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Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

When we say we don't know jack about something, it's not immediately clear that we're toeing the line with taboo territory.

Allow us to explain.


four of the drag queens from MI Drag brunch
Michigan Drag Brunch

On Sunday mornings, the West Michigan brunch scene gets served a meal full of realness, thanks to the drag queens of Michigan Drag Brunch. The project is the brainchild of producer and CEO Trevor Straub and performer Gabriella Galore. They said the project started as a way to bring the drag scene to an earlier morning crowd in Grand Rapids.

It’s tempting to parse the word “ramshackle” into two separate words, “ram” and “shackle.”

A listener named Brian Van Drie wrote to us about how this word makes him think of “a ram that is actually shackled and is making a mess of anything it can reach.”

We love that explanation. Unfortunately, it's not right.


 Michigan Radio and Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts will present a live performance of The Moth Mainstage in Detroit, Friday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. The show has been rescheduled from its previous date of June 5, 2020.  Additional info is forthcoming.  

Moth Mainstage features a line-up of writers, performers, and other unique national and Michigan storytellers, each with a ten-minute story to tell live without notes.

young woman sitting on rocks looking across Ghanaian countryside.
Imani Mixon

Returning to a home you’ve never known

There’s no easy, simple way to travel across the Atlantic, from the United States to Africa.

There are 5,590 miles between my hometown of Detroit, Michigan and my ancestral homeland of West Africa. Part of the reason why Africa feels so far away is because of what we grow up learning about it.

a picture of a record that says Groovesville
Courtesy of Dan Austin

  

When you think of Detroit music in the 1960s, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is Motown Records. The iconic label produced some of that era's biggest hits.  But Detroit was full of plenty of other artists outside of the Motown label who were also deeply shaping the city's sound.  

a cover of Ms. Marvel
Penciler: Minkyu Jung, Cover Artist: Eduard Petrovich / Marvel Comics

  

If writer Saladin Ahmed never typed another word, he'd already have introduced us to so many interesting people. From fantasy novels, to Westerns, to supernatural sleuth stories, Ahmed’s writing spans both genre and form.

Right now, he's the author of two major titles for Marvel Comics: The Magnificent Ms. Marvel, and Miles Morales: Spider-Man. Ahmed took over the character of Miles Morales from creator Brian Bendis, and is putting his own stamp on the story. 

arms in striped shirt going through a record crate
Annie Theby / Unsplash

In 2020, we want to remind you—and ourselves—of the importance of taking a break. And what better way to do that than to take an old (or new) record off the shelf and spin a few tunes? We’re inviting folks from some Michigan record stores we love to talk about what they're listening to right now.

Smokey Robinson
smokeyrobinson.com

Today is the 80th birthday of Motown legend Smokey Robinson.

The singer and songwriter was a founding member of The Miracles while he was still in high school. The group was Motown founder Berry Gordy’s first vocal group.

Joe Pera in a still from his show
Courtesy of Joe Pera

Comedian Joe Pera is not from Marquette. But the version of himself he plays in the television series Joe Pera Talks With You is recognizable to anyone familiar with the Upper Peninsula.

The show has become a runaway hit on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim nighttime block. Pera's oddball observations on subjects like beans and grocery stores are weirdly hilarious. But what really makes the series is that Pera is not just being funny. 

George N'Namdi, Davida Artis, and Anthony Artis smile in front of a brick wall
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

For a long time, the work of African American artists didn't get much recognition in the world of fine art. That hasn't stopped art lovers from building impressive collections of pieces by black artists. We talked to two collectors about their approach to buying, and how the business of African American art has changed over the years.

Almost as long as there's been email, there's been the question of what the plural of "email" should be. 

A listener named Steve Roznowski reminded us of this recently, when he pointed out that Professor Anne Curzan says "emails." Roznowski says he uses "email" for both the plural and singular form.


Darryl DeAngelo Terrell sits in a wicker peacock chair with two men on either side of them
Courtesy of Darryl DeAngelo Terrell

We all have a version of ourselves that lives in our head. Your favorite self, your strongest self, the self this worldㅡ for whatever reasonㅡ doesn't want to let you be. For queer and gender non-binary artists, that self isn't just a daydream. It's someone who might get you through years of being made to feel like an outsider. It might also be a canvas for important ideas.

Supporters of the Michigan Green Party visit the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department.
Michigan Green Party / Facebook

Today on Stateside, one Michigan family got an extended vacation after their cruise ship was turned away from port after port because of fears about the coronavirus. Also, we round up the week's news, including the coverage of black voters ahead of election 2020 and Detroit's ongoing water shutoffs.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

When you walk into Buffalo Traders Lounge in Grand Rapids, it’s the kind of space that just begs you to get comfortable, relax, and sip a drink.

“I have to say this is a gorgeous space, kind of mid-century modern decor. And I love it,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings said as she looked around.

We were there to visit with the lead bartender, Tony Jones and to sample one of his craft cocktails.

Sydney James stands in front of a mural she painted
Courtesy of Sydney James

The fine art world has not always been friendly to African American artists. But that’s starting to change, and black artists are now more visible than they’ve ever been. That includes prominent artists of the past, like Harlem Renaissance painters Jacob Lawrence and Norman Lewis, as well as more contemporary figures.

a group of children in front of a large portrait of a black woman lounging on a couch
Courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts

When you walk into the African American art wing of the Detroit Institute of Arts, you see a large portrait of a woman on a couch. The portrait is covered in rhinestones, and the glittering woman has a regal air.

The painting, titled "Something You Can Feel," is by artist Mickalene Thomas. The woman is her mother, who was a runway model in the 1970’s. The portrait is filled with color and joy. Its celebration of black womanhood is an example of how African-American artists have reshaped the portrayal of black bodies in fine art. 

Sometimes a word slips into our language unnoticed. Before we know it, that word is everywhere.

That's how listener John Van Deusen feels about "one-off."

He says, "I thought I was paying attention, but I don't recall it beginning, and now it's everywhere -- definitely not a one-off usage."

oscar like statues
Walt Disney Television / Flickr / http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

It's almost impossible to be ready for Oscars weekend without taking a major chunk out of your December to watch the barrage of last-minute releases. But we'll try to get you up to speed with help from a couple of Detroit film critics. Corey Hall is a writer and comedian whose work can be found in the Metro Times and on WDET. Michelle Kisner writes reviews for the Spoiler Free Movie Sleuth site. We dug into the films nominated for this year's Academy Awards, plus the ones they think should have made the cut.

A stringed orchestra with a choir behind them
Kevin Kennedy / Sphinx

This weekend, you may notice a surprising number of people toting violin cases around Detroit.

It’s time for the Sphinx Competition. Musician, composer, and educator Aaron Dworkin founded the organization in 1997.

Charles Gilpin sits shirtless on the stage in a performance of the emperor jones
New York Public Library Digital Collections

Charles S. Gilpin was one of Broadway’s first breakout stars. In the 1920s, the African-American actor received critical acclaim from both white and black audiences. His performance as the lead in Eugene O’Neill’s play The Emperor Jones cemented his reputation as one of the best actors of the era. But after a falling out with the playwright, Gilpin faded into obscurity. So, what happened?

Students sitting at desks in a classroom with a teacher at the front of the room
NeONBRAND / Pixabay

Today on Stateside, Gretchen Whitmer will deliver the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday. We talk to two communications experts about what notes Whitmer needs to hit while she's in the national spotlight. Plus, a Detroit-born art curator talks about how contemporary work by African Americans confronts society's indifference to black people's experiences.

Kelli Morgan stands in front of a painting
April Baer / Michigan Radio

The Flint Institute of Art's exhibit Community draws attention to black spaces and black lives, in both quiet and dramatic ways. The pieces in the exhibition vary in medium and message, but the story they tell broadens our understanding of black history.

We can be fined for "reckless" driving. So why aren’t we praised for "reckful" driving?

Our listener, Andrew Conkling, recently pointed out to us the confusing nature of “reckless”:

"I was describing the word to my 6-year-old yesterday as he was demonstrating the definition and realized it’s a hard word to parse. There is no 'reckful,' there isn’t a 'reck.' How did we get settled with just that form?"

 

 


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

You might know New Holland Brewing for its beer, but New Holland also is a distiller. Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings and I visited New Holland’s Grand Rapids brewpub called the Knickerbocker where the company also distills gin.

We get a lot of questions about the redundancy in "irregardless." However, a listener named Graham Liddell recently asked us about an instance of redundancy that we don't hear many people making a fuss about:

"Why is it 'a friend of his' and not 'a friend of him'? Why 'a favorite movie of hers' and not simply 'a favorite movie of her'? 'A bad habit of Steve's' and not 'a bad habit of Steve'?" 

This question points to an irregularity in our language: the double possessive.


I Prevail

This weekend will be a monumental moment for the Michigan-based band, I Prevail. When their album, "Trauma," came out last year, it became an instant chart-topper. Their single, "Bow Down" hit Billboard's Rock Top 10. Their band has been nominated for Best Metal Performance and Best Rock Album at this year's Grammy Awards ceremony. 

  

Now that winter is feeling a little more, well, wintry, it’s a good time to hunker down inside with a book. If you’re looking for something new to read, the Library of Michigan has a few suggestions. Its 2020 Michigan Notable Books list was announced on Sunday. 

This week, That's What They Say is taking some inspiration from the Simpsons. Specifically, we were amused by a clip in which Mr. Burns tells Smithers how much he's enjoying "so-called iced cream."

Unless you're the same age as Springfield's oldest resident, you're probably more likely to enjoy "ice cream" over "iced cream."

Frankly, we're happy to eat it no matter what you call it. Especially if it's mint chocolate chip.


Jeff Daniels sits in the Stateside studio with April Baer
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Jeff Daniels’ new play Roadsigns follows a young poet on a journey to find himself and his encounters with society's outcasts. The main character is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, and Daniels' longtime friend, the late Lanford Wilson.

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