When you cross the border into our state, whether on the highway or arriving in an airport, the first thing you see is a sign proclaiming that you have entered something called “Pure Michigan.” As an advertising slogan, this has always struck me as bizarre. For one thing, purity is not a high value of mine; there seems something vaguely Nazi-ish about it to my jaundiced Jewish eyes. (What next? A picture of Henry Ford accompanied by the words Arbeit macht frei?) Second, our state (like the country as a whole) is a congeries of contradictory populations—the heavily African-American city of Detroit balanced by the mostly white west side of the state; the wealthy, if not plush, suburbs balanced by the rugged and impoverished Upper Peninsula.
Ann Arbor has always been a place where creativity thrives. Colorful murals, graffiti art, and whimsical fairy doors grace downtown building exteriors. Filmmakers, musicians, architects, poets, painters, publishers—artists and writers from all over the world are drawn to Ann Arbor for its diverse community, educated population, and vibrant campus atmosphere. What’s more, there are exceptional arts programs, museums, publishers, journals, book clubs, and cultural events for those who live here to enjoy. With Thanksgiving coming up, there’s no better time than now to acknowledge, celebrate, and give thanks for this community we love.
Ideation should always be this concise and rewarding. Many of those maps I have kept and found again and again. They end up, intact, as a bookmark for Flaubert, or at the bottom of my bedside table drawer under loose change and a pocket knife. As urgent as the notes are made, their meaning, for the life of me, has been all but lost. They are still so compelling that one can make a painting directly from them. My own thoughts dial around their archaic symbols and half-words, the key of which had been pantomimed on a cold snowy walk or cupped into a rolled-down car window—If you see this, you will know.