Ironwood Michigan, with Jeff Daniels
May 29, 2013 9:17 PM   Subscribe

Stormy Kromer.... a sacred place.

Jeff Daniels, is, if nothing else, a stanch Michigander. Growing up in Chelsea, Michigan, Jeff still lives near the Jiffy Mix Plant and supports the arts in and around his home town through the establishment and support of the Purple Rose Theater. His family owns Chelsea Lumber (most of the pole barns in the area were built by Chelsea Lumber).

Jeff's movie, "Escanaba in da Moonlight" is the definitive work on Michigan deer hunting, defining the plight of the Buckless Yooper.

His music often draws us into the past, as in his song about his "Grandfather's Hat". He celebrated Detroit with his song about (the somewhat marginal) Detroit iron "Blue Valiant".

And, like anyone from Michigan, he has the "Tiger Fan Blues".

Perhaps the best from this local boy, is his version of "Michigan, my Michigan".
posted by HuronBob (9 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ya der hey!

And speaking of Yoopers, you can't mention it without Second Week of Deer Camp!

(I imagine those who aren't from this general area (I grew up in Northeast Wisconsin, and my sister and her kids lived in Escanaba) might find this odd. But as much as I'm not really into hunting or the local redneck culture, there' still a fondness in my heart for this classic song.)
posted by symbioid at 9:33 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

OK, if we're doing deer camp scenes... the da Jimmer fart is a classic.
posted by HuronBob at 9:43 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've always loved "Michigan, my Michigan" as an ode to Civil War asskicking:
When worn with watching traitor foes,
Michigan, my Michigan,
The welcome night brought sweet repose,
Michigan, my Michigan.
The soldier, weary from the fight,
Sleeps sound, nor fears the rebels’ might,
For “Michigan’s on guard tonight!”
Michigan, my Michigan.
It's a shame the 1886 and 1902 edits took the venom out. Lyrics (PDF)
posted by creade at 1:09 AM on May 30, 2013

The class trip to the Jiffy Mix plant is such a universal childhood experience in this part of the state that when I found out my Northern Michigan raised husband had never been I was shocked. We're planning on going this summer.
posted by MaritaCov at 1:10 AM on May 30, 2013

I apprenticed at the Purple Rose Theater almost 20 years ago. I don't know how it's changed since then, but when I was there Jeff Daniels took a very active role in the theater's doings.

It actually was, and most likely still is, a pretty incredible place - a small theater in the middle of a tiny town doing mostly new plays ... that was always, ALWAYS packed.

The apprentice program pays a salary, which while not high is perfectly adequate to live on in that area. The theater was fiercely devoted to its actors and its playwrights. It's the only theater company I've ever heard of that asked Actors' Equity if they could change their contract so they could pay their actors more. (And they produced one of my plays, and having a play produced by an Equity theater when you're just out of college is a pretty big deal.)

It wasn't perfect. There were the personality conflicts you find in just about any theater (I've often said that if you want to avoid drama, do not pursue a career in, well, drama.) But when I founded my own theater company, I took a lot of their unspoken principles as a model.

Aim to do new theater - plenty of people are around doing stuff that's already been done, and we are in a golden age of playwrights who are struggling to get their stuff heard. Pay everyone who works for you. Even if you can't pay enough, no one should do that much work for free. Quality of performance is the most important thing. The other things matter, but no one comes to see how amazing your lighting is. You can be entertaining as well as meaningful. It's not a betrayal of art to do so. Cultivate good playwrights, actors, and technicians. And the best way to do so is by respecting them and their work.

My theater company, which ended up mostly producing plays about lesbian and bi women on a shoestring budget in Tucson Arizona, was in many ways very different from the Purple Rose. Except maybe in the ways that mattered.
posted by kyrademon at 2:19 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Finding some Jiffy corn muffin mix several years into my expat life in London almost made me weep in the (clearly catering to US expats) shop. My English spouse was somewhat bemused by my excitement, and kind of meh on the muffins, but what the hell does he know, he's not from Michigan.
posted by skybluepink at 2:48 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Den dere's Da Turdy Point Buck.
posted by Madamina at 8:11 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jeff Daniels is a treasure, and I'll cheerfully fight anyone who says otherwise.

Two years back, the Purple Rose performed Escanaba in da Moonlight, and I was lucky enough to get tickets. (It is RIDICULOUSLY HARD to get tickets for a 168 seat theater!) Laughed until I cried, damned near peed. Wayne David Parker was there as Jimmer, and that man is simply Hilarious On Feet.

We headed over to Cleary's Pub after the show to grab a bite, and were absolutely delighted when the entire cast moseyed in a few minutes later. Parker amiably hollered "Boomity-boooom!" for anyone who asked; Jeff's son Lucas, who was apprenticing at the time, was chatting with the bartender, all smiles and aw-shucks. It was about that time that I realized that I had left my medication in the car, so I dashed out to get it...and nearly mowed down the Man Himself as I stepped into the parking lot.

I hadn't realized who it was I had bumped into at first, having been sort of head down, fighting upstream to get out while apparently the entire rest of the world wanted in. I started apologizing before I even looked up. "Oh my gosh, I'm so terribly sorry, are you -- Oh, hey!" He was super sweet. "Hi, I'm Jeff!" We stepped aside and chatted for a few minutes, I got the chance to tell him how much I enjoyed both the play and the movie, and it was a delight to watch the locals wave at him "Hey Jeff!" and get a response, "Hi Mike, how've you been?" He accepted a hug and grinned widely when I told him I'd been a fan forever, and disappeared into the busy pub. When I went back in, he was wandering about, chatting with everyone and the whole place was just thoroughly at ease.

In Chelsea, he's not "Jeff Daniels, Actor". He's Jeff Daniels, local kid who sometimes makes movies and writes songs. He's just Jeff, Bob Daniels' boy. I love that it was a conscious decision on his part to move back to his hometown to raise his family and write his plays and music. I love that he made a conscious decision to give his kids a "normal" childhood and avoid the paparazzi mess. He's a delight and a gem.
posted by MissySedai at 1:46 PM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Madamina: "Den dere's Da Turdy Point Buck ."



a huh huh uhuh uh...
posted by symbioid at 5:37 PM on May 30, 2013

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