Last weekend, Outta This World Booking, a local booking group I spoke with a few columns ago, put out a compilation album featuring 10 bands from Southeast Michigan. When I found out about this, I checked out their newly-formed Bandcamp page, bought the album and hit play.
The social distancing rules put into effect in response to the COVID-19 crisis have affected everyone greatly, but those who are in creative and artistic professions — whose livelihoods depend on public engagements — have been hit extremely hard by these changes. In the University of Michigan community, important student and faculty projects have been postponed or canceled altogether, many of which were milestones in students’ artistic careers, like senior recitals and theses.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the cancellation of South by Southwest resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s safe to say that in the two weeks since that article was published, a lot has changed in the state of Michigan. As of midnight on Monday, Mar. 23, Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home Stay Safe executive order (which intends to halt any “non-essential” public gatherings or activities) was brought into effect. This policy was enacted with the news of over 1,000 cases of COVID-19 being found in Michigan in the last 13 days.
I decided to write about my love for The Blind Pig long before I knew I would have to say goodbye to Ann Arbor and its many strange institutions that I love. As such, this piece feels entirely bittersweet, tinted with more longing than a simple ode to my favorite concert hall in town would normally be.
Time is an active friend. It skips, flies, races and slows. It’s spent and wasted. It’s on our hands and walls and microwaves. In moments of joy, we never have enough of it.. And, in a few indelible moments in our lives, time holds its breath and stands completely still.
I tie “Interstellar” to the concept of time because of how rooted it is to a specific time in my life. I was 18 years old when I first watched the movie in my AP Literature and Composition class. I knew nothing of it other than that it starred Matthew McConaughey and came out in 2014 — my freshman year of high school. When we watched it, I was a month shy of graduating. I can’t tell you the run time, or at what point I truly felt myself reeled in, but I bawled my eyes out and forgot about the assignment all together.
In 10th grade English, as our final book of the year, my class cracked open Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel “Slaughterhouse-Five.” After a grueling year of classics like “Gulliver’s Travels,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Canterbury Tales,” I assumed that “Slaughterhouse-Five” would be more of the same long-winded stories that had populated our classes up to that point. The title reminded me of “Animal Farm” and filled me with expectations of complex allegories or tedious legends from a slaughterhouse.
Last Tuesday evening, book critic Donna Rifkind spoke to a modest audience in the sun-soaked coffee shop above Literati bookstore. Rifkind’s reviews have appeared frequently in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Book Review and Washington Post.
The drummer walked in first. The stage was bathed in a strobing blue light and he sat behind numerous percussion instruments. He started with his fingertips tapping the bongos. Then an additional drummer found a place behind the traditional drum kit and added his coloring of snare and high hat. Through just this percussion, the Michigan Theater auditorium filled up with the lushness of a chorus. A guitarist and bassist were the last to enter before the singer. The foursome introduced themselves to the audience, already improving and riffing off one another’s energy.
Each month, we invite Community Culture writers to respond to a themed prompt in a creative writing notebook. This month, February, is the month of love! But searching for valentines is SO last year… this month’s theme is breakups, bad dates and broken hearts. — Zoe Phillips, Senior Arts Editor
My worst first date ever began at Steps on Broadway, an old dance studio on New York City’s Upper West Side.