Friday, July 31, 2015

Spokefly: Keeping Grand Rapids Green!

With Grand Rapids becoming a center of business and culture development, efforts are being made to make it more…green! Sustainability has become a strong focus of development in the city, especially through the implementation of new public transportation. Recognizing the desire for more convenient and green transportation, Spokefly, a bike share program brought by the Spoke Folks, has recently launched in the Grand Rapids community. Spoke Folks brought their love of cycling to the city with this easy to use bike sharing system. So…

What is “bike sharing”?

Bike sharing, according to Spokefly, allows for a cleaner and greener way to commute within the city. Through sharing bikes with others, this form of public transportation cuts back on toxic emissions from cars and promotes a healthier lifestyle while also placing convenient bike stops throughout the city for easy access to businesses downtown. With these locations sporadically placed throughout the downtown area, bike riders can rent a bike for $1 per ride plus $0.15/minute. For example, a 10-minute ride will cost $2.50. The Spoke Folks hope to expand the program to the city’s neighborhoods next year.

How does it work?

In order to use Spokefly, you’ll first need to become familiar with the locations in which you can rent a bike. Download the Spokefly app from the Apple App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android). From there, you’ll be able to use a map to determine where the closest bike location is for you. From the same app, you’ll be able to pay for rental, unlock a bike and return a bike to a Spokefly location. Once you get a location set, you’ll snap a picture of the bike to the Spokefly app and get the combination needed in order to return the bike.

Is there one near the Arena?

There is a Spokefly bike rack next to Van Andel Arena, towards Ionia Street. There is also one located near the corner of Monroe Avenue and Lyon Street, right next to DeVos Place, for convenient travel to events in both the convention center and DeVos Performance Hall.

Please click to download the app to iPhones or Androids.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mike Epps & Why He Is the “Real Deal”

Mike Epps is a comedic prodigy with a prestigious performance history. Born in 1970, the Indianapolis native is known for roles in popular movies such as The Hangover (Parts I and III), Next Friday and Friday After Next, as well as a starring role in ABC’s forthcoming adaptation of the 1989 film Uncle Buck. Epps has also starred in a variety of comedy shows, including his own Mike Epps: Funny Bidness and Mike Epps Presents: Live from Club Nokia.

Epps’ knack for comedy began at an early age, and he proceeded to perform standup routines in his teenage years. Comedy would become Epps breakthrough occupation after joining the Def Comedy Jam Tour in 1995 and appearing in HBO’s Def Comedy Jam broadcasts. In 1999, Epps was cast in the popular Friday movie franchise to star alongside Ice Cube, and from there, his career would be launched as he continued to be cast in a variety of roles in popular movies and television shows, including the Resident Evil franchise and The Fighting Temptations, alongside Cuba Gooding Jr. and BeyoncĂ©.

Epps has made a name for himself in show business and has grown into a well known comedic and acting talent. He is currently working on a variety of projects, such as his starring role in the Starz series “Survivor’s Remorse,” BET drama “Being Mary Jane” and the Universal feature “Term Life.” He is also in the midst of production for the HBO biopic “Bessie” based on famed blues performer Bessie Smith’s rise to fame, as well as his role as legendary comedian Richard Pryor in the upcoming Lee Daniels biopic.

Be sure to check out Epps’ “The Real Deal Tour” at Van Andel Arena on Saturday, October 31st at 8 PM. Get your tickets here.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Let’s face it, rock concerts are not a night at the symphony and the rules to live by while at the venue are quite a bit more relaxed. However, there is still a code that you should follow while you are at a concert. This goes for any show at any venue.

This is not a new topic, but it is one worth revisiting (as it often is over and over again by various sources). Regardless of how many times a blogger, magazine, or journalist writes an article about concert etiquette, we still hear frequent stories from fans about a ruined concert experience because of the behavior of those around them. Obviously, you need to stay within the law and respect the venue’s policies, but there are also a set of unwritten (and not always agreed upon) rules to keep in mind while you attend your next concert.

Before we ask your opinion on concert etiquette, please allow us to present a few thoughts based on feedback we have heard from fans over the years.

The Sit or Stand Dilemma
This one comes up a lot. You can easily split a concert crowd into two categories: those who like to sit and those who like to stand. For some shows, it’s almost a unanimous mindset leaning one way or the other, but for other shows, there is a gray area that can easily cause issues between patrons.

Our best advice is to look at your surroundings. Are you at a high energy rock concert where everyone else is standing? Then it is probably okay to get up on your feet.

Are you at a low-key performance where most everyone is seated? Then it is probably best to give your feet a rest.

Simply, be considerate of those around you. You wouldn’t want somebody blocking your view and ruining your experience, would you?

Have tickets and/or ID ready
Occasionally, there can be very long lines to get into an event. If you have your tickets, and in some cases I.D. and credit card (for paperless entry), ready when you reach the turnstiles, it will make the entire process quicker and easier for everyone involved. The more time you take fumbling through your belongings looking for your tickets, the more time there is for fans to begin piling up behind you.

Concerts are social events, so it is natural to want to turn to your bestie and show your excitement when your favorite song begins, but try not to go too far. It’s alright to talk to your heart’s desire in between acts, but once the musicians are on stage, do your best to pay attention to the show. You came to see the band perform, not catch up on the latest gossip. If you would rather sit and chat through the entire show, perhaps watching a live concert DVD at home is more your style. There will be plenty of time to discuss the fine details after the final notes have been played. 

Besides becoming the mortal enemy of concert-goers sitting next to you, you might anger the artist to the point of them leaving the stage as well.

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If you were at a live concert and you couldn’t inform everyone you know that you were having more fun than them, were you really there?

In the age of social media, sometimes it can seem as though you aren’t having fun unless you are posting to your social media pages to show just how much fun you are having. We are ever-connected to our devices these days, but much like everything else moderation is key. It’s fine to snap a few pics here and there, send out a tweet or two, or check in with the baby sitter via a quick text, but that bright light of yours can be very distracting. 

Also keep in mind that some shows will not even allow the usage of phones. The Eagles and Kevin Hart are examples of recent shows that enforced a strict “no cell phone” policy. And tablets? They are almost never allowed in, and we would strongly encourage you not to use them even if they were. (They are huge! You might as well erect a billboard in front of the person behind you while you hold it up to snap some pics.)

Enjoy the moment, use your phone sparingly, and create some memories. You come to see a live show, not watch it through a tiny screen, right? Besides, let’s face it – chances are most of those pics and videos you take with your phone aren’t going to turn out very well anyway. (Pro Tip: Using your flash when taking pics at a concert does nothing for the exposure. That bright light will only travel a few feet directly in front of you. It's best to turn it off when taking some shots at a show.)

Rocking out in your own personal space without completely invading the personal space of the people sitting next to you is a skill. If you are not sure how to do it, watch the veteran concert-goers around you. They know how to ramp up the excitement while toning down the arm-flailing. Furthermore, if you are holding a drink, do not forget that you are holding a drink!

Nobody likes a cold liquid being spilled in their hair or down their back because the person behind them cannot stop sloshing their beverage around while attempting to showcase their moves. This brings us to the next one…

Drink responsibly– don’t spill!
If you are drinking at an event, please drink responsibly. Know your limits and be sure you have assigned a designated driver for the evening. If everyone in your group is drinking, arrange for a friend to pick you up after the show, call a cab, or use services such as Uber to make it home safely. There are no excuses here.

Don’t stand in the aisles
Not only can this be a serious safety issue, but aisles are busy passageways. You standing in the middle of one with your fist in the air while people are trying to get to their seats or back out to the concourse is a major inconvenience. Not to mention, you paid for specific seats, and standing in the aisle may be blocking the view of someone who paid to be in the section you are trying to gain access to.

Concerts are exciting, and we encourage you to display your excitement before, during, and after the events you attend. However, yelling at the top of your lungs the entire time can be a bit excessive and sure to annoy the other fans around you. Definitely express how great the show is with a few exclamations, but remember that while you are yelling, woo-ing, or screaming “FREEBIRD!” after every song (this stopped being funny at least 20 years ago, by the way) both you and those around you probably cannot hear the show everyone paid their hard earned cash to see.

Basically, everything boils down to realizing you are one of many people at a concert and that your behavior could impact the experience of others. Be mindful of your surroundings, nice to your neighbors, and have a great time. We want everyone to have the best experience possible while they are here, and pleasant fan-to-fan interaction goes a long way toward helping that happen.

Now it is your turn. Did we nail it? Did we get it all completely wrong? Do you agree with some of it, but the rest is way off base? Did we miss something? We want to know your thoughts. Tell us in the comments below, and let’s keep this conversation going.