My profile of Neutral Zone director Lori Roddy, in The Ann Arbor Observer

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-2-01-43-pm“The world is yours, dude!” a skinny teenaged boy in ripped jeans declares grandly to his pals standing in the recording studio at the Neutral Zone teen center. But the kid freezes when photographer Adrian Wylie aims a camera his way.

Executive director Lori Roddy knows what to do. “Let’s see you play with the word ‘roses,'” she says, inviting the boy into an improv game. He snaps into a confident monologue: “Roses. Everyone likes roses … you see them at cemeteries.” Wylie gets his shot.

The Observer’s designers didn’t end up using the photo, but it was a glimpse of the skills that helped Roddy rise from intern to the top job at the local teen center. John Weiss, her mentor and predecessor, says that when he stepped back to focus on sharing the NZ model with other communities, “I couldn’t see anyone else but Lori” as a successor. READ THE REST HERE

My Pulp story about Ann Arbor’s Scott Savitt and his new book, ‘Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China’

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 11.17.48 AM.pngFormer foreign correspondent Scott Savitt, who’s called Ann Arbor home for a little over a year now, is celebrating the release of his new book Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China with local appearances on Tuesday, November 1 at 7 pm at Nicola’s Books, and on Tuesday, November 29 at 7 pm at Literati Bookstore.

The book starts with Savitt’s harrowing account of spending 30 days on a hunger strike in a Chinese prison; and it later explains how the tragic death of his high school girlfriend set him on the path to spending years of his life in China. But the last section he needed to write to complete the manuscript – about Tiananmen Square, where Chinese political protesters were confronted by tanks and military force in 1989 – may have demanded the most courage.

“I had never revisited that, even in all the years since it happened,” said Savitt. “You have to move on somehow. And speaking as a journalist, the story continued. People were arrested, people went into exile – you had to keep covering the story. … So I wrote that section last. My publisher got to a point where he said, ‘Maybe you just can’t do it,’ and I said, ‘No, I can.’ So I finally cranked it out one sleepless night, and then the next morning, I read it to [U-M faculty member Dr. Rebecca Liu], and I started sobbing uncontrollably. It just made me realize how repressed that emotion was. It was still there. I don’t like calling things ‘syndromes’ but post-trauma – that’s real, and I still have it for sure. … It was something people are not built to see.” READ THE REST HERE

My latest WEMU-FM Art & Soul segment (with Lisa Barry) for November

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 10.07.57 AMThis month, on WEMU’s Art & Soul segment, Lisa and I chatted with Joe York, director of PTD Theater Company’s new production of “Noises Off,” and also talked about upcoming author events (Colm Toibin, Celeste Ng, Lisa Kron and more), a local women’s variety night at Pointless Brewery called HERsay, Suzanne Vega at the Ark, The 1975 at EMU Convocation Center, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimbukuro and more. Click the link to listen to the 8 minute segment!