Thursday, March 11, 2010
Took a trip down to Bloomington, IN last weekend to visit friends and then up to northwest Indiana to visit family and then back up into Michigan and across to my lovely home in Ann Arbor. I love Indiana. It's a really fascinating, weird, beautiful state. I hated it growing up in North Judson, IN, population 1,800 when I was a kid. Apparently the population has gone down. Yes, Indiana is full of corn fields. But also mint around North Judson. In late August at harvest time, you can just smell mint in the air around town.The Ku Klux Klan has some substantial historical links to Indiana. Primarily southern Indiana, but I grew up surrounded by plenty of racist shit in a town with a handful of people of color and a large migrant worker population from Mexico. And the state went democrat in the last presidential election, when it's normally blue!
While in Bloomington while staying at my good friend's home nested in the woods a couple miles out of town, we heard and saw flocks of sandhill cranes all weekend on their migration north to Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ontario. The cranes congregate on a piece of land further north in Indiana called Jasper-Pulaski park in the spring and fall as a stop-off point in their migration. I went to see them in the fall of 2000, before I even met my husband or moved down to Bloomington or had any notion that I would be building an academic career on Detroit. Thousands and thousands of birds gather at Jasper-Pulaski. We didn't make it there this visit, but hopefully in the fall.
On our trip from Bloomington up to northwestern Indiana, along highway 65, we were surprised to see miles of gigantic wind turbines peppered across multiple small farms. Many of the turbines were operating, but there were some that were still being constructed. We got to see the pieces of the blades on the ground. We were all yelling with excitement. I had no idea what it was, I didn't know if it was a co-op of local farms. But that didn't make total sense to me because I couldn't imagine how a group of local farmers could amass enough money to purchase hundreds of wind turbines. I googled a few things once we were done with our trip and discovered that it is called the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm. It is a power plant which will provide annual power to 150,000 homes in Indiana. Construction began in 2008. In a video we found on youtube, my boys and I learned that it takes 6 hours to assemble an entire turbine. So yeah, sandhill cranes and wind farm - super exciting week for homeschooling in this family.
Okay, and now for the music part. I was hoping to take some friends of mine out to the first night of the Pit Stop Music Marathon in Bloomington. It's still going on now! Dan Coleman, local king of the music scene down there, and president of Spirit of '68, planned the festival as a pit stop for bands heading down to Austin for the SXSW festival. We ended up at the same venue but upstairs for the first part of the evening playing pool and darts - yes, all us ladies, and one dude who generously and graciously left early to relieve the babysitter! Video Saloon - lovely bar, tons of local brews on tap, and now a beautiful space downstairs with giant windows through which I gazed longingly at the final moments of Foreign Born as they played in front of those giant, crystal clean windows for a full crowd. We ended up chatting so much that we missed most of the music that was ending at midnight. So we walked in the cool fresh air down a street that I have not visited in about 2 years to a lovely spot called the Root Cellar. After missing the Pit Stop bands, I dragged my tired feet on down to this place because my girls told me it would be fun. "They play fun soul music. You like to dance right?" I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought I would go and just get more tired and worry if my 2 year old was still asleep. Hell no, that is not what happened. It was a glorious evening that I struggled to tear myself away from - all vinyl, funk and soul 45s, LPs, and 12 inches. The cases of vinyl lining the dj area were such a pleasure to see. I was so surprised. We arrived, I looked through the nice selection of Indiana beers. Picked one and started talking about food allergies and family diets. Yes, I am renaissance woman with many interests. The music was really getting into my head and I decided to go see what was going on over there in that tiny concrete area a few steps up with blue icicle lights covering the ceiling. Of course I had to go straight through the crowd to see what the set up was. I got excited when I saw a 45 spinning. I started dancing and got completely caught up in the night. And Dan Coleman is one of the three djs for the "Soul in the Hole" monthly at the Root Cellar. How fortunate that I came for a mildly last minute visit on this weekend!
I got to hear so many great things:
The first time I think I heard Double Dutch Bus was on a Mystic Bill tape!
And one of my favorite songs ever...turn up the bass!
Needless to say, we stuck around. I love Indiana. I love Bloomington. And now I have yet one more reason to miss this place.