Love Opera? Mark Your Calendar

If you love opera, set aside the 2 p.m. hour this Saturday, April 17, and prepare yourself for a treat. If you’re curious about opera but have only a shallow understanding, this is your chance to explore a new adventure. If you had bad experiences as a youth and are ready to challenge your prejudices and begin anew as an adult, here’s your opportunity to grow up.

I’m the proud papa of an amazing daughter with an amazing voice. This Saturday, Carrie Schuster-Wachsberger will be having her senior-year vocal recital in Crouse College at Syracuse University, where she will be graduating next month with a major in vocal performance. She will be accompanied by her friend Nathan Sumrall on piano.

If you live anywhere near Syracuse, please join us for the recital and the reception, Jewish deli theme, which Emily and I are personally catering. The baked goods, which we spent all day Sunday baking (okay, Emily baked and I washed dishes), will be scrumptious—they were staples on our menu when Emily and I owned Emken Catering.

But this Saturday, Carrie will be the main attraction.

If you can’t attend personally, not to worry: The recital is being streamed live via the internet, through this link.

Do yourself a favor. You deserve the treat.

For more details and to RSVP (which isn’t necessary), go here.

See you Saturday.

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Tickets Now Available for Children’s Trust Fund Signature Auction Event

I’m a strong supporter of Michigan’s Children’s Trust Fund. One reason, true, is that my wife works there—Emily’s the statewide local council coordinator for CTF.

But the other reason is it does good work. CTF is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to helping to fund child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in Michigan. It does this without using state tax dollars because the money to run it all comes from one of three sources: one-third from a federal grant, one-third from interest off the trust fund, and one-third from donations. Since 1982, CTF has provided more than $60 million for prevention and neglect efforts across the state, providing support to more than 6 million Michigan children and families.

While this is good for taxpayers, it is a challenge for CTF even in a good year. The challenge is all the greater in the midst of a recession.

As Michael Foley, CTF executive director, notes, Michigan families need help more than ever during these difficult times. “Unfortunately, as more and more residents face economic hardships, the cases of abused children also rise.”

So I’m doing my part to get out the word about CTF’s eighth annual Cherish the Children Signature Auction Event, CTF’s biggest fundraising event of the year, to be held on Wednesday, May 12.

Tickets to the Signature Auction Event may be purchased here.

Beginning at 5 p.m. at the Lansing Center, the event will feature silent and live auctions with some amazing items, including the following:

  • seven nights in Ireland including a countryside tour;
  • an Australian Shepherd puppy;
  • a week-stay at a villa in Jamaica;
  • the chance to be a Top Gun NATO Fighter Pilot for a day
  • a Detroit Red Wings Super Suite Package for 16;
  • a Detroit Pistons’ “Ballboy/girl” package;

and much more.

Sens. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe; Martha Scott, D-Highland Park; Patty Birkholz, R-Saugatuck Township;  and Michael Prusi, D-Ishpeming, and Reps. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton; Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga; Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell; and Dan Scripps, D-Leland are co-chairing the event.

I’ll be there volunteering in whatever capacity CTF organizers think I’ll be most helpful—and loving what I know will be an amazing buffet spread.

Hope to see you there.

For more information about the Signature Auction Event or to follow the event on Facebook or Twitter, visit here.

Israeli Storyteller Noa Baum to Visit U of M This Week

J Street U (University of Michigan) will be hosting an exciting event Wednesday when they bring Israeli storyteller Noa Baum to University of Michigan to share stories from her A Land Twice Promised.

Noa Baum is an Israeli who has lived in the United States since 1990. While living in Davis, California, she became friends with a Palestinian woman. “I’d had Palestinian colleagues before, but never a friend from the West Bank,” Noa writes on her website. “Until we met, she had never known an Israeli who wasn’t a soldier or a settler. We both grew up in Jerusalem, in very different worlds. A Land Twice Promised stems from our dialogue.”

A Land Twice Promised weaves together the memories and stories of the two friends and their mothers:

  •  A Palestinian living under Israeli occupation as a child and as a university student
  • An Israeli child’s experience of the 1967 war
  • A young Palestinian mother’s memory of the 1967 war
  • A young Israeli woman’s experience of the 1948 war and the loss of her brother

The result is a moving testimony that illuminates the complex and contradictory history and emotions surrounding Jerusalem, for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Building trust, she writes, took many years:

As an Israeli, it was not easy to hear her story. I was forced to confront many of my own deep-rooted misconceptions and, in the process, gained insight into the world of my “enemies.” It was not easy for my friend to hear stories of my family either—initially she was reluctant, but after hearing my story she said: “I felt my people had enough suffering and I didn’t want to hear about yours, but now that I did I am glad. I think I understand something about your people that I didn’t understand before.”

We spent hours arguing and getting defensive as we struggled with the voices of our respective historical narratives that we believed were The Truth. And yet, we were always able to sustain our compassion and never stopped talking and listening to one another.

Our conversations reminded me of Gene Knudsen-Hoffman’s words “an enemy is one whose story we have not heard.” … I tell the human story that stands apart from politics and hope that hearing it will call upon us to listen with compassion without surrendering to prejudice and fear, choose dialogue, and commit to peace.

According to Clare Kinberg, co-director of the Ann Arbor chapter of J Street as well as managing editor of Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, “Noa has performed with this message of peace all over the world, and now we are so lucky she is coming to Michigan. We published in Bridges a couple of years ago her story of working in intensive dialogue with Muslims, Christians, and Jews over a long weekend in Rochester. I only wish she could stay longer.”

J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.

Here are the details of Noa’s visit. Mark your calendar:

  • Date: Wednesday April 14, 2010
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Place: University of Michigan, East Quad, on 701 East University, Ann Arbor
  • For more information: 301 379 8266

Dissident Press Series Is No More: Series Title Changed to Voices from the Underground

Got the word recently that Michigan State University Press had decided to nix my preferred series title for my four upcoming books on the underground press: Dissident Press Series. They said it sounded too European. I had to laugh when I heard that. I disagreed also. And I was disappointed partly because I had grown to love the name, partly because I’ve been promoting the series using that name, and partly because I had already reserved the domain names DissidentPressSeries.com and DissidentPressSeries.net for the website that I’m building to promote the series.

They said they were going with Voices from the Underground for the entire series title rather than just the name of the two anthologies. The subtitles originally were going to be Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press and More Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. Those they changed to simply the first subtitle with Part 1 and Part 2 at the end. They said “More” in a title usually indicates that the contents are inferior.

Hmm, I don’t want that. And if I may say, if that is correct it would be misleading because the second anthology is hardly inferior. I just couldn’t fit all the stories into one book and keep the price affordable. You’ll see what I mean when you review the website, which will include the full tables of contents for all four books—two anthologies and two monographs. Every book is its own adventure.

But the website isn’t up yet so hang in there.

Meanwhile, I can’t complain about—in fact, I’m pleased with—MSUP’s choice of Voices from the Underground as the series title. Voices from the Underground was the title of the first edition of the series when it appeared in 1993 as one huge book of insider histories. That one book, over 600 pages laid out in an 8 ½ x 11, 2-column format, has now been updated, revised, and expanded with additional histories and important frontmatter forewords, and will appear as the four books.

Then, miracle of miracles, I did a domain search on TLCI Website Solutions and was amazed to discover that voicesfromtheunderground.com and voicesfromtheunderground.net were still free.

They aren’t anymore.

So down the line you’ll be able to learn more about the series by writing to info@voicesfromtheunderground.com or going to voicesfromtheunderground.com. In the meantime, for more information, continue to contact me at info@azenphonypress.com.

More later.