Digging the old AFL uniforms

Cover of the program for today's Patriots-Broncos game

As goofy as the Broncos’ throwback uniforms look, I’m still enjoying watching the old AFL teams play in their original-styled uniforms this season in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the American Football League.

A Western Michigan hat. Horrible.
A Western Michigan hat. Horrible.

Of course, the Broncos old colors of brown and yellow are absolutely horrible. Good thing no other professional or college team ever decided to use those colors… I’m sure they would look awful. Oh wait.

“The Report” #23 is online

The latest edition of Tom Kephart with The Report is online at watchctv.org.

Tom Kephart with THE REPORTThis week’s show includes features on last weekend’s Fort Sinclair Days and Whistles on the Water in St. Clair, coverage of a presentation in Marine City about a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) received by the city to improve downtown building facades, an update on the Michigan Legislature’s budget negotiations, and other local events. The show also includes “At the Market with Bryan Neiman,” our weekly cooking show from the St. Clair Farmers’ Market.

If you have news events from the Marine City/St. Clair area for an upcoming show, you can leave a comment here on my blog or contact me using the “Contact Tom” link in the page header.

Have another great week and thanks for watching!

The Tigers collapse is complete

It’s tempting to be satisfied with the unexpectedly good season the Detroit Tigers just finished. After all, they were picked to finish last in the AL Central after a disappointing 2008, so to hold onto first place since May (even in the weakest division in baseball) made for a surprisingly entertaining summer of baseball in Motown.

Comerica Park and the Detroit skyline by Kevin Ward

The development of several young players gives me reason to believe that the Tigers will improve again next season. Rick Porcello was fantastic at only age 20; he deserved much better last night after pitching possibly his best game of the season in a do-or-die situation for his team. Edwin Jackson turned out to be an outstanding off-season pickup, and Ryan Raburn, Clete Thomas and Alex Avila all impressed when they had the chance. (In fact, why didn’t Jim Leyland use Avila – or Marcus Thames – to pinch hit for Gerald Laird in the final inning? Ah, second guessing.)

But the fact is, the Tigers just finished one of the biggest folds under pressure in major league history. No team had ever lost a division title or a pennant when three games up with four to go. Despite tonight’s near-heroics in Minnesota, the Tigers again lost a division title to the Twins on the last day of the season. In 2006, they couldn’t beat lowly Kansas City and had to settle for the wild card playoff spot. This year, their record would barely have kept them in third place in the East Division, so no playoffs are forthcoming.

Even though Miguel Cabrera somewhat redeemed himself on Tuesday with a massive two-run homer, the Tigers will have to determine if his drunken arrest over the weekend is a recurring event or a one-time situation. If Cabrera has personal demons, the team will have to insist that he take responsibility for them and turn his life around, or seriously think about finding him a new home. And I’m still shaking my head over several odd managerial decisions Leyland made in the final week, from starting pitching to apparently resting players for an AL Divisional Series that isn’t going to happen now.

The 2009 Tigers were entertaining, and there’s some positive momentum for next season. Right now, though, it’s too close to the Collapse of ’09 to be satisfied with the old saying, “Wait ’til next year.”

Photo credit: Kevin Ward via Flickr

ArtPrize Grand Rapids: A fine day of art

"The Grand Dance" by David Lubbers
"The Grand Dance" by David Lubbers

Spent a wonderful afternoon in downtown Grand Rapids for the first ArtPrize festival. Our group included my wife Doreen and my son Andy, Doreen’s sister Stephanie and her husband and kids, and my mom and stepfather. We started near the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum along the Grand River and walked a loop through downtown.

The ArtPrize event featured hundreds of artists from Michigan and beyond, all competing for some impressive cash awards sponsored by the DeVos Foundation, including a first place award of $250,000. Voting for the top 10 ended last week, so the only votes this weekend were for the final placement of the top 10 finishers. I enjoyed many of the works, though some failed to communicate to me and my admittedly literal mind. Among my favorites were “The Grand Dance” by David Lubbers (shown above), “winddancer” by Michael Westra (I couldn’t get a decent shot, so here’s a link to the ArtPrize site), and AAG’s “Nessie Project” (shown below).

"The Nessie Project" by AAG llc
"The Nessie Project" by AAG llc

Note that most of the Top 10 finishers were located in the river or along the riverbanks, in prime locations, which certainly helped those artists with the voting. With almost $450,000 in prize money available, it would have been nice to see the awards spread out a bit, though I’m sure Rick DeVos doesn’t need my help deciding how to spend his family’s money, and I’m sure the size of the prizes was a big factor in the overall media coverage of the event.

Overall, though, the event was impressive, especially for a first time, citywide cultural event. There were lots of people walking around Grand Rapids on a cloudy, damp afternoon, all enjoying art. That’s got to be positive, and I commend the organizers, artists, and the DeVos family for their support of ArtPrize.

To end the day, we visited Steph’s ArtPrize entry, titled “Haven” and located in the courtyard of Newberry Place, a “cohousing community” in northeast Grand Rapids. As I walked into the spiral defined by fabric braids created by Steph’s (and her collaborator Liz DeBraber’s) friends and family and other natural and textile “walls,” I felt a sense of calm. Visitors had written thoughts on strips of fabric and tied them to the project’s walls. A small garden, part of the courtyard, was in the center. Haven, indeed. I took this photo of Doreen and Steph, talking quietly inside “Haven:”

Doreen Kephart & Steph Everitt-Kirkbride inside "Haven"
Doreen Kephart & Steph Everitt-Kirkbride inside "Haven"

ArtPrize in Grand Rapids

Headed out in the morning, first to Grand Ledge, Michigan, then Grand Rapids. Should be a grand day.

My mom’s cousin John Weigel is celebrating his 70th birthday with a family gathering at his house in Grand Ledge, then we’re off to G.R. to visit with my sister-in-law Steph Everitt-Kirkbride and her family. Steph is a visual artist, specializing in textiles, and she is part of Grand Rapids’ big, successful ArtPrize event. She and her collaborator Liz DeBraber created an installation called “Haven” for the citywide art celebration (and competition). Here’s an article from the Grand Rapids Press about ArtPrize and Steph’s work. I’m looking forward to seeing it in person.

It’s amazing to think that over 300,000 votes were registered for the various artworks created and displayed as part of ArtPrize. Just when I suspect that we’re preoccupied with anything but art (and that would be somewhat justified considering Michigan’s economy), ArtPrize comes along and shows that even in hard times, people can be drawn to create and appreciate.