May 11, 2014
as i’m now officially living in the burbs de detroit,
(think 50s ranch, not 90s ticky tacky subdivision)
i’ve made it a hobby to explore the city a little bit everyday,
seeking out the pockets of fabulosity amongst the more visible deterioration.
[as a side note,
i no longer have any fucks to give
when it comes people’s obsession with discussing detroit’s decay.
it’s almost always people who don’t live anywhere near the city,
and i’m really sick of hearing from you.
formed on your 24 hour layover
or decade-expired michigan citizenship
has become overly tiresome.
speak to me only of detroit’s slow revival,
of the cool new restaurant or shop you found.
tell me where to go, not where to avoid.]
part of my interest lies not only in my physical proximity to the city, but an emotional one. i am the first of five generations in my family
to not live in the city since immigrating to the united states.
several branches of my family came here from europe
settling generally on the east side and in corktown.
my ancestral ‘estate’ still stands not far from belle isle,
though it’s apparently owned by some shell corporation
of a sleazy slumlord and,
since its abandonment
roughly two years ago,
has been thoroughly looted/gutted.
a neighbor has seemingly illegally appropriated the lot adjacent,
originally my great great grandmother’s garden,
to use for off-street parking.
but i digress.
i’ve been lusting after a shinola watch ever since they relaunched the brand. i cannot afford a watch currently (or for the foreseeable future) but they’ve expanded to other merchandise (the bikes! i want a bike!)
so i wanted to see what i could see.
i’ve been interested in two james because i like the idea of supporting a michigan/detroit company via drinking. every fucking one is into michigan beers, but i generally hate beer and find most of the michigan beers to be extra assay (as in butt flavored). ironically, i hang out right down the street from two james at astro all the time,
but never knew they were there.
boys. gotta work on your signage.
anyway here’s my report:
though i initially set out for shinola, my trip got off to a false start, as i was distracted by two wee stores kitty corner from shinola: city bird and nest
from which i bought these cards
and this air plant,
when i finally crossed the street,
i found there was little in the shinola showroom i didn’t want
but i settled on this wallet.
my old louis vuitton has served me well for 10 years,
and has begun to show signs of wear. it’s time for a pinch hitter.
shinola’s leather goods are made by horween in ste. genevieve, mo.
let’s see how american manufacturing holds up against french, shall we?
(i’ll get back to you in 2024)
i ended up in the two james tasting room. it was a little muggy in there,
and the number of douche-baggy mid-level business people
made it so i could really only tolerate one cocktail.
however, that cocktail convinced me
to take home these six bottles.
(r to l: old cockney gin, 28 island vodka, grass widow bourbon x2, corktown rye dog, & detroit fig leaf old timey drinking vinegar made exclusively for two james by mcclary bros.)
if you do nothing else,
find a way to try the grass widow bourbon;
it’s for real.
we shall see.
p.s. the tulips were my gift with purchase from shinola.
nice touch, shinola.
March 6, 2014
February 21, 2014
just popping in to plug my shit again.
i’ll keep it brief:
Friday, February 21—Live Readings by the Broad MSU Writing Residents
6–7 PM | Free and open to the public
The Broad MSU, in partnership with the MSU Department of English and the MSU Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, is pleased to announce the Broad MSU Writing Residency! This residency features six graduate students who will create monthly public readings that respond to an art work on view at the Broad MSU, while utilizing core themes from the upcoming exhibition, Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art. The live readings will begin at 6 PM, and will take place in the galleries alongside a corresponding work of art. (Meet at the Information Desk at 6 PM before moving into galleries.)
i’m one of the residents.
if you like,
and you could see me make a fool of myself.
i’ve been in a nostalgic,
sentimental, sappy kind of mood,
here’s a poem i came across, a sonnet
that has been nagging me for few days now.
poetry is good for you. so read it.
by marilyn hacker
You did say, need me less and I’ll want you more.
I’m still shellshocked at needing anyone,
used to being used to it on my own.
It won’t be me out on the tiles till four-
thirty, while you’re in bed, willing the door
open with your need. You wanted her then,
more. Because you need to, I woke alone
in what’s not yet our room, strewn, though, with your
guitar, shoes, notebook, socks, trousers enjambed
with mine. Half the world was sleeping it off
in every other bed under my roof.
I wish I had a roof over my bed
to pull down on my head when I feel damned
by wanting you so much it looks like need.
February 18, 2014
By Audre Lorde
I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof
as the maker of legends
nor as a trap
door to that world
where black and white clericals
hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators
twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh
there is someone to speak for them
moving away from me into tomorrows
morning of wish and ripen
your goodbye is a promise of lightning
in the last angels hand
unwelcome and warning
the sands have run out against us
we were rewarded by journeys
away from each other
into mornings alone
where excuse and endurance mingle
Do not remember me
nor as the keeper of secrets
I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars
you move slowly out of my bed
saying we cannot waste time
February 14, 2014
heard this song earlier in the week.
it’s been on a loop in my head ever since
and feels totes aprops for my valentine’s day.
hope you had a good one, bitches!
January 31, 2014
so i’ve been waffling about whether or not i should mention this
not only on the blog, but even to people i know.
but i decided, why not.
i am a ‘writer in residence’ at the broad museum here at msu,
and tonight is my colleagues and my first public reading/performance.
The Broad MSU, in partnership with the MSU Department of English and the MSU Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures, is pleased to announce the Broad MSU Writing Residency! This residency features six graduate students who will create monthly public readings that respond to an art work on view at the Broad MSU, while utilizing core themes from the upcoming exhibition, Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art. The live readings will begin at 6 PM, and will take place in the galleries alongside a corresponding work of art.
to say that i’m nervous i laughably inadequate.
i imagine this is the feeling a fox must feel
when chased by a pack of dogs.
so if you’re a knitter in the area,
i would love to see your face
while we talk about art.
it might help me keep things in perspective
or at least keep me from vomiting.
*tip of the nib to adrienne martini for the title of this post,
which i’ve shamelessly appropriated.
January 29, 2014
January 22, 2014
December 31, 2013
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 37,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
November 13, 2013
if you’re a crafter
with any internet presence,
you’ll remember an ‘incident’ in 2012
when one of my favorite bloggers, completely cauchy,
got some heat for a guest post she wrote on whipup (now, sadly, defunct)
that included an image of a quilt
with a provocative word on it.
some people went a little crazy after seeing it,
but i applauded it (and reblogged it)
because for me,
it was a work of art
and a genius work at that.
i emailed cauchy
with an idea
after a lot of emails
and more than a year of work and thought,
the quilt is now complete.
(to be clear, i only gave the word; she did everything else)
because some may consider it nsfw,
you’ll have to scroll down to have a look.
if you have a delicate constitution
or an aversion to potential controversy
now is the time to exit.
after the image is a mini interview with cauchy about the project.
after reading it, head on over to her blog where she interviews me.
on the quilt is a word that’s especially powerful to me,
and my take on it and the issues surrounding it
are likely different from a lot of yours.
so there is but one disclaimer:
you are entitled to your opinion on the piece, but this blog is my house.
if you start acting a fool in the comments
they will be deleted.
it seems like your crafting, whether it’s a deeply thought-out expression of a philosophical idea (as with the fuck quilt or the n-word quilt) or making a knitted stuffed bunny, everything is ultimately an expression of you. your life, your tastes, your thoughts, what makes you happy. what was it like to have the seed of an idea given to you from someone else? and how did you put yourself into this work (if at all)?
I’ve tried things like testing patterns (in knitting and quilting) and even a fully-dictated commission or two and found that there’s something far too confining to me in those situations. It always feels like dungeon crafting at the behest of a whip-cracker. However, you just provided the kernel of an idea by just putting one word before me. To begin, I had to check you out, observing your blog and other social media interactions to learn more about the requester. Once you seemed fairly reputable, I felt like I had to give it a try by living with the idea long enough for it to begin to feel like my own. Honestly, I don’t think it’s reached that status completely, but we’ll discuss that more later.
How did I put myself into the work? Well, the use of such a word expressed in quilt form is the beginning, of course. Not too many folks are doing that at all. But, definitely the picnic theme came from within; it’s a darkly comedic approach rather than resorting to the more obvious forms that might come to mind. That is, I played with dusty pinks and purples in a flouncy font, for example. But that seemed one-dimensional and too easy–too easy for me and too easy for a viewer. The final form is the result of a year of rumination and conveys more of my own internalization of the seed of the idea–it came to me at breakfast one Saturday, I sketched and started impulsively sewing within a few minutes.
i requested that you make this quilt after the inclusion of your n-word quilt on your whip-up post almost two years ago. i had a very visceral response to that whole internet encounter, but even more so to the quilt itself. obviously, faggot doesn’t have the same personal effect for you as the n-word but what does it make you feel? what is your reaction to it?
As a Southerner, I hear these words in my mind in the most countrified accent. Those double g’s in both words are lingered over. In the n-word, the “errrrrrr” drawls on and hangs in the air, while the ending of our f-word, the “ot!,” comes out as a hard and violent pop like a firecracker. Both words bring an element of fear since my first experiences of them were in threatening situations. And I tend to assume that one who uses our f-word would also use the n-word, actually, and vice versa. And these words tend not to be followed up with coffee and cupcakes.
The first time I heard our f-word it was hurled at a neighbor kid who was always bullied in middle school. I had no idea what the word meant nor why it was used. But the force behind the yelling and the teasing that surrounded the incident only incited fear in me. Ever the nerd, I looked it up in the dictionary right when I got home from school. It was puzzling… why is he a bundle of sticks? It took quite a while to get a full explanation out of my parents.
in our exchanges during this process you mentioned some reticence to making this quilt because (correct me if i’m wrong) the word faggot wasn’t “yours” to quilt. can you talk a little bit about that? and what ultimately made you agree to make this quilt?
Yes, indeed. I started this body of work as an exploration of my identity as viewed by others. The concept is simple. With the quilts or comforters one chooses to buy from department stores, one expresses some portion of one’s self-image. Albeit there is a limited selection (one is confined to the choices made available by current industrial-scale designers), one chooses a style and builds a decor accordingly. What do those choices project about one? And, in turn, how can one project oneself into a quilt?
The words that first came to mind for me were: oreo, bitch, princess, and the n-word. While the n-word quilt ultimately was an angry cathartic project, the others were light-hearted and playful explorations. And eventually I’d go on to give c*nt a try and that is probably the best of the series so far. These are words that are personal and for which I have clear personal experiences that give me license to use and illustrate them. Initially and throughout my one-year deliberations on our f-word, it just seemed to me that I wasn’t allowed to use the f-word. I’d even been accused of racism on that Whip-Up post, by commenters who just assumed I wasn’t black and therefore was not allowed to go anywhere near usage of the n-word. So I had to pause to think. One must quilt responsibly, right?
I gotta say that 2012 was the perfect year to be in this perpetual tailspin: the nation was finally moving forward on marriage equality. Amid daily immersion in this civil rights movement, I was making sure to steep myself in history and, at the same time, just happened to revisit Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, first by finally viewing the beautiful mini-series with Jeremy Irons and, second, by nipping into the novel again to recall contexts. Volumes have been written analyzing the characters, their relationships, and the religious themes of the novel so I’ll refrain here. For me this reading in 2012 brought on visceral feelings of social contrasts of all sorts and I reveled in the joy of the early moments of Charles and Sebastian’s relationship. All of this led to finally acknowledging the anger and frustration I feel about the entrenched resistance to this equality movement.
It slowly dawned on me that our f-word is part of my world and my AmericanExperience. My reticence was right because I want to avoid offending (to a certain extent) but I have a right to use this f-word responsibly for the same reasons that I defend others’ rights to use it. [First Amendment for all, my friend.]
Now, even though I claimed ownership of the vocabulary, I remain wary in ways I cannot articulate.
i know you put a lot of time and thought into this project; it’s been almost two years in the planning/making. can you talk a little bit about the process? both technical as well as what the making made you think or feel?
My “process” for quilt design differs with each project. While most are improvisational and/or impulsive, this one started out as a long deliberation that built up to an impulsive move. I started sketching whenever ideas came to me, a practice I rarely indulge in. On my cutting table, there’s a pile of old receipts, boarding passes and envelopes that explore this one concept. Each idea has some potential, but never compelled me to start stitching; see purple-pink example above.
But then one day I woke up ready, I did a mock up on my computer over coffee, and it just felt right. The only certainty I could articulate was that the instinctual simplicity of the design was what was missing in previous versions. Technically, this is traditional Quaker sampler design executed with simple and efficient sewing.
While sewing, I thought quite a bit about the bullied neighbor kid and another dear friend of the family with whom I’ve lost contact. There was so much about them that I now realize I was too young and too oblivious to understand at the time–ten year-olds shouldn’t have to know everything, of course. All I knew was they were nice folks who, in my presence, incurred wrath expressed through this word.
do you have any idea what your next “word” quilt might be?
Well, since I tend to embark on these projects impulsively, I cannot be sure. There are ideas always on my mind, but none have risen up to need to been made yet. That’s not such a satisfying answer? Let’s just say that one of these designs involves the word “fingerpainting” in an unexpected way.
thank you, cauchy, so much.
this collaboration has meant more to me than you can know.
i’ll cherish the quilt forever.
and don’t forget to read the companion post on completely cauchy!