Poems Provoke: U-M's Institute for Research on Women and Gender discussed Petra Kuppers’ "PearlStitch"

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

Petra Kuppers, PearlStitch

U-M professor Petra Kuppers' PearlStitch poetry collection was the focus of a panel discussion.

The cover of Petra Kuppers’ [http://www.spuytenduyvil.net/pearlstitch.html|PearlStitch] is provocative. It draws the eye and keeps it as the viewer takes in an open mouth and an extended lace-covered tongue with a bead of clear fluid at its tip. Her poetry is provocative, too, and after the Nov. 29 panel of University of Michigan faculty members discussing PearlStitch as a part of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender’s "[https://lsa.umich.edu/women/news-events/all-events.detail.html/46079-10…|Gender: New Works, New Questions]" series, I knew I wanted to dive into Kuppers’ latest collection. But I wasn't unable to put my hands on a copy of the book following the reading as Ann Arbor bookstores were sold out.

Kick Out the Hams: Wild Savages' "Queen Bee" video

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Do you remember the days before the smoking ban when you'd leave a concert smelling of stale cigarettes and cheap beer, and the stench would permeate your rusted-out car on the late-night ride home, lingering in your nose the next morning?

[https://www.facebook.com/wildsavages|Wild Savages] are the soundtrack for that drive.

The Ann Arbor trio plays bluesy proto-metal that would not have been out of place on [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WRIF|WRIF] in 1980. Think of Wild Savages as part of the 1970s Black Sabbath, Foghat, and Nazareth lineage that has produced contemporary bands like [http://redfang.net|Red Fang], [https://saviours.bandcamp.com|Saviours], and [http://theswordofficial.com|The Sword].

"Queen Bee" is the first single off the band's second album, Stagefright, which is being feted with a free [https://www.facebook.com/events/625915257798365|record-release concert] at The Blind Pig on Saturday, Dec. 16. Wild Savages goof around in the video by mugging for the camera like 1980s hair-metal bands, shotgunning beers, and playing bass on the toilet.

In other words, it's totally great.

Valerie Hegarty's "American Berserk" exhibit deconstructs the gloss of U.S. history

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Valerie Hegarty, Watermelon Tongue 2, 2016, glazed ceramics

Valerie Hegarty, Watermelon Tongue 2, 2016, glazed ceramics.

Brooklyn-based artist [http://valeriehegarty.com/home.html|Valerie Hegarty] is known for site-specific installations. For her American Berserk exhibit in the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities Gallery, Hegarty created a rotting watermelon -- which isn't to say she saw the space and thought, "Hmm, this room screams, 'EXPIRED FRUIT.'" Rather, Amanda Krugliak, curator for Institute for the Humanities, suggests Hegarty’s works “speak to the morass, the schism, the cracked facade, and fruit rotten, the flowers drooping.” The tradition of representing fruit on the brink of putrefaction is long established.

All in the Family: Saxophonist Peter Formanek's senior recital

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Peter Formanek is a 22-year-old saxophonist who is about to graduate from the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre & Dance with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

But he's been studying music with a Ph.D.-level teacher his whole life.

His father, [http://amibotheringyou.com|Michael Formanek], toured with giants like Tony Williams and Joe Henderson when he was still a teen in the early 1970s, and he went on to play with Freddie Hubbard, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Tim Berne, and Fred Hersch, among many others. He also records as a leader for ECM Records, one of the greatest jazz and classical labels ever.

As the younger Formanek mentioned at Love Songs, his senior recital on Monday, Nov. 27, at Kerrytown Concert House, there were always great musicians coming over to his family's home in Baltimore, Md. As he said while introducing his father, who joined him for the evening's final song, "I'm going to call up my dad, who is not only the person responsible for getting me into music but also giving me so many musical opportunities and access to all these really, really amazing musicians that I've been able to be around my entire life."

Formanek live-streamed his recital, which is archived on YouTube. (There will also be a high-quality edited version with audio from the board.) Below you'll find the list of musicians who joined him and the set list, which includes songs by Charles Mingus and Wayne Shorter, along with four Formanek originals -- three by Peter and the set closer by his dad.

It's De-Lovely: "Anything Goes" at Encore Theatre

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Anything Goes at Encore Theatre

Diggers of gold: Despite Encore’s space limitations, the choreography in Anything Goes winks at the grand spectacles of Busby Berkeley.

“Tap Your Troubles Away” isn’t one of the songs featured in the screwball musical comedy Anything Goes, but it’s nonetheless what popped into my head upon leaving Dexter’s Encore Theatre on Sunday.

Why? Because this silly confection of a Depression Era, vaudeville-infused musical, jam-packed with wordplay and witty Cole Porter tunes, offers a pleasurable, two and a half hour escape from our increasingly stressful world.

Look Deep: John Lilley's “Wandering Around … in black and white” at Kerrytown Concert House

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John Lilley

John Lilley, Sand Dunes, Early Morning: Great Sand Dunes NP, Colorado, black and white photograph on archival paper.

We last saw [http://johnlilleyphotography.com|John Lilley]’s photography at the Kerrytown Concert House in June 2012. His John Lilley Photographs exhibition found the Dexter photographer using digital color notable for its exhilarating chromaticity as well as its remarkable penchant for detail.

“Simply put,” said Lilley at that time, “I make photographs because I see photographs.”

But as he later tellingly added in that statement, “I’m rarely attracted to the 'big picture.' Rather, my vision is almost unconsciously drawn to distinct designs, textures, and forms that occur as small subsets of the broader landscape. I’m fascinated by the myriad possibilities for abstract composition that exist in our world.”

All of which is to say that Lilley’s current Wandering Around … in black and white shows us that his monochromatic photography is easily the equal of his color work. Indeed, if anything, Lilley’s photographic self-discipline is as much (if not more) vivid than his color art.

Synthesize Your Life: A wrap-up of Mini MoogFest 2017

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Mini MoogFest 2017

MoogFest visitor jams on a [http://www.korg.com/us/products/digitalpianos/tinypiano|Korg tinyPiano] in an impromptu duet with Earth, Wind & Fire's Larry Dunn on the big screen. Photo by Christopher Porter.

If we Ann Arbor District Library staffers were excited synthesizers, we'd be whooping with pitch-bent, major-key oscillations from the joy Mini MoogFest 2017 brought us. Our third annual iteration of this event greatly expanded upon our two previous offerings, and we had a fully packed house at the Downtown Library on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Librarians on the scene estimated that over 350 people -- including around 75 kids -- made their way through Mini MoogFest, where they built synths using littleBits, played around with AADL's Music Tools, and enjoyed live performances from area electronica artists.

Below is a roundup of photos, videos, and social media posts covering Mini MoogFest 2017.

Midwest Meditations: Cal Freeman, "Fight Songs" at Literati

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Cal Freeman Fight Songs

The new Midwest: Cal Freeman's Fight Songs is full of Rust Belt ruminations. Photo by Shadia Amen.

“This is a lot of people for a poetry reading," said writer Cal Freeman. "I’ve read for three people before.” On Nov. 11, Michigan poet Freeman read from his new book, Fight Songs, at Literati bookstore. The crisp November evening seemed perfect for listening to regionally focused poetry as the temperature made its way downward.

Freeman is the kind of poet I would have spent a semester in a creative writing class peeking at over a copy of the latest student work being workshopped. He’s tall, though not quite lanky, and was dressed in mostly gray. I wouldn’t describe his look as rumpled, but the word crossed my mind. Very Midwestern.

She's Picking Up Good Vibrations: Lynn Comella, "Vibrator Nation" at Literati

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Lynn Comella, Vibrator Nation

Babes in toyland: Lynn Comella studied the feminist sex-toy industry for her new book, Vibrator Nation.

When it comes to other adults’ sexual choices, I’m very live and let live. And in my personal life, I’m very willing to make a joke or tell a story laden with sexual innuendo, and I’ve long ago accepted that I’m the person who will robustly fall face-first into a strange double-entendre, I found myself a bit shy at the bookstore when I purchased my copy of Lynn Comella’s Vibrator Nation in advance of attending her discussion of the book which took place on November 14th at Literati.

This book was based on more than 80 in-depth interviews with sex-toy shop owners, employees of said stores, and pornographers. Comella herself worked at Babeland in New York City, which provided her ethnographic access from both sides of the sales counter. Her book synthesizes this and examines the role of feminist sex-toy stores on the larger adult industry.

Why study sex-toy shops?

Glowing Highlights: Laverne Cox at U-M's Center for the Education of Women symposium

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Laverne Cox

Nailed it: Laverne Cox photo shoot for her collaboration with [https://www.orlybeauty.com/celebrate-yourself-by-laverne-cox.html|Orly nail polish].

When [t:Orange Is the New Black|Orange Is the New Black]'s [http://www.lavernecox.com|Laverne Cox] walked out onto the Rackham stage, my immediate thought is that she is even more beautiful in person than on screen or in photos, and I don’t exactly understand how this is possible. She looks as though the sun is shining directly on her. I think maybe this is what actually mastering the art of highlighting looks like, but I’m also sure I could put on all the makeup in the world and I would still never look like that.

I’d like to say that as soon as she started speaking, all such frivolous thoughts left my head, but frankly, that would be a lie. I did settle in with the rest of the sold-out crowd that has come to see her as the keynote speaker on Nov. 15 for the 2017 CEW Spectrum of Advocacy & Activism Symposium put on by the [http://www.cew.umich.edu|Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan], and for the next hour and a half, listened to a great (if slightly scattered) talk that encompassed gender and race theory, her life story, and how the Ann Arbor community should respond should white supremacist Richard Spencer come to campus.