Popular Culture

Vintage Valentines celebrate the sweet & sour sides of the holiday

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Most of the origin stories about Valentine’s Day are not true. There really is no link to any one of the five Valentines who share Feb. 14 as their saint days. And the connection to the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia seems tenuous at best. That celebration involved sacrificing dogs and goats, and whipping young women and crops with whips made of the goat’ hides to ensure fertility in the coming year. The more modern belief that Valentine’s Day is a “Hallmark holiday,” cooked up by the card company to boost sales is also not true – people were exchanging Valentine’s Day greetings for more than a century before the company was founded in 1910. “Most of what we know is probably wrong,” said Steve Ammidown, manuscripts and outreach archivist for the Browne Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University. Ammidown visited the Wood County District Public Library to share a selection of vintage Valentine’s Day cards. The first reference to St. Valentine’s Day being associated with lovers comes in Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century poem “Parlement of Foules (The Parliament of Fowls).” By the 16th century the tradition of exchanging romantic notes on Valentine’s Day took hold, especially in England and Germany. Exchanging cards began early in the Victorian Era. True to the times, Ammidown said, “complicated and fragile” was the way to go. It was a female entrepreneur, Esther Howland, who founded the first Valentine card manufacturer in America in the 1840s. The Worcester, Massachusetts, businesswoman had a staff to create her line of cards, which “were very ornate, very overwrought.” Ammidown showed a Howland card from the archive’s collection with its…

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BGSU library hosts presentation on banned music

Submitted by MATTHEW DONAHUE In recognition of Banned Books Week, Bowling Green State University’s Jerome Library will present “Popular Music Controversies and Banned Popular Music: The Ascent from Low Culture to High Culture” by Dr. Matthew Donahue, of the Department of Popular Culture, Thursday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. in the Pallister Conference Room. The free presentation will highlight some of the controversies surrounding rock and roll music and various subgenres from the 1950s to the present. In addition to examining some of the controversies surrounding rock and roll and its many subgenres, this presentation will also examine how certain popular music styles have gone from being labeled as “low culture” and being banned or controversial, to being celebrated and embraced by so called “high culture” institutions such as museums and universities. There will also be a brief musical performance by Dr. Matthew Donahue (guitar) and BGSU alumni Craig Dickman  (drums) and Tyler Burg (bass). Dr. Matthew Donahue is a lecturer in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University, teaching a variety of courses related to popular music and popular culture. In addition he is a recognized musician, artist, filmmaker and writer, his academic and creative pursuits can be viewed at www.md1210.com .  


Dancing the night away at Toledo Museum’s Block Party

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Toledo Museum of Art’s annual Block Party takes place throughout the museum’s campus. And for the fourth party held Saturday night, even the lawns and terrace didn’t seem like they were quite big enough as thousands of neighbors, coming from as close a few blocks away or neighboring communities, jammed the museum grounds for a night of entertainment, food, beverages, and camaraderie. The air throbbed with the sounds of hip hop, electronica and funk. Two dance groups performed, including the Hellenic Dancers. The troupe’s performance was tied to the opening in the museum’s Canaday Gallery of the major exhibit “The Berlin Painter and His World.” The show showcases dozens of vases painted in 5th Century B.C. in Athens, Greece. Considered the finest representations of their time, the vases come from museums around the world.  During a glass demonstration tiny replicas of those vases were being created. Greek food was also among the cuisines available from the food trucks arrayed along Monroe Street. The evening also featured The Dancers of Aha! Indian Dancers and Birds Eye View Circus. Despite the international flare, all the performers come from Toledo, a nod to the area’s cultural richness. The multi-ethnic throng ranged in age from babes in arms and hard-to-corral toddlers to elders, who for whatever their infirmities, still could move to the music. As closing approached, people were still dancing to the throbbing beats delivered by DJ Folk. In the middle of it all, Alexander Calder’s sculpture “Stegosaurus” presided, poised it seemed to snap its moorings and join the dance.    


WGTE radio launching new programming

WGTE Public Media will begin broadcasting a selection of new programs July 1 on WGTE FM 91.3 in Toledo, WGLE FM 90.7 in Lima, WGBE FM 90.9 in Bryan and WGDE FM 91.9 in Defiance. Ask Me Another Saturdays from 10 – 11 a.m. beginning July 1 Ask Me Another brings the lively spirit and healthy competition of your favorite trivia night right to your ears. With a rotating cast of funny people, puzzle writers and VIP guests, it features the wit of host Ophira Eisenberg, the music of house musician Jonathan Coulton, and rambunctious trivia games, all played in front of a live audience. Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio Saturdays from 12 – 1 p.m. beginning July 1 From street food in Thailand to a bakery in a Syrian refugee camp to how one scientist uses state of the art pollen analysis to track the origins of honey (and also to solve cold murder cases), Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio goes anywhere and everywhere to ask questions and get answers about cooking, food, culture, wine, farming, restaurants, literature, and the lives and cultures of the people who grow, produce, and create the food we eat. With a four-star cast of contributors including Sara Moulton (long-time public television host and cookbook author), Adam Gopnik (contributing writer for The New Yorker), Stephen Meuse (wine writer and expert), Dan Pashman (host of The Sporkful podcast) and host Christopher Kimball (founder of Cook’s Magazine, long-time public TV and radio host, and founder of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street), Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio is recorded in the studios of WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. Sunday Baroque Sundays from 11a.m. – noon beginning July 2 Fresh…


Paul Simon mixes new work with fan favorites in Toledo Zoo concert

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent Media The dilemma of Paul Simon came to the fore in one brief moment at Sunday night’s concert at the Toledo Zoo. He’d just performed “Stranger to Stranger” the title track from his latest album. That was new, he said, now I’ll play something old. A female voice exclaimed from the audience: “Oh, yeah!” Simon knows that most of those who packed the Zoo Amphitheatre were there to hear the hits, especially those dating back to his Simon and Garfunkel days. That was evident from the rapturous greeting those numbers received. But Simon has never stopped growing as a songwriter and musician in the almost half century since the duo broke up. Each album – and that really starts with “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” the last Simon and Garfunkel studio effort that is a bridge into Simon’s solo career – has been a sonic experiment, first in the textures of the sounds of the American soul – rock, jazz, gospel, rockabilly – and later extending to South African, Brazil, and electronics. He’s grown into the most sophisticated American pop songwriter, whose evocative lyrics float over complex, multi-rhythmic grooves. Encapsulating such multidimensional body of work into a single concert is daunting. Simon and his wildly talented band of musical wizards managed it easily. Like his albums, the zoo show had a unified sound that captured the textures of Simon’s various musical phases. He opened with a blast – “Boy in the Bubble” from 1986’s “Graceland.” “A bomb in a baby carriage shattering a shop window,” he sang, a line sadly still current. The “Graceland” album was the most referenced during the set. The best-selling album’s infectious…


Gathering Volumes hosting Harry Potter House Party, June 26

In celebration of their one year anniversary Gathering Volumes invites you to a Harry Potter House Party on June 26 at 7 p.m. Gathering Volumes bookstore in Perrysburg will be hosting events throughout the day on Monday, June 26 to celebrate their first anniversary. The day will include special discounts throughout the day, children’s activities including an introductory class on coding, a special story time, and book giveaways. They will end the day with a special house-themed Harry Potter party at 7 p.m. During the party guests will be sorted into their house based on the color of their clothes, so if you know your preferred house, dress appropriately. “Many fans know what house they belong to based on personal preference or the quiz on the Pottermore site,” says Denise Phillips, owner of Gathering Volumes. “So we have encouraged them to attend the party dressed in the color of their house. For example, anyone wearing predominantly green apparel will be sorted into Slytherin. E ach house will compete in four competitions and one house will be deemed the winner of the house cup. Members of the winning house will receive prizes at the end of the night.” Additionally, the party will involve Hogwarts appropriate snacks, and The Glass City Mashers will be offering samples of beer brewed locally, possibly even a Butterbeer. The Glass City Mashers are a beer, mead, and cider homebrewing club of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, formed in 2011. The non-profit organization looks to find ways to raise awareness for homebrewed and craft beer along with helping other charities in Northwest Ohio. “Internationally the first book of the Harry Potter series Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone…


Popular culture scholars to mine the resources of Jerome Library during summer institute

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lynn Bartholome first heard about Professor Ray Browne of Bowling Green State University when she was teenager in the late 1960s. She read a magazine article about Browne’s pioneering work at BGSU creating the academic discipline of popular culture. “This is incredibly cool,” she thought. Here was a way of explaining to her father why she spent so much time watching television. After raising her children, Bartholome went on to earn a doctorate in humanities, studying the popular culture of classical times. A former president of the Popular Culture Association-American Culture Association, she is directing the association’s Summer Research Institute that runs Sunday through Thursday at BGSU. Popular culture, she explained in a recent telephone interview isn’t just about what’s popular now, — that would best be called “pop culture” – but rather the culture of everyday life in any time period. Bartholome said she once talked to Ray Browne, and he said he regretted terming the phrase “popular culture,” thinking that the phrase “common culture” would be best. Bartholome never studied with Browne. Instead she attended Florida State, where she worked with one of his close colleagues Jerome Stern. “Popular culture is something we’ve had since the beginning,” she said. “It’s the culture of the average man and the average woman.” That means the scholar not only studies Van Gogh, but the street painters of his time. One of Browne’s own favorite topics was wallpaper because it reflects the way people thought of their lives and the times they were living in. Browne’s work, Bartholome said, is still “very pertinent.” “Ray Browne and his peers struggled to gain legitimacy for popular culture,” she…