Trample No One to Death day

I know it’s not an option for everyone, given how little expendable income folks have these days, but, if you can’t join the campaign to buy nothing this Black Friday, maybe you could at least try your best not to trample anyone to death.

Posted in Observations, Other | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving morning I’m tempted to get political and say that I’m thankful above all else for things like the fact that a majority of Americans still think of Sarah Palin as being unfit to serve as President, and that former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay was found guilty yesterday of money laundering. But, I’m trying to think less about politics today, and the swirling gyre of retardation that is the Tea Party, and focus instead on friends and family. I probably don’t say it here as often as I should, but I’m incredibly thankful for both. Without my family, I wouldn’t be here. And, without my friends, I wouldn’t be the person that am today… Sure, I might be a better, more successful and more productive version of myself without them, but I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. So, before I get started with this post, I’d just like to note that I’m incredibly thankful for everyone that I’m related to, from my grandmother in Kentucky, to my daughter, who is now in the other room, looking at our enormous turkey through the little glass porthole in the oven. There have been some bad times, and we’ve lost some people over the years, but, all in all, I’d say that we’ve been really fortunate as a family. As far as I know, all of us that are alive at the moment, are healthy, happy, employed and have roofs over our heads, which is quite an accomplishment in today’s world. As for friends, the same, for the most part, goes for them. A few are temporarily without partners or between jobs, but, as far as I know, the people in my friendship network (“tribe” sounded too new age) are doing pretty well, and I’m thankful for that. But, what I want to write about today are a few of the less obvious things that I’m thankful for – things that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you before.

I’m thankful that my friends Dan and Matt, when they’d graduated from college, moved to Ann Arbor to live with me. If they hadn’t, I might never have had the misdirected encouragement I needed to start a band. And, if the three of us hadn’t formed a band, I probably wouldn’t have ever ventured into Ypsilanti, where I met my wife, Linette. There are others that played a role as well, like Ward Tomich, who booked us to play at Cross Street Station that fateful night. Without al of these folks, I’d likely be living in the forest today, sucking nutrients from moss-covered rocks.

I’m thankful for the car crash that my dad had in the late 60’s, which almost tore his arm from his body. If it hadn’t happened, my dad surely would shipped off to fight in Vietnam, with the other men that he’d been training with. Of the dozen or so men in his group, only two returned alive. I cannot imagine growing up without a father.

I’m thankful that my mother encouraged my father to apply for job at AT&T after he was released from the Navy. (He worked at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital after recovering from his accident.) He’d been working highway construction jobs when she talked him into applying for a position at a remote audio relay station of some kind near Monticello, Kentucky. He got that job, flipping switches and listening in on people’s private phone calls, and the rest is history. He steadily climbed up through the ranks, ending his career at the company headquarters in New Jersey – probably one of the few people without a college degree to do so. If this hadn’t happened, I would likely still be in the same small town in Kentucky today, instead of in the worldly sophisticated metropolis of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

While my parents never graduated from college, they did both attend classes as they could, which wasn’t easy with full-time jobs and two kids to raise. I remember pretty clearly my mom studying Spanish late at night at the kitchen table. And I remember them proof-reading class assignments for one another. It made an impression on me, and I’m forever thankful for it. It’ll probably make my mom cry to hear it, but I’m also thankful that they stopped taking me to church at a young age.

I’m thankful that my parents valued education enough to settle our family in a decent school district, instead of closer to where my father was going to be working. My dad, most days, left for work at 5:00 AM to catch the bus, and didn’t return until 7:00 PM or so at night. He did that for over a dozen years straight, and, because of that, I got to attend a great public school, where I met people like Dan and Matt – the guys I mentioned above who moved to Ann Arbor to make noise, drink $1 pitchers of beer, and publish zines with me.

Speaking of sacrifice, I’m also thankful that my distant relatives made the decision to come to America when they did. They did so without knowing if they’d ever see their homelands again. They left everything they knew in England, Sweden, Scotland, and Poland, in order to make a better life for their families. And, it’s because of their sacrifices that I’m here today, not having to work in the fields from sun up to sun down as they did.

Oh, and I’m thankful that, of all the mental illnesses in the world, I got OCD, which kind of has its up-side.

OK, there’a whole lot more I’d like to say, but that’ll have to be it for now, as the buzzer on the oven is ringing.

Happy holidays.

Posted in History, Mark's Life, Other | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Amtrak owes me

I was having dinner with a friend tonight, when a great new ad campaign for Amtrak occurred to me.


Posted in Mark's Life, Marketing, Observations, Other, Rail | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Krampus posters will be going into production soon


Thanks to the hard work and vision of Melissa Dettloff, Ryan Groendyk, and Chris Sandon, the posters for the December 11 Krampus event are now completed. With any luck, they’ll go into production at VG Kids in the next few days, and we’ll be getting them up around Ypsi/Arbor soon… Aren’t they beautiful?

[If you want to see a larger version, click here.]

mmkrampus2And, before some smart ass points it out, yes, there does seem to be a bit of a resemblance between yours truly and the attractive young woman in the red dress (pictured to the right). I’ve chosen not to be angry about it, as they’ve given me a full head of hair, an ample bosom, and a figure not unlike that of Ginger Grant. It, I figure, could have been a whole hell of a lot worse. They could have easily made me the creature fucking the ice cream cone… At any rate, I’m having fun looking it over tonight and picking out people I know, like local writer Thomas Kula, who, if I’m not mistaken, is sitting at the bar on the far right. Or, Melissa’s dog, Miguel, who is wearing the severed head of a unicorn like a ski mask. It’s really an astonishing piece of work. It’s like a Beatles album cover or something.

And, I know these posters are going to be great, but please don’t steal them when you see them hanging up in store windows around town. If you really like them, we’ll make sure to have some available for a modest fee either before or after the event.

[Background on the Krampus event can be found here.]

Posted in Ann Arbor, Art and Culture, Mark's Life, Shadow Art Fair, Special Projects, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

What to wear to the Krampus Ball

Tonight, during my breaks in reading up on how to properly brine a turkey, I’m looking around the internet for inspiration to guide me as I set out to make my costume for the big Krampus event on December 11. All I know at this point is that I want something that won’t disintegrate when subjected to gallons upon gallons of sweat, or, as I like to call it, “Maynard gravy.” It also has to be warm enough to keep me alive on the walk across town, from the Corner Brewery to the Savoy, with the Detroit Party Marching Band. I’d like my costume to have a horn or two, but that’s an option, I think, that I could live without. (I don’t want to spend my whole night obsessing about the possibility of goring someone on the dance floor.) I do, however, think that fur of some kind is absolutely essential, as is a hole near my mouth for the delivery of fermented beverages. In terms of the general vibe I’m aiming for, I think it’s pretty squarely between what you might find at a traditional Krampus event in Eastern Europe, which looks absolutely terrifying, by the way, and Ziggy Stardust era Bowie. Basically, I want to look as though I’d fit in at a sci-fi monster dance party in outer space. The best thing I’ve found thus far, inspiration-wise, is the work of performance artist Nick “not that Nick Cave” Cave, which is absolutely brilliant. (Thanks to Linette for making me aware of Cave’s work.) If you’ve not seen his work before, here’s a short video:

I know I’ll probably just end up going in some kind of kids’ Halloween mask, but I’d like to think that I could pull something cool together.

Oh, and I don’t know what the DJ will end up playing, but here are the songs that I’m suggesting just to get him thinking about things. If you’ve got thoughts on others that might fit with the event, leave a comment.

Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Alice Cooper – Teenage Frankenstein
Anything by the Mummies
The Stooges – Search and Destroy
David Bowie – Moonage Daydream
Meat Loaf – Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Posted in Art and Culture, Shadow Art Fair, Special Projects, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments


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