photo: © David Moenkhaus - all rights reserved 773 612-4166

Michigan Duotones II

We finally received some snow here recently in Chicago.  The snow came quietly in the night and actually accumulated for a change, so I thought of this image I made years ago while in Michigan.

This image then,  in turn,  made me think of a professor of mine  while I was a student at the University of Michigan. His name was  Joey Reagan, and  he held his  television production class in the old Frieze building at the  corner of  East Washington and South  State in Ann Arbor.

When I first arrived in Ann Arbor as a student and I toured the Frieze building  (which was the home of the Theater, Communications and Film and Television Departments)  I was amazed to see that it looked like they built the studios in the 40’s then walked away.  Everything  was from the 40’s and 50’s,  from the big thick oak sound proof doors, to original old  Ampex reel to reel tape recorders . There was even an amazing 40’s era Foley  and sound effects stage that featured an amazing wind machine that consisted of a five foot high, hand turned, wooden drum over which a floppy old piece of canvas could be placed to create what was a really decent sound of wind during a storm.  There were even a few of the old, iconic,  RCA ribbon microphones hanging everywhere on that stage, too.

The 40’s and 50’s era stuff was really cool and everything, I thought at the time, but  it was really disappointing to me when I first arrived  at the University of Michigan and discovered that Michigan’s Communications Department was  in  a hot tub time machine.

I didn’t think I’d be able to get a job in the real world with out having touched real world gear, so I raised some hell with Dean Porter with a petition or two, but got nowhere.  I stalked off,  indignantly and defiantly to East Lansing to see about transferring to Michigan State University. On my tour of their new 20 million dollar telecommunications building,  my eyes were popping as I watched people unpacking brand new, state of the art audio and video gear in studio after  studio and I was smitten. But after a few weeks of reflection, and talking with my professors like Joey Reagan and Dr. Frank Beaver, I decided to stay at Michigan and I’m so glad I did because despite not being able to get my hands on modern gear, I ended up receiving a world class education,  and I was able to study with a lot of amazing professors and teachers there!  My professors really helped me realize that the gear isn’t as important as you think it is when you’re that age.  So, I took their council,  stopped complaining about the gear,  studied my butt off, and got myself a degree in film and television production.

My professor, Joey Reagan,  helped me so much along that path. He was a really good teacher and was demanding but sometimes, during his television production class, he would  show his own ironic images of odd signage that he made during his travels around the country. This image reminds me of Mr. Reagan and those sweet years in Ann Arbor.  It’s from my Michigan Duotones series that I’ve been working on for the last few years. I shot this snowy Christmas tree farm near Traverse City, Michigan – my hometown.


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