Thursday, Janurary 26, 2012
back in black:
Number of guitars Gibson’s factory makes each week
A history of Kalamazoo’s music roots
Orville Gibson opened the first Gibson shop
order to remain here. The founders, Jim Deurloo, Marvin Lamb and JP Moats started their business in one of the former Gibson Guitar Corporation buildings. They continue to utilize some of Gibson’s old machinery, as well as the skills they learned in their time with the company. “The owners themselves each had in excess of 25 years of hands on experience in making guitars. To this day each of the owners is directly involved in the manufacturing of each instrument,” an article on the Heritage website said. The Kalamazoo Valley Museum hosts the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival each year, inviting attendees to “meet instrument designers and learn about their trade, attend workshops for a variety of stringed instruments and hear live performances from area musicians.” This year’s festival will be held at the Museum on March 24 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a kick-off concert the night before at 7p.m. In addition, Tom Dietz, the curator of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, will present a lecture session on The Life and Legacy of Orville Gibson this coming May as a part of his regular Sunday History Series. For tickets or more information, call (269) 373-7990.
Workers are employed in Gibson’s factory
The perfect temperature to store a guitar in
When people think of the most instrumental cities in the history of rock ’n’ roll, Kalamazoo is probably not high on most lists, including those compiled by Western Michigan University students. What most WMU students do not realize, however, is that Kalamazoo has played a major role in the music industry throughout the years, thanks to its status as one of the birthplaces of the modern electric guitar. In 1896, Orville Gibson opened a self-run show on South Burdick, moving three years later to a larger location on East Main Street, according to Kalamazoo Public Library’s local history website. What started as a one-man mission, with Gibson making mandolins and acoustic guitars by hand, would, over the next century, morph into one of the most iconic names in the music business. Though Orville Gibson’s involvement with his company was rather short lived - he left the company in 1909 - the Gibson Mandolin and Guitar Company would thrive long after his departure, creating the first commercially successful electric guitar in 1937 (the ES-150), a hollow bodied, wooden instrument that was the natural evolution from the basic acoustic guitar. The first ES-150 shipped from Kalamazoo’s Gibson factory on May 20, 1936, marking the start of an age of domination in the guitar industry for the company, according to Gibson’s official site. Gibson’s dominance was challenged briefly in the early ‘50s when Fender, the biggest rival guitar company, released the Telecaster, a solid-body electric guitar characterized by a sleek design and a piercing sound. According to the Smithsonian institute, the hollow-bodied electric guitar had always faced issues with “distortion, overtones and feedback - the amplification of vibrations in the body of the instrument as well as in the strings.” Fender’s Telecaster removed these issues and became the first instance of the electric guitar as it
is generally known today. Gibson, now led by Ted McCarty and still a fixture of Kalamazoo, recognized the threat of Fender’s innovation and immediately began developing their own version of the solid-body electric guitar. The result was the Les Paul guitar, endorsed by Lester “Les Paul” Polsfuss, who was one of the most notable guitarists of the day, and debuted in 1952. For many guitarists, the Les Paul remains the benchmark for guitar sound and design to this day, as well as the most important step in Gibson’s defining musical adventure. “Where would music be without Gibson electric guitars?” Walter Carter asks in the introduction to “The Gibson Electric Guitar Book - Seventy Years of Classic Guitars.” “What would Charlie Christian have used to invent the very concept of an electric jazz guitarist? What would Scotty Moore have reached for when Elvis started singing ‘That’s Alright Mama?’ What would Chuck Berry have played to lay the foundation of rock ‘n’ roll guitar licks?” Needless to say, Gibson guitars have played a massive role in the genesis and evolution of much of the music that is prevalent in the world to day and until the company moved to a new Nashville headquarters in 1984, every single one of those instruments was made right here in Kalamazoo. A local legend even says that Elvis Presley, the king of rock ‘n’ roll himself, made a stop in Kalamazoo to visit Gibson Guitars and have an instrument made. “One of the stories that floats around is that he stayed at the old Columbia Hotel, which is on the corner of East Michigan and Pitcher Street, while visiting Gibson,” Lynn Houghton, the regional history curator at the East Campus Archives and Regional History Collection, said. Despite the company’s departure, Kalamazoo remains steeped in Gibson history and tradition even to this day. Heritage Guitar Inc., located at 225 Parsons St., originated when a group of Gibson craftsmen resisted the company’s move to Nashville and started their own business in
By Craig Manning Staff Reporter
Erin Lenczycki/Western Herald
Thursday, Janurary 26, 2012
wmu student life over the years
By Ociel Torres Staff Reporter
Imagine Western Michigan University without registering for classes through the click of a computer. Instead of texting a friend from another school, you had to write a letter. This is what attending WMU would have been like in the past. “What many of the kids today don’t tend to realize is that many people still had the same experiences without the technology,” said Cynthia Morlock, who graduated from WMU in 1993 with a degree in political science. Morlock also said that the year 1992 was a pivotal moment for students here at WMU with the ever popular “Rock the Vote” movement created by MTV, which she said is very similar to how the internet will play a crucial vote in the 2012 presidential elections. It seems that not too long ago, payphones were the only way to get in contact with loved ones back home. “They had payphones designated in each residence hall and in each academic hall as well,” says Marcus Bellman, class of 1969. Telephone lines were implemented for the first time in the fall of 1972. By then, the yearly telephone service was charged to student accounts. Students brought their own telephones and tele-
phone cables. “Just like computers today, telephones were the essential thing to use back then. I really couldn’t make it through college without my trusty phone,” says Morlock. Just like many students today, the students from way back when had the same challenges that plagued a generation. “I remember back when I graduated from WMU, the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement were the issues that we had to endure,” said Bellman. “You never knew if your roommate or floormate had to be shipped off to Vietnam. It was a scary time. The gay rights movement and the Occupy Wall Street movement remind me of the challenges this group has.” But many do say that college students today have it easier with their academic work such as having accessible computer labs and also being able to register for classes through your student account. “Back then, the only way you could register for classes was through the power of a stub,” said Catherine Wheeler, class of 1974 with a degree in dance. “What happened was you had to go to a large room where in every table was a designated course. Each course had a list of what time the schedule and what hall it was. The only person who could register was the person at the other end of the table who held a stub and hole punched a ticket number for you to keep.”
Wheeler also said that today’s way of registering is by far more efficient and safer than registering back in 1974. “Today you can register while in bed at your comfy dorm; back then, it was a real hassle to enlist in a 50 minute class.” Even though all these challenges seem like luxuries today, many college students believe that the luxuries they have today will be overshadowed 20 years from now. “Who knows, we might have robots as advisors that will remember all our course decisions and automatically register for us some 50 years from now,” said Devin Moore, a technical communications major. Some people think the choices of living today in college seem to be of a more comfortable lifestyle than past years. “It seems we have it easy, an example is the bus app where we can locate the bus hours in a short click on your smartphone. I don’t know how they knew bus hours back then,” said Chelsea King, an aviation maintenance major. Still, even through the years, some alumni still think of WMU as the place where they had the best experiences of their lives. Bellman, who graduated from the school more than 40 years ago, said she believes the school to be a great place. “I still believe that my college experience is one to never forget. I’ve met some amazing people,
Western Herald File Photo
some who are living and some who have passed on. But I still remem-
ber WMU as a great place for everyone,” Bellman said.
Kalamazoo’s founding and early businesses By Jake Adams Staff Reporter Kalamazoo was completely inhabited by the Potawatomie Indians until Nov. 3, 1828, when a white settler named Bazel Harrison and his family boarded a train on the first passenger line in America and settled just outside present day Schoolcraft, according to “Kalamazoo: The Place Behind The Products.” The same book indicates that by 1874 the county reached a population of 32,284. Ten years later, Kalamazoo Village was the largest village in the nation with 16,500 people. It was
then that it became known as the City of Kalamazoo. According to KalamazooCity. org, at the turn of the 19th century the city’s population grew 62 percent. In 1915, Prohibition took hold in Kalamazoo and its citizens looked to leisurely activities for pleasure resulting in booming businesses that provoked more people to establish businesses of their own. Some of those businesses are still up and running today and their owners are proud to have such a long established history. “Jacobus Vandersalm bought the company in 1910,” said Ned Vandersalm, speaking of his greatgreat-grandfather who founded
Vandersalm’s Florist located on 1120 S. Burdick St. “It goes Jacobus, Jacob, Jim, then John, he’s my dad,” said Vandersalm. The family has a long history of change and improvement over the years. John Vandersalm, the current owner of the business, said they are “very proud” of their roots as a Kalamazoo business. Over the years they have moved, built additions, torn down, rebuilt and reclassified, all with the intention to improve performance, efficiency and ultimately, business. “In 1970 we built an addition. Part of it we used as a gift shop,” said John Vandersalm. “Then, after Ned came into the business, he
thought it would be a good idea to turn it into a coffee shop, Conservatory Café. It’s adjacent to our conservatory, so customers can sit in the coffee shop or there with the tropical plants if they choose.” Another business that has been around for a long time with a wellestablished history is Paris Cleaners, having been established in 1903 according to Lynn Houghton, author of “Kalamazoo Lost and Found.” “People refer to it as the ‘purple cleaners’ because of the building with its distinctive color,” said Houghton. There’s also Louie’s Trophy House Grill, established in 1918 by Louie Nowak, according to Laura
Gale of the Trophy House. “This place is steeped in history, this is where most country singers come to get their start around here,” Gale said. “We’re the oldest bar and grill in Kalamazoo. We’ve had a couple country starts perform here including Ted Nugent, Charlie Daniels, Ella Fitzgerald, Les Paul and Frankie Ballard.” Housed on 266 E. Michigan Ave. is another old business, Coney Island, owned by William and Katherine Adams. “My father bought the business in 1915 and it’s been in the family ever since,” said William Adams.
Thursday, Janurary 26, 2012
Windows pain local historic district
By Erin Gignac News Editor Early morning sunlight shines onto the grey-blue, brick building on 610 W. Willard St. Mark Smutek is repairing a coffee grinder in a tiny workshop in the basement of Water Street Coffee Joint Inc.’s main roasting facility. The air smells faintly of licorice, which is just one interpretation of the aroma of coffee when it’s roasting, he said. For Smutek, the president of Water Street, the roasting headquarters holds a rich history in the city of Kalamazoo. The building, originally designed as a machine shop, hosted the Verdon Cigar Factory from 1900 to 1908. After a successful run producing windproof lighters for soldiers in WWI and later, commercial lighters, the building was finally purchased by Smutek and opened in 2000 as a roasting facility for Water Street’s unique brews. However, it hasn’t always been that way. “The building sat here for eight years, basically and did nothing,” he said. Window regulations imposed by the Kalamazoo Historic District Commission halted production on Smutek’s building. The amount of money needed to restore or replace the windows for energy efficiency and historical accuracy was too expensive. He said he had no choice but to board up the windows and let the building simply sit there. His argument presents a growing problem concerning historic housing in Michigan. Historic District Commissions, while praising energy efficiency, are continuing to impose strict standards in order to keep buildings historically accurate. Meanwhile, homeowners are hesitant to move into historic district neighborhoods all together as repair costs skyrocket through the roof. In May 2011, provisions in Governor Rick Snyder’s budget allowed the Michigan Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HTC) to be voted out of state legislature. This year, no state tax credits will be given for homeowners in historic districts planning to restore and repair their homes. Neighborhood association leaders said they hope that, without incentives, the Kalamazoo Historic District Commission and homeowners will pursue
a financial middle ground to keep homes both historically accurate and energy efficient. “I love old buildings, but there’s a point where things are ridiculous, impractical, and cause the building to suffer and stagnate because the building costs are incredible,” Smutek said. His building on 610 W. Willard St. had over 80 window and door openings, which was a significant amount for the vast majority of windows where the wood had rotted away, he said. Each dividedlight window contained 18 separate panes of glass that were held in place and dissected by thin strips of wood. The historic district commission refused to allow him to replace the windows for more energy-efficient, modern windows. “They liked the character of the building and the windows are a huge part of that, which I understood,” he said. “I didn’t think that changing them to metal was going to wreck the character.” Sharon Ferraro, the historic preservation coordinator for Kalamazoo, said that completely replacing windows is not the best solution. “Rehabilitation makes [old] windows as energy efficient, if not more, than new windows,” she said. Ferraro attended the Window Preservation Standards Collaborative Summit this summer where she learned new standards for how to rehabilitate windows. Only 14 to 17 percent of energy loss can be attributed to air infiltration through windows, she said. “The windows are not the best bang for your buck,” she said. Restoring old windows is more cost-effective than replacing them because of the minimal investment required, she said. However, in Smutek’s situation, the cost to repaint, reseal and restore his windows every 10 years would cost him around $20,000, he said. Steve Walsh, the executive director of the Vine Neighborhood Association, said homeowners and property managers in historic districts are hit the hardest by the tax cut. “It’s going to be a challenge for folks who share Sharon’s perspective because that was one of the few incentives that people had,” Walsh said. “If you remove that, it makes
Erin Gignac/Western Herald
Water Street Coffee Joint has over 80 windows that add to the building’s history, and its energy bill. what some people look at as prohibitive standards, more prohibitive.” As the director of a neighborhood, Walsh is a liaison between the Kalamazoo Historic District Commission and the Vine neighborhood. “I hear an awful lot of anger and resentment in the challenges that arise in the upkeep and historic standards,” Walsh said. “As people move to solar panels and things like that, there’s been some resistance on the part of the historic district.” Zolton Cohen, a homeowner in the West Main Hill historic district, had technicians install nine solar panels on the south-facing roof of his house in January. His project strikes a balance between cost and energy efficiency in historic districts. “I was really unsure that solar had any place in Michigan at all,” Cohen said. “I was completely wrong about that.” Cohen paired up with a program from Consumer’s Energy
called the Experimental Advanced Renewable Energy Program that allows him to generate power, recorded on a separate digital meter outside his house, for the energy company. In return, he receives a reimbursement of up to $1,400 a year. “It’s been a little over six months,” the homeowner said last fall. “So far, they’ve generated about 1,830 kilowatt-hours. That’s about $900 for just over half a year.” The historic district commission only required that the panels not be seen from the front of the house. Some exceptions exist in historic housing regulations. Homeowners are not required to replace existing external elements that do not fit the fabric of the historic district that are in good shape. Robert Eriksen, the development and construction manager of Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services, said that the commission can only impose their standards once the external element needs rehabilitation. “Once you get to replace, it
changes everything,” Eriksen said. For interior changes, the Commission does not care what homeowners do and, watch out, because neither do landlords. “On energy efficiency, they’re not obligated to do anything,” the construction manager said. Eriksen said that some cost and energy-efficient practices include changing furnace filters every season, shutting windows properly and sealing windows by locking them. After eight years of abandonment, Smutek, the president of Water Street, found out that his building was never a part of the historic district. He ordered his windows shortly after. Now, the building on West Willard Street hums with activity of a booming business, complete with energyefficient standards. For Smutek, his building still holds all the historic charm it used to.
Thursday, Janurary 26, 2012
WMU paintball sUcceeds nationally
Team is undefeated for the 2011 season; next game in February
By Matt Buck Staff Reporter For many, being shot at is not only a valid fear but a concern. Police officers and soldiers put themselves in the line of fire to keep others safe. One Western Michigan University student not only volunteers, but jumps into action. Haney and his team of WMU paintballers have been competing on a national level for almost a year now, and are already making waves in the business, quickly becoming one of the best teams in the country.
Haney is the founder of both the paintball team and WMU’s paintball club, and said that his motivation behind starting the team came from his previous knowledge of the competition at the college level. “I’ve known about college scale paintball for a while,” he said. “We just want to represent the University on a national scale.” So far, the team has done just that. After winning the only two tournaments that they participated in 2011, WMU’s paintball team went on to compete in the national championships in Lakeland, Fla., where they
finished as a runner up. This year, Bronco paintball came into the season with many followers picking the team to win the national championship. To this point, the Broncos have remained undefeated in tournament play, making these early predictions seem closer and closer to reality. “We’re getting our name on the board,” Haney said. While paintball may not get the following that other college sports carry, the competition is by no means limited. WMU competes against schools such as Central
Michigan University, Purdue and University of Michigan, among others. The Broncos return to tournament play in Feb. 4, when the team travels to Toledo, Ohio, to compete in a tournament at War Zone Paintball. For students that want to join in on the paintball action, Haney said that the club is welcoming to everyone and organized in such a way “There’s the competitive tournament team for people who are more serious about paintball, but I also run the paintball club for people wo
just want to go out and have fun by playing paintball,” he said. “With the club, I usually do monthly or bi-weekly outings to play paintball. If people are interested, it offers the social and fun aspect of the club for some, and the team for people who have a competitive drive.” Haney knows a thing or two about competition in paintball, as he’s been playing the game since he turned 12. More information on the WMU paintball team can be found on Facebook by searching “WMU Paintball.”
University Theatre presents ‘Never the Sinner’ Play examines ‘20s murder scandal and sexual tension between teenage killers By Sam Stachurski Staff Reporter The story of a perfect crime that went wrong, “Never the Sinner” premiers at the York Arena Theatre at Western Michigan University tonight. The play explores a lot of concepts, such as the debate between capital punishment and life in prison, according to the show’s director, WMU faculty member Terry Williams. The play is based on the story of convicted murderers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. “The playwright, Jonathan Lo-
gan, gives it the title of a love story. I think it is that between Nathan and Richard, they were lovers in real life; the play reveals how they met, the sexual pact that became a part of the relationship. So we explore that,” said Williams. Leopold, 19, and Loeb, 18, killed a 14-year-old boy in 1924 and their case soon became infamous. “We also explore the idea of capital punishment; the prosecuting attorney in the play, Robert Crowe, is for capital punishment. People who had committed less severe crimes than theirs had been sent to the gallows, and his argument was ‘How can we not send these boys to the gallows for killing a fourteen
year old boy for the thrill of it?’ So that was the prosecutor’s issue. The famous defense lawyer, Clarence Darrow, said that hanging was not a deterrent [to crime], so he was advocating that the judge sentence [the criminals] to life in prison. So you’ve got that issue, and you’ve got the sexual relationship, but I also think the play is just a good old fashioned thriller.” The classic questions of “Why did they do it? How are they going to pull it off? Are they going to get caught and how?” are featured prominently within the play. “All of those questions are raised and the play answers them in two hours,” said Williams.
Max Rasmussen, a junior and musical theatre performance major at WMU, works to bring out the humanity in his character, murderer Nathan Leopold. “When you first see your name on the cast list playing Nathan Leopold, murderer of the century, it’s not exactly cutesy,” said Rasmussen. “It was really interesting to dive in and find the humanity in this person and find why he did it and in turn, find something that registered in it for me.” Rasmussen said he likes the complexity of his character. “He’s a very complicated guy, he’s very arrogant because he’s so smart, and he knows that he’s a faster
learner than pretty much everyone around him,” he said. “There’s also a part of him that’s very shy and neurotic. So when he finds this guy who takes an interest in him and seems to have sort of the same intellectual capability that he does, [Nathan] latches on...he’s very misunderstood, but he’s very straightforward, very clear, very methodical.” The show will take place at the York Arena theatre on Jan. 26, 27, and 28 at 8 p.m., Feb. 2, 3, and 4 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased over the phone, online or at the Gilmore Theatre Complex box office. WMU students with a valid student ID can purchase a ticket for $5.
Torczyner speaks on Middle East conflict By Emily Midling Staff Reporter There are many different kinds of conflict in the Middle East and community organizer Jim Torczyner is familiar with many of them. Torczyner will be giving a keynote lecture today, Jan. 26, titled “15 Years Creating Engaged Citizenry in the Middle East: Building
Strong Communities in Jordan, Israel and Palestine through Rights Advocacy” at 4 p.m. in Richmond Center, Room 2008. Torczyner is a guest of the University Center for the Humanities, which is designed to “recognize and support the humanities at Western Michigan University. As a gathering place for dialogue, the Center acts an incubator for the exchange of ideas among faculty, emeriti, alumni, undergraduate
and graduate students, and people in the wider community,” according to their website. Torczyner, who got his Ph.D in social work from Berkeley, has experience in community organizing throughout the Middle East, and founded the McGill Middle East Program in Civil Society (MMEP) in 1994, according to a press release. MMEP works to better communities through action. MMEP
has eleven centers throughout the Middle East, and assist more than 120,000 people every year in some of the area’s most disadvantaged portions, in spite of the growing conflict in the Middle East. Torczyner works as a professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University in Montreal and has received the Canadian Bureau of International Education award for extraordinary contributions to the field of international education.
He has worked to help create social change with diverse groups ranging from street youth to the Civil Rights Movement, to the Israeli Black Panthers, as well as many other groups, according to a press release. Torczyner will discuss MMEP and the ways in which their organization has lead to social change. For more information, visit wmich. edu/humanities, or attend the lecture.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
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Ron Paul 2012 “The Compassionate Conservative: A Bush Family Insider’s Conversion to the Ron Paul Revolution” W/Doug Wead Former Bush Advisor, Author, and Historian Fetzer Center, WMU Wednesday Feb. 1 7pm FREE Co-sponsor: SW Michigan Tea Party Info:ronpaul2012.com/mi/
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