ILLITERATE ISSUE#5: CHILDHOOD
This issue is the first issue with a theme, a new logo and a new format. We thought Childhood would be a great place to start a new chapter in the history of illiterate.
ISSUe # 6: have yoU ever given someone half of a BFF pendant and asked for it back? Watched with glee a once beloved media darling’s public demise from starlet to harlot? Felt a pang of sadness when that obnoxious gasbag at work finally got what you thought they deserved? For all our everlasting emotional declarations, the heart can be a fickle love muscle. From enamored infatuation to vehement hostility and everything in between, illiterate issue 6 explores the theme of love to hate, hate to love. love to hate hate to love jean shopping / family vacations / 24 hour breakfast restaurants / internet porn / public transportation / public displays of affection / company picnics / birthdays / Hallmark holidays / expensive thrift stores / political correctness / shaving / daily hygiene / politics / religion / txt messaging / ugly babies / abortion / truck stops / roadside attractions / souvenir T-Shirts, mugs and key chains / neighbors / tattoos and piercings / cover bands / reunions / weddings / divorce / foreigners / doggy doors / copy machines / infomercials / Tony Robbins / Oprah Winfrey / Madonna / Martha Stewart / Donald Trump / motels / inside jokes / pet names / Genesis / Michael Jackson / Crocs / ipods / dippin’ dots / sporks / funnel cake / the mullet / renaissance fairs / carolers / do-gooders / unnatural blondes / plastic surgery / before and after pictures / The New York Times / euthanasia / lesbian moms / roiding!! / crystals / megastores / malls / addictions / airplane movies / lawyers / rules / prescription drugs / tampons / condoms / braces / Velveeta / corn dogs / pimples / mail / money / slap bracelets / tragedy / car accidents / puberty / cars / activists / righteous people / morals / pennies / Listerine / John Madden / jaw breakers / group photos / dental care / graduations / sleeping / oversleeping / vegans / freckles / scented candles / flossing / tanning / Lost / Youtube / Disney songs / spandex / jean jackets / lip rings / accents / grammar / Vespas / Sting / Bono / Fox News / bumper stickers / scabs / work / Uggs / PR / Super Bowl parties / puke and rally / guns / Sex and the City / reading the instructions / pregnancy / one night stands / isms / Cancun / corn rows on white people / Vegas / gambling / credit / theme parks / long lists / remixes / mixtapes on CD / vitamins / Cookie Crisp / spring cleaning / colonics / Ebonics / gossip / rip-off calendars / day-planners and the people who use them / pop idols / theme restaurants / Ice-T / Law and Order / promises / secrets / and the list goes on… 2 yoU want to be PUblIShed. we want to PUblISh yoU. SUbmIt to IllIterate magazIne .com fIctIon / Poetry / art / PhotoS / artIcleS / faShIon mUSIc / mISSIonS / comIcS / or whatever yoU’ve got illiteratemagazine.com 3 yoUr StUff here Cut it out, Scan and Upload your piece and add it to your profile on illiteratemagazine.com for a chance to be published. Photography, Comics, Fashion, Illustration, Painting, Sculpture, Design, Poetry, Fiction, Prose, Articles, Essays, Etc. 4 We’re gonna be like the Brady Bunch, only kleptomaniacs. letter from the edItor d efinitions are a tricky business by nature. Entire books exist dedicated to the pursuit of a single word’s meaning, and even these scholarly explications, like some sort of semantic asymptote, forever approach, but never quite get there. Without getting too heavy, this ambiguity, I believe, is due to the plural nature of language. Words carry a multitude of connotations, varying almost infinitely in their subtle alterations due to their changing relationships to each person, situation, and period of time. Take the word “childhood” for example, the theme of this issue. The Oxford English Dictionary defines childhood simply as “the state or period of being a child,” with child defined as: “a young human below the age of puberty.” Nothing inaccurate about these definitions, yet they seem to lack a certain psychological and emotional weight that notions of childhood often evoke. This drabness makes sense when looking at childhood through the lens of history. Prior to the 19th century, children in most western cultures were viewed merely as miniature adults, expected to perform and act out the responsibilities and mannerisms of their more mature counterparts. Through the 1800s, childhood gained status as a unique period in the human life cycle, characterized by purity and freedom, due in part to decreased infant mortality rates and the increasing social acceptance of the ideas of such unfettered visionaries as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, William Blake, and, later, the notable author and advocate of free-spirited childhood, Charles Dickens. As the 20th century approached and Freud began to investigate children’s latent and overt sexual fixations, societal views on childhood took on a duality that still persists in today’s consciousness about pre-pubescence. As authors and historians Charles Hannam and Norman Stephenson noted in their entry in the Oxford Companion to the Mind, we view “the child as a beautiful and creative individual in his own right, and as one whose libidinous and chaotic energies must be harnessed and educated.” The question is: Are kids little angels or tiny savages? Personally, when I think of my own childhood a number of images and instances immediately surface: waking up early on Saturday mornings to eat sugar cereal while watching the entirety of ABC’s cartoon lineup; sitting with my sister in our parents’ Arizona backyard happily digging in the dirt and clay for baby scorpions; the ecstasy of my first soccer goal and the crushing disappointment I later felt when, playing as goalie, I allowed the final score in an overtime playoff match; my first serious injury resulting from colliding face first with Chris Beaman during a game of basketball freeze tag at the Boys and Girls Club; winning a poetry contest in second grade by rearranging some words about rain and sunshine; the excitement right before a sleepover; my first playground tussle after school; the constant presence of my father with his gigantic Sony video camera hoping to capture and archive his children’s youthful achievements, whether they be first steps, first words, or first bowel movement; being told by my preschool teacher to wait until the end of story-time to ask a question, squirming through her exhaustive tale, then illiteratemagazine.com 5 raising my hand as I rushed toward the door blurting something about “potty” and “badly,” running full speed down the hall only to find my strained bladder emptied itself just as I opened the bathroom door, and the subsequent relief when half an hour later, the teacher knowingly came looking for me with a brand new pair of red shorts my parents had been required to supply at the beginning of the year, just in case; This list could go on for quite some time, but the point is: my conception of childhood is rooted deeply in my own vernal experiences, before any “been there done that” set in– some happy and joyous; others shocking encounters with pain and humiliation. Childhood has changed a lot since I was a kid. Undeniably, media has had a huge impact. Babies today are born with a mouse in hand and a Bluetooth attached at the ear. When the Bluetooth babies grow up, they’ll also have fond and scarring memories to look back on, albeit revolving around completely new products, just like us with our VHS tapes, Legos and just like our parents with three TV stations and erector sets. Whatever the future brings, the only thing certain about childhood is “young humans below the age of puberty” will be experiencing it. Thankfully, unlike dictionaries, il.lit.er.ate isn’t bound by lowest common denominator restrictions required to be useful as an easily searchable reference guide to the masses of English language speakers. Instead, we have the ability to toss out a topic or theme and allow our readers, contributors, and editors to shoot at the accepted canon from personal, situational, historical, and even nonsensical perspectives. Because our readers are our contributors and have a unique role in shaping the dialog of this magazine, I do not expect that all of the content within these pages will appeal to everyone, if only because not all of it appeals to me. But that’s the challenge of collaboration and communication. It is my hope that in the crossfire of ideas and miscommunications, we’ll begin to discover and negotiate our own commonalities, objections, and idiosyncrasies in how we approach the definition of language, and start to take a bite out of the expected and accepted one word at a time. word= child.hood Adam Gildar il.lit.er.ate Editor / Founder Unless otherwise noted, artists featured in il.lit.er.ate retain copyright to their work. Every effort has been made to reach copyright owners or their representatives. The publisher will be pleased to correct any mistakes or omissions in the next issue. il.lit.er.ate is free on the streets for those in the know. Go to www.illiteratemagazine.com for subscription and distribution information. il.lit.er.ate is published by illiterate media, LLC. 6 Creature From The Black Laguna Beach welcome to Il.lIt.er.ate, a hybrid arts community exploring language through creative media. il.liter.ate is not a magazine or a website. illiterate is not high-brow or low-brow; il.lit.er.ate is no-brow. It allows amateur and professional artists, writers, and photographers to collaborate in the creation of a tangible publication through an online community at www.illiteratemagazine.com. Il.lIt.er.ate cannot eXISt wIthoUt yoUr PartIcIPatIon Literally, you make this magazine. Sure there is an editorial staff, but think of us as moderators, or curators rather than the show itself. Sure we put in our two cents, but it’s the output of the il.lit.er.ate creative community that occupies a majority of pages in the magazine. As a pilot issue, this particular magazine (the one you are holding in your hands) does not include the amount of user-generated content expected in the future. Instead il.lit.er.ate’s staff of editors, writers, artists, and photographers have, in some cases, simulated the end results of various online prompts to illustrate the publication to be. Think of it as a functional prototype of what we hope develops from within the community. Disagree with our choices? Well, now is your chance to put us in our place and show us what you really think. Go online, start a profile, and submit to il.lit.er.ate! content IconS The following icons identify different types of content within il.lit.er.ate. Each color denotes a different section within the magazine as seen here. web People like you, our readers, created profiles on illiteratemagazine.com and uploaded their work for review. After viewing all the online content and taking user votes into serious consideration, our team of editors hand picks material from the website for publication in the printed issue of il.lit.er.ate. = art web web = photo web = poetry web = fiction m mISSIonS Specific action-oriented projects relate to the theme of the issue.This type of content is open for interpretation by both users and il.lit.er.ate staff. featUre Creative individuals and groups selected by il.lit.er.ate’s editors are showcased as examples of standout talent in action. illiteratemagazine.com 7 table of contentS get acqUaInted wIth Il.lIt.er.ate magazIne About Our Next Issue :: 2 il.lit.er.ate Submission Form :: 4 Letter From the Editor :: 5, 6 Welcome to il.lit.er.ate :: 7 Staff and Thanks :: 10 Whoroscopes :: 132 art Untitled by Ethan Garton :: 12, 13 Post World Radical/Psychic Now (1 of 3) by Travis Egedy :: 14 Frost Giants Daughter by Jim Lemons :: 15 Untitled by Curran Hattleburg :: 16 Sole by Brian Robertson :: 18 Kill The Monsters, Kill Them All by Jim Lemons :: 40 Art Feature, Matt Furie :: 72 - 75 Art Feature, Interview with Andy Ducett :: 76 - 80 The Hurry Scurry Man by Brian Robertson :: 81 Photo Untitled by Hanna Quevedo :: 19 Babies by Curtis Peel :: 20 Juarez by Casey Kelly :: 21 Popcycle by Julia DeMarines :: 22 Untitled by Hanna Quevedo :: 23 Photo Feature, GI Gio Interview with Gio Toninelo :: 82 - 89 Photo Feature, Interview with Raphael Neal :: 90 - 96 Photo Feature, Narrative Derived from an Interview with Tread :: 98 - 102 Poetry Fears Numbered by Margaret Trissel :: 24 Like We Need More Heavy Metal by Avicado :: 25 What is the Things They Start to Chew 1st by Get in The Car, Helen :: 26 Hawaiian Garden by Anna Charlock :: 29 The Flight in Reverse by See Moore :: 28 8 Like the baby cares what color the fucking room is. comIcS My First Date by Noah Van Sciver :: 30, 31 Lord Gloom by Nicholas Gurewitch :: 31 No Survivors by Nicholas Gurewitch :: 31 Papua by Stan Yan :: 31 Mushroom Land Toad Race by Nicholas Gurewitch :: 104 Scorpy the Forest Friend by Nicholas Gurewitch :: 104 Baby by Nicholas Gurewitch :: 104 Comics Feature, The Good News According to Nick by David Malki! :: 104 - 107 fIctIon Irresisterible by Dave Witty :: 32 - 36 Fiction Feature, Mario Acevedo is the King of One-Liners, Interview with Mario Acevedo :: 108 - 109 mUSIc Interview with Tokyo Police Club by Josephine & the Mouse People aka Avi Sherbill & Danny Shyman :: 113 - 115 Interview with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club by Josephine & the Mouse People aka Avi Sherbill :: 116 - 120 artIcleS To Let Through by Jack Collom :: 46 - 52 An Intimate Long Distance Phone Conversation with Paul Soter Interview by Rob Geisen :: 110 - 112 graffItI AreYouBlind2 :: 123 Bond and Ceon :: 124 Rok2 :: 122, 127 Omo Bond :: 126 faShIon Fashion by Rock the Cradle, Photos by Michael Ramirez :: 68 mISSIonS DVLP Photo Contest :: 11 The Endangered Monsters List by Chris Moore :: 41 - 44 Make a Letter at Brown Elementary :: 47, 48, 53 Touch Your Inner Child :: 54 - 61 Branded From Birth: An il.lit.er.ate Approach to Child Marketing :: 62 - 67 Madlibs by Children and The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Spoon :: 70 - 71 illiteratemagazine.com 9 Staff Founder / Editor: Adam Gildar V.P.: Joseph Wall Managing Editor: Simone Groene-Sackett Art Director: Andi Todaro Art Editor: Sander Lindeke Poetry Editor: Yuzo Nieto Photo Editor: Isis Luce Comics Editor: Rachel Paton Music Editor: Danny Shyman Copy Editor: Melissa Davis Fashion Editor: Sky Sundberg Events Coordinator: Lulu Romero Web Design: Jeffrey Larrimore Front End Web Programming: Cypher 13 Ad Advisor: Nancy Kochis contrIbUtorS Writers: Rob Geisen, Chris Moore, Avi Sherbill Photographers: Kevin Shiramizu, Michael Ramirez, Rachel Paton, Andi Todaro Illustrators: Rachel Paton, Alex Todaro, Andi Todaro Other Contributors: Raphael Neal, Tread, Matt Furie, Andy Ducett, Mario Acevedo, Jack Collom, Nicholas Gurewitch, Paul Soter, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tokyo Police Club, Spoon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Michael Ramirez, Kevin Shiramizu, David Malki!, Curtis Peel, Curran Hattleberg, Ethan Garton, Travis Egedy, David Witty, Julia DeMarines, Casey Kelly, Jim Lemmons, Noah Van Sciver, Stan Yan, Anna Charlock, See Moore, Get in The Car Helen, Rock the Cradle, Jordan Jamison, Margaret Trissel, Bond, Rok2, AreYouBlind2, Ceon, Get in the Car Helen, See Moore, Avicado, Brian Robertson Special Thanks To: Nancy Kochis, Baily Rose, Robert Cole-Sackett, Austin Shrader, Felix Im, Firelily, Ben Desoto, Olatundji Akpo-Sani, Baobob Tree Press, Generation Think Tank, Poptronica, Modelos, Moxie, Fat Cat Studios, The Shoppe, Communikey, Monolith Festival, KIDS!. We would like to appologize for the following misprints from il.lit.er.ate issue #4: Photographer Linda Ohlson Graham’s name was misspelled as Linda Olson Graham. 10 Make homemade bread dough, not war. Il.lIt.er.ate and te an Il.lIt.e clothIng dvlPcr.athIng d dvlP lo PreSent PreSent >> love to hate m love to hate faShIon Photo mISSIon > > > > > > Overall quality of the photograph Originality Composition Overall impact Technique Capturing the Distinction / Connection between LOVE and HATE in Fashion the conteSt wIll be JUdged on the followIng: the wInner of the love to hate Photo conteSt wIll recIeve: > A Photo Feature in il.lit.er.ate issue #6 > A Full Outfit From DVLP Clothing > A Subscription to il.lit.er.ate Magazine to SUbmIt go to www.IllIteratemagazIne.com web Untitled Ethan Garton Watercolor 12 The Richard Lewis Vagina Monologues web Untitled Ethan Garton Watercolor illiteratemagazine.com 13 web Post World Radical/Psychic Now ( 1 of 3) Travis Egedy Mixed Media 14 Her perfect Pacman score laid waste to his Donkey Kong kill screen. web Frost Giants Daughter Jim Lemons Ink on Paper illiteratemagazine.com 15 web 16 It’s not like a can of ball spray; it’s not like that. Untitled (1,2 &3) Curran Hattleburg Ball point pen on paper illiteratemagazine.com 17 web Sole Brian Robertson Oil, Acrylic, Old Soul & Funk 45’ Sleeves & Resin on Panel 18 web Untitled Hanna Quevedo Photo illiteratemagazine.com 19 web Babies Curtis Peel Photo e 20 Don’t shit where you eat your pudding. web Juarez Casey Kelly Photo illiteratemagazine.com 21 web Popcycle Julia DeMarines Photo 22 There ain’t no other reason for a plastic baggie the size of y’er pinky nail, ‘cept to keep a crack rock in it; you know what I mean? web Untitled Hanna Quevedo Photo illiteratemagazine.com 23 web fearS nUmbered or dreams in no order Margaret Trissel 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. the the the the the women in your family have narrow hips and miscarriages women in your family white nightgown blood down your legs no midwife rusty edges pulling it open woman her back an arc you are fucking all of her. it is narrated velvet she has your face under her hand underneath her the house is on fire it’s underneath her the narration is sunk in velvet you and burning velvet you and the house. the house is a boat it’s got its own white linen her orgasm has nine syllables you cut them with your teeth the boat bears down the women in your family have ire and small breasts you’ve got sails white sails the moon and edges 9 lines for j she’s a pirate love song she syncopates she swaggers tender she drinks like a sailor and swims like a sailor she sails like a drinker and sinks like a stone. sleeps like a bone. she’s a fistful of vowels strung out on a laugh and her mouth is a hammer that keeps me in time she’s got bare cheekbones and a calloused tongue she’s got a long arc along the course of her cry a crease at the pulse in her thigh, she’s got me. 24 Well, Jews will always joke about God. web lIKe we need more heavy metal Avicado I wonder If thunder looks at lightning before she sounds & If lightning looks to earth before she crashes abound with her metallic roots forcing herself on us Like we need more heavy metal illiteratemagazine.com 25 web what IS the thIngS they Start to chew 1St Get in The Car, Helen What Is The Things They Start To Chew First while writing another letter to Helen and watching Jeopardy at the same time The Celetano Brothers invented frozen pizza. The pantry is now yelling at me. I dare you to use the words Frankie Yankovick in a sentence. fuck this trivia I’ll take why did Helen leave me for a thousand Alex Mojo is ketchup in Cuba. Can minnows survive in marinara sauce? What the hell is a 60’s twist? if you’ll wash my windows for scrambled eggs I will paint your house for bacon why? because it’s cold in this diner alone tonight and our love slides off the fork like that we belong on the same menu Who is the Silver Surfer. What are you doing tonight? What is the longest goddamned day of my life. 26 That rock’n’roll conductor story on 60 Minutes? Yeah, that was whack. my hall pass has steep feelings for your hall pass you loved me in a way that made a shitty day feel like a hot towel but now flowers sprout from the lies of your naughty bits Clairol vs. Loreal. How could I forget the wonder bra? How many Beatles albums did they sell in Britain? still, despite everything you are the sound in my head laughing every time I walk into a bar and the juke box is playing a song by Belly I am as old as a disposable razor. a disposable razor who loves you. these are the confessions of vampire unicorns and warm chicken soup illiteratemagazine.com 27 web the flIght In reverSe See Moore A dragonfly is a soul flying between bodies. The sullen itch of a phantom limb who drinks until she can no longer speak: I stood naked on the roof for five hours last night in hopes of spontaneous flight. The note says, the earth looks calm to the stars so I must have a bell lest I should be buried alive. I would be better off at ninety miles an hour without a seatbelt. And all your sensibility of sticking a fork in the socket, disconnected calls from thirty two digits away and floating but not swimming. And what was I thinking when I said hello. Her smiles wide regard tells me we both share bodies with our worst enemies. 28 It’s OK; take all the MySpace you need. web hawaIIan garden Anna Charlock Beneath gold armor skin pitaya’s seeds swim in gummy film. Swallow quickly for the taste is strange. Steal a yellow finger the size of a thumb. Peel and eat, it’s sweeter than others twice its size. A pendulum; the purple banana flower hanging heavyfist bud closed in leathery petals. Rambutan, that thorny fruit, tough pink pierced to suck soft white insides. With tongue and teeth strip pit and discard. Lastly, pomegranate: origin of sweet valentines’ wineBright flesh in a pale bed but these seeds are bitter. illiteratemagazine.com 29 30 I’m doing my part for Earth Day by bringing my Albertson’s bag to Safeway. Lord Gloom by Nicholas Gurewitch No Survivors by Nicholas Gurewitch Papua by Stan Yan illiteratemagazine.com 31 web 32 He passes out from horrible festering infections and grief. This was the first time that they had been together for seven months, for Jessica had been halfway across the country studying at boarding school, and Cobb had been left all alone, with only the memories of his sister for comfort. But they were finally reunited, once again, and the two were talking about the film they’d just viewed. It was their favorite film of all time, Titanic, and they both said how wonderful it would have been to have been there and to have seen the two lovers together. “It’s definitely the best film of all time,” said Cobb, nodding vigorously. “I agree,” replied his sister, the two of them as earnest as judges passing a sentence. It was rare that the two of them ever had a difference of opinion; even more rare for the two to argue. In fact, nowhere in the town of Devon could you find two happier siblings than Jessica and Cobb. Ask anyone. You just had to listen to them talk. Every syllable they uttered was inflected with fondness and affection. “Jessica, you know that I love you, don’t you?” Jessica nodded. In fact, she found the words soothing to her ears. Cobb could not have said anything more pleasing or more welcome. “Jessica, you know that I really love you, don’t you?” Again, Jessica enjoyed this current theme. The way he said it, it was so sweet and fraternal. “Jessica, I think I might love you a bit more than most brothers love their sisters. I think I might love you in the way that Leonardo loved Winslett.” “Oh.” No longer did Jessica feel quite so enamored. Instead, she felt a mixture of emotions: disgust, despair, confusion, pity. She couldn’t work out which was the strongest. She was speechless. She really didn’t know what she could possibly say. Never, for one minute, did she imagine Cobb to be capable of such thinking. “Cobb, do you really understand the full weight of what you’re saying?” But that was the problem. Cobb did. Cobb had thought about this for most of his adolescent life. He’d thought about sisterly-loving, and he’d come to certain conclusions and there was no way that anyone could persuade him any different. “There’s nothing wrong with my feelings. They’re perfectly natural. I just want to kiss you and touch you where it tickles. I don’t want to give you my semen. The last thing I want is a baby.” Again, this was the last thing that Jessica expected. She was hoping more for a retraction, but instead she got this: “Jessica, I love you, and I care about you deeply, and sometimes the only way to confer such affection is to engender the union of saliva. Can’t you understand that?” No, she couldn’t. No, she most certainly could not. She had loved Cobb for fifteen years and at no point had she thought about kissing him like a lover. “Cobb, I want you to go to your room and think about what you’ve just said.” Cobb nodded his sweet little cherubic head. “Maybe in the morning, Cobb, I’ll have forgotten this insult.” He kept nodding, almost deaf to her words. “Maybe in the morning, we can resume our fraternal bond.” He stood there, quietly breathing, whilst Jessica pulled herself into the duvet and proceeded to number the sheep in her head. Eventually, and with a resignation befitting such a knock-back, Cobb picked up his feet and went to bed, thinking all the time about his beautiful sister. He thought about what she had told him and, just as instructed, he thought about what he had said. But it was no good; he couldn’t alter the way that he was feeling. He was in love. What could he do? There was nothing, nothing in the whole wide world, that could in any way change how he felt about her. Nothing at all. The next day, Cobb woke to find Jessica gone, a note lying by the front door. She’d gone to see her friend, Judy, and wouldn’t be back until much later in the evening. This gave Cobb an idea. Why, he would find her the biggest heart he could possibly find and he would give it to her when she came back. Only then would she see his illiteratemagazine.com 33 true feelings. The problem lay with finding such a heart. They were not easy to come by in the middle of Devon; it wasn’t like China where they’re two-a-penny. Cobb had to do some real thinking, which he did right away. Two minutes later, and he had a great plan: he would go down to the field where the cows grazed, and he’d rip, from one of the heifers, a huge heart, which he could ribbon-tie and give to his sister. So, off he trundled. And, gosh, wasn’t he happy, endowed, as he was, with such a great idea for a present? The only dilemma came in choosing the right heart. How could he know which of the cows housed the best one? He simply couldn’t. Eventually, he decided to choose a cow at random, slicing it open, delicately, with a machete, before pulling from it what he took to be the cow’s heart, and then leaving the intestines hanging loosely from its carriage. Admittedly, he’d expected it to be a little more heart-shaped than it was, for all he knew of a heart was what he’d seen on a Hallmark greeting card, but he was clever enough to know that reality is often more complex than Hallmark. Unfortunately, though, such reflection was immaterial: for Cobb was holding the cow’s stomach rather than holding the cow’s heart. And this was because, as most learned people know, a cow has many stomachs. Four, to be precise. Probability, as it often seems to do with the stupid, was mocking poor Cobb that very morning. Still, Cobb did not know this, and he was even happier on the way home than he had been on the way to the field. As soon as he reached the house, he wrapped a ribbon round the bovine organ and spruced it up in preparation for Jessica’s return. Then, he waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And, gosh, he was so excited, he couldn’t move. He kept running through her expressions, imagining all the things that she’d do when confronted with a real heart: First, she’d feel amazement; but this, he was sure, would be followed very quickly by delight; and then finally, she’d surrender; she’d simply give in, he could feel it; she’d no longer be strong enough to resist him. She’d be his. So he waited. And he waited. And then finally he felt the knob twist. Jessica entered. She was happy. She’d just had a lovely day chatting to Judy, discussing Leonardo and what they’d do to him were he to become their slave. Jessica had vowed she’d treat him well, and that she’d look after him if he looked after her, but that she most certainly wouldn’t put up with any of that celebrity self-importance. She could be quite a strong-minded woman when she wanted to be. Still, as strong-minded as she may have been, Jessica certainly wasn’t ready for the shock she was about to receive. For as she entered the front door, there, right in front of her, was her brother, her sweet little innocent brother, coated in blood with a crazed, manic expression on his face, and what looked like a ribbonbestrapped stomach in his hands, a machete lying at his feet. “Cobb, what have you done?” Jessica in a state of amazement gasped hard, as if all oxygen had been denied her. “What are you holding in your hands?” This was great. Cobb could feel it coming. It was just how he had planned. First, the amazement; and then the sheer delight. He could feel it coming. He was so happy. Oh, how delighted she will be in a minute. “Is this some kind of a joke? Or have you gone crazy?” Well, this, admittedly, was a little bit different from what he’d planned. In fact, Cobb was a little perturbed by this sudden shift in her temper, because where he had expected delight, instead he perceived anger. But even so, he was still willing to believe this was just a temporary departure. “Are you trying to tell me that this is a present? Are you mad? Have you actually gone crazy?” Cobb was speechless. He didn’t really know what he could possibly say to such a question. “Cobb, I never want to speak to you again as long as the two of us live.” And with that, she was gone, the door slammed, and her presence vanished. 34 I wish Morgan Freeman were here; he’d know what to do. Poor innocent and simple Cobb – he was shattered. It was almost as if his heart had been ripped out and then handed back to him in spite. In fact, if one had entered the story at this point, then that is probably what one would have thought, seeing him standing there, the crazed grin now a look of abandonment, the stomach slowly slipping from his grip. Jessica, on the other hand, was incensed. She had never felt quite so enraged in her life. How could Cobb do this to her? What sort of brother woos his sister with a bloodied, self-harvested heart? She couldn’t quite believe it. It was as if all reason in life had disappeared, and she was now forced to face a future of chaos. Cobb was the one bastion of stability in her life – he was her cushion, her safety net, her shoulder – and now that was all ruined, gone without warning. There was only one place she could think of going: to Judy’s. The two of them, whilst rating Leonardo’s best features, could try to make sense of this unforeseen horror. As she made her way over to young Judy’s abode, she started to consider, with rage-tinted logic, the best way to obviate Cobb’s feelings. She would have to do something quite extreme, something quite nasty. With his emotions so strong and so wretched, she realized delicate measures would be useless. Then it hit her. She knew exactly how to quell Cobb’s fervent desires. She would cut up her face with a razor. That’s what she would do. She would render herself horrid; utterly grotesque. She’d be so ugly, so offensive to the human eye, that the cure would be almost immediate. What a plan! It was fool-proof.. And she would get Judy to perform the mutilation, for she knew Judy would love the artistic freedom. Not only that, but she was always going on about plastic surgery, young Judy was, to the point that Jessica had found it quite tiresome – talking about getting this done, talking about getting that done, but now, here was her chance to experience it: not only to witness firsthand the procedure, but to be the person in charge of the damage. She couldn’t wait to tell Judy about her plan, The two of them would make sure she was repellent – the most repulsive, repellent human being on the planet. As you’d expect, Cobb couldn’t sleep that night. He kept twitching and tossing back and forth. Eventually, he got up, sat outside, and waited for the sun to rise in the distance. There were lots of flies and mosquitoes but he didn’t care; he was too lost in his thoughts of dear Jessica. He loved that girl like he had never loved anyone. No one could take that away from him, for that was how he felt. And who’s to say that he was wrong to feel the way he did? She might be his sister, but he could kiss her; he could hug her; he could stroke her; there was nothing wrong with that. He could even tweak her pert little nipples if he wanted. None of those things were in any way indecent. After all, it was only the sexing bit which was bad; that’s what he kept telling himself. And why was the sexing bit bad? Well, it was bad because of the handicapped children. But if they were to have sex with the aid of a condom, then they wouldn’t be doing anything wrong, would they? They would be perfectly within the realms of decent living. He knew he was right. He knew he wasn’t crazy. And then suddenly, he heard footsteps. He recognized those footsteps immediately. He recognized the shoes. They were Jessica’s; her lovely white Keds. He couldn’t believe it: she was back. She had finally seen sense and understood his true feelings. They could talk about this together now, and they could do so whilst they stroked each other’s fingers. He was so excited; he couldn’t wait to accept her apology. “Jessica, you’re back. I can’t believe it. I really thought I would never see you ever again.” He could hear illiteratemagazine.com 35 the footsteps getting closer. Any minute now. Any minute now, and her face would be illumined by the light on the patio, and her body would finally say goodbye to the darkness. He couldn’t wait. The anticipation was incredible. “Well, here I am,” is what she said; and, as if on cue, she stepped into the spotlight. “What do you think?” It was too much for him. It was too much for her poor little brother to handle. He bent forward and he retched into the hydrangeas. She was putrescent: her face looked as if it had been savaged by a hundred hungry wolves. “What have you done?” he screamed violently. “What have you done to yourself? You look revolting.” In fact, part of her left ear was still hanging off like an earring. If you are trying to punish me, Jessica, then you’re punishing yourself in the process.” He had never seen anything quite like it: in a world of sick images, she was sicker than all those put together and more. “No one will ever be able to love you looking like that. They’ll think you a freak. They’ll make you a pariah and you’ll end up committing suicide.” He was right. Jessica had neglected to think of the future. In her rage and her impatience to correct him, she had forgotten to consider the repercussions of her actions. She could do nothing now but surrender to heavy weeping. She had been stupid. So exceedingly stupid. Where words may have fixed the problem, she had instead chosen the ways of the knife. And now she regretted it. She was disgusting. Both physically and mentally vile. “No one will ever love me,” she wailed hopelessly. “No one will ever love someone so ugly.” She couldn’t believe it; couldn’t believe that she had done this. “I’ll be alone now. I’ll never find anyone. Who would honestly love something so wretched?” She then waited for her brother’s reassurance and, like a dog running back to its owner, it came speedily and full of affection. “Someone will,” he said gently; “I, for one, will always love you, my dear Jessica; no matter how much you hack away at your body.” This was exactly what Jessica wanted to hear; it made her so happy. She then took Cobb in her arms and they embraced each other warmly.“Thank you, Cobb,” she said softly; “you’re the best brother I could ever wish for.” She then kissed him, on his vomit-laced mouth, and began to smile at the thought of their friendship. They were siblings once again, and it felt lovely. 36 Next year’s Christmas Card: Standing Outside An ATM Looking Sad 37 cypher13.com 38 illiteratemagazine.com 39 web Kill The Monsters, Kill Them All Jim Lemons Ink on Paper 40 “Teacher, what is a soul?” “That is an excellent question.” m the endangered monSterS lISt by Chris Moore a group of the leading marine biologists from the Pacific Rim stand around a frozen 1,000 pound cephalopod discussing how best to defrost the phantasmagoric beast. It has eight short arms and two long tentacles that end in hooked clubs; in the middle of each arm is a beak like that of a fifteen-foot tall canary from Hell. As the rabble dies down, someone can clearly be heard suggesting they simply run it under cool water, as you would any gigantic piece of seafood. However, it would take four days for the creature to thaw, and by that time, the outside would already be a rotting hunk of chum1. Another observer suggests they wrap the specimen in dozens of electric blankets to create “a giant squid-warming sandwich.”2 “Why don’t we nuke it?” one scientist offers. The other scientists slowly warm to the idea, in spite of the obvious volume limitations of the modern microwave oven. Nuke it. Yes… but in what? Nguyen Tran, a professor of mi- crowave engineering at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, steps forward from the crowd. He suggests they use a tremendous industrial-grade microwave, typically applied to facilitate the drying of lumber. This is no ordinary microwave mind you. Tran’s Goliath kitchen appliance has a volume of eight cubic meters and is powered by its own generator. Get this: To assist in the defrosting and prevent the squid from cooking, Tran suggests the creature be basted in a special butter.3 The meeting above never occurred and, as much as it seems like a joke, there is no punch line. It is, however, a rough approximation of an ongoing discussion of what to do with the first colossal squid ever captured alive. Which is now… dead. And frozen. There is no definite date set, nor method agreed upon, for the defrosting. Squid consist primarily of water, and if not properly handled, this half-ton bag of ooze could, quite literally, drip right through the fingers of the scientific community. In a March 15, 2007 interview with BBC News, Bruce Marshall, collections manager of New Zealand’s national museum in Te Papa and the man in charge of keeping the squid carcass, said, “We don’t want to move it too much… when you get it out of the water, you’ve got a big lump of weight and you could try lifting it and your hands would go right through.”4 Monsters do exist. There is something under our bed and in the closet and basement and under the waves we sail. However, they are endangered. If there is one thing monsters hate, it’s scrutiny. Under scrutiny, every monster shrivels up. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of years of debunking, we have killed off or explained away the giant, the unicorn, the dragon, and the fierce jackalope to name 1 One News, “Scientists Flooded With Squid Ideas.” One News, March 21st, 2007. http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411365/1031855 2 Ibid 3 Australian Associated Press, “Aussie Offers to Help Defrost NZ Squid.” The Age, March 23, 2007. http://www.theage.com.au/news/ World/Aussie-offers-to-help-defrost-NZ-squid/2007/03/23/1174597840311.html 4 Griggs, Kim, “Colossal Squid’s Headache for Science.” BBC News Online, March 15th 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6453997.stm illiteratemagazine.com 41 a few. They’re not all gone though. I’m starting the endangered monsters list to raise awareness and I’m putting Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni right at the top. Sometimes the hard scientific truth is just as entertaining and laughable as the best jokes, although you might have a hard time laughing at a colossal squid if it were staring you down with a set of dilated eyes the size of dinner plates. Dr. Steve O’Shea of the Auckland University of Technology, arguably the most notable and high-profile researcher of mollusks (perhaps the only well known mallacologist among laymen) has said, “It really has to be one of the most frightening predators out there” in an April 2003 BBC article .5That was five years ago and Dr. O’Shea was referring to the colossal squid specimen captured in the Ross Sea off the coast of New Zealand that year. The 2003 specimen is 6 meters long, or almost 20 feet; by way of comparison, a large SUV is only around 4.5 meters long. The frozen creature captured 2007, mentioned previously, is an entirely different league. In natural habitat, around 3,000 in in its to 4,000 feet below the surface, most creatures survive the 1,600 plus pounds of pressure per-square-inch simply by being small. The colossal squid is a leviathan by comparison. Before humans, its only natural predator was the sperm whale, and even then the squid could put up a fight; whalers often find scars on the backs of sperm whales that they attribute to the oversized beak of the squid. Some experts claim, “Thanks to rising temperatures, squid and octopuses are gradually becoming larger… The upside of global warming is that we could soon be enjoying meaty calamari rings as large as tractor tires.”6 It’s hard not to picture a plate of calamari portioned like a Flintstones-style Brontosaurus burger. By the way, there is a difference between giant and colossal squid. The giant is long and thin, and the colossal variety is larger with razor-sharp hooks on the ends of its tentacles; the colossal is also more aggressive. Until now, the specimen captured in 2003, a colossal squid, was the largest specimen scientists had seen the recently captured colossal squid specimen is nearly twice the length. In November 2004, Peruvian authorities seized 700 keys of cocaine hidden in 25 tons of frozen giant squid. Seven individuals were arrested in connection with the drugs;7 the frozen squids were detained for questioning. In that same year, Japanese scientists captured images of a giant squid as it attacked attached to special bait hooks bait on a camera. The scientists proceeded to tear one of the squid’s arms off and reel it in after taking the beauty shot. Architeuthis and Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni (giant and colossal squid), as they are referred to in both the scientific and Latin communities, are in no way camera-shy. The monsters have been spotted numerous times before. There is the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Jules Verne novel from which it was adapted. The Beast, by Peter Benchley, was also written into a 1996 made-for-TV movie – which received less than stellar reviews – as well as countless more Hollywood attempts to capture an 5 Ibid 6 Moore, Paula, “Giant Squid is Evidence of Trouble to Come.” American Chronicle, March 9th 2007. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/ viewArticle.asp?articleID=21858 7 BBC News, “Peru Drugs Hidden in Giant Squid.” BBC News Online, November 16th, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4016291.stm 42 I love you. You’re seriously better than Iron Man. That’s right; Iron Man. encounter with the fear-inspiring Architeuthis. Even the Latin name seems to suggest “toothy,” and in their cinematic incarnation they are always vested with intelligence and cunning equal to the most cynical, moustache-twirling villains of yore, despite that, like most celebrities, they probably have the reasoning ability of a goldfish. They certainly look like monsters, and they are certainly real; but they will only be monsters as long as we know as little as we do. It is hard to say when big squids first gained celebrity status, but there are stories of encounters with squid-like sea monsters dating back hundreds of years. On medieval and renaissance maritime maps, sea creatures resembling the giant squid were used to mark the unknown, unexplored parts of the globe; the parts we could hardly even imagine, save for the strange life-forms that might dwell there. These early encounters were always dismissed as the yarns of intoxicated sailors and crazies; the squid was just a figment of the imagination until the first authenticated encounter took place in 1545 off the shores of Den- mark.8 For several hundred years prior to this encounter, the giant/ colossal squid was known as the Kraken to Norse sailors who were familiar with the frozen waters it calls home. Somewhere along the line, the creatures swam out of our imaginations and began to breed on their own. Or, alternately, swam out of the oceans and into our imaginations. In the conclusion to his book Search for the Giant Squid, Richard Ellis says, “We know we are supposed to believe, but still we doubt” in regards to a squid much larger than anything we have seen before. Some scientists speculate that the creatures could grow up to 66 feet long based on pieces of tentacle either washed ashore or found inside sperm whales. In an article in Seafood New Zealand, a fishing industry magazine, Dr. Steve O’Shea reports that Architeuthis can reach “a total length of 20 meters,”9 and as far as estimates go, this is a relatively conservative one. As humans begin to fish in deeper waters the possibility of pulling up even larger creatures as the by- catch of commercial fishing nets is increased. (“Bycatch” is a fishing industry euphemism for anything unintentionally hauled in during commercial fishing, including dolphins and sea turtles, in addition to the targeted tuna. ) Until a larger specimen is captured though, they are still just a figment of the imagination. This is only one monster in an ocean full of monsters, and we know less about the depths of the ocean than we do about the human brain. Perhaps our intuitive childhood fear of large things at great depths should be reexamined. It is mid-February in the South Pacific. The water is cold to say the least, and a New Zealand fishing vessel is retrieving deep-water longlines set to catch Patagonian toothfish. It is sunny and bright in spite of the Antarctic winter conditions. As the fishermen pull in the load of six foot long prehistoric-looking deepocean fish, the line grows suddenly heavy. Something is pulling from an immense depth. It takes more than an hour to reel it up to the point of visual contact. Whatever is below the surface, it is struggling desper- 8 Ellis, Richard. The Search for the Giant Squid. New York: Lyons Press, 1998, 248-249. 9 O’Shea, Steve. “Giant Squid in New Zealand Waters.” Seafood New Zealand illiteratemagazine.com 43 ately to remain shrouded in the inky darkness, jerking the line downward with tremendous force. As the crane battles to bring the oversized alien to the surface, the fisherman gather at the gunwale, alarmed as ten writhing arms flail just beneath the frigid waves. The creature’s skin is a ghostly grey, then beige, and then something closer to pink. It changes its flesh tone based on its mood and surroundings. The fishermen grow pale as well. Immediately, they spring to action and net the creature they have only heard stories about. It struggles in the crosshatching of rope, making it evident that the creature is wounded and weak. Gaffs are used to haul the animal, now nearly dead, aboard and they sink into the jelly skin with ease. What is all muscle and predator underwater is as helpless and doomed as a human would be in the beast’s home at a depth of 4,000 feet. The creature fights for two hours, then gives in and dies. Its tremendous eyes go milky and its skin settles on a single color. It is defeated. The frozen fishermen stand around the soon to be frozen monster with admiration and awe. They are all now monster-slayers. When measured, the creature weighs 990 pounds and is 33 feet in length. The fact is: we need this particular monster. We need to maintain that childhood fear of the dark and the deep because that fear inspires both human curiosity and imagination at the same time. On the other side of the coin, it is true that we have begun to deplete the oceans of fish, so much so that as many as 80% of the commercially valuable predatory fish species, such as tuna, have been classified as overfished,10 and worldwide, 75% of fisheries have been classified as fully exploited or overfished.11 As this happens, we will look to deeper waters for food, and as a consequence, we will begin to haul in more unknown species, such as the giant and colossal squid. In order to preserve them, monsters must be studied, but it is the very studying, the bringing into light, that kills them. The mysterious becomes suddenly ordinary and after the climax of delayed gratification, the object of scientific curiosity is found to be commonplace. In The Search for the Giant Squid, Richard Ellis concludes that “We need to find the giant squid, but we need also not to find the giant squid.” After I am finished with my endangered monsters list, I am building a monster preserve. I envision a place where these poor, plighted creatures will be free to romp in their own ambiguous existence, far from the microscope and the camera, in the depths of the imagination. If you want to help, forget you even read this article. 10 Myers, Ransom A and Boris Worm. “Rapid Worldwide Depletion of Predatory Fish Communities.” Nature 423 (May 15th, 2003): 280-283. 11 Clover, Charles. The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat. (New York: The New Press, 2006) 21. 44 Alcoholics For Obama. illiteratemagazine.com 45 by Jack Collom American schoolchildren in the 30’s and ‘40’s were not usually encouraged to write imaginatively, except for occasional mirrorings of William Cullen Bryant and the like. At least not in Western Springs, Illinois, where I was born in ’31. I grew up loving language and its wayward humors, but never wrote anything on my own until I was past twenty, save one age-11 burlesque of The Raven along the lines of “bottles of old rotten beer”. At school, we were given the impression that all possible poetry had already been written by bearded gentlemen or ladies in hoop skirts. For another, we were taught to take poems not as speech or verbal dance but as idea-puzzles, mostly in the service of virtue: “But what does the whiter spider mean?” We studied poetry but we didn’t write it, nor see it from the standpoint of the act of writing. We wrote poetry to exercise proper English. In eighth grade, little old Miss Edgar filled some of us with a love for literature. She gave me, a mere B student, the English Prize, and called me an oyster – hiding my pearls. When I reached college age, I studied Forestry at Colorado A&M. Science and art were separated by a particularly wide gulf in those years; the closest I remember coming to any literature as a college boy were Philip Wylie bull sessions in the coffee shop, appreciation of radio’s Bob ‘n’ Ray, and a little Thornton Wilder in lit class. Somehow, I became interested in “culture.” My woodsy boyhood had stimulated the desire in me to look closely at things; I started to transfer that tendency to books and other artifacts. And close looks can lead to action. In the Air Force I hung out with some artists and read a lot of high-quality fiction, peaking with Stendhal and Dostoevsky. Since my friend who loved painting actually painted, I started writing stories (or self-absorbed coming-of-age bleats). Then, while stationed in Tripoli, Libya one light-workload day, I wrote my first poems. I was immediately hooked. I found writing to be a discovery process rather than a mere recording process. Language was, as I knew, more than a mechanical fact-and-idea messenger; hands-on poetry clinched the lesson. I kept writing poems. Rather than possessing any actual how-to knowledge in becoming a poet, I sensed energy from all around me, people and nature, and I had a love of language. A series of permissions rather than instructions led me to the actual steps heading into poetry was a series of permissions rather than instructions. Permission to read a lot, to joke beyond telling jokes, to write for the fun of it, to rhyme, not to rhyme, to trust weirdness. All these, plus various stances toward “the Poetic” came to me as parts of a patchwork so attractive that it meant putting off the necessity of ascribing meaning to things until a larger picture contextualized them. At the same time, the poetry instructions I found in books were also valuable: the force of their linguistic pushups became, first, familiar, then loved. I began to learn the necessity of building a solid ground for imagination to spring from; solid not only in English but also in geography, math, biology, and lifelike rhythms. But these permissions came as fortuitous encounters, in and out of books. “Permissions” seems to presuppose an enlightened authority figure, but I had none, except my sense of the personality and punishments of the culture as a whole. Some permissions bounced out in good time; others much later. 46 Yeah, it was Shakespeare. I called him a drunkard. m Mission: Make a Letter at Brown Elementary School Photographer: Kevin Shiramizu illiteratemagazine.com 47 m 48 Billy Crudup in the Mark Walberg E! True Hollywood Story of Jamiroquai Some have yet to appear. I read the standard Louis Untermeyer compilations (great poems, not-so-greats, under glass). Then, when I’d been attempting poetry for seven years, I was given Donald Allen’s anthology, The New American Poetry. For about five minutes, I didn’t like it. I’d been searching for wildness-but this seemed uncomfortably wild. Then, I fell head over heels in love with a whole lot of it. I hadn’t realized, incredible though it may seem, that you could simply (and complexly) write what was in front of you; I’d thought poems were necessarily generalized, passed through much time, and many layers of the philosophizing mind. This epiphany (call it immediacy) immediately changed my life, and has continued doing so, along with all its necessary opposites. Big permission. This year, as many before, I spent a few days at Casey Middle School. Master Teacher Val Wheeler’s motto is “Poetry All Year.” She likes to use poetry as a lead-in to a variety of subject matter, as if the poetic sense were the lubricant to all learning. Casey is the “downtown” middle school in Boulder. Its traditions are progressive; its student body includes much ethnic diversity; school announcements come over the P.A. in English and Spanish. We worked and played with more than 20 different writing ideas in five days; four classes a day. Included in the anthology are: Permission takes place and moves throughout the geometry of ideas in multifarious shapes and angles, e.g.: The “Going-inside” idea, from Sheryl Noethe’s inspiration upon reading the poem “Stone” by Charles Simic, invites the reader out of his or her usual self (open permission) and into an object or creature (permission specified) of the writer’s own choosing, to write from that point of view. In class, I began with something like, “How many of you have ever, even for a moment, wished you were something different than you are? An eagle flying over the peaks, a wave in the ocean, a famous rock star?” Most raised a hand. Then came Simic’s poem, read aloud, in which he says other people can become doves or tigers, but he wants to turn into a stone. Seems like a strange choice: a dusty chunk that people step on. Then, he very casually makes the stone interesting by bringing out its inner interest. It’s a “riddle;” ah yes, stones have secret insides, we realize. He gets it in motion, has it tossed into water and curiously nosed by fishes then, still casually, suggests that the sparks set off when you rub stones together are signs of their internal activity. Thus licensed, his imagination plunges into the stone’s center, where we find the evidence: spooky moonlight, hieroglyphics, and star maps on the inner wall – a sudden fairyland; the “magic” that’s inside everything pictured as a Magic Place. This imaginative plunge has been set in motion – permitted, if you will, by a bit of pretense. Simic knows, no doubt, that the sparks come from friction, but performs the little white lie of seeming to believe otherwise, which enables him to bust down the door, as it were, to enter into the stone. After reading Simic’s poem, it’s important to share a few going-inside poems by kids as well, examples showing a variety of possible handlings of the idea of metamorphosis. Before asking the students to write, I ask for some of the “destinations” they’ve thought of, to make sure a spread of possibilities is in the air: “A star!” “My dog’s brain!” “I’m going to be a lightbulb!” You’re setting up a balance of permissions and directions. And the two overlap: the variety among the model poems can be directive and permissive at thesame time. illiteratemagazine.com 49 At Casey, Haly Hodgkins decided to be a fly: If I could be anything anything I would be a fly the endless buzzing witnessing, watching seeing the world through millions of eyes catch me if you can for I am a fly landing where the four lines meet flying high high above the many tensions the loud noises, the talking, annoying breathing, living my short life Look down on the love the hate that tears people apart the many emotions because I feel none I feel the wood the rough cement the plump and juicy steak resting beneath my legs I find comfort outdoors past the clear glass a fly so high peace in the air because I am better than that. out more like a continuum than a sentence. Then, in the tossing-off of the devil-may-care “I feel none” remark, the ﬂy’s personality emerges. And the ﬂy itself emerges, “past the clear glass” (you can see her but you can’t swat her) “because I am better than that”. The perfect ending; clear, but with a twist of the unexpected. These subtle shuttles and balances were, to an extent, encouraged into being by the system of qualified permissions, the ‘back-and forth-ness,’ of the warm-ups. Acrostics are often used as a species of wordplay, usually a ladder of adjectives by which the students describe themselves. But if the students are shown various example poems in which the lines run out to indefinite lengths, any number of words, before folding back into acrostic shape, they may create a more intricate, suggestive self-portrayal. Gabi Murillo demonstrates: G uarding the music that A spires to more than it can B ecome. Leaving traces of I mperfection in the snow. M uffins have begun to U ndertake the R ule of the world I n a way that L ikely will L ash out under the heat of the O ven Gabi uses music, snow, and muffins as images of his highly poetic (and intentionally tinged with ridiculousness) attempts to make his mark. Metapoetics is poetry talking about itself. When I started asking students to write poems about poems, I feared the results might be dry, convoluted, self- The repetition of “anything” in the beginning emphasizes the fly’s freedom, as does the initial lack of punctuation and the freeform rhythm of phrasing. You can feel the fly’s random flight in the way the phrases string 50 Don’t worry they’re fine – finally dead. concious. But what happened instead is that via the implied permissions of a motley array of examples read aloud, students have consistently taken Poetry as a big avenue to anywhere, or as a stand-in for their own impulses;, a synonym for life’s spirit. Here are a couple of Casey’s search parties: Both these poems are energy rushes; one horizontal, one vertical. Both embody surprising changes and black humor. Both show poetry as an active world. Good creative writing exercises are permission. The late Joe Brainard’s, “I remember” idea, for example, invites items from memory as a whole. Then the particular visions of each student can enjoy free play. The students definitely have visions, in which thought is activated and their personal feelings about Poetry is like running through a jungle being chased by something oh no, you look behind you and your journal and pen are chasing you you pause just for a moment and before you know it words are pouring out onto the paper. Then all at once you are a p.o.w., a prisoner of words… You close your eyes and open them once and you find yourself falling through a black hole, FALLING, Falling, falling, f-a-l-l-i-n-g… --Lina Garcia-Rodriquez life can be realized in detailed images. Poetry makes me feel invisible strong weak lost unknown forgotten slow love hate pain smart goth emo preepy girly weird Me --Rita Madrid To prescribe or strongly foreshadow the underlying philosophy in writings by children, (“Write a story of someone who learns the value of courage” or even “Write about the feel of your home in terms of its colors”), can certainly be good training for tomorrow’s adults. Concurrently, it’s of immense value to issue invitations that give plain, mechanical, easy-to-follow directions (“Think of an interesting word and write it down the left side of your paper, skipping a line between each pair of letters”) and leave the “soul” of the writing open (“Play with ideas-write the images that come into your head”). Even though, in many cases, an excellent vision may not be particularly achieved, the process will be underway. You’re facilitating the dynamic blend of language (which can be seen as a sea of social possibility) and being true to oneself. illiteratemagazine.com 51 Without an invitation, the chief inhibition preventing most children (and most adults, for that matter) from poetic expression is that the personal and its phrasings are apparently not wanted by anyone. “Who cares?” is a common childhood (or childish) outcry. Life’s pressures accumulate, in early years especially, to authenticate the impersonal at the personal’s expense. Generalizations seem larger than perceptions to many people, whereas they’re simply easier. And clichés are often figures of personal language that have lost personality though repetition and rote availability. Sometimes we use clichés because we’re afraid not to unite or identify ourselves with what seems to be the good sense of the majority. Other inhibitions to expression may be powerful as well, including the shyness caused by being in a cultural minority. Poetry invites the down-to-earth fact, which is sometimes plain and simple, but also sparkles with difficult originality. The visiting poet says, in effect: Your daily life is important, and so are the rhythms and tropes of your own way of talking about it. Let’s write it! But he or she performs that invitation in down-to-earth terms: You can write some memories as plain as this one, by a sixth-grade girl: ‘I remember when I flopped down in my chair and closed my eyes.’ Permission to say something that simple, that non-explanatory, is not achieved simply. I feel it’s a basic step on which all further writing refinement bases itself. Collaborative poems, wherein the papers are passed, in mid-composition, between two or more students, certainly amount to permissions for new kinds of thinking (that are nevertheless built from previous knowledge). Pass-around poems can be done fruitfully (Warning: the process may cause the classroom to explode) in an endless variety of ways, i.e., switch papers after an acrostic line, after a predetermined number of words, after a sentence, after a fragment, after a covered-up line (exquisite corpse) or even at any time when the teacher calls out, “Switch!” Mistranslations, insertion of words, collage techniques, placing words in a grid, writing what can fit in one exhalation of breath or what you see when you open your eyes, are also fun and useful prompts. This variety in itself encourages students to think of poetry as a vast range of potentialities. The place of permission in writing is far more than creative word games and encouraging back-pats for beginners. Even Shakespeare was very importantly a phenomenon of permission. Much of what keeps the vast majority of writers from achieving a Shakespearean level – what most would perhaps call lack of “talent” and let the matter rest undefined – is a certain trepidation about exceeding the safe bounds of tradition. This is not to say that Shakespeare was a pure experimenter; obviously not. He utilized tradition and innovation in incredibly intense blends. To suggest a specific, his transitive verbs alone amount to a storm continuum of motion in all things, great and fine, and this new and untrammeled energy has everything to do with permission. Perhaps Shakespeare gave himself permission to exercise what later was known as the Napoleonic mind; the ability to focus on many things at once. “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio…” All this is not meant to replace traditional instruction in poetry or in literature. I believe strongly in multiple avenues of teaching any subject. To study writers as precisely as possible and how they achieve their effects is more than fine; it is essential. But these teachings should be accompanied by, and twined with, hands-on explorations such as all the above and much more. Poetry is magic talk. 52 “Yo fumo mucho. Yo tomo mucho, yo soy un animal de la fiesta.” m illiteratemagazine.com 53 m Pyschology tells us that we never truly outgrow our adolescent self; rather, layers of ever maturing selves stack ever higher atop the child within. Even for those of us not far removed chronologically from this era of innocence, we often do our darndest to distance our current incarnation from our core kiddos. Still, beneath the hard nosed veneer of even the most cultured among us squirms a wining, slobbering, bundle of illogical association; a tiny tot who’s perspective on the complexities of life can radically change in mere moments based on a much needed hug, a bodily “accident”, or a shiny object. il-lit-er-ate has discovered the one true way to peel the onion and recapture this state of silly bliss and magnificent mood swings, all without the use of botox, pubic shaving, or mind altering substances. To connect with your inner booger eater, first you’ve got to look the part. Think back to your favorite attire from those golden moments of childhood: the threadbare onezee worn before bed everynight or that babydoll dress with the stretch leggings. Go to the kids section in your local thrift store and find the closest approximation to the prized outfit. Next, set the stage for success by putting yourself in an environment condusive to the three F’s: flailing, falling, and most important of all fun! Do it with a friend, because children like other children. So take off your designer threads, put down your cell phone and spend an afternoon chasing down your infantile past. 54 She’s not cute in any life, not even second life. The ba bysitte r come the boo s over, b tube, and ins offers our two tead of a bit of tatter to turning anatom asks. Y ts: “Are on ical ed es, yes booge ucation rs like they ar to poop? e, you ” Simo little sh ne it-eate r. Dig in . illiteratemagazine.com 55 56 Don’t you know art is dead. So is hip-hop. Long live the second coming of disco. it h ped w g s to p your o rn d o c p on b e a ts we poo N o th in g ll o w s . s ta rd a rs h m a c h ti m e ! ll o w m u Lun rd (y e , and m it h th is sauce , m u s ta h ti n g w c o la te k e tc h u p our fo o d fi g n !) , c h o b e a ts h o ff y oupo to w a s o th in g , G re y P h a rd e r g, but n th in a re And no im e n ts : Cond e a rd . a fu ll b re . N o te fa u have hen yo fa c e w illiteratemagazine.com 57 an d ar an te ed fly ing st ch or e; it gu ec ts ar e a s alw ay s th e be ve s wa on ly sid e- eff Ra kin g th e lea us pla ye rs . Th e . pu rs uit s of se rio ur ar ms an d fa ce ng ing , tw o ma in plu ide r bit es on yo an d litt le pin k sp fu ll- bo dy ra sh “Look Mom! One hand!” 58 Rose is the white man’s Alizé. The time for revenge is upon our heroine. No one stuffs her head in away with it! I hope a pile of leaves and get the spiders bite your s eyes out. illiteratemagazine.com 59 safely ysitter e bab gain. With th ’s playtime a arena d, it ditche perfect sion. are the aggres Parks hecked c ! His for un is MINE ahorse off, you That se e! Get is Spik name l! dirty gir 60 I’m gonna purge and eat another frankfurter. F r ie n d s a g a in , th e r k id - s w u g r a ts e a t m in h o ld h g li n g in th r e e ands, th e s u s p id e r th e s ti n n y a ir cky-sw b it e s , a n d tw . The a n it c h eat mu o c le a a ft e r n o s k o f th y rash r m in d s o m e ti on exp , d ia r r e ir u n iq s, hap m e . It ’s e r im e n h e a ( fo py and ue t earne r tw o ) c h il d ’s s a ti a te , a s tr d th e m p la y. d, read awber y fo r a r ie d e nap. Y lb o w, ou sho u ld tr y th is illiteratemagazine.com 61 m Power rangerS oPeratIon overdrIve mega mISSIon helmet – $48.88 (PlUS S&h) “Rangers, your new mission: buy more shit.” Connects to the internet via a USB cable and downloads secret missions so you can actually become your favorite ranger. Although only a small portion of kids use the internet, that number is growing, a fact which hasn’t slipped by those involved in “reaching” kids. Impressions of a brand are more effective when the child interacts with the products than when they are just observed on a television set. 62 Why can’t you just say, “You don’t know?” instead of, “It’s a hamburger bar?” were yoU a nIKe KId? or an adIdaS one? Maybe you were the cat at the schoolyard who always had her Polly Pocket ready at the drop of a hat. Nowadays you might be an American Apparel type of person, or a Members Only hombre. The truth is brands form a large part of our identity, from the cradle to the grave. You might be a FiberPlus later in life. Then again, certain brands never seem to fade, no matter the life stage. From the sippy cup, to the high ball glass, to the IV drip it’s “All ways Coca-Cola”. Some would say this is a bad thing; that we are merely billboards for corporations. But the other side of the coin says this way of thinking of ourselves is inevitable; if we didn’t have Urban Outfitters to tell us who we were, we’d be the ‘Loincloth guy’ or the ‘Twigs-in-the-Hair girl.’ All this branding business takes hold the minute you’re born and gains momentum in the first few years of life. We’ve put together an il.lit.er.ate catalogue for you to shop around and learn a few things about how kids become brand fiends. It ain’t magic, it’s marketing babies! hannah montana bacKStage cloSet $34.99 eXclUSIvely at wal-mart Somehow Disney has managed to take a living breathing human, Miley Cyrus, and turn her into a big bulging wallet with pigtails (in 2007 Miley, named so because she’s “full of smiles,” earned 3.5 million dollars and her show reached 7.38 million viewers). This must have item comes complete with a door directly to the imaginary stage, spinning clothing rack, and flip-down bed; however, this is not the setting where fifteen year old actress Miley Cyrus provocatively posed for semi-nude cell phone pictures posted to the internet. Conspicuously missing from this play set, as with most birthday disappointments, is the plastic diva herself. Not too worry Hanna Montana dolls, as well as digital cameras, backpacks, complete wardrobe, video games, i-pod stations, home décor, DVD’s and other essential accessories are all available at the megastore that employs more people than the U.S. military. illiteratemagazine.com 63 coUnt chocUla: (dIScontInUed) 20oz. coca cola claSSIc: $1.00 yoU go gIrl! barbIe: $14.99 395 calories, 4 grams of fat, and enough sugar to ensure a hearty case of adult onset diabetes in every 100 gram serving. Though the cereal boasts: “Made with whole grain,” 47 grams of that 100 gram serving consist of sugar. Research has shown even that children as old as eight have trouble distinguishing the persuasive intent of advertising, and children five years-old and under have trouble distinguishing between advertising, and programming, which works out well for cartoon spokespeople like the Count. Come on kids and catch the disease! Using a tactic called “Viral Marketing,” the Coca-Cola Company will distribute several Coke cards to people known as “teen influentials,” that is, class officers, athletes, and cheerleaders, hoping that the influentials will distribute them among their friends. Since the popularization of high-fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners in the 1970’s, the number of obese 12 - 19 year-olds has doubled. Among 6 – 11 year-olds that number has tripled. Don’t you just love being influential? (potentially a stack of sugar packets next to a coke bottle for the picture. 2.5 servings per container, 27 grams of sugar per serving, and one packet of sugar is about a gram. That’s over 67 packets) Were she blown up to the proportions of a real woman, Barbie wouldn’t retain the 17-22% body fat required to menstruate, but who needs ovulation when you’ve got a dream house and a steady boyfriend who will stick by your side for fifty sterile years. This model for American girls taps into the tween dream of growing up but not out. 64 I want an oven mitt with a tuxedo on it, because it’s two jokes in one. emerSon SPongebob SqUarePantS 13” televISIon: $65.00 (PlUS S&h) The perfect match for your SpongeBob beach towel, plush toy, bed spread, tooth brush, party supplies, underwear, outerwear, sleepwear, dinnerware, footwear, hang-glider, and deep-sea diving bell. You’ll also be able to get your fair share of SpongeBob commercials. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation study, Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States, the average 8-12 year old views over 230 hours of television ads a year. That, of course, doesn’t include other forms such as radio, print, or other product placement. Add it up. That’s 9.6 days a year, or 30,000 commercials oScar mayer lUnchableS lUnch combInatIonS, nachoS: $2.30 While the box will encourage you to go to the website, the multiethnic, ultra-enthusiastic Lunchables Brigade on the website will encourage you to play some lame-ass flash game, invest in a copy of Indiana Jones Maxed Out, go on an adventure at Six Flags, and purchase a subscription to Game Fly. Everything you’ll need to occupy your constantly diverted attention. A recent study at Ulster University in England revealed a possible link between cocktails of cosmetic food additives and hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children. Sodium benzoate, a preservative in Lunchables, has also been shown to occasionally break down in the presence of vitamin C and release a potential carcinogen, benzene, safely assuring that your Lunchable will probably outlive you. cheez-ItS: $2.99 According to the Cheez-it website, “There’s an assortment of intriguing textures, shapes and sizes to satisfy any palate.” Apparently, Cheez-its have become the choice of true connoisseurs despite that the nutrition facts on the box state they consist of 2% or less milk. However, many cheez experts still prefer their partially-hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ for freshness, ‘cheez’ cultures, Paprika Oleoresin for color, whey protein, and soy lecithin sprayed from a can of Cheez-Whiz. In an effort to convince millions of people that cheese with a -z was pretty much the same thing, Kellogg spent $22.2 million in 2004 on media advertising alone in order to promote $139.8 million dollars worth of Cheez-it Crackers. illiteratemagazine.com 65 ILLITERATE INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS WITH VICKY RIDEOUT* *vIcKy rIdeoUt IS the vIce PreSIdent and dIrector of the Program for the StUdy of entertaInment medIa and health at the KaISer famIly foUndatIon and coaUthored food for thoUght: televISIon food advertISIng to chIldren In the UnIted StateS. Vicky Rideout: There already are plenty of product placements in computer games. Then there are products like the Sponge Bob show, which is a successful show in its own right. There are those who would say that it is, in essence, a full length ad for all of the Sponge Bob products, of which there are probably thousands. I think that line has been blurred for a while. VR: There are some parents who are concerned about their kids and advertising, but there are also other parents who aren’t concerned about it at all. We talked to parents who lunged for the remote to turn the sound off when a Chuck-E-Cheese ad comes on, and who were really annoyed at how often their kids bug them to go to a particular restaurant like that. And then we talked to other parents who think it’s cute that their small child who can’t really talk yet starts humming the McDonald’s jingle when they drive past the golden arches. It’s important to remember that a lot of young parents today grew up with a lot of media use also and a lot of exposure to advertising themselves. VR: The internet reaches far fewer kids than TV, but it does so in a much deeper way. When the kid is more involved with the marketing message, they may not distinguish the message as being marketing or advertising, and even if they know what it is, it has the potential to be more effective than just a plain old 30-second television ad. the SImS (for Pc, mac, PS2, PS3, nIntendo dS, XboX 360, wII, etc.) – $49.99 (PlUS S&h) Who would have thought being God with a big ‘G’ was so easy? Also coming soon to your television! In a recent article in Kidscreen Magazine, Electronic Arts is working on a deal to develop a cartoon, targeting 6-11 year olds, based on this international hit videogame. Now you can watch The Sims while you play The Sims as most of the world of childhood becomes what marketers describe as a “package-unit;” that is, a whole galaxy of products revolving around a movie, game, or cartoon that serves as an infomercial. 66 I always maintain a list of things to do so I never feel completely at ease. ILLITERATE INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS WITH martin Lindstrom* *lIndStrom waS the global coo for brItISh telecom/looKSmart, an eXecUtIve at barton, dUrStIne, oSborn and batten, (bbdo) the foUnder and ceo of bbdo InteractIve aSIa, and co-foUnder of bbdo InteractIve eUroPe. lIndStrom aUthored bUyology, clIcKS brIcKS and brandS and brand bUIldIng on the Internet and co-aUthored brand chIld. Martin Lindstrom (on the development of the child marketing industry): Of course, the internet has affected the profession, but the fact is that the guidelines we still follow were created way back in the 50s. It’s ironic, considering the fact that the media picture today is totally different from the way it was back then. There should have been dramatic changes in marketing over the last half century, but there haven’t been. So what has changed? The fact that consumers have become MSP (“me selling proposition”) practitioners. They make the brand calls; the brand owners don’t control their brands. One unhappy consumer today can destroy a brand, simply because every consumer virtually has a broadcast station at their disposal (i.e. the internet, camera etc.) enabling them to spread positive or negative impressions of brands all over the world. We’ve never seen such consumer power before, and this is likely to change the way we’ll build brands in the future. ML (on successful child marketing campaigns): Well, the gaming industry (Wii, Nintendo and X-Box) has done some great work in creating a true buzz. So have some of the online games like HALO and SIMS. Jones Soda, a Canadian product, has used some highly creative techniques to attract attention in the FMCG category. And then there are movies, like Shrek, which have been successful, too. However, that said, the list isn’t long, mainly because the adults in the marketing world simply don’t understand this audience very well. ML (on electronic gaming): If you only have to react by clicking a mouse to go faster, slower, kill, not kill – you name it – creativity and pro-activity diminish. Games usually require passivity rather than activity, offering a limited number of responses in order to progress. This sort of prescriptive environment rarely asks the user to be creative, to generate new thoughts. So we’re nurturing a generation which is incredibly fast to react, but not very creative in their responses. ML (on fast food marketing): I work for several fast food companies and the mantra I adopt when working with them is “Develop healthy food products.” It is essential. However, this is far from the full story. Parents are just as responsible. This means kids need to get more sleep because less sleep creates greater hunger. And parents need to keep certain products, like candy, away from kids and not use them as a bargaining or entertainment tool. In short – the responsibility lies on both sides. illiteratemagazine.com 67 Fashion Clothing: Rock the Cradle Photographer: Michael Ramirez Model: Jordan Jamison 68 m illiteratemagazine.com 69 m < wrItten by chIldren wrItten by the brIan JoneStown maSSacre & SPoon > 70 They were lions. But even lions die. illiteratemagazine.com 71 art featUre The motivation and reward of creating art as a kid are mysterious and this activity might be better appreciated, regardless of the creator’s age, when left without analysis. Matt Furie has followed this unsupervised school of thought since he was a kid and continues to do. Sure enough, the animals and characters he drew as a child evolved into a recognizable style, which now help pay his rent in San Francisco. Matt is a fan of Alf, prefers drawing methods to paint, and makes imaginative creatures drawn by real kids look like shit. He can draw his faster, too. 72 Why are you always dressed? Barfing Skeleton Matt Furie Colored Pencil illiteratemagazine.com 73 art featUre In Full Cry Matt Furie Colored Pencil 74 I give you permission to speak with my mother about it. Circle Matt Furie Colored Pencil illiteratemagazine.com 75 art featUre andy dUcett Interview by Sander Lindeke a ndy Ducett approaches his work almost like a hunter-gatherer — he seems to spend more time collecting, processing, and arranging elements of his work than he does actually putting them together. The care he puts into the preparations of his lively, yet eclectic illustrations, mixed media pieces, and installations may very well be his greatest strength. Though Ducett’s work reveals a creator largely at play in his own mind, the artist also actively participates in the artistic community he calls home: Minneapolis, Minnesota. With shows in various spots around town, as well as at the University of Illinois, Mr. Ducett is calmly making a name for his cacophonous creations. il.lit.er.ate: When did you start drawing? Why did you enjoy it then and why do you enjoy it now? Andy Ducett: The first thing I remember drawing was a Tyrannosaurus Rex; I think I was six. Undoubtedly, there were turkey hands, scribbles, rocket ships, and “representational” portraits that came before, but this was the first time I remember the context in which the drawing was made: the old red bedspread I was sitting on, the baseball pennants on the wall, the roller derby match on TV, and the blue plastic pencil box where my supplies were housed. It was about what was on the page, (which in a six-year-old’s humble opinion was to- 76 Maybe he wants closure, like I do. Or maybe he just wants sex, like I do. tally awesome), but it was also about the personal experiences associated with the creation of the work. So, without knowing the relevance, I think art and creation became a little more accessible and “human” to little Andy. Drawing still functions in that way for me and encompasses a myriad of other reasons: to search for the right line and juxtaposition of forms; to create a mark that is uniquely yours, but in concert with an extremely rich history of mark-making and personal expression; to pass time; and maybe more than anything else, to leave a trace of what I was thinking (from the moot to the sublime) and how that thinking might deviate from or sync up with others who are living at the same time as me. I also just really like my G207 pen. ill: Do you have any other creative talents? Collections? AD: I am quite creative with the destruction of my opponents in Stratego, and I make some good curry. As far as collections go, I think I collect too much, but I owe much of what my studio practices are today to being a wonderful packrat. I wrote my MFA thesis on record collecting as a metaphor for my art practices, and have a few hundred sides of vinyl. It’s probably my favorite collection and the one I interact with the most. I love archiving and collecting, especially subjective collections. I remember a scene in Throw Mama From the Train when Danny DeVito shows Billy Crystal his coin collection. It was pretty regular spare change, which was quite confusing to Crystal. The meaning wasn’t in its monetary value, but that it was coinage his father had given him; thus the idea of personal worth. That pretty much sums up an aspect of my interest in collecting; how two commercially identical objects can be so different in the eyes of the collector. One was witness to something of personal value; the other utilitarian. That’s why people buy the same crappy souvenirs – to act as catalysts to transport them from now to then. I could go on and on, but instead, how about a short list of other collections I have: copies of Catcher in the Rye, clocks, Band-Aid containers, action ﬁgures and toys, masks from Central America, Scotch decanters, art books, and robots. ill: Artists can be black and white on the issue of easels. Do you use them? Like them? Burn them? AD: No real opinion. I think they have their place in certain areas and can be restrictive in others, so I illiteratemagazine.com 77 guess I’m grey on the issue. ill: Where The Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak or Wild Things, with Kevin Bacon’s penis? AD: Obviously WTWTA by Maurice Sendak. What an amazing thing for a kid to read! Kevin Bacon’s penis should never be discussed or appreciated. ill: How do you feel we could educate and entertain our kids better in society today? AD: More personal/worldly interaction and less technological sedation. At the risk of sounding old and crotchety, I remember when G.I. Joe didn’t have a gun sound, except the one you made. The computerization of everything has its pluses and minuses, but developing minds need to be able to forge paths as much as follow directions. Channeling Thoreau, I did a lot of anthill watching as a youth. It was unscripted, unmediated, and centered on observation; things I think we could use more of today. “…I did a lot of anthill watching as a youth. It was unscripted, unmediated and centered on observation, things I think we could use more of today”. 78 Just because you’re behind glass doesn’t mean you can act like a bitch. ill: What does an average day of work look like for you? AD: It depends on the day of the week, but it usually starts with me trying to devise a way to stay in bed longer. After that struggle, it’s caffeine and a decent amount of wandering around the house. I’m not exactly sure why; I just embrace that I have to putz around for a little while. And, if time allows, a side of Otis Spann, Bob Dylan, or something else “morning themed” goes on the turntable. Job-wise, I teach art at the University of Wisconsin - Stout and spend the off-days either working in my studio or as an installation tech at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. I feel pretty fortunate to be able to call all of these activities work. I’d do them for free; so I hope my bosses don’t find that out. [Read this.] ill: How do you embrace your inner child? AD: I hope through the kind of work I make. A sense of wonder and possibility are key to staying young. I also believe a person has truly become old when he or she fails to laugh at a real – or fake fart sound. ill: Do you ever get frustrated with any aspects of your work? AD: Everyone does, and if they tell you they don’t, they’re lying to you. More than anything else, I think it’s how long it takes me to make most of the things that I do that’s sometimes frustrating. It takes time for me to feel right about the work and find the right fit for my materials and subject matter. I have a friend who cranks out ten paintings a week, but it takes me a month to do a single drawing. Oh well. I vary my projects from collage to drawing to installation and have them running in tandem, so I never stall on one piece. It helps me illiteratemagazine.com 79 feel active to have other works steeping. I sometimes get frustrated that I’m interested in so many different things, rather than being able to focus on one medium or idea. Regardless, I think frustration is important. If you didn’t feel frustrated at times, it would be an indication that you’re not as challenged as you should be and that art-making had turned into a Kinkadeian form of production, rather than engagement. ill: Your images seem to be related to memories, to imaginative worlds, or maps. What are your dreams like? Any memorable ones? AD: My dreams are varied and quite strange, as I’m sure is the case with many people. I think they are in color. though; I seem to dream in green. The last recurring dream I had was when I was about eight or nine. There was a huge blob-like creature (who was actually rather personable) living under my back deck and it would give me gloopy jello-like stuff. When I ate it, all I needed was a running start and I could fly. I had this dream for about a week until one time I ran, jumped, arched about ten feet into the air and descended - quickly. I went back to get more goop fromthe blob-man, but he had disappeared. He never came back and I have yet to have another flying dream. Too bad, if I had to pick a super-power, I think it would be flying. ill: Pretend for a moment that you are not Andy Ducett. If you were to give yourself advice on your work, what would you say? AD: Since many of the objects and images I use sometimes have specific personal narratives or histories, I think it would be about the ways in which I could pull back the curtain a little bit more, to make those rationales more accessible. I’d like to devise more ways to make the objects and depictions have as much relevance to the viewer as they do to me. I’m working on this and I hope people want to spend as much time around the works as I do. 80 That’s not a cougar, that’s a Saber-tooth. I DO SAY.. The Hurry Scurry Man Brian Robertson Oil Magazine SUBSCRIBE TO go to illiteratemagazine.com for more details illiteratemagazine.com 81 photo featUre S illy girl, dolls are for men! At least according to Gio Toninelo, a man who appears the aging hipster: pierced ears, beloved band T-shirt peering out from beneath a mock army jacket, Chuck Taylors, black-rimmed glasses, and a curly head of disheveled helmet hair retreating from a widow’s peak. He rides a sticker-smeared scooter and speaks with a vestigial “Yer not from ‘round these parts” accent. When deprived of cigarettes, he chews incessantly on a plastic straw twirled around his index finger. However, a neurotic oral fixation is not the only prepubescent habit still lingering long after childhood’s last call. Gio Toninelo likes to play with dollies. GI Joes, to be exact. But to Toninelo there’s no real distinction between the plastic patriot and his cootie covered counterpart – they’re all dollies. Unlike many specimen of the collectible-obsessed, Gio’s figures don’t suffocate in encased displays. As members of the GI Joe enthusiast club, 16 Military, Toninelo and other adult men regularly ‘play’ with their toys. However, as much fun as time spent with GI Joes may be, if the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of play as “any unstructured activity” is to be trusted, then Toninelo’s play-time looks more like a labor of love, requiring hours – days even, of meticulous preparation. The photographs say it all. Detailed narrative scenarios involving GI Joes captured in stunning lifelike images. From harrowing military skirmishes to the mundane tasks of everyday living, these photo 82 So I said to myself, “Larry, why don’t you make breakfast?” m shoots call for precisely scaled sets that Toninelo often hand-crafts alone in his Denver studio, with careful attention to the tiniest details, sometimes repainting and remolding the features of the 12” action figures to get that ‘just- right’ expression. In fact, Toninelo, might be best described as a creative director who happens to be a doll enthusiast, or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, Toninelo emerges somewhere between a Hobby Lobby savant, Balky Bartokomous from Perfect Strangers, and David Lachapelle — one part geek genius, one part endearing goof, one part photographic master. Taking his fixation with the miniature Marine one step further, Toninelo founded www.PondPatrol.com, an online GI Joe photo-narrative as well as the GI Joe Fest, a film festival pairing the miniature American icon with the painstaking art of stop-motion animation. The films submitted to the festival transcend genres, spanning from narrative to documentary, with only two strictly enforced guidelines: Each film must last 20 minutes or less, and each film must feature at least one GI Joe as an actor. These small stars of the screen and their films probably won’t draw the same throngs of crowds and millions of dollars in box office revenue that Paramount’s 2009 live action GI JOE flick will, but then, neither do they require contract renegotiations when a last minute script change suddenly calls for a two-man nude bathing scene. Besides, who needs money when you’ve got ‘man to man-doll’ love, right? illiteratemagazine.com 83 But seriously, what sort of MK ultra government mind control are these mini-military men using to consume the imagination and spare time of a devoted legion of, as Toninelo puts it “grown up kids?” To find out more, il.lit. er.ate went deep under cover (we wore sunglasses), and spoke with Gio Toninelo to discover the truth about the enigmatic masculine icon. ill: First, about GI Joe; what is his last name and why is the government keeping it a secret? Gio: That’s a good one. I like your smart questions, it makes me think. Damn, I’ve got to think about this stuff. I thought it was going to be easy. Umm… I don’t know how to answer that question. Let me think about it. ill: GI Joe: Man-doll or action figure? Gio: Man-doll. We even call them ‘dollies.’ “Let’s go play with the club,” we’ll say. We have a club at 16 Military, a collector’s club. We meet up once every month and three times a year we put a huge diorama together. We pick the Pacific Theater, or Marines against this or that, but that’s what we call it.“Is it time to take out the dollies?”. ill: Is this a masculine bonding moment or is it reverting back to, “I couldn’t play with Barbies so…” Gio: Oh, we play with Barbies. ill: OK. Why doesn’t anyone ever die in a GI Joe episode? And what happens to the Cobra Kahn once they’re defeated? Do they just pick themselves up and go back to the club house? What’s up? Gio: I think they were actually friends at some point. So this relationship is like, “Dude,” GI Joe says, “I don’t like you, Cobra Kahn”. Basically, I think you’re right; they go regroup and plot against their other friends. ill: Without Cobra, where would GI Joe be? Gio: Nowhere. ill: What does GI Joe do after the battles? And what does Cobra do? Gio: They act on films. Short films ill: Is that how they fund their military operations? Gio: Yep. 84 That’s the difference between you and me – I delete it as trash; you get excited and print it out. ill: What is the GI Joe policy on ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?’ Follow up: Why did the ones I had when I was a kid have all their clothes painted on? Gio: Yeah, ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.’ Even the big guys have fake underwear like Barbie. What is the policy on that one? I think it’s right there on the doll: Don’t tell. ill: What is the fascination, from the GI Joe perspective, with informing little boys about safety and service at the end of every episode? Gio: (laughs then abruptly stops to think) Maybe, “Don’t become what I became.” But I don’t know, from a GI Joe perspective… They’re so square, I don’t know. ill: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from GI Joe? Gio: Nothing really. Honestly. Nothing. ill: Then what is the fascination with GI Joe? Gio: Well OK, maybe that is a good point. I know a lot of sh—crap. But with the figures I can do my own story and I can do them with all wrong things, the way I want, instead of doing things right. ill: What is the average lifespan of a GI Joe? Gio: It depends how old you are. ill: Let’s go through the age groups Gio: OK, from age three to five: maybe one day. ill: What does a GI Joe’s demise look like at the hands of that age group? Gio: Oh, he would be lost under the couch, and he won’t be found until the dog chews him up. Then, maybe from age five to ten: a couple of weeks.You know, a couple of broken toes, maybe a torso and legs apart. With ten to fifteen year olds, a GI Joe will have survived all those years prior. Once a kid’s 11, you’re probably gonna blow him up with firecrackers or something. So, then at 16, if he’s made it till then, he probably stays under your bed – you’re so embarrassed, “I don’t have it, nuh-uh, nuh-uh. No way.” And if he makes it into your 20s and 30s, he’s probably on display on a shelf for the rest of his life – if your mom didn’t donate him to the ARC. ill: What’s a bigger threat to GI Joe: Cobra Khan or a magnifying glass? Gio: Obviously the magnifying glass. I mean nobody got killed by Cobra Kahn, like you said right? ill: Do you know how long it takes to melt a GI Joe? Gio: I don’t know; I’ve never tried. ill: Could Ken be a GI Joe? Gio: No. Hell no. He doesn’t have what it takes – no Kung Fu grip. ill: What is the training process to become a GI Joe? Gio: You need to learn how to hold things.You need to learn to sit like a man, not like a Ken doll – they can hardly bend their legs. You gotta lose the bad haircut and wipe that smirk off your face. ill: So on the job application, there’s: a) no smiling; b) must be able to hold things; and c) sitting? Gio: Sit and crawl like a man. ill: Crawl like a man? Gio: Oh, and you need a scar on your face. ill: Do they all have scars? Gio: The big ones do. ill: What does the scar mean? Gio: Uh, I don’t know… something happened. I guess it gives a little edge to the doll. But I hate it, because if you’re going to do a film of the old school, they all look the same, there’s three different dolls. It’s like, “Are you illiteratemagazine.com 85 brothers or clones, what happened here?” ill: If GI Joe were fighting the war in Iraq, would it take two or three GI Joes to win the war? Gio: If it was the GI Joe from the 70’s there would be no war—Adventure Team was too busy hunting for treasures and sky diving – but if it was the original GI Joe, three GI Joes. Is that the wrong answer? ill: How many GI Joe’s were injured in the process of making the first GI Joe Film Festival? Gio: Oh man, I have to count, per film… gazillions. On the shootings of the films, yes. ill: Do they have families, and are you concerned that they may come back looking for reparations later? Gio: We might do a film about that. ill: How many films were submitted? Gio: Over 50. ill: Why GI Joe films? 86 I’ll keep your identity safe, Bruce. Gio: It’s simple.You can make a lot of cool stuff with GI Joe. Besides being GI Joe, they’re just mannequins. You can make them do what they’re supposed to, or you can make them do bad things. Whatever you want! ill: What are your plans for the film festival? Gio: We’re planning to host another one next year. We were successful with this first one. Really successful. We sold out 15 minutes before doors opened. The first one is always easy because it brings it out there. And the feedback was awesome. I kept hearing people talking about it at bars that weekend, which was crazy. So we’re going to have a couple films made especially for the festival and I’m hoping, certainly we can do it at least every two years, maybe even every year. We’re going to shoot for next year by November, maybe a little later. We’re going to LA; we’re looking into Philadelphia. We might add shows, but we’re not going to a bigger theater in Denver, because I like the Bug Theater. ill: War is to love as GI Joe is to _______? Gio: War. But then I’m a collector, so I could say it’s to Loooove. ill: What is the market for GI Joes these days? Gio: It’s grown up kids. That’s all. That’s who Hasbro is marketing all this stuff to, unfortunately, ‘cause their stuff’s expensive. I’m sure kids will play it, but without the cartoons, there’s nothing to base it on for the kids anymore – who’s the bad guy? So the cartoon is out. Maybe when the movie comes out and a new line comes out, that’ll change. But for now, it’s grown up bearded kids. ill: If you had to put a value on your collection, what would it be? Gio: I don’t want to answer that one. My wife would kill me! ill: Do you keep your GI Joes in the box? Gio: Some. For the most part, I open them up and do something later. ill: What does an average play session look like for GI Joes? Gio: Well for this series, because I used to photograph them to tell a story – about two or three hours. It takes a while because the first day you pick them, what they want, how they’re gonna dress. Then you pick the guns and the characters. Then you pick the vehicles and go shooting for about two hours. ill: Are there rules? Do you have opposing sides, or is everybody collaborating to make one narrative? Gio: There are bad guys and good guys. ill: Are there competitions between GI Joe aficionados? Gio: From a collector point of view, yes, because the GI Joe’s on the one sixth scale – the big guys – even the little guys sometimes – there are collectors who are ‘scale Nazis.’ Which means that, when you say, “Oh I just bought this bicycle for GI Joe,” they’ll say (in an authoritative voice), “No that’s the wrong scale, that’s the wrong size. The tire is like two millimeters bigger illiteratemagazine.com 87 than the real one.” You know, it’s like, “Shut up!” You know I’m not that particular, but there are guys that are crazy like that. If a toy company puts out a helicopter and the blade is two inches too short, he’s like, “Pssshh! Forget about it!” He’s not buying it, and he’s going to give you shit because you bought it. ill: Have you ever had somebody pull out of a GI Joe session because of a scale issue? Gio: At a meeting, yes, to the point where no one ever saw this person again. ill: Do you collect anything besides GI Joe? Gio: Yes. Turtles. ill: Is there any crossover between the two collections? Gio: In the Pond Patrol series there is. That’s actually how the film festival got started. I had a turtle stolen from the pond – at least I thought it was stolen. And I thought, “How am I going to keep them from being stolen?” So I put a GI Joe out there, patrolling the shore of the pond with a gun. And everyday I would switch its position. And then during the month of my wedding, my sister was here, and we thought of doing a web blog. You know like he writes, “I’m fishing today” and “Today I napped for three hours,” and then it shows his feet sticking out from the tent or something. Then the idea took off, “Does he have any friends? What is he doing in there, anyway?” So it became a huge story. There you have it. It wasn’t psychotropic brainwashing at all, but one man’s desire to protect his turtle collection from the forces of evil that transformed GI Joe from a questionable obsession into a legitimate film festival. I have a feeling those turtles don’t have anything to worry about anymore, thanks to a real American hero. Thanks, GI Joe! What a man, uh…doll. 88 American tourists in Paris on Sarah Jessica Parker: “Who sold that horse bread?” illiteratemagazine.com 89 photo featUre 90 It took me six months to get through the Mormon force field. raPhael neal Interview by Isis Luce French photographer, actor and budding director Raphael Neal’s haunting explorations of grave adolescence inspire both attraction and repulsion. An uneasy tension inevitably arises when viewing his intimate images of young attractive boys, whose physical beauty lingers after their soul’s departure. For this other worldly talent, who describes photography as a “vampiric act”, when capturing the death of innocence, it’s all about getting up close and personal. I l.lit.er.ate: How old were you when you became interested in photography? Raphael Neal: It was ten years ago; I was 17. ill: What were your original influences? R: I think my biggest influences were music videos and movies, like Hitchcock movies and the French New Wave. For France, it was the New Wave; for American it was Hitchcock. ill: What connection do you make between your photography and cinema? R: Well, for instance with Hitchcock and his composer, Bernard Herrmann, they were very obsessed with particular feelings. Hitchcock was obsessed with a particular type of blond woman or something. I think that is how I work. I have these obsessions. A photo is like when you want everything to stop and be able to be in that moment again. ill: So who bought you your first camera? R: The camera was in a drawer in the house, so I just started. I was bored and I wanted to amuse myself, so I took some photos, and I liked the results. ill: So you are completely self-taught? illiteratemagazine.com 91 “that IS what faScInateS me In art. yoU can’t tell If It IS real, or If It IS a dream.” 92 How many times can you motorboat a stripper, seriously? R: Yes. I was 17 when I started doing black and white photos. And I never took photos. And I never took photos for other people. I did it all by myself. I would only show them to friends. Then four years ago, a French editor discovered them and wanted to show them to people. But I never went to art school. ill: Were you looking to be discovered at that time, or did it come as a big surprise? R: Yes, in a way. I very much liked to do photos, but I wasn’t prepared for the communication with others. I don’t really like to sell my work—I do it so I can focus on the work. I was sure I would do it. I am also an actor in France, and I do music too, so I always do a lot of things at the same time. ill: You began working on both your projects Missing Children and Self Portraits when you were 17? R: Well, yes. From when I was 18 to 23 or 24 I thought all my work—my photography and my music—would be called Missing Children. I was kind of obsessed with memories, [and] trying to understand something in my past. ill: Your work shows adolescence and youth in a fairly dark way. Is that all autobiographical, or do you draw from other sources as well? R: It varies. That is what fascinates me in art. You can’t tell if it is real, or if it is a dream. I think for all of the photos, or even in one photo, there is something that happened to me, but sometimes it is only something I sympathize with. It becomes all the same. When I draw my pictures, I always draw them in my notebook and write a lot; it is a lot about fantasy, and that is kind of tricky. With memories, sometimes you don’t know if you really lived them or experienced these things—you don’t really remember. Sometimes I can’t really tell; sometimes it is real, sometimes it is just dreams. ill: How did the documentary about you come about? illiteratemagazine.com 93 R: A friend of mine, Julian, from high school sometimes does documentaries, and he came to help me two years ago. I took some photos of a famous French singer and he came along, and brought his camera so he could film a little while we were taking pictures, and then he did some interviews of me. Now it has been two years, and he has hours and hours. It is incredible. ill: Is it difficult for you to go back and forth between being in front of the camera and being behind it? R: It is very strange for me to explain about the photos. I did a lot of self-portraits, but I stopped four or five years ago. I did lots of portraits, but I am not very comfortable in front of the camera. When I did the self-portraits I was all alone in my apartment, so I could control everything. I could see the pictures, and then I would choose the ones to show. Also, acting in movies is quite difficult for me. Now it is okay; I can be natural in front of the camera. It was very, very hard in the days I was doing self-portraits. I was very shy, and I would stay alone all the time. I would do anything in front of my own camera, but not in front of other peoples’ cameras. ill: In the documentary you describe photography as a ‘vampiric’ act. Can you tell me about that? R: Well, it is like wanting to take something from the other. When I take a picture of someone, I am kind of stealing something from the model. Sometimes the models don’t recognize themselves in the pictures because I see something that they don’t know they are showing to others. ill: Have you ever collaborated with any other artists? R: I really do not know how to collaborate. When I was a musician, it was very hard for me to be in a band; I just don’t know how to do it. I always have to be the leader. Sometimes I have a makeup artist that helps me, but usually I do everything alone. 94 You force your child to eat bread from a can? 95 ill: You said when you are alone you can pick and chose what you show to other people. Do you like to be able to be selective in your representations? R: Well, yes. Now I am less and less of a control freak. But I used to be very hard on myself, and I wanted people to have some vision of me. I cannot control it; it is very important for me. When I do a picture, it has to be that precise color and that precise framing. I don’t re-frame my pictures— the frame is done when I do the pictures. Everything is calculated, as I told you. I write a lot before I take the picture, and read some books, and watch some movies maybe. I talk a lot with the model. Everything is very calculated. ill: So do you do that much research and preparation for each individual photo, or do you think of them more as series? R: It depends. Sometimes, if I don’t have a lot of time, I have to do it quickly. But usually I prepare the set. I think of the colors and the fabrics I will use for the background – and the clothes. It is kind of calculated. Usually, with my models, we watch movies or put music on, and do the photos when we feel okay. We laugh a lot. We are really having fun. The pictures look very sad, but we do laugh a lot. I do have these ideas in the beginning, and then the model brings something of his own history and his own expressions on his face. Sometimes it is chance; sometimes it is calculated. ill: Do you work primarily with models? R: No, all of the people are friends of mine. Sometimes, if I really like an actor, like for a series I did this summer, I chose two French actors I love, and they modeled for me. But I have to know them and be intimate with them. We spend a lot of time drinking and having fun and watching movies, and then I can know some intimate things about them. Otherwise it is very cold. I am not just some professional— I always refuse fashion and commission work, because I have to work with people I know a little to feel intimate and comfortable. ill: Do you find that the people you work with really inspire you, since you work with people you are close with? R: Yes, they inspire me very much. Usually I imagine the photos for them, and I am already thinking about them when I plan the picture. ill: You started photography at a very young age, and you have had a lot of success. If you could assign one project that you think would inspire other young photographers out there, what would it be? R: It is very hard, because sometimes you have to listen to people’s advice, and sometimes you just have to trust yourself. I guess everything comes naturally. No one was interested in my work when I wanted to be represented, but then people came to me— it was very natural. I don’t go to galleries, shows, and openings. We photographers have to focus on the work and do a lot of it. I would say we have to stay very intimate and, in a way, amateur and not too professional. I am able to stay true to myself. That is what is most important. 96 When you start miming your coworkers, does that make you an adult? illiteratemagazine.com 97 photo featUre tread Derived from an Interview by Isis Luce in a storage unit and the storage unit got robbed. I lost most of my photos from when I was a kid. So I don’t have a lot of references of my childhood. It is an interesting thing now that I have two sons. I want to make sure that they at least have a shot of these little moments in their life. And it is going to be a unique a thing when they look back and most of these moments of reference are these blurry strange pictures. I remember my first camera. It was the Kodak version of the Polaroid camera called “The Handle”. You took the picture and cranked the handle and got an instant Polaroid type picture. I just thought that was the greatest thing ever: instant gratification. As a child I quickly realized that film is fairly pricey and my parents weren’t so crazy about giving me a lot of money for film so I could shoot the neighbor’s dog. So I had that camera, but I didn’t get to explore a lot. When I was around 15 I asked for a 35mm camera for Christmas. I kept up with it on through high school and into college. My first job when I was in school was at a city government in their darkroom for 20 hours a week. That helped me grow in photography because I got to see both sides of it: the shooting and the darkroom. I was doing a lot of very straight forward 35mm, completely crystal clear Nikon work. At the time I thought it was where I was going to stay as a photographer. I picked up that Holga put a roll of film in it and I didn’t really shoot a lot with it. The stuff I got back wasn’t nearly as dreamy or cryptic as the Nancy Rexroth stuff, and I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. Five or six years ago as digital photography was taking over I was looking for something creatively to spark interest. I started looking around online and found that there was a wealth of very talented people using toy cameras and having good results with them. After digging it back up and putting one roll through it I was rejuvenated. I decided to exploit that camera. I am fairly old, I am 42, which I consider to be fairly old since it is the oldest I have ever been. But in the mid to late 80s I saw work by Nancy Rexroth. All of her images were taken with a Diana, which was the predecessor of the Holga. I became mesmerized by the blurry, abstract, bizarre, obtuse things that were contained in those images. I began digging a little bit deeper and came upon a magazine article or some discussion about the Holga being a Diana-like camera. I tracked one down, I think I paid fifteen dollars for it. When you look at these cameras, especially the Diana camera— in the late 60’s it was just a kids camera— it was a cheap way to get a kid into photography. They were giving them away at gas stations; fill up, give a kid a camera. So many of them were given to kids and never even loaded with film; the kid ran around clickin’ but parents never put film in the thing. The toy camera adds childhood wonder. Especially at my age, they look like the old family pictures. They are generally black and white, square and not such great quality. I tend to think that history is a non-existent entity except for what you have stored in your brain, and of course family photos. So I think for all of us, they serve as that form of reference. What did I look like in 1982. Who was I hanging around with? We can tell a lot by going back to those moments of reference in our life. Most of my family photos were lost because they were 98 Should we pressure him? Yes, with a thousand tons. illiteratemagazine.com 99 100 His seeing-eye dog went blind. illiteratemagazine.com 101 being photographed. He just turned 14. When he sees me coming with a plastic camera he is just over it, which has its own interest too, because I get photos of him covering his face or hiding. My youngest one just turned 8. Any time I pull the camera out he is ready to cheese for you. I try to get him to be natural and stop cheesin’, but it is half and half. Some of it is completely artistic and other stuff is nothing more than a dad and his snapshots. My kids love to shoot pictures too. The digital thing spoils them a bit. You just snap a picture and see the images on the back of the camera. You never have to see a print: instant gratification. Recently I taught a toy camera workshop through the Lexington, KY Art League. It was interesting because I didn’t know if anybody would show up, but it ended up being fairly successfully. There was a wide range of people with different experiences in photography that were reaching a bit more into their creative side. What you find out when you leave your own bubble is that all photographers, experienced or not, are looking for something to spark their own creativity. It is hard to give advice other than find something you care about and shoot it every which way that you can. It is important you find something you care about. When you look at my work my kids are my subject matter, but it doesn’t have to be anything that obvious. Maybe a place you used to visit regularly and you haven’t been to in a while, but you still think about. Or something that you just have a general interest in. If you are doing it just for the sake of making a pretty image it doesn’t really have the same meaning to you, and it probably won’t translate to the viewer. But if it is something I care enough about, maybe I can get other people to care about it too. Since then I have had about four Holgas and 50 or 60 various Dianas. I do some tweaking on all of the cameras to get different results. They all have their own idiosyncrasies. Because Holgas are readily available you can really make some fun modifications. Most of mine have different things done to them. I have become kind of obsessed with it. Any photographer will tell you that you are always looking for more things to shoot. That is why there are so many images of sunsets and close ups of bugs and trees and flowers. Every photographer tries to apply his or her own vision on the world, but sometimes you are just looking for more things to shoot. Kids are definitely cheap if not free labor that you can use for modeling subjects. With my kids it just came naturally. I had these cameras and I wasn’t working on a Saturday. So I might as well drag this camera to a soccer game or the swimming pools. And it just of grew from there. My oldest one is not so crazy about 102 Let’s see Patrick Swayze dirty dance his way out of cancer! & MORE! TS TICKE E L ON SA NOW ! COMING SOON! Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com and at all Ticketmaster retail locations including select Macy’s stores, select FYE stores, The Official Visitors Center @ 1600 California St and Angelo’s CD’s & more. Ticket Center hours may vary. Contact retailer to confirm hours of operation. To charge tickets by phone, call (303) 830-TIXS or (719) 520-9090 or log on @ www.aeglive.com. Produced by AEG Live and Monolith Festivals. the future of rock and roll illiteratemagazine.com 103 104 If it doesn’t cost you your dignity, it only makes you more memorable. the good newS accordIng to nIcK t he creator of The Perry Bible Fellowship speaks about making comics and not making comics to David Malki!, the wit of the Victorian-inspired comic, Wondermark. Nicholas Gurewitch is an anomaly. Comic strips on the web are typically noisy affairs, each one scrabbling to claw for scraps and shreds of attention, income, and acclaim among a wide trash-heap of garish online distractions. The most successful online comic authors leverage advertising revenue, extensive merchandising, and hyper-frequent update schedules in their unending fight to command higher audience stats and stave off getting a “real” job one day at a time. Nick’s found success via a radically different approach: his stuff is good. People don’t need to be tricked into reading The Perry Bible Fellowship (PBF). They seek it out – so much so, in fact, that his first hardcover collection, 2007’s The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, sold through three printings and 30,000 copies – in preorders - before it was even available in bookstores. Most known for combining a consistently sweet-tinged darkness with stunningly executed visuals that in some cases take over one hundred hours to hand-paint, Nick’s comics are an exercise in patience, craft, and featUre visual experimentation. The PBF has been syndicated to magazines and newspapers worldwide, including the UK’s Guardian and the lad-mag Maxim, but in February 2008 Nick pulled the plug on all that, eschewing the demands and schedules of periodical deadlines in order to focus on developing his own personal artistic ambition. I spoke with Nick from his home in Rochester, New York. DM: Because of the level of craftsmanship that so many of your comics require, it seems like you’d have to outline exactly what it is you’re doing, what the dialogue balloon should say, and the placement of the characters far in advance before you spend a lot of time on the rendering. Does that ever limit your flexibility – having to outline so far in advance? What happens if you decide you want to change something very late in the process? NG: If I find that the joke can be made better, I often scrap a comic. I’ve lost a week’s worth of time before because I’ve realized that the comic could be done better. I scrap stuff all the time. In fact, I find it kind of exciting to be able to scrap something I’ve put hours of effort into because for me to get excited about it means it’s probably a good direction to go. I never feel an inclination to publish something just because I’ve worked on it for hours because sometimes working all that time gives your mind some liberated state that allows you to do the very best job that you can do. It’s never totally in vain. DM: Tell us about your recent decision about the illiteratemagazine.com < Mushroom Land Toad Race by Nicholas Gurewitch Scorpy the Forest Friend by Nicholas Gurewitch Baby by Nicholas Gurewitch 105 future of the comic? NG: I’ve decided to stop running in newspapers, basically because they were just forcing a weekly schedule, and – it’s actually not even the schedule that I’m protesting, it’s just someone saying that I have to do something, I guess, or my conscience telling me that I have to get something done. I’m far more curious to see how my art grows if it’s not bridled at all. It’s just a really big hunch that grew over the years to a breaking point. I’ve had a feeling my mind might grow better if unshackled. ‘Shackled’ is a harsh word to use, I think I could sacrifice that if only I could... if I could satisfy the urge in me do to something else. Or, to do that very thing; to please people, to have an audience, to put something down that’s personal and to entertain others. If I can accomplish all that with another activity, I’ll do that. But I won’t ever fail to listen to what it is I have in my gut. I can trust in that. DM: What would you say to people who feel like they want to be creative or want to share something, but are still searching for that burning wellspring within that’s going to take over everything else? How would you go about advising someone about finding that passion? NG: I think they’ve got to put themselves into a situation where they have to create, where they’re forced to express themselves in a certain way. And if there’s nothing to express, then they should always be open to the fact that they probably shouldn’t be expressing themselves creatively. But the human psyche can only undergo so many challenges before it starts to do something really interesting that other people can enjoy. I’m a firm believer that if you go through enough agony, you’ll be able to provide enough ecstasy. I love it when people challenge themselves and reflect on that then make art from it. There’s no shortage of brilliance to be had from reflecting upon life experience. And if you need more of it, just hop in! Explore life more. A lot of people want to write a novel without having any life experience; the easy solution to that is to have more experience. DM: A recurring theme in some of your comics, for example No One Is Thirsty, is a greater power who’s trying to help, but ultimately causes more harm than good. Is this a way of expressing the perfectionist attitude that causes you to spend a hundred hours painting a comic? In other words, to do something right you should do it yourself and not ask for help from people who might just mess up what it is you want? yoU’ve really JUSt got to PUt It all oUt there, yoU’ve got to let yoUr ballS hang oUt... but I definitely feel more liberated. I feel great, lately. DM: How do you think you might feel if a period goes by where, without having the obligation to make comics on schedule, you find yourself not interested in doing it at all, or you don’t feel the drive to really work on comics as much anymore? NG: Well, if I don’t feel the drive, I probably shouldn’t be making comics, you know? I trust myself to do what I want to do, though. If I felt I could be making funny comics, I certainly would be at my drafting table. 106 One of the things we’ve never wanted to do, God knows, is come to terms with our own hypocrisy. NG: Yeah, I would say I’m an independent person to a certain degree, and I like making sure that I do what is right to make something happen. I know mistakes can happen anywhere along the way, so I am a little bit paranoid about encountering that and definitely take matters into my own hands. DM: As a counterpoint to that, in Nice Shirt, the Unicorn Power comic, what the kid really needed came to him without asking. NG: Well, he had to buy that shirt. DM: Right, I mean, he was willing to wear the shirt in public. And sort of publicly proclaim, ‘This is what I think is cool.’ And he was rewarded for that. But in real life, you know, sometimes people aren’t rewarded. Sometimes people do their own thing, and they never see anything, in terms of other people’s responses, that’s encouraging, or are beaten down. NG: Well, they don’t wait long enough. I think if you wait long enough on any wish, it gets granted. If you’re patient enough, and if that patience becomes an act of not waiting for it, I think there are a lot of blessings on the way to you, if you’re willing to have the kind of patience that is pretty much nonexistent. DM: Is there a sliding scale that defines the relationship between how long you have to wait and how outrageous your dream is? Is there a point at which your dream is so outrageous that fulfillment is beyond your lifetime? NG: I would definitely say so, that’s really insightful of you to say. I think there’s an old Chinese saying, “You must first be foolish in front of the crowd before you can achieve greatness”. And when I read that for the first time, I was stricken by how accurate I felt it was because you’ve really just got to put it all out there, you’ve got to let your balls hang out and, depending where you want to go in life, you might have to keep them out there for a really long time before people start to look and be impressed with you. DM: I guess no matter how crazy something seems if there’s a guy who’s been doing the crazy thing for 50 years, that becomes remarkable just by itself. NG: Yeah! That is, that is the reward in itself. So many people are not trained to recognize the value in effort. There’s so much gold to be mined in effort. I mean, effort is gold in itself. I don’t know why people are so afraid of exerting it without a return, because the longer you sit on it, the more it incurs value, in my opinion. I’m a big fan of tackling a tremendous challenge with no reason to think that you’ll succeed. I love being challenged and I love keeping myself in challenging situations. DM: Is it fair to say that anything you do from here on out will exhibit the same dedication that you commit to your com — er, well, I don’t want to have you guess what you’re going to be doing next. NG: Yeah, what if I want to do something totally lazy? I want to become the next Piet Mondrian! DM: Halfway through the sentence I realized, you know... (laughs) NG: Don’t pigeonhole me too quickly, man. (laughs) Nicholas Gurewitch’s PBF collection, The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, is available now from Dark Horse Comics. David Malki! is the author of the comic strip Wondermark. His latest book is Beards Of Our Forefathers, also from Dark Horse Comics. An extended version of this interview can be found online at www.scrapsofcrap.com. illiteratemagazine.com 107 fiction featUre ... or two our way. minute to spit a quip Felix Gomez takes a cky ies about vampire PI us first book about Ro noir ser Acevedo’s fabulo The author of the pop tallment hos of Rocky Flats, Mr. mp to find the next ins say, then read The Ny e, and you’ll rush out Read what he has to icano vampire mixtur e out March 2008. ’ll love the bizarre Ch Three, cam Flats, Colorado. You d Kama Sutra, Book ’ve been bit. The Undea in the series like you 108 What’s your secret? I padlock this helmet over my face and I can’t fit food through the eyeholes. ILL: What is it about vampires that’s particularly Chicano? There are so many authors forging this genre, Marta Acosta and Jeanne Stein among others. MA: Vampires are not particularly Chicano. It’s that so much has been written about bloodsucking lowlifes, that La Raza wanted part of the action. ILL: Do you think vampires really exist? I think I saw one at the Walgreen’s on Colfax & Sheridan... MA: Of course vampires exist. Felix Gomez endorses my checks. ILL: Sex. Your titles titillate, but the steam scenes are pretty PG-13. Why? MA: The reason my sex scenes are PG-13 is that research costs $3.99 a minute and I can’t afford much. ILL: I hear you paint. Do you ever combine your literary and artistic endeavors? MA: I can write my name in the snow. ILL: Will all of your Felix novels take place in Denver? I think it’s lovely how you incorporate the city. It makes us Denverites feel famous. MA: Felix rents an office on the second floor of the Oriental Theater at the corner of Tennyson and 44th. Every new adventure starts and ends there. In X-Rated Bloodsuckers, Felix goes to Los Angeles to solve the murder of a female surgeon turned porn star. In The Undead Kama Sutra, Felix travels to Hilton Head, South Carolina to stop a government conspiracy by extraterrestrial gangsters in a plot to kidnap the Earth woman. ILL: Do you support yourself with your writing? MA: Right now I am. Next year you might see me holding up a cardboard sign at the corner of Speer and Broadway. ILL: What’s it like having a contract with HarperCollins? Do they manage your website and make you blog? Is this a help or a nuisance? MA: My contract with HarperCollins is a big responsibility. They do not manage my website, but they do make me blog as well as sharpen the pencils of their NY Times’ bestselling authors. ILL: I know you teach fiction-writing workshops. Give us a sample of a typical exercise or speech you use to get writer’s creative juices flowing. MA: I soak a student volunteer in gasoline. I strike a match and ask him or her: How do you feel? ILL: Are you famous? Elaborate. MA: I’m such a nobody that I don’t even show up on security cameras. ILL: Do humans deserve to be eaten? MA: Only if they’re cooked with Hatch chile. ILL: If Felix Gomez, PI got bitten by a zombie, would he turn into a zombie? In general, who would win, zombies or vampires? MA: Zombies? Yuck. They smell like Dumpsters. I’m writing book four in the series, Jailbait Vampire. Felix is ordered to the San Luis Valley to wipe out an infestation of zombies and destroy their creator. No question about it, vampires are numero uno in all ways, except for halitosis. ILL: You’re such a man’s man or maybe it’s Felix, but you have so much in common. Where is Felix’s feminine side? Or your’s? MA: The extent of Felix’s feminine side is that he knows a lot about women’s shoes. Let’s leave it at that. ... illiteratemagazine.com 109 s one-fifth of Broken Lizard, Paul Soter can claim membership in one of the funniest gangs of serious filmmakers walking the lame-riddled streets of Hollywood today. The troupe (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, and Erik Stolhanske, in addition to Soter) lays claim to four films Including Puddle Cruiser, which garned mad props at Sundance and raked in the Golden Starfish Award for the best American Independent film at the 1996 Hamptons Film Festival, 2002’s Super Troopers, the million-plus DVD selling comedy juggernaut responsible for a thousand Farve jokes, Bear Fucker, mustache rides, liter of soda rage, and Afganistanimation, 2004’s horror comedy masterpiece, Club Dread, and 2006’s love letter to alcohol poisoning, Beerfest. 110 Whoever coined the one night stand should have also mentioned the two day sit and shit your brains out waiting for results from your VD test. a an IntImate long-dIStance Phone converSatIon wIth PaUl Soter of broKen lIzard, the wrItIng/dIrectIng/actIng groUP that broUght yoU beerfeSt, SUPer trooPerS and clUb dread. Interview by Rob Geisen w ith another Broken Lizard film on the way, a soon to be launched Comedy Central TV series and his solo debut as writer and director of a feature film, Mr. Soter certainly, as well as the rest of the Broken Lizard crew, has come a long way from the days as a bunch of comedy wannabes living in a bus like unwashed zoo animals for months, traveling from college town to college town in hopes of a few laughs. I met Paul in the summer of 2006 while he was on tour promoting Beerfest. It was my anniversary and his birthday; we drank shots until two in the morning and he kicked my ass at beer pong. We got along fine. After that night, we kept in touch. What follows is a partial transcript of a long distance telephone conversation that took place not too long ago, in which the always gracious Mr. Soter talks about his new movie, future Broken Lizard projects, childhood fears, and also provides a semi-detailed analysis of why Jefferson Starship has never really mattered. Rob Geisen: Talk about Watching the Detectives, your first solo project. Paul Soter: Cillian Murphy plays a guy who runs a little mom and pop video store who has always lived his life vicariously through the movies and fucks up relationships because he always compares the women he meets to his favorite female characters from his favorite movies. Lucy Liu, a kind of weirdo girl, comes into his store and acts as if she’s a movie character herself, taking him on wild, weird adventures. It seems like it would be a perfect match, but she’s so completely adventurous – to the point of being dangerous and unpredictable, that what seems like the perfect relationship ends with her threatening to make his life collapse. The idea was to do a romantic take on films like Double Indemnity; that was the first thing that jumped in my mind. Like the Maltese Falcon, where there’s a dame who walks into a guy’s life and immediately wraps him around her finger, ends up ruining his life, and everyone watching knows that this woman is up to no good right from the start. RG: What’s next for Broken Lizard as a team? PS: Broken Lizard is shooting a film in January called The Slammin’ Salmon. So we’re prepping for that. Most people who live in California think it shits unicorn miracles. 111 Also, we just sold a TV show to Comedy Central, called The Boofoos. Hopefully, we’ll shoot a pilot in the spring. RG: Talk about The Boofoos . PS: The last couple of years we’ve been thinking about doing something for TV. People were asking us, but we just didn’t have the right thing that we all liked and we thought if we were to do something on TV, it should be radical, otherwise it would feel like we were selling out a little bit. We had an idea we really liked about a group like us, a sketch comedy group that’s on a late night TV show and gets kicked off the air for FCC infringements, swearing or something like that. They’re out of work and can’t get back on TV, but one of them has a connection with a channel like Nickelodeon, so, with nothing else to do, they agree to do a kid’s video thinking it will never get on the air. It ends up not only getting on the air, but becoming hugely popular. They are offered the opportunity to be – do you know The Wiggles - the song and dance kind of group for kids? Well, these guys eventually become The Wiggles and make $45 million a year doing a kid’s show. They still don’t want to do it, so they make it as subversive as possible, but they’re so popular nobody can kick them off the air because they’ve become a huge cash cow for the network. That’s the premise. RG: What’s the status of Super Troopers 2? PS: We don’t know. Fox asked us to come in and pitch an idea for a sequel. They said they loved it, but never called back. I’m not sure they realize there are lot of people who’d like to see it. RG: What’s the writing process like for you, writing with Broken Lizard versus writing on your own? PS: You know, writing with the group has big highs and lows. I’ve had the greatest laugh-your-ass-off moments writing with the guys, but there’s also a lot of arguing and frustration, too. Doing it solo is very satisfying; you get to do exactly what you think is best. But you really end up just guessing at what might connect with other people. RG: What factors made you want to start writing and acting? PS: Loneliness. Need for validation. The usual. RG: What’s your fondest childhood memory? PS: Hearing the song Kung Fu Fighting for the first time. What’s your least favorite childhood memory? PS: Hearing We Built This City On Rock‘n’Roll for the first time. RG: What scared the hell out of you when you were a kid? PS: I had a paper route and had to ride around on my bike before sunrise. Some douchebag in my neighborhood had a hearse in his driveway. He was a plumber and that was his shtick: Hearse Plumbing. I always thought a ghoul was gonna’ grab me off my bike. RG: What was your favorite Halloween costume that you wore when you were a kid? PS: In 4th grade, I went as Suicide Hemingway. Beard. Turtleneck. Massive head wound. Nobody got it. RG: Have you always been a talented motherfucker? PS: Excellent question. Really excellent question. RG: Any words of wisdom for the children who aren’t allowed to read this yet? PS: Never cop to anything. Don’t speak. Ask for a lawyer. Don’t fall for the good cop/bad cop routine. It’s a trick. 112 I’m Spiderman! No, wait, you’re Spiderman; I’m Batman! Interview by Josephine and the Mousepeople aka Avi Sherbill & Danny Shyman t he Tokyo Police Club is a band whose members remind you of your childhood friends. You know, the ones who you’d trade baseball cards with and climb trees with and jack each other off using toilet paper rolls. But for all the nostalgia this band brings out, there’s a newness to them — not necessarily in their sound — which is a mixture of who-gives-a-shit and blah-blah-blah, but in their attitude. They could be touring and playing festivals as easily as they could be found shopping at a Walgreens. In an age of homogenized sounds and all-important hit lists, they somehow seem oblivious to it all, making them a more understandable and likable group of people in the process. Drinking Coke at a bus stop in Denver, we found out just how aware they really are. I found a spelling error in the Gospel this morning. illiteratemagazine.com 113 J&M: Why are we interviewing you guys? TPC: God knows. It’s all working up to some grand kidnapping scheme. J&M: Run with that. TPC: Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson would team up in the greatest action movie of all time. Danny Glover would be the wise-cracking cop who would say things like, “I’m too old for this” and “I don’t even know these guys.” J&M: Um, I guess we’ll do the interview in an accent. TPC: All of us? J&M: Yeah, all of us. (in thick Brooklyn accent) TPC: I’m not. I can’t do accents… I can try. J&M: Let´s talk about juice boxes for a minute. (long pause…) J&M: You could talk about juice in a box, the format that it’s in, favorite brand… (laughs) TPC: O.K. Here’s my thing about juice boxes. Really great, but one is never enough. As soon as I got to grade six I wanted three juice boxes. J&M: David Letterman’s been known to grope women on TV; he groped Drew Barrymoore. Due to your collective attractiveness, I was wondering if you were worried that Dave might grope or touch you? TPC: I wished he had touched us a little bit more; I felt a little neglected. It was cold in that studio. He could’ve warmed us up. Greg’s not here, so I feel like I have to say that. Greg would answer those questions specifically. J&M: What did he smell like? TPC: Dave Letterman? J&M: Yeah. TPC: I didn’t get close enough to smell him. That was the whole problem. From the background: He smelled like timelessness and agelessness! J&M: He drinks from the fountain. (everyone laughs) J&M (in accent): So congratulations on your job with Saddle Creek, guys. TPC: News travels fast. J&M: Yeah, well I saw the cake on Pitchfork.com and it looked beautfiul. It looked really adorable. (everyone laughs) J&M: So, you guys get pretty political on your EP. TPC: Uh, unintentionally. Actually, not at all. (in accent) Someone get this kid a philly cheesesteak! TPC: Yeah. J&M: I know we’re young and beautiful… later on inlife we’re gonna’ die. What would your dying words be, if (everyone laughs) 114 No, Honey. Tom invented long hair. you even had them? TPC: Didn’t we just talk about this? “Rosebud.” J&M: In preparing for the interview we went to the Tokyo Police Club and found a lot of contraband and firearms. How do you feel about representing such a club? TPC: We never actually were allowed in, but we’re glad to have escaped and masqueraded. We actually saw a bunch of cops in Denver all staking out some place tonight. There was some bust happening. The place was, Jimmy John’s Mattress Service, or something like that – no entrance or delivery. J&M: We read in an interview that you guys knocked a band called The Horrors. What do you think abut knocking a band in print, no matter how bad they are? TPC: We didn’t really mean to do that. It’s not our responsibility to be nice. If I was talking to you casually, I would knock bands I didn’t like. If it gets into a paper, that’s just one man’s opinion. I don’t think they’ll think about it; I hope it doesn’t hurt their feelings. They’re very successful; more successful than us. In general they live in nicer places than us. At festivals in Europe, we got really muddy at each one, which was the thing about playing festivals in Europe — you’re knee deep in mud. The Horrors were playing on our stage, and they were wearing all white leather shoes. Every time they’d take a step, they had to clean their shoes; it was a real arduous process. I always think it would be cool to dress nicely, but it’s such an effort to maintain yourself, so we just don’t. J&M: In that sense, kudos to them. TPC: Yeah, we don’t have anything against The Horrors. J&M: What do you think about young people having something to say, that is if people would really listen to young people? TPC: I think young people listen to young people. It’s just a matter of old people listening to young people. If I may say so, I think people listen to their own demographic. So, we’re in a pretty good position, considering we’re in a culture where media is geared at youth and not old people. J&M: I heard you guys quit school to do the band full time. With regard to middle-class white kids, who are expected to take a certain route in life, and then go and do something different, how do you feel about choosing creativity over financial stability? TPC: As middle-class white kids, it’s pretty easy to do that, because we always have a nice cushy safety-net to fall back on. I mean my parents are always hanging out. I can always go back there for dinner if things crap out. It’s kind of a risk, but it’s not as big of a risk for some people. We’re in a pretty good position. Talking to the club, like my molested best friends, it seemed they just allowed things to happen. They didn’t control their image like a parent guards a fragile child, and they understood that musicians these days don’t have the luxury of taking themselves too seriously. To illustrate this point, as we were leaving the bus stop they asked if we were going to come to the show. We said no, that we had somewhere else to go. They laughed. illiteratemagazine.com 115 interview by Josephine and the Mousepeople a.k.a Avi Sherbil 116 blacK rebel motorcycle clUb Interview by Josephine and the Mousepeople aka Avi Sherbill Black Rebel Motorcycle Club belongs to a bygone generation. Robert Levon Been, bassist and one of two lead singers in the nostalgic trio may have told me differently when I met with him during the Monolith Music Festival last summer at Red Rocks Ampitheatre, in Morrison Colorado, but his heavy-handed ideologies and absolute beliefs fit in better with the ‘60s than the benign present. At a festival where a lot of artists chase the spotlight, it was nice to see someone running from it. As BRMC’s unnofficial spokesperson during our interview, Been was by no means a soundbite artist. It became evident that he and fellow BRMC members, guitarist Peter Hayes and drummer Nick Jago, are committed to what they do, making you wish more people actually listened to what they have to say. Speaking from a place of sincerity, it’s difficult to challenge this not-so-modern man, lest one wishes to be dismissed in his words as yet another “byproduct of these morose times we’re living in.” J&M: Traditional folk music lyrics tend to be one-dimensional, usually someone is being murdered or saved and inquiring about redemption or death. But you are a rock ‘n roll band with folky themes in a pop landscape where words are allowed to be a little more abstract. Could you elaborate on the idea of folk and pop music being combined and how you relate to either of them? BRMC: I can only speak for myself, as far as being in a rock band, or starting off as a rock band publicly and then having this dirty little secret in the closet that we were kind of more folk and country stuff, and blues stuff, and ‘rootsier’ music, but we’re afraid to make a record like that just ‘cause…I don’t know. At first we wanted to meld the two somehow and make a rock record that has different places that it goes, but we couldn’t find how they merged, so we had to make a separate album completely to highlight just that world. To be honest, we’re still trying to figure out how to put the two together on an album to make it feel cohesive. J&M: Is there a band you think has done it very well in the past? BRMC: There are soundtracks to films that have done it. That’s kind of what we’ve been thinking about recently— trying to approach an album like making a soundtrack to something that doesn’t exist— where it can go from a wall of guitars that are kind of screaming and more experimental to an acoustic guitar world and come out as something else, like a spoken word thing, and then go somewhere else. You have to go about it a bit looser, more like a soundscape or feeling, rather than a bunch of pop songs. J&M: Let me ask you a question: Why aren’t you called White Conformist Scooter Gang? BRMC: In a bizarre world we are. In an alternate universe there’s a fascist skinhead gang running around on scooters probably making some really illiteratemagazine.com 117 interesting music. J&M: What are you guys so angry about? BRMC: I’m not sure. That’s probably why we’re writing so many fucking songs about it. J&M: Do you think if you were to figure out and write down on paper what you’re so angry about, then you wouldn’t write songs anymore? BRMC: No, anger’s just another form of communication. It doesn’t make you feel so alone, like you’re the only one, ‘cause you can sing about it, write about it, and put some sort of beauty into it that other people maybe can relate to. And then other people do relate and you feel like a group, or a community, or a gang and then it’s not so bad. It’s not so much you against everyone. The more you can get away from that, the more anger does you good. J&M: Do you feel in a certain way that rebellion is just a manufactured emotion in this day and age? BRMC: Fuck, yeah. Well, that question leads down a dark road, because you go into everything that’s branded, manufactured, and sold, and you know every revolution just becomes another Coca-Cola. You’ve got the brand, you’ve got the pitch, you’ve got the song that goes along with it, and you’ve got the sound bite and it’s hard these days to not fall into it. We’re living in the worst age in history of not knowing. There’s no real counter-culture, no bigger-sized bands speaking out, no bigger-sized artist, no bigger-sized magazine. There’s not one thing you can go to that’s ‘The Truth.’ As soon as it’s ‘The Truth,’ then it’s the next thing to get bought out and sold, and then it’s just preaching the same old shit. J&M: With that thought, and it’s understandable because you guys are career musicians, you supply songs for television shows and things of that nature. BRMC: Yeah, yeah, well TV shows are art to me. I don’t think television’s all that bad these days and it’s someone’s art really. Commercials are another thing, when they’re just hawking a product. J&M: Have you supplied music for a commercial? BRMC: We did one recently. We’ve been against it since the beginning, but then we got to a point where it was just infuriating. We get asked every month, and we know [that] every time we say no, there’s some other band that gets asked and takes it, and who knows what they do with the money? So we took [the commercial] and gave[the money] to charity, and it was our way of kind of turning it around on itself, rather than some band just taking it [and] putting it in their pocket. We got sick of that. I wish more bands did that— just to turn it around—because you can’t stop it anymore, you just have to find a way to beat it with its own stick. J&M: Do you think distorted guitar is too much of a good thing, I mean the electric guitar is already booming. BRMC: No. There was maybe [too much distorted guitar] at a time, but these days there’s less and less of dirty, noisy bands. Things get really polished and pretty. We’re actually in need of more noise these days. J&M: You seem kind of depressed. BRMC: On most days, yeah, when you talk about anything real, (laughs) but that’s good. I’d rather be depressed and talk about it than try and avoid it. J&M: Are you guys more centaur or unicorn friendly? BRMC: (laughs) Probably different for different people in the band. I always thought Nick was a unicorn. Pete’s a centaur. I’m probably a little bit of both. A centaur and unicorn probably fucked and I came out. (laughs) 118 Note to Self: Post guards at castle doors. J&M: Your previous record was entitled Howl. In what way do you relate to Allen Ginsberg? BRMC: I don’t really relate to him. The title was taken directly from that [poem], but we just wanted to remind people that words matter and there can be poetry in rock ‘n roll, and that’s a good thing. It’s surprising how many people got into it and started talking about those writers again. It was the anniversary of Howl’s first reading right after we released the record and that was cool. I feel like it came first, but then people started remembering those writers. It was a beautiful time and you wish there was more of that spirit around. J&M: So you wish you were alive in the ‘60s? BRMC: No, actually. I’ve realized it’s more important to be a band right now because there were good artists and writers and culture coming out in the ‘60s. It was coming out of the woodwork and they didn’t need anymore. These days we need a lot more than what’s going on. So, if the Delorean showed up today (laughs) to take me back I don’t think I’d go, because these days you need all the help you can get to help people stay conscious and stay in tune. people are kind of asleep at the wheel. That may be their choice, but it affects everything. It affects music and affects every possible type of art. It’s the whole thing with focusing on the war—the war isn’t the problem—it’s a byproduct of our times, and if the war were to go away, or never have happened, we would still be just as bad off, because we’re ignorant, triggerhappy, and unconscious as a people, so that affects art and music. J&M: If you guys were koala bears, would you still do so much cocaine? BRMC: I’ve only done cocaine once, and if I were a koala bear, I guess things would be kind of the same. I’ve got a question for you: Would you rather be the last person alive or die in the apocalypse? “In an alternate UnIverSe there’S J&M: Are you asking me? I’d rather a faScISt SKInhead not be here. gang rUnnIng aroUnd BRMC: You’d rather go out with on ScooterS everybody? Probably maKIng J&M: Probably. Some really BRMC: I thought of 70 questions like IntereStIng these on an airplane once. Would you rather be shot or stabbed? mUSIc.” J&M: I have a huge fear of getting shot in the back of the head, so probably stabbed. BRMC: Airplane crash or gas chamber? J&M: I’m Jewish, so gas chamber’s no good. I’ll go with airplane crash. BRMC: Would you rather be brilliant like Einstein or enlightened like the Dali Lama? J&M: I’ve given up on spirituality. J&M: Were you this dark as a child? BRMC: I hope not. I hope there was some good going on for a while. It’s the contrast that makes it worth it. J&M: As a result of a lot of people stroking musicians’ egos without pressing them hard enough, do you think that music has fallen because it’s not taken as seriously as other art forms where people are pushing and creating new forms? BRMC: It’s just right now the times we live in that illiteratemagazine.com 119 BRMC: You’ve given up already? (laughs) J&M: Yeah. BRMC: Not religion, but spirituality. J&M: I think my spirit went away a long time ago. BRMC: Fuck, and you’re calling me depressed. J&M: If you were a koala bear would you still do so much heroin? BRMC: I’ve never done fucking heroin. Do you think we’re a drug band? J&M: (nods politely). BRMC: (laughs) We’ve been a drug band, not me, but we’ve been there. That probably answers your question a bit more accurately than your passiveaggressive nature scenes. J&M: Do you think drugs accomplish more than ignorance? BRMC: Peter always says drugs are good for writing three great songs and nothing more. He says — about being high and in the element—that you’ll maybe write three great songs just by being a complete balls to the wall, out-there fucker, but that’s about it. Then you just keep regurgitating the same shit and don’t actually get to the next step. Then again, there’s other bands I’ve seen, and I won’t name names, but they’re guys that have cleaned up and they lose it afterwards, and that’s the biggest shame. [They]make some of the greatest music and they get clean and positive—it’s beautiful— but they actually need to be high to lose focus enough to be in the moment. J&M: Are you talking about Hall and Oats? BRMC: No, I was never that big of a fan. 120 Don’t ask. Don’t tell. And if you do tell, don’t tell anybody else. illiteratemagazine.com 121 Rok 2 St.Petersburg 122 AreYouBlind2 Hottenrode illiteratemagazine.com 123 124 Touché, Bitch. Bond and Ceon Karlsruhe illiteratemagazine.com 125 OmO Bond Leipzig 126 Rok 2 Austria illiteratemagazine.com 127 128 illiteratemagazine.com 129 Scorpio Welcome to Emotional Scarring 101. It’s your first day of school, but you’re going to be late. Don’t worry though, Mommy’s not dead; she just passed out from all the vodka-laden Kool-Aide she guzzled last night at her ten year high school reunion after seeing the results of your gestation and birth on her former prom queen physique staring back at her from the inside of a punch bowl: a cellulite covered Caesarian “Beast of the Ball” groping at any stumbling piece of manhood that will so much as glance at her lump of sagging single motherhood. Class dismissed. Virgo Your childhood was a time of exploration and experimentation, like that time you played show and tell with that curly-haired little number behind the bleachers in PE class. Well, the tea leaves tell me that she’s now employed at a prestigious phone sex outfit in Houston. If you call now, you may have just enough time to catch up, before your mother walks in on you touching yourself. Cancer Sagittarius Just as for fifty-percent of America, things haven’t been so hot for you on the homefront. Whether it was one too many toilet seats left up or another anniversary neglected, the tension has finally come to a head and Mommy and Daddy now realize that their love for you isn’t strong enough to tough it out for another ten years until you’re out of the house. On the downside, you’re another statistic in a long list of children rocked by the failing institution of life-long monogamy known as marriage. On the upside, come holiday time guess who gets to exploit the immaturity of two self-absorbed adults fighting to buy a child’s affection? After playing ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ with the minister’s son behind the bleachers today at Mass, you’ll remember every detail of this first sexual awakening for the rest of your life, especially the part when you unzip your pants and his eyes go wide as Eucharist wafers as he splashes holy water on your moist thighs yelling “BEGONE DEVIL, BEGONE!!” Capricorn After you walk in on your parents and a few of their friends engaged in a game of naked Twister, they decide to handle the awkward situation like any responsible adults caught in a compromising position by their hapless child, telling you to “forget everything you saw and go straight to your room! But first, could you spin the arrow?” Gemini The most precious gifts are the ones made with love. For your mom’s birthday this year, try making her a string of anal beads out of that old jump rope you don’t use anymore. Thread some obnoxious pearls around it or something. You can probably find some in mommy’s jewelry box. Do you know where your mommy’s jewelry box is? Great. Go get it. I’ll wait. 130 Mr. Peanut Presents: The Horrors of War. Aquarius Bath time and the Lord will suddenly gain a whole new appeal when someone at church tells you that the devil lives inside of everyone (see Cancer). Using the power of deductive reasoning, you figure there are only two ways Lucifer could have crept inside of your body. Nothing goes into your mouth without your say so, but who knows what could have snuck in the other end while you weren’t watching. Don’t be content with the Prince of Darkness using your private parts as a personal entrance: Flush the bastard out. Sitting in the bath tub spread eagle beneath the high pressure faucet, use one hand to hold yourself open and the other to turn the handle. As the running water pushes against your welcome curtains, you’ll notice a tingling sensation begin to run through you. The Devil! Better crank that handle to ‘HIGH’ and wait for Satan to vacate. Be sure you explain this perfectly logical exorcism process to your sadly uninformed babysitter when she finds you in the tub, eyes rolled back, screaming, “Oh God! Oh God!” Leo Just because you get an erection every time you ‘accidentally’ catch an old re-run of Barney the Dinosaur, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay for yapping, unfit puppets. I don’t even think there is such a thing anyway, is there? You can’t be gay for Barney, if only because nobody knows exactly what sex Barney’s supposed to be. The stars have known lots of chicks and dicks that called themselves Barney at one time or another. But that’s beside the point. Try weaning yourself off your sick puppet obsession by masturbating to magazine ads for Tickle Me Elmo. If that doesn’t work I hear the Wiggles are on 24 hour repeat in Australia. Taurus Libra Today you will bump into the somewhat disheveled elderly woman who used to breast feed you when you mother jumped ship that one time for a couple weeks and went on tour following the Rolling Stones. This old hag will make some sort of inadvertent comment describing your feeding habits at the time as ‘very gentle’. ‘Awkward’ doesn’t begin to cut it. Remember to excuse yourself politely before vomiting. You are sitting on a warm stack of hay frantically palming your stubby needle while you watch Optimus Prime attempt to dry hump a promiscuous back-hoe with his outrageously furbished semi. After spending yourself and toweling off with an old marble bag, you hear your mother calling in the background. She’s made you waffles again! Your favorite! Then, and only then, do you always manage to wake up. Pisces Aries Your Happy Meal toy smells like fried crotch. That doesn’t mean you can’t still eat the fries, though. No, I’m just fucking with you;. you should probably send the whole thing back. You will soon discover that you’re Slashing Lightsaber Motion Obie Wan action figure has inadvertently knocked up your little sister’s Jedi Groupie Barbie. They will be married shortly after that by a recently ordained Simon Says and move into a small ratinfested studio apartment one block south of Sesame Street. Unfortunately, the entire thing ends badly. Barbie gets recalled back to China due to some sort of toxic sexually transmitted disease-based paint job. Obie Wan starts hitting the bottle. These sorts of things just don’t last. illiteratemagazine.com 131