culture

Flickr/Penn State / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

In his recent op-ed piece in the Financial Times, “Europe is a continent that has run out of ideas,” Economics Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps hangs the near collapse of the world’s second largest economy on a failure of the collective culture to produce real innovators.

Tamar Charney

I muttered "sorry" as I handed over my credit card to buy an 80-cent locally grown peach from the cute little farm market near the office.

“It’s 2015, nobody carries cash” was the hippie hipster cashier's response. It's true I almost never carry cash, but still from time to time I’m embarrassed to use a credit card knowing that the card fees relative to my purchase make no sense for the store. But I hate dealing with cash.

Except that’s not quite true. I’m actually conflicted about cash.

Buddha painting in Dambulla cave temple in Sri Lanka. People in Sri Lanka have practiced Theravada Buddhism for centuries.
Bernard Gagnon / wikimedia commons

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan has received $2 million to establish the Thai Professorship of Theravada Buddhism.

The school says Thursday the gift will enhance one of the largest Buddhist studies programs in North America. The holder of the endowed chair will teach courses and conduct research to advance knowledge of Thai Buddhism.

Twenty years ago this fall, Curtis Ivery was appointed chancellor of the oddly named Wayne County Community College District. The place was a mess. One of its campuses was closed, funding and facilities were wretched, and many thought it wouldn’t survive. But as Ivery, who had grown up poor and black in Amarillo, Texas, once told me, “whenever anybody told me I couldn’t do it, I did it.”

A potato salad says "Michigan" to the New York Times.
Megan Myers / Flickr

As you plan your Thanksgiving meal, what is the one dish that represents your family? Maybe it’s one that's been handed down through generations.

The New York Times recently ran a piece that highlighted a recipe collection called The United States of Thanksgiving. Each recipe, the authors wrote, evoked each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The recipe that evoked Michigan, according to the Times, was German potato salad.

User: M P R / Flickr

 

When did food become entertainment? There are celebrity chefs and television stations devoted to food 24 hours a day and dozens of slick magazines all about food.

Recently the Fifth Third Ballpark made news for hosting a "Food Decathlon" where you got a punch card and were rewarded by eating all the food, including "The Baco," which is a taco with a bacon shell.

Margot Finn focuses on food studies at the University of Michigan. She says food has always been both a form of nutrition and a form of entertainment, but there has been a rise of popular interest in food since around the late 1970s. 

User: marymactavish / Flickr

A recent report from the Council of Canadian Academies finds our Canadian neighbors have a pretty fine grasp of science. 

The panel has commissioned a nationwide survey of how Canadians relate to science. Compared to similar surveys in other countries, Canada ranked first in science literacy: 42% of Canadians are able to read and understand newspaper stories detailing scientific findings.

Despite our shared border, Canadians seem to be ahead of the U.S. in understanding and appreciating science topics.

John Lofy

Dr. Emanuel Tanay died of metastatic prostate cancer on August 5. A visitation is planned for Saturday, September 13 at 11:00 am at the Nie Family Funeral Home in Ann Arbor with a memorial service to follow at noon.

Tanay led an amazing life. Here's more about Tanay from a family press release: 

Wikimedia Commons

"Baroque on Beaver" is a classic music festival held on Beaver Island running from July 25 to August 3.

Anne Glendon heads the Beaver Island Cultural Arts Association.

She said there will be about 50 musicians at the festival. Most of them have lived in Michigan or have strong ties to the island.  The concerts are held in different venues on the island. There is a variety of music playing as well, such as chamber music, jazz, and baroque, of course.

“It’s quirky, just like the island and we wouldn’t have it any other way, and also it’s, we think, pretty top rate music,” Glendon said.

Check out the performance list here.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

jimchines.com

This week the science fiction spotlight will shine on Detroit.

The Motor City will host the 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention from July 17 to July 20.

Jim Hines is a fantasy novelist from Michigan who is also serving as one of the three Masters of Ceremonies for the big convention that’s known as "DetCon1."

“You’ve got a convention center full of authors and fans, and basically just a hotel packed full of geeks,” Hines said when describing DetCon1.

Hines said this is different from ComicCon, who focuses more on the media and anime, where DetCon1 focuses on the literary, novels, stories and authors.

Hines won a Hugo Award in 2012. He said what he loves about science fiction and fantasy the most is the possibility.

“Whether it’s reading or creating the story, those moments when you just have to ask, ‘well what if this?’ And run with an idea that creates that sense of wonder. There’s nothing like it,” Hines said.

Hines is currently working on a series based in Michigan about a librarian from the Upper Peninsula who can pull anything from books that can fit through the pages.

The 2014 North American Science Fiction Convention will be at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. You can get details at their website here.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Fans of the band Insane Clown Posse, known as Juggalos and identified by their grease facepaint, have been accused by the F.B.I. of gang activity.
Jen Sadler / flickr

DETROIT - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at scrubbing an FBI report that describes fans of the rap-metal duo Insane Clown Posse as a loosely organized gang.

Detroit federal Judge Robert Cleland says the government isn't responsible for acts by local police agencies that use the 2011 report.

Fans of Insane Clown Posse are known as Juggalos. The FBI report labels the Juggalos as a "loosely organized hybrid gang," although that description isn't part of the most recent national report on gangs.

Juggalos say their reputations have suffered because they have jewelry or tattoos with the group's symbol, a man running with a hatchet.

The lawsuit was dismissed last week. The Insane Clown Posse is Joseph Bruce, known as Violent J, and Joseph Utsler, known as Shaggy 2 Dope.

People bit by the media bug everywhere

Jun 26, 2014
Reem Nasr / Michigan Radio

Journalism is considered to be one of the most influential, glamorous and attractive professions in Pakistan.

The same craze to work for media seems to be in the U.S. too.

It’s usual to see young people from different professions blindly jumping into journalism in Pakistan, but it’s really amazing to find the same craze for my beloved profession in the U.S. too.

Playing styles of these soccer players from Brazil and Croatia might not reflect their national characteristics.
User: Diário do Nordeste / flickr

Last Thursday afternoon, the 2014 World Cup began as Brazil and Croatia ran out onto the pitch in Brazil. And with that, fans of Association Football (aka “soccer” here in the USA) plunged into a month of the High Holy Days: World Cup action.

Many fans of “the beautiful game” get downright nationalistic as they cheer on their favorite team, whether it be England, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Ivory Coast ... and of course, the U.S., which opens its World Cup bid this evening at 6 against Ghana.

With soccer, there's a lot of credence put into national identities and how teams play. But, if you think the playing style of your favorite team somehow reflects some deep cultural trait of that country, Stateside guest Andy Markovits says think again.

Markovits is a University of Michigan political scientist and lifelong soccer fan. He joined us today to talk about how generalizations of national characteristics can be superficial and dangerous. 

*Listen to the conversation above. 

For months, we’ve been embroiled in Detroit’s bankruptcy and attempts to save what there is worth saving.

It is hard to pick up any national publication without finding stories about Detroit, few of them good. There are a spate of new book titles too, which mostly chronicle the city’s decline and fall.

Yet I’ve just been reading an utterly fascinating and inspiring new book about a time when Detroit really did save, or at least help save, the world.

The book, just published by Houghton Mifflin, is The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest to Arm an America at War.

This is a book with characters larger and more bizarre than life. It tells the story of a Detroit-based triumph that the experts said was impossible. And every word in it is true.

Moiz Karim is a visiting journalist from Pakistan, working in the Michigan Radio newsroom for three weeks.
Reem Nasr / Michigan Radio

I am Moiz Karim, a journalist from Pakistan.

I work for Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as Radio Pakistan, as an editor in Islamabad.

Before Radio Pakistan I had worked for different regional and national newspapers and a newswire. I started my career at a local weekly newspaper and worked my way up to national dailies.

Image made by Mark Brush

For the last two weeks, people in Michigan have shared their reasons for staying in the state.

We asked people to publish images that capture why they stay after a Gallup poll showed that 37% of us would rather live somewhere else.

This was a project with 10 other public radio stations spread across the country. We all asked our audience members to use the hashtag #whyIstay when sharing a picture.

Thousands of people shared their reasons for living where they do.

Image made by Mark Brush

Bad roads, the Rust Belt, the largest city in bankruptcy: These are some of the negative visions that people have of Michigan. 

A recent Gallup Poll showed that only 28% of Michiganders said Michigan was the best or one of the best possible states to live in. 

But you're still here.

Why?

That's the question Michigan Radio is asking as part of our Why I Stay project. 

Mark Brush of Michigan Radio is running it, and he joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

collage by Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Last Friday, we asked people to share a photo that represents why they stay in Michigan.

So far, people have shared thousands of photos and tweets using the hashtag #whyIstay.

Public radio stations all over the country are asking their communities the same question. Here's a collection showing all the responses.

Gallup

I mean, it's not like we're living in Hawaii, after all.

Michigan is "above the national average" for the number of people who say they'd rather live somewhere else, according to the Gallup poll.

Here was the question they put to the 600 people they reached by phone in Michigan:

"Regardless of whether you will move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?"

Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

Vinyl records. The sight and sound of an LP can unleash torrents of sentiment and memories for those who grew up dropping that needle onto a shiny record.

And if you've grown up only downloading your music digitally, you need to know that there’s nothing finer than wandering through the aisles of a record store – a record store like Dodds Records in Grand Rapids, which has served music lovers for some 30 years.

With a new owner who is committed to keeping the love of records alive, the future for the venerable Grand Rapids business is looking bright.

Listen to the full interview above.

Erik Hersman / Flickr

State of Opportunity's Kimberly Springer tells us how "the specter of an exclusive, our boutique, access internet looms" after the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision striking down many of the FCC's "net neutrality" rules.

For the privileged, the demise of net neutrality might mean paying even more for broadband access to Netflix or YouTube---no more buffering...buffering...buffering? But for the less privileged, losing net neutrality puts all of the world's information further out of reach and condemning some to "pay to play" deals. 

Go here to read more.

Wikipedia

As the old saying goes, "everything old is new again."

Case in point, the cassette tape.

Those of us who were music consumers in the 70's and 80's remember those cassettes rattling around in your glove compartment.

They were so much smaller than those clunky eight-track tapes and no skipping or gunk on the needles like your vinyl records.

Many people went through the cassette era  making their own mixes, working from a dual-tape unit and sharing them with friends, family and significant others.

Then came the CD, into prominence in the mid to late 80s. It was great to be able to jump right to the spot you wanted -no more fast forward and rewind.

Soon after the CD, the mp3 became popular and that is when the cassette tape became, for all intents and purposes, extinct.

But recently, the cassette tape is being revived and a Michigan-based recording label called 'Already Dead Tapes' is right out in front of this revival.

The label is run from Kalamazoo by Sean Hartman along with his Chicago-based partner Joshua Tabbia.

Sean and Joshua have said they don't think of Already Dead Tapes as a business because it's a "passion project."

Here is a video of Already Dead Tapes via the Chicago AV Club:

Troy Evans preaches at Edge Urban Fellowship in a rundown Grand Rapids, Mich., neighborhood known for prostitution. Inside what looks like an abandoned office building are walls covered by graffiti. There are tattooed people wearing baseball caps and jeans. Three 20-year-old men holding mics get ready to bust out some elaborate dance moves.

It may seem like a hip-hop show, but it's actually church.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

They called it the “Black Eden.”

From the 1920’s to 60’s, tens of thousands of African Americans poured into the resort town of Idlewild, Michigan. They came to escape steaming summers in segregated cities, and to see some of the greatest musicians of the age.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Many of us have family traditions that are linked to our ethic or cultural roots.

Earlier this year we asked listeners to share a special family tradition or family recipe. We got recipes from listeners that tie back to their ethic roots, some from Trinidad, Holland and Poland.

And, there was also a little contest. Our winners were sisters Dianne Johns and Holly Godbey. They revived their Lebanese family tradition of baking Easter cookies.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Over the weekend, we posted this question to the Michigan Radio Facebook community.

"What’s a personal memory you have that has some kind of connection to Michigan?"

The answers show how the state's unique character gets into our blood, and why so many people feel at peace and at home in Michigan:

Jennifer - Being 6 years old and digging a tunnel in the snow to get out of the front door of our little house in Carson City during the blizzard of 1978.

John - First time I stood on Deadman's Hill & looked out over the East Jordan River Valley.

Dani - Several years back, I took a nap in a massive willow tree on the bank of the Au Sable River in Lovells. That tree is absolutely amazing, probably my favorite spot to be in the entire world. Once you climb into it, there's a sort of landing in the tree. I was able to stretch out fully and sleep comfortably while listening to the soft sounds of nature around me.

Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

The day before Ash Wednesday has many names — Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Shrove Tuesday.

But all over the Midwest, it’s become known as Paczki Day.

From Green Bay, Wis., to Lorain, Ohio, from Calumet City, Ind., to Hamtramck, Mich., people are snapping up the jelly donuts that have their roots in Polish cuisine.

One Chicago bakery alone expects to sell 80,000 paczkis, so we’re going to go out on a limb and predict there may be millions sold in the Midwest on Tuesday.

Changing Gears has been taking a look at immigrant traditions and culture across the Midwest, but the paczki seems to have transcended its beginnings and become a pre-Lenten staple.

user trevorpatt / Flickr

Detroit is a city that fascinates a lot of people.

Its story is not a simple one, though it has sometimes been a dramatic one. So maybe it’s not surprising that we seem to hear every week about a new documentary film being made about Detroit.

Changing Gears hasn’t had a chance to see all of these documentaries, but we’ve heard about an awful lot of them.

And we’ve noticed some patterns that we thought could be helpful in case you ever decide to make a documentary about the Motor City.

So, here is our DIY guide for how to make a Detroit documentary:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is offering enhanced webcasts of its concerts this season.

A "Live from Orchestra Hall" webcast will be held tomorrow night January 28, beginning at 7:50 p.m. Participants have to register before watching.

More from the Associated Press:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is introducing a new webcast player designed to make online concert viewers feel as if they're in Orchestra Hall.

More than 30,000 people from over 40 countries are expected to view Saturday's high-definition "Live from Orchestra Hall" webcast.

The DSO says it's the only U.S. orchestra to offer a free series of webcasts.

The Symphony says the webcast player "mimics the actual interior" of Orchestra Hall. Dimming controls allow the virtual viewer to adjust lighting.

Saturday's webcast will feature a performance of Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4.

The piece will be highlighted on a live repertoire tracker, and live program notes will post below the viewing window with trivia about the piece and the artists.

Here's a promotional video from the DSO about it's webcasts:

screen grab from YouTube video

Yes, yes... there are a lot of abandoned buildings and sad reminders of better times in Detroit.

While some artists come to Detroit to gawk at the "ruin porn," as Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra has pointed out, the filmmakers of the new documentary "Detropia" say they hope people take away something other than a sense of awe at the decay.

Co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady say they want their audience to understand the people who stayed behind in Detroit:

"Initially when we went there, we were just looking for this Phoenix story. We were hoping that there were people on the ground there that were really just going to fix the place. But after spending a couple years filming there, and spending time with our characters we realized that was really just a very dishonest story," said Grady.

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