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Art, music, literature, and compelling societal views that live outside of the box: these are the four pillars of culture that create the world we live in. Fourculture seeks to bring to the light artists of all mediums. Your contributions to the magazine and the universe are the fuel that brings the movement to life as we reach out around the globe. Calling all artists as we join in support of those who are creating the culture of tomorrow.

let’s get connected

let’s chat Send correspondence to




The Artist D

Trina Carré

Rene Trejo, Jr.

Managing Editor



Paula Frank

Trina Carré Christine Blythe Serena Butler Kathy Creighton Paula Frank Annie Shove

Ann Marie Papanagnostou Rene Trejo, Jr.


creative director

Ann Marie Papanagnostou

© 2012 Fourculture Magazine | Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

what’s inside Journey with the Muse: Aoede................................................ 6

Frank Cotolo: Truffle in Paradise........................................... 56

Alexander DcD....................................................................... 12 Ariel Aparicio, Brooklyn’s Midas............................................ 18

Lyn Lifshin: Montmartre, Haven’t You Ever Wanted, Spiritual...................................... 58

Rubylux, From Busking to Big Time..................................... 28

Dark Wave’s Duo: Wazu....................................................... 60

Chuck Wendig, Freelance Penmonkey................................ 34

Judith G. Klausner.................................................................. 64

Alex Trugman, The Next Fifteen Minutes............................. 40

Beckie Cannons: Group Individuality.................................... 71

Red Light District, A Step in Time......................................... 46

Adventures in Bunderland: Larissa Horvath......................... 74

City Rain, The Method to the Madness................................ 52

my four.................................................................................... 78


The artist d The Artist D has been performing online since the mid 1990s; a relic from the cam show age before social networking was a network, advocate for the rights of the underground, author, painter, columnist, raconteur, provocateur and host of The Fabulous D Show, a radio show broadcast weekly for anybody with a brain in their head. Catering to the freaks, geeks and black sheep of society, he makes the extraterrestrials of culture feel right at home on planet Earth.

SERENA BUTLER Serena “Rena” Butler marches to the beat of a Linn LM-1 Drum Computer. Currently, she remains in a virtual time warp looking to hit that day where replicating a DeLorean time machine becomes reality. Sadly, it has yet to occur; she remains in the current year here to bring you the latest noise making waves in the four pillars of culture. When not working on the magic behind these pages you can find her rummaging the local independent record shops for CDs and vinyl, trying to get past the second level in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker game for Sega Genesis, or mastering The Force just from watching the Star Wars trilogy.

beckie cannons Beckie Cannons is the founder of and a Trustee at Sparkle, the largest National Transgender Celebration in the world. Apart from that, Beckie is just a go-lucky, party-girl who enjoys going out, having a great time, and spreading the fun of being a "tranny." And she loves being a "tranny!"

FRANK COTOLO Known for his comedic acumen, Cotolo has made his living as a writer and a performer all of his life and during the lives of others. He is the author of the novel License To Skill and has co-authored its screenplay version, Molotov Memoirs, a collection of short stories, The Complete and Unabridged History of Japan, an epic novel, and a serious novella, Sweet Shepherd. Cotolo, born in Brooklyn in 1950, has worked in broadcasting, film, theater, music and television.

kathy creighton Kathy Creighton, a.k.a. Mama Kath, is on a magical mystery tour of current fine, literary, and performance art and wants to bring you along for the ride. How? Besides watching, reading and listening, Kathy sits down with these creators and discusses everything from what inspires them to where their journeys began to how to fix the current A&E industry. She asks the questions you’ve been waiting for someone to ask.

PAULA FRANK Writer, painter, music lover, dreamer; Paula’s everchanging Pisces spirit rolls with whatever the tides bring her. Constantly in pursuit of the beauty of art in all its forms, she pours her love for human connections into everything she does, be it writing fiction, interviewing her favorite musicians and artists, painting an emotion, or sharing time with the people she loves. This small town girl has great big dreams and strives to make them reality. She is thrilled to offer them to you, the readers and fellow dreamers. After all, what good are dreams with no one to share them?

Lyn Lifshin Lyn Lifshin has published over 130 books including 3 from Black Sparrow. Recent books: Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness and The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian. Recent books: Ballroom, All the Poets (Mostly) Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially the Lies. Just out, Knife Edge & Absinthe: The Tango Poems. NYQ books will publish A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also just out For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell. Visit her website:

ann marie papanagnostou Ann Marie likes to make things pretty. This award-winning designer loves to lose herself in the creative process and is psyched to work alongside amazing individuals who fuel her artistic fire . . . and tolerate her fierce coffee addiction. She is most content with a beverage in one hand and a mouse in the other.

JAY B. WILSON Jay has been an active photographer for as long as he can remember, starting back in grade school with a Kodak Disc — a truly awful little camera that nonetheless inspired him to pursue photography, a passion that has evolved over the decades. Jay works in the fine art and commercial industries and continues to seek out new perspectives on New York City. He loves to contrast the old and the new, the historic and the modern, the classic and the sleek shapes that rise above us. His work has been featured in Popular Photography, Manhattan Users Guide, Westchester County Department of Tourism, Bronxville Patch, Photographers of Etsy, Photogrunt, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, My Hometown Bronxville and Fourculture.

Artists, musicians & writers . . . we want to hear from you



he first magazine is said to have been published and sold in the 1700’s. It’s been downhill ever since! Back in olden times of the 1970’s, before Tim Berners-Lee created the Internet, there lived a blooming artistic generation screaming to be unleashed upon the Earth. They were as I am today, but they didn’t have the outlets we do. Back then cool kids of the underground printed “zines” in their basement and handed them out in the subway. We’ve come a long way since then (baby) and now we do it digitally. Is there something lost with the missing tangible papers held in your hand? No, stop asking. In 2005, when I was feeling the artistic community of the Internet being overtaken by social networking, I wanted to do what those crazy kids in the 70’s did! I wanted to somehow print a magazine in my basement and distribute it all over the planet somehow. I needed to reawaken “people like me.” I didn’t know how I would accomplish this and I didn’t care. I just knew that every idiot signing up for an Internet connection was swamping my place online. You know the ones! Those whom thought the Internet was built for Myspace. Kind of like those bastards who didn’t know anything existed outside of America Online (AOL) in ‘96. Just like the “We fight tooth and idiots now that assume Internet = Facebook. I never did accomplish my magazine because I got involved with nail for art, literature, a dozen other projects to thwart these morons, no offense to anyone music, and opinion. with a social networking account. These days social networking is as Without our four unavoidable as losing your virginity. I did come up with a name for my magazine. I thought of Fourculture because it would feature Earth’s four cultures, we would most important cultures. We fight tooth and nail for art, literature, music, be boring cyborgs. and opinion. Without our four cultures, we would be boring cyborgs. With our four, we are everything. Add the double entendre that it was a magaWith our four, zine for your culture and I’ve done a bang up job of titles, don’t you think? we are everything.” I am freak unique. Since 1998, I have been in front of a computer screen doing my thing. My life’s purpose is to make people think about the alternative in a way that doesn’t scare them, quite the opposite. I help people understand that who they really are is absolutely no problem and what they long for isn’t “bad” at all. It was simply a trifecta when the flow of the universe introduced me to my counterparts of what you now know as Fourculture Magazine. My desire to show people their true potential via the underground combined with their craving to showcase the beauty and talents of out-of-the-box artists. Voilà! Fourculture Magazine was born seven years after it crossed my mind and I couldn’t be happier! The world desperately needs to know that there is an alternative to the mainstream. Can we please get the brains in our heads rolling again? Can we please spark another generation to think, be, and become? In our second issue, we have more incredible sparks to shake those cobwebs free. Issue 2 features incredibly deep authors, musicians, poets, and speakers. It’s all followed by “My Four” which takes a personal look at Fourculture contributors. Not to even mention that our magazine is combined with a website brimming with content to keep you busy always and forever between issues. Spread the word. Call all your friends and tell them about Fourculture Magazine. Whether you are freak unique or not, you can be a part of the underground. It’s important and it’s not a bad thing. THE ARTIST D

executive editor


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by Trina CarrĂŠ Photographs by KG Photogr a phy www. kg -


rom the heart of the muse comes inspiration and from the heart of Aoede (pronounced A-E-D) comes music to inspire. Award winning singer/songwriter, environmentalist, and co-founder of WomenROCK, Aoede spreads the inspiration she carries within her to whatever she does. Her latest album, Skeletons of the Muse, is a compelling journey through the life of the muse as she breaks down obstacles and continues her path of encouragement, creation, and connections to the lives she constantly touches. Her radiant soprano voice mingles with her own quirky brand of DIY pop and heartfelt, powerful lyrics. Listen, read and find your own heart’s inspiration as you journey with the muse.

There is quite a difference in sound between your album Push and Pull and your new album, Skeletons of the Muse. Was this a conscious decision, or does the music you write reflect your development in life? I think it’s a combination of both! I believe any album is just a snapshot in time. In this case, as you note, the newer songs reflect my journey and perhaps maturity over the past few years. I think my experiences, especially dealing with an unexpected illness and finding that I had to revisit my dreams and what being a singer-songwriter meant to me, made me really focus on my place of joy in this life-namely, writing and recording music and using it to connect with and inspire people. I believe I brought a compelling rawness, a vulnerability, a vocal honesty, brightness and believability to Skeletons (2012) as well as to the album that preceded it — a seven-song digital EP, Affair with the Muse (2011). An example is “Perfect Day,” a heartfelt tale honoring a courageous, tireless fighter-of-a-soul named Frederik. I received a message from a new music fan from Belgium in June 2011. He was completely open and honest about his condition — a progressive muscle disease which has him on a breathing machine in bed 24 hours a day and not outdoors since 2009, requiring assistance for everything. Despite this, he is a music fanatic, co-webmaster of an orchestra and loves ships and ship spotting. When I first read his story, it brought me to tears. I wrote this song for him, imagining the world through his lens, but realized afterwards it was also the first time I had let myself feel in song what I had gone through: my own limitations. Skeletons of the Muse has 13 tales, seven remixed and remastered with new elements from Affair with the Muse and six new tales. Many of the tracks from Affair, such as “Love Proof” about falling in love with love, embody going around and around on life’s wheel of love. “Can’t Stop the Music” is a bouncy, upbeat, feel-good Lily Allen-esque tale about the omni-present music that emanates from our every fiber and the world around us. “Gravity” is a Pixies-vibe-ish tale of the feeling of gravity’s effect on one’s heart when another’s heart

has moved on. “Bittersweet” acknowledges the dark side and the dirty laundry of the past where you taste both the good and bad in someone you love. “Days Like This“ has ethereal vocals and is a hauntingly throbbing keyboard-based ballad, recognizing that no one said the world, life and love would be so hard, especially when looking back on the magic and ease of being a child — but, then again, no one said life would hold so much beauty and wonder either. Push and Pull was primarily self-produced, but even that album reflected where I was in life at that point. Today people hear “I Lost, You Win,” one of the singles from that album, a very haunting and vocally compelling song, and still tell me how much the song impacts them. I was starting to find my own “sound” on that album, but don’t feel I really fully developed it until Affair with the Muse. I found that rather than trying to establish and carry a “band” and find a band “sound,” that perhaps I was honing on Push and Pull, I could explore Aoede as an artist. Further, I was so fortunate in 2010 to discover and work with my current producer, Scrote, who along with his vision and ability to take my song babies and translate them into what you hear on both Affair with the Muse and Skeletons of the Muse, brought amazing crazy talented world class musicians and engineers to the project. When you’re in songwriting mode, do you search for inspiration in what sounds other artists are exploring, or do you prefer to isolate yourself from the music world and inspire yourself? Great question! I often take inspiration from music and the world around me, and then go into that mode of channeling my own muse. I might listen to a ton of music and simply see what I find compelling and why. For me, music and lyrics go hand in hand, so I might have ideas for melody, and then words will come. If I am searching for inspiration, I find the muse doesn’t always come. For me, I’d rather write when I am already inspired. That doesn’t mean songs just come out whole, perfect and ready though! Inspiration can simply be a snippet of a lyric or a melody that doesn’t go away and it compels me to explore it further!

Skeletons of the Muse is an interesting title for an album, indicating that even a muse can have a past that is not spoken of. Do you think a muse’s darker side should be explored and shared, or is it better left alone? Wow! Yes, I think our darker sides-even a muse’s darker side-should be explored. In my own case, it helped me not only to accept my past and present and acknowledge that I wouldn’t be me without all of my experiences, but also to come to terms with my illness, which I perceived as weakness and vulnerability-something I thought I should

keep to myself. I didn’t expect that when I did go public so to speak in 2011, not only was there so much support, but I found I could also be a muse in a different way and inspire and support those who most needed it. An example from a mom whose very young son has Dermatomyositis: “Take care and thanks again for giving us some more hope that Eldon will also be able to accomplish amazing things in his life. We look forward to seeing all the great things you will continue to do! There are a lot of moms in the support group commending you on your amazing accomplishments

and you have given a lot of moms a lot more optimism for their babies’ futures xoxo.” I’m not saying sharing is best for everyone, but I think exploring can lead to growth. Skeletons stemmed from my realization that it’s so much easier to put pen to paper when it comes to writing what I’ve done or even reflecting on others’ experiences, but it takes everything I’ve got to look inward and reflect on myself — and most recently, my journey into the darkness of health too — and of confronting fear, death, the vulnerability of sharing my weakness. The album cover features Aoede having tea with

her skeletons — as if maybe I’m finally making friends and amends with my dark side. Do you feel as though having Dermatomyositis has influenced the direction your music has taken? Yes. I’ve lived with Dermatomyositis (DM) for over four years. It forced me to quit working as an Environmental Scientist in 2009. While having DM, I pushed myself to record my new music in 2010 and still pursue my songwriting dreams, or to discover and build new dreams. It also forced me to quit public performance in 2010 when I was

hospitalized for 24 days in September due to an apparent flare of the disease. From the point of getting out of the hospital, all I could do was focus on how to get my music I had recorded in 2010 out into the world. Then, while still in recovery and going through some difficult treatments and monthly infusions, I retained PR, worked with someone to create a new website, went public about my condition, started engaging with people via social networking, started blogging about DM, shot a music video, and digitally released Affair with the Muse in 2011. I recorded more music during 2011 (doing vocals from home!), built my online fanbase, spoke and performed at the Myositis Association’s Conference in 2011, and did a successful Kickstarter in December to fund the completion and release of Skeletons of the Muse. In 2012, I was privileged to win four awards, two for Artists in Music in February and two for Indie Music Channel in April. All this while battling a rare autoimmune disease! Receiving these accolades means so much to me not only because of my strange and unexpected journey over the past few years, but it tells me that if you truly believe in yourself — if you keep pursuing and believing in your dream — it will come true! I want the music to compel and make a connection with the listener. If Aoede’s music is doing that, I am beyond ecstatic. Perhaps having chronic illness has made me super aware of not wanting to be the “victim” and instead inspiring others through art, creativity and music as a healing path. Music is my lifeline and I cannot stop creating. I started out as a singersongwriter, but have become a muse. Further, I performed and told my story in Portland in August at a fundraiser event for CureJM (Juvenile Myostis) Foundation. Basically, it’s the children’s version of the same auto-immune disease that I have, so it is near and dear to my heart. I hoped I can inspired the kids and gave them hope. I have also received and provided a ton of support from those who also are battling this disease, mostly through online forums. In living with this disease, what level of responsibility do you feel in portraying to others that you can live your dreams even in the face of adversity? I am a living example of that. I know not everyone can or wants to do what I am doing for multiple reasons. I am simply here to share my music and my story, to show people who are afflicted by illness or by anything life throws at them that they don’t have to be victims. (Listen to “What You Got,” my inspirational anthem that speaks to this very concept, on Skeletons). They can still pursue dreams and make them come true; art, music and creative pursuits are beautiful paths to healing. That connection with oth-

“I am simply here to share my music and my story, to show people who are afflicted by illness or by anything life throws at them that they don’t have to be victims.” ers to give and receive support is an important healing strategy. I am beyond humbled to give others optimism, and pleased that I can be a muse to those going through this. Being a seasoned artist, what has been the highlight of your musical career so far? What satisfaction do you get from awards, and what do you feel is the importance of awards to artists? In terms of albums, definitely releasing Skeletons — with all the amazing support and positive feedback from such wonderful Kickstarter fans — it was an incredible experience! But for my career, winning the Artists in Music Awards in 2012. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. Winning Best Folk-Acoustic Artist was reward enough for that magical evening; winning Album of the Year on top of that just floored me. Most recently, I received two Indie Music Channel awards for Best Female Folk Artist and Best Folk Producer and am now nominated for LA Music Awards Hot AC Artist of the Year AND nominated for 2013 Artists in Music Awards once again! To be bestowed with this recognition for hard work in the face of difficult challenges is beyond amazing to me. It signifies that the music is what’s most important. It also tells me my connection with my fans is the primary reason for these awards. I couldn’t have had the overwhelming support and encouragement, the feedback, the love and drive to create or to put it out into the universe without them. Aoede references one of the Greek muses. If you could be a Greek deity for a day, who would you choose, and why? Honestly, I would choose my own, the muse of song. I can’t think of a more fitting muse for this singer-songwriter and a better embodiment of my own journey. Who are your own muses? Initially I would say some of my role models and inspirations, such as Adele or

Ingrid Michaelson; they both inspire me to no end. I was just asked a similar question for another interview, but framed as a hero. I’ll give the same response here since it really resonates: Amberlin Wu. A warrior, a light in the darkness, a tireless advocate who fought with everything she had till the very end. A beacon of hope to so many-all of whose lives she touched deeply. Amberlin was a childhood friend of mine, and after high school, we parted ways for some years. I learned from other classmates a few years ago that Amberlin had CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), and had been battling it for at least 15 years. Amberlin and I renewed our friendship mostly through Facebook and by phone. It was over this time that I learned how amazing she was. While she was severely debilitated, in and out of hospitals, suffering and unable to manage or find the right treatments, she continued to create. Paintings, postcards, artwork. jewelry. And she never stopped raising awareness for CFS, educating about it or fighting to be visible. As I was battling my own demons, Amberlin was my light. She passed away last October at the too early age of 39, but she will always be my hero, my muse. She will always BE A LIGHT. I wrote a blog post about her when she passed:

Warwick. David Palmer, who had played with Fiona Apple, also played piano on Affair. I am incredibly honored by and grateful to all of the people who have contributed their time and talents to the album! It was so exciting to hear that these musicians really enjoyed working on Aoede’s songs!

You’ve had the privilege of working with some great artists from Alanis Morrissette to Fiona Apple. What have you gained personally from working with other talented people who were at one time your own idols? I have had the privilege of working with amazingly talented and warm-hearted musicians who have played with these artists, which was a dream come true for me! To illustrate, Blair Sinta played drums on Affair and Skeletons. He has played with accomplished artists such as Alanis Morissette and Melissa Etheridge. Rob Shrock played keyboard and arranged strings for the Section Quartet who played on Affair. He arranges for Burt Bacharach and Dionne

Where will the muse be going in the future? If only I had a crystal ball! No, really, some things are better left unknown (for more on that, listen to “If You Already Knew” on Skeletons). I’m collaborating right now with my producer, Scrote, on a wonderful recording project! I will be able to share more about that next month. I will be back in LA for LA Music Awards September 27th for a Voting Party and November for the Awards Show. If you are in LA, please come check it out! I also just got word that Aoede was accepted in an online contest sponsored by Dodge to create a song inspired by the 2013 Dodge Dart and compete to be featured in a commercial.

Can you tell us a bit about your involvement with WomenROCK? What are your hopes for the organization? I co-founded WomenROCK along with a small group of wonderful women musicians in San Francisco in 2006 to empower local women musicians, raise awareness for causes and provide a network for support and collaboration. For several years, we actively produced, promoted, performed at and put on benefit shows to raise funds and awareness for women-related causes such as Breast Cancer Action, Impact Bay Area, SF Women’s Community Clinic, Gina Missing Persons. I also co-hosted a WomenROCK Monthly Acoustic Showcase from 2006-2009. At this point, WomenROCK communicates and provides support mostly online, and arranges concerts, benefits and sponsors events throughout the year. I believe that will be how WomenROCK will continue to operate. Aoede was fortunate to be part of the five-year anniversary in 2011.

check out Aoede’s


AlexanderDcD [Smith], Los Angeles street artist made his second trek to Oak Canyon Ranch in the Santa Ana Mountains this year for Lightning In A Bottle. This year he did two live paintings as part of the Lightning In A Paintcan fundraiser for DoArt Foundation. The two pieces spoke deeply of Alexander’s duality and his efforts to maintain balance in his life.


lexander is a bit of an anomaly on many levels, including as an artist and a Los Angelan. Smith is the bi-racial child of black and white parents born in Scottsdale, AZ. He left there at the age of three, when his parents moved into a home they still reside in today in southern California. Alexander lives in that house where he rises and sleeps in the same room he grew up in. His “studio” consists of the patio of the home. His parents met at the age of fifteen and have been together for forty-seven years. As an artist, Alexander calls on himself for discipline, inspiration, and peace of mind. It has surprised some that he creates from a clean and sober mind, heart, and spirit. He starts his days early, usually by seven a.m. and is painting no later than ten a.m. He works as long as he has natural light, joins his parents for dinner, and then sets about all his inside tasks which center around the computer; creating stencils, answering and writing emails, and catching up on all his social networking. His head hits the pillow somewhere between midnight and two a.m., and he takes Sundays off. Alexander didn’t start out thinking about becoming a painter — he was more involved in sports in his early years. However, not being a kid who was into reading or listening through lectures, he found himself doing a lot of doodling in class. But even by the time he started college he still hadn’t completely connected with his creative side. It was in his sophomore year when he took an arts course that changed his life. At first it felt a bit daunting to be graded for the quality of his artistic talent, until those grades proved much higher than all those in his traditional subjects. The improvement in his confidence bled over into those other subjects and all of his grades rose. In his final semester he made the Dean’s List, which shocked the heck out of him. Also in his senior year, he did a painting as part of his independent studies that got a lot of buzz. This gave him the opportunity to get some of his pieces in a small group show at the end of 2009. After that, there were many requests for another show. In April of 2010, Alexander and his mother found a gallery

that would host his work. About two hundred people turned up and he sold three paintings. One of the buyers later commissioned Alexander for another piece. Everything has snowballed from there. The domino fall has not stopped. Last year Alexander went to Lightning In A Bottle, where he discovered a great vibe in the festival atmosphere, the location, and the people. While doing three live paintings he met Hans Haveron who easily shared his contact information with the painter. It would be after Alexander returned to Los Angeles that he would contact Haveron. They got together and learned more about each other and their art. Through Hans, Alexander was introduced to John Park, and has now collaborated with both artists. Recently he added Mimi Yoon to his circle of friends and mentors. One of the things he appreciates about these connections is that, not only are people giving him new doors to knock on, but they are also helping him improve his craft. Although Smith holds a degree in fine arts, he says he is mainly self taught in all aspects of his painting; airbrush, caps and cans, brushes and stencils. It was fascinating to learn Alexander’s stencil making process. He designs on the computer, prints out the design, and then projects and traces it on posterboard. Each stencil is painstakingly cut by hand with an X-acto knife. Smith has to number all the cut-outs and inserts to ensure that they are layered correctly to produce the proper images. He went on to admit that he still deals with trust issues, so not only does he create a piece from beginning to end, he films the process, then edits the film himself before posting the video to the internet. Smith spoke about the two pieces from this year’s LIB. One is a Buddha head. The other was a graffiti piece that used line art and splatter techniques. Numerous topics of discussion resulted from these two paintings — the first being the duality of the works. Alexander said that the Buddha painting was an expression of what he was feeling at the moment. It was very free-flowing, peaceful, and calm. The decision to leave some of the wood grain exposed, choosing mountains and waterfalls instead of a lotus flower, were all in the moment. Later, while working on

Although Smith holds a degree in fine arts, he says he is mainly self taught in all aspects of his painting

the graffiti piece, he had people asking who had painted the Buddha because of the stark differences between the two. Another result of these paintings was experiencing all three types of people Alexander has classified when it comes to art appreciation. The first is the group that nods and smiles but has a difficult time connecting to it. The next are the ones who “get it,” many of whom are artists of one type or another themselves. They allow the piece to move them in some way. The last group are the ones who try to overanalyze a piece. Rather than just letting go and feeling their way, they find a need to pick it apart — along with the artist. It doesn’t disappoint Alexander or lessen his desire to keep on creating. It merely intrigues him and sometimes inspires him. When it comes to duality, the theme plays a huge role in Smith’s work. He compared his Awareness series to the Stop Sign series. Awareness revolves around the three words he feels are necessary to achieve the

fourth. You must “Believe” in yourself, first and foremost.If you don’t believe, then no one else will. The next is “Dedication”: you must make a commitment to your goal and follow through. The third is “Productive”: show the results of your quest. Then and only then will you “Succeed.” The flip side of this positive message is the “Stop Signs”: “Stop Wars,” “Stop Cancer,” “Stop Politics” and “Stop and Listen.” Although not negative messages, these pieces deal with the uglier sides of life while offering a message about how to fix it. We all need to “Stop and Listen.” Alexander pointed out the duality within each painting as well. In the Awareness pieces the backgrounds are chaotic and more matte finishes. The stenciled letters are crisp and precise with a glossier face. In Stop Signs there are figures and images that make the messages even stronger. Alexander went on to include his “Elements” paintings from his “Overlooked” series and the cars that he is currently getting out into the public eye, actu-

ally getting them hung at major car collector events. Again is the technique of gloss over matte. In the “Elements” pieces one only sees textured background when viewed head-on, but from the side in the right light the tree, the woman blowing bubbles, and the water droplets. Completely unintentionally, this conversation revealed four things about Alexander. He made a point to bring up the three things that make him who he is, but there is a fourth. The first three were being bi-racial, meeting the challenge of a learning disability, and being a cancer survivor. The fourth is his family. He mentioned many times the love, support and courage that surrounded him both as a child and today. His paintings can include four mediums: pencil, brush, airbrush, and spraycan. At the end of the day, Alexander is peaceful, joyful, serious, and spiritual. He is an introverted extrovert who can speak volumes in words or in silences. His journey thus far has been interesting and will only get more fantastic.

Fourculture seeks to bring to the light artists of all mediums. Your contributions fall under these four pillars and are the fuel that brings the movement to life as we reach out around the globe. We’re calling on you, an artist, to join is support of this movement by contributing to this amazing collaboration of artists creating the culture of tomorrow.




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We need...

• A sample of your artwork • A brief bio (4-5 sentences) and headshot • Artwork: photographs of your work at 300 dpi. JPG, EPS or PDF are accepted. • A brief description of the work submitted (medium, size, inspiration)

• An original work, any genre, 1500 words or less • A brief bio (4-5 sentence) and headshot • No photographs or clip art should be in any of the files unless the visuals are a part of the piece and used to help the piece achieve its intended effect. This work should be free of copyright. • Upon publication, Fourculture claims First Rights; after publication, all rights revert to the author, with the understanding that Fourculture will receive credit if the piece is published elsewhere.

• A sample of your music (mp3, link) • An EPK or website link (MySpace, YouTube, .com) • Upon notification of acceptance, we will accept photographs of the musician/band at 300 dpi. JPG, EPS or PDF accepted.


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Call him a father, loving husband, restaurateur, philanthropist, do it yourself rock star, or heck, even call him a trendsetter because there is nothing that Cuban-born, Miami-raised, Brooklyn-based Ariel Aparicio hasn’t applied his Midas touch to. 2011 marked the release of Aparicio’s album Aerials marking a new phase of his musical career. With an album comes singles and with singles come videos that top countdowns. Ariel is no stranger to the love of legions of fans all across the globe who help spread his music and videos to the likes of Logo and the world’s blogosphere. With the release of his latest single “Flowers” there is no telling where he’ll go next. This busy rock star has come a long way. He has a bright future ahead of him whether running three different restaurants in the Brooklyn area (Joya, Song, National), taking care of his beautiful children with his loving husband, or just making beautiful music in many different outlets. No matter what Ariel Aparicio touches or does it will turn into gold.

For your latest record, Aerials, you’ve stated that you wanted to “make a dance album with all guitars.” With today’s dance music being quite synthesized, how do you go about accomplishing that task? Was there something that triggered the idea of wanting to focus around guitarbased dance music? “Dance music,” to me, means many things…Honestly, I'm not really that interested in what people refer to as “dance music” today. I find it very generic. Most of the “dance music” from the 70s and 80s revolved around guitars. Aeriels is not a retro sounding record by any means. It's very modern sounding but we did use that as inspiration…My previous record, All These Brilliant Things was a very “rock band” sounding record. This time around I wanted to make something different . . . something with a more “studio” sound . . . I wanted to make a record like Grace Jones, Gary Newman and Bowie's Fame period. Who are the greatest influences on your music? How have they changed over the course of your musical career? My major influences remain constant — Bowie, Chrissie Hynde, Paul Westerberg,

Fleetwood Mac, The Psychedelic Furs. I'm constantly being inspired by what I hear today…MGMT inspires me. The Limousines inspire me. Adele inspires me. Arcade Fire, Karen O, Amy Winehouse, Lucinda Williams and The Black Keys inspire me…or then I'll pick up a Kinks record or listen to The Velvet Underground and that inspires me…or I'll listen to some old, classic House Music or Donna Summer or Joy Division or Rufus and Chaka Khan… You’ve reached out and used your music for a couple of philanthropic causes such as The Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure to which you donated proceeds of your single “Pretty in Pink.” How did you come to decide to use your singles for charitable reasons and Susan G. Komen foundation in particular? Will you consider doing it again in the future? I have a very close friend who is a breast cancer survivor. She takes my breath away. She has strength that I can only dream of. Komen was the organization she favored most so that's why I chose it. I've been involved with several other organizations as well, PCCHF (Paul Chester's Children's

Hope Foundation), Green Chimenys, several others…It isn't much, but I try to help out in any way I can. How do you feel the face of music promotion is changing in the wake of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.? How do you feel about Spotify for independent artists such as yourself? Honestly, I can't even figure out Spotify… I prefer listening to music at home. I put a CD on my stereo and turn up my wonderful Focal JMLab speakers. What bothers me most is that via Spotify or Pandora or whatever, people are listening to singles. I think young people are missing out on the experience of an album, listening to it from beginning to end uninterrupted. That was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid. It still is!! The social network thing…I don't know. It's fun. It's stupid…Excuse me, I got to check my Twitter… In a couple of your albums you’ve done some songs in Spanish, including releasing a three-song Spanish EP. How does singing in Spanish bring a new cultural connection to your fans? What are some other advantages to singing bilingually? Honestly, I just enjoy it. I feel like Willie Colón or Celia Cruz when I sing in Spanish. As with everything I do musically, I just do what I feel. The first time I wrote and sang something in Spanish, I just wanted my mom to like it! Actually, I still just really want my mama to like it!! Just this May you released your latest single “Flowers” along with a gorgeous video. What does the video and song mean to you personally? “Flowers” is one of those songs I've had floating around for years. I think I wrote it in college. It's about falling in love passionately and fully and then the next day doing it again with someone else. Ahhhh, youth!!! How did you come to choose “Flowers” to be your current single? I chose "Flowers" because it sounds like nothing else I've ever recorded. I've always liked this song. The lyrics humor me. Any unexpected stories from the set you’d like to share such as sand in your pants? Well, this shoot was totally awesome but it was totally “geurilla shooting” in Brooklyn. We had the whole day planned and scouted out locations. Of course, we didn't have permits for anything so we were literally chased off our second location and threatened with confiscation of equipment and even possible arrest. But, if it weren't for that we would have never had those AMAZING beach shots. So thank you, Mr. Park Ranger!!

Your videos have received some great attention. How do you feel about the video making process? Is it something you enjoy as part of being an artist or would you rather not have to bother? Do you often come up with video concepts on your own or is it something you see as more collaborative? I LOVE making videos. It's just a part of my artistic expression. If I had a hell of a lot more money, I'd make a video for every song…I have a visual concept for all of them!!! “Flowers,” however, was the first video I allowed the director almost full artistic freedom. It was totally his concept and I LOVED it. I LOVED having someone listen to my song (with no guidance from me about the concept) and come up with this gorgeous idea!!! Brave Berman Fenelus!!! How do you see yourself having evolved from your first album to this last one? What direction do you see yourself heading next? I think my songwriting continues to evolve…I think it's getting better, I hope. I try to do something a little different with each album, whether it's a concept, a sound, or they way we approach the recordings. I try to challenge myself and surprise my fans a little. I have no idea what the next Ariel Aparicio record will be…maybe an acoustic record. I've always wanted to do that. You had the great honor of playing at the historic CBGBs 2 nights prior to its closure in 2006. What did it mean to you to perform on the grounds that brought the world the likes of Blondie, Patti Smith and the Ramones? What was going through your head? Did you leave a mark on the building before it closed? (Be honest!) The night we played CBs felt magical… I could feel the presence of everyone who came before us. Actually, you could always feel that whenever you walked into CBs, but this time it felt different. You knew it was coming to an end. It was sad but also invigorating. Of course, we played “I Wanna Be Sedated” that night…I think I might have peed in the corner. Oh wait. I do that everywhere. Word on the street is that you have some shows lined up with your band, Bardot. Can you tell us a little more about how you got together with your band mates? My bandmates in Bardot are guys I have played with on and off over the years. They’re some of my favorite NYC musicians and definitely 3 of the best guys out there!! How would you say Bardot’s material is different from your own solo material? Will we be able to expect a Bardot album in the future?

I try to do something a little different with each album, whether it’s a concept, a sound, or they way we approach the recordings. I try to challenge myself and surprise my fans a little.

The Bardot material is a little more experimental. I mean, they are still pop songs but we try to come up with interesting arrangements, harmonies, melodies. I am the principal songwriter but we approach these tunes together and develop them together. It's a very enjoyable and inspiring experience. We kinda sound like a lot of things but I think we are uniquely Bardot. Hopefully, we will record an EP soon. Aside from your musical endeavors you are also co-owner of three restaurants. Is this another passion of yours? How did you come to choose Thai food as the main staple of the establishments? The restaurant thing was a total accident. Twelve years ago my husband and I (we weren't legally married yet, but whatever, that's a whole other story…) decided that we wanted to just do something. We were both waiting tables. He was also a court reporter and, of course, I was a struggling musician (still am, by the way)…We knew the restaurant business pretty well, we thought. We dug Thai food so we figured let's give it a shot! Twelve years later, we own three…yep, a mini-Empire!!!! How do you make Pad Thai? Not a clue!!!! As an out, married, gay father you’ve experienced things differently than the average American. With the recent surge of stars and politicians, including President Obama, throwing their support behind marriage equality how do you feel that America is progressing in the move towards full equality? Yes. Actually, I truly believe most Americans are there already. Politics needs to play catch-up. Young people are really over it. I meet and talk to a lot of young people and it's a non-issue for most. The older generation needs to get over it already.

try to explain everything to our children in a positive manner. We also don't try to make things a big deal even though we feel they might be. I think that by being positive and somewhat casual about explaining things to children, they’ll just understand and accept it as normal. Yes, things have been different for all minority groups and they continue to be different, but I just want our kids to know we love each other and we love them. There will be challenges but raising secure, confident children is their best protection against these challenges. If flesh eating zombies took over the Earth and you were the only one able to save it, how would you go about doing so? I'd just kick their asses (or arses, I like pretending I'm British sometimes…Just call me Madonna!!) What is "moth music?" We started mothmusic over ten years ago. My DJ friend, James Bullock and I collaborated on this collection of songs. I was totally consumed with trip-hop, drum&bass, electro-rock and Depeche Mode at the time… Obseesed with Massive Attack's Mezzanine record and also Bowie's Earthling and Ricki Lee Jones' Ghostyhead among others. James would come up with a beat and/or a progression I would write around that. We "borrowed" a lot of samples, but managed to hide them pretty well. Hey, if you can name any of the samples I'll give you the keys to the Kingdom (it's a small kingdom but pretty cute). I'll be releasing these songs one by one for FREE on…I'm redoing some vocals and re-mastering.

How will you tell your children about the struggle of LGBT American’s fighting for equal rights when they come of a full What will we see next from Ariel Aparicio? understanding age? Who the fuck knows... I'm not sure I will explain it that way. We check out Ariel’s

Opinion. Surrealism. Extraterrestrialism.

Live from the Underground

Every Sunday

Jay B. Wilson Photography New Yor k Cit y fine a rt photogr a phic pr ints

by paul a fr a nk PHOTOG R A PHS BY Ashle y M a ille


rom humble beginnings as buskers on the streets of Brighton, Rubylux garnered themselves enough fan support to create their debut album, Fake Control, in 2010. Their VIP club continues to rise in numbers as they continue to gig across the country and into Europe. Their music has been featured on numerous television shows and they’ve even been one of the few bands allowed to tour Vietnam. The widespread appeal of Rubylux is apparent from the very first listen. Their music is catchy with a style all its own and their lyrics cover a wide range of topics from romance to spirituality. With a new album currently in the works, Rubylux continue to hone their craft and play new music to the fans that love them as well as busking to new ones on the streets. Bottom line? These guys love to make music and the world loves to hear it. They took some time out to answer a few questions on where they’ve been and where they are going as they prepare to release their new album. Get ready for Rubylux! You guys began your career by busking on the streets. What did this experience teach you that you don’t think you could have learned otherwise? Playing our “street gigs” in the early days really helped give us a sense of what was working musically and what wasn’t. We’d monitor the size of the crowd and their reaction to each song and keep adjusting our set accordingly, working up to keeping a big crowd for as long as possible, it was good training!

of time at a studio in France. It seemed like the best way to do things. To get away from the distractions of life at home and spend a few months really creating a unique sound for the band was a good investment of time in our eyes…so by setting up the VIP club for the dedicated fans and selling our demos on the street for a solid few months, we managed to cobble together the money to keep us in baguettes and cheese for the time it took to make the album!

What is the strangest thing that ever happened to you while busking? One guy once came over and borrowed a microphone so that he could propose to his girlfriend! That was pretty cool…We haven’t had a wedding invitation yet though!

You have a thriving fan club that you do a lot for. What drives you to keep so in touch with your fans? Probably that we know how lucky we are to have had such a committed bunch of fans from such an early stage of our career, when most bands are struggling to drag their family and friends along to see them play. We never had too much of that pressure as we had a lot of people who from day one seemed to just “get us” and where we were going. We know how important that is and it’s probably the reason most venues agreed to put us on in the early days! So we strive to stay close to our fans now because we appreciate how far their support has brought us so far I guess.

How did these humble beginnings help to develop the close relationship you have with your fans? First of all I suppose it gave people a chance to see us play live without any element of financial investment, whereas with a lot of new bands you have to go to a sticky venue to find out that you don’t like them, and pay £8 for the pleasure! So free access to us was probably quite important in the early days. It was also quite fun with the help of Twitter/Facebook, etc. to be able to communicate with the new fans directly… the street gigs always have to be spontaneous to make sure that there’s not too much of a pattern for the “authorities” to catch on to…so being able to let people know 10 minutes before we plan to rock up in their town gives things a pretty manic edge! Were you surprised by the outpouring of support when it came to starting up your fan club and funding your first album? We knew we had a lot of people who were really liking the music, so the next obvious step was to make an album… but we didn’t want to just throw the tracks down in a few days at a local studio. So we made the decision to work with a guy that had shown interest in working with us over a long period

What can a members of your fan club expect for their support? We’re in the process of “re-vamping” the VIP club a bit to make it more rewarding to fans further afield. We try to do exclusive shows where we can to let them hear new tracks as early as possible, and little exclusive videos on the website, etc. It’s something we are developing all the time. As the music industry changes, we are seeing more and more fan-funded projects. What do you think about things like Kickstarter, Pozible, etc. that give fans the opportunity to support their favorite artists? For artists that make that model work it’s obviously fantastic, and as long as the money they raise goes towards the creation of new music it’s money well spent.

Labels just aren’t able to invest in developIt’s all about getting the music to as ing new acts as they used to. So if it gives many people as possible, so for our song new acts a chance to develop before the to be on a pretty big US TV series is amazing! We saw our YouTube views go up by involvement of a label, it can only help! thousands overnight and all of a sudden Do you think it’s as simple as that? What people in America were buying our record else does it take to “make it” in this new on iTunes. It definitely helped introduce us to a wider audience! style of industry? Everyone has their own definition of “making it” so that’s a tough one. For us it’s You’ve had your music played on other always about making it to the next step… shows as well, so what role do you see making sure our next album is better than TV and movies playing for musicians the last one or improving our live show! such as yourselves? Everyone is aware of what the ultimate goal We make music for people to hear… is for an act, but people forget that there’s we’re not one of these bands that shy away a lot of other little goals to achieve along from that kind of thing. We make music that the way that goes a long way to creating we like, and we want as many other people a solid foundation! People are too quick to that like that kind of music to be able to hear give everything away for a sniff of stardom, it. So for our music to be used alongside tv but they haven’t spent any time developing shows and movies is a great platform for their “product” before they go on TV in front independent artists like ourselves to get of a nation to show everyone how “good” themselves heard. they are… Your first album, Fake Control, really I first heard of you when your song “The shows your range, both musically and Boy Could Fly” was used on the US tele- lyrically. It’s hard to pin you to one style, vision series Being Human. What sort of yet always remains true to your sound. Is this something you really think about or new attention did this bring you?

is it just each of you bringing in your own influences and interests to the music? Every song seems to take on a life of its own when we’re working on new material…it tends to come out the other side of the recording process always sounding like a Rubylux song, which is great! In the early days we spent a lot of time working on what it is in the sound that makes Rubylux unique, and that tends to just happen naturally these days! Who are you enjoying listening to currently? Rob has been introducing us to some James Vincent McMorrow recently since we played at Liverpool Sound City. He’s a great singer/songwriter with a really interesting voice. Apart from that it’s the usual suspects for each of us…The new Coldplay record has been quite popular on the road, and the Gotye album has been creeping in there alongside listening to mixes as they come in of our new tunes! Rob, your lyrics range from romantic, to political, to spiritual. Where do all these influences come from?

the ether and my job is to play the right set of chords to entice it into my mind! My brain then starts piecing it together bit by bit, and subconsciously, I draw upon my experiences and random thoughts about life and the song slowly begins to materialise in my song book! Sometimes it takes a long time but it can all happen instantly if I’m in the zone! What do you think is the key that makes your music so universal and interesting to a wide range of listeners? I’m not sure what our key is for having a wide range of listeners, but I’d like to think it was something like purity. The songs are about real things, with real emotion. The music is a sound that we’ve taken a long time to develop and each of us has studied our instrument to a great degree. Maybe it’s the combination of those things mixed with our absolute, wholehearted love of making music! Who knows?!

I like to experiment with songwriting and subject matters...I always have since I was a kid. To pinpoint a few examples of big influences; Politically, after I read George Orwell’s 1984, it sparked a lot of questions in my mind. Spiritually, having grown up in an atheist household, I was always taught to question any belief which has led to a search for my own truth...which then brings us into philosophy. The natural wondering of why we’re even here in the first place and if there is any purpose to it all! Plato has been the biggest influence in that department so far but there’s a long way for me to go yet! When does lyrical inspiration usually hit you? Lyrical inspiration hits me when I create a chord progression that just resonates with me. The only way I can describe the process is like this...The song is already written (almost like it’s already there in the future) but it has no form yet. It’s floating round in

the most well received has been a song called “Black Sun Needs Sparks” which we’re just putting the finishing touches to. A lot of bands have said they’ve felt a sort of pressure with their second album coming off of a successful first one. Have you felt any of this? The only pressure we feel is that which we put on ourselves, and that has just been to make sure we make an album that is without doubt better than our previous work, and stands up to all the other fantastic records released this year by the artists we consider our contemporaries.

What sort of goals did you set for yourselves with the new album? I think we’ve already written more songs making this record than we did with Fake Control, (which is a lot!) so that’s helped to have a bigger pool of songs to pick from and make a coherent album with. The main You’ve already been able to put out a live goal is obviously to make a record that a DVD very early in your career. What prompt- lot of people get something out of, relate to and enjoy… ed you to create this DVD right away? After we’d spent 6 months away from everyone making Fake Control we wanted What do you do to release tension in the to come back to the UK with a bang, so studio or on tour? we really went to town on a homecoming We’re quite competitive, so there’s show when we got back to Brighton… it just always some new game on the go with made sense to film it! It’s also great to have us…even the process of inventing new a reminder of where we’ve come from once games has become a competition! we’ve got to where we’re going. How would each of you describe the What was it like putting the DVD together? band in 3 words? It was great actually. We were waiting Roo-Bee-Lux for the album to be mixed at that time, so we had the time to be totally involved with Clark, the world is dying to know, what the production of the DVD…everything secrets do you keep under your hat? down to the menu’s and little “Easter Egg” Only a lucky handful truly know, but sections we had input on. me and my collection of hats have had a sit down really and talked about our future You guys have been working hard on a together. We think it might be time that we new album. What can we expect from it? let each other carry on with our lives on difWell, if you’d ever heard our original ferent paths, they may criss-cross at times EP’s before Fake Control then you can ex- but at the moment I’m in a transient where pect a real mix of the sounds of those EPs the hats are coming off. Every other part of and Fake Control…Exactly in the middle of clothing is happy to stay with me. those sounds in fact! We loved the introduction of the synths with Fake Control, but we What is coming up for Rubylux in the wanted to get the band back to sounding a next year? little more “band like” with this next record. We’ll have a new album to promote and tour with… a new live show…always on an Do you have any stand out favorites yet? ever-increasing scale! We’ve got a few big The last couple of days we’ve started things in the pipeline, tours with some huge work on a brand new song called “I Don’t artists etc…all will be revealed!!! Want Paradise” which we’re unanimously Also, we always want to do street gigs excited about! We’ve also been playing a forever and we’re always thinking of the couple of the new ones live over the last next step with them, how we can make them couple of months to test them out…one of bigger, naughtier and more extreme…

check out Rubylux’s

photograph by Michelle Wendig

by paul a fr a nk

One of the most prolific authors out there, Chuck Wendig has amassed an impressive following on his blog, Terrible Minds, where he hands out writing advice, thoughts on current topics and whatever else excites his little penmonkey heart, like chocolate-dipped alligator meat to the masses. You may even catch a recipe for actual chocolate dipped-alligator meat from time to time, or maybe just for meat sauce, but either way he serves it up with a style that is all Wendig. His short stories and novels have received rave reviews and rightfully so. Death, horror, sex, violence, and dare we say even redemption and hope are all mixed into one powerful bloody cocktail that the reader can’t get enough of. With the new release of Mockingbird, the sequel to the novel Blackbirds, Chuck sets the reader up for yet another wild Wendig ride. Come, sit down, buckle your seatbelt, and enjoy as we take you into the mind of author Chuck Wendig.

Your writing is some of the most deliciously dark, disturbing, and intriguing that I’ve come across in some time. What deep shadowy recesses of your mind do your ideas come from? My ideas actually come from an abandoned post office in Topeka. There’s a homeless gentleman there called OneShoe Phil who hands me a cardboard box every three months. In the box is a scrapbook of ideas cobbled together by crass, conjurors hands. I choose one. The rest I feed to a goat. When that fails though, I just use my brain. I pull a few ideas from the dark places. I pull a few ideas from happier places (probably at a 3:1 ratio) then I smash them together and see what happens.

on coming. At the same time, it’s that inescapable nature of it that is frustrating. It feels like fate is locked tight into place, that we can do nothing to dodge the bullet that tumbles in painful slow motion toward our heads. Miriam is an expression of how it feels to be trapped by death and pinned by fate. And, in a sense she’s a power fantasy (albeit a rather grim, snarky, chain-smoking fantasy) about breaking out of that trap. In that mode of existence and further, she’s a fantasy (albeit a rather grim, snarky, chainsmoking fantasy) about breaking out of that mode. She’s the pivot point between fate versus free will and I think we’ve all felt like that from time to time. The question becomes: which way will we pivot?

Do you bounce ideas off of the people around you before beginning a new story or are you more of a “get it on paper, feed it to be public and then see if they squeal, gasp, or puke” kind of guy? I no longer bounce my ideas off anyone. In part because a story is more than the sum of a single idea and I’ve found that sometimes you’ll put the idea out there and if the reaction isn’t just right, it defeats some of your enthusiasm for it. Better to get it on paper, see if it flies or dies.

“Everything I write feels like my greatest love and my dearest enemy, and perhaps more importantly, each piece is itself a profound teacher.”

Have you ever written something that made you shock even yourself? Ever have moments when you think, “Oh this has just gone too far”? Is there anything that actually is too far? I went back and re-read Blackbirds in preparation of writing Mockingbird and, yeah, damn, I forgot just how double-fucked some of the stuff in that book happens to be. Not the gross stuff. I can deal with that. Like, there’s a scene in Double Dead involving the vampire and a morbidly obese cannibal queen that is probably the most epic, disgusting thing I’ve ever written. But that doesn’t disturb me. It’s stuff that cuts deeper. The knife that sticks in the heart and mind is far crueler than the one that pierces the gut. Blackbirds has a few of those scenes. Actually my newest, Bait Dog, has some real “uhoh” moments too. Writing about dogfights and teen abuse is tough stuff. One of your standout characters is Miriam Black from your novels Blackbirds and Mockingbird. She’s an extremely strong, outspoken, outrageous woman with just enough under the surface to keep the reader liking her. What was the basis for Miriam’s character? What pieces of your own self are built into who she is and what she becomes? Miriam grows out of my own experiences with death. Death is a great equalizer. None of us escape the Grim Reaper’s cattle-catcher because that train just keeps 36 | ISSUE TWO

What about the character Coburn from Double Dead? With the entire vampire/ zombie/werewolf craze out there these days, what goal did you have in mind with creating this character? I just didn’t want my vampire to sparkle. I like my vampires to be monsters. The only way Coburn glitters is if he eats a stripper. The fun part about him was taking this monster and putting him in a world where he must cultivate a kind of non-monstrousness to survive. The added benefit is playing with that idea that vampires are subverted humans. They’re not monsters from birth but they’re made that way by circumstance. The human soul and psyche still remain somewhere inside of him, though buried under layers and layers of “bloodsucking asshole.” Err, not a literal bloodsucking asshole, because, ew. Though maybe that’ll be my next story. You’ve written many short stories, some of which you’ve anthologized. Have you ever thought any of them deserved to be expanded into novels?

artwork by Amy Houser

I have. I have loose plans (outlines and what-not) to turn both my Cat-Bird story (in which a flying cat helps bring a broken family back together) and my Product Placement story (in which a man discovers that his world is now populated with brands and products he’s never before seen but everybody else agrees have been around for decades) into full-bore novels. I’ll do that when I have time. HA HA HA HA “have time.” That’s a good one, me. *Self-high-five* Your blog, Terrible Minds, is a great resource for speaking to all types of writers. How did you get started with the blog and how has it developed over the years as you’ve gained a wider and more diverse audience? I started the blog over a decade ago and initially intended it to be a writer’s community for whatever gaggle of wide-eyed pen monkeys roved drunkenly into view. I’d done something similar on a BBS (yes, I was a SysOp of a BBS way-back-when) called WAR, Writers Against Reality. But then it occurred to me, “Yeah, that’s going to take a lot of work.” So I stopped doing that. At that point I’d already bought the domain name and figured, hell with it, I’ll just make this my author site. I’d already done some minimal authoring in the role-playing games space as a freelance pen-for-hire, so it seemed a good time to secure for myself an online presence. It’s only been in the last three years or so that the site has really taken off, I think. That combination of writing advice plus… well, saying whatever other nonsense comes to mind (like my needlessly-profane recipes) seems to have been the proper alchemy to summon folks to my digital doorstep for now, at least. Eventually they’ll grow weary of all my yammering, but I’ll keep yammering long after they tire of it because that’s how I roll — stubbornly and without regard for others! One of your biggest pieces of advice is to write every day. What would you say to the writers who rely on the “writer’s block” or “wait until inspiration strikes” theories? I’d say those authors are, in general, standing in their own way. They aren’t denying themselves success, necessarily, but I suspect they are delaying it.

How have your views on life and how you live it changed since becoming a father? Do you hope to show BDub your stories one day and hear “Dad, that scared the shit out of me. You are really messed up?” I won’t let B-Dub read most of my work until he’s *does some quick math* in his mid-30s. I cannot imagine what he’ll say when he reads Blackbirds. Ah, but the good news is I do have other work he’ll be able to read. Dinocalypse Now is very light pulp and I’ve also got a young adult trilogy, The Heartland Trilogy, sold to Amazon Children’s Publishing. How often does your wife just look at you and shake her head? At least once every 10 minutes. What is the piece of work you are proudest of so far and why? Everything I write feels like my greatest love and my dearest enemy, and perhaps more importantly, each piece is itself a profound teacher. I learned the most with Blackbirds, and the reaction to Shotgun Gravy has been nothing short of jaw dropping so those two compete for the title, I suppose. Do you have any special tricks or rituals to turn a bad writing day into a good one? When the day goes awry, I sacrifice a white boar to the Song Gods of the Ancient Wood and then I remove all my clothing and traipse into a sun-dappled clearing and wait for forest nymphs to lash me with nettles and deliver unto me a proper writing day. Or sometimes I just work through it and discover that thing I so frequently discover: that a bad day of writing may feel bad, but it doesn’t always translate to “bad” on the page. And some good days have yielded bad writing, so. is the best background soundtrack I also remind myself that a bad day of What for reading one of your tales? writing is better than a good day mopping It’s funny. I don’t write with a soundtrack. up someone’s vomit. It’s too distracting for me and yet, I listen to muIf you could pick any event in history to sic outside the act of writing to gain inspiration. Not sure that any one soundtrack is have been witness to, what would it be? Would any event be able to equal the inten- good for reading my books except maybe the cicadas of a hot day or the crickets of a sity that you put onto paper every day? night, but if you’re looking for music Oh, what I put to paper pales in compari- warm to accompany one of my books, I might son to history’s infinite events. From the Big recommend thejustYeah Yeah’s when Bang to the fall of Rome to the assassination reading Blackbirds. Try Yeah it! of Lincoln, history is full of madness that far surpasses the drama and weirdness of fiction. As to where and what I’d see? I’d like to visit the ancient Sumerians just to see.


check out Chuck’s

by Ser en a Butler


ursting into our lives during Season 8 of American Idol, Alex Trugman was bound to make America his proving ground. After trying out for the show, he had made it to the top 36 before facing the national vote. He didn’t let it stop him one bit. When finished with Idol, he returned to school at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. After graduating in 2011, he finally hit the studio to write and record his debut album Marionette. With raw, emotional lyrics and a guitar driven melody, Marionette is bound to give you the feeling of what a true singer songwriter can produce. Alex has been compared to the likes of John Mayer and Elliott Smith with chord progressions like The Beatles and Radiohead. Released on July 10, 2012, Marionette is ready for you to scoop up for your own listening pleasure. Heartfelt and confessional, Alex tells us what it was like to create this debut album and grow musically since his Idol experience.



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Your debut album, Marionette, shows a very mellow guitar-driven sound that can be equated to the likes of Elliott Smith with a hint of John Mayer thrown into the musical blender. Did you go into the studio with a particular sound in mind? Who do you feel may have influenced your sound? I was a singer first and foremost, starting with musical theater and classical in high school, and then spending a while in a Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Temptations phase before I decided to even attempt songwriting. At that point, I immersed myself in music by people like John Mayer,

Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, and Ben Folds. So while this got me interested in song construction, music theory, and chord progressions (all of these guys tend to use a lot of not-too-common progressions), I couldn’t, and still can’t, help but approach each song from a singer’s perspective. I was drawn to melody, so I created songs that are enjoyable for me to sing. Every track on my album began as just vocals and acoustic guitar, and the instrumentation developed organically during the recording process. I had some ideas going in for how I wanted each to be constructed and built, but almost all of those ideas were

scrapped once I started putting everything together and hearing how the instrumentation changed the feel of the songs. I had only vague ideas of what the “final product” would be when I walked into the studio. How do you feel that Marionette describes you as an artist? This is my debut album. I’m still fairly new to songwriting and to me the entire writing process was a gigantic learning experience. Everything was written over the course of a year in which I, for really the first time in my life, felt like I was “putting myself out there,” and learning to cope with the anxiety and self-

consciousness that naturally come with that. While I never set out to make any sort of “confessional” album, it was important to me that I wrote from an honest place, even if it did make me uncomfortable at the time. Looking at it now, with a bit of perspective, I think it gives an honest reflection of who I was and the way I felt during a certain period in my life. In 2009 you appeared on a little TV show called American Idol. How did you come to the decision to try out for Idol? What do you feel is the most important lesson you’ve learned from that experience? Would you do it all again if you could?

For a while I felt a little guilty for doing Idol for no other reason than “I just sort of felt like it.” I was 19 at the time and was mainly just curious about how far I could make it on the show if I’d tried out. While I was there, however, I met a lot of people for whom this had been a lifelong dream, or to whom it represented their “last shot” at a career, and this gave me a bit of perspective and humility. If it hadn’t been for the show, I might not have realized that I couldn’t lazily stumble my way into a career in music, and that I would need to work hard if I wanted to achieve any success. At the same time, it helped me understand that being able to find the intrinsic value in music is what’s most important, and that if I can enjoy what I do on a day-to-day basis, success and failure don’t matter. You’ve taken the leap to write your own music for Marionette. When you’re writing, what is the atmosphere like? Do you have a certain mental state that you bring yourself to? What things inspire your writing (both lyrical and melodic)? I’m still learning how best to be a songwriter, and I’m not sure I’ll ever figure it out exactly. I always start with music and tend to spend a lot of time tinkering with the details of my progressions, but I’ve learned that there’s a lot of value in just “doing it” without thinking too much. A lot of great stuff can come out when you’re not standing in your own way. For me it’s definitely a balance between “letting it flow” and obsessing over the minutiae. I can do this throughout the day. With lyrics, though, I work best at night and tend to usually wait until I can lock into a specific mood that I feel fits the music, and then write out the whole song in a few minutes while the mood is fresh in my mind. In terms of subject matter, I usually write about things in my life or people that I know, but I try to do it without inserting too much of my own bias. I like the idea of people being able to draw their own conclusions while listening to the songs. With lyrics, I try to find a balance of not-so-vague as to seem pretentious, and vague enough that the listener can find a meaning that applies to his or her own life. After leaving Idol you decided to head back to school rather than heading straight into your music career. What spurred that decision? There were a number of reasons why I went back to college after Idol instead of pursuing a career, but the main one was that my parents would have killed me if I didn’t. Also, there wasn’t much waiting for me after the show, and what was there wasn’t really anything I wanted to do. The opportunities that existed seemed kind of exploitative, and I knew that if I’d pursued any of them, I’d never be able to shake the Idol name from me. This is not to say that I don’t appreciate what the show has done

“I mostly just like the idea of painting a picture and leaving people to take from it whatever they like.” for me, but I wanted to be able to assert myself as an individual artist, separate from the show. How do you feel that your education has benefited you while entering the development of your album? What do you think would be different if you hadn’t gone back to school? I studied music theory in college, which I think made it easier for me to write and understand music. The most valuable thing about taking three years off before putting out the album, though, was just growing up. I wasn’t mature enough or skilled enough at 19 to actually make anything good. I could barely play guitar or piano at the time, and I spent a lot of time in college practicing and becoming proficient with those instruments. In retrospect, it was absolutely, 110% the right decision for me. Your lead single, “Empty Well,” takes on a darker tone than one would expect from you with the subject matter being a woman causing nothing but hell for her partner. What exactly do you mean when you use the analogy of the woman being an empty well? Has the story behind the song been something you or someone close to you experienced? How do you want others to relate to the song? I don’t really think about “how will this make the listener feel?” while I write. Each of these songs means something very specific to me, but I don’t really think it’s my place to force the listener to feel the exact same way. I mean, if someone finds a meaning in my song that really resonates with them, even if it’s not what I intended, I’m completely fine with that. I mostly like the idea of painting a picture and leaving people ISSUE TWO

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to take from it whatever they like. I think one of the things that makes music such great therapy is its ability to mold to different situations and help you in the way you need to be helped. If a song I write about a breakup happens to help someone get over their cat dying, I’m just glad it helped. This is one of the reasons I don’t love talking about specific metaphors that I use, and what they mean to me. I don’t want to alienate anyone by making the song’s focus too narrow. Your video for “Bootaylicious” shows a different side of your songwriting talents. Is it safe for us to question the story behind it? If so, can you let us in on the story? Can a booty really be that big? I actually wrote that song in about 10 minutes as a joke for one of my friends, and then decided to put it on YouTube. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about anybody, although I did tell my girlfriend at the time that it was about her. That might be one of the reasons she is now my ex-girlfriend. I don’t know if a booty can really be that least I hope not. 44 | ISSUE TWO

As of the release of your album there haven’t been any Alex Trugman music videos out on the market. Are there any future plans to do videos for your album singles? If so, what can we expect? Which songs would you like to do videos for? To be honest, I haven’t really given too much thought to making a music video. I know it’s something that you’re supposed to do, but I think I’d feel ridiculous recording some typical music video of me dramatically looking at the camera while singing my song. I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face. If I were to do one, I’d have to think of some creative way to make an interesting video that didn’t involve me having to dress up and take myself so seriously. Now that your album is out, how do you feel your live performances will change or evolve? I would really like to be able to play with a live band, rather than acoustically. I almost always play alone with an acoustic guitar, but I’m starting to really want to get

up there with a full band and flesh the songs out a little more. It won’t really make sense financially until I tour for a little while and build up my fan base, but that’s definitely one thing I’m aiming for. How and where did you get the idea to mix “Sunday Morning” and “Gangsta’s Paradise?” What is the most difficult aspect of mashing up songs? Are there any new ones we’ll be hearing in the near future? I’m not really sure what inspired me to do those songs in particular, but I’ve always liked the idea of mashups, and wanted to do something fun and unique to put online. The most difficult aspect of mashing up songs is making it work musically, especially if there are key changes. “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Sunday Morning” were kind of tricky to piece together, but I figured it out eventually. I’d like to keep doing stuff like that, but I’d need to step up my game in terms of getting better equipment, having someone else film me, getting better video editing software, learning

to mix and arrange better. I’m still debating originally recorded the bass and some of the whether it’s worth the time and money I’d piano, but for the sake of quality I decided to have it re-done by some professionals I have to put into it, but it would be fun. trusted. My goal for the next album is to be You play a wide variety of instruments. able to do everything myself. I’m not sure I’ll Aside from your guitar, what did you play be good enough on drums by then, but I’ll try. during the recording of your album? What are your hopes for Marionette now is the “full” list of instruments you know What that it has been released? What were how to play? Are there any you’d like to try you thinking on release day? out that you’ve yet to get your hands on? I’d mostly just like for my music to find an I can play piano, bass, and guitar. I audience that enjoys it. I mean, obviously really would love to learn how to play the it’d be nice to sell millions of copies, but I’m drums, but I don’t know where I could fit a not measuring success on those grounds. I drumset in my room right now. I really en- wanted to make something good, first and joy playing different instruments because I foremost, and something that artistically feel that it helps me understand song con- I could be proud of, even if that came at struction from a lot of angles, and in learn- the expense of being commercial. I hope ing one instrument, I’ll usually improve on the CD resonates with a lot of people and another. During the album I recorded the is successful, but there’s nothing I can acoustic and some electric guitar (some was do right now except keep working hard recorded by my friends Gareth and Jack). I on improving my craft. On release day, I

think I’d gotten all the nervousness out of my system and resigned myself to the fact that the reception was out of my control. Of course I had some nightmares about it getting 1 star reviews, and being written up as the “worst album ever,” but things have been pretty positive, so far, so I can relax a bit… hopefully. You’re at a karaoke bar and pushed on stage. What song do you choose? Why? What song would you remove from all karaoke lists (if you had that power)? Everyone who has ever karaoke’d with me knows that my go-to is “Let’s Get it On” by Marvin Gaye. It’s fun to sing and it’s a crowd-pleaser, so you really can’t go wrong if you pick it. As for a song to remove, I’d go with “My Heart Will Go On.” I’m at a karaoke bar to have a good time, not to be reminded of Leo freezing to death.

check out Alex’s ISSUE TWO

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photograph by Jo e y R assoo l

A STEP IN TIME by paula frank

Like a simultaneous blast from the past and visit from the future, Red Light District mixes the best of both times to create their unique music. Trip-hop style combines with swing sound and becomes nothing short of the raucous swing parties one has only experienced in film or imagination. Their live shows become even more incredible as Juliette and Shok introduce a full live band to the mix. Their album Smoke and Mirrors is set for release soon and it will be one you won’t want to miss. Get ready for a blast of electro-swing as we see what’s in store for Red Light District!

How did you find each other to begin your collaboration as Red Light District? Juliette: We met years ago on a Los Angeles based music e-mail list before I even moved to L.A. What’s it like working with each other? Juliette: Shok and I created a few songs together in an informal way, but the catalyst for Red Light District was a burlesque show in which I was booked to sing. I wanted to sing something original and we wrote a song called “Hexes and Moonshine.” That was also the first time we played live together. Shok: We often find a sound or have a single theme and then everything explodes from there. Most of our songs go from zero to completion within a few hours. Then we return later and add some bits or remove the unwanted sections. We tend to laugh lots while working. Having fun collaborating on creative projects is important. Your sound is an interesting mix of the old vaudeville/cabaret sound with a modern twist. How did you come to be influenced by that sound? Do you listen to a lot of music from that era? Who are your favorites? Juliette: As a little girl, I always loved music and movies from the 30’s and 40’s, and I fantasized about being a big band singer. My favorite singer of all time is Mel Torme. Shok: I grew up in a diverse home. My mother had a slew of jazz, funk, and disco albums. My aunt had lots of psychedelic music. My father had a great collection of jazz albums. My grandmother was a performer and Marlene Dietrich impersonator. Some of the artists of the old era who influenced me include Al Bowlly, Ray Noble, Paul Whiteman, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Billie Holiday, most certainly Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe aka Jelly Roll Morton, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke maybe a little bit of The Dorsey Brothers. Quite a few of the folks mentioned here are from Pennsylvania, which is where I was born. What about your current favorites? Juliette: I love Nick Cave, Mono (the Japanese one), and too many others to list. I tend to listen to a lot of trip-hop and downtempo. Ever since I saw John Turturro’s film Passione last year, I have been listening to a lot of amazing Neopolitan bands like Spakka-Neapolis 55. Shok: Depeche Mode, Prince, Peter Gabriel, IAMX, Brendan Perry, Jeff Buckley (I still listen to him though he is not current but on my current rotation), Massive Attack, The Glitch Mob, The Young Echo Collective, Elysian Fields, Gotye, Jonneine Zapata, Cascadeur, Trentemøller, UNKLE, Brian Eno, Boom Boom Satellites, Big Black

Delta, Brendan Angelides (Eskmo / The elaborate sounds over to the bands on Welder), Woodkid, Apparat and Spindrift. 4AD, Wax Trax, including Meat Beat Manifesto and then those who followed such as Juliette, you have an amazingly devel- NIN, Future Sound Of London, etc. I started off by listening closely to what I oped voice. Have you had any training or is it all natural talent? How did you was hearing in these songs and in the same way you may recreate a still life picture with get into singing? pen, or brush. I would do the same Juliette: Awww, thank you! I’ve had pencil, with either pots, voice, synths, guivoice lessons here and there but nothing tars, or othercooking random objects until my sound on a regular basis. My first memory of sing- would match the intended sound object.I ing is terribly embarrassing, so I suppose I have a rather extensive library sounds should share it here. When I was small, I I have created over many years.of Besides saw a production of the musical Oklahoma having a wide array of instruments, I get (one of my older sisters was in the pit or- hired to create sounds for companies. I chestra) and I fell in love with it. I learned also am a huge fan of discovering sample all the songs and would sing them at the top origins. of my lungs in the backyard. I’m sure the Juliette: Shok’s sound library is massive. neighbors wanted to poison me. How do you translate these into your live shows? Step into a Shok: I enjoy performing and love betime machine and mix ing entertained as the audience so it is important that we do the same for an authe eras of dience when in the role of performer. We could easily have our show on a laptop the 1920s, 30s, and run instrumental versions of songs as now and the future a duo. However, that is boring and lazy. We have a full live band including a horn and journey section: trombone, trumpet, and sax. An upright bass player, guitarist, as well as piato a dusty circus nist/ accordionist, also round off our lineup. Juliette sings, the aforementioned players carnival where sing backup as needed and I am on acoustic drums and trigger additional sounds via a dark cabaret drum pad sampler (Roland SPDX). performance I take certain sounds that are signature to our specific songs such as a sound I may envelops have created with a synth or kitchen appliance and store these as samples into my you with their drum pad on stage beside me. This way I neo-vaudeville style. can also have some of the larger percussion I used as sound sources in the studio, still heard in our live show, since moving a You also are an accomplished actress. huge drum for only one song, might be a bit Do you find that the acting helps you much....might. musically and vice versa? Are they mutually beneficial to each other or do they You also do a lot of collaborations and production for many big names. Who sometimes create conflict? been some of your favorites you Juliette: I think they are definitely mu- have have worked Who would you love tually beneficial, especially because I’m not to work with inwith? the future? a confessional songwriter. I write the lyrics Shok: I have worked quite a bit with for RLD’s songs from the perspective of a seductive femme fatale who is much more David J. (Bauhaus /Love And Rockets). confident and sexy than I am and more than We have been friends for many years; a little bit wicked. In real life, I am of course however, our first collaboration was a remix in 2002 for Codec & Flexor on the now a saint who never does anything bad. defunct Ladytron label, Emperor Norton. Shok, you play many different instru- We worked again with our friend Johnette ments and create some unique sounds Napolitano (Concrete Blonde) on a projcalled Tres Vampires, this also led to for your music. How do you come up ect David and I putting out an EP a few years with those new ideas? ago (with Jill Tracy) as well as remixShok: Thank you. I have always been ing KMFDM for a box set. Oddly enough, enamored by sounds. This started before Daniel Ash, David’s old bandmate and I I was a musician. I was fascinated by the have recorded quite a few songs togethway Lucas and his team developed sounds er too. We also composed music for a for Star Wars. This continued through Pink TV show. Floyd and Peter Gabriel to Depeche Mode’s

photograph by All a n Ba rnes www. a ll a nba m

Some of my favorite collaborations have actually been the underground artists as there is no name to live up to in terms of a status or sales and nothing is necessarily expected. Along these lines is Mark Caro (Technical Itch), who made a huge stamp on the drum n bass genre. We composed a number of songs that combine the energy of dnb, industrialfunk, metal, pop rock, shoegaze, electro, triphop and dub. Guest vocalists join Mark and me for the singing such as Douglas McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb). I would like to work with Martin Gore, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Jack Dangers, Brendan Perry, Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack), Jennifer Charles, Jonneine Zapata, Bernadette Peters, Lisa K. (Basement Jaxx, The BellRays) Sade, and Prince. Also Perry Farrell, the ghost of Jim Morrison, George Michael, Aretha Franklin, The Glitch Mob. You had a rather large break from live performance as Red Light District. What’s it like to get back into the swing of doing live shows and getting back out there? Shok: We first had to find players. In the studio, Juliette does the majority of the singing and I do a few tunes. When we perform live, it is all her on vocals. I play all the instruments in the studio apart from the random tuba and or bass clarinet, so we put out a call for people. Our friend, Baron, was able to connect us to the Trombone and Trumpet player. Craigslist brought us our Sax player, who we actually sort of knew. The upright bassist came from friends and it turned out we shared a slew of mutual friends and our friend Daniel Hopkins (Freakshow Deluxe) had played keys and acphotograph by All a n Ba rn es | www. a ll a nba rn es .co m cordion with us previously. We also brought on board our friend Dawn Fulton on guitar for a few songs. She is also in the drum-centric If you could pick one famous character What’s coming up for Red Light District? band, Zeitmahl, with me. from a classic film that would be most Shok: Gotye asked me to remix his next like you, who would it be and why? two singles so his management sent the How do you get ready for a live perforJuliette: Prince Herbert from Monty Py- multi-tracks and one of the songs will be a mance? Do you have any secret “break a leg” rituals? Ever had to deal with thon and the Holy Grail who’d “rather just sing.” Red Light District sort of take on it. We have a remix contest for “Come On Shok: Possibly a combination of three: stage fright? Up” in partnership with Image-Line, includAlec Guiness in Kind Hearts And Coronets, Juliette: I don’t get stage fright. I think where he played 6-7 characters, Gene ing prizes from FL Studio, Event Speakers that’s because I feel so excited and lucky Wilder as Willy Wonka, and Ferris Beuller. I and Rode Microphones. whenever I perform live. Oh, but I never am still like this more than two decades out There will be singles released for “Fire” say, “break a leg!” I’m half Italian. The Ital- of high school. and “Come On Up,” including winners of the ian way is to say, “In bocca al lupo,” which remix contest. “Come on Up” will also be means “in the mouth of the wolf.” That’s How would you describe your new album, featured on the high-profile “Electro Swing so much more fun to say. If you’re feeling “Smoke and Mirrors?” Club” compilation. Our debut album, “Smoke especially sassy, you could wish an Italian & Mirrors” will be released as well. We are Shok: Step into a time machine and mix good luck with “In culo alla balena,” which ultimately hoping to tour so we can share the the eras of the 1920s, 30s, now and the fu- live show with friends old and new. means “in the whale’s ass.” Shok: Being the stage manager of the ture and journey to a dusty circus carnival band, I tend to get very focused and seri- where a dark cabaret performance envelous. It is important that we give the best ops you with their neo-vaudeville style. Juliette: The famous philosopher Heraperformance we can to the audience. I get concerned, but similarly to Juliette, I do not clitus is known for saying, “No man ever steps get stage fright. I get excited to have the op- in the same river twice.” In other words, time portunity to perform and share the music with is linear. There are those who believe that all folks. I do not have rituals; however, I tend to times and possibilities exist simultaneously eat very little before a show. I will often drink and I think that music can be an expression lots of water and have to go into camel mode of that idea. The music on our album brings check out Red Light District’s for most of the evening until after the perfor- together different eras in a way that makes our songs both retro and futuristic. mance. (Do you like one hump or two?)



The talented duo of Ben Runyan and Jarrett Zerrer, better known as City Rain are hitting strong with their “bipolar, restraining-order rock.� With influences ranging from electro to The Who, this duo creates a sound that is energetic, driven, honest, and completely addictive. Their energy only gains momentum in their live performances gaining them a reputation outside of their hometown of Philadelphia. Their newest offering, Montage, is City Rain at their finest featuring 5 new songs and 2 orchestral mixes and is available now on iTunes, Bandcamp, and Spotify. From Philly to the world, City Rain is taking over one crazy beat at a time.

Philadelphia is your home stomping grounds. What keeps you there when most artists gravitate towards places like NYC or LA? It’s our home. Born and raised here. Why leave when we have established our story based in this place? But the main reason is probably that it’s a unique city in which we have a unique story to tell about us and about us IN it. If we went to NYC or LA we would get lost in the sea. We wanted to start in a place we could call ours. We built this city on City Rain. That being said, we visit and play in NYC a lot. I don’t think I will ever move TOO far away from New York; there’s too much to like. You guys pull off some crazy antics. Is one of you the instigator or are you both in on the insanity portion of City Rain? Well, Jarrett will concede, I am the instigator. Sometimes I feel a little bit like the Joker in Dark Night. I just kind of poke at things and see what happens. But in all seriousness, it’s a little more restrained and even calculated. We are crazy, I don’t think there is any doubt about that at this point, but there is a method to our madness. City Rain is a virus we hope to infect people with. Let your dark side out. Work it out in the music. To quote an Ellie Goulding song, if I may: “the only time I feel safe” is when I’m playing music. I think Brian May from Queen said the same thing. Do you find that the more you cut loose, the more it allows your audience to get a little crazier too? What influence do you hope to have on your fans, if any? Yes. 100%. I love helping people get out of their shells. When you play in Brooklyn, or anywherehipsterville. USA, you are going to have to work for your fans. You are going to have to work to get people to move. They start with their arms folded, waiting for you to move them. So get to work! It’s a challenge we accept. I have learned to love the process of winning people over. I do what it takes! The influence that we hope to have most is to get people out of their comfort zones. Get with it or get out.

right song to let it all out, it is an amazing release. I almost feel like God or the universe is feeding it into my head, and after I’m done I feel very emotional, like I just let years of emotions out. Quite spiritual. Your music is very synth-based. What drew you to this style of music over others? What other music do you listen to? Last album you bought? Jarrett and I both listen to a lot of electronic music: A State of Trance with Armin Van Buuren, Trance Around the World with Above & Beyond. I (Ben) grew up in love with synth pop from the 80s: Alphaville, A-ha, and then into new wave with Joy Division, Talking Heads, etc. But personally I just love synthesizers. I love the sex they have in them. There is a great quote from Kraftwerk: “The ‘soul’ of the machines has always been a part of our music. Trance always belongs to repetition, and everybody is looking for trance in sex, in the emotional, in pleasure, in, the machines produce an absolutely perfect trance.” That about sums that up! What is the best thing to have happened to you so far in your career? Is there a certain pinnacle you have in mind that you hope to reach or do you even believe in such things? Our recent gig with Washed Out was a sold out 1000+ gig. We left it all on the stage. It was an amazing feeling. I had over a thousand people appreciating my art. Pretty neat. That was a pinnacle for me, and very fulfilling. I don’t crave it as much anymore. The production is what I love most. The pinnacle, I suppose, would be producing and/or writing with someone like David Byrne or Brian Eno. My idols! Not complaining, but what do you guys have against shirts? Haha. we get this a lot. That was more of an early gag thing for us. Everybody has to have one. Call it youthful rebellion.

If we were just hanging over a couple of beers, what would you be most likely to talk about? I would probably start rambling about the state What is the significance of the band name? How did of US politics and how they affect the world. You’d probably have to shut me up! Other than that I’m a you end up as the duo that you now are? Probably my least favorite question, because sports guy. Big into NFL and MLB. Also a golfer. there is no great answer initially. HOWEVER, I think it has grown to mean something. Rain washes away What movie do you most recommend we see? Hmmmmm. Tough one. I watch a bunch on Netshit, so it is in many ways cathartic. The process of our music is a form of self-therapy. It is the cycli- flix and even go to see cheesy action flicks with my cal process of life that City Rain identifies with. It is girlfriend Sarah on dates. I don’t know how many going to get good, really good, then bad, then start people are into Cohen brothers movies, but you should see Nick Cage’s only good acting job ever in again. Hippie shit. “Raising Arizona.” What do you love most about creating music? What are you totally obsessed with at the moment? What about performing? The record “Tycho - Dive,” Shigeto’s album Creating music is a high. It’s a constant proLineage and Youth Lagoon’s album. Have been for cess of “holy hell where did this come from? In what chasm of my brain did I find this inspiration?” But a while, and will be for a while! equally as fun is a performance, when we have a thousand people with their eyes on us in the palm What’s coming up for City Rain? of our hand. It’s a real high, a powerful feeling, and Lots of production work and promoting our to be honest a bit dangerous! The creation of music music video and record that is about to come out: is like lifting a weight off my chest. It is my therapy. Montage. Montage is a life work for me and a sumI can be carrying around a weight or a sadness or mary of my first 25 years of existence. We are both frustration for months, and when I finally find the very proud of the record! 54 | ISSUE TWO

“We are crazy. I don't think there is any doubt about that at this point, but there is a method to our madness.”

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Truffle in Until I was twenty I didn’t know what my Uncle Hercules did for a living, and yet it came as no surprise when I discovered he worked for an organized-crime family. “They were very disorganized until I came along,” Uncle Hercules said to me the day he offered me a job. “I helped them organize. The first thing I did was teaching them how to alphabetize.”


told my uncle I didn’t want to be a criminal, at least not until after college, and he assured me that the only thing criminal about the job he offered was the salary (then he laughed). I took the job on the condition that when summer was over I could go back to college. He agreed (then he laughed). “You’ll be traveling,” my uncle said, “with a duffle bag, but not for your clothes.” “What will be in the bag, Uncle Hercules?” I asked in a typical neophyte voice. He whispered, “Truffles.” Before the summer of 1971 I had never heard of truffles: those round, warty, shapeless fungi that through the ages have become a delicacy adored by gourmets and the uber-wealthy. The Greeks used them as aphrodisiacs, the Romans used them as medicine and the Mayans thought they were signs that the world would end in 2012. By the 1970s a fistful of French truffles was worth a few hundred bucks, but it was the white truffle (Tuber magnatum) of Alba, from the Piedmont district of Italy, that became a cash cow. It eventually went for so much money in the black market that the dogs used to hunt it were killed after finding it—so they could never bring anyone to the spot where they found it again. Uncle Hercules stuffed a duffle bag full of truffles and told me where to deliver it. I never handled money transactions but my uncle told me the duffle bag alone was worth more than my life, so I never asked about prices or payments. My first few deliveries, all in New York, went well. Only once in my first five deliveries was there trouble, when a seeing-eye dog sensed the contents of my duffle bag and lunged for it. His master was dragged two city blocks while I ran from the dog. Fortunately, the incident happened in broad daylight on 57th Street in Manhattan and no one bothered to help the dragging blind man (he was eventually forced to a halt by a double-parked Volkswagen on Seventh Avenue). The dog was shot dead by a stranger who disappeared before the echo of the shot faded.

Paradise By Frank Cotolo

By my sixth delivery I became very confident, and that is when I learned a huge lesson of life: never become very confident. My destination was Coxsackie, New York, a small town named after the Coxsackie virus, which is among the leading causes of aseptic meningitis. Dr. Gilbert Dalldorf, a scientist working at the New York State Department of Health, discovered the virus around 1948 while finding an antidote to a poison affecting Badminton players. My contact was a man named Pierre LaFondue. It was an obvious pseudonym, since no surname in history has ever been translated as a French dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot. I was to meet him where Route 385 crossed Sunset Boulevard. As I was waiting, a Hearst pulled over and stopped. Three men in ski masks jumped out, grabbed my duffle bag and me and dragged me into the vehicle. “Which one of you is LaFondue?” I said. No one responded as two of the three men pulled the mouth open on the duffle bag and looked inside. Then they froze and looked at one another and said in unison, “Chinese black!” “What?” I said. They were right. Even I could tell that the truffles in the duffle bag were not the Italian white. Someone had filled the bag with Chinese Black Truffles — counterfeits. These were white truffles cut with black truffles and sold as the rare Italian type to unknowing customers. It was amazing, I remember thinking that even among criminals there were criminals. The competition for the illegal dollar was more intense than in legitimate business, which was, in itself, as crooked as any criminal business. It boggled the mind. “Where are the genuine truffles?” said one of the men with a growl. Then a slam, a pound and everything went black. The next thing I knew, I was tied to a chair in a damp room with brick walls. The man with the growling voice stood before me holding a syringe. He said if I did not tell him where to find the authentic truffles he was going to inject me with the namesake

virus of the New York town. “If that does not kill you,” the growling man said, “then I will use the only other disease a town is named after. Yes, I mean the Muerto Canyon etiologic agent, the virus that caused the outbreak of pulmonary illness in four corners of the southwestern United States, those corners being Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Yes,” he continued while growling deeper, “the Sin Nombre virus.” I was frightened, but still impressed that a thug was so well versed on viruses. “Call my Uncle Hercules,” I said pleadingly. “He gave me the duffle bag to deliver to LaFondue.” “I am LaFondue,” the growling man said. “But that is not my real name because no surname in history has ever been translated as a French dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot.” He jerked his ski mask from his head and smiled. The growl in his voice disappeared. “I am a government agent but I cannot reveal for which government. My other fake name is Ben Dustwarren. You can call me Dusty even though that is not my real nickname, either.” He untied me. “We have been tracking shipments of Chinese counterfeit truffles and traced the latest batch to the Medicina family in Brooklyn.” He described the true villains. The Truffle Mafia, as Dusty called it, was a deadly group that haunted the families of billionaires and millionaires that had anything to do with the search, distribution or use of truffles. This scurrilous mob kidnapped people and demanded truffles as ransom, placed suicide-hunting dogs (dogs wearing explosive collars) into packs of truffle-hunting canines, and traded arms for truffles to rebel armies. Convinced that I was a stooge in the operation, Dusty let me go but gave me my duffle bag back. He said, “This looks like it’s worth more than you.” When I returned to Brooklyn, I told Uncle Hercules what happened. “I thought there could be trouble,” he said, “but I couldn’t tell you what I thought.

One thing you learn in this business, aside from not being overconfident, is never tell anyone anything you think or thought or may think in the future. Thinking can get you killed.” “So the Medicina family is in the truffles counterfeiting business with the Chinese?” I said. “Is that what you think?” “Yes.” “What did I just tell you about telling people what you think?” “I don’t know what to think, Uncle Hercules.” “I am only going to say this to you once, and you didn’t hear it from me. The Truffle Mafia could be the force behind many hideous crimes. Perhaps it assassinated a president or two. Maybe it started the My Lai Massacre. Could even be responsible for your grandfather’s award-winning sizeof-a-basketball tomato.” That was the last delivery I made. I quit the job. That September, Bruno, the head of the Medicina family, was killed after being served a poison truffle at dinner in The Brown Derby in Los Angeles. It was actually the hundreds of machine-gun rounds that were fired at him as he ate that caused his death but there was no doubt in my mind that the Truffle Mafia was behind it. I experienced only one more trufflesrelated incident. Weng Fu, who ran the Chinese laundry in my neighborhood, asked me if I would consider taking a job in Oregon, where a business having to do with Douglas fir trees and fungi delicacies was beginning to flourish. “You like dogs?” Weng Fu said. Today, the Italian White Truffle is worth about $3,600 a pound. Fake Chinese truffles are still being smuggled by the hundreds of thousands and go on the black market for $20 a pound. No other towns in America have been named after a virus and Uncle Hercules died at the ripe old age of 99 trying to give himself the Heimlich maneuver while choking on a fish bone. His death actually occurred when a bullet was shot through his skull just as he was about to regain his breath. ISSUE TWO

| 57

Lyn Li f sh i

Montmartre Haven’t you wanted, sometimes, to walk into some painting, start a new life? The quiet blues of Monet would soothe but I don’t know how long I’d want to stay there. Today I’m in the mood for something more lively, say Lautrec’s Demimonde. I want that glitter, heavy sequin nights. You take the yellow sunshine for tonight. I want the club scene that takes you out all night. Come on, wouldn’t you, just for a night or two? Gaslights and absinthe, even the queasy night after dawn. Wouldn’t you like to walk into Montmartre where everything you did or imagined doing was de rigueur, pre-Aids with the drinkers and artists and whores? Don’t be so P.C., so righteous you’d tell me you haven’t imagined this? Give me the Circus Fernando, streets where getting stoned was easy and dancing girls kick high. It’s just the other side of the canvas, the thug life, a little lust. It was good enough for Van Gogh and Lautrec, Picasso. Can’t you hear Satie on the piano? You won’t be able to miss Toulouse, bulbous lips, drool. Could you turn down a night where glee and strangeness is wide open? Think of Bob Dylan leaving Hibbing. A little decadence can’t hurt. I want the swirl of cloth under changing colored lights, nothing square, nothing safe, want to can can thru Paris, parting animal nights, knees you can’t wait to taste flashing

Haven’t You Ever Wanted The kind of lover you will never get enough of and if you did, you’d have to die in his arms? Haven’t you wanted, especially on a day like today with buds on the edge of unfolding, to dance to death with a passion you’d never find in a normal lover’s arms? Don’t you want a dark fairy tale? Admit it, not something out of desperate Housewives but an all consuming love with the power to destroy those who love too much? I’m asking you if you haven’t wanted to care so wildly, letting anything come in the way would be heresy, get out your red shoes. If you can’t give me one good reason not to give up everything for passion, let me try them on

Spiritual Have you noticed anything about those who describe themselves or their writing or painting as spiritual? Do you cringe, as some might at the words “fuck” or “shit?” that, tho maybe crude, don’t offend me? The “spiritual” aren’t able to say them, out-loud at least. There’s something about the ones who say they are, like others who say they’re so glad they live in the north or south or east or west where people are lovelier, imply of course that you probably aren’t. I notice those who keep praising their spirituality say you don’t understand suggesting it is because you aren’t. But I notice these “spiritual” people often aren’t. Isn’t it phony to gush what a godly person you are and then dream a banishment room for your husband, care more about money you are making than about much else. When the spiritual gush, does your skin crawl too? Those Pollyannas you could never be, forget the mystical. And when they end their e mail with “life is good and it gets better every day if you think it is,” don’t you just want to go and take a bath?


In 2010, musical friends Matt and Rizz teamed up. WAZU was born and along with it a darkwave, electro, goth, neo mash up of sound that will blow you away. With layers of sound and lyrics that haunt, WAZU leaves more than a mark. They’re the scratches down your back that memorialize a night well spent. After leaving their home of Sydney, Australia, WAZU found themselves in New York, soaking up the pop culture and filtering it all into making music their way. Combining forces with producer Kevin McMahon in a barn studio in upstate New York, they have honed and mixed and melded their vision. Two years and a 3 song EP later, WAZU is ready to release their muchanticipated debut album this Halloween. It seems only fitting for this dark duo and I, for one, can’t wait to see what more they have up their long black sleeves.

WAZU is not your first musical project. How did you begin making music together and what prompted you to become a duo? When did you realize the creative spark between you? Matt: We first met at college. The discovery of our chemistry was pretty much an accident. My band’s keyboard player was not turning up, so I asked Rizz to play some parts and we hit it off straight away. I also played drums in her metal band too so we were able to work together in different situations — we realized our chemistry was bigger than the situations we were in. What do you like most about each other personally and professionally? Matt: Rizz is able to cut right through to the truth of a situation, she sees the humanity in things and is really affected by it. Rizz: He’s a machine. Your music is described in many different ways, usually using the words “dark, goth, or electro” in the description somewhere. How would you describe your own style to someone who has never heard you before? Matt: We usually use some kind of inadequate genre description, like ‘electronic darkwave’ or something like that. I find it very hard to describe our music in terms people will get…so sometimes I also find myself referencing well known bands like ‘Depeche Mode on steroids’ or ‘the XX mating with Nine Inch Nails.’ Rizz: Dark wave, dance, neo gothic? It’s in that world anyway. It used to be that a unique sound such as yours would have been part of a quite exclusive audience. Do you think the digital era has helped to change that? Are people becoming more accepting of trying out new sounds in this age of ease in obtaining music? Matt: Yes, definitely. I also think that trends come and go so much more quickly, that it’s all happening, all at the same time. People have access to so much stuff, that there are no real prevailing sounds that define an era. A whole generation has grown up used to getting any kind of culture they want in a click. We could never have a whole half-decade being dominated by disco, or alt-rock, or new-wave or any one genre like in the past, when distribution channels were such a monopoly and trends took a long time to evolve and change. It happens overnight now, and there are many more things happening at once in music, and culture in general. What prompted the move from your homeland of Australia to the United States? What do you think are the biggest cultural differences musically? Matt: We wanted to be somewhere alien, and there’s something very liberating about leaving everything you know behind and getting rid of the safety net. We had an audience, friends, family and all that at home but we needed to give everything to what we’re doing, and the only way to do that is to leave everything you know behind. Culturally, the US has more of everything. There is about 15 times more people here, so you can imagine the diversity is incredible in comparison. Australian culture is quirky, and can be interesting because of its isolation. There is also no comparison in terms of making a living playing music. Australia is a very difficult place to stay alive as a band, there are huge distances between cities and little to sustain yourself on along the way. Whereas some of the best shows we’ve played in the US have been in the ‘in between’ towns.

Your video for “Murder 1” has a very dark cinema like quality. How did you develop the concept for this video? Does film influence you and your music in any way? What environment makes you the most creative? Matt: Another thing that I like about Rizz is her cinematic viewpoint. She developed the video almost single-handedly, and although the concept was simple, I loved the execution. Film is almost as big an influence for us as music, if not more. The direct human drama in cinema can be so much more universal, and powerful than music sometimes. Film composers like John Barry and Philip Glass are big influences as well. We are generally at our most creative when we’re sitting opposite each other at a diner! When we’re relaxed ideas flow — when we’re actually putting them together, it’s a more mechanical experience. Describe what it feels like to be on stage performing. Matt: Like you’re playing your songs for the first time. If you’re doing it right, it should feel spontaneous, like speaking to someone. Good shows are just a lot of fun and you feel love for people being kind enough to be paying attention and enjoy it. Rizz: Loud! What has the process been like in creating your first full length album as WAZU? Matt: Amazing — we are recording at an old converted barn in upstate New York. We have put everything into it and not cut any corners. Kevin McMahon is a great producer who challenges you to give your best. He makes sure what you’re doing is right, for the right reasons. You took three of your singles and created your first EP. What prompted you to combine those three particular songs and get them out instead of just waiting to put out a full length album? Matt: We knew we had some songs that would work well together, and we wanted to officially release something as WAZU. We also wanted to take time with the album and make that everything it could be, without rushing it to get something out. So both those things meant it was best to release the EP, and then write a bunch more stuff and develop it — that was also a challenge to come up with an album’s worth of good songs in a short period of time, and that challenge has worked very well for us. Your lyrics have a touch of romance, but with a bite. Do you think your lyrics reflect a reality or are they purely creative? Matt: They reflect a human reality, but not a specific one in terms of any of our personal relationships. I’m fascinated by co-dependent relationships, and the manipulation and power struggles often inherent in romance. Love and romance is a wonderful thing, but it has different sides. If you could compare yourselves to any other great fe/male duo in history, who would you pick and why? Matt: Mickey and Mallory Knox! Cause they’re partners in crime, they rescued each other and they saw the world in the same way. Rizz: Mickey and Mallory Knox did it.

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Since 2005, Judith Klausner has been working with insects and other interesting objects that people may not find interesting at all – that is, until they see what she does with them! If you look closely you’ll see that grandma’s old fashioned cameo brooch has been recreated with the contents of an Oreo cookie. Is that a fried egg on a piece of toast or an embroidery project on moldy bread? A unique perspective with a clearly steady eye for detail, Judith’s creations make the audience think twice. Bringing beauty and humor to her subjects, she is unearthing cultural phobias and smacking them right back in the face with it. By using the beauty of normal things around us, she is exposing our true emotions and wondering what’s with all the displeasure. What’s the matter with you anyway? After all, it’s just an insect or a giant tree made of fingernail clippings.

You’ve been featured in some fabulous museums and magazines. Throughout these exhibitions I see folks referring to you as a “Food Artist” and an “Insect Artist.” What kind of artist would you call yourself? I would say just an “artist artist.” I've worked with many materials over the years – like any artist, I create with what inspires me. Some artists find inspiration in one medium their whole lives. Others (like me) find new inspirations along the way. Reading your profile, I picture a little girl catching lightning bugs in a jar, absolutely enthralled with the world around her. Was that you? What kind of environment did you grow up in and in what way did it flow into these beautiful interpretations? I think the spirit of that image is very accurate, although I didn't see my first firefly until I was 22 (I was as excited as any little kid, though!) I was always fascinated by small things, and always looking at the ground. I collected shiny rocks, lost buttons, and any other little “treasure” I could find, and loved to sew dolls out of leaves and pine needles. I grew up in a city, so most of my treasures were human detritus - not just buttons, but rhinestones and Bazooka Joe comics and small plastic doo-dads (I was a child of the '80's and '90's). My parents are teachers and so we all had summers off, and would go on amazing trips. These included four rainforests (the first one when I was just five), so I got my fair share of natural inspiration as well. Many of your pieces are with insects. I especially enjoyed the “Off With Their Heads” display. Have you found that your work has changed people’s perspective in any way from what they may have found distasteful in the past? That's always my hope! I have had friends (and occasionally strangers) say that it helped them look at insects in a different way, as less “alien” and sometimes even beautiful. Likewise, I can imagine some people are deathly afraid of some of the insects you have featured (such as honey bees and their stingers). Have you ever seen someone have a downright dreadful reaction to seeing your art? Tell us about that if you have. It wasn't a dreadful reaction to seeing the art, but I did have one friend in college who had an intense phobia of insects. I did my thesis exhibit with insects, and she told me “I'm sorry, I love you, but I just can't go!” What has been your favorite insect to work with and why? Mantises definitely caught my fancy. In addition to their notorious post-coital behavior, they're some of the only insects whose bodies have a similar layout to a human (they walk upright, with distinct “arms” and “legs”). This lends them to anthropomorphizing (and makes it a lot easier to costume them!)

“I hope people will stop and see the things around them that usually blend into the background of our lives.”

While the word “disgusting” is really in the eye of the beholder, what would you say is the most disgusting substance or item you’ve used in your art, which the public may perceive as off color? I think I've worked with some of the materials I have because I didn't think they were disgusting, and I didn't understand why so much of the world disagreed with me. I guess I would have to say the piece with the baby teeth and nail clippings has weirded out people I didn't expect it to. We shed baby teeth and excess fingernail growth naturally, and yet somehow seeing them out of context really throws some people for a loop. Your art is extremely intricate and detailed. How long does it take you to create some of these pieces? For example the Oreo Cameos must have taken quite some time and the detail would have driven me mad. The Oreo Cameos take between two and six hours, depending on level of detail, microtexture of the particular cookie, and the climate of my workspace (heat and humidity slow the process down). The Egg on Toast embroidery took about 25 hours, and the cross-stitch took about the same. I have a great love of detail work! You’ve stated that you were always the one who rescues the insects from harm’s way and releases them to safety. Describe to me what kind of feeling it brings you working with the dead creatures you have. Is there some kind of connection there for you? When insects are alive, I have a tendency to anthropomorphize them (as I do with all animals). It's very hard to conceive of an experience of the world that isn't our own. When they are no longer alive, they become an aesthetically pleasing object. You revel in minutiae. Is that statement true in other facets of your life too? Do you think that outside of your art you have the same attention to detail and patience with situations you may encounter? Sometimes I think I use up my patience on my art! I do try to be patient in other parts of my life, though. I like to think that my attention to detail extends to other facets of my life, but you'd have to ask the people around me. Knowing what I would do, I have to wonder how many Oreos did you eat while working with the Oreo Cameos? None, actually. My sugar tolerance has gone way down in recent years; they're too sweet for me. (Also, the packages I work with will sometimes be open and out for months, they wouldn't be very appetizing!) What medium do you hope to work with in the future? Is there anything you’ve specifically had your eye on that you have not yet worked with? Right now I'm doing a stained glass panel with gummy candies. I'm not sure what the next material will be! I'll be looking for inspiration all around me. You clearly want to send a message with your art and make people see something about their world. Simply put, what do you wish people would better realize about the world they live in? I hope people will stop and see the things around them that usually blend into the background of our lives. Additionally, the “From Scratch” series explores my own complicated relationship with the past (as well as that of our culture as a whole). The Victorian era was a time period that produced an aesthetic that I love, but it was also a time in which I would have been a second-class citizen, with very limited rights and choices. Blind nostalgia can be dangerous; instead, we should find ways of incorporating the beauty found into the past into a more just and equal future. check out Judith’s


5 | "Taste the Rainbow" - Dead Red Velvet 12 | "The Main Event" - Kekoa, the Flyin' Hawaiian 19 | "Free for All" 26 | "In with the New" - Caleb Mertz


3 | ***"Hot Spot Radio Season 7 Premiere" - Dr. Andrew 'Doc' Woldar*** 10 | "National Coming Out Day" - live from Diamonz Nightclub (Bethlehem, PA) - The Artist D 17 | "Workin' for a Living" - Priscilla Prisms (Bella) 24 | "Guitar Heroes" (NEW theme) 30 | Special --Tuesday Episode-- - "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps" Sophia Segal/Alo Moniz (still 9:30pm ET)

ns e C a nn o cki e B by

I just had one of the best weekends. It was Sparkle, arguably one of the the world’s biggest transgender events and celebrations. It’s a tremendous event – several thousand trans people from across the trans spectrum descending on Manchester, UK for one weekend a year - people arrive from all around the UK, Europe and several from other continents.

We Are One Collective From the outside looking into the trans community, it would appear that everyone is the same, but nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone has their own agenda, their own issues, their own identity. What’s great is that the trans spectrum is very wide. Sparkle brings local and national businesses, diverse interest groups, combines educational talks and workshops, and is a celebration for the transgender community. There is something for everyone, trans and non-trans alike. What amazes me about Sparkle is that it somehow manages to bring everyone together to appreciate that we are all different and the same. We are all on a similar journey but with different destinations and we are all individually fighting for something — either for ourselves, the ones we love, or for everyone. We Are All Different I’ve really seen the trans community change in the last 15 years, affected by three major areas. Without question the biggest influence has been the Internet — enabling people to realise that there are other people just like them, experiencing similar things and feelings. By far the greatest aspect of the trans community on the internet is ‘pornography’ or fetish related; however, this is just one side of the spectrum and, for most, the start of their trans journey. There are now places that cater to every aspect of the community and every journey that any trans person experiences. The media has played a big role in the understanding of trans people by the wider community, with more trans people represented on the television and in the press. It’s interesting, as what was previously something to be ridiculed is now seen as something that is quite serious and treated with much more care and sensitivity. Of course, most people outside the trans community have so many questions, and the challenge is that, depending on who they ask, they’ll get different answers. Being trans is personal. Only the person who is trans can tell you how they feel about it and where they want to go with it. The law is also ahead of society. Certainly in the European Union, diversity and equality laws are in place to protect the trans community in the work place and criminal laws are focused on putting more significance on ‘hate crimes.’ In principle this is great, but the reality is different at a local level. The law is one thing, but education, understanding and respect are entirely different. The trans community covers so many variations and it means something different to every trans person, and something different throughout their life. If you ask a trans person today a question about their trans life, you are likely to get a different answer if you ask them again in a year's time. Being trans is a journey. The ebbs and flows are unique to each person. Broaden Your View The one thing that both the internet and the media have done is open the closet door for people, and bring them closer to the public window. What do I mean by this? Well, the farther you stand away from a window and look out, the more limited your view. It might be that the view you see is the house opposite you in the street. But step forward, closer to that window, and your view widens. On either side of the house, you might be exposed to rolling hills and pretty cottages. In fact, get closer to the window and you might see the person in that house as someone that needs help. You might even wave to them. The point is to never limit your views by where you stand. There are windows in different rooms, with different aspects, both good and bad. If you’re just looking out of one window at the back of one room (from that closet?) — when you do step closer and you don’t like what you see, keep moving until you see the full picture. You might be surprised. Can we ever be all individuals together? Of course we can. But the challenge is not about being trans, or not being trans, or being more trans than someone else. What defines how well we get on is our shared values and respect for each other's views. And what really made my Sparkle 2012 was seeing people from everywhere on the trans spectrum coming together as one to celebrate who we are. Learn more about Sparkle here:

An interview with

Larissa Horvath by the a rtist d

At an early age Larissa Horvath jumped down the rabbit hole and drank the magical potion. The creator of Drunk Bunny Inc., she has brought her twisted vision of drunken rabbits and theatrically thrilling cupcakes to canvas and therefore to the world. Recently featured at Alchemy Gallery in San Diego, Larissa sits down to talk with us about her art, interests and California life. Your art has an Alice in Wonderland sort of vision pulled uniquely from your brain. How do you fall down the rabbit hole to create the things that you do? In other words, where does this stuff come from? My art comes from everything and nothing. Usually an image will pop into my mind, a complete piece, and I have to put it down as it appears in the vision. It's disappointing not to translate it properly from mental state to paper, and it’s most frustrating when the line work is just slightly “off” and I can’t grasp why. Something won’t make sense, and then the whole piece feels trashed. Most of my work doesn’t happen if I force myself to create something. Instead, after a stressful or upsetting incident, images will just occur to me. In a manic phase there was a period of four paintings in one week, seven to nine hour stretches. It was exhausting and satisfying all at once. These things have to be created, or they don’t allow me to focus on the real world. Not getting a painting to come out the way it looks in my mind is similar to going to the kitchen to fix a sandwich, burning your toast and running out of mustard for the egg salad, and the whole thing is just ruined. You’re still hungry, and cranky, and then you notice the bread is moldy anyway. You moved from the east coast to California and seemed to flourish there. What happened that sparked you onward? The first six months in San Diego were a vacation from reality. In a short time you go from being a kid living at home to being a legal adult living on the beach with the guy you always dreamed about. Things become surreal. I was working at dive bars and terrible jobs, any shift available. There is something about the night shift that is great and awful at the same time. Your circadian rhythms are all off kilter but you live in this whole other existence, and it’s very freeing. The stability wasn’t there, and I couch surfed off and on, but I regret nothing because it was fun. It was a huge wakeup call to meet all these people — some genuinely crazy, some appalling, some wonderful — and my 20’s were the best whirlwind ever. I’ve had fantastic experiences, and want to keep having them. That’s why I’ll talk to nearly anyone and go to almost any event, because it seems wrong to miss out. I don’t want to miss any opportunities, and I love just going to observe the situation. It’s either that, or be bored and alone with my thoughts. ISSUE TWO

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What is the artistic difference between the east and west coast? It feels like the west coast is the birthplace of inspiration and insanity. All that vitamin D gets into your brain. You spend time out in the sun or by the water, and you get this feeling of being invincible, able to create almost anything. So much of what’s hot, even the underground stuff, seems to stem from the skateboard scene, back when you made art but didn’t talk about it. There are some major players on both coasts though, artists like Shepard Fairey and Mike Giant, Craola and Mark Ryden. They're at a level that seems nearly unattainable, but their works complement each other nicely. One of the major differences I’ve noticed is that east coast art seems harder, more precise, while west coast art seems dreamy and ethereal. Maybe it’s something to do with east coast having a more industrial feel. There are a lot of talented hippies out here — some faking it and calling everything “groovy” to get the attention, and some are just wacked out of their mind. Stuff like Burning Man is almost the epitome of the west coast. I think the closer you get to California, the more you get that Dark Tower mentality — you’re always searching. Chasing. Reliving. Who is Drunk Bunny and where did it come from? Do we even know Drunk Bunny's gender? The Bunny is the shape of my thoughts. Without sounding like there’s too much peyote in my system, I think he might be some kind of spirit guide. He’s around during bad times, and creating him in different adventures seems to help me vent when I feel too full mentally. His origins stem back to mid-2007; I was in a cubicle, loathing the auto-dialer and the people I had to call. I started sketching to keep the boredom at bay. The first ‘drunkbunny’ drawing was a guy in a bunny suit, sitting at a bar. Then a quick sketch of an actual bunny at a bar came up, and I lettered ‘drunkbunny’ below it. It was the title of that particular sketch, but a few days later all these bunnies started cropping up, in various costumes. It dawned on me that drunkbunny wasn’t a title, it was a thing and slowly felt like my alias. There are a lot of magazines out there where artists give their art-sonalities (yes, I just made that word up) separate names, and that stems from the graffiti movement. But one thing that feels natural is referring to my artsy side as ‘drunkbunny’. In the past I’ve done — and still do — graphic design work, and my goal was to call the company ‘db inc.’, for ‘drunkbunny incorporated.’ There were two or three years of skateboard deck designs, and it felt right to title the pieces ‘…by drunkbunny.’ Then my computer crashed and killed off all my work, so I dropped the digital stuff for a while. After getting my domestic life situated, there was a lot more space to work on paintings and sketches, so I snagged new tools and went from there. In 2009 my fiancé and I bought a house; in 2011 we got married, and most of that summer was spent dealing with my labyrinthitis so art was on hold until early 2012. I’m happy to say that things are on the upswing.

The Bunny is definitely a male persona. Just before my art reception back in June I was working on “Adventures in Bunderland” and struggling a bit with the final touches of the sketch before throwing the paint on. My husband was watching me paint, so I asked him what he thought of it so far, and he said it seemed fine but he wasn’t sure why it seemed wrong to me. I said “Because the Bunny’s in a dress, and he’s not a girl.” He started laughing and said “It’s a painting. It’s your creation, there is no right or wrong.” He might have thought I was a little crazy but it’s all good. The Bunny needed to be in a dress — because it’s part of an Alice in Wonderland series I’m attempting — but it wasn’t right. I didn’t want it to give off any feminine feeling, and was trying to go for Bunny in Drag at the very most. Here’s the thing: the Bunnerpillar on the mushroom and the Bunny in the dress are the same Bunny. He’s looking at himself having adventures which can't happen without him. It’s like standing between two mirrors and dealing with the infinite reflection. If you can’t see your reflection, does that mean it doesn’t exist? If you step away from the mirror, that particular adventure ceases to be, and that’s how my work started to have more meaning than I ever intended. The Bunny is dark and masculine because that’s how it feels inside my brain. From Adventures in Bunderland to Octobunny and other random themes, why the focus on bunnies? There are two reasons. First, I revisited the sketches from 2007 and there was enough material to run with. The inventory allowed for a pretty wide range of stuff, and I think there may have been about 20 first drafts. The original Bunny was a comfortable shape to sketch and paint. I can draw him in his standard pose, but am finding it easier to pose him in other

ways, so my technique is getting a little better with each new thing. He’s like my Happy Little Tree, if I were Bob Ross. That guy probably painted, what, seven bajillion trees? I hear that everyone knows there are five hundred branches on an evergreen tree, and that means Bob could paint them in his sleep. These days, I find the Bunny is turning into something much bigger than I originally planned. There are scrap papers on my corkboard at home with ideas for new paintings, but those are a last resort – something when the well has run dry. For example, “Waiting” was born after a weekend’s re-read of Dracula and The Secret Garden. As I painted, three new canvas ideas popped up in my mind. I'm worried that I won't be able to create the pictures as they look in my head, but the Bunny keeps pushing me. I have to get the images out, and his story has to be told. I couldn’t tell you what the whole story is. It just keeps happening. It’s interesting in that my own creation is kind of my mentor and also tormentor, and makes me wonder if any other artists have dealt with this before. My personal favorite series of yours thus far was cupcakes dressed as characters like the devil and a pirate. What do the cupcakes symbolize for you? In all honesty, I can’t recall how the first cupcake ('Zombiecake') got started. At the time we lived on the boardwalk down in Mission Beach, and it seemed fun to sit up on the rooftop patio and paint this big crazy thing, where the neighbors and beach-goers would see it. While I was painting it, I started writing up other cake ideas, and since it was a nice easy thing to work on (the shape), I tried to work on leveling up in acrylics. Yes, that reference just happened. “Cuppycakes” felt out of my realm, like the paintingISSUE wasTWO happening but didn’t have75a |

and think, “Would Craola think this is cool?” Not that I make art specifically hoping this person will like it, but in my head, he’s kind of my judging scale. I heard he lives in L.A. and works with the occasional art showing down here in S.D., so I continually cross my fingers that I will run into him and someday collaborate with him on something. I am a total Craola fangirl. As a child what did you want to be when you grew up? Artists often live up to their expectations — did you? A lifetime ago, far, far away, a little girl was drawing a helicopter scene on the side of a paper bag. Later that year, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her answer was "an artist, a teacher, a dentist, or a garbage truckdriver." I've always liked multiple choice answers. My goal is not to exceed my expectations, but to make new ones for myself. My life is consistent in one thing, and that is being inconsistent. I will, however, knock on wood and say that I am happy with the direction my life as an artist is taking. Even calling myself an artist, a creative, feels like it’s jinxing something. It feels like a label, and labels are not my favorite thing to give myself, but per Merriam-Webster’s definition, an artist/creative is definitely something you could call me. I have set my bar very high, so while I appreciate any compliments, I don’t know if I’ll ever truly feel like an artist. At dinner the other night, a friend was joking with me when she said “You might be happy after you open your fifth gallery.” Eh, maybe — we’ll see how it goes. ;)

purpose other than to make something. That was during my phase of putting as much paint on the canvas as possible and making it look somewhat three-dimensional. It worked, but sat unfinished for months. A few people said that they liked the cupcake series as well, so I kept going, but ran out of ideas. It felt nice though, something that allows me to do a theme without too much mental strain. Then the bunny happened. Never fear — more cupcakes will come out of the creative oven in the future. If you could have a sit down with any artist dead or alive and learn from them, who would that be and what would you ask? There are hundreds of artists whose work was so much the embodiment of their lives that it was necessary to stay alive. They breathed, slept, and thought art. I have so much respect for those people, the true artists, and feel like such a humble novice merely by looking at their work. Then you have the people whose name you didn’t know but you recognize a sketch or canvas

that looked so intense. For example, Henry Fuseli painted “The Nightmare,” which is incredible, and I never knew his name before seeing that painting. Could I name another work by Leonardo da Vinci besides “Mona Lisa?” Not without Google’s help, but I’d love to talk with him and hear him ramble. Imagine THAT lunch date! Dali would be a great one to sit with, and Picasso. Looking at the work of the old masters, the sheer magnitude of their technical genius, I would be hard pressed to pick one for a workshop lesson. You can learn so much just by studying one single painting. The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has long been one of my favorite places to visit, and the Getty in Los Angeles is also amazing. There is one artist, thankfully currently alive, who inspires and terrifies me with each new piece. It terrifies me because it pushes that realization of just how amateur my skill is, but inspires me to keep trying. That artist is Greg “Craola” Simkins (, and his work is stellar. Are there other words for fantastic that will do this guy justice? He’s insane, he’s epic. Every piece of art I do, I look at it

We all want to make some kind of impact with what we do, even if it’s a fleeting thought. With that in mind, what would you most wish your art could accomplish on the planet? I am still trying to think of a decent answer that doesn’t sound completely selfish, but I will tell you that one of my main life goals is to make some sort of impact in the best sense. If someone were driving down the 5 or the 101 and saw a drunkbunny mural on the side of a hotel, I’d want that person to feel good by looking at it — maybe it makes them laugh (in a good way), maybe it reminds them of why living here is so awesome, maybe it makes them appreciate how much I truly love art. I want people to see my work, and think “Wow — she’s really content with life, she’s really happy — what can I do to be that happy?” I don’t want them to ignore my work, or think “Ugh, that looks ridiculous”, or something like that. I want to inspire people to inspire others, to find whatever makes them feel like they’re accomplishing something, to be unafraid to pursue their creative habits. I want that person who always said they never had a creative bone in their body to see my stuff and go “Hey! That’s awesome. I wonder if I could make something like that?”

How much liquor does the Bunny consume and what is his favorite mixed drink? The Bunny is on a strict diet of glitter and souls, topped with at least two olives. You've designed merchandise with your art. As the Drunk Bunny Empire grows, is there any specific market you want to infiltrate most? Various forms of that question have been coming up lately, and I won’t say it's my favorite question. Do I want art to be my full-time job? Not particularly. I don’t want it to be a clock-punching thing, and I don’t – most specifically — want to have to rely on others for a paycheck. Once it’s your job, some of the magic is gone. That said, I appreciate being able to pay my bills, and I appreciate even more that people would actually part with their hard-earned money to buy what my dreams drag up onto canvas (or paper, or fabric). I mentioned before my forays into graphic design: I’ve created websites, logos, invitations, flyers, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, boxers, signage. Do I want to walk into Hot Topic or Spencer’s and see the Bunny glaring at me? Not particularly. Do I want to see Devilcake on a diaper bag or a coffee mug? Mmm, not really feeling that either. For the record, the things that I’ve already created or will create are not being made solely for merchandising. That is not my game plan. HOWEVER, I can appreciate people enjoying my work, much like I could appreciate more money in my bank account. If something I create ends up generating more income, I'm not at a point where that income wouldn’t be welcomed. Almost every person that’s spoken with me about my art has pointed out at least one thing and said “That would sell really well” or “That would do so great at [store name]”. It’s a nice thing to hear. I feel as though my art is not created specifically for commercial use, in the sense of walking into Hot Topic or WalMart and seeing it on a shirt. There are designs from my past inventory that were for commercial use, but those things were created specifically for a product line. For example, someone wanted a Looney Tunes metal sign made, so I made it. We made some signs, they sold, and that was that. The image I created got used for that item and then it was over. With the Bunny, and with any art piece, those things are being done for artistic purposes only, not with the mindset of how well they’ll fit onto a tote bag or a hat. I prefer to make singular pieces — limited edition, if you will. It's most gratifying to make art for gifting, but the best type of sale (to me) is when a person asks for a custom piece. They want that piece for their office, the wall mural in the garden, the filler for the kitchen wall, the album cover, et cetera. Those things are special requests and I am happy to do them. I suppose one

market that would interest me is illustration in books: someone wants to do a children’s book, someone else wants to collaborate on a piece. Books and prints reproduce the art, but it doesn’t feel like you’re turning it into something completely commercial, because books and prints are still primarily in that creative realm. Something that has interested me for over a decade is the 3D element of things. I majored in multimedia, was heavily involved in 3D modeling and animation, and enjoyed it immensely. A large 3D Bunny is a goal of mine, although it wouldn’t be a Dunny.

Dunnys are a different thing (but fun to customize). I’d be open to a sculpted 3D Bunny large installation (at least 6’ tall), or small versions of a poseable Bunny. That way people could have a Bunny in their home, and he becomes part of their lives – his story would grow, affected by their stories. It seems fun, and also seems like a way to make my art live on. This one idea, this one creation from my imagination — now it lives with someone. Creepy, yet entertaining. I don’t make my art with the pretense of turning it into a meme. That's probably another way to put it.

We asked our featured artists, musicians and thinkers about their four favorite things.



Hen-of-the-Woods mushrooms. I’d been told of their deliciousness, but never found fresh cultivated mushrooms for sale. All that changed last week. Some skeevy, ferret-looking hippie dude (though to correct: a very nice, skeevy, ferretlooking hippie dude) had a ton of exotic mushrooms for sale at the local farmer’s market and so I nabbed some. I cooked the hen-of-the-woods in butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and sherry wine and it was easily one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made. Sublime.

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Bluecoat Gin. Deliriously herbal gin made in Pennsylvania. More things should be made in Pennsylvania. We’re a flavorful people.

Sherlock (PBS). I resisted watching this for a very long time, much as I resisted watching… well, most of those shows people tell you to watch (BSG, The Wire, Doctor Who, etc). And yet again I am reminded why I should listen to people instead of shunning their very fine advice because sweet saint fuck that’s a good show. The pilot, “A Study In Pink,” is maybe some of the best television I’ve ever watched.


Honeysuckle: You said I could name a smell so fuck it. I’m naming a smell. It’s honeysuckle time around these parts and nearby there’s this epic tower of the flower (it looks like someone covered a dinosaur in the stuff) and the air is incredibly thick with the floral smell. It’s one of the scents of my youth: riding a bike past endless heaps and mounds of honeysuckle, trying to “suckle” the “honey” from the flowers as children want to do, killing hobos and burying them amongst the flowers. Uhhh. Forget I said that last part. It’s a very nice smell regardless and I hope when I die I die smelling that smell.



Afternoon tea parties. I love to dress up in fancy clothing from another time and eat tiny sweets and sandwiches. I get to enjoy the lace and ruffles on my own terms, and put my practical clothes back on when I get overheated! My favorite way to eat is little bits of many things, so afternoon tea is perfect. Best enjoyed with friends on fragrant grass under the dappled shade of many trees.


Stan Rogers. A Canadian folk musician who died a few years before I was born, whose music I was raised on. Something about the sound of his voice is so rooted in my childhood. It brings me incredible comfort even while bringing tears to my eyes.


Chili Garden. The madly addictive Szechuan restaurant one town over. Their food has flavors I've never tasted anywhere else, and when I'm so sick I can't imagine stomaching anything else, I can always stomach Chili Garden.


My friends. Recently I was having a bad week. A couple of friends called me up to see how I was, and (realizing that I was still having a rough time of it) they came to my house and cooked me dinner. The food was delicious, but it was the fact that I had people in my life who would do something so thoughtful for me that really turned that week around.


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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series) — Deeply thought-provoking while still being hilarious, this book helped me discover a love for reading. Redfish Lake, Idaho — I have a lot of fond memories of spending summers in Idaho with my family, many of them involving taking boats out onto this lake. Les Miserables — participating in my high school’s production of Les Miserables was my first real experience performing and helped me discover my passion for it. Sushi — Sushi is just delicious. I can’t really think of anything else that needs to be said.

RED LIGHT DISTRICT Shok: Sharing thoughts and adventures — I enjoy conversations, experiences and growing with friends and family (humans & animals), passing wisdom to each other, reminiscing or being supportive as we journey through the years. Learning — Expanding horizons by knowledge, especially through personal experience is one of the most valuable aspects of life. The Arts — I live to entertain and I also enjoy being entertained whether it is educational, abstract, silly, etc., as long as it evokes emotion. Food — While this could be considered an art, I love eating new food, preparing and sharing my own food and exposing folks to new food and places to eat it and it's not only just about the food as it can also be about sharing the moment.


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Juliette: "My Four Favorite Internet Celebrity Cats" Winston — Maru —

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Nyx the blind library cat All cats who resemble Wilford Brimley Http://

RUBYLUX Rob: My favourite thing changes weekly unfortunately...So this week, my favourite thing is Charlie Chaplin. I recently watched the film ‘Chaplin’ and I’m now on the trail to find out every possible detail about his incredible genius. I beg you to watch this film! Adam: Right now it would have to be my juicer! That bad boy seems to juice things I didn’t even know had juice in them! Clark: A website I browse daily is it’s filled with random blogs with a range of subjects from science to cats on a Saturday. Mike: I’ve just recently bought a house so I’ve developed an un-healthy obsession with kitchen appliances…I’m quite partial to a lovely fridge/freezer!

WAZU MATT: Books, walking, food, buildings. RIZZ: Family. Life. Death. Art.


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Laughing and humor — helps remind me each day not to take life so seriously Discovering or writing and singing compelling music… what else do you expect from the muse of song? My Martin Acoustic guitar . . . my muse flows through this beautiful instrument… Dave . . . the muse’s other half. If you know him, you’d know all the reasons why!


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Malbec — just love me some red wine!! Sunsets — well, I am a Fag!

Peanut butter — I really need to explain this?? Rock & roll — it SAVED my lfe, kids!!!!!


Profile for fourculture

fourculture: issue two  

Art, music, literature and compelling societal views that live outside of the box.

fourculture: issue two  

Art, music, literature and compelling societal views that live outside of the box.