Popular Culture

Record Store day is a hit at Finders

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News National Record Store Day has turned into a record-setting day for sales at Finders Records in downtown Bowling Green. “The last three or four years for Record Store Day have been record-setting days for us in the history of Finders,” said the shop’s founder and owner Greg Halamay. He was standing inside the door greeting people as he let them in. With 200-300 people waiting outside the downtown Bowling Green shop for the 10 a.m., opening he was controlling how many people were in so the store didn’t become too crowded. The most popular area was the crates of vinyl records. In its 10th year, Record Store Day was founded to celebrate the resilience of the local record store. Getting ready for the day is a lot of work, Halamay said. “But it’s a celebration of what we are, who we are, and where we’ve been down the path.” The beginning of Record Store Day coincided with the rediscovery of vinyl records, the music format of choice when Finders first opened its doors in 1971. “Vinyl is back,” Halamay said. “Vinyl has been embraced at Record Store Day with all the special editions that’ve come out and created a lot of enthusiasm for the record collectors.” Some of the earliest arrivals were from Columbus and Cincinnati, Halamay said. And collectors travel from Michigan to shop. Zachary Weymer drove up from Sidney with his best friend from childhood for Record Store Day. They’d previously gone to a store in Lima, but decided the extra miles were worth a trip to Bowling Green. “These guys have a way better selection.” They got in line at 9:30 a.m., and 50 minutes later he was in the store. He carried his purchases in a special issue Record Store Day cloth bag, the perfect size for LPs. One of his finds was a special issue by the band Bullet for My Valentine. These songs will only be released on this format, he said. The record is pressed in a clear, crimson vinyl. Ordering online is also an option, but Weymer said he wants to handle a record before buying. “You can really check it out.” For Weymer, as with other collectors on hand, vinyl delivers a better sound. “I just love it sitting around the house listening.” Larry Walker, of Findlay, will be listening to some classics – Neil Young, The Doors, and Grateful Dead, not to mention a Beatles single. The sound of vinyl, he said, is “crisper.” He said tries to make it the Finders a couple times a year. Now retired, this is the first time he’s been able to get to the shop on Record Store Day, though he’s always come up later to get special issues that were still available. There’s no place closer to his home here he can find the selection. Tyler Turner was surprised to find such a “great store” with such a good selection when he moved to Bowling Green from Florida this year. “It has lots of different choices in music types.” He and Megan Dunlap were stocking up on old punk and had found a Leonard Cohen tribute. He said he’s gone to stores in Colorado and Florida for Record Store Day, but none had the collection that…

BGSU Arts Events through April 12

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS March 31 – Jazz Week continues with a trombone performance from Jazz Lab Band I with Grammy-nominated guest artist Alan Ferber. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the box office in the Wolfe Center, by phone at 419-372-8171, or online at www.bgsu.edu/the-arts/. Advance tickets are $3 for students and children and $7 for adults. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. April 1 – Bravo! BGSU celebrates the very best of the arts. Experience a magical evening of vocal, instrumental and theatrical performances, plus exhibitions and demonstrations by student and faculty artists in glass, ceramics, metals and digital arts. Enjoy a festive atmosphere and an array of appetizers and tasty treats. The celebration will begin at 7 p.m. in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. To purchase tickets to the event, contact Lisa Mattiace in the President’s Office at 419-372-6780 or by email at lmattia@bgsu.edu April 1 – Students from BGSU’s College of Musical Arts will be featured in an afternoon chamber music concert at 1 p.m. at the Way Public Library, 101 E. Indiana Ave., Perrysburg. Hosted by Pro Musica, friends of music at the college, the program will feature students who have received travel grants from the organization. The concert is free and open to the public. April 2 – The Gish Sunday Matinee series kicks off with the 1945 film “And Then There Were None,” directed by René Clair. Agatha Christie’s celebrated who-done-it “Ten Little Indians,” under the deft guidance of French director Clair, becomes a delightful, sly, topnotch film noir. The skillful adaptation boasts a strong cast of Hollywood’s most memorable character actors, with a score by esteemed Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The program will also include a Technicolor cartoon. The screening begins at 3 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater located in Hanna Hall. Free April 2 – The A Cappella Choir and University Men’s Chorus will perform at 3 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the box office in the Wolfe Center, by phone at 419-372-8171, or online at www.bgsu.edu/the-arts/. Advance tickets are $3 for students and children and $7 for adults. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. April 3 – Pianist Phyllis Lehrer is the next performer in the Guest Artist Series. Known internationally as a performer, teacher, clinician, author and adjudicator, Lehrer has enjoyed an active concert career as a soloist and collaborative artist in the United States, Canada, Central America, Asia and Europe. Her performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts center. Free April 4-6 — The College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University will host a residency on the rare, snakelike, historical horn called the serpent, featuring Douglas Yeo, the leading scholar on the instrument. Events include a free public concert, a seminar and a lesson on playing the serpent, plus master classes with college students and faculty members on the serpent and the trombone. The serpent master class, led by faculty member David Saltzman, will take place from 9:30-10:20 a.m.April 5 in 2002 Moore Musical Arts Center, and is open to the public….

Browne Conference deemed a success

BY BINCY ABDUL SAMAD Culture Club: Cultural Studies Scholars’ Association The Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Ray Broadus Browne (1922-2009), a visionary and pioneer in the academic study of popular culture. A folklorist and literary scholar, Dr. Browne was instrumental in the expansion of popular culture studies and founded the Center for Popular Culture Studies, the BGSU Department of Popular Culture, the Popular Press (now at the University of Wisconsin), the Popular Culture Association, the Journal of Popular Culture, and the Popular Culture Library, which now bears the names of he and his wife, Alice Maxine “Pat” Browne (1932-2013). The 2017, fourth annual Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies is co-hosted by the BGSU Culture Club: Cultural Studies Scholars’Association and the Popular Culture Scholars’ Association at BGSU. Bincy Abdul Samad, president of Culture Club and Courtney Bliss, president of PCSA were the co-chairs of the program. This year’s conference is titled, “Intersections of Identities: Difference and Coalition in a transnational Context.” And the conference theme draws on multiple perspectives of difference and coalition, as well as how we write about, discuss, and even experience them in our own lives. It was held from March 17-19, at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union in Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and there were over 127 participants for this year’s conference, which also included interesting events such as Safe Zone training, the Latino Student Union, and Black Student Union workshops, Scholar works workshop, discussion on Sanctuary campus, the second Annual Ray Browne film festival/screening, and also the tour of the Ray and Pat Browne Popular Culture library. President Mary Ellen Mazey delivered the opening remarks and there were two keynote speakers, Staceyann Chin for the Culture Club, and Laurenn McCubbin for the PCSA. Chin is a spoken-word poet, performing artist, activist, and novelist. Chin currently teaches a seminar at the arts-oriented Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn and is working as a part-time faculty member at New York University. McCubbin is a large-scale, immersive installation artist, documentarian, and Associate Professor of Foundations at Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. The conference was a grand success with concurrent panels happening all three days and the turnout was high even on Sunday, the final day of the conference. The conference concluded with the closing remarks by Dr. Angela Nelson, Interim Director of the School of Cultural and Critical Studies. Bincy Abdul Samad, president of the Culture Club seems very happy about the immense success of the conference. She said, “The conference was the dream and hard work of many people, including the Culture Club and PCSA members who had been planning this since last August.”

Music rings out up & down BG’s Main Street

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Music brought people together in downtown Bowling Green Friday night. On South Main Street more than 100 people gathered at Grounds for Thought for “Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song” a protest song singalong led by three of the four members of the Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp. A couple blocks north more than 100 people celebrated the ageless power of rock ‘n’ roll with The Welders, who for more than 30 years have been staging a spring break show at Howard’s Club H. Mary Jane Saunders, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, opened “Singing for Our Lives” at Grounds by explaining her rationale for suggesting the event. Many are feeling stressed and uncomfortable in the current political climate, she said. That’s been expressed in several rallies, most held in the green space next to the Presbyterian Church.             The sing-along of classic songs was offered as an occasion “to have fun together” while not forgetting the cause that has united so many in the community. “Music has the power to empower and to energize us,” she said. Pop music historian Ken Bielen gave a brief introduction to protest music, much of it by simply quoting memorable lines. He recalled that it was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who urged Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. “When people get together in the right combination, history is made.” He then recalled Country Joe McDonald’s admonition to the throngs at Woodstock singing along to “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.” “I don’t know how you expect the stop the war when you can’t sing any better than that.” And at first the singing at the Grounds event was, let’s say,  dutiful. But humor, another unifier, helped pull everyone in. After singing the Holly Near song that gave the event its title, Jason Wells-Jensen joked about the setting of the microphone, saying all short people were the same height to him. At which point bandmate Anne Kidder, started singing “we are tall and short, together” with the audience spontaneously picking up the tune and continuing even after Kidder had stopped singing. From then on, the singing grew more enthusiastic, even as some of the lyrics were tough on the tongue or the music was in 5/4 time and the audience was supposed to clap on the fourth and fifth beats. The sound ranged from Don Scherer’s seismic bass to the jangle of percussion. The GRUBS for the occasion loosened their prohibition against non-ukulele instruments and employed guitars and Sheri Wells-Jensen’s banjo. That was a fitting choice given banjo was the instrument of activist and folk singer Pete Seeger, whose songs and spirit infused the gathering. The repertoire included the lesser known verses of such standards as “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.” Some obvious choices were included such as “If I Had a Hammer,” “We Shall Overcome” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” but there was the unexpected choice as well. Jason Wells-Jensen said only on studying the lyrics did he realize that Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit “Bad Moon Rising’” was in its way a protest song, warning of danger ahead. He mentioned that while many in audience…

Residents to lift voices in protest song at Grounds for Thought

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When people are frustrated, sometimes the only thing to do is sing. Pastor Mary Jane Saunders, of the First Presbyterian Church, knows many people are concerned about the current state of affairs, and she decided to help organize an event that will enable them to give voice to their frustrations. She was inspired in part by a video of Pete Seeger, Holly Near and others who use music as a form of activism. So Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. ‘Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song’ will be presented at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Saunders enlisted the local ukulele quartet the GRUBs – Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp – to be the house band for the event. Sheri Wells-Jensen, of the GRUBS, said the set list will include both old and new material. The GRUBS have already dipped their toes, or ukuleles, into current issues when they recorded “Where’s Bob?” a humorous song about Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s unwillingness to hold a town hall meeting. Wells-Jensen and her husband, Jason Wells-Jensen, added their voices to last Sunday’s rally to support immigrants. They have written a call and response blues number “Send Them All to Me” for “Singing for Our Lives,” she said. “The purpose is to reintroduce people to the power of singing together and why people do that,” Wells-Jensen said. The event seeks “to reclaim the label ‘protest music,’ and to give people permission to ditch that label if it gets in the way.” “We Shall Overcome” has to be on the setlist, Wells-Jensen said. They will also include “This Land Is Your Land” with all the verses. The Woody Guthrie classic has come to be perceived as a harmless ditty, but taken in its entirety it is “a marvelously rich and wide-ranging song that includes a lot of people,” she said. “We’ll sing patriotic music, too,” she said, “because these folks are patriots.” So “America the Beautiful” will be on the program. Even if a song doesn’t connect with their concerns, it may mean something to the person sitting next to them. “The thing is you don’t have to love all the songs,” Wells-Jensen said. “These are not songs for the individual these are songs for the community. … Any time people share a concern, .they get together, and sing about it, it can make things better.” She and Saunders hope this will be the first of a series of gatherings. While the GRUBS will be the house band for this, Wells-Jensen said, she looks forward to passing the torch. “There are so many great musicians in our area, it sort of astonishes me.” She’d love to see someone pick it up, adding wryly, “if we don’t wreck it.”  

“Activism from Where You Are” theme of BGSU Women’s History Month events

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS “Activism from Where You Are” is the theme of the keynote event in this year’s Women’s History Month celebrations at Bowling Green State University. New York poet and political activist Staceyann Chin will conduct a workshop on the topic Saturday, March 18 , from 5-8 p.m. Chin, an “out” poet and Jamaican national, has starred in the Tony Award-nominated “Def Poetry Jam on Broadway,” has performed in “Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” in one-woman shows off-Broadway and at the Nuyorican Poets’ Café. The workshop, geared toward students, she will share her own story about how a girl “born into denial and contempt can grow up resilient, sane and full of purpose.” The workshop will include a gathering of participants’ family narratives and how those unique narratives can inform their activism. Pre-registration for the workshop is required. Email the Women’s Center at womencenter@bgsu.edu. The overarching theme of the month’s events is “Get in Formation: Women of Color and Contemporary Activism.” Sponsored by the Women’s Center and the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, there are activities for people of all ages. Below is a sampling of what’s happening. The annual “Toss the Tiara,” an alternative dress-up day for boys and girls, takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday (March 4) in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Also on March 18, the National Council of Negro Women Empowerment Conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Pre-registration is also required for this event. Faculty members from BGSU and other universities will speak at and host conferences and events throughout the month. On March 22, “Focused Falcons: BGSU Alumni Activists” will feature a panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Sandra Faulkner, director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. The discussion begins at noon in the Women’s Center, 107 Hanna Hall. A discussion on “Indigenous and International Women Activists,” at 2:30 p.m. March 23 in 410 Kuhlin Center, will be moderated by Dr. Jackie Sievert, political science. Dr. Nicole Jackson, history, will lead a screening and discussion of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” at 7 p.m. March 27 in 107 Hanna Hall. She will also present “Say Her Name: Justice and Honor for Murdered Black Women” at noon March 15 in the Women’s Center. The month wraps up with the annual Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Research Colloquium on March 31. Sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Union. The keynote speaker for the colloquium will be Dr. Roopika Risam of Salem State University. Her address, “Decolonizing Digital Cultural Memory: Digital Humanities as Digital Activism,” will take place at 2 p.m. in 308 Union.

Kehinde Wiley’s portraits bring people from the street to museum walls

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kehinde Wiley found his direction as a painter on a street in Harlem. He’d recently finished his graduate studies in art at Yale and had enrolled the Studio Museum of Harlem’s art residency program in 2001. At Yale he painted black males with extravagant hair styles. Thursday in a talk at the Toledo Museum of Art, he said that had completed his study “at the feet of the fathers,” and was in a crisis as to where to go next. There at his feet he found a piece of paper. A rap sheet. On it was the young man’s mug shot. Wiley said at that instant he thought: “This is a really cool portrait. I know that’s kind of screwed up. If you’re thinking like I think which is to use your life to tell a story about the world you live in, finding this piece of paper tells a story about the world we live in.” He turned the mug shot into a portrait, and that painting is now hanging in the Toledo Museum of Art’s exhibit Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic. The major retrospective of the Brooklyn-based artist’s career is now on exhibit through May 14. In the 15 years since finding that mugshot Wiley has achieved “super star status,” said Brian Kennedy, director of the Toledo Museum. That was evident by the standing-room-only crowd that gathered in the Peristyle on Thursday to hear the artist’s talk on his work. Wiley has achieved fame by both celebrating and challenging the notions of Western art. He has highlighted the lack of black bodies depicted in the paintings of museums such as the TMA. “That’s not right,” Kennedy said. Wiley has set about redressing that by setting young people of color who he meets on the streets and dance halls around the world and placing them within the context of Western classic art. So it is a black man wearing a bandana, sweat wristbands and camouflage who leads the army over the Alps, not Napoleon. Through Wiley’s work black bodies command their place on museum walls in monumental form dressed in the best urban fashion. Some of the women wear gowns designed by a top designer. All this came about because his mother sent Wiley and his twin brother to after-school art classes when they were 11. They lived in South Central Los Angeles and were coming of age in the late 1980s, the same time the Crips and the Bloods were emerging. “My mother put me through art school as a kid not because she particularly cared about the paintings on the wall but because she wanted to keep us off the street.” The classes required two-hour treks across the city and back to the museum where they met kids from different neighborhoods who spoke different languages and ate different foods. “The match got struck,” Wiley said, when he discovered “those portraits of 18th and 19th landed gentry at museum with all those powdered wigs, with lap dogs, all those pearls.” “As a kid from the hood I thought: ‘What in the world is that?’” But he also thought: “I’d like to make something that contends on that level.” “New Republic” is testament that he has achieved that goal. While those old paintings…

BGSU Arts Events through Feb. 21

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Feb. 9—The Elsewhere Season begins with “The Winter Barrel,” written and directed by film faculty member Dr. Eileen Cherry-Chandler. The staged reading will begin at 8 p.m. in the Marjorie Conrad M.D. Choral Room, located in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Free Feb. 11—The David D. Dubois Piano Festival and Competition features guest artist Chu-Fang Huang. Winner of a 2011 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Huang debuted as a finalist in the 2005 Van Cliburn Piano Competition and as First Prize Winner of the Cleveland Piano Competition that same year. In 2006, she won a place on the Young Concert Artist roster. Her performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall located in the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets are $7 call 419-372-8171  or online at http://www.bgsu.edu/the-arts.html. Feb. 12—The David D. Dubois Piano Festival and Competition will start at 9 a.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. The annual event supports student pianists by providing scholarships for high school students to attend BGSU, encouraging undergraduate students to develop innovative programming ideas for outreach projects and supporting current piano students to participate in music festivals around the world. Free Feb. 14—Music at the Manor House features BGSU violin students. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Manor House in Wildwood Metropark, 5100 W. Central Ave., in Toledo. Free Feb. 14—Tuesdays at the Gish continue with the 1968 film “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One,” directed by William Greaves. This film on the making of a film involves three camera crews capturing the process and personalities (director, actors, crew, bystanders) involved. Led by visionary auteur William Greaves, the collective project also depends on his multi-racial crew, who stage an on-set rebellion that becomes the film’s drama and platform for sociopolitical critique and revolutionary philosophy. Filmed in Central Park, the film is a vivid document of this historical period and moment in American independent cinema. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater located in Hanna Hall. Free Feb. 16—The Creative Writing Program’s Reading Series features graduate students Bridget Adams and Benji Katz. The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Feb. 16-25 — “The Penelopiad” will be presented  at 8 p.m. in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. “The Penelopiad” is a novella by Margaret Atwood published in 2005 as part of the first set of books in the Canongate Myth Series in which contemporary authors rewrite ancient myths. In “The Penelopiad,” Penelope reminisces on the events during “The Odyssey,” life in Hades, Odysseus, Helen, and her relationships with her parents. Performances are at 8 p.m.Feb. 16-18 and 23-25, with matinees at 2 p.m. on Feb. 18 and 19. Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the box office in the Wolfe Center, 419-372-8171 or online at http://www.bgsu.edu/the-arts.html. All seats the day of the performance are $20. Feb. 17—The Brown Bag Music Series will present a musical theatre extravaganza in celebration of Black History Month. Students and faculty from the College of Musical Arts will perform starting at 11:45 a.m. at the Simpson Building, 1291 Conneaut Ave., Bowling Green. Free Feb. 17—The BGSU Wind Symphony will perform at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center….

Museum’s WWI exhibit puts visitors in the trenches

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A century ago, American doughboys were being sent overseas to fight in World War I. Wood County farm boys, many who had never been outside the county, were shipped over to battle in the trenches. To commemorate the county’s involvement in WWI, the Wood County Historical Center has dedicated its entire museum space this year to the “War to End All Wars.” The exhibits look at the war overseas, the local boys who served their nation, and the families they left behind here in Wood County. Many of the items on display have been loaned to the museum by local families, whose ancestors served. Others have come from American Legion posts in the county. “We are very, very grateful,” said Holly Hartlerode, curator at the historical center. “We are here to share story.” Many of the legion posts throughout the nation are dwindling in memberships but are teeming with historical artifacts of past members. “This is important,” Hartlerode said. “We can become a depository for their memories.” The WWI exhibit is the first time that the entire museum has been devoted to one period in history. The self-guided tours start with an explanation of how WWI started. Because the war seems almost like ancient history to some younger visitors, the exhibit includes some interactive portions to keep the attention of guests. One of the first rooms on the tour offers a game with maps, portraits of world leaders and questions about who are allies and who are enemies. “The average person was affected by the actions of these fellows,” Hartlerode said pointing to the portraits of the world leaders hanging on the wall. Though she finds the war fascinating, the curator is aware that interactive exhibits help keep others interested. “How do we not bore people to death when explaining the political aspects of the war,” she said. The exhibit explains the U.S. reluctance to get involved in WWI, with Woodrow Wilson sitting on the sidelines for nearly three years until two key events occurred. First was Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare that resulted in the sinking of the Lusitania with 128 Americans on board. The second was the interception of the Zimmermann Telegram, in which Germany tried to persuade Mexico to wage war against the U.S. in exchange for Germany helping Mexico regain territories lost to the U.S. But with America being a nation of immigrants, many from the countries already fighting, Wilson tried to unite Americans with patriotism rather than their national loyalty to homelands overseas. So museum visitors are asked to chart out their ancestry on a huge map – using white pins to show their residencies, red pins to chart their maternal homelands, and blue pins to show their paternal origins. Many Wood County residents hailed from Germany. With the passage of the Selective Service Act – which covered men ages 18 to 45 – approximately 2.8 million American men were drafted into service. By the summer of 1918, the nation was sending 10,000 soldiers to France every day. The museum display cases are full of loaned memorabilia brought home by some of those local soldiers. There are ammunition belts, gas masks, medals, a machine gun, German helmets, plus small books carried in soldiers’ pockets. Those texts include prayer…

BG revelers raise their glasses and voices in memory of Robert Burns

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   All we needed Friday night was Robert Burns processing into Naslada Bistro with the haggis. After all, we had bagpipes, and plenty of tartan, including Bulgarian chef Boyko Mitov clad in a tam o’ shanter, sash and kilt of Royal Stewart. And he wasn’t the only one baring his manly gams. Later there would be poetry and song, and traditional Scottish dishes, and of course, many rounds of whisky. The occasion was a celebration of the birth of Robert Burns, and if the bard of Scotland and bawdy bon vivant was absent is body – being dead some 220 years is a good enough excuse– he was certainly there in spirit. This is the second annual Burns Night held at the downtown restaurant. Or, as host Elliot MacFarlane said, the second and a half. Another Burns night was held Thursday. Demand for the first in 2016 prompted Mitov and MacFarlane to present it two nights this year. Burn Night Dinners are a tradition dating back to shortly after the poet’s death. Now on the face of it, a night devoted to the poetry and song of a long dead personage, with interlude grandly titled “The Immortal Memory” may sound a bit staid. The event was nothing of the sort. Haunch to haunch with the poetry and sentimental ballads were bawdy jokes. A Burns Night Dinner, MacFarlane said, was a time for flatulence and rude talk about the English. After uttering his first “fuckin’” while telling a story, he advised the several dozen gathered that the word was Scottish for “jolly.” The dinner was a jolly time. In the old days, he said, the dinners could last for eight hours, and boys with wheelbarrows would be on hand to push the revelers home afterward. The Bowling Green event ended with everyone raising their voices in a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne.” The frivolity began well before the first round of whisky, and only heightened with each succeeding shot. “We need something in winter in Bowling Green besides hockey, so we have Robert Burns,” MacFarlane declared. Not that there’s anything wrong with hockey. He did after all grow up in Bowling Green. All this was in keeping with Burns, a failed “ploughboy” and tax collector who found success as a wandering poet, who was welcomed in salons and taprooms. When he died at 37, 10,000 mourners attended his funeral. Still he was impoverished, leaving behind a wife and plentiful offspring, both by her and his many mistresses. His work, though, has a deep and abiding impact on people. MacFarlane said that when Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for fighting against apartheid he took comfort in two books, “The Diary of Anne Frank” and a volume of poetry by “Robert Burns.” Abraham Lincoln loved Burns, committing poems to memory. He would recite the verse as he traveled from court to court as a circuit riding lawyer in Illinois. When he was assassinated, he was carrying a collection of Burns’ poetry in his pocket. Burns was a supporter of the American Revolution, helping to raise money to buy a cannon for the colonials. So Burns would have been pleased to see those now living in America having a good time in his name. They feasted on a dinner…

Cornel West sings the praises of Dr. King at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Martin Luther King Jr. is no Santa Claus. Cornel West, an activist and philosopher, told his audience at Bowling Green State University Thursday night,  to resist efforts “to defang him,” to make King some lovable figure, a benign old man with a bag of toys on his back. “Don’t Santa-Clausify, my brother,” West said. “In a celebrity-scented culture, so obsessed with feeling comfortable … we just want to hear something that makes us feel good. If that’s the case you got the wrong Negro with Martin Luther King Jr. He wanted you to feel empowered, challenged, so you can straighten your back up.” As beloved as the civil rights leader is today, he was not in his time, West said. Right before his death, 72 percent of Americans disapproved of King, and that included 55 percent of African-Americans. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover considered him “the most dangerous man in American.” King was a “love warrior,” West said. “Justice is what love looks like in public.” He fought against systematic racism, and also opposed the Vietnam War and militarism. He believed “poverty was a form of tyranny.” The indifference to humanity that led to dropping bombs in Vietnam was tied to the indifference to the poor in this country, whether they are poor blacks in the inner city, or Latinos in barrios or impoverished white in Appalachia. “There’s a connection between militarism on one hand and the indifference to the plight of our poor brothers and sisters on the other,” he said. That lesson has not been learned. Not when the U.S. has launched 512 drone strikes in the past year and dropped 26,171 bombs in the last year. West, who said he was breakdancing in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president, has called the former president to task for not reining in the military industrial complex. The casualties – 750,000 in seven years – from those conflicts, mostly in majority Muslim nations, are what gave rise to “the gangsters and thugs” of ISIS. “They have gangsters and thugs in all traditions,” he said. If such a death toll had been experienced in America, the Ku Klux Klan would be on the frontlines. Africans Americans have shown another way. “We’re not a people of revenge, but a people of justice.”  If blacks had chosen revenge there would be a black American version of ISIS. Instead King believed: “You cannot separate tenderness, sweetness, kindness, and generosity from the struggles for justice. … How do you remain sweet in the face of all this viciousness?” The music that grew from the ring shouts of enslaved people meeting in secret at night has been central to keeping this “love train” on track. “They would produce a song, a harmony, a melody that would allow them to stay connected to their humanity that was called into question every day and every night,” he said. West riffed on the importance of music throughout his speech, which had all the musicality of a black Baptist sermon. At the beginning, he said, that he might as well play John Coltrane’s album “A Love Supreme” then “just take a seat.” Or put on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” and “just sit.” “Music,” he said, “is the special leavening in the loaf.”…

BG dinner to toast poet Robert Burns

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Elliot MacFarlane of Bowling Green, found an unusual partner in his celebration of the birth of Scottish national poet Robert Burns, Bulgarian chef Boyko Mitov. For the second year, they are teaming up to present Robert Burns Night dinners , Thursday, Jan. 26, and Friday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. both nights at Naslada Bistro, 182 S, Main St., in Bowling Green. Dinners in honor of Burns, around the time of his Jan. 25 birthday, have been celebrated since the poet’s death in 1796, MacFarlane, a member of the St. Andrews Society said. He has been involved in organizing such events for decades in Toledo, Detroit, Frankenmuth and elsewhere. The closest to home was years back when there was one presented at Nazareth Hall. Now, he has to drive miles, to enjoy and help others enjoy this mid-winter festivity. Last year, after working with Mitov on a Scotch tasting dinner, they decided to present a Burns Night celebration. Held one night in January, 2016, the restaurant was packed and had dozens on the waiting list. This year, the Burns dinner will be presented twice. MacFarlane said he’s had people approach him to make sure there’s room. As of Thursday noon, Mitov said there were places for a few more. Each dinner accommodates about 40 people. Only the back part of the restaurant is used. The large tables up front are needed for staging. The event offers a full evening of entertainment, as well as a four-course meal of Scottish specialties. The festivities begin with the arrival of the traditional meat pudding, the haggis, accompanied by a piper. Mitov uses grass-fed beef and fresh lamb to make the traditional dish. MacFarlane said he provided Mitov with Scottish recipes, and he’s tweaked them in his own style. “It’s great working with a good chef,” MacFarlane said. Though the cuisine was new to him, Mitov said, he had no problems adjusting the recipes and the preparation. The format, with paired drink and food, is similar to traditional dinners served in Bulgaria. In both cases, specially selected liquors are serve with complimentary entrees. The haggis will be accompanied by 12-year-old Cragganmore, Speyside Single Malt. The other courses are Cock-a-leekie Soup with 14-year-old Glenfiddich U.S. Exclusive Bourbon Barrel Reserve; Scotch Collops of Beef with Rumbledethumps with 18-year-old Aberlour Highland Single Malt; and for dessert, Cranachan (cream, berries and oats soaked in whisky) and  15-year-old  Dalwhinnie, Highland. Vegetarian can be requested when making reservations. MacFarlane has selected the best whiskies available to go with each of the four courses. Mitov said the evening is about more than eating and drinking. The entertainment includes music by the bagpiper Kim Sautter. Songs will be performed, a memorial to the poet, and, of course, plenty of verse, both by Burns and by later authors influenced by him Robert Frost, Robert Service, and Edgar Allan Poe. Diners are invited to bring favorite poems to share. The Burns Night is an evening of culture in the bleak days of midwinter, MacFarlane said. And he’s glad now to have one in the heart of his hometown Bowling Green. He and Mitov plan to continue the tradition. The dinner, $95, not including tax and gratuity. Reservations required. Call 419-373-6050.    

The death of an advocate

By ELIZABETH ROBERTS-ZIBBEL I couldn’t stop weeping when Carrie Fisher died. Every new photo, tweet from one of her co-stars, or thoughtful personal statement from a Facebook friend would bring me to fresh tears.  My grief pounded through me like the migraine that followed, triggered by crying and strong emotion. I saw The Empire Strikes Back at a drive-in with my family when I was seven. I played Star Wars with my brother every day, Princess Leia to his Luke Skywalker. Of course I wanted to be Leia, wearing my hair in braids, brandishing her visage on tee shirts. In elementary school while anticipating the release of Return of the Jedi I had no idea how unusual it was for my favorite movies to have such a strong, fearless female character to emulate, more a warrior than a princess. Yes, she was beautiful, but in one of her very first scenes she stared unflinchingly right into Darth Vader’s helmeted face and informed him with steely eyes that he would regret holding her hostage. It would become clear that she was less afraid of him than any of her male counterparts were. Carrie Fisher was a warrior herself, and a multi-talented one with much more to offer than adorable hair buns, a blaster, and a metal bikini. But rather than continuing to be bitter about the role that defined her, she decided to embrace Princess Leia, much as she did the experience of growing up as Hollywood royalty. Then, in the downtime after the Star Wars movies had been (everyone thought) completed, her drug use increased and she found herself in rehab after an overdose. That experience inspired her to write the thinly-veiled autobiographical novel Postcards From the Edge, and from that point on, she became a more and more outspoken advocate for mental health. After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder she wrote and spoke publicly about her private struggles with a refreshing forthrightness that made me feel not only that it was okay to be me, a creative adult with migraine and depression, but also that maybe I could write and talk about my experiences. That I could be as vocal, and honest, and brave. In her later years, Carrie also took on sexism, body image, aging, and the double standards of the movie industry, endearing this new version of herself to fans and inspiring feminist think pieces and articles (like this one, from the Guardian: “Carrie Fisher is a national treasure“). She worked hard to fight the stigma of mental illness, openly discussing her experiences long before it was common practice.  A meme that circulated right after her death contained the quotation  “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that. I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.” Bring it on. Bring on the migraine, because I’ve survived this long and I will continue to. Bring it on, because I will talk about it and write about it and post about it and tweet about it. Bring it on because each individual who feels free to share their experience with pain and illness increases awareness and understanding, and helps people realize that yes, awesome famous people suffer. And normal everyday people suffer. And those suffering in silence may feel validated. And those misinformed…

David Jackson professes his love of polka every Sunday morning

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When I arrive in David Jackson’s office in Williams Hall on the Bowling Green State campus, he’s busy doing what he’s been doing so much of since the campaign started. He’s on the telephone talking to a reporter. In this instance, he responding to questions about Meryl Streep’s impassioned speech at the Golden Globes the night before. Jackson, who teaches political science, has become the go-to expert for the national media on the impact of celebrity endorsements in politics. He’s found they don’t matter much, and often hurt. Even after the election he’s still getting calls. That’s not what prompted this visit from BG Independent News, though. I want to talk polka. For almost six years, Jackson has hosted the Sunday Morning Polka Show 10a.m. to noon, on WXUT, 88.3, and available for streaming on Mixcloud at https://www.mixcloud.com/discover/sunday-morning-polka/. While the show includes all styles of polka as well as some related pop music, at its heart is the Polish-American polka that Jackson grew up listening to in southern Saginaw County, Michigan. His parents, especially his mother (maiden name Lazowski), listened to it. Every year it was the focal point of the festival hosted by the Catholic Church he attended. ”There wasn’t a period in my life that I didn’t listen to polka,” Jackson said. Sure, he admits, maybe for some time as a teenager, he looked down on the music as corny. Then he came to appreciate its variety and complexity. “It’s about more than drinking beer and dancing.” And he demonstrates that in the stream of consciousness show in which he decides on the fly which of the 25,000 polka songs stored on his computer he’ll play. Maybe he’ll play “Midnight in Moscow,” formerly a Soviet radio network theme after a New from Poland story about American troops arriving in Poland. Or he’ll do a keyword search to string together related songs. They can be brand new, or vintage vinyl, scratches and all. Polish-American polka is, Jackson asserts, “as distinctive an American style of music as bluegrass, blues, jazz or Cajun music in the sense that it has a non-US origin that combines with other influences in the US to become this hybrid.” But, he said, “it’s the one that gets made fun of, which I don’t like.” The music has evolved. Polka in the 1930s and 1940s was played at a fast tempo by big bands using intricate arrangements. “It blows the walls off the place.” The music settled down since then and was a staple of Polish-American festivals celebrating their culture. Jackson has written research papers on how polka helped maintain a Polish identity, and about the organizations that stage festivals. The irony, he notes, is that Poles, past and present, will be the “first, last and second” to tell anyone who asks that “polka is not a Polish phenomenon, it’s a Czech dance.” His next polka-related project will be a survey of his fellow polka disc jockeys. The Sunday Morning Polka Show isn’t his first foray into polka programming. He hosted a couple shows at Michigan stations. Both of those were established programs when he came on. These were brokered-time arrangements, where the air time is purchased from the station, leaving it up to the host to find advertisers to…

BGSU scholar Rebecca Kinney dissects the myth of Detroit’s death & resurrection

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rebecca Kinney only realized she should write about her hometown of Detroit when she was living to the West Coast. Kinney grew up in Royal Oak, just north of the city, hugging Woodward Avenue. She remembers watching the fireworks explode over the Detroit River from the National Bank building downtown. She remembers how far the city seemed though it was just a 20-minute drive from her home. And she remembered being impressed by the change in architecture, the towering, imposing structures in the city compared to the single-family scale of the suburbs. Living in San Diego and San Francisco, she found everyone had something to say about the place where she grew up. Even if they’d never been to Detroit or even the Rust Belt, they knew, or thought they knew, something about the place. That made Kinney wondered: where did they get these ideas? Everyone knows this, she was told. What everyone knew was that Detroit had once been an industrial powerhouse, and then it fell into ruin. But now, it was on the rise. News magazines ran front page stories on its advertised rebirth. Photographers captured the city’s ruined beauty, depicting it as a new frontier. Chrysler celebrated it in Super Bowl ads. At the time her writing focused on Chinatowns in other cities, now her attention turned back home. “For me it was the first city I ever experienced,” Kinney said in an interview with BG Independent. “It’s a city I always compare other cities to, which is strange because until 10 years ago it wasn’t considered a city. It was considered a dead city, a dying city, a place where by all accounts nothing was happening. … Writing it off as a dead city suggests that the 670,000 people who lived there did not exist.” Detroit is still the 21st largest city by population in the nation. And what then does it mean, to say that the city is now reviving? Kinney’s analysis and study of those questions resulted in the book “Beautiful Wasteland,” which was published by the University of Minnesota Press this fall. The image of Detroit as a frontier, as depicted in the photographs she discusses in the chapter “Picturing Ruin and Possibility,” served to set up the city as a place ripe for development. That’s akin to way the American West was depicted, just as in that frontier, it was not an uninhabited land, but as portrayed as such “to make Manifest Destiny happen.” Now that narrative of frontier opens up Detroit, or at least the 7.2 square miles in the center of it, up for development. “Beautiful Wasteland” explores the way that narrative, the Detroit story, was created through social media, books, documentary films and advertisements. The decline of Detroit, Kinney said, pushing back at a common theory, predates the 1967 turmoil. Whites had already been fleeing the city for decades, a process she chronicles through social media posts in the chapter “It’s Turned into a Race Thing.” Money didn’t leave Detroit, she said, it just was funneled into the outlying suburbs, which became some of the richest in the country. That led to a disinvestment in the city, its services and people.  And a history of police brutality culminated in the 1967 rebellion, she…