George Frayne, aka Commander Cody, formed Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen in 1967 while attending the University of Michigan. We had the opportunity to chat with George backstage at the Ark before the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally (Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen performed at the original Rally in 1971). George spoke about the formation of the band, his memories of some of Ann Arbor's musical hot spots, as well as his introduction to boogie-woogie piano, to pot, and to John Sinclair and the White Panther Party.
While he was in town during the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, we had the chance to sit down with David Fenton, CEO and founder of fenton.com, about his time in Ann Arbor during the late 1960s and early 1970s. During these years David lived at the Hill Street Commune, worked on the Ann Arbor Sun, and helped with the campaign to free John Sinclair. David discusses Sinclair's influence on his personal and professional life; reflects on the excesses - both good and bad - of the countercultural movement as he experienced it, and its legacy 40 years later in its modern counterparts, including moveon.org and the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Local businessman and community leader George Pomey was a member of the illustrious 1964 and 1965 Michigan Wolverine Basketball teams that won back-to-back Big Ten titles, and took Michigan to the NCAA Tournaments. This March, he sat down and talked about those glory days.
Pomey remembered clearly his recruiting trip to Ann Arbor along with another teammate from his high school in Illinois; his warm relationships with his Wolverine coaches and teammates throughout his playing career; and their friendship over the years (they still have frequent reunions!). He also remembered the comparatively "primitive" sports facilities; playing to the capacity crowds at Yost Fieldhouse; his brief coaching and radio/television broadcasting experience after graduation; and his continued involvement with Michigan sports.
On March 16, 1965 Pomey and Teammate Larry Tregoning were named 2nd team Big Ten all Academic, Pomey talked about the tough schedule for athletes, and his admiration for the current Wolverine team.
Pomey also brought along these photos from the scrapbook his mother kept.
While he was in town for the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, Wayne Kramer, lead guitarist and co-founder of the seminal Detroit/Ann Arbor band, MC5, sat down to talk with us. Wayne discusses the early years of the band and the influence of jazz, Sinclair, and Detroit culture on their music. He also talks about his troubles in the years following the band's dissolution; his current work with Jail Guitar Doors and fondly recalls the concerts in West Park.
On December 10, 2011, the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, AADL invited former White Panther Party and Rainbow People's Party members John Sinclair, Leni Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, David Fenton, and Genie Parker to the Michigan Union for a panel discussion moderated by Professor Bruce Conforth of the University of Michigan Program in American Culture. These five panelists, central to the actions and ideals surrounding Ann Arbor's late-1960s counter-culture, reflect on what they called their "total assault on culture" during the late 1960s and early 1970s - what worked, what didn't, and what it means today.
View the video here or in other formats.
Photograph courtesy of Barbara Weinberg Barefield.
(Click image for a larger view.)
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.
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.
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