When I was in college at a small school in a mid-Michigan cornfield, my best friend was at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I was the poor kid who wanted to transfer there, but knew I could never afford it. It was my Christminster (if that’s not too obscure (hint-hint) of a reference).
Ann Arbor was where I got hipped to social and political activism in the form of the anti-apartheid movement, to the overwhelming amount of what there was to possibly learn in the form of the endless stacks at the graduate library, to the wonders of mind-expanding substances in the form of a little baggie of Pinconning Paralyzer in Mary Markley Hall. It was also where I discovered and fell in love with independent bookstores.
Places like Shaman Drum, West Side Bookshop, Wooden Spoon Books, Crazy Wisdom, David’s Books, and the original Borders — before they sold to K-Mart and the corporate suits did what they always do to a cultural institution. (Sadly, the stores I just listed that don’t have links are no longer with us).
On this visit, nearly 30 years after those days, I had the great pleasure to read at a new Ann Arbor bookstore, Bookbound. The owner’s Peter and Megan Blackshear were fantastically welcoming and friendly. The crowd was small, but a chance to reunite with some great old friends – one of whom, Monica Rico, was one of the Saginista poets of the Red Eye poetry scene back in Saginaw (read her work!), another was my friend Kevin from the pow-wow circuit days who was with me at the beginning and end of several of the road trips in Vagabond Song.
After the reading, there were drinks and more drinks with great friends (Good Ol’ Nats), new and old. The next day, I visited some of the other bookstores in town and kicked around the art fair, where I bought a new hat. Just in time to wear for my next reading, that night at Bemo’s Bar in Bay City (the subject of the next report from the Hundred Highways Tour).