Author and illustrator Phoebe Gloeckner on the new film adaptation of her book The Diary of a Teenage Girl, 826 Michigan’s Amanda Uhle on the future of Mittenfest, and Pete Larson flies in from Kenya to perform live …on this weekend’s edition of the Saturday Six Pack

DiaryOfATeenageGirlWe’re not quite sure why, but the woman behind the most talked about coming-of-age movie in the country this summer, author and illustrator Phoebe Gloeckner, has agreed to come on the Saturday Six Pack this weekend and tell us what it’s like to see your young, semi-autobiographical self projected on the silver screen in front of people made painfully uncomfortable by unflinching depictions of young female sexuality. Maybe she thinks I’ll get at things that Terry Gross didn’t uncover when they spoke last week. Or maybe she just wants a friendly place to vent and have a drink after wrapping up an intense promotional tour, traveling from city to city to answer the same questions over and over again. Either way, it promises to be an interesting evening, especially for those of us who have read Gloeckner’s intensely personal and painfully honest novel that spawned the film, The Diary of a Teenage Girl… Here, for those of you who are not familiar with her work, is the trailer for the film, which begins a three-day run at the Michigan Theater this Friday.

In addition to Gloeckner, we’ll also be visited by two other folks this Saturday evening. One of them is someone who has been on the show before, our friend from Kenya, Dr. Peter Larson, who will be stopping by to tell us about mashed potato borne illnesses and playing some of the songs that he’s been sending into the show each week from Africa. Speaking of those songs Pete has been writing for us every week, here’s a version of one that he just recently recorded with drummer Taiko No Tettsu in Osaka. [If you like it, be sure to come to Ypsi on Sunday, September 6th, when Pete will be playing a free show on the Washington Street porch of J.T. Garfield.]

And we also have a last minute bonus guest… Amanda Uhle, the executive director of 826michigan, will be dropping by to talk about the work the creative writing non-profit has been doing in Ypsi, and share some big news concerning this winter’s Mittenfest event.

And, here, thanks to AM 1700 graphic designer Kate de Fuccio, is this week’s poster, in case any of you want to print it out and leave it laying around your workplace.

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FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NEVER TUNED IN TO THE SIX PACK BEFORE, HERE ARE THE DETAILS ON HOW TO LISTEN:

Unless you live inside the AM 1700 studio, chances are you won’t be able to pick the show up on your radio. As that’s the case, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of TuneIn.com.

And for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

One last thing… If you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, feel free to share the Facebook event listing.

And do call us if you have a chance. We love phone calls. So please scratch this number into the cinder block wall of the recreation room of whichever facility you’ve been assigned to… 734.217.8624… and call us between 5:00 and 7:00 this Saturday evening. The show is nothing without you. And I mean that. [And you read that right. This week’s show is going to be starting an hour earlier, at 5:00, as the owner of AM 1700 needs to hightail it early so that he can drink beer in the woods with Germans.]

Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

“1000’s of Live Girls and 3 Undead Ones”

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Maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Walking Dead, but, when I was cutting through the parking lot behind Deja Vu with my dog yesterday, and ran into this car of theirs, my mind went immediately to zombies. As I’ve never seen it rolling around town, I imagine they only use it in case of stripper emergencies. Still, though, I can’t imagine it’s good for business.

As for the title of this post, it’s a reference to the strip club’s much-dispised slogan… “1000’s of Beautiful Girls and 3 Ugly Ones“.

Posted in Local Business, Mark's Life, Marketing, Observations, Photographs | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Republicans bend truth in petition drive to repeal Michigan’s popular prevailing wage law

Linette, upon arriving home after a trip to Heritage Fest with the kids this past weekend, mentioned to me that a man had approached her, asking her to sign a petition. The petition, he told her, would put legislation on the ballot that would somehow help rebuild Michigan’s roads. As she didn’t have time to read it, she didn’t sign, but she mentioned it to me, knowing that I’d be interested, and I began asking around. And here’s what I discovered. The petition in question had nothing to do with our roads, and everything to do with repealing Michigan’s prevailing wage law, which dictates that individuals hired to work on government-funded construction projects within the state be paid union-scale wages and given similar benefits.

Bob Krzewinski, who apparently exchanged words with the men gathering signatures outside Heritage Fest, shared the following.

I found out the “Ypsilanti” petitioners were from California… When nobody was around, they were heard to call people living in our state, “a bunch of dumb-asses”… They really became agitated when I began telling potential petition-signers that the solicitors were being paid, were from out of state, and were outright lying to people about their petition.

If you looked at the petition, you’d see, at the bottom, it said “Protecting Michigan Taxpayers,” which is a front group funded by Amway’s DeVos family and construction agency trade groups.

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Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, as of a month or so ago, had raised $1 million in order to wage their fight to repeal of Michigan’s prevailing wage law, with $372,200 of that coming from the DeVos family’s benign-sounding Michigan Freedom Fund, and another $348,000 coming from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, a Lansing-based trade group that primarily represents nonunion contractors. The following comes from Crain’s Detroit Business.

…Protecting Michigan Taxpayers has until late November to collect close to 253,000 signatures to force the Legislature to vote on repealing Michigan’s 50-year-old prevailing wage law or put the issue before voters in November 2016.

If it passes the Legislature or by popular vote, Gov. Rick Snyder could not veto the legislation.

Michigan’s prevailing wage law requires contractors to pay union-scale wages and benefits on state-funded building projects. Supporters of the law say prevailing wages keep out-of-state contractors from undercutting Michigan companies with deliberately low bids and protects skilled-trades training programs…

It’s been reported that $338,000 of the $1 million raised to “protect” us Michigan taxpayers against living wages, has gone to an entity called Silver Bullet LLC, a Las Vegas-based political campaign firm contracted to help with the collection of signatures.

Silver Bullet LLC, for what it’s worth, claims their people have been trained to follow “a code of professional ethics” that would not allow them to misrepresent the causes for which they are collecting signatures, in spite of the fact that they’re likely compensated based on the number of signatures they submit each day. Here, with details, is a clip from their website.

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[Please join me in printing this out and carrying it with you, in case you encounter an employee of Silver Bullet LLC.]

According to polling, Michiganders support the prevailing wage law. And even our Republican Governor has said that, if a bill crossed his desk to repeal it, he’d veto it. And the Republican legislature has conceded that they don’t have the two-thirds majority they’d need to override such a veto. Which is why this petition campaign is so diabolically brilliant. According to our state law, if legislation is “initiated or adopted by the people,” it cannot be overridden by veto. And that’s why, according to the Detroit Free Press, “some of the same players behind the successful campaign to make Michigan a right-to-work state in 2012 are pumping big money into an anti-prevailing-wage petition drive.” And all it takes is the support of just 3% of Michigan’s voting-age population to make it happen, which is why they’re fighting so hard to get these 252,000 signatures… If they can get that many, the Republican majority in the legislature can repeal the measure, and not even Snyder can stop it from happening.

So, not only are they lying about what this petition is for, but they’re also being disingenuous when they say that your signature will just help get the measure on the ballot so that the people of Michigan can vote on it. That isn’t the intention at all. As Ypsi City Council’s Pete Murdock explained it to me, “The Senate has already passed it and the House has the votes to pass it.” The thing is, they need for it to be veto-proof, and that’s what your signature, assuming you sign, is giving them. Once they have their 252,000 signatures, according to Murdock, “They can either adopt it as is, or place it on the ballot, and they fully intend to pass it as is.” So it will never be on a ballot. It will just become law. And more of Michigan’s workers will slide further into the economic abyss.

So, when you see these out-of-state operatives of the “electoral-industrial complex” standing outside of Kroger’s and Meijer’s, where I’m told they’ve set up shop in our area, be sure to call them out on what they’re doing, and interrupt any conversations they may be having with others. This isn’t about fixing our roads. And it certainly isn’t about getting this measure in front of Michigan voters. This is about making unpopular legislation veto-proof, and further diminishing the power of workers in the state of Michigan.

[If you’re interested, you can read the actual petition language here.]

Posted in Michigan, Politics, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ypsilanti’s young people pack the AM 1700 studio to speak truth to power, and the music of Soft Milk… on episode 24 of the Saturday Six Pack

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This past weekend’s episode of The Saturday Six Pack, as I suspect most of you already know, started coming together earlier this summer, after the gang-related murder of 20 year old Keandre Duff, who had been shot in the head and killed just after midnight on the morning of July 12 at an Ypsilanti block party. Several people in the community asked me to devote a show to the subject of teen violence and the subsequent crack-down by police. Some wanted me to ask members of local law enforcement what they were dong to keep us safe. Others wanted me to ask these same people what they were doing to ensure that, in responding to these events, the civil rights of Ypsilanti’s young people weren’t violated. So I began putting a show together. The more I thought about it, though, the more it seemed like the scope needed to be more board than just law enforcement. [As Sheriff Jerry Clayton has said in the past, “You can’t just enforce your way to a better community.”] There were several underlying issues, it seemed to me, that needed to be discussed, like the fact that jobs are hard to come by these days for teens in our community, and recreational activities are becoming more scarce as our elected officials continue to prioritize tax cuts over community services. So I started to think more broadly about the issue, and consider ways to get teens themselves involved in the show. And the show that we broadcast on Saturday was a culmination of those efforts.

Not only did we have Mayor Amanda Edmonds, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton, Superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools Dr. Benjamin Edmondson, and Ypsilanti Chief of Police Tony DeGiusti in the studio, talking about issues of importance to Ypsi’s teens, but we actually had about a dozen young people with us as well, asking questions, contributing solutions, and just sharing with us what it’s like to be a young person in our community right now. I know we’ve had some pretty incredible shows in the past, but this one really felt right to me, like we were finally starting to tap into the real potential of community radio.

[If you would like to listen to episode twenty-four of The Saturday Six Pack, you can either download it from iTunes or scroll the bottom of the page, where you’ll find the Soundcloud file embedded.]

I was going to go into detail as to what was covered on the show, but you should really just make the time and listen to these young people from Dedicated to Make a Change, the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR), and Ozone House, who collectively represented almost all of our local schools. They were incredible, and they deserve your time and attention. Here are some of their photos, followed a few very brief notes concerning what was covered. [All photos courtesy AM 1700 staff photographer Kate de Fuccio and Nick Azzaro from Chin-Azzaro Studio.]

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And here are nine bullets, for those of you who refuse to listen despite my pleas.

1. “There’s nothing for us to do in Ypsilanti.” It’s smoothing we heard a lot of during the first half of the show. Some of the kids pointed to the disparity between Ann Arbor and our community, where the Parks and Recreation Department was disbanded due to lack of funds almost a decade ago. “Why don’t we have a youth center?,” they ask. While the Ozone Drop-In Center is great, they say, they’d love to have a place that could accommodate more people, and stay open longer than two hours a day. If we had such a place, they told us, young people would be less likely to just smoke and hang out. Superintendent Edmondson shares that he’s been asking people in the community, like the CEO of St. Joe’s, to purchase one of Ypsi’s recently closed public schools, and reopen it as a recreation center for this very reason.

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2. These kids, to quote Sheriff Clayton, aren’t looking for a handout. They just want “a clear path so that they can get it for themselves.” They want a level playing field and an opportunity to prove themselves. This was driven home by one of the young women in the studio who, after telling us how she’d grown up homeless with an addicted mother who worked as a prostitute, went on to say that her struggles have inspired her to do more with her life. She says she’s working three jobs right now, and wants to go on to become a social worker. “I can be anything I want to be,” she says. And it’s something that we’d hear repeatedly over the course of the 90 minutes we spent together. These kids aren’t asking to given things. They want opportunities. They want jobs. They want a chance to prove themselves and contribute.

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3. After Superintendent Edmondson notes that he won’t hesitate to expel students that are making it more difficult for others to learn, several young women in the studio challenge him on it, saying that we need to reconsider policies that put people out of school, where they’re more apt to make bad decisions. [This is one of many discussions that I’d like to return to in future episodes.]

4. Mayor Edmonds calls on people in the community who send their children to private schools, or to Ann Arbor public schools, to come back to Ypsi Community Schools. Doing so, she says, will not only bring more money to our district, increasing the resources we have available for the children here, but it will help make our community stronger. Even if you don’t sender children to school here, she says, you should still get involved in local public education, working with the kids who are here. And she commends Edmondson for giving people in the community opportunities to engage and get involved.

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5. We talk a lot about jobs and programs through various entities to help young people secure employment. One young woman says she has a friend who, at 14, wants to get a job and start helping her mother take care of their struggling family, but can’t find anyone to hire her. We discuss programs through Ozone House and elsewhere. [It makes me happy to see kids telling one anther about resources in the community.] Superintendent Edmondson announces that he hopes to roll a program out in January that would see every 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grader in Ypsi Community Schools interning for a local business two hours a week, learning both life and job skills. [Edmondson says on a few occasions that we aren’t helping children by shielding them from the realities of life. He says we need to demand more from them.] Edmondson says 20 local companies have already contacted him, expressing interest in participating in the program. One of those companies, for what it’s worth, isn’t really a company… it’s the Saturday Six Pack radio program. [More on this in the near future.]

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6. We talk about how law enforcement officers are perceived within the community. One young woman says she sees them in a positive light. A young many says, while he has good relations with an officer who has been assigned to his school, his friends say that the police are not their friends, and only exist to “get you into trouble.” Clayton and DeGiusti outline the steps they’ve taken to build trust in the community, like reading to kids in elementary school, and hosting sessions where members of the community and officers engage in dialogue. Two such meetings, says Clayton, are planned for young people in out community later this year. [Stay tuned for more information.]

7. “We’ve failed our youth in a number of ways,” says Sheriff Clayton, “but let’s not forget the parents.” I suggest that we also need support services for adults who want to be better parents but lack the skills. A young man in the studio suggests that some adults don’t really care to become better parents. Sheriff Clayton says that all adults in the community need to pitch in, and that it has to be a concerted effort on all of our parts to help our young people. We need to set high expectations for your kids, and hold them accountable, he says.

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8. One of the young men from Dedicated to Make a Change shares that there will be an event at the Parkridge Community Center on Wednesday, August 26, between 6:00 and 8:00 PM on how young people can positively interact with members of law enforcement. Both Clayton and DeGiusti promised to send officers to participate.

9. Mayor Edmonds, when talking about how we can do a better job of hearing young people, says that City Council is considering the possibility of starting a Youth Commission. She also advises that the young people in the room keep speaking up, even if adults act as though their voices don’t matter. “Keep showing up and using your voice,” she says. She references a recent decision by the organizers of Ypsilanti’s Heritage Fest to exclude young people not accompanied by adults. “I’m devastated that teens aren’t welcome,” she says. “That’s a huge message that we’re sending.”

There was a lot more, but, as I’m falling asleep, that’ll have to suffice. You really should listen to the audio, though. I know you’re busy, but you can surely spare 90 minutes, right?

…When the segment was over, we all went outside, hung out for a while, and took photos. I went around and thanked everyone for participating. My sense, and I could be wrong, was that, at least for some of the kids, this could have been the first time that an adult ever shook their hand and thanked them for contributing. One hopes that a few of them, perhaps feeling a bit more empowered as a result of this meeting, will take out Mayor up on her challenge to them that they keep speaking up. Who knows, maybe one of them could even get involved on the Heritage Festival board and change their policy toward teens, or start showing up at City Council meetings, demanding they follow through on the promise of a Youth Commission.

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And once the kids were gone, and the beers were opened, Eli Stevick and Dylan Beckwith of the band Soft Milk joined us in the studio. Among other things, we talked about GG Allin’s mustache, the sounds made by ghosts, what carpenter ants taste like, how easy it is to float in mud, why they prefer to perform in the nude, and the circumstances which led an English boy to move into their attic. And they played three or four songs to boot. Here they are telling me about how a friend of theirs “felt his first chest” in the trailer Iggy Pop grew up in. We also talked an inordinately long time about Libertarian breakfast spots and local gas station produce. Our segment ended with a call from one of their fans in England.

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Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, and Brian Robb for running the board, keeping the bills paid, and the toilet paper stocked.

If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.

AND NOW, THANKS TO SCIENCE, YOU CAN LSTEN FOR YOURSELF:

Posted in The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Local “gospel” event drives Ypsilantians into the arms of Satan

I was alerted to a series of posts on Facebook yesterday by the increasingly popular “I blame Mark Maynard” tag. I would seem that, in trying to navigate my way though the crowd at this weekend’s downtown “gospel” event, I inadvertently deflected a pack of rabid young evangelists toward a woman who found herself pinned against a brick building, helpless, unable to escape. Here’s one of several comments she left about the harrowing experience on Facebook.

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[I know that Jesus gave bread to the poor and hungry, but did he demand that they give him their souls in return? It’s been a while since I read the bible, but I don’t remember him saying, before handing over a loaf of bread, “I know you’re hungry, but I’m going to need your soul first.”]

For those who didn’t have a chance to attend this weekend’s Gospel Fest, the best analogy I can offer is this… Trying to navigate North Washington Street between Michigan Avenue and Pearl Street was like suddenly finding yourself in the shoes of a protagonist on The Walking Dead. And I don’t say this to disparage the beautiful art form that is gospel. I sincerely love good, heartfelt gospel. There’s nothing more beautiful in the whole world. And I mean that with all of my heart. What I saw this weekend, though, wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen before. What I saw, the few times that I passed through the event, were just evangelicals yelling over the racket of small bands comprised largely of children, as the “saved” made their way through the crowd looking for people to lay hands on and convert. Granted, there may have been awesome gospel groups that I didn’t see, and the evangelicals stalking people through the crowd could have been a minority, but my sense was that this event was primarily about luring people in for conversion, and not simply making music to glorify god. And, yes, I’m fully aware that gospel is a music of faith, and I appreciate that fact. I’ve actually spent time in small southern churches, listening to gospel choirs perform. This, however, seemed different to me. It wasn’t joyful. It wasn’t deeply moving. It was just amplified insanity from people who claim to speak with god, and know what god wants the rest of us to do. And I think that’s the thing that bothers me. My previous experiences with gospel have been framed in a positive light. People were singing about what god had meant to them in their own lives, how he’d helped them to keep going, and stay positive despite setbacks. This, however, wasn’t like that. This was straight up culture war stuff. It wasn’t music so much as it was the sound of collision between Tea Party politics and fundamentalist Christianity.

My first time through, there was a woman on stage talking about how doctors don’t cure cancer. Only god can cure cancer, she said, as about twenty people raised their arms in agreement. A man in front of the stage, at the same time, was laying his hands on people. I wasn’t close enough to hear what was being said, but, given the context, I’m pretty sure that some kind of healing was being promised… My second time through, there was a man on stage urging someone in the audience to blow the shofar he’d brought with them. He said it was the voice of God, and that God wanted Ypsilanti to become a Christian city, and not one of sin. Between blasts from the shofar, with children playing guitar and drums behind him, the man talked of the war for souls that was being waged here on earth.

Both times through, I was approached by fresh-faced, young evangelicals. Both times I was able to quicken my pace, say something about how I couldn’t talk because I was in a hurry, and get though unscathed. [They don’t move fast… hence the reference to The Walking Dead.] During my second visit, after making my way successfully through the evangelical gauntlet, I stopped a little ways off and just watched… It was interesting. I wish I’d taken video. People would walk in, and, by the time they were about ten paces down Washington, they typically would have caught the attention of someone stationed around the periphery of the crowd. And, at that point, the “saved” would mobilize. They’d make eye contact with one another, nod in the direction of the new person, and then they’d start their slow approach.

I should add that I didn’t mind it. The people in question didn’t attack me. They didn’t chase me. I just found it kind of unsettling. I felt like a fish who’d just figured out that he’d made his way into a weir.

Here’s the setup for Gospel Fest, minus the thirty or so who were in attendance. [Photo courtesy Lena Reeves.]

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Oh, I should add that there was potential for things to get even more weird, but, sadly, nothing came of it. As the man on stage was yelling about God’s desire to turn Ypsilanti into a sinless Christian city, I noticed a band of four Hare Krishnas making their way down Pearl, playing instruments and chanting. I hung around to see if there might be a conflict, but the Krishnas made it past without attracting any attention… It was kind of a really beautiful “only in Ypsilanti” moment.

Speaking of the Krishnas, I really like walking my dogs past their house in Ypsilanti and listening to them chant. It’s really quite lovely.

Oh, and speaking of Satanism, why is it that I’m just now learning about this incredible news video shot in Detroit the night that the Baphomet statue was unveiled?

Posted in Mark's Life, Religious Extremism, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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