Get cultured

Movies at New Center Park
Movies at New Center Park Courtesy photo

$0 - Movies at New Center Park

You've likely seen seen many of these movies before, but never underestimate how fun it can be to check out a classic film with your friends in a great park. Every Wednesday and Friday this summer, New Center Park is putting on screenings of a wide variety of movies, all for free. The Friday movies are generally more family friendly, while the Wednesday showings are more adult-oriented, but if you don't like anything on their calendar, you must hate movies. From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Lego Movie, and Frozen to The Godfather and Rear Window, there should be something for everyone. Bring a blanket and some snacks and get that old drive-thru outdoor movie experience (minus the car).

June movies start at 9 p.m., July and August movies begin at 9:30 p.m.; 2998 W. Grand Blvd. Detroit; 313-784-9475;

$0 - Ann Arbor Book Festival

Now in it's 12th year, the annual Ann Arbor Book Festival brings a heightened awareness to the written word with a Writer's Conference, a Moonlight Book Crawl, and a Street Fair. The four-day event features readings by a number of Michigan-based authors, including Toby Barlow, Susan Hutton, and Phoebe Gloeckner, whose Diary of a Teenage Girl has just been made into a feature film set for release later this summer. Events are planned from June 17-20. See the official website for the full schedule.

Various venues throughout Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti; 734-223-7443;

$0 - Shakespeare in Detroit

Now in its third year of operation, Shakespeare in Detroit returns and puts on a summer performance of Macbeth at New Center Park this July. The nonprofit theater company is coming off performances of A Midsummer's Night Dream at the park last summer (which was attended by 800 people), as well as an April run of King Lear shows at Marygrove College. The group not only puts on high-quality theater, but they also raise awareness of the many parks and venues available for art in Detroit. In the starring roles for Macbeth are Miles Boucher, a recent Wayne State graduate, and Laura Heikkinen, a Shakespeare in Detroit veteran. Pick a date and see one of the greatest plays of all time in a wonderful outdoor location.

Starts at 8 p.m. for the Thursday-Saturday shows, and at 2 p.m. for the Sunday show; 2998 W. Grand Blvd. Detroit;

$0 - Lincoln Street Art Park

Also known as the "Ghetto Louvre," Lincoln Street Art Park is where the ethos of nearby Recycle Here manifest. Visitors can enjoy a sculpture park of works created from reclaimed materials, like a large-scale brontosaurus made out various bits of detritus. The walls of the nearby buildings are covered in various murals and street art, and the premises also hosts a classroom made out of a reclaimed shipping container. On summer evenings, all are welcome to gather around the bonfire. As the colorfully painted slogan that appears throughout the park reminds us, "Share your candy." See why Burning Man organizers are recent fans.

5926 Lincoln St., Detroit; 313-871-4000

$3 - Great Lakes Comics Expo

If you missed the big Motor City Comic Con or you just want an excuse to shop for more Dr. Spektor back issues, the Great Lakes Comic Expo is for you. Sometimes the sprawl of the Suburban Collection Showcase center can be a lot to take in. The Great Lakes Comics Expo offers you a more intimate setting in which to shop for comics, collectibles and Dr. Fate action figures. Special guests include: Jason Moore (Exiles, Nightman/Gambit) and Bill Messner-Loebs (Dr. Fate, Necronomicon).

July 18; Trinity Lutheran Church, 38900 Harper Ave., Clinton Twp.;

$0 - African World Festival August

The African World Festival is one of the largest festivals in the country, attracting over 150,000 visitors each year. The 33rd annual event will feature poetry, performances, crafts, and vendors highlighting African culture and history, and draws vibrant crowds from all over the world. Head over to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History from Aug. 14-16 to see what this festival has to offer. The event runs daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and is free to everyone on the museum grounds. Admission prices for the museum are $8 per person for adults and $5 per person for children and senior citizens.

Aug. 14-16; 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit;

$10 - MichiCon 2015

Tabletop RPGs are an acquired taste. If you like the taste of barbarian sweat, necromancer's brimstone, and Mountain Dew, check out the 2015 MichiCon. Since 1972, the convention has provided fans of games like Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulu, Pathfinder, and Savage Worlds a place to meet, greet, and roll some polyhedral dice. Game developers often test their latest creations at MichiCon as well. There are also family and board games and, of course, vendor tables covered with vintage collectibles to make the half-elf druid in you drool. Make a d20 wisdom check and mark your calendars for adventure.

Aug. 8; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Oakland University-Oakland Center Ballrooms, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd., Rochester;

$14 - Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

It's OK if it takes you quite a few pages before you know for certain that this parable about a desperate villager who has to traverse many obstacles to reach the neighboring giant country is indeed about a Mexican woman traveling to the U.S. The style is so strong as to be nearly mythic, as if Palomar were written by Peckinpah and Homer. It's a startling, short, and often beautiful book.

128 pages, And Other Stories

$15-$190 - Detroit Dance City Festival

If last year's iteration is any indication, Detroit Dance City Festival will be a success again in 2015. The festival drew over 1,500 participants in 2014. It pegs itself as a three-day event that "celebrates dance in its various forms." Dancers can take advantage of workshops being held across the city; those who appreciate the art can enjoy several performances, as well. Festival organizers say over 30 artists and companies will partake in the week's events, which run the gamut of dance genres — modern, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop.

July 30-Aug. 1;; various venues across Detroit.

$23 - The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Nelson's Argonauts might be the first true heir to the kinds of philosophical semi-novels that Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag wrote in the 1970s. She tackles issues like having a baby and gender fluidity and marriage, but does so reflected in dozens of works by others, followed by dense autobiographical sections, then back again. Her publisher calls it "autotheory," a phrase that should die now, but if we told you it's a work of both theory and memoir you'd probably have already skipped ahead. There is sex in here, though! And whatever it is, it's undoubtedly fearless, and very much of its time.

160 pages, Graywolf Press

$25 - World Tournament of Historic Base Ball

A perfect event for die-hard baseball fans, Greenfield Village will once again be commemorating Detroit's 1867 World Base Ball Tournament in an annual two-day event that is truly an immersive experience. Teams will play tournament style using 1867 rules and old-timey uniforms, and battle it out on the bases until one team is left to win the cash prize. The event, which runs Aug. 8-9, is free with museum admission ($25 for adults, $18.75 for children, and $22.50 for seniors) and features food, live music, and baseball artifacts.

Aug. 8-9; 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn.; 313-982-6001;

$25 - Ragtime Street Fair

Celebrating music from a forgotten age, Greenfield Village's Ragtime Street Fair will be one swinging weekend. From July 11-12, the streets of Greenfield Village will be bursting with ragtime tunes, featuring dance lessons, a cake walk, and live performances from some of today's most well-known ragtime musicians. And if all that dancing gets your stomach grumbling, you can snack on some fresh buttered popcorn, hot fried dough slathered in ice cream, or any of the other sweet treats this event will have to offer. The event is free with museum admission ($25 for adults, $18.75 for children, and $22.50 for seniors).

20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn.; 313-982-6001;

$35 - Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson's latest doorstopper is deeply flawed, and overly long by hundreds of pages, but somehow still well worth the slog. The No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon is far better at describing drawn-out technical processes over dozens of pages than he is in creating personal story lines you might actually care about. Each character feels like a placeholder for something more fleshed-out, which is weird because that wasn't the case in Snow Crash or Diamond Age. And at first the book, which details a catastrophic event with the moon that soon impacts the Earth in such away that people have to go and live up in space, seems like the world's longest work of Space: 1999 fan fiction. But in the last fifth or so of the book, the work finally blossoms.

880 pages, William Morrow

$120 - The Complete Eightball 1-18 by Dan Clowes

Two books housed in a nice slipcase collect every issue of Chicago-based comic artist Clowes' strange Eightball comic. Each issue was populated with desperate characters, grand caricatures, genre gags, and shaggy dog tales. If you know Clowes from his screenplay for the film Ghost World (the origins of which appear here) then you really owe it to yourself to check this out. As with the anthology comic Weirdo, the letter section in Eightball, hand drawn by Clowes, became its own island of misfit toys. The facsimile style reproduction, then, really works in showing Clowes' development from an overgrown adolescent to a stunted adult.

454 pages, Fantagraph

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