Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Kitschy Madness Of It All

I have driven through Gary, Indiana in many different states for many different reasons, some of them ecstatic, others more like life's dreary hour business, but I never cease to forget that it's the hometown of Michael Jackson, the genesis of the Jackson Five, that strange fever dream of America. It's quite possibly one of the ugliest places I have seen, which I admit endears it to me -- I'm one of those Charlie Brown Christmas tree types. I'd pick dying industrial beauty over nature any old day; this applies with everything. Dear God, my sister will exclaim when I pick something out that I think it wonderful, Salvation Army city! I knew you'd like it. Sometimes I'll see someone wearing a t-shirt that says something really douchebaggy like I Don't Have a Drinking Problem; I Have A Working Problem and my heart will lift, and I will know I am among my people. But what happens when you get too far away from all that?

Well, I just read an interview with a thirteen year old Michael Jackson from a compilation of articles from an edgy seventies magazine called Crawdaddy. Michael seemed quiet and tentative in his answers; his father Joseph within earshot, calling out things for the interviewer to put in the story. The Jacksons had just left Gary for California, that great big mess of craziness. I never saw the appeal of that state until I met a girl who lived their with her punk musician boyfriend in L.A. and said, We're into the kitschy madness of it all. Then I got it. You can find a way to live damn near anywhere if you're looking at the right angle. Michael agreed that California was nice, that his house was nice, and that he enjoyed painting and that he liked to watch things, not have a say in them. He must have felt awfully far away from where he began -- such loneliness in his answers! The interviewer framed the piece by asking if success had spoiled Michael and concluded that it had not. There is no hint of the debacle his life is to become, the friends he would lose, suffering all around. But if you go to Gary, Indiana, you can see where it all started. There's a religion that believes when something bad happens to you, you return to the place and reclaim your soul. But many of us are too far away to make that journey and our soul doesn't heal, not really, and you do the best with what you have left, and maybe sometimes you don't want what you've lost especially if it's trapped somewhere so cold and bleak.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your future plans." Woody Allen

Cocktail Hour
Liquid Smoke

1 glass of champagne
1 shot of peach schnapps
1 shot of pear vodka

Serve chilled.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!


the walking man said...

Yep Gary Indiana is not Cornfield city that is for sure but anyone from Detroit you included would understand it.



Brian in Mpls said...

I am offically a fan

Ropinator said...


I am not a Michael Jackson fan but your quote from Woody Allen is really good.

On the picture you are like you were doing the same task what we had done on P.E class (gymnastic)

Pikey said...

Here's a
link from one of our trips to gary.

paul said...


steve said...

When I was commuting on the South Shore to Chicago I'd go through Gary twice a day. I went through there on the bus last spring and saw downtown Gary much closer--the tattered banners proclaiming the city's 2006 centennial, the statue of Elbert Gary ("of judiciary fame"), and the former Sheraton Hotel--Gary's equivalent of Detroit's Renaissnce Center, but less successful. Now Gary can't even get a supermarket. Republican Governor Mitch Daniels tried to close the Gary driver's license bureau (Not many Republican voters there). The city and its people deserve better.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I know I'm at my home away from home when I'm surrounded by twenty convicts. Perhaps I can reclaim my soul by observing my past behaviors in others, instead of going back to a familiar place.

Pythia3 said...

Great post! I am happy to be back on line - finally!
Yes, the right angel - I am an expert "spinner" on things. Unfortunately, men fall into the "finding the right angel" delusional thinking!
I love the quote - in fact, I'm going to give God a laugh on that one!

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle
Lovely view and post as always. I do not know much about Gary but I do appreciate your vigour and humour very much in these difficult times. Not to mention those silver shoes and your lovely Liquid Smoke recipe. As always to you and your magnificent style, Bravo!

totall said...


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henk from holland

Charles Gramlich said...

Michael Jackson, and even Britney Spears, are sad cases to me because they really had very little chance to get control over their lives from the beginning. Others were behind them, beside them, before them, pushing, pulling. I wouldn't want to have had either of their lives.