Sunday, September 30, 2012

Art Prize 2012

Lights in the Night; Mark Carpenter & Dan Johnson; 2012 5th Place
This past weekend in Grand Rapids, it was great to be able to see the fourth annual Art Prize, the largest cash prize art fair in the world.  It's so exciting to see downtown Grand Rapids lively and to watch people take advantage of the great things the city has to offer.  
Growing up, downtown was not really a place to spend much time in (it wasn't the safest and there wasn't anything to do, anyway), but now it's amazing to see how much it has grown and improved with brand new businesses and restaurants bringing some much-needed life.  
Artist Adonna Khare workings on 1st Prize piece, Elephants
Section of 2012 1st Prize piece, Elephants

I was able to spend Saturday and Sunday walking around downtown with my family and friends to check out the exhibits this year.  There were so many good ones, so I just included a ton of pictures of some of my favorite pieces.  Enjoy!

Tuskegee Airmen sketch, with Artist

Penguins in Gerald R. Ford Fountain

Stick-to-it-ive-ness; Richard Morse; 2012 4th Place

Bridgewater Place

Already looking forward to next year!

A beautiful day in downtown Grand Rapids

Friday, February 3, 2012

Michigan Film Festival

Michigan Theater marquee
This time last year, I was attending multiple film festivals (one, two, and three) at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.  With multiple film festivals in DC and the Sundance Film Festival happening right now, I have tried to incorporate a little bit of that into life this semester as a 1L.  

The first film I saw in my version of a film festival was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  The film, directed by Tomas Alfredson, is set during the Cold War and the protagonist, retired spy George Smiley, is forced out of retirement to uncover a Soviet agent suspected of being in MI6's echelons.  It is a really well-made film that has a subdued tone and not a ton of dialogue, forcing the viewer to really pay attention to detail and the other cues to understand what is happening.

The second film in the festival thus far is the Academy Award nominated The Artist.*  Directed by Michel Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin, The Artist is about a silent movie star in 1927 Hollywood whose stardom is threatened by the arrival of talking pictures.  Everything about the film is thoroughly enjoyable all the way through and the music is fantastic.  It really feels like watching a movie from the 1920s and is rightly a strong Oscar contender.

What made watching each of these films even better was the location itself.  Ann Arbor is home to the historic Michigan Theater on Liberty Street.  The theater was built in 1928 and has been restored over the years back to its original style, making it the perfect place to see a film like The Artist or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

view of the Michigan Theater from Liberty Street
One of my favorite things in the Michigan Theater is the Barton Theatre Pipe Organ in the main screening room.  The organ was built in 1927 and apparently is one of the few organs from this time period to still remain in its original location.  When we saw each film, there was a man in a tailcoat playing the organ before the previews started.  In the main screening room, the organ sits on a platform that can be raised to the stage level or lowered into the orchestra pit.

Barton Theater Pipe Organ, Main Room
*Saturday Night Live did a parody of The Artist with Jean Dujardin.  Enjoy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Omar Offendum is a Syrian American rapper and poet whose work is really, really powerful.  He incorporates Arabic music into his songs, and his work speaks to the broader experience of being an American of Middle Eastern descent.

Click here for the lyrics.

An especially powerful song is his rendition of a Langston Hughes poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," as follows below.

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Omar Offendum's version - with lyrics here.

أنهار كثيرة عرفتها 
أنهار كثيرة أزلية كما العالم عرفتها 
أنهار أزلية تدفقت حتى قبل أن يتدفق الدم في شرايين البشر 
وروحي ازدادت عمقاً كالأنهار 
فأنا بمياه الفرات استحممت حتى قبل انبلاج فجر الحياة 
وعلى ضفاف الكونجو بنيت كوخي ... 
حيث هللت لي مياهه لأغفو... 
من دلتا النيل العالي أشرفت... وشيدت الأهرامات العظيمة 
وإلى شدو المسيسيبي استمعت ... حين مر به لنكولن في دربه إلى نيواورليان 
ومع الغروب رأيت أحضانه الطينية تتحول لكتل ذهبية 
لقد عرفت أنهاراً وأنهاراً 
أنهاراً أزلية معتمة كما الغسق
وروحي توغلت في القدم ... 
وروحي ازدادت عمقاً كالأنهار

Friday, January 27, 2012

Obama Comes Back to Michigan

This morning I went with some other 1L classmates to the Al Glick Field House to see President Barack Obama speak at the University of Michigan about college affordability.  I had the opportunity to see him deliver the commencement address for the May 2010 graduating class in the Michigan football stadium, but it was cool to be able to go see the speech about an issue directly affecting me this time.  

However, there was a big difference in the venue - the "Big House" can hold about 110,000 people and only 3,000 tickets were given out for the Field House.  People had to get tickets the day before at the Michigan Union and although I arrived by 6:00am, there were multiple tents and groups of people who had slept the entire night outside.  By 7:00am, the line was already winding back down State Street with well over the 3,000 person limit.  Luckily, we were able to get tickets after waiting 5.5 hours standing in the line.  It was so cold that Mary Sue Coleman's office felt bad for everyone outside and had her staff pass out free coffee for those waiting.  We also arrived early for the speech and ended up getting a spot about 5 rows of people back from the gates, so we were able to get pretty close.

the line winding back down State Street in front of the Union
The speech was pretty good and right on point in terms of the necessity of higher education and the need to make sure that higher education is affordable for students.  "Higher education is not a luxury, it is an economic imperative," he said.  Obama noted that for the first time ever, student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt in the United States.  He also outlined a plan that aims to reward states that keep college tuition down and proposed increasing work study job opportunities and maintaining federal student loan interest rates.

Although I had to miss two classes and stand for hours in a freezing cold line, it was definitely time well spent, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to go.  The only downside to this whole experience was that while we were waiting for the speeches to start, whoever was in charge of the music only had five songs total on the playlist - five songs to use for a three hour period of waiting time.  One would think that after playing the same set list three times in a row, that they would just stop and not have anything at all playing on the speakers.  Oh no.  This meant that I heard U2's "City of Blinding Lights" and Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" about 20 times more than I ever thought possible in one morning.  Here it is again, just for old time's sake:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fly Over Egypt

Today is the first year anniversary of the Egyptian uprising in Tahrir Square that resulted in the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.  There is an Arab American rapper called “The Narcicyst” who released a song called “Fly Over Egypt” and made it available for free download.  I love the refrain – I don't quite know the reason, but it is really moving.

In the light of day, you are more than just a knight
Seeking for a right of way, asking is it just to fight
I feel the winds of change, but everything is still the same
Even though I fear the sun, I can only see the reign

Monday, January 16, 2012

Arabian Nights

Shaherazad and Shahryar
To break up the monotony of reading through law school casebooks, I have been reading chapters of  Arabian Nights as translated by Richard Francis Burton.  My friends found this beautiful copy for me at Barnes & Nobel that has beautiful illustrations reminiscent of ancient Persian and Arab art.
I've heard some of the stories before and seen countless Western remakes of the stories included in the book, but I have yet to read the story in its entirety.  So far, I have concluded that Arabian Nights is basically the Arab/Persian version of Inception.

Each chapter starts off with the main story, between Shahryar and Shaherazad, and then goes into layers of stories within stories within stories.  Included in the 1,001 stories are the famous ones like Aladdin, Haroun al-Rashid, and Nuereddin.

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