One week each year, in August, before the college students return, and while all of the cops are up north at their summer cottages, it’s safe for the punks to return to Ann Arbor. It’s called Punk Week, and it culminates with a big clandestine shopping cart race through downtown. Not wanting to bum any young people out on their special night, I decided to keep my ancient self home this year. (I applied salve to my aching joints, and curled up under a shawl to watch episodes of Matlock.) I did, however, ask a few MM.com correspondents to document the race. What follows is a story by Ian Fulcher. Photos, with the exception of the top one, which was taking by Jessica French, are by Jen Scroggins.
Every year for over half a decade, my friend Patrick decorates and pilots a shopping cart in Ann Arbor Punk Week’s annual Shopping Cart Race. His intention: to lose. It’s long been the tradition of the races that the winner gets a cake fed to them by the loser. Patrick Elkins and his team of fashion outlaws have repeatedly (an collectively) been that loser. It’s not easily done… Let’s expose his process.
First things first. Wheels. This year’s cart was harvested from behind a K-Mart in a town that rhymes with Hipsilanti. Bending space and time, Elkins fit a large cart in my Ford Escort. The man is a wizard.
Next, you need vision. I can’t help you get vision, but I can help you get concentrated Salvia which might help, and is perfectly legal until the cops read this article. Elkins and Kat Scott put their heads together and came up with a shark. Here it is in embryo, courtesy of team visual documentarian Jen Scroggins:
Cardboard was rescued from the recycling pile at Williams and State. Someone gripped some spray paint. Flashlights borrowed for eyes. This is the dominion of the last-minute student and noise musician: What have we got? What can we do with it? Here’s some shamelessly placed image of yours truly:
This trash motif is vital for the last-place placement. There will be folks building for speed and or glamor, but the whole point is to make a cart that scrapes up to the finish line leaving a taste in onlookers’ mouths somewhere between PBR and suspect milk. Again, if you look like this…
…congrats, you’re a winner. Go read some other blog. However if this is you…
…your name is Patrick Elkins. Way to lose!