House on The Rock!

My family and cohort are huge fans of Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS (The book, I haven’t yet seen the TV version). Last year Rich and I visited one of the three tourist sites highlighted in the novel, the geographic center of the continental United States. And yesterday we went to the crazed visionary House on The Rock in Wisconsin. Here in a pivotal scene in the book the protagonist Shadow realizes his road trip companions aren’t just eccentrics but gods. And gods bent on war.

House on the Rock is ultra-weird. Is it like Hearst Castle? Yes, but lowbrow. Like outsider art site Eliphante? Yes, but with money and mad collecting. It’s just plain weird, fun, and if you are sensitive to that kind of thing–a little scary.
NONE of the photos I snapped came out–so I’ll use this one from Roadside America, which also offers a useful analysis:

House on the Rock is unlike any other house in the world — unless you consider a funhouse a house. It was the mad vision of Alex Jordan Jr., a recluse who turned his home into America’s largest, strangest indoor sideshow (And later served as a rendezvous point for deities in American Gods).
Some believe it was originally built as a spite house to taunt famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who lived only ten minutes away in his Taliesin home. But no one really knows what motivated Jordan. We’re willing to accept his vague explanation that “one thing just sort of led to another.”

Much–all?–of speculative fiction is based on a journey, a quest, a pilgrimage. Often on the road we ask ourselves what kind of traveling we are doing. AMERICAN GODS is about a road trip, as epic as Kerouac’s or more so because it is divine. And each immigrant god has taken a journey to arrive on these shores. As have we.

Internet Resources for Finding Offbeat Roadside Attractions

Since we’re back out on the road and I’m benefiting from this–a reblog of great info.

Miriam's Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond

This blog has been reporting on road trips almost back to its beginning, including an early musing from me.  A road trip includes the objective of getting from point A to point B, but can encompass an enormous variety of recreational and entertainment activities.

Road trips are as individual and idiosyncratic as the people who take them.  The trips that I take with Miriam typically try to address both of our interests and traveling styles.  Prior to the appearance of the Web in the mid-1990s, printed guidebooks were the leading source of guidance for crafting a road trip, but now an overwhelming breadth and depth of information about what’s out there along your route can be at your fingertips within seconds.  Native American archaeological sites, Spanish colonial missions, Civil War battlefields, model solar systems, botanical gardens, giant fruit and vegetable sculptures–you can theme a trip on any or any…

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Stops on the CTA

This excerpt from the “South Side Weekly” in Hyde Park. “Survival Guide” by Stella R. in the 9th grade. Curated by Michaela Bailey. This is part of a cool project–Student Writing Delivery Service.

when your friends become stops on the CTA
let earbuds take their place
learn the lyrics so that
when you pass childhood’s second homes
you’ll have something to say

Tara Donovan: Fieldwork

Tara Donovan: Fieldwork
Index cards. Slinkys. Tar paper. Artist Tara Donovan transforms our galleries with her distinctive work made from mundane materials.
Smart Museum of Art
Photos by Richard Feldman

I really loved this–more than most things I see. Those index cards feel so literary!

Canal Lock Haibun

It was fascinating–a barge as long as two city blocks moving along the river between two Great Lakes. It took about an hour for the locks to fill and the level to rise. But “Don’t condescend and EXPLAIN to me,” a woman hissed at her husband. I myself like to explain, but I knew what she meant.

dark canal locks–
every husband

Irish Poets in Placitas! A Class with John Roche

Poet John Roche in Dublin with James Joyce statue, July 2018

Contemporary Irish Poets 5 week class with John Roche
Where: Jules’ Poetry Playhouse, Placitas, NM
When: September 4 to October 2, 2019
(Five Wednesday nights, 6:30-9:00 pm)
Cost: $125
(Class Limited to Twelve Students, plus one Scholarship)

***Scholarship info: email

A five-week course beginning with the legacies of Seamus Heaney and John Montague, then focusing on living Irish poets like Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Medb McGuckian, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Mark Granier, and Paula Meehan. We’ll also consider three Irish poets who visited New Mexico recently, Kevin Higgins, Eamonn Wall, and Annemarie Ní Churreáin. This class will concentrate on reading and discussion. No lectures or tests. But we will try our hand at some poetry writing exercises.

About the instructor: John Roche is Associate Professor Emeritus of English at Rochester Institute of Technology (where he taught creative writing and literature courses, including Irish Literature), and Co-Director of Jules’ Poetry Playhouse. He holds an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature from University College Dublin, as well as a PhD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Roche is also a poet who has published four books of poems and produced a number of poetry anthologies, including, most recently, the Poets Speak series.