“You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. “Floods” is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, that valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory–what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our “flooding.” –Toni Morrison
One of my favorite wrought iron gates.
To me, well-curated markets are the pinnacle of everyday life. To achieve the right balance, their organizers have to have vision, grit, and the guts to calibrate the right mix of local history, physical design, social mores, retail trends, and at least a little crazy shit. And then do it over and over. It has alway been clear to me that Cree McCree (who I like to call the Godmother of Flea) is a master, having created markets here from those legendary Mermaid markets forward, but it seems important to note that her market lineage goes back decades to places like NYC, NM, and CA, where flea markets are judged at a higher level. (It is surprising how flea is not normally as well done here as it is in places even like Northeast Ohio, incidentally an area from which Cree and I both hail.) I can attest to her skill because as often as I attend her events I continue to have interesting conversations, learn something new, and find deals just about every time. To me, markets like hers act as a virtual levee, shoring up our resistance to the overflow of bullshit and commodified crap being sent our way in recent years by those who want to Instagram our culture to death.
So join us on the edge by supporting 5 dollar bargain racks, locally mixed organic spices combos, trying on gorgeous hand wrought crowns, thumbing through eclectic book offerings by booksellers (led by Donald Miller up there offering his rapid-fire talk; today it was a verbal appreciation for the Latina bridal party posing for pics in their yoga pants next to his tables of books, even as he wryly admits their utter disdain for bibliophiles), one-of-a kind Haitian artwork, live music, and simply tables of uniqueness not calibrated for those 17 million visitors who wouldn’t know what the hell to make of most of it but instead presented only for some of the 400,000 of us who want to be inspired by our neighbors, and to inspire when we come out through the front door.