08/09/11

ODD COUPLE

There is something so tragic about finding compromising images of strangers. I have to take them home with me, even though I don’t really want them around – I have enough photographs of people I know – but how could I just leave them there? That hopefull young girl in her yellow bikini languishing in a moldy cardboard box nestled between all the Nazi wedding portraits. The little boy left on top of a stack of encyclopedias (I resisted the urge to take them, too) next to a door where the dogs pee. And what monster throws their kid’s school picture out anyway?

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.

03/03/11

AND ANOTHER THING

Don’t cry, take a picture.

31/05/10

PRIDE AND SHAME

A friend mentioned that no images of me show up when I am googled. This left me feeling equal parts of pride and shame. Is there no record of the me who enjoyed various lines of overextended credit? The me who told overzealous art lovers not to touch the Francis Bacon? The me who drove the 1981 Honda Prelude? The me who did step aerobics? In the interest of filling this essential void, I offer a selection of my outdated ID cards.

09/10/09

BUGS IN A BOX

Last week I went to my friendly local taxidermy shop to see if they had any more old bug boxes. Since she was six weeks old, I’ve been taking a portrait of my daughter every six months. At first all I had to do was shake a rattle and make reassuring noises. Then we moved on to outright bribery, lollipops being the payola of choice. Now, I’ve become a sort of meditational guide (there are still lollipops involved), talking her out of the giggles, exhorting her to concentrate, encouraging her to relax. The first box is almost full, hence the trip to one of my favorite places in Berlin.

The Berliner Präparationswerkstatt is a tiny store front crammed full with the prepared remains of a variety of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. They had a shark head sitting around once. Always lots of antlers. Sometimes they’re works in-progress, as in the half-sewn-up pig I see when I walk in. The smell of formaldehyde brings up bad memories of being pelted with frog eggs in an out of control 7th grade biology class.

They do have two nice boxes for me, dusty and full of broken bits of legs and wings. After a woman in a black leather jacket comes in (I’m here for the fox, she says), I get to talking with the owner. I ask him if he ever finds the whole thing with the animals disturbing. No, it’s science, it’s fascinating, he tells me. The only thing that really gives him the creeps is when people bring in their Fluffy or Buddy to have it stuffed and mounted for display in the living room. One of the nicknames I call my daughter is Bug.

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