by John Bloner, Jr. This is my final article as Racine Writer-In-Residence as I will hand off its baton to the next honoree on July 1st. Thank you to ArtRoot, the Osborne & Scekic Family Foundation, Nick Ramsey, and the Racine Literacy Council for their support and encouragement. Over the past six months, the Krazines,…
Would you rather have a brat or a baguette? A Kouign-amann or a Kringle? Paris with its Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo is 4,100 miles away from here, and who needs the Louvre Museum when you can experience fine art (and engage in much more) at the Louvre on Lake Michigan, better known as Spectrum School of the Arts and Gallery? Spectrum is located within the historic DeKoven Center campus in Racine, WI at 2050 Wisconsin Avenue and has served southeastern Wisconsin with culture, education, entertainment, and fellowship for over 40 years.
Calling on all writers, age 18 and older, from Kenosha and Racine County. ArtRoot, a committee of artists and advocates, is accepting applications for a six-month tenure as Racine Writer-In-Residence. You can download application information and materials HERE. The person selected to receive this honor will serve from July 1-December 31, 2021 and receive a $1,200 stipend (75% upfront and 25% upon completion of expectations and an evaluation form.)
My DNA looks like two strips of celluloid, twisting around each other. I inherited this double helix from my grandfather, John Jackob, who worked as a projectionist in Kenosha during the 1920s and through the Great Depression.
As much as I love the sound of Tom Waits – blues shouter, field hollerer, junkyard dog howler, carnival barker – I also am jazzed by the man’s countenance and love to draw pictures of him.
“You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed,” says Iowa Bob in the novel, Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving. Some lines stay with you. I read Irving’s novel forty years ago and still think of this phrase nearly every day. Obsessions – read: passionate interests – are the fuel of life.
don’t get around much anymore. That’s not just a song title or a result of the pandemic, it’s a fact of my life. Long-distance travel doesn’t suit me. I’ve tried to stuff my 6’3 frame into an airline’s economy class seat and found Houdini couldn’t escape from a space that tight. When my family would travel to Yellowstone or other spots when I was young, I was left behind in the care of my aunt. They did not want to be on a car ride with me then, and you don’t want me as a passenger with you today. It’s a good thing I’ve learned to bloom where I was planted: Kenosha, Wisconsin, the fourth largest city in our state, nestled on the shore of the second largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan.
In parochial grade school, circa 1967, Sister Margaret in her flowing black habit and veil, escorted my classmates and I every weekday to St. Mary Catholic Church in Kenosha to hear from Scripture and to sing hymns of our faith.
Call Me DJ Jazzy Johnny. My younger self could make a pretty cool mixtape, first on cassette and later on CD. I never played them in clubs – I cannot stay up past ten o’clock, and I hate crowds, even in pre-COVID times. Nowadays, I prefer to mix things up on paper or canvas instead.
In the summer of ’94, I spent a week at a folk school in Door County, WI where on one morning I sat on a slab of limestone to contemplate a garden of wildflowers, while fellow students walked a nearby sawdust path through the woods to our classroom. One student, a woman named Rose, who was as old as the years accumulated thus far in that 20th century, paused in her parade to question me. “Are you a person?” she asked.