FUTURE OF MICHIGAN DESIGN
The Future of Michigan Design celebrates the mitten's long-standing and (hopefully) continuing contributions to the field of graphic design. The event features artists and graphic designers Edward Fella, Nelson Greer and Ron Rae, discussing their experience in the commercial art industry of '60s Detroit. A silent poster auction benefiting art programs in Detroit Public Schools and the presentation of the AIGA Fellow Award to Doug Kisor, chair of the graphic design department at the College for Creative Studies, will also take place. A reception with food, refreshments and music by DJ Lorenzo follows. At 6:30-10 p.m. in the Walter B. Ford II building of the College for Creative Studies, 201 E. Kirby St., Detroit; call 313-664-7465 or see detroit.aiga.org for info.
THURSDAY, SATURDAY 20, 22
THE RED THREAD: INTERWOVEN PERFORMANCE PORTRAITS
THE PERSONAL IS COMMUNAL
Through four individual performances by the members of the Detroit Story Collective, the Red Thread demonstrates how even the most intimate and personal stories bind us inextricably to the rest of humanity. The title comes from an ancient Chinese proverb that says all people are connected by an unbreakable red thread. You know: No man is an island, we're all one, big happy family, yadda-yadda-yadda. The free performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Marlene Boll Theatre inside the Boll Family YMCA, 1402 Broadway, Detroit; 313-309-9622.
GIVE A SCARF, HAT OR GLOVES TO KIDS COMEDY SERIES
CHORTLES FOR CHARITY
Laugh your way into a charitable spirit at this new monthly event presented by 107.5 WGPR, Mason Radio in the Morning and Arturo's Jazz Theatre. Attendees bring new gloves, scarves and hats for students in need at Detroit Public Schools, and comedians Pierre and Jeff B. provide the yuks. Pierre is from BET's Comicview and has appeared in the films How to be a Player and For Da Love of Money. Jeff B., the so-called "Don of Comedy," has appeared on Def Jam and Comicview. Different national comedians will be featured each month through March. At 10:30 p.m. at Arturo's Jazz Theatre & Restaurant, 25333 W. 12 Mile Rd., Southfield; 248-357-6009; arturosjazz.com; $20.
HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Now in its fifth year, the Detroit holiday tree lighting has become a new family tradition, officially kicking off the seasonal festivities. So whether you believe that it's the most wonderful time of the year or an interminable purgatory of commercialism and carols, at least we can all enjoy the pretty, pretty lights. Beginning at 5 p.m., the event will also feature ice skating, marching bands, choral performances, vendors, carriage rides and the Salvation Army Red Kettle Kick-Off. The electricity drain will officially begin at 7:55 p.m. at Campus Martius Park, 800 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Info at 313-962-0106 or campusmartiuspark.org.
ROBOTS & SNEAKERS
This night of hip hop and electro beats features R.A. the Rugged Man, the notorious New York emcee who incited label bidding-wars before being blackballed by the industry for his violent proclivities and a penchant for amassing sexual harassment suits. Despite it all, the Rugged Man was still able to amass an underground following while working with the likes of Biggie Smalls, Chuck D and the Wu-Tang Clan. Officially back in the business, he's recorded one LP, 2004's Die Rugged Man Die, and has penned numerous articles for hip-hop publications, as well as a soon-to-be-released book on boxing. He'll be joined by 10 other rappers, DJs and beat makers at 10 p.m.-4 a.m. at the Russell Industrial Center, 1600 Clay Ave., Detroit; info and directions available at 734-752-8665; $10 before midnight, $15 after.
DSO FEATURING EVELYN GLENNIE
BANG UP TIME
We've been mesmerized watching acclaimed percussionist Evelyn Glennie in documentaries that featured her entranced by the music, battering away with Brazilian samba schools and out-there improv guitarist Fred Frith. We expect seeing her (performing barefoot, her preferred approach) with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to be likewise satisfying. The repertoire includes Elgar, Debussy, Vivaldi and Joan Tower's "Strike Zones," originally commissioned for Glennie. Performances are 10:45 a.m. Friday, 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-576-5111. See detroitsymphony.com for details on a Saturday 11 a.m. young people's concert, a Saturday afterparty featuring Silverghost, and various ticket specials.
COMPANIA FLAMENCO JOSE PORCEL
PASSION & PUFFY SKIRTS
The romantic imagery of the flamenco is easily called to mind, even by people who have only a vague notion of what the dance really is. Truth be told, the origins and true nature of this southern Spanish art form are a murky mystery, and perhaps always will be. But that just adds to the allure of this sultry and seductive dance of stomps and snaps, lithe bodies and agile hands, bold colors and intimate gestures. At 8 p.m. at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, 44575 Garfield Rd., Clinton Twp.; 586-286-2222; macombcenter.com; $40-$48. (A pre-show salsa lesson for ticket buyers will take place at 6:30 p.m. It's free, but call to register.)
BLANKETS FOR AIDS DRIVE FUNDRAISER
Higher Ground's Blankets for AIDS Drive collects blankets for individuals with HIV/AIDS living in hospices, homes and shelters throughout southeastern Michigan. Just one of the organization's many efforts to uplift and support people in the community with HIV/AIDS, the drive has collected more than 6,000 blankets since it began six years ago. The fundraiser gets going with appetizers at Soho (205 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-542-7646) then moves to 9 Niteclub (141 W. 9 Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-582-7227) for raffles, drawings and general merrymaking. The drive takes place through Dec. 13. Drop-off locations for your blankies, quilts, throws, afghans, etc., and further details can be found at hghiv.org.
ALTERNATIVE GIFT FAIR
Instead of yapping about how the holidays are too materialistic for your broke ass, change the tide by giving gifts that are in the true spirit of the season. The Alternative Gift Fair brings together more than 20 charitable organizations that will offer gift-giving ideas of a benevolent nature, from simply donating money in a loved one's name to purchasing handmade items with the proceeds funding altruistic activities. Groups that will be on hand include Heifer International, Forgotten Harvest, Gleaner's Food Bank, Paws for a Cause, Kids Kicking Cancer and more. Sure, you to still have to pony up some bucks, but helping the less fortunate and getting the warm and fuzzies? That's priceless. At 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Christ Church Cranbrook, 470 Church Rd., Bloomfield Hills; 248-644-5210.
BOOK SIGNING: LIVING WITHOUT GOD
There was a time when the only atheists most Americans could name were Madalyn Murray O'Hair and (just maybe) Bertrand Russell — but then all politicians didn't have to run with God as part of their platform either. In reaction to the rising tide of righteousness, the last few years have seen the emergence of a new persona, the public atheist, best-known specimens including Christopher (God is not Great) Hitchens, Richard (The God Delusion) Dawkins and Bill (Religulous) Maher. Living Without God: New Directions for Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, and the Undecided, the title of Ron Aronson's new book, signals he's part of that discussion. Those who've praised the book include not only Hitchens, but the theologian-philosopher Cornel West, the latter hailing Aronson as "a religiously musical atheist I admire." The Wayne State University prof discusses purposeful living without a deity from 2-5 p.m. at Goldfish Tea, 117 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-541-5252.
SHREDDER SAY WHAT?
Say the name Marnie Stern and one word comes to mind: shredder. When the guitarist's 2007 debut In Advance of the Broken Arm hit the street, critics from the likes of The New York Times regaled her as the most titillating rock 'n' roll newbie around — mainly because of her finger-tapping prowess. This year's follow-up, the elaborately titled This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That continues to prove Stern's ax-grinding aptitude, but also shows her as a songwriter not to be ignored — high-pitched vocals and all. 8 p.m. at the Crofoot's Pike Room, 1 S. Saginaw, Pontiac; 248-858-9333; thecrofoot.com; $8.
TATS ON DISPLAY
The combination of skin, ink and needle has persevered for ages — from important cultural symbols of strength to tramp stamp butterflies signifying youthful defiance. Through paintings, drawings and graphic art by artists from across the globe, Flash celebrates the unique imagery of this oft-denigrated art form, the artists who create it and all those who offer up their skins as canvases for permanent decoration. At the Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor; 734-997-7012; thegalleryproject.com. Exhibit runs through Dec. 7.