For Chuck Marshall, a regular morning routine inspired a new creative pursuit.
“I really wasn’t on the podcast train until the pandemic came," said Marshall, who works in IT at Michigan Medicine. "I started thinking about how I couldn’t go to shows and how it was fine for me to be talking to a band and asking them questions, but wouldn’t it be fun if fans could chime in with questions or be there and listen?
“The pandemic kinda helped with that because we were using Zoom, and I was like, ‘Oh, I could do a Zoom with this person.’ I realized Zoom records separate tracks of audio, so I could clean it up and get it all nice.”
Stamps Gallery's "Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative" celebrates creators who are inspiring the next generation
Based on my direction of approach to the University of Michigan's Stamps Gallery, I didn’t see Michael Dixon’s large-scale sculptural alligator head with one sharp, gold tooth before entering—though it's visible in the gallery’s large front windows.
Inside the sculpture’s large open jaw, children’s toys rest as if inside a toy box. Among them, a selection of brightly colored balls, dolls, and books we might recognize from a modern store, but also amidst the display are racist toys such as a mammy doll, which remind viewers that these harmful toys are still collected and sold, holding a space in contemporary American culture that often escapes criticism.
This idea is further enforced by the inclusion of problematic Dr. Suess books, which became a topic of national conversation this past March.
Dixon is among five artists represented in Envision: The Michigan Artist Initiative, a new program focused on promoting the careers of Michigan-based artists.
This awards initiative “recognizes the creativity, rigor, and innovation of Michigan-based artists and collaboratives—and honors their role in inspiring the next generations of artists in our state.”
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features power-pop from Towner, ambient by Scary Steve, vaporwave weirdness via Comma, experimental electronica courtesy of Cory Sibu Tripathy, and worship music by John Hughes.
Ann Arbor writer Zilka Joseph shares two poems and an excerpt from her new book, "In Our Beautiful Bones"
Zilka Joseph resides in Ann Arbor, but the poet's work is inspired by her Indian and Bene Israel roots and traversing Eastern and Western cultures.
Her latest book, In Our Beautiful Bones, was published this fall by Mayapple Press. It was nominated for a PEN America award and a Pushcart, and it's been entered for a Michigan Notable Book award:
In Our Beautiful Bones traces various stages in the poet’s journey as an immigrant from India who makes a new life in the US, and her encounters with racism and otherness. In it she explores her Bene Israel roots, the origins of her ancestors, her life in Kolkata, the influences of British rule and a missionary education, her growing knowledge of what racism and marginalization means, how Indians and Indian culture is perceived and represented. While delving unflinchingly into the violence and global impact of colonialism, the weaponization of the English Language, the evils of tyranny and white supremacy, and the struggles of oppressed peoples everywhere, she creates powerful collages from mythology, folklore, fairy tales, Scripture, world cultures, literature, music, food, and current events. Traditional and experimental forms, historical information, sensory riches, wit and word play, and an unwavering and clear voice make this book a compelling read. In Our Beautiful Bones is a multi-layered, sharply ironic and sometimes pathos-filled critique of the world, and at the same time it is visionary and a triumph of the human spirit.
We asked Joseph if we could publish a poem from In Our Beautiful Bones and she was kind enough to send us two poems and "two short extracts from a long and significant collage poem. I chose these three as I think they offer a glimpse of various complex aspects of my book," she said in an email.
Also, Joseph spoke with Nancy Naomi Carlson and Nawaaz Ahmed (who we interviewed recently) about In Our Beautiful Bones on October 6 as part of Literati's At Home series and we've included that video below as well as three previous Pulp pieces on the poet.
Giving 'Em Hell: Fred Grandy captures the complex character of Harry Truman in a one-man play at Encore
Fred Grandy served four terms as a Republican congressman from Iowa. Grandy is an actor who quit his role as Gopher Smith on the popular television series Love Boat to enter the partisan and always contentious world of politics (and sometimes governance?).
In these particularly partisan times, Grandy is touring in the one-man play Give ‘Em Hell Harry as that most Democrat of presidents Harry Truman.
Encore Theater is taking a break from musicals to present this surprisingly relevant look back at Truman’s crucial and politically charged presidency in his own words.
Truman didn’t seek the presidency, it was thrust upon him. He had been plucked from his seat as a senator from Missouri to run with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was seeking his fourth term.
When Roosevelt died just four months into his new term, Truman took office while the United States was still at war. He had never been taken into Roosevelt’s confidence and he hadn’t been informed that an atomic bomb had been developed, and the decision on whether to use it or not fell on him.
Truman had a reputation as a blunt and honest man. As a senator, he led a committee to investigate waste and corruption in the war effort. He even challenged his president on several issues. But he was dedicated to the New Deal and Roosevelt’s transformative presidency. He was not FDR, but he brought a common sense, down-to-earth approach to an overwhelming position.
Harry Truman never minced words. He was blunt, uncensored, and proudly partisan. But this people’s president was also a good storyteller, slyly humorous, and tried with some success to work with those on the other side of the partisan divide, while also zinging them and their conservative views.
Factsheets, Funny Folks & Freaks: Christopher Becker recalls his DIY days in the '80s and '90s zine scene
This essay is related to the Ann Arbor District Library exhibition "'Sorry This Issue Is Late...': A Retrospective of Zines From the '80s and '90s," written by curator Christopher Becker, former editor of Factsheet Five and now a library technician at AADL.
Let me start at the end.
I was living in San Francisco in one small room of a shared apartment. Piles and piles of zines—self-made, usually photocopied publications—surrounded my bed and computer so that they were the first and last thing I looked at every day.
And every day there were more, threatening to spill into the narrow walkway I had created in the room.
I worked at Factsheet Five, a magazine that printed reviews and contact information for over 1000 zines every issue, and a year earlier I had taken over the day-to-day operations of the magazine and moved it to my bedroom.
In the mornings, I rode my bike to the post office to pick up the mail, sometimes up to 50 pounds. Through a combination of multiple messenger bags, panniers, and bungee cords, I brought the mail back, looking like an overburdened caricature of a tuktuk driver from Thailand. All the mail—the zines, so many zines, the letters, the issue requests and subscriptions, the packages of books and CDs, had to be sorted and then the day’s work began: reviewing.
It was a dream come true to work at Factsheet Five and I’m sure I’ll never have such a rare experience again in my life. It felt thrilling and important to be at the heart of so much creativity and live vicariously through all the lives of the zine publishers.
But lately, staying on top of the flood of zines and the reviews was overwhelming and I was exhausted.
I began to understand why Mike Gunderloy had left the magazine he had founded, why Hudson Luce had only published one issue after he got it, and why R. Seth Friedman, who then took over, had handed the daily operations to me after several years.
Race, Class & Miscegenation: Jean Alicia Elster fictionalizes family history in her new young adult novel, "How It Happens"
Jean Alicia Elster’s new young adult novel, How It Happens, chronicles the hardships and inequality faced by Black women from the late 1800s through 1950 and beyond. The story she tells has a personal note. It is the fictionalized account of three generations of Elster’s family, starting in Tennessee with maternal grandmother, Addie Jackson, and continuing in Detroit with her daughter, Dorothy May Ford, and granddaughter, Jean.
The book begins with a prologue that defines “miscegenation,” meaning the marriage, sexual relation, or other intimate affiliation of a person who is white and someone of another race. This topic has a lasting effect on this family when a prominent white man becomes the father of Addie’s daughters. The events that happen to the characters illustrate how race and class work against the women of this family in those eras.
May Ford describes how it happens to her daughter Jean:
‘Tis the season to make jolly. ‘Tis also the season to be silly.
British music halls celebrate Christmastime with pantos (short for pantomime, but not really about mimes). A panto is a play based on a fairy tale that provides a framework for slapstick, satire, song parodies, dancing, clowning, a touch of bawdiness and lots of good cheer to see out the year.
Several years ago, Carla Milarch, founding director of Theatre Nova, and R. MacKenzie Lewis introduced the panto to Ann Arbor with An Almost British Christmas. Every Christmas season since (except for last year, of course) Nova has presented a new panto. This year Nova is reviving the original show, more or less, with some topical humor to fit this particular year.
But it’s really the silliness that counts.
Lisa Barry, the longtime host of WEMU's Art and Soul as well as the local edition of NPR's All Things Considered, passed away unexpectedly on November 30 due to heart complications, according to a blog post by the Ypsilanti radio station's general manager, Molly Motherwell.
She wrote a bit more about Barry today in a post, remembering her as the "heartbeat of WEMU." Mothewell wrote:
Her positive attitude and vibrant personality were her trademark and were well known to all who had the good fortune to cross paths with her. She was a beacon of joy in our community, not only the community of WEMU listeners but the community at large.
All About Ann Arbor compiled numerous social media posts from Barry's colleagues, friends, and associates paying tribute to her, including this one by her fellow WEMU broadcaster Jessica Webster:
Friday Five: Grandmaster Masese, Bill Edwards, KUZbeats, DJ Free Jazz/SAFA Collective, Counter Magic
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features Kenyan music by Grandmaster Masese, Americana by Bill Edwards, cinematic instrumentals courtesy of KUZbeats, general weirdness via DJ Free Jazz & SAFA Collective, and indie-shoegaze-glitchtronica by Counter Magic.