I have a great friend. His name is Keith, but he likes to be called Raven, and so that is what I call him. Because Raven is a much cooler name that Keith, if you really think about it.
This cool friend decided to hang out with me a couple of weeks ago and, being the cool friend his is, show me the coolest place in Kalamazoo:
This is the Goodie Shop. They have a truly staggering array of candies and soda pop of all kinds, but they specialize in nostalgia candy. I happily skipped out of there with a bottle of grape Nehi and an Abba-Zaba. It was heavenly.
To access this wonder of childhood indulgences all grown-up, you must first go by the single most scary and confusing thing in Kalamazoo. The mural on the side of the hippie co-op grocery.
Now, I had driven past this building many a time, and never really paid much attention to it. But on this day, we parked directly in front of the thing, and that really makes you stop and pay attention to it, the way that parking directly in front of a live T-Rex would make you pay attention. There was no way to avoid it, so to speak.
Luckily, I had my trusty camera on me and was able to capture the truly freakiest parts of this thing to share with you:
Freaky thing #1: Giant Cyclops Baby
Because of this mural’s age, there are places where the paint is cracking and peeling. That’s to be expected. But look at the weird absence of paint over the baby’s eyes, and shape it takes. I’m not kidding, this was the first thing I noticed about this mural… the baby looks like it’s wearing Cyclops glasses to keep from firing his mutant laser beams everywhere. Which leads me to an important issue I suddenly have with the X-Men comics… if Cyclops couldn’t open his eyes or risk blasting people away with his laser vision, what happened in the womb? Babies open their eyes in utero at like, twenty-something weeks. Did his mom have a mutant-laser-resistant womb? I must call a comic geek immediately and get this sorted out.
Freaky Thing #2: Baking At The Beach For No Apparent Reason
Here’s the deal: this whole mural is depicting all different types of people doing all different types of things… but the setting is a sand dune. So, this guy, who looks creepily like the dude from Disneyworld’s “Carousel of Progress,” is standing out at the beach, mixing up something delicious to bake. Somewhere. Because there is not an oven around. In fact, there is no kitchen. One can only assume that he put all the ingredients in the bowl, grabbed his spoon and jumped into the car. “These cookies will only be complete if they have seen the ocean!” some concept-mad part of his artist’s brain commands. He cannot rest until the dough has been bathed in the warm rays of the sun, has felt the embrace of the hot sand and heard the lapping of the tide against the shore. Only then can one truly understand that these cookies are not just oven warmed lumps of dough. These cookies are all of creation!
Freaky Thing #3: The Literal Hoverround
See the guy in the wheel chair? See anything odd about him?
He is hovering off the ground! His wheelchair is magic!
Freaky Thing #4: The bastard child of Joey Ramone and Howard Stern makes uncomfortable small talk with tiny Ron Jeremy
“Would you like to play what appears to be my out-of-proportion guitar, Tiny Ron Jeremy?”
“No, thank you, for I am tiny, and getting a bit lost in all of this vegetation.”
This is the textbook definition of surrealism, my friends.
Freaky Thing #5: The guy in the mural who is just as flabbergasted at all of this as I am.
I have a theory about this tiny man. I think he was probably on vacation at the beach, probably filming his kids frolicking in the surf, when he spotted this enormous bean stalk. And he was all, “Honey… you watch the kids a minute. I’m going to go check this out.” So, he goes toward the giant bean stalk. He’s curious, but it’s a curiosity mixed with fear that is fueled by disaster movies. You know the ones. They always start out with some clueless tourist on vacation who decides to check out this ancient ruin or dormant volcano. And when they do, their death is the first in a long line of tragedies that spur the hero to action. Now, this tiny man with the video camera doesn’t want to be a plot device. But he just can’t help himself. He creeps through the giant leaves and what does he see? This clusterfuck of random imagery just begging to be filmed.
And so, he waits. He waits to see the gargantuan Joey/Howard hybrid come to a loving accord with Tiny Ron Jeremy. He wants to know how the Dadaist baker’s cookies turn out. He wonders if he can sell the patent on granddad’s hovering wheelchair, or if the huge baby with laser vision will blast him to pieces before he can properly examine it.
Aren’t those questions we’re asking ourselves every day? Maybe not in those exact words, but I have a feeling you understand my general sentiment.
Or maybe there is a gas leak in here.