Summer Reading Guide

The troubled city of Detroit is the subject of several books, including “Detroit City is the Place to Be,” by Rolling Stone writer Mark Binelli. Charlie LeDuff’s “Detroit: An American Autopsy” is a raucous and often sad look at the calamity of a city gone wrong. MSU professors Joe Darden and Richard R. Thomas look at 50 years of shifting demographics in “Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide.” Detroit Free Press writer John Gallagher’s “Revolution Detroit” proposes that Detroit may become a center of urban reinvention. “Redevelopment and Race,” by June Manning Thomas, looks back at 50 years of urban planning (or lack thereof). Former Lansing native Edward McClelland’s “Nothing But Blue Skies” looks at the national decline of our manufacturing powerhouses. Blogger and journalist Gordon Young turns his focus to Flint in “Teardown: A Memoir of a Vanishing City.” And talking about decadence, Lansing writer Steve Miller’s “Detroit Rock City: An Uncensored History of Five Decades of Rock n Roll in America’s Loudest City” follows Detroit and the suburban rock history from Iggy Pop to Kid Rock.

It’s easy to find a good mystery each summer thanks to the prolific writers Steve Hamilton and Loren Estleman. In Hamilton’s “Let It Burn” his Yooper private eye and former cop Alex McNight tries to solve a decades-old murder. Ann Arbor area writer Estleman has abandoned his noirish Detroit detective Amos Walker for “Alive,” featuring a Hollywood detective. Estleman also has a thick tome out this summer, “The Confession of Al Capone,” a fictional look at the life and times of the notorious Chicago gangster.

Poetry lovers have two fine collections to choose from. The contemplative poems of Grand Ledge resident Bob Hicok’s “Elegy Owed” can be disturbing, but they are also playful. “The Cineaste,” by University of Michigan professor A. Van Jordan, jumps art forms to explore — gasp — movies.

Summer Movie Guide

After a perfectly grilled hotdog and a trip to the lake, a movie might be the perfect summertime activity to unwind. Luckily for local movie hounds, Lansing has no shortage of cinematic sabbaticals perfect to temporarily beat the heat.

We all know the summer is ripe with blockbusters, but there are smaller movies on the vine as well at Lansing theaters Celebration! Cinema, Studio C! and NCG Eastwood Cinema. Sofia Coppola’s lurid “The Bling Ring” tells the true story of burglars who target celebrities (June 21). After setting almost all his films in Europe since 2005, Woody Allen returns to New York with “Blue Jasmine,” starring Cate Blanchett (July 26). And “The World’s End” (Aug. 23) is Edgar Wright’s apocalyptic conclusion to his Cornetto Trilogy, which began with “Shaun of the Dead.”

For three years, the Turner Street Outdoor Theater in Old Town’s Cesar Chavez Plaza has shown family-friendly films on the side of the former Chrome Cat building. This year’s films are “Three Amigos!” (July 19), “Rear Window” (July 26) and “Ghostbusters” (Aug. 9). “We have a bigger, inflatable screen this year and people are welcome to bring a blanket and a cooler to check it out, picnic or drive-in style,” said Lansing Public Media Center director Dominic Cochran. All films are free and start at dusk. There will be limited-edition movie posters for sale, courtesy of Such Video.

Pull that lawn chair back out on Aug. 16 for Drive-In Movie Night at the Groesbeck Golf Course, 1600 Ormond, Lansing Twp. Lansing Parks and Recreation will host a movie night, in partnership with Lansing Public Media Center, and they’re letting you pick the show. Go to to vote for one of five animated movies. The film is free and starts at dusk.

The Moonlight Film Festival in East Lansing’s Valley Court Park is another opportunity to enjoy outdoor movie night. The free annual event returns July 11 and runs each Thursday night through Aug. 22. Arrive early for live, local music then settle in for a family-friendly flick. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. in July, 9 p.m. in August.

Summer Music Guide

Finding a decent show won't be too difficult in the upcoming months, but deciding which one to go to might be. Here's just a few of the big events happening around Lansing this summer.

LSO Summer Pops Concert (June 5). You voted and they listened. After asking the public what they wanted to hear, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra will fill Adado Riverfront Park with the “Music of the ‘80s.” Pay to reserve a VIP spot with dinner and cash bar, or just bring a blanket to lie in the grass and enjoy the music. 7 p.m. FREE/VIP ticket $30.

Summer Solstice Jazz Festival (June 21-22). Free concerts are the best. The event attracts over 8,000 people each year featuring music on the main stage followed by afterglow performances each night at Beggar's Banquet. Downtown East Lansing (Lot 1). FREE. 4:30 p.m.-12:20 a.m.

The Suicide Machines (June 28). The Detroit punk/ska legends are coming back to Lansing for a rare and intimate show at Mac's Bar. Mac's Bar, 2700 E. Michigan Ave, Lansing Twp. Doors at 9 p.m. All ages. $20.

Common Ground Music Festival (July 8-14). It seems like Common Ground gets bigger every year, and 2013 won't be the year to disappoint. The bill of big-name artists includes Barenaked Ladies, Ben Folds Five, Slash (of Guns N' Roses fame), The Avett Brothers, Foxy Shazam, Ludacris and MGMT. Adado Riverfront Park. Prices and times vary.

The Used (July 21). Van's Warped Tour regulars The Used will be skipping out on the Detroit stop of the tour this year, but Lansing will have the chance to get a little closer to the band. The Utah alt-rockers will be making their way back to Michigan for a show at the Loft. Bonus: the 400-capacity room in downtown Lansing will be little cozier than any packed stadium. The Loft 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing. Doors at 7 p.m. $27.

Great Lakes Folk Festival (Aug. 9-11). The three-day, four-stage cultural celebration encompasses music and performance art, with most musicians perform multiple times throughout the weekend. Genres include bluegrass, polka, zydeco, Indian sitar, and Celtic music. Downtown East Lansing. FREE. 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday, noon-10:30 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.

Brazil and beyond: Summer at the Broad Art Museum

This is the first summer on planet Earth for the Broad Art Museum, which opened last November on the campus of Michigan State University. Flexing its international reach, the museum will continue to shrink its adopted orb with a globe-spanning slate of art, music, films and other events.

The summer’s big new exhibit is “Blind Field,” devoted to 21 young Brazilian artists, running from June 7 until Sept. 8. Brazil’s reputation as “the country of the future” is symbolized by its ultra-mid-20th-century-modern capital city of Brasilia, but the future has a sneaky way of never arriving. Or is it already past? As 21st century rust sets in, Brasilia is starting to look like a “Jetsons” relic. The young artists of “Blind Field” dig past the never-ending hype about their country’s “potential” to show life as it is now, in its messy complexity.

The opening of “Blind Field” will be marked at 7 p.m. June 7, with a concert of traditional Brazilian choro music by Bridges to Choro, a group of MSU students and alumni assembled by a visiting professor from the University of Brasilia. Another “Blind Field” event is a screening at 7 p.m. June 28 of a film about the architect of Brasilia, Oscar Niemeyer (“Life is a Breath of Fresh Air”), who died last December at 104. A talk with curators of “Blind Field” is tentatively set for some time in July.

Other events set for June are a talk with artist Alyson Shotz, who has two hypnotic works in the Broad’s current “Pattern: Follow the Rules” show at 7 p.m. June 7 and “Fiction 440,” a flash fiction series where writers submit works of fiction in 440 words or less, at 7 p.m. June 14.

The Broad will also host a summer art camp for kids, June 17-July 12.

After June, exact dates and times of Broad Museum events are not set, so unless they’re listed below, splash your calendar with an arty watercolor blob and check the museum’s website for specifics.

On July 27 (starting time to be announced), the museum will host a classical music concert with the principal flutist of the Russian National Orchestra, Maxim Rubtsov, and pianist Sergei Kvitko, taking full advantage of the galleries’ resonant hardwood floors.

In July, Michigan artist Lisa Walcott will install two of her trademark twist-your-brain kinetic sculptures in the museum’s education wing. In “Breathing Room,” Walcott’s 2012 entry in Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize, soap bubbles oozed upward through a plank floor, to mesmerizing, funny and — if you watched it long enough — transcendent effect.

The Students for the Broad Art Museum are cooking up a plan to host an early evening bike ride from Lansing to East Lansing, with arty overtones to be determined, sometime this summer.

Watch the Broad’s website throughout the summer for more late-night film picnics in the open-air plaza on the museum’s east entrance.

In August, there will be another classical concert, using a new technological visual display that keys images to music.

Watch also for a cluster of events related to Pride Weekend at the end of the summer, including a Broad Museum drag queen competition and a Pride-themed outdoor film showing. Looking into September, a jazz concert by Trinidad-born MSU trumpet professor Etienne Charles promises stretch the waning summer a bit longer.

Summer Theater Guide

This summer, some Lansing theater companies will end their regular seasons with a bang, while others will dust off their seats and raise the curtain for grown-ups and kids alike.

Riverwalk Theatre’s launches the summer theater season Thursday with the stage adaptation of the Peter O’Toole film, “My Favorite Year” (May 30-June 2). The theater was awarded a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to stage the show. The 1992 Broadway musical has one of the larger casts of the season, with 27 people on stage and another 15 backstage (, (517) 482-5700).

Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre will again host its annual Summer Circle Theatre at the outdoor theater on the bank of the Red Cedar River. The shows consist of the early 1900s British farce “Charley's Aunt” (8 p.m. June 5-8); family dramedy “Little Brother: Little Sister” (10 p.m. June 7-8, 14-15); the children’s show “Stop Copying Me!” (6 p.m. June 7- 8, 14-15); spooky classic “The Turn of the Screw” (8 p.m. June 12-15); musical comedy,“Baby” (8 p.m. June 19-22); and “Comfort Food” (10 p.m. June 21-22), an original play about the intersection between food and history written and directed by MSU’s Rob Roznowski (

Lansing Community College’s Department of Theatre gets in the outdoor fun with its Summer Stage series featuring the musical “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” (June 19-23, 7 p.m.). LCC will also stage “The Odyssey: A Play by Mary Zimmerman,” which is a dramatic adaptation of Homer’s myth, which begins with a modern young woman struggling to understand Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of “The Odyssey.” (July 24-28, 7 p.m.) (, (517) 483-1546). If you’re looking to keep the kids entertained, Mid Michigan Family Theatre (, (517) 339-2145) offers something for the younger set with “Monster in the Closet” (May 31-June 9). In August, the family-friendly theater will show “Mr. Toad’s Mad Adventures” (Aug. 2-11) Riverwalk will also stage “Princess Lucy in the Land of Pretend” (June 21-29), a play and puppetry workshop, and finishing up the month will be a stage adaptation of the beloved “Charlotte’s Web” (July 26-28).

In June, the Lennox Robinson comedy “Drama at Inish” (June 6-16) will start the Over the Ledge Theatre Co.’s summer season, followed by “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel”(Aug. 1-11), written by Mitch Albom. (, (517) 318-0579).

In July, Peppermint Creek (, (517) 927-3016) tackles the Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical “Next to Normal” (July 11-20) while Williamston Theatre (, (517) 655-7469) will wrap up the “Tuna trilogy” — and its season — with “Tuna Does Vegas” (July 11-Aug. 18).

Those won’t be the only things to keep an eye out for before we go back to crunchy leaves and warmer clothes. The Renegade Theatre Festival (shows and times still to be announced) will take over Old Town Aug. 15-17.

Summer Camping Guide

If you have a sudden need to sleep on the ground and wake up smelling like campfire, here are some campgrounds less than an hours’ drive from Lansing.

Lansing Cottonwood Campground, 5339 Aurelius Road, Lansing. (517) 393-3200, (About 12 minutes.)

Sleepy Hollow Park, 7835 E. Price Road, Laingsburg. (517) 651-6217, (About 25 minutes.)

Lakeside Resort Campground, 750 E. Grand River, Ionia. (616) 527-3216, (About 35 minutes.)

Maple River Campground, 15420 French Road, Pewamo. (989) 981-6792, (About 45 minutes.)

Walnut Hills Family Campground, 7685 Lehring Road, Durand. (866) 634-9782, (About 45 minutes.)