Arts & Culture | Michigan Radio

Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

The Tiny Desk

Michigan Radio may not be a music station, but our staff really loves a good jam. Luckily for us, NPR Music is a constant source of musical gems, from podcasts and album reviews to the beloved Tiny Desk Concert.

Below are some of our favorite Tiny Desks, from our ears to yours.

The 1967 song "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" was one of Frankie Valli's biggest hits.

It's been covered by dozens of artists, including rapper Lauryn Hill. Listeners of a certain age probably remember Heath Ledger's interpretation in the 1999 romantic comedy "10 Things I Hate About You."

This song is also one of the first things we thought of when a listener asked us about the construction "off of." 

Zola, sex work, film
Anna Kooris

Anna Kooris, A24

Today on Stateside, an update on the Michigan Independent Citizen’s redistricting commission, which is tasked with redrawing the state’s lines of political representation. Plus, a conversation with the Detroit dancer who inspired, co-wrote, and executive produced the film Zola.

When we wet our whistle at a bar, we have a "wh" in whistle but not in "wet." 

That fact spurred an argument in the comments section of an article we found last week. The author had used the phrase "wet your whistle," but some commenters argued it should've been "whet your whistle.

Semaj Brown

The American Academy of Poets has chosen Flint’s Poet Laureate, Semaj Brown, as one of twenty-two 2021 Poet Laureate Fellows. Brown will receive $50,000 for her literary work. 

Brown intends to put the award toward the Poetry Pod Project, or P3. The virtual programming series, a project of her own design, aims to support literacy in Flint. 

Jonah Mixon-Webster

In his debut poetry collection Stereo(TYPE), Jonah Mixon-Webster expresses the tensions and traumas he endures as a Black man, a queer individual, and a Flint native. Stereo(TYPE) was first published by Ahsahta Press in 2018, and will be re-released under Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on July 13.

An eminent person can also be a prominent person. That same person can also be preeminent in their field. 

A self-described “confused” listener recently asked us whether there’s a difference between an eminent scientist and a preeminent scientist. And where does "prominent" fit in?

As Professor Anne Curzan tells us, the distinctions here are few.

Senator Debbie Stabenow
United States Department of Agriculture

Today on Stateside, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow talks about who gets the child tax credit expansion—and the pile of federal money headed to Michigan cities to make infrastructure fixes. Plus, the painful legacy of Native boarding schools in Michigan, and how tribal communities are reclaiming what was lost during an era of assimilation. And, we’ll hear how music educators took on virtual learning during the pandemic.

A blue, geometric framework with flowers
Cyrah Dardas

Detroit artist, educator, and organizer Cyrah Dardas is making the art she wants to see in her community. But sometimes, getting integrated into a community as a queer artist is challenging. Luckily, that was not Dardas’ experience coming to Detroit.

This week, we have got to address a question a listener recently sent us about whether there's anything wrong with saying "have got to" instead of just "have to."

The short answer is no. However, there people are who see "have got to" as redundant, and that's why this gets a little complicated.

Joe Biden in front of blue curtain
The White House

Today on Stateside, Joe Biden visits Traverse City to promote a message of reopening and renewal. Also, arts leader Ismael Ahmed talks about his appointment to a national arts advisory board and the need for more federal funding for the arts. Plus, two Michigan stand-up comics talk to us about the ways being queer prepares you for a comedy career. 

Joe Aasim

With a global pandemic, major social movements, and crucial political events all occurring within the past year, finding reasons to laugh has been challenging. After a year of empty venues, comedians are eager to return to the stage. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

With things opening up as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings and I decided it was time to start visiting the mixologists and distillers who are the driving forces behind the craft cocktail movement.

Our first stop was Griffin Claw which has two locations in Birmingham and Rochester Hills. We visited the Rochester Hills site. Griffin Claw is, known for its brewing, but it distills spirits too.

The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City runs from July 5 through July 12.
User: Michigan Municipal League / flickr

More Michigan cities are applying for “social districts.”

The goal is to spur economic activity in downtown areas that suffered losses due to COVID.

Last year Michigan passed a law essentially allowing public drinking on Main Streets, as long as communites designate the area as a "social district.”

An evening of drinking beer and talking about grammar? Yes please.

Last week, we were thrilled to dust off our pint glasses and host another Grammar Night for Michigan Radio's Issues & Ale @ Home series. 

Grammar Night is always a lot of fun, and we get a lot of great questions. We can't get to them all, but we appreciate each and every one, including Harvey Pillersdorf's question about "each and every." 

Lansing mall cinemas in front of a blue sky
Wikimedia Commons

When the pandemic brought his career to a screeching halt, indie filmmaker and comic Amaru was scouring the state for a good place to hatch his next plan.

That plan—to launch Greenwood District Studios (GDS), Michigan’s first Black-owned independent film studio—came to Amaru when he got back home to Lansing. He was grabbing a meal with his girlfriend when an old, colorful building grabbed his attention: the Lansing Mall Cinema, vacant since 2014.

“I was like, ‘check, please,’” Amaru recalled.

The next day, he signed a lease, moved into the building, and began hatching his grand scheme.

Yvette de Wit / Unsplash

On today’s Stateside, music festivals are back in business this summer. Plus, podcasters Michelle Jokisch Polo and Araceli Crescencio discuss bringing news to Michigan’s Latinx community. And, a conversation with music producer Waajeed about passing the Detroit-techno baton.

Bakpak Durden

Murals by Bakpak Durden that glaze through the streets of Russell, Brush, and Hazelwood -- covering a Detroit vs. Everybody store, the Brush Street Viaduct, and LGBT Detroit -- have illuminated the city.

A self-taught interdisciplinary artist, Durden began their work years ago, making small pieces out of items found around the house and selling them to the two people who loved them most.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Tammy Coxen with Tammy’s Tastings received a “lovely gift pack” from Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville, Michigan. It included a sample of its bourbon whiskey finished in maple syrup barrels, its maple syrup finished in bourbon barrels, and its aromatic bitters. It was everything she needed to make and Old Fashion.

Anthony Johansen

Brood X -- the celebrity cicadas emerging after 17 years of solitude in parts of the United States -- has been frolicking in abundance north of Ann Arbor. The excitement around the bug boom has led to all kinds of selfies, works of art, conversations… and food.

So what’s the best way to cook up a cicada? Pickled? Sauteed? Deep fried? Ypsilanti resident Anthony Johansen hosted a cicada cookout this past weekend, and told Stateside his tips for making these creepy bugs a little more palatable.

Cover of "Our Michigan! We Love the Seasons'
Sleeping Bear Press

Walk into the children’s section of pretty much any bookstore or library in Michigan and you’re likely to find Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen’s work staring back at you from the shelf. Even if you don’t know his name, you probably would recognize the cover to the first book he illustrated, The Legend of Sleeping Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin. There are puffy black bear shaped clouds floating over Sleeping Bear Dunes, all of it luminescent orange from a setting Lake Michigan sun.

Courtesy of Sacha Schneider

Lord Huron’s latest record, "Long Lost," isn’t only an album. It’s a hazy, echo-filled history, populated with a cast of mysterious, hard-luck characters and layered with ghostly fragments of musical eras gone by. Guitarist and lead singer Ben Schneider, who grew up in Michigan, said the band aimed for the record, released last month, to feel like a nostalgic classic lost to time.

When artist Arthur Radebaugh put his pen to paper in the 1950s and 60s, the resulting vision of the future dazzled millions of people every week. Radebaugh was an illustrator, and a visual futurist whose work appeared in a syndicated Sunday Comics section called “Closer Than We Think”.

GUEST: Rachel Clark from the Michigan History Center

Courtesy of Tribune Media

Contemporary innovations like virtual school, wristwatches that are televisions, and genetically modified foods are pretty familiar concepts to us today. But back in the 1950s and ‘60s, Michigan artist Arthur Radebaugh dazzled millions of people every week with illustrations of inventions like these, as well as other outlandish visions of the future. His work appeared in a syndicated Sunday comic strip called Closer Than We Think, which debuted at a time when the expansive potential of technology captivated Americans’ attention. And while some of his art still looks like science fiction now, some of his creative, futuristic designs aren’t fantasy anymore — they’re reality.

Today we’ll dispose of not one but two listener questions. No, that doesn’t mean we’re going to throw their questions away. It means we’ll use the information we have at our disposal to answer them, so to speak.

Starting with a question about “disposal.”

Book cover of "Gut Botany"
Wayne State University Press

The strangeness and beauty of bodies and how we live in them is a theme that weaves itself throughout poet Petra Kuppers’ work. These are intensely personal interests for Kuppers. She’s a University of Michigan professor who lectures on writing, disability culture, and queer culture. Kuppers uses a wheelchair and lives with chronic pain. And she says the process of poetry— observing and distilling her experiences through writing— is a healing one. 

Artist Paul Rucker is fearless when it comes to taking on terrible moments in American history.

"The work that I do evolves mostly around the things I was never taught about," Rucker explains. Over Zoom, he's discussing his work in progress, Three Black Wall Streets, which evokes and honors the achievements of Black entrepreneurs and visionaries who created thriving spaces of possibility and sanctuary after the end of the Civil War.

Growing up in New Orleans, Atlantic writer Clint Smith was surrounded by reminders of the Confederacy. To get to school, he traveled down Robert E. Lee Boulevard. He took Jefferson Davis Highway when he went to the grocery store.

In elementary and middle school, Smith never learned about the legacy of slavery. Instead, his class took field trips to plantations — "places that were the sites of torture and intergenerational chattel bondage," he says, "but no one said the word 'slavery.'"