The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced that a special week of Laser Light Shows will take place this summer at the Chaffee Planetarium. For one week only, visitors to the Chaffee Planetarium can recline, relax, and rock out to dazzling laser light performances set to popular and classic music. From Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to nineties hits and today’s hottest pop, get ready for a timeless journey of light and sound.
Laser Light Shows have something for every music lover, including: Laser Beatles, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Laser Vinyl (the best of classic rock), Laser Zeppelin, Laserpolis (pop, rock, alternative and oldies), Laser Country, Electro Pop (today’s hottest hits), Lase Rock (classic rock), Laser Tribute (great artists whose music has inspired many), Electrolase (electronic dance music), and Metallica.
Laser Light Shows will take place starting Monday, July 24 and continue through Sunday, July 30. Shows begin at 3 or 4 p.m. each day, and continue with the last show at 9 p.m. Tickets to shows are $4 with Museum general admission, and $5 for planetarium-only tickets. Members receive free admission to planetarium shows. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets in advance, please visit grpm.org/Planetarium.
The Chaffee Planetariums special week of Laser Light Shows will return in September during ArtPrize. Save the dates for Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 for another round of dazzling lights and tantalizing tunes.
Men are passionate about many things, and Piot’s memoir, No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses is by turns, chilling and fascinating, as he reveals how a boy growing up in a small Belgium town, went on to pursue a consuming desire to help eradicate major infectious diseases, especially in Africa. People who are aware at a young age, of their calling — of some great work they must achieve, have always intrigued me. How do they know? Where does such an unselfish desire and drive come from?
As a child, Peter would pass by the tiny museum dedicated to a local man who had been a missionary to the lepers in Hawaii. He was incensed by society’s cruelty to people with a disease that brought such condemnation and isolation, and determined that he too, would serve those in great need.
Fresh out of medical school, in 1976 he was employed at a Belgium laboratory when a blood sample, thought to be a variety of yellow fever, came in. Routine tests were done on what Dr. Piot would later have the honor of helping to put a name to: Ebola. The most lethal and feared of all the hemorrhagic viruses to come out of Africa, with a 50-90 percent death rate.
After Ebola came another mysterious epidemic, slower to kill, but quicker to spread; and he realized how wrong his old professors had been, thinking that we had conquered the microbes. Piot would eventually go on to head up UNAIDS for fifteen years.
The author has a great storytelling voice — down home, funny, compassionate, engaging. He’s like a witty professor combined with a pirate with Bill Clinton, as he talks about working with political leaders and prostitutes, scary plane flights, irascible bosses, turf wars at the U.N. and more. A wonderful read.
“D. Wayne Sharf slid across Winky Butterfield’s pasture like a greased weasel headed for a chicken house.” Criminal stealth and practice have readied D. Wayne with a center cut pork chop as part of his kit, and soon he is on the run with his victims. A hail of bullets from their frantic owner suggests to D. Wayne that there has to be a better way to make a living, but — what? “There was stealing dogs, cooking meth, and stripping copper wire and pipes out of unoccupied summer cabins. That was about it in D. Wayne’s world.”
Thus begins the newest Virgil Flowers thriller, and no sooner had I brought it home, than my husband nabbed it. Putting aside his historical studies, he decided he needed a break with some less taxing reading. Soon he was chortling away, as detective Flowers steps in to help a close friend find some missing dogs. All this is on the QT, since Flowers can’t tell his boss he’s working a dog-napping case. But soon after the BCA agent arrives, the quiet southern Minnesota town of Trippton is struck by a murder. And then another murder—
Flowers is soon on the trail of a very, very, bad school board, meth makers, killers, and worst of all, cold-hearted dog-nappers. If you are already a Sandford fan, you’ve already read this book (pre-ordered possibly!), but if you haven’t tried him yet, he writes a meanly humorous thriller. This one is just a little lighter than usual, but it was just as much fun.
Grand Haven native Erin McCahan presents her critically acclaimed young adult novel ‘The Lake Effect’ Tuesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. at Schuler Books & Music, 2660 28th St. SW.
A funny, bracing, poignant young adult romance and coming-of-age for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Beginning of Everything.
When eighteen-year-old Briggs Henry decides to work for an eighty-four-year-old widow at her house on Lake Michigan the summer before college, he assumes he’ll take her to doctor appointments and help her with house work. Wrong. Briggs tries to leave behind his family and school troubles for a relaxing summer on the lake and instead encounters an eccentric elderly woman, tight-knit locals, and an enigmatic girl all of which gives a new meaning to “lake effect.”
McCahan grew up on the beaches of Grand Haven and Macatawa. Now a resident of landlocked New Albany, Ohio, she and her husband return every summer to North Beach in South Have, not he shores of Lake Michigan.
In 1815, Napoleon met his Waterloo with a spectacular defeat that ended his reign as Emperor of France. In 1974, four Swedish singers met their “Waterloo” with spectacular success, winning the Eurovision Song Contest, launching a career in music that would inspire a Broadway musical, a major Hollywood movie, and sell millions of records.
Arrival from Sweden joins the Grand Rapids Pops with songs such as “Mama Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Gimme Gimme,” “Take a Chance On Me,” and many more to open the season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 13-14, at Cannonsburg ski area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd NE. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for both concerts underwritten by Kennari Consulting, Price Heneveld LLP and TerryTown RV as Benefactor Sponsors.
Season tickets offering substantial discounts as well as single tickets for all concerts in the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops are on sale. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 evenings or go online to PicnicPops.org
ABBA, named after the first names members of the group, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was the first non- English speaking musical group to achieve major success across the English-speaking world from New Zealand to the United Kingdom and from South Africa to the United States.
From 1972 to 1982, ABBA sold over 500 million records, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. After 10 years of international success, the band dissolved. Except for a TV appearance in 1986, the four musicians did not appear together publicly again until they were reunited at the Swedish premiere of the movie Mamma Mia! starring Meryl Streep, in July 2008.
Arrival from Sweden, the most popular ABBA tribute group, has toured more than 48 nations and appeared with dozens of symphony orchestras since 1995.
Over the past 10 years in the United States, ARRIVAL has sold out eight shows in the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Denver, an arena where other world-famous artists including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, U2, and many more have appeared. Arrival last was in Grand Rapids in February 2012 at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center.
Named for ABBA’s fourth studio album, “Arrival,” as well as ABBA’s No. 1 best-selling album in Europe and Australia, Arrival from Sweden is the only tribute group given a previously unreleased ABBA song, “Just A Notion,” composed by Ulvaeus and Andersson. Arrival also has permission from ABBA’s original designer to wear exact copies of ABBA’s original stage costumes.
ARRIVAL from Sweden not only resembles ABBA in appearance, the group truly embodies the sound and personality of the Swedish pop band, making audiences feel as though ABBA itself is on stage. In fact fans often say, “It was like a real ABBA concert!”
As beer continues to remain popular in Western Michigan and across the state, the Michigan Brewers Guild has labeled July as Michigan Craft Beer Month with the celebration of the Guild’s 20th anniversary.
Michigan Brewers Guild was created in 1997, hosting its first festival in July 1998. This year, produced by its members Breweries, the Guild will again be hosting four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan Craft Beer. The festivals attract more than 3,500 people each year, according to supplied material.
The first event, the Michigan Summer Beer Festival will take place July 21-22 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town. Other upcoming festivals include: Saturday, Sept. 9, UP Beer Festival, in Marquette; and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27-28, Detroit Fall Beer Festival, at Eastern Market in Detroit.
With the number of breweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation — with claims of being The Great Beer State.
For ticket and more information visit MiBeer.com .
Bell’s announces coffee milk stout offering
Comstock’s Bell’s Brewery recently announced its new addition to its beer offerings, set to be released this fall as part of its specialty lineup.
Arabicadabra, a coffee milk stout with ABV of 5.5 percent, made to debut on draught in 12-ounce bottles, packaged in six packs, this upcoming October, according to Bell’s.
“This year, we are changing things up a bit,” said Laura Bell, CEO of Bell’s. “Arabicadabra is a different take on a coffee stout and very similar to a local favorite that was released at our pub and at some events. It’s time to share it with an even larger audience.”
The beer was inspired by Milchkaffe, another Bell’s specialty beer, which debuted 2015, with the mix of milk stout.
For more information on this upcoming beverage visit bellsbeer.Com .
How did an upper middle-class family who went to the vet to euthanize their beloved elderly cat, end up taking home one of the newer “super-pit” breeds cropping up? Well- you’ll have to read the book to find out, and it makes for a fairly unusual tale, as Eli (Oogy) returns from an almost Biblical destruction to prove that ultimately “living well is the best revenge”.
Caution: dog lovers will not be able to resist this dog or this book.
July is the peak of summer and often the high-point of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series — and there are three takeaways from those facts: a ton of top-notch talent is coming to town; they are mostly sold out but available for a price; and you better make some party plans before fall rolls in.
There will be 10 shows in 19 days this month starting with Sheryl Crow on Wednesday, July 12, and ending with Lifehouse and Switchfoot on Monday, July 31. In between is dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20 — Huey Lewis & the News, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Barenaked Ladies, and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers with the Wood Brothers.
All four shows are sold out, as are all but one of the July shows, including the highly anticipated July 27 visit by The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) — at least it is my most anticipated show. But still not sold out, so at regular Meijer Gardens price, is what should be a great show of relatively new-to-the-scene talents of Andrew Bird with Esperanza Spaulding on July 24.
And speaking of not being sold out … of the remaining 11 shows in August, seven of them still have tickets available, including Lyle Lovett’s annual visit, Garrison Keillor’s latest Prairie Home tour, the Punch Brothers, Tegan and Sara, John Butler Trio, and the improv/jam-band sounds of moe. with Railroad Earth.
Don’t know much about Railroad Earth but like a lot what mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan said, in supplied material, about the band’s live performances.
“Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song,” Skehan said. “There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.”
After a busy July and August, the Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40 — also not sold out.
Also this month, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for some great local and regional musical acts. The diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.
For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit meijergardens.org .
In 1951, a poor, 31-year-old mother of five died of cervical cancer. Without her family’s knowledge, her cervical cells were harvested and used to create the first viable cell line, known to scientists and doctors as ‘HeLa’. Her cells are used all over the world and have aided doctors in many of the greatest medical discoveries of our century.
While her cells have had great success, Henrietta Lack’s family have never been compensated or recognized for their great gift to the medical community. Rebecca Skloot and Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah, search for the truth and for Henrietta’s story, a remarkable narrative of faith, hope, science, ethics and journalism.
Well-Strung, a New York based string quartet with a twist, will perform at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts on July 14 at 8 p.m. The group is renowned for its fusion of classical music and modern contemporary hits. Tickets are on sale now for $35 in advance or $38 day of the performance. Visit sc4a.org or call 269-857-2399 to purchase.
The music of Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Adele, and Lady Gaga normally finds its home on the radio dial. But four young men from New York have given it a different home: on the strings of their violins, viola and cello.
The Huffington Post described the group as, “A genius mash-up of boyband and classical string quartet.”
Well-Strung is comprised of Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Trevor Wadleigh (viola), and cellist Daniel Shevlin. Saugatuck isn’t new to Shevlin, as he is a Mason Street Warehouse alumni, who performed in the musical “Alter Boys”.
See why the New York Times says Well-Strung is, “A talented quartet of men who sing and play instruments … brilliantly fusing pop and classical music from Madonna to Beethoven.”
Well-Strung is sponsored by Hilliard Lyons of Holland, CKC Architect/Charles Carlson, Scott Habermehl, Renee Zita, Larry Gammons & Carl Jennings.
We’ve entered one of Michigan’s most magical seasons. Michigan summers are the perfect time for exploration, new activities and, most importantly, fun! Fortunately for Grand Rapidians and those living in surrounding transit-friendly suburbs, there are a number of outdoor events to ensure you’re able to embrace the sunshine and warmth promised in July. The best part is that all of these events are free to the public.
Whether it’s watching your favorite local band or musician in the park, catching a movie or exploring your local farmer’s market, there are so many reasons to hop on board the bus and let us do the driving to these fun summer events. If you’re looking for the best deal and aren’t a frequent Rapid rider, purchase a 10-Ride Card to use for riding to these events.
Enjoy Concerts in Kentwood
On July 13, and 27, ride Routes 2 and 44 to Kentwood City Hall for live music from 7 – 8:30 p.m for the Kentwood City Summer Entertainment Series. The Mainstays will play on the 13th; Look Out Lincoln will be on the 20th; and The Tomas Esparza Blues Band plays on the 27th. This event also features food trucks and more! Grab your blanket or a chair for some Thursday evening fun.
Every Monday through Thursday, you can find a variety of fitness classes taking place throughout downtown Grand Rapids thanks to the Stay Fit Downtown Class Series. This 9-week program is a joint effort through Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the City of Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department. Free, no-registration classes include Zumba, ballroom dancing, kickboxing and more. Classes take place at Rosa Parks Circle, the Blue Bridge and the JW Marriott Lobby.
Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+
Listen to Music in Walker
The Standale Summer Concert Series takes place July 13 with Strumble Head and July 27 with Brena Band at Walker Community Park. Music starts playing at 6:30 p.m. and the fun lasts until 8:30 p.m. Ride Routes 12 and 50 to get there, pack a picnic and enjoy a beautiful evening with local tunes!
Explore the Market with your Kids
Grab your children and get on board the Silver Line or Routes 1 and 2 to head to the Downtown Market for free fun for kids every week in July. You can expect crafts, educational activities and more! Each week, Kids at the Market has a new theme that your children will love. While you’re there, grab lunch or a snack and do a bit of shopping.
Grand Rapids Public Museum is opening their doors for a day of free admission on July 16 from 12–5 pm. Explore all three floors of exhibits and dive into hands-on fun for the whole family. Make a day out of it by riding Routes 7 and 9 and enjoying lunch or dinner at a downtown Grand Rapids eatery.
Every Monday, ride Routes 7 and 9 to Ah-Nab-Awen Park to enjoy an evening of jazz presented by the West Michigan Jazz Society. Some of this month’s upcoming acts include Metro Jazz Voices, Kevin Jones Band and The Lakeshore Big Band.
How close is your nearest farmers market? There are so many that are transit-friendly throughout Grand Rapids, Grandville, Wyoming and Kentwood! Grab your reusable shopping bags, hop on board the bus and ride to your favorite farmers market to enjoy local produce and goods. You can even ride Route 14 straight to the Fulton Street Farmers Market every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday!
Ride The Rapid Routes 7 and 9 to enjoy an evening in Ah-Nab-Awen Park with movies, games, music, food and so much more!
Movies in the Park is back and better than ever before. If you haven’t been to this bi-weekly summer event at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids before, make sure to get one of the movie dates on your calendar. It’s the perfect chance to enjoy a budget-friendly evening with your friends or family in one of Grand Rapids’ beautiful riverfront parks. Along with the movies, attendees also have access to games, food trucks, a live DJ and much more before and in between movies.
This year, attendees can watch their favorite movies on a new LED screen. This means that you can now catch a double feature with the first film starting at 7 pm and an additional feature at 9:30 p.m.
– 7 p.m. – Mrs. Doubtfire (PG-13)
– 9:30 p.m. – Forrest Gump (PG-13)
– 7 p.m. – The Book of Life (PG)
– 9:30 p.m. -Jaws (PG)
– 7 p.m. – Selena (PG)
– 9:30 p.m. – The Bodyguard (R)
– Remember the Titans (PG)
– Pitch Perfect (PG-13)
Some tips for making the most out of this event include getting there early so you can get a great spot, and ride The Rapid or your bike to save money and time with parking. Costumes are encouraged for children and adults. For those 21+, bring your own alcoholic beverages and photo ID so you can enjoy them during the event.
The Accidental Billionaires is the riveting tale of the creation of the international social network Facebook which has deeply changed the way many of us communicate and relate to each other.
The story is fraught with competition for college women, money, fame, recognition and power. Since the story is mainly told through the eyes of Mark Zuckerberg’s friend Eduardo, we often get the sense that we’re not getting both sides of the story. Did Mark really come up with the idea for Facebook, or did he steal it from his fellow Harvard students? Did he rip off his best friend and business partner?
The Accidental Billionaires is fast-paced, exciting, and hard to put down. Read the book, watch the movie based on the book, The Social Network and see if you can figure out the real story of Facebook.
For those who have dreamed of true adventure, of exploring and of attempting perilous journeys and of living as a pioneer, The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert is a book you will not want to miss. Comparable to admired adventure books such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Last American Man follows the life of Eustace Conway, who at the age of seventeen left his family’s home to live in a teepee in the woods and wear skins from animals he trapped. He hiked the Appalachian Trail and set the world record for crossing the United States on horseback. Conway eventually purchased land in North Carolina and started the Turtle Island Preserve, which he built with his own two hands in the traditional way, and where he continues to hold camps and classes in survival and living off the land.
The Last American Man takes readers on Conway’s lifelong adventure in pursuit of his ultimate goal — to convince Americans to give up their materialistic lifestyles and return with him back to nature. Because Elizabeth Gilbert does an excellent job of writing his story, The Last American Man was a finalist for the National Book Award, and because Eustace Conway is a compelling character, it’s easy get lost in the adventure and feel oneself called toward the woods, to living a simpler life.
It’s been a long time since I was genuinely spooked by a ghost story, but only a few chapters into Heart-Shaped Box, I actually had to set the book down and take a short break. Hill’s first novel is a doozy, a ghostly revenge story that is highly effective in the chills and thrills department, with a bit of gore and some flawed but sympathetic characters thrown in.
It’s been years since two of Jude Coyne’s band mates died and he retired from a highly successful career as a death-metal singer and role model to Goths everywhere (think Alice Cooper and biting the heads off rats). Now he lives with his two devoted dogs, personal assistant, and an ever-changing procession of much younger female companions that he flippantly refers to by the state they are from.
Jude’s a collector of the macabre, and he is bored enough that he jumps at the chance to buy a supposedly haunted suit off an Internet auction. When the suit arrives in a heart-shaped box, he figures he’s been conned and doesn’t think any more about it until strange things start happening in the house. Current girlfriend Georgia (her real name is Marybeth) finds the suit on the bed next to her, smelling of decay, and Jude begins to catch glimpses of an old man with a swinging silver razor and a mysterious purpose.
I won’t give away any more of the plot, since half the fun comes in the discovery of how Jude’s past has literally come back to haunt him. Forced to confront his childhood, 54-year-old Jude finally starts to grow up, and his relationship with his girlfriend undergoes a just touching enough turn as a result of their ordeal. Jude’s dogs stay loyal to the very end (Warning to sensitive pet-lovers: keep away if you can’t take bad things happening to animals).
Hill is the son of Stephen King, a fact he kept hidden until just before the book was released, and he has inherited King’s gift for tweaking traditional horror elements into a narrative that is impossible to put down. This book is an excellent non-stop thriller that makes the traditional ghost story scary again.
The latest in a sequence of mysteries involving Torie O’Shea, Died in the Wool was the first of Rett MacPherson’s novels for me, but it certainly won’t be the last. I just happened to pick up MacPherson’s 2007 release, but now plan to start reading about Torie from the beginning of the series. I enjoy following a familiar figure through several books, like Janet Evanovich’s character, Stephanie Plum, and I think it won’t take long for Torie to become another one of my favorites. I found MacPherson to use humor in her story in much the same way that Evanovich does, but Died in the Wool lacked the slightly steamy scenes found in Janet’s stories about Stephanie Plum’s life.
Torie (short for Victory) O’Shea is a genealogist and president of the New Kassel, Missouri historical society and the main character in a series of short mysteries featuring a genealogical twist. She is a happily married, 40ish mother who also seems to have her hand in just about everything possible in her small town.
This story begins with an unusual introduction of characters in strong disagreement over the production of the town’s first annual rose show. Torie plunges through a tangle of interwoven events that are set in motion with the planning of the show: solve a mystery surrounding a ‘haunted’ house, investigate the apparent suicides of a prominent local family in the 1920s, and discover that all is not what is appears to be simply because of her interest in quilting.
Sound confusing? Not really. MacPherson does a good job of keeping the pace quick and the details from becoming overpowering. Though it all, she brings the reader into the world of discovering how the past reaches into the present by sharing secrets of successful genealogical researching. Died in the Wool is a very quick read at less than 300 pages, but with several more books featuring Torie O’Shea, it’s sure not to disappoint.
By M. Christine Byron, Grand Rapids Main Library and Thomas R. Dilley
This wonderful anthology brings together twenty-eight reflections on coming of age in Grand Rapids. These personal histories of young people who were seldom “seen or heard” document the social history of Grand Rapids from a fresh perspective. The earliest pieces date back to the 1830s and 1850s and the most recent describe coming of age in the 1960s through the 1980s. Half of the narratives in this volume are culled from existing books, journals and magazines; the other half are new pieces specifically written for this collection.
Gordon Olson, City Historian Emeritus, has gathered accounts of young people from historical sources. Reinder Van Til, an editor for William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, collected writings of living authors. As Van Til says in the preface, this volume represents “not only sharp personal writing by some of the best writers that Grand Rapids has produced but also a kind of impressionistic historical portrait of a community during a century and a half of its own coming of age.”
Albert Baxter and Charles Belknap write of past times when Grand Rapids could hardly be called even a one-horse town. Essays by Arnold Gringrich, Gerald and Betty Ford, John Hockenberry and Paul Schrader recount formative years and experienced here before they each would leave their hometown to make their ways in the world. Roger Wilkins, Levi Rickert, Al Green and Bich Minh Nguyen share their experiences growing up in a white community, and the racial inequities that are an indelible part of their memories. Edward Gillis and Max Apple write fondly of the strong ties to their ethnic communities. Poignant and memorable essays by Hank Meijer, Tom Rademacher and Kaye Longberg recall teenage years in the 1960s and 1970s, before the weight of adulthood had settled upon them.
Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Grand Rapids speaks to the remarkable diversity of experience that has made the city what it is today. This collection of voices gives each of us the opportunity to pause, look back and reflect on each of our personal histories.
If summer in West Michigan means anything, it is day-trips on sunny days to taste some brews (or other beverage of choice) and listen to some music. And local breweries and wineries are among the best places to do so.
Following is the latest of an ever-changing list of some summer offerings, in kind-of near-to-far listing:
Sparta has two concerts planned for their Concerts in Rogers Park series, scheduled for Wednesday June 21 and June 28 — and, just in case you did not know, Sparta’s Cellar Brewing Company this year moved downtown and expanded, and it has nights of music as well. For more information visit cellarbrewingco.com
The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids will host its Music at the Market series with music planned Thursday, June 22, July 19, and Aug. 16. from 7-9 p.m. — not only will there be food selections galore but remember that Aperitivo has great Michigan (and elsewhere) wines. For more information visit downtownmarketgr.com/market-hall
The Arcadia Brewing Company’s Riversedge Summer Music Festival Series in Kalamazoo, will host festivals on Saturday, June 24, as well as on July 22, Aug. 12, and Sept. 16. Tickets are $10 per event or $30 for all four. Children and young adults (under 20) are free to attend. For more information visit arcadiaales.com/kalamazoo/
Bell’s Brewery’s Beer Garden music also started in June and will continue into September. Bells garden in downtown Kalamazoo will host music acts including Billy Strings, Drive-by-Truckers, Raekwon (Wu-Tang Clan), The Verve Pipe, and The New Pornographers. For more information visit bellsbeer.com/events/cafe
Virtue Cider in Fennville is hosting live music throughout the summer. With their new lawn seating and new outdoor stage, the venue has a full season of entertainment planned — and great cider. For more information visit virtuecider.com/events/
Round Barn Winery in Baroda has outdoor music all summer long, including Barodeo on July 15-16 and Makers Market on July 29-30. Each event features music acts from across the state, wine and food. For more information visit drinkmichigan.com/round-barn
And, late in the summer, will be maybe the “Mother of All” brew and music events in West Michigan, the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Fest, featuring a variety of breweries, cideries, meaderies, and wineries on Aug.11-12. For more information visit traverse.microbrewandmusic.com
Don’t judge this book by its cover! It might be cliché, but in this case, fitting. The outward appearance of The History of Michigan Law belies the interesting content inside. Editors Finkelman and Hershock have organized a series of essays by twelve different authors surveying Michigan’s rich legal past. Readers can pick and choose a topic of particular interest or read chronologically from ‘Michigan’s Territorial Heritage’, to ‘The Struggle Against Sex Discrimination in the 1970s’.
In each essay, the author describes how the law in this area has developed over time. The dynamic nature of the law becomes clear as the authors discuss how the people of the state have shaped the law, carrying their traditions and values through changing economic and social circumstances.
In ‘Blood on the Tracks: Law, Railroad Accidents, the Economy and the Michigan Frontier’, Hershock reviews an important legal controversy of the 19th century: Who was responsible for keeping livestock off the railroad tracks? The new economy and its emerging technology were running headlong into traditional agricultural practices and the result was literally blood on the tracks. Hershock explains that developing stock laws, which required the fencing in of animals was an important step towards a modern economy.
In ‘The Promise of Equality and the Limits of the Law: From the Civil War to World War II’, Finkelman discusses some of the most significant legal developments of the 20th century. One of the functions of the law is to reflect the aspirations of a society, to hold up an ideal as a goal to be achieved. And yet it is important to remember that the law has limits.
Finkelman concludes, “Racism in Michigan could not be eradicated easily or immediately through legislation, prosecution or civil lawsuits. On the other hand, the persistent efforts of the Michigan legislature led to greater equality and greater opportunity for African Americans than they had in most other states.”
This important volume provides excellent background and worthwhile reading for both scholars and citizens as we face the legal challenges of the 21st century.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones, with Durand Jones & the Indications opening, June 9, at Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Mi.
Having only briefly touched on the music of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, via the song “Call Me” while cruising through my SiriusXM spectrum, I had little knowledge and less expectations when vocalist Paul Janeway and his band hit the stage.
What I got was a tight, often spectacular, set of modern soul — new soul? — during a 19-song, 1-hour and 45-minute set cut a little short, Janeway pointed out, by the Garden’s usual concert curfew.
The band may only have two albums to choose its set from, but the Broken Bones seemed like they had plenty of great songs to offer up: my favorites were “Waves” and “Sanctify”, both off their most recent release, Sea of Noise, while “Call Me” is from their 2014 release Half the City. But the attractiveness of songs such as “Is it Me?”, “Tears in the Diamond” and the encore-closing “Burning Rome” cannot be denied.
To be perfectly honest, however, it is Janeway that makes the Broken Bones unique and may make them a really big band. With all due respects to stellar guitarist Browan Lollar and keyboardist Al Gamble, and the rest of the high-energy band, the night was all about Janeway.
He pranced around the stage like the love-child of Elton John and Tina Turner. He dove in the audience with the longest mic cord I’ve ever seen — and nobody got strangled. With his deep south accent giving it color, his voice is as soft and soulful, or as rip-it-up soulful, as needed.
After the concert, I can’t wait to see what the band’s third album bring us.
The soulfulness of the night was set up perfectly with Durand Jones & the Indications’ 9-song set, with “Make a Change” being my favorite but maybe the best part of the set being watching Jones channelling James Brown.
May I have more, please?
Short and sweet here: How did the band get their name?
In a 2014 interview with the University of North Carolina Charlotte News, Janeway was asked.
“The ‘St. Paul’ part is kind of a joke on me, I don’t drink or smoke,” he answered. “The ‘Broken Bones’ is a lyric from probably the first song me and Jess (Jess Phillips, bassist with the band) wrote. ‘…broken bones and pocket change is all she left me with.’ So all she left me with was no money and this band.”
Know nothing about the break-up he’s talking about, but she got the short end of that split.
I borrowed a library copy of Words Fail Me by Patricia T. O’Connor to fortify myself with the confidence I’ll need to write a book next year. I chose this book over others for its brief chapters, breezy, humorous style and perfect sprinkle of examples. Thirty chapters make for a perfect chapter a day reading plan, but I ran out of chapters in two weeks. Yes, a book on writing was that good!
The book is divided into three sections: ‘Pull Yourself Together’, ‘The Fundamental Things Apply’, and ‘Getting Better All the Time’. All three sections are necessary but can be read out of order.
I found ‘Pull Yourself Together’ the most inspiring because I was hoping to glean inspiration and courage to write again. Shortly into ‘The Fundamental Things Apply’ I knew I had to purchase the book because of the desire to highlight for future reference. I’m so glad I did because ‘Getting Better All the Time’ has great chapters on writer’s block and revisions. O’Connor’s pithy lines may give you just the push you need to begin or resume writing.
On having good organization:
“An idea in your head is merely an idle notion. But an idea written down, that’s the beginning of something … A writer with good material is one who never lets a useful nugget slip away … A tidbit doesn’t have to be earth-shaking to be worth saving. It only has to be useful.”
On having verbs that zing:
“So when you go shopping for a verb, don’t be cheap. Splurge.” Instead of saying, “experience that magic,” say “bask in that magic”.
On improving writing:
“You can’t maintain a clear point of view without a consistent tone.” “When you write indirectly — with passive verbs, pompous words, or corkscrew sentences — you turn away from the reader.”
While reading this book I learned and was reminded of rules, tips and pitfalls; yet I was curious to know if seasoned writers would similarly profit. A search of Amazon reviews confirmed they did. So in concert with their recommendations, Words Fail Me will be my go-to book.
The Electric Forest music festival, taking place in late June in nearby Rothbury, is known for its cutting-edge musical explorations and its social relevancy. The festival’s “Her Forest” program — a celebration of modern feminist moods and music — continues that tradition.
This year, the festival — set to run June 22-25 and, expanding this year to two weekends, June 29-July 2 — will expand its Her Forest program with a curated new-music event.
“It’s inspiring to be expanding Electric Forest’s Her Forest program,” Electric Forest’s Alicia Karlin said in supplied material. “It allows us to host an even more diverse and unique lineup of performers at the festival. It’s important to us that Electric Forest continues to offer opportunities for new and distinct talent to share their art.”
Usually long sold-out this close to the festival, general admission tickets are still available for the new-this-year second weekend of the festival.
Performers for the debut of Her Forest curated music event, to be offered on the first week of the festival, were selected from “hundreds of fan submissions auditioning to be part of this unique celebration of women and all they offer to art,” according to supplied material
The winners, and set to perform, are solo DJ/ producer and violinist Alfiya Glow, Indian dance duo The Dance of Anarkali, the California-based duo Heartwurkz, female DJ M.O.B., dance and soundscape artist Frankie Taminal, and singer/piano/looping music player Melody Monroe.
A quick glance at one of the performers:
Alfiya Glow was born in Sochi, Russia, according to her website, and began her violin studies at the age of five and, after just seven months, had her first performance as a solo violinist with the Sochi Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, Alfiya was accepted into Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia, and received a full scholarship. She has performed at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, among others. Working in studio with artists such as R. Kelly, Lana Del Rey, and Boyz II Men, encouraged an already strong interest and passion for the musical genres of pop, hip-hop, and EDM, according to her website bio.
Also performing the inaugural Her Forest music event are Lynx & The Servants of Song and Monarch Rachel & Their Royal Court Drag Show.
“Like all of The Forest’s participation opportunities — we call them “Plug-In” programs — this collaboration invites the community to participate in shaping the EF experience,” Karlin said.
The Her Forest program includes a women’s group camp, artist panel, a meet-and-greet with Electric Forest Production Women. Her Forest Circles and Meet-ups also return this year.
The foundation of Electric Forest’s Her Forest initiative is, according to supplied material, based on three pillars: connection, inspiration and comfort.
“Our first goal was to start a dialogue … We knew the Forest Family could guide us in what this program should and could become,” Electric Forest’s Jeremy Stein said in supplied material. “It’s been an amazing collaborative process, and it’s still very much alive and evolving.”
Michigan mystery author Karen Dionne will be visiting Schuler Books & Music Thursday, June 15 for a 7 p.m. presentation.
The Detroit-based author will be discussing her latest thriller “The Marsh King’s Daughter.” The story centers around Helena Pelletier, who seems to have the life she deserves. A loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a business that fills her days. Then she catches an emergency news announcement and realizes she was a fool to think she could ever leave her worst days behind her.
Helena has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. No electricity, no heat, no running water, not a single human beyond the three of them. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in the nature – fishing, tracking, hunting. And despite her father’s odd temperament and sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learn precisely how savage a person he could be.
More than 20 years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marshland he knows better than anyone else in the world. The police commence a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. She knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King – because only one person has ever been trained by him: his daughter.
“Almost our entire staff has been wowed by the newest book by Michigan author Karen Dionne,” said Whitney Spotts, from Schuler Books and Music. The book has received praise from Lee Child and Karin Slaughter, and is a good selection for those who enjoyed “The Girl on the Train” and “The Widow.” “The Marsh King’s Daughter” has been called both a mesmerizing psychological suspense and a love letter to the Upper Peninsula, told through the story of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future.
Dionne is the co-founder of the online writers community Backspace, the organizer of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors. She has been honored by the Michigan Humanities Council as a Humanities Scholar.
Schuler Books & Music is located at 2660 28th St. SE.
This fantastical tale set in the world of the D’Angelines, divine offspring of eight fallen angels, takes readers on an imaginative journey through Terre d’Ange, a French renaissance-like world. Lush with detail, from the mythology and angelic beings to the ruling monarchy and court intrigue and a deliciously evil “Machiavellian villainess” that would have made Henry the VIII blush.
Told in first person narrative through the eyes of Phedre no Delaunay, who, born into a poor family is sold by her parents as an indentured servant into the Court of the Night-Blooming Flowers. Marked from birth by a scarlet mote in her eye, she is considered an outcast and left to her own devices until a nobleman recognizes the true meaning of the rare mark and purchases her. The scarlet mote, named for its namesake Kushiel an angel of punishment, represents one who experiences pain and pleasure as one — a masochist.
The nobleman keeps his knowledge of Phedre’s ability a secret and devises a plan to use it to his advantage. He graces her with a lifestyle and education of privilege and trains her as a spy and courtesan. When she comes of age he offers her services as bait to the most powerful political figures so that she may find their secrets and report them to him. But the extortion game ends when Phedre uncovers a conspiracy so powerful she finds that it was best left hidden.
Though the backdrop is true to the fantasy genre, it’s the central character who makes this story unique. Ultimately it’s a coming-of-age, self-discovery, exile, and redemption story about a woman who lives life from the perspective of pain as pleasure: “When love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me.” Though some readers may be dismayed by
Phedre’s nature, her actions are not gratuitous sexual romps merely for shock value, as they are essential to the plot, add depth to her character and invoke an interesting perspective to the story. Each scene that expresses Phedre’s nature is tastefully written.
A talented writer, Jacqueline Carey succinctly packs this mystery adventure into just over 800 pages, and the results are clear. Its 2001 debut garnered several “best of” awards, including the Locus (Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers Award) for Best First Novel. Carey followed up with two companion books: Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar to complete a trilogy. All are still in print and have legions of fans.
Readers looking for a quality fantasy won’t be disappointed.
The Saugatuck Center for the Arts’ annual summer Benefit returns Saturday, June 17, with an evening celebrating the organization’s 15th Anniversary. Tickets are $180/person and can be purchased by calling 269-857-2399.
Honorary co-chairs Sandra & Travis Randolph and Monty Collins & Jerry Dark welcome guests for an evening of drinks, dinner, auctions, and live entertainment — all in support of the SCA’s cost free programming for children and adults. SCA Executive Director Kristin Armstrong said she expects 300 guests, and calls the event an “SCA family reunion with a great mix of old and new friends. We love celebrating in the SCA rain garden with dinner and drinks — then heading into the theater for entertainment”.
This year’s dinner – created by The Gilmore Collection – features “elevated street fare” channelling the street truck food we all love with tastes from Cuba, Polynesia, Korea, and Greece.
The silent auction features dining and tasting experiences from Coppercraft Distillery, Virtue Cider, The Southerner, Salt of the Earth and others, plus jewelry, original art, tickets for hot concerts, and more. The live auction includes an exclusive wine pairing dinner at Wyncroft Winery, “must have” original art from Chicago artist Rubén Aguirre, hot summer sailing and dining experiences, a luxe trip to Cancun and more. And, guests will also get a sneak peek at the first Mason Street Warehouse production, the Tony award winning musical “Memphis: The Musical”.
The event takes place at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver Ave., Saugatuck. Space is limited; for more information or to buy tickets contact Kristin Armstrong at 269-857-2399 or visit sc4a.org.
Heavens, this woman can write! I enjoyed the second book in her Cromwell trilogy as much as the first, and she has taken the coveted Man Booker Prize for each of them — in 2009 for Wolf Hall, and in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies.
History is always written from someone’s point of view, and the story of Henry VIII has gotten plenty of ink and film credits. Mantel relished the challenge of writing about that tumultuous time from the imagined perspective of Thomas Cromwell, the notorious counselor to the king.
As always in politics, terrible crimes were committed to forward national and personal interest. Mantel is sparring with the gore, and her focus is on drawing one into the inner life and times of a fascinating man in a very dangerous job. It’s as if the author kept going deeper and deeper into the Hans Holbein portrait of Cromwell, to unearth the heart and soul beneath the butcher’s image.
One English reviewer concluded that Bring Up the Bodies was a “cracking good book”. I’m not an anglophile, but I agree — don’t miss it, it’s a cracking good read!
The first concerts of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series hit the stage this week, and most years aftermarket tickets are all that is available for the majority of the shows — and late comers pay the price: this week’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones show, original ticket price of $35, is sold out but available on StubHub for $102.35.
But this season, at last count, 16 of the 28 remaining concerts were not sold out. But, admittedly, many have only a few tickets remaining, with some of them having been returned for sale by the band.
Some of this month’s concerts with tickets available from Meijer Gardens include this week’s Diana Krall show, on Wednesday, June 7, as well as Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot! on June 18, Boz Scaggs on June 21, Daughtry on June 25 and Trombone Shorty on June 29.
For my money, the most surprising shows with original price tickets still available include Elvis Costello & The Attractions on July 17 — come on, Elvis will be in the building! — as well as the unique pairing and unique music of Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spaulding on July 24, and the always-great summer night with Lyle Lovett (with his large band) on Aug. 2.
Alas, possibly the show of the Meijer Gardens season, the July 27 visit by The Shins (aka James Mercer) and their inventive, modern alt-pop sounds, is sold out, with originally-priced $57 tickets now priced on StubHub at $111. At that price, you may as well head over to Chicago for the Sunday, Aug. 6, Lollapalooza day of concerts and catch The Shins with a ton of other great bands — StubHub tickets are currently $126.
The Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40.
Starting in July, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will also host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for some great local and regional musical acts. Starting Tuesday, July 4, with Green On Blue and The Red Sea Pedestrians, the diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.
For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit meijergardens.org .
The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters is a story of eight different brides and how they came to be looking for their dresses at Becker’s Bridal, a shop in Fowler, Michigan, that has been open since 1934.
I enjoyed reading about how Grandma Eva added a few wedding dresses to her in-laws’ general store and over the years slowly transformed the store into a bridal shop. As Eva passed the business to her son and daughter-in-law, and they passed it on to their daughter and granddaughter, every generation of owner has had to keep up with changing trends and buying patterns of brides and their families. They have also struggled with the price of pouring their hearts and time into keeping the family business alive and prosperous.
Zaslow intersperses the story of the shop with tales of brides whose journeys to marriage are not easy. There is the young woman who is in a debilitating car accident a week after getting engaged. There is the woman who lost her mother several years before and leans on her grandmother for comfort. And the woman who lost her first beloved husband to a heart attack and has now found a new man to share her life with, much to the dismay of her four daughters.
And the magic room? An old bank vault that current owner Shelley Becker-Mueller has turned into a softly-lit viewing paradise for finding the perfect dress.
This is an inspiring and interesting read with local flavor, since several of the brides are from Grand Rapids. The details Zaslow relates about specific relationships between mothers and daughters and fathers and family are truly heartwarming. And there is extra poignancy in the fact that the author, who talks about his own daughters and his hopes for them throughout the book, was lost in a tragic car accident just this past winter.
Creative teens can learn professional filmmaking and acting techniques and make a movie in a week during Compass College of Cinematic Arts’ summer Film and Acting Camps. These fast-paced, hands-on camps give high school students a glimpse into the real world of multimedia production and on-camera acting.
Both camps run June 19-23, and registration is open to teens ages 13-18. In Film Camp, students work with industry professionals and state-of-the art film equipment to write, direct, and edit their own short film. Meanwhile, students in the Acting Camp are cast in these films, and spend the week refining their on-camera acting techniques. At the end of the week, students walk the red carpet and their films premiere for friends and family in the theater at Compass College.
“Film camp was a great first look at the industry,” said John LeFan, former film camper and 2013 Compass College alumnus. “It’s a great starter program to get your feet wet. I was immediately hooked.”
The camps are designed for students with little to no film and acting experience. The instructors at Compass College make the process fun and as similar to a real-life production set as possible.
“Learning how to act on camera and having a role in a real short film was the most fun I’ve ever had at a camp,” said 2016 camper Rian Turner. “I enjoyed it so much that I’m coming back again this summer!”
The film campers go behind-the-scenes of the movie-making process to learn screenwriting, cinematography, lighting, camera, audio engineering, editing and much more—all while working with the actors in the acting camp! The acting students walk through the same process a real celebrity would use to learn their role for a new movie. They practice improvisation, master different acting techniques, audition for roles, rehearse their script, and discuss costume design. Then it all comes together in front of the camera.
“It’s a great opportunity for the campers to learn the filmmaking process in a creative and fun way,” said Joshua Courtade, Film Camp instructor and award-winning screenwriter, “The film students get to collaborate with the acting students and the results are some very fun short films.”
Over the years, campers have had the opportunity to Skype with Hollywood actors and producers like Beau Wirick, Mark Clayman, and Ralph Winter who have worked on the sets of shows like NCIS, The Office, and Arrested Development, and produced feature films such as, Pursuit of Happyness, X-Men, and X-Men Origins.
Space in the camps is limited so early registration is recommended. For more information, call Compass College at 616-988-1000, or visit online at www.compass.edu.
The Real to Reel program at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts show the Academy Award-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” on Thursday, June 8, at 7 p.m.
Tickets are general admission, priced at the door at $7 for non-members.
“I Am Not Your Negro” is based on novelist and activist James Baldwin’s last book, “Remember This House”. The unfinished novel was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of Baldwin’s close friends – Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. In this incendiary documentary, filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book Baldwin never finished.
The film examines race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and rich archival material, questioning black representation in Hollywood and beyond. “I Am Not Your Negro” is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter. Peck and Baldwin challenge the very definition of what America stands for.
The New York Times says “whatever you think about the past and future of what used to be called ‘race relations’ this movie will make you think again, and may even change your mind.”
The Saugatuck Center for the Arts is located at 400 Culver St., Saugatuck. For more information visit sc4a.org or call 269-857-2399.
As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, New Holland Brewing Company plans to release six throwback beers — both fan and brewer favorites from the past 20 years — during New Holland’s annual Hatter Days Street Party, Saturday, June 10, at the brewery’s Holland Pub on 8th.
In addition to being available at the Holland Pub — located at 66 E 8th St., in Holland — the throwback beers will also be available June 10 in six packs at New Holland’s Grand Rapids westside’s The Knickerbocker, located at 417 Bridge St. NW.
“We are thrilled to include throwback beers as part of our 20th anniversary celebration,” New Holland President Brett VanderKamp said in supplied material. “We want to thank everyone who has supported us over the past two decades by bringing back some of our favorite brews. It’s a special time for us, and we’re excited to revel in the nostalgia of this milestone with the community at what will be our most dynamic Hatter Days Street Party yet.”
This year, New Holland Brewing will partner with Kids’ Food Basket for Hatter Days. Guests who bring items from the Kids’ Food Basket Wish List to street party will be entered to win one of many raffle prizes, including a private beer- and spirits-paired dinner for 10 persons.
The throwback beer lineup includes Kourage, a brown ale was originally named “Dutch Kourage” and a dark, aggressively hopped brown ale; Zoomer Wit, a summer-favorite wheat ale first brewed 1998 with orange, spices and American-grown wheat; Y2K, from 1999, a barleywine-style ale with deep mahogany hues; Green Hornet, also from 1999, an American-style golden pale ale; Jubilee, also first brewed in 1999 — “It was a very good year …” — that harmoniously blends fruit and fermentation character; and finally Blue Goat, dating from 2006, this doppelbock beer is chestnut in color with a nutty malt profile from its Munich malt.
In addition to the throwback brews, Holland’s Hatter Days will feature free, family-friendly event where all ages are welcome for a BBQ cookout, live music from local and national acts and all-day acts from Daredevil Circus from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Hatter Days will continue with an afterparty inside the Pub until 1 a.m.
The live music lineup includes The Ragbirds, Mucca Pazza, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The afterparty music will be from Rusty’s Big Ass Band & Silent Disco, with DJ Dr. Joel between sets.
I had been coming to this realization for a couple of years that I didn’t understand my country. I felt there was this huge gap between the reality of what we were engaged in, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the way it was being sold to the American public. I thought there was a story there. ~ Ben Fountain
And it’s a great story! A finalist for the National Book Award, there’s enough craziness, extreme masculine humor, power struggles, fighting, money, and sex to cover all the raw major drives. It’s Fountain’s gift to take these unconscious forces and show how they can easily be dressed up and marketed to serve political ends. But he’s also given us a protagonist that we deeply care about, with Specialist Lynn.
Billy is an army private who’s just come out of a fire fight in Iraq, where his team took grievous casualties. Filmed by an embedded Fox News reporter, Bravo squad became instantly famous. Sensing that Americans need a self-esteem boost concerning the war, the Bush administration has brought the remaining Bravos back to the U.S. for a two-week Victory Tour. After the funeral of their sergeant, the Bravos are taken across the country, where they are endlessly lauded, feted and thanked. Now it’s down to the last day before going back to Iraq, and they are guests of the Dallas Cowboys for the big Thanksgiving Day game, where they will also participate in the halftime festivities, and hope to meet Beyonce.
A Hollywood producer is with them, pushing all the buttons for their big movie deal. The alcohol is flowing, and they are meeting the fans, the players, the cheerleaders, the owner’s cabal . . .
Dude, what could go wrong?
Fountain’s novel expresses hard and horrible truths about human nature, but he folds in so many more truths about love, loyalty, and incomprehensible bravery that we swallow the pill. The humor and warmth of the novel carry us along, even as Fountain holds up an often unflattering mirror to our collective narcissism.
I’m often resistant to books billed as being “inspirational”, “heartwarming”, or providing “life lessons”, but when I finally gave in and read Cooper’s book, Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat, I loved it. I figured that with her last book being, Diary of a South Beach Party Girl, which People Magazine touted as a “seedily thrilling world of mid-90’s Miami”, the cat book couldn’t be too sentimental…
In fact, Homer is anything but a poor, pitiful animal; his character is very bold and resourceful, drawing from a deep place of awareness without physical sight, since Homer is completely blind. Abandoned as a very young kitten, an infection took his eyes, and a veterinarian sewed the lids shut. When Gwen Cooper adopted him at 4 weeks, she realized that he was special, and others did too. Her (cat adverse) parents offer to take him in, if, “God forbid, anything should happen to you”. Her ex-boyfriend and his pals love to cat-sit Homer, explaining, “For he is El Mocho, the cat without fear!”
In one chilling chapter, Homer saves Gwen from an intruder in her house in the middle of the night. Living in the Manhattan financial district, the cats also survive the terrible days of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, where their apartment was only 5 blocks away.
The book works so well because the writing is crisp and funny, and the cat is so unusual and appealing, plus it’s a definite page-turner, and ok, it’s probably inspirational too.
On Saturday, June 3, Troll 4 Trout will join their pals Mid-Life Crisis to help celebrate the release of their third record, It’s About Time. For this show, the bands will perform for the first time at Grand Rapids’s newest music venue, 20 Monroe Live, located right next to The B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids. This show is a benefit for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Also performing is Andy Holtgreive of Domestic Problems.
Come on out for a fun night of live music while supporting a great cause. For tickets, go here. If you don’t get them online, you can also purchase at the door.