You’ll remember Sarah Peters, who brought her Floating Library from Minneapolis to Echo Park in February. We’ve stayed in contact because we like cool people who do cool things (perhaps making us cool by association).
Being an artist based in Minneapolis, I thought she might have something more to offer on the passing of Prince than I would. Sure enough, straight out of the Floating Library itself, she pulls this book, a perfectly formed, fan-made expression of Prince’s humanity and sensuality – though not the specific sensuality you might expect. You’ll want one, but alas, we don’t sell them. It’s just a thing to appreciate.
Like everyone, I learned about Prince’s passing today on Facebook. I live in Minneapolis, and it wasn’t long before legendary rock club First Avenue posted an announcement of an all-night Prince dance party and local radio stations began Prince-only rotations.
As historic photos and videos of The Artist provide endless digital memorials, I’m turning up the volume and going codex with the best tribute to Prince I know of: a zine called Prince Food by my friend and bookmaker Martine Workman .
As an artist-published, smaller-than-small-press booklet, you may not be aware of this gem of cultural production. Workman’s slim volume is photocopied on common lilac office paper and bound with staples. A striking hand drawn likeness of Prince occupies the cover, embellished with purple glitter hot glue that reads “FOOD.”
Inside, the book is organized like a menu: Breakfast, Beverage, Junk Food, Fruit, Meat, Dessert. Each subsequent page is illustrated with cartoonish drawings of Prince – dancing, singing, sexing it up in front of the microphone as only he could – juxtaposed with scripty handwritten text of his lyrics. Some are obviously familiar. From the Fruit section: “Where have all the raspberry women gone?” and “I’ll chill in your arms under the cherry moon.” Yet others beg a second read. From the Breakfast section: “U don’t even know what kind of cereal I like, Wrong! Cap’n Crunch with soy milk.” Or the Meat chapter: “Squirrel Meat, the blood real good if you drink it real fast.”
What? I am a Prince lover but not a Prince expert – are these real lyrics? Did he really sing about “funky blue cheese?”
The truth is born out in the index, where Workman documents each single, album and year. Tonight, my lazy, drunken, tear-soaked Googling proves her right. It’s all there on the internet’s many lyrics websites — the sexiest man in the history of music sang about bacon, potato chips and whole wheat toast.
Prince Food was an instant favorite on the Floating Library – a project born on Minnesota lakes that brings artists’ books to folks paddling around in canoes. One of my keen memories from our first summer on the water is the pang of regret I felt when I checked Prince Food out to an enthusiastic patron who arrived at the Library’s raft via inner tube. As she awkwardly dog-paddled away with the zine in a Ziploc bag I thought to myself, “that book is never coming back.” Yet the next afternoon, the final day of open Library hours, I noticed a head poking out of the water, slowly approaching. She returned, one-arm-swimming Prince Food back to the Library so it could be read and loved by hundreds of visitors in Minnesota and Los Angeles since that day. It was an omen of the sort of generosity and righteousness that is Prince, a spirit that encourages us all to live our desires unapologetically, everyday.
Thank you Martine for this brilliant compilation, and thank you Prince for giving us such big reasons to indulge, live big, and get it on.
If you missed our earlier post, Sarah Peters is the artist who brought the Floating Library to Echo Park Lake in February. Based in Minnesota, she floats her library on many waters, bringing art & literature to trout, mallards and humans. She is currently prepping for the next season of aquatic book-lending. You can follow the project right here.