Wild Bill Ketelhut provides the "blog" to this anti-blog
He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
Had a wonderful time at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival this past weekend. It was a great day of music (I was only able to go one day). I really enjoyed the music of the Claire Lynch Band, Toronto based Luke Doucet & The White Falcon, Ann Arbor’s own Misty Lyn & The Big Beautiful and Girlyman (all these acts will be at the Ark sometime this year in case you missed the festival). My biggest surprise was the Carolina Chocolate Drops who are an old time African American string band from North Carolina. They play a wide variety of instruments from banjo to jug and fiddle to kazoo, along with some beat boxing when appropriate. The group learned much of their repertoire from the eminent African American old-time fiddler Joe Thompson. They are getting this tradition alive with a good repartee with the audience. They will be at the Ark in Oct and should be seen if you like traditional music. Kris Kristofferson and the legendary Pete Seeger were the main attractions and both put on great shows. Kris keep his set to himself and his guitar, playing some of his best songs and showing a little sense of humor mixed will political statements. Pete, now 89, only did a few songs and was on stage with his son and some other musicians. He only did 5 songs himself including a rousing rendition of “Amazing Grace”, a version of “This Land Is Your Land” (which had all the performers on stage with him) and his new song in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. It is truly something to see a legend in person and one who I consider the greatest living singer/songwriter. That said, I was disappointed that a family emergency kept him from speaking at the Arab Museum on Sunday and I would have loved to ask his opinion on his situation. The panel was on profiling from McCarthy to today and I want to know what it was like performing at Obama’s inauguration after spending so many years on the most wanted list.
Seeger was in the Army, but spent a lot of time in support of civil and labor rights, racial equality, international understanding, and anti-militarism through his songs. Because of his beliefs Seeger was subpoenaed to testify before HUAC. He was alone among the many witnesses of the 1950 conviction and imprisonment of the Hollywood Ten to refuse to plead the Fifth Amendment (which asserted that his testimony might be self incriminating) and instead (as the Hollywood Ten had done) refused to name personal and political associations on the grounds that this would violate his First Amendment rights. He stated "I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this”. It seems to me that only after time have
passed can those who are vilified by the US Government be then treated as they should be. Think of people like Lenny Bruce and Malcolm X that seem to be honored today for bravery while living with constant persecution in their living years. Too bad we can’t appreciate the truly honorable when they are alive or young and waste so much potential.
I also visited 2 good restaurants this weekend I would like to mention. First, in Ann Arbor, I decided to try out Silvio’s Organic Pizza which while pricey, but delicious. The pizza comes from a family recipe from Italy’s Abruzzo region. For health reasons, the pizzas are made from wholly organic ingredients from the flour to the herbs. One of the better tasting pizzas around and they offer a wide range of toppings including eggplant, chick peas and tofu along with more basics like pepperoni and onions. I also tried one of their calzones, which they fry, and their homemade Minestrone, which were both very good. If you are looking for that healthy alternative while in Ann Arbor, this is a good choice and close to the campus. I ended up spending about $15 for the soup, calzone, slice of pizza and a drink. For more info, www.silviosorganicpizza.com.
While at the Arab Museum, I decided to eat at Amani’s, which is a Middle Eastern Restaurant right down the street from the museum. This was one of the best Shawarma’s I have had the pleasure to eat in this town and for less than $10, a got a salad, fries and a plate of turnips, peppers and bread. Their website is http://www.amanilebaneserestaurant.com/
The museum itself has a couple of new exhibits including “Utopian Visions”, which contains the works of four artists (Rima Al-awar, Rana Chalabi, Roula Ayoub and Emna Zghal). The artists themselves draw upon disparate forms of inspiration, ranging from nature to poetry to spiritual belief, to challenge the viewer to consider their own interpretations of utopia. There is the “Yemeni Community” which contains the work of social documentary photographer Milton Rogovin. He visited Lackawanna, New York in 1977 when it was a bustling steel town with a small but unique community of immigrants from the Arab nation of Yemen. Devastating plant closings were a few years away, and daily life for Lackawanna’s Yemenis was a combination of old-world traditions and contemporary American experiences. He took the time to document moments of their life and has made repeat visits to update the lives still living in that community.
The photographs also forgo the use of titles, having the artist wanting us to make our own observations and making the appropriate titles based on our own experiences. The museum itself is lovely and has many nice permanent exhibitions. You don’t have to be Arabic to enjoy this place, esp since Sundays are free admission or you can check out their Global Thursday concerts (put together by the same people who do the Concert Of Colors).
In the movie world, there are a few animated treats including Coraline (coming Feb 6). The film is directed by Henry Selick (also known for James And The Giant Peach & The Nightmare Before Christmas) and is based on the Neil (Sandman, American Gods) Gaiman story of the same name. The film is about a young girl, Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning), whose family has moved to a new home is the country with some odd neighbors. They include Mr. Bobinsky who is training circus rats, the elderly actresses Miss Forcible and Miss Spunk and the annoying neighbors kid Wybie and his cat. While her parents are working, and ignoring her, Coraline searches the house and finds an mysterious door which she opens. This door delivers her into a parallel reality which has her other mother (this mother makes all her wishes comes true) and offers a fantastical and thrilling imitation of her own dull life. The only difference between the two worlds is that is this dimension everyone possesses big, black buttons for eyes (all except for the Cat).
However, this other world soon begins to unravel and Coraline, along with her real parents, become prisoners to her Other Mother and must count on her resourcefulness, determination, and bravery to get back home. A very nicely done film with only one scene that makes be a little squeamish for recommending for children. Still, the story is well done and the 3D effects work well with this animation style. I forgot I was wearing them after awhile. Better than James but not quite as good as Nightmare but definitely worth watching. My grade is A-.
The other animated movie is the incredible “Waltz With Bashir”. One of the top films of 2008, it will be coming here soon. In 1982, Ari Folman was a 19-year-old infantry soldier in the Israel Defense Forces but after an encounter with an old army buddy who is having nightmares, he realizes he doesn’t remember the war at all. Later that night he has a vision of the Sabra and Shatila massacre and decides to go after his memories by talking to those who were there. The film follows Folman in his conversations with friends, a psychologist and the reporter Ron Ben-Yishai who was in Beirut at the same time. I truly engaging film about the experience of war without being overly preachy. My grade is a A+.
Last is New In Town which is a romantic comedy starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr (not my first choice for a couple and it shows) Zellweger plays a high-powered consultant in love with her upscale Miami lifestyle (of which we don’t see much of) and sees herself on the fast track to VP when she ends up being sent to New Ulm Minnesota (a small town with those wonderful Fargo accents). She has been sent to oversee the restructuring of a factory to produce these new fangled energy bars. Of course, this also means layoffs. The locals give her a frosty reception, esp the local foreman (JK Simmons) and the local union rep (Connick). When the new equipment fails to come in, she is ordered to shut down the plant. However, because she has fallen in love with the town (and Connick), she fights to protect their jobs by thinking outside the box and marketing her secretary’s (a funny role for Frances Conroy) tapioca recipe. There is nothing new here but the movie hits the right notes and the audience seems to really enjoy the movie. More of a movie for the parental types but by no means a bad film. The worst part is the relationship but the overcoming of small town jobs seems to spark this film in today’s climate and offer not only hopes, but also laughs. My grade is a B-.
For the music fans out there, you might want to check out Kathleen Edwards @ the Magic Bag on 4th or go to the Majestic for Galactic. On Friday, you can go to MOCAD for a performance by the experimental jazz trio the Necks or see UK blues singer Kristen Price at the Pike Room. Local band Giftus will be at the Crofoot on Friday. Have a good week and don’t forget the Dirty Show will start this weekend. I hope to be getting an interview concerning the event on my show this Thursday (from 8-10AM on WXOU 88.3FM or http://www.wxou.org/ ). See you next week with some info on some new exhibits at Cranbrook.