Category Archives: The Hidden Closet

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“I’ve never really had a hobby, unless you count art, which the IRS once told me I had to declare as a hobby since I hadn’t made any money with it.” — Laurie Anderson

ARTISTS AND GALLERIES OPEN HOUSE

First things first — you have to go to the GO! page today. Click the logo now.

Bloomington is humming with events and activities on this first day of June. Leading the way is this weekend’s Summer Arts Blast. Tonight, galleries around downtown will throw their doors open for the Arts Walk. Painting, photography, poetry, film, music — you name it. Just go to GO! for all the info you’ll need.

Tomorrow and Sunday we’ll have the Open Studios Tour wherein artists around town let people into their homes and studios to see how their art is made.

Which reminds me of the annual Pilsen East Artists Open House that would take place in September in my old Chicago neighborhood. East Pilsen was a designated arts community, chock-full of artists, musicians, playwrights, authors, sculptors and others who were habitually late with their rents.

Pilsen East Artists Collective, The Lampreys

The arts walk happened over a weekend and usually began at noon and ran through 8:oo or so.

One of the artists loved telling this particular story.

Many of the people who would pass through the studios and homes of the artists were young professionals with brand new families who were more concerned with checking out the neighborhood to determine if they should buy in rather than with the art on display.

Now, this type of creature was roundly loathed by the artists for several reasons. One, they were really nothing more than transplanted suburban yuppies (bet you haven’t heard that word in a million years) who would only live in the city until their children were old enough to go to school, at which time they’d flee back to places like LaGrange or Highland Park.

Ooh, We Love The (White, Safe Part Of The) City!

Second, their presence in an arts neighborhood signaled, essentially, the end of said arts neighborhood. See, in Chicago, arts neighborhoods serve as transition states between neighborhoods filled with brown people and those filled with detestable white pseudo-hipsters.

By the time the neighborhood would be washed clean of its brownness, the artists would be priced out.

Anyway, one Saturday morning the artist in question was chatting with some art walkers who’d stopped in and were sincerely curious about his work. A husband and wife came in pushing a luxury stroller that had about as many extras as a Mercedes automobile and, for all the artist knew, probably cost as much as well.

Nothing’s Too Good For Our Little Man

Since the stroller was nearly as wide as a Mercedes to boot, the husband was dashing about in the artist’s home, moving things to make a path for the stroller’s precious princely contents. The artist watched this in amazement.

Suddenly, the young messiah in the stroller announced he was thirsty and only juice would do. So, like that, the daddy-o marched over to the artist’s refrigerator and, without asking, began rummaging around for the juice his heir demanded.

Now, the refrigerator contained only the usual artists’ provisions: a half carton of out-of-date eggs, an almost-empty salsa jar, and store-brand mayonnaise. So the artist didn’t make a move to stop the man from rifling through his private space. He wanted, instead, to watch him.

Maybe Some Vintage Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Too

Eventually, the daddy-o concluded that his golden boy, who by this time was shouting for his juice,  would go ungratified, at least in this particular spot.

So the father closed the refrigerator door and turned to the artist. “Don’t you have any juice here?’ he demanded.

“No,” came the reply

“No?” Pops asked, incredulous.

“No.”

The couple and their squalling kid left the premises forthwith.

The artist and his other guests merely laughed.

So, here’s a tip. Stay out of the artists’ refrigerators this weekend.

Otherwise, enjoy the open houses.

THE CREAM OF THE VINTAGE FASHION SHOPS

While you’re traipsing around downtown digging the art, make sure to stop in at Brynda Forgas’s Hidden Closet in its new location directly behind the Book Corner.

The Hidden Closet

Brynda’s throwing a big opening party for the place staring at 5:00pm. The entrance is on the Kirkwood side. Trust me, it’ll be worth your while; she’ll will be serving cream puffs.

WELL, IF YOU REALLY MUST BE A WRITER….

As if there isn’t enough to do this weekend, get ready for the IU Writers Conference starting Sunday.

Featured scribblers include Lynda Barry (arguably one of the coolest people ever to draw a breath), Dan Chaon, Jean Thompson, Erin Belieu, Lou Berney, Jenny Browne, and James Canary (apparently, he has no website).

Lynda Barry’s Self-Portrait

The shebang runs through Friday, the 8th. One highlight will be a featured reading Monday night by Dr. Susan Gubar, whose book “Memoir of  Bebulked Woman” recounts her struggle with blade-happy surgeons who carved her up in an effort to rid her body of ovarian cancer.

Each day from Monday through Friday is packed with classes for writers and those aspiring to the maddening vocation.

As of this AM, all classes and workshops were still open for registration so get on it, baby.

Here’s a tip from a writer who’s been clacking the keyboards professionally since 1983: unless you’ve got an insatiable jones akin to heroin addiction to put your thoughts, imaginings, and/or fever dreams on paper (or LCD screen) get out while the getting’s good.

Writers, by and large, are whacked-out, half-drunk, personally unendurable, and usually broke. And those are the successful ones.

If, on the other hand, you can’t stop yourself from stringing words together, then by all means sign up for some IUWC sessions.

PAPERBACK WRITER

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?

It took me years to write, will you take a look?

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“We need to get over this love affair with the fetus and start worrying about children.” Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General of the United States (h/t to Susan Sandberg)

HIDDEN NO MORE

Fountain Square is a lovely development and Bloomington will forever be in debt to the late Bill Cook for ponying up the dough to rehab the place, but let’s be frank — it’s tough for a retailer who doesn’t have sidewalk frontage to make a go there.

Hello? Anyone There?

Brynda Forgas, boss-lady at The Hidden Closet boutique, has been surviving in Fountain Square for a few years. She hopes to thrive elsewhere now.

She’s opening up new digs behind the Book Corner in the old home of Glorious Moments, an art emporium that closed down suddenly under fishy circumstances a couple of months ago.

Forgas & Friend

Brynda and her husband are hustling to rebuild the interior of the space for the Closet’s “grand-ish” opening party, Friday, June 1st, at 5:00pm. She says she’s calling it “grand-ish” because she doesn’t want to raise people’s expectations too much but she did reveal she’ll be serving cream puffs.

That’s grand enough for me. See you there.

HIDDEN TREASURE

Speaking of Fountain Square, one of Bloomington’s secret pleasures remains hidden there.

That would be Stefano’s Ice Cafe, down in the lower level of the mall. Fab sandwiches and sides. The place is run by a husband and wife team from Afghanistan. They treat customers as though they’re long-lost cousins.

If Stefano’s had a streetside storefront, the line to get into the place would be halfway around Fountain Square.

As it is, you can go there at lunch time, get served in the snap of a finger, and eat like a king. May as well take advantage of it now, before they move out, too, and you’ll have to wait.

WHY THE UNIFORM?

BTW: Have you ever wondered why the US Surgeon General always wears a uniform?

Here’s the answer: the US Public Health Service, which the SG commands, originally was a uniformed arm of the nation’s defense apparatus. When it was formed in the 18th Century, the USPHS originally was called the Military Health Service. It’s job was to tend to sick and injured sailors (at the time the US only had a naval military service.)

The post of Surgeon General today carries a military rank equivalent to a vice admiral in the Navy.

The wearing of the uniform had fallen out of fashion among SG’s until C. Everett Koop came along under the Reagan administration. Koop was a national health evangelist and he felt wearing the uniform would would cause citizens to pay a little more heed to him than other fed bureaucrats.

Surgeon General Koop

Considering the fact he yelled at Americans to stop smoking and stood on his head to raise AIDS awareness, any trick he could think of to get us to listen was worth a shot.

Koop was a strong anti-abortion advocate, although I can’t come down too hard on him because his belief stemmed from years of treating fetuses and newborns, so I don’t suppose it was born (pardon the pun) of some lockstep religious conceit. He also wouldn’t take to the bully pulpit to condemn doctors who performed abortions or women who received them.

Anyway, Bloomington has a notable Koop connection. In 1982, local parents of a child born with severe Down Syndrome, esophageal atresia, and a tracheoesophageal fistula wrestled with the decision to treat the child or let him pass. The attending physician advised them the boy, known as Baby Doe, only had a 50 percent chance of recovering fully from surgery and even if he did, he would be virtually unable to care for himself for the rest of his life due to mental retardation. The parents elected to withhold food and water from the boy and he died after six days.

Koop, a noted pediatric physician before taking his government job, had performed surgery on hundreds of newborns with the maladies and said he’d never lost a patient. Moved to action by the Bloomington Baby Doe case, he advocated a national statute protecting children born with severe birth defects, eventually passed by Congress as the Baby Doe Law.

Koop seemed a decent Joe despite the fact that he championed a “right-to-life” agenda. Just goes to show not everyone we disagree with needs to be demonized.

GO!

Hey, don’t forget to check the Pencil’s GO! Events Listings.

SAVE THE CHILDREN

From one of the five greatest pop albums of all time, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?

If you don’t have this disc or mp3, your collection is incomplete.

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