Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Hey, it's been fun. But it's time to move on. For Kalamazoo fun (Sounds like fun!) and other stuff by the guy who is behind this, go here. I'll be waiting with toys and pictures and candy and kittens.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
See in photos over to your right (or, shoot, just click here) for a look at the Leppotone Karaoke Overdrive of last night. This is how Kalamazoo makes its own fun.
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
Got an email from a New Orleans friend, saying that the Kalamazoo person mentioned below is now safe somewhere in Mississippi. Her sister has gone to pick her up.
From the email: "it seems that jess followed the railroad tracks over the interstate and then was picked up by a truck and taken to mississippi. she's okay. there were no problems in the neighborhood. she canoed everywhere. she saw 1 dead body and lot's of dead animals.....that was upsetting to her. she said flooding only got to her second or thrid step, so it wasn't too bad around her. susan took her to get shots today - something you might want to look into before you come back to the city. red cross should know what you should get...."
Friday, September 2, 2005
Note the photos on the Flickr to your right. I put up #2 and #3 Aug. 19, as I was thinking about our next trip to New Orleans, and looking at photos of past trips. #1 is from last year, of a friend who moved to New Orleans from Kalamazoo. Put that up because as far as we know, she's still down there. Other friends down there got out. One is due to arrive here to live with us until she can go back, or find some other place.
These past few days have been torturous. Not only have the people we know been uprooted and put in danger, a great city has been destroyed. And our government has been criminally negligent in its response.
All we can do is give to the Red Cross.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Now the Kalamazoo Flickr group is rockin'. Didn't get to see the inside of Fred's castle? It's in there. Want to see a comical photo of someone exposing sunburned flesh at a party, while wearing, comically, a K College shirt? It's there.
Friday, July 1, 2005
Looking down the center of town just before the Greater Galesburg Day Parade.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Now after a week there are 11 members and lots of photos, all Kalamazoozy.
Monday, June 20, 2005
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Hey, Flickr photo people: I just made a new group for Kalamazoo photos. Join, post your pictures of this nutty place.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Warning: The following story and photos may be disturbing for those who have a needle and/or blood phobia.
I did this story for the Gazette of Kalamazoo's first public "suspension" show. Probably the most unsual thing I've covered.
Here's the full story with all the gory details, as well as a few photos sent to me by one of the hangers, Andrew Enos, showing him on the hooks:
Just Hangin' At The Soda
Six gleaming steel hooks, three through the skin over the center of each shoulder blade, held Andrew Enos above the Club Soda floor late Saturday night, June 11. Kaz Okamoto hung the same way from his "rack."
Their feet dangled about four feet in the air. Their hooked skin stretched a couple inches. The hooks were attached to bars hung by chains from a bar at the top of wood beam A frames.
With the helpful pushes from friends and leg and hip movements, the two swung and twisted wildly.
They looked like they were having fun.
The stifling heat, cigarette smoke and vibe set by infernal noise of opening metal bands added to the setting. It looked like a scene out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting of tortured souls getting midievel. But those who practice the art of suspension, a extreme form of body piercing inspired by the rituals of western Native American tribes, said that they had a great time swinging. They aren't out to damage themselves, they don't have any strange fetish for pain, and they aren't in it to shock mainstream society, most of the participants said.
Okamoto, Enos and three others, aged 22 to 27, took their turns dangling from the two rigs.
Okamoto had a look of determination on his face as he swung. Enos smiled and joked with friends below, got a kiss from a woman on a ladder, and gave a found wallet announcement over the mic.
They were having so much fun that they stayed up for over an hour, slowing down the show staged by Art and Soul Tattoo and Body Piercing and the Westnedge parlor's manager James Rajewski. The crowd that cheered them on as they began swinging began to mingle, and treated the two as if they were part of the decor.
"Oh, we're at the Club Soda, watching some guys hang, and it's pretty interesting," a young woman said nonchalantly into her cell phone. Another young woman carrying equipment for one of the bands looked in horror as she saw she had to carry stuff under Okamoto's rig, and carefully dodged his swinging body.
Most of the young crowd, judging from the tattoos and piercings visible, looked to have an interest in body modification.
Would any care to be suspended?
"No thanks," Greg Kroll of Kalamazoo said. He had many tattoos, "but that's a little bit extreme for me."
Jamie Castner of Hastings said she was there to watch friends "hang." She's seen them do it before, at private functions, but as for joining them, she just firmly said, "Never in my life. Never."
Enos and Okamoto were taken down, and Rajewski staged more traditional sideshow stunts with a bed of nails. He lay on the bed with volunteers on top of him, but was soon upstaged by Andrea "Peteo" Stroud who was hooked-up, upside down, suspended from hooks in the skin surrounding her kneecaps.
"It's no worse than getting a shot for a vaccine," Stroud, of Holland, said before the show. "Well, maybe a little worse."
It's just fun, she said." "It feels good, it's like being a kid on a swing set." There is some pain involved. "But having control over it, it's almost liberating."
After the suspension, she just said the experience was "lovely."
For Jason Bergenham, of Grand Rapids, "It's part of my roots, man," he said before the show. "I was adopted into the Potowatami when I was a kid. My great grandmother was a Cherokee medicine woman."
Suspension has been used for ages with Western tribes as a ritual marking the passage into manhood, as well as in Hindu culture, Bergenham said. Later, he hung upside down from hooks in the skin of his calves. Instead of swinging, he stayed still, in a meditative state.
It was also a passage for Enos, at 22 the youngest to be suspended at the Soda. He said his work as a tattoo artist at Old Anchor and interest in Native American rituals got him to do his first suspension that night.
"It's always been a part of changing into a man. The last few months have been very hard and weird for me. I needed a changing point in my life, and this by far exceeds anything else I could've done," he said after his suspension. "Best thing that's ever happened in my life. That hour that I was up there changed me."
He had just hung from hooks for over an hour, and had bandages taped to his back. But Enos was in very good spirits. "This is more of an emotional release than anything. It's the greatest euphoric high I've ever had in my life. When you're up there the word 'pain' doesn't come into it because you can't feel anything."
Enos was sober, not on any drugs or alcohol, he said. The experience releases endorphins and adrenaline, he said, and was better than any drug. "You don't need that stuff to find out who you are, you don't need that to get high."
But don't try this at home. "You can't just jump up there. You need to know where you are physically, you need to know where you are mentally, and that will all come into play once you're hanign' there," he said.
Before being suspended they were pierced with an eight-gauge needle, followed by six-gauge hooks. Art and Soul did the work with regulation sterilized equipment in the Soda's backstage room. As with tattooing and piercing, suspension requires skilled professionals.
After he came down, Okamoto, of Grand Rapids, was in a state of calm. His take on the experience is that it's a great way to face the fear of pain.
"Nowadays people are so far away from pain, and there's such a fear of pain. Even if you get a little nick, people freak out."
After he was first suspended, he realized, "Hey, I can take this, I'll be all right," Okamoto said. "It feels great, it's very fun, actually. The only part that kind of hurts is when you first go up and your skin's not ready -- that kind of hurts."
For the finale of the evening Rajewski was hooked to the "angel rack," with eight hooks that held him by the arms and back in a winged position. He was flung about by his brother Shane. They then embraced in a brotherly hug and swung, putting the weight of the two on the eight hooks.
Rajewski, leaking a bit of blood, looked like he wanted to continue. But it was 2 a.m., time for the show to end. "I love all of you," he said from his rack. He said was happy "to share my experience with you."
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Dog, Do-Dah parade. He looks so happy.
Monday, June 6, 2005
New photos to your right. A night of strange rock at the Corner Bar. Testing the new camera to see how it takes dim flashless action.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Don't look at me like I'm crazy.
Friday, May 13, 2005
By the way, I wasn't thinking of this when I took the picture, but a tornado went through that exact area 25 years ago. The building to the right, what used to be Gilmore's department store, had the whole rear wall torn off.
At the time, I was a kid in a basement in Galesburg, fooling with a TV, trying to prove something I read about: Tornados actually generate signals that one can pick up on channel 2. Not actual pictures, of course, but they do create a bright form of static.
Sure, I was a nerd.
Friday, May 13, 2005
The photo at the top of the page, from the Mall looking north, just seems like Kalamazoo to me. One brick building, one in a style I like to think of as Futuro, and one building with artsy things stuck to it.
But you have to imagine punkish punks lounging below, out of the frame, on the Kalamazoo Mall benches. Then it's really Kalamazoo.
Friday, May 13, 2005
New camera, the Panasonic DMC-FZ20 Lumix, with Leica lens, making me think I'm a pro photographer.
See the Flicker photos in the left-hand column. We will try to get more than just our cat, we promise.
Also, going nuts with photos on wedels.com. Wow, sharp closeups of flowers with stuff blurry in the background, all National Geographic - style.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Cat claims the shooting was accidental.
Thursday, March 3, 2005
Thursday, March 3, 2005
Let's just skip February, okay?
A lot of work, and a flu-like illness that hung on for two weeks. I think I could've handled more -- maybe I could've broken a leg.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
What happens is, they find a picture and mess with it. It's not an attack on Mabus or his music, and since he does have a sense of humor he should find most of these amusing.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
The new Flickr photos to your right are of Dr. Xeron and The Moogulators at the Kraftbrau, Nov. 28. Seeing this band is exactly like being abducted by aliens, without all the probing.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Sunday, November 7, 2004
Somewhere to your right is where you'll find new photos of ours on Flickr. This did start off to be just of our cat. But he didn't go to New Orleans, now, did he?
Friday, October 8, 2004
Thursday, October 7, 2004
And what else is new....
Monday, October 4, 2004
A site with photos from all over the world. One page of Kalamazoo, two photos represent our city with a motel I used to see from my apartment. Very David Lynch -- the motel, as well as my old apartment building.
Saturday, October 2, 2004
They got a reply from Brad Wittman at the Michigan Secretary of State's Bureau of Elections' office:
Thanks for the sites. The ballot printing error is confined to a single precinct in the City of Alma. Approximately 69 ballots containing the error were released to voters on Monday, September 27. On Tuesday, September 28, a voter called the clerk to alert her to the error. Arrangements have been made to send the 69 voters replacement ballots. The clerk expects to receive corrected ballots on Monday, October 4.
Honest mistake, probably, and it's been fixed. But how much intrest and/or outrage would you think would be stirred up if people thought they voted for the guy they did not want to vote for?
Saturday, October 2, 2004
No. Not here. This is not Florida!
I'll have to vote by absentee ballot. Just found out that Michigan's absentee ballot seems to have something a little... off. Which arrow would you choose?
Comments here say it's a printing error, and it's been corrected.
Just remember, keep your eye on the ball...
Tuesday, September 7, 2004
We and around 6,000 others, most having stood in a crazy long line that wove around and into Bronson Park, saw John Edwards last night.
It was raining, hard, when we went. It was early, rainy, we thought that the crowd would be light. But there was the line. People standing for hours in the rain, instead of being cranky, all seemed in an upbeat, excited mood.
From that last link:
Edwards' only blooper of the night was his reference to President Bush as a leader who stands by the pharmaceutical companies instead of the people -- perhaps unaware that the Kalamazoo area's biggest employer is pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and that the crowd in Bronson Park certainly included a good number of Pfizer employees.
Blooper? Or just honesty? And how many people in town really feel sympathy with Pfizer?
Friday, September 3, 2004
Kalamazoo County Dem HQ giving away tickets to Monday's Edwards rally in Bronson Park.
I thought about getting tickets to see Bush a few months ago, but that was just about impossible. For Edwards, we just went to Walnut St., gave them our names and address -- didn't have to sign any loyalty oath, the guy said -- and we got tickets.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
The eMac is a fine computer. The people at Apple are fine people. Remember, always make sure your cards, (like your AirPort card) are seated. Sometimes the problem has a very simple solution.
We're now in the 21st century with wireless DSL. Time to move all our 21st century digital things.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
We moved. Bought a house and everything. Edison neigborhood.
I'm disconnecting old phone numbers, old Internet service.
Many Web things need to move, also.
We got DSL. It sort of works just fine but...
I got a new computer, an eMac (the cheaper cousin of the iMac). Its AirPort card isn't working. Many calls to Apple service, even a visit from a tech guy who replaced a board... don't get me started.
The eMac is to be the hub of my new home office. It is to hook into our DSL home wireless network. Which I don't even know if it's going to or not, becasue of the AirPort card issue.
My wife's computer works fine with the DSL. But the DSL modem has a blinking orange light, which means its having some sort of mysterious problem and things are slower than dialup.
So, anyway. Moving, computer issues, etc. That's why there's been no new kalamazoo.pitas.com fun lately.
Did I mention that we spent July painting our new house, packing and moving?
And the sledge-hammering of the old concrete driveway so we can drive up it. And the digging of the dead bushes...
Friday, July 23, 2004
So, what's up?
Moving, that's what.
To the Edison neighborhood.
Friday, June 18, 2004
Big yard sale. Everything must go. Or, rather, most things should go. Saturday, June 26. At least three households' stuff. Go here, Saturday, June 26.
Monday, June 14, 2004
Sometimes I just have to realize that I get lucky in what I do.
Here's my review of Ray Charles from April, 2002.
Around 1,200 people were in the presence of "the genius of soul" at the State Theatre Wednesday night.
Monday, June 7, 2004
Just in case you were wondering, as I was:
Loretta Lynn has canceled or postponed all of her June tour dates after her physician recommended rest to ease a back ailment. Cancelled are shows this weekend in Lubbock and San Antonio, Texas, and a June 20 appearance at the City Stages Festival in Birmingham, Ala. The singer is rescheduling six other dates, including stops in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Louisiana and Mississippi.
And no, no word about Jack White being on tour with her band when she eventually plays Kalamazoo, except for a friend who said a friend told her that someone saw White say on some blog that he'd like to tour with her sometime this year.
Thursday, June 3, 2004
An update to the posts of March 24 and 26 (scroll down, it's not far), from an email sent to me, by a source close to the story, last Friday:
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Oh, yeah. You want that bike. Buy it in Kalamazoo and you won't have to pay shipping. Just come and pick it up.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Maybe I wasn't looking, but it wasn't until a few days ago that this turned up -- that the Bush rally at Wings was not an event for the public to hear the president speak, it was a campaign rally that only Bush supporters were allowed to attend.
There's nothing wrong with that, if you're really not looking to bring Democrats or fence-sitters over to your side. But the secretive ways that Bushily-incorrect people were weeded out is just creepy.
At one of the checkpoints, they were spotted by a member of the College Republicans. He was familiar with the political predilections of several of these students and asked how they had received tickets. "We stood in line," Hufstader says he replied. At another checkpoint, Hufstader and his friends saw several College Republicans talking to the volunteers working security. The security people then told Hufstader, Dallacqua, VanAusdall and the others (Laura Lonneman, Leah Busch, Shanna Barkume, and the international student whose identity Hufstader and the others are currently protecting) that they could not enter. "They told us," Hufstader says, "that we failed a background check, that we had been identified by volunteers as a potential threat, and that if we didn't leave we would be arrested."
I'd say it sounds like they were a potential heckling threat. But would the Bush team just say, no non-supporters allowed, up front in advance? It looks like they weren't honest enough to do that.
And it looks like they weren't beyond tagging these people as a potential threat to the president's security.
Monday, May 10, 2004
I am now markwedel.name. Please make a note of it.
Monday, May 3, 2004
Word on the street -- well, in the Michigan News Agency -- this morning tells us that to get a ticket to see Bush you had to be a registered Republican.
In other words, they were turning away independents and Democrats who may have wanted to show their support, in order to eliminate the risk of getting hecklers in Wings today.
Sunday, May 2, 2004
Will I be protesting? Supporting? Let's just say I'm to talk to someone tomorrow afternoon who's pretty much a polar opposite of George W. Bush -- George Carlin.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
George W. Bush to be in Kalamazoo.
The latest word is you might be able to get a ticket.
Campaign officials for President George W. Bush remain tightlipped about his Monday visit to Wings Stadium, but local sources said about 3,500 free tickets will be available Friday.
The story also says that the Secret Service has stopped putting protesters in "Free Speech Zones" far from presidential events, though it doesn't say where protesters will be allowed to gather.
Need the latest info? Google it.
Friday, March 26, 2004
Be sure and read the emails following the main story of Kalamazoo Kapitulation! It's a case of he said, he said, but still makes for interesting reading.V
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
WKZO fires Kevin Vandenbroek, "apparently for political reasons" concerning his coverage of the alleged bribes/threats aimed at Nick Smith over the Medicare bill, Slate writes in the story linked above.
He taped Smith talking about an offer of a large amount of money. Does the station, which carries the banner of local news with pride, reward Vandenbroek?
Vandenbroek did himself no particular good at WKZO by providing evidence that the House GOP leadership may harbor a felon. "While there are some people at the station who seem to be quite proud of my coverage of Nick Smith," Vandenbroek told Chatterbox, "I think there were others that might have been uncomfortable that it was focusing on a member of the Republican Party." There was no blowback on Smith, but soon afterward, a Vandenbroek broadcast pointing out a few dubious claims in President Bush's Feb. 8 Meet the Press interview prompted a complaint to the station from the local Republican Party headquarters. The Bush broadcast "made the owner of the station very uncomfortable," Vandenbroek said. "I got called in and told to stay away from politics." Strike 3 was a mildly intemperate e-mail Vandenbroek sent to the Christian right author Jefferson Scott after Scott declined to appear on Vandenbroek's show to discuss Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid. Be Intolerant is a manifesto Scott co-authored with Ryan Dobson, son of James Dobson, chairman of the powerful Christian right organization Focus on the Family. "The straw that broke the camel's back was their contention that I violated e-mail policy," Vandenbroek explained.
Monday, February 23, 2004
Who? Well, see the movie "American Splendor" and you'll know.
Beginning this month, I'll be writing several jazz record reviews for The Press. Some of you may recognize me as the author of the "American Splendor" comic-book series. Maybe you saw the film version. But, truth is, I'm a jazz fan at heart, and I've been a jazz critic since 1959, writing for The Jazz Review, Down Beat and many other music publications.
Saturday, February 7, 2004
Starting Sunday is WIDR Week.
I can't tell you what you'll hear -- it could be anything. This tends to disorient commercial radio listeners, but it is why those who listen, listen. You can be safe with commercial radio where you'll hear the same music you heard yesterday (or 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago), or you can hear something you've never heard before.
It's an important cultural source in Kalamazoo. About 99% of the live music that comes to Kalamazoo will never, and have never, be played on commercial radio. But there's a good chance it will be, or will have been, played on WIDR. If a specific act's music is not played on the station, then you can bet that other examples of its genre have.
This week they'll be trying to raise money. Its budget is being cut, so they're asking for more money for this year's fundraiser.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
After ignoring this thing for most the winter, I think I can just waltz right back and archive? Sure.