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O N E I L L . C O M
B O A R D S H O R T S I N WAT E R , WA L K S H O R T S O N L A N D .
M i k e K e r sh n a r Robert Rodriguez M o sh i M o sh i T y W i l l i a ms Roofers >Daniela Garreton G i mm e Th e L o o t
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the big stories
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Em i ly R a b o t e a u Kevin Powers Nyuol Tong L a u r a va n d e n B e r g Wa j a h at A l i Wendy Todd Sources
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HUCK 38 | RADICAL CULTURE
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San Franciscan artist brings his neon-lit wildlife to European walls.
A n g u s M a c P h e r s on
SHORTS: Newsy titbits and other tasty stuff.
by Shelley Jones
hen Mike Kershnar rolled into HUCK’s gallery, 71a Leonard Street, London, at the beginning of March, our headphones-andMacs work-space was turned upside down with Himalayan incense, spray-painted foxes, vintage Americana and The Smiths on repeat. Growing up as a skater and graffiti writer, Kershnar is no stranger to re-appropriating space and he made every stop on his month-long European tour with Element a unique dip into his rag-n-bone, skate-folk world. What was the thought process behind the shows on this European tour? I wanted to create a unique experience for the viewer involving all the senses. It was to represent ‘American Beauty’ or our lifestyle in America based on love of travel, skateboarding, spirituality, music and positive vibrations. The idea was to be immediately impressed by the large scale of the North American wildlife and then be drawn in to look closer at photos and collage on the street signs. [...] The pieces on the installation are bits of different
people and spiritual traditions I have encountered on my journey. There are bells from Nepal, Native American arrowheads of bone and stone, Jewish family mementos, Russian Orthodox saints, cigar-boxes adorned with photographs, gifts from friends and mentors, as well as elements of classic ritual magic such as keys, inscribed mirrors and watches, and red thread. Each show has been sort of ‘destined to be destroyed’. Is there a parallel to skateboarding in that way? I like the impermanent nature of these shows. Whenever I come to Europe I am impressed by the artistry and opulence of the church art. The outside of the cathedrals, the floors, the ceilings, the candles all adorned to last for an eternity. I like to take inspiration from the these grand basilicas and try to create a similar experience for just one night. Like a one-night, non-dogmatic, all-inclusive take on the Sacre Coeur. It’s not about religion, but about spirit. It’s not about someone else’s story, but about our story. I think it is similar to skateboarding in the way of the passion it
can sometimes take to film a line. Some people might not understand why a person would take all these slams and try over and over to land a ten-second line. But the skater believes in the result of filming that line for a video part which will represent them to their peers. I feel that way about my shows, like an art show can be a few sterile framed paintings on a wall, or it can be a full-on mystical barrage of the senses. There are infinite ways of performing art, skateboarding, or the human experience. Can you tell us a bit about your collab shoe with Element? The Topaz shoe for Element was about exploring duality – man/woman, canine/ feline, day/night, creation/destruction – that is why the left and right shoes are different with different totem animals. The leather is bison, and the copper rivets nod at classic Native-American aesthetics. It was really fun to work with them to design a shoe, box, bandana and short film that weave a tale of a positive awakened state of being. mikekershnar.com
Get On With It!
Director Robert Rodriguez is all about doing. And he wants you to fill in the blanks of his latest film. by D'arcy Doran
obert Rodriguez loves throwing down creative challenges. He persuaded the cast of Sin City 2 to paint canvases in character and talked the actors in Once Upon a Time in Mexico into scoring their own theme music. Now, with the help of BlackBerry, the director is challenging the public to help finish his latest film in the interactive film experiment, Project Green Screen. Rodriguez and his crew had just wrapped up shooting on Sin City 2 when they made the short Two Scoops, starring twins Electra and Elise Avellan of Machete and Grindhouse fame as icecream vendors turned monster hunters. But instead of confining the film to his own vision, Rodriguez left green screen blanks in key parts of the script that he wants you to help fill in. The short film is fast and fun but as Rodriguez told HUCK at SXSW, he’s serious about pushing people to use their creativity.
What do you like about working with filmmakers who are just starting out? You’re always a student. One of the best things you can do as a student is teach other students. You learn more from teaching than you do sometimes from sitting in the class, so I’m always eager to teach people what I’ve learned because it reinforces what I’ve learned myself. Sometimes a piece of advice will just fly out of your mouth that you don’t even do yourself but you know you should. What’s your biggest piece of advice for aspiring filmmakers? Not to fear failure. Step forward and start creating. Start making your dreams happen. I didn’t wait to make a film before saying I was a filmmaker. I just said I was a filmmaker.
So I tell people if you want to make films, don’t say you want to make films. Just make a card and say you’re a filmmaker. What will happen is people are very true to their identity. If your identity is someone who someday would like to make a film then you’re going to remain someone who someday would like to make a film. If your identity is being a filmmaker, you’re going to do what filmmakers do, which is make stuff. Leaving ‘holes’ like this in your scripts is something you actually do, where did that habit come from? I just don’t have all the answers right away. I’ve turned in scripts before where it just has in bold a missing section. It says, ‘Mini road warrior action sequence – very cool. Details to follow.’ I don’t know what it’s going to be. You’re not going to know until you get to the location and see what there is around you. Maybe we’re shooting in Mexico for one, so I can’t imagine what’s down there. I’m not going to try and come up with something that I’m going to pigeonhole myself into. I know what I need to accomplish in those beats. Let’s just go and see. We get there and there’s a whole cactus town. A whole town that’s nothing but cactus. Okay, we’ve got to go through that. Have them go through there on this motorcycle, he ends up here at that location, and so on. So you kind of leave holes to let chance and circumstance in. You know that other missing element is going to come to you if you move forward. If I held off all filming until I figured that out, I would never film. Was there a particular moment when you first realised how collaboration can be the key to filling in those blanks? Just by doing stuff. You’ll see that it’s always happened. From the very first project, there’s going to be an element of magic that happens. That’s what’s most addictive when you do that each time. Sometimes you’ll fear early on in your career that’s not going to happen again. But it always does. You say, ‘What if it all doesn’t come together?’ But it does. Once you give up that fear, you just do it with so much positive energy. An actor comes to me and the first thing they say is ‘I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do here,’ and I say, ‘Don’t worry, that’s part of it. Trust me, we’re going to know by the time we get there.’ It’s because we have the right attitude. If we don’t fear what we don’t know and embrace what we don’t know, that’s when the magic’s going to come. Get involved with Project Green Screen at keepmoving.blackberry.com.
Moshi Moshi SHORTS: Newsy titbits and other tasty stuff.
the parisian design duo are staying true to hands-on art. by Ed Andrews
e pride ourselves in keeping an artisan side to our work where possible,” says artist Amélie du Petit Thouars, who along with fellow artist Eloïse de Guglielmo founded Paris-based design studio Moshi Moshi back in 2008. “We try to come up with timeless designs. Which means not following the current trends but trying to stick to a more classical aesthetic adapted to modern times.” Moshi Moshi are finding inspiration in the pre-Intel Inside days of yore, preferring all things handcrafted to digitally engineered. Not that they’re totally entrenched in nostalgia, though. By staying “curious and aware of [their] surroundings,” the pair reel off their influences from the Italian Renaissance masters to Wes Anderson and Monty Python via Goya, Degas and Japanese manga artist Suehiro Maruo. This diversity shows in their range of creations including spartan black-and-white typography, dreamy analogue photography and anatomical doodles. “We think it’s important to nourish our work with influences from the outside world,” says Amélie. “We always start our designs by going through books.” And fitting like a Jacquard loom with their tangible approach, this March they contributed two pieces of artwork to DC’s Burning Ink tattoo art show in Istanbul – a show where the artists’ creations can only leave the premises engraved on skin. Their choices? “Powerful symbols” of an owl and the Virgin Mary, both hand-drawn and hand-painted in black tempera. “We love the culture of tattoos and the aesthetic range and possibilities,” remarks Amélie. “We are more into vintage tattoos and letterings, but a tattoo has to be meaningful and tell a story. It has to be a conscious choice. We like the idea of the commitment and the magical quality that [a tattoo] can gain through time.” moshimoshi-studio.fr
BEAU FOSTER MANSFIELD
I’m Still Gone artist ty williams is soaking up the joyful sarcasm of his newly adopted home. SHORTS: Newsy titbits and other tasty stuff.
by John Treadgold
‘places i’d rather not tell you about in byron but are really good, so i will tell you,’ by Ty Williams. Art Park Art Park is a great spot to check out art books, ’zines and get a little dose of creative culture. They usually have an exhibit on display which usually doesn’t suck. Strike up a conversation with Paul or Craig [Art Park’s founders], both are Byron locals and are wells of knowledge. Roadhouse Freshest coffee and homemade kombucha served by the slickest dressed staff in Byron. Ask for Heath or Dwayne and check Ozzie Wright's artwork in the toilets.
t the opening of his show at the Art Park gallery in Byron Bay in late December, Ty Williams was bouncing through the crowd like a pinball. His eyes wide-open, seemingly speaking to everyone at once. When it came to our turn to speak, the conversation turned to the late American writer Charles Bukowski. “I just love the titles of his books” said Williams. “The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship. It’s genius!” This first impression of Williams echoed through the work on display. His laconic, acrylic-wash pieces were largely paired with captions like ‘Adolf Hipster’, ‘Disco Dingo’ and ‘Two Ex-boyfriends Looking for New Girlfriends’. They serve as a title and at first seem flippant but hint at something deeper, sometimes dark but always joyfully sarcastic. “There’s a journal quality to my work, most of it is inspired by travelling and meeting people so I’m usually coming off some sort of high. It can be moody and cynical, but it’s always done with humour,” he says. Originally from Florida, the nomadically inclined Williams recently headed to Australia but didn’t make it further afield than Byron Bay, hence the name of this show, I’m Still Gone. His work for the Art Park show was compact and a spontaneous creation, but he speaks of a feverish desire to lay some roots and set-up a studio, to throw himself into some larger works. “Now I’ve met so many rad people here in Australia, I’m thinking this might be the place. I’ve lived in LA but there’s too much traffic. New York is great cause you don’t have to drive, but there’s a lot of tension and now in Byron I’m just like, hangon, there’s so much space to get work done here and you can get drunk without having to watch your back and worry about getting mugged,” he remarks. “I love the passive-aggressive sarcasm of Australians. I saw this girl run out in front of this guy in his car and he didn’t lose his shit, he just stuck his head out the window and was like, ‘Oh yeah. No worries, just walk wherever you want love!’ I’m glad there's still some sarcasm in such a mellow place, it keeps it interesting.”
The Rails This bar reminds me of some of my haunts in Florida. It’s a more seedy bar with a mixed crowd. The bartenders don’t act like they are too cool and they’re quick. I could imagine the Hell’s Angels and Hunter S. Thompson hanging at this place. The Top Shop Sure, it’s Coachella 24/7 mixed with a little bit of Bondi, but if you get past all the hipness, this place makes an amazing sandwich and nothing is better than sitting outside on the grass watching hungover chicks do the walk of shame. I recommend the veggie panini and the watermelon slushy. The parking lot at The Pass This place is more crowded than Burning Man but makes for a great place to hang before or after a surf. If you’re lucky you can spot some big-name surfers and maybe even ask them if they are leaving so you can have their parking spot. Bangalow Bangalow is a little country town up the hill from Byron. It’s ideal for getting a little break from the backpackers and lurkers below. Up there, there are numerous swimming holes and waterfalls to hang out at. There’s also a little pub if you want to just have a Coopers and unwind.
Roofer’s Point of View Russian photographers go to extreme heights to get the perfect urban shot.
Va d i m M a hor ov
by Shelley Jones
seen before. “Cities look different from a birds-eye perspective,” says Vadim. “It seems like a totally different place. You can see all the infrastructure. You can see some things – statues, architectural elements of buildings, interesting roofs – that are not seen from the ground. I can see small backyards, which I would never have found just walking on the street.” Getting in and then on top of some of the highest buildings in Eastern Europe is not an easy task, but Vadim, twenty-four, and his roofing partner Vitaly Yakhnenko, twenty, have a Man on Wire-style dedication to their art. “It’s not as dangerous as you think it is,” says Vadim modestly. “If you’re careful, the risk is minimal.”
Vadim M aho ro v
y first roofing experience was in Novosibirsk, when we climbed up a lifting crane, around 100-metres high,” says Vadim Mahorov, a photographer in Roofer’s Point of View, a gut-wrenching short doc from HUB Footwear. “It was almost night, we were shooting the city. For the first time I saw it from this perspective, then I realised, this is what I want to do.” Roofer’s Point of View captures a new generation of Russian photographers who call themselves ‘roofers’ and scale skyscrapers to shoot cities as they’ve never been
Watch Roofer’s Point of View at hubfootwear.com
Daniela Garreton the chilean-born basque country artist is keeping things both indie and real. by Elisa Routa
aniela Garreton is busy making work for the 2013 Nord / Nordwest Festival Hamburg, Germany’s annual celebration of cold-water surfing and the culture that comes with it. She’s customising some handplanes – shaped by the “nice fellas at Hidden Wood” – with her beautiful, fishermen-friendly illustrations and they’re going to sit alongside boards shaped by the legendary Gato Heroi. Although she was born in Chile, Daniela’s art is deeply rooted in the Basque Country she now calls home. “After a nice surf session at Zurriola [in San Sebastian], with my feet full of sand and my head full of salt, I sit down in my workshop and start sketching,” she says. “The Ocean is definitely my main force, it drives me. Whenever I submerge myself in the sea, I come out with this amazing energy that pushes me to create. It is the only place
I feel free, I clear my mind. I’m onehundred per cent in the present, it’s good therapy. But I’m also influenced by other creative people. I really like Wes Anderson films, especially The Life Aquatic and artists like Yoku Shimizu and Stevie Gee.” Daniela is part of a new wave of European surfers that value their independence and creativity above the stickers on their boards. And being indie is more than a fulltime job. After Hamburg, she’ll start preparing for a show at the Surfilmfestibal in San Sebastian this coming June, as well as the Keep A Breast exhibition in Bordeaux and a bunch of other collaborative projects. But no matter how busy she gets, Daniela understands the importance of keeping things real. And that means logging out of the blogosphere once in a while – a lesson many artists today could benefit from. “Sure, the internet really helps to broad en your reach and have a more direct contact with people following your work,” she says. “But it’s important to have strong roots and to build personal bonds with people you meet so you don’t become a virtual-only person.”
SHORTS: Newsy titbits and other tasty stuff.
Gimme The Loot
new film captures a day in the life of two street kids in the bronx. by Shelley Jones
aking a movie about New York is like making a pizza with cheese. As a city where anything and everything happens pretty much all the time, New York has become the leading lady of modern cinema set in the West. But a new movie by first-time feature director and born-andbred New Yorker Adam Leon has breathed new life into a played-out genre. Gimme The Loot focuses on two hoodrat graffiti writers on one crazy day in the Bronx. We caught up with Leon before the UK release of his great debut. You’ve said that you wanted to show the fun side of workingclass kids in the Bronx. Why is it problematic to always represent that demographic as troubled? Right, exactly. In some ways I think that can really compartmentalise those kinds of kids. I hope, in some ways, [Gimme The Loot] can humanise
them more to show that, yeah, they come from working-class neighbourhoods, yeah, they don’t always have it easy but they are just teenagers. And you can see that in movies like Superbad or Dazed and Confused – they steal the keg and get into trouble, but their petty crimes are really treated as, ‘Oh, they’re just kids.’ And you know there are a lot of horror stories from kids in the Bronx, but there are also a lot of kids who are smart and have fun and adventures. I thought it was important to explore that. Did you get much criticism for not taking a moral stance on drugs, graffiti or theft? Yeah, I mean we got a review that said I was ‘promoting robbery’, but I felt like we were just trying to stay true to the culture. I mean those kids steal spraycans, that’s part of the culture, and I’m not trying to have a judgement one way or another. We just wanted to do something that would take an audience on a ride.
But you do explore some of the tension between different communities... Any major city where there’s a subway, where there’s public transportation that really connects people, there isn’t as much of a sprawl. I mean obviously the city is huge, but you just have everybody sort of thrown together in this mix and all these paths really cross. So to me it made sense that the tough graffiti-writing girl would be friends with the more easy-going graffiti-writing guy who sells weed with Donny, who went to private school with Ginny – all that stuff sort of connects. The script is rude and awesome. Were you excited about celebrating the creativity of street talk? Yeah, we've actually had this great reaction from audiences all over the world and from all different ages. [...] That language can come off at first as seeming angry but it’s not necessarily, it can be very funny and playful and that’s what we were trying to go for.
T h e
D av e
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I n t e r v i e w
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Dave Eggers came to us as an orphan, baring himself to the world in his
about Visitants, the office walls seem to fade and it’s easy to
heartfelt memoir A Heartbreaking
at “900 mph”.
picture Eggers in a stranger’s car barrelling across the desert He was in Jeddah on his last day in Saudi Arabia
Work of Staggering Genius. At twenty-
researching his latest novel A Hologram for the King – a tale
one, he was left to raise his eight-year-
attempt to stave off foreclosure leads him to a rising Saudi
old brother after their parents died of cancer in a span of five weeks. But that was only the beginning. Since then, Eggers has re-energised America’s lit scene with McSweeney’s, his literary journal-turned-publishing house, founded a national network of tutoring centres tucked behind fantastical shops, and collaborated in books, film and music with the likes of Spike Jonze, Judd Apatow and Beck. Eggers spoke to HUCK about the need to explore, live a creative life and do good along the way.
about a struggling American businessman whose last-ditch city – when Eggers realised his flight home was actually leaving from Riyadh, more than 1,000 kilometres away. He flagged down a stranger, not a cabby or even a professional driver, and hired him to speed across the desert. Thirty minutes into the seven-hour drive, as all traces of human settlement vanished, the driver phoned a friend, chatted in Arabic, then glanced at Eggers and said into the phone in English: “Yeah, American. Boom-boom.” Eggers picks up the story: “I don’t know what that means. It doesn’t sound good, you know? We have complicated relations with some young Saudi men. Although everyone I met when I was in Saudi Arabia I had a great time with. I met a lot of friends. But this guy? You start letting your brain go and you start getting a little paranoid. Could this be bad? I’ve always assumed the best of anyone I’ve met and I’ve always had faith in everybody because I want them to have faith in me. I’ve trusted them because I want them to trust me. “But this was right after a friend of mine, Shane Bauer, had been arrested and imprisoned in Iran. He was in for almost a year. He was a translator who did a lot of work here, he did Arabic translation for us for Zeitoun and for the book we did in Sudan. So here I was thinking, ‘Well nothing bad has ever happened to me so I have to believe this is going to be fine.’ But in the back of my mind I actually know a guy in an Iranian prison, who was picked up for hiking over the border. Your mind starts running.” The episode opens The Visitants, his first book written in the first person since his debut. It tells the stories behind the books, including journeys to Saudi Arabia and China for Hologram, trips to Syria for Zeitoun – the true story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American who remains in
e have more time than you think,” Dave
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, distributing supplies
Eggers says as he settles into the red sofa
from a canoe but then disappears – and Eggers’ venture into
that serves as his desk in the corner of
South Sudan for What is the What and his Voice of Witness
McSweeney’s office in San Francisco’s
series, which highlights social injustices around the world.
Mission District – also home to The
Believer magazine and a growing array
“The rest of the book follows the same arc, which is
of other publications. All at once, his words are an apology,
going in as a blank and completely open mind and
an assurance and, just maybe, he is letting us in on a secret.
then letting yourself be informed, or made concerned,
Stretching and slowing time is a power Eggers, now forty-
or even paranoid, by things that you hear outside.
three, possesses both on the page and in real life. Moments
And then realising the dangers of that second-hand
earlier he was working out details for an album of songs
knowledge and making assumptions, and then finding
written by Beck and performed by several bands to raise
money for 826 Valencia (his pirate store-fronted tutoring
“At a certain point, I pulled out photos of my family
centre across the street) and its seven sister centres. In
and I was like, ‘Hey, you have kids too?’ You’re trying
just over an hour, he’ll huddle with teens in McSweeney’s
to find some common connection. By the end of it you
basement for their weekly class to compile his offbeat
end up being as friendly as you can be with a guy you’ve
annual, the Best American Nonrequired Reading anthology.
barely met and you’re paying to drive you.
Then he will disappear into his garage for the rest of the
“One of the impetuses [for Visitants] is just hearing
week to finish his next book The Visitants, which collects
that travel rates are down among younger people. Fewer
more than a decade of travels around the world. As he talks
passports are being issued and fewer people in their
â€œI got hooked on the process of feeling like I could communicate a good story to an audience to maybe have an impact.â€?
twenties leave their state and have their driver’s license.
as he explained in a manic moment in his memoir. But
They attribute all this to online time and people feeling
they soon learned that simply writing about a problem
like they’ve seen things because they have access to it
didn’t solve it. Frustration fuelled cynicism, he says, which
all. There’s a little bit of me that’s wanting to say, ‘Really,
increasingly crept in over Might’s three-and-a-half-year run.
you don’t know anything until you’ve been there, or
After the magazine’s demise, Eggers moved to New York
until you’ve met somebody.’ You don’t know the first
to become an editor at Esquire. But the glossy magazine
thing about a young Saudi unless you’ve met a young
world disillusioned him. He left to write his first book and
Saudi. You can’t make an assumption about the lives of
on his kitchen table in an act of procrastination created
Saudi women unless you’ve met them and really listened
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, initially a home for stories
and really gone somewhere. It’s the value of real-world,
rejected by glossies.
tangible experiences, person-to-person contact.”
He returned to San Francisco as a best-selling author to set up the McSweeney’s office. Inspired by friends who, like
Your first book was extremely close to home, but ever
his mother, were teachers, he decided to put a classroom at
since your second, You Shall Know Our Velocity! –
the centre of the office at 826 Valencia. In contrast to Might,
about two friends travelling the world in one week to
Eggers says, 826 had immediate impact from the very first
give away $80,000, a sum they feel was undeservedly
student. He had stumbled on a model for sustainable,
inherited – you shot off, telling stories that span
effective, community-level change. The centre’s success
continents. Is something pulling you out into the
inspired McSweeney’s collaborators Nick Hornby and
world? “A lot of writers will spend their careers
Roddy Doyle to set up transatlantic cousins, the Ministry
plumbing their lives in different ways or sublimating
of Stories in London and Fighting Words in Dublin.
their experience through fiction. But if you start with a
With each book, Eggers finds a new micro project.
memoir, you’ve sort of blown that. From the beginning,
What is the What – which tells the real story of Valentino
I couldn’t find anything left to write about. And you
Achak Deng, one of Sudan’s lost boys, who fled civil war
also get a taste of that and it’s enough.
by crossing the desert on foot, eventually finding his way
“But ultimately my training was in journalism
to America – inspired a foundation that built and operates
and that was my background for a long time. So I just
a school in Deng’s home village. His travels in South Sudan
developed an interest. I got hooked on the process of
for the book also led to Voice of Witness, a nonprofit series
feeling like I could communicate a good story to an
that aims to empower victims of human rights abuses by
audience to maybe have an impact.
sharing their personal narratives. Zeitoun spawned the
“I’m always trying to educate the person I was too.
Zeitoun Foundation, which funds reconstruction projects
I was just talking to a friend who grew up in the Bay
in New Orleans and promotes understanding between
Area and was saying, ‘You don’t understand the bubble
Muslims and non-Muslims. A Hologram for the King, a book
we’re in sometimes.’ A lot of people like me in Illinois, or
about outsourcing the American dream, inspired his latest
Wisconsin, we’re well-meaning people, but you would be
initiative, the Mid-Market Makers’ Mart. It’s a proposal to
surprised how ‛in the middle of nowhere’ we are in terms
set up a market/workshop space in San Francisco’s long
of our awareness. I didn’t have a passport until I was
depressed mid-Market neighbourhood where artisans can
twenty-six. There’s a lot of people like us and you’ve got
make and sell goods ranging from surfboards to stuffed
to be forgiving of people like that. They have good hearts.
animals. “I would like to bring my kids to a place where
“Especially with What is the What and Zeitoun,
you can see things being made and in a couple of hours you
I’m speaking to those people I grew up with. We’re all
might be able to see fifty different makers and buy something
incredibly nice people who might not be aware of what
original,” he says.
happened in New Orleans after Katrina, or might not be aware of human rights crises that Voice of Witness
How do these projects come about? Is it that after
tries to illuminate. I do try to remember who I was and
writing the book you feel there’s something left to
where I came from. There’s still many other millions of
address? “It always comes out at about the same time
people in a country as big as the US that want to learn
and it’s something I’m trying to cure myself of. I always
about these things and if you can start from a place of,
thought there had to be some real-world application. So
‘Hey, I was there too. I couldn’t have placed Sudan on a
when I wrote about Valentino’s life [in What is the What],
map when I was twenty-five, but I’m going to walk you
we thought of a school in his hometown and then the
Valentino Achak Deng Foundation. We built this school and all of these buildings happened from Valentino’s story. Now they’ve graduated their first class. Then
it was the same thing with the Zeitoun Foundation. Although it was a little different – all those funds went to existing nonprofits so we didn’t have to start anything
When Eggers, with his little brother in tow, and a few high-
from scratch. But again it’s trying to make something
school friends, left the suburbs of Chicago for San Francisco
tangibly impactful out of a story. But I really don’t have
in the early 1990s, they set out to start a revolution. Their
all the time and energy that I used to. It’s a lot of work
call to arms would be an indie magazine. Might magazine
because these continue to exist. They need my help
would “force, at least urge, millions to live more exceptional
every so often. These things start adding up. So to do
lives, to do extraordinary things, to travel the world, to help
any of them well I have to stop doing new things. I’ve
people and start things and end things and build things,”
come to grips with that recently.”
“You publish one magazine and it’s not so hard, so you think what would it cost to put out a different one? It starts adding up and before you know it, you have a habit.” 25
book that he can’t get published. How hard would it be to publish that book?’ You publish one magazine and it’s not so hard, so you think, ‘What would it cost to put out a different one?’ It starts adding up and before you know it, you have a habit. “And you don’t want people to tell you, ‘No.’ So if I want to publish a book, I would like to publish it. I don’t want somebody to tell me that I can’t. So you create a situation where you continue to publish your own work, or the work of people that you like. It’s worth it to not be told, ‘No.’”
The Artisan Dave Eggers can confirm he is not Banksy. But had he known earlier that such a gig existed, life could have turned
“In your twenties in a new city when no one’s from here, we’re all sort of orphans. The only people that you can count on are a bunch of people that you work with and that you know. You’re only as good as the reliability of that latticework.”
out differently. Instead, Eggers’ artistic impulses have focused mostly on the book world. His early innovations included planting friends to heckle him during bookstore readings to distract from his lack of flair as a reader. He had to defend one heckler from fans at a San Francisco event. Then with McSweeney’s, he started experimenting with books themselves: abandoning dust jackets, starting the first chapter on the cover. Cutting covers, painting covers, carving covers. Changing the way books were made. You’re a big Banksy fan. Is there a connection between his work and what you do with McSweeney’s? “He did a mural... you don’t call it a mural. He did an artwork, a tag – what do you call it? – on the roof here.” So you met Banksy? “Nuh-uh. But another guy on staff here Chris Ying – he started [McSweeney’s food magazine] Lucky Peach – did. Ying let him in one night. He needed to come at 11pm or something. I wasn’t around and it all happened at the last minute. So he did this beautiful piece on the wall of that building [he points left and upwards]. So it wasn’t actually owned by our landlord, who would gladly let it stay. But that owner didn’t like it so much. It stayed for about a week. All these people came by and took pictures and then it was painted
Is it that the idea builds inside as you’re writing,
“I was a painting major. That’s what I studied in
different reasons. But one is that writing is incredibly
college. I wanted to be a painter all my life but I always
solitary and sedentary. I sit on a couch just like this that’s
had a problem with that knowledge that if I were
in my garage. It’s filthy. I sit there eight hours a day to get
successful, there was the chance most of my work would
any kind of work done. It took me a really long time to get
be in somebody’s bathroom and never be seen again –
used to all that time alone. I’ve always been part of a group
by me or anybody. That’s very hard for me, especially
like a magazine or a newspaper or whatever. One, you
because I’d started working at newspapers in high school
feel incredibly guilty about your parents having actually
and college and really liked the democratic access. I
worked for a living and you get to sit on a couch in your
didn’t have it figured out, but later I saw what Banksy was
garage and think of stuff. That doesn’t seem like real work
doing and what [Barry] McGee was doing here in the city
to me. So you try to alleviate a little bit of that guilt by
when he was Twist [his graff name]. If I had known back
trying to make something impactful in the actual world.
then in east central Illinois when I was studying painting
That’s the truth just as a lapsed Catholic.
that was a route, that would have felt right to me. My
“Then there’s the idea, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to get a group of people together and let’s open a centre and
over. It was very sad.
because writing alone isn’t enough? “There’s a lot of
paintings were political and narrative, but I was loathed and discouraged by the faculty.
let’s have a publishing company?’ because it addresses
“So when Banksy started coming up, I was a big
your social needs. Then, ‘Boy, it’s not that hard to put a
admirer. Then somehow, I never had any contact, but
book together and I’ve got a buddy, he just sent me his
one day he was doing some exhibit in London and asked
to use some text I’d written – not about him but about
publisher, you have to make the books more wantable
something corollary – in some way. I said, ‘Of course.’
Then a year later, he came here and did that. But I’ve never had any real contact.
A few days earlier, Eggers sat on a panel on ‛the future of the book’ in Germany. He mentioned “how nice it is to hold
Did your painting background shape your attitude
and keep a book and maybe pass it on to your grandkids,” at
towards book design? “When I first started building
which point one of his co-panelists, a young woman, called
canvasses in high school, our art teacher made sure we
it “a horror,” the idea that a book should be something
knew every rebar, every part of the canvas supporting
that lasts forever. But in a way, he says, her comments
brackets. Everything was part of the artwork. Even the
echoed his younger yearnings in A Heartbreaking Work
stuff on the back. He had us paint on every piece of wood
of Staggering Genius:
one time just to say that it all mattered. I guess that got into my bones a little bit. So now I’m not so interested
“It reminded me of that stage where you are ready to
in this [points toward a plain mass-market paperback
just erase everything and replace it with something
on the table]. This is artifice in a way, which is fine,
new at any moment. That’s fine. I’ve seen it in cities,
but I really prefer addressing the actual board and the
or whatever it is, ‘Let’s erase it and start over’ and that
materials and having that tactile sensation because
sort of impatience with either a lack of progress, or a
that’s an object. Just working on the paper alone is
disinterest, or frustration in everything that’s there
fine and sometimes we do that. But it feels like you’re
and won’t get out of your way – all the people and
missing a lot of opportunities.
buildings that are there. You want it to be different,
“We used to print all our books outside of Reykjavik.
you want progress, or replacement, overnight and you
I was on the printing floor seeing all the other stuff
don’t want to wait for it. A lot of it’s idealism, or hubris,
they printed and saw their bibles. Iceland only has
one printer so they print all the bibles in Iceland. I was like, ‘What is that?’ It was beautiful. It made the other books with their dust jackets look very paltry and meek and pedestrian by comparison. That’s when I started
studying old printing techniques. “It got us really hooked on the partnership with the
“I see us as one, as a vast matrix, an army, a whole,
printers. Because we collaborate pretty closely with the
each one of us is responsible to one another, because no one
printers, the possibilities open up so much. I feel like
else is. I mean, every person that walks through the door
we’ve seen a lot more books in the last ten years that
to help us with Might becomes part of our lattice.”
have aspired to a higher level of craft. A lot of that is
‒ Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000)
because of the same thing we’re doing – trying to give people a more clear choice between a physical book
The lattice began with Egger’s siblings, his friends, and then
and an ebook. In order to survive as a physical book
grew. Friends of friends entered and then other orphans,
like the Sudanese lost boy Valentino Deng, were drawn
have a couple thousand tutors that are signed up and
in. Soon legends like Talking Heads’ David Byrne came
weaving themselves into the schools and helping at 826
knocking too. (“It’s incredibly strange,” Eggers says. “But
and after school and during field trips, you are tightening
it’s inevitable as you get older, sooner or later you’re going to
the fabric of that neighbourhood. [As if on cue, Eggers
bump into some of these people that you admired when you
calls to a teen in the hall: ‘Hey!’]
were younger.”) Spike Jonze, Judd Apatow, Miranda July,
“That’s Marco, who I’ve known since he was eight.
Zadie Smith, Sam Mendes, David Foster Wallace, and many
Now he’s fourteen and he’s in the high-school class. He
others have joined over the years as the lattice expanded
knows I’m looking out for him. His siblings recognise me.
further and further out.
This goes on with all the tutors. “I feel like knowing that you’re part of that latticework
Has your thinking on the lattice evolved since you
and knowing that you have a role to play, it’s both very
first wrote about it? “No, not a bit really. I haven’t read
inspiring – ‘I’m part of this fabric, I help keep things
that passage since 2001 probably. I think I know what
together’ – and it can be very validating. But it’s also very
it says. I like that word so much still. I feel like it’s been
humbling, you’re just part of that fabric. There’s a lot of
proven a lot more than it had even then. Back then,
threads that matter, that have to interconnect.
it was a latticework of friends. It felt like we were all our only family, the bunch of us that moved out from Chicago at the same time and the people that you meet along the way. In a way, in your twenties in a new city when no one’s from here, we’re all sort of orphans. The only people that you can count on are a bunch of people that you work with and that you know. You’re only as good as the reliability of that latticework. If it holds it can feel very good. And if there are any weak links it can be very heartbreaking and definitely I had both experiences back then. “But my conception of it has grown to the latticework of a neighbourhood, or a city. Like at 826, I use the word fabric more than latticework these days, but when you
“If you’re one of the threads, you have to do your part and help hold it together.”
The E va s i v e Wav e
in the Pacific with nothing but his swim shorts, fins and a dive knife, wondering what the hell to do. After getting his bearings and making a few estimations, he decides there is only one solution to his little problem: swim to Molokai. And that’s what he does – thirteen miles, circled by sharks the entire way. When he got to the island he walked four miles through dense jungle until he found a payphone and was having drinks with the boys that very evening. According to fellow surfer Jeff Johnson,
Surfing is awash with staggering stories of waves conquered and heroes made, but where are all the great surf books? Tetsuhiko Endo trawls through waveriding's slim literary canon and finds a world that lies beyond words.
“A little thirteen-mile swim didn’t bother him a bit. He told me the sharks started coming up and circling him. So he went down and yelled at them.” There is something inherently slippery about the writing of surf stories. José Angel was a real man and he really swam between the Hawaiian islands after losing his boat, but as so often happens with the telling and retelling of tales, the details are lost, exaggerated or skewed into soft-focus. So, exactly what are we looking at here? It is narrative but not fiction, based on the truth, but sometimes too dependent on hearsay and unreliable witnesses to be journalism. Instead, it reads like a transcription of what leading academic Henry Glassie calls “folk history” whose “key figures are not great men so
Te x t Te t s u h i k o E n d o I l l u s t r a t i o n A n d r e w G r o v e s
much as they are types, important more for their embodiment of eternal virtues than for their performance of notable deeds. They endure, yet in enduring they exhibit immense power and creativity. They make homes,
ne afternoon in the mid 1970s, while diving for
win life from the sullen earth, and sweep the heavens with their poetry.”
black coral off the coast of Maui, José Angel lost his
Nothing that happens in the actual act of surfing fits into Glassie’s definition
spotting boat. Angel was the principal of Haleiwa
of ‛notable deeds’. Or, as the writer Alex Wade, who has penned books
elementary school at the time and, in the words of
on both surfing and boxing, puts it: “Riding a wave is utterly pointless.”
big-wave pioneer Greg Noll, “The gutsiest surfer
But from this pointlessness has sprung an influential culture that spans
there ever was.” He was known to get up to some
the globe. Brad Melekian, one of the most decorated surf writers to ever
pretty wild things, like back-flipping off the lip
live and a Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of
of twenty-footers at Waimea for the hell of it. It
San Diego, calls surfing a “narrative culture” and makes the interesting
was said that he could free-dive to a depth of over
observation that it is principally conveyed by word of mouth. “Spend time
300-hundred feet. So there’s José, bobbing around
in a parking lot,” he says. “Surfers talk, a lot.” The ‛parking lot’ in question
is a place where the pragmatic duty of checking the surf takes place, but
exclaiming, ‘This is why surfing is super cool!’ rather than just telling an
also where ideas and experiences are exchanged and cultural memory is
interesting story. Which is weird. Because of course surfing is neat and all
created. This points to a characteristic almost unique in the postmodern
that, but can we hear some interesting stories?”
age: surf culture, along with all the other sporting cultures it has spawned
Surfing, after all, is just recreation. It may be recreation developed to a
have been, until very recently, visual and oral traditions, spreading and
very high level, but regardless of how amazing that feeling that ‛only a surfer
thriving in an essentially pre-modern way through the neo-folklore of
knows’ may be, describing it does not in itself equate to great literature.
hearsay, rumour, urban legend, boot-legged videos and tall tale.
As the writer Daniel Duane once wrote, talking about surfing “becomes
Oral culture is not always easily translated into the written word. Surfing
much like saying, ‘I masturbated today, and it felt great.’”
and its sister cultures have proven no different in this regard, as they are still
The non-surfer writing about surfing can be even worse, says Melekian.
struggling to produce their own solid literary canon. It has not been for lack
“The only well-reasoned explanation as to why no established fiction writer
of trying. The problem – with notable exceptions like Kem Nunn’s noire-ish
has turned his or her attention to surfing is that they’d be laughed off the
The Dogs of Winter, Tim Winton’s Breath, and Allan Weisbecker’s memoir,
beach. Turns out Tom Wolfe is a pretty good writer, white suits and all. He
In Search of Captain Zero – lies in a certain kitschiness of execution. “Trying
was able to write about fucking astronauts, but remember what happened
to explain why surfing is neat is an inherently masturbatory exercise,”
when he tried to write about some surfers at Windansea?”
says Melekian. “For some reason surfers, or surf writers, always feel the need to turn their writing into advocacy and always seem to be jubilantly
Melekian’s comments evoke an interesting dichotomy between surfers and “polite society” that is also highlighted by Jamie Brisick, a writer
and ex-pro surfer who sits uncomfortably on the border of both those
another author who talks about the physicality of writing – in his memoir,
worlds. “There has always been an ‛us versus them’ mentality that I would
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, he draws direct parallels
trace back to California in the 1950s and 1960s,” he says. “In that lineage,
between running a marathon and the long haul of writing a novel. They
surfers take a proprietary stance regarding surfing and surf culture – they
both require superhuman physical stamina and a willingness to take big
are suspicious of outsiders. For instance, if Surfer did a story on, say, Jeff
risks, and I think you could say the same about skateboarding/surfing.”
Hakman in the 1970s, Hakman would open up to a staff writer like Drew
As Wade points out, there have been a number of famous writers
Kampion because he trusted him, whereas an accomplished journalist
who were also fine sportsmen, if not professional, including Ernest
from a mainstream publication may never get the access. Surf journalism
Hemingway, Norman Mailer and Joe Simpson. All of these men drew
has traditionally been insider and incestuous – at times to a fault. Surf
on an insider’s knowledge of various sports to write convincingly about
journalists can lose their objectivity.”
them, but perhaps it would be overstating the case to say that each man
Wade, also points a finger at the sometimes complacent journalistic
was somehow moulded, or formed, by his chosen sport. Ex-pro skater
culture – “Many mags persist in pushing the cliché,” – but adds that there has
and writer Scott Bourne chafes at the idea, often put forward, that
been something a little cynical about the way surfing has often been co-opted
skateboarding produces skateboarders as opposed to the other way
by wider culture. “Hollywood and the marketers got there first. Surfing was
around. “The thing is that skateboarding came out of me, I didn’t come
hi-jacked many, many years ago. From Gidget onwards, surfing has been
out of it,” he says. “Skateboarding was just one way I chose to express
a celluloid staple – and always to represent a hedonistic abandonment of
myself at a young age just like now I express myself with my writing or
responsibility, not something lyrical and/or dramatic. I think preconceptions
about surfing deter serious writers from tackling it.”
His words remind us that there doesn’t need to be a great surf novel or
“In many ways the surfing world and the literary world are sort of
a great skate novel any more than there need be great novels about love,
polar opposites,” Brisick says. “The skill set cultivated from a life on the
war, race or religion. These things come from a writer; the writer does
waves is very different to the skill set necessary to write a great novel or
not come from them. “I don’t think colleges or creative writing courses
can produce good writers,” says Bourne. “In actuality I think they may
Exactly what this skill set entails is a matter of debate. The writer and
even destroy them. The only thing that makes anyone good at anything
skater Justin Hocking, who edited the essay collection Life and Limb:
is experience. Now what makes people write about their experiences is
skateboarders write from the deep end and is the current Director of the
a totally different question and I don’t have that answer.”
Independent Publishing Resource Center, believes that pursuing a sport
There is also a wider question regarding the compatibility of folklore
like surfing or skating can cross-pollinate with writing. As an example, he
and literature; it brings us back to the great José Angel. He didn’t need a
cites an essay by the long-time skater and Director of Creative Writing at
writer to create him. Indeed, a writer probably couldn’t have thought up
Harvard, Bret Anthony Johnston. “[Johnston] talks about how insanely
his like in a thousand years, much less put him in a book, published it and
difficult it is to learn something like a kickflip. It takes literally hundreds
distributed it all over the world. Angel’s path to story-book immortality
of failed attempts – which is exactly the kind of persistence it takes to
was much simpler, but in a way, much more complex. All it required was
successfully write, edit and revise sentences. It’s hard work and it demands
a man to live it, a few friends to tell it more or less how it happened and
an almost obsessive dedication,” Hocking says. “Haruki Marukami is
enough parking lots where idle chatter can somehow become lore
T w i s t s & T u r n s
O f T h e U n f o l d i n g L a n d s c a p e Te x t N i a l l N e e s o n Photography Lou Mora
P io neer ing s t r ee t s hr ed d er a nd imp r es s io nis t pa in t er Br i a n Lott i is s w i tc hing u p t he way w e s ee s k at e.
kateboarding history is littered with great
incredible.’ I remember thinking, ‘I think I can do this, I can’t
storytellers – pioneers who were driven to tell their
make it on a BMX but I think I can do it on a skateboard.’
own tale. At the age of forty-one, Brian Lotti has mastered the art of building narratives, whether
How do you feel about the ‘golden generation’ mantle given
he’s painting, filming or simply reminiscing. Rising
to the first street-skating pros? Is that overstating the era?
to notoriety in the late-1980s, alongside ‘golden
Well, maybe we really embraced it and made it our thing. I
generation’ stalwarts like Matt Hensley and Jason
mean, at the end of the day the Bones Brigade guys all went
Lee, Lotti saw skateboarding morph – as every
back to the ramp to do their handplants and airs; we never had
every cultural movement can only ever do once – from an
ramps. All I had was fucking... parking lots and shit. We were
activity into a nascent art form.
looking at people like Chris Miller doing backside lipslides on
His seminal segment in Planet Earth’s classic 1991 video
a vert ramp and thinking, ‛How could I do that on a bench?’
Now ‘N’ Later is still cited over twenty summers later as a
That was what was really important to us, to take what those
defining point in the genesis of skateboarding. “Not only
guys were doing but be able to do it in a schoolyard.
did he innovate, but he made it look amazing,” says modern keeper-of-the-flame and Enjoi founder Marc Johnson in ON
What happened on the day you decided to get off the hamster
Video’s Why Style Matters.
wheel of pro skating. Was it a single event or a series of small
After Now ‘N’ Later spread his lore around the world, Lotti
things? It was a series of small things... a series of injuries, first
joined Blind Skateboards, which back then was a hothouse
of all; broke my foot, broke my thumb, broke my shoulder and I
of technical progression. Then suddenly, at the peak of his
really wanted to film something comparable [to Now ‘N’ Later],
powers, Lotti vanished without trace. He eventually surfaced
you know, but with the Blind guys. So I kept getting held back
in a Buddhist retreat in Hawaii where he dabbled with painting
from filming and at the same time I was still going to college,
and sought an alternative perspective on life.
getting into photography and art, so I think my interest was
And like all great enigmas, he kept on popping up. In July
changing. There was a certain frustration building as well
2007, at a bar in downtown Madrid, I’m waiting for a ride
until I got to a point where I just thought, ‘Fuck, it would be
across Spain with a team of skateboarders and someone
kinda rad to just make a clean break.’ There really wasn’t
phones ahead to say Brian Lotti is with them scouting locations
that much pressure from the outside, I just wanted to make
for a film, which would later become Free Pegasus.
a change and move ahead in my life, and I didn’t feel like I
We meet at a plaza off the historic Gran Via where the
could do it in skateboarding.
professionals among the group are warming up before filming. Lotti starts skating around the periphery and within
And so to Hawaii... Yeah [exhales]. So I quit pro skating, got
minutes all eyes are transfixed. Everyone sits down. French
into painting and art, and I had this kind of... existential
pro Thibaud Fradin leans over and says, “It’s not every day
quandary. I was reading all these philosophy books, trying
you get a masterclass.”
to go back to school and to get something going and maybe
It was the start of a remarkable renaissance for Lotti.
what happened was I just started waking up to how much
Today, from his garage studio in Los Angeles, Lotti runs a
suffering there was in the world now that I was outside of this
creative hub that spans graphic design, film, painting and
nice comfortable bubble of being a professional skateboarder.
animation. Former studio-mate of Shepard Fairey, collaborator
Anyways, I discovered Zen Buddhism and meditation, met
with Beck, the prodigiously productive watercolourist has
some different people and ended up going to Hawaii to study
rekindled his love of skateboarding and is representing its
at a Zen centre there.
highest expressions in spheres and mediums all his own. His most recent video, Blue Line, dropped November last year
From an outsider’s point of view, we didn’t see much from
to a roar of approval from the shred pack. And he's already
you until your dreamlike directorial debut, 1st and Hope. It
working on it’s next iteration, a full-length project he’s calling
divided opinion – some thought it heralded a new aesthetic,
Mountain to Sea. But Lotti is only just getting started.
others thought it was too dreamy for the skateboarding world... You always look back and want to change things
Let’s go back to the beginning. When did you become
sometimes. If I went back to it now I would structure it
interested in skateboarding and art? My dad was in the US
differently with some more intense passages. The new project
Military, he was an Air Force pilot, and we moved around
[Mountains to Sea] will have more peaks and valleys and be a
a lot. I remember we were living in Salt Lake City, Utah. I
more rounded production. I certainly hope we can get some
didn’t have a lot of friends there. I got really into riding and
freaky projects going this coming year... I think there is a
racing BMX bikes, but that wasn’t that much fun. When BMX
lot of potential for pushing the boundaries of how skating
freestyle came around I was drawn to it because you could do
is represented. You know, music, filmmaking, art, they all
it anywhere, by your own rules and standards. Then somehow
have so much in common. There’s a ton of opportunities to
I saw one of the first Powell Peralta videos, The Bones Brigade
make fresh presentations of skateboarding that are not just
Video Show, and I just thought, ‘Fuuuck man! This is fucking
You’ve said that you
seems undiluted now...
think of Blue Line
Absolutely. I am a total
as kind of a sketch
fan of skateboarding.
for a bigger project,
I’m a total fan of
Mountains To Sea. Can
you tell us a bit more
I guess that’s it.
about your vision for that? For a while now
Who do you like in
I’ve been imagining a
film that takes viewers
Oh man... who is
on a journey from the
ripping right now?
mountains to the sea.
Mark Suciu is really
Something akin to
fun to watch. Guys
the scientific tone of
like Chima Ferguson
Charles Eame’s short
and Dennis Busenitz.
film, Powers of Ten, but
Dennis Busenitz is
always spontaneous. He is a real treat. Lucas Puig, Silas Baxter-Neal, Dylan Rieder.
as the vehicle and set to music a little more charged like Daft Punk. The big idea has really been to involve a lot of skateboarders across
You could drop any of them in at any point in skateboarding’s
the board, and use the twists and turns of the unfolding
history and they would still be standouts. Imagine this: it’s
landscape to make novel and eclectic presentations of the
the NSA street contest in Phoenix in 1987, and Neil Blender
many approaches to skating: downhill, pool, block, bank,
is drawing on the sides of quarterpipes, Lance [Mountain] is
school, street, city, park and beach skating. A handful of
doing long boardslides and Eric Dressen is tearing around
rad little sessions that continue to empty out to more
the course. Imagine Dennis Busenitz just appears in there –
journeying toward the sea.
twenty-five-foot-long backside tailslides; imagine that. Do you think of your work in terms of narrative – stories that Your peers in the LA art scene like Dave Kinsey and Shepard
resonate beyond skateboarding? In the dream of dreams, yes.
Fairey have enjoyed great success within the world of street
It’d be rad to include bicyclists, motorcyclists, truck drivers and
art, but you’re more of a ‘fine artist’... Yeah for sure. It’s funny
train operators to a slight extent – and make the inference that
because with the stuff I do, it’s kind of like I’m one of the
all these folks including skateboarders are the new natives.
outsiders here now. Street art is like the main entree in the art
The new Indians. People whose lives are defined by their
world so with easel painting, landscape painting on an easel,
relationship with the greater landscape.
people are like, ‘Woah dude.’ […] My natural response to a lot of situations is to paint impressionistically, immediately. Whether
Skateboarding, like art, is a language. What makes it
from a photo or just being there, I try to get it down all at once.
effective?Freedom is contagious. At a certain age, most young children are spellbound when they first see someone
You produced a lot of watercolours from Spain during the
rolling effortlessly down the street – boy or girl. Urban
making of your second film, Free Pegasus, and you have
environments are essentially the same the world over, and
referred to the ‘romance’ of the land. Is Barcelona romantic,
the ‛moves’ of skateboarding can be learned entirely through
despite its reputation as a pickpocketing hotspot? That’s
mimicry and imagination. Skateboarding is visual, and the
a good question – it’s absolutely both. From an aesthetic
recurring joy is in learning and doing what one has seen done.
standpoint it’s an incredible city what with the old-world
Some get to the point where they can see what hasn’t been
architecture and this new kind of modern design vibe – Gaudi
done yet and do that. This is the turning magic.
was popping mushrooms and building these archways to the heavens. And there’s a lot of hot chicks and people from all
Are we likely to see any exhibitions of your work here in
over Europe so it’s a good place to get it on. I had so many
Europe any time soon? I’m collecting together a motley body
positive experiences painting in the streets there; it’s not like
of work that I would like to exhibit here [in LA] and maybe
downtown LA, I’ve been kicked out of so many places here.
a show or shows in Europe, too, I think that’d be a blast. I’d love to get back to paint more, too.
Was there a specific story you wanted to tell with Blue Line? It’s a session-based film. We’re trying to present a slice of
Are you excited about the prospect of tomorrow? I am excited,
skateboarding now – a real, raw, sick picture of skateboarding
but I’m not content. I feel like I would like to weave all the
as we know it today – so it has banks and pools as well as street
predilections and interests I’ve had and stitch them together
and ditches and so on. For those of us living here in California
more tightly. I feel like I’ve been on my own for a little bit, doing
there is so much good skateboarding going on, but most of
my thing, but now I want to get my work out there and I’d like to
the output is brand videos and so the kind of skating people
engage the outside world a little bit more. A lot more, actually
see comes through these narrow pigeonholes and we want to make a film which is more, sort of, everything.
First st in in SURFING S SU URFING NEWS NEWS First
www.surfersvillage.com Rider: Tim Boal / Photo: Agustin Munoz/Red Bull Photofiles / Design: ID
1. Treasure your independence You know you won’t get rich, so why are you doing this? You might feel you have something to say, or you might just want to create something beautiful. Your cause is noble and I wish you luck. Those friends of yours that work on mags run by corporate publishers – ask them what they can’t get away with. That’s your bread and butter. Advertisers associate themselves with reputation and decent circulation, and you get reputation and decent circulation by being risky, original and honest. You don’t need to stick LOL cats on your website to get traffic. Grit sells! The second most read story on The Stool Pigeon site in 2012 Phil Hebblethwaite
was a long, knotty investigation into the rotten business practices of a festival/gig promoter called All Tomorrow’s Parties (first was a Krent Able comic that went nuts after it ended up on Reddit). For a number of different reasons, no other music mag would have run the ATP story
Counsel For The Young Indie Publisher
and our following issue became the highest grossing in our history. Everyone thought the opposite would happen – that we’d alienate our advertisers. Not so. The most-read piece ever was published just before we closed: it was both an epitaph and a kind of snarky summation of what we’d learned about music writing, by Alex Denney, titled ‘The Stool Pigeon Guide To Music Journalist Bullshit.’
Honest tips and jaded insights from The Sto ol Pigeon grave, resting place of a music newspaper that was fiercely independent to the end.
And therein lies another important lesson… 2. Be funny I can’t stress this enough. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the only chance you have of making your mag a success is by being funny. It’s not easy, but here’s the good news: there are tricks you can play in this field.
Illustration Joe Wilson
If only fifteen per cent of what you produce is funny, people will still think that your magazine, in general, is funny.
n early 2005, I teamed up with graphic
One of my favourite musicians to interview is
As a bare minimum, you only need one funny
designer Mickey Gibbons and launched
Chilly Gonzales, the Canadian pianist/producer/
writer. Finding someone who can write crisp,
a bi-monthly free music newspaper called
rapper who has spent much of his professional
amusing copy is extremely difficult. Hunt high
The Stool Pigeon. On February 6 this year,
life in various European cities. He imparts so
and low and when you think you’ve got someone,
we shut up shop. We hadn’t gone bust, but we were
much wisdom when you talk to him that we
give them as much of the mag to write as they
exhausted and it felt like the right time to stop.
once decided to do an interview based solely
can handle. We were lucky: we had a few writers
“We’re closing ourselves down. Thanks for
around him offering advice to younger artists. It
who were funny, but mostly we had Jeremy Allen
being a reader,” we tweeted and, right before we
was called ‘Counsel For The Modern Musician’
– and Jeremy Allen is a very funny writer.
did, I turned to our online editor, Alex Denney,
and he began with: “Quit music. There needs to
and said that only two possible responses would
be fewer musicians.”
To my great surprise, last year I was headhunted for the position of editor at NME
I’m in a reflective mood while I close down
after Krissi Murison announced she was
1. A total tumbleweed moment, followed by
The Stool Pigeon and what follows is my attempt
leaving her post. I greatly enjoyed the two
an enormous sense of relief that we’d finally
at counsel for young, independent publishers.
interviews I ended up having (wasn’t offered
quit and, my God, how did we not realise that
the job, mind), particularly this exchange with
no one cared?!
Steve Sutherland, bulldog former editor, now
2. An outpouring of affection for a title that was resolutely independent and determinedly on the side of its readers.
editorial director: Sutherland: “It’s almost impossible to be funny. How does The Stool Pigeon manage it?”
I don’t mind telling you that five minutes
Me: “We have one main funny writer, so he
after we fired out that tweet I burst into tears,
comes up with nearly all the funny stuff under
and it was because of response number two.
a bunch of assumed names and characters.”
Sutherland: “Aaaaaah! I can’t fucking believe I didn’t realise that. Of course. Aaaaaah!”
Pitchfork, such as their ‘Cover Story’ feature –
feel beefy, and that’s so essential.
an occasional homepage takeover that marries
Tina Brown is a Brit-in-New-York magazine
Final point on this matter – a quote from
original photography with long-form writing
genius (CV: former Vanity Fair and New Yorker
Oscar Wilde: “If you want to tell people the truth,
and breaks every web rule by looking like the
editor, now boss of The Daily Beast) and she
make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
pages of a beautifully designed mag.
perfectly understands what I’m talking about.
I’m sure he runs his cover stories because
Quote from a recent New York Magazine
3. Steal furiously
he’s envious of something print people must
interview: “...there’s something about the way
If you don’t know about magazines and
celebrate: the great sense of occasion that comes
a magazine looks and feels when it doesn’t have
newspapers, and you’re not particularly
from printing a magazine, which is dampened
advertising that is unbelievably disappointing,
interested in their history, you won’t be able
by the high-paced, linear nature of the internet.
both as an editor and as a writer. [Single
to make a good one yourself. If, like me, you’re
If there’s no sense of occasion when every issue
editorial] pages are not meant to be adjacent to
a journalist who started a newspaper, you
of your mag comes out, you really need to think
one another. They need the advertising to give
must get very interested in other newspapers/
again about what you are doing – and why.
it body and fullness.”
magazines very quickly. Then it’s your duty to
But don’t get me wrong on this…
steal furiously from them. All the best ideas in
5. Learn to stop worrying and love the internet
The Stool Pigeon were in someway transposed
The internet is a beautiful thing that can
8. Never allow collusion between ads and editorial
from elsewhere, even if that was something as
do nothing but complement your beautiful
Ads are ads; editorial is editorial. Never the
simple as thinking, “Hmmm, there’s a wonderful
magazine. Don’t be a dork – spend as much time
twain shall meet, and you instantly destroy your
heritage of printing comics on newsprint… we
(much more, in most cases) on your site as you
credibility if you mess with this most sacred rule.
should start a comics section.”
do on your mag. Your site and social networks
Copy published to brownnose advertisers, which
Be creative when you pillage and get over your
are the biggest adverts for your printed version.
is called ‘advertorial’ in its most grotesque form,
Let them make gorgeous music together, doing
is the curse of modern journalism and it goes on
fixation. If you must take inspiration from a
what each one does best. I was a dork – I kept
pretty much across the board. Regarding my
‘new journalist’, choose Gay Talese. But you’re a
the balance of The Stool Pigeon tipped in the
hardnosed attitude to this, I’m constantly told
publisher now, so find yourself a publishing hero.
direction of print for too long, and it became
that I’m out-of-date and, increasingly, readers
Mine is William M. Gaines of Mad magazine and
my fatal error.
neither notice or care if there’s a little bit of funny
EC Comics fame, and if you’re serious about
business going on somewhere in a magazine. All
being a credible indie publisher, I’d recommend
the more reason for you to take a stand against
closely studying Frank Jacob’s biography of the
it and become a leader, not a sucker.
big man, The Mad World of William M. Gaines.
That said, corporate money (£10,000 from Levi’s) got us off the ground. We agreed to feature
4. Celebrate the sense of occasion
a band that was part of their ‘Levi’s Ones To
Once you’ve launched your own magazine, a
Watch’ programme in each of our first four
lot of students will want to interview you and
issues, and they placed a postage stamp-sized
you’ll find there’s one point in particular that
logo on that page. However, Levi’s contractually
they seldom grasp: you can’t generalise about
had no copy/photographic/design approval,
print media and its supposed death. What we
we had already planned to cover many of the
did (print almost 60,000 copies of a very niche
bands they were working with, and when they
title six times a year) and what a daily newspaper
wanted more control after our first four issues,
does (print more copies than our entire annual
6. Never retweet a compliment
run every day of the year) are entirely different
There’s a special place reserved in hell for
things, and I think that being niche is actually
anyone that retweets a compliment. Have some
9. Be extremely cautious of anyone who uses
the key to survival. In that respect, print media
dignity, for fuck’s sake.
the word ‘solidarity’
we walked away.
Unless you implicitly make an agreement to
folk have the internet to thank. 7. Adverts maketh the magazine
cooperate with other people (and sharing
with extreme smugness, on the demise of print.
They bring in the money, but there’s a finer point
resources in your early days can be a good
Ignore them – they are clueless to the many
here: generally speaking, online advertising
idea), there’s no solidarity in independent
deep pleasures involved in making a magazine.
winds people up. We’ve trained our brains to
publishing – only competition and survival.
It’s so rare, in fact, to hear an internet boffin
ignore ads if they’re placed in regular leaderboard
And in the wider world of your magazine (for
say anything sensible about print media that
or MPU positions, so (foolish) marketeers are
us that meant the music business), people only
it's worth quoting them as and when they do.
constantly coming up with new ways to bully us
use the word ‘solidarity’ if they’re trying to
Over then to Ryan Schreiber, the brains behind
into paying attention. They make ads slip across
prevent you from publishing an article that’s
Pitchfork: “I think if you’re going to be able to
editorial when you don’t want them to, shout at
not in their interest, or they can’t pay you.
do a print publication that works in 2013, it
you, constantly hover around whatever section
Solidarity, my arse!
has to really take advantage of that format,
of text you’re reading, etc.
Online evangelists often pontificate, usually
and the things that that format offers that are
In The Stool Pigeon, the advertising
much more difficult to execute on the web are
worked perfectly with the editorial. Relevant
The world is yours if you have a brilliant idea, so
having really expansive, beautiful layouts for
independent record labels and promoters bought
don’t let bitter old hacks like me get you down.
your articles and features, and making it feel
space and they made good-looking, informative
These are exhilarating, not depressing, times
like a desirable object.”
pages that complemented our reporting. The
for publishing. Get excited and rise as the tired,
He’s right, and it’s interesting to see Schreiber
ads, in other words, were a service to the reader,
established models crumble. Then, as Gonzales
experimenting with very magazine-like ideas on
too. More than that, they made The Stool Pigeon
always says, “If you make it, be grateful.”
10. Get excited
The WORKING ARTISANS' Club ome people are built to create – to shape their future with their own two hands. The Working Artisan’s Club is a celebration of that fact. Over the course of this year, HUCK will meet the craftsmen and women who choose to live life the artisanal way. They shape boards, sew suits and build beautiful objects inspired by their passion for the outdoors. And they make life better for us all. In 1952, with a needle and thread in one hand and eyes firmly on the surf, Jack O’Neill invented the wetsuit, just so that he could stay out in the water longer. His simple ambition led to an extraordinary future, both for himself and the surfing world as a whole. The Working Artisan’s Club is the next chapter of that story. It’s about the makers of today and the future that they’re shaping.
The Working Artisan’s Club is a week-long exhibition that opens at 71a Leonard Street, London, September 2013. Look out for Part II and III in the next issues of HUCK.
P r o f i l e N o .
Satta Skates In a hidden corner of South London, Joe Lauder is hand-shaping his own Zennish little Dogtown. Text Andrea Kurland Photography Adrian Morris
oe Lauder is hauling a man-sized plank of wood through floor-to-ceiling glass studio doors. The sun is streaming in, catching a glitter-cloud of dust that mingles for a moment with the snowflakes outside. Down the road, Brixton is bustling to the beat of progress. Teens bedazzled in plastic jewels bop in and out of a cube-shaped TopShop where tailors, butchers and bootmakers once stood. It’s a world away from the oasis of calm inside Studio Satta, a live-andwork woodshop where custom-shaped worktops and a simple futon stand for everything Joe needs to get by. “I just don’t get it,” says Joe, stirring soy milk into tea. “There’s so much stuff everywhere, you can just chuck some paper at it and get it, but people don’t realise they can make their own stuff. And when you do, it gives you more of a voice, a way to express yourself more clearly.” In an hour or so, Joe will transform the giant plank of wood into a light-box for the woman who lives upstairs – “She sews labels into my hats, and I do woodwork in return,” – then he’ll either shape a custom skateboard, build a pagoda for a posh garden down the road or get to work on a new homeware collection –
chopping boards and vases with tropical orange and turquoise
“whatever I did, I wanted to work with nature. It seemed
painted tips – which he’ll put out this summer with his friends at
futile not to.” Laying decking led to a love affair with wood
streetwear label COPSON ST, just one of the many kindred-spirit
and soon his clients were asking for tables and bookcases
passion projects skateboarding has brought into his life.
that matched the stripped-back aesthetic of their Zennish
“I’ve just been blown away since I started skating,” says the twenty-four-year-old, who bought his first skateboard
backyards. In November 2012, Satta Skates was born, closing the circle on all the things that make Joe, Joe.
in Melbourne in 2007 as a way to get to work across the
“It was kind of a bringing-together of my
hilly city. “The people that I’ve met through skating are
woodworking skills and my love of the roots of
all doing artistic things, all at the forefront of whatever
skateboarding, to be able to make the first boards
they’re doing. It just seems to kinda attract outsiders,
that came out from surfing and led to skateboarding,”
people who seek refuge in that meditative practice where it’s
says Joe, sanding a pintail board that looks straight out of
just them and the board. And they go on to do great things.
Dogtown. “It’s about being able to see a piece of wood that’s
It’s like magic.”
nothing – it’s just a piece of wood – and then at the end of me
Skateboards, gardens and high-end furniture may seem
working on it, it’s a skateboard. Someone can have hours
like separate threads, but with Joe at the centre, the Satta
and hours and days and months of fun on it, or like a whole
tapestry makes sense. Studio Satta started out as a garden
summer or a year. They’ll have a story with it and it becomes
design-and-build practice that allowed Joe to fend for himself
theirs. That’s the magical thing for me – being able to make
when he left home at seventeen. After spending a month in
something that’s fun for someone to use.”
the Amazon jungle, living with a shaman and learning about the rainforest’s medicinal ways, he came home knowing that
Joe grew up not far from here but he came of age in an entirely different place. At fourteen, as an “angsty annoying
“The craftsman has to stand up and say, ‘I’m making stuff which is the same or better quality than what you’re going to buy from a massproduced factory.’” teenager,” his mum sent him to stay with family in Sligo, on the northwest coast of Ireland, for a little time-out. He sulked the whole way there. But the warmth of the coldwater,
been quietly blowing up. Clearly Joe and his friends – “who
sleepy surf town soon washed over him. “I was like, ‘I don’t
all ride weird-shaped boards” – aren’t the only ones trading
want to go to Ireland!’ but everyone was just so nice,” he says
off-the-shelf popsicles for something custom-made. To Joe, it
slowly, as if crafting each word. “I wasn’t used to that – to
makes sense. Surfers, after all, have been doing this for years.
people just being alright with me and it just kind of opened
“I’d love to take the role of a surfboard shaper,” he says, “and
things up. My cousin took me out surfing and I just loved it.
have people say what shape they’re looking for, then make the
I remember falling asleep and feeling like I was in the swell,
board for them. If you’re thinking about your board and how
just going up and down.”
you like to ride it, then you know exactly what you want from
If surfing was Joe’s antidote to angst, travelling helped him find direction. The places he’s been – “Zen gardens in Asia,
it. There isn’t any culture of individual skateboard shaping – I find that really strange.”
Hindu and Buddhist retreats in Tibet and Nepal, all these
But it’s not just skateboarding that could benefit from
beautiful places of reflection,” – have seeped into his craft
a two-way exchange. Having a say in the things we buy
and outlook on life, both of which seem stripped of excess.
and understanding where they come from is, for Joe, the key
“I love japanese woodworking, which is very minimal,” says Joe. “The joints they use are mind-blowing - it’s about conserving
to a strong community. It’s written in his mantra: ‘Deep Roots Stand Firm.’
as much energy as possible. I was thinking about this while
“With the money problems of the world, people think
watching a documentary on permaculture, which is about using
more about what they spend their money on,” says Joe. “And
as little energy as possible to reap as much as possible from the
that’s where the craftsman has to sort of stand up and say, ‘I’m
land. That ties in for me through my yoga practice – conserving
making stuff which is the same or better quality than what
my energy to work as efficiently as possible. In terms of furniture
you’re going to buy from a mass-produced factory. You can have
design, I love stuff that is simple but striking. It doesn’t need to
a relationship with me and we can make this thing together
be fussy when you’re working with natural materials. Whenever
so it can be exactly how you want it. You’ll be involved in the
I’ve bought a skateboard, I’ve always sanded back the graphic.
process of it coming into creation. I live in your community,
With Satta, I keep the artwork simple so that people appreciate
so support me and it works!’ It just makes sense: to make my
it’s just a piece of wood that they’re making their own fun with.”
own stuff, and for my friends and family. To support each other
In the few short months since launching, Satta Skates has
on a more community-based level. Because, well, why not?”
P r o f i l e N o .
Neon Wetsuits Elsie Pinniger handmakes wetsuits to keep herself looking fly and free to surf whenever she wants. Text Shelley Jones Photography Adrian Morris
lsie Pinniger is a wee bit jet-lagged after flying back from Australia a couple of days ago. It’s a drizzly mid-March morning in Cornwall and although she didn’t manage to smuggle the sun back in her board bag, she’s already started spinning up summer in her beachside studio in Newquay. Diamond-cut panels of candy-coloured neoprene are scattered across gluing tables next to Willy Wonka-style machines that do things like ‘blindstitch’, ‘flatlock’ and ‘bartack’. The high-waisted wetsuit pants and bodycon swimsuits she’s crafting for her company Neon Wetsuits will soon be shipped out to eager surfers around the world. But Elsie never really had ambitions beyond her homebreak. “I just designed a suit that I wanted to wear,” remembers the blonde-haired, blue-eyed longboarder, now thirty-two. “People saw them in the sea and kept asking me for them, so I started making the odd one.” Under the guidance of Paul Chambers of Bodyline, a local custom-wetsuit company, Elsie spent a couple of years honing her skills and eventually founded Neon Wetsuits in 2007. “I’ve been really lucky that it’s developed really organically,” says
Elsie, who makes suits for guys and girls all shapes and sizes.
makes me pick things up a bit quicker,” muses Elsie. “These
“Every time I’ve done something it’s been really well received
days, every time we can’t do something or something takes
and things have just been constantly moving. If I’d done this
too long we find a machine that can do it quicker. So going
and no one was interested I would’ve definitely stopped and
back to doing things by hand, in the long run, is better. I think
done something else. I don’t like flogging a dead horse.”
we’re all learning that technology isn’t the be all and end all.
With her designs Elsie marries a sort of 1950s Gidget surf
up in giving all our manufacturing to the East, but
top-of-the-range double-lined neoprene for what she
sometimes it’s just too late isn’t it? Once you’ve sold
calls “that classic little black dress thing”. “Wetsuits
everything and no one knows how to make anything
in the industry have to try and be one step ahead of
anymore... Having the choice just to make something
each other with technology, but I’m less interested in that,” says Elsie. “I mean the materials are important, but
It breaks and I think we all realise that we kind of screwed
style with more contemporary colours, patterns and
yourself is amazing.” Elsie has kept Neon small. She’s been the only employee up
I just wanted to make things a bit simpler. I guess if you’ve
to now, although she hopes to hire someone else this year, and
got less function there’s less to go wrong.”
runs a made-to-order game so she’s never left with loads of
She sources her neoprene from Sheico in Taiwan as there
stock to shift. “There’s always a market for everyone,” insists
are currently no options to buy more locally in Europe, but
Elsie. “My percentage of the industry is miniscule, but I only
every suit is handmade to measure in her studio and she takes
want a miniscule percentage of the industry for me to survive
pains to make sure the quality is always super-high. “I get
and I think that makes me slightly more recession-proof...
annoyed when I can’t do something very well so maybe that
It’s really hard if you want to be big and make hundreds of
“I don’t want to be the next big thing. I just want to be part of an industry that is consistent.” thousands of product, especially in an industry that is quite fickle. You might be flavour of the month and you might invest a lot to meet a demand that’s suddenly created and then if it goes you’re a bit scuppered. So, keeping things a little bit real is important. Just doing what’s within your means... It’s much better just to keep your own vision and have fun with it and keep it fresh for you.” Cornwall is no California but Elsie thinks that might be just the reason it has such a healthy maker culture. “There’s definitely a really strong just-get-on-and-do-it attitude,” says Elsie. “Your options are so limited with work here that if you’re creative and quite driven and you want to do more, you have to just get on and do it yourself and create a job. I mean, just seeing other people doing it inspires you to get on and do it yourself, too.”
Elsie’s love of surfing has always pushed her – from spending summers chasing waves and working as a lifeguard
Plus, when there’s surf on the unpredictable-but-
to running her own business despite long hours and her self-
sometimes-gnarly Cornwall coast, everyone wants to drop
proclaimed bad organisational skills. But she’s inspired by
pens and hit the beach. “People definitely just wanna be
individuals, too. “I get inspired by people who don’t limit
able to go surfing when they want and not work all day – so
themselves,” she says. “I think it’s really sad when people
they make it happen!” laughs Elsie, who usually longboards
don’t have much confidence. People who are really fearless
a traditional single-fin. “I mean, I’d really struggle to go
at having a go at things; that inspires me. Yeah, you can
back to working for someone else now because when the
get a bit trapped in the whole having-to-do-well thing, and
surf ’s good I can be really flexible work-wise. I do honestly
conforming to that, but I’m inspired by people who go out
think that people who love surfing might have more of a
on a limb to do things which make them happy.”
connection with creativity, too... Anyone who knows how
The future looks pearly for Neon Wetsuits. Elsie’s launching
to surf knows how hard it is. You have to have quite an
a new website soon and just finishing her first orders for select
addictive personality and that’s the same with creative
stores in Australia, but she’s staying way away from the rat
stuff, too – whether it’s drawing or whatever. You sit down
race and all the crap that comes with it. “I don’t want to be
and the hours go by and you’re not really aware of it. With
the next big thing,” says Elsie, pretty refreshingly. “I just want
surfing, you can just be in the sea and not really thinking
to be part of the industry that is consistent and constant and
about anything else, you’re just in the moment, enjoying
is just always there... I just want to enjoy my life and create
what you’re doing.”
opportunities to go and have fun and do cool stuff.”
Buck t he r a ce! Bic ycle g u r u Gr a nt Pe ter s en i s f l ip pi n g t he m idd le f i n ger at r ac i n g c u lt u r e a nd r e v iv i n g t he lo st a r t of c ycl i n g for f u n .
cultural DNA – is common to many outdoor lifestyles, especially the socalled ‘extreme’ sports that we’re more familiar with, like skateboarding and surfing. What impact does that cult of celebrity have on the average Joe? You know, I’ve never been able to figure that out, how it happens that some people get so wound up in copying and others don’t. It’s the same people who wear those gigantic ‘Number One’ foam hands and waggle them at the cameras while making goofy faces... I don’t mean to say it’s wrong or dumb, just that I don’t get it, and so I have a hard time relating to it...
Interview Tetsuhiko Endo I l l u s t r a t i o n St e v i e G e e
although I’ve been thinking more about it lately. […] I think it goes something like this: there is survival value in an infant pleasing its parents, and the pleasing can take many forms. As the child matures and is in transition between being dependent and independent, they look for other role models,
ou might have heard about a little drug scandal in professional
sometimes healthy ones and sometimes not, but always a bit older, though
bicycle racing. But while the masses paused to analyse Lance
not ‘parents-old’. If you’re a young adult, you may want to copy sports or
Armstrong’s tearful confessions, one man simply shrugged
pop culture entertainment heroes in their twenties and thirties – the age of
and kept on pedalling. Grant Petersen is a bicycle designer
physical peak and fame for athletes and pop entertainers, for the most part.
who has worked in the professional and recreational side of the industry
But then as the child becomes middle-aged and older, the ‘hero worship’ of
for over thirty years. In 1994, when his then employer Bridgestone closed
that twenty-to-forty age group continues.
their US offices, Petersen started Rivendell Bikes. His ethos was simple:
We don’t model our ways on the grey-haired and decrepit. In bike riding,
to make bikes for people who didn’t need to be at the front of the peloton.
we look at pro racers and think we can fend off old age by dressing and riding
In other words, bikes for us. Last year he went a step further and preached
like them, and it’s confusing because riding is healthy, so there is some truth
the gospel of recreational cycling in his book, Just Ride, in which his goal
in it, but riding long and hard like that is unhealthy and unnatural, so there
was to “point out what I see as bike racing’s bad influence on bicycles,
are also a lot of lies. The thing is, there are no famous recreational riders
equipment and attitudes, and then undo it.” You couldn’t accuse the guy
or bike commuters or ambling tourists to emulate. So, why copy anybody?
of being unambitious. But then, when Dave Eggers reviews your book for
Why care what any other rider rides or wears or does? It's nutty, and the
The New York Times and calls it “a wonderfully sane, down to earth and
point I make in Just Ride – the reason I even wrote it – was to point out the
frequently funny guide to riding, maintaining, fixing and enjoying your
dumb folly in following racerly ways.
bicycle,” why bother with self doubt? What was your take on the whole Lance Armstrong debacle? I was never What is it about racing culture’s influence on recreational cycling that
personally affected by Lance’s lies, and I feel sorry for those who were, but
you’re so against? The clothing, equipment and intensity. Otherwise-normal
I’m not on the 'Hate Lance' bandwagon, either. Modern pro bike racing
adults are like kids looking at pro racers as adult role models, wanting to be
is a brutal, physiologically unnatural and unhealthy sport that stresses
like them and believing that, ‘Hey, if BW [Bradley Wiggins] rides spandex
a body far beyond what’s healthy, and calls the winners heroes and role
shorts with a cream-slathered chamois for his ninety-mile rides, I’m going
models. You have to be naïve – which isn’t a crime — to expect all of that
to benefit from the same thing on my two-to-thirty mile rides.’ It’s not so.
speed and glory to come in a bottle of water and strength of will. Lance’s
[...] The clothing has an insidious effect. It’s not just function. It affects
job was racing, and during the years he raced, doping was a requirement
your attitude on the bike, too. It’s what I call, ‘The uniform effect,’ which
for success against other dopers. […]
just acknowledges that the clothing you wear affects your behaviour and
I’m as weak as the next guy in the way some deep part of me likes to see
attitudes. If you wear leather and chains and big old boots, you tend to
the cocky champs fall. On top of that, I think racing’s influence – of which
walk around like a bad boy... [So if you] dress like a racer you tend to ride
Lance was the master of selling – has sent a lot of sincere, middle-aged, racing
like one... The racing bike is just an extension of the clothing. We’ve all
wannabes down a path that’s bound to fail them. All racers in the Tour de
heard the expression, ‘To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a
France (which I refer to as BORAF – Big Old Race Around France – since
nail.’ Well, to a man or woman on a racing bike, every ride tends to have
it’s no tour) have exceptional genes, top coaching, the raciest equipment,
an intensity it wouldn’t have if the bike were more humble. So in that way,
but their job is to perform feats of endurance that the human body wasn’t
racing clothing and racing bikes make it difficult, even unnatural, to enjoy
made for. So it’s no surprise that drug use among pros has reached the point
a bike ride – to go casual.
where it’s no longer a matter of gaining an edge, but of levelling the playing field – as Lance said in his curiously abridged definition of ‘cheating’.
So, for someone who wants to get into biking, what is a good mindset to approach it with? Hmmm. Well, I think ‘mindsets’ aren’t all that easy to
What does the future hold for you and your bikes? I have a nascent plan –
change, not when there are all these ‘go faster, harder, longer, sweat more,
more like a fantasy at this stage, but I have a plan on paper, at least – to bring
survive the brutal ride, you hero’ messages coming at us. I think maybe with
together capable Taiwan parts makers into a cooperative Unibrand today,
the recent happenings, or de-happening, in the racing world, maybe there
the way SunTour was in its heyday. But its focus would be practical use,
will be a groundswell of anti-racing – or as I call it, unracing. I think it has
not racing. To even say it like that makes me sound megalomaniacal, but
to be triggered by an event, because things left alone to drift in the wind
that’s not exactly true. So much of what passes as innovation and progress
always seem to pick a lousy wind to drift with. Racing’s like the predator
is driven by the needs of bike and parts makers to continue to sell new stuff
that doesn’t leave any meat for the scavengers. It does take over, and it does
to people who bought new stuff four years ago that’s perfectly good. They
tend to wreck things. It’s not just bike racing; all competition does that. [...]
innovate out of panic, but under the banner of striving for excellence and
The world culture idolises sports heroes, and the ones idolised are the rich
improving the lives of cyclists. [But] in trying to make something two per
and famous pros, and so often now taking drugs is just levelling the playing
cent better for the racer – including people who pretend to be racers – they
field. Screw that, though. Get off that field altogether.
make it worse or wackier for the normal rider
The ‘trickle down’ model of consumer culture – which sees pros used to advertise products, habits, and lifestyles that then become part of the
Just Ride, by Grant Petersen, is published by Workman.
Defenders of print
The Oakland-based anarchists are calling shit on capitalism through the power of print.
A ri el Z am be li ch
indie publishers 50 HUCK
Oakland was incredibly facilitated and augmented by the internet. If I wanted to know if I could attend a particular protest I would go to Twitter. [...] On Facebook people were trading news articles and things. [...] So you can’t deny the importance of the virtual effect of all this stuff. But Occupy Oakland would not have been Occupy Oakland without the real, physical world aspect of it. And the other interesting thing about most of the movements was that the first thing that these camps did across the country was set up libraries.” From the political pamphlet culture of eighteenth century England to the counterculture ’zines
America, small presses have
Z a c h B l u e a n d C h a r l e s We i g l
always had a super-hero ethos that K Press is a book pub-
country hawking at book fairs and
is working at an institution with an
ignores power and wealth in favour
lisher and distributor
selling to rogue traders in an effort
academic library in it,” says Weigl.
of speaking directly to the people.
out of Oakland, Cali-
to get their books into circulation.
“There is really no reason why
This is perhaps their enduring
fornia, whose stated
They even offer a thirty per cent
certain books should be designated
secret. No matter how dire the
aim is, “Supplying
discount to anyone who buys a
academic books; they have just as
economy or strong the pull of
radical words and images to as
book while incarcerated. It's all
much to offer to someone outside
electronic media, radical literature
many people as possible.” ‘Radi-
done in the name of something
the academy. Some of us here are
is still perhaps strongest when you
cal’, in the AK sense, variously
they like to call “intellectual
reformed academics, some are not,
can hold it in your hands. “I really
includes guides to home-brewing,
but we are all intellectuals and the
like pamphlets and ’zines in that
essays on feminist porn, the
self-defence”. “One of the first individuals
same could be said about anyone.”
– and this is changing some with
translated works of French and
I heard use the term, whether it
In the age of electronic media
portable internet – I have a little
Latin American revolutionaries,
originated with him or not, was
it’s not always easy for small presses
thing I can hold in my hand,” says
manifestos for queer liberation,
Noam Chomsky,” says collective
like AK, but Weigl believes that
Weigl. “It’s one solid concept that
and more than a few books
member Zach Blue. “As individuals
radical literature will always have
packs a single, powerful punch
explaining the inner workings
we are barraged with this myriad
a home on paper. As an example,
whereas everything on the internet
of late capitalism. They’re anar-
of ideas – many good, many bad.
is more like a cloud than a fist.”
chists, you see, and anarchists
It’s a very complex society that we
Movement in the US: “Occupy
are prolific publishers.
live in and the idea that one can
“I don’t particularly care about some
can use journalism to help sort
member Charles Weigl, “but this
out the world and make their own
particular one is an anarchist
decisions about how they want to
collective opposing the state and
interact with it is a very powerful
capitalism. That’s important for
thing. When you’re faced with the
me. I can’t say I don’t see this as
distortions that come from living in
a business, it is a business, but it’s
our late capitalist society you really
also in a long, 150-year tradition of
need to hone your skills in being
anarchist propaganda – publishing
able to understand [how it works].”
things, getting them out there,
Many of the books AK sells
trying to affect the world through
have an academic angle that often
the written word.”
sees them confined to the dusty shelves
profit, the job of speaking truth
Weigl and Blue, however, oppose
to power implies some very non-
corporate measures. For starters,
between ‘popular’ and ‘academic’
there is no internal hierarchy in
publishing. “We look for academic
the AK office. No bosses or middle
titles that university presses have
published but priced way, way
discussion and voting. Outside of
out of the reach of anybody that
normal sales lines, they travel the
doesn’t have a professor’s salary or
take a book or a political tradition,
Although they make a small
D r aw n & q u a r t e r ly
A lex i H obb s
Cartoons and comics will always have a home, thanks to a devoted shop and publishing house in the heart of Montreal.
novels were the artistic future of comics,” Devlin says. “A lot of people didn’t take a flimsy comic pamphlet seriously and that had held comics back for years.” Devlin credits McSweeney’s with injecting new excitement into publishing by smashing the mould with magnetic spines, foldout covers and and books that come in pieces in boxes, ready to be read in any order. “There is definitely a bit of a design revolution going on,” he says. “We definitely still think: ‘This needs a little extra,’ or ‘What’s going to make this special?’ “Any time you design a book you really want it to be like you can’t take your eyes away from it. rawn & Quarterly was
better and more ambitious over
publishers started eyeing D&Q’s
It really just catches your eye and
born between racing
time. Then he started publishing
roster in search of the next hit.
you’re like, ‘What is happening?’”
red lights and urgent
books by some of my favourite
deliveries. Chris Oliveros
was an artist working
Knowing he needed to step things
Devlin says. “If you can just get someone to touch the book,
his friend Peggy Burns, then
as a bike courier when friends
published a number of cult books
a publicist for DC Comics, to
enlisted him to help them put
with D&Q, including recent hits
recommend someone to help
Wilson and The Death Ray – just
Working on the mag lit a spark in
some of the twenty books D&Q
showcase its own books, and
Oliveros and he started dreaming
puts out a year. “I thought it was
own CV. “I was certain she was
those by publishers they admire.
of starting his own.
only going to be this magazine,
joking,” Oliveros says. But Burns
By hosting readings, gigs and
So he did. In 1989, Oliveros
right?” Oliveros recalls. “But as
left Manhattan for Montreal,
workshops, Librairie Drawn &
borrowed $2,000 from his father
I started contacting these other
determined to help D&Q succeed
Quarterly Bookstore has become
and started inviting cartoonists
artists, many of them had a lot of
a gathering place for people
to contribute to the first edition
work and were looking for their
passionate about comics culture.
of Drawn & Quarterly, a colourful
own comic-book series. So it went
Devlin, who ran a small comics
“It’s a design thing, it’s a rhythm
anthology inspired by Raw, the
very naturally from the magazine
thing and it’s the writing and
1980s underground comics bible
to these other series that we did.”
Books, also eventually joined
created by Art Spiegelman – the
For a decade, Oliveros worked
D&Q as creative director. “Chris
when it’s all there together, it just
Pulitzer Prize-winning creator
mostly alone from his spare
and I both believed graphic
works. It’s magic.” D’Arcy Doran
of Maus – alongside his wife, Francoise Mouly, who is now art
bedroom, publishing memoirs, travelogues, reportage and fiction
director of The New Yorker.
in comics form by some of the
One of those early hand-
medium’s greatest emerging talents,
written letters landed on the
including Seth (Gregory Gallant),
doorstep of Daniel Clowes, who
Guy Delisle and Adrian Tomine.
would go on to create Ghost
He couldn’t offer large advances
World, a comic-book tale of two
but he built up a roster of artists by
awkward teen girls that saw him
offering them higher royalties and
nominated for an Oscar when
working with them to make the
it was adapted for the screen.
most beautiful books possible.
“At that time, there were a lot of
been overlooked by mainstream
and trying to get in on this
publishers, but in 2000 when
burgeoning field of alternative
a series of books became best-
comics so I didn’t put much
sellers (including Clowes’ David
stock in it,” recalls Clowes. “I just
Boring, Marjane Satrapi’s Iranian
thought he was another one of
youth memoir Persepolis, and
the many. Then the first couple of
Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan,
issues of his magazine were pretty
which won The Guardian first-
good, but they just got better and
Five years ago, D&Q opened own
people putting out magazines
you’ve won a battle.”
R obi n Me ll or
’Great Looking Stories’ is Britt Iversen and Anna Gerber’s mantra. And it lets them push design boundaries one publication at a time.
ritt Iversen and Anna
look nothing like anything they’ve
Gerber finish each other’s
ever seen or done before.
sentences like an old
“We like feeling stupid,” says
married couple. But
Britt. “If you’re too knowing, a
they do it with the
laziness sets in because you’ve been
excitement of a pair of newlyweds.
there before. But if you keep saying
“We work a lot on instinct,” smiles
‘I have no idea,’ you’ll probably end
Anna, “and the freaky thing is that
up doing something you wouldn’t
a lot of the time our gut is the same.”
do if you already had an idea.”
Three years ago, they traded in
Anna jumps in: “We always say
jobs based on “lots of talking and
that if this ever becomes formulaic
not much making” (Anna wrote
we need to bring in a new voice,
for Creative Review and taught
like a different designer, to cause
graphic design at Central Saint
Martins and The Royal College of
Formulaic does not describe
Art; Britt worked for advertising
the neon-clad office that Britt and
juggernaut Mother London) to
Anna call base; it doesn’t suit the
embark on a new adventure – a
way they work or how their books
pipe-dream, according to most.
come into being. “It’s total blue-
“A lot of colleagues said, ‘You’re
sky thinking,” says Anna. “We ask
mad,’” laughs Britt. “Then we
writers, ‘In a dreamworld what
talked to some more clever people
kind of book do you want to make.’
and they still said, ‘You’re mad,
Then we take that seed and bring
says Anna, “how does the text
to read it you need to play around
but we love what you’re doing.’”
a designer on board immediately.”
inform the visual, how does the
with objects on the screen.”
The product of that madness
“We think of it as match-
visual inform the text, so that one
is Visual Editions, a publishing
making,” adds Britt. “A lot of it’s
doesn’t overpower the other. The
With a hodge-podge of projects on the go at once (they recently
house whose stories look nothing
instinct and based on personalities,
balance between form and content
enlisted 150 ‘Reader Outlouders’
like anything else on your shelf.
even if they’re opposing.”
is the single most important thing
to read every page of Composition
that unites people.”
No.1 around the V&A Museum),
Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of
A n n a G e r b e r a n d B r it t Ive r se n
Codes is “a book full of holes”
a chord with “lots of bubbles
Right now they’re working on
Anna and Britt find a mantra
in which words have been die-
of different people,” from avid
their first collection (“A book of
helps keep things in sync. So
cut out of an old story to create
readers to design freaks. Britt
maps that looks at what a map
they’ve written it on their wall:
a new piece of poetic fiction.
and Anna are determined to take
means, how they’re changing from
Marc Saporta’s Composition No. 1
their stories to as many people
mapping how you get to places to
Apps and events that are all in
is “a book in a box” written on
as possible, so their price points
how we map our lives,”) and the
some way about making Great
150 loose-leaf pages that can be
never match the heights of their
launch of Seonaid McKay’s The
Looking Stories.’ “We think of it
read in any order. And that’s just
innovations (“All our books are
Thump and Other Places, an iPad
less as being committed to print
the start. With four boundary-
paperbacks so that they never feel
App that houses a collection of
and more as being committed to
pushing publications already out,
precious,”) and keeping things
dark tales. “It’s a beautiful, eerie
telling stories in different ways,”
Britt and Anna are determined
accessible informs a lot of what
story about children that’s not for
that whatever comes next will
they do. “We interrogate a lot,”
children,” says Anna, “and in order
“We love print,” adds Britt, nodding towards a neat stack of books. “And as you can see around here, we love stuff. The more we live on screen, the more we need stuff in our lives that we love. But the reason we aren’t against tech as a business is because as people we aren’t.” There’s
and Anna have got the balance right. When The New York Times calls your books ‘revolutionary,’ you know you’re onto a good thing. “There’s something quite satisfying about proving people wrong,” says Britt. “We were shitscared when we started and we’re still shit-scared, but it's working and we’re changing as we go.” Andrea Kurland
start, I thought, with a writer. Someone with experience. Someone who had been through the short-fiction magazine mangler and had something to say. Which is how I ended up exchanging emails with a woman who skins bears for fun. From: Submissions – Stupefying Stories Thanks for giving us the opportunity to consider this one. After reading and discussing it, we've decided it's not right for us at this time. Good luck placing it elsewhere.
Cut short The Writer
Short stories are awesome. But in the age of self-publishing, do short-fiction journals still have a point? And will our correspondent ever get another
I have a thing for slightly pulpy sci-fi, and Sara King is one of my favourites. Not all of her work is short stories, but she’s had plenty of experience,
publishing several alongside her novels. Plus, the
Illustration Joe Wilson
with a picture of herself butchering a black bear
Alaskan is possibly the only author on this planet on her website.
ou never forget your first time.
magazine, spent a decade hanging on for dear
Mine was on the couch – tucked
life before expiring in 2005.
I wanted to talk to a writer in the trenches, about whether short-fiction magazines were
under a blanket, hiding from the
The ones that survived soon found themselves
worth going for anymore. On her website, King
cold January wind gnawing at the
in a busy market, thanks to a surge in self-
once wrote in staunch defence of traditional
walls. And when it happened... man. When my
publishing outlets online. Suddenly, anyone could
short-fiction journals and why it was important
phone buzzed with that email, telling me I was
create their own home for short stories. Pay rates
to keep them alive. So I’m a little surprised when
going to be a published short-fiction writer,
plummeted and as traditional outlets faded, it
she says that, as far as she’s concerned, magazines
I think people heard me ululating from three
became impossible for writers to earn any kind
can go lump it. “Nowadays,” she says, “the only
of living off short fiction alone. Add in tools like
real purpose that subscription magazines play is
I’ve always loved short stories. A good one
Amazon’s Kindle Singles program, which allows
to be a place to spotlight stories to be nominated
is like a strong dose of LSD: it takes moments
writers to publish short work very quickly, and you
for awards. The pay sucks, and the circulation
to consume, but the effects last forever. The
have an odd situation: there are more avenues than
and readership is so atrociously low that most
masters – Stephen King, Alice Munro, Chuck
ever to get a short story published, but almost no
people have never even heard of today’s most
Palahniuk – can conjure something close to
way to judge whether any of them can sustain a
famous short-story writers.”
magic in just a few pages. Seriously, have you
livelihood or kickstart a career.
read Palahniuk’s Guts?
Having just got started in this short story lark,
So how’d this happen? “Microsoft Word.”
Short stories used to be a great way to get into
I realised I didn’t actually know all that much
I don't really know what to say. I haven’t
the writing game. You’d plug away at the big short-
about the industry. I didn’t just want to discover
thought of Microsoft Word in years. It’s just,
fiction magazines until you had a publication
how these magazines were doing; I wanted to find
you know... there. But she’s got a point – about
record, and then use that to springboard to a full-
out if there was any point writing for them at all.
technology, if nothing else.
time career as an agented, published novelist.
Was it even worth putting up with the attention-
“Any schmuck with a Word program can write
For a long time, these magazines ruled the
deficit audiences and countless rejection letters (by
a piece of crap, slap a title on it and, with a click
roost, but as the twentieth century drew to a
the time I got my first acceptance, I was already
of a button, send it to a hundred magazines to
close, the subscription-based business model
ten deep)? Were my quirky little horror stories
be added to the slush pile,” she says. “Editors
began to whither and die. Something must have
and whimsical political thrillers ever going to rise
are getting overwhelmed when half the adult
changed – reading habits, perhaps – because the
above the thousands stagnating on literary agents’
population considers themselves a budding writer
big names started to close: Black Mask, a pulp
desks? And if they did, was anybody going to give
who’s ‘just waiting to be discovered’ and has full
fiction magazine that started life as a money-
a damn? Were there readers for these things?
access to email and some sort of word processor.”
making side project and published the likes of
I needed to shove a thermometer up the ass
I can see her point. While self-publishing
Raymond Chandler closed in 1987, the sci-fi
of the short-story industry, and speak to writers,
tools, like Wordpress and Blogspot, can be a
mainstay Omni in 1995. Amazing, another sci-fi
editors and publishers to get some answers. I’d
democratising force, you also risk drowning in
a sea of turgid writing. Presumably, this is one of
things that we see is that it’s really difficult for us
the reasons writers can't make a decent living off
to get on the newsstand,” Landrigan says. “It used
short fiction anymore.
to be, go into the grocery store and there'd be this
“It’s a numbers game,” says King in one of her post-midnight emails. “Professionally paying
huge magazine section. Now it’s really shrunk, and it’s expensive sometimes to get out there.”
magazines are dying off because the readership
Landigran agrees that there are way, way too
has been dwindling because the story quality
many writers trying to get published – and that
has declined... The money magazines can offer
some of their material is decidedly mediocre – but
T h e St o r y t e l l e r
writers is down to about a fifth of what it used to
she's also positive about the stuff that does make
& The Publisher
be, which means that writers can no longer devote
it through the net. “For mystery fiction, there’s
their time to perfecting the art of writing short
been this great opening,” she says. “Categories are
So what's the good news? If I can't get stories
stories, which means quality is declining, which
less defined right now; cosy stories are very dark,
into the old magazines – or if there's no point
means less people are going to be interested in
and there are a lot of supernatural stories, a lot
– what's left?
the magazine itself.”
of thriller stories. I feel like the range of mystery
I get what she’s saying, but I still feel like
stories is pretty broad.”
Someone emails me a link to an article in The New York Times: short-story collections are selling!
I’m only getting half the story. I can’t write off
I can’t help but wonder what other editors
Publishers are releasing loads of them! But there's
print magazines based on this alone. Time to
think. So, at the suggestion of fellow HUCK writer
a hitch: they're all by established authors. Great
D’Arcy Doran, I call up Lorin Stein, the urbane
for them, not so great if you're just starting out.
From: NIGHTMARE Thanks for submitting 'Pantechnicon',
editor of The Paris Review. Despite the name,
Then there's Amazon. It recently let writers
they’re New York-based, and boast cult writers
self-publish shorter works on their Kindle Singles
like Philip Roth and David Foster Wallace in
service, which is fantastic news for anybody tired
of the long lead times between submission and
For Stein, the decline of the short-story
publication of most magazines. Podcasts, too, have
quite work for me, I'm afraid. Best of
readership was to be expected: “[People] were
become a surprisingly rich outlet for stories, and
luck to you placing this one elsewhere,
really in the habit of reading this stuff. When
while I'm chasing up this particular lead, I catch
and thanks again for sending it my way.
did they read it? On trains, when they got home
a real break: I get to talk to Marc Laidlaw.
but I'm going to pass on it. It didn't
from work, on the bus, waiting rooms, in line at
You may not know him, but you might have
the bank – and now, that kind of time has been
heard of Half Life – generally considered one of
taken up with work, because work has become
the best video games ever made. He wrote that,
something we can do on our phones. When people
along with a zillion other things, short stories
make time to read, it's not just a matter of filling
included – some of which have been turned into
bits of time – nowadays, they have to make time.”
audio. You wouldn't think that stories written for
The Paris Review is one of the few magazines
the page work on the ear, but they do; Pseudopod, a
to actually increase their circulation in the past
fantastic horror fiction podcast, recently adapted
few years; Stein says that although reading habits
Laidlaw’s story Cell Call.
have changed, mags that devote themselves to
“Judging from listener reaction,” Laidlaw says,
It’s a freezing February afternoon when Linda
quality stories can retain their audience. “The
“it seems like it’s a very different demographic
Landrigan calls me. On Skype, she looks like
thing that we're good at, other magazines have
than the people who would encounter these
someone's maiden aunt: greying hair, blue cardy,
stopped doing,” he says. “Even the ones that do
stories as prose... So it’s a good way to reach a new
thin-framed glasses. In fact, she's the editor of
still publish short fiction – I’m not sure they’re
audience. I do tend to read my stories aloud while
Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which, in
passionately in love with what they publish. I
I’m revising them, and I used to put together radio
short fiction terms, makes her God. A very nice,
sometimes feel that some little magazines think
plays as well, and most of the writing I do for games
charming God, but still God.
that literature is good for you. It's not a view that
is specifically intended as audio performance. But
I hold, particularly. We publish what we publish
I didn't ever have an audio performance in mind
because we enjoy it.”
for this particular story.”
Hitchcock’s is a big dog of short fiction, along with magazines like Ellery Queen, Asimov’s and Analog. The mag has been putting out the best
If we believe the editors, then, the short story
He hasn’t neglected traditional fiction,
mystery writing since 1956; these are the guys who
industry is in good health, even as it changes
either. “I’ve got a handful of short stories
published Hitchcock screenwriter and prolific
before their eyes. Thing is, I have a healthy
underway, including one called Bonfires that’ll
crime-fiction writer Ed McBain. Landrigan has
distrust of editors – it is, after all, in their interest
be out in Nightmare Magazine in April. I made a
been there for seventeen years, spending a large
to put a positive spin on things. And besides, big
concerted effort to start writing more fiction this
chunk of that time in the editor’s throne. I don’t
magazines aren't the only outlet anymore: if I want
last year, partly because I felt those muscles were
care if magazines are dying: I still really, really
to make a go of writing short stories, should I be
atrophying, and they remain the basic skills I draw
want something published in hers.
looking for new ways of getting them out there?
on to contribute to games.”
From: Fiction, The New Yorker
fiction: the big magazines might be struggling, but
Here’s the really weird thing about short
“I think the cachet is important,” Landrigan says in her tinkling voice. “We do publish a lot of
if you’re prepared to look for alternatives, you’re
new writers, and some of them have said, ‘Gosh, you know, I was in your issue and I was right next
We regret that we are unable to use the
spoiled for choice. Little ’zines and websites have
to Jerry Healy!’ That's kind of fun. You feel there’s a
enclosed material. Thank you for giving
exploded over recent years. And they have truly
bonus being next to somebody who’s well-known.”
us the opportunity to consider it.
fantastic names: if I could boast a publication
There’s no question that Hitchcock’s is hurting.
record bearing the names of Nickel Steak, Pank
Their circulation has dropped from 100,000 to
and Thousand Shades of Grey, I’d be stoked, even
70,000 – and they aren’t the only ones. “One of the
if other publishers might be less than impressed.
New York-based writer and editor Patrick Trotti
literary magazine, it’s not going to mean a great
has helped edit all three of these publications, so he
deal. Even if they’ve written a competent short
should know if newbie writers should go the route
story, it’s quite another thing to imagine them
of smaller publishers. “I think the writer should
writing a whole novel – to stretch themselves out
just be really honest with themselves in terms
and commit themselves to what is an arduous task.
of what they’re hoping to gain from publishing,
“The good thing about short-story writing is
whether it be a story, poem or longer work,” he
that it does show a kind of commitment and an
says. “If you’re in it for the money, then you’re
energy,” he adds, “taking your writing out into
probably in the wrong field. Exposure is great –
the world and facing the readership can only be
hell, so is money – but I feel that a lot of writers
a good thing.”
have unrealistic expectations of what getting a story published can or will or should do for them.”
From: Fiction On The Web
Damn. I knew he was going to say that. Hi Rob, From: Apex Submissions Congratulations! 'One on One' has been Thank you for submitting 'Phase' to Apex
accepted for publication at FICTION
Magazine for consideration. Unfortunately,
on the WEB, and will appear on www.
it does not meet our needs at this time
fictionontheweb.co.uk on 15 March. I enjoyed it so much I'm making it a “pick of the month”. Thanks,
It’s a few days before HUCK goes to press. I’m trying to work on another short story, about two thieves who run into trouble when they steal a witchdoctor’s car. But I can't concentrate. There’s something bugging me, like a loose tooth, jiggling in its socket. In his book On Writing, Stephen King says that one of the best ways to get the attention of a literary agent – still the best way to make a life out of this writing game – is to have a good short-story
“If y o u’r e in it for the mone y, t h e n y o u’r e probably in the wrong f i e l d .”
It’s only after I speak to Mason that I realise something crucial. I started off thinking that maybe short stories were in trouble – that their homes were being demolished, that they were somehow being lessened by having more people write them. Both of those are true, sure, but only up to a point. The reality is that great short stories are still being written; they're just more nomadic. Getting published remains, as it should, a question of quality and taste, and one can never quite know what editors and audiences are looking for. But just as the number of writers
publication record. Well, fine. But he wrote that
have increased, so too have the avenues for
in 1999, when the only kindling you did involved
getting stories out there. And I think, when it
setting fire to your rejection letters. Do agents
comes down to it, I disagree with Sara King that
still value short fiction? Would they care if I just
quality is suffering. Because while I was doing
had my first piece published? I needed to find out.
all this, I got to read some truly amazing stories.
This was almost hilariously hard to do. It took
I’m never going to make a living off short
me days. It seems that even when your question
stories – that’s about the only rock-solid
isn't related to a manuscript in their slush pile,
conclusion I’ve stumbled on through this
agents just assume it will be, and reject it outright
journey – but somehow, that doesn’t bother
anyway. I try again, and again, and after the fourth
me that much anymore. You never forget your
of fifth agencies puts the phone down on me, I’m
first time. But maybe the second and third can
about to abandon that particular line of enquiry
be just as good
and go to the pub. Then I find a man named Ben Mason. He’s not only approachable, but also happens to be a jolly nice chap. He’s with London agency Fox Mason, who represent (among others) Welsh comedian/ writer Mark Evans and London-based journalist and author Karl Manders. “Short stories are a good testing ground for writers to exercise different voices and perspectives and find themselves,” he says, “[but] I’m probably not that interested if they've had short stories published... Unless they can demonstrate that they got into a fantastic
Photos by Michael Lawrence & Duncan Macfarlane
Screaming At The Kitchen Sink
Pissed Jeans are a noisy punk band based in Philadelphia and their new album Honeys will make you want to smash all your shit up.
You do a lot of stuff outside Pissed Jeans – YellowGreenRed and White Denim – how’s all that going? It’s all very hobby based. Even Pissed Jeans is something I do for fun, which kind of takes any stress out of it. I don’t worry about making money or deadlines or promotional blah blah blah. I get pretty obsessed with the things I like, and so I just take them as far as I can. [...] People get so serious and to me it’s always just been this thing that’s super fun, you know? Like a way of escaping things that aren’t fun. [...] We don’t survive off Pissed Jeans, so we can do whatever the hell we want. Why do you think fatherhood hasn’t mellowed Pissed Jeans? I just
es ley Jon
like different sounds of music. I don’t think that I have to be in the exact mind-state of that music to really connect with it. I listen to a lot of different stuff that has a lot of different emotions and I’m not necessarily in those modes all the time. I don’t know, I’ve just always been drawn towards punk and hardcore and I guess that just hasn’t let
n the video for ‘False Jesii Part 2’ – the big single on Pissed Jeans’ third
up. I mean I’m definitely more choosey because I don’t wanna hear the
album King of Jeans – the four band members rock out half-heartedly on
exact same record 500 times by 500 different bands, but just the basic
a stage full of half-bored-half-stoked women while singer Matt Kosloff
style I think is pretty great.
shouts, ‘I don’t bother.’ It’s awesome. At one point, drummer Sean McGuinness catches a can of a beer and a slice of pizza without missing
Do you think of songwriting in terms of telling stories? Maybe not so
a beat. Elsewhere on stage, Bradley Fry and Randy Huth shrug-pogo
much stories as a specific thought, more like, ‘Here’s something I’ve been
around with guitar and bass. It’s the loosest and coolest thing, like, ever.
dwelling on and I want to relate it to you.’ So it could come out as a story
Pissed Jeans formed about ten years ago, although Kosloff, Fry
but it’s more just an instance in my life or a thing that I think about. I
and Huth made music together throughout high school. In 2005, they
definitely want to get a specific idea across. I don’t just wanna be like,
released an angry debut, Shallow, then McGuinness joined in 2006
‘Love is mysterious.’ Who cares? Or like, ‘The world is shit.’ Who cares
and they linked up with Sub Pop for 2007’s Hope For Men, King of Jeans
again? Give me something to think about! Not just these super broad
in 2009 and new album Honeys in March 2013.
general statements that are really kind of meaningless.
With roots in hardcore, they’ve drawn comparisons with the likes of Fang and Flipper and even been hailed as prophets in the current
In the song ‘Male Gaze’ you kinda address some of the bullshit between
pigfuck/noisecore resurgence embodied by Brooklyn bands like The
the genders. What made you wanna write that? That’s one song that I
Men and White Suns. But Pissed Jeans don’t fit neatly in a box. In a
hope people do get something out of, as much as they can from a Pissed
2005 interview with Chicago-based fanzine Blastitude, Kosloff – who
Jeans song. It’s just that I think it’s super shitty and unfair how tough it
goes by the pseudonym Korvette – put it like this: “The idea was to start
is to be a woman, in general, but also being involved in music and how
a different kinda punk band focused on dead-ended carnal cravings,
people feel that they’re kind of enlightened but they’re really not, you
sexual depression… that sort of thing. Mainly we just wanted to bludgeon
know? There can be a great band with women and invariably someone
the listener with dull, monotonous droning rock music that just sucks the
will be like, ‘Oh, she’s also really hot.’ I’ve definitely been misogynistic
energy out of you, the musical equivalent to watching a toilet flush.”
here and there growing up and I’m just trying to check that behaviour and
But with new album Honeys, Pissed Jeans are starting to transcend
stop it. [...] I’m happy to bring it up but a lot of Pissed Jeans songs are just
their grisly beginnings. The band members are all thirty-plus and fathers
there to help me personally and just kind of keep myself on track to not
now and they all work serious day jobs – Kosloff also runs record label
become that assholish guy. Having female fans is so great. I would love it
White Denim, reviews website YellowGreenRed.com, and a blog on Spin.
if women were like, ‘Pissed Jeans is our band.’ That’d be awesome.
com about high-end fashion that makes “people look at you and wonder if you’re from outer space or The Matrix or something”.
Why do you think you appeal to different ages, too? I don’t know but I
Honeys could be described as a record about the sock-drawer details of
think that’s totally great. It makes me so happy to hear that because I
getting older but as fast and relentless as ever it resonates with aficionados
would hate to be a band that’s only enjoyed by one specific type of person.
of all ages and backgrounds. They were one of Spin magazine’s ‘40 Must-
I feel like we generally keep things pretty simple and easy to understand
See Acts at SXSW 2013’ alongside Baauer, Earl Sweatshirt and A$AP Ferg,
musically, and lyrically for the most part, so that kind of opens it out.
and yet they’re one of the only bands currently in the game that gets even
It’s just loud, fast punk music or whatever and that’s pretty enjoyable for
the most jaded purist punk-head pumped as hell. Couple that with the
everyone. Who’s not gonna like that?
fact that they barely play any shows – fifteen last year, “maybe eighteen this year” – and you get an idea of the kind of satellite band Pissed Jeans
Who’d be in your dream super group? Man, I don’t know. Hmmm, dream
is. We caught up with Kosloff at home in Philly – where he likes to “do
band? You’d probably want myself of course. And maybe Nick Cave and
nothing and stare at the couch” – a couple of days after SXSW 2013, where
Danzig and we all just sing the exact same words at the same time kind of
the only act he saw was rapper Riff Raff.
like Daft Punk or something.
The new video for ‘Bathroom Laughter’ is so weird and awesome. Can
That sounds amazing. Right? No guitars or anything like that. Just the
you tell us how that came about? I think we just found a really good guy
three of us, all wearing matching outfits.
to work with, he just understood what we’re all about and our sensibility and ran with it. So it’s kind of humorous but also kind of dark and a vague
What, like chanting? Hmmm, I don’t know we’d have to figure that out
commentary on things. [...] We just wanted to make something that was amusing and not try to be artsy or anything, ’cos that can be dull.
Honeys is out now on Sub Pop.
Al Aazlah: Aspiration and isolation in a land of gilded dreams
- It must be strange here, he said. - It is so strange. But it's so quiet that most of the time I love it. The utter lack of social responsibility. You have no familial responsibilities, no real friend responsibilities. I'm lucky to have one guest a month. It's monastic, which is a relief. – Dave Eggers, A Hologram For The King*
Photographer Amy Leang captures the lonely side of life in the United Arab Emirates‘ oil-rich plains. hen I first moved to the desert, I
the region is an epicentre of trade: it used to
felt lost every day. It wasn’t the
be based on copper and pearls, but now it
dearth of potable water that had
relies on oil. I had given up someone I loved
me anxious, but the lack of clear
and impatiently waited for the dividends to
signage that made me wonder what sort of hot
pay off. But during my time there I began to
sarcophagus my Toyota Corolla would make.
see beyond the designer nightclubs and fancy
I had come to Dubai looking for the joy that
new housing, and realised I was not the only
wild adventures commonly foment. Instead,
Of the 5,314,317 people who inhabit the
stretches of road that were slowly being
United Arab Emirates, the overwhelming
reclaimed by the elements, unsure of what I
majority, eighty per cent, are foreigners. They
was doing here or what I thought I’d find.
come from every corner of the world: from
Nobody lives in the United Arab Emirates
Adelaide to Andalusia, from Bristol to Bangkok.
without the hope or expectation of something
Brits, Russians, Indians and Filipinos, all
more than what they already have; more
living and interacting but never breaching
money, greater opportunities or even better
sex. They yearn for lavish, dazzling things
They take care of other people’s children
their forebears only dreamt of. A generation
while their own grow up in their absence. They
ago, ice cubes were a rarity in the Emirates.
sleep in packed quarters at night while their
Today, there exists a climate-controlled,
hands toil during the day building grand
houses. They forget their morals; participate
mention the tallest building in the world. To
in Bacchanalian fetes and visit sad, bargained
fully appreciate the latter, one must stand at the foot of this giant silver spike, planted
women who are not their wives. All the while, their hosts try to safeguard their own existence
defiantly in the sand, and gaze upward more
as non-native values encroach upon theirs.
than half a mile into the sky.
As dusk falls, street lights come on illuminating the stretch of isolated highway leading to the Moreeb Dune in the Liwa Oasis of the United Arab Emirates.
mislaid person caught in a one-way trade.
I found myself frequently staring out at long
Al Aazlah (‘The Isolation’) is not meant,
Was this not a place where anything
however, to be just another tale of rabid
was possible? Why then did I often find the
decadence and gilded abuse. It is about those
distance between my desires and reality
moments that most eyes avoid seeing, despite the
slowly expanding, as detached from one
megawatt brightness that illuminates the surface
another as the stray hitchhiker stranded on
level of Emirati life. It’s about the loneliness
a desert motorway, surrounded by kilometres
that so often accompanies our aspirations; the
of emptiness and a wide expanse of sand.
moments in which we think about where we
In the Middle East, you must barter for what you want. Today, as in ancient times,
came from while trying hard not to think about what we’ve let go of along the way.
* Dave Eggers’ latest book, A Hologram for the King, is set in Saudi Arabia, in a giant expanse of desert bordering the UAE.
– An abandoned, empty
– Ayaz from Islamabad sits in a
– Distressed Filipinas,
– Emirati men shop
chair sits in the desert by
chair by the side of Umm Suqeim
some of whom were sexually
at the Auchan hypermarket
the side of the road leading
Road while taking an afternoon
or physically abused by their
located in the International
to the Liwa dunes.
break from construction work
employers or had their pay
City neighbourhood of Dubai.
in Dubai. Ayaz first came to the
withheld, take refuge at
With a multitude of ethnic
United Arab Emirates in 1995.
a labour office in Dubai.
cuisine available in the region,
He has been able to support his
traditional Emirati dishes
family back in Pakistan with the
are cooked less and less
money he makes in the UAE but
frequently within the home.
sometimes goes years without seeing them.
– Toddlers play on a manicured
– Passport photos of labourers
– Mohammed Rizwan,
– With very few free
lawn in the Jumeirah Islands
from Pakistan, India and Nepal
twenty, originally of Fasial
spaces or parks available
subdivision in Dubai, under the
fill a board on the wall of a
Abad, Pakistan, tries to hitch
to them, Pakistani labourers
watchful eye of their nannies.
construction company office
a ride back to his labourer
gather on the median in
in Dubai. Often companies hold
accommodation after attending
the Satwa neighbourhood
on to the identity papers of their
Friday prayers at the nearest
of Dubai on their one day off,
workers to prevent them from
mosque, many kilometres
the holy day of Friday.
fleeing. When some companies
away in the emirate of Abu
go bankrupt, labourers are
Dhabi. Every Friday he waits
often left stranded with their
at least two hours, each way,
to get there and back
T S E T N CO
//By Joel Rice//
//Joel Rice is a skateboarder and journalist
By Joel Rice
who writes FLIP, a skate-related column for McSweeney's featuring in-depth interviews with everyone from //Thrasher// editor Michael Burnett and that video-game guy Tony Hawk to professional colourer-inner Ed Templeton.
This short story is a non-fictional piece of fiction about a day in the life of a skateboarding journalist.//
Joel Rice is a skateboarder
and journalist who writes FLIP, a skaterelated column for McSweeney’s featuring in-depth interviews with everyone from Thrasher editor Michael Burnett and that video-game guy Tony Hawk to professional colourer-inner Ed Templeton. This short story is an experimental piece of factual fiction, inspired by events that may or may not have happened, about a day in the life of a skateboarding hack. I. YOU ARE HERE “Don’t wear a tie,” your ultra-conservative college roommate seethes. “Jesus. What’s the matter with you? Are you stupid?” You’re just about to go down to the lobby, board the shuttle and be conveyed with other members of the media to the contest. But, restless in your hotel room, you called the ultra-conservative college roommate1 for some last-minute sartorial counsel2. “You know what they’re going to think don’t you? They’re going to think you’re a narc,” he says. “That’s one thing skateboarders like. They like the pot.” “No tie?” “No tie.” When even the ultra-conservative college roommate (a product of prep school) thinks you’re being too dressy, at risk of being seen as too starchy, you should probably listen. But you don’t listen do you? No. You never listen. II. SETTING AND ATMOSPHERE You certainly don’t listen the day the shuttle processes through empty office parks – past palm trees, mirage-hologram-haze-mountains pressing against hollow blue skies – the day “the industry” descends upon the arena en masse. To watch and be watched. To see and be seen. Indeed, from the second you step off the shuttle into the cliché blazing sunlight, there are eyes everywhere. You notice the little black kid with the bright orange Krooked hat with the two googly eyes and the matching orange Mardis Gras necklace sauntering into the VIP entrance with his dad. You notice professional skateboarder Dylan Rieder perched picturesquely on the steps – white tank top, surgically precise profile – sulkily smoking a cigarette like an actor bored between takes. Twentieth Century Fox-Paramount Picturesandrogynous-CGI-alien in high def-blu-ray. You notice the newish tattoo on his clavicle – an eye etched with rays of light. You go through security. There’s a Jumbotron hovering over the arena’s sparsely populated seats. It too is like an all-seeing eye.
1 Though it’s been a while since graduation, time has hardly softened this avid tennis player’s disdain for skateboarding. 2 John T. Molloy’s Dress for Success (New York: Warner Books, 1975) makes this germane point, “Like everything else in California, its dress code is distinctly its own. In the Southern areas of the state informality prevails and extends deep into the business world. Much of California business,
Q: How you do you feel under its gaze? A: random impulsive self-doubting disoriented incoherent elevated unstable lonely even in a crowd alone There are a few skaters and a few filmers on the course. Moms, managers and girlfriends dot the perimeter. A green claw scratches across a screen. You’re definitely the only guy there in a tie. A heavy-set dude from MTV is walking around. He’s technically wearing a blazer, but it’s artfully distressed denim. With his mutton-chop sideburns it makes him look like, well, a producer for MTV. A SKATER OF THE YEAR comes up to you and asks you to help get his friend in the VIP entrance. A SKATER OF THE YEAR has no idea who you are. (You’re no one.) But A SKATER OF THE YEAR just assumes you work there, wield some authority. It’s the tie. III. OTHER ASPECTS OF SELF-PRESENTATION 1 0 9 7 7 8 5 0 9 77 7 Oh right. 8 57 8 5 0 9 77 7 8 5 0 9 7 7 8 1 9 9 The contest. 7 10 9 10 10 7 8 8 87 9.5 They say there are three kinds of people in this world; those who are good at math and those who aren’t3. 0 9 7 7 8 1 9 9 7 7 5 8 1 9 9 7 7 7 5 Yet you try to you must stay afloat in the sea of numbers even as it continues to rapidly rise. 5 0 9 77 7 8 5 0 9 7 7 8 Let’s see here… 1 80 989898913718098989 The average score is dropped and then the lowest score is after the overall score for the run is what? “Nine!” exalts the announcer. The crowd goes wild. It’s all a lot to take in. After some qualifying rounds you go outside to the parking lot to try and get some fresh air/get a grip. You take out the notepad. Chicken scratch about who landed which trick when. It will be next to impossible to decipher it that evening when you have to file your story, so you cross out and rewrite those words that are particularly illegible. Nollie noseblunt b/s Rick Ross Hallelujah Blowin’ Money You try and collect yourself and call your ultra-conservative college roommate but he doesn’t pick up. Q: How do you feel now? A: Happy, sad, confused They probably don’t want you to incorporate some half-remembered Hume into your copy – due an hour after the contest ends. No causation. Just constant conjunction. Sensory flux. You who doesn’t know what you’re going to write, you who are on deadline, you who haven’t “found the thread”. It’s in the midst of this malaise that you espy, taking a solitary cigarette break on the steps outside the VIP entrance, pro skater Jason Dill. Even in an industry unparalleled in its ability to
particularly industries that have never been noted for being conservative, has adopted dress codes best described as bizarre.” 3 Skaters grappling with new technology. It’s a motif that weekend. Guests at the hotel are given magnetic cards in lieu of keys. But they’re finicky. Take a certain touch. It’s unclear if you’re supposed to leave the card in longer or shorter to get the blankety blank door to open. Surely a reporter is
attract “characters” Mr. Dill is in a class by himself. A fixture on the scene since he was fourteen years old, he has truly been there and done that – from starring in the reality television show The Osbournes, to running in the most rarefied of Manhattan art-world circles and, as a broad principle, flouting those arbitrary and capricious social strictures that confine lesser souls to lives of quiet desperation. He’s wearing aviator sunglasses and a black v-neck t-shirt fused to his slight frame with tiny white letters that say Supreme. You explain that you’re covering the event, ask to join him, and mention a bygone picture in Slap. “Oh, uh, sorry about the tie,” you say. “No. No. No. Love the tie,” he, no enemy to eccentricity, says with a world-dismissing wave. “I have to say, it’s a little surprising to see you here, sir,” you wonder aloud. “Do you like contests like this? Do you miss the way it was?” “People always interview me and are like, ‘Those were the golden days.’” Mr. Dill says in his signature staccato bursts. “And, I’m like, ‘Not for me. Not really.’ I was on acid and I was really paranoid. If anything, I really like skateboarding now. Grant Taylor is one of the greatest skateboarders since Mark Gonzales. He wouldn’t have thrived back then…” A MEMBER OF THE INDUSTRY approaches Mr. Dill. A MEMBER OF THE INDUSTRY is wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase ‘Nothing is too gnarly’. A MEMBER OF THE INDUSTRY looks at Mr. Dill. A MEMBER OF THE INDUSTRY looks at an individual sitting beside Mr. Dill in khakis, a contrast collared shirt and, inexplicably, a tie. “Is this, like, an important meeting?” he asks. “No, not at all,” Mr. Dill says. He presents Mr. Dill with a poster that says ‘IGNORE THIS POSTER GO SKATEBOARDING’; takes a picture of him holding it. “We always knew what we were doing was fleeting,” A MEMBER OF THE INDUSTRY says. He departs. Another MEMBER OF THE INDUSTRY approaches. They talk shop. “Why are you dressed like a fucking professional?” MEMBER OF THE INDUSTRY asks you4. “He’s a reporter,” says Mr. Dill. Dill finishes his cigarette and heads back towards the VIP entrance but not before turning, stately, at the top of the stairs. “Don’t be nervous,” he says. “No one is cool. All the cool people are dead. Miles Davis and John Coltrane were the last cool people. We live in a Hannah Montana society.” He pauses. “Yeah,” he says. “You kill it.” With that, he alights for the looming arena
not the only one who calls the front desk thinking he’s been locked out. The skaters staying across the hall are all encircling their own door, earnestly debating the best technique. “Here, watch me kill it,” says the one in the backwards red-ball cap. 4 However, Molloy goes onto argue, “The biggest mistake made by professionals in California is not that they ignore California dress codes, but that they go along too far with
them. Professionals coming from other parts of the country think they can dress the same. This is not true. If you are selling your services as an accountant to a California firm that maintains very liberal dress codes, you should still dress as accountants do everywhere, because people in certain professions are expected to dress in certain ways and will encounter negative reactions if they dress in ways that run counter to expectation.”
A con v ersation a bou t w o r k t h a t
to do with work.
udd Apatow is a funny guy. And it’s fun to speak to funny guys. It can also be enlightening. Absurd things like sex and relationships and terminal illnesses seem a little less complex in the presence of a dick joke. Which is why his movies, despite parading as escapist comedies, are life lessons wrapped up as popcorn LOLs. From the cathartic awkwardness of his writer-director hits – The
40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Funny People (2009), This Is 40 (2012) – to generation-defining projects like Bridesmaids and Girls, Apatow’s work as a writer, director and producer taps into the conundrums that somehow bind us all. (With a penis thrown in for good measure here and there.) But talking to someone funny about their funny work is actually a lot less funny than it may seem. So imagine our relief when Apatow replied to our interview request with a request of his own: “It would be fun if the interview was different than what we normally do. Like if it was Miranda July and myself talking. I would just want the conversation to be unique. And with someone who understands what I am trying to do.” Enter Miranda July – another funny person who taps into the absurd through heartfelt books (like the brilliant It Chooses You, published by McSweeney’s) and films (Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), The Future (2011)) that deal with our unending desire to connect. Her response? “Yes, I accept the challenge. My only stipulation is that we don't ask each other questions about work. So this leaves everything else in the world wide open. Maybe we each come up with eight non-work related questions for each other? Or is it really supposed to be me interviewing him?” What follows is the result of this dual challenge – Apatow interviewing July, July interviewing Apatow (over the phone, and then via email) about stuff that has nothing and everything to do with work, from dealing with bad therapists and toxic guilt, to wondering what Victoria really thinks of David Beckham’s abs. 72 HUCK
Miranda July: Okay. So do you want to go first or
July: Yeah, or are we?
should I? Let’s alternate. I’ll go first. Who’s someone you envy and why?
Apatow: Actually it’s worse now but for some reason I’ve tricked myself into thinking that’s not an issue. Okay – your turn.
Judd Apatow: Um, let’s see... I envy a lot of creative people that seem happier than me. They
July: What’s one good thing and one difficult thing you feel
find a way to do their work and not be miserable.
like you got from your mother. And then from your father.
I envy your husband, [director] Mike Mills... Apatow: Well, my dad was a big fan of comedy, and I think he July: [Laughs] He’s not that happy...
thought he was funny. I can’t confirm that his sense of humour is funny, but he carries himself as someone who’s hilarious.
Apatow: He seems happy to me. I envy Eddie Vedder. He seems solid but yet still emotional and vulnerable. Maybe
July: Right. The idea that trying to be funny might be a ‘thing
it’s all a cover and he cries himself to sleep every night. I
that one does’.
doubt it. There are people out there that I think have it all figured out. They probably think I have it figured out. We
Apatow: His success rate is lower than he thinks. [Laughs]
are both wrong. Okay, my first question is: What was your
But he loved comedy and would allow me to play stand-up
records in the car for hours. So, his interest in comedy sparked mine. A difficult thing I got from him was a general sense of
July: Like an actual asleep nightmare?
nervousness, just not feeling comfortable in your own skin. I got that from my mom as well. They got divorced, but maybe that’s why they found each other. [Laughs] That agitated way
of thinking, ‘I need to stay on top of things to make it better in July: Occasionally
the future.’ A lot of future thoughts.
I write them down,
We weren’t very ‘present’ people. In
which is probably
my house there was a lot of, ‘Next
why I remember it. I
year will be my year!’ My mom had
had taken this suicide
a lot of fun energy when I was a
pill that would kill me.
kid. She was a really happy person
Then after I took it, I
then after their divorce she became
strongly realised I
really unhappy, which threw me.
didn’t want to die...
During the divorce, they were more tuned into their pain than they were
Apatow: Oh no!
to me. When your parents behave in ways that make you feel unsafe, you
July: But I had an
think, ‘Oh, I guess I’m in charge of
antidote. I took it and
myself.’ And when you’re fourteen,
was so relieved. Then
that’s not a great thing. It kind of
a few minutes went by and I realised that the
never goes away. As a producer, I’m Paris Hotel Outfit Check
always assuming things are going
antidote was in my cheek and I hadn’t actually swallowed
to crash and I’m trying to figure out what could go wrong
it. You had to take it in a certain amount of time or it was
before it happens. It’s helpful for work. But it’s a terrible
useless so I knew, ‘Oh, it’s too late! It was in my cheek!’ And
way to live your life.
then I just felt myself fainting and was like, ‘I can’t believe it – just this one little oversight.’ And that was it. I died.
July: I think I have some of that too, for similar reasons. I guess that’s a little bit of a director thing. I feel like it’s in
Apatow: And then you woke up feeling refreshed?
overdrive for me right now but it’s like, ‘Oh wow, this really has a purpose now that I’m a parent.’ This idea of being on
July: [Laughs] Or like, ‘Surely there’s some way I can use
the lookout for calamity at all times.
that in my work.’ Apatow: [Laughs] As a parent, you become obsessed with Apatow: The one I always remember was really vivid – like
anything dangerous that could happen. I remember once my
it was actually happening. It’s me on a plane, I’m the only
mom, who’s no longer with us, was babysitting my daughter
one on it. It’s going in and out of mountains and steep cliffs
and we saw her on a very busy street, and my mom was paying
and it’s clearly out of control.
no attention to her whatsoever. We were like, ‘You’re never watching
July: Oh right – ‘the bizarrely-low-plane dream’. I have that,
our kids again.’
too, where you’re like, ‘Wait, I’m looking at buildings!’ Sometimes it’s flying around downtown LA.
July: [Laughs] Sometimes me and Mike play a game: who would you
Apatow: I used to have nuclear war nightmares all the time
choose to take care of Hopper, our son,
as a kid. The sirens going off. I don’t know why they stopped,
between two unthinkable options.
maybe we’re safer now? Outfit Check Can Bra Be Seen Through White Crocheted Dress
you first have a kid
Apatow: I always feel guilty about whether or not I’m being
and you have to
a good enough husband and parent. I’m always guilty about
make a will and you
not taking better care of myself. And I’m usually guilty about
literally have to decide
not being helpful enough to people in my extended family
who gets your kids if
who need assistance. Because no matter what you do it’s
not enough. And people resent you the moment they ask
to you, that’s when
for help, so it changes your relationship instantly. You have
you realise how little
problems but then you become part of an ecosystem of their
you think of everyone
problems. That’s the bad thing about Twitter. Anything
in your world. That’s
you say, someone resents you for it. Like, ‘Oh my god, my
a good way to get
TV is totally stuttering.’ Then people tweet to you, ‘White
healthy. Put down the worst person you can think of to take care of your kids as motivation for staying alive. Okay,
July: Well Twitter in general is so paralysing to me. The
I have my next question. Do you have faith in humanity?
worst Twitter experience I ever had was... you know when you look up your own name in the search part? Well, once
July: My first instinct is to say yes and that I wouldn’t be able to
I accidentally typed ‘Miranda July’ in quotes in the Tweet
do what I do if I didn’t. I’m counting on everyone to catch my
box, so I just tweeted my own name.
heart, you know, to be able to understand in the deepest way that I can get it across, so in that way it’s like I’m practising that
Apatow: I get people that say. ‘Dude, This Is 40 minutes
faith. But on the other hand, I was listening to the radio and
too long!’ And then because I was taught to give people
it seemed that literally every day there would be a new gun-
guilt, I always tweet back directly to them and say, ‘Why do
violence thing. At the same time I was
you want to hurt people.’ [Laughs]
struggling with problematic friends
And then they’re like, ‘Dude I didn’t
and struggling with the part of myself
mean it - I love that movie!’ But to
that sometimes wants to just get rid
get there you have to act wounded,
of a friend. Like, I’m overwhelmed,
like, ‘I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it, I
I can’t figure out how to deal with it
tried so hard.’
and I just think in my head, ‘That’s it! Let’s just not be friends and never talk
July: I don’t know if that would
to each other again!’ I realised that I
work for me with my detractors.
was feeling that same tendency about
Okay, your turn...
humanity. I was like, ‘It’s too much of a mess - let’s just end it now.’ And then
Apatow: Do you care about sports?
I told myself, ‘No you’re piling on the way you do with other things, and
surely there’s something that can be done - it’s not all a waste.’ Okay, next
Apatow: That’s a good answer.
question for you. What are the top
When I was a kid I supported the
three things that make you feel guilty.
Mets, and I was so into it that it ruined my life. So the idea of
Apatow: You’ve hit the motherload!
competition doesn’t interest you?
You live in a fantasy land where I
Because as I get older I realise, ‘Oh, people love sports because it’s such
can make it just three things. I am built for guilt, and if a person in my life doesn’t try to guilt me
a distraction from real life.’
to get their way, I will unconsciously train them to use guilt to manipulate me. Everything about how my family worked
July: Right. No, that would be why I watch The Mindy Project
was based on guilt. From going to the mall with my elderly
or something. Okay. In your experience is it true that men
grandmother - if I had to run in and grab something, she
are more visual and women are more mental in terms of
would say, ‘It’s okay, you can just leave me in the car.’ There
what turns them on? I didn’t make this up - this is like a
were a lot of discussions that started like this: ‘Nobody said
thing. Men are more visual; just looking at a woman’s body
life was fair.’ That was a cornerstone concept. I remember
can turn them on. Whereas women are more mental. Like,
as a kid my mom used to tell us who she liked best out of
they’d rather think about sex to be turned on.
me and my brother and sister. We were just totally wired to please and if we didn’t please we’d feel terrible. It’s a horrible
Apatow: Oh, I’ve never thought about that before.
thing. There’s a book called Surviving Toxic Guilt. I always feel responsible for everyone’s happiness around me and
July: Really? What do you think about? Or are you too busy
I’ve had therapists say, ‘Has it ever worked? Have you ever
been able to make anyone happy?’ And I always say, ‘No.’ But weirdly all these things support me in my work. Everything
Apatow: Yeah, I’m too guilty to think about any of these
that’s screwed up about me makes you a thoughtful producer.
issues. [Laughs] I’m trying to think of me. Am I visual or
[Laughs] You can make everything go okay for once.
mental? Isn’t everybody both? Well, the male figure is not pleasing. Like, the penis is weird and sloppy looking. It’s
July: But what about right now? Top three things you feel
like something on the inside of your body is now on the
guilty about right now.
outside and it should be on the inside. Most people don’t look like David Beckham. So women need men to have a good
personality because most of us don’t look good.
July: With this therapist, the first session I ever had with her was really terrible. I was really angry with her, but I forced myself to go back and tell her how she’d fucked up. It was an amazing way to start because it got to the July: Even in the best of circumstances, if the man
important stuff right away and how she dealt
is David Beckham, Victoria is still not... it doesn’t
with that was, like, really smart. I don’t think
do anything for her. She has to pretend that she just
in the past I would have been willing to come
met David for the first time, or that she’s David’s
back. I would have just quit.
secretary, or... Apatow: I just disappear. Then I feel guilty Apatow: Or that he’s a Jewish comedy writer.
for years that I didn’t tell the doctor why I stopped coming and I assume that they’re
July: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly.
haunted by it. But they’re not haunted by it.
Apatow: She’s probably bored. He has the abs. But it gets
July: The therapist I left this therapist for, I’ve still never told
repetitive. There’s only so much you can do with rock-hard
her. I figure she just thinks I’m busy with the baby.
abs, because there’s not enough skin to work with. It’s like making love to a piece of slate.
Apatow: Just send a card: ‘Doing great! Don’t need any mental health support – thank you for fixing me!’
July: But I think that’s not true for David – I mean, Victoria doesn’t do anything for me but... I’m doing too much talking
July: I really want the old therapist to know how much
for your question. So you don’t really have anything to say
better this new one is.
about this? That’s fine. Apatow: Send them another note: ‘Why did you waste seven Apatow: You’ve seen The 40-Year-Old Virgin, right? [Laughs]
years of my life?’
I’m not the guy to go to about this stuff. I’m usually just hiding in a corner shaking. I look away when a pretty girl walks by – I
July: Okay, next question. So, there was this article in The New
feel like it’s an invasion to stare at somebody. I let my eyes
York Times about how they proved that telling the family story
look up real fast and then hope that I retain some memory of
made kids strong in the face of traumas. So, I was wondering:
it. My next question is: Who do you reach out to for guidance?
did you have that, and do you do that with your kids.
July: Um. Not too many people. I didn’t really know about
Apatow: When my parents divorced, my dad left a book out
that until recently, talking in terms of work – which actually
called Growing Up Divorced. I thought it was his book and
breaks my own rule, because what else is there. But in terms
that I was a smart kid for reading it, but actually it was some
of other things I always have close women friends. There’s
ploy to leave out a book that would help me cope. That’s
my friend Sheila Heti, she’s a writer. In fact, I sent her these
how much attention they paid to my feelings: a book was
questions and she just answered them all. [Laughs] Which is
left out. The main thing I got out of the book was how much
kind of like playing with someone else’s toys before they’ve
pain they were in and how going through a divorce can lead
even unwrapped them. And I have a really good therapist
you to neglect your children’s feelings. I tell my family story
– which is the first time I’ve ever had a therapist I admire...
through my work – even though we’re not supposed to talk about work – but I slip little details of it in. I pull the meat
Apatow: Admire? I need that phone number. I just always
from the bones of all the pain for everything I do. I don’t
think, ‘Oh my gosh, they look so
know if any of my work has made
bored. I can’t believe I’m not getting
me feel better, I just felt the need at
better and I’m just boring them
the time to figure something out by
creating a story. But when it’s over I feel exactly the same as when I
July: Yeah I do a certain amount
started – usually worse, because
of saying, ‘Well this is boring,’ or
I’ve neglected my feelings for three
‘Here’s something insignificant I
years while making a movie. My
want to talk about.’ I usually try
mom died of ovarian cancer, when
and preface it with some sort of
she was sick I was writing Funny
People and I made the movie right after she died and it’s probably only
Apatow: Do you cry during therapy?
Pregnant Outfit Check
now that I’m beginning to work through it. It’s this gigantic form
of denial. I’d love to think I’m doing something that helps July: Not as much as I did with the old bad therapists. It’s
me work things through, but I think I need your therapist.
funny – you would think that would be good, to be crying, but I feel like I’m just a better person with this new one so I
July: I have noticed recently that no sooner do I feel something
don’t need to cry as much.
new, good or bad, I’m immediately trying to translate it into my work. Like, ‘That’s good, that’s important – that’s not in
Apatow: I don’t like to cry, because then every session
my book!’ I still do that, but now I try to stop and notice, wow,
when I don’t cry he thinks, ‘Oh, he’s not actually opening
I really made sure that feeling didn’t have anywhere to just
up.’ Once I’ve showed them that’s there, then it’s like I’m
be in me. I just held up an arrow that was like ‘Keep moving,
always hiding it.
go thatta way! Into my book!’ and just bypassed myself.
Apatow: You get it out, but then you also keep a bulk of it in. Okay, I have to go to lunch with a retiring employee. We’re throwing her a party. So I’ll ask you one more question and
Apatow: I was forced to realise how self-centered I was. I
then shall we do our last three as a bonus round via email?
found it hard to shut my brain down so I could just hang out in my kid’s reality. It’s easier now because my kids' realities are
more like my own. We can talk about Breaking Bad episodes and why we think it is a bad idea to take ecstasy.
Apatow: The last one is: Do you have any food issues? Apatow: How would you like to spend your old age? July: I’ve never had like, ‘I’m-going-to-get-fat’ food issues – which I have to say I credit my mom for. She just never
July: I’d like it to be just like now – writing and surrounded by
picked up on the fact that she was supposed to worry about
people I love – except I want there to be zero anxiety. I want
those things and was always like, ‘Let’s go get a doughnut!’
to feel like I’m sitting in a jacuzzi all the time.
in a really benign way. But I love different kinds of restrictive diets. If I’m meeting a new person, and hear that they’re on
Apatow: I want to be like Mel Brooks. A great memory, a
some kind of new restrictive diet, I want to hear all about it
lot of energy, still making people laugh. I do not want to be
and possibly get on it myself. I like different forms of self-
like Jack Lalane, pulling fifty boats as I swim across a lake.
discipline. Like, I had no reason to be gluten-free, but then someone said, ‘Oh, you know it’s not great for your breast
milk.’ I was like, ‘Great! I’ll go off gluten!’
afterlife? Are you a Apatow: We went to an allergist and it turns out our kids have
no allergies to gluten. But our house is totally gluten-free. Every time we go to the supermarket my child is desperately sneaking
July: You know it’s funny,
a loaf of white bread into our cart like it’s Oreos! I couldn’t
I just wrote that I was
have more food issues. For me food is such a reward. It’s all
spiritual and then sat here
about fun. For me to think of food as fuel is extremely difficult.
for about ten minutes trying
Food is happiness. I like being stuffed. I like being so stuffed
to put words to that feeling.
I can’t get up. Like when you’re in that haze of exhaustion.
Everything I came up with
Pregnant Outfit Check
seemed made up or like some idea I’d had when I was fifteen. July: Haze – like a drug.
It all felt distasteful to me so I erased it. I think I’m less entranced by amorphous things at this moment.
Apatow: Okay. Well, let’s do these last ones on email and let people see what a bad writer I am when I actually type.
Apatow: I have some friends who had near-death experiences who felt a presence tell them to go back. It was not their
July: Yeah, or maybe they’ll just get better.
time. That is all I can hold onto. When I am creative I think something more is going on, so maybe it does not end. I
The following exchange took place via email – with Apatow
don’t think I am going to get ninety virgins or hang out in a
and July both asking their final questions, and then dutifully
beautiful kingdom. My biggest fear is that I will become a
answering each one themselves. (The photos also
ghost and be forced to hang out in some house watching a
came via email: Apatow’s are selfies shot on an
bunch of jackasses live their lives. I don’t want to be a tree.
iPhone; July’s are ‘outfit checks’ when a mirror
I know that is supposed to be a beautiful thing, to become
wasn’t at hand. Hell, if they were going to take
a tree or a beetle. I am not into that. I would like to stay me.
over the interview process, they can damn well
Maybe in the future with a jet pack.
take control of the camera, too.) July: What are the top three times you've been most Apatow: How does having a child change
completely freaked out in your life so far.
the way you think about your pre-child life? How has it changed you?
Apatow: When I was in sixth grade my friend’s brother grew pot in his room. One day my friend got his hands on a joint
July: I’m kind of amazed to see that the massive amount of
and we attempted to smoke it in the middle of the night at a
time I spent thinking about my feelings turned out not to be
construction site. Before we took a real puff a security guard
vital to my existence. In fact, having less time to think and
pointed a flashlight in our direction and we ran for miles
having to simply DO is just fine. For my whole life before
and miles and miles as if he was hot on our tail. There is no
I thought I needed the maximum amount of freedom, but
chance he took even one step in our direction. We stared out
as it turns out what I really need is to feel free for a limited
the window at my friend’s house for a half hour terrified that
amount of time and then crawl around the floor saying,
he would knock on the door and tell our parents. The next
“I’mgonnagetcha, I’mgonnagetcha,” while a very, very
year I was so scared that my friends were going to become
cute little boy squeals with glee. Before it was easy to feel
potheads that I switched social groups. My new friends
alienated from most people, now I feel like I have something
eventually became the real potheads of the school and after
sizeable in common with nearly every single person in the
two years I ran back to my old friends who never bothered
grocery store. Also my son had a really rough start so I went
to try it again.
through a level of trauma and fear that forever changed my
When the Northridge earthquake happened it really felt
relationship to catastrophe. It’s more real now so I’m more
like nuclear missiles were falling from the sky. The noise
afraid of it. I suppose I’m braver too.
and the shattering of glass freaked me out. My girlfriend at
the time seemed to have a bit of a mental break. Afterwards I wanted to go back to sleep. She wanted to look around so we went outside and every time we passed a cracked section
super-duper focused, wormhole style. That’s the space that
of sidewalk she laughed nervously in the way bad actors
I go into when I’m working – about five hours a day. It goes
pretend to be crazy people on the TV show Quincy. We broke
by in a flash. Also, because my mind is so relentless, I feel
up soon after when she cheated on me with a sports writer. A
really high when I get a break from it. This happens when all
year later I tried to win her back but she refused my advances
my senses are engaged, like in a new city with new food and
because she was dating a pot dealer.
sounds and sights. I feel ecstatic and relieved. I don’t even
I got freaked out when George Bush beat Al Gore for the
have to go very far away – it could just be some
Presidency because he was so terrible in the debates and I
strange part of LA I’ve never been to before.
assumed everyone in the country saw what I saw, a man who
Also some people make me feel like this, there
clearly was not equipped to lead our country. Apparently a
are a few people who are so intoxicating they
fair amount of people saw something different.
just make my mind stop.
July: 1. Aforementioned birth of baby. 2. That girlfriend you
July: We don't know each other very
had who had a mental breakdown during the earthquake?
well at all. Say your impressions of
That might have been me. I was in bed and the next thing I
me previous to this interview, being
know I’m on all fours growling in the corner. I was so scared I
very honest, no matter how superficial.
turned into a dog for a moment. 3. Various flights with extreme
When was the first time I entered your
turbulence. I grab the stewardesses, the people next to me – I
pretty much do the dog/earthquake thing but without going down on all fours because the floor’s gross.
Apatow: I became aware of you when I saw your excellent film Me and You and Everyone We Know
July: Can you try to give a little running narration
and it touched me deeply. It was very different
of what it's like in your head, how the thoughts come
than the movies I make, but it felt like it was
and go. Are there fully formed words and sentences?
trying to communicate many of the ideas and
Is it incessant and talky? Do you compose emails in
feelings I obsess over – love, loneliness, how strange and
your head? Or are you more in the moment than that?
beautiful life can be. Then I read and admired a bunch of your short stories. I also felt inadequate about how simply I
Apatow: My mind is a noisy place. I tend to look for problems
see the world. Sometimes I do not feel very interesting and
so I can solve them before they blow up in my face. I am like
wonder if my view of reality is too simple and straightforward.
a lookout for disaster. I also have a voice that tells me to calm
My work seems to be getting more and more stripped down,
down. I have a TM mantra and every once in a while I try to
raw and direct (and hopefully funny). But then I think some
breathe and think about some piece of advice I have heard or
bands sound like Radiohead and some sound like Badfinger
read, usually from the book The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle.
and I love them both.
Then I will think about my mantra. About one second later I
After sleeping on it I realised I envied you. So please add
am worried that I will never have a good idea again, or that I
Miranda July to my ‘People I Envy’ list. Now this article
have wronged someone in my life and I try to figure out what
has perfect symmetry. We started and ended with envy.
to do. Sometimes I am really hungry. Other times I am moved
We have an ending!
by a piece of music or a deeply felt thought and I cry. Laughter has happened too but less often. My great love for people and
July: Though I loved Freaks and Geeks I don’t think I
my family is pushed up close to terror and my existential crisis.
knew the name of the guy who did it. I first knew your
Occasionally I think of a great dick joke like
name from Mike Andrews, who was the
when Steve Carell tries to pee with an erection
composer on my first movie, he works with
and I get very proud of myself and feel like
you regularly and so I heard Apatow this
I am adding something very positive to the
and Apatow that and I suppose I thought of
world. I can almost feel people forgetting their
you as the Hollywood professional who was
troubles and laughing, and for a moment I feel
actually paying him so he could afford to do a
like there is a God or a higher purpose and I
project like mine. Next I remember laughing
am truly happy. God gave me that dick joke. It
so hard at Superbad that I felt out of control,
all makes sense. Then I get scared again and
hysterical. So that impressed me. I also really
it all starts over.
loved Funny People. I haven’t seen the new one yet but I’m going to watch it tonight. I
July: Many words and fully formed
remember seeing a picture of you a few years
sentences. Whole emails written out in my
ago and being surprised that you weren’t
head. Lots of planning thoughts – like every
ugly. I had just assumed you were one of
single moment planning what I’m going to do
those very powerful ugly men with gorgeous Rodarte Outfit Check
in the next moment, the next hour, the next
wives. But you’re actually quite handsome
day, week, year. I have the next ten years planned, work-wise.
and youthful-looking. Currently, I think of you as a new
I also think a lot about washing the dishes or vacuuming.
friend of my husband’s and the Executive Producer of my
The more boring the task the more of my mental space I
friend’s TV show [Girls, by Lena Dunham] and these are
have to devote to it. I also instruct myself a lot, like: “Robot,
positive, warm associations
go brush your teeth.” I lay in bed and think about what I’ll bring in my carry-on bag on a trip I’m going on in five months.
I Found This Funny, a compilation of comedy writing edited by Judd
Sometimes I instruct myself to “free fall” – that’s exist without
Apatow, and It Chooses You, by Miranda July, are both published
thinking. It feels like falling through space. I can also get
articulate as we refused to compromise on our differences, it would be that we had stopped loving each other the way we needed to if we were to spend the rest of our lives together. The drift apart had happened gradually. When we finally noticed, we were at a loss to stop it. But we still loved each other in our way. A year after Sandy and I separated, a year after I moved out of the house we shared for almost seven years, I accepted a job on the other side of the country at The Philadelphia Inquirer. At thirty-nine and after having lived in San Francisco for fourteen years, I was starting over. J. Malcolm Garcia
Eastbound A memoir of sorts
“ I d o n’t k n o w i f h e ’s u n h e ra l d e d , b u t t h e re ’s a w r i te r n a m e d J. M a l c o l m G a rc i a w h o c o n t i n u a l ly astounds me with his energ y and empathy. He writes powerful and lyrical nonfiction from Afghanistan,
Sandy was stunned when I told her about the Inquirer job. Despite our split, we would get together from time to time not to reconcile, but to ease into living alone. My move to Philadelphia would end the transition period. “When do you leave?” she asked when I told her. “Next week.” “Next week!” Pause. “Will you come see me before you go?” she said. “I want to,” I said.
from Buenos Aires, from Mississippi, all of it urgent and provocative. I’ve been following him wherever h e g o e s .” – D a v e E g g e r s , T h e N e w Yo r k T i m e s
The bartender introduced me to a woman in Illustration Joe Wilson
a thin, flower patterned satin robe. She walked out from a room behind the bar and sat beside
AR the sign said.
He rang up my beer and gave me the change.
me. I could see her black bra, flat stomach and
I went inside.
A big man with a red beard walked in followed by
black panties through the robe. Her dark black
NOW SERVING TAMMY AND
a woman carrying a bag of groceries. She set the
hair fell to her shoulders and her blue eyes were
MONICA, I read on a chalkboard
bag on the bar and the bartender peered inside.
wide and hesitant. She wore just enough makeup
“Thanks for taking Monica to the store,” he
to highlight her cheeks. Small lines furrowed
by the restroom. I paused, sat down, ordered a beer and put three dollars on the bar.
said to Red Beard. “She owes me,” Red Beard told him. “I’ve run
“Ten bucks,” the bartender said.
her around more than enough for you today. I
I looked at him, my eyes wide.
expect a free one.”
down from her mouth and gave the impression she was pouting. She was not hard like the other woman, but I could see the hardness coming. “This is Tammy,” the bartender said.
“Whorehouse prices,” he said.
“What are you talking about?” Monica said.
He turned to her.
He opened a refrigerator and took out a can
“You heard me. I get a free one. Gas
“He thought we were just a bar. He just wants
his beer. I told him you’d be more interesting to
He snapped off the tab and set the can on a
Monica rolled her eyes. Her face was parchment
napkin. He gave me a tall glass dripping with
tight, mouth thin. Her breasts pushed out against
“Oh,” Tammy said. “You don’t want a girl?”
water. I saw a note on the mirror behind the bar
her small white T-shirt but there was nothing
reminding patrons to use condoms.
enticing about the display. She lit a cigarette,
I put a twenty-dollar bill by my glass. I wiped
took a drag and held it before releasing her
sweat off my forehead. A ceiling fan turned
breath in one long, lean exhalation that tightened
above me, but the air didn't move.
her face even more.
“I’ll call Tammy,” the bartender said. “You’ll like her. Monica’s busy.”
I sipped my beer. I had driven eight hours on eastbound Interstate 80 from San Francisco before
talk to than me.”
“Ask him to buy you a glass of wine at least,” Monica said. “Don’t give him your time for nothing.” “Right,” Tammy said. “Would you buy me a glass of wine?” “If you get her wine or a drink she gets half
“I don’t want a girl. Just the beer. I didn’t
I stopped for the night here in Elko. I was on my
know, you know. I mean there’s no sign about,
way to Philadelphia. I figured it would take me
you know, what you do here.”
four more eight-hour days to get there. I checked
“Wine’s five dollars.”
“We’re called The Hotel California,” the
into a Motel 6. From my room I saw the bar sign
I put five dollars on the bar and the bartender
bartender said of the bar and pointed to some
a few blocks away and decided to have a cold one.
poured a glass of red wine. He put two fifty in
T-shirts on the wall with the name. “This is
I had spent the previous night with Sandy, my
Nevada. It’s not illegal.”
the bar tab,” the bartender said. “Ok.”
a jar for Tammy.
ex. All sorts of reasons for our split after eight-
“I had real nice guy the other night,” Tammy
“I know, but it just said bar outside.”
and-a-half years together. But if I were to settle
told Monica. “He said he'd take me to a movie.”
“Got you in here, didn’t it?”
on the reason, the one neither of us wanted to
“Yeah. He’s going to stop here some time tonight and then we’ll go out.”
breasts. I looked away.
Monica by the arm.
“What else?” I asked.
“C’mon,” he said.
Tammy turned to me and asked what I was
Tammy got up and led me out of the room
“Let go of my arm!” she snapped.
doing in Elko. On my way to Philadelphia, I told
and down a hall. She opened a door that had
“Stop it!” the bartender said and slapped the
her. She said she would be flying to New York City
her name on it and let me in. A bed with a
bar with his palm. “Christ, I gave you a drink.
in a few months to meet with representatives of
white comforter pressed against the wall near
How much longer you going to go on about a
the United Nations. Her mother was Iranian,
an open closet. Skirts and blue jeans hung on
free one for some God damn groceries? You’ve
Tammy explained. She believed she was owed
hangers. An ironing board stood in a corner.
been coming in here too long to act the fool.”
thousands of dollars from Iranian assets frozen by
A McDonald’s plastic cup half filled with soda
Red Beard dropped Monica’s arm.
the US government since 1979 when Americans
stood on a dresser.
“You owe me,” he said jabbing a finger at the
were taken hostage in Tehran. “That money belongs to all Iranians,” she said. “When I’m paid I’m going to travel the world and then run my own business.” I didn’t say anything. Tammy had not decided what sort of business she wanted to
“We’re charged thirty dollars a day to live here,” Tammy said.
bartender. “Gas money.” He stormed out the door and a sharp splash
of sunlight burst into the bar. For seconds I
“That’s why I like doing parties. You can
couldn’t see. I blinked, heard a truck start. The
make a thousand dollars with one party. The
bartender blurred into view and I watched him
house keeps half. But that’s still $500 for me.”
freshen Monica’s drink. She carried it down the
start. She said she had been a realtor before the
She stopped talking and loosened her robe.
hall, her hard face etched in shadow against the
bottom fell out of real estate. Four weeks ago,
“It’s been slow this week,” she said facing me.
wall. The truck pulled away.
she started working here. She would return to
“Depending on what you want, I could probably
real estate when the market picked up.
give it to you cheap. I’d have to ask though.”
“He saved my life,” she said of the bartender. “He gave me a job.”
I felt my face turn red. If Sandy saw me now:
Her warm breath washed against my ear
Sure you didn’t know it was a brothel. I could just
and she place a hand on my knee. I turned to
hear her. I smiled at the thought. Tammy smiled
her. She seemed very slight and small. I knew
back. I shook my head.
she didn't believe a word she had said about the
“No,” I said. “I really only wanted a beer. I just saw the bar sign outside and came in.” I spent my last two days in San Francisco with Sandy. This morning, I got up early. I dressed and
no experience in real estate. I knew her customer from the other night didn’t exist or if he did,
She tightened her robe.
he would never take her to a movie. I knew her
“Buy me another wine, then.”
name was not Tammy.
back inside she was sitting on the black couch
“Would you buy me another wine? So I can
resulted in one of our countless arguments.
U.N. and frozen Iranian assets. I knew she had
carried my duffle bag to my car. When I came she bought without asking me and that had
“I never thought I’d be doing this,” Tammy whispered to me.
make a little cigarette money off you at least.” “Of course,” I said.
“Coffee?” she asked.
I also knew that I had left San Francisco for good. I had days of hard driving ahead of me and when I reached Philadelphia, Sandy would not visit me at Christmas. I finished my beer. I told Tammy it was nice
“I’m good, thanks.”
to have met her. She bounced back with a chirpy
“I’ll visit you in Philadelphia,” she said.
request for me to remember her because we might see each other again. After all, Philadelphia was
“Christmas.” “That would be good, yes.” “We always enjoyed Christmas together,” I said. We hugged. Both of us gave in to choked sobs. Then I walked outside to my car. I waved.
After I left Sandy, I drove into downtown San
not that far from New York City, was it?
Francisco and cruised North Beach. I passed
“No, it’s not,” I said.
a bagel shop she and I often had stopped for
I got in my car and drove down the street
breakfast. I continued to City Lights Bookstore
to my motel room. I opened the door to the
where we always browsed on Saturdays.
empty bed and dusty chest of drawers and the
Sandy raised an arm. I drove around the block
I took Clay Street to Interstate 80 east.
thin light filtering through the faded curtains. I
and stopped once more in front of the house. I
Within two hours I drove through Sacramento
stepped inside and closed the door. In the musty
hoped she would still be standing there but the
and continued on to Lake Tahoe. Then I reached
dark silence, I whispered, Goodbye. Goodbye.
front door was closed.
the California-Nevada border. I pulled into a rest
Goodbye. I felt the words come off my tongue
stop. I stared at the interstate, its long grey line
and leave my mouth and dissolve into the quiet. I
eastbound into the horizon. I can always turn
stretched out on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
back, I reminded myself. I can always turn back.
The morning would be the start of another long
“Would you like me to show you around?”
day. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep Tammy asked. “Ok,” I said. “I’m ready for that free one,” Red Beard said. “Shut up,” Monica said. “Last time I ask a favour from you.” I followed Tammy into a room with a cot and
J. Malcolm Garcia was a social worker in San Francisco
Tammy and I sat back at the bar. I ordered a glass of red wine and another beer. “Nothing?” the bartender asked, looking at Tammy and then at me.
for fourteen years. In that capacity, he started a monthly publication, By No MEANS. Modelled after Stud Terkel's oral histories, BNM published first-person accounts of the lives of homeless people. In 1997, Garcia
a couch. A hot tub stood in a corner. I smelled
“Nothing,” Tammy said.
turned to journalism full-time. After September 11th,
the wet heat rising from the tub.
“Well,” the bartender said to me, “you did
he began reporting overseas and his work came to
“This room is used for parties,” Tammy said.
say you only wanted a beer.”
She didn’t elaborate. She sat on the cot and
He dropped two-fifty in the jar for Tammy.
watched me. The robe sagged open around her
I concentrated on my beer. Red Beard took
the attention of Dave Eggers. His reportage has been published in McSweeney's and anthologised in Best American Nonrequired Reading.
B e c o m i n g
W e s t e r l y T e x t
J ami e
P h o t o g r a p h y
B risic k B r o di e
S tand e n
Peter Drouyn was one of surfing's first superstars. Today, she lives as Westerly Windina, a flamboyant woman with a flamenco dancer's zest. When her story, soon to be captured in a documentary film, caught the attention of fellow surfer Jamie Brisick, it sparked a journey that would see both former pros transformed by a new way of life. waves. He won the prestigious Makaha Invitational, came second in the Duke. While his contemporaries did walkovers and hang fives, Peter heaved up and down, back and forth, pioneering what the Aussies dubbed the ‘power style’. He could ast November I boarded Thai Airways Flight 474
lose himself on a wave; apply every nerve, every cuticle. “It
to Bangkok with my friend Westerly Windina,
was a rebellion thing,” Westerly told me. “Peter powered. He
formerly Peter Drouyn. Westerly wore the sort of
had to get it out of himself. He’d punch the wave.”
outfit Marilyn Monroe might have worn for a flight
In 1971, Peter enrolled in the National Institute of Dramatic
back in the fifties: black-and-white ballerina flats,
Art (NIDA) and studied Stanislavski’s system – an approach
white Capri pants, tangerine sweater. Her blonde hair was
in which actors draw upon personal emotions and memories,
pinned into little curls. She applied a fresh coat of ruby red
and immerse themselves fully in their characters. From this he
lipstick every five minutes. “Do I look alright?” she asked
developed “method surfing” – “you are one and the same, you
me for the fifteenth time. She was palpably nervous. In the
become the ocean by degrees of concentration and relaxation,
three years I’d known her she’d spoken nonstop about her
kind of a hypnotic state... I went out and just became the
“completion” – i.e. gender reassignment surgery. Now it was
ocean.” In 1977, he invented the man-on-man competition
less than seventy-two hours away.
format – still the benchmark today. In 1984, he challenged four-
I first met Westerly in August 2009 when I wrote a piece
time world champion Mark Richards to a showdown. Dubbed
about her for The Surfer’s Journal. At the time I knew little
‘The Superchallenge’, it seemed less about determining the
about Westerly, but lots about Peter. Peter Drouyn was a surfing
best surfer than showcasing Peter’s wild imagination. He
legend. Born in 1950, he spent his early years frolicking on the
took out campy advertisements in the surf mags: Peter clad
beaches of his hometown, Surfer’s Paradise, in Queensland,
in underwear, smeared with ketchup, posing Gladiator-style,
Australia. He rode his first wave on a balsa board at age eleven.
with Muhammad Ali-like jibes slashed across the page. In
He surfed his first contest a couple years later. At age fifteen,
1985, he brought surfing to The People’s Republic of China.
on the eve of the 1965 Australian Titles, he got badly beaten
Peter was a showman par excellence. But he never got the
up by a trio of surfers and spent most of the night in hospital.
accolades he felt he deserved. Sad stories pepper the 1990s.
The following morning he showed up to the contest with a
After a series of false starts he ended up destitute, living in
bandage on his forehead and something like steam coming
caravan parks or with his parents. At a Masters contest in
out of his nostrils. He blitzed his way to the final and won,
Fiji he got punched out for hitting on a fellow surfer’s wife.
setting forth a theme: throughout his long career, Peter would
At an awards banquet in Australia he grabbed the mic and
see himself as the perennial outsider. After a trail of victories
sputtered vitriol at all in attendance. He was booed and
in Australia he travelled to Hawaii and flourished in the big
tomatoed off the stage.
“I felt a certain kinship with Westerly. Literature embraced our inherent strangeness, made it all feel okay.”
In 2008, Peter appeared on Australian national television
she could throw her handkerchief to the ground and revel as I
announcing that he was living as a woman. Her new
dive for it. She wasted no time in laying down the facts. “This
name, she said, was Westerly Windina. Surf magazines
is the unfolding of someone experiencing a new existence,”
and websites picked up the story. They cast Westerly as
she told me before the waiter had even brought us glasses
social pariah, laughing stock.
of water. “I’ve been plucked and put into a new dimension.
I was genuinely curious. I felt a certain kinship with
This is actually something that has come and hit me and said,
Westerly. I grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley –
‘You’re ready. You’re ready to enter this new space and time
disastrously uncool in the surf world. When I started surfing
and there’s a mission for you in all this.’”
contests in the early eighties I found the scene to be cliquey and
For the next two hours, over plates of spaghetti arrabiata
frat boy-ish, a far cry from the bohemian seventies. I competed
and strong lattes, she had me in her thrall. She spoke of Peter
on the ASP Pro Tour for five years, during which time I was
in the third person, lovingly, as if he were her tragic son who
rather put off by the narrow-mindedness of surfing’s elite.
died a tragic death. She told me how as a child, Peter would
My antidote was reading. Literature embraced our inherent
paint his fingernails and wear lipstick and miniskirts – “He
strangeness, made it all feel okay. I can remember the very
looked like a boy, but his emotions and sensitivities were like a
sentences that inspired me to become a writer. Paul Theroux:
girl.” She said that she named herself after the westerly wind,
“Writing is an education in the eyes of the public.” Henry
favorable for surfing on the Gold Coast where Peter grew up.
Miller: “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people,
She grimaced when she spoke of “the monsters that robbed
things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing
poor Peter”, i.e. the surfing establishment that never gave him
with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.
his due. Then she launched into the climax.
Forget yourself.” Paul Theroux again: “Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.”
On a sunny afternoon in 2002, Peter Drouyn paddled out to his beloved Burleigh Heads. The sky was cloudless;
In 1992 I quit the Pro Tour and started writing for surf
the waves slightly overhead and spiralling down the point.
magazines. For the first couple of years it was a revelation: I
He picked off a set wave and proceeded to streak across the
got to use my brain in ways that I hadn’t as a pro athlete; I was
shimmering face. On the inside section, where shallow sand
buttressed by a world I knew well. But the more I documented
creates a kind of zippering suck-up, he went to do his trademark
surf culture, the more monochromatic it became. When
straighten-out in which he adds a matador-like flourish, as
Westerly came along I jumped with excitement. Here was a
if the lip were a charging bull. The wave clocked him square
story that had meat (sorry!) and depth and controversy. The
on the head. As it took him down, the left side of his face
surfing part I knew. The transgender part would be a great
slapped the concrete-hard surface. He was held underwater
for a preternaturally long time.
We met at a little Italian restaurant not far from where
“This feeling is never to be forgotten,” remembered
she lives on the Gold Coast. Westerly was dressed like a fifties
Westerly. “Peter felt terribly disoriented, his equilibrium was
bombshell and carried herself coquettishly, as if at any minute
shot, he thought he was dead, he saw a powdery white light
I got to thinking about identity. If Westerly were to have her surgery, would this silence the naysayers? If she were to change her mind, would this out her as a fraud? At what point does performance become real life? Aren’t we all to some degree acting? My story appeared first in The Surfer’s Journal, then in magazines and on websites in Brazil, Australia, and Japan. It was the most commented on piece I’d ever written. I learned something I probably should have learned much earlier: a journalist is only as good as his/her story. I also learned that good stories essentially tell themselves, which is to say that I felt less like a prose/structure master and more like a midwife. My friendship with Westerly continued after the piece was published. We spoke at least once a week. Along with her surgery, she wanted desperately to come to “America,” where she was destined to become a famous entertainer. As she fleshed out her version of “famous entertainer,” I was transported to the Marilyn Monroe 1950s. We discussed me and suddenly he popped up and drifted to shore.”
writing a screenplay about her/Peter’s life, but we could never
Westerly said that this accident, which left Peter with
come to an agreement. Westerly had all kinds of stipulations.
a concussion and perforated eardrum, “pretty much fried
She oscillated from small-town ingénue to testy sixty-one-year-
his brain”. She said things were never the same again, and
old prima donna making absurd demands. And she did the
that soon after he started changing into a female. She told
latter with almost a wink, as if it was all part of the persona.
a fairy tale-like story of Peter walking back from a surf one
Around that time I started to work with the director Alan
late afternoon. The beach is empty, Peter’s in a ponderous,
White on a screenplay. Often our development meetings would
introspective mood, when he nearly steps on a discarded
drift into conversations about Westerly. Alan was as fascinated
women’s bathing suit, pink with white stripes. He takes it
as I was. The hard facts of Westerly’s life, I realised, were far
home and tries it on in front of the mirror. It fits. He sashays
more interesting than anything I could dream up in a script.
around the house in it regularly, often to the accompaniment
Not to mention the fact that documentaries are a lot easier
of classical music. He experiments with lipstick. This leads to
to get off the ground than features.
visits to local thrift stores, where he buys up women’s clothes
In December 2011 Alan and I shot footage for a demo
by the bagful. In the middle of the night he puts them on,
reel. We filmed Westerly at home and interviewed various
drives down to the beach, and dances along the shoreline in
surf luminaries. With producers Jordan Tappis and Beau
a kind of bewitched rapture. Pretty soon she’s wearing more
Willimon, and musicians Matt Sweeney and Bonnie ‘Prince’
women’s clothes than men’s.
Billy, we brought our project to Kickstarter. Not only did we
“It was just bursting out of me,” said Westerly. “It was as if the suffering just couldn’t continue. And the moment I started
secure the funding we needed to get started on the film, but we learned that people were hungry for the Westerly story.
believing I was a girl my body started to change. I went from a
Which brings us back to Flight 474 to Bangkok. Westerly
square gorilla to long-legged, slender. The hips are higher, the
squirms in her seat. She triple-checks the stack of pre-surgery
bum has lifted right up. The doctors can’t believe it!”
tests and psychiatric evaluations kept neatly in a pink
Westerly told me that she carries the spirit of Marilyn
notebook. She pulls from her purse a vintage hand mirror and
Monroe with her, that she’s on a kind of mission. “I want to
applies a fresh coat of lipstick. As the plane makes its way down
bring back the power of femininity,” she said. “Everything I
the runway she leans in close and sings in a breathy whisper:
do – my speech, my communication, my clothes – is from the
I lost my love on the river and forever my heart will yearn,
point of view of purity of femininity and the power of that
Gone gone forever down the river of no return
internal spring; that caring, that sympathy, that sensitivity. A woman’s touch is finer than 16,000 magic carpets from
Westerly: A Man, A Woman, An Enigma has reached its full funding
Aladdin’s lamp! It can change the world.”
on Kickstarter. For updates, visit westerlythefilm.com.
As I researched the piece, Westerly’s legend grew. Her friends and contemporaries weren’t buying it. “At sixty we men become invisible to the girls – Westerly just wants attention,” said one. “I saw him at the Stubbies Reunion night. He was wearing heels and lipstick. I asked him what the deal was and he pulled me in close and whispered, ‘It’s all an act,’” said another. “This is the greatest piece of performance art ever. Westerly should be in museums,” insisted a third. While writing my piece I spoke with Westerly via Skype almost nightly. She spilled her guts – about how unfairly Peter was treated, about the “insensitive, backwards-thinking culture of Australia,” about her love for her son, Zach. “What I want more than anything,” she told me repeatedly, “is to get my operation.”
When HUCK asked me to name six promising young writers these were the first six that popped into my head. A few of these writers, like Powers, Raboteau and Ali, already have acclaimed works out, others are working on their first novels or collections. But in any case, all of these writers satisfy that foundational need we all have: to be told a new truth, or have it told in a new way. At McSweeney's, one of the chief tasks we set for ourselves is the finding of bold new voices and the same thing goes for Best American Nonrequired Reading. So we read a lot of new writers, and we get to experience that uniquely electric feeling – it happens almost every few weeks really – of discovering someone with a very different take on the world. I hope these writers give you that kind of jolt. – Dave Eggers
Presented by Dave Eggers
Emily Ra An
I loved her first book, Searching for Zion. It has real range, emotionally and geographically, as she searches for her roots all over the world. I’m drawn to that kind of wanderlust
he security personnel of EL AL Airlines descended on me like a flock of vultures. There were five of them, in uniform, blockading Newark International Airport’s check-in counter. Two women, three men. They looked old enough to have finished their obligatory service in the Israeli Defense Forces but not old enough to have finished college, which meant they were slightly younger than me. I was prepared for the initial question, “What are you?”, which I’ve been asked my entire life, and, though it chafed me, I knew the canned answer that would satisfy: “I look the way I do because my mother is white and my father is black.” This time the usual reply wasn’t good enough. This time the interrogation was tribal. They questioned me rapidly, taking turns. “What do you mean, black? Where are you from?” “New Jersey.” “Why are you going to Israel?” “To visit a friend.” “What is your friend?” “She’s a Cancer.” “She has cancer?” “No, no. She’s healthy.” “She’s Jewish?” “Yes.” “How do you know her?” “We grew up together.” “Do you speak Hebrew?” “Shalom,” I began. “Barukh atah Adonai…” I couldn’t remember the rest of the blessing, so I finished with a word I remembered for its perfect onomatopoetic rendering of the sound of liquid being poured from the narrow neck of a vessel: “Bakbuk.” It means bottle. I must have sounded like a babbling idiot. “That’s all I know,” I said. I felt ridiculous, but also pissed off at them for making me feel that way. I was twenty-three. I was a kid. I was an angry kid and so were they. “Where is your father from?” “Mississippi.” “No.” By now they were exasperated. “Where are your people from?” “The United States.” “Before that. Your ancestors. Where did they come from?” “My mother’s people are from Ireland.” They looked doubtful. “What kind of name is this?” They pointed at my opened passport. I felt cornered and all I had to defend myself with was my big mouth. It was so obviously not a time for joking. “A surname,” I joked. “How do you say it?” “Don’t ask me. It’s French.” There was a village in Haiti called Raboteau. That much I knew. Raboteau may once have been a sugar plantation, named for its French owner, one of whose slaves may have been my ancestor. It’s also possible I descended from the master himself. Or from both – master and slave.
and origin-seeking, and Raboteau also happens to be an extremely talented writer who would and could make anything interesting. – Dave Eggers
“You’re French?” they pressed. “No, I told you. I’m American.” “This!” They stabbed at my middle name, Ishem. “What is the meaning of this name?” “I don’t know,” I answered, honestly. I was named after my father’s great-aunt, Emily Ishem, who died of cancer long before I was born. I had little idea where the name came from, just a vague sense that like many slave names, it was European. My father couldn’t name anyone from our family tree before his great-grandmother, Mary Lloyd, a slave from New Orleans. Preceding her was a terrible blank. After Mary Lloyd came Edward Ishem, the son she named after his white father, a merchant marine who threatened to take the boy back with him to Europe. To save him, Mary shepherded her son to the Bay of St. Louis where it empties into the Mississippi Sound. There he grew up and married a Creole woman called, deliciously, Philomena Laneaux. They gave birth to my grandmother, Mabel Sincere, and her favourite sister, Emily Ishem, for whom I am named. “It sounds Arabic,” one of them remarked. “Thank you,” I said. “Do you speak Arabic?” “I know better than to try.” “What do you mean?” “No, I don’t speak Arabic.” “What are your origins?” I felt caught in a loop of the Abbot and Costello routine, “Who’s on first?” There was no place for me inside their rhetoric. I didn’t have the right vocabulary. I didn’t have the right pedigree. My mixed race had made me a perpetual unanswered question. The Atlantic slave trade had made me a mongrel. And a threat. “Ms. Raboteau! Do you want to get on that plane?” I was beginning to wonder. “Do you?” “Yes.” “Answer the question then! What are your origins?” What else was I supposed to say? “A sperm and an egg,” I snapped. That’s when they grabbed my luggage, whisked me to the basement, stripped off my clothes and probed every inch of my body for explosives, inside and out. When they didn’t find any, they focused on my tattoo, a Japanese character. According to the tattoo artist who inked it, it meant different, precious, unique. I was completely naked, and the room was cold. My nipples were hard. I tried to cover myself with my hands. I remember feeling incredibly thirsty. One of them flicked my left shoulder with a latex glove. “What does it mean?” he asked. This was the first time I’d been racially profiled, not that the experience would have been any less humiliating had it been my five hundredth. “It means Fuck You,” I wanted to say, not merely because they’d stripped me of my dignity, but because they’d shoved my face into my own rootlessness. I have never felt more black in my life than I did when I was mistaken for an Arab
Powers The Locks of the James from a forthcoming collection of poems published by Little Brown.
History isn’t over, in spite of our desire for it to be. Even now, one can see the windfall of leaves gathering like lost baggage on the dirty pathways paralleling the old canal, itself resurrected in an attempt to reproduce a minor economic miracle that had taken place in a similarly middling city halfway across this continent. I walked the route with my father on the day of its opening, before the new commercial ventures gained brief fame and the shops and music halls, the apartments in the husks of once burnt tobacco warehouses collectively became the place to be. He pointed out the sheer scale of the endeavour, the countless men it took to dig the channels, the drivers of the boats, the ingenuity of fixing all the mechanisms in place without the aid of welding. A scale model of the working locks could be operated by inserting a penny in a slot. Two doors shut, the lower chamber filled with water, ostensibly bringing a ship laden with goods to the level of the next enclosure, where it could, by all accounts, navigate the waters beyond the fall line out even to Ohio, with luck, beyond the Mississippi. I only later learned the scale model of the locks I’d played with was the only working set the river had ever known, the actual project having run into financial troubles, driven into the ground by every brand of huckster and charlatan one could imagine, 88 HUCK
Kevin’s first book, The Yellow Birds, is well-known here in the US, and has been nominated for or won a bunch of awards. It was my favourite book in 2012, and one of the best war books I’ve ever read. He’s a poet first, and then he became a soldier, serving in Iraq, and the novel he wrote is utterly timeless and beautiful and very, very sad. – Dave Eggers
not to mention the fact that the railroads had already made 10,000 men’s lifework obsolete. And I wonder if I should be angry that my father never mentioned this, that instead of acknowledging the fact that this project had failed, had been utterly doomed from the start, he’d made a big production over the model boat that had gone missing from the little plastic locks. What would he have told me, as we sat carving newer, better boats from peels of silver birch bark? What would he have said as we watched the water raise them and the doors to all that was beyond opened triumphantly and we walked the three or four steps to the end of the display, then started over? Anger seems absurd, but so too does this effort to recollect, to reconstruct a moment from my life in miniature, knowing that a scale model can accomplish nothing when the life-sized thing was never built, knowing that everything in the world only reminds me of something else. The last time I went the whole lot of it had been abandoned, more or less. A few bums hadn’t gotten the message that the civic venture was a failure, one or two unremarkable concerts had occurred, a couple of yuppies were still rumoured to be living, all alone, in the penthouse apartment of a renovated tobacco warehouse, there was a stink about a parking lot that had been laid over a slave burial ground. Nevertheless, the sun was bright in the sky and the bums dangled their fingertips in the canal’s green water, and apparently some landlord was still paying to have the grass kept green and mown. My father had been buried not far from there. No one sang at his wake. It seemed improper, deep in misery or not, like it was just as well for us to see song buried with him. I passed the statue of Christopher Newport as I left, as I had that day with my father. I can’t recall feeling any different, though I probably did, having learned in the intervening period that besides being an accidental founder of this city, he was also a pirate and a murderer of indigenous peoples. If I’m honest, I don’t think I cared. If I’m honest, mine is the only history that really interests me, which is unfortunate, because I am not alone
“What’s your road, man? - holyboy road, madman road, rainbow road, guppy road, any road. it’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. Where body how?” Jack Kerouac, On the Road
“that’s what hip hop is, sampling life a n d a d d i n g o n .”
nz! curated by the go
“ i s w e a r, sometimes i morph back into a l i t t l e k i d .”
huck 37 | raDical culture
huck 36 | raDical culture
The Beat Generation and Beyond: ben gibbard band of horses - eric koston underground vegas - freight hopping
9 771751 272039 35 £4.25 | ISSUE 35 | Oct/Nov 2012
Nas loves life - Dave carnie hates twitter steph gilmore is the female face of surf Plus: cyclocross, martial arts & footwork japan
9 771751 272046 36 £4.50 | ISSUE 36 | Dec/Jan 2012/13
Mark Gonzales and Friends: harmony korine r a y m o n d p e t t i b o n – b a r r y m c g e e – to m s a c h s cara Delevingne – larry clark – and more...
9 771751 272046 37 £4.50 | ISSUE 37 | Feb/March 2013
Listen up homies! Get HUCK on deck for just £3* an issue! Visit huckm.ag/hucksub and use discount code Eggers3 to get an annual subscription to the print mag (six issues) for just £18. *£3.00 per issue for next year by Direct Debit. Thereafter paying £22.00 per year. Offer subject to availability and savings may vary depending on selected subscription type. Overseas subscribers subject to post and packaging costs. For more information lease email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (UK) 0844 844 0240 (Overseas) +44(0)1795 592 903 Offer ends June 1.
Nyuol Nyuol is a very young and very promising writer who grew up in Sudan and now is a student at Duke University. We commissioned him to edit a collection of South Sudanese fiction; it is the first to be published in the US as far as we know. The collection is great overall, and Nyuol is one of the most original and accomplished voices in it. He very well might write the first great Sudanese-American novel.
– Dave Eggers
ama taught me better. She could give me a glare that brought me to my knees when she heard me talk about anyone without respect – especially Mabiordit. It was Mabiordit who had sheltered us when we came to Juba looking for Jal e Jal and ended up stranded, with nothing in Mama’s purse but twenty pounds and a battered Nokia mobile that could receive calls but not make them. The trip from Panagam had taken three days. Two bus tickets at two hundred pounds each were beyond our means, so we paid a local merchant fifty pounds and crouched on sacks of maize flour in the back of his rusted Honda pickup truck. The roads were still under construction, full of potholes, and so narrow that you could nearly touch the mud-thatch huts and thorny shrubs on either side. At one point we had to flatten ourselves against the flour sacks to keep from getting scratched when the truck pulled over to let a group of Land Rovers pass. They whizzed by like bullets, darkened windows shielding the faces of their drivers — government officials and NGO directors. They left nothing but dust in their wake. In Juba, after trekking across five hundred miles – almost the length of South Sudan — we found Jal e Jal happily married, with three children, and not in the least pleased by our presence. After exchanging pleasantries, he adjusted himself in his chair, faced us directly, and confirmed the rumour, spread by various relatives, that what he and Mama had done on the grass-covered shores of the Loll River fifteen years ago – never mind that it begot me — was awoc, a mistake. He wanted nothing to do with us, he said, and would be grateful if we never contacted him again. Then he rose up, fixed his blue tie, buttoned his black suit, and disappeared through the square door of the New Cush restaurant. There was nothing more to say. All of this was fine by me. I was done waiting for my father’s return from war. I wanted nothing to do with Jal e Jal – but you should’ve seen Mama, the grace and dignity on her face. It was heartbreaking and revolting at the same time. I wanted to slap her. What Jal e Jal deserved was a hard kick in the ass: fifteen years ago she had destroyed her marriage, disgraced her family, and deferred her dreams, all for him. Now she had discarded everything for him once again — a house built by her own hands, based on her blind brother’s measurements, a world back in Panagam that she had forged from nothing – only to find that he had mutated into someone else. Mabiordit, my dead Aunt Adau’s husband, was the only other person we knew in Juba. Aunt Adau had been found floating facedown in the Loll River twenty years ago, just a year into their marriage. This tragedy might have warranted an investigation if it hadn’t been wartime. Air strikes and raids were a constant threat back then; death was so ubiquitous that people stopped asking how or why. Despite my suspicions about Mabiordit, we had no choice but to accept his invitation. Mabiordit had extended it after Mama paid a woman selling mango juice five pounds to place the call to him, giving her a chance to explain our predicament. Mabiordit told Mama that he had a busy schedule; he was meeting with some important investors at the Equity Bank in downtown Juba at three o’clock. That would be our meeting point, he said. It sounded impressive; Mabiordit had been a poor militiaman during the war, whom we knew had never had any education. We were downtown by midday, at a roadside café outside the Equity Bank. We drank oversugared tea and ate biscuits for brunch. Then we sat on a metal bench, facing the street, and watched the city people to kill time. So this was Juba, the nation’s largest and oldest city, a swirl of congestion and commotion. In places it looked like a ghost town: looking around I could see old, dilapidated brick buildings, and electric wires twisted and tangled around wooden utility poles. But the air was thick with cement dust from the construction sites that lined the streets, stirred
New Nation of South Sudan, a collection curated, edited and introduced by Nyuol Tong
up by workers digging foundations and expanding the thin dirt roads. This was coupled with the roar of countless motorcycles, and of the minibuses haphazardly collecting passengers. A random madness seemed to be the core energy of the city. No wonder the littered streets, mud huts, and stick-and-plastic-bag slums were bustling with young people from rural villages. They were barefoot and penniless, but buoyant with dreams of a larger world to be part of. We had heard news of East African entrepreneurs peddling loan schemes, insurance pyramids, and housing projects, of NGOs with abundant resources and grand notions of salvation and development. The NGOs were convinced they could steer our nascent state away from corruption and nepotism, if only by holding up the warning signs:
Many have taken this road It does not lead to freedom It does not lead to prosperity It does not lead to stability It does not lead to democracy Just look at your brethren countries
At four o’clock we began to look around for Mabiordit. Mama remembered him as a giant, broad-shouldered man, with crooked teeth and a flat nose and dark, rugged skin. She said that she used to like him, in her teens; he was the most courteous of the men who called on her older sister. He would come in the evening, after Mama and Aunt Adau had pounded the maize into flour, prepared the dinner, and milked the cows. He would wait in the yard, under their sterile mango tree – sometimes for two hours, sometimes in the rain – until they were done with their chores and able to sit down with him. Aunt Adau sometimes sent Mama to keep him company while she finished her work. Unlike the other men, Mabiordit didn’t treat Mama as the ten-year-old she was; he gave her the same regard he gave Aunt Adau, the object of his passions. They talked about themselves through metaphors and riddles and allusions, drawing from Dinka folklore and proverbs. He was the first man she had a crush on, Mama said, and her feelings continued even after he became her brother-in-law. It was Aunt Adau’s sudden death and Jal e Jal’s appearance in her life that same year that made her see the ridiculousness of her infatuation Nyuol Tong was born in South Sudan. His family was forced to flee their village, becoming refugees for a decade in northern Sudan and Egypt. He occasionally writes for South Sudanese news outlets, and travels frequently around the United States to speak about issues both global and local. Tong is the founder and executive director of SELFSudan (selfsudan.org), a nonprofit with the mission of helping South Sudanese villagers build schools. He is currently a Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar at Duke University.
Laura van den Berg The Greatest Escape was first published in young literary magazine One Teen Story (November 10, 2012). It will be available in the collection of stories THE ISLE OF YOUTH, to be published by FSG in November.
y father leaving was his last act of magic. He had locked himself in a glass aquarium filled with water. The idea was to disappear from the aquarium and reappear onstage. At the time, my mother was pregnant with me. She saw what happened at the rehearsal, saw it with her own eyes: he vanished but never returned. No one could explain it. It was supposed to have been an illusion, after all. The stage was searched. Even the real police looked for him, but he was gone. Gone where? I asked her, and she said nobody knew, not even the world’s greatest magicians. She once told me there was a cruelty to magic because it takes a thing, transforms it, and then turns it back into what it was. My father had forgotten the turning back part.
was a slight her told me. In , stooped m I’ve never met Laura, an with a th ly story my mot on e ta th et ’t che, and he ck sn tja wa in black mou igh ra That st a ’d been plea m but it seems like we would fro d pe sca es ini ding with m ud sh Ho he , ake things up er lat s ar y mother to 1910, Harry ye o come across a new story Tw . As I watched d from a crane. de pe he at en ak th r sp e ed ho su at cr ld ile orange flam the fire, the wh by her every month or packing es stretching m a nailed-shut plant towar was upwards, lik freed himself fro d light, I ho so during our reading st River. That Ea ea e th o int pe d d she was ca pe greater kind nted us had been drop pable of a for Best American of magic. Th med about. I wa ea dr I ic at ag sh A m rs e the assistan still had it in the kind of Nonrequired Reading. disappear, to pe t, I was dres her. her levitate and sed in a gold suit and red And where They were uniformly . to make each ot re ua hi bathing gh Sq es he Tim el d s. an M s y ga m pa Ve a ot s nt her wore a suit with a excellent – emotionally form in La the red lights of black bow-tie and anding beneath billowed behi a top hat. H complex, very raw – a, watchrid was I instead? St Flo , er cape nd od he wo lly r when she m Ho in e ag st re . tre al nd ea oved. She sa magician w but always with a dinner th of fire in her ha ould never id a balance a globe be caught de bathing suit, mixture of pathos ing my mother was a Level 1 It ad in a bu al. t re I ’t w sn as wa se e ve fir e nt ha th , ee , ys nd n and capabl and humour that ling indignity Of course anage these da e of . After the fir st she could m a quarter va e trick, she made me think of illusion, the be mous magic -fa ni rld made sh wo an a at d d re ine ap tra pe g ag . ar vin Lorrie Moore. e. nia ha from my cl I liked having despite out in Califor eavher close to al Hollywood, could see th me on stag school in the re ing her way rk e m wo as e. I en ca be d ra ha cr e us sh te ol, – Dave an d e ho d on th sc smell the ge her eyelashe At the Houdini stuff — l th e s th at s ke wa pt ich her blonde ha Eggers lacked unde manipulate to Level 3, wh r her hat. W ir shelthe ability to s, pe he ca n cr es d I ac no ha ing king beneat ticed her lip harrow her skills h her red lip s e. She claimed wasn’t drin stick, I knew reality and tim peared and ki ap ng dis she er en th ou fa gh y m w en at pi wh er . ls rn . ed W lo oked swolle hen her pu weaken r I was bo n, I knew sh t entirely afte enough slee e wasn’t ge left her almos hool. In their p. sc tting W ic ag he m n at on et e m m d an ha ki s st ss ant ar ! ck re and my mot ting chantin My pa ake a co her threw ou g father could m wide, full of t a smile – first class, my than anyone. r te fast, tte et be h ge – ca I kn its ew m fro hi sh s h m Hi e nis te was wishing rrible things too va protégé. .For the gran e headmaster’s appeared. M d finale, I di He became th Heraldo. Once y t m ea sot Gr he e r Th opened a tr s the centre dinner ap door in stage name wa of the stag online, in the ol ho e. sc e I w th ence before aved to the I looked up ilding resemaudicrawling in office. The bu side. She cl door and sa s. In ire sp theatre owner’s osed the d an id ll Sh wa e az on am st a ! – th m wi y the compart cue to craw bled a castle, ment under l into wed with gold the stage. Th e windows glo was the size them at the photos, th e space ing ar of st a e dumbwaiter tim g lon a t ce and smelled dar. I sat with light. I spen ening inside. like my knees pu what was happ so I didn’t ge lled to my ch other m and wondering y m , t est, ed sp ar lin pe ap te dis rs in er th m fa to y legs. I liste the trap door After my She’d thought ned open and a ge of scenery. volunteer lu onto the st than the needed a chan r tte ag mber be e be to t in igh sp m a, ec rid t th Flo Be , e empty sp fore shows, Hollywood was swampy ace. my mother , but here it me with glitt always dust instead one in California s ne ica er rr ed , hu w hich left be re we e er th d gr hind a fine go it. My skin and flat an en part of her fe be ld lt I’d . lik es e fir it d an was coated When she more of earthquakes in sand. opened the e used to have W . od tr ho ap ild tim ch do e, I popped or a second act since now the men up like a jack audience, but audience ap -in-the-box. tels and families in the ho by pl The ar au ne de m d half-hear over fro sied. My mot tedly. I curt who wandered the only ones her took a re we s ow sh e bow. The he made her fo owner, drank during th at had undation ru cording to the Ac h. tc n. wa U to it nd e looked like er the light who cam from new venher skin was s, er competition melting. A bl velvet curtai ton. He there was stiff Ra ca ack n Bo sw d un an g le da cl er os ud ed La in rt front of us ues in Fo 92 HUCK
HUCK @ 71a We’re bringing our stories to life at our very own gallery, 71a. 71a is the home of exhibitions, parties, screenings and workshops that are inspired by things we explore in HUCK and our sister magazine Little White Lies. Whether it's Mark Gonzales turning handstands before his art show or the neon glow of gun-toting, bikini-clad Selena Gomez and friends on screen in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, there are some stories that deserve real-world treatment. And you’re all invited to join in the fun. Recent events: Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers screening – Larry Clark's Marfa Girl screening – Mike Kershnar x Element Europe art show – Mark Gonzales 'One Week, One Show' exhibition.
Sign up to our mailer tcoldn.com/signup Tell us what you’d like to happen next 71a Leonard Street | London | EC2A 4QS
94 HUCK MUHAMMAD: And next week, and the week after that, until your father does the right thing.
MO: Just a valued customer.
MJ: You gave me one last week, and the week before –
sit for now.
trouble, but he decides to let it
a long moment. MJ could make
They look at each other for
MJ (CONT’D): Friend of yours?
They shake hands across the counter.
MJ: (in Arabic) Says the guy working at the liquor store in East Oakland.
MO: (in Arabic to MJ) Hey dumbass.
transaction just happened.
big smile, papering over whatever
bill. Gold chains. He puts on a
the hologram sticker still on the
liquor stores run by Muslims.
advocating boycotting the
– the usual protest leaflet
He hands him one of the flyers
MUHAMMAD: Brother Mujaddid. Here's one for you.
MJ: Ha ha. Never gets old, Brother Muhammad.
five, wearing a new baseball hat,
a Yemeni-American, about twenty-
The man behind the counter is MO,
Know what it is? MJ: Let me guess. Ba-
lowers his eyes and leaves.
quickly and when he sees MJ, he
the door jangles open, he turns
guy at the front counter. When
MJ enters. There’s a bling-heavy
INT. GO-GETTERS MARKET
MUHAMMAD: Walaikum Assalam, Brother Mujaddid.
MJ: Assalam Alikum, Brother Muhammad.
MUHAMMAD: And how about you? One Alghazaly sells the devil’s piss and makes the brothers lose their minds, and the other comes along and locks them up. Mmm mmm mmm beautiful. You Yemenis – gotta hand it to you – it’s a tidy racket.
MJ: Of course. Allah has you passing out leaflets.
MUHAMMAD: I am, right here, right now, working – for the sake of Allah.
MJ: (playfully) Don't you have to work, man?
Mmmm, something smells nasty.
(NOI BROTHERS also smelling)
MUHAMMAD: (sniffing the air) You smell that?
other members from the NOI beside
of leaflets in his hand, and three
Nation of Islam. He's got a stack
This is MUHAMMAD, a member of the
American man in a black suit.
he's stopped by an African-
then, in front of the market,
MJ lets it slide. MJ passes, and
to know MJ, walks shakily away.
concluding. The buyer, too dumb
As he's approaching, a deal is
come out through another hole.
of the holes in the fence, drugs
slots. You slip money through one
fence with an array of holes and
next to the store, a high reddish
drug-dealing mecca. It's right
he approaches THE GATE, a notorious
As MJ is walking up to the store,
EXT. GO-GETTERS MARKET
MO: Yeah, I want a blow job and a lollipop, but you don't see me whining! Now just do the job and keep your
Mo slaps him upside the head again.
KHALEEF: You know, I don't even want to do this stupid shit. I want –
MO: (to MJ) Ey, stop puttin stupid ideas in his head. We need him here. Even though he sucks as a guard.
Mo slaps Khaleef upside the head.
KHALEEF: (laughing) Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm tryin to take some classes at the local –
MJ: You said you were gonna do law.
MJ: I thought you were in school.
They do a one-shoulder embrace.
KHALEEF: (realising who it is) I see a ghost.
MJ (CONT’D): Hey.
loose button-down shirt.
the hip-hop life. He’s wearing a
than Mo, and less inclined toward
This is KHALEEF. He’s skinnier
the back with a stack of sodas.
about twenty-four, comes out from
Mo shrugs, laughs. Another guy,
MJ: Hey, if you talk to the dealers next door, can you tell them to tone it down a bit? It looks like Amsterdam out there. They ever bust anyone there?
MO: (switching to English) Always working, man, always working. The hustle, you know.
MJ: Pop’s already got you working?
MO: Two weeks ago.
MJ: When'd you get in town?
I first knew of Wajahat’s work when Ishmael Reed recommended Wajahat’s play, The Domestic Crusaders, to me. I read it, loved it, and we published it at McSweeney’s. It was vivid and very funny and did a valuable thing by illuminating, with a wicked sense of humour, the lives of a big PakistaniAmerican family living in the shadow of 9/11. Wajahat and I met, and we worked on an HBO pilot together about a Yemeni-American cop in San Francisco; we thought the show was pretty good, but it didn’t get filmed. Wajahat needs to write a book. The world needs a book by Wajahat Ali.
standing with the reporter.
CHIEF OFFENDS ARAB AND MUSLIM
No response from MJ. He can't
Dont forget bring flour.”
lands on KTVU. They're showing a
has changed the channels and
During this exchange, Khaleef
MAN: Four dollars? This costs two!
MO (CONT’D): Four dollars.
counter and starts taking out
The man puts his one beer on the
RENEE GALVEZ: As it turned out, the men were from a catering company, and oddly enough, they were delivering falafel to the mayor’s office. As you can imagine, this has been embarrassing for the mayor. I’m here with Nasser Khan from the ArabAmerican Cultural Center.
Now back to Renee outside City Hall.
MJ abruptly stops as he’s about
POLICE CHIEF WONG: As a matter of policy, we always investigate suspicious vehicles near City Hall. In this case, it was a no-brainer. The men were Middle-Eastern and they’re sitting in a van outside City Hall. The van’s got Arabic writing on the side. It raises some red flags, don’t you think?
MO (CONT’D): That stuff’s probably five years old. I keep telling your pops to update the inventory, but you know him and money. No disrespect. (Calling out to a man on the other side of the store) Hey, you window shopping or you buying? This isn’t the mall.
all Khaleef and Mo can do is wave
all in a daze. He walks out, and
MJ just gives him a look. They’re
MJ: Don’t make me bust my own blood.
MO: See what? What?
MJ: Not in the store, Mo. Don’t make me see it.
MO: Wha? Whaddya mean?
MJ (CONT’D): Hey. Not in my Pop’s store.
to exit. Turns around and looks
MJ: See you guys.
down the hall.
jostle each other, following her
mom. The text reads: “Where r u?
out of City Hall. Reporters
MJ’s phone buzzes. It’s from his
impromptu interview while walking
police uniform, doing an
American woman wearing a full
Chief, a middle-aged Asian-
We see a clip of the Police
MO (disgusted): That’s your boss? KHALEEF: What a dumbshit. Asian chick, too. You’d think she'd know better.
INT. LIQUOR STORE -- CONTINUOUS
RENEE GALVEZ: Thank you, Mr. Khan. (As the camera zooms in on her again.)
NASSER KHAN: Well, there has been outrage of course. Clearly this is a case of racial profiling, and Chief Wong has some explaining to do. It just never stops with this Department. And we eagerly await that explanation.
RENEE GALVEZ (CONT’D): Yesterday, two men were arrested when the van they were driving was considered suspicious after it had been parked in front of City Hall for twenty minutes. When I asked about the arrest today, Police Chief Wong said this...
MJ moves closer to the TV.
RENEE GALVEZ: We’re here at City Hall, where Police Chief Jenny Wong made some comments that have been denounced by Arab and Muslim American groups.
MJ shakes his head.
MO: Ey, turn it up. (To MJ) You hear about this?
RENEE GALVEZ (CONT’D): What has been the response from the ArabAmerican community?
a middle-aged man in a suit,
City Hall, with the words, “POLICE AMERICANS.”
The camera backs up to include
reporter, RENEE GALVEZ, outside
MJ finds some flour. Mo is surprised.
MO: What you think this is, a grocery store?
MJ: Yeah, yeah, just give me some flour, gotta bring it home.
MO: You'd be cracking heads and killing innocent fools on BART.
KHALEEF: With Mo on this one, MJ. If you were Oakland PD, then you’d be a real cop dealing with real shit.
MO: Yeah, it says “SUCKAS FRONTING AS A POLICE DEPARTMENT”.
MJ: See this? (Shows him his SFPD badge.)
MO slaps skin with KHALEEF.
MO: Whatever, man. At least I ain’t no Rent-a-Cop!
MJ: You look like Einstein at least.
eyes on the abd (this is a derogatory word in Arabic for the black customer in the store). Jesus, Mujaddid, look at what the fuck you did – one of us goes to college, and every one now thinks they can be Einstein.
at Ali This is a scene from a TV pilot entitled ‘MJ’ co-created and written by Wajahat Ali and Dave Eggers.
– Dave Eggers
’d been living in New York, caught up in the struggle of trying to make a living while my ‘big dreams’ remained undefined and dangling in my search for my creative niche. At the end of 2008 after my last job in corporate America ended, I’d finally decided to pursue a career as a writer.
naoyment, and nded unempl te nds ex ha ith ng w Armed s off ‘shaki eak. orked my as br tw g ne bi I y y, m et iv ing for babies’ look use it as and kissing rategised to st d an og bl a , with a d ar te ye ar a st er I’d hed. In just ov is bl pu placet ne ge clips to ork and divi lots of footw es to , iti an un pl rt e pl po m op si graced with e m with t ca Bu be . I ment, ble brands w highly nota with fe f a el r ys fo m e g rit tin w asn’t suppor w I job’. le ay st ‘d a hu all my d to keep e, and still ha omy tim on ll ec fu e g in th d rit w slappe n had bitchThe recessio tight. e er w es iti and opportun I became that typical New York creative, scrapping for gigs and trying to survive. In addition to my blog I was trying to finish my first novel. I’d been piecing together adm in jobs and freelance work while navigating the social service system with food stamps and Medicaid. My life was a circus with me jugg ling multiple components of a crisis, all of whi ch were in jeopardy of crashing down any sec ond. The stress was compounded by working for lunatic assholes.
One of my freelance gigs was working with a startup for a woman who always seemed to ‘misplace’ my invoices when it was time to get paid. I wound up having to go all the way up to her Upper East Side home from Brooklyn on a frigid Saturday morning to get my last payment from her live-in maid. I had another part-time job commuting three hours a day to a Harlem nonprofit doing writing workshops for middle-school students working for a director who consistently burst into unprovoked belittling tirades. I either didn’t have the time or energy to write, and had pretty much stopped pursuing freelance editorial work. I was caught up in 'the struggle' while my romanticised dream of being a writer was left on the back burner sizzling to a smoky crisp.
Wendy d d To re rs pop cultu gger who cove new blo A and r launched is a write her Wendy Todd has recently working on ps.com and op ap ently rr co co cu eam 's Dr on e She th . g om in alkgirl.c piece, Keep This CK. e. HU venture pept er r Th fo How to Get written exclusively first novel, was t, ha w Matter Alive – No
I wound up ha ving to appeal to charitable or ganisations an d go through the soul-sucking process of apply ing for public as sistance to get help with rent. All of this, coup led with straine family ties, be d ing in one of th ose stupid, un defined, what -the-hell-is-happ ening-here relationships with a guy who wo uldn’t commit, being diagnosed with Type II Diab etes, and the death of a dear friend, made m e feel like I could go from zero to Katt William s crazy in thirt seconds. I deve y loped extreme anxiety about my future, and was in and out of the hospital suffering from a myriad of st wress-triggered illnesses every few weeks. On e morning I wo up and my eye ke was swollen sh ut. I had hives from head to to e.
mfort t on TV and co ork, I zoned ou gradw e n m ee in tw d be lte In l eating resu na io ot ds I’d un em y food. M en-twenty po back the fifte uting g rib in in nt ga co a lly – ua hard to lose d ke up in or d w in ly w previous ing I could diabetes. Fear tiara y a m d to an or be ct ro fa g a dingy rin ea w tried re I s ua Times Sq to the pigeon py Birthday' fects af ap 'H de g si in rd ng ei si dw nts, which ha e all day is anti-depressa having to pe ot N . n' io nt te re e was absorin e 'u lif e y lik of choice. M er ow rp pe su not my se. and got wor lutely crazy,
I met Wendy through 826NYC, where she’s been a longtime tutor. Sh e blogs about race in Ameri ca in a very funny way, and sh e’s also been working on a nove l that she’s been showing me as sh e’s been writing it. She has such a gif t for plotting and intrigue that I find myself waiting for the next chapter like some kind of fanboy. – Dave Eggers
four things: is time to do th e us to d and. I’m reI decide fresh and rebr e, refocus, re am d of feeling fr ea re In January of this nce, and inst rie pe ex year things crum y en to m g bled. I could framin York, I’ve chos no longer affor ake it in New d my apartmen m er to ’t ov dn t di I ar e st lik to t and had to make the very dif ven a chance gi en be ficult decision to cuse fo I’v re believe move back serve. I’m to St. Louis – no e I want and de t quite my home sa lif e es in th pp te ha ea d cr town, but I’d lived there before y creativity an m g e in th , and had family ak m ng d ki ing an there. It was y spirit by ta the ONE thing I refreshing m did NOT want to s to I’m ha y. s ui rit io Lo . pr St t do. I didn’t want to go back d enjoying wha wards, lose my ind ting my time I have an ependence, and get even fa yself by recrea m ng di an br rther away from re eative I’m cr r. y fe m of to my goals of creating a career d approach an y, tit as a writer. But e I’ve en id tim inner after everyamount of thing I’d done to in the short live, I’d wound up d l and ra An ltu s. al cu e go th only surviving, feeling like I ha ached out to re e I’v hed , d very little to sh ac re re he s been ow for it. I’d become disillusio . Louis, and it’ ned and confused mmunity in St co y ar . ic er lit ist about what optim I’d been fighting elcomed and for. back. I feel w nth oradrenaline for a mo As creati I hustled on pure ve spirits, ged for me an arr s wa our lives It usually u ve. and choic ganising my mo . nconventi uis Lo St. in r the bro onal. Add es are ’s nd a frie re my h ty wit pically fr it io to stay nally, our It . job a nd aught wit paths of arriving I fou Universe h c h a lle Within two weeks te ys nges, as sts you to tion, working six da if the ua sit e e n se an d ins u e er re h oth ow much to realise was an titude you will your drea s able to feel the gra the magn m, in pro a week. In time I wa itude of y the if n eve , portion to for ed vid o u pro c r ing h p be o u o of rp t si gif ng to rid ose and for the My first th vision. I’m e it out sirable and messy. at the inte with a div packaging was unde entn res ine know si r, ty ge an o h f wit my latest rife c re ing lo we se re he s r ek th trials indic an ever to two we . Then I ates I’m my immin fear about my life ent break ment, sadness and through. s. made some decision Dreams don’t die. The setting, circumstances and motivation may change, but the dream itself can always be revived. We just have to find ways to breathe life into them again
How A Person Should Be?, by Sheila Heti. This part-novel, part-confessional about the loves and woes of a twentysomething artist was given the tip of the hat by Miranda July earlier in the mag. Dave Eggers’ scribbled notes. Dave Eggers has a penchant for writing notes on foam board, which he says is great for making lifesized superheroes (Iron Man, mostly) for his son. He wrote this list of writers en route to our interview. Ministry of Stories. Dave Eggers’ tutoring centre, 826 Valencia, was the inspiration for London’s own literary workshop for young people, Ministry of Stories. This photo, taken by Alastair Hall, shows Dave and co-founder Nick Hornby eating some of MoS’s ‘Thickest Human Snot’. ministryofstories.org You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, by Tom Gauld. Published by indie comic champions Drawn & Quarterly, this brand new collection of wry cartoons is sure to get the sides of ya mouth curlin’ up. drawnandquarterly.com Brian Lotti’s sketches. A few choice works from the pro skater/fine artist’s personal sketchbook. brianlotti.com DC x w.1910. Hitting that sweet spot where skate and custom motorcycles meet, DC’s Double Label collab with w.1910 creates natty threads like this sweater and sneaks for two or four-wheeled horseplay. dcshoes.com A Room with no Windows, by Scott Bourne. Pro skater Scott Bourne’s semi-autobiographical novel takes you on a turbulent ride through 1990s San Francisco. Love, heists, scams and sex, all told with a Southern twang. 1980editions.com RVCA x Sew ’n’ Sing. RVCA teamed up with San Sebastian seamstresses Sew ’n’ Sing for a collection of wholesome clothing and accessories including this nautically inclined duffel bag. rvca.com Pank magazine. Founded in 2006 by nonprofit literary arts collective Pank, this magazine pushes the freshest writing talent you’ve not yet heard of. pankmagazine.com Quiver and Ink. Indulge your inner Samuel Pepys and create that literary masterpiece the old-school way. penheaven.co.uk
NO STARS “A HORRIBLE ALBUM THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LISTEN TO. AND I MEAN THAT. I DON’T HAVE EARS. PUT ME BACK IN THE DIRT.” – AN EARTHWORM
ENJOYED BY ALL LIVING THINGS WITH EARS. Introducing 1% For The Planet: The Music Vol. 1, featuring Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Jackson Browne, and more. All proceeds benefit 1%’s continued efforts to make the planet a more beautiful place. Visit music.onepercentfortheplanet.org to listen to exclusive tracks.
Published on May 30, 2013
HUCK is an intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated action sports lifestyle magazine, produced by the most creative minds in the surf, skate...