Sunday, March 30, 2008
My Town, Monday, Tyree Guyton and the Heidelberg Project
Any discussion of Detroit will eventually lead to a discussion of the Heidelberg Project and Tyree Guyton. For an in depth look at it, simple google his name. For the purposes of My Town Monday, here's a tease. Twenty years ago, Guyton was looking for a way to express both himself and his frustration with the deterioration of his city. Guyton, with little money sought to make a statement about this via his own neighborhood.
He began to paint colorful pictures on the neighboring abandoned house. He began collecting discarded objects and creating fields of vacuum cleaners, car hoods, dolls and shoes --all painted in bright colors. Easy to do in Detroit, where streets had begun to look rural due to demolished or falling-down housing. He nailed objects ro the houses themselves, hung bikes, did whatever he could to transform Heibelberg Street into a living work of art.
Not everyone approved of this. Some of the neighbors thought his work was mocking their poverty. Or that is wasn't art at all. It became controversial, a subject that divided the city. Was it art or an eyesore? The courts entered the debate and although they ruled his work was constitutionally protected as a genuine artistic expression, he City of Detroit in 1998 served Guyton with an order to dismantle the project or they would demolish it. Odd for a city that couldn't demolish the abandoned house he had painted his work on.
In 1999, the City demolished the site.
It's not over yet, however. Parts of it reappear. Guyton's art turns up in museums and private collection. Its still a part of Detroit.
Is it art or an eyesore? Look at the streets around Heidelberg and make your choice.
For more My Town Monday, go visit Travis Erwin at:http://traviserwin.blogspot.com/
Thursday, March 27, 2008
When is it time to give in
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The Burnt Orange Heresy
Now right here, and I'm only on page 35, I am incredulous that Willeford can make me believe this rising art critic is willing to steal a painting for the sake of an inteview. In many books, I would stop reading right there, thinking the whole concept is bullshit and the writer isn't giving us a realistic character. Who would risk imprisonment for an interview at the start of a promising career. But I am reading on, betting Willeford will pull it off. He'll find a way to make this credible. He's playing with the reader. I think this because I have read four of his books I trust him and his ability by now.
Do you ever put a book down because the concept or setup doesn't seem plausible or do you usually assume the writer will make it work by the end? Do you ever write your way into such a quagmire?
Monday, March 24, 2008
But something's happened, and now it seems possible that no matter which candidate gets chosen they'll lose because we've let the genie out of the bottle: the genie being that a candidate can perceive their candidacy as more important than seeing the Democrats take the White House.
Voters are doing this too, saying, "I'll vote for McCain rather than Obama or rather than Hillary." Severe animosity has replaced excitement.
An underground campaign, emanating perhaps from Republicans perhaps from other quarters, is tagging Obama as a secret Muslim, someone who would favor African-Americans. I've heard this several times in the last week.
Also attacks coming from both sides are beginning to take their toll on both candidates. The eventual candidate is going to have a very short time to turn this around if this drags on until August. Find a way to end this process by June. Approach each candidate about negative advertising.
We must find away to stop this. Surely anything is better than electing someone who seems the war as a hundred-year deal.
What ideas do you have about saving the White House?
Sunday, March 23, 2008
My Town Monday: Borders Bookstore-the original
My Town Monday
Back in the seventies when we wanted a book in the
But if we had a little time on our hands, we could drive to
And then came the nineties and a buyout from Kmart, stock options and eventually there were 1100 Borders competing with even more Barnes and Nobles bookstores and Amazon and Powell online and a public that didn’t read very much. And those online stores sold used books at a quarter of the price.
I was skeptical that the public who read books really needed a megabookstore within five miles of their home. Donuts, yes, Coffee, yes, drugstores yes. But books? Right from the start, they looked too empty to sustain their size and inventory. But I crossed my fingers.
Now it appears Borders days are numbered. The store on our corner is likely to close because there is a Barnes & Noble within three miles. I am sad about this. Maybe a new independent bookstore will eventually open in
For more posts about My Town Monday acorss the globe, see the blog of creator, Travis Erwin http://traviserwin.blogspot.com/
Friday, March 21, 2008
The TBR Pile
These are the top three books on my TBR pile. Well, Lush Life wasn't up there but it's a library book and I only have two weeks to read it. I've started the Chabon book three times and something puts me off each time--even though I liked The Wonder Boys and The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The Willeford book has extremely small print which can also put me off. But I love his books and would probably force my eyes through it.
Maybe I'll just read blogs. Oh, yeah, that's one reason why people aren't reading books anymore so I'd better make a choice.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The first man, of course, was Barack Obama, who made one of the most lucid, carefully considered, meaningful speeches on race I've ever heard.
The second man, was a character on IN TREATMENT, the bereaved father of a suicide victim. In thirty minutes, the actor Glen Turman brought this man and his issues, grievances, and sadness to life.
This is where there narratives converged. Both the fictional character and the very real Obama made it clear that the generation of black men who grew up in the forties and fifties were very different from the generation that followed. These men had almost no hope that avenues for success would ever open to them. This hopelessness made them harder and more bitter than those who would follow, and rightly so. Thus ministers from that generation might read America differently than some of their parishioners.
Their sons--in the sixties and seventies had some reason to hope for more-as Obama pointed out, he's the prime example of it--a candidate for President. Racism is still a huge problem but we recognize its existence now and can work to change it.
You can find Obama's speech on MSNBC if you missed it.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
But maybe indoors pools wouldn't freak you out in a story at all. Maybe you grew up on them and it's fruit cellars or animals dressed like humans that scares you.
What motiff or setting do you want to use because it's scary or sinister to you?
Monday, March 17, 2008
My Town Monday-Part Deux
Sunday, March 16, 2008
My Town Monday
And yes, I know it's Sunday but Mondays are a bad day for me to spend time on my blog. There's that thing called work I go to sometimes.
As often as I find frustration with being in Detroit, I also find areas where I am lucky to live where I do. For instance, we have four venues for independent and art house movies within forty minutes from us. It's a rare film we don't have a chance to see and I know that's not true for everyone out there.
Most of the audience at these art houses are over fifty--well, really over sixty so the future of these films in Detroit concerns me but for the moment, I am very satisfied. When we arrived here in the seventies, it was considerably harder to find these films except at the Detroit Film Theater, part of the Detroit Institute of Arts.
We see at least one movie a week at a theater. Seeing them at home on DVD is far less satisfying to us. I need the smell of popcorn and sticky floors to be transported. I could do without the people talking behind us but...
How does your town measure up for foreign and independent movies?
Friday, March 14, 2008
Home Again, Jiggedy Jig
a place like this awfully hard.
Not that I'm not grateful for the brief respite.
More later, but you Florida people are pretty darned lucky.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
My Town Monday
The fifty degree improvement in temps is pretty enticing. Stay well.
Friday, March 07, 2008
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
If you haven't given it a try, do. It's not just about football or even mostly about football. It's about life in a small Texas town, good and bad parenting, the stigma of being poor or black, paraplegic culture, what it's like to be a teenager, what it's like to be a friend. The production values are superior, the acting sublime, the writing superlative. And if you haven't given it a good try, please do. You're truly missing something.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Margaret Selzer et al
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
First person is good for getting inside someone'e head but you're limited, I think, in describing anything more than what the "I" can see in front of him. It requires a very dynamic "I" like Ken Bruen's creation of Jack Taylor to pull it off.
And the third-person omniscient POV is just too remote for me. Those long shots can be fuzzy.
Much like in film I like the middle-range shots.
But every once in a while, I'll find a story isn't working from my preferred vantage, shift to first person and suddenly things fall into place. What about you? What do you like to read/write?
Sunday, March 02, 2008
My Town Monday
The Eastern Market is one of the few places in the racially divided city of
Every city of any size has one: Reading Terminal in Philly, the Farmer’s Market in LA , the Union Square Market in
Detroit's Eastern Market (1891) is the largest historic public market district in the
Right now the Eastern Market District has made plans to revitalize itself. The district would like to be more than a once a week destination for veggies shoppers. To see the plans, go to
Do you have a market like this in your town?