“My grandfather came to America hell-bent on becoming an American.” --Alexandra Zapruder
[https://alexandrazapruder.com|Alexandra Zapruder]’s [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1501830|Twenty-Six Seconds] tells the story of the 26-second home video, recorded by her grandfather Abraham, that came to be known as the Zapruder film, the one video that showed President Kennedy’s assassination. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, Zapruder spoke at the Ann Arbor District Library about her book to an audience of about 80.
[https://www.facebook.com/Alexandra-Zapruder-241030009427770|Zapruder] never thought that she would write this book. She grew up in Washington, D.C., in a family that rarely talked about the film. She said that she is often asked whether the film was taboo or somehow a secret in her household. “It wasn’t that,” she said.
It turns out that if you make a large, wave-shaped luminary that complements your shiny green mermaid costume, a lot of people are going to stop you and ask whether you’ll take a picture with them.
When you set out specifically to participate in a unique community event, sometimes, you just say, "Yes."
It was a luminary-making workshop that made me add [https://wonderfoolproductions.org/ypsiglow|ypsiGlow] to my calendar. In the weeks leading up to the downtown Ypsilanti light-up dance party, [https://wonderfoolproductions.org|Wonderfool Productions] hosted drop-in GLOWorkshops at the [https://www.riversidearts.org|Riverside Arts Center] where community members were invited to come make luminaries and or costumes for the Oct. 27 event.
A sucker for learning new skills, I had attended one of the workshops simply interested in learning how to make a luminary. One of the artists asked me what I wanted to make as I began familiarizing myself with the materials and observing other workshop attendees. That’s when I told her; it was the first "yes" of this experience.
Hillary Clinton evokes feelings.
I hadn’t fully understood the extent of this until I poked around online to get myself in the mood to attend her Oct. 25 talk at Hill Auditorium about her newest book, What Happened. I made the mistake of searching #hillaryclinton on Twitter. I almost injured my jaw as my mouth hung open while I glanced at the results.
Yeah, Hillary Clinton makes people feel things.
I was on a bike ride with a friend when he told me about the Saturday, Oct. 14, attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the biggest gathering of women dressed as [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_the_Riveter|Rosie the Riveter]. My knee-jerk response was that this wasn’t my scene. I’m not a fan of crowds, and more specifically, a bunch of women coming together at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center to dress up like Rosie the Riveter was definitely not my scene.
Rosie the Riveter is a representation of the women who worked in factories during World War II to support the war effort. The character is based on several people, including Rose Will Monroe, who worked as a riveter at Ypsilanti's Willow Run Aircraft Factory building B-24 bombers. But Rosie's didn’t resonate with me personally. I come from Southern black stock, and the women I am descended from always did some sort of work, primarily domestic, outside of their homes, paid or otherwise. Also, it’s in my nature to take icons and popular narratives and complicate them; it’s what I was taught as a history student, and it has become second nature. I didn’t think that there was anything here for me.
However, my friend’s prompting had given rise to a question, “Who are these women. Whose scene is this?”
Adam and Zach Khalil’s [http://www.inaatese.com|INAATE/SE] is not a film to view if you’re looking for escapism. INAATE/SE is about the Ojibway community in Sault Ste. Marie and the movie bends and flexes filmmaking conventions and linear storytelling in order to tell about this tribe’s past and present as well as ask questions about its future. This film will make you think about our relationship to time and history, about the stories we tell, and the stories that are silenced.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Ypsilanti Experimental Space (YES) screened followed INAATE/SE, followed by a Q&A with Adam Khalil. The day before, Khalil was generous enough to meet me at Henry Ford Museum and spend a portion of his afternoon talking with me about his film and his process, opening himself up to an organic and wide-ranging conversation centered in this work. He allowed us to think together for a moment. We talked about survival, representation, what it meant for him and his brother to create this work and how, in some ways, both the past and the future live within us in the present.
This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
I am one of the people who couldn’t get enough of political podcasts during the 2016 presidential election. That is how I found my way to the podcast Keepin’ It 1600, hosted by Washington insiders Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Daniel Pfeiffer.
In January 2017, the hosts of that show started [https://crooked.com/podcast-series/pod-save-america|Pod Save America], a show about current United States politics and it impacts on the American people as a part of [https://crooked.com|Crooked Media], their network that now hosts five podcasts and written work from several contributors. Through their work, they hope to inform people from their progressive point of view about the current political landscape while entertaining their audience and inspiring them to become personally involved in the political process.
Based on the crowd outside of the Michigan Theater on Friday, Oct. 6, the Pod Save America team inspired people to leave the comfort of their homes to see the foursome in action.
On Monday, Oct. 7, author and University of Michigan professor [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/search/author/Tiya%20Miles|Tiya Miles] visited Literati Bookstore to discuss her new book, [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1517167|The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits]. This book is an examination of Detroit’s early days and seeks to discuss an element of the city’s history that isn’t often discussed. Miles’ work aims to locate people of color in Detroit’s history, adding them to a narrative that is often told chiefly as the stories of European settlers.
I didn’t grow up going to church, but seeing the poet-playwright-author-musician-activist-performance artist [http://jessicacaremoore.com|jessica Care moore] do her thing is what I imagine an incredibly moving church experience feels like.
moore’s appearance at the Michigan Theater on September 14 was the kickoff event of the 2017 Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series. The series aims to bring innovators from a wide variety of fields to the university in order to interact with and inspire university students, faculty, and the greater community. (See the full fall 2017 lineup [http://stamps.umich.edu/stamps|here].)
The [http://stamps.umich.edu/exhibitions|Penny W. Stamps' website] let me know that I could expect to be challenged by [http://stamps.umich.edu/exhibitions/detail/unfinished-conversation|The Unfinished Conversation: Encoding/Decoding] and [http://stamps.umich.edu/exhibitions/detail/vital-signs|Vital Signs for a New America] exhibits.
But despite a deep interest in the overlap of politics and art in the 20th and 21st centuries, I wasn’t quite prepared for this collection of powerful, in-your-face images. I’m also glad that I have until October 14 to fully explore the exhibits.
When one of the main things you know about someone is that she visited a nude beach, participating fully, with her mother, it is extremely difficult not to imagine that person naked.
You might as well surrender.
On Friday, August 24, [https://www.facebook.com/The52at52Project|Sherry Stanfa-Stanley] came to Literati to read from and answer questions about her book [http://shewritespress.com/portfolio/sherry-stanfa-stanley|Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares]. I had read part of the book; a light and funny read that chronicles her quest to, in her 52nd year, try something new each week. I hadn’t quite expected to be, based on appearances, the youngest person in the room with the exception possibly of bookstore staff and my 13-year-old son. As we waited for the event to begin, I examined Stanfa-Stanley, and overheard her say casually, “No one expects perfection out of me.”