Testing the Cycle Powered Cinema concept this Saturday, and you’re invited


This Saturday night, at about 9:30, or whenever it starts to get dark, some friends and I are going to get together on the banks of the Huron, behind the new VG Kids building, and test out the Cycle Powered Cinema concept. And, you’re invited. There could be glitches, as we’ve yet to attempt the projection of a real movie, but it should be fun regardless. As of right now, we’re planning to show a cartoon, a Buster Keaton short, and the Robert Mitchum film Night of the Hunter. And, thanks to a generous donation by the Corner Brewery, there will be beer for those of legal drinking age, at least until the keg runs dry. All we ask in return is that, if you want to join us, you donate $10 toward the purchase of additional generators, so that we can build-out a few more bikes and start showing free, bike-powered movies in Ypsi’s Riverside Park, which, hopefully, is where all of this is headed.

In the completed system, once we’re done, we’ll have at least eight bikes, and they’ll power the film directly, in real-time. For the time being, however, we just have two built. That means we’re going to have to start peddling earlier in the day, in order to charge a battery. We haven’t done the math yet, but I’m guessing that we’ll have the bikes set up at around 6:00, in case you want to arrive early and put in your time on the bike before the film starts.

Oh, and I should mention that the reason we have two bikes now, instead of just the one that we had at the winter Shadow Art Fair, is thanks to $200 in contributions from the Sidetrack, the Corner Brewery, and the old Elbow Room, as well as $214 in contributions from patrons of the Corner Brewery. Thanks to this infusion of money, we were able to build out another complete bike, and get the inverter, and other infrastructure pieces we needed in order to make a somewhat reliable system. (And, by that, I mean one that won’t blow up, like the one we had at the last Shadow Art Fair.) We’re still waiting on a few parts to come in, but Andy Claydon – the guy handling all the technical stuff – is confident that we’ll have them in time.

Oh, and this public unveiling couldn’t have happened without James Marks offering to let us use the VG Kids facility. Thanks to his generosity, we’ll not only have access to bathrooms, but a beautiful space on the banks of the river, and a large white wall to project our movies on.

Again, I think it’s worth reiterating that this is a proof-of-concept viewing, so things are likely to go horribly wrong. We’re hoping to have enough juice to project two hours of film, and big enough speakers to reach everyone in the audience, but you never know. So, we’re not making any guarantees. And that’s in part why I’m not publicizing this widely, and just announcing it now, a few days before the event… With all of that said, though, I do hope to see you there, for what promises to be an historic event.

Oh, and if you can’t make it, but would still like to contribute toward the project, you can do so by visiting the Cycle Powered Cinema page and clicking on the “donate” button… And, if you hate the whole idea, but still want to support something bike related, I hear that Jim and Forrest Karnopp, from Cafe Luwak, are looking for people to sponsor them in a Make a Wish Foundation bike ride. (Forrest will be doing the 300 mile ride, and Jim will be doing the 50 mile one.) They’re great guys, it’s a great cause, and, if you donate $20 or more to either one of them, you’ll receive a free breakfast buffet at Cafe Luwak. But, as the deadline is July 1st, you’d better do it now. Just click here to support Forrest or here to support Jim.

[Those of you who are new to this whole Cycle Powered Cinema initiative, can find my last update on the project, which is considerably more detailed, here… And I’m sorry about the graphic above, but Linette wasn’t home to help me.]

Posted in cycle powered cinema, Special Projects, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Steve Hughes does good, gets year’s worth of beer money

Last night, I got to spend some time with my friend Minal Hajratwala. Over beers, I told her what it was like to sit curled up behind a small stage, giving voice to a puppet, and she told me what it’s like to be a Fulbright Scholar working on a second book. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of overlap between our two worlds.

Then, today, I woke up and learned that my old zine-writing buddy, Steve Hughes had been awarded a Kresge literary arts fellowship.

When I set out to write this post, my plan was to come across as insanely jealous, as though I were boiling over with anger. I thought that it would be funny. But, truth is, that’s one emotion I don’t feel in the least. What I feel is incredibly fortunate to have such brilliant friends. In a word where there’s so much to be depressed about, from the gushing of oil in the Gulf to the mediocrity we see about us in American popular culture, it’s good to know that sometimes people with real talent find ways to keep doing what they do. So, next time you see a Twilight commercial and feel like killing someone, just remember that someone’s out there, making the decision to fund people with great ideas, like Steve and Minal.

And, speaking of the great things that these two people do, Minal’s first book, Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents, is now available in stores everywhere, and Steve’s most recent project, a collaborative arts space in Hamtramck called Public Pool, will be opening a new show entitled Super 8 New York on July 10.

Posted in Art and Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Puppet Mark eclipses real Mark


It is normal for one to be jealous of his puppet when said puppet appears on the cover of a local tabloid? I suppose I should be happy that he’s out there in the world, doing stuff that I don’t want to do, like having pictures taken with the likes of Jamboman, but still… And, jealousy aside, it’s just weird knowing that he’s out there, doing stuff independent of me.

Posted in Dreamland Tonight, Mark's Life | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

“Let’s do some great hip hop dancin’!”

My friend Andy sent this to me today. I don’t know that it rises to the level of being considered an “un-friendable” offense, but it’s pretty damned close.

Posted in Art and Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Ypsilanti’s first annual Kinetic Sculpture Race

race_post_webIn Baltimore, they have something every year called the Kinetic Sculpture Race. People make these wonderful, human-powered, amphibious vehicles and they race them over land and water. The fifteen mile race, which is hosted by my favorite museum, the American Visionary Art Museum, takes almost 8 hours to complete. I’ve never had an opportunity to see one, let alone participate in one, but, judging from the participating vehicles, they’re absolutely incredible events. And, now it looks like Ypsilanti might be following in their footsteps.

On Saturday, July 10, Ypsilanti will host its first kinetic sculpture race. The competition will be held at SPUR Studios, beginning at 6:00 PM, in cooperation with the ever-expanding Shadow Art Fair.

BREAKING NEWS: The Michigan Design Militia, the top-secret, cult-like organization responsible for the planning of the Shadow Art Fair, has announced that they will be bestowing a $200 grand prize upon the team with the vehicle that best demonstrates the spirit of the Shadow Art Fair.

It’s probably worth noting that the idea of the kinetic sculpture race wasn’t originally hatched in Baltimore. According to people I know in Charm City, the first such race was held in California, in 1969. And, just as the good folks from Baltimore borrowed from the good folks of California, so shall we be borrowing from them both… Here’s hoping the tradition takes hold here as well, and that we fully realize our creative potential as a community.

Here are the details on the Ypsi race:

Race requirements:
*** a team name and title, any number of members ***
*** 7 ft. minimum size. [long, tall, or wide] ***
*** human powered [wheels, gears, and multiple humans ok] ***
*** a focus on creative concept and artistic quality ***

2:00 Creations are put on DISPLAY. [patrons are welcome]
3:00 Forest Juziuk and other dj’s begin spinning RECORDS.
6:00: VERSUS time trials to determine placement in final race.
8:00: MAIN EVENT! [race filled w/ fun and surprises]
10:00: track is CLOSED.

So, if you’ve got an idea, form a team and put something together.

Oh, and you don’t have to know where SPUR is. One of our busses will take you there.

Posted in Art and Culture, Shadow Art Fair, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


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