15/04/11

GOING TO THE BEACH

I learned to swim at a beach on an island in the Detroit River. Across from the Uniroyal Tire plant on Jefferson. In 1980, the year of the dubble-whammy – my parents’ divorce and Ronald Reagan’s election – Uniroyal closed the factory. On our way to the beach we would see the mural of stylized rolling tires that to me were donuts with wings. As I grew up the paint peeled off. The property became a de facto toxic waste dump. But, my mother says, Don’t worry! It was downriver from the beach, they tested the water, I’m sure it was fine. In 1985, the City of Detroit tore down the building complex that had been built in 1906. The people from the suburbs were happy they could finally see the river on their commute downtown. I missed seeing the donuts as I drove past the huge empty lot every day on my way to Cass Tech High School, which later was also abandoned and left to decay. Then some french guys came and made beautiful photographs of what remained.

08/01/10

COLLECTIONS OF NOTHING

Give me your broken, your useless, your rusty refuse yearning to be saved… I lost a new cashmere sweater before Christmas, which was kind of annoying, but if the wire thingy with the two red plastic discs were to disappear it would be a real tragedy. Where did it come from and when did it mutate from junk to talisman? William Davies King answers my questions in his book Collections of Nothing, which intersperses a poignant chronicle of lonely childhood to midlife crisis with lists such as Here are all the varieties of tuna fish for which I have labels. Wise man. And I thought I was the only one collecting the patterns on the insides of envelopes.stuff