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MiddleGray ISSUE #02
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Editor in Chief, Visual Arts Editor & Co-Founder
Photography Editor & MG Staff Photographer
Music Editor & Co-Founder
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© MiddleGray 2013 All Rights Reserved email@example.com Cover Art: “Play Time” by Verónica Cabrera Back Cover Art: “Morning” by Verónica Cabrera Graphic Design: Catalina Piedrahita
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This arts journal is part of “The Middle Gray,” an them space and opportunities to showcase their wor place that encourages the social connections and c are an online-based organization with expectations
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Special thanks to all the artists who are being fe for your support. Much love, The Middle Gray
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Artem Derkatch Letters Editor
ation featuring emerging artists of various disciplines inLiterature and Performance Arts.
n arts organization that supports emerging artists by giving rk while being fairly compensated. Our intent is to build a collaborations that nurture a vibrant creative community. We s to grow and evolve into a physical space.
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All contributors to MiddleGray retain the reproduction rights to their own words and images. Reproductions of any kind are prohibited without explicit permission of the magazine and relevant contributor.
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Inside: Margaret S. Mullins - 6 Alena Kuzub - 8 Lewis J. Beilman III - 12 Dirty Tongue - 20 Natalia Benrey Zorro - 26 Christopher Louis Romaguera - 36
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Verรณnica Cabrera - 46 Robert Okaji - 54 L.E. Goldstein - 58 Lina Marcela Naranjo - 60 Fall Classic - 66 Manolo Sandoval - 72 Art by Verรณnica Cabrera - 5 -
Margaret S. Mullins Margaret S. Mullins divides her time between rural Maryland and downtown Baltimore. Her work has appeared in Alehouse, Loch Raven Review, Creekwalker, Magnapoets, New Verse News, The Sun, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Sugar Mule, OVS and others. She is a Pushcart nominee, editor of Manorborn 2009: The Water Issue (Abecedarian Press) and author of Family Constellation (Finishing Line Press, 2012.) Her poetry has appeared on Writer’s Almanac and been read by Garrison Keillor on NPR.
Boots They begin to gather each morning at five in the parking lot of the 7-11. Hands around coffee cups can’t stop the shivers as cop cars drive by. As pickups slow down, workers fall silent, jiggle their tool belts, make the sign of the cross, kiss their thumbs, kick at the asphalt with muddy work boots. At the end of the workday, all caked with mudsweat, they’re returned to the parking lot, empty now. They walk together to Pollo Campero for wings, rice and beans, then return to the shabby rooms they share, fall onto bare mattresses that cover the floor. That week there were only two days of work, not enough for new boots or a shot of tequila on Friday night. But Saturday morning the post office line is long with workers in worn work boots, waiting to buy giros postales to send to their parents, their wives and their children who wait in El Salvador. Wait for the money for food and school uniforms, wait to tuck the little left into jars where their dreams are saved for the day they will leave, cower in buses, walk through the desert, hide from the migra and join their men. To live the American dream.
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Eeva For Elisa Eeva, born to parents of Finnish, Salvadoran, & Midwest American heritage.
Daughter of ancient lands, of blond northerners who came from Asia, of Pipil Indians who crossed land bridges, of Irish, and English and Germans who crossed oceans for potatoes, adventure, and freedom. Descendent of Aztecs, builders of civilizations and the Nahuatl Pipil, who fought and fled the conquerors, and survived. You are tropical pyramids and precious jade; the obsidian monkey accompanies you. Heiress to the land of midnight sun and midday darkness, woods and water, of resistance to conquest from without, and fierce devotion to equality within. Sea air and pine surround you. Child of the vast young nation of dreamers who came to tame and till and build what churns and changes still, seeking land, seeking liberty, seeking a legacy in you. Grown in the fertile soil of many lands, nourished with pupusas and chili pepper, moosemeat and cloudberries, blue crab, rhubarb, and caldo gallego, you emerge a flower of many hues. The northern tango is your parent, so the Latin swirl. You are Mozart in the kitchen, Sibelius and salsa on the sidewalk. With each step you dance with shadows from the past. You are all the farmers and teachers actors, priests and suffragettes judges, engineers and poets mothers and fathers all down the line, all who came before, all that are you. The midnight sun, the Southern cross, Orion. Kalevala, rutabagas and roses. Sea water and lakeshores and river currents. Spaceships and lace and Xochipilli. You are Eeva. Singular, wondrous Eeva. - 7 -
Alena Kuzub www.alenakuzub.com
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Alena Kuzub was born and raised in Minsk, Belarus. She graduated from the Belarusian State Economic University and worked for 4 years in finance, but boredom from crunching numbers and a growing interest in photography drove her to a career change. She decided to become a professional photographer, which brought her to the New England School of Photography in Boston, MA in February 2012. While at NESOP, she chose to concentrate on Documentary, Fine Art Black and White, and Advertising since each of these fields covers what she considers essential aspects of photography: real life, visually beautiful creative art, and fun and experimentation.
Recently, Alena’s documentary and black and white work has been included in several exhibitions such as the Flash Forward Festival group exhibition “Undergraduate Photography Now: A Celebration of New England’s Best Student Photographers.”, NESOP’s Black and White show at Panopticon gallery, and Griffin Museum of Photography’s 19th Annual Juried Exhibition. She also was awarded 2nd prize in Portrait category and 2nd honorable mention in Feature category of the Boston Press Photography Association College Contest 2013.
“Back Alley Abstruction” - 9 -
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Lewis J. Beilman III Lewis Rico. peared azine,
J. Beilman III lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his two cats, Elvis and He writes short stories and poetry in his spare time. Recently, his stories have apin Blood Lotus Journal, Gravel Magazine, Straylight Online, Larks Fiction Magand Red Fez. In 2009, he won first prize in the Fred R. Shaw Poetry Contest.
First Time Isabelle and I were alone. As usual, we talked, and, as we talked, I wanted to be with her in another way. She knew, too, what I wanted. It was no secret. Like a fool—and I was a teenage fool—I had confessed my unflagging love for her a few weeks after we had become friends. She had let me hold her hand, and, at times, I could even touch her black hair, moving it in dark waves from her pale cheeks past her shoulders. I thought the world of love then—perhaps I still do—but time and heartbreak can turn cynical even a romantic heart. My family had left town for the day to visit my father’s sick friend. Neither my father nor my mother had said anything when I told them I didn’t want to go, that I had plans that day. Despite their fears about my recent changes—the rapid weight loss, the inability to sleep, the compulsive reading habits—they knew I had a friend with whom to talk, and I believe they appreciated that. I think my mother, who suffered her own sorrows, knew what she saw; and my father, I think he hoped that the very thing I wanted would happen and would suddenly wipe away the sadness in me that he couldn’t understand. I can’t blame him for that. He wasn’t—isn’t—built like me or my mother. Isabelle drifted from beside me across my bedroom, her stockings sliding over the parquet floors. She wore black—black stockings, black skirt, and black turtleneck—and her voice lilted with a song that echoed from my stereo. She laughed and seemed happy, which was seldom the case when we were together. Usually, our engagements consisted of us huddling next to each other, speaking in hushed tones, sometimes crying. Whatever seemed so poignant then—the need to break free from our suburban homes, the lack of understanding of our parents, the emptiness of the high-school routine—seems so distant now, like it happened in another life or a dream. But those cares meant the world to us then, and they made us ache beneath the armor of our youth. I watched her from the bed, wondering if today would be the day. After a fumbling pirouette, she giggled, and glided toward me. She held out her arms and smiled. “Come, just for a moment,” she said. She bent at the waist and put her hands in mine. They were soft, and I squeezed them slightly. But I didn’t move. “I don’t dance,” I said. “You will,” she said, leaning back and pulling me towards her. My body lifted, losing resistance, and she spun me around. I drew closer to her, in tightening circles, as if I were a meteor or lesser planet that had passed too near a dark sun. We laughed as we held each other. I wanted to kiss her, to touch her in a different way, to let her know how much I loved her. Before I could clutch her to my chest, though, she slipped from my grasp.
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“Let’s play pool now,” she said, floating towards the billiard table at the far side of my bedroom. “You’re going to have to work pretty hard to beat me.” She always said that, even though I had never had to work very hard to beat her. But I did not begrudge her her optimism. I, too, felt optimistic that afternoon. I had material benefits that many teenagers did not have. My father, a broker—like the fathers of so many of my classmates—did well for himself. We lived off the Merritt Parkway in one of those Connecticut towns where large homes sit like islands amidst seas of birches. Being an enterprising young lad, despite my sorrows, I had asked my father if he would convert the downstairs playroom into a bedroom for me. My bedroom upstairs was cramped, I reasoned, and my brothers, who shared a room, could use rooms of their own. My father—who was eminently reasonable—said he would grant me my wish, since it was near my sixteenth birthday, as long as he and my brothers could use the room from time to time. Of course I agreed— and, much to my delight, the room came with a full bathroom, wet bar, and the aforementioned pool table. Unfortunately, soon after I had moved in, my father removed the libations from the wet bar. Apparently, he had sensed that the spirits were slowly becoming diluted. There, in my seemingly palatial refuge, my siren meandered past the wet bar to the wall at the far end of the room where the cue sticks hung. I followed behind her, closely. As she found the cue she liked and lifted it from the wall rack, I swept up against her and put my right arm around her waist. I smelled the gardenia scent on the nape of her neck—she always wore that perfume oil—and pressed my lips where her neck curved into her shoulder. I bit softly on the muscle there. She shuddered, and the cue fell and rattled on the floor. “No,” she moaned, but she didn’t stop me. I turned her around and pushed her back against the wall. Pinning her there, I kissed her lips—it was my first kiss—and everything felt warm from the tongue in her mouth to the fluttering in my chest to the rising sensation in my nether regions. Her tongue explored my mouth, and I thought, This is it. This is the moment. But it wasn’t the moment. She fought her way out of my arms. “No,” she said. “I can’t.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I just can’t do this now.” “Why?” I asked, wondering why something that seemed so natural, so imminent, suddenly caused so much confusion on her part. I reached to put my arm around her, but she turned away from me. “I really should leave now,” she said. Those were words I did not want to hear. As long as I had her with me I had a chance to return to that moment, to feel the stars release behind my eyes, to watch the dismal world around me fade away. So I grabbed her arm—it was all I could do to keep her there. And though she mumbled again that she had to leave, she didn’t move to the door. I can’t quite recall if I felt guilty then, but, as a teenager—even today as an adult—I had always felt guilty for the way I behaved, regardless of how I behaved. The scourge-like pleasure of guilt—a constant but titillating torment—was just another one of the gifts bestowed upon me by my mother. So the teenage fool stood there with his beloved temptress and wondered why she wouldn’t— couldn’t—give him what he wanted. These memories, though, where do they go? They’re like sand beneath the waves, always shifting. What happened next? I think I tried to kiss her again. Yes—I think I did. And I smelt the sweet floral bloom of gardenias again—and she resisted again—this time with tears. Ask yourself, please, could there be any sadder sight than that of a tender girl of seventeen with skin like porcelain standing before you with black clouds of mascara raging beneath her eyes? I must have seemed like a silly child then, standing there, with my own tears, asking her Why? Why?Why?Why? She didn’t—wouldn’t—say. Again, Why? She had told me before that she thought she could. She had said she had done this before. Why not with me? I wondered. I was the one who was there for her. I was the one with the countless poems, the thoughtful trinkets, the hours and hours and hours of time spent listening to her, consoling her on the telephone. Was it too much for me to want more?
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And she? She had led me on. I dare say she knew she had led me on. But it is silly now to quibble over tiny details. Who said what? Who promised what? Who would always love whom? Blahblahblah. With the years gone by, it is meaningless now. Like grains of sand beneath the waves. Still, I badgered her, over and over again with the Whys? “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said, clenching her hands and squeezing her eyes closed. “I can’t talk about it.” She pushed past me to my bed and sat down on the edge opposite the wall. She dropped her head into her hands. Her arms buttressed her forehead and tears flowed under her palms, down her cheeks, and onto the sleeves of her turtleneck. I stood still and watched her sob. Was this part of the game? I wondered. She had moved—voluntarily, no less—to the one spot in the room where I most desired her to be. Oh, please let this be part of the game, I thought. With a pitter-patter in my heart and a rekindled warmth in my loins, I drifted toward her and cozied up against her, draping my right arm across her back and pulling her close to me. Again, the sweet scent of gardenias. I sensed that the time was right. Although my previous foray had been rebuffed, I readied myself to go once more unto the breach. As I said before, I was a teenage fool. What more would you expect from such a youth? I imagine I pursed my lips and closed my eyes. I imagine I waited for that cosmic moment when everything seems to line up right. I imagine I leaned in to find those lips again, to feel that tongue on mine, to press my chest against hers—then, she spoke. “I’ve never told anyone this before,” she said. “But I need to tell someone. It happened just before I met you.” And she told me the tale then. It started with John, a handsome boob from a neighboring town— some fool—I didn’t know him. According to Isabelle, he had seemed nice. He had taken her out to dinner, whispered in her ear, charmed her with all the right words—he sounded to me like a regular Robert Redford. Then, on another night, he had taken her to a club called Limelight. And suddenly John wasn’t so nice. After having imbibed together in the car, then having imbibed more at the club bar, he had said he’d take her home. But, he didn’t take her right home. Despite her protestations, there was something that Isabelle didn’t want him to do that he made sure to do anyway. At least, as she told it, she did exact some measure of revenge. When John had finished, the night’s drinks stirred in her stomach and she retched and blanketed his back with the remnants of the night’s binge. After the sad story was told, Isabelle cried some more. I tried my best to comfort her. I held her in my arms and listened to the boohoohoo. And what a boohoohoo it was! The wails still ring in my ears to this day. No more did I plan that night to plant my lips against hers. Any thoughts of wrestling with her beneath my sheets had ended. She had confided in me—her best friend—and I knew that the confidant would never become the lover. I tried to comfort her in whatever way I could—I did love her, you understand. I told her I understood her distress—which I didn’t—and I let her wet the front of my shirt with makeup and tears. And another story grew for me over the next several months. The cutting began shortly thereafter—after she met Henry and did with him what she couldn’t do with me. Then what followed were the pills, the self-hate, and the hospital—but that was later. Now, I am tired and don’t want to speak anymore, except about one thing. That evening, when she readied herself to leave, I felt in a particularly tragic state. I was my own Young Werther, a one-man Sturm und Drang. I accompanied her to the front door and took our jackets from the coat rack. When she had arrived, the sky had hung low and threatened us with the dark blue-gray clouds of the winter’s first snow, but we hadn’t looked outside in hours. As I opened the door to walk her out, a wisp of snow kicked across the doorway into the foyer, melting quickly on the slate floor. Outside, the grass, Douglas firs, and pavement slept beneath a white blanket. The evening sky, clear after the snowfall, twinkled with the trappings of stars, and the sparkle of Christmas lights blinked upon the homes of our neighbors. Above our heads the new moon lurked out of sight. Other than on that night I’ve always enjoyed the first snow. The first snow, unadulterated by the
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muck and excrement that will mix with it later, lifts the spirits of all but the hard-hearted. Before it turns to slush, it floats light in the air and makes a child want to fall on his back and fan out his arms and legs. But I didn’t think of making snow angels that evening. I took Isabelle’s hand and trudged through the powder to her car, which was parked at the far end of the driveway, away from the garage. Like the rest of the environs, the brown paint of her car lay covered in white. I glanced at my watch and saw that the time was near for my family to return. I prepared myself to face them once more as a failure, a young man mired in his impotence. Isabelle opened the passenger-side door and reached beneath the seat for a brush and ice scraper. I used my jacket sleeve to remove the snow from the hood. Her levity from the afternoon returned as she bounced around the car, sweeping snow from the roof and the trunk. Unburdened from having to carry the weight of her secret alone, she whistled some sprightly tune and smiled. As you can imagine, I felt no joy coursing through my veins. I stood fixed to the ground, my roots shooting from my legs through the pavement. She fluttered past me toward the drivers-side door, the sea of brown paint between us. Before she left, she blew me a kiss, unaware that it felt more like a bullet than a blessing. “Do you not love it?” she said. “The dirt, the fallen leaves, the detritus, they all disappear beneath the first snowfall. All we’re left with is white.” The car door closed, the engine started, and I waved goodbye as her taillights faded from sight. Unwilling to go inside, I sat where I had been standing and let the snow melt through the backside of my jeans. I wrapped my arms around my shins and stared at the pretty lights in the sky. I lingered there, my chin tucked between my knees, until I glimpsed the headlights of my father’s car as it rounded the bend and approached the driveway.
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Begins on page 8
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“Castle” - 17 -
Downtown Geometry Before diving completely into photography Alena Kuzub worked for four years in finance, which made the Financial District in downtown Boston feel like a familiar place to her. She enjoyed watching all those busy dressed up people filling those tall buildings, rushing through streets, having business conversations during a walk or enjoying their lunch hour.
Kuzub’s relationship with downtown Boston started while working on street and night photography in this area of the city. She was attracted to its atmosphere, and eventually she started to pay attention to the buildings and their interiors. She found them beautiful and noticed how some of them were modern and entirely made of glass while others had a very cinematic, old look, which in her mind rendered well as black and white photography. She appreciates buildings as someone else’s creations, and she also sees them as more than just sky scrappers with walls, roofs, or scenes from everyday downtown life. She started to go downtown on Sundays when it’s deserted and quiet, and observed the buildings the same way she observes people. Buildings own
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the downtown on the weekends. They live there and they interact with each other. She became interested in the relationships among buildings, and between buildings and the sky. In her photographs these elements overlap. They are combinations of lines, shapes, and the interaction of spaces. Kuzub decided to abstract architecture to create her own shapes, and finding these beautiful abstract scenes became a game to her. She began using this fascinating geometry and scale to create her own art and her own architecture. This transformation actually happens in the darkroom after taking the photographs. She found that the more beautiful pieces came from playful combinations of several frames when putting them together in a sequence.
“Sometimes I give the viewer a hint about what he/she is looking at. Sometimes I turn pieces in a way that increases abstraction and brings attention to the beauty of lines, shapes and forms.” -Alena Kuzub
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The Band www.dirty-tongue.com Dirty Tongue is a rock band formed in 2010 by guitarist Miguel Arroyo and drummer Adolfo Torres during their time attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. The band’s music started out as the two experimented with extended, improvisational jams before rehearsals with other groups. These jams quickly progressed into riffs and sections for songs that featured a hard rock/blues feel, odd time signatures and polyrhythm. Very basic songs emerged from these sections, songs that would later be re-created and crafted into more compositional pieces. The name Dirty Tongue, thought up by Miguel, came from the desire to write songs that deal with subjects such as life, death, religion and oppression. All this from a pessimistic view of the world, featuring satirical lyrics and a “dirty” guitar and drum tone. Miguel and Adolfo figured that they would have to compensate a great deal in order to make a two-piece band sound like a regular four piece rock line-up, they needed the help of another member. Not another instrumentalist, but rather someone who could listen from another standpoint, one of a sound engineer. In Juan P Jaramillo, they found the missing member; Being a Music Production and Engineering student at Berklee he contributed different ideas on song form, perception of sound and production. In September 2011 due to extenuating circumstances the three had to split up and live on far sides of the world. Miguel returned to his home in Nagoya, Japan, Adolfo moved to Austin, TX to play drums for a number of artists, and Juan was to remain at Berklee until his graduation in 2013. The band was as good as over. In late October 2012, Miguel and Adolfo, frustrated by their musical circumstances, decided to continue making music together. With the help of Juan and a great deal of discipline, they were able to write and record their self-titled EP.
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The Music Dirty Tongue is no ordinary band, and their first EP is no ordinary achievement. The entire EP was composed, recorded and mixed in four different cities: Austin, TX, Boston, MA, Jefferson, NJ and Nagoya, Japan. Most of the work was done remotely: band-members collaborated online and over the telephone while scattered across the globe. It required incredible amounts of passion and dedication from everyone involved.
“The Dirty Tongue EP is a one of a kind treasure, and here is why: Making an album is not an easy task, it demands lots of t ime and attention to detail from everyone involved,” explains band-member Juan Jaramillo. “Many things can go wrong with an album: musicians or engineers might not show up, know the parts right, or even agree upon the parts of a song. The fact that Dirty Tongue was able to do this while being in different cities is nothing short of a miracle”
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The Dirty Tongue EP comes along after the band had been fractured by distance for mor physically together again. “It is product of frustration, of not being able to be creatively ac bullshit and mediocre music,” says Juan Jaramillo. Working to do. I ing shit. creative
as a hired musician in Austin, TX, Adolfo realized how difficult and rare it is t have always had a problem with being told what to play by people who don This is why Dirty Tongue is such a beloved space for me, because it is a pla the entire way through. We come up with everything we put out, from the m
The production of their EP took over 6 months from start to finish. It began as an id ter story about the devil’s son and his experience on planet earth. The devil’s son as a m smart in the societies they live in. A mock to false signs and symbols, to false prophe ple that do not seem to think critically anymore. Dirty Tongue is the metaphysical punch
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re than three years, and after its members had lost all hopes in the possibility of getting ctive, of being limited by our day jobs or school, of being continually exposed to so much
to truly be creative within the industry. He comments: “You are mostly being told what n’t even play the drums, especially when they ask me to play some awkward soundace where we can write our own music, or our own arrangements of covers and be music, the message, to the photos, etc - it is a creative process through and through.”
dea in a conversation between the 3 members one night and evolved into a 3 chapmetaphor that looks to excite awareness in people and asks them to be more active and ets and blind followers. “Dirty Tongue looks forward to awakening a generation of peoin the face of a dormant generation consumed by media, propaganda and mediocrity.”
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NataliaBenrey Zorro “Fotógrafa autodidacta, nacida en Bogotá en 1989. Actualmente estoy terminando Literatura, estudiando Historia y formalizando estudios en Fotografía. Me interesan las historias que hay en cada persona, lugar y cosa. Me encanta viajar, observar el cielo y todo lo que en él sucede. Me gusta observar en silencio y escuchar historias. Me gusta recordar. Creo que el verdadero quehacer del fotógrafo no es capturar imágenes sino contemplarlas, así como lo hace el escritor, el historiador o el filósofo. A través del ojo concatenado al lente, el fotógrafo intuye azarosamente el sentido de su mirada: recordar no es perpetuar un pasado solamente, es confrontarse infatigablemente con el presente. Es no olvidar los detalles, cada particularidad de la cosa más exigua, que muchas veces devela la profundidad misma. Creo que por eso soy fotógrafa. Recordar, capturar y contemplar expresiones, miradas, un soplo de tiempo, un rostro, una calle, el momento exacto en el que el vaho del frío hace contacto con una figura en movimiento, en fin…el mundo de situaciones que nos rodea cotidianamente, y que de alguna manera nos interrogan. Es un círculo.”
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“I’m a self-taught photographer, born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1989. Currently finishing my studies in Literature, studying History and starting formal photography classes, I’m interested in the stories inherent to every person, place and thing. I love to travel, to watch the sky and everything that happens in it. I love to eat and to walk, to observe in silence and eavesdrop on conversations in buses. I like to remember. I think the true work of the photographer is not to capture images but to contemplate them, just like the writer, the historian or the philosopher. Through eyes linked to a lens, the photographer intuits the meaning of his gaze: to remember is not only to perpetuate the past, but also to relentlessly confront oneself with the present. It’s not forgetting the details, every nuance of the smallest thing that often reveals depth itself. I think that’s the reason I’m a photographer. To remember, capture and contemplate expressions, gazes, a breath of time, a face, a street, the exact moment when a cold mist touches a moving figure. In short, the world of situations that surround us daily, that question us in some way. It’s a circle.”
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“Día #1, Empañamiento”
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“Día #6, Co
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on abuelo en el sofá”
“Día #12 , Fragmentación” “Día #38, Llorando”
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“Día #39, Soy un árbol”
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“Día #42 , Mi abuelo ha enfermado”
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Trasplantada Iˆ ““Trasplantada I” es un fotodiario de 98 autorretratos que registra la etapa más difícil de mi vida, durante el 2013, que me llevó, inherentemente, a una transformación. Empezó el 19 de abril y terminó el 25 de julio. Comenzó como un ejercicio de observación de mi cotidianidad, y se fue convirtiendo en una breve biografía, un relato de mi vida que habla del tiempo, la ciclicidad, los cambios, la muerte, las relaciones familiares y amorosas: el enfrentamiento diario conmigo misma (miedos, traumas, relaciones, árbol genealógico, recuerdos, tiempo...) a través del caos y lo inesperado. La muerte de mi abuelo, el infarto de mi papá, el fin de una relación y el rechazo de mi tesis, me permitió ver «el otro lado» de la vida: lo que llega sin anuncio. Con Trasplantada I empieza un trabajo personal de por vida. Trasplantada II registrará 97 semanas; Trasplantada III, 97 meses y Trasplantada IV, los años que me de la vida.”
““Trasplantada I” is a photo-journal consisting of 98 self-portraits that document the hardest time in my life, a period that led me to a transformation. The journal ran from April 19th through July 25th of 2013. It started as an exercise in observation of my daily life, and slowly became a brief biography, a tale of my life that speaks of time, cyclicity, changes, death, family and romantic relationships. The daily struggle against myself (fears, traumas, relationships, family trees, memories, time...) through chaos and the unexpected. My grandfather’s death, my father’s heart attack, the end of a relationship and the rejection of my thesis all allowed me to see ‘the other side’ of life: that which comes unannounced. With “Trasplantada I,” I started a lifelong personal work. “Trasplantada II “will record 97 weeks, “Trasplantada III” 97 months and “Trasplantada IV” however many years I have to live.”
- Natalia Benrey Zorro
www.nataliabenrey.tumblr.com www.nataliabenrey.wordpress.com www.twitter.com/_Mandarina__ www.flickr.com/photos/unamandarina www.facebook.com/nataliabenreyfotografia www.proyectotrasplantada.wordpress.com “Día #46, Ojos abiertos hacia adentro”
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“Día #57, Frente
“Día #61, ¿cuá
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e a frente conmigo misma”
“Día #68, Juzgada por las otras yo”
ál se esconde?” Continues on page 40 - 35 -
Christopher Louis Romaguera Christopher Louis Romaguera is a Cuban-American writer who was born in Miami, Florida. Chris attended Florida International University, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy in 2010. After graduating, he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he wrote for Where Y’at Magazine. In the summer of 2011, he moved to Oakland, California. There, he wrote for various blogs and reviewed poetry slams for the online magazine, Synchronized Chaos. Chris is currently back in New Orleans, where he is writing a book with Lionel Lombard Jr., recounting Mr. Lombard’s experiences in Dubai, where he was imprisoned.
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You could feel the box’s pulse in a way that only Poe could describe. The box was unlabeled, but its contents were well known. In the last house, the box had been tucked into a little corner, impossible to be forgotten but the goal was for it to not always be present. When moving (this time not because half your house was burnt down, but because these things tend to happen in a transient town like New Orleans) the box would be placed in a new corner in your new place. But the damage had been done. You can’t save a match for later after it has already been lit, just like you can’t put the skin back after you’ve picked a scab. Once the secret is whispered in your ear, the thought is entrenched in your brain, and will rattle across your head like an angry pinball. The box wasn’t going to leave you alone tonight. You hadn’t taken much from your “other home,” and what was salvaged from the house that ate itself from the inside-out that early December morning was stuff from Miami, stuff that would be put in that box. Your guitar case would always find its place next to the box, having survived the fire, still in good condition because it was placed a few rooms down where the case got dredged in ash, and every time you opened it you felt like you were playing the guitar from Crossroads. In the box was your computer, that had been knocked off its table by the roof that caved in and found itself sitting in a puddle of water. Since then the computer has been doing its best imitation of HAL 9000, foiling any plans you’ve had. On top of the computer lay a book that a love of your life had given you. The nostalgic smell was replaced by smoke, ash replacing dust, while the dedication had cried off the page after being sprayed down by the New Orleans Fire Department. But the pulse of the box came from The Beatles pint glasses. You pick one up and look at the glass. You can’t even tell which one it is, but you remember the love you felt when she gave them to you, her leaving home before you did. So you let the hot water run and start to scrub, not looking at the glass, so as not to be disheartened. You look out the window of your Bywater house, tucked neatly between Dauphine and Burgundy. You remember how the glasses were the last thing added to the box. How the original survey of the cemetery that was your house had overlooked it, but just like Bruce Willis’ watch, you would have to go back to find it. How when you were second lining down Rampart Street one Sunday, the pulse could be heard coming from your broken down house, and you couldn’t ignore it. How your beautiful friend wanted you to take her to Cake Café, but you asked her to wait outside. You remember ducking underneath some fallen wooden planks, eyeing the rusty nails as the neighborhood cats used your charred home as a playground. You remember the pulse getting louder, as you got closer to the glasses, shocked to find them neatly stacked in a house where the bathroom melted, not understanding what the fire chose to take and what the fire chose to leave. You remember taking one clumsy step as a teary-eyed man, and you remember what it felt like when the rusty nail pierced through your shoe, the plank doing its best impression of a remora as it stuck to your foot for the next step. You remember hearing the calls from your friend as they traveled through the ashy walls, her understanding enough of hijo de puta to know that something was amiss. You remember how her now dead dog licked your face as she drove you to the hospital. And you remember the Seth Rogen doppelganger of a doctor staring at your foot for an eternity before uttering the word “tetanus.” You remember walking back to your friend, noticing all the televisions turned on to the Saints game, as our Saints were on their way to losing against the Rams, your friend passed out in the unnaturally cold ER. And how the pain seemed to be pumped throughout your body with every beat, as you worked 18 of the next 24 hours, bartending on Frenchmen, with an influx of tourists who all seem to have the same chain of questioning:
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“Where should I go hear music?” Followed by: “Was this area affected by Katrina?” As if music were some sort of icebreaker to talk about Katrina, New Orleans being pigeonholed into those two things, with the answer being expected from a Cuban who moved here five years after the storm. And you look at the glass, to see some progress has been made. But you start to smell the fire. You can’t tell if it’s because the ashes have gone airborne, or if it’s from the hot water cooking the ashes, or if your brain is having some sort of weird Fisher King flashback. And you remember that trip you took back to Miami, only ten days after the fire, how you threw a barbecue for all your friends and family. How at one point the smoke got to you, and you had a coughing fit, and you tried to walk away before anyone said anything, not wanting to add to the canon of bad stories from New Orleans. For it was your new home, and you loved the music and the dancing and the food, and you didn’t want a fire to be the chosen narrative of your time here. So you stop and let the smell or the thought or whatever it is that is distressing you subside, putting some distance between you and the sink. You stare at it, fighting the urge to stop, for the pulse of those glasses won’t stop, so why should the reaction? And you start to scrub harder and harder, as if by doing this you could erode the memory. As if the only reason you remember it at all is because of that ash. So you go after the glass as if the lotto is won by how you scratch it. And you keep scrubbing till you want to yell with John how you “got blisters on your fingers”, and you start to see the print. And you’re scrubbing so hard that you swear you see smoke rising from the glass. And you see more and more of the print and it reminds you more and more of her. And you choose not to focus on her leaving, but moments like when she gave you the glass, moments when looking at her eyes had more of a calming effect than anything measured in milligrams. And you look at the glass again, still scrubbing, and the realization that some of the stain won’t leave the lip of the glass, that some of it just won’t come off. And you know that the tourists of your life will tell you to throw it away, for what is a glass in the grand scheme of things, just like how the tourists of New Orleans talk only about Mardi Gras or Bourbon, never venturing past Rampart or Elysian Fields. The same people that will say our town is not safe enough to host a Super Bowl, or will say how sad it is that it rained during Uncle Lionel’s second line. They seeing it as the gods must be crying, not seeing it how we see it, that his soul has reached its destination, that heaven’s band just got a little better. People who will think that their next Hubig’s pie won’t be the sweetest they’ve ever had. So I stop scrubbing the glass, and rinse out the soap. I put a couple of cubes in it, and pour a little Flor de Cana, raising my glass to those we aren’t with me today, and I sip it slowly, letting the burn enter, relishing it. And maybe a little ash will appear in my drink, but I won’t stop drinking it. For the narrative I choose for this town is not about the shootings, but the second lines, not about the heat, but about the warmth of the people. And I know this town will never leave me behind, for I love it so much, even if someday I will leave her behind...
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“Día #58, Espacio rojo’’
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Begins on page 26
â€œDĂa #70 , Mi abuelo ha m
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“Día #74 , Joaquín y yo atravesados”
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“Día #78, Frustración”
“Día # 84, Frente al espejo + sombra”
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“Día # 97 y 98 , Fin del trasplante”
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Verónica Cabrera www.veroarts.wordpress.com
“Thank you, World”… that is what I think every time I go to bed. As much as our tedious daily routines clog our imagination they can also give life to it and inspire. At least this is what I try to live by. This is also how I get my artist motor running: Waking up. My greatest ideas, my most colorful and innovative thoughts light up in that oh so familiar vegetative stage when you can’t get yourself out of bed. Sometimes I put it to use immediately, but most of the time I have to keep it in mind and continue on to my usual full-time-job day. I work in an academic library where I have access to so much information about anything and everything that I love: film, literature, art, graphic novels, history. I can truly say that my weakness is folklore/mythology, where I can get stuck for hours reading. The use of women and nature is key to most mythology, be it through deities and animals, and this is what inspires my creativity. Stories told through illustrations drive me and it’s where I feel the most at home when I produce. -Verónica Cabrera
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ng in Color These self-portrait series are based on illustrations and fine art that have been inspired by childhood fantasies and natural elements. In the series “Touch…Hold” Cabrera explores a whimsical, feminine world with watercolors and delicate lines to portray the figures. She introduces inanimate and animate objects in the “Dreaming in Color” series. The objects sharing the space with the figure are used to tell a story, though it’s meant for the audience to interpret their own way. The artist’s purpose was to create a curious environment using the media in a minimalist way.
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Robert Okaji Robert Okajiâ€™s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Extract(s), Prime Number Magazine, and Clade Song. Sometimes he dreams of living in foreign lands, but his life in Texas seems sufficiently different at the present.
Letter from Insomnia Accepting Li Poâ€™s tragedy, apocryphal or not, we embrace her imperfect reflection rippling in the breeze, but manage to surface. I once thought I would name a child Luna and she would glow at night and like Hendrix, kiss the sky. But that was whimsy and only candles light this room at this hour on this particular day in this year of the snake. And what fool would reach for a stone orbiting at 1,023 meters per second? There are clouds to consider, the stars and the scattering rain and of course wine and the possibilities within each glass and the drops therein. We must discuss these matters under her gaze, where smallness gathers.
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Ritual Placing the dead is seldom arbitrary. The Marquis de Sade’s grave in the forest at Malmaison was planted with acorns so that he might be consumed by trees, but my wife desires a shady plot in rural Texas, where no one will claim her. In old Christian graveyards the unclean were buried at the gospel side for sinners. When her best friend died, she and his former lover split a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and listened to Puccini. The Nuer of Sudan place deformed dead babies by the river, returning them to their true fathers, the hippos. After the fog crushed Stevie Ray’s helicopter, I played Texas Flood on the juke box and quit my job. In China, bones channel feng shui, becoming part of the active landscape. Though she wanted her ashes to drift in the Pacific, my mother’s body lies in a national cemetery in San Antonio. On the northwest coast of Canada, the Kwakiutl left their dead to the ravens, and my father has proposed on numerous occasions that we shove a hambone up his ass and let the dogs drag him off. I do not believe we’ll follow his suggestion. In old England, suicides were often interred at crossroads, impaled, to impede their restless wandering spirits. The Torajans sometimes keep bodies wrapped in layers of absorbent cloth in their homes for years. I’d like my incinerated, pulverized remains released in the jet stream, if only to escape economy class for once. Jellyroll Morton’s grave is in Section N, Lot 347, #4, in the northwest quadrant of Calvary Cemetery, but some villagers bury stillborn near a dwelling’s outer wall. Hugh Hefner is rumored to have acquired the spot next to Marilyn Monroe. Placing the dead is never arbitrary.
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Goldstein L.E. Goldstein was born in Niceville, Florida. She has two B.A. degrees and an M.A. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She recently graduated from Boston University with an M.F.A. in Poetry. While there, she received a Robert Pinsky traveling fellowship. She traveled to Ecuador and spent three months living in the Amazonian Rainforest. Her next stop is Texas.
A Week After The article said the underwater reservoir search turned up nothing, unfortunately. Jogging past the reservoir I watched a sports car speed through the intersection, a girl step in front of it, then step back again. My search turned up nothing, unfortunately. But your smile plastered on the window of the train turns up in my stomach, on the trail, the benches with willful staring eyes. Your face an iris on a white sheet, one taped on each side, papers wet from melting snow. Nothing’s changed but the surrendered search, the newscaster no longer recites that your cell phone’s last signal was nearby, that your Mom is hospitalized with stress. Nothing but a dazed girl with a Labrador, ducks in their winter black, old men no longer doing crosswords on benches, buckets of salt cracked slightly, my eyes darting to bare woods, a long dark log. Your Facebook states the thing you hate most is that moment you’re home alone, you hear a noise, and your heart stops. Last night, I walked home, recalled your name, Franco, saw a glove’s fingers reach through the snow a little boot print by my print in the snow, thought of your 12-year-old brother on TV pleading that he just wants you home, despite pain contorting his face how lovely the dimple on his right cheek.
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Dreams are for Children “Sweet little Shirley,” were the first words my grandma spoke after her stroke. I too, admired the curled girl, tap shoes and dimples. Shirley had been around longer than I had, she knew only my face, the hint of my smile. In the nursing home she hides a cookie given to her at a New Year’s party. “They won’t like it” she says. I tell her it’s ok, but she shakes her head, looks off. A book bound in pale yellow reads in bright green, “You Are Somebody Special”. She tells me she needs to pee, so I push a button, wait. Her roommate tells us her husband was gay, died of aids. She survived three strokes, was 52, balding. She told us her husband sucked cock, even fucked a horse. I don’t know what to say. I say I am sorry, that the world takes all kinds. She says, not that kind, but it’s ok, he was a pig. If she got enough money, she would change her last name. In twenty minutes no one comes, so I go out in the hall, find someone. The nurse says she is busy, she will be there soon. We wait ten more minutes, it is too late. She cries, feels ashamed, says she is going to die. I wait in the hall for her to get changed, and a woman in purple leg warmers offers me a Cheeto. She says, “I’d sit next to you, but they wouldn’t like that, would they?” Yesterday, I saw a rat chased from a restaurant, slide under a tree between the sidewalk and street. I felt the owner’s hiked shoulders, saw his etched victory. “Oh, I said, I don’t think they’ll mind.” A nurse steps between us, like dodging spent toys. We look at one another and laugh. I find my grandma and she grabs my hand, brings it to her face. “Oh, sweet, sweet,” she says. Outside, winter grass glows from the cracks of grey and weathered sidewalk, snow slips from its edges like burned paper.
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Lina Marcela Naranjo
Lina Naranjo es una Colombiana de 27 años, estudiante de último semestre de diseño gráfico en la Universidad del Valle en Cali, Colombia, e ilustradora amateur que tiene entre sus planes empezar estudios formales de ilustración en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina en el 2014. Lina ha dedicado los últimos 3 años a experimentar diferentes técnicas análogas y digitales de ilustración, encontrando en sus trazos irregulares y en la mezcla de texturas una forma de expresar su pensamiento surreal en sus dibujos. En la actualidad se dedica a trabajar en pequeños proyectos personales y a ilustrar y diseñar para Mikasa Bar (clasificado este año como uno de los mejores 50 bares de Colombia), lo que le ha brindado la oportunidad de trabajar para diferentes artistas que han visitado su ciudad.
Lina Naranjo is a 27-year old hailing from Cali, Colombia. Currently completing the last semester of a Graphic Design degree at the Universidad del Valle, she’s also an amateur illustrator planning to start formal illustration studies in Buenos Aires next year. Lina has spent the last 3 years experimenting with various illustration techniques, both analog and digital, and has slowly found a way of expressing surreal thoughts in her drawings through irregular tracing and mixed textures. She currently works on several personal projects, in addition to working as an illustrator and designer for Mikasa Bar (rated this year among the top 50 bars in Colombia). This experience has afforded her the chance to work for a variety of artists visiting her city.
Product Photography by Iván salazar People Photography by Juan Esteban Arias
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“Es lindo imaginar que un día después de que termina cada Petronio, especies como la Ballena Jorobada, la Tortuga morrocoy y la Gaviota, empiezan un recorrido de un año por todo el pacífico colombiano, cubriendo así mar, tierra y cielo para traernos hasta Cali los más increíbles sonidos y sabores de nuestra hermosa región. Disfruta anualmente del Festival Petronio Álvarez y déjate conquistar por su magia!”
“It’s lovely to imagine that, at the end of every Petronio, animals like the Humpback Whale, the Red-footed Tortoise and the Seagull begin a year-long journey along the Colombian Pacific. They roam the sea, the land and the sky in order to gather the unique sounds and flavors of our be beautiful region and bring them to Cali. Enjoy the Petronio Álvarez Festival every year and allow yourself to be taken over by its magic!”
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5 días todas los sonidos y sabores característicos de la región. En la semana del Petronio es normal ver a miles de personas bailando al son de ritmos tradicionales como el currulao, arrullo, bunde o abosao, ondeando los pañuelos blan-
Esta diseñadora, amante de su ciudad, ha tenido desde hace algunos años un firme interés en el Festival Petronio Álvarez. Este evento, un festival de música y folklore afro-colombiano de la costa pacífica que tiene lugar cada año en Cali, recoge en
A self-declared lover of her home city, for years she’s had a deep interest in the Petronio Álvarez Festival. This 5-day event is the largest gathering of Afro-Colombian tradition and folklore from the Pacific coast of Colombia, during which all kinds
cos emblemáticos de la cultura Pacífica. Es una época del año en la que se vive un contacto directo con las tradiciones y raíces, una oportunidad para que éstas se arraiguen en la cultura actual.
traditional of the Pacific heritage. The feast is a time when the people of Cali live in direct contact with their traditions and roots, it’s a chance for these roots to take hold and claim their place within modern culture.
of sounds, flavors and cultural expressions typical of the region converge in Cali. Thousands of people dancing to the rhythm of currulao, arrullo, bunde or abosao become a common sight, waving white handkerchiefs in a gesture
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A partir de esto surgió, hace unos 3 años, la idea de describir gráficamente la sensa decidió usar el pañuelo como elemento simbólico de todo el color y la cultura que creación, de experimentación con distintas ideas, bocetos y técnicas, salió la primera muy pequeña de 350 pañuelos pintados en serigrafía con 6 diseños diferentes (3 a co males majestuosos de la costa Pacífica: la tortuga morrocoy, la ballena jorobada y la y aire toda la región, recogiendo durante un año todos los elementos que construyen vez que llega un nuevo festival, estos animales arriban en Cali para traer toda la ener
Katherine Solis Murillo, Lina’s friend.
Her fascination with the festival gave Lina the idea to visually describe all the perso val represents she decided to use the iconic handkerchief as a symbol of the color imentation with several ideas and techniques she released the first collection of il rigraphed handkerchiefs in 6 different designs (3 monochrome and 3 in color). T tortoise, a humpback whale and a seagull. According to the tale, every time the fest that make up the Pacific tradition. Then, after a year has passed, they arrive in Cali
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ación que le deja a Lina esta experiencia, tanto a nivel personal como colectivo. Lina llenan la ciudad cada año durante el festival. Tras pasar por un arduo proceso de a colección de pañuelos ilustrados del festival Petronio Álvarez 2013. Una producción olor y 3 a una sola tinta), que nos cuentan de manera surreal la historia de tres anigaviota. Cada vez que se acaba el Petronio los tres animales recorren por tierra mar n esta cultura y la hacen única en sus ritmos y en su gastronomía. Es así como cada rgía y el misticismo que reúne nuestra cultura en cada rincón del pacífico colombiano.
Lina Marcela Naranjo, Graphic Designer/Illustrator.
onal and collective sensations of the experience. Seeking to portray all that the festirs, the sounds and the richness of the culture. After an arduous process of experllustrated handkerchiefs for the Petronio Álvarez 2013, a small edition of 350 seThese tell the story of three majestic animals from the Pacific shore: a red-footed tival ends, the 3 animals roam through land, sea and air gathering all the elements i bringing all the music, food and culture they have gathered in time for a new feast.
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www.facebook.com/fallclassic Man/Other Beasts (the new album) www.fallclassic.bandcamp.com “The Lion” (single off the new album) www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VvGlAq2a4s
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FALL CLASSIC Guitarists Andrew Fatato and Ryan Jeffrey, and bassist Jonathan Kolar met in Boston while attending Berklee College of Music. When Andrew’s brother Aaron entered a Battle of the Bands without a band, Andrew stepped in to help out, and asked Ryan to play as well. They did very well, making it all the way to the finals. Once the contest was over, Andrew realized the potential of the group. Aaron left and Jon joined the group, and The Powers That Be was born. Over the next three years they made music together, developing their mix of blues and funk and noise, playing around Boston and New York and finally releasing an EP and many b-sides. Then they split up. “We broke up as Ryan left for LA to get famous, Jon moved to Austin to get serious, and I stayed in Boston because I’m afraid of change,” explains Andrew. Ryan went on to perform and record as a sideman for various projects, and Jon worked as a session player in Austin. Over a year went by. In 2011, Andrew and Ryan began talking about writing a concept album together. They
THE BAND Andrew Fatato (Guitar) Ryan Jeffrey (Guitar) Christopher Grandberry (Drums) Jonathan Kolar (Bass) Photographs by Bre Palladino & Andrew Fatato/Fall Classic
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sent each other After 2 years in cord the album t vinced Jon to co
In less than 48 hours they laid down the initial tracks of what would become Fall Classic’s debut a
In the spring of 2012 they wrapped up that first record, and immediately started performing in suppo multaneously developing material for their sophomore effort. Jon and Andrew relocated to Chicago t CJ, and after several months of work they released their second album, ‘Man/Other Beasts’, in the s
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sketches and rough recordings back and forth for several months, calling their project Fall Classic. n Los Angeles, Ryan moved back to Chicago, his hometown. Andrew and Ryan decided to rethey had been working on for the past year, so Andrew came to Chicago and the two of them conome as well, for a few days. For the recording they enlisted drummer Christopher “CJ” Grandberry.
ort of it, while sito join Ryan and summer of 2013.
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Manolo Sandoval www.manolosandoval.com
Manolo Sandoval is a commercial and fine art photographer from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico who resides in Boston, MA. He started his photography studies when he was 18 years old with renowned photographer Memo Moreno in Hermosillo. Inspired by Ansel Adams, he learned very technical aspects of landscape photography and the art of black and white photography. Later on Sandoval became interested in commercial photography and decided to continue his training at the New England School of Photography in Boston. At the moment he assists already established commercial photographers in the Boston area, works as Teaching Assistant at the New England School of Photography and enjoys putting together personal shoots destined for portfolio purposes.
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Urban Contact Sheets In Sandoval’s “Urban Contact Sheets” series he employs 35mm black and white film in an alternative manner. He selects a landmark - a place that is recognizable by most viewers - and he meticulously studies its light throughout the day before even setting up a tripod. Once he decides on a time of day, he returns to the scene and starts his process. The photographer scans the whole scene one frame at a time starting with the top left corner and continuing towards the right. This process is repeated from top to bottom until the entire scene is covered. “Neither the process nor the photographs are meant to be perfect. That’s the beauty of them”. Explains Manolo. “That’s why I use black and white analog photography. It gives them a raw appearance.” He can take 3 or more series of the same scene to ensure he has all the frames he needs, given that each contact sheet is made up of continuous frames from one single roll of film. Sandoval decided to create this series long after seeing a photograph that explored the same process, since it mimics the way he contemplates architecture. “I always wanted to create a version of this photograph that was my own. I have great admiration for architectural structures, and I wanted to capture these landmarks in a way that represented my way of looking at them.” Explains Manolo. This avid photographer has no shame in admitting he enjoys beautiful aesthetics, and all he wants is to share his visually appealing images with the viewer. “I want them to be captivated by what they see as soon as they put their eyes on it.” Remarks Sandoval.
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Submissions to MiddleGray
Mag are ongoing. Please click on the correspondent link for more information on how to submit work: Letters Music Visual Arts Other Media
Stay up to date with The Middle Gray www.middlegraymag.com www.facebook.com/themiddlegray www.instagram.com/themiddlegray www.twitter.com/middlegray www.themiddlegray.etsy.com
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MIDDLE GRAYCafé On Etsy
The Middle Gray Shop on Etsy was born in an effort to support the The Middle Gray project by integrating Visual Arts and Culinary Arts and forming a sustainable Arts Café. All The proceeds from our Etsy Shop go towards funding the growth of The Middle Gray through various projects.
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Arts, letters and music magazine.