Ypsi/Arbor exit interview: Casey Dixon

    He would fill my mug with beer at the Corner Brewery, and we’d exchange pleasantries, but I didn’t really know much about Casey Dixon until I conducted this interview with him several weeks after he left Ypsilanti to travel the globe. It kind of makes me think that maybe I should start focusing more on my interviews with people who are new to town, rather than waiting until once they’ve made up their minds to leave. At any rate, I hope you find this interview with Casey interesting… If nothing else, I think you may find that it shines a little light on the origins of that mysterious portal that appeared temporarily on Water Street this last spring.

    MARK: What’s your name, and where were you born?

    CASEY: Casey Dixon. I was born in Jackson, Michigan.

    MARK: And you grew up in Jackson?

    CASEY: Born and raised, moved out when I was 20.

    MARK: Did you come to Ypsi to attend EMU? If so, did you graduate?

    CASEY: Yes, and yes. I graduated with a BFA in sculpture and painting.

    MARK: Why Ypsi? Why EMU? Were you familiar with the town/school having grown up in Jackson?

    CASEY: I wasn’t familiar with EMU when I decided to go there, it was the most economically sensiable decision I could make so I made it. Ypsi was just a welcome surprise.

    MARK: Did you know when you enrolled in EMU that you wanted to pursue painting and sculpture? If not, how did you come to make that decision?

    CASEY: I knew I would go into art. I had basically finished my painting degree when I discovered sculpture. Sculpture changed my life, the way I see the world and the way I live my life, so I kinda had to go for it. It took me by surprise.

    MARK: What did you do here in Ypsi, when you weren’t being a student? Did you work here? Did you have hobbies, friends, etc?

    CASEY: I worked, explored and taught. I worked at Rutherford Pool, taught at the Michigan Ave library, and worked at the Corner Brewery. And I had a lot of friends and hobbies… creating and storytelling among the top.

    MARK: Can you give me an example of something that you created while you were here?

    CASEY: I made plenty of “paintings” around town and one “public sculpture.” They were done incognito. I invested about 600-800 dollars of my money in the sculpture, and, as far as I know, it’s all been stolen. It was a door.

    MARK: What kinds of stories do you tell?

    CASEY: Stories that entertain and inspire. Some are fantastical, some are realistic, and some are ridiculous. They are all true. By breathing life into them and sharing them, I give them a life of there own. They will be as real as the person who receives them, perceives them to be.

    MARK: I did an exit interview a couple of weeks ago with a guy who just left for Portland who said that, of all the places he’s been, Ypsilanti has the most immoral and unfriendly people (as a percentage of total population). Would you agree with that assessment?

    CASEY: No, it can be a little rough, but you get out of it what you put into it. If you’re good to other people, other people will be good to you. Everyplace has both good and bad people, but as living beings we tend to attract the type of people who we need in order to feel excepted in a place.

    MARK: Am I sensing some new age mysticism here?

    CASEY: I don’t think so, but maybe. It’s nothing I’ve read, or decided to believe in. It’s more of an instinct that all people have, just most people either ignore it, or have forgotten how to use it. I just try and pay attention to things around me and see how the world around me works.

    MARK: How would you describe Ypsi to a friend who was thinking about moving here?

    CASEY: It’s magical place, but it’s hidden, deep magic. It can only be found by those who look and can truly see… It was changing when I left, so it will be a different animal when i return I’m sure… as all things are.

    MARK: Can you share any of the deep, hidden magic you found here?

    CASEY: You’ll think I’m crazy, but that’s OK. There is an evil tree, a lost spirit frozen by the river, an old wolf temple, and lots of other things if you look at the history of the area. No specifics, go find them for yourself, they’re there.

    MARK: Where are you now, and why?

    CASEY: I’m wandering. I’m in Seattle for a little bit… It has something to teach me, so I’m here to learn. From there, I’ll go where ever the wind will take me, no definate plans.

    MARK: What did Ypsi teach you?

    CASEY: How to live. And appreciate life. Being gone now, its taught me to appreciate what you have (or had) because nothing lasts forever.

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      17 Comments

      1. Posted October 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        Awwww, miss him at the Corner! Godspeed!

      2. Posted October 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Who’s Casey Dixon? I’ve never heard of him.

      3. Edward
        Posted October 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

        Given what he says in this interview, I’m sure he’ll find what he’s looking for on the west coast, where people are more likely to appreciate evil trees and wolf temples. Of all the people who have left so far, I think he’s got the best chance of success. I can see him writing books, starting a religion in the desert, or founding a vitamin company. Of course, he could also wonder off into the jungle somewhere and never be heard from again. I envy his youth and vision.

      4. Kari Peron
        Posted October 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        Casey Dixon! He’s a special personality. We miss him so much at the brewery. Anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting him, is missing out. Safe travels my friend!

      5. Andrew Jason Clock
        Posted October 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        It made me a little sad and angry that his Water Street Sculpture disappeared little by little. When I saw the main body of it was gone, I hoped that it had merely been reclaimed by its owner, but I figured that wasn’t really the case. Illegal scrapping is, much to the detriment of our city, a cottage industry here. My neighbors here on Hamilton have trashed their entire rental property. The city enforces clean up for a while, then its right back to being a junk yard. On Water Street, the beginning of the old rail spur leading to Spring Street is headquarters for illegal scrapping. There are piles and piles of rubber from stripping stolen power lines. Its really sad, and totally overwhelming. As far as I can tell, there has been no action to try to catch who is responsible, likely because no one can see it. Its quite a little environmental disaster.

      6. Eel
        Posted October 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        I don’t care if there’s only 1% chance that he’s right. If he thinks there’s an evil tree, I say we form a posse and cut the damned thing down. I don’t want to live in a city with an evil tree.

      7. Posted October 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        I always wondered who that dude was. Damn.
        Maybe you should conduct interviews of folks already in town too.
        -An Outsider

      8. K2
        Posted October 17, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Mr. Dixon, if you’re reading this, I would love to know your thoughts on the door and its meaning. I enjoyed it very much while it was here. Thank you.

      9. Posted October 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        KCD’s a damn visionary. If only everyone could have seen the Sistine Chapel treatment he gave the basement in the house on the corner of Mich and Ellsworth.

      10. Art
        Posted October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        I hope whoever stole the door awakes to find it open one night, and an army of bloodthirsty time bandits surrounding his bed.

      11. Chaely
        Posted October 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        I miss KCD but I still feel him all around me. KC is like the spirit of Ypsi.

      12. Calley
        Posted October 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        I’m so glad that Casey was chosen for an exit interview. He deserves it because not only is he one of the most interesting people to talk with, but he really embraced Ypsi while he was here. He made it home and supported it… He gave life to the city of Ypsilanti. I can honestly say that it feels different knowing he’s not here to run into at the coffee shop or meet up with for a beer. I regret not spending more time with him but I know he is off to bigger and better!!!! I have deep love for you KCD.

      13. Atom
        Posted October 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

        my heart goes to out to you and your travels i hope to see you soon and embark on this journey together, you really are a visionary and even in reading the other comments it makes me glad to have known and spent time with the great casey dixon.

      14. Loren
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        We miss you KCD. I’m ok with admitting my selfishness in wanting you to return, but understand your need for wanderlust. I hope you come home soon with lots of amazing stories.

      15. Dan
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

        Casey – The kids loved having you as a swimming instructor. We’ll miss you at waterpolo!

      16. dragon
        Posted October 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

        The apocalypse is near
        please shed a tear
        for all those we hold dear
        especially those who served Mark a beer.

      17. Keryn
        Posted October 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Does anyone know where the evil tree is?
        Casey, can you give us a hint?

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