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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 .


Shorties

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

D av e E g g e r s S u r f L i t e r at u r e Brian Lotti RI P Th e S t o o l P i g e o n > S at ta S k at e s N e o n W e t su i t s G r a n t P e t e r sE n A K P r e ss D r aw n & Q u a r t e r ly V i su a l E d i t i o n s Th e S h o r t - S t o r y I n d us t r y P i ss e d J e a n s L o n e ly Du b a i S k at e F i c t i o n J u d d Apat o w & M i r a n d a J u ly J Malcolm Garcia W e s t e r ly W i n d i n a

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Endnotes

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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Distributed worldwide by COMAG | Printed by Buxton Press | This publication is PRINTED ON paper from sustainable sources | Huck MAGAZINE is published six times a year. The articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinions of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or editorial team. © TCOLondon 2013. Published by The Church of London publishing | Designed by Human After aLl | 71a Leonard Street | London | EC2A 4qs | +44 (0) 207-729-3675 | info@thechurchoflondon.com

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Mike Kershnar

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

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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.

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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

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BEAU FOSTER MANSFIELD

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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

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‘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.”

dagarreton.tumblr.com

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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

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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.


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A r i e l

D o r a n Z a m b e l i c h


21


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

22 HUCK

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

common humanity.

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


“I got hooked on the process of feeling like I could communicate a good story to an audience to maybe have an impact.�

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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

through it.’”

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

The Revolution

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

24 HUCK

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

26 HUCK

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.’

as objects.”

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

or madness.”

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

The Lattice

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,

27


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

28 HUCK

“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,

30 HUCK

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

31


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

my photography.”

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

non-fiction book.”

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

32 HUCK


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.

34 HUCK


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

brand promotions.

35


Your

enthusiasm

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

skateboarding [laughs].

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

skateboarding now?

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

using skateboarding

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.

36 HUCK

brianlotti.com


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

Tim

Bo al


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.”

be acceptable:

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.”

38 HUCK


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,

whole gonzo-Lester-Bangs-Hunter-S-Thompson

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

39


40 HUCK


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.

41


P r o f i l e N o .

0 1

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 –

42 HUCK


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

43


“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?”

44 HUCK


P r o f i l e N o .

0 2

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

45


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

46 HUCK

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.”

47


48 HUCK


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.

49


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

ak press


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

of

twentieth

century

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.

he

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

niches,”

says

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

of

university

recent

Occupy

Tetsuhiko Endo

libraries.

profit, the job of speaking truth

Weigl and Blue, however, oppose

to power implies some very non-

the

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

management,

democratic

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

just

the

take a book or a political tradition,

collective

Although they make a small

cites

idea

of

clear

distinctions

51


D r aw n & q u a r t e r ly

A lex i H obb s

indie publishers

Cartoons and comics will always have a home, thanks to a devoted shop and publishing house in the heart of Montreal.

52 HUCK


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

artists.”

was an artist working

Knowing he needed to step things

up,

Oliveros

e-mailed

Devlin says. “If you can just get someone to touch the book,

has

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

its

together

magazine.

Wilson and The Death Ray – just

him

Mile

Working on the mag lit a spark in

some of the twenty books D&Q

Burns

her

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

and

larger

a gathering place for people

to contribute to the first edition

work and were looking for their

players.

Tom

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

publisher

thing and it’s the writing and

1980s underground comics bible

to these other series that we did.”

Books, also eventually joined

drawing,”

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

an

indie

Since

then,

Clowes

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

Graphic

novels

had

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

book

big

New

D&Q’s

responded

compete Her

with

against husband

called

books.

Highwater

Five years ago, D&Q opened own

store

End

in

Montreal’s

neighbourhood

says

Devlin.

to

“And

long

people putting out magazines

awards)

promote

you’ve won a battle.”

York

53


indie publishers

visual editions

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.

54 HUCK


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

productive havoc.”

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

Visual

Editions

has

struck

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

‘We

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

says Anna.

that whatever comes next will

they do. “We interrogate a lot,”

children,” says Anna, “and in order

publish

books,

produce

“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

little

doubt

Britt

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

55


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.

Rob Boffard

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,

piece published?

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

blocks away.

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

56 HUCK


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

go editor-hunting.

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

their archives.

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

The Editors

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

Sincerely,

and Thousand Shades of Grey, I’d be stoked, even

70,000 – and they aren’t the only ones. “One of the

The Editors

if other publishers might be less than impressed.

57


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,

The Agent

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 .”

Charlie

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

58 HUCK


surfaid.org

Photos by Michael Lawrence & Duncan Macfarlane


Screaming At The Kitchen Sink

60 HUCK


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

el

Text Sh

id Haithcock

Photography Re

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.

61


Al Aazlah: Aspiration and isolation in a land of gilded dreams

62 HUCK


- 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

their designations.

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

North

to

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.

Pole-themed

water

park,

not

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.

63


Clockwise

– 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.

64 HUCK


65


66 HUCK

Clockwise

– 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,

passports gone.

to get there and back


67


T S E T N CO

//CONTEST//

//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.//

68 HUCK


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.”

69


A con v ersation a bou t w o r k t h a t

70 HUCK


has nothing

to do with work.

71


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

scariest nightmare?

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

Apatow: Yeah.

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

73


Apatow:

Shoe Check

When

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

something happens

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

yourself

Man’s Problems.’

to

stay

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

July: No.

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

being guilty?

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

74 HUCK

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

to tears.’

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

diminishing thing.

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.

75


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

July: Okay.

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

Apatow:

milk.’ I was like, ‘Great! I’ll go off gluten!’

a

Do

you

conception

of

have the

afterlife? Are you a Apatow: We went to an allergist and it turns out our kids have

spiritual person?

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

76 HUCK

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

consciousness?

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

by McSweeney's.

77


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

of Budweiser.

costs money.”

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

“No.”

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

78 HUCK

“A date?”


“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

“Steep.”

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.

“Sorry?”

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

“Oh.”

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.

79


B e c o m i n g

80 HUCK


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.

81


82 HUCK


“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

learning experience.

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

83


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.”

84 HUCK


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

extract

from

Searching

for

Zion:

The

Quest

for

Home

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.

86 HUCK

in


boteau

the

African

Diaspora

out

now

on

Atlantic

Monthly

Press.

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

87


Kevin

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 .”

nas

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 .”

mark gonzales

huck 37 | raDical culture

huck 36 | raDical culture

huck 35

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 huck@servicehelpline.co.uk 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

90 HUCK

An A

extract short

Country:

from

story New

The

from Fiction

Bastard,

There from

Is

A

the

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

and

published

by

mcsweeney's.

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.

91


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.

M

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


71alondon.com

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.

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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.

MUHAMMAD: Bacon!

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?

him protesting.

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.

KHALEEF: School?

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?

Wajah

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.

his change.

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.

half-heartedly

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.

at MO.

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

believe it.

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

95


’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.

96 HUCK

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


sources

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

98 HUCK


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.


HUCK magazine : The Dave Eggers Issue  

HUCK is an intelligent, beautiful and sophisticated action sports lifestyle magazine, produced by the most creative minds in the surf, skate...

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