G-Sync

If electronic dance music (or EDM) can find an audience for five years on a Monday night at Billy’s for BassBin (and starting at 10 p.m.), then surely those with a bit of spring in their step can find something worth planning for on Mondays at 8 p.m when the 2016 season of Comedy Outlet Mondays starts up again. For its 2016 debut, the girls will be taking over the stage starting at 8 p.m. for the first hour as they welcome a variety of improv-based comics to perform in a solid hour of on-the-spot created humor. At 9 p.m., the guests on stage will welcome members of the audience who want ...
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It is hard for many to imagine that the first Star Wars arrived nearly 40 years ago in 1977. It is even harder to imagine that, after the film’s creator allowed one of the greatest film franchises to devolve into such a storied disaster (see Episodes 1-3),  so many of us had given up hope it would ever be rebooted. This is finally the year fans of the Star Wars franchise have been waiting for, as the new film is opening worldwide on December 18. People are excited because a much-beloved director arrived at the helm,  J.J. Adams, ensuring that Lucas’s touch on Star Wars: The Force ...
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Most of the bands you loved from the ‘80s — and may have rocked your or your parents’ libido — are either being routed now in this era to your local casino or being directed to the mega-reunion show at a small town’s trailer village for senior citizens. While some acts are breaking this tradition, we are lucky that one local late ‘80s band is still attracting scores of folks to their concerts. Not only is our local ska boyband Mustard Plug still performing after all these decades, but the band’s annual Holiday Party concert being held at The ...
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What is better than seeing a bus full of Santas race by you on a Saturday night? Being on a bus full of Santas, and you are one of them. Each holiday season, the Grand Rapids Bar Crawl (GRBC) hosts a special St. Nicholas edition of their popular pub hop event where attendees are encourage to dress up like Santa Claus. What makes this bar tourism service stand out in our region is the level of theatre built into each event that GRBC creates, as guests receive a curated evening with plenty of theatrical and Instagram-worthy moments. GRBC’s event staff produces each event built upon years ...
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Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School: An haute winter siren

Sunday, Dec. 20, 5 - 8 p.m, (Dr. Sketchy's) & 9 - 10 p.m. (Haute Holidays)
Our city’s wildly popular but non-degree seeking art school of Grand Rapids, Dr. Sketchy’s, is taking a bit of a fun holiday break from the norm and offering a very special night at The Rezervoir Lounge in the heart of Creston. Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School this month will once again feature your fabulous hosts, Miss Vivacious Miss Audacious and Sarah Jean Anderson, and will welcome a very special model who has been turning heads ever since she debuted in the basement at (the now closed) Diversions. Drag queen Siren, who recently competed in Grand Rapids Drag Race, may have ...
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At The Plum Grove: Tapping history for a roadmap to our future city

Friday, Dec. 11, 5 - 9 p.m. (opening), Wednesday, Dec.16, 4 p.m. (closing discussion)
The history of any place is so often filled with stories of those who, after observing the world close to their home, formulated thoughts as to create a better world and then enacted the bold steps to create a positive impact. Names like New York’s Jane Jacobs to the Hispanic labor leader Cesar Chavez to the multi-focused Martin Luther King, Jr. have all made the argument about the power and necessity of having a community conversation. The impact of such knowledge sharing can become the building blocks of understanding upon which we can grow as a society. On Friday, Grand Valley State ...
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There seems to be no shortage of folks who claim an ignorance of what is electronic dance music (EDM) in this market, but luckily we are seeing on many levels an effort of a few promoters to change that fact. One artist who has single-handedly owned Monday nights for more than five years is DJ SuperDre, who created a music night at Billy’s Lounge in Eastown titled Bassbin. Since its debut, Dre’s programming of this weekly series has been spot-on and has educated our market on the diversity of EDM beats and styles. DJ SuperDre may have departed Grand Rapids a few years ago to ...
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It is no surprise to anyone that the Grand Rapids jazz market is something truly remarkable. It is hard not to get caught up in the joy of this growing scene if you visit, as I have, any number of the local restaurants or bars that have programmed in this style of music to their venue’s offerings. And while a bar or restaurant is a wonderful place to enjoy live music, nothing can come close to touching the joys of seeing a favorite act live in an acoustically sound venue. The New Vintage Jazz Concert series was launched at the American Seating complex on Grand Rapids’ Westside in ...
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Last month, G-Sync Events singled out Let’s Talk GR Music, a community-building event that invited musicians and band members to discuss how we see our local music scene, but also how we might be able to address any threats to our region’s success. What organizers had thought could devolve into a complaint fest with little hope of getting to a second conversation if the first event posting's rants proved to be the norm at the Wealthy Annex session quickly dissipated like our first snow of the season, as the room was overwhelmed with scores of artists — young and old, ...
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Dogfight: Innocence lost and found

Opening Thursday, December 3 - 19, see website for showtimes
Fresh on the heels of their West Michigan debut of the rowdy and colorful ‘80s dark musical comedy Heathers, Actors’ Theatre of Grand Rapids presents Dogfight, a stage adaptation of another popular indie film. This time, instead of a cast of high schools girls unleashing holy terror on their classmates, Dogfight tells the reflective and poignant story of a group of rowdy Marines about to depart overseas to Vietnam. It is the story of a heartless (and thought to be harmless) prank that goes too far and how the symbolic road back to redemption must take a turn for love. In the ...
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What is not to like about a city that is able to attract more and more talent from the east side of our state?  And one act that is not just packing in the fans but also capturing the attention of critics and music lovers alike is Flint Eastwood. Flint Eastwood is a mix of Flint (city), East (East Detroit) and Wood (LA’ s Hollywood); lead singer Jax thought of the name while living in L.A. and liked how all three places influenced her sound in some fashion. Now based out of Detroit, the alt-pop songstress has just released a brand new EP, “Small Victories,” three short weeks ...
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Grand Caroling: Come join the throng in song

First three Fridays of December, Dec. 4, 11, 18, 6 p.m.
Looking for a new holiday tradition that has a bit of everything, from a million dollar view to some of the best voices in our city? Then you have to make a stop at one of the three special Grand Caroling sing-a-long concert events happening in downtown Grand Rapids (and just steps from the warmth of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotels’ newest restaurant,The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck). Cindy Schneider, owner of the wildly popular downtown tapas eatery San Chez came up with the idea of hosting on the stately Welsh Auditorium steps her three-part debut event simply titled Grand Caroling. The event ...
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Stop me if you heard this one: two black comics walk into CityFlats Ballroom with a DJ….Ok, so it is no joke but the real deal as Partners for a Racism-Free Community hold their annual fundraiser event and do it with a twist: a comedy show. In the most unlikely of moves by a local nonprofit organization tackling the serious topics of race and bias comes one of the boldest events of the year, Race Together: Culture, Cocktails and Comedy at CityFlats Hotel. The topic of institutional racism is probably the last topic that any comic wants to tackle unless, of course, you are comedians ...
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She Rides Her Own Way has been producing an array of bike-themed events aimed at the women who cycle in our city, but recently they took a road trip to Detroit for the last Slow Roll of the season. It is no secret that a result of this adventure has inspired them to host their own version of this city-exploring event and present the Downtown GR Glow Ride. If you have not been a part of Slow Roll Detroit yet, well, you will have to wait until Spring 2016. But to give you a taste of the fun, you will want to secure a lot of glow sticks and other shiny objects, attach them to your bike, strap on ...
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The holiday season is a time that we love to entertain and what better way to get a leg up than attending a specialty market that has become one the best local events (outside of the geek love-fest of Grand Rapids Comic Con) happening at DeVos Place. What makes it so much fun but also essential? For starters, in the coming weeks you are going to be faced with the pressure of what to bring to the numerous holiday events that dot our event calendars from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. This 7th year event is the largest wine, beer and food tasting event in the Midwest with more than ...
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Many like to talk about how we need to support area Black-owned businesses but few know where to start. What we are left with in the vacuum is simply more of the same with little change. I’m happy to report that those excuses are beginning to evaporate, and much of this is due to the work of the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses and their annual Black Market Event. Unlike other markets held around the city, the Black Market Event on Friday night is a chance to browse the numerous booths of businesses and service providers of our region at the GRABB Pop-up Shop and is also the night we ...
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You have a lot of options, and while many will say that the best bet is downtown (and, honestly, it is if you are seeking massive crowds migrating up and down Ionia SW and throughout the connecting streets), but for others it could be a completely different experience you are looking for this night. For those seeking a quieter space to catch up with your mates who are back in the city, the neighborhood pubs are a best bet. But, if you need a place to take your folks – who miss you too – you can have your tag-along, multi-generational experience at  Billy’s Lounge in Eastown, ...
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Referred to as the Gateway to Eastown or the Getaway to East (depending on which way you are heading), Harmony Brewing, nestled on Lake Drive in a former liquor store, is one of the most beautifully small brewpubs of Grand Rapids. Sure they have grown to include the new Harmony Hall on the trendy westside of the city’s Grand River, but this little spot is still a favorite of locals who somehow manage to garner a table during the busiest of times. On Thursday night, in keeping with their ongoing series to spin vinyl records, comes a special edition that is probably going to break all ...
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It is my hope that during our November warm-up you were not found sitting inside. For those who love sports, I am quite certain that if you did venture out and visit any one of the numerous city park basketball courts for an extra pick up game, there were surely plenty of smiles even if you were losing. With each 50-degree day since, it is clear we are at the end of this warm-up. But hoop fans don’t care as this Saturday night is the return of the second season of the Grand Rapids Drive, our National Basketball Association Development League (NBADL or sometimes referred to as the ...
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What make this internationally organized event such a hit with so many all over the world is the fast-paced, any-topic-goes presentation format of a PechaKucha night. Presenters work off the 20x20 format. Each person is asked to prepare 20 slides and talk just for 20 seconds on each one as the story leaps (like clockwork? HAHA) to the next projected image. PechaKucha Night began in Tokyo in 2003 but has since grown to more than 800 chapter cities around the world as citizens take to the stage sharing their passion with a local audience. For Volume Eleven, the Grand Rapids chapter will offer ...
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The joys of living in Grand Rapids are often boundless if you are on the receiving end of such gifts of entertainment. We do have a lot to offer this community. But for any artist within our community, you know that the process of creating in a rapidly advancing city means that at times we may struggle or need to step back and discuss the state of the music here. Luckily for the musicians of our city, there is a new Meet-Up-styled group forming, Let’s Talk GR Music, and it will be one of the first times in a long time that musicians (as well as those who are wanting to join in the ...
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It’s no secret headline that while Michigan sits comfortably nestled between some of the world’s most precious resources of farmland and fresh water, other states and nations do not enjoy this same vantage point. In fact, I might be so bold to say that we take for granted our ease of access to fresh water and food. But maybe not for long, as a new documentary, PlantPure Nation, will showcase once again the need to consider the health benefits, ecological advantages, and economical solutions a plant-based diet can provide. PlantPure Nation is from the production team of Forks Over ...
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Recently I was speaking with a few folks at a local startup incubator and the topic shifted to music. We talked about the changes we’re seeing as a result of the people moving here but also how, with a little effort, one can add more life to their day through the addition of something new. In this example of music, it became clear that, with the democratization of the tools needed to create and support a music business, Grand Rapids was feeling the love as more and more folks come to discover our once-sleepy riverside city. The planners of Lamp Light Music Festival also have figured ...
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It is a rare opportunity to meet Jenn Schaub in her role as an exhibiting artist; far too often, she is quite busy being the guiding and steady hand behind so many events that have been presented over the years on this evolving city street. She is also credited as one of the first artists who helped shape the concept of the Avenue for the Arts. And while many of those folks have moved on to other projects in the years that have followed, Schaub, even after moving to purchase a home in East Hills, still continues to work the street via her position at Dwelling Place. Friday night’s event ...
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A lot of folks will talk about diversity and inclusion and why it is important to our growing city but when it comes to the next steps, vacant faces often accompany vacant seats. Here’s an exception: Over the years, BL²END (Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions) has made it their mission to foster an environment where young professionals of color can grow and belong, and in doing so is changing the trajectory of our local professional community. Wrapping up its freshly launched "Professionally Developing the Next Generation" speaker event series on Monday, ...
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Described as “the one-man band minus the instruments” by Pitchfork, this hard-to-pigeon-hole musician from Flint has achieved a near cult-like status in the music scene. His concerts are best described as experiences of sonic proportions with a dash of early George Clinton theatrics unlike any other you have seen on stage since he was here last. Need proof? Just talk to anyone who happened to stumble upon his unannounced live concert stop at October’s Michigan House venue earlier this month, where the rapper-slash-song stylist from outer space took to the makeshift Ottawa ...
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Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is in the midst of its 90th season as one of the nation’s top community theater organizations and it is time to revisit this local gem. With the addition of the Youth Musical feature Sleepy Hollow, there is not a better time than now to get in the theatre if you are seeking to enhance your Halloween festivities this weekend. What makes this updated version of the popular Washington Irving classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow so perfect for a modern audience is the present day setting of Halloween night, where a cast of three children are transported back to 18th ...
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Halloween Weekend is a time that puts a lot of pressure on people to get it right, especially if you are the one hosting the party. And while there are plenty of options – from the high-brow, like the Grand Rapids Opera’s Halloween Gala, to the low brow fun of the Stark Turn Players presentation of Halloween: The Musical (parody) of the popular film from the 1980s – for those seeking to keep their party plans larger than life, then the newly expanded Halloween on Ionia will be just the ticket you need to purchase this year. With attendance up by nearly 6,000, the newly ...
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Often when barroom conversation turns to holistic anything, many in earshot begin to roll their eyes back in their head. However, if experience has taught me anything, it’s that the skeptics start to sing a different tune when conventional over-the-counter cures for the winter junk aren’t touching an illness. Suddenly, there’s a new appreciation for holistic health and wellness. So before you catch your first virus of the season, learn from a local treasure. Reminding us that prevention is the best medicine, local author, herbalist, and wellness expert Lisa Rose presents a ...
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You have to admit, even if you do not like comedy, that there is something devilishly fresh about Calvin College inviting the legendary comedy troupe The Second City to the Covenant Fine Arts Center’s stage. When you add to the mix that this is the same Chicago-based improvisational comedy troupe responsible for launching the careers of hundreds of stars like Tina Fey, Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Amy Poehler, and even Joan Rivers, then you know right away this is going to be a wild card night of numerous, thigh-slapping, nose-snorting “I cannot believe they just said ...
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It is mind-blowing when you hear the statistic about Millennium Park, but this Kent County urban parkland is so large, at more than 1,500 acres, that it’s not only one of the biggest in the nation, but it's twice the size of New York’s Central Park. And if you have ever visited New York in the autumn, then you know that New Yorkers love nothing more than to find any excuse to escape to the jewel of their city as the colors of red, yellow and orange usher in fresh and evolving views. Here in Kent County, we often miss the chance to wander in a nearby park, as we often think that ...
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What are you doing on New Year’s Eve? For one lucky contestant of Grand Rapids Big Talent, they can say they’re debuting on the big stage at HOT 104.5 FM’s #NYE Party. But before we get ahead of ourselves, the auditions have to occur -- and on Sunday at the Peter Wege Theatre (home of the Grand Rapids Ballet), the journey to the NYE stage will begin for one lucky talent of our city. Hosted again by the Arena District, the 2015 Grand Rapids Big Talent competition commemorates the 5th time this event has been held in our city and shows no sign of slowing down. Sign up here ...
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I will admit that I have avoided 5x5 for a bit since a) we have covered it (a lot) since it started, and b) we felt that the recent reboot was exciting for some, but maybe not most. Until now. The reboot of the 5x5 Night program under the reins of GR Current / Emerge West Michigan has organizers’ new message of “pitch us something wild, out there, and fun” in full gear. And while the ones who are going up on the block this Tuesday might raise a few eyebrows as oddly familiar or similar to other services already in play with other firms, I am excited about the ones that are ...
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A few years ago I suggested our community consider the joys and benefits of walking in my review of Jeff Speck’s The Walkable City. But beyond just a review, I posed the question: “What would happen if an entire city was engaged in a book club around a topic like creating a walkable city?” While nothing came of it, I was glad to be able to put it out there for discussion. Now, I am not going to attempt to take credit here, but I am going to celebrate that someone has stepped up to create a moment much like what I suggested. But this time instead of a book, it is a film ...
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Last year, a tiny festival debut in town and it didn't hit many peoples' radar, but this year it will be much harder to ignore The Big-Little Comedy Festival returning once again to the Dog Story Theater. One obvious reason it is going to be a huge hit is because of the public's renewed interest in comedy thanks to events like LaughFest and the area's comedy club, Dr. Grin's. But I think the real reason is truly because the Dog Story Theater has cultivated some of the best comedic programming in our region for more than three years. The festival is the brainchild of Calvin College graduate and ...
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It is hard not to be out as a geek these days as they have truly inherited the earth, often by creating their own version of it. And this is all part of the charm of the world of visual stories and the comic book in American history. Appearing at this year’s Grand Rapids Comic-Con are Anthony Carrigan (Gotham, The Flash), Caroll Spinney (Sesame Street’s Big Bird), comic book artist Neal Adams, Katrina Law (Arrow, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Starling City), comic character creator Joel Adams (King Of The Hill), Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Katie Cook (My Little ...
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One of the joys of autumn in the Midwest is that we seem to appreciate the last of Michigan’s final bounty a bit more, knowing those mouthwatering, fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes and fire-roasted cobs of corn seasoned with fresh butter, cheese and lime are slowly retreating from view. But before we settle into an endless sea of soups with chunks of potatoes, squash and carrots, a delicious, wet-hopped brew arrives fresh from the field in the form of Founders Brewing Co. The Harvest Party is when Founders shares with the public the first taste of the 2015 harvest of hops. Beer drinkers ...
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Autumnal Respire: A New Destination for Art

Friday, Sept. 16, 5-10pm and Saturday, Sept. 17, 4-10pm
One thing that is very certain in Grand Rapids is that events do indeed have a life cycle and not all events get to go on indefinitely. Destination 1111, an event unknown to many of us, was already on its way out some time ago when the organizers realized their event was a great place to party, but the mission of selling and connecting with collectors had fallen off the radar. So rather than close up shop and move on, the artists of this popular destination fine-tuned their space and were reborn as the Artists Collective at 1111. The result of this rebranding has meant that the spaces have ...
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In 2010, I posed this question: What would our community look like if we not only embraced its artists, but also actively sought to promote the commerce (and good) these activities can bring for the artists' benefit? And the answer is, still three years running, ArtPeers' annual Fall Festival. While their annual festival spans over many days, the one event that really feels like a homecoming celebration for the local arts community and those who love and support local artists is the annual Salmagundi event held each year at Wealthy Theatre. Salmagundi refers to a 17th Century food dish created ...
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It is hard to imagine that just four years ago we did not have an organization that would serve the needs of the young writer. Thankfully, the Creative Youth Center (CYC) was created, enabling our first writing-focused arts organization to not just debut but really flourish in Grand Rapids. After years of producing fascinating collections of fresh literature, this year the CYC debuts a new era of writing with a variety aimed at your funny bone.  The Sketches that Lived is a collection of funny sketches and monologues created by CYC students during their summer workshop led by Calvin ...
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Eastown Street Fair: Neighborhood Rally Time

Saturday, September 17, 9 AM – 8:30 PM (also until 2 AM at Billy’s Lounge)
Last weekend as I wandered Detroit's Cass neighborhood's Dally in the Alley, I kept saying, "Wow, this is great," but never did I say, "Grand Rapids needs one of these." We have our own local street fair and it is just as grand, in my opinion. The 38th Annual Eastown Streetfair is this Saturday and it is going to be huge, as nearly 100 vendors will create the ultimate neighborhood street party again in Grand Rapids' answer to New York's East Village. Staring at 9 a.m., this annual celebration of art, creative commerce, food and music will electrify Wealthy Street. Over the day and into the ...
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Grand Rapids lost a giant in the LGBTQ community this month when Milt Lenox passed away. Lenox, along with his partner Ed Ladner, were the creators of The Apartment Lounge, a bar but so much more as they provided a safe space for gay men in our community to gather and converse in an era long before the Internet. At 1 p.m. friends and the close-knit family of The Apartment Lounge will lay to rest a giant in our community at the The Guest House of Arsulowicz. During this special luncheon, Milt Lenox will have his day in our city, as Mayor Heartwell will honor him, proclaiming that Thursday, ...
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“Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?” “Dear Diary: My teen angst bullshit now has a body count.”  “Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make.” No, these are not quotes from Ryan Murphy’s new hit Scream Queens.  But if these quotes sound familiar  -- and they should, in my opinion -- then you will be happy to learn that they are from a totally awesome (but underappreciated) 1989 film. Heathers is one of the latest cult films to cross over from the silver screen to the Broadway stage with a big ...
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Due to the scale of ArtPrize I have decided this week to add two events along the lakeshore for your consideration. First on Friday night, September 16, is Downtown Holland's annual Live Mannequin Night event where your favorite TV shows comes to life via their storefront windows. "It has been really fun working with the merchants this year because of the theme," said Cynthia Hagedorn, event coordinator for Live Mannequin Night. "TV offers such a wide range of possibilities and I am seeing a few twists this year. Each business embraces the concept more and more every year and as a result the ...
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Sometimes the best stories are those that we cannot access or write about but we know happen. So with a most respectable nod and a desire to keep my own head low, please consider this (wonderful) event that allows us unfiltered access to some of the brightest cyber-focused minds on the planet. This is going to be a geek fest of a treat in our city. If you, like me, have been noticing cyber-rights issues emerging from every angle, this is a great place to start your education on this topic. The two-day event will include keynote speakers Kellman Meghu of The Hitch Hikers Guide to Information ...
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ArtPrize's website lists the mission's core for why they are doing what they are doing in Grand Rapids. It's to: "Be a catalyst for collisions and connections between artists and communities, for the sake of infusing vitality and courage into culture. Our mission begins with the value that art is important." And while many have formed opinions about ArtPrize over the past few years, it is an event that cannot be ignored. Or to paraphrase Howard Zinn, "You can't be neutral (about ArtPrize) on a moving train," especially when you consider how much it not only dominates the physical makeup of our ...
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There are a lot of events connected to ArtPrize happening in the downtown district, but one in the heart of the city is all its own. And we are better for its offering. Building off a string of education events that have come before, it is the debut of MODUL8, a collective music-focused effort by local champions made up of independent artists with strong credentials in the underground music and counter-culture. On Friday, October 9th at Bar Divani’s Gallery Divani space, locals seeking to deepen their access to fresh beats alongside the debut of eclectic sounds being produced in Grand ...
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It is no secret that one of the reasons the Westside of Grand Rapids is often called the best side is due to its inventory of neighborhood halls devoted to the many cultures that make up this part of the city. And Pulaski Days rules supreme with a parade, partying and, of course, polka dancing. This annual festivities honors the life of General Casimir Pulaski, an American Revolutionary War Hero, who, as a Polish immigrant to our country and even though he born into a noble family, sacrificed his life to ensure that liberty could be established in America. If you are going to march with ...
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Earlier this week, artist Paul Collins addressed the crowd at City Hall’s Calder Plaza, asking them to forget about the politics and just enjoy the art. While it is possible to dispute some of his statement, what’s the point? It is rare that anyone can agree on anything these days -- well, except last year, when ArtPrize’s top two awards from the public and the curatorial side went to the same artist Anila Quayyum Agha for her work “Intersections.” But unbeknownst to many, another artist collective, a staple on the ArtPrize circuit for the last few years now, ...
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Worried that you missed your opportunity to get to Canada’s Stratford Festival to see the world’s greatest performances of Shakespeare? No worries, as Grand Valley State University will host the 22nd annual Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival, Michigan’s oldest and largest Shakespeare Festival, right here this fall. So much more than just a festival, this multi-week event gives you a chance to pace yourself over the next five weeks as you get to attend multiple events beginning October 2 and concluding November 7. What began quite humbly in 1993 has grown to attract 6,000 ...
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