Detroit: Stroh’s Brewery Company, 1974. Plastic-coated printed corrugated carton with folding lids, approx. 16.5 x 11 x 9.5 inches. Slight tape residue to the upper lids, otherwise nearly fine. Item #18585
Despite the storied role of Cannabis as the psychoactive drug of choice and agent of historical change for the Cass Corridor scene (cf. John Sinclair’s “Ten years for two joints,” etc.), one might argue that Stroh’s—on record as the favorite beer of Iggy Pop—played an unsung role in this particular wayward and creative tribe, akin to the fabled buffalo of the Plains tribes, producing not only sustenance but storage and domestic appointments as well. (See below.) This specific carton, lately filled with small press and avant garde journals, was extracted from the Ann Arbor garage and studio of Ken Mikolowski, the poet known in part for giving readings at MC5 shows; Ken and his late wife, the painter Ann Mikolowski, also for years ran the Alternative Press of Detroit and then Grindstone City, Michigan. This carton is factory date-stamped on the interior and the bottom panel 7-19-74—the year the Mikolowskis moved the press from Detroit to Grindstone City. One nearly life-sized portrait of the Mikolowskis from the late 1980s shows Ken standing next to Ann, who in this portrait is painted as seated on a Stroh’s case modeled on on much like this one. (Whether the carton was in fact this particular carton is possible, though while provenance is clear the recollection is murky.) A profile of the Mikolowskis and their work in the October, 1991 issue of the Ann Arbor Observer includes a photo of Ken and Ann standing with that portrait. (A copy of that issue of the Observer is included with purchase of this carton.) A fine example of the ancillary-primary material school of literary readymades, of a piece with and perhaps as important in the creative process of an avant garde poet and small press printer as any writer’s desk or typewriter.