Thursday, February 27, 2014

Palmer Hall

"Palmer Hall", 2014
pen and ink 
© copyright Mike Kraus

I paid the fee and they unlocked the doors.  We transferred our equipment from the car onto the stage.  Other groups arrive and friends gather in the parking lot.  Standing around the back door waiting for our drinks to be delivered.  This is the only place where kids are welcome.  Killing time with skateboards and forgetting the long week.  It’s 7pm and time to open the doors for the show.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Go West, young man...

Another edition of old photos being digitized.  February is a good time to do that since I rarely go outside anymore.  Enjoy...

Aunt Suzanne and I on a great adventure on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  (Shopping Cart Riding will be added to the 2018 XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea) 

Aunt Sharon holding up a villainous sculpture at the Swetsville Zoo ( in Fort Collins, Colorado.  A really great place to visit to see lots of sculptures made of car parts.  Highly recommended! 

See Heather, I have been to the Great Platte River Road Archway ( over I-80 in Kearney, Nebraska.  It's really a museum dedicated to the history of people passing through Nebraska in covered wagons, trains, Model T's, to today.

Uncle John and Aunt Sharon in Fort Collins.

Grandpa George enjoying a Greek Chili Dog Special at G and L ( in 2002.  

Dave Scholtens and Rodd Moon snowboarding in Roosevelt Park, Michigan.  

Walking in a park, I heard a strange noise when I threw my popcorn box into the garbage.  I pulled out my camera and quickly took this shot of a baby raccoon.

Cousin Mal, myself, and Aunt Mo after my high school graduation.

Me and my sister Lisa after my high school graduation.

 Gilana Alpert and Rodd Moon at the homecoming game in our senior year at Mona Shores High School.  

 Band photo: Me, Karen Schumacher, and Kelly Ruele at the School of the Art Institute around 2000-2001

Jed Roberts and Brian Cook in 2002  

I believe we won 4th place...  outta 4 teams...  But, here are your St. Francis de Sales Knights!

Back row: Coach Mantovani, Paul Bourdon, Brian Mantovani, KoryAndryscik, John Hurley, Steve Sprague, Coach Kraus
Front row: John Gautraud, Ernie Stasker, Andy Price, me, Mike Ryan, Steve Hanson

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chicago Alley

Chicago Alley, 2014
pen and colored pencils 
© copyright Mike Kraus

I like to look at the back of buildings while riding the "L."  The ugly mess of twisted wires, garbage, and feral strays can open up to something more beautiful.  It reveals how the city works just as the facade hides it.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everybody Loves a Landlord

"Everybody Loves a Landlord", 2014
pen, ink, graphite 
© copyright Mike Kraus

On the edge of the city, a landlord busies himself with his rental estate.  Always with a cigarette in hand, he wanders around the structure trying to find a purpose.  He doesn’t have to show a vacant apartment until 3pm.  It’s not unusual to find him sitting in the lobby welcoming tenants and staring off into the distance.  The boom box repeats his only cassette: Dark Side of the Moon.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Willkommen in Deutschland!

More flashbacks!  In the summer of 1998, I was fortunate enough to stay with the Pöselt family in Germany.  Elmar Pöselt was an exchange student in my high school.  We had 8th hour history class and he caught my attention because he slept through every single class and no one cared.  I saw him in the lunchroom (awake) and invited him to sit with us and learned he was from Germany.  We also learned that the family he was staying with thought he was an indentured servant and that every Friday was "Hamburger Night," which he discovered no other American knew what the hell that meant.  So, I kidnapped him from his host family most nights until he pretty much lived at my house.  Going to Germany was an eye opening experience to the world that I will forever be grateful to Elmar, his family, and for my parents for allowing me to go.

Some village outside of Hamburg, Germany ( after my plane landed.  Behind the little red car is Herr Horst Pöselt, Elmar's dad.  His family must of thought I was very unimpressed with Germany when they gave me the grand tour.  I didn't sleep at all on the plane because an elderly eastern European woman kept falling asleep on my shoulder and drooling.  But, the airline did upgrade my seat and gave me free wine and cookies once we were over international waters.  So...

Anyway, in this little village was a butcher that sold us the best ham ever.  It was cured for five years (or something crazy like that) and I ate it almost every day for breakfast.  We also went to a cafe that was in a building constructed in 1262 (again, or something crazy like that).  It was my first physical piece of evidence that something existed before the Europeans came to the Americas. 

The Pöselt household in Volksdorf (northern Hamburg) ( where I stayed for most of the duration of my trip.  

The side patio.  On the first night at their house, the family wanted me to feel welcome and we were going to have hamburgers for dinner.  Frau Pöselt drove several hours to some American air force base grocery store to purchase the worst hamburger buns in the world (how our service men and women do it, I'll never understand) for just this occasion.  She bought all the ketchup, mustard, and toppings no matter how difficult it was to procure.  Unfortunately, none of us made burgers before.  Either my mom made them or I went to Burger King.  So, I cooked terrible burgers on the littlest Weber grill ever .  I knew I had to learn a new skill before I went to college...

The view of the little gardening shed from the patio.  To the left is the neighbor's that had a Jack Russell Terrier named Caesar.  A very smart and trouble-making dog.  Our neighbors currently have one and it reminds me of Germany every time he bothers Scout or bounces around my yard. 

There was also some kind of a private club nearby where the public could swim, but only the members could swim naked (or play bocce ball).  Anyway, we could hear them playing music and one night there was some Oom- pah music and I said "I know this one.  It's the Chicken Dance song."  No one knew what I was talking about.  So, I performed the dance for them and ruined German culture forever.  

Another shot of the Pöselt household.  That's all my photos of Hamburg.  I can't tell you how heartbreaking that is to me.  Unknown to me, my camera broke.  It acted like it was functioning properly, but the crank on the film snapped.  So, I'd take a picture, roll the film (which never rolled), and took another picture on top of the old one.  So, there are three rolls of photos that have layered images like a Rauschenberg silkscreen ( (yeah, I have to use my art degree somehow).  So, all the photos of downtown, the fish market where I caught two eels (, the fair, canoeing in the Elbe (, the Reeperbahn (, parties, Florian's drinking tent in the woods, and so much else vaporized.  But, I still haven't forgotten a moment and Herr Pöselt was kind enough to buy a wonderful Hamburg photo book as a memento.

Took my first bullet train from Hamburg to Frankfurt, which was awesome (made me never want to fly again).  Frankfurt to Mannheim.  Mannheim to Heidelberg.  Didn't realize it at the time, but Frankfurt was only 64 miles (103km) away from the Kraus Family Farm in Köthen, Motten, Germany.  

Anyway, this is the house we stayed at in Heidelberg ( on Markscheide.  I don't recall how Elmar knew the family, but the parents were gone the entire time and their daughter had parties there every night.  

The view from the bedroom/roof.  I'd sit on the roof whenever there was some down time or waiting for Elmar.  The neighbor at the closest house was a friend of the daughter who lived at the house I stayed at.  We'd talk whenever we'd see each other.  It wasn't much since they didn't know English and I butchered the German language.

Another view from the house.  Elmar and I stole a couple of bikes in the garage (could of been worse since we could have taken the fine German luxury cars) and rode into the mountains.  There were all sorts of trails and forgotten fortresses.  After a while, there was an old farmhouse that was also a restaurant.  I've never had desserts like that before or since (

Heading into town.  At the end of the street is a convenience store and the streetcar.  They were having record breaking heat that year and we'd buy mixed drinks in a can every morning (not very hydrating).  It was years before you could get that in the United States and the selection is still minimal.  Anyway, if you are ever in Heidelberg, you have to eat at the Taj Mahal (  You've never had Indian food that is so good, so cheap, or in such large portions.  I'd suggest the curry chicken.  I made Elmar laugh since my only previous experience with Indian food was what I saw in Indiana Jones.

Heidelberg!  The Jesuit Church is to the left and the Church of the Holy Spirit (,_Heidelbergis to the right.  The Neckar River (, which is part of the Rhine, cuts through town.  Somewhere down there is a great candy store with the strangest products and displays.  I remember a crazy dentist scene and piles of candy everywhere.  It doesn't happen to me often, but I was overwhelmed.  Very impressive (  

This is the main square outside of the Church of the Holy Spirit.  They had a farmer's market there pretty much all the time and that's usually where we got lunch.  This is where I learned that I loved to walk.  This whole area is car-free and pedestrian friendly.  That played a large part why I decided to live in Chicago later and what I miss most living in Rochester.  

Heidelberg again.  But, the girl we stayed with took a day trip to Mannheim and we were invited to join them at some lake.  Waiting to enter, I was stung by a very angular hornet (it looked like a mini stealth fighter).  Anyway, I was swimming when the venom started to take hold.  I thought I was going to drown and crawled onto the beach.  The lifeguard's solution was to get me a huge pile of french fries.  Best medicine ever.  

Madonna Fountain in Kornmarkt.  Up the hill is Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberger Schloss) (, which you'll see quite a bit of.

Ahh, a view of Heidelberg from the castle.

Ahh, another slightly further view from the castle.  This one features a cannon and the place where I took the previous photo...  Now you know why I'm so upset about losing all the really fun shots to a broken camera.

The Otto-Heinrich building in Heidelberg Castle (what would I do if I didn't have the internet to tell me that).  Not sure if this is where the huge wine barrel was located.  Known at the Heidelberg Tun, it contained nearly 222,000 liters of wine, about three stories tall (on its side), and had a dance floor constructed on top of it (   

One of the few survivors.  Most of the photos from the reels of film either look fine or look like a mess.  Imagine all the photos you've seen so far compressed into one shot.  This was an early victim with some exposure issues.  Still pretty even with the lava from hell at the bottom.

Another shot of the castle.  I don't remember if we were coming or going, but we walked up to the castle from Karlsplatz.  They had trams and all sorts of ways to get up there, but walking was great and pretty interesting.  A lot less tourists too.

I once heard that "photographs change your memories."  Instead of remembering what really happened, your brain starts to replace that memory with the memories of photographs you took of that moment.  I believe that because this guy at the bottom always comes to mind when I think of my time in Germany.  

Finally, Elmar in front of Heidelberg Castle.  I'm so fortunate to have met Elmar.  Not only because of this trip, but all the great times we had in Michigan too.  There were lots of nights where we'd just drive around Muskegon in my old Volkswagen with no destination.  Other times, we'd end up at a party in the woods or a bonfire at the beach.  The weekend trip we took to Mackinac Island and discovered that it was infested with bats (and that fudge isn't much more than just a block of chocolate).  Thanks again Elmar, the Pöselt family, and to my parents for letting this adventure happen.  I hope to see you all again soon!

P.S. - At my going away dinner at the Chinese restaurant, thank you for not letting me order two egg rolls.  I didn't know that they were the size of an American football.

P.P.S.-Elmar, thank you for the 3-liter of rum and coke on the flight home.  It should be standard issue for international flights.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ducks On the Pond. Trout In Left.

Ducks On the Pond.  Trout In Left., 2014
© copyright Mike Kraus

I always have my camera with me to catch these moments.  A few ducks on perfectly blue water with fish just below the surface.  It’s almost abstract and painterly.  Easy to fall into reverie.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Where's Vern?

"Where's Vern", 2014
Colored pencil and ink
© copyright Mike Kraus

Katie and Vern are explorers from New York.  They like to get dressed up and see all their friends in the city.  So, the next time you are in the Big Apple, look for them in a crowd because they’ll be the life of the party.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"All Entities Move and Nothing Remains Still"

"All Entities Move and Nothing Remains Still", 2014
pen, ink, and graphite
© copyright Mike Kraus

When is a place no longer home?  Is it when you no longer recognize the town?  Maybe it’s when all the institutions you were involved with have dissolved?  Or could it be when all your friends and family have fled?  Is the passing of time what makes it so “you can’t go home again?”

Monday, February 10, 2014

About Three Streets Down Memory Lane You'll Find Punk Rock Drive. Can't Miss It...

NoFX at Warped Tour '98 in Pontiac, Michigan.  We had backstage passes because of the 'zine.  One of these pictures has my friend Sandy in them, but I can't find her right now.  Fat Mike is probably taunting the crowd.

El Hefe doing the box jump exercise while playing guitar. 

El Hefe again 

I have to say these are pretty good shots considering that I was probably using a disposable camera.   

Best seats I've ever had for a concert.

Jim Lindberg, lead singer of Pennywise.

Randy Bradbury, bass for Pennywise

Now for shows slightly smaller than Warped Tour.  This is a show we organized at McGraft Park in Muskegon.  The officer sat in the parking lot behind the stage for about 45 minutes in his car while we had our performance.  Rapper's Guild was on stage when he walked up to the stage and stood their for a while.  After a couple of songs, he suddenly started to unplug all the microphones, amps, guitars, and all.  Was yelling about something.  We showed him our permits and everything to which he started making up nonexistent laws.  Eventually, the park manager got involved and we were allowed to go on with the show.

A meeting of the minds with J.T. Law, Rapper's Guild, and the Muskegon Police Department.  I forget who else played that day (sorry if it was your band).  I do remember trying to set this all up for a couple of bands touring from Florida or something.  We were suppose to meet in the Meijer parking lot beforehand.  They never showed up and never replied when I contacted them afterwards.  Weird show all the same...

Impromptu J.T. Law reunion show in the basement of the infamous Mastodon House in Kalamazoo.  

How many shows did I organize at Palmer Hall?

Fold at Palmer Hall in 2002.  

 Me, Nick Nummerdor, Jen Kelenske, Mike Nummerdor, and Jared Passinault in beautiful Michigan City, Indiana on our way to Chicago.

These were our mug/lost children shots.  If you've ever watched The Simpsons, you know what this town is like.  The nuclear power plant in the center of the city is only one similarity.

 Jared knocking back another Bubba Cola in the hotel

All of us at the Queers, Screw 32, Groovie Ghoulies, and Alkaline Trio show at the Metro in Chicago..  

Brandon "Bubba" Ogborn with a rocket launch behind him.  I forget how I came in possession of this photo, but I did.

Rick Johnson of the Wack Trucks, The Skeptics (The Ska Kings of Muskegon), and half the other bands that were on stage that night is getting ready to play at the Schism Zine One-Year Anniversary Show at the Walker Community Center in North Muskegon.  Rick's now in Mustard Plug

Misled Youth on stage at the anniversary show. 

The Skeptics (?) on stage at the anniversary show.  

The Bounty Hunters headlined the anniversary show.  Unfortunately, I don't have photos of all the other bands that played that night.  There were 7+ bands playing to hundreds of people for six hours or so.  

Another batch of photos digitally preserved...

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