Another stifling weekend, although it didn’t start that way. The older I get, the more I feel like all my sweat glands are rerouting to my head. I shlepped my first load from the Eastern Market back to the car, and could almost feel my head turn into a sprinkler, pore by pore.
I’m sure this is yet another age-related horror, but for the time being I’m choosing to see it as a tribute to my thick hair.
Or it might have been the load, which was mostly blueberries and tart cherries, so that pie season may continue in spectacular fashion. I go to a particular stand for both, presided over by a man who’s a bit of a grump, but whose product is superior in every way. A woman walking by asked if she could try one of the tart cherries. He nodded, she popped one in her mouth, and commenced to squealing about how horrible it was, “so sour! How could anyone eat this?!” She was older and, you’d think, of the generation who might actually have baked a pie with her own housewifely hands and know the difference between eating cherries (sweet) and pie cherries (tart), but I guess not. Thank You brand pie filling has been around for a while. Thank you, Thank You, for doing your part to diminish our national supply of food knowledge.
Eh, who cares? More tart cherries for me, although today’s pie is blueberry. So rich in antioxidants, it’s practically a vitamin.
I haven’t written much about the Banksy business of late, mainly because I only recently learned who Banksy is (a real graffiti artist, as opposed to graffiti vandals), and whenever I come late to a story like this, I always fear I’m missing huge chunks of the background, but here goes:
Banksy did two pieces recently in Detroit, at our storied Packard Plant. The abandoned plant is usually called the city’s most notorious and certainly its biggest eyesore, at over three million decaying square feet. Our little gang of filmmakers has shot two shorts there, and it routinely turns up in the national press, perhaps most memorably when a bunch of hooligans pushed a truck out one of its windows and ended up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Anyway, Banksy stole in, did a couple paintings, and stole out, his usual m.o. Apparently, the way you find out about Banksy works is by watching his website, where he posts photographs of it in situ, with enough visual clues to tell you its location. Word was slowly getting around about one of them when the owners of a local gallery arrived with jackhammers and other heavy equipment, and physically removed the entire wall, taking its half-ton bulk back to the gallery, where it’s on public view. They said their concern was that the work be preserved, that sitting out in the lawless Packard site, it was only a matter of time before someone painted over it or otherwise defaced it. And since people have been stealing the plants in bits and pieces for years, it didn’t seem like much of a crime.
(Editorial aside from an admitted art moron: Isn’t that part of the point with graffiti? Its impermanence? Banksy is miles beyond your local bonehead taggers, but he still operates like one. There have probably been hundreds of Banksy pieces covered by building owners who didn’t like what he’d done to their property. I know he’s now famous and chic, but …whatever.)
The gallery owners say they never intended to sell it, just to preserve it, and so far, they’ve been true to their word.
Now comes a party with a lawsuit, claiming ownership and saying gimme back my Banksy. But here’s where it gets weird:
Bioresource Inc. sued 555 Nonprofit Studio and Gallery on Tuesday, asking a judge to force it to return a mural by famed graffiti artist Banksy that it removed from the plant. In the lawsuit, Bioresource Inc. claimed it owns the Packard Plant and that Romel Casab is the company’s president.
Casab has been rumored to be owner of the plant for years. But prior to the lawsuit, the only owner or agent of Bioresource on record was Dominic Cristini, who is in prison in California on Ecstasy charges.
Talk about OID! For years now, I’ve been driving guests past that place, struggling to answer the inevitable question, “Why doesn’t someone tear it down?” At first I assumed the plant, obviously abandoned and presumably in tax forfeiture, was owned by the city, which couldn’t afford to demolish it. (It would cost millions and millions.) I knew there had been until recently one business, Bioresource, operating out of a small part of it, and I once saw Casab referred to as its owner, but I didn’t know until now that the plant’s legal ownership is a mystery. The dispute over one painted wall has flushed out someone willing to be the owner of record, with all that implies — responsibility for doing something to a dangerous hive of lawlessness and anarchy.
So far, the strategy seems to be: Allow the place to be overrun with arsonists, scrappers and all manner of crazy Detroit types, and maybe, in time, it’ll just fall down, and the earth will reclaim it.
My guess is, nothing will be settled by this lawsuit. But if it leads to anything important down the road, I’d say that was a consequence even Banksy couldn’t have predicted.
See, art does matter.
Any more bloggage? Oh, a little:
Finally, a note of condolence to my friend and old radio co-host Mark GiaQuinta, whose father Ben died yesterday at Mark’s Fort Wayne home at 87. While this obit has some nice moments — Ben was a state legislator for some years — I think I’ll prefer the Facebook notes Mark has started posting, promising more in the days leading up to his Saturday funeral. From today’s, about his experience in World War II. His company was fighting around a German town called Welz in November 1944, in what sounds like the runup to the Battle of the Bulge. They had taken the town and cleared out some snipers and German 88s when something else happened:
As dad stood on a ridge outside the Welz and overlooking a road, he spotted a wounded German writhing in pain from his injuries. Dad then saw a jeep with an American army medic. Somehow he got the attention of the jeep driver and was able to point to the wounded German who was unable to rise from his fallen position. The jeep stopped and the medic and driver attended to the German soldier, lifted him to the jeep and drove him away. Just a few minutes later, and directly in front of where dad stood, something quite dramatic occurred. The door of a camouflaged pill box (a concrete bunker holding a machine gun crew with a small slit for the gun turret) opened and out came the German soldiers with their hands up. With them were a number of women and children who had been hiding in the pill box.
The Germans, having seen the humane treatment offered to their comrade, decided to surrender to dad and his buddies. Had dad not seen the soldier, those in the pill box and certainly some of the Americans advancing toward it would likely have been killed. Think of the changes that have occurred in our lives as the result of dad’s instinct to direct the saving of the wounded enemy soldier. Of course, we will never know what this meant with respect to the Germans and others, but dad probably saved his own life that day. I and my wonderful brothers and sisters can look at loving spouses, our beautiful sons and daughters, and the lives we have been blessed to share with each other and say thank you dad. Your instinct to help another human being gave us each other. We saw that drive to help others many times in the years we had you with us.
Sometimes the most important shots in any battle are the ones you don’t fire.
Off to start another crazy week. Here’s hoping you enjoy yours.