Michael Davis, MC5 bassist, dies at 68

Michael Davis, bassist for the seminal 1960s band, MC5, died last Friday of liver failure. The MC5's time in Ann Arbor as the propaganda wing for the White Panther Party under the management of radical poet and activist, John Sinclair, is documented in essays, interviews, and news articles at freeingjohnsinclair.org. You can learn more about Davis and the MC5 in author Brett Callwood's 2010 book, MC5: Sonically Speaking, a Tale of Revolution and Rock 'n Roll (we also have an interview with Callwood from 2010) and read a tribute to Davis at retrokimmer.com. The band's legacy is perhaps most memorably captured in the timeless photography of Leni Sinclair.

Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive

In celebration of the Ann Arbor Film Festival's 50th year, AADL has partnered with the AAFF to launch the Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive, an online collection of the Festival's history. Here you can browse through past programs or flyers and posters reaching back to the Festival's origins in 1963. The site also includes photographs, historical newspaper articles from the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Sun, and interviews. (Look for additional interviews with past festival directors and visiting filmmakers to appear leading up to and following the 50th anniversary.)

If you have AAFF documents you would like to share - in particular, any from the few seasons we're currently missing - please contact us!

Celebrate 50 Years of the Ann Arbor Film Festival!

Friday, February 3, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Join Ann Arbor Film Festival executive director, Donald Harrison, and other voices from the Festival's past, this Friday evening as we celebrate the Festival's 50th anniversary with the launch the Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the AAFF, Donald will present some behind-the-scenes stories from the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America. AADL staff will also offer a sneak peek into Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive, which launches that night. This website will provide access to historical Festival programs, flyers, posters, photographs, articles from the Ann Arbor News and Ann Arbor Sun, and other documents from the Festival's past. Light refreshments will be served.

Corner of Main and Liberty to Lose A Landmark

Parthenon InteriorParthenon Interior

Several local restaurants have recently joined the ever-expanding list of Ann Arbor's Lost Eateries. Champion House closed suddenly last week, as did Old Country Buffet over the weekend. But I was particularly saddened to hear that the Parthenon Restaurant, which has stood on the corner of Main and Liberty Streets since John and Steve Gavas opened in 1975, will be closing its doors. Later this year Cafe Habana, formerly located on East Washington, will be moving into 226 North Main.

The Parthenon has command of possibly the best-known intersection in town, located on the same corner as Cunningham's Drugs and Mack & Co. a generation earlier.

We found some articles, a photo, and restaurant reviews on the Parthenon in our Ann Arbor News clipping file and have digitized them here for you to savor. While you're at it, you can also read about the Flim Flam Restaurant, which recently closed its doors after 30 years in business. Don't miss the Flim Flam's recipe for their famous eclair!

Running Through Ann Arbor's History

On a recent run, I found myself at the Island Park trail head to the Cedar Bend Nature Area, across the river from Fuller Park. The parking lot was empty, as were the woods. This was quite the opposite of Nichols Arboretum, where I'd just been. As I explored the roughly ten-foot-wide main trail, along with the steep dirt footpaths cut right into the bluffs, I got the sense that this place was once something quite different. Indeed, that there was a deep history among these old oaks and hairpin turns.

With the guide of two books in the AADL collection -- Pleasant Walks and Drives About Ann Arbor by Judge Noah Cheever, and Riverwalks Ann Arbor by Brenda E. Bentley -- along with the City's parks website, I discovered that my hunch was true.

Cedar Bend is Ann Arbor's oldest park, bought by the (then recently established) Parks Commission in 1905. Cheever describes a grand Boulevard like a "mountain road" that went from (now) Fuller Road to Broadway, which was "a favorite...for students and young people." This Boulevard is now a rutty, densely lined trail, closed to vehicles, that is still quite fun for running and hiking.

Riverwalks and Pleasant Walks describe the then-and-now history of these natural resource gems throughout Ann Arbor, including historic and current maps and photographs. The text from Pleasant Walks is also available to read at the Bentley Historical Library website.

AADL Talks To: Genie Parker

Genie Parker was the former "Minister of Foreign Affairs" for the White Panther Party, a leader in the Rainbow People's Party, and a candidate for the Human Rights Party in Ann Arbor's 3rd Ward in 1972. In this interview, Genie recalls life at the Hill St. commune where she lived from the late 1960s through early 1970s and reflects on the personalities of some of the people she lived and worked with, including Leni Sinclair, David Sinclair, artist Gary Grimshaw, and White Panther co-founder, Pun Plamondon.

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AADL_Talks_To-Genie_Parker.mp3 26.90 MB

AADL Talks To: Hugh "Buck" Davis

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In the late 1960s and early 1970s Hugh M. "Buck" Davis, a lawyer with the Detroit National Lawyers Guild, worked with Chicago Seven Trial lawyers William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass to represent John Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, and Jack Forrest in Ann Arbor's CIA Bombing Conspiracy case. In this interview, Davis talks about his life as an unrepentant radical lawyer; the importance of Judge Damon J. Keith's famous "Keith Decision" ; and reflects on the personalities of former White Panther friends and clients.

Read Buck's People's History of the CIA Bombing Conspiracy.

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AADL_Talks_To-Hugh_Davis.mp3 20.04 MB

AADL Talks To: Gary Grimshaw

Gary Grimshaw is one of the most renowned and recognizable poster artists to come out of the 1960s. His most prolific period as a graphic artist was his time spent with John and Leni Sinclair in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, first in the Detroit-based Trans-Love Energies commune and then in Ann Arbor with the White Panther Party/Rainbow People's Party. In this interview we talk with the former White Panther Party Minister of Art about creating art for the Grande Ballroom and the White Panther Party, the night John Sinclair met both him and the MC5, and how he made his art then and now.

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AADL_Talks_To-Gary_Grimshaw.mp3 17.32 MB

AADL Talks To: Judge Damon Keith

In June, 1972, then-U.S. District Judge Damon J. Keith of Detroit foiled the Nixon Administration's plan to use the Ann Arbor CIA Conspiracy trial as a test case to acquire Supreme Court sanction for domestic surveillance. Keith's ruling - that the Justice Department's wiretapping was in violation of the 4th amendment - led to a unanimous Supreme Court decision making domestic surveillance illegal…during the same week as the Watergate break-in. In this interview, Judge Keith, now Senior Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, recalls his memories of the case and his famous Keith Decision. He also talks about how he handled similarly difficult cases, and the legacy of his work.

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AADL_Talks_To-Judge_Damon_Keith.mp3 21.91 MB

AADL Talks To: Pun Plamondon

Pun Plamondon was a directionless teen with left-wing leanings when he met John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, and Gary Grimshaw in Detroit in the mid-1960s. He grew to become the co-founder of the White Panther Party/Rainbow People's Party as well as its Minister of Defense. In that role he found himself on the run as one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Criminals and the subject of a case before the United States Supreme Court. In this episode we talk to Pun about that journey, including the formation of the White Panther Party and Rainbow People’s Party, being there for some of the key events in 1960s Ann Arbor, and finding his Native American roots.

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AADL_Talks_To-Pun_Plamondon.mp3 57.26 MB
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