I’m back from a couple weeks off, and below is a list of things I learned on our trip to the Midwest. I will be back in the studio tomorrow, so the paintings will come soon.
1. Road trips are the jam. Steak ‘N Shake will always do you right, and the rotary clubs give out free coffee on holiday weekends. On our way to Milwaukee, we stopped in Gary, IN because we realized it was the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. We went to his house where there was a media platform and a statue-unveiling and neighbors selling barbeque. But better than the Jackson show was Gary itself. It is amazing to see a city like that in the U.S. that was left to die. It’s the familiar tale of a one-industry town that was crippled when the steel mills closed. It’s shameful to think that it’s a half hour away from Chicago, yet it looks like a war zone.
2. Detroit. Holy macaroni, Detroit. I thought Gary was intense until we rolled into Detroit. It’s a sincerely amazing American spectacle. You can tell that there was at one time so much money in that town that they didn’t know what to do with it. Most of the buildings are so completely overbuilt, and now that they’re abandoned, they resemble hulking, overbearing tombs. The people are visibly disenchanted, but it’s got a swagger to it, Detroit does. There was a burned-out house that someone painted one side pink, and then wrote, “BRAD AND ANGIE AREN’T COMING. WE HAVE TO DO IT OURSELVES.” Damn.
3. I think that my wire paintings are going to focus on the images I gathered in Gary and Detroit. Somehow the telephone wires served not as beacons of industry and connectivity, but rather the last indication of life and hope. Like a heartbeat monitor still picking up a pulse. These cities are not dead, but they are severely injured.
4. When I go to Milwaukee, I never see as many people as I think I should visit. I am first crippled with guilt, but then I think how refreshing it is to not be in my 20’s anymore. In your 20’s, you are expected to maintain dozens of friendships. But I don’t like to hang out in bars so much anymore, bullshitting about whatever to people I could take or leave. I am 35 and have very few, but much cherished, friends. I like that.
5. The best part of our little adventure is that Misia is now totally on board with road trips. She wants to drive through Appalachia and on to New Orleans. She wants to go to Montreal and Quebec City. She didn’t wince at the thought of driving out west. This is ON TOP of the fact that she bought me a ticket to a Tigers game. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is go to a baseball game by myself. So she got me a ticket four rows behind homeplate and told me to go have a good time. Unreal. So to sum up, the best things about the summer are: driving, the cities of the Rust Belt, rotary clubs, and Misia.