Yesterday morning, Detroit-based artist Jerry Vile left a present for his bankrupt home: a giant Crisco can underneath the city's iconic Joe Louis fist. With his tribute, Vile left a placard identifying the installation's title as "A Vessel of Hope" and explaining that the gesture was meant to "ease the pain" of Detroit's bankruptcy. Most of the local media seemed to understand that this was an elaborate fisting joke. Except for one outlet.
Vile has been a participant in the metro Detroit culture scene since the 1970s, when he published White Noise, a journal devoted to local punk circles, and performed in a musical group called the Boners.
He achieved a certain amount of infamy one night when, dressed as a nun, he swung from a hoist above the crowd at the old Bookies club singing "Dominique," the novelty hit of the early 1960s about St. Dominic that was sung in French by the so-called Singing Nun.
Vile was also the creator of Fun Magazine and Orbit, the monthly entertainment and culture paper of the 1990s that was heavy on sarcasm. Director Quentin Tarantino, playing a character named Jimmie Dimmick, wore an Orbit T-shirt in "Pulp Fiction," his critically acclaimed 1994 movie.