culture

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.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - The annual ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids is getting a new $100,000 juried award and trimming how much money the top two publicly picked winners each get.

Organizers on Tuesday announced the creation of the ArtPrize Juried Grand Prize for the 2012 event, which is scheduled for Sept. 19 to Oct. 7. The new award makes the total prize money for the 2012 event $550,000, up from nearly $500,000 in 2011.

Next year, the artist winning the public voting will get $200,000 instead of the $250,000 that was awarded in 2011. The prize for second place will be $75,000, down from $100,000. Prizes for other juried awards will be $20,000.

Artist and venue registration for the fourth annual ArtPrize event will be announced later.

The Story

"I'm not going to stop until Michael is dead."

In the streets of Kalamazoo, Michigan, people were looking for revenge against Michael Wilder for the violence he committed against others.

Michael says his violence was born out of violence against him.

So goes the cycle of hatred and rage that is repeated by people throughout the world.

The public radio program The Story recounted the tale of Michael "Too Short" Wilder and Yafinceio "Big B" Harris: two enemies from the streets of Kalamazoo who make changes and later meet at a community college:

From The Story:

Michael Wilder and Yafinceio Harris were long time rivals.  Several times they came close to an armed confrontation. Five years ago, one almost killed the other in a Kalamazoo street war.

But something always seemed to intervene. Imagine the surprise for both of them when they met, earlier this year, in a community college classroom.

Wilder said their teacher at the community college recognized their incredible story and asked if he could share it with the producers at The Story.

Wilder said he and Harris were excited to share their story:

"We're living proof that [violence] is not always the answer," said Wilder.

"You know what Yafinceio told me one day shortly after we met in school?

It almost made me cry.

He said, 'man, I realized that if I had killed you, I would have killed a good dude.' He told me that!

Can you imagine having a killer, that was going to kill you, turn around and get to know you and tell you something like that?!"

They call the trust they built between one another "Real recognized real."

Listen to Wilder and Harris recount their incredible story of how they broke the cycle of violence between them:

Steven Depolo / Flickr

The third annual ArtPrize will kick off tomorrow in Grand Rapids. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will have an update for us later today.

From the Associated Press:

ArtPrize begins Wednesday and runs through Oct. 9. Organizers say this year's show will host artists from 39 countries and 43 states displaying their work in 164 venues within three square miles of the city's downtown.

While the winners of most art competitions are decided by a few professionals, ArtPrize allows any adult to enter and any attendee to vote for the winners.

Founder Rick DeVos says the event is more about the process than the finished product - giving artists permission to embrace creativity and succeed or fail.

DETROIT (AP) - Plans are coming together for a new festival showcasing Detroit's creative community.

The Detroit Design Festival takes place Sept. 21-28. Online retail mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc. announced Monday that it will be the "premier sponsor" for the event, which will feature fashion shows, exhibitions, lectures, installations and studio tours, performances.

With the sponsorship, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center will be able to provide grants to local designers and creative professionals to showcase their work.

Esther Gordy Edwards started the Motown Museum in 1985. After a recent visit, Sir Paul McCartney "adopted" one of Hitsville's historic pianos and had it restored by Steinway.
user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

Esther Gordy Edwards gave her brother, Berry Gordy Jr., an $800 loan to start Motown Records back in 1959. She went on to become an integral part of her brother's company and started the Motown Museum back in 1985.

Edwards died last week at the age of 91. Today is her funeral.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Hundreds are expected to say good-bye to Esther Gordy Edwards, the sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. who helped him build the company and led efforts to turn its original Detroit headquarters into a museum.

The funeral for Edwards is 11 a.m. today at Bethel AME Church in Detroit. She died last week at age 91.

Eastern Michigan University Archives

Update 2:49 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett spoke with Motown Museum CEO Audley Smith.

Smith said Edwards was instrumental in starting Motown. From Hulett's report:

Edwards served as the label’s vice president, its corporate secretary, and its director of international operations.

But Motown Museum CEO Audley Smith says even before that, she established a "savings club" for her family’s entrepreneurial pursuits.

"And that fund was where Berry Gordy got the first $800 to start his record company," said Smith.

Smith also said that Edwards was a mother figure to many of the Motown artists who became stars.

"She felt that by sharing her love and her wisdom and her guidance and her time and her resources and her tough love, that she could make a difference in the lives of young people," said Smith.

Hulett reports that Edwards stayed in Detroit after her brother moved the Motown label to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. She started the Motown Museum in 1985, which sees 60,000 visitors a year.

1:05 p.m.

Esther Gordy Edwards, the elder sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., died last night at the age of 91.

From the Associated Press.

The Motown Museum made the announcement Thursday. The museum, which Edwards founded, says she died Wednesday night in Detroit surrounded by family and friends. Edwards was a Motown executive for nearly three decades.

She served as senior vice president, corporate secretary and director of Motown International Operations, where she was charged with exposing the famed "Motown sound" to international
audiences.

Berry Gordy Jr. released a statement today saying his sister was "was the most educated in our family and was the go-to person for wisdom in business." Berry Gordy Jr. praised her for preserving Motown's history after he sold the company 1988:

Esther turned the so-called trash left behind after I sold the company in 1988 into a phenomenal world-class monument where Hitsville started—The Motown Museum.She preserved Motown memorabilia before it was memorabilia, collecting our history long before we knew we were making it. She nurtured and held it together through the years, protecting the Motown legacy for generations to come—which is only one of the reasons people all over the world will remember and celebrate Esther Gordy Edwards. Despite my sorrow, I will proudly continue to honor and celebrate her. She will always be my big sister and she will forever live in my heart.

Billboard Magazine writes that this is the second loss Motown has suffered this week "following the death Tuesday of legendary Ashford & Simpson songwriter, Nick Ashford."

The Detroit African American History project writes that Esther Gordy Edwards was born in Oconee, Georgia and moved to Detroit as a child. She's a graduate of Cass Technical High School and attended Howard University and the University of Michigan. She was married to former Michigan State Representative George Edwards.

user edenpictures / Flickr

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released its annual findings on how Americans use their cell phones. Other than talking on the phone (it was a phone survey, after all), most of us use our phones for texting and picture taking.

From Pew:

As in previous Pew Internet surveys of mobile usage, texting and picture-taking remain the most common mobile phone activities—73% of cell owners engage in each of these—followed by sending photos or videos to others (54%) and accessing the internet (44%). The two least prevalent activities (among the 15 we inquired about) are accessing Twitter and using one’s phone to take part in a video call or chat (6% of cell owners do each of these).

People interacting with younger cell phone users take note.

30% of cell phone users aged 18-29 say they pretend to use their cell phone to avoid interacting with people around them.

The avoidance technique is used significantly more by this age group than by others (11% of those 30-49 said they do this, 6% of those 50-64, and 2% of those 65 and older).

So younger users... teach the elders.

How is this best done? Do you pretend to take a call? Or do you just glance down at your device when you feel eye contact coming your way?

Or maybe you really are playing Angry Birds.

For young people who want a career in the arts, a handful of prestigious summer camps are a vital early step. Interlochen, in northern Michigan, is one of them.

Jessye Norman, Josh Groban, Norah Jones and Lorin Maazel all spent summers at Interlochen when they were younger. But with tuition ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the campers' age and discipline, does it mean that only rich kids get to follow in their footsteps? It turns out that some extra-resourceful young people are paving their own way. I went to camp to meet them.

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair

I am Traci Currie, and I spent the first day of the 2011 Ann Arbor Street Art Fair talking to people who ventured out into the blazing sun to enjoy all sorts of art from all over the nation.

Most people mentioned the weather, while others talked about their love of art. Some talked about both.

Here are their comments along with some photos I took at the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair:

- Traci Currie - Michigan Radio Newsroom

Vibrant paintings by children will hang next to artwork from professional artists at the Circle of Art silent auction on Sunday, May 15th.

Sculptor and painter Valerie Mann came up with the idea for the art show seven years ago when she was wondering how she could help people in the area who were struggling economically.

She bounced the idea off her friend Peter Bowe.

Bowe is co-owner of Saline Picture Frame Company. He says, “When you have a business in a small town there’s a lot of need people are always asking for money to sponsor an event or that sort of stuff.”

The two friends figured they knew a lot of people who made art, had a cool space (the frame store) and had the tools and materials to mat and hang works of art.

So they asked folks to donate small pieces of artwork like a sketch they’d already done, or something that wouldn’t take too much effort to produce.

In seven years, they’ve made $100,000 and all the cash has gone to Food Gatherers, a non-profit that feeds people-in-need in Washtenaw County.

screen grab from YouTube video

The Thunderdrome comes to Detroit this Saturday!

It's not the post-apocalyptic competition featured in the Mel Gibson movie.

Instead of "two men enter, one man leaves" ...

It's more like "around 100 men and/or women enter, around 100 men and/or women leave... perhaps with some scrapes and bruises."

A write up on this wild, anarchic race is featured on the Changing Gears website by WBEZ's Robin Amer.

Robin writes about how the organizers unearthed an abandoned velodrome in Detroit's Dorais Park:

It was literally unearthed by one of the city’s vigilante lawn-mower gangs — people who mow the lawns at city parks because the city cannot afford to do so. The velodrome, on the city’s east side, was repaired by racing enthusiasts who cut down trees growing in its center and invested thousands of dollars of their own money and over 4,000 lbs of concrete fixing its surface. And now, it has come back to life as home to a variety of competitions.

When asked who the sanctioning body for this race is, organizer Andy Didorosi replied:

We are. We're the only sanctioning body in the world for zany two-wheeled party racing on abandoned Velodromes. :) Sanctioning bodies are silly.

Here's a video of last year's race. I like how the victor, instead of doing a lap with a checkered flag, does a lap with a torn-off portion of a Pabst Blue Ribbon box.

user downeym / Flickr

There's been a lot of speculation over whether the television program Detroit 1-8-7 will stick around.

Melissa Burden wrote about the speculation in today's Detroit News:

A local actors union said it has confirmed with producers of "Detroit 1-8-7" that the show is leaving the Motor City for good, even if it's picked up for a second season.

An administrator for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Detroit chapter posted Tuesday on the group's Facebook page that the cop drama is leaving Michigan.

Harry Stewart looks around the slowly filling ballroom in an Orlando, Fla., hotel and brightens.

"I haven't seen some of these guys in over 66 years," he says. "Some I haven't seen since I entered the service, and others since I left at the end of the war. This is very exciting."

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Cliff Bell’s is one of the oldest Jazz clubs in the city - a little history from Cliff Bell's website:

Through the 30's 40's and 50's Cliff Bell's and the Town Pump Tavern anchored two ends of what was Detroit's busiest night crawl with clubs, pubs and Burlesques dotting Park Avenue. During the 70's and 80's the Club operated under a series of other names. Many remember The Winery, La Cave, or AJ's on the Park.

In 1985 the famous club closed and remained empty until in late 2005.

Like a lot of places in Detroit, it was left empty for a long time. The plaster cracked, the ceiling leaked, but that all changed in 2005 when Paul Howard and Scott Lowell began the renovation of the shuttered club.

In this video, the owner of the building that houses Cliff Bell's talks about the restoration of the club.

This video was shot by Lindsey Smith, and produced by Juan Freitez.

Pages