My Destination Ann Arbor post about Manchester’s annual Christmas in the Village events

Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 3.12.34 PM.pngLike a tree that grows from a small seed, Manchester’s Christmas in the Village – scheduled each year on the first Friday night and Saturday of December – had humble beginnings.

“There was a group of community members, a group of women, who started a craft show out of their house in the 1990s,” said Jennifer Wojtowicz, Manchester Area Chamber of Commerce President. “It’s just grown from there.”

Now the town-wide, two-day holiday extravaganza always starts with a parade on Friday night. “Santa brings up the rear of the parade, which ends at Wurster Park, and from there, kids get in line and get a professional photo, taken for free, with Santa,” said Wojtowicz. “A lot of families use that picture for their Christmas cards. And on Saturday, all of our local businesses get involved, with all kinds of fun things and opportunities: specials and sales, open houses, a scavenger hunt, a cookie contest, and a cookie sale – which is a fundraiser for the chamber – and face painting. There’s going to be an ugly sweater holiday happy hour that all the restaurants will be participating in from two to four, … a chili cook-off … and this will be the second year that the school’s cross country team will put on a run called the Reindeer Trail Run.” READ THE REST HERE


My Concentrate story about brunch spots in Washtenaw County

Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 2.58.27 PM.pngNo matter the season, sleeping in on weekend mornings and going out for brunch always feels like a decadent pleasure. If you happen to be looking for late-morning nosh in Washtenaw County, here are a few of our favorite options that are sure to make your stomach growl.

Beezy’s Cafe
20 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti
Named for owner Bee Roll, Beezy’s was an instant sensation when its doors opened in downtown Ypsilanti in 2008, and it’s been a local favorite ever since. With its emphasis on simple dishes that let locally sourced ingredients shine, Beezy’s is great for brunch any day, offering irresistible breakfast items until 2 p.m. Whether you like your brunch sweet (French toast to die for) or savory (chorizo scramble, tempeh hash, and eggs), you just can’t go wrong at Ypsi’s most beloved funky/cozy café. READ THE REST HERE

My Pulp interview with Braylon Edwards about his new book, ‘Doing It My Way’

Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 2.34.07 PM.pngFormer University of Michigan All American wide receiver and NFL Pro Bowler Braylon Edwards has a reputation for being outspoken, to say the least. But even so, he had to warm up to the idea of writing Doing It My Way: My Outspoken Life as a Michigan Wolverine, NFL Receiver, and Beyond.

Triumph Books, my publishing company, originally approached me in 2017,” Edwards said. “I had no idea what my book would be about, and to be honest, at the time, the money was laughable. … So we said, ‘We’ll pass.’ And by we, I mean me and my mother. She’s my business manager, so I run everything by her. But as we started telling people that I was presented with this opportunity — my aunties, my uncles, my cousins, my coaches, my friends, everybody — I started to think there enough things I’ve gone through in my life that make my story unique.”

This included constantly traveling between two sets of parents as a child; being a “legacy” athlete since Edward’s father, Stan Edwards, played football for Michigan under Bo Schembechler; the ups and downs of Edwards’ football career, both at Michigan and in the NFL; and his struggles off the field, including his battles with drug use, anxiety, and depression.

“It became evident that the book should happen — that this was something we should definitely sign up for,” Edwards said. “So when [Triumph] came back to us in 2018, I didn’t care so much about the money. It was more about my story out there. … People forget that there’s more to athletes than a helmet, or a golf club, or lacrosse sticks — especially now, with social media and fantasy sports. It’s like no one cares about athletes anymore. It’s all about, ‘What can you do for me?’”

Edwards wrote Doing It My Way with ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren. And while you might assume that Edwards felt a bit nervous and vulnerable when his highly personal book debuted in September, that’s not the case.

“As we were writing, and Tom was recording our talks, and we’d go over things — I was nervous then,” said Edwards, who now lives in West Bloomfield. “But then I thought about what people were already privy to over the course of my career. I’m a public figure, so there have always been things out there about myself, and my kids, and my kids’ mothers, the fact that I got DUIs … things have always been publicized throughout my career. So people already have an opinion of me, anyway. … Why would I be nervous about putting out my truth as it relates to the things that have happened in my life? So when it came out, I was excited, actually.” READ THE REST HERE

My Pulp review of Encore Theatre’s ‘The Secret Garden’

Screen Shot 2019-11-19 at 2.29.09 PM.pngGenerally, when we’re suffering and in pain, we know the cause.

But when it comes to identifying what will heal us — let alone knowing whether healing is even possible — that’s another matter entirely.

This all-too-human struggle makes up the core of the 1991 stage musical adaptation of The Secret Garden — book and lyrics by Marsha Norman, music by Lucy Simon — on stage at Dexter’s Encore Theatre.

Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic 1911 children’s novel, the story begins — rather confusingly, to be honest — with a young British girl, Mary Lennox (Jojo Engelbert), surviving a cholera epidemic that leaves her an orphan in India. She’s dispatched to the country home of her Uncle Archibald (Jay Montgomery), but he doesn’t bother to greet her, so steeped is he in his own grief for his deceased wife, Lily (Sarah B. Stevens).

Mary’s only company at first is a maid named Martha (Dawn Purcell), but then Mary befriends Martha’s nature-loving brother, Dickon (Tyler J. Messinger), who feeds Mary’s curiosity about the walled-off, locked-up secret garden that was once loved and tended by Lily. Plus, Mary soon stumbles upon another young resident of the house: sickly, bedridden Colin (Caden Martel), who fears that his father, Archibald, hates him because his birth caused Lily’s death.

If this all sounds pretty dark and gloomy, well, it is. READ THE REST HERE

My Metromode story about the Farmington Civic Theater’s new mural

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Photo by Jenn McKee

Downtown Farmington may not be known as a playground to the stars, but thanks to a newly installed mural on the side of the Civic Theater’s building, locals and visitors may now regularly spot a handful of film icons (including Sidney Poitier, Jimmy Stewart, James Dean, and Veronica Lake) from the parking lot.

How did the mural come about? Earlier this year, Farmington’s Downtown Development Authority solicited artist proposals for a mural that would celebrate the Civic’s upcoming anniversary in 2020. (The suggested theme was “80 Years of Cinema.”)

Plymouth-based artist Adrienne Pickett was one of about a dozen entrants, and after her proposal was chosen, she – with a little help from artist friends Kellie Bambach (from Ann Arbor) and experienced muralist Peter Chavez (from Chicago) – spent four days (and one night) painting the mural onto the Civic.

“I have been a fan of murals and old-fashioned advertising on brick buildings for a long time,” said Scott Freeman, manager of the Civic Theater. “I think the vibrant colors and stylized images of classic movie stars are a great fit for the theater’s wall and for downtown Farmington.”

To hear more about the inspiration for, and installation of, Pickett’s mural, Metromode asked her a few questions. READ THE REST HERE

My Pulp review of John Cameron Mitchell’s The Origin of Love tour show, presented by UMS

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John Cameron Mitchell performing at Hill Auditorium. (Photo by Doug Coombe)

Saturday night’s Hill Auditorium performance by John Cameron Mitchell drew a crowd that likely skewed a bit younger and edgier than many University Musical Society audiences.

From where I sat, bold body art and piercings, asymmetrical haircuts, and statement eyeglasses abounded. And although about two decades have passed since Mitchell first created and performed in the groundbreaking show (and film) that would become his calling card, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, he not only rocked Hill Auditorium on his ongoing Origin of Love Tour but crowd-surfed, Superman-style, during an encore number.

But the two-hour concert kicked off with a direct reference from Hedwig, as powerhouse guest vocalist Amber Martin arrived first on stage and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not … John Cameron Mitchell!”

Dressed in Hedwig’s trademark blond wig — with two huge curls peeled back from each side of his face — and Erik Bergrin’s hyper-structural, black and white, “Transformer Cubism” armor dress, Mitchell opened by singing “The Origin of Love,” followed by a talk about the mythical origins of, well, “The Origin.” (Video designer Michael Zumbrun, meanwhile, standing stage-side, manually provided evocative, often hilarious visual backdrops for several of Mitchell’s stories and songs.)

Yet Mitchell also acknowledged that proceeds from his tour would go toward paying for his mother’s care, as she suffers from Alzheimer’s.

“I used to be going to hell for all this,” Mitchell quipped. “Now it’s paying her rent.” READ THE REST HERE