PHOTOS BY SABINE FLETCHER, ELLIE ALONZO AND MIKE CARPENTER
denton homes 8 longboarding Vs sKateboarding 12 zebraâ€™s head 16 cat babes of denton 18 denton bars 24 denton food trucKs 26
effects/affects 32 a new breed of monster // experimental hiphop 36 this house feels liKe a home // denton house shows 38
one of them 46 collin Kelly 56 denton boys 58 sea punK in denton 64 one of the guys 68
stu brootal 76 KeVin roden 80 behind the goggles // steampunK 82
6 PHOTO BY SABINE FLETCHER
When the ocean is miles away, and the tide is far from shore, longboarding
the two will always be like a brother-sister rivalry,” in Adams’ words. The
bridges the distance from city to sea. These longboarders, these urban
skaters out there would claim that the longboard is the wrong board, but,
surfers, make their own waves, cruising and carving their way through the
like any younger brother, it’s hard to see the logic through the pre-pubescent
swells of the streets.
bravado. Longboarders have their brothers and sisters, and just like any
It all comes back to surfing. “Boarding was originally about bringing
sibling, they’d love to be an only child.
surfing from the swells to the streets,” claims Zac Adams, a UNT student and
Where the skateboarding zeitgeist seems to be one of rebellious
local longboarder. Longboarding indeed owes much of its culture to surfing,
angst and poorly attempted showmanship, longboarding is a lifestyle. Those
and the two share a very similar mellow mentality and subdued lifestyle. As
who wield the board do so as more than a passing fashion statement. The
Adams puts it, “Surfing is really just about letting go of all your stresses, all of
longboarder is mellow—Zen, almost—with a tempered serenity that comes
your problems, that you leave out on the land. Whenever you get out to that
with a certain maturity. Where skateboarders “thrash” like attention-deficit
water, that’s when you’re just one with the waves.” Though the waves are not
teenagers, longboarders flow.
water, and the shore is but a curb, the idea remains. The core of longboarding comes down to a simple moment—“that moment of not being in control, but at the same time, being in complete control of yourself. Understanding in life, and especially on the board, you can’t control everything.” The thing is, they’re not the only boarders out there. Skateboarders
“Longboarding was the true child of surfing. Skateboarding was the bastardized version.” Harsh, maybe, but the point remains. What do you need to get out there and surf the street? Adams puts it simply: “Good friends, good weather, good vibes.” Everything else fades when you ride out the tides to the rhythm of the concrete waves.
and longboarders have always butted heads; “The relationship between
PHOTO BY MIKE CARPENTER, ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTIAN DODSON
Labeled as kids with unruly attitudes and rebellious prerogatives, skaters often get a bad rap, but
On the contrary, longboarders pussyfoot around
skateboarding is an art form, sport, culture and an
town, living the chill life. Real skaters coast with a
outlet for millions.
purpose, but longboarders aren’t bona fide skaters and
Three skaters—the Stone brothers—agree that
we all know it. What's the point of a longer board? The
skating is a form of rebellion for some, but that it
tricks aren't anywhere near gnarly, the board takes
also creates diligence, independence and drive. The
up too much space and if you live in Texas, chances
repetitive impulse of trying to land a kick flip for a
are you aren't switching over to an actual surfboard
whole year might seem ridiculous, but the commitment
it entails is good, hard work. Having been skating for
Outsiders see legitimate skating as only a
more than twelve years, the brothers maintain that
perilous and defiant lifestyle, but there’s more to the
skating is both their therapy and addiction.
culture than that.
Still, they insist, it’s not the total essence of who they are. “You can take it as a lifestyle, but you aren’t going to learn from that,” said Daniel Stone. “Looking at it as
“The beauty in [skating] is that it’s a non-stop motion, non-stop thought-process. It’s a form of growth and it’s constantly creative—there’s no ending to it,” Daniel said.
a lifestyle is ending it. You can skate all you want, but if
The Stone brothers agree that skating never
you take that path and put it into something, a part of a
leaves you. Your path may change and your goals
real life system, along with the value of what you have,
might not involve landing the infamous 720 gazelle flip,
it’s considered something [that’s] genuine.” “You really can’t be good if you’re not insane,” Stephen Stone added.
but even when you’re not skating, it’s clear that the audacity of the board remains with you. These skaters take with them a brave, risk-taking ideology that flows
Compared to other extreme sports, skating is its
into the paths they take in life, pushing them to be
own category. It requires the sort of fearless ambition
more ambitious, more persistent, never shying from
that compels one like Kyle Stone to grind down the
the limits that intimidate the “sane.”
20-stair Opera House rail for Thrasher Magazine. Skaters push limits and break boundaries, willing to do
something so absurd it's genius—if they land it.
Skating isn’t a culture of getting fucked up all the time; it’s a culture of no rules, no fear, no limits.
TEXAS' FIRST HEAD SHOP (1966)
/ Th e Ze b ras He ad T H EZE BRA SHE A D. COM
By Javier Navarro The building’s sign, with its cigar-smoking zebra, is upside down. Its facade
a customer come in who was older, well-off, and had a very nice car. She was
is covered in black-and-white stripes. And inside, the smell of fruit and the
getting a vaporizer and she made a comment along the lines of, ‘I’m an adult and
music of a harp greet you, along with brightly-lit displays of glass pipes.
this is how adults smoke.’ It really says a lot.”
Tucked in next to the Christian Campus Center, formerly a roaring frat house,
But it’s the Denton community that keeps this store running each year.
and across the street from a four-acre apartment complex, the Zebra’s Head
The same community whose population boasts a weird mix of college-aged and
has remained in the exact same spot on Fry Street for nearly 50 years.
elderly denizens, that thrives on local events, such as the Denton Blues Festival,
When asked what a typical work day is like, both managers Ben
which draws in older, more family-oriented Dentonites, or Oaktopia, filled with
Shawver and Everett Redburn looked at each other and couldn’t help but
a younger, drunker, more eccentric crowd. Just this year, both were held in the
same weekend. Strange, isn’t it? Yet that’s what seems to be the unofficial motto
“There is no typical work day,” Shawver said. Then again, Denton isn’t typical; neither is The Zebra’s Head, the first
of Denton: being strange. “We see a lot of life, a lot of weird life too,” Redburn says.
headshop in the state of Texas and third in the U.S. The headshop, opened in
It’s the creativity behind that “weird life” that makes the Denton community
1966 as “The Birmingham Balloon Co.,” has survived five name changes and
unique and is embraced by The Zebra’s Head. The shop features an array of glass
several seismic societal shifts, such as the Summer of Love, Watergate, the
pieces made by Denton artists. Shawver added that the glass blowing community
fall of the Berlin Wall and both Bush administrations. Though the world may
started as a subculture but has since spread mainstream.
change, there The Zebra’s Head remains, serving the Denton community with a grand selection of pipes, hookahs and other tobacco products.
“It’s kind of a weird market, but it got interesting for a community like Denton that kind of thrives on being weird,” Shawver says.
Presently in the U.S., warmer feelings are growing towards shops
In Denton, there are mom and pop shops like the Downtown Mini Mall
that offer such swag. Gone are the days when most assumed that only
that sell the kinds of items you’d find in your grandmother’s basement; there
caricatures of Cheech and Chong would visit these types of shops. Shawver
are artists who make glass pipes by blowing through a tube. There are musicians
points out that the recent acceptance is helping remove the stigma that most
like country sensation Eli Young Band and chillwave/electronic artists like Neon
headshops once held.
Indian. Then there’s the first headshop shop in Texas. As long as they all stick
“People aren’t so afraid of it anymore. It’s more of a novelty taboo now,” Shawver says. “The customer base does change as politics change. I did have
around, the Zebra’s Head and Denton will remain charmingly weird. And that’s perfectly normal.
By Javier Navarro
MIXED BAG THE DENTONITE
PHOTOS BY ERIC SONSON
It’s hard to describe the regulars at Andy’s Bar. Located on the It wouldn’t be an authentic John Williams-owned bar without a myriad
ground floor under Paschall’s Bar, bartender John Baker describes Andy’s
of bearded men inside. Bartender Patrick Colvin estimates that at least 60
as “the greasers” whereas Paschall’s is “the sharks.” (Interestingly, Andy’s
percent of regulars have beards. These regulars are your typical Dentonites:
has a sweet specialty raspberry drink called “Shark’s Blood.”) Andy’s, a
sporting facial hair, visible tattoos and the vibe of a halfway hipster. On a
dive bar located on The Square, brings out all kinds of people in Denton. It
regular night, the bar is packed with a mature crowd; most patrons are in their
draws the indie kids, with their vintage clothing and asymmetrical haircuts,
late 20s to mid-30s. East Side is the perfect place if you consider yourself
as well as the skater guys, with their darker clothing and backwards-
a beer nerd; everyone inside, from the regulars to the bartenders, has a
baseball caps. But that’s one of the reasons people enjoy the bar; it brings
profound knowledge of stouts, porters, pale ales, amber brews, malts and
out a good mix of people who “cause no drama,” as one regular pointed
more. There are 89 brews on tap, 60 of which are from Texas, and more than
out. Baker says the bar doesn’t draw many college students, describing
130 different kinds of bourbon, whiskey and scotch. This is a bar at which you
its clientele as mainly 24 to 34-year-olds. Since Andy’s is a music venue,
can kick back and strike a conversation with the bartenders, who cheerfully
it can often get loud and rowdy. If you can’t find a bar to fit in to, try
guide you through the anxiety-inducing process of selecting the perfect beer.
Andy’s, whether you're the kind of person who listens to music from car
Plus, the Austin Street Truck Stop is right next door, in case you want to stuff
commercials or likes moshing with a group of drunks.
your face with waffles before you get drunk.
Oak Street Draft House
THE WHIMSICAL HIPSTER
Despite its close proximity to UNT, most of the regular customers here
are in their late 20s to late 30s, whimsical hipsters sporting flannel shirts and skinny jeans. Bartender Demi Pitts describes the regulars as a “nerdy, weird
Another one of John Williams’ babies, this bar has a homey feel to it—
easily strike-up a conversation if you approach them (nicely). The barely-21-
probably because it’s literally a house. Inside, there are no TVs, which forces
year-old youngsters usually show up on the weekends, so then the uproarious
people to mingle and makes you feel like you’re at a family gathering with a
crowds gather in the dimly lit interior, the spacious patio, and on the roof patio
bunch of strangers. There’s a good mix of 24 to 30-year-olds here, a respectful
that displays a quaint little view of Fry Street. So if you want to chug down
bunch who enjoy small talk and tipsy philosophizing; bartender Michael Garza
shots of whiskey with the mass of Fry-street goers on weekend nights or wind
mentions that you’re actually more likely to find your professor here than
down after a long day of school and grab some cheap beer and a tasty burger
a college kid. The bar doesn’t tolerate those who like to cause a stir, Garza
with your friends, try Cool Beans. And if you enjoy toilet humor, check out the
explains, pointing to a sign that reads, “No Fuckheads.” Subsequently, the
bathroom walls, and maybe even write down your own jokes next to hi-brow
crowd never gets rowdy, even on a busy night. The bar also has more than 70
gems like "Diarrhea of Anne Frank."
beers on tap and 100 in the bottle, if you’re into that kind of thing.
BACKGROUND PHOTO BY HILLARY HEAD
little bunch”, easy to talk to and as close-knit as a little family. Most of them usually keep to themselves and the group of friends they are with, but will
By Jordan Thompson It only makes sense for food trucks like the Waffle Wagon, the Pickled Carrot and Say Kimchi to be so frequented by the Denton community. The people of this small, vibrant town crave the communal, the unique, the modern. Austin Street Truck Stop, Denton's only food truck park, has accommodated various food trucks since it was established in April 2014. Whether a local yogi needs some
at the second annual Oaktopia. "We’re especially proud to be a part of this event." Oaktopia, hosted at each venue on the Denton Square, has become a food truck hub. At least three trucks post up at the main stage to feed fans who are not about to sacrifice a front row spot just to go eat.
nourishing fuel from the Lean Machine or a curious foodie wants to try Yum Yum's famous
“We were one of Denton’s first food trucks,” Corbin Ball, an employee of the Pickled
Cuban sandwich, they can ride, drive, or walk on over to see what’s available almost any
Carrot told me after he handed me my Banh Mi. "Cuong Mai and I grew up here, and we
time of day, six days a week.
wanted to stay here. It was the little Austin to us—just without the food trucks.”
"There are a lot of people here on bikes and that's great for business,” Jason Hong,
The eccentricity of the Denton community does make it comparable to Austin;
a Say Kimchi employee, said. "I guess people like that can stop their ride for a quick bite
however, its small town vibes are exclusively its own. As people move in and out of this city,
without all the extra effort. Food trucks are designed for busy and spontaneous people,
they leave behind individual legacies that shape the town’s culture. The time, effort, and
which there are a lot of here."
passion that the Denton community dedicates to supporting local artists, musicians and
Many of the local food trucks come from the Deep Ellum area of Dallas which, like Denton, is teeming with creativity. "There are always people outside and the atmosphere is very alive,” Hong said. “We’re fairly new to the area, and we already have a lot of regulars digging our kimchi fries." If someone's favorite food truck isn't at Austin street, it could very well be rolling down Fry or even by the Denton Community Market alongside farm-fresh peaches and tomatoes. It may even show up at a house show, feeding hungry band members.
"We’re very proud to serve Denton," The Lean Machine’s Gabriel Kirkpatrick told me
dream chasers in general make this town so special. Naturally, at events like Oaktopia, both local bands and local food trucks share their creations. As time goes on, new musicians will offer their exclusive sounds, and the walls of Fry street will be redone, once more displaying the raw and haunting imaginations of the people who live here. Denton will continue to grow, but its best parts will always remain. The house shows, the festivals, and now the food trucks aren't going anywhere.
PHOTOS BY FEY SANDOVAL
30 PHOTO BY SABINE FLETCHER
PHOTO BY ELLIE ALONZO
effects // affects By Skyler Hill
Even if you’ve never touched a guitar, you’ve felt the magic of the stompbox, the guitar pedal. Once pressed, the instrument being played no longer sounds like a set of strings on wood, but perhaps an organ sounding in a large concert hall, or a chord being strummed under water, above water, under water. These little metal boxes have forever changed the technology of music, offering limitless possibilities for sonic sculpting. The Denton music scene has not escaped such influence, and to many performers they have become an indispensable tool. We spoke with a few Denton bands about their pedals and effects, about how these machines have altered the architecture of their music.
pageantry Pageantry, a three piece established in 2012, use pedals to ornament their dreamy, densely-populated soundscapes. We spoke with their vocalist/guitarist Roy Robertson about his effects rig.
SH: What pedals did you start off with in Pageantry? RR: Maybe a reverb, but I’m not too sure. I used to play acoustic guitar and didn’t really know anything about playing electric, so when I started Pageantry I had to sort of learn how to use pedals. I didn’t think I was going to be a pedal dude, but I guess I’m kind of one now.
SH: If you could only choose one effect to keep, what would it be? RR: Probably reverb. Well, okay, we played this solar powered music festival once and it happened to be a rainy day. I’m not sure if that affected anything, but when I plugged in my amp all that I heard was this feedback loop and clicking sound, and my pedalboard wouldn’t turn on. It was a festival too, so we had about five minutes to set up or it would eat into our set time. I didn’t get to use any effects, but I realized afterward that if I needed to, I could get by with only using my reverb. SH: Have the effects that you use changed how you write songs? RR: They’ve changed how I dress a song, but not how I write. I still mostly write on
acoustic guitar because I don’t normally like having people listening to me while I
Moonbather is a duo that produces an octet’s worth of sound. Teddy Waggy
write music, and living with other people in the house can make it difficult at points. I
(guitar) showed us her pedalboard, demonstrating how she coaxes so many tones
think that the song structure remains independent of what pedal or pedals you put on
from such few tools.
it, but I still would not want to play without them. SH: How has your pedalboard changed since you started the band? TW: The distortion and delay pedals are new additions. I used to be somewhat standoffish towards delay before I joined Moonbather, but I've been convinced by the dreamy creamy analog tones. SH: Have the effects that you use changed the way that you write your music? TW: The synth engine pedal has gotten us into writing live transitions between songs. SH: If you could only keep and use one pedal from your board, what would it be? TW: The Ring Thing—for its versatility.
space state Space State gives you a feeling that only reverb can: that of floating through space on a bed beneath a distant star. We sat down with
Electro Harmonix SuperEgo Synth Engine: This is sort of like a freeze pedal, but along with the infinite sustain setting you can adjust the
Carisse Renay (guitar) and Josh Cinquemani (drums) to talk about how they get this sound.
glissando so that it slides between chords, or set the sustain really low for a super staccato tone, and everything in between.
Dunlop Fuzz Face: I use it when I want to pretend I'm in T. Rex.
Electro Harmonix Ring Thing:
SH: Do you have any effects that you almost always leave on? JC: The Space Echo stays on pretty much all
Ugh, this thing is my sweet baby. It's a ring modulator, but really useful because it has the
of the time. The cool thing is that it has a tap
option of tuning the effect to the notes you're playing, so you don't end up with a bunch of
tempo on it, so you can tap along with the song
robo-gibberish (unless you want to). I mostly use it for chorus and tremolo, but it can also act
and if you donâ€™t want it to be heard that much it
as a flanger, phaser, octave and pitch shifter, bit-crusher sounding distortion, etc. You can
doesnâ€™t have to be, but if you want it to be super
also use an expression pedal with it. Don't get me started.
noticeable it can be as well. Also, depending on
Boss DD-7: Delay pedal. It can also act as a modulation pedal or basic loop pedal.
Boss Super-Chorus: This is a pedal of Caleb's that he had modded, so it gives a nice warm detuned tone.
Danelectro Daddy-O: An overdrive and distortion pedal. It has a lovely low-end crunch.
the part of the song the distortion gets used quite a bit too. SH: Could you describe what some of your pedals do?
JC: Yeah, the chorus and phaser are sort of like filters. The chorus kind of gives you that 90’s sound, like a weird…well I’d have to play it for you. The phaser takes the signal, splits it into two, and bashes them against each other--that gives it this weird phasing cycle. The wah is, I mean, pretty much everyone knows the wah. It’s the waka-waka sound. SH: Where did you get most of your effects? JC: I’ve come across all of them pretty awesomely. One of them was given to me by the bassist in an old band of mine, one by the keyboardist in the same band, one was a Christmas gift from my mom, and one was left at my buddy’s house a long time ago by a dude who had just too many pedals and forgot about it.
Illustrations courtesy of Pageantry, Moonbather and Space State.
Our generation has an urge to discover new, unique sounds and the aesthetics behind them. Unfamiliarity isn’t scary but thrilling to us; we embrace difference and cultivate our consciousness around connection. Growing up in the Internet era, we’ve witnessed the music industry undergo vast and sweeping changes, from its production to its consumption. No longer are music preferences so regionally or culturally based; instead, preferences are formed through the diverse and instantly-accessible array of artists offered by the Web. Musicians integrate new sounds and bring to life an undefinable breed of monster. The rise of Internet music popularized genres like alternative hip-hop. Birthed in the late ‘80s, then resurrected in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, alternative hip-hop embraces artists who stray from the mainstream. While some merely appreciate the art, others, like mad scientists, experiment with bits and pieces to create a unique frankenstein of sound and content. These rappers have acquired a whirlpool of musical influences and have blended them into their way of life, their music preferences and their own compositions. But these rappers don’t just stick to hip-hop. Instead, they join forces with a diverse array of musicians, who sport backgrounds in indie, punk, electronic or
folk (like the collaboration between Kanye West and Bon Iver or Chance the Rapper and James Blake). Just like these alternative rappers, we’ve become a generation of crossbreeds, identifying with all types of backgrounds rather than just one. Hip-hop has an eclectic audience capable of drawing distinctions in technique, sound and flow. Denton may not be a hip-hop platform, but the same evolving culture that it embodies can be seen all throughout our city. Seattle-based collective Shabazz Palaces provides a crowd with a diverse integration of funk, soul, tribal drums and space-like boom-bap; with the same breed of cultural forces, Denton bands pack a house full of sweaty headbangers, moshers or groovy dancers with an array of infectious lyrics, unconventional sound and magnetizing energy. Denton’s culture feeds off of the acknowledgement and understanding of our polarizing differences. Our generation has pioneered a blend of experimental sounds and aesthetics. We’ve created new outlooks on how music can sound and be perceived. As the Denton music scene forges its own eclectic identity, remember: we’re not alone.
By Louis Kirk Even the sparsest crowd can feel huge, sardined into the confines of a beersoaked living room. When it comes to the production of sweat-drenched intimacy, the modern house show is unparalleled. House shows, after all, are totally unpretentious: no cover charge, no X's on hands, no security guards and certainly no stage. It’s for these reasons that Denton’s house show scene is cherished by its residents who seek live, diverse music week after week.
THE FAN'S EXPERIENCE
THE BAND'S EXPERIENCE
House shows are perhaps the easiest way to enjoy a
One of the most interesting aspects of a house show is
concert. Park on the street, find the right house, enter
that the performers and audience are brought to the
through the back door—every single time—et voila!
same level—literally. I’ve not once come across a platform,
You’re now among ranks of your rowdy peers. The
let alone a stage, for a band to play on at a house show.
ultra-casual atmosphere of a house or living room filled
This refreshingly humble gesture removes the artifice of
with the cacophony of live music and endearingly drunk
ego upon which artists and bands often perform.
college students is what makes these shows so infectious.
USE B efo CLEA r r e m e e yo u g e NING t ah e mb e r tha ad o bein f yo u g re s t ha ving r dr u pec t This fu n f is you’r someon l of the un also k ass, m e go s ne, t e’s home pace yo eans u hey ’l , l stil and lon ’re in. l be g living af ter t h e re .
Photography: Sabine Fletcher Editing: Sabine Fletcher, Eliza Trono Model: Samantha Melomo 41
44 PHOTO BY ELIZA TRONO
Photographer: Mike Carpenter
BACKGROUND PHOTO BY HILLARY HEAD
Model: Shelby Otero Stylist: Emily Ruiz Turtleneck: Joe Van Overbeek MUA: Maria Amanzo Hair: Meredith White 47
Model: Lauralee Penafuerte Stylist: Lauren Jenkins Clothing: Neiman Marcus Last Call at Grapevine Mills HMUA: Lorene Herrera 48
Models: Alisha Henson and Audrey English Stylist: Chelcie Guidry MUA: Maria Amanzo and Mallory Chokas Hair: Meredith White 49
Models: Morgan Cote and Chima Onyebuchi Clothing: Joe Van Overbeek Stylist: Emily Ruiz MUA: Mallory Chokas and Maria Amanzo Hair: Meredith White
Models: Kevin Payne, Blake Burnett and Joey Kunisch Clothing: Mid-Point Eclectic by Devaun Robinson Stylist: Chima Onyebuchi Hair: Meredith White 51
Models: Brandon Adams, Kim Dawson Agency Samantha Melomo and Kelly Sims Stylist: Lauren Jenkins Clothing: Neiman Marcus Last Call at Grapevine Mills HMUA: Lorene Herrera 52
Photographer: Collin Kelly
Photographer: Sabine Fletcher Model: Sam Tancharoensuksavai
Model: Travis Potter
Model: Robert Cameron Gordon
SEA PUNK IN DENTON Photographer: Mike Carpenter Model/Stylist/HMUA: Jacqueline Creech Art Director: Emily Ruiz
Clothing: Alexander Wang Sweatshirt 3.1 Phillip Lim Skirt Shoes: Jimmy Choo 68
Photographer: Brandon Lyon Model: Claire Marr, The Campbell Agency Hair: Leticia Garcia Makeup: Erika Antonio Stylist: Chelcie Guidry Dress: Neiman Marcus Last Call at Grapevine Mills Shoes: Jimmy Choo 69
74 PHOTO BY SABINE FLETCHER
By Kelly Sims In our day-to-day life, trains are a common sight. They pass in a roar above us on bridges, and snake
“I knew that if I stayed here, and kept taking all these drugs, I was going to die,” he said, gazing
alongside us on highways carving through the countryside. We stop driving when the red flashing arms
seriously over the table at Jupiter House. “So when a friend of mine stayed with me for awhile, I knew
of a railroad-guard scissor down, and tap our fingers on the steering wheel as they pass. As we sit and
that when he left, I wanted to go with him.”
wait in these moments, we might try to discern the spidery graffiti as it slides by, or even count the
With only three weeks of school left, and even though he was achieving good grades, Stu went
cars in our boredom like kids on a school bus. But how often do we think of its contents? We're simply
and talked to his principal, informing him that he was going to be leaving. He repeated this message to his
viewing the shell of something, the exterior of a hollow container, and beneath the shuddering metal
mother, who, while not exactly approving, understood his thirst for travel and supported him—handing
could be coal, timber or even one of the city's secrets.
him a backpack for his travels. Shortly after, he and his friend departed to Austin where he would catch
It's the iceberg effect—we're only viewing the frosted cap of a world that stretches far deeper beneath the surface—or in this case, beyond the rattling steel of a commonplace freight train.
his first train. It took two days of waiting for that perfect train to come by.
You're probably thinking: “What's in these trains? What world could possibly be contained in a
Stu, having never done it before, and with only the wisdom handed down to him by his friends,
steel box hurtling past me on my way to work?” The answer is one that you might not expect. In Denton,
braced himself as the enormous, lumbering train hissed to a stop before them. He had been told that the
and other cities around the world, a hidden subculture and an undiscussed lifestyle is prominent—yet it
rule of thumb for train-hopping was: “If you can't count the bolts on the wheel of a train, then don't run
is deftly veiled from the public eye. The facet of reality that may be passing through your own life in the
alongside it. Because you're gonna fall or get your head chopped off if you can't count the bolts.” So this
form of a slow, inconvenient train is the act of train-hopping.
train, easing to a complete stop before them, was one that almost seemed to be dealt by the hands of fate.
Train-hopping is exactly what it sounds like: an activity involving one leaping onto, or running
“My heart was beating in my chest, but I just grabbed onto the ladder and started pulling myself up.
alongside and hoisting oneself onto, a train. However, this is not just an invigorating hobby or a cheap
Then I'm on the train, sitting 'dirty face'—when you're looking forward and your face is in the wind—and
form of travel, but a lifestyle, one that pertains mostly to the punk community. It may be hard to imagine
my friends tell me to 'jump.'” At this he laughs, shaking his head. “I'm looking down between the cars, at
that the train sweeping through your life contains human cargo, stowaways, but it is an all-too-real
the knuckles of the train, thinking about how my foot could get trapped—but when I actually jump it was
possibility—and it probably has already happened many times. With this in mind, and in an effort to
further explore and understand this world, we uncovered a train-hopper that resides here in Denton,
With only a bag of wine and each other's company, these train-hoppers wound down the tracks
Texas. One that has been completely submerged in this way of life and returned changed, matured and
out of Austin, the entire illuminated skyline visible, as they rumbled into darkness. And there they stayed,
with a story to tell.
on the back of that train, for sixteen hours, without any water—only wine. Dehydrated to the point that
This individual is Stu Brootal, local hip-hop artist and weaver-of-words, and a chapter of his youth was dedicated to traveling on the railroads. But it did not begin as an exploration of rebellion, but rather,
they were drinking from a Vienna Sausage can, they swept through swamps and other terrain to make it into Little Rock, Arkansas.
a means of escape. At the age of seventeen, Stu took a look at his life and realized it had fallen into
Once there, they found a punk house that offered hospitality to drifters and other train-hoppers,
darkness—one composed of drugs, and friends lost in those drugs. It shrouded Denton in a bitter light,
just as long as they worked in the owner's coffee shop for the duration of their stay. Things soon became
one that made his hometown seem unbearable.
rough and drama-filled at that house, however, and Stu and his friend left—quickly finding themselves
stranded in Little Rock. “We would try and hitch-hike, you know, but the cops would come after us. They'd tell us to get out of the city—and we'd be like, 'that's what we're trying to do.'”
After that, I took off towards Seattle, which is where I wanted to end up in the first place,”
This would not be the first time they would encounter trouble with the police.
Stu said. “It was just me and a dog at that point, and once we got there, we hitch-hiked into the
Throughout their travels, they experienced much disregard due to their appearance and
city.” It was there in downtown Seattle, while walking the streets, coated in dirt, panhandling
drifter-status. Cities attempted to expel them, yet restricted their ability to leave. It was
for money, that he discovered his next residence. An old friend, whom he hadn't seen in years,
a cycle they were forced to combat, but in the case of Little Rock, they found a solution
ran into him on the crosswalk. For about a week he stayed with this person, until a momentous
through Stu's girlfriend. She, once informed of their situation, drove from Denton on a 12
moment in Stu Brootal's life happened. He understood why Denton was home.
hour rescue-mission to pick them up. However, upon returning to his hometown, Stu found himself immediately restless and asking the question: “Where next?” That answer ended up being Oklahoma—then Kansas City, Kansas, and then Kansas City, Missouri.
This realization struck him as if through a vision, so overwhelming that it shattered the lenses he had been seeing everything through for months—a dispersion of fog. This breakthrough in clarity, a new understanding, happened because of a computer, and the person on the other side of it.
The trip from Oklahoma City was one that he lingered on though, for it had been a
“I remember, I got on video-chat, and my girlfriend was sitting outside of her parent's
rough trip. “It was miserable, cold. The wind's blowing at 70 miles per hour, and I'm riding
house,” Stu explained. “And as soon as the screen pops up, I can see that she's sitting outside
dirty face. Everyone else had these big, thick sleeping bags, but I only had this dinky little one
by the garage, the light beaming down from overhead, and she had this really long black hair—it
I had grabbed from my house, and this tarp I'd use to sleep on dirty areas. So I'm all wrapped
just lit her up. She had this white shirt on—and it was like seeing an angel. After everything
up in both of them, trying to go to sleep, and it's not happening.”
I had been through, without being able to see her face, and then that popping up—with her
He went on to add, “But it's so beautiful. There's not a streetlight anywhere, and I'd look up at the sky at the stars, and it was so beautiful and so horrible all at the same time. It kind of summed up the whole experience of it.”
glowing—I realized at that moment, 'I need to go home.'” This entire period of time, Stu had been avidly writing music, but with no means of producing it while on the road. It was when he saw that digitized-angel that he realized that he
This appeared to be a pattern in his story—the highs and the lows. On the one hand,
had made a mistake, that he needed to go home to this person, and he also needed to pursue
as he swept further across the states on trains, he met new people and travel companions.
the music he had so passionately been creating all along. With this new clarity, the very next
Individuals that would start out as strangers, but evolve into trusted allies and life-long
day, Stu began his journey back to Denton.
friends, ones that he is still in contact with to this day. However, not all of the people he
What this story gives us is a new appreciation: for what lies beyond the walls of a train,
would meet on the railways were fellow teen-drifters and punks—bruised, yet well-meaning.
and for the life journeys that can occur within them. Because this is only the story of one man,
There were junkies, felons, and crews whose entire lives were devoted to the train-hopping
one that started out lost and found himself, and there are hundreds more like it—perhaps some
lifestyle as well—ones that you didn't want to say the wrong thing to. These were the kind of
that never had an angel that caused them to return home. Who never stopped being lost—and
people that made Stu realize: “I’m not that person. This is just a fragment of my life.”
never discovered what makes a home, home. It's the people of Denton that are the iceberg
Stu began to find himself surviving on instincts and trust for the first time in his life,
effect, the faces we see on the streets without ever knowing what lies beneath, and it's the
and at that point, though he still harbored dark feelings towards Denton, he began to miss
people of Denton that make it a place you want to live. Think of them as the train you see
the people that resided there. Yet his journey continued, taking him on a train all the way
passing as you're stopped at the tracks, and never stop wondering what's inside those cars.
to California. Once there, a van packed with hippies, whose creed was to pick up every hitchhiker they saw, scooped him up off the side of the road and squeezed him in, then
started off to Portland.
Small towns, home towns, wild hope and big philosophy
By Emily Bentley, Samuel Ford Coronado and Rachel Wagoner There is a clatter of discussion, a rattle of mixed drinks, a blur of darts; Paschall’s hums with an ambience of warmth and industry, echoing remnants of an ancient city on the other side of the world. We’ve not escaped Athens, the chatter of its gossip, bustling streets, nights that pass slick as liquor or the unfurling of an idea. The teachings of Socrates, Athens’ perhaps most famous, philosophically-minded citizen, surface in the disposition of Kevin Roden, who represents District One on the Denton City Council. “I've always really admired Socrates," Roden says, and it seems obvious that his admirations have fueled his interest and involvement in an active, locally-oriented civic life. Conversing with the councilman is easy, though he is often interrupted by random passersby, who greet and chat freely with him for a bit. He casually calls these citizens by their first names, engaging with them as if they were his neighbors or old schoolmates. Even more so in recent months, Roden seems like a hometown hero. His eagerness to discuss and bring to a vote a proposed city-wide fracking ban echoed the views of many Denton residents. Again, one could trace this unpretentious attitude to the ideals of Socrates. “He was often referred to as a man of his city because he would get people engaged in the political life going on around them, especially the youth,” Roden says. “The problem with our voting now is once it comes to city elections only 5 percent of people show up to vote, and the median age of those voters is 67. The youth don't get represented because politics aren't being portrayed in a way that's engaging. I want to change that." Roden certainly manages to keep the community involved. Even before he began pursuing a career in politics, he was reaching out to members of his community, hosting events he called “Drink and Think” (in his own home, nonetheless). People in Denton would share “fine adult beverages” and discussion of huge, multifaceted life questions, such as “What is the role of the arts in our lives?” and “What does it mean to be Human?” It’s clear that Roden has a passion for uniting philosophical views with political ones, and articulating them in ways that are understandable and relevant to the average citizen.
Itâ€™s clear, too, that Roden respects the people he serves. "I have such a faith in humanity," he said. "That's why I got into politics. Besides, too often I've watched people vote or get excited only in national elections because those appear to be the most appealing, â€˜sexy,â€™ if you will. However, if a citizen is only voting in these giant, rather far off elections, are they really taking an active stance as a democratic citizen?" It makes sense that Denton would welcome such a politician, one who understands that the most important changes we will ever make begin with ourselves. How curious and admirable, that Roden is so drawn to this town, this oddball city
Denton is home. I want my political career to grow with her but never away from her. known for its love of jazz, art, twenty-four hour coffee shops and poetry written on bathroom walls. It is clear that Denton has walked or stumbled into a strange mixture of genius and insanity, as it spits out travelers, adventurers, thinkers and people just looking for a ride. "Denton is home," Roden says. "I want my political career to grow with her but never away from her."
Goggles By Kelly Sims At the Dallas Heritage Village, an expansive park composed of historic Victorian homes and pioneer-style buildings, a fantastic world blossomed out of the cracks of reality. Men and women in capes swept down creaking wooden steps, greeting one another with the tip of a top hat or the wave of a gloved hand. Ribbons, corsets, pistols and mechanical arms were common sights on these patrons as they strolled to a real blacksmithing workshop, laden with iron tools, or to grab a drink from a saloon twanging with live piano musicâ€”the pianist a man with metal-tubing for hair, his grinning face coated in bronze paint. For three days this costumed world thrived, thanks to the Steampunk Invasion.
PHOTOS BY KELSIE SHELTON 82
“Steampunk” is a culmination of many different things. It is a personal interpretation and an artistic expression. It is a genre of fantasy involving the Victorian age and steam-powered technology. It features lots of brass, long dresses, elaborate suits, steam-powered machinery, and weaponry. Fantasy is key to its definition, though, and with that comes imagination, art and self-expression. Steampunk is not simply a costume party for these participants, but a reprieve from the ordinary. The creation of a character is the creation of a new identity—a man working at a paper company in his day-to-day life can become the captain of an airship; a working mother of four can become a cannon engineer with brass weapons hanging at her hip—and together they are unstoppable. Captain Cedric Greyhawk Whittaker, a veteran of Steampunk and an accomplished leatherworker, not only retired from the fire department to pursue his passion full time but also assembled a crew that travels together across the country. They are the Airship Isabella, a group that has now been going strong for six years. They live and breathe for the Victorian-style clothes, the hand-crafted art, and the imaginative process of it all. When asked what appealed to him the most about Steampunk, The Captain had this to say: “It gives people a chance to be themselves, and it reaches out and touches every person in a very specific way. There's a magic in this thing that is Steampunk—be it the bolts, the music, the clothes, the writing—there's something that grabs onto you and doesn't let go. And getting a chance to see, at the start, that spark of inspiration, come into not only older people's eyes, but the younger ones as well, there's something magical about that.” It’s hard to argue with that while gazing out over the
This is another core facet of the glittering, steam-powered heart of Steampunk—past the fashion,
historic vista, at men and women of every age, shape and
the appearance, there’s the fun. The playfulness. One mother, Vic Victory, the other half of a mother-
size participating in a colorful world of their own creation.
daughter team, addressed this head-on. “When I was a little girl, I used to feel so bad and sorry that I'd
Young children play on emerald lawns while wearing aviator goggles, parents dressed in full Steampunk
have to grow up someday and quit playing make-believe,” she said, laughing. “And then I found out that, 'Hey, I can still do this!' Even at this age. And not only that, but I can do it with my kids.”
garb loft black-lace umbrellas over their heads and
When asked if she and her daughter, Summer Kenard, had alter-egos or Steampunk characters to
watch from under a cusp of trees. Women that could be
participate in that make-believe aspect with, both the mother and teen grinned. “I'm Absinthia Victor,
grandmothers click by in thigh-high black leather boots,
also known as the Devious Miss V,” Vic Victory said, gesturing to herself. “And this is my protégé...”
long stretches of hand-stitched fabric swishing behind them, giggling together like they're girls again.
“...Shizumi Wormwood,” Summer Kenard finished, smiling. “And no one really knows much about us, but rumor has it that we travel a lot, and my father is actually a samurai in the Far East.”
These two are not the only ones with incredible stories for their alternate-identities. Almost everyone present had a character, a narrative, a way to participate in the make-believe. A man sporting an enormous balloon, one that erupted from a parachute-like device on his back and hovered above him like a small zeppelin, explained his character. “I'm Welbert Grunyun,” he introduced, giving a small bow. “People call me 'Run.' I'm the first mate, cook, deckhand and pilot of the Airship Misfortune. I also tend to do 'powder monkey'—where I clean out the cannons, but I often get stuck—and I also do look-out.” When asked what the large balloon bobbing over him was for, he said this: “It's a 'Rope.' R-O-P-E, a Rapidly-OpeningPersonal-Evacuator. That way when you're working on the ship, as I tend to do, and you fall over the railing, as I tend to do, instead of plummeting to your death, you pull one of these cords here, and it'll spring a large balloon—like this one—out of the canister, filled with helium, and you'll float gently down to the ground without hurting yourself.” The stories go on and on, ranging from a villainous priest with a smoking staff to a warrior with expansive, retractable wings. There are classy mademoiselles of noble ancestry too. All who attend participate whole-heartedly, weaving their fiction, creating new, exciting personas.
But perhaps the greatest thing about these events is not such fantasy, but rather the real life connections that
shadows—and I would see a lot of those same kids at conventions. And having been one of those kids, and after having
they create. As in any unique subculture, people band together, united by a common passion. Steampunk is no exception.
time to grow and mature in the military, as well as the fire department, it was all about not leaving a single one of those
Through online connections and role-playing, as well as meeting in person at conventions, a community has formed. Toby
kids behind. Reaching out a hand and being like, ‘You have people, come on, join us.' Because at the end of the day, we
Lawhon, the lead-singer and guitarist for the Marquis of Vaudeville, a Steampunk-inspired band, spoke of this. “Basically,
all wear goggles, we're all freaks, and we're all artists.”
these people will do anything for you,” he said, looking out on the cobblestone street winding by, the people passing. “If
In a world where so much is judged on appearance, societal rules, and “normal” behavior, it's refreshing to know
someone wants to wear something that isn't exactly Steampunk, or isn't from that exact era, no one brings them down
that there is a safe oasis for the creative, uncommon individual. A place of belonging, a slice of the universe where
over it. It's about the self-expression, you know? Everybody takes care of each other. It really is like a big family. All of
you can be anything you want to be, free of judgement. One of these places is the world of Steampunk. Behind all the
these people know us, and we know them, and it's different. Special.”
Victorian dress, the exquisite leather-working and the thick-lensed goggles, there is a community, a family. One that
Josh Wilson, a four-year participant in Steampunk, agrees. “For these three days, you get to hang out and have fun
accepts everyone with open arms and lifts them up—while in the real world, it seems as though we're often being
with, honestly, the nicest people I've ever met. I've never met a snooty, snobby 'you call that Steampunk?' kind of person
knocked down. So perhaps if you're driving, going about your normal day, and happen to see a slice of the Steampunk
here, no way. Everyone has always been so welcoming—'Hey, someone else! You're not alone! Come be nerdy with us!'” Captain Cedric Greyhawk Whittaker’s story is a testament to these claims. “I was that kid that hung out in the
world—a convention, or a group clashing foam swords in the park—maybe pull over, take a step into that other dimension. Open your mind. Because they are waiting for you, and without a shadow of a doubt, they'll take you in. 85
e assu e Vacuum distilled distilled
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PHOTO BY SABINE FLETCHER
Photographer: Brandon Lyon Model: Claire Marr, The Campbell Agency Hair: Leticia Garcia Makeup: Erika Antonio Stylist: Chelcie Guidry Jacket: Stella McCartney x Adidas Pants: Neiman Marcus Shoes: Neiman Marcus
PHOTO BY HILLARY HEAD HANDWRITING BY STEPHEN PETREY 94
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