Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Colin McCarthy

There's a more-than-60-year-old underwater pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac. It's called Line 5, and is operated by Enbridge, the company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The 2010 spill resulted in the release of about a million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo river. 

A new film follows a pair of Grand Rapids natives on their "fossil fuel-free" journey along the pipeline's 500-mile route. It's called Great Lakes, Bad Lines. 

Filmmaker Paul Hendricks joins us to talk about the film. 

According to Joshua Akers, nearly 20% of all land parcels in Detroit are owned by speculators
flickr user Berndt Rostad /

Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in July 2013, claiming the top spot as the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States. The filing closed in December 2014, but its story is far from over. 

There's a new book about the bankruptcy, Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back.

According to author Nathan Bomey​, "Detroit's bankruptcy was the first time in which the city finally put the people of Detroit before the creditors of Detroit."

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

  Sazerac recipe

1/4 oz. absinthe 

2 oz rye whiskey

1/4 oz. simple syrup

3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

lemon peel garnish

Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with the absinthe. In a mixing cup, add ice, rye whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters.  Stir the ingredients until well chilled. Strain the drink into the glass. Add the Lemon peel for garnish.

Invented in the 1830s in New Orleans. Up until the 1870s, it was made with cognac and a few craft cocktail bars offer that alternative, but today it’s made with rye whiskey.

After criss-crossing the country for more than three decades, and spending 15 years as part of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, Paula Poundstone has gone from Greyhound bus terminal cafeterias in the 1980s to the Comedy Hall of Fame. Now, she’s back in Michigan.

flickr user Jamin Gray /

The rumor mill is certainly thriving in the 21st century.

But roll the clock back a few hundred years, and we see that not much has changed. Even without the help of Facebook or Twitter, rumors spread quickly in early America.


These rumors may have been groundless, but they managed to take root and affected many important issues of the day.

What if you've used a word your whole life, and then you find out nobody else uses it and you can't find it in standard dictionaries? Is it still a word?

That happened to University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan during a guest lecture recently when a student asked how many people need to know a word in order for it to be a real word.

It reminded her of a word her family's always used: Plogged.

As in "I'm so sorry I haven't responded to your emails, but my email box is plogged."

7,100 bodies are buried at the former Eloise mental hospital in Westland, near Detroit. But you'd never guess that from walking around the property.

That’s because the cemetery, which was never meant to be a traditional cemetery, looks more like an empty field. But look down, and you'll discover rows and rows of cement markers the size of large bricks with numbers stamped into them.

“This person buried here is number 5,632,” says Felicia Sills, as she gets on her knees and gently traces her finger over each number.

Zoe Powers

A couple of weeks ago, my stepdaughter was excited to show me an article in the local quarterly magazine, Homefront in Tecumseh. One of her classmates started her own business and it was featured.

Zoe Powers is 14 years old, and not only works at a catering business, but runs her own cakes and confection business with a memorable name.

"I kept trying to figure out what to call it, so I kept asking [my mom,]" Powers says.  "She decided to tell met to call it ‘Bite Me,’ just joking with me - and I decided it was a great idea!”

The Ann Arbor-based Indian fusion band Sumkali performs at the Michigan Radio studios.
Michigan Radio

The Ann Arbor-based fusion band Sumkali brands themselves as “Indian music made in America.” Everyone in the band calls Michigan home, but according to the band’s founder John Churchville, half of them have family ties to India.

All the different band members bring their own skill sets, instruments, and influences that make the group the very definition of a fusion band. In the end, they create a sound intended to reach many different people.

Cynthia Canty with Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton from BuzzFeed's "Another Round" podcast.
Stateside Staff

One of the internet's biggest podcasts is coming to Ann Arbor to do a live show.

At the invitation of the School of Social Work People of Color Collective at the University of Michigan, Buzzfeed's hit podcast Another Round will hold its first live show at the Michigan Union on Thursday, April 14.

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.


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.”

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 /

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.

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

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?