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Quyhn Huyhn XX, 2014 24”x 36”mixed media, Photographed by Johnny Pelhank


E IST

Editorial Editor in Cheif Johnny Pelhank Editor Catherine Leberg Design Gregory Davis, Michael Kilfoy, Johnny Pelhank Tech Editor Tyler Harris Photography Oliver Clark, Rebecca Jarchow, Johnny Pelhank, Steve Petersen Contributors Jon Cournoyer, Oliver Clark, Gregory Davis, Tyler Harris, Rebecca Jarchow, Michael Kilfoy, Catherine Leberg, Johnny Pelhank, Steve Petersen, Saylor Surkamp! Thank you To everyone involved that helped get the story. To those of us with the tenacity to create something for our like-minded selves. Thanks to those willing to make this journey with us. Exist Volume 1 issue 1

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CONTENTS

Kamicosmonaut / What the fuck is a Kamicosmonaut?

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Ken Wood knows the way

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Quynh Huynh / In it to Huynh it

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Brian Ferarri / Plays for keeps

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References

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Oliver Clark’s North Delmar Series

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Karin Kirchoff / Wood Carving

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Less / Cannabis & Daffodils

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Seen in St. Louis / Love of Tracks

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Ken Wood the way to art

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E IST F O R W A R D The forward slash (/). So simple and basic. In coding, it denotes drilling down one level to the folder below. It is a way to navigate down deep into a site and into its data and structure held within. That is what EXIST seeks to provide. To dig deeper. To see what lies beneath. To find the story under the main story. Life is more than the superficial. We are looking for the story that lies beyond the surface. We are looking for the truth within. Because more exists. However, it seems to me that we have a failure to communicate. So in light of that, here try this. Explore your city with an enlightened soul, gazing on all that surrounds you. Feel free to spit and growl. Acceptance is the first step. Do what you have to do and spend what you want to spend. In the end does it matter? Why do more than exist? Why do anything? If you didn’t figure out at an early age that when you do something that makes you and others feel good, that it’s a good thing, then you should read as well. Find stories and writing from those who live it. You could find inspiration or find yourself. If you find nothing but pretty pictures then thats okay too. If anything its a readers digest with better outlook on life. You might find your friends within these pages and you might become friends with the pages themselves. You should get to know one another. After you’ve been acquainted you can now start to ignore each others texts cause you’re too busy right now and you’ll probably forget to text back anyway cause it wasn’t important to begin with. But then you miss out on those free tickets to the show and your family name is shamed forever. The end. Basically we are here to tell your story. /

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K AM I COSM ON AU T A look inside a group of musicians that will give up at nothing to produce a unique sound born of Hip-Hop, experimental, and just good music. Living within the heart of our nations crossroads, the Kamicosmonauts are giving birth to a sound unique to the mid-west enough to call it a mid-west sound. As I sit in with them creating their first single to spread across the interwebs. Take a closer look at what it takes to create.

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WHAT THE FUCK IS A

KAMICOSMONAUT? A COLLABORATION OF CREATORS FROM SAINT CHARLES MISSOURI. THEY HAVE COME FROM A BROAD RANGE OF BACKGROUNDS AND HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER SINCE FOREVER. EXPRESSING CREATIVITY ONE SONG AT A TIME. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHNNY PELHANK

It’s always a journey for me to venture out and find new roads to travel in my hometown. I sometimes like to think that I know the area like the back of my hand, but I am constantly proven wrong. On this excursion through St. Charles, I hop in the car with Gregg Davis as we travel to the home studio of the working creative group The Kamicosmonaut; Gregory Davis, Dan Ficocelli, Chris Gassel, and Dan Turnbaugh. The Kamicosmonaut. The name alone really draws any peering eyes towards the sound-scape they’re creating. With backgrounds ranging from wood working to engineering, these guys are designing a sound that truly fits the Midwest. As I sit in with the group in Dan Ficocelli’s basement I take in the scenery and admire the equipment carefully chosen to accompany the artists work flow; speakers hang from the floor joists in the corner, a piano, a mixing table, microphones and cables running everywhere. I get the feeling that this is the perfect place to create. A chair that has been set aside from an old minivan lies against the wall adjacent to the mixing chair. It’s a good spot for me to sit and see everything and capture any photographs of the Kami’s hard at work. They have been working on this album for months and I find myself right in the middle of it all. The beat comes on and I get the feeling I’ve been here before. I mean, I have been in plenty of studios and heard tons of beats but this one just hits right at home for me. This is the sound living in the back

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of my head. Gregg sits next to me writing lyrics bobbing his head ready to go in to the mic booth and throw down. I like to document these moments so I take my phone out and start recording. Being in the studio with musicians is an amazing thing that everyone should try to experience at least once. If it’s your friends’ band or if you are in one, the time creating in the studio is surreal. When it’s time for the band to take their idea and bring it to life, it is a process capturing the true essence of the message they are sending. When what is in the artist’s head comes to life it is the equivalent of a painter hanging their framed piece in a gallery. The work is ready to be received by the audience; and by observing you are the first to fill that role. The next hour or two flies by and soon I’m asleep on the minivan couch dreaming with a kick ass sound track. As the beat dances around in my head I can clearly see the connection with the music within me. To me

I ROBBED A BANK ONCE BUT I GAVE THE MONEY TO MY NEIGHBORS... the sound is a living breathing energy. It transmits a vibe that I can only feel and finding the words to describe it leaves me. The positive energy that surrounds The Kamicosmonaut can only be experienced. Being able to describe the energy and creative knowledge being tossed around isn’t something that comes easily. You have to get the music to get the music. /


“

IN MY FREE TIME, I COMMIT CRIME. LAID OUT TO FADE OUT, I MADE OUT WITH A PEACE OF MIND.

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QUYHN HUYHN IN IT TO QUYHN IT INTERVIEW AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHNNY PELHANK

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SOMETIMES WE GET LOST TRYING TO DEFINE HOW WE WORK. IT HELPS WHEN FILLING OUT RESUMES AND APPLICATIONS, BUT HOW DO WE REMAIN SANE AND NOT STARVING AND STILL UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN YOU HAVE A JOB YOU LOVE, YOU NEVER WORK A YADDA, YADDA... HERE’S AN INTERVIEW WITH QUYHN. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHNNY PELHANK

uyhn might come off as a quiet type at first, but she is full of positive energy and love for everyone. Once you get to know her you know she’s not very quiet at all. Vulgarity and honesty are always flowing from Quyhn’s mouth. When it comes to art she puts her money where her mouth is, in the art. When I first met Quyhn I thought she was for sure part of an Asian gang of some sort. I thought if I approached her that she would flip out her switchblade and slice my throat. We are great friends now needless to say. On a cold day in January just after the new year, Quyhn stopped by to spill her guts. Quyhn Huyhn. Quyhn it to Huyhn it. The pieces that i want to show in this issue are the portrait of the child holding the balloon,… “Bill, thats Bill my little cousin.” I wanted to use Bill and this piece ( showing her the piece featured on page 14 ) “That’s my favorite piece, it’s just untitled I couldn’t think of anything good to name it.” I also found these ( showing her the untitled piece on page 16 and 17 and XX featured at the beginning of the issue ) “Oh, those old ones?” This body of work seems to be stemming from the same style and manor, besides Bill. Is there anything to the process that stays with you? “Bill was just kind of a break from the others. The other ones are purely abstract. You can get more from interpreting those yourself. They were more raw and infinite. You can take whatever you want from viewing those. Bill was just the opposite. Bill is just a picture of my cousin bill holding a balloon eating French fries.” But the way you painted it is more stylized than the others. “Bill comes from a really well off family. So the white background reflects 10

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that, as well as the painterly style that kind of echoes the messiness of a child. My paintings aren’t really that deep. It is what it is. I’m not trying to push an agenda” The depths of these paintings seems to draw me in. These come from during and after your time at Webster University. What was your style before Webster? “I don’t really know what my style is. I’m still developing, utilizing all the basic components and how you make a painting. It’s about everything I know and learn and applying it in the most simplest way. My paintings are visually appealing and thats it. It’s about taking all of that and making it my own. I want it to be straight forward though.” So to me it detaches the art from the artist keeping it open for interpretation. More like the art came into existence on its own. Do you sign your paintings? “Once you put your name on something it becomes completely different” I feel like a lot of painters are skeptical of signing a painting, on the front especially. “You sometimes find yourself focusing in on the signature and forget about the painting. I can sometimes find it distracting. It loses that potential for the viewer to really observe the image. its an object, its a painting. you look at it and decide whether you like it or not... All of these paintings are super simple and very subtle. You know how you meet somebody and you get all these impressions the way they dress and how they are and who they are as a person, then you decide at that point whether you like them or not. So to me thats what the more abstract paintings are. You look at it you decide whether you like it or not. It’s like a stranger. You don’t know anything until you ask about them and try to figure them out. So you have this visual representation of what it is and the viewer makes their own choices.

I don’t think thats what a painting should be, but thats what I want my paintings to be. I look at it as an object. its a public thing, something you bring to people. It’s really hard to talk about your own work, it’s so fucking weird.” I think it’s the hardest part about being an artist; selling your work and explaining it. “There’s people who can make good work and can’t explain it and then there are people who make shitty work that they can explain extremely fucking well, then there’s both, which is hard to come by. When you can make something really great and explain it to people where they understand but then when you don’t make something great and it’s shitty and you have all these explanations why it’s great but it’s not. Thats why its such a fucking battle. It’s a give and take thing. Being able to understand your audience.“ Where would you like to see your work? “It depends on how attached i am to a piece. If I’m attached to it id like to see it go somewhere that means something to someone. If I’m not attached, I don’t care where it fucking goes.” Lets talk about your history a little bit. So you’re from Vietnam, from a small fishing town? “How personal do you want me to get?” Let’s hear the good stuff. “I was born out of wedlock in a small fishing town as an only child. My mom came from a wealthy family and my father was a fisherman, and he worked for my moms side of the family. He wooed my mom and knocked her up. She had to keep me semi secret cause i was being born out of wedlock and my mom was catholic and my dad was buddhist. Eventually my dad grew on my family and now everyone loves him. It was a pretty weird childhood but I felt so


much love. I had so much love from both sides of the family, after the fact though. There was like not any weird shit going on. We moved to America when I was 11 or 12. First to California, then to Nebraska for fucking however long, where my aunt was. But Nebraska was boring as shit so we moved to Saint Louis and we all loved it here so we stayed. And I’ve been here ever since. To gain citizenship my dad was able to find a sponsor family. I have one older brother who just turned 21 also. It’s been a fucking insane journey. My mom didn’t tell me about concealing my birth from the family until I was 18. She was like “this is what happened” and then I was like “holy shit you kept that from me for this long?” And she was like “I had to.” It’s not dysfunctional at all to me, I was like why hide this from us?” So your mom came from a strict catholic background? Was there any arranged marriages or

anything super crazy religious? “Oh no, nothing that crazy, but they still had standards. You had to marry from the same class or higher.” There’s a lot of parallels to the Chinese couple from “Lost” and your parents!? “I know what your talking about and yeah its pretty much like that. My dad would murder people for my grandpa. ( laughter ensues ) I feel like thats what was happening because they would never talk about work, “so what do you guys actually do?” and they were like “ you know what we do we sell equipment quit asking!” If that was real I’d wright a novel about it. Then I’d break the news that I was gay and then our family would be fucked.” How was coming out to your parents? When did that happen?

“ 2 or 3 years ago. I was deathly afraid of what my family would think. I told my brother and my friends. I told my brother first on Fathers Day. He was like “thats cool, hows your poor boy sandwich”... Being gay in Saint Louis I never feel like I’m being judged or anything. St. louis is pretty cool but I’m sure some people get it worse.” So what are you working on now? “I have a couple paintings I’ve been working on for a few months now, but I’m kinda taking a break. Lately I’ve just been trying a lot of patterns that you would only detect at a glance but want to get in depth there’s other things made up of patterns. So like I did some digital stuff recently but it’s really different than my paintings. I just play around until something makes sense.” Do you just post the stuff online or can people get access to your work?

Continued on page 16

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Quyhn Huyhn Untitled, 2014 36”x42”acrylic on canvas Photographed by Johnny Pelhank

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“I post and make prints available on my website.” Are you trying to take a stab at the corporate side of making art? Is it ironic or satirical? “I don’t think about it too much, you can make money and not lose your dignity. You have to provide for yourself. I read an article that said something like we have more time and more money right now to do whatever the fuck we want. You use to work so you could eat, now you have all the time and resources at your fingertips. People use to plow fields now they post on buzz feed. Which is like a step backwards but at the same time its how things are progressing so you can’t blame them. People going online and trolling people and those offended standing up to defend their views... Everyone is out there. just as much as there are people on their phones there’s just as many not. How do you know which information to take in. How do you stay focused?you pretty much do have to plow the fields everyday. It’s just a different field.” So you moved recently, are you able to find time to work? “I need a studio space. The last time I painted was almost 3 weeks ago. But I want to keep doing digital stuff because its more accessible. Its more infinite to realize what you have the capabilities to do. You don’t have to have nice equipment you just need to use whats at your disposal. I don’t have to sit down and bring out buckets of paint, and like doing all this shit. You just have to make things work and do things. I have big ideas and I have things I need to create but I need resources, but I can always keep it on the back burner.” Is your work inspired by the digital age? “Yeah absolutely, the lines and symmetry in my work. It’s all there. We’re a fucking digital generation. we came from technology, we grew up with it.”

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Quyhn Huyhn, Bill, 2014, 36”x42”acrylic on canvas, Photographed by Johnny Pelhank

Your work seems like its obvious you’re using these digital ideas but you’re able to break it down into such a simple and pure form. It’s obvious this is the artists interpretation. “It’s like having two processors of an idea. There’s the you being in this world and then you in the digital world you have the persona and then you can create something off of that and then you can go back and forth. That sounds like crazy hippie talk though.”

the things they can’t see. It’s like science during the enlightenment. People at first don’t want to understand what they can’t see because they don’t believe it to exist. “Can I ask you something? Can this interview go both ways? How would you describe art?” Creation. Taking something thats not there and making something that is there. “like Jesus, Jesus was the first artist.”

In science we can talk about the things that are there that we don’t see and understand them, but when we talk about art some people still don’t believe in

Well God… depends on who you talk to. /


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Quyhn Huyhn,Untitled, 2014 36”x42”mixed media on canvas Photographed by Johnny Pelhank


NORTH OF DELMAR 16

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OLIVER

CLARK

THROUGH THE SMOKE AND GLASS

A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY THROUGH NORTH OF DELMAR SAINT LOUIS, MO.

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rom a young age I can remember graffiti being a part of my life. As a kid, I took the train into New York City and saw all of the writing on the walls. At the time I didn’t pay it much attention, but I recognized the ones I saw the most; Nace, Mecro, Ms 17, Emo and crews like CDC and AIDS. It was not until 2012, when I moved to New Orleans that graffiti became so much more to me. Many make assumptions about an area based on what they have see on TV, New Orleans is no different. I’ll be the first to admit it is a party city like most see, but outside the square mile we call “The Quarter” is a whole other world. Outside The Quarter is a playground for aerosol artists, a storybook of the times and a culture that often gets overlooked or unseen. I quickly became bored of the party atmosphere in New Orleans and began to explore. I went into buildings still ravished by hurricane Katrina; miles of uninhabited areas and open walls. The more I explored the more graffiti I would see, the deeper I got the better the art became. I quickly began taking pictures of the graff and artwork and started a Flickr account. Soon after starting the account I received an invite to a local art show, there I met one of my favorite artists and now long time best friend Mrsa. I’ll never forget the words he said to me that night, “keep doing what you’re doing, it’s important to what we do as writers. You’re building a history book and we appreciate it.” Since that day I have looked at what I was doing as so much more than a picture and I bought my first dslr and the traveling began. That year I took off to what I considered the “Hollywood” of graffiti, The Bay Area. In the bay I was able to build some great connections and since have been back 6-7 times photographing the art scene and spending time with great friends. The artists I meet along the way constantly motivate and drive me to continue my journey.

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Shortly after my trip to The Bay, I was able to link with the artist Uter back in New Orleans. Working alongside an artist like Uter was an inspiring experience. As a photographer of graffiti and its culture, I feel it is important to be willing to take similar risks that artists do. You need to be willing to dive into the graffiti culture, but you also have to understand and respect the culture. While working with Uter in New Orleans I was able to see how devoted and passionate artists are about their craft. Their drive and passion pushed me to continue taking steps to better my photography skills and travel more. This is where the “will travel for graff” began. In the last two years I have taken trips to The Bay Area, L.A., Houston, Atlanta, New York, Portland and St. Louis to explore their graff scene and culture. The artists I have met have allowed me to surround myself with the graffiti culture and remain passionate about its documentation. Many spots I have photographed have been lost to gentrification or the buff of recent times. For me, it is rewarding to be able to provide an artist with a picture of their piece that may have been lost to rebuilding or buff, seeing them smile or hearing “oh damn, thanks” makes it all worth it. It is important as a photographer of graffiti to be willing to travel and do all that you can to build on the portfolio and documentation of the art. Graffiti has become a culture and I want to do my best to capture it properly, not only because I am passionate about it, but because the artists are just as passionate if not more about it. Years from now, my photography will allow me the ability to give that history back to the ones who created it. As a photographer I am also an artist and I feel that understanding this is important. Often I hear that I am simply photographing someone else’s work, but then I

hear from artists “wow man, you really made that piece look good.” In my photography I try to use what I have around me, whether it be an object or my light source, to play with the images I am portraying. In doing this I in turn make my own art and am able to open my mind and be creative. The rewarding part of traveling so much and taking risks, is the people I am able to meet and the culture and family that come along with it. I have built so many relationships threw a spray can and a lens; these connections allow me to continue on this awesome journey. It’s an honor to be allowed into a culture of such talented risk takers. This past month I had the privilege of getting out to St. Louis for the first time and experienced Paint Louis 2015. I can’t thank the people enough who made this trip possible for me. It was an awesome and humbling experience for me to be able to link with so many passionate artists and photographers. I was thanked by many for flicking their pieces, or catching their panel as it went by or for sending them hard copies of their work. It was awesome to meet people who are passionate about what they are doing, from the people putting on the event, to the people painting and photographing. It was a great experience to see so many artists from all over coming together for the same purpose. It was inspiring and plays a huge role in my continued passion and desire to travel and photograph. In the upcoming year I intend on adding Art Basel, Hawaii and Detroit to my list of explored areas. The connections I have built and the artists I have met over the last few years have allowed for this journey to continue. I can’t thank them enough for constantly pushing the envelope and keeping me motivated. /


hile these photos may not be as disturbing as the ones of heroin use, the use of crack cocaine in St. Louis is alarmingly rampant. Because it is cheaper and more profitable to produce than meth or heroin, drug dealers often turn to it to make a quick profit. Crack cocaine is usually between 75% and 100% pure, making it far more potent than regular cocaine. When smoked, it reaches the brain faster which brings an intense and immediate, but short-lived high that lasts about 15 minutes. One of the women said to me, “Crack is different than any other drug. One hit and your hooked. I’ve been smoking for almost 10 years now.” I spoke with her about how the drug has affected her life. “I have sold my body. I’ve stolen from people I love. My 2 kids won’t even talk to me anymore.” Because crack cocaine is so much cheaper than powder cocaine, it has taken a firm hold on the impoverished citizens of north St. Louis. The affects of crack cocaine aren’t only irreversibly damaging to the users themselves, but also the communities in which they are present. I want to give a special thanks to @boogiephotographer for offering me some guidance in working on my new series. He is definitely one of idols. If you haven’t heard of him yet go check his work out. www.artcoup.com

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eather has spent her entire life living in Missouri. She grew up on a small farm with her family in Montgomery County. “My Dad has been a farmer since as long as I can remember. Wheat, soy beans and corn.” I asked Heather whether or not her family knew where she was right now and she nodded her head yes. While her lifestyle makes her family sad, she knows that they still love her. She goes home and spends 2 or 3 days there once every couple of months. It gives her an opportunity to unwind. She feels safest when she is there. Before Heather became addicted to crack cocaine she was working full-time as a nurse in a nursing home. When her addiction started to take control she working on becoming an LPN. “I have always been a person who tries to help others. Anytime I see someone out here on the streets in need of help I do what I can. I figure that maybe someday my good will come back round to me. You never know what

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God has in store for us.” Heather has been to rehabilitation programs before but has relapsed after each treatment. After she was convicted for conspiring to sell drugs when her house was raided by the police, most shelters and rehab programs are quick to turn her away as a possible candidate. After talking for while Heather stood up and said, “Well. I gotta go and try to make some money now. Thanks for talking with me.” As we walked back down there stairs I let Heather know that I was social worker and that I could help her get out of her situation if she wanted to. I handed her my business card as she started walking down the street to the corner. “Im probably gonna be calling you real soon. Im tired of living this way. There are things I still wanna do with my life.” After thanking me again, a car pulled up to the curb. The man inside called Heather over. She opened the door, got in, and looked back at me to wave as they drove away.


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PHOTO PHOTO

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eet Jarome. I met him Friday while taking pictures north of Delmar on the Hodiamont Tracks. Many people don’t know this, but St. Louis used to be filled with about 1600 streetcars. The Hodamont Track was the streetcar’s last stand in St. Louis. Closed for good in 1966, the only reminders we left today are names like The Delmar Loop, the Wellston Loop, or the Hodiamont Tracks. After approaching Jarome to talk, he quietly laid back on his moped and began drinking a beer. There was a half smoked cigarette hanging out of his mouth which waved at me every time he spoke. As I got a bit closer to him, I noticed a crack pipe sticking out of the breast pocket on his shirt. I looked at him and asked him how he started smoking. After taking a drag from his Newport he said, “Crack or cigarettes?” As he casually pointed to a spot about 300ft. away he said, “Let me take you back in time about 30 years.” Jarome then told me that back in 1986 he shot a man in the head for raping his sister on the Hodiamont tracks. At 29 years old he was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced

to 15 years in prison. His son was only 12 at the time. Because he was a first time offender, he only served a 1/3 of his sentence and was released after 5 years, 5 months, 8 days, and 4 hours. Once back on the streets he started looking for love in all the wrong places and admitted that he met a prostitute. She told him that if he got her a rock (of crack), she would give him everything he needed. Jarome told me that at the time he didn’t know what crack was. It had only really become and epidemic in St. Louis while he was in prison. With $250 in his wallet, and 5 lonely years behind him Jarome and the woman went and bought some crack. After taking his first hit, he was hooked and spent all of his money on the drug that same day. He hasn’t been able to put the pipe down since. After finishing his story, he asked me why I was so curious. I explained the series to him and he felt it was important work. “The only white people that ever come up here, are the ones who are looking for drugs. The people who have the power to help don’t see the hardships that go on North of Delmar.” #NorthOfDelmar

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A WOOD CARVING

BY KARIN KIRCHHOFF

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Less ~ CANNABIS & DAFFODIL’S STORY BY: GREGG DAVIS PHOTOS BY JOHNNY PELHANK Exist Volume 1 issue 1

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CANNABIS & DAFFODILS M idwest culture comes in many forms. It thrives in every crack and crevice giving the breading grounds a vast area to cover. When people say they are from St. Louis they can be talking about an area that drapes a good chunk of the eastern state. The municipalities are just as huge. There are so many little cities in St. Louis that it’s not until you get into Kansas City that people stop saying they are from Saint Louis. However with a recent World Series win under their belts that Kansas City Royal blue can be seen a lot more. But back In the STL, the Cardinals red blood runs deep. From St. Louis to St. Charles the Midwest culture thrives.

these outlets of creativity available. The sex drug and rock n roll culture that MTV spawned was highly misunderstood between parent and child. During what I like to call the golden age of MTV in the early 2000’s, a time when Limp Bizkits where cool and Britney Spears was the most sought after poster for any teens bedroom. St. Charles wasn’t any different than the rest of the world; the only real problem was getting your superiors on board with your creativity. And that was always and will be always a challenge for the youth to overcome. Taking a short drive west of the Missouri River from St. Louis you find St. Charles. And in St. Charles is where we find the Hip Hop artist LESS.

Being raised in the outer skirts of Saint Louis, you might have been brought up with such a lack of culture that anything other than going to church every Sunday and youth groups every Wednesday was thought of as a nonsensical use of your time. That once you were caught sneaking out in the middle of the night to watch MTV that your life was over. It doesn’t take much for an adolescent to find something in common with ideas not so common.

Less grew up way out in St. Charles. Where it’s hard to get your friends to come over because they don’t feel like driving thirty minutes round trip to do so. But having friends over and playing wasn’t really Less’s forte. Less found hip-hop and never let it go. Growing up Less found himself diving head first into hip-hop like it was the only thing that existed. His parents brought to the table a little taste of what was to come influencing Less with the classics like Michael Jackson and KISS. And after dressing like the rock demon Gene Simmons for Halloween he knew that it was something worth holding onto. Less

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respected the showmanship of the celebrities and that is something you can absolutely see in Less’s music videos today. But in the early 2000’s it was the likes of Eminem, Ludacris, and of course Lil Bow-Wow… that sunk it’s teeth into the mind of Less.

Freshman year he was performing rap at assemblies and talent shows. The Defiance Boys were his first band of hip-hop artists. They all wrote their own shit. Less would record because he had all the equipment but they were always original in their writing. Less got behind the turn tables at a school dance and let loose giving him the grounds he needed to become familiar with the ways of producing music. Less would record just about anyway he could, finding old recorders, tape players, or a karaoke machine that would allow him to lay down his tracks. At first Less thought it was all about speed. “I thought the faster I rapped the better I was, cause no one could understand me or hear my mistakes.” The first rap song that Less thought was cool was Run DMC with Aerosmith, Walk this way. He used to listen to the album on his dads record player. Then for Christmas one year he got his own set of turntables. He read the fuck out of that manual. He would wright and mix and


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even record instrumentals from vinyl to disc in a primitive way to do shows from his car speakers. He thought it was amazing when he found the Chronic 2001 album with just instrumentals. The turntables have hella dust on them now piled under some shit in his basement. But that was back when he was 12. Less says going back now and listening to his music is like listening to a chipmunk version of himself. Just because Less has always done this doesn’t mean it was easy. Less struggled with depression to the point of suicide and then subsequently dealing with daily doses of medication to ease his “not normal” mind. Less dealt with it just like most did, smoked hella weed and experimented with DMT. Now to say he was a stereotype would be like calling Einstein a hipster. Less was in a world of his own. He was smart, and he wanted to be the smartest. He excelled in math and even thought of himself as a bit of a nerd. This left him basically on his own as most of his friends that were athletic hung with the jocks and the nerds hung with the nerds. Less was sort of in the middle of all that with headphones on thinking about the truth to 9/11. Was there bombs triggered just before the fall? Less takes life into his own hands. He has a mind to create and an exquisite follow through. Less deals though. He deals with life, depression, bipolar issues, ADD and a ferocious case of Jew fro. Anger is a 32

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large obstacle for him as well and controlling that and translating it into his passion is what he does best. He chooses to fly solo when it comes to writing but works with other artists creating beats and using the vast library of sounds available online. He has an idea of what it means to stand out in a crowd, and at one point it was “don’t sound black and don’t sound like Eminem.” I think Less has found the perfect balance of this formula. Less is constantly working and thinking about what he will do next. Whether it’s a cameo in another local artists work or posting some outrageous shenanigans on Facebook the wheels are always turning for Less. His videos get views and his SoundCloud is always showing new encouraging comments along side his music. Less tells a truth that some might see as just an opinion but when the opinions become the facts it is the truth. Less bundles his lyrics with a social context just about anybody can familiarize with. He likes to see what gets the reaction, which translates in his music, like a comedian searching for the laugh in the punch line. Just as his parents were, Less doesn’t really take to the mainstream. He finds a passion and explores it. He knows how easy it can be to get sucked into the system and churn out hooks and beats that are expected. His music sheds light into the “I’m El Chapo to this mental imprisonment” mind of Less. He claims that his brain is “Cannabis & Daffodils”. He has the ate up mind of a stoner trolling memes on the Internet.

When Less rhymes it’s never a dull moment and his style and point of view are very unique to this Midwest culture and lifestyle. It’s a creative like Less that make these no ocean states such an interesting place to explore. There’s no industry here for entertainment. Which is sad. No labels are signing six figure deals and flying you around the world to promote your albums. Artists now will do just about anything to keep the creative industry afloat. Here in the Midwest everybody is a jack-of-all-trades and a master at none playing shows on the weekends and hustling t-shirts, photography and their latest Pintrest forum to help make ends meat. This is what makes the Midwest such a breading ground for creative types. The need to create will never die and the way the Midwest makes it happen on a daily basis is a pure adventure. Being able to find these diamonds in the rough is why we do what we do. There is so much more to the Midwest than just farming and becoming a “normal adult.” Entertainment ideas are just as strong here as they are anywhere. After a steady roster of shows and the production of a mix-tape, 2015 can be summed up as the year that Less found himself and the year in which he has developed his craft to its full potential. It is obvious when an artist finds their niche and zeroes in on it like a raindrop in the desert. /


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IN SAINT LOUIS CRISS-CROSSING THE MIDWEST, TRAINS CARRY ONE OF THE MOST SEEN FORMS OF ART. WE TEAM UP WITH ARTISTS THAT TAKE PART IN THE AMERICAN PAST TIME OF CHASING TRAINS ON THE STEEL OF ST. LOUIS MISSOURI. It

THE TRACKS : A LOVE AFFAIR STORY BY REBEKAH JARCHOW PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE PETERSEN

just happened. we all fell into it. it’s

not so much a culture as it is a way of being, a life choice. It’s like an addiction, a sickness, this seemingly uncontrollable desire to chase trains. To feel the crunch of the rocky tracks under your feet, to wipe the grime and paint from your hands, to hear the grind of steel on steel. To be emboldened, to be humbled by the rails. There are painters and benchers, train hoppers and foamers, vandals and voyeurs. There are monikers and whole cars, end to ends and tags. Everyone is there to capture the moment, to hold it in their hand, if only long enough to take the photo or finish painting the piece. In those precious, fleeting moments we feel eternity slipping through our fingers as the train rolls away down the tracks. St. Louis is a city of steel and rust. Of progression and the decay that inevitably follows. With miles of train tracks, blocks of abandoned buildings and a fuck it all attitude, the Lou is an industrial haven. The tracks so many St. Louisans barely even glance toward on their daily commutes are alive with the rumble of train traffic. East to West, West to East, the tracks are never quiet. The pieces of eternity slipped from the hands of others fall into yours, just as quickly, just as fleetingly, just as sweetly. Impermanent, rolling to the next city, the next set of hands. Life on the rails is one of voyeurism and participation, witnessing and creating. Slowly, you start to know the tracks. The traffic of the lines becomes familiar. You learn the cars and feel the disappointment of coalies and tankers, the joy of racks and 36

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reefers. The names painted and scribbled down the lines become legible, recognizable. You get to know the people behind the paint, the photos, the monikers. You fall more deeply and desperately in love than you ever have before. It’s an affair like no other, life on the rails. There’s a craving, a longing for this pursuit of paint and steel, sometimes to our detriment. This way of life is often assaulted, misunderstood and condemned. We are the shifting shadows of the train tracks, the noises that go bump in the night. They are the dark side of the paradox of happiness, risking life, limb and often arrest to pursue our passion, our fix. They are brave. They are bold. They are heroes the city doesn’t deserve but desperately needs. Nothing last forever-not the iron giants you chase, not the miles of rail line, not the pieces painstakingly painted, not the monikers, not the people, not this life. Steel turns to rust, brick and wood to dust. Gently fading into nothing, we briefly touch eternity on the tracks.


I

t just happened. we all fell into it. it’s not so much a culture as it is a way of being, a life choice. It’s like an addiction, a sickness, this seemingly uncontrollable desire to chase trains. To feel the crunch of the rocky tracks under your feet, to wipe the grime and paint from your hands, to hear the grind of steel on steel. To be emboldened, to be humbled by the rails. There are painters and benchers, train hoppers and foamers, vandals and voyeurs. There are monikers and whole cars, end to ends and tags. Everyone is there to capture the moment, to hold it in their hand, if only long enough to take the photo or finish painting the piece. In those precious, fleeting moments we feel eternity slipping through our fingers as the train rolls away down the tracks.

East to West, West to East, the tracks are never quiet. The pieces of eternity slipped from the hands of others fall into yours, just as quickly, just as fleetingly, just as sweetly. Impermanent, rolling to the next city, the next set of hands. Life on the rails is one of voyeurism and participation, witnessing and creating. Slowly, you start to know the tracks. The traffic of the lines becomes familiar. You learn the cars and feel the disappointment of coalies and tankers, the joy of racks and reefers. The names painted and scribbled down the lines become legible, recognizable. You get to know the people behind the paint, the photos, the monikers. You fall more deeply and desperately in love than you ever have before. It’s an affair like no other, life on the rails.

St. Louis is a city of steel and rust. Of progression and the decay that inevitably follows. With miles of train tracks, blocks of abandoned buildings and a fuck it all attitude, the Lou is an industrial haven. The tracks so many St. Louisans barely even glance toward on their daily commutes are alive with the rumble of train traffic.

There’s a craving, a longing for this pursuit of paint and steel, sometimes to our detriment. This way of life is often assaulted,

misunderstood and condemned. We are the shifting shadows of the train tracks, the noises that go bump in the night. They are the dark side of the paradox of happiness, risking life, limb and often arrest to pursue our passion, our fix. They are brave. They are bold. They are heroes the city doesn’t deserve but desperately needs. Nothing lasts forever Not the iron giants you chase, not the miles of rail line, not the pieces painstakingly painted, not the monikers, not the people, not this life. Steel turns to rust, brick and wood to dust. Gently fading into nothing, we briefly touch eternity on the tracks. /

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KEN WOOD KNOWS THE WAY WHAT’S IN THE PRINT? STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHNNY PELHANK

H

aving a mentor in your life is important. Being someone that you can compare your life’s choices with and learn the good from the bad. They don’t always point themselves out to you but when you realize that you look up to that person, you know how much they impact your life. Ken Wood is more than a mentor though. He’s a master of print. With a CV too long to list he has the documentation to prove how much is at stake here. I use the term at stake because I feel like the knowledge that can be gained from someone can be just as easily lost or forgotten with enough time. Printmakers have a special place in the art world. The origins of printmaking are of a commercial sort. I consider it to be an art form that was an art form before it knew it was an art form. Meaning the fathers of printmaking probably had to be artists before they got into printmaking to realize that there was more to it than just completing the job. But this stance on printmaking to me seems to still be muddled in the art world. Screen printing, relief printing, lithography, the list goes on and on. There are more steps and guidelines to printing than you would think. Printing to me brings to life the real talent and skill of what it takes to be a creative. I feel like the term artist can be underwhelming to some, that’s why I use creative instead of painter, artist, designer, photographer… these terms seem to narrow down the Google search engine but for the creative it really doesn’t give justice to all they do to get the job done. Ken has been a creative for a while and I was lucky enough to have him as a teacher. I’ve been keeping my eye on Ken ever since I left his teachings because I really value the way he works and his creative process. He’s able to keep the simplicity and fun within his work, but still have a path to choose for the viewer to walk down. His latest work breaks down the tools and the ways of printing and gives them new meaning. Crafting hand made brushes and stencils to create layers and textures unique with each stroke, and colors to make anyone’s eyes smile. The prints he creates with this method are getting ready to be printed and framed and sent to a solo show at the

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Print Center in Philadelphia. He’s also involved in a local Saint Louis show with 25 other artists. He tells me he’s been working on getting ready for about a month or so. Each artist is given a room to basically do whatever they want for the sake of art. “The Pentimento project was very different for me and it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I usually use the 4 sides of the paper as a major part of the design - how the marks meet the edge, how they get cropped, how they slip into or out of the frame. But with the mural at Pentimento, I couldn’t have marks slip off the edge as seamlessly. SO I focused more on how they interacted with each other in the middle. Also there was an outlet right in the middle of the composition which by necessity became a major part of the design. The other new thing for me was building tools for other people to use. Talk about going outside your comfort zone. I turned the space over to other people, some friends, some strangers, to make their own drawings. It was liberating in some ways - but way different from how I think about my own studio space, which is pretty secluded.” When I meet up with Ken, he’s signing some of the Each to Other prints at local publication company Pele Prints. Pele Prints is owned by Amanda Verbeck who also went to Washington University. She interned at Wildwood Press before opening her own print-shop. The shop is part of a building that hosts a slew of other


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...IT REALLY PUSHED ME OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE... businesses as well. There is plenty of room in this warehouse for everyone. As I make my way through to the room, they have delicately placed out all the prints Ken is to sign. Everyone is helping keep the pieces of paper in pristine condition. It’s really a unique experience to get to see the work in this form, before they are framed and hanging in a gallery, the artist has to sign them. There are a handful of prints but enough to keep him signing for an hour or so. After he signs the last one Ken explains where they are going and how they are created. The paper comes from his choosing. “The paper I use is either Rives BFK (pretty standard) or Arches Cover (a little thicker and good for embossing).”

paintings. What messages life tries to muddle up can be clearly felt within these overlapping lines and colors. He’s calling this series “Each to Other”, which evokes an idea of separation and unity. The rivers of flowing colors come from just about every direction leaving no angle or path untouched. Ken makes his work seem effortless but will open your eyes to a world of hard work and understanding. Ken is a man who stays busy. From teacher to father, to master printmaker he is able to find the balance within it and create wonders for the viewing world. When you search for Ken’s work you will be able to find it just about anywhere. From Twitter corporate offices to galleries nation wide. Ken wood knows the way. /

He creates the brushes and creates layers of shapes out of a PVC type of material. He creates the colors by hand from oil and pigments and runs each layer through a press with a unique color. The process for Ken to create may seem and look simple but that is the idea when you have so much to say. You feel his experiences in the

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BRIAN

FERRARI PLAYS FOR KEEPS PAINTBALL IN THE MIDWEST STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHNNY PELHANK

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W

hen autumn rolls around in St. Louis it brings out the best in people. The weather is mild, the fall rains are short and far between, and everyone is gardening and prepping their lawns for the winter. Or they are finally getting to the yard work because the summer was too hot for those to finish. However fall just means get outside and play! When I was ten years old I was shown the game of paintball by my older brother. It didn’t take me long to get addicted. I was using all of the money I earned at every job I had from middle school to high school to buy equipment and play. Some fanatics take their hobbies to the extreme and when they get hooked, they really take it to the limit. Hunters hunt for trophy bucks and spend thousands on trips and gear, fishermen buy boats, rods, reels, and lures by the ton, and sports players travel around paying thousands for hotels and entry fees. Paintball players are no different; the sport just hasn’t made it to the popularity of the Super bowl or the Stanley cup. But professional paintball has been around a long time and doesn’t show signs of disappearing… yet.

To really understand our story you should have some sort of background of the sport. It all started in a cow pasture in Kansas in the early 70’s I think. The cattlemen learned to make a contraption to mark the cows with paint instead of having to brand them with a hot iron. The paint markers were soon in the hands of eager youths just waiting for their fathers to leave for work to get the markers out and start shooting at each other. As the 90’s rolled around the markers had evolved enough for casual play and businesses started forming based around the sport. The games got more interesting too. Taking the traditional game of capture the flag to something adults could enjoy. Going from the woods to man made inflatable bunkers, from hoppers that only held 40 rounds to 200 rounds from C02 to Nitrogen powered markers, and from fully mechanical pump markers to digital boards and LED screens, from scuba tanks to gas through grips. The game of paintball has come a long way. Just like any other sport leagues were formed to create structure for the sport. Each sport favoring it’s own way of play but each just as popular in the world of paintball. It started with the NPPL then PSP then X-Ball. Other countries adapted their own leagues and the system of the sport grew globally. But the popularity of the sport and the nature of having to have so much equipment really narrowed the field of who the players of the game were. As most of you have probably played or know someone who has you probably know that those who play are typically young and have really great parents who support them. One of the biggest struggles in the sport is being able to afford it. Shooting those paintballs up to 2000 per day at about .08 cents a ball can really add up. Especially for those players playing multiple days at tournaments. Most teams in the sport are self sponsored but some are fortunate enough to gain some help as they go. But the goal is to be good at shooting people with paint. If you’re not, no one wants to give you money to do it. In the 15 or so years I’ve played I have met a handful of players who have made it out of the minors and into the pro circuit. For the most part all it takes is money, but if you don’t have the funds you better be good enough for someone to want to give you money and the opportunity to play. Well Brian Ferrari is that good.

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I meet up with Brian at Xtreme Paintball Park in Milstadt Illinois. Missouri offers a few fields but not a lot offer professional style fields to play on or the talent to play against. Xtreme is just a short distance from St. Louis on the Illinois side. Xtreme draws players from all around and some families drive hours to come and play. Today at Xtreme they are calling it the yearly big game. They open up all the fields for play and just kind of let a free for all have fun day kind of happen. My assistant (my 7 yr old Jaxon) and I arrive a little before noon on this beautiful autumn day. It’s a perfect 73 degrees and we don’t mind hanging around while we wait on Brian to get off the field. He is currently in battle on one of the more wooded fields. We haven’t seen each other in a while so he doesn’t recognize me right away. Brian and I use to play together on a local team called River Rage where he was first introduced to the sport. But it’s been a few years and he’s moved way beyond they days of the River Rage. He’s in a fluster as he talks about what just happened in the battle. We walk towards the staging area (his car) so he can get more paint and air. Brian just recently got finished with the World Cup of paintball down in Florida. I’m anxious to hear how it went. When did you start playing pro? “I started playing pro last year. in 2012 I could of played with CP but they weren’t that good. In 2013 I had a chance to play with aftershock but they weren’t that good either.” What Kind of marker are you sporting these days? “It’s the New LB1 Ego So it’s an Ego but with a different timing mechanisim .They put a lever in there, the hammer trips the lever, It shoots fine. The paint’s four or five months old... (hands me the gun to shoot) ...with our sponsorship we have a tech with us all the time. everyone else shoots a GEO it has a trigger that I like..." Did the shooting regulations change? “They Changed it this year to millennium, they call it true semi which is 10 balls a sec but when you pull the trigger too fast it would slow the rate down which didn’t make any sense. But they switched it to millennium style So now what it is , is The faster you pull the trigger the faster the rate goesShoots 3 balls a second it shoots 7 etc.. 4.5 you shoot 9 and 5 you shoot 10...” (He describes the aspects of the shooting regulations and how the system works.) “We tried it out all three. We turn our guns down so the first ball is slow but as soon as you pull the trigger its in ramp mode. We tried it out at world cup this Exist Volume 1 issue 1

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year x500Everyone gets three pods on their back and a hopper so theres no more that 15 pods on the field at any given time. Once your on the field you can divvy them up how you want. Now it's just unlimited x-ball NXL now They have a mercy rule with pro its like 7 but it doesn’t happen too often, but its paintball you just go out and shoot PSP is still around they just don’t run events. ...” What was your toughest challenge with world cup? “The layout was poor it was like a crap shoot of a layout. Two guys in the same bunker so you get forced where to go. They stopped putting home bunkers in so it forced like a two on three on one of the sides. That way if you go three on the right you would have the advantage. Two big bunkers as the home bunkers so its just a cluster of you hope you can get there. I'm a go go go kind of player and It’s a sit and wait kind of game For me I didn’t get to play as much as I wanted, Its not my style of layout so I didn’t feel very productive. You sat there and waited til' you kill two

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bodies then it goes real quick”

with good layouts is something that’s always a challenge for the event handlers.

Do field layouts still have a snake obstacle? “Yeah but teams are getting smarter and using bounce shots. If I'm in one command center I can shoot at the back of the pen and get a couple bounce shots. Its how they design the layouts now so you have to be thinking about that. The games gotten a lot different in that way. Half the time you’re not getting shot by someone that can see you but getting shot by these bounce shots.” It’s mid afternoon and Brian explains his concerns with the game. The sport has become a constantly thinking and guessing game of where your opponent will shoot you. The field is composed of inflatable bunkers that came around when it was called Sup’ air. They use to have tubes connecting all the bunkers with big fans keeping them inflated. Those were some interesting tournaments. Now the bunkers stay inflated and can be moved around in various layouts. Coming up

“A lot of people are not liking the structure of how the game is being played which is why most leagues are using the X500 limited paint format. They're trying to figure out Put less bunkers on the field or take away paint They tried it i n Europe this year and it kind of worked. I just play with the rules that are given to me.” Do you plan on playing in the Millennium Open next year? “The plan is next year to play over there. Send a couple guys. A lot of the teams that go over there combine with teams because of cost. So we might combine with another team already there. Not sure who yet.” “It’s fun traveling all the time but I don’t get to go and have fun, I go to play paintball. We shoot 110 cases a weekend. In less than 3 months I have shot 54000 paintballs. Eclipse just came out with the CS1 with a gas through grip frame. G.I Sports sponsors us, Eclipse, Ninja, Exault


squeegees and micro fibers don’t understand how people play paintball on their own dime. I started playing in 2009 and 2010 was when I first got paid to play. Before the finals match in 2010 Gregg Pauly told us if we didn’t win we would be going home because we didn’t have the funds to play without a win. We won. If we made finals I wouldn’t have to pay for anything. I worked on the team as a coordinator so I was able to choose what we got and set it up.” “When I play for Texas storm I get everything free. Its cool but its not sustainable as a sport. Edmonton Impact and Heat are paying their players but if they lose players get cut and they search for someone better. Some of my flights are helped out with and I work as a manager at Golds

Gym. I help 2000 people across the country with fitness programs. I’ve done some summer drills to help out the local field. I tried to quit paintball last year actually. One of the owners of Texas Storms fields burned down which funded the team so we disbanded, so I just played with random teams. I played pump last year with a couple of the Total Grief guys and won as well.” “Last year I played for fun then Gregg Pauly reached out and I started playing for AC Dallas. We’re getting team edition guns next year since we won two events in a row. Our team consists of: Nathan Roberts, Devon Stewart, TJ Danner, Matt and John Jackson, Niko Hide and Clint Johnson. Clint Johnson and I played with Texas storm. Niko played with ACK. We just do our jobs, we aren’t

super stars. Gregg pauly says if we show off we sit. Some players who have played pro from the Midwest that i know and frequently play with are: Brock Joliff , Jon dresser, Tyler Burkold. Tyler played for Evil Factory team with Dresser for a while. Brock played with us for AC when we played D2 then he played with the semi pro team down at Virginia beach.” / The sport of paintball has always captivated me and I will always have a love for it. And when I find friends still playing and able to tear up the field like Brian does gives me hope. It is one of the most physically and mentally challenging sports thats played today. If you get a chance to play try your best not to get hooked. Your wallet will thank you. You can find webcasts and live feeds and coverage of most major events online. Find your local field and go play.

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REFERENCE

The Kamicosmonaut ww.facebook.com/TheKamicosmonaut www.thekamicosmonaut.bandcamp.com Quyhn Huyhn www.quynhhuynh.com ig: knowbeef Oliver Clark www.oliverclarkphotography.com Karin Kirchhoff www.bluescitydeli.com Less www.youtube.com/LESShiphop www.mediafire.com/less twitter.com/LESShiphop soundcloud.com/lesshiphop @LESShiphop #IPG Steve petersen www.stldk.com www.srp-photos.com Ken Wood kenwoodstudio.com kcwood@gmail.com Brian Ferrari www.planeteclipse.com wwwgisportz.com www.furiouspaintball.com www.exaltpaintball.com xtremepaintballpark.com www.ninjapaintball.com 58

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@youngjarus

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Exist Magazine Vol.1 Issue 1  

Unexpected Midwest Culture and Lifestyle. In the very first issue we are covering a lot of ground. From trains to paintball, printmaking to...

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