Asparagus! Stalking the American Life

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Think Local First presents a screening of Asparagus! Stalking the American Life tonight at 7:15pm at the Michigan Theater. “For 30 years, Oceana County Michigan has been the Asparagus Capital of the World. Now its spear-struck residents and family farms take on the U.S. War on Drugs, Free Trade and a Fast Food Nation, all to save their beloved roots.” Asparagus’ director Kirsten Kelly will be available for a Q & A session after the film. Proceeds from the screening of this multi-award winning film will benefit Think Local First. Planning on having asparagus for dinner before you go? Check out some of AADL's tasty vegetable cook books.

Michigan Turns 172!

Michigan is turning 172! On January 26 1837 Michigan entered the Union becoming the 26th state. Michigan has many beautiful natural attractions such as: The Great Lakes, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Michigan was originally home to Native American tribes before the French settlers came. Michigan's largest city is Detroit aka the Motor City, Motown, Hockeytown or The D. Detroit is home of Defending Stanley Cup Champions the Detroit Red Wings, Tigers, 1228887 Pistons and Lions. Our Capital is Lansing and this is the only state that is made up of two peninsulas. Michigan has also produced a number of renowned people such as Henry Ford, Gerald R Ford (raised in Michigan) Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine), Sam Raimi (producer), Thomas Edison and Stevie Wonder to name a few. For a more complete list click here.
Michigan is also home of Meijer, Better Made Potato Chips, Faygo and Kellogg Cereal. To learn more about the history of our state check out the local history room at the Downtown library. Happy Birthday Michigan!

Michigan Notable Books 2009

The Library of Michigan's annual selection (annotations are from the Library of Michigan list):

Asylum for the Insane: A History of the Kalamazoo State Hospital by William A. Decker, M.D. (Arbutus Press)-- The Michigan Asylum for the Insane opened in Kalamazoo in 1859 as Michigan's first state institution created solely for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. In this outstanding history, complete with dozens of images and schematic maps, Dr. Decker, a former medical superintendent of the hospital, places emphasis on the treatments themselves, including hydrotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy and psychoanalysis, the various instruments used, and the growth and development of the hospital's campus and buildings.

The English Major by Jim Harrison (Grove Press) --Harrison's 14th book of fiction is a humorous novel exploring a man's journey to self-discovery. After being dumped by his wife, Cliff, a 60-ish former English teacher turned farmer, hits the road in his old Ford Taurus with a plan of renaming all the birds and all the states. Told in a believable first-person voice, the story describes Cliff's attempt to shed his former life, by crossing the boundaries of as many states of the Union as he can reach in a year. The novel revisits many of Harrison's longtime interests: travel, literature, food and man's interaction in the natural world. This is Harrison's sixth time on the Michigan Notable Books list.

The Expeditions: A Novel by Karl Iagnemma (Dial Press)-- This debut novel by suburban Detroit native Karl Iagnemma is set in historic Michigan during the 1840s. Elisha Stone, a 16-year-old runaway, heads to Detroit to get away from trouble at home. He winds up working with a party of naturalists, embarking on a voyage to the Upper Peninsula to both discover treasure and prove theories about the origins of man. Iagnemma skillfully displays the interactions of the unstable research party, richly describes the historical attitudes and conditions of this frontier era, and reveals the interaction between father and son, as Elisha's father comes in search of his prodigal son.

The Victors: Michigan Jazz with Hazen Schumacher

Come celebrate the publication of Hazen Schumacher’s A Golden Age of Jazz Revisited, on Sunday, December 14, 2-3:30 at the Downtown Library. The book makes the case that the years 1939-42 were the artistic highpoint of popular jazz, and it includes 2 CDs with the tunes he feels back up his claim. Schumacher, who was jazz radio host at UM for thirty years (WEMU-89.1 FM has taken over that role), will discuss and play recordings of the most loved jazz in Michigan and on the UM campus of the mid-twentieth century. He is a master of the genre and will entertain and enlighten new and old jazz lovers.

Walking over the long bridge

I think the book I spotted being sold as we finished the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk was Mighty Mac: The Official Picture History of the Mackinac Bridge. But I’m not sure. We were tired, and thousands of people were streaming over the bridge behind us from St. Ignace to Mackinac City. Earlier the governor had jogged over across the five-mile-long span, the Detroit Free Press reported. Very impressive. The walk left me wanting to read the children‘s book Mackinac Bridge: the story of the five-mile poem by Gloria Whelan illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen.

Chronic Wasting Found in Michigan Deer

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and DNR confirmed the first known case of chronic wasting in deer in Michigan at a private deer facility. There is no evidence that it has spread to the wild population yet but DNR is asking hunters this fall to take their deer to check stations for sampling so the wild population can be better studied.

Chronic Wasting Disease affects deer, elk and moose and is believed to be caused by prions. You may have heard of prions before as the cause of Mad Cow Disease. Unlike Mad Cow Disease which has been shown to carry over into humans, there are no known human infections of chronic wasting. For more information about prion diseases you may be interested in the book The pathological protein : Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting, and other deadly prion diseases

For those interested in the Michigan side of things, the Michigan government has a site devoted to chronic wasting disease in Michigan along with information on other emerging diseases such as Bovine TB.

A good book for the road

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Summer travelers may want to check out the new book Michigan one-room schoolhouses by Mary Keithan. The book features about 100 schools around the state. If you visit one, please post a comment here.

Lake Superior Day

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July 20 was Lake Superior Day and it extends into the week making it Lake Superior Week. A whole week dedicated to a superior lake in a superior state! For those of us not lucky enough to venture off into the wild and enjoy the great lake in all its splendor, we can enjoy tales of the lake. For a historical point of view there’s Around the shores of Lake Superior : a guide to historic sites, for the hiker there’s Gentle hikes of upper Michigan : upper Michigan's most scenic Lake Superior hikes under 3 miles, and for those who want to read about the spirit of the lake there’s Lake Superior : story and spirit. Let’s not forget about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and other shipwrecks and ghost stories of the Great Lakes. Yes, Michigan!

He cooks, but does he read?

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You know who I am talking about, don't you? He's been sighted feasting at a picnic table at Zingerman's, rubbing shoulders with Michael Moore at the Traverse City Film Festival, and never without his signature orange crocs.

That's right - celebrity chef Mario Batali - that's who - who, bless his heart, has made Northern Michigan his summer home for many years, and had the good sense to marry a Michigan grad. On top of that, he READS!. Here is a list of Mario's Summer Reads. (Frankly, I am impressed!)

Speaking of the Michigan connection - you will also see a list of Ruth Reichl's Summer Reads, cookbooks she is cooking from, and her audio books of choice.

BTW - Madonna's movie, I Am Because We Are is a new documentary that she wrote, produced, and narrates. It will be shown as part of the fourth annual Traverse City Film Festival on August 2, at 8:00 p.m. at the State Theatre. Madonna will introduce the film (we'd been told).

Ashes to Hope Wins National Award

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Michigan Radio WUOM-FM just won an Edward R. Murrow award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association, for the 2007 documentary Ashes to Hope: Overcoming the Detroit Riots. Congratulations to Michigan Radio for its first ever Murrow award!

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