D e c. 2 0 1 3
I s s u e N o. 2
Max Vande Vaarst
Copyright ÂŠ 2013 Buffalo Almanack. All stories and photography property of their respective authors. Cover art by Natasha Zoghlin. Buffalo Almanack is a non-profit publishing outfit founded in 2013. New issues are released quarterly, on the 15th of March, June, September and December. Inquire online for submission guidelines. www.buffaloalmanack.com Follow us @buffaloalmanack Like us at facebook.com/buffaloalmanack
For Lou Reed, whose genius has retained an immutable presence in our lives. 1942 - 2013
“Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting.” – Cormac McCarthy
Issue No. 2 - Dec. 2013
Photography Natasha Zoghlin
Editorsâ€™ Note Max Vande Vaarst Katie Morrison
Photography Andrew Schroeder
The Hook and the Haymaker Jared Yates Sexton
Photography Manu Granadero
Foreign Object Amanda Miska
Photography (Cont.) Natasha Zoghlin
From the Blog of Exceptional-Man Paul Hamilton
Photography Guillermo PĂŠrez
Born to Ramble Robert James Russell
Consider this second issue of Buffalo Almanack an exercise in genre.
That’s a four-ish letter word at some publications, the battle cry of fringe
tastes, soft paperback spines and vivid cover art in the style of a Frank Frazetta prog rock album; the trade fare of Doctor Who’s notorious “tin robots and bugeyed monsters.”
Nevermind that “genre,” both as a collective and in its individual
components, continually represents the most popular form of reading material in the world, and that “literary fiction” is itself a genre, bound by various conventions since calcified into cliché. Superhero stories, selfish young romances, über-macho sports tales and the American rural gothic yarn can’t always find a seat at the table.
This month we’re running all four.
Everybody makes their assumptions. Anyone can be ruled by their
prejudices. It is sometimes tempting to enter a story with your hands over your ears or your nose high in the air based on its subject matter, the literary milieu in which a piece operates. Some of this issue’s literature challenged even our own editorial sensibilities, forced us to consider elements of fiction we’d never encountered before, elements we would certainly never had explored in our own writing.
Issue No. 2 - Dec. 2013
We’re publishing these stories because they made us publish them, because
they offered us no alternative. There is no true common thread running between them, but a willingness to invent and the shared quality of excellence. If, as I have heard said, the only genre of writing that really matters is good writing, well, here’s a genre we can all get behind.
This issue’s photography too reflects several unique forms and
compositions. Most notably, you will find a strong emphasis on studio-based surrealism (I was reminded of Man Ray, but then what the hell do I know about photography – you’ll have to ask Katie why it’s so good!) and man-on-the-corner street photography (that our two street photographers are both native to Spain is either a lovely coincidence or evidence that the streets of Madrid and Barcelona are more fascinating and vibrant places than anywhere I’ve yet been).
At any rate, we hope the art contained in this issue will draw you a little
deeper into the many rich worlds of genre, as it drew us. Within these pages you’ll find eight talented young persons at the top of their craft.
You can be sure that we are, as always, ecstatic to share their work with you,
no matter what genre that work may hail from.
All the best, Max and Katie Editors
“This photo emerged out of a larger collaborative project I started with fellow artist and writer Eireann Lorsung. We were having lunch in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles and found this Japanese notebook titled “The Daily Petty Life” which seemed like such an invitation to make art about the forms and rituals of everyday life. While I was packing up my belongings for a move from LA to Milwaukee, I noticed these strangely satisfying formal arrangements of quotidian objects emerge. With an awareness of how images of “authentic” living are disseminated on the internet, where aesthetics trumps just about every concern, this series of photos pokes sly fun at the tendency to document and catalog one’s life and at the ways in which that tendency creeps into our lives.”
Andrew Schroeder Canon A-1 35mm
Jared Yates Sexton
Inkslinger Award Winner
“That’s what he was famous for, this wild punch that started in his right shoulder and came up over your guard like a flood. Seems like it landed every time.” 7
The Hook and the Haymaker
You may not believe it, but I fought Buster Mathis before he was Buster Mathis. He was still fighting the City Circuit, after the Golden Gloves and before he moved up in class and dropped Harper Lawrence for the title. They were training him at Patterson’s Gym, the place where all the up and comers go, and they needed some sparring partners. I signed up and they hired me right off. His manager said I worked hard and didn’t take cheap shots. Said he admired the left hook I was throwing back in those days.
Buster went through partners like they were toilet paper. I stood out there on
call and watched him drop them in no time. It wasn’t like he was really trying either. One after another they got in and touched gloves and he’d put them on their ass before they knew what was what. He was a murderer. Couldn’t even hold back sparring. He’d flick a jab or two and then lay out these poor boys with a cross or uppercut. Just shut their lights off.
What was worse was his haymaker. That’s what he was famous for, this wild
punch that started in his right shoulder and came up and over your guard like a flood. Seems like he landed it every time. Certainly put Harper Lawrence down. And when he let loose that day, when he’d square up one of those kids who went ahead of me, it wasn’t even a contest. They took it right in the teeth.
They fell and they fell hard.
Truth be told, I wasn’t looking forward to getting in the ring. Guy before me
had to be carried out. I climbed in after and got a mouthpiece from one of the corners. He told me to try and stay in there awhile and swap punches.
Throw that hook, he said. Make him earn it.
I didn’t know any better. Sure, I said.
Buster charged at the bell. Come right in like I didn’t mean shit to him. He
Jared Yates Sexton
swiped with his right, that goddamn cannon, and it barely got my cheek. It hurt though, cracked a molar, and that snapped me awake. I got the hell away and ducked the jab he was loading up. Out of desperation I hurled that hook, the one that’d got his manager’s attention, and it smacked him spot on the ear.
Now, I never did much as a fighter. I won my share and lost just as many.
But I’ll be honest - that hook had to be one of the best in the business. It had to be. I knew from early on I didn’t have much to offer. Feet were slow. Knuckles broke too easy. I couldn’t manage a long bout to save my life. But that hook? It was my saving grace, the one tool I had in my bag that worked worth a damn.
Well. Buster found out about it. When it hit he backed off, stumbled even,
and had to take a second to get his head in order. I could tell it shook him up, that it made him reconsider the situation.
Buster, his manager said. You good, son?
He was looking at me out of worn-out eyes. He nodded and charged again.
This time I could feel the heat coming off him like exhaust. I didn’t see much except that haymaker charging up in his lump of a right shoulder. When I woke up it was a good half hour later and I’d swallowed four of my front teeth.
They slipped me some extra for the surgery. I pocketed a couple hundred
and told the dentist to only replace three of those teeth. I wanted a memento. Now, when I smile, people get a good look at the souvenir I got from Buster Mathis.
Things changed after that. Word spread that I’d stood the man up. I got
more fights, even got a shot at the City Champion. Fought Hector Ramos at the Roosevelt Gym and got knocked out in the seventh. There was word that Ramos was dirty and put pig-iron in his gloves, but I didn’t protest. I was done fighting at that point, done waking up with bloody sheets and bruised hands. I’d done
The Hook and the Haymaker
Of course, Buster was just taking off. Got on a real roll of it and was
taking fellas out left and right. I used to go up to the bar and drink and watch. Sometimes people would come up and ask if I was the guy who’d stood Buster Mathis with a left hook. They’d want autographs and pictures like I was some kind of big shot. It was embarrassing, but I’d grin a big gap-toothed smile and bear it.
The paper even called later and did a story in the run-up to his fight with
Harper Lawrence. This pretty little reporter came and asked what it was like to take a punch from Buster Mathis and live. I laughed and pointed to where my tooth had been. Like falling, I said.
Her name was Anne and she was sweet enough to laugh at my piss-poor
joke. In fact, she laughed at all my piss-poor jokes. She was fifteen years younger but I could tell she’d spent most of her life in the company of her elders. I asked if she wanted to grab a bite to eat and the two of us went over to the Mexican joint down the street. We closed the place down, drinking cervezas and going over all my old, worthless fights. When the article finally ran in the paper it was crammed way in the back.
It wasn’t two weeks later Anne moved in. When we’d met she’d been in a
bad situation and looking for a way out. I guess I gave her that. And maybe it was out of appreciation, or even kindness, but we spent most of our nights getting drunk on the couch and watching fights on the tube. In those days you could count on somebody airing a bout, be it cruisers or feathers or the occasional heavy, and we’d be right there when the opening bell rang, the both of us draining beers between her asking questions and me doing my best to explain.
Jared Yates Sexton
When it came to the technical aspects of the sport, the poetics she called it, I
hardly knew anything. As a fighter I was clumsy, a cloud of mistimed punches and artless blocks, and the fact that I’d ever won a decision or knocked a man out was a miracle in and of itself, but I wanted to impress her so I made shit up. Look there, I’d say to her, pretending to know what I was talking about. Look how he drops that guard. Look at that window.
I see it, she’d say and huddle in close.
She was as sweet of a thing as I’d ever come across. In the morning she’d
head into the office to report on a car crash or an assault and of the evening she’d come and make me supper. Never asked me to find work. Never bothered me about my drinking. Never asked me to do anything besides explain the fights on the television.
Well, she asked one thing.
After Buster Mathis retired he came back to the city. Opened a drive-in that
lasted two seasons and shut down in good order. Bankrolled a diner that burned up under suspicious circumstances. I’d see him every now and then walking in and out of places. You could tell he was enjoying retirement. A layer of fat coated his muscles and his face and cheeks filled out. But just watching him you could tell he was still graceful, one of the most naturally gifted sons of bitches to ever lace up the gloves.
And he was as famous as they came round here. Every time somebody
opened a store or restaurant they’d ask Buster to come and cut the ribbon or declare business begun. He seemed bored by the whole thing. Like he was halfasleep when he got out there. He’d put up those cinderblock fists of his like he was about to fight but the spirit was gone.
One of those openings was for the new Shop N Save on Bondehoo. There
The Hook and the Haymaker
was going to be a big ceremony, the kind he was always brought in for, and over beers Anne said she thought I should be there too.
I’ll write it up, she said, for the paper. Get a picture and everything.
Nobody cares, I said back. And Buster probably won’t even remember me.
She didn’t agree. This is the kind of thing people eat up, she said. Hell, it
might be on the front page. You never know, maybe they’ll start asking you to open up supermarkets.
I would’ve said no if she’d ever asked me for anything before and if
things between us were good, but we’d slipped into a bad period. It was as if something had shut off, like we were both tired and ready to throw in the towel. We got hateful there for awhile and sometimes I’d ask her about it and she’d act like I was imagining the whole thing. It was there though and I knew I wasn’t in a position to turn her down. After all, a girl like her, a girl who can put up with a washed-up loser like me for so long, doesn’t ask for much. But when they do it matters.
So I said okay.
The morning of she helped me put on the only suit I owned. It wouldn’t
button anymore and the shirt only made it halfway up my chest. The whole deal reminded me just how out of shape I was. And, when I went to button the buttons that would still cooperate, my knuckles started feeling fuzzy and out of focus. A pain throbbed up. It’s how they felt whenever there was a rain brewing, whenever they started remembering the old days between the ropes.
I don’t know if I can do this, I said.
She tied a loose knot in my tie and brought her face close to mine. I know
you can, she said. You can do anything you want to do, she said.
I wish I could’ve told her how wrong she was.
Jared Yates Sexton
At the new supermarket there were maybe thirty people there in front of the
main stage. Some reporters, a television crew from the news station, the store employees, and a few gawkers and family members. Over the top of the stage was a banner - SHOP N SAVE: THE UNDISPUTED GROCERY CHAMPION. Next to the words were a pair of badly-drawn boxing gloves.
When the time came the owner marched out with the new managers. Some
music played. I can’t remember what it was. The air was buzzing around my ears. I was keeping watch for Buster. Anne had her hand in mine and was squeezing in anticipation. I wanted to run.
And now, the owner said, pulling a cheap-looking championship belt out of
a box, the meanest man to ever throw a punch: Buster Mathis.
More music played. A few purple spots danced in front of my eyes. I
tongued the space between my teeth. Buster came onstage and crowd barely cheered while he made a show of throwing a few punches. I felt my feet shift on their own and I had to catch myself from falling over.
Buster got up to the microphone and the owner tried to drape the
championship belt on his shoulder. It was awkward but it ended up there like a dead snake. Buster said something but the microphone was turned off. He backed away and the owner announced he’d sign some autographs if anybody wanted them.
He ended up behind a table on the stage. The reporters and employees and
gawkers went from getting some of the free food to getting autographs from Buster. Anne led me up there in line and got her photographer ready. You’re shaking, she whispered to me.
I’m not shaking, I lied.
I got up to Buster and he was signing a receipt slip for a teenager wearing a
The Hook and the Haymaker
Shop N Save polo. Chances were he didn’t even know who Buster was. Soon as he got the autograph he shoved the slip into his pocket and walked off to find something to drink. He’d had no idea how great Buster was, how he’d gone round the world knocking some of the biggest and the strongest on their asses. It was awful.
Next, said the man directing traffic.
I walked up and said, Hey, Buster.
Buster wasn’t paying attention. He’d signed his name for the people before
me with his head down, like he was ashamed of what he’d become or that he’d had to be there in the first place. I imagine he was probably thinking back to his days of being led out to the ring, crowds of people cheering and the music pumping out of the speakers. I imagine he was wishing he was anywhere but this sad-ass city that’d birthed him.
Buster, Anne said to him. I’m from the paper. You remember this fella? You
remember sparring back in the day?
Like he was waking from a nap, Buster lazily raised his head. He looked like
someone who might have been Buster Mathis in a previous life. Like someone who missed being Buster Mathis. Then those eyes of his, the same I’d seen after I landed that cross, the tired and worn-out ones, they came to me. I think he recognized me right off.
I’d like to do a story, Anne said to him. A sort of a where-are-they-now piece.
I don’t think she was done speaking at that point but she quit talking. Buster,
after all, was pulling himself out of his seat. He was raising that mountain of a body of his up and shedding the suit coat that barely fit him. Those eyes came alive too. They caught fire like someone had switched on an engine.
Buster, I said.
Jared Yates Sexton
But I’d been watching his eyes too closely. It was a flaw of mine from way
back, one of the things that’d always got me in hot water in the late rounds. I’d be in there in the mix and get to focusing on the fella’s eyes instead of where it needed to be - his feet and his hands. And right then, on the stage, Anne at my side, I was watching how Buster’s moved and changed and not paying a bit of mind to where all the trouble was brewing and swelling, right there in his right shoulder.
The Hook and the Haymaker
â€œI go often to the center of Madrid to find certain sites that bring back memories of my childhood, places that still have that air of yesteryear.â€?
“We showed up just as the movie started. I avoided your eyes, wanting to pretend like I didn’t know this was all a grand meet-cute.” 21
Y ou never wore underwear. To this day, you’re the only person I know who lived completely commando. It seems a silly thing to fall in love with, but the eccentricities get me every time.
You had deep set eyes, full lips, and a small nose. You wore blazers and vests and fitted button up shirts and tight jeans and jewelry. You wore more rings than me. You were in a band. You spoke French. You worked at a little charcuterie shop to pay your rent when you weren’t taking regular gigs. I thought you were trés cool, even though I knew little else about you.
My best friend and roommate, Liza, was engaged to Jack, your lead singer. Word had gotten around that I was interested in you, and I guess that made you interested in me too. One evening, the band was doing some band-bonding over crockpot venison stew and a B-movie, and Jack invited Liza over, suggesting that you bring me along.
We showed up just as the movie started. Everyone was scattered on three old couches. I avoided your eyes, wanting to pretend like I didn’t know this was all a grand meet-cute. Liza and I shared the loveseat, cuddling in that faux-lesbian way girls our age do in front of guys. Jack soon came over and snuggled between us. He leaned in to give Liza a deep kiss. “Get a room!” you yelled, clearly watching the whole thing.
Liza and Jack paused to laugh, but Jack didn’t move. “There’s a spot over here,” you called over to me. And so it began. We sat close, but not touching, making goofy comments during the whole movie. There were a lot of boobs and bad dialogue (the B in B-movie, I guess?). I was no prude, but seeing naked bodies when you’re next to someone you’d like to be naked with is almost as uncomfortable as seeing naked bodies with your parents in the same room. You have to pretend not to be titillated. When the movie was done, I said quietly, so the others wouldn’t overhear: “We should get coffee. Or beer—if you’re not a coffee drinker.” “I drink beer and coffee, so I’ll let you decide.” We exchanged numbers and hugged goodbye. The hug lasted an extra beat.
You met me after closing at the gallery I managed. I waited for you outside, and it was snowing. You’d just come from a show. I hugged you as soon as your footprints reached mine. Your damp hair brushed my cheek. “Let me give you the tour first,” I said. I showed you our most recent small show, a collection of ten paintings of the same woman from different angles. I clicked off the lights when we reached the end. We stood close in
the dark for a few seconds. I wrapped my arms around you, kissing you, tongue against teeth and hands in hair. We went back to my office to make out on the couch, which is when I learned of your underwearfree existence. You were matter-of-fact: “I grew up in Europe. That’s just what we do.” “It’s sexy,” I said. And, strangely, it was—enough for me to initiate a first date blow job.
When you finished, I spit into the trash can. “Sorry,” I said. “For what?” You took my face in your hands and kissed me deeply. Then you turned me over on the sofa. “Hate to disappoint, but I’m wearing panties.” “Not for long.”
Two weeks later at two in the morning, you texted me, our first contact since that night: You awake? I’m outside. I rushed to apply a little makeup and change out of my pajamas and into jeans and a t-shirt. I put on my glasses to appear like I’d just been 24
casually reading in bed. I quickly scanned for anything embarrassing: Zumba DVDs, feminine hygiene products, pimple creams, my stash of Sara Mclachlan CDs. You were up against your car smoking a cigarette like a goddamn album cover. “You look pretty.” You exhaled your smoke to the starry sky. I tried not to swoon. “So do you. Want to come in?” “It’s cold out here.”
Inside, you picked up a boxed set of movies from the top of my bookshelf. “Vampires, eh?” you said, leaning in and brushing your teeth against my neck. “Guilty pleasure.” I pulled you onto my bed. We kissed and fooled around for hours, but there was no condom, and you said, “It’s better this way.” “What do you mean?” “It’s early. Sex always ruins things.” “But I want to.” “But we can’t.” I rolled off of you and pushed my hair back from my face. I sighed.
“Can I still stay?” “Stay here? Overnight? In my bed?” “I could sleep on the floor if you want.” “Get over here,” I said. We kissed goodnight for another hour. I set the alarm and turned out the light. I fell into love and sleep.
The next morning I made you espresso (badly), and we kissed once more at the door before you went to work. We said, “Talk to you later.” But something was off in the tone of your voice, the shift of your eyes. You radiated a little force field. So I wasn’t surprised when you stopped responding to my texts and emails. There was no apology.
A few months later, Liza asked me to go on a day trip to Pittsburgh, where the band was recording. We planned to visit the Andy Warhol museum in the afternoon — Jack invited the whole band, but you were the only one who replied that you’d like to go.
We picked you up at the friend’s apartment, and you and I shared the back seat like two awkward teens being escorted to a spring fling. Jack slipped in the demo you’d been working on and turned it up loud, so we couldn’t talk. The windows were open, blowing our hair around. I trailed my fingers in the wind. You and Jack sang along loudly, and
Liza drummed her hands on the steering wheel. To outsiders, our car must have looked like one of those twenty-something road trip films. The kind with happy endings punctuated with long kisses. Or subtitles that said Je t’aime.
As soon as we arrived, Liza and Jack went off on their own. You and I made small talk as we circled each other around pixelated celebrity portraits and Campbell’s soup cans. At the end of the lower exhibit, we both got into the elevator. Our forced proximity made me lean closer to you like months hadn’t passed without a word. You kissed me for no good reason. I tried not to care. The doors opened. Upstairs, Jack and Liza were camped out on a white sofa, making out beneath a video installation in a darkened room.
We went outside to the street to buy cigarettes. I asked you how recording was going. You didn’t ask me anything about what I’d been doing since the last time you saw me. There was a real half-peeled banana in the middle of the sidewalk a block from the convenience store. You took a picture of it with your phone, both of our shoes at the edge to make a frame. We smoked outside in the sun. It was late April in the Northeast, so we still wore our coats. I was thankful for the insulation that kept me from pressing myself up against you. I swallowed all of my questions.
Near the restrooms, there was an old photo booth. You agreed to get in with me. The first three flashes, we both laughed as we tried to adjust our positions. In the last take, I rested my temple against yours. We looked like a real couple. You let me keep the strip. I knew what that meant. Back at the house, you said goodbye to me the European way, with a quick kiss on each cheek.
I tried to forget you existed, but for weeks, I found myself imagining you with some petite French girl, riding bikes with a basket full of baguettes and fromage, a girl who would never overthink things, a girl who was cultured and effortless and, in every way, the opposite of me. The kind of girl you write songs about. Always one for the grand gesture, I photocopied our picture from that day and wrote you a note, one phrase for each image:
1. I keep thinking about this day. 2. Iâ€™m sorry if I came on too strong, if I was too weird, if I wanted too much from you. 3. I would love to see you again, even for coffee. 4. I hope you donâ€™t think this is too weird. I just miss you.
I signed my name, folded it up and mailed it to you. No surprise, I never heard anything back.
Four years later, at an outdoor concert I’m attending with my husband of one year, we lock eyes—a flicker of recognition—and I pretend you’re a stranger. You do the same. Because what would we say to each other? I’m three months pregnant, too soon to be showing, but with a glow I hope makes you think twice. Even though I’m happy now. Even though I’ve found capital-L Love.
I notice you are wearing your usual button up, one you’d probably
worn when we dated or whatever it was we did. It’s unbuttoned lower so a lock or two of chest hair peeks out, and you’re wearing three necklaces. Now, instead of thinking how chouette you are and getting that wistful feeling, I just think you look kind of silly.
Inkslinger Award Winner - Natasha Zoghlin
Nikon Digital Infared
â€œMy photography takes on a surrealist quality. I enjoy higher contrast digital black and white prints. These shots are from a series I did about unsolved murders between the 1800s and 1960s.â€?
â€œSo haters, hate on. I didnâ€™t get into this for the adoration of the multitudes. I got into this for the love of a city.â€? 35
From the Blog of Exceptional-Man
AN OPEN LETTER TO MY HATERS October 3rd, 10:11 pm
So I just stumble in the door and kick off the ol’ clodhoppers and I check my phone – which I leave at home, hello alter ego security breach waiting to happen – and I have a text from REDACTED which reads as follows:
Now, you don’t know the context of my relationship with REDACTED, so let me tell you that under normal circumstances I would interpret this as tacit approval for having, in fact, knocked Brogium out with the statue of our beloved city’s founder and namesake. I reply with some smug halfjoke, and there’s a long, uncharacteristic pause before REDACTED sends back:
Honestly, I don’t really want to turn on the computer. I haven’t even washed
the blood off my cape, I still have chunks of concrete in my hair, and I’m really looking forward to a beer and ballgame kind of evening. But when REDACTED gets all serious like that, I know better than to ignore it.
I reposition the laptop so I can get half a bar from my neighbor’s wifi. I log in and find this unending tidal wave of bullshit and vitriol. I’m not even going to link it, screenshot it, summarize it or anything. Let’s just say the haters came out to play. If you really need some place to start and you can’t be bothered to google or youtube “Exceptional-Man vs. Brogium,” try the hashtag #FuckOffExMan. Whatever. So I’m tired and beat up, but I make the mistake of trying to engage with some of these trolls. And it goes about as well as it ever does. After a few hours, I’m wrecked. This is worse than going toe-to-toe with Hammer Hands. I walk away, pace the living room for a bit, take a shower. I’m standing there in the shower, watching my blood and hair turn the drain water pink and furry and I just start to sob. I don’t know how much time passes. When I next have a conscious thought, the water is ice cold. I get out and now I’m sitting here in a towel at my kitchen table, trying to will myself not to go back and battle with these armchair crime fighters and I fire up a text document and this is what pours out.
Dear Haters, I tried to converse with as many of you as possible on an individual level but it’s clear that many of you are more interested in blaming me for not being perfect than in having any kind of rational discourse. As such, I will respond to the top complaints as follows and that will stand as my official response to any related questions. Consider the subject closed immediately thereafter. 1. On the point of the unfortunate death of Ms. Fern Elliot. Guys, you have to understand how much this kind of shit tears me up. The thing is, long ago I
From the Blog of Exceptional-Man
had to do a lot of soul-searching to learn to compartmentalize the fact that when cruel, selfish, sociopathic individuals like Brogium or Kombat Kangaroo kill defenseless citizens, that act falls on them, not on me. Ms. Elliot died because Brogium chose to shoot an ice ray into a crowded park on a Sunday afternoon, not, as some have suggested, because I chose to dodge the blast. I weep for Ms. Elliot and her family, but I’m out there every goddamn day trying to keep our streets safe so the number of Ms. Elliots we have to lose goes down, not up.
2. For everyone watching the handful of raw (by that I mean un-edited) YouTube videos of the fight and Monday-morning quarterbacking the whole thing, let me start by saying that all your fucking video game “experience” doesn’t amount for shit when it comes to the adrenalized, fear-soaked entropic reality that is a fight with super-powers. And for @Maj_Maniaxxx and @lolLogjam and any other ex-military or black belts or whoever you all claim to be, get fucking bent. None of your normal combat training qualifies you to tell me what I could have or should have done in any given moment. For one thing, I never have the overpowering benefit of hindsight to tell me what my foes are going to do next. For another – and I don’t really like to talk about this but I guess since Xavier Hess at the Green Grove Guardian chose to print that shit last year that was supposed to be off the record it doesn’t really matter – I only get to use one power at a time. Some of the things people are suggesting, like flying at supersonic speeds directly into Brogium when we were out over the lake, or carrying the flower cart with telekinesis while I hyper-ran behind the dugout, simply would not work. Literally, my powers can’t do that. I can’t fly at supersonic speed because I’d have to use stone skin at the same time or it would rip my body apart. I can’t
levitate objects and do anything else because telekinesis uses up my one ability. I’m actually making my life so much more difficult by even saying these things because when – not if – it gets back to my foes, they will find a way to use it against me. But it’s worth it so some of you (you know who you are) don’t go spreading the idea that I’m not trying hard enough by suggesting things that are physically impossible for me. I wish my powers didn’t work like this. Goddammit, I would love to have two or three or six or twenty abilities I could call on simultaneously. But I’m not Vallmek the Victor and this isn’t some pan-dimensional invasion of Gorpax Horrors. He’s got his flock to tend, I’ve got mine.
3. Lay off Sasha Sweeny. Just because I happened to have saved her more than once doesn’t mean she knows my secret identity and it doesn’t mean we’re lovers or even friends. You all calling attention to her like this is exactly why she’s continuously in need of rescue. My enemies think there’s something going on and she’s a weakness they can exploit. It’s not true and you’re endangering her by perpetuating it, so knock it off.
4. Regarding the Tumblr post from jeenikoala about me needing to take some time to find a new sidekick. This one may hurt the most, if you want to know the truth. I don’t think jeenikoala really meant to be as critical as she seemed, and to be honest I get the impression she’s pretty young. But it was really the add-on notes in the zillion reblogs that were the most damning. And it was this line of critique that made me have to walk away for a while. Listen: none of you had to watch Inventress get sucked into a nightmare
From the Blog of Exceptional-Man
parallel world. None of you. The only ones there to hear that throat-bursting scream were me and The Rending, may Satan be pitiless with his soul. Each time I try and fail to rescue her from Voidoss-12 – knowing good and goddamn well that time passes much faster there than here – I die a little more. Inventress was my responsibility and I let her slip away so if you think I’m eager to replace her or to get back into a relationship like that again, you’re not thinking at all. She can’t be replaced and she won’t be replaced. I’m strictly solo now, so let’s hear no more about it. And for the record, I will find a way to rescue ‘Vent; I will never give up trying.
5. Lastly, the whole bit about the statue. Wow. I mean it. Seriously: wow. I’m so glad all of you have so many better ideas about other objects nearby I could have used instead and so much civic pride to be so personally offended by my use of the Garvey statue. But we are talking about the statue that gets covered in Green University football colors every homecoming game, right? I mean, this is the same statue that got the orange ballsack spray-painted on it? The one we had to pass Measure 16 just to find the funding to clean it up? The Measure that only passed by, what, sixty-two votes? Now all of a sudden the fact that I used it to stop a rampaging super-beast who, I might remind you, HAD ALREADY KILLED AN INNOCENT PERSON, is some affront to your sense of community? I actually read a tweet where someone (the name is lost to the flood now) said something to the effect of, “I just keep wondering if Green Grove wouldn’t be better off without ExceptionalMan.”
At first I was incredulous. I was shouting at my laptop, HAS EVERYONE FORGOTTEN PORT POSEIDON ALREADY? 24,000 zombie slaves that used to be living, breathing, feeling men, women and children with futures until Mentastis came along. Poseidon didn’t have a protector to step in when their super-villain touched down with his zombie gas. I’ve had some time to think and I’ve come to realize it’s an important question. Is Green Grove better off without me? Because I’m the first to admit, the presence of Exceptional-Man in Green Grove means, to some degree or another, a percentage of the insane and sometimes brilliantly sadistic criminals are drawn here with the idea that by confronting me they can legitimize themselves. I know that their rationale is, “If I defeat Exceptional-Man, Green Grove becomes my playground and everyone – heroes, fellow villains, and citizens alike – will fear my power!” Or even if not that exactly, they feel if they can pull off some outlandish caper under my very nose, they will be lauded as exceptional for having proven my inferiority. So I have to ask myself every single day if my presence here is actively putting my beloved city at risk. The sad truth is, the answer is always “yes.” The thing is, the real answer is “yes, but.”
Yes, but: my leaving won’t reduce that risk, it will be like painting a giant bullseye across city hall. Yes, but: at least there is someone responsible for that risk. Yes, but: the unquantifiable comparison of those who would not have come without me here to those who don’t come because of my presence may be tilted in favor of the average Green Grove citizen. Yes, but: even accounting for the margin of error on ex-man-stats.com, the
From the Blog of Exceptional-Man
number of lives I’ve saved is at least twice that of the lives I’ve not been able to save and the number of lives lost during my many battles. Yes, but: if you ask any one of those who still have a family member or a home to come back to or a life to lead because I kept them out of harm’s way, they’ll tell you no one can see the future, no one can see the quantum possibilities (well, except for me when I’m using my psychic-sight ability, but that’s not the point), they can only see what would have been lost had I stood idly by, protecting my identity or just those I love. Yes, but: one day I won’t succeed. Super-villains are getting stronger and stronger, they get more vicious and personal, more devious and more willing to band together to settle the grudges I collect instead of medals and commendations. Sooner or later someone will strip me of my powers or banish me to a far-off galaxy or just flat kill me dead. I am not immortal, my time will come, too. And when that happens, my only hope – the one thing I know to be true above all else – is that I hope someone just like me or even better comes along and does exactly what I try to do every single day. I’d want that for me, I want that for my friends and family, and I want that for my city. My Green Grove. My home.
So haters, hate on. I didn’t get into this for the adoration of the multitudes. I got into this for the love of a city. P.S. If you care that much about your statue, it’s still there, at the bottom of the lake. Go get it yourselves. Maybe you can put a measure on the ballot to cover the cost.
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“El Raval is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona, Spain. The area, formerly known as Barri Xino, meaning “Chinatown”, is home to 50,000 inhabitants and currently has a very diverse immigrant community (nearly the 50% was born abroad), a vibrant nightlife and a growing cultural activity, in contrast to a past marked by crime, prostitution and poverty, whose traces can still be perceived in many of its streets.”
Robert James Russell
“Maybe, then, the bullet was a memento, a found object and nothing more left behind in a hurry as they packed their things. Still, it didn’t sit right with him.” 45
Born to Ramble
He had been searching since dawn for the origin of the small dark plume of smoke and by breakfast Eldon Painter found it: an abandoned campsite at the back of his property, a dell thick with basswood and hackberry and bur oak. All that was left were the smoldering charcoals of browned fallen brush stuffed in an old Folgers’ can — an Army trick — and a couple fast food wrappers halfburied nearby. The site had been pitched under a cluster of knotty honey locust whose branches roped together about fifteen feet up creating a natural covering from any inclement weather. He could just about make out indentations in the ground where two bodies — boys, possibly — had been arranged. Eldon stood like that for a while in the cold morning, wondered why in the hell anyone would be camping back on his lot, who they were and when they had taken off. He let the forest noise absorb him, tried to listen for anything unnatural, anything that might not belong. But there was nothing. It was only he that didn’t belong here. He kneeled and fingered the charcoal in the can — there was paper too, pages of a magazine from the looks of it. He felt something at the bottom and pulled out a spent .30 caliber casing. Eldon blew the soot out of it, smelled it, rolled it between his fingers for a while. He dug around a bit more, and finding nothing, placed the casing in his flannel shirt pocket, stood and left. A few minutes later he was at the edge of his property looking for downed fence-posts, gaps in the barbed wire where the mystery campers may have slipped through from Rabkin’s land, and followed it along for a good quarter mile into the densest part of his acreage, where storms often castrated limbs of trees that fell and severed the boundary a handful of times a year. But he found none — it was all in-tact. He worked his way back to the campsite where he inspected further, hand
Robert James Russell
to the ground where the bodies had been, ruminating on exactly why anyone would be camping here, on his property anywhere (Itinerants? Poachers? Wayward teens?). He tried hard to tap into those earthly skills taught to him when he was a boy, mostly forgotten, and surmised that this site, this can, had only been used once. That whatever this was, whoever had been here, perhaps they had only stopped on their way through. But what about the bullet? It couldn’t be hunters — Eldon hadn’t seen signs of deer on his property in years. Maybe, then, the bullet was a memento, a found object and nothing more left behind in a hurry as they packed their things. Still, it didn’t sit right with him. Walking back toward the house he cut through a large field and heard mourning doves cooing, chasing each other, and remembered being told when he bought the land how this used to all be corn. Now…just a vast stretch of blue-joint that did as it pleased, risen up to just below his waist — there was no stopping it. When he was younger he’d work the harvest on his granddad’s land with the seasonal Mexicans, but never took much shine to it. Appreciated it, respected the hell out of it, but he saw the quick decline of farms, generations thinking they were too good for the family work — the hypocrisy not lost on himself — and didn’t see much of a future in it. Still, there were times he’d come up and admire the soil, strong soil. He’d daydream about flipping this bit of land to alternate corn and soybean, but quickly squash the notion as fast as it popped up: no equipment, no hands, no money. Besides, he had fashioned himself the other sort of outdoorsman long ago, the hunting and building sort, the kind that knew all the grasses and trees on his land, the mating habits of the various creatures that inhabited them, and that had always been good enough for him.
Born to Ramble
Eldon plucked a tall piece of grass and put the end in his mouth, chewed and sucked on it, then massaged his cramped hands together to relieve the pressure. Cicadas buzzed around him, calling to one another loudly. He looked back to the ring of trees circling the field, rising up to the already slate-colored sky, and knew there’d be rain later. He took his time back to the house and was up at the porch half past eight. He skidded his workboots on the mat at the end of the porch, striking them clean, and looked back down his drive, followed its winding path down and sharply up where it met County Road Twelve, the small pond it bisected almost bone-dry — it seemed to be hanging on as long as it could. Eldon had never seen it so low, a dry summer leading into a dryer autumn. And it was exactly this kind of unforeseen burden, the kind of thing you can’t control, that made him thankful he didn’t work the land for profit.
He turned toward the house and saw it right away: the front door ajar and
spits of mud leading in from the porch. He shuffled closer, slow and quiet, balling his fists. He was only in his early sixties — which folks today claimed was still quite young — but he felt old. His body was wiry like a greyhound (he had always been that way), and his walks and chores and the pulleyed freeweight set he had rigged up in the basement kept him in relatively good shape. But he was a visage of his former self, the young man who once rightfully claimed could not ever be knocked down, and in his growing isolation over the years he had found himself more aware of the aging process, more prone to flights of fear. Tasks he was once able to do deftly were now Herculean in scale, and others he gave up completely — the house was the main benefactor of this neglect, aluminum siding growing spurts of green mold, cracked or missing completely in others, the few shrubs he had flanking the porch mostly cut down
Robert James Russell
to nubs and not seeming to care to one way or the other if they grew back. The whole place, his whole lot, had become dingy-looking, more so than it already was. The over-abundance of elm that grew around the house — soaring trees with trunks of shaled bark whose branches didn’t fan out until at least thirty feet up — cast so much shade that the house itself barely got any sun, and nothing could grow on the ground but dirt and mud. Eldon had always liked this, and it was one of the reasons why he bought the place so long ago. Up on the County Road like a fast-moving aqueduct that ran adjacent to his front acreage you could only just make out a house buried in the trees and dark — and not much else. It was perfection. Eldon pushed the door open and waited again before entering, listened, heard a bit of a scuffle inside — upstairs — awkward footsteps following. Relief. “Hey,” Eldon yelled out at no one as he stepped in, getting a waft of that faint tobacco smell, already knowing who it belonged to. “I was out at the back.” “Hey,” Ken said stepping down from the stairs.
Eldon watched his youngest son emerge wearing a week’s worth of
stubble and a fresh-shaved head that made his eyes look the size of dinner plates. He crossed the room and lumped on the sofa, his foot jogging up-down as if he had no control over it. His clothes were baggy, ill-fitting in general and they smelled musty — Eldon could smell it across the room. He had his father’s height and lanky build, but Ken was no fighter like his old man, wasn’t much for confrontation. Ken had discovered early on that women were drawn to him so he ended up down that path—the fighters fight to get the attention that came naturally to him. “Morning.”
Born to Ramble
“What were you doing up at the back?” Ken said cracking his knuckles and only making fleeting eye contact. “A walk. Just checking out the fencing.” “Down?” Eldon shook his head. Thought of telling him about the casing, but decided against it. “All good.” “There’s a storm supposed to hit today. Later this morning, I think.” “Yeah, I smelled it coming.” “Smelled it, right.” Ken laughed and plucked his phone from his pocket. “There’s whole programs that tell you the weather now, Dad. Probably a helluva lot better than you can.” Ken smiled crookedly, thin lips barely able to contain all those teeth — took after his mother that way. Silence, then Ken laughed, fell forward over his knees and guffawed. “What?” Eldon asked. “That’s all you got to say? Haven’t seen you in weeks.” “No fault of my own.” “You going to blame me for this? Or Linda? Or...the kids? They want to see their granddad, you know.” “You made it very clear,” Eldon stopped, controlled himself. “You should bring them over sometime, then. You want coffee?” Ken shook his head, followed into the kitchen. Eldon picked a mug up from the drying rack, dumped two large spoons of instant coffee in it then filled it with cold water from the tap. “I think it’s meant to be hot.” “I don’t mind it like this.”
Robert James Russell
“Well, alright,” Ken said sitting at the cramped kitchen table, flipping through stacks of mail, old newspapers. “What were you doing upstairs?” “Huh?” “Upstairs.” “Oh,” Ken touched the back of his neck, then: “Nothing, just poking around my room.” “Thought you had it pretty much gutted?” “Thought maybe there’d be something for the kids. Something I’d forgotten about.” “Find anything?” Eldon said drinking, meeting his son’s gaze, the two staring like that for a few moments before Ken broke, smiled, ran a hand back over his scalp. “Nope. Nada.” Eldon walked to the small window, studied the drive again. “Didn’t see the car.” “Walked.” “What’s wrong with it?” “Nothing. It’s fine.” “Then why didn’t you drive? You go home last night?” Ken tapped his foot on the floor, louder and quicker as if he had lost total control. “You keeping tabs on me now?” Eldon finished the coffee, set the mug in the sink. “You hungry?”
“Just got sandwich stuff.”
“Fine. That’s alright.”
Born to Ramble
Eldon went to the fridge and pulled out a flesh-colored tube of sandwich
spread wrapped in plastic and a loaf of bread and yellow mustard. He pulled out two slices of bread and spread it thick on both, added the mustard, slapped them together and cut diagonal. “We’ll share,” he said handing half to Ken.
Eldon watched Ken as he ate, free hand playing with a button he found
on the table. He had always heard folks say no matter how old their kids got parents could still only see them as the kid, not as an adult. But Eldon never felt that way. Ken grew quick, much quicker than Mike, and he had always been one for trouble. This conversation they were having now, that was about the extent of every conversation they ever had since he was fifteen, and all he could see was this man vaguely resembling someone he once knew as a child — someone he had helped bore into this world and clothe and feed until he was old enough to take care of himself. He didn’t want the worst for him and in fact loved his grandkids dearly with that special love reserved for grandparents, but they were strangers that just happened to share genetics, and there wasn’t much else to say beyond that.
Eldon finished his half of the sandwich and then a glass of water that had
been resting on the counter from earlier in the morning. “I have to go down and feed the girl. You want to come?” “Yeah, alright.” Out on the porch, Eldon — now wearing a rain jacket and a baseball cap with a local union insignia on it — grabbed a large white plastic bucket and they descended the slope of the drive toward the pen tucked at the drip right before the pond. “How’re the girls?” Eldon asked. “They’re, you know, fine. Everything’s just...fine.”
Robert James Russell
“And Linda?” “Jesus.” Ken kicked the ground, spit off to the side. “Chatty chatty.” “How is she?” Eldon asked again, ignoring. “She’s fine, Dad, alright? I’m fine, they’re fine, you’re fine. Everything is fine.” “Good.” As they approached the pen the smell became stronger, harder to ignore, and when Eldon unlocked the gate Dolly ran out from the converted stable and greeted him, bashing her head into him, wherever she could land a spot, showing affection the only way she knew how. She didn’t reach for the bucket and he admired that, that she’d learned, and he stroked her soft head, her long eyelashes batting as if communicating themselves. He smiled, didn’t say a word, just appreciated this moment between them. Then she set into her singing, that chittering he’d grown accustomed to, and he scattered the contents of the bucket on the ground — name brand ratite feed mixed with the rest of the alfalfa pellets. Dolly fluffed up, excited, then got to it, pecking like some big chicken, making sure to get it all, stopping only occasionally to eyeball Ken. “I see she’s still chummy.” Eldon looked at Ken leaning against the wooden beams and chickenwire that couldn’t really keep her out — but she was smart enough to know there was no where to go anyway, and had never tried. “Your smell, I think. Bothering me too.” “Funny.” Eldon smiled. Years ago this was his venture, emu meat. But now, all his birds were dead. All but one, anyway. A fungus had come up and killed them off one by one the second year. The vet that came out called it Aspergillosis, said
Born to Ramble
it was probably transmitted through moldy hay Eldon had bought cheap for the bedding and he hated himself for that. No one else to blame. Waited too long to call the vet in the first place too, which didn’t help. After the diagnosis he started separating out the ones that showed signs, the ones the vet identified, fed them antibiotics just in case and tended to them best he could, but it had spread too far by that point — the medicine did nothing. And being the man he was of the mettle he was made of, he didn’t want to just watch them suffer, so he got the okay from everyone involved and soon enough he was leading them almost daily to the field of blue-joint to put them down. A nice place, he thought. But putting a bird down — a big bird, one smart as a dog, day in and day out — is about the worst thing he had ever had to do. Eldon found out early on how loving they were, and they’d hug him whenever he came in the pen — even without food — just wanting some attention was all, even the sick ones. Nothing more. So when he would lead them back to that field, the birds slamming their heads and long necks into his chest every chance they got, just wanting to be close to him, starting up that deep-throated drumming and sing-songy chittering they did, the sounds of complete trust, it killed him a bit inside. Got to the point he had to hire the work out to the Rabkin’s teenage son, Brian. Just couldn’t face them any more, what had to be done. And so he’d sit on the sun porch, solemn, watch as Brian lead them away past the house like some executioner parading a prisoner about, and he’d turn and head back to the kitchen, drink some tea or a beer, depending on the day, and wait until he heard the 12 gauge’s echo catch up to him — when he knew the dirty work had been done. He watched Dolly and thought of all the others — the last one, he figured,
Robert James Russell
the one he wouldn’t be using for meat, she deserved a name — and leaned against the fence near Ken. “Can’t figure why you even came today,” Eldon said. “You don’t want to talk. Can’t be on account of the food.” “Yeah,” Ken said looking up at the sky, then up to the guardrail lining the hilled road overhead. “Been thinking lately.” “About?” “Mom.” Eldon shifted, cleared his throat. “Oh?” “All sorts of shit, I guess. But mostly her. More than usual, anyway. And I’ve been feeling lately like every goddamn bad move I’ve ever made’s coming back to haunt me.” “What do you mean?” “Just can’t escape it.” “Escape what?” Ken turned to Eldon, ground his teeth then looked up at the road, back down to the ground, then jumped up in place laughing, muttering incoherently. Then, audibly: “Just feel like I’m being hunted down, you know? Fuck. I mean, you can’t escape it, you know? You can’t motherfucking escape any of it.” Eldon grabbed him by the shoulders, held him in place. “Now you tell me truthful. Everything alright? You in trouble?” Ken stood there, raw, open, looked like he was about to burst forth with something, spill some deep dark bit, but then closed his eyes, relaxed in his dad’s grip: the temporary bout of mania had passed. “No, everthing’s fine.” “You have to tell me.” Ken slipped out of his hands, wiped his eyes clean and scratched his jaw.
Born to Ramble
“Swear on Mom,” he said. “I just needed...I just needed to see a familiar face. A friendly face.” Eldon studied him, looked for lies building up, but couldn’t find anything. “You sure?” “Jesus, yes, alright?” The two returned to their positions, watched Dolly scraping the dirt for the rest of the food. “You hear from Mike?” “Not really. You?” “Been a while.” “Well, fuck him, living out in the desert. Who gives a shit.” Eldon did, but couldn’t find the words to escape him. Mike moving out west, away from this all...couldn’t blame him. Good job, had a life out there, something new, something he wished for Ken at every bad turn that popped up. “You working?” “Picking up some hours at Galveson’s few days a week.” “It enough?” “With what Linda brings in it’s fine. Everyone’s fat and happy, alright?”
Dolly perked up, saw the two men, made a deep guttural sound and then
shit. Relieved, she approached Eldon and hugged him again making sure not to step too close to Ken.
“Good girl,” Eldon said stroking her head.
“I think that’s my cue to jet,” Ken said climbing the fence and straddling it
at the top before jumping down the other side. He stood there, looking through the chicken wire at Eldon and Dolly, studied them, and laughed again, that guffawed laugh from earlier. “Just forget everything I said, alright? Really don’t even know why I bothered.”
Robert James Russell
“I’ll stop by soon. Next week, maybe.”
“Right,” Ken said landing on the ground. “Wouldn’t that be something.”
He watched Ken walk up the drive. “Where you headed?”
“Buck’s, maybe. Then home.”
“Why not home first? Why not see the kids?”
Ken stopped, turned, hands jammed in his pockets. “Why don’t you just
mind your own, alright?”
Eldon didn’t respond, just petted Dolly’s leathery head and neck and
watched Ken hike up the drive and disappear on County Road Twelve headed west. He thought at that moment of calling Linda, telling her he had stopped by, was acting off, but didn’t want to get in the middle of anything. Didn’t want to put anyone in a bind. He then remembered the casing in his pocket and felt for it, made sure it hadn’t fallen out. He rolled it between his fingers again and quickly tucked it back away.
As Eldon walked back toward the house he felt the first bit of rain on his
hands and he stopped and looked up at the swirling gray clouds now the color of tempered steel and heard thunder in the distance and couldn’t help shake the feeling it was the harbinger of something bad coming his way. Something he figured was long past due.
Born to Ramble
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Issue No. 2 - Dec. 2013
aul Hamilton lives and works in the Silicon Valley with his wife and daughter. He writes stories about broken people and repairing worlds. When not writing, he reads or draws or rides roller coasters. He considers the word â€œomnibusâ€? beautiful and never passes up a chance to try new foods. More of his writing is available at www.ironsoap.com. He also tweets @ironsoap.
anu Granadero is a street photographer from Madrid.
manda Miska lives and writes in Northern Virginia. Her stories have previously been featured in NIB Magazine and WhiskeyPaper.
uillermo PĂŠrez combines his activity as a graphic, editorial and web designer with street photography, portraiture, and architectural and interiors photography. He was born and lives in Barcelona, Spain, and his work can be viewed online at wordsoflight.divisibles.com.
Issue No. 2 - Dec. 2013
obert James Russell is a Pushcart Prize nominated author and the co-founding editor of the literary journal Midwestern Gothic. His work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, Crime Factory, WhiskeyPaper, Joyland, The Collagist, Gris-Gris, and Thunderclap! Magazine, among others. His first novel, Sea of Trees, is available from Winter Goose Publishing. Find him online at robertjamesrussell.com.
ndrew Schroeder is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds a MFA in printmaking and photography from the University of Minnesota. His work has focused on ideas such as the dialog of space and place and the ways these concepts melt together to shape everyday life.
ared Yates Sexton is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University and currently serves as Managing Editor of the literary magazine BULL. His work has been nominated for a pair of Pushcarts, The Million Writers Award, and was a finalist for The New American Fiction Prize. His first book, An End To All Things, is available from Atticus Books.
atasha Zoghlin was born in Chicago and grew up in the northern suburbs. She has been doing photography ever since she was little. Her passion for photography really took hold while attending New Tier High School. She became a photography lab assistant and head of the photography club freshman year. She now continues to pursue photography in university.
M ax Vande Vaarst is the founder of Buffalo Almanack and serves as its Fiction
Editior. He is a writer of imaginative fiction whose work has appeared in such sexy, sexy periodicals as A cappella Zoo, Inscape and Jersey Devil Press. He grew up on a near-constant stream of fantasy serials and hero’s journey adventure stories, but he can do proper literature too, if that’s what you’re into. Originally from the great(est) state of New Jersey, Max received his B.A. in English and history from Purdue University and presently resides in Colorado. He can be found online at www.maxvandevaarst.com.
Katie Morrison serves as Photography Editor for Buffalo Almanack. She is an
historian of art and visual culture. She received her B.A. in art history from Purdue University and is presently a Masters candidate in the same field at the University of Colorado. Her research tracks the visual development of urban identity in Detroit, Michigan, from images of the Civil Rights Movement and the 1967 riot through the contemporary phenomenon of “ruin porn.” She is an avid cat enthusiast and possesses a deep passion for iced coffee.
Winter’s greetings from the Centennial State!
Issue No. 2 - Dec. 2013
J ohn Gummere operates Studio 264, a graphic design studio serving
businesses, institutions and non-profits coast-to-coast. Illustration has long been his speciality, and he works in a variety of media and styles depending on what is most suitable for his clientâ€™s needs. He received his B.A. in architecture from Columbia University in 1977 and lives in Philadelphia.
lesser-known element of the famed Paul Bunyan legend, Johnny Inkslinger served as Bunyanâ€™s office clerk and bookkeeper. To keep up with the demands of his bossâ€™s outsized work, Inkslinger invented a heavy-duty fountain pen, which drew its ink from a barrel-tap and hose. Buffalo Almanack is pleased to have established the Inkslinger Award for Creative Excellence in his honor. This award is issued to the best short story and individual photograph of each issue, as selected by our editors. The cash prize as of December 2013 is $50 per winner, though this amount may be raised in the future as more funds becomes available. There are no fees required for entry into the Inkslinger sweepstakes and all submissions to Buffalo Almanack are automatically in the running. Winners are notified shortly before the release of their respective issue and are recognized on the Buffalo Almanack website, as well as in the pages of our digital journal. A pair of personal checks will be delivered to the winners via the U.S.P.S. sometime during that same month.
Issue No. 2 - Dec. 2013
Buffalo Almanack considers fiction of all styles and genres. We neither
discriminate against the traditional nor the experimental, neither the “literary” nor the fantastic. Our interest in domestic micro-fiction is as great as our interest in space-travel novellas and we’ll always save a seat for the remarkable and unexpected. What then are we looking for? Well, we’re looking for greatness. We’re looking for rich and muscular prose, for stories that make us believe we’ll never read better. We’re looking for plot, for character, for setting, for diction. We’re looking for a writer’s best because the world deserves their best and we know they’ve got what it takes to deliver. Concerning photography, we invest in a diverse range of photographic subjects and styles. We are attracted foremost to strong composition, skilled technical craft and assertive authorial presence. We want images that tell stories, whether through a single frame or a broader narrative series. We want art that makes us ask questions, that leads us to wish we had been there behind the camera ourselves.
Short fiction by Jared Yates Sexton, Amanda Miska, Paul Hamilton and Robert James Russell.