Thursday, October 29, 2009

Michigan Central: of the Universe

The reason we think of hell as hot, and heaven as slightly chilly, is that they were created in the minds of desert nomads. People who spent their fevered lives trying to avoid the heat. But in modern thought, cold people are considered "deviant" and good people are "warm." So where are we supposed to fall in between, in our self-endorsement infomercial dreams of neutrality and empathy and gray, are we Fall? Are we the Fall? We don't believe in glory and victory. We believe in nightlights and staying away from barbed wire.

The fathers had no idea of this genetic waterfall when they built these fortresses of industry. They beat their wives and children, they drank their internal organs dry, they stuck their cocks in all sorts of disease, and they knew for sure they were going to hell when they died. But when he showed up at the devil's waiting room, scorched and pleading, The Stone Mason knew he had done at least one great thing in his lifetime. One piece of art to save his entire sodden soul. He had built this thing that would last as his badge of worthiness, for centuries. Sobbing wasted on a street corner while his wife and babes slept under blood soaked shingles, he could look into the distance and see this stone temple rising on the darkness, glowing with commerce and money and usefulness. The heartbeat of populations headed West, the expanding country, the tide of America came racing through on those tracks. He was a vital cog in the machine of Open Spaces. His children would grow up and become other cogs in the machine, in the flashing vital machinery that moved us forward into deserts and forests and condo complexes, cars cars cars pumping out of Michigan like blood, like serotonin from the punch drunk neurons of party kids, never to be replaced. Only they were poker chips, like manufactured medicine, emulsified into the blood supply.

When the future was over, it became plastic. Plastic brittle scabs of money and risk and glass. The children stopped going to the factories, because there were no more factories to be had. They broke into their fathers' temples, and tried desperately to take them back, to keep the stone from running away. I am here, they screamed in the empty places, Pay Attention To Me. But the country had moved on, to Open Spaces, and the one-time palaces on the lakes became places instead to fuck and fight and bleed and eat and sleep and grow up and/or die. Like a glowstick dying, the temporary toxic energy bled from the walls, fading into the atmosphere. Until all that was left was Echo. Echo climbing through the rusting rebars and chipped staircases. Echo walking slowly through the loading dock doors and broken office windows. Echo whispering in your ear it's intangible dry breeze wishes. Kiss. Scream. Cry. Expand. Wither.

Why is everyone afraid to be dirty? They want it either straight up disgusting, unbearably nauseating. Or else dust-free and shiny. No one wants that medium, the dusty gravel coated dirty. Slime is funny and dramatic. Sanitized is virtuous. Dusty dirty is the sheen of someone who crawled under a fence, and held onto rusty plumbing, and rubbed their face unthinkingly, distracted by something larger than themselves. I think it's hot. Any time someone does something, or says something, or is something because they for once aren't thinking about themselves at all? It's the very thing. Maybe only to inherently selfish people like us.

Which is why museums are so hot right? All those eyes and brains walking around, concentrating on something other than themselves? And the doctorate students, the crazy artists, the aspiring business owners. The religious zealots, the newly married, the physicists, the zoo-keepers, the cathedral builders, the stay at home mothers. Fanatically obsessed with something other than how they personally are interacting with you. America's dirty secret? We want to fuck these people and steal away their focus. We want to distract them. We want to suck that genius into our own plodding, renaissance weakened souls. This is a gross generalization I cannot in any way back up, other than by saying it's a feeling. It's the feeling I get in a room of people watching their favorite band. Its the feeling that invades when you unveil something you love to a group of people who didn't make it.

I didn't make this Terminal. My ancestors had zilch to do with the construction of this, or any other edifices. I get no feeling of connection with history, or of decay and abandonment. Instead I see it, and it's as if it was built exactly like this, and is instead perfectly preserved. It will be this way forever. I touch the bricks, and I'm not touching history. I'm touching present warm brick and mortar; rock not broken, only re-adjusted. The crunching of glass under my feet is what the architect was going for. The lighting is precisely designed. The moment I'm smelling and feeling and touching and seeing is the only way this will stay. I want to touch every one else in the place, hold hands and touch wall, complete a circle which could only lead to some enlightenment of the secret places.

It's true what they say. We guided our way by memorizing the silhouettes of casinos. We used the valets, not the police, to find the mummies. We stared at the wizen leather genitalia of Mexican laborers who's families couldn't pay the crypt dues, and their bodies were trotted around the old steel cities of Canada and the States, a traveling exhibit of people who should have had it worse off than us. The scorpions were nesting in their torsos, the spiders in their cheeks. At least if we're buried here, we have a fairly good chance of one day becoming permafrost.

We watched a movie about a man who climbed mountains. Three days of sleeping in the clothes you're wearing, of not pissing from dehydration, of tying yourself against your enemy so you don't roll off in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by the musical styling of Queen, and a dead father. But the message shouldn't be lost. Sometimes you do things by staring at the small things around you, staring intently for a foothold or a rock to jam your hammer into, to keep you safe for a few minutes. Some people can do that for years.

So cops, dust, mohawks, knives, grease from machinery coating his hands, diners and turning around on the highway thirteen times. Casino valets, mummies, crawling into air ducts of black storefront boxes. Debris, oil tanker baby farms, burnt insides, tires, junkyard dogs, and over all the landscape a spiderweb of lights that every sign for reads Bridge to Canada.

It's never consensual. It's always someone winning. The winner is the one who does something first.

Maybe caffeine, hormones, and alcohol are the only magic left.

But that's the attitude of a person who needs nightlights.


  1. Oh. This was just...oh.

    Quiet smile and weak knees. You are aces.

  2. hello,
    Im from paris france and i take a moment for looking your blog. You'r pictures are so so so great i like this sort of building look like dead world. Happy to find your blog. I'll be back.

  3. I am from Detroit... born and raised. I know the train station and how it teases the people in town. There is always talk about how someone is going to do this or do that. It was supposedly going to be the new police headquarters.

    I can't find the post I wanted to link and direct folks to read. The titles of your posts are so amazing and they draw me from where I intend to go.

    You are a wonderful writer.


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