Meet our Bloggers
Pat Colander's commentary on life as we know it and its aspects that surprise, delight and sometimes frighten us.
A travel section for mature readers exploring places you've always wanted to go and places you need to add to your list.
Find out the latest about must-sees in television, films, and other forms of entertainment not to be missed.
Gain some insight on family and relationships, and the perks and quirks we find living among different generations.
A roundup of technically cool stuff for tablets and smartphones that really works.
A weekly column by Denise DeClue - a semi-retired part-time professional former-screenwriter seasonally living in Beverly Shores.
A wise sportswriter once wrote that the wonderful thing about spectator sports is the fact that at the end of day whether “your” team or “your” player wins or loses may make you feel temporarily sad or disappointed or elated and brimming with joy, but the score doesn’t really matter much. Even if you are in a fantasy league or betting spreads in Las Vegas. It is just a game. Not your career. Not your health. For the average audience member, there are no real benefits or consequences. A tournament may feel like a battlefield and a good match-up like a war, but they’re neither.
I also know the wise sportswriter is cynical and wrong, although intellectually appealing. Heroes mean everything, even sports heroes. A hero can change your life.
In fourth grade, I read a book that I’ll never forget. It was not the first book I ever read, but it may have been among the first non-fiction books I had ever read. It was a biography of Babe Ruth and his not-so-hot childhood---remember I’m eight years old, assessing Babe Ruth’s childhood---and a much sanitized version of his rise to fame or fortune. But I’m just basking in these descriptions of his amazing raw talent and I’m channeling like crazy because I’m just wondering if there is anything I can be that good at if I just try. And I knew, even then, that I was just one of 100,000 or maybe 100 million little kids who filled up with hope because they read a story about Babe Ruth or somebody like him.
What we talk about when we talk about a disease that has no cure
Not so long ago when you talked about a disease that was incurable you were using a polite or tacit way of saying that to be stricken with this particular health calamity — whether a sickness or phenomenon such as a heart attack or stroke — was tantamount to a death sentence. The deadly Ebola virus has been at the top of the global health conversation for months now. But over time, there has been a crucial change in the discussion. Increasingly, the emphasis of the communication has shifted away from the scary hyperbole associated with science fiction to the more reality-based challenges of delivering health care services in parts of the world that lack a stable government, reliable infrastructure and networks for public education and communication, at a consistent level. The language surrounding medical outcomes has changed so dramatically that it is at least noteworthy.
Do you remember a time when the word “cancer” was not spoken out loud? You are not alone. Seems odd now, but when Marvella Bayh, the wife of former Senator Birch Bayh and mother of Evan Bayh, who would become governor of Indiana and after that a U.S. Senator and former Senator himself, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1960s, her decision to go public took great courage. Her bravery paid off in the sense that it lifted the veil of fear and secrecy enough that for the first time women went to the doctor and got tested. Early detection, routine now, led to treatment, which built a wide-ranging web of procedures and weapons against the disease and that produced longer remissions and increased cancer-free lifespans. And the new paradigm applied to every type of cancer, even some varieties that physicians did not know existed back then. Marvella Bayh was in remission for six very active years before cancer returned. But her life-saving communications campaign never truly ended, because a cancer research fund was set up in her name at Indiana University medical school. This year’s work is tied to genetics and a drug that may prove useful in pre-diagnosis and prevention. As Evan Bayh says, there is still talk of a cure, but also about prevention.
I learned to play bridge in high school. My parents played. I think they thought it was something like table manners, good grammar and tennis that middle class children could learn and then, later, possibly use these skills to “pass” for rich.
If, perchance, a non-debutante was invited to say, The Hamptons, for, say, The Weekend, and if she could eat soup in the proper way, with the proper spoon; speak wittily with grace; hold her own in mixed doubles; and score at the bridge table—she would be considered good company, no matter from whence she came.
Of course this was the era when our war-wounded fathers went to college on the G.I. Bill, our state universities provided fine educations for the un-wealthy, and many of us grew up believing we were “as good as” rich people.
There is no easy way to enter this realm, nor is there a clear path back to the origination of the sound creation known as ambient music. When music scholars try to pinpoint where and when this kind of atmospheric music originated, most say that in the 1970s when the use of the synthesizer as an electronic tool in music-making became commonplace, ambient was born.
These sounds were regarded as the musical equivalent of white noise and referred to as “furniture music,” by French composer Erik Satie. Ambient music also seems to have been influenced by John Cage, the most well-known composer using randomness in the creation of his works. Jazz great Miles Davis is also used ambient sound in his experimental mood music.
Many musicians in the 1970s used electronically-produced sound as a side dish to the main course served up by mainstream musicians such a German groups Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream and other artists including Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis, (the Greek-composer best known for his Academy-Award winning original musical score for the 1981 movie, “Chariots of Fire”), also Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues and David Bowie. But the use of synthesizers quickly became absorbed into multiple musical ecosystems. The only artist who distinquished himself by trying to define and promote ambient music in the 1970s was Brian Eno, who has since been identified by scholars, particularly Michael Jarrett, as the person who acknowledged, defined and promoted the genre.
Have you ever listened to a song and been taken back to a place, a point in time or simply felt your emotions swayed by the music? O’Shea McCarthy spent hours on end building musical landscapes that were meant to illicit these feelings in the listener.
Sadly, O’Shea, who was only 25, was the victim of a deadly car accident last October and left behind many unfinished pieces, meaning he never had a chance to fully share his talents beyond his close friends and family. Nevertheless, Shea’s family and friends have come together to gather his art and music to share in a tribute to his memory and raise funds for a scholarship his mother, Heather McCarthy, has set up in his name.
Working in the ambient genre of music, O’Shea engineered tracks that would elicit powerful, visceral reactions from the listener. O’Shea believed that ambient music could transform a person’s mindset. Ambient music, an offshoot of electronic music, is not designed to have a specific effect---like electronic dance or trap music. Instead, Max Schrementi, O’Shea’s friend and collaborator, describes ambient music as “instrumental expressions of a moment or an emotion…meant to inspire the listener in the least obstructive way,” and, “not persuade the mind to one direction or another.”
He who immortalizes the immortal through his innovative and diverse works, creates art impulsively and quickly standing in cemeteries with a canvass, pastels and the tombstone of a well-known name, has been laid low during his work season by the bite of a brown recluse spider.
Artist Scott Covert, has been hobbled when he should be headed South in the direction of burial grounds of baseball greats and Civil Rights heroes. “This was supposed to be my freedom summer,” he says, from his recovery car driving through southwest Michigan to his childhood home in New Buffalo, where he still lives off-and-on. Scott has two bases of operation besides Harbor Country. In New York City he is represented by Edelman Arts and in Southern California, where his work is shown by Skidmore Contemporary Art in Santa Monica and Malibu.
Though the artist has been doing grave-rubbings for close to 25 years now, his willingness to talk about his work publicly is a much more recent feature, for years he worried about being locked out. Though he is still “on the down-low” as he says, even though when he is working outdoors and in the moment, he doesn’t violate anything or anybody. There is nothing illegal or immoral about breathing new life into a dead somebody. His work has been characterized---correctly as Scott testifies---as the perfect synthesis of the celebrity-self-conscious-Andy-Warhol-like Pop Art (nothing more current, everyday or permanent than a gravestone) and the subversive-submerged-id-raging-through Abstract Expressionism, think Jackson Pollock. As if to seal the characterization, Scott has done a piece with those two tombstones as a vertical list. Warhol is on top.
“Shea was just always musically inclined and artistic, even when he was little. He played the piano and then the guitar, but he was a drummer. He loved the jazz drums.”
“Of the pictures we have of him, the only ones where he doesn’t have headphones (on)... are the ones where I was like ‘Hey, please take your headphones out.’”
Heather McCarthy, O’Shea’s Mother
Let’s start with my most vivid Friday before Memorial Day memory when I went with a group of friends to tour, taste and sit on the terrace deck gazing out over the glowing sea of iridescent green vineyards at Tabor Hill winery headquarters in Buchanan. The first warm and sunny day of the season was a completely lucky coincidence, by the time our afternoon soiree was ending with a final champagne flute of Grand Mark, the restaurant and tasting room were teaming with patient dinner guests happy to take our places on that fabulous outdoor deck. Tabor’s GM Paul Landeck was the force behind that original gathering as he was again this year in re-creating a similar vista as a backdrop for FOTS model Heather Hoskins wearing one of Erin Johnson’s first-prize-winning creations.
The lush foliage covering everything in sight this summer has been a blessing after so much anticipation through the harsh days of April and May. Maybe I needed a Polar Vortex to intensify my appreciation of the good months. I have even started to appreciate the trivial joy of out-of-town guests and cruising up and down U.S. Highway 12, which turns into Red Arrow and eventually Blue Star. I am not alone with my pent-up energy and renewed enthusiasm for the Lake Michigan area from many points of view. Right after Memorial Day I had a great opportunity to spend some time touring the Johos remarkable home and barn in Michigan wine country, which doubles as a showcase for very unique and meaningful collectibles. Richard Hellyer’s gallery of photos from that day are so remarkable they showed me what I had missed with my own eyes. Like the perfect symmetry of the Johos’ home with the landscaped brick paths and placement of plants, the pond and the meadow and the breath-taking scene when you enter the main rooms in both. That’s what great photography does. And this issue is full of beautiful pictures, including Ryan Bolger’s take on the city from this side of the Lake, and many standout fashion photos by Tony Martin. Thanks to the hard work of Tony, Damian Rico, Laura Lane, Matt Sharp, Katie Dorsey, Brian Vernelis and Tara McElmurry from our team, the photos that we could not display here in print are available in online galleries and video coverage of our fashion event in May on VisitShoreMagazine.com.
So, I’ve been to Buchanan and environs a few times already this year, Beverly Shores and Bartlett’s on a regular basis, shopping in the suddenly alive Franklin Street district of Michigan City and, thanks to a very unexpected birthday present, managed to fit an entire day at Spa Blu at the Blue Chip, getting a tune-up from false eyelashes to silver toenail polish. In Michigan, I was lucky enough to preview the Customs Imports new space in Union Pier, the perfect place for a grand party, any day of the year. Also, made it to the Acorn in Three Oaks for Donna Blue Lachman’s outstanding production, “Mixed Nuts,” developed using an improvisational model into a totally engaging night of theater that got the rapt and deserved attention of the 300 people who packed the place. I love that the Four Winds people have helped Bob Swan’s opera series and adding Donna Lachman’s group to its repertoire is another Pokagon grant success story.
We all know about the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” where we shall fear no evil. But what about the “Uncanny Valley of Discombobulation”? Shall we be fearless there as we navigate the precipice?
Having slipped into the valley and clawed my way up the jagged cliffs, I’m here to report that we shall all escape, unnerved, if not unscathed. Grandparents, beware! You live on cliff, a spit, a mesa, a batholith. One misstep, down you go.
The Uncanny Valley refers to a fine line between “cute” and “creepy.” Scientists first noticed this when people confronted human-like robots. When the robots looked clearly like robots, people thought they were “cute.” When the robots were designed to be more and more like humans, folks thought they were kind of “creepy.” Researchers called the graphed moment when “cute” started looking “creepy”—the Uncanny Valley.
One bitterly cold, but not immobilizing, day during the winter I met with Susan Solon, marketing and communications director for the City of St. Joseph and her newly-acquired project cohort, former St. Joe Mayor Bob Judd to talk about the Lighthouse Forever Fund. Their fundraising project kicked off in April and May, but is still treading softly in the wake of the Senior PGA Tournament over Memorial Day, the opening of the new Inn at Harbor Shores, and scores of events and causes that seem to be going off at once and everywhere around St. Joe and Benton Harbor lately.
The conversation started out normally as these things go: In 2008, the city applied for and, in accordance with the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, took over the ongoing maintenance along with the deed to the property. The state historic preservation office got involved and costs were projected. (These lighthouses need work, who has money for lighthouses?) The former mayor is really good at discussing this issue as you would think he would be. Bob understands fundraising, the politics of the situation and the fact that $2 million is a lot of money to raise for something that is just a bit on the esoteric side. But he has a spin. There’s been some work done, he says, but “not lovingly done.”
“Our lighthouses are around anywhere you look, the whole of Southwest Michigan,” Bob says. “So the way we’re framing the project is what would [the area] look like if the lighthouse wasn’t there?” Pivot to existentialism. “Kids grow up here and the lighthouse out on the pier is an icon of our communities.” The former mayor has a cute story about a little boy he met who can tell you everything about every lighthouse around Lake Michigan. One of the projects in this friend-raising and fund-raising campaign is to help the Lighthouse Forever Fund by sending photos taken with you, your family, your pets for the giant community scrapbooking side note to the preservation fund.