All Guts, No Glory: Grady Hendrix presents even more "Paperbacks From Hell"

WRITTEN WORD PREVIEW

Grady Hendrix, Paperbacks From Hell

My goal with Paperbacks From Hell was to present the full bonkers experience of reading '70s and '80s horror paperbacks without any of the brain damage. As a result, readers -- and those who come to the Paperbacks From Hell LIVE experience on Thursday, March 29 in Ann Arbor -- get to briefly experience books like John Christopher’s The Little People about an Irish B&B overrun by Nazi leprechauns, they get a taste of Joseph Nazel’s innercity take on William Peter Blatty’s horror novel in The Black Exorcist, and they even get to try The Glow, a sort of Rosemary’s Baby about a young couple who move into a building of health-nut vegetarians who want to steal their blood to lower their cholesterol levels.

My only regret is that Paperbacks had to end before I could cover all the other insane books out there. Presented here for your education are five of the paperbacks that got away.

Nervous Breakthrough: Ann Arbor novelist Camille Pagán's "Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties" explores loss & change

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Camille Pagan, Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties

Ann Arbor-based novelist Camille Pagán (Forever Is the Worst Long TimeLife and Other Near Death Experiences) was in the midst of writing a book that wasn’t going anywhere when she had an unnerving grocery-store experience.

“This guy, a college kid ... bumped into me and didn’t even look at me or say anything,” said Pagán, who also noted that on other occasions while out shopping, she’d observed “when a cashier would talk to and make conversation with a middle-aged man but then not talk to the middle-aged woman who was next in line. This seemed to me to really be saying something about our society and how we view and treat women as they age.”

U-M's Musket's production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s "In the Heights" feels like home

THEATER & DANCE PREVIEW INTERVIEW

The cast of University of Michigan Musket's "In the Heights"

The cast of In the Heights was joined by Tony Award-winning orchestrator and music director Alex Lacamoire for a workshop and master class.

What makes someplace feel like home?

That’s the main question that threads throughout Lin-Manuel Miranda’s semi-autobiographical musical In the Heights, a story about the neighborhood Washington Heights and all of the people who live there. Miranda is best known for creating Hamilton a few years back, but he first rocketed to Broadway fame as the writer and lead actor in In the Heights.

“It’s unbelievable how he was able to encapsulate this whole community into music,” said Bruna D'Avila recently, the director of an entirely student-produced and acted University of Michigan Musket production of the show that runs March 16-18.

The Unknown Guitarist: Throwaway's Kirsten Carey is in the bag for avant sounds

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Throwaway

Brown-paper frag: Kirsten Carey's explosive avant-punk-metal-jazz fits in every genre bag. Photo by The Ottolab.

Kirsten Carey shreds on guitar like free-jazz icon Derek Bailey.

She also wears a paper bag on her head like The Gong Show's Unknown Comic.

That combination of avant-garde string slaying and performative humor defines Carey's art-punk duo Throwaway, which just released the songs "Bonathan Jyers" and "Exotic Bird" as a digital single and booked several shows in Southeast Michigan, including March 16 at Ziggy's in Ypsilanti.

Vick's Picks: Former A2 Film Fest exec Vicki Honeyman curates an evening of cinema

FILM & VIDEO PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Vicki Honeyman & Elizabeth Cox

Vicki Honeyman and Elizabeth Cox, former directors of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, July 1992. Photo by Michael Curlett/The Ann Arbor News via AADL's Old News.

Vicki Honeyman knows a thing or two about film.

As executive director of the Ann Arbor Film Fest from 1988-2002, Honeyman nurtured and expanded the event by acquiring sponsorships, personally screening films for the festival, and much more. 

Honeyman is now the owner of the hand-crafted jewelry store Heavenly Metal at 208 N. Fourth Ave. in Kerrytown, but she's been invited to use her cinematic curatorial skills once again for AAFF's 56th anniversary, March 20-25. "Vick’s Picks," shown March 24 at 9:15 in the Michigan Theater, features 13 films from Honeyman's 15-year tenure as AAFF's leader.

We chatted with Honeyman at Heavenly Metal about her picks for this year's AAFF. 

Exist & Resist: U-M's Yoni Ki Baat group encouraged women of color with "Resistance"

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

Kyla Cano, a member of U-M organization Yoni Ki Baat

Kyla Cano, a junior at U-M majoring in screen arts and cultures and communication studies, was one of the speakers at Resistance. Photo by Hannah Qin from Yoni Ki Baat's Facebook page.

On March 9 and March 10, Yoni Ki Baat, an organization that seeks to educate the campus about the issues pertaining to South Asian women and all women of color, produced Resistance, a show inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.

In fact, Yoni Ki Bat is Sanskrit for “talks of the vagina.”

Yvonne Rainer's movies dance away from the mainstream at the Ann Arbor Film Fest

FILM & VIDEO PREVIEW INTERVIEW

 Yvonne Rainer still from Feelings Are Facts

“They let me make seven” movies marveled dancer-choreographer-filmmaker Yvonne Rainer, shown above in the early 1960s in the documentary on her life, Feelings Are Facts (2015).

If you don't yet know the work of Yvonne Rainer, after the 56th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival, you most certainly will.

The post-modern dance maverick and her work will be highlighted during AAFF, which runs Tuesday, March 20 to Sunday, March 25. Rainer, who is known for her provocative style of dance and fragmented narrative style of film, began her career in the 1960s as a founder of the Judson Dance Theater. She then transitioned to film-making in the mid-'70s. After making seven experimental feature-length films, Rainer returned to choreography in 2000 when she choreographed After Many A Summer Dies a Swan for the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation. Currently, Rainer works with a troupe of talented people who take her dance to Europe and across the United States. 

Rainer will present her essay-turned-lecture "A Truncated History of the Universe for Dummies: A Rant Dance" at the Michigan Theater on March 22 at 5:10 p.m. as part of the Penny Stamps Speakers series. (The documentary Feelings Are Facts: The Life of Yvonne Rainer screened at UMMA on March 7.) 

On March 23 at 7 pm, Rainer's sixth feature film, Privilege, will be shown at the Michigan Theater screening room. Privilege is a pioneering take on menopause and was called her "most accessible film" by the Village VoiceFive Easy Pieces, her collection of short films made 1966-1969, screens Saturday, March 24, 4 pm at the Michigan Theater.

We chatted with Rainer about PrivilegeFive Easy Pieces, filmmaking, and dance. 

Joyce Brienza's "Floating Points" exhibit explores dichotomous realities

VISUAL ART INTERVIEW

Joyce Brienza's Hands painting

Joyce Brienza's Madonna painting

Joyce Brienza's Hands (top) and Madonna.

Detroit-based artist and University of Michigan lecturer Joyce Brienza received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Wayne State University and earned an MFA at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She has exhibited her paintings nationally and internationally, and her work addresses often-dichotomous themes, exploring her interest in “places between.”

I talked to Brienza about her Floating Points exhibit in the Rotunda Gallery at U-M's North Campus Research Complex, which engages with themes of the unconscious/conscious, male/female, and high/low art. 

Dalia Reyes' "Rainbow Body" exhibit explores cosmic lightness

VISUAL ART INTERVIEW

Three paintings by Dalia Reyes

Portal practice: Dalia Reyes' painitngs explore metaphysical concepts.

Dalia Reyes is a Detroit-based artist and arts administrator with an undergraduate degree from the College for Creative Studies. In her artist statement for the exhibition Rainbow Body at the Connections Gallery in U-M's North Campus Research Complex, Reyes suggests her work “focuses on pushing fantasy into everyday scenery; where plants have names and all that glitters is definitely gold.”

I caught up with Reyes to ask a few questions about her process, cosmic fantasy, and upcoming projects.

See Shells: Michigan music MVP Shelley Salant on her new solo LP

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Shelley Salant, Shells LP2

Shelley Salant's second solo LP, Shells 2, features a cover painting by her mom, Katherine Salant.

Between all the various ways she's involved in southeast Michigan's music scene, it's almost surprising that Shelley Salant has any time to make music of her own. By our count, Salant is a member of at least four different bands at the moment: Tyvek, Bonny Doon, Chain and the Gang, and The Vitas. She DJs regularly, hosts the Local Music Show on WCBN, and books and promotes numerous shows.

Somewhere in the midst of this maelstrom of creative activity, the Detroit resident (and Ann Arbor expat) recently released Shells 2, her second full-length solo record.

And what a record it is.

Salant's solo instrumental guitar work is vibrant and layered, with reverb-soaked melodies washing over one another. Salant has a terrific grasp of how to build a song's momentum and emotional power, and the distinct moods that come through on each track feel deeply revealing. Salant's music certainly seems to be the purest personal outlet for a woman who comes off as quiet and unassuming in person. On the new record, her sound is rounded out just a tad by synths and production work from another local music titan, Fred Thomas -- but the sound is still wholly Salant's.

We chatted with Salant about her writing style, the recording process for Shells 2, and a frightening and inspiring trip she took to Big Sur. If the end of the interview seems abrupt, it's because she was running out the door to tour Europe with Chain and the Gang.

Just another day in the life of Shelley Salant.