Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kalamazoo and the Midwest Unblues

Three book events in 3 days...madness, but now a rest in Kalamazoo...cuz I got a gal in Kalamazoo (as the song goes) course, she's married to another man. Meet Maria, and that's her 16-year-old son, Sam

I know Maria from way back in SF days when we worked together at the Community Access Pages...Maria did graphic design (no surprise, look at that interior design! And all done secondhand), I was a copywriter and Joe below (with their 14-year-old daughter, Matilda) was our managing editor. Joe and Maria got married and returned to Michigan where Joe grew up. He's the development director at the Kzoo Institute for the Arts. Mine and Joe's commonality does not end there...we were born on the exact same day, just a few hours apart...we've always had an uncanny mind-reading ability between us, not to mention similarities in both our weaknesses and strengths...he's basically my 4th brother....Joe and I prove there is something to astrology

Their cool midcentury modern your heart out, Tindo!

Kalamazoo is a nice little Midwestern city. Not too big, not too small and it seems like everyone has a decent house to live in, there are two universities, a great library, art, litter-free streets, no traffic congestion, and it's pretty multicultural. After all my ranting about America, a city like this (Madison and Ann Arbor are similar) reminds you of what the ideal American town is supposed to be...not that it's my ideal (still far too conventional and a little bland in a Germanic ordered way), but at least people can live their lives in relative peace and find a job, and raise their kids, which is what Joe and Maria are doing expertly. It's the midwest..people are generally decent, hardworking and civil.
Sadly, it's probably disappearing...there's a big population drain here...when the jobs go, people leave. Public trans is limited, and a few years back the Klan demonstrated here and I saw a guy on a motorcycle with a Confederate flag on his leather jacket. The militia movement is big north of here, along with evangelism of course, so there remain those dreaded omens of American decline or stubborn ignorance..not sure which. But overall, the midwest has actually given me hope, as did Portland, ME


Joe, Sam and a tiny glimpse of Matilda out in front

gnome sighting in the knot of a tree


Increasingly to me, the visionary for 21st c. America...why is no one listening?

I have a thing for turtles

...and pixies of course

Joe and Maria took me up to an amazing place in Grand Rapids, just to the north: The Frederick Meijer Sculpture Gardens with work by such luminaries as Joan Miro, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Jean Arp, Jonathan Borofsky and Keith Haring, among others. I've been jonesing for some art as I wasn't able to find the time or opportunity to see any in Canada



Deborah Butterfield  
(artists' names are listed under their works, and I missed some)

Arnold Pomodoro

This one was called King and Queen




Henry Moore 

Sophie Ryder

Jean Arp

Ossip Zadkine

Roxy Paine

Alexander Liberman

Hanneke Beaumont

Louise Bourgeois

Jim Dine

Keith Haring

Mark DiSuvero...I used to bartend openings at the John Berggruen Gallery in SF and we had a big DiSuvero piece like this in a South of Market parking lot..have been interested in his work ever since...those beams move ever so slightly as they hang from one another...amazingly when I went to find the link to the Berggruen Gallery, I find that DiSuvero is back...I love that kind of serendipity....:)....

Below is an enormous horse which is a copy of a drawing by Leonardo DaVinci sculpted by 
Nina Akamu

No, that's not Sam and Matilda between Joe and Maria...that's Frederick Meijer and his wife, bronzed

Maria likes this javelina

The big greenhouse is full of tropical plants and butterflies

This place was full of butterflies, but this was the only one that sat still long enough to get a photo


Bananas for Socrates (see last blog)

faunic cupidic sightings


Next up: the buddhas...they look like buddha meteors

Had to take leave of the lovely Bower family as I was due in Madison to meet the publishers of 
A Horse Named Sorrow at University of Wisconsin Press

The extraordinary Raphael Kadushin, a wonderful editor and a sweet, worldly and fascinating man

The inimitable Elena Spagniole, UW publicist who has been SOOO helpful and always cool...we have been a great team during the tour

Fun to see Horse all over the place...because they designed such a good dust jacket, it ended up on the cover of the fall catalog when it came out

Raphael and Tommy's house:
(Tommy is a painter--in his studio below)

Raphy's desk

Note the Samsonite bag you gave me, Stella! Indestructible :)

Tommy and the angel

Raphy's snowglobe collection and Amsterdam house collection...each contains gin (they're saving these for the apocalypse)

my room, which I shared with two mice (not free range, but in the cage under the yellow scarf)

Faun sighting...that's Europa on the half shell

Great homosexual love affairs of the ancient world: above Antinous, lover of the Emperor Hadrian, 
who became the standard of male beauty for statuary for the next few hundred years, and to his left, Alexander the Great. Below, the story of Apollo and Hyacinth

St. Sebastian, a roman soldier, murdered by his commander for loving a fellow soldier instead of the commander

Raphael and Tommy and Elena have been great, taking me around, buying me burritos and sushi....what generous people (rivaled only by the Bowers who were similarly over the top generous) kind and hospitable...I feel guilty! What's a catholic boy to do in the face of so much good fortune? I feel like I need to get a bigger place so I can invite all these people to LA and they won't have to sleep in my little closet where I've got my bed.

Sheila from UWISC Press with Tommy

Raphy, Tommy and Marika

Reading at A Room of One's Own in Madison

.....flashback to the bus ride, which was long but Lila, 82, widowed, still living in the 12-room farmhouse where she raised her family. She now rents the farm that she and her husband ran for 58 years. They raised corn, hogs, chickens, wheat, and I don't remember what else. She comes from Australia...she took a ship over in 1953, and it took 17 days. She then crossed Canada, which took four days. I like the idea of taking a long time and experiencing the changes as one travels, thus my preference for walking, biking, buses, boats and trains over planes.


classic retro factory along Lake Michigan

my sad little collapsing bag...I mailed back a box full of clothes and books I've been accumulating, so it's running light more schlepp to Minnesota, then it's planes, so I will mail home a tad more, discard the wheels and the black bag and be back in carry-on heaven (Christian, your umbrella was left in Toronto, sorry to say...I owe you 99 cents :) Weather is good, hoping for rain-free from here on out

These shoes were sitting on the curb right outside the central Chicago train station....everyone kept looking at them and walking around them...'someone left their shoes' someone old black man chimed in: 'no, thats the invisible man'

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