Dr. Janet Gilsdorf's novel "Fever" charts a mysterious illness and a researcher's race to discover the bacteria causing it
On a getaway with a colleague to visit family in Brazil, Dr. Sidonie Royal instead finds herself in a race to save children falling ill with a mysterious disease—and she experiences grief when they do not make it. Janet Gilsdorf's novel Fever tracks Sid’s subsequent research attempts back in Michigan to find out what is causing the deaths.
As a professor emerita of epidemiology and pediatrics at the University of Michigan, Gilsdorf is the right person to write a novel on this topic. Her work involves studying pathogenic factors, molecular genetics, and the epidemiology of Haemophilus influenzae, a bacterium that causes invasive and respiratory infections in children and adults. It is this bacterium that Sid, the character in her novel, is trying to understand.
Many hurdles appear along the way for Sid. One problem consists of her belligerent lab mate, Eliot, who always seems ready with criticism. At one point, he informs Sid:
Timothy Monger cleaned out his songwriting notebook for a new album recorded at home
Long known as one of the leading talents on the local music scene, Timothy Monger has always had a distinctive songwriting voice. The names of two of the bands he’s led—the late, lamented Great Lakes Myth Society and the current Timothy Monger State Park—give some clues to the subjects of his songs, which often look to the outdoors, history, and other rootsy pursuits.
Those sorts of themes show up again on Monger’s new album, his fourth as a solo artist, which is simply titled Timothy Monger. Yet as he always manages to do, he finds fresh perspectives and new approaches, and the result stands out from his previous body of work.
The album is literally the result of Monger returning to his notebooks and fleshing out ideas found there, recording the songs entirely at his home in a style he describes as “homespun psych-folk.” A few of the songs are snippets of less than 30 seconds, but that’s all they require to tell their particular story. Others bring characters to life, such as a fictional “Cub Reporter” or the real-life theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, who Monger memorably describes as “the one who finally gave the ghosts a voice.”
“Shadow of the Weka” is a charming instrumental with Celtic overtones. And there are several nods to Michigan, including “Cranberry Bog,” “Luna Pier,” and “Sa-Wa-Quato.”
Monger recently answered a few questions about the new recording, which comes out on June 2, the same day as his album release show at The Ark.
Music in Motion: The Carolyn Striho Group brings Detroit energy to AADL June 1
Carolyn Striho takes a fearless approach to life both onstage and off.
The singer-songwriter has had a storied career in various Southeast Michigan creative scenes: She’s been a member of early Detroit punk quartet The Cubes; a frontperson for the longtime rock ‘n’ roll collective Detroit Energy Asylum; a DJ for WDET 101.9-FM’s “Radios in Motion” punk, new wave, and underground music show; a touring musician with Patti Smith and an onstage performer with Don Was; and a solo artist and poet.
“I do know it’s showed me that you must keep going and work on your craft,” said Striho, whose latest release includes a 2019 collection of poems and lyrics called Detroit (Maiden Energy). “Your music, your art, and your work are what make you unique, yourself, and original.
“But I think with new music coming out with my former band Detroit Energy Asylum and the new Hit Girls: Women in Punk book, and other books I’ve been in, my music past is being documented more and more.”
Striho brings that musical past and present to life for a June 1 show at the Downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library with her bandmates, which include her husband/guitarist Scott Dailey, bassist Christopher Spooner, and drummer Lauren Johnson.
“And as much as I loved being on stage for so many years, the energy-first stage thing has changed, but I never know what I might end up doing onstage,” she said. “In the meantime, I’m grateful for my big past, and that I now love recording, too.”
In advance of her upcoming show, we recently spoke to Striho about what inspires her creatively, her Detroit (Maiden Energy) collection and potential plans for another volume, a new single with Erin Zindle, her show setlist, and new material with Dailey.
Going Platinum: Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library Reflects on 70 Years of Supporting AADL Patrons and Programs
In May 1953, the Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library (FAADL) shared a historical moment alongside Ernest Hemingway.
The library’s volunteer organization officially became a nonprofit the same month Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for The Old Man and the Sea.
Seven decades later, Hemingway’s novella still graces the library’s shelves as FAADL celebrates its 70th anniversary of supporting Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) patrons and programs through used book sales. From library locations to summer bookmobiles to online bookstores, the group has played a pivotal role in AADL’s evolution.
“[FAADL] was really instrumental in the location of where the downtown library sits, and it was instrumental in the branches,” said Rachel Pastiva, FAADL’s director, while reflecting on the group’s platinum anniversary.
That same year, FAADL advocated for a separate and central location for the library since it was attached to an old high school at State and Huron streets. By 1957, the new location ended up being the current downtown site at Fifth Avenue and William Street.
Fruitful Experiment: Chris Bathgate explores thematic writing on his new album, “The Significance of Peaches”
This story originally ran on June 2, 2022. We're featuring it again because Chris Bathgate plays AADL's Downtown Library on May 26.
Chris Bathgate sees his first album in five years, The Significance of Peaches as "an experiment in thematic writing and recording with limitations … the significance of peaches is not necessarily the thread or some keystone idea. It is like a loose fishing net that I can cast into my life and see what I harvest."
Throughout The Significance of Peaches, released on Ann Arbor's Quite Scientific Records, Bathgate searches for a holistic sense of self while fostering a spiritual connection to the outside world using pithy lyrics and nature-rich imagery set atop a pump-organ-drenched landscape.
“The peach thing is from my total adoration for the stone fruit itself as the corporeal experience of physically eating a peach," said the Ann Arbor indie-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. "But I’m also interested in the peach as a metaphor throughout history. The thing I became most obsessed with was its use as a way to describe the ephemeral nature of life, time and joy, moments, and carpe diem.
Embracing Our Differences Michigan installs 60 art banners in two Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti parks
A Florida vacation gave Nancy Margolis a "fabulous" idea.
“A couple years ago I saw this exhibit in Sarasota in one of their parks, and it was so fabulous that I talked to their executive director about bringing it here to Washtenaw County," Margolis says.
The public art exhibit featured enormous vinyl banners with images celebrating diversity and inclusion. It was organized by Embracing Our Differences, an organization Sarasota has supported for 20 years. It spotlights pieces created by students from local schools alongside works by artists from around the world to celebrate diverse identities and inclusion.
In the spring of 2021, Margolis began planning the first Embracing Our Differences Michigan banner installations, calling on her professional experience and passion for amplifying diverse voices to build a coalition that would ultimately bring the endeavor to fruition.
“My background is in anti-poverty programs and community organization,” Margolis says. “I brought myself into this project because I was so thrilled with the idea of a good medium for working on diversity and inclusion.”
By the time Embracing Our Differences’ first exhibit was installed at parks in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor in May 2022, Margolis and her initial support team had recruited the support of 100 local organizations. The inaugural Michigan exhibition featured 59 images created by students, adult community members, and professionals.
From Solitude to the Stage: Post Eden’s debut album is a trip to achieve "Solace in Entropy"
If you ask the men of Ann Arbor’s Post Eden what their tagline “musical fusion” means, they really couldn’t tell you. More of a tongue-in-cheek umbrella term than an attempt to grasp a genre, the group really only started taking themselves seriously in the past two years.
Just not too seriously.
“At the end of the day, we’re doing this for fun,” lead guitarist Nick Noteman said. “Yes, we take a lot of the music we write seriously and some of our songs have deep undertones, but music is supposed to be fun—the ‘musical fusion’ is us noting that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Former high school cross-country runners Noteman, Pat Murray (lead vocalist and guitarist), Abe Worth (bassist), and Alex Bowling (drummer) started Post Eden after a year and a half of playing together.
“There’s a lot of time when you’re stuck in the middle of the woods to sit and talk about stuff,” Murray said. “You’re running for miles, and you become really good friends with people.”
Post Eden’s debut album, Solace in Entropy, came out in January. The record was named after the chaos of life, especially during the COVID-19 era, and the comfort that playing together brought the musicians. Solace in Entropy begins with a series of footsteps that guide listeners to 11 tracks that signify months of hard work and fine-tuning. Post Eden’s sound is a mix of Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd, and King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, tied together with ’70s psychedelic and ’90s grunge influences.
Shannon McLeod’s Short Story Collection “Nature Trail Stories” Provides Natural Spaces for People to Reflect and Integrate Their Past and Present Selves
Via sharp observations and attempts at connection, the characters in Shannon McLeod’s Nature Trail Stories offer insights on their surroundings and the people around them. As one woman reflects, “Any place can be scenic, depending upon the scenes in your head.” This mindset could be expanded to all the short stories in the collection, as they reveal the world through the characters’ varied outlooks, from an art gallery employee awaiting the next person to walk in to a woman coping with heartbreak.
In the same story from which the above quote originated, titled “Human Song,” the narrator and their boyfriend receive advice to go see the snails and sing to them to lure them out of their shells. At the beach:
I sing George Michael, then Spice Girls, then the Beatles.
“If they’re not coming out for Ringo, there’s nothing that’ll do it,” says Caleb. I’ve begun to feel this way about him, too. That nothing I can possibly do will bring him back to me.
Maybe the snails are more accessible than fellow humans. Nature becomes an antidote to the failings of relationships and to the desire for a bond.
The loneliness and longing that envelop these characters even as they engage with other people—friends, strangers, coworkers, family members, and significant others—thread throughout the collection and are almost inextricable from the dialogue and settings. The story, “After Leaving,” dives into the grim, though in this case necessary, moments following a breakup in which memories flash through the narrator’s mind wherever she goes. While seeking something for dinner, she observes that:
Downtown, the trees lining the streets are turning orange. There’s a sweet scent of decay in the air. I’ve always liked autumn best. He used to say it’s because I’m a melancholy woman. The same reason I find sad songs the most beautiful.
Sounds Around Town: Third Place [MusicFest] spreads experimental music in venues across Ann Arbor
Third Place [MusicFest] is named after a behavioral science term, but you don't need a Ph.D. in sociology to understand where the organizers are coming from.
"Each show on the festival is hosted in what is called a ‘third place,’ which is a sociological term. A ‘first place’ is your home, a ‘second place’ is your work, and a ‘third place’ is a neutral, community-centered environment," says saxophonist and improviser Kaleigh Wilder, one of Third Place’s directors. “The festival is open and welcome to anyone. It's a really unique slice of our creative community here; no other festival programs this eclectic mix of local artists.”
The festival’s programming features a range of jazz, contemporary classical, free improvisation, ambient, indie folk, and singer-songwriters, all presented in nontraditional spaces. This year's Third Place [MusicFest] will bring live performances to nine Ann Arbor locations from Wednesday, May 17 to Saturday, May 20.
The 2023 festival features performances at TeaHaus, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor Farmers Market, Cahoots Cafe, Bløm Meadworks, Liberty Plaza, Argus Farm Stop, and Canterbury House. Kerrytown Concert House is the only full-time music venue in the festival because, Wilder says, “They have a really great room and a really beautiful piano.”
The lineup includes:
Chasing Lights: Ann Arbor's Melissa Kaelin knows the secrets to seeing the aurora borealis right here in Michigan
You don't need to go to Tromsø, Norway to see the aurora borealis—even though the town, more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is considered one of the best spots to view the natural phenomenon.
You don't even need to drive your car to the upper parts of Canada to see the northern lights, which occur when energized sun particles smash into the Earth's outer atmosphere and are redirected by the magnetic field toward the planet's poles. (Southern lights exist, too.)
Melissa Kaelin—founder of the Facebook group Michigan Aurora Chasers, co-founder of the International Aurora Summit, and author of Below the 45th Parallel: The Beginner's Guide to Chasing the Aurora in the Great Lakes Region—will tell you how to witness this beautiful sight here in Michigan when she appears at the Ann Arbor District Library's Westgate Branch on Thursday, May 11, 6:30-7:30 pm, for a chat.