Wednesday, June 06, 2012


A collector.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A collection. Detroit - Iriquois Street


I met him for the first time in the lobby of the Carleton Arms hotel. He was smaller than I had thought, but also more beautiful. We sat on the stairs and watched Sammy the lobby dweller become vaudevillian, before playing Buck Hunter in Gramercy like teenagers. Before I knew how dirty he could be in the bedroom.


Getting ready to go and see Patti Smith in Detroit. It is just one of those once in a lifetime things - listening to her in my favorite room at the Detroit Institute of Art, listening to her read in a very small audience. The woman flaneur of our time, part wolf, part watcher. Deep and dark traveller. I smell sandalwood when I watch this and feel the rough wool of old fabrics. I sense a fierce shaman and I pierce Ontario with trains. I cross borders so I may meet her.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I always come and visit you like a holy mission. I almost run to you, slipping across icy lawns, my heart pounding in my chest in the old slow elevator. The complicated path to you one that wakes up in me an old trading path. We trade. I lay down my battered bones, and offer them humbly to you and in return you feed me. It is a bad deal for you, but you never seem to mind. Once I find the atrium that you claimed, I almost cannot stay. I have to hold myself in this room against a desire to flee. This happens every time I come here. I play the usual game of detective. Where is Edsel? The famous communist star? Hidden Star Where is Edsel? I remember how many times I have come to you for an indication. The walk over from Cass Street a dare back then. See through white cotton 1940′s dresses with defiant black underwear, the doberman. Freak flags flying, walking through places that I am not supposed to, that I was not raised for. Each step a revelation. Sometimes it is a good thing to consider directions that are not recommended. The steps of the artist are risky, shunned. Sunshine, the tug of the leash as Zoot strained from me, leading the way with her power. What I learned is that there was nothing to fear, walking through crowds of men thronging the corners, the boom of doom coming out of car speakers speak to empowerment far more than maliciousness. With each step I learned that the artists of Detroit have a standing far outside of the street culture surrounding them. We for the most part were granted passage, our passports lauded for their strangeness, their independence, their ludicrousness.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Missing Pheasants of Detriot

The pheasants. Their staccato as they flee from the smell of death. Their nest disturbed by the EMS and their stretcher recovering a body from the tall grass of the ruins on Brush Street. They are my punctum. They fly towards me in every memory I have ever had since I actually saw them. Dozens of wings beating against the early morning sun, as my car drove along the road beside the field. I have chewed on the bones of these birds. Urban hunters have fed me stews seasoned by their bones. As I walk back to Cass Street, I am reminded of my visit with the flock of pheasants so many years ago. They represent everything I have ever made, small parts of myself fleeing the inevitable. I still haven’t seen any pheasants. I wonder if they are all gone, having sensed the influx of the gentrifiers, the artists, the corporations buying up tracts of land that up until now were forgotten. A pheasant exodus. Admittedly I really miss them as I walk back to the corridor from the gallery. I miss the feeling of being in a forgotten place, and while part of me is glad that my steps feel safer here, I miss the adventure of each step facing chaos, potential danger and the mystery. I am unsure if this is a good thing. But I miss the wild pheasants and cannot seem to help it. I walk in my weird Reeboks stuck between the here and now, and another place I have constructed in my mind. I ask the empty fields and still standing houses to guide my steps- the ones that are happening in this here, and the ones that simeltaneously occur in the spirit world, laced with memories, made up stories and grief. My feet straddle two worlds. My heart. My everything. I come back to my Reeboks. Every five minutes. The snow is on my face, reminding me of my today, my breath, my now body. I walk into the Cass Cafe to meet my host for this trip. He is no one that I know – a friend of a friend – my awareness comes back to the here and now. I have been here before, in my teens, hanging out and feeling cool. But mostly, I am the me I am now. I want some soup.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Images of Detroit

From the Mortuary Science building and a night shot of Eastern Market. Detroit.

On Yoko Ono's work in the Detroit Institute of Art

Yoko Ono. Bronze Family Album, Blood Objects: Exhibit : Shirt 1993 Yoko. It was right beside the bronze you cast of your dead husband’s bloody shirt that I lost all battery life in my mobile. I found myself crouching down in the corners of the room seeing if the gallery plugs were on or disconnected. I felt as though I was genuflecting around you. Yoko. You are the queen of the death by a thousand cuts. No, you are the queen of the surviving of life’s thousand cuts. And here I am scrambling in front of you, in front of death desperately seeking communication. The security guard nearby stopped talking to the strange gentleman and offered me a plug, which I accepted. Standing around the bronzed shirt of your dead husband, we spoke of artists. It was as if a magic key had unlocked each of us from our specified roles within the space of the museum, long enough for us to speak of those of us who dedicate everything to its shadowy, steep path. I have spent so many weeks over readings where empiricists try to pin down and dissect the places that art might take each of us – the maker and the viewer. I have scrambled over words laid down by the linguists and semioticians, the art historians, the scientists and the philosophers, and yet really, I still don’t think that much terrain has been covered. The security guard tries to find some poems on her mobile, written by her niece. She mines her device for a connection to me and gives me the gift of another poet . The gentleman as it turns out is an old hippy from the area, deeply familiar with the various tribes of the Cass Corridor and the artists that inhabited this disorganized string of colonies and communes peppered throughout the neighborhood. He takes me on a rushed trip across the gallery in order to show me some of his tribe’s artifacts all hanging together in a strangely curated room. Their embalmed hearts pinned around the room for us to look at. The trip there was a strange blur of paintings and sculptures. I say strange because each one popped out of the blur for one moment, emblazoning itself onto my mind. A collection of artifacts brought back from the journey. I come back to my phone in a daze. I leave the gallery finally and head over to the Cass Corridor. I retrace my steps finally. As I do so, I remember being told of the spirit bead. It was a common practice when beading moccasins, to place in a bead in the second pattern that disrupts the patterns from matching.It was in the imperfectness of the repeated pattern that the spirits could enter and that we could remember our humility. My steps back are like those spirit beads. They are an imperfect retracing of the way I came. They are the nature of revisited terrain. They are my whispers to the spirits. ****

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Letting go of the shop was the best thing she ever did. It was a long damn run over on Dix. You know its been long when some of your clients are beginning to drop off like flies. Honestly though, with all the drugs and alcohol that roamed through Detroit in the eighties, who's to wonder. For some reason she remembers the strangest things about all of her customers, she has tiny vignettes of her moments with them. She remembers a tranny begging her over the counter to find bigger party gowns, her desperation clinging to her words. She particularly remembers her large yet delicate hands as she wrung them together. Maybe coming down off a long night, with all the drama about the dresses. It seemed a bit much to be so worried after dresses. The young Canadian girl with unmatched eyes standing and pining for the old lucite box purses that were just a bit beyond her budget. She came most weeks as if on a mecca. The wiry dealer with twisted fingers, arthritic, clearing away the cobwebs of pain with every breath, gingerly fingering old swimsuits, silk slips, thirties dresses out of her shopping bag. The treasures she unearthed over the last week from the closets of brittle ladies in Grosse Point, the grubby thrifts up Woodward, the garages sales in Dearborn. And of course there was the junkie that broke into the old buildings in the city, obsessively photographing everything he took out with a beat up old Polariod, like a detective. It was as if he couldn't truly let go of his artifacts. He needed a simulacra to hold onto. And now her house is decorated with a story in everything. A visual mapping of her life, the stories of lives before al wound into each and every object lining the rooms. She kept promising Gezel that she would let go of some of the haunted things. The things that creeped her out more than the others. The memento mori, the weird voodoo doll left behind by a jerk of an ex-boyfriend. Time to let go. Oddly, she kept dreaming of Hong Kong, Dubai. Clean steel.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Big Jo.

He was a lumbering gentle bear. He could be seen walking through the Eastern Market with his fabric shopping bag, rooting through mushrooms, heritage corn, local honey. His dungarees were cinched at his waist with a belt tied in a knot, as all of the buckle holes had been torn over time. The way he handled the produce was like a lover caressing his beloved. One by one his hand selections found their way into his bag. Silvery fish, damp bags of beef, tomatoes bursting at their skins. He never spoke to anyone and always finished his shopping with an egg breakfast at Louie's, his bear body spilling out on either side of the stool. It was to the point where the waitress simply knew what he wanted. Twenty years, every Sunday. His shopping bag on a neighboring stool, his eyes steadily reading a travel worn paperback book. The eggs were always the same, his coffee swirling in an old diner cup. He would linger here over breakfast amongst the clatter and conversation, and at the last possible moment, he would gather his things and begin his walk home along Gratiot.