Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

Attorneys will make their case before Michigan’s Supreme Court Friday over a disputed Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course in Benton Harbor. The course opened last summer.

Nearly a century ago, the Jean Klock Park was donated to the city of Benton Harbor for public recreation. The city leased part of the 90-acre park to non-profit developer Harbor Shores Community Redevelop Corporation, who used land including sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline for 3 holes of an 18 hole golf course.

John Cameron represents the developers.

“We’re not focusing here on three golf holes, we’re focusing here on the entirety of a park and what its being used for, all the different uses; picnicking, hiking, kite-flying, volleyball, concerts, triathlons, and golf.”

Michigan’s Court of Appeals agreed with Cameron that designating part of it as a golf course is not against the restrictions. It also ruled that the city is allowed to lease the land.

Zuu Mumu Entertainment / Flickr

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra agreed to meet with striking musicians on Thursday. Musicians walked out on October 4th. The last time the two sides met to resolve the contract dispute was late November.

Meanwhile, patrons are hoping for a resolution soon. Jean Cranston has attended DSO concerts for the past 15 years.  She says missing out on the concerts is like “losing a friend.”

Cranston lives in the suburbs now – but she was born in Detroit.

"It made me have some connection with the city -- which I feel I don’t have too much of any more," says Cranston.  "And it also gives you hope when you go down there that things can revive in the city."

The DSO lost nearly $9 million last year. Management recently increased its wage offer to musicians. But the DSO also wants work rule changes that musicians oppose.

Kyle Norris / Michigan Radio

On today's Artpod, we'll take a look at why sales of the ukulele are doing so well.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

When times are tough, and people are losing jobs, making music can be a comfort. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris sits in on a ukulele jam at Oz's Music in Ann Arbor, and talks to the folks at Elderly Instruments in East Lansing to see how the little instrument is selling.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

City leaders in Holland are launching an initiative they hope will inspire random acts of kindness. The city will distribute ‘pay it forward’ cards that people can give to others after doing them some kind of favor. It could be monetary, like paying for their cup of coffee, or something simpler, like letting them go ahead at the store checkout line. The cards encourage that person pass the card, and a new favor, forward to a second person.

Nate Luzod / Creative commons

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its striking musicians are headed back to the bargaining table.

The players have been on strike since Oct. 4.

DSO management and the musicians have submitted new proposals to a federal mediator. Both sides’ proposals revolve around a $36 million compensation package. That dollar amount roughly splits the difference between the two sides’ previous proposals and was suggested by U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then Governor Jennifer Granholm last month.

G.L. Kohuth

Michigan State University will unveil a new exhibit on Monday that uses art and sound to explore Martin Luther King Junior’s dream of racial equality.

Erik Olson

Detroit’s empty buildings are the focus of an art exhibit at the Northville Art House.

Erik Olson is a painter and teaches at the College for Creative Studies. His portraits include an old, brick home in the middle of a field, caving in on itself. And an empty house warmed by the morning sun.

Olson says his message is that these empty buildings are here, and will probably remain for awhile.  He also thinks Americans could take a cue from Europeans.

Michigan Radio news intern Bridget Bodnar filed a report on a new study published in the Journal of Personality.

The study found that young people prefer praise over things like sex, favorite foods, seeing a best friend, getting a paycheck, or drinking alcohol.

Ohio State University put out a press release on the new research. From the release:

Mike Lovett

Michael Rush takes the reins as founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University this weekend:

"Personally I think this is the most extraordinary opportunity in contemporary arts in the States right now."

The contemporary art scholar moved from New York to East Lansing to kick start the new museum.

Listen to an excerpt of his conversation with Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra:

Rush's first day on the job is Saturday, Jan. 15, though the museum isn't set to open until spring of 2012.

flickr - user paintitblack22

Update Thursday, 9:57 a.m.:

DSO management wrote to us saying the information provided below regarding the DSO contract proposal was dated. We've updated the copy to clarify that this was one of management's original proposals.

Update 6:45 p.m.: 

At today's press conference, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians urged management to return to the bargaining table. They say the strike is hurting area businesses, especially restaurants.

David Zainea co-owns the Majestic Cafe in Midtown, and he says business has taken a big hit since the musicians went on strike Oct. 4: 

"We’re down almost 25% in the course of three months."

The musicians said they wanted to use the suggested proposal U.S. Senator Carl Levin and then-governor Jennifer Granholm had issued as a roadmap. 

That proposal called for a $36 million, 3-year contract that would require sacrifice from both sides. 

DSO management issued a statement this afternoon saying they would submit a proposal to the federal mediator "detailing how it would spend $36 million over three years once it secures additional, sustainable funding that would both close the gap between its position and the union's and support the enhanced communal and educational activities that are now even more important for the orchestra to revive and thrive."

DSO board chair Stanley Frankel had originally said he took the Granholm-Levin recommendation seriously, but:

"A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible."

Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore

Photographers from around the world parachute in to take pictures of Detroit’s abandoned landscape. Some call it journalism or art, others call it ruin porn. On today's podcast, we talk with photographers about how and why they use Detroit as a muse.

You can see some of the photographers' photos of Detroit here.

Listen to the podcast:

Photo courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

Erin Stead won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for her wood block and pencil illustrations in the children's book, "A Sick Day for Amos McGee." The book was written by her husband, Philip.

When Erin Stead found out she won the prestigious Caldecott Medal, she was shocked:

"I was floored. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t see this coming!"

So shocked she had to call her editor to verify the news. "A Sick Day for Amos McGee," the first book Erin Stead has illustrated, is about a zoo keeper named Amos McGee:

Photographing the so-called 'ruins' of Detroit

Jan 9, 2011
Photo courtesy of Andrew Moore

Art vs. ruin porn
Photographers from around the world parachute in to take pictures of Detroit’s crumbling, abandoned landscape. Some call it journalism or art; others call it ruin porn.

Mark Newransky, Michigan Lottery winner
Michigan Lottery

10-12-13-35-56 (Power Ball 9)... don't pick those numbers. They didn't win last week, and they're not likely to win in the next one hundred million years.

The "Mega Millions" jackpot has reached $330 million today causing a buying frenzy of tickets. Another set of numbers will be drawn tonight (drawings are held every Tuesday and Friday night at 11 p.m. eastern).

According to Durango Bill (and who doesn't trust Durango Bill?), your chances of winning are around one in 175,711,536.

The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
user otzberg / Flickr

Michigan film buffs won’t have to fly to Utah to experience this month’s Sundance Film Festival. That’s because Sundance is bringing part of the festival to Ann Arbor.

This is the second year in a row that the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor has been tapped to premiere a Sundance Film during the actual festival in Utah.

Last year, the Michigan Theater premiered Cyrus, a movie by the Duplass brothers. This year, filmmaker Tom McCarthy will fly to Ann Arbor to premiere his movie Win Win on January 27.

A small group of striking musicians from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra brought holiday music to three area homeless shelters Wednesday.


The musicians’ made their final stop at the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, which provides shelter and other services for homeless and other at-risk gay and lesbian teens.


But the free concert attracted more than just the shelter’s clients.


Chelsea Oakes / Creative Commons

Grand Rapids has a new smartphone ‘app’ that people can use to report things like potholes and graffiti. IPhone and Android users can download the GRCity 311 application for free. Just head to your providers’ app marketplace.

Anny Donewald, Eve's Angels
Anny Donewald / Eve's Angels

Anny Donewald was raised in an upper-middle class home near Grand Rapids. She’s beautiful, with blue eyes and long blond hair. When she was 19, a couple girls approached her at college and told her she’d be a natural dancing in nightclubs.

She entered an amateur night contest at a club in Kalamazoo and won.

At the time, she reasoned that $200 for 3 minutes on stage might be a good way to make money.

But when she got a job at a Lansing strip club, things started getting bad:

"About 2 weeks in I’m sitting in the back and just distraught. Like I just don’t know how I entered in this. I dropped out of college. I’m doing coke, and I’m drunk all the time."

Grand Rapids Symphony
Photo courtesy of the Grand Rapids Symphony

It's not all bad news coming out of the symphony world.

The Grand Rapids Symphony is the second largest orchestra in Michigan, after the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. And yet the two arts organizations finances couldn't be farther apart. The GR Symphony posted a $65,000 budget surplus for the 2010 fiscal year; the DSO posted an $8.8 million deficit.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians
Nate Luzod / creative commons

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians who have been on strike since October 4.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Update 8:01 p.m.:

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management issued this statement in response to the joint letter issued earlier today by Governor Granholm and Senator Levin:

We appreciate Senator Levin and Governor Granholm’s commitment to the DSO and their personal time and effort to assist in finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the DSO and its musicians.  We take their recommendations very seriously. 

A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible.   In order to fund our current proposal, we have already cut our staff and operations severely and pushed our revenue expectations beyond every advisor’s recommendations.  Even with these dramatic cuts and ambitious goals, the DSO will continue to operate in a deficit position. 

We all want and need this strike to end with a mutually acceptable package and we stand ready to return to the bargaining table to pursue an agreement.  We appreciate the constructive offer of a framework within which this agreement might be reached and look forward to the continued engagement and support of community leadership as we pursue our goals.  

6:03 p.m.:

Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians.

The DSO musicians went on strike Oct. 4 after management demanded a slew of concessions to deal with its growing deficit. The DSO recently announced a $8.8 million budget deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million. (Management's most recent proposal totaled $34 million, the musicians countered with a roughly $38 million proposal.) 

Andy Levin is the Governor’s representative. He says both Granholm and Sen. Levin hoped that they "could get the parties across the finish line to a collective bargaining agreement  by making a suggestion about a difficult compromise."

Rapper Curtis Jackson "50 cent" gets the red carpet treatment for the premier in
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Grand Rapids’ movie theater rolled out the red carpet Wednesday night to benefit Michigan’s burgeoning film industry. New York rapper, turned movie star Curtis Jackson, know more commonly as 50-cent, held a special premier of his new movie in Grand Rapids. Jackson signed autographs, took pictures with fans and introduced an early screening of his new movie “Gun”.