G-Sync

DETROIT: Movement is the new beat street

Opening Saturday, May 23 (Through Monday, May 25)
Motown may call the Motor City home, but techno was also birthed in Detroit and is still celebrated the world over with an international following. Each Memorial holiday weekend, fans of this musical art form flock from across the globe for three days of dancing under the sun (and dancing later in clubs – both legal and illegal – all night long). This year, more than 130 acts will be spread over six stages celebrating the growing genre of electronic dance music (or EDM) that is popular the world over. This year marks my tenth visit and I could not be happier about the way this ...
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While some may be familiar with the risks associated with riding a motorcycle during the busy and lazy days of summer – and the annual Blessing of the Bikes - many forget about another popular summer pastime of the maritime nature, boating. The concept of blessing a boat is not a new one or even unique to this region, but Muskegon is close and on Sunday you have a chance to get your own boat blessed, watch a parade of boats get blessed from shore, or view it from the surface of a boat as the on-board priest blesses each and every boat that passes by it at the annual Blessing of the ...
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There are really two kinds of folks who will be attending Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's ambitious (and head-scratching) production of Avenue Q, the popular contemporary musical that is without a doubt the most challenging piece of theater you are likely to see in your life.   For starters, the first bunch of folks you will see in the theatre are those who have no idea what Avenue Q is all about even after all the disclaimers. These folks will be easy to spot. Because even if they remain in their seats throughout the opening numbers sung by Muppet-like characters on tunes like "What Do ...
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There are few places left in this world where the inclusion of a handheld device breaks the tone of a room. These places are venues like a Midnight Mass, a movie screening, or a theatrical stage production. It's a powerful reminder of why we need to unplug and pause to focus on such art forms, like theatre is Actors' Theatre' production of Other Desert Cities (ODC) by Jon Robin Baitz. According to Kyle Los, Actor's managing director (and a performer in this production), ODC is a realistic look at the intricate family dynamics when the family members come together for a ...
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It will take years for all of us to fully understand the impact DisArt Fest will have on our region, from the way we build new structures to how we navigate within our city. What DisArt has started is a community-wide engagement festival where all of us can have a chance to lend our voices in helping make this city and region the most accessible city in the world. Ok, so I might be a bit anxious to top a list that I think matters a bit more than the ones we typically end up on these days, but a critical part of this next stage of advances will only happen if we have a plan. Luckily, the ...
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Full Disclosure: While I have a work of art on display (and for sale) at UICA's Live Coverage, I don't want to fail to mention that this group of local artists has included hundreds of artists over the years, who have come and gone, like me, at this much-beloved and festive event. Without this event, UICA, as well as our city, would have looked much different since I firmly believe this group of artists and art-lovers has enabled many artists' lives to be much different as a result of the new relationships built over time. Now 14 years old, Live Coverage is a truly wonderful ...
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There are a lot of things that have gone by the wayside, from VHS cassettes to phrases like "moving at a glacial pace" – which means something completely different to a millennial raised on a steady diet of images from shows like Vice TV or the latest reports on climate change. But one thing that never changes is the joy of entertaining wherever you are, with your friends or just with someone special. One area of stress for most hosting an event is the desire to build a solid playlist that will have your guests asking, "Who is this?" or nonchalantly grabbing for ...
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It is hard to imagine another woman who would rise up from the poorest of society's edges to become a symbol of perfection -- and the perfect example of how our choices shape us in our quest for power.   This is the controversial life of Evita Duarte Peron and the subject of one of the only Andrew Lloyd Webber productions I can stomach. Its operatic presentation with little dialogue (but a thrilling libretto) should have you clamoring for tickets to Circle Theatre's 63rd summer season's big opening production. Eva was an illegitimate 15-year-old who escaped a dirt-poor existence ...
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It is hard to imagine, but this weekend will be the last two opportunities you will have to experience the magic and inspiring work of Grand Rapids Symphony's (GRS) Music Director David Lockington, who will be stepping down after this season's end. Under his baton the GRS has been become a Grammy-nominated orchestra, debuted at Carnegie Hall, and engaged in and around in our community with innovative and diverse programming to make the experience of music more inclusive of other communities in our region. Billed as “David’s Grand Finale,” the night's triumph ...
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You want to know what is better than playing Cards Against Humanity?   Playing the popular game in a tournament at the westside's Flamingo Lounge with a DJ and Rev. Charles Preston Smith as your host.    Don't believe me?   Then stay home. But know if you do then your Facebook feed is going to be jam-packed in the morning with reports of all the antics he created for this event in his bid to raise funds for Carol's Ferals.   Admission: $10 for tournament and entertainment. Register in advance here
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Each Memorial Day weekend, people from all over the world flock to Hart Plaza, located on the water in downtown Detroit, to attend Movement - one of the world's most eclectic music events devoted to the art of electronic music. Over the years, DJs and arts leaders have sought to create meaningful collaborations between our two cities and while some have been successful, others have failed. Part of this failure is that we need to educate folks about what electronic dance music (EDM) is and how Detroit came to be the epicenter for so many of the faithful who enjoy this style of music. ...
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At this point of the holiday season, I have had enough of the Kenny G Muzak soundtrack that area shops love to pump over the speakers to calm us during a stressful season that really began when a man named Joseph could not get a hotel room.  Stress seems to be a part of it from the very start.

But have no worries since just in time comes the perfect Christmas treat: the 8th Annual Bad Santa Holiday Spectacular produced once again by the Potatoebabies' frontman, the one and only Rev. Charles Preston Smith. 

Once again the weary faithful and politically incorrect will stroll into Westside's

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Each year since 1991, Dining Out For Life has asked restaurants all over the United States and Canada to consider setting aside one day to consider how the food they craft could be harnessed to create an impact for good in our communities.   More than 60 cities band have banded together this year to celebrate the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. In turn, by dining out at any one of the participating restaurants, communities hope to raise more than $4 million dollars in a single day to benefit local organizations serving the needs of the HIV/AIDS community.   In West Michigan, more than 25 ...
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Last month, the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls, who are celebrating 10 years of blazing new trails within the sports world this month, made a huge move. Not only did they change their name to be more inclusive, but in doing so the Grand Raggidy Roller Derby (GRRD) introduced a brand new opportunity for the boys to get on the track. On the occasion of their tenth anniversary match on May 2, the GRRD will be inviting all former roller girls and fans of the last 10 years to join them at the Rivertown Sports space. It is a reunion unlike any other that I can recall. It is also a chance to check out ...
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In February 2014 a mural challenge was submitted to Mulligan's Pub by Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) to create something original and fresh for the local Eastown watering hole. (Mulligan's is the number seven account in the nation for PBR.) But Mulligan's design submission, created by two local artists, Tubes (Joe Parsaca) and Norteaa (Nick Nortier), sat on the desk for nine whole months before finally getting the green light. According to the artists, this new mural – a true collaborative labor of love – took three months ago to execute, and on Friday night you are ...
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Five years ago, when local DJ SuperDre (who has since moved to Detroit) launched her iconic party, BassBin, in Eastown, it was hard to imagine how the event – and the city – would change. On Monday night, the faithful will gather to celebrate what she has been made possible as well as showcase that our city has easily shifted into a 24 /7 mindset, as events move from their weekend stronghold and begin taking over the other days of the week. Monday was always tough but is becoming less so, and we can thank people like SuperDre for the vision she unleashed five years ago. Right ...
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It is very easy for anyone to become desensitized (or worse, paralyzed) after a season of troubling news stories complete with images that depict young black men like Jordan Davis, Tamir Rice, Jordan Crawford, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, who were all gunned down in our nation's streets, often for very suspect reasons. These images have granted each of us an unexpected front row seat via our handhelds and televisions. Many do become numb to it and change the channel but others, like Holland's CultureWorks Gallery, are seeking to present a meaningful platform to ...
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In the fall of 2013, T-Bone Burnett presented a New York City’s Town Hall music event that sought to elevate the diverse singer/songwriter voices of the artists on the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack. If you saw the Showtime TV special of this event (titled Another Day, Another Time) then you remember that one moment where Rhiannon Giddens, founding member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, broke through the stratosphere as her voice left the planet. Giddens, with her flawless gospel, jazz, and blues style, will stop by at St. Cecilia Music Center’s (SCMC) Acoustic Café Series ...
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If you have had your head stuck in the sand over the last few years, you will no doubt be shocked to learn that the local economy is thriving again. And while not all sectors are growing, one area that is doing well is the one that seeks to elevate and celebrate the local brands made here in our state. East Hills' Made in Michigan Day is a neighborhood business district's effort to showcase all things Michigan. And since I am a huge fan of what art has been able to make possible here in our state, I'm also pleased that these Michigan artists - Nora Faber, Royce Deans and Maggie ...
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It is not every day that we get to welcome a bestselling author whose resume boasts lines including Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, and White House Fellow. But lucky for us, we get this opportunity this week  (twice) as First Steps of Kent County welcomes Wes Moore to the region.   Moore rose to notoriety after his book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, drew rave reviews after it was published in 2010 and set in motion dialogue about the topic of education in our society. In the book, Moore tells the tale of his own childhood struggles and family challenges, contrasting ...
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Since this event is the same day as we publish, I need to find the words that will get you to change your direction and head to Grand Valley State University's downtown campus tonight for a chance to hear a speaker who is going to rock your world and all that you know. For starters, Caroline Woolard raised $1 million in less than two weeks via 300 people on a crowd-funding site who pledged to create New York's Real Estate Investment Cooperative (REIC). As part of a growing movement of artists in the world looking to address the issue of displacement, Woolard's message is quite ...
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The Brew Ha-Ha: Laughter + Foam = 7th Heaven

Friday, Apr. 17, 5 - 10 p.m. and Saturday, Apr. 18, 1 - 10 p.m.
It is hard to imagine that we are at lucky year seven already for the annual beer and laughter themed festival, The Brew Ha-Ha. 101.3 The Brew, along with Jolt Vapor & WZZM 13, welcome back to the DeltaPlex a stellar line-up of local comics and Comedy Central's Jimmy Shubert for two side-splitting days of laughter. As has been the trend at this event, the first day is heavily focused on the comics with a full roster of comedy. Day two is a mixed bag with comedy and music throughout the day, ending with The Bimini Brothers, who will mark their third stop at The Brew Ha-Ha over the ...
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We can debate how great the 1970s & '80s were or you can see firsthand one of the reasons that this era is still relevant as The Pyramid Scheme welcomes DJ Grandmaster Flash back to Grand Rapids. Known throughout the world as the forefathers of hip hop, Grandmaster Flash, along with the Furious Five, helped set in motion a musical style that is still very much a part of our culture today. And while it is true he will venture into new territory, as witnessed on his last tour through Grand Rapids, it is the eclectic "you-don't-know-what-to-expect" style that keeps me ...
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Record Store Day is here again, and it is to our local independent record stores what ArtPrize is to downtown restaurants: Christmas-like cash raining from the sky…. that is, if you show up to support your record store. Started in 2007, RSD started as a reaction to the possible closing of a much-beloved indie record store. Now celebrated each year, this annual event has captured not just the imagination of the indie music scene all around the world, but RSD has introduced a new era of music lovers to the concept of the local record store. (Remember a lot of next gen folk's first ...
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The newest exhibition at UICA, Terms of Service (TOS), is a look at the matter of identity, individualism and the conditions that we must face (often without notice) within the increasingly surveillance in our lives. The timing of this exhibition could not be more perfect, as many of us begin to question what exactly are we trading on within this new digital landscape many find hard to escape. This exhibition is unique in that it presents an international voice – not just a local's response to the topic - as TOS addresses the psychological pressures that commercial and ...
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One has to admit that any mission statement that includes the phrase "a celebration of badass women in our community" has got to be an event for women who love to roar … and the men who love them. Each spring this hyper-grassroots event, LadyFest, which has evolved to be so much more than just another DIY, educational-focused event with a concert at the end, has definitely upped the ante for other festival events with their expansive programming along such diverse lines. Each year the workshops are rich in topics. "How to…" hands-on sessions on things from ...
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Billed as a three-headed monster of an event, this guitar-loving, testosterone-filled night will give you the occasion to up your local music collection by three as Shane Tripp, The Extra Texture, and The Howlers all release their latest discs to the public with this special concert at Founders Brewery. While I am not as familiar as I should be with Shane Tripp's music (which is equally difficult to find and all the more reason to stop in and secure a disk), the other two artists are no strangers to me so I can share with certainty that the sonic trip down guitar-laden memory lanes will ...
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After all the meetings of the last 18+ months, the little festival that could help reshape the way we look at ability, Grand Rapids' DisArt Festival, is finally happening. As with any art show or festival in this city, each event provides an opportunity to open the door to a new level of understanding about the lives of others. The artists of DisArt Fest, living locally and around the world, offer viewers a chance "to reconsider the importance of community, identity, and difference." One key highlight of this first-time event is the U.S. premiere of Art of the Lived ...
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The gift of a philanthropist is often felt by the future. This weekend is the 2nd annual and greatly expanded Wege Prize at UICA in downtown Grand Rapids. This year the event was open to the entire nation and the presenters will have a shot at taking home a share of the $30,000 purse up for grabs. The Wege Prize is a collegiate, trans-disciplinary, collaborative "wicked" problem-solving competition created by KCAD and the Wege Foundation. The team recruited 16 teams to create a product, system or business functioning within a sustainable, circular economic model. On Saturday ...
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After nearly six years since her last solo exhibition, Calvin College professor and art photographer Jennifer Steensma Hoag breaks her "solo" silence on her c.v. as she unveils a breathtaking and disturbing new body of work, Compromised Beauty. This by far her most arresting work, which moves from the comfort of mysterious documentation into a narrative driven format where something has clearly happened to the environment and we are the survivors witnessing the aftermath. It is unclear what happened but what is clear by the yellow uniforms is that whatever is being collected on ...
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As part of a countdown of events leading to the closure of the much-beloved, 22-year-old Diversions Nightclub on Fountain Street, the bar will host one last karaoke on Friday night. On this festive night, Diversions will be featuring hosts past and present to help the crowd bid farewell to the bar's current location. Each host will have an hour of fun planned that will also include a very special drink, created to be a reflection of the host. The night will be programmed with surprises and special guests as well as one last time to sing your heart out for one of the most supportive and ...
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Those who want to expand their cultural celebrations of Cesar Chavez Day will want to add a trip to Grand Valley State University's DeWitt Center, where the college will be hosting a special Young Lords in Lincoln Park presentation. Kicking off the event is Elvira, a 90-minute live performance about a Mexican woman who sought sanctuary with her son for over a year inside a Chicago UMC building to bring attention to immigrant families being divided. These individuals, part of the Young Lords movement of Lincoln Park, went on (like Chavez) to become national heroes. The occasion also ...
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It is no secret in this city that before we get to enjoy the often sublimely playful summer stock of theater productions from groups like Circle Theatre and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre (like the debut of Avenue Q, which is sure to turn heads 360 degrees around like the frank-talking puppets on stage), our season of serious works must come to a close.   Taking us on an adventure to Italy this spring is Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids with their production of the musical The Light In The Piazza.   Based on the film and novella of the same name, Piazza begins with American Margaret Johnson who ...
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In a bold first move to establish a wider audience with the fans of fresh food in our region, the Fulton Street Farmers Market, established in 1922, is trying something truly fresh and filling: Soup. It is hard to believe there is still room for another four letter word that evokes such smiles as L-O-V-E does when we are in it, but Soup at the Fulton Street Farmers Market is doing just that this Saturday. This all-you-can-eat affair will give our area restaurateurs, farmers, ranchers, herds-people, cheese-makers, bakers, and artisan tastemakers a chance to collaborate and showcase what is ...
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In the heart of downtown Grand Rapids is one of the country's best venues for live music. Problem is that many folks in our region still do not know about St. Cecilia Music Center's many layers of programming devoted to the same mission they began in 1883: "to promote the appreciation, study and performance of music in order to enrich the human spirit and enhance the quality of life for the residents of West Michigan." Whether is be welcoming award-winning and soon-to-be legendary jazz acts, showcasing rising stars of contemporary music that defy categories, or creating an ...
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There is no shortage of music events in traditional art institution settings, from the GRAM's classical music series to the many performance halls around the city. We have even become accustomed to pop-up venues, with events from Hugo Claudin's Mexicains Sans Frontieres to the neighborhood house-based festival LampLight to the too-many-to-list individual house concerts hosted in our region. What has been missing is a place that I recall from my time in cities like New York and Washington – a place where musicians perform in the intimate setting of a tiny art gallery. Our ...
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So Grand Rapids didn't break a record on Thursday night by wearing the most crowns at LaughFest's 2015 kicks off community event. It's not a bad deal when you consider that when I saw my friends Patrick and Teresa in photo they texted me I seriously thought for a second their plane from LA had been diverted to a Renaissance-themed restaurant in NY. But if you have been out in the city during the first part of the 10-day festival then you no doubt have noticed something tangible in the warming air of our city: Laughter in the face of the retreating winter. And there's more to ...
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You have made it through the snow, survived past your unobtainable New Year's Resolutions, frantically hunted via Tindr/Grindr for that special Valentine's date and then finally discovered that March has arrived -- and you, like a lion, feel the urge to roar in our (slightly) warming air. So what do you do? Well, I will tell you what you do. You join others who are ready to rebel against the chill by lifting a pint in the open downtown air. You toast to the fact that you survived another winter. Locally we have come to call this rite of passage Irish On Ionia in honor of St. ...
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News headlines are often filled with the struggles of the modern education movement but rarely do you get a chance to see progress right in front of your face. Locally we have a unique opportunity to meet and hear Jacqueline Edelberg, an author who started a revolution in education around the country, including in one Grand Rapids neighborhood school.    Edelberg, along with co-author Susan Kurland, created How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance - a book that has become the "go-to book" for parents, community volunteers, area businesses, and of course, ...
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If you are like me, you're tired of looking up and seeing only clouds that drop snow on your glasses and cloud your vision. After a long season of cold, it is hard to look up and not expect the worst. But while we are transitioning from winter to spring, a look up will begin to reveal other marvels. If you live in the city it can be difficult to see it, but there be stars up there. If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the city where light pollution is being addressed, you know the joy of seeing those stars, so bright above our city. The Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomy ...
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You know what LaughFest loves more than breaking world records? (I'll tell you later.) But the journey to that answer starts on Mar. 5, when LaughFest will once again be bringing the community together to kick off the festival with fun and festivities…and hopefully setting another world record!   In downtown Grand Rapids Thursday night LaughFest 2015 kicks off by attempting to set another world record attempt for the Most People Wearing Paper Crowns, which currently stands at 1,324. It all starts at 5 p.m. Details on participating can be located here. While some shows are sold ...
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It might seem odd that on the night I am returning to the stage at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar and Grill to open for Sarah Jean Anderson's 2nd After School Stand-up Comedy Special I would dare suggest that you must see UICA's 2nd installment of the one-night-only event, Bring Your Own Beamer. But BYOB is that good and should be on your list if you enjoy projection-based artworks as I do. This open-source exhibition international projection art series created by Rafaël Rozendaal is having a revival in Grand Rapids after last fall's impressive debut at UICA. At the time, I almost ...
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The Westside of Grand Rapids is popping with activity of all kinds lately. Suddenly those seeking a different cultural experience in the city of Grand Rapids are following the ancient California motto to "Go West!" This trend is evident not just through the new projects popping up along Bridge Street but also by the evolving works and new art practices being generated in warehouse pockets, from the Tanglefoot building and Dinderbeck to neighborhood-driven, community artists at the Glitter Milk Gallery. The Westside art culture is something rare in this city. Joining this group ...
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It is rare that a work of theater gets to celebrate a decade of performances, much less 25 years. But that is exactly what is being celebrated this spring at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, who will welcome The Traveling Troupe to the stage as they celebrate 25 years of providing “theater for everyone.”   This troupe, made-up of a group of volunteers consisting of pre-teens, teens and adults, will present The Hundred Dresses for our area children aged 8-14 years and their families. Typically these performances have taken place throughout Kent County Public and private schools but this ...
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West Michigan has long had a steady relationship with the work of one power couple (and their grandparents) and for once I am not talking about the DeVos-VanAndel empire but that of Charles and Ray Eames, who formed a partnership with Herman Miller that we still benefit from to this day. But many may not be aware of how their grandson, Eames Demetrios, has been traveling the world, creating new connections as he installs markers and denotes the historic sites of a parallel world he calls Kcymaerxthaere. I was recently reminded of these 104 markers and historic sites installed in 22 ...
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West Michigan has long had a steady relationship with the work of one power couple (and their grandparents) and for once I am not talking about the DeVos-VanAndel empire but that of Charles and Ray Eames, who formed a partnership with Herman Miller that we still benefit from to this day. But many may not be aware of how their grandson, Eames Demetrios, has been traveling the world, creating new connections as he installs markers and denotes the historic sites of a parallel world he calls Kcymaerxthaere. I was recently reminded of these 104 markers and historic sites installed in 22 ...
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There is no shortage of fun dance party events in the city these days and this weekend, in what can only be described as the battle of the booty, comes two events that even old King Solomon would have trouble choosing between.   For starters, The Pyramid Scheme is banking on a big box office sequel success with the return of last year's popular downtown comic store Vault of Midnight's second dress up event: Super Heroes Unite! (The first one was a birthday celebration for Batman who, if you recall, is finally old enough to collect social security.) To up your odds, use the hashtag ...
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As Grand Rapids attracts more and more attention from the outside, those on the inside know that our city has a vibrant and lively music community committed to expanding our musical landscape. Michigan Global Roots Music Festival (MGRMF) is committed to the showcasing of local world music. The festival returns to downtown's One Trick Pony for an afternoon of amazing grooves to start your winter thaw on March 1 right. With a focus on the family aspects of this music (i.e. lyrically smart for families worried about language use), MGRMF presents traditional world folk music married to a ...
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Local actor and singer/songwriter Joshua Burge's face is being plastered all over buildings -- and soon the big screen -- in celebration of his role in director Joel Potrykus' third Grand Rapids-set animal film trilogy "Buzzard," which is coming to American theaters on March 6.   But before the national release, on Mar. 4 you will have another great opportunity to see the second film in the trilogy, "Ape," at UICA.   In the first short film, “Coyote,” Burge is a nervous werewolf ranting about howling at the sun like the junkie that he is. Pretty tame ...
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It is easy to think that whistle blowers are something that occur in other parts of the country or world and are not connected to tiny, off-the-beaten-path places like Grand Rapids.   However, on March 8, 1971 a group of ordinary Americans (including a couple from Grand Rapids) who were very concerned about potential violations of civil rights did something quite bold. Their story is the subject of a documentary film, 1971, and is being screened as a part of Fountain Street Church Duncan Littlefair Great Speaker Series. Local residents Bonnie Raines and her husband John were members of this ...
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