Mule Magazine 6

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I S S U E N . 06 o

Harmony Korine Helen Money Steve James Javelin Big Kitty Count Bass D David Daniell Chris Roberson Emily Clayton Gregory Euclide Nico Camargo Frei Designs



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DOWNTOWN 406 Broad St. Chattanooga, TN 423-266-5874

three locations! HIXON 5506 Hixon Pike Chattanooga, TN 423-847-3700

EAST BRAINERD 1414 Jenkins Rd. Chattanooga, TN 423-855-4105

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. Sir Francis Bacon(1561-1626)


I S S U E N . 06 o

featuring : Helen Money . . . I feel that the cello is in a range similar to the human voice . . . . 10 Javelin . . . Super fresh & super dope . . . . 12 Count Bass D . . . I’m just a guy trying to be a musician . . . . 14 Roberson vs. Clayton . . . Waterfalling boob hats, smoking cigarettes . . . . 18 N.C. Farmers . . . Photo Essay and Interviews by Alix Blair. . . . 50 Our Sharing Guide to Tennessee . . . Where to go and what to do . . . . 31 Big Kitty . . . Human sized caterpillars lounging in the kitchen . . . . 38 Young Monster . . . A Studio Visit . . . .41 David Daniell . . . a career of experimentation and exploration . . . . 40 Steve James . . . & the new Kartemquin film Death House Door . . . . 50 Harmony Korine . . . Ol' Dirty Bastard was talking like Madeleine Albright. . . . . 54 Arrington De Dionyso . . . Primitive and Ritualistic . . . .58 Gregory Euclide . . . I used to be an owl. Now, I am more of a canyon bird . . . . 60 Nico Camargo . . . Sociology, urban planning, ecology, and history . . . . 62 also : The clothing of Frei Designs . . . Photographed by Thatiana Oliveira . . . . 42 Reviews ..... 36 FEATURED LABELS : Smog Veil | Endless Latino | Drag City


Please visit for online exclusives, events, blogs. + You can now add artwork to our online gallery and meet other do-ers and makers through our network at Please contact us at Thank you for reading. SPECIAL THANKS TO: Paul Tapp, Susan Smith, Valerie Job, Sam Billings, Gaye and Betty Tapp, Honey, Edmar Marszewski, Chris Powers, Alex Valentine, Ye Olde Heart of Gold, the memory of Terry Plumming, Matt Greenwell, Rebecca Targ, Ron Buffington, Elizabeth Kincaid, Mrs. Patricia Berne, Regina Greene, Laurent Schroeder-Lebec, Jim Becker, Vanessa Roanhorse, Lauren Carrig, Floy Shipp, Karen & Leon, Bobbie Carolyn, Perry Wayne, Virginia Ruth, and George. Thanks be to Jan. Thank you to the Whistler.


I S A co l l a b orative effort of

Jennifer Brandel Emily Clayton Nick Dupey Chris Roberson Joseph Shipp Liz Tapp E D I TO R I A L

Jennifer Brandel Liz Tapp Fa S H I O N E D I TO R

Emily Clayton WRITING

Alix Blair Amy Cargill Antonia Gustaitis Travis Nelson Murphy Graham Stephenson Liz Tapp Lynda Wellhausen Rob Wiles Clark Williams

Sharing is such an important thing. Its a simple idea, yet so often we forget that we are not built to be alone. We are a tribe of human beings walking across boulevards and flying over oceans. Our thoughts beam instantly around the world, connecting people with images and words. Buckminster Fuller devoted his life to the question: “Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?”

Chris Roberson Joseph Shipp Liz Tapp

He was convinced that the accumulation of relevant knowledge, combined with the quantities of key recyclable resources that had already been extracted from the earth, had reached a critical level, such that competition for necessities was no longer necessary. Cooperation had become the optimum survival strategy. “Selfishness,” he declared, “is unnecessary and hence-forth unrationalizable . . . War is obsolete.”


We hope this issue finds you and encourages you to SHARE.


Jenny Hines Sarah McKemie Thatiana Oliveira Caleb Wilson I LLU ST R AT I O N

“We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.” -Noam Chomsky

Clare Cronin Chris Roberson PROOFRE ADER

Graham Stephenson Pu b l ishe d by

Equus Publishing

Illustration by Claire Cronin


by Antonia Gustaitis


I feel that the cello is in a range similar to the human voice. It resonates right here—in your chest Watching Helen Money perform involves a wash of

what draws you to Hendrix?

How did you come to play the cello?

One of the pieces I do is called “Hendrix.”

I grew up in L.A. during a time when they had

harshly, the deep impact of suddenly being struck in

I wrote that when I was working with the poet

a really good music program. When I was eight

the chest with a beam of steel.

Krista Franklin. She wrote a bunch of poems

years old the high school orchestra played at our

about Jimi Hendrix and what it was like to be a

elementary school and we were able to pick an

feelings. There’s yes, the calm and strength of standing alone, surrounded by ancient mountains, yet, more

In concert, Money stands alone, only surrounded by

black woman into classic rock music. She felt that

pedals, cello clutched close. Her bow draws out songs

was unusual. We actually did an album together

that cut through typical phony theatrics to the deeper

that hasn’t been released yet, Aural Anarchy. It

dramas of life, as if telling us we are not aimlessly

is in the spirit of Jimi. When I was working with

adrift. Telling us we’re part of a never-ending flow of

her, I started to read about Hendrix and listen

instrument to learn. I remember the girl playing the cello and thinking that she was really cool and it looked really easy and fun. That’s how I got started and I just kind of stuck with it.

was on the radio, I couldn’t relate to it. Then I

What type of music were you listening to at that time?

read about him, how he was so serious about his

Pop music on the radio. Whatever my parents

music—he even slept with his guitar he was so

listened to. When I started to play the cello my

devoted to it. I really started to appreciate him

dad bought me some records. Just bought them

to meet the lady behind the cello. I met with Alison

and what he did, and now I’m a huge fan. There

at a department store. I don’t know that he knew

Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) during the first dreary

is a really interesting interview that he did with

that much [about music] but he bought me

snowfall of Chicago.

Dick Cavett, where he talks about why he plays

some really great records. My first record was the

water, slowly, violently pounding upon rocks beneath the cliff we live upon. After a good part of the summer was spent listing to Money’s first album, secretly putting my forgotten modern dance degree to use, I decided it was time

to his music. I remember in the '70s, when he

so loud. He said he played loud so that the music

You’ve been opening for loud, hard, droney bands like Shellac and Earth—why have you chosen to play the cello so loudly and abrasively? I feel that the cello is in a range similar to the human voice. It resonates right here—in your chest.

would go right into people’s souls. Something about that really inspires me. He’s one of those people, like John Coltrane, who has had a lasting influence on music. I could never do a Jimi Hendrix cover because he put such a stamp on his music.

Playing loudly is a powerful thing, especially if it

Dvorˇák Cello Concerto that I ended up listening to all the time. My younger brother actually had a big influence on me as he started to listen to rock music and then got me into it.

You used to play with Verbow. what’s the biggest difference between being on stage by yourself versus performing with a band?

sounds full. Shellac does that really well. They play

Do you come to the music with something

It’s a lot more intimate. Not sonically, because

loudly but, it’s a good loud. You’re overpowered

that you PLAN TO to express or specific

I play pretty loudly, but I feel it's only me

by sound. It’s something that you don’t even really

imagery that you think about?

communicating with the audience. There is

think about—you just experience it.

Was it a conscious choice to reach out to a community that might not be AS ACCUSTOMED to A solo cellist?

I think that it is mostly personal feelings that I’m expressing. I know that my stuff can be epic sounding. But, sometimes the small personal stuff can feel like the whole world—like everything. If

more responsibility but it’s freeing to know you’re doing it yourself.

Are there any themes in your new album?

I am not connected to what I am doing, I don’t

My last album had more short, pop music type

When I was younger I listened to The Minutemen,

think it’s very good. When I find a sound I like,

songs; verse, chorus, bridge, etc. This time I

The Who and Bob Mould. It’s nice to think the

find something I want to say, it’s a great feeling.

wanted to see if I could push my writing further—

I was listening to a song John Coltrane wrote

develop ideas a little more. The pieces ended up

people that like those bands might like my music. With the metal scene especially, the fans and the musicians, are some of the most unpretentious people I have ever met. It seems like they are just really into the music, period. This girl came up

after these girls who died in a church bombing in Alabama and thought: “God, I wish I could

being pretty dark. I’m not sure if I was going for it to be darker, but it ended up that way.

write something like that.” To be inspired by a piece like that is a challenge because Coltrane

Any last words?

and said “I just want to feel something when I hear

achieved that feeling so well. I tried to sit down

Making this record just feels like the most

music.” I thought that was so great. That is how

and come up with something that intimate and

important thing at the moment. I just hope that

I feel, too. I like responding in a visceral way to

powerful. I don’t know if I come close, but it’s

when people hear it, it connects with them. That’s

music. I don’t want to think about it too much.

inspiring to try.

what I want to do: communicate something. n

to me after a show I played at the Empty Bottle



JAVELIN by travis nelson murphy

PLEASE SHARE WITH US THE SONGS THAT MAKE YOU CRY | TOM of Javelin: | Pachelbel -“Cannon in D” | All Queen | Arthur Russell -“A Little Luck” | Sly Stone -“Just Like a Baby”­ (Puts you back in your chair, you can’t stand up— his voice is just so haggard and bleeding. So good you gotta fade that shit out . . . have a minute to adjust.) |

| GEORGE of Javelin: | Beatles -“Fixing a Hole” | Little Richard -“I Don’t Know What You’ve Got” | Otis Redding -“It’s Too late” | Goran Bregovic' -“Ederlezi” (a miserably sad dirge, sung by a young girl. The lyrics are all about the arrival of spring, from the former Yugoslav.) | Caetano Veloso -“Cucurrucucu Paloma” (A cover of a really popular Mexican song by Tomás Méndez featured in the movie Talk To Her. Veloso totally overdoes it. It’s the most beautiful, delicate, sad thing I’ve ever heard in my life.) |

| TRAVIS of the Killer Whales (our interviewer): | Bonnie Raitt­ -“Nick of Time” (I got back into it because Count Bass D was bumping it.) | Dr. John’s “Glowin’” off Babylon—“Cut out all this worry and complaining / you gotta do it / cut out all this fighting and straining / ya better know it / just live plain ol'’ life” | Talking Heads -“This Must Be the Place” (A mixtape essential, an exalted “Life is so beautiful.” It’s like a barometer to the soul.) | Bob Marley’s “I’m Gonna be Your Friend“ off the Jamaican version of Catch a Fire | Arthur Russell -“Wild Combination” (It’s such a beautiful love song. He really didn’t trust words. He leaves it so open and sketched.) | I have two songs from J Dilla’s Donuts that make me cry because they’re just so dope. | Neil Young -"Heart of Gold"| And Chaka Khan -“Sweet Thing”


Trav: For those of you who don’t know, Javelin is super fresh and super dope. There’s a fun ‘90’s throw-back aesthetic. Is it because you came of age then? Tom: I think [the ‘90s thing] has some weight. A couple things came out in the ’90s that I think relate to what we do. Our music references a lot of different time periods and styles. If you look at stuff like Prince Paul, or for me another big album was Beck’s Odelay. It was sort of a time for assemblage, and everyone was having a good time in the ‘90s.

Trav: I feel a resurgence of that. All I want to do is watch YO MTV RAPS. I don’t know if it’s the feeling that things are moving in a more positive direction in the culture as whole or what but I feel that positive intention that was prevalent during that time, and just pop music in general is starting to come about again. It seems very necessary in these times. Tom: I think a lot of people put their head down, with Bush. They were keeping their heads down, and it maybe drove people even further into fantasy land. We’re into feeling good—dancing but not being forced to dance.

Trav: Yeah, the dancing but “not even reallypaying-attention-to-the-band” vibe. It’s nice when people are dancing, and not even looking at the stage. George: That’s my dream. To have the crowd wigging out but not paying attention to us at all. Tom: The idea is a social event. I have a soft spot for bar music and party music. Just cause someone is performing doesn’t mean that you have to have all your attention on them like a magnet. I’ve been to so many soft shows where some guy is playing a banjo and singing and if you start having a conversation everyone in the room will give you the dirty eyeball, including the guy playing. It’s like “Okay, I’m here with my friends. And I’m here to hear music, but I’m not necessarily here to clam up for 50 minutes and drop my drink.”

Trav: That’s why I appreciate the celebratory vibe of Javelin. There’s no pretension. It’s more for community enrichment. Tom: That’s what we like about the Killer Whales too, man.

Trav: Good vibrations seem to be ever-present within the music of Javelin as well as the live performances. It’s great to come out to you guys’ shows. I feel like with Killer Whales that dynamic spawns from being such good friends. John and I have been best friends since we were like 14. How much does that good energy have to do with you guys being cousins? George: I think a lot. I don’t know what percentage that would be. Tom and I grew up making stupid radio cassette shows together.

Trav: I used to do that same shit! Recording myself and everything that happened all day long! From the age of like six to the age of ten! Tom: Exactly man! Yeah, our families always had time together and we did holidays. There’s a couple pictures where George got a synthesizer and we’re both

sitting on the couch together with the Casio. The next Christmas I got one because I loved it so much. We spent a lot of time together as kids, but neither of us ever knew what the other was doing with music, and we found out that we were both making loops with cassette machines and sampling records and using four tracks and samples. I overuse this metaphor, but it’s like two scientists in different continents both working on the same research.

Trav: When did that start? George: I started messing with that stuff in high school, cutting stuff up on my computer with Sound Edit. I listened to a lot of hip hop, but I never put it together that this was how this stuff was made, or realized it was a legitimate way to make music. Then one day it dawned on me. A big thing for me was, in high school, I went to this public school in Providence. We had this thing called Spirit Week. Every class had to come up with a skit that they would perform in the cafeteria. I’d listened to hip hop music for a while, but never—the energy of those performances in the cafeteria changed my life, seriously. I remember walking in, not really knowing what was going on that day, because I wasn’t really clued into anything. I was kinda in my own world. I just walked in and they were playing "Rapper’s Delight," and it was the beginning with the claves. And I’d heard that song lots of times, and seen the video on VH1, but I didn’t understand it all until I saw six-foottall Laotian dudes doing huge windmills to this music. And one senior dude, who was like the shit at school, rapping, and all the girls just going crazy. Everyone was sweating. The performers took an existing record and turned it into an amazing performance. It was social capital for themselves. These dudes were superstars at my school.

Trav: One of the things I really dig about Javelin’s music is that the sampled influences are pretty transparent—pretty evidently there, but you guys also play instruments. There’s a lot of organic stuff happening in tandem with the beats. I can’t really tell what’s sampled and what’s live. That’s why I think it works out so well live. Hip hop acts even chopping their own stuff on the MPC, especially if it’s just one guy, often end up rapping over a pre-recorded track. It’s cool to see you guys doing this mashup of influences and pulling it off live. George: That’s our whole aim, I’m glad it comes across. Obviously the tools we’re using are hip hop tools, but we’re interested in playing other things and really we’re not 100% interested in making hip hop music. I think we’re trying to set our sites on making something else. Not just music that will make a crowd move, but shit we haven’t heard before, a weird hybrid. I think of it in a visual sense. The minute you put something into a box—like a record—you’re taking it from a threedimensional live situation and putting it into a twodimensional collage. You really have to think hard if you’re going to make it come alive again and make it three-dimensional in front of audience.

Trav: There are so many ways that can go wrong, and on the opposite side, so many doors that open up within that medium. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Funky Forest, but there’s a part

where a guy’s with his girlfriend, and you get to hear their internal dialogue. The girl’s thinking about their relationship and it cuts to the guy and he’s just staring at the turntable. His inner dialogue is: “The turntable is a limitless cosmos.” And I thought, “That’s what the fucking MPC is, when you start chopping shit up.” But on the other hand, if you don’t actually make it threedimensional, it can be pretty awkward. Tom: When you sample off of pre-recorded material, it can be pretty thin. Sounds always sound more whole when you record them yourself. If you sample off of all pre-recorded stuff, it can sound really cool, like when Dilla does it on Donuts, but if you listen to his other stuff, he’s putting in his own drums and using lots of keyboards. You can save all the hand claps in there, but if you layer a real hand clap, it’s going to sound way better because the signal’s stronger and you’re starting the whole process over again.

Trav: You guys just got signed to Luaka Bop. David Byrne started that label, but he doesn’t have an affiliation with it anymore? George: That’s generally the sense I get, but I haven’t asked his partner about that. I don’t have the dirtydirty on that.

Trav: But this is dope, I’m just so happy that you guys are going to have some representation. It seems like you’ll be able to travel and get paid a little bit. There seems to be a vast quantity of people our age, with similar flavor making pretty good music, but at the same time it seems like nobody buys music anymore, it’s not so viable to try to make a living at it. So this is getting back to the communal enrichment. With the Killer Whales I’ve always wished that we lived in some tribe, and we were like entrusted as the entertainers of the tribe. Tom: West African style . . .The sense I get is that the work is never done, but the more work you can do as a musician, the better. George: Nobody really needs a label anymore to get out there. You can just get on the internet and pretty much do everything yourself. But one thing we’re excited about his having this really great organization backing us. Musicians don’t really need labels anymore for distribution, but an audience still respects a label. You’re being vouched for.

Trav: And you guys are going to have access to the rights to sampling their library of music, right? George: We’ve got a couple podcasts doing exactly that.

Trav: I like what we’ve got here. I’ve got a hair of battery left on this thing. What do you guys do to get by? George: Making music for small things, licensing. We spent all day making music for this PSA. It’s positive music, so usually it’s positive people who want you to do something positive for them. Sometimes it’s actually a positive cause like in this case.

Trav: If I remember I’ll send you some jingles I tried to make for back-to-bed sleep center! n MYSPACE.COM/hotjamzofjavelin


COUNT BASS D by travis nelson murphy

photo by Jenny Hines


TM: So, Dwight, is there something you want to share right off the bat?

CBD : Just that I’m a musician. I’m just trying to be a musician. I’m just a guy trying to be a musician basically.

ting me hip to some pretty rippin’ gospel organ players, so I know that’s a pretty big part of your roots and influences.

CBD: Well I think the thing about gospel organ players is, I don’t foresee myself ever getting to that layer of playing. The Hammond Organ series involves a lot

TM : You are, as far as I can tell, a very hard-working musician with a lot of

of guys I respect. Therefore, it’s very inspirational to perfect the craft that I am

discipline and a lot of creative energy.

known for, which is sampling into a drum machine. YouTube has been really

CBD: I’ve just run into a creative spell the last three or four months. It’s not always like that, but certain times of the year—fall is usually a very creative time of the year for me, and the spring is usually a very creative time for me. Over the course of these last 15 years, that’s what I’ve noticed. The fall and the spring are usually my good times. But then I recorded a lot here in Chicago at the Shape Shoppe over the summer. It’s been a lot of creativity this year for me. I don’t

14 14

revolutionary for me—because prior, growing up, you couldn’t see views of people’s hands playing the organ like that. It was a mystery a lot of the time. When I played drums it was set up to the side of the organ, so I wouldn’t really get a chance to see what was going on, the drop bars and all that. Now on YouTube you can see all that. Just the theory—the way it opens up my mind to fingerings and theory—it’s really been a big deal for me.

know exactly why. But, supposed to be some music made, I guess.

TM : Yeah, because the theory going in that stuff—it is some elevated—I

TM : The theme of this issue is sharing. So, we’ve been hanging out these

understand it—that shit would be blowing my mind. It’s enough just to hear

last couple of days and playing music for each other, and you’ve been get-

it—but that shit is like taking you into outer space.

mean, if I was getting into theory—and understand it the way I know you

CBD : Well, that’s just the thing, I mean I have a working knowledge of theory,

TM : Do you think in that way that being underappreciated as a musician

but I’m by no means an expert. I could definitely stand to learn more about

can be a blessing?

scales and things like that. I can spell a chord out that’s played—unless it’s like a rootless chord, I can pretty much spell it out and call it for what it is.

CBD : Oh certainly, certainly. It’s one distraction that’s out of the way. If I had a

Just to see a lot of transitions in the ghost notes and grace notes that

have a lot more pressure from—a lot more people would be depending on me

[organists] use just to do these quick little cluster type chords, and the way the

to feed their families. Instead of just the pressure on me to feed my family.

overtones with the draw bars make such an incredible sound. To me it’s just

So, Oh yeah. It’s a comfort zone that I enjoy being in, and I think I’ve made

fascinating. It’s just something that really got me into music in the first place

the most of being in, as far as being creative and being able to live without a

I think when I was a kid and started making music. Listening to gospel organ players, it’s just what I like more than an other genre of music.

TM : I was on tour with my band [Killer Whales] I met this guy in a church and jammed for hours, is that there’s this—I mean obviously it’s church

lot of onlookers for what I do, then it would really affect what I put out. I would

net. And I don’t have a whole legion of onlookers who criticize my next move if I take a few chances, throw a few curveballs. I’ve had a whole bunch of kind words thrown at me about how I’m so slept on, but people really don’t realize just how comfortable I am. Because I’m really doing this just for myself. If

music—so there’s this spirit to the music, which feeds the musician play-

there was one person who could come along for the ride, and give me enough

ing it and there’s kind of this cool Zen thing, where they’re like getting out

resources to take care of my responsibilities, my music wouldn’t even come

of the way and letting it all flow through. And these guys I know, they’re

out to the public. I’m not really concerned with the public consumption of my

like dudes who have been playing since they were like two years old, but

work, per se. I’m just concerned with taking care of my responsibilities, man.

they’re just really humble dudes, really talented. I wonder how much that

I’m extremely content and proud and happy of my accomplishments. And I

kind of environment, growing up in that kind of environment, has informed

have no desire to have any more music-business trappings to make me feel

your creative process.

like I’ve accomplished something.

CBD: Well, the spiritual part is a big part of it, because I believe that’s where

TM : It’s your bliss. It’s your passion. You just want to sustain yourself so

my musical ability comes from. The fact that people have been drawn to what

that you can do that. And be with your family and provide. I think that’s why

I create, I feel like it’s just being channeled through me. And so, that’s pretty

people dig your albums. That’s why I dig your albums—your soul’s on 'em.

much it. It is a creative process. It comes when it comes and it doesn’t come

I think a trap people fall into is trying to live up to the public’s expectations.

when it doesn’t come. And I try to just be patient. I always feel like every time

So, If you weren’t a musician, what would you have devoted your life to?

I do something, it’s the last time I might be I be able to do something like that. And that feeling, it’s a good feeling. And that’s what I think continues to drive

CBD : There’s some things that I’ve considered. But I don’t even remember

me. You know, the last thing I create that I enjoy, that could be it. I might not

what. The thought of not being a musician. It’s not really a choice. It’s just, I’m

make another thing that I enjoy by myself. So that dance, that I play I guess, kind

a musician by necessity but also by default. So I don’t really know what it’s

of keeps me going to. That’s a big part of my creative process.

like not to have a focus in your life or to not be doing something that you really

TM : So you’re also, you’re a multi-instrumentalist too. You play drums, you play organs.

didn’t want to do in life. And that’s been a big part for me, Travis, is living in a world where most people don’t really have something like that that’s driving them. Most people aren’t really living out their life’s dream. So to be in a world

CBD : This record I play a bunch of keyboard work and I play drums to a

where most people don’t really have the contentment that you have, and

Ribbon Ace Bach.

they’re still jockeying for position and doing just doing what they have to do in

TM : The Ribbon Ace is that what Sly uses on those old records?

CBD: I don’t know exactly what box he uses but . . . it definitely sounds a lot like it. I mean people think it’s a sample, but no. My friend gave it to me on my birthday, a good friend Seth Crook, so I figured it was a special occasion to come up here and perform with especially Josh [Abrams] and Jeff [Parker] but also some of the other wonderful musicians that I’m doing on this project for Obey Your Brain. I figured I’d break it out for this special occasion and I’m very happy that I did, because I was able to set up a production direction for the record and once I assessed what the gear was here, I was able to go for it.

this world to feel better about themselves, fulfilled in some kind of profound way. You got a lot of frustrated people that you have to come in contact with just day to day. You think about Barack Obama becoming president, and he wanted to do that. He set out to do that, and he did that.

TM : For me, I feel that I’ve had the passion of music ever since I was a child. And I feel gifted and blessed to be able to do the things that I can do musically. It’s a real struggle to bring it down to earth and kind of manifest that eminence or whatever. Which is when I first saw you, when I first started listening to your records, that is what I was first impressed by: that you were able to harness creative power with discipline and give it form.

TM : So for you this whole next record is gonna be instrumental,

Cause for me there’s so much creative shit pouring in from the universe,

no samples, right?

but to bring it down to planet Earth is . . . your process has always been

CBD : Nah, I don’t think it’ll be all instrumental with no samples. There’ll

kind of work in a way, but it’s your soul’s path?

probably be two maybe three songs on there with samples. By and large at

CBD: I was the benefactor of some musical training, although it wasn’t as

least 75-80 percent of the record won’t have any samples on it.

extensive as Lang Lang or some of those guys. From about fourth grade to eighth

TM: Were you just feeling a different vibe? I mean, how’s the creative process differ for you than with a sampler and drum machines and stuff like that?

CBD : I was just happy to be in a facility where using instruments are possible. At my home I really have only the ability to go direct and not really mic a room or things of that nature. I don’t really have the mic selection to pull that off. So, everything I do I try to take everything to the point of necessity and

grade, I did take weekly piano lessons with a classical piano teacher, and at the end of that training I knew how to properly place my fingers, how to properly sit at a keyboard, how to properly finger, to play the keyboard, what fingers were responsible for certain notes, and scales and things of that nature. Everything else I was doing was by ear. Because I refused to practice, too. But I didn’t realize I was getting some good theory and really just musician’s discipline—

then use necessity to invent something new. Basically you have to max it

as you said, form and structure—I was learning these things subconsciously and

out—I feel like I have to max out everything that’s around me—to the level of

unconsciously, really. And didn’t understand it. So, once I got to high school I got

need—and at that point is when we’ll begin to invent something, I’ll begin to

to the boarding school there and I really was entrenched in the fine arts program.

invent something. Obviously necessity is the mother of invention, so I have

That’s when I really realized what it was. I started learning about deadlines and

to put myself in the situation of need to continue to be an inventor. Which is

show times and rehearsals and seeing a process come from ”How is this teacher

something I strive to do. I strive to just think progressively and have my art

really going to teach us this piece before Friday if we’re just looking at the music

reflect that progressive thinking.

right now?”


TM : So were you playing drums or bass or organ?

CBD : I was playing a little bit of drums, and that’s when I was taught bass—I was

what it is, everybody likes some kind of music. Everybody. I don’t care who it is, they all like something. So all we gotta do is just stay alive and make music.

formally taught bass for four years in high school. But I didn’t really take to it the

I mean, for a musician that’s the hard part. That’s the hard part. A lot more

same way. I just—all the instruments I‘ve learned have just been for composition

challenges, a lot more dangers, just a lot more challenging profession that some

purposes, meaning I know what a bass player is supposed to sound like so if I

people think it would be. The rewards though, there’s so many rewards to doing,

have to replay a bass line playing a soft synth or a keyboard instead, my training

the downside, even if you could stop, you’ve got to ask yourself would it be worth

has given me the subtleties to play a horn or something. I don’t really know how

it. I personally don’t know that I could stop making music.

to play a horn, but I know how a horn operates and things about the tuning and things about that. So, when it comes to programming it, I think it gives me an advantage on how to arrange it and put it in a key signature. That’s helped out a whole lot, I think that’s what my musician’s training has helped me the most in what I’ve become known for.

TM: That’s what I love most in sampled music: it’s like collaging, taking a piece of what could be anything. It could be the beginning of a vocal harmony, just half a

TM : What would that even mean? Would that mean stop recording music? Because you could never stop making music?

CBD : Yeah, you could stop making music. TM : You don’t think you’d be walking around all the time spitting shit out constantly though?

second of it, and making it sound like a string section or an orchestra hit or what-

CBD: Maybe walking around with ideas and things in my head, but if you’re not

ever. It’s just kind of like this collaging of collective unconscious. When I listen to

capturing the ideas, if you’re not rehearsing the ideas or playing out or anything like

your records, or when I listen to Doom’s or Dilla’s, it’s like all these images come

that, I think at that point you stop making music. Sly Stone, I don’t know what was

flowing in and recognitions of homage they’re paying to certain artists, and my

going on but I think he stopped making music for a while . . . I should say Miles Davis

associations with those songs. They’re all flowing. Especially on a record like the

he stopped for like . . .

Madvillain record, it just takes you on a journey. Almost like watching cartoons as a kid. It’s really immersive.

CBD: Well, I mean, you know, it’s music. What can I say. Music and money make the

TM : For like four years. . .

CBD: I don’t know if he just didn’t manifest the ideas or the melodies that danced

world go round in some kind of way, in the way that phrase describes it. I mean, obviously

around in his head or if that meant he just didn’t go and play around, I don’t know

I think God is in control, but as far as humanistic, physical, and tangible—seemingly

exactly the difference, I just know there was no output for the listeners ears for a

tangible things—music being intangible and money being the tangible. Those are the

while. Just “Yo, I’m gonna chill for while.”

things that are ever-present and always needed by people. They don’t even realize how bad they need it. Everybody likes some kind of music. That’s what Billy Preston said. You might like jazz, you might like rock, you might like soul, polka, easy listening, I don’t care

TM : Just take some Miles time. Well, Dwight, thank you for sharing.

CBD: Yeah man, it’s been my pleasure.n COUNTBASSD.COM


a silkscreen studio and community learning center for silkscreening, Young Monster opened its doors early this year. If you swing through chattanooga, make sure to make a stop: 100 Cherokee Blvd for more:









If you had to describe your partner’s art in one sentence, what would it be?

Chris Roberson: Waterfalling boob hats, smoking cigarettes and listening to yellowed record sleeves. Emily Clayton: Melodic folk hymns interspersed with some playful melancholy. If you had to explain what the other’s work is striving toward or working toward, what would it be? What are they looking for?

Chris: I see Emily’s work playing in the tension between birth and the passing of loved ones. Lately, she’s been making effigies for the dead and celebrating the living, all from a very feminine, exultant, Earth-Mother perspective. Emily: He continues to decode messages and find ways to relate them to imagery. Like the peeling back of onion skins in relation to old hymnal pages. But I think he is in the process of sifting through the layers and stripping his work down.

Do you have a favorite piece made by your significant other?

Chris : I like Emily’s choice of materials. Poured enamel, record sleeves and cigarette papers. I also like her shapes and how sad they seem sometimes. I like her drawings on paper. Her recent chest pieces just tear me up. Emily: It always surprises me. I fancy the Gospel Bird Chandelier! It is beautiful. Chris, do you think Emily ever cops your style? Just a little bit? Do you steal from her?

Chris: As far as style goes, I think we’re very different. That being said, we’re definitely influenced by many of the same artists, so its kind of like the two of us picking different fruit out of the same basket.

Emily: I feel it may appear that we both cop each other’s style every so often, but in truth aesthetic is contagious. It can’t be helped. What is the hardest part about having a creative counterpart?

Chris: Competition to be the most productive. Emily: Relaxing.



Parker's Medicine (After JMB)—13 x 13 inches, stain, colored pencil on found wood Torso and Skirt—22 x 36 inches, acrylic and enamel on paper

What is the best part?

Chris: All the things that get produced. Emily: Conversation. Describe your own art in one sentence

Chris: Strange, flawed memories from my youth and our collective fear of the afterlife—carved into or cut out of wood. Emily: I paint boobs but it is much more than that. What are you seeking in your art?

Chris: I want to build upon the age-old folklore told through song, written word or pictures. The years go by and these stories change. The tallest man becomes even taller. The hottest summer, twice as hot. I seek to reinvent these ideas, weaving together my own myths and exaggerations.

Emily: I think, in the broadest sense, I’m trying to create my own cycle. I enjoy exploring life and death and life-giving devices.

Say you’re feeling down about your art—what’s the worst thing you think to yourself about the work?

Chris: What are the people gonna think? Emily: I draw a huge blank and feel massive amounts of compulsive anxiety. Then I get very afraid of my work and think this is all I will ever make. The hardest part is letting go of what you are working on, feeling finished with it and saying goodbye. What’s your advice to people trying to make visual art?

Chris: a) Walk around. b) Go to the library. c) Set up a place to work and only use it for that. Emily: I guess I would say carve out a permanent work space and try not to be intimidated. for our sharing issue & open encyclopedia of art practice, can you share a recipe for goodness?

Chris: Repetition is mantric. Emily: A recipe for goodness . . . For myself, it is collage and little drawings. If I am working in sketchbook I am usually making more art and have a clearer head to do so. n


young farmers in north Carolina

PHOTO essay and interviews by alIx blair on february 4th of this year, the usda released their report “census of agriculture shows growing diversity in u.s. farming.” the report highlights details from the 2007 census of agriculture coordinated by the


here is a new type of American farmer. They are young—in their 20s and 30s—were raised in

urban communities, have no background in farming, are college-educated (not in agricultural studies) and are not doing this work because they’ll make tons of money. (Most likely, they won’t.)

u.s. department of agriculture’s national

In a way, I kind of fall into this category. My parents are not farmers, and I was raised in downtown

agricultural statistics service (nass).

Chicago. In college, I studied nothing having to do with farming, but as a twenty-six year old,

here’s some things they found:

something shifted. I became curious about growing food, about working with my hands and in

there are a total of 2,204,792 farms in the united states, with 300,000 new farms since the last census in 2002.

the outdoors. For me, there was also something so meaningful about cooking and sharing food that had grown from seeds I had planted and nurtured. So I attended UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems program. From there, I had several farmhand jobs, though I'm not yet close to calling myself a farmer by any means.

“compared to all farms nationwide, these

I spent the last couple of years in North Carolina, in the Durham Chapel Hill Carrboro area. The

new farms tend to have more diversified

farmers markets in the area are incredible, especially during tomato season. There are red and

production, fewer acres, lower sales and

yellow towers of tomatoes; cupping them in your hands, they are still sun-warm from the morning’s

younger operators who also work off-farm…

harvest. Heaps of lilies are lined up in silver buckets, infusing vast corners of the market with their

in the past five years, u.s. farm operators

fragrance. Wandering down the walkways between stalls, you collect snippets of conversations

have become more demographically diverse.

between farmers and their customers. They know each other’s names.

the 2007 census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators.” “the 2007 census found that 57 percent of farmers have internet access.”

I spent a lot of time in those stalls, meeting young farmers who soon went from “the guy with the handlebar moustache who talked about Lil Wayne as he sold eggs” to actual friends. I thought: there are so many young farmers, who are hip and watch YouTube, are on Facebook and listen to their iPods while they farm. They are doing this work for very different reasons than that they happened to be born into it. I knew why I was attracted to the field, but why are they? I interviewed six friends—farmers I admire greatly. Here they are, speaking in their own voices, about why the hell someone would actually want to do this kind of back-breaking, low-income, up-at-sunrise work.


LEFT PAGE—Stuart White works in field. THIS PAGE: Top Row—Natasha McCurley and Simon Rose's goats. Second Row, left to right—Elise Margoles' greenhouse, Elysian Fields pig, George O'Neal with kitten, Alice and Stuart White Bottom Row, left to right—Notes on the eggshell of fertilized eggs at Keenan McDonald's farm, George O'Neal with hose at Lilfarm, Elise by seedlings, Keenan with duck


Top Row, left to right—Alice White, Cov DeRamus and turkeys, Stuart and Alice White Second Row, left to right—Natasha McCurley and Simon Rose at table, Simon and goat, Truck at Lilfarm Third Row, left to right—Elise Margoles in field, Peregrine Farm, Elise at work Fourth Row, left to right—Natasha working, Cov with turkey, Natasha with goat


George O’NeAl Lilfarm. George farms with his friend Pete and they lease multiple plots of land in Union Grove, North Carolina, about a total of five acres. They grow vegetables and raise chickens. I remember being at the day when they tell you what your name means. George means farmer. I remember being so embarrassed and so pissed off because my brother’s name meant courageous warrior. I was pretty bummed out about that. I don’t really know what I wanted to be when I was a kid. It definitely was not a farmer. I still think if you ask me, I’d be like, when I grow up I’m going to do this, this, and this.

back, a ridiculous amount you could say, because the pond dried up. I just hope something like that does not happen again.

TYPICAL DAY It changes every day. Wednesday we get up early, let the chickens out. Seven o’clock. It depends on the weather and what we have to do that day. Some days it's earlier, some days it's later. Really, we try to get moving by 7:30. Pick everything, come back to the house, wash it up, do the chicken chores, fly out the doors, go to market, pack everything up, home by 7:30 that night. That’s a 12-hour day, but it's grueling because you’re on your feet the whole time and you’re like this is this, this is that, buy this, buy that.

HOW DID FARMING FIND YOU? Community housing! I started living with a bunch of people. I moved out when I was 16. I had dropped out of high school and [thought], "I’m going to travel the whole countryside and be ridiculous and very idealistic." Then it merged into "I’m going to have a garden because growing your food is a radical thing to do, it’s crazy to grow your own food." I was focused on sustainability of different stuff—water catchment, permaculture things. I don’t think I ever just knew [I would be a farmer]. I still don’t just know. I’m still waiting for the next big thing. Like today, the tractor imploding on itself would be a good indication that maybe I don’t know. I definitely put all my eggs in this basket at this point. I do carpentry in the winter to get through. This year was going to be the year that I wouldn’t have to do that. I didn’t have to do that too much last year. I had to pay for the greenhouse. We worked some oddjobs but for the most part we just worked full-time doing this to set up for this year. We built a huge greenhouse, got the chickens going, built the large chicken house, broke all new fields, moved to a new house, built the workshops. We built a walk-in cooler.

IF YOU WANT TO START A FARM We have some rough guides that we made over the last few years. Pete is a way better planner than I am. I just seed when there’s a downtime: oh, let’s just seed up a ton of lettuce now. Pete is really good about timing of plantings and successions of plantings. So that’s something I’m constantly working on and learning bookkeeping. We realized that the more you do it, the better it is to get a routine in, so you don’t feel as crazy. If you just spend the time up front making a true plan, then you don’t end up planting the same crop in the same field every year. You think you would remember, but it lasts about 36 seconds. We’re in the most expensive county in the state. So I would need to go north, south, east, or west to get into a better situation, but I also like being able to ride my bike into town within an hour. I can be in town in 34 minutes and it only takes us 15 minutes to drive to any of the towns. So we’re in a perfect location, if I could only get a sugar mama to buy it for us. I think it’s like a spell that it puts on you. I’m not really sure. I get along great with the older farmers and kind of male-love all the younger farmers. You learn more than anything through conversation, not workshops and books.

THE FARM Right now, this is all we do. This is the only source of income. When I say only, I mean only. There’s no trust fund, there’s no money on the side. Without a cushion we can’t afford the luxury of trying a new piece of equipment, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, or trying a project. Or living on family land would

be huge, that would be really nice. We just don’t have that right now, so we have to create it We have the house, the greenhouse, the chickens, and a few fields. Down the road we rent a piece of land from a guy who used to have horses on it. We have a barn there and about 2.5 acres of vegetables. Then farther down the road, the place I originally started out with a friend of mine who’s 87, has a horse farm, and we lease land from him. We’ve broken new ground and dug a well and struck a lot of water, so now we have enough to irrigate. We’re really doing close to three acres there. So all said and done, if we had everything going all at once, we’d have close to five acres in production, which is ridiculous for two people. They say an acre per person—we’re only doing three acres. It’s me and Pete, and then we have some really awesome volunteers. Right now we’re growing a bazillion different kinds of tomatoes and peppers. We are selling a lot of potatoes that were dug out about a month ago, onions, leeks, flowers. We sell a lot of eggs. Probably 100 dozen a week. Okra, melons. Anything that we can stick in the ground. Arugula. We try not to do hybrid stuff for the most part. We only grow open-pollinated heirloom [tomatoes]. We don’t buy any GMO seed, obviously, because we’re that cool. We really like supporting people like Baker’s Creek and Fedco who are preserving seed heritage. We go way out of our way and spend a lot of money there. It feels better. It’s hypocritical to talk about this and then go support a company that’s owned by Monsanto. Why even do this if you’re going to trickle your money back to them? Just admit that what you’re doing is important enough to you and make the sacrifice and give up some of these varieties, like hybrid bullshit. The financial reality is it’s really hard to make any money doing this. We pay out more than we make every month, even though we’re actually doing pretty good right now. Then you have the million and one things you didn’t budget for, like gas being doubled the price that it was and chicken food being double the price that it was. Last year was unbearable. I filled up a backpack-waterer and spent three or four hours every other day walking up and down the rows, watering the strawberries by hand. I’ve carried an amazing amount of water on my

It’s a long, thankless job, when you’re looking at a guaranteed 50-60 hours a week of something when it’s 100 degrees outside and you would much rather go swimming that day or hang out, because all your friends are going out—or skipping all the shows you would normally be at because you have to get up at some ridiculous hour to sell your wares. You do start to think, why don’t I get a regular job? We do a 20-person CSA and we just do it for 20 weeks. We run it from May to September. Ours includes eggs and we put flowers in every other week. We take the baseline of what they actually paid per week and add $5 to it, and that’s the minimum that’s going to be in the box. Basically, that’s a thank you for giving us money when we really needed it. This year, price was $400. That comes out to $20 a week for those weeks, and we just try to make sure there’s $25 worth of stuff in it every week. Oh man, I love [the CSA]. There's one woman in the CSA who's been in a few years. I give her what is going to be in the CSA the next week, then she writes recipes for it and sends it back. I send out a weekly email, so you feel like you’re talking directly. It’s the same customers every week, so it feels like you’ve created a community. It feels really nice to get positive feedback, knowing that people re-buy our CSA share every year. They have for three years now. It feels really good. It shows that A) they support it and B) they’re really good friends and just enjoy the food. I don’t think anyone does it out of sympathy. We have crops in the ground year-round. In two weeks I’m going to plant out the strawberries that I’m going to harvest in May, so they’ll be there over the winter, and so will the garlic and lots of flowers. We do brasiccas [kale, broccoli] until the spring. We have a crushed-velvet Pegasus flying under a rainbow as our logo. We were going to embroider laser beams coming out of its eyes and carving Lilfarm on the rocks it's flying over, but that part hasn’t happened yet. We’re definitely the loudest, most colorful, boisterous farm. When we go to parties with other farmers, I always bring the dirty dance mixes and they’re always real excited. Lil Wayne is my friend on MySpace. He’s one of two people that I’ve ever friended. Lilfarm has a MySpace. I personally do not. I don’t go for that. But I decided that Lilfarm and Lil Wayne—we’re both lil, not little. I just thought it made sense. Not really a Lil' Bow Wow fan. I like Lil' Kim but she’s kind of fallen off in the last few years.


Cov Deramus Cov (pictured on left) works at Peregrine Farm. Graham, North Carolina. 35 acres with 3-4 acres in production. They grow vegetables, flowers, and turkeys. He's currently trying to buy land to start his own farm.


going to have energy costs transporting that manure. I don’t want to buy a farm that needs drastic improvements.

I was working for the park service in San Francisco. I was trying to figure out what it is I wanted to do long-term. It was 2002. I read a lot and I started to read magazine articles and interviews with small farmers, well known farmers like Michael Abelman, Eliot Coleman, Wendell Berry. Something about it seemed immediately to resonate with me and so pretty spontaneously decided I wanted to work on a farm. I knew some people that were farming at the time and asked them where a good place to get experience would be. I ended up hearing a lot about Live Power Community Farm, and so it was a really quick thing. It just immediately struck a chord. I knew I wanted to work outside and liked growing things. It all just kind of [came] together right at once. I made the decision and then found a farm and contacted the farmer. I think that it spoke to broader personal sympathies, sensibilities. Immediately, I got the sense that growing food for people who generally don’t have access to it is pretty meaningful way to live life and a direct way to confront the problem of inequality and social injustice. It wasn’t months of brooding over what I wanted to do, whether or not I wanted to be a farmer. Just immediately, it just sounded like something I should give a try. So I did. [The farmers at Live Power Farm] were good people to learn from. I was only there August through December. From there I went to Asia and traveled for 10 months and worked on a farm in Laos. After the experience at Live Power, there was still some uncertainty. It was very demanding and rigorous work, obviously, as everyone who farms knows it can be. There were certainly some lingering doubts. You find your mind wandering into the future—is it work you can do at 65? I mean, these are big decisions. And they’re big decisions for everybody. So I questioned it when I went to Asia. I continued to come upon garden-type projects which served the sick or poor or disadvantaged. I was in Asia when I applied for the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden Program and found out I got in when I was in India, so I knew what I was going to do when I came back. As I traveled, my interest and passion seemed to become slowly reinforced each step of the way. In Phnom Penh (Cambodia), I toured the dump outside the city. Families lived [there], making a living off of garbage, finding recyclables and things they could sell in the city. There was a French organization that worked with children of these families. They tried to teach them life skills, and one of the skills was gardening. I actually stayed around to work with the gardener and similar things in Laos and Vietnam. There was a garden in a village that had been built for victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam by an American Vietnam vet. All of these things seemed to push me more and more in this direction.


I went through a couple books, a couple business plan templates. I did my best to formulate a business plan. That’s when you figure out what kind of farm you want to run. You just try to start small and project forward. It seems somewhat, I don’t want to say arbitrary, but it’s not an exact science, because you’re just plugging projected numbers into an excel spreadsheet. You want to grow over the years, but you have to figure out how big you want to be, how many employees you want to hire, how many CSA members you want.

The good thing about this farm program (The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems Program at UCSC) is it combines the practical with the philosophical, combining book learning with hands on learning, which is oftentimes not what you would necessarily get just working on a farm. The farmers are there, but it’s a business and they are trying to make money—it’s all a different arrangement. Not that you don’t learn by asking questions, but they’re not there to serve you. You’re there to serve them. Where at (CASFS) it’s a little bit different. The work was not entirely too difficult— relatively short days—but it was good reading and learning that way combined with getting out in the field and listening to different instructors who did things different ways.

IF YOU WANT TO START A FARM Distance to market is obviously critical. There are market rules wherein you can’t be a certain number of miles out. I want to be closer than that, because I want to be near town. I’d like to be 20-30 minutes away, preferably 20 minutes, but the difference in property values between a property that’s 20 minutes away and a property that’s 30 minutes away is quite substantial. Soil type and access to water, those are the two most important things. And cleared lands, you don’t have to purchase cleared land but it’s advisable. It’s expensive to clear land. I like sandy loam soils. I prefer those to clay. Clay soils don’t tend to burn up organic matter as fast. They hold water better, which is advantageous during droughts, but flip side is they don’t drain as well. In spring, it’s difficult to get in and work the soil if it’s been a wet spring. There isn’t a whole wealth of farmland on the market. All the apprenticeships I’ve done, we’ve learned about the importance of organic matter. Most farms I’ve worked on amend the soil with compost, and that’s a difficult thing to do unless you’re purchasing compost off farm. Labor costs and time are very high, unless you have a source of manure. You’re

The thing about growing crops is you want to figure out a way to differentiate yourself from everyone else. Part of making savvy business decisions is you have to figure out, "Can I get tomatoes to market earlier and I’ll be able to sell more of them?" There’s various niches that do need to be filled and so it’s important to be aware of that. I don’t want to be certified organic. I’m not opposed to integrative pest management, or some light spraying of really noxious weeds. Integrative pest management essentially means that you’re only spraying things when it’s absolutely imperative and keeping track of the life cycles of the pest, keeping track of temperatures and humidity levels to determine when disease is going to hit, so it’s really a difficult thing—it’s a science. I’m going to plant an orchard and if I find that it’s just impossible to do it organically, which is what everybody tells me, then I wouldn’t be opposed to spraying a couple times a year if that’s what it takes. It seems to me that it’s better to do that than to import apples or peaches from California. I’m not a purist. Personally I think that supporting local economies is very important. It just depends on the farming practices as well. If there’s an organic farmer utilizing sound farming practices in California and someone here spraying and not caring for the land, then maybe it is better to support the California farmer. But if you have someone practicing integrative pest management, then it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I just don’t get the sense that being certified is all that important. "We don’t spray pesticides or herbicides"—It’s just a dialogue. It’s a discussion with your customer. It is about developing those relationships with your market customers or with your CSA members. They should know what kind of farmer you are, how you grow the food. I think that’s one of the vital aspects of it—is reconnecting people in urban areas to the source of their food. You get open spaces, green spaces. You get thriving communities. Money is recirculated back into the local economy. Relationships are obviously important. Buying from the farmer at the market seems to be a much richer experience than going to the grocery store, picking out your produce and checking out at the register.

Elise Margoles Elise owns her land. Her farm is Elysian Fields Farm located in Cedar Grove, NC She grows vegetables and raises pigs on 40 acres.

HOW DID FARMING FIND YOU? I grew up in Sanford, Maine. The closest city was Portland, Maine. We could drive five minutes to this apple orchard. I remember really liking going to pick apples. I didn’t really know what I was going to do when I left college and so I went to work on a farm. I started to think about environmental issues. At the same time, I was thinking more about my own health and the way I wanted to eat and the way I thought my food should be grown. I remember coming into this realization—that I felt like I could try and impose [my beliefs] on other people, or I could just do it—and if people wanted to come and learn from me, or see me as an example—then that would be better than trying to convince people how they should be living. I decided to move down to North Carolina to work on the farm that I visited here. I did a season here and after just those two seasons, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I really like to work physically—I just love working with my body. I feel like, at the end of the day, when I am physically tired, it keeps me in a good place.

IF YOU WANT TO START A FARM [This land] has a big pond which is really important because I want to have an irrigation source. I want to have plentiful water. It has wooded and open space, which I really like the woods for giving me a feeling of privacy. I also feel like it’s really natural. Then, having the fields for the farming is important too. I did dig up [the soil] to see what it was like, to get some soil tests done. [It’s important] to look around at what kind of perennial weeds are growing. I was looking for wire grass, because it’s pretty invasive perennial grass that is extremely hard to get rid of and control using organic methods. There are some fields on the property that have it, but the main field I wanted to use for growing didn’t have it. The land was used to grow tobacco for a long time. The people who owned it broke off forty acres that I bought. The land didn’t have any kind of infrastructure on it except for a couple of tobacco barns. I bought a small, 10' by 20' cabin and moved that onto the property. I lived in that the first two years I was here. After that, I hired some friends to redo one of the tobacco barns. I’ve been all over the board [with setting up the CSA], trial and error. I couldn’t quite figure out what was going to work for me. I realized that at 100 members, it enabled me to have two full-time employees. When there are three of us working, it creates a nice social dynamic. That’s really important to me—that we are all happy and that there’s a healthy coworker environment. At the same time, I didn’t want to have more than two employees, because once I get too big, I’d spend most of my time managing or doing administrative stuff, when what I really like to do most of all is to weed or get in the dirt. I don’t want to be taken away from that. I find at this size it keeps me big enough that I’m grossing enough money and I’m able to have a couple coworkers, but I’m not so big that I get caught up being on the computer or phone all day. For me, what works—I have this combination of trying to plan ahead and be really organized, having some spreadsheets and doing a lot of computer. At the same time there’s this side of me that just wings it and goes with it as it comes, whatever feels right at the time. A

born. It’s just amazing to see that life being brought into the world and to think that it was created because of the feed we brought to the pigs and giving them the pasture and wooded area to forage. Just seeing how they’re taking life from the earth and turning it into life of their own. Eventually I bring the pigs in and get the meat back, and we eat that and it nurtures our life. It’s cool to see how life gets transformed from one thing to another.

lot of times in winter I’ll come up with a plan for what I want to grow looking through a lot of seed catalogs, planning out planting times and rotations. I think inevitably we are ruled by the weather to a certain extent. If it’s raining, you’re not going to be able to do tractor work—that’s the reality. You have to be willing to accept that. I think at the same time, there’s a lot that can be routine. Every year I try to seed my tomatoes on February 19 in the greenhouse. That’s just going to be every year, so I have that in my head. February 19, time to seed. You work toward that goal without really having to plan for it. Some of the [biggest challenges] I’ve faced are definitely related to the weather. I’ve had the wettest year in 100 years; I’ve had the driest year in 100 years. The heat here in North Carolina in the summer can be really hot. But, I've learned a lot from all those things. We’ve learned how to manage the heat a little better—we start earlier, we make sure to work in the shade. The other challenge is I naturally can go out and work hard, but I’m not naturally a manager. Learning how to be a manager of people has been really challenging to me.

THE FARM I was about 25 at the time so I didn’t really feel like I had much bargaining power to get a loan or any kind of means to buy [my land] on my own. I took a class on how to write a business plan. I wrote a business plan. I took it to my aunt and uncle who live up in Maine and are always looking for some good investments. After looking at the plan, they decided to give me a trial run. So the first year I rented land and did a small CSA and sold at the Wednesday farmers market. I think after that first year they saw I was serious about it and that there was actually a market for it. To them, they had never really heard of CSAs and organic farming was pretty random. At that point they were getting excited about it. They bought my land for me and acted as my bank. I pay them my mortgage. I’m really lucky for that. I’ve been growing vegetables now for seven and a half years, but raising the pigs has been just the past two years—and I’ve gone back and forth with that. At first I started buying the baby pigs after they were weaned. I was supporting life by buying them, but I was also taking life. I got into breeding because it was really important to me to nurture that life as well. One of the happiest days at the farm is when a new litter is

It has been hard for me at times. It makes me sad. Every time I bring a pig in to get processed is always hard for me. I always go through the process of, is it worth this? I can justify it and rationalize it—life feeds on life. I wouldn’t be thinking that if it was me in the trailer right now. I’d say, “I want to live. You can eat vegetables. You don’t need to bring me in.” At the same time, I think about where would a lot of the livestock be right now if we didn’t farm it. It’s really important to farm livestock in a healthy way. It’s amazingly important to have happy animals. It’s respectful in general. I don’t go near conventionally raised meat at all. I really advocate for happy animals raised outside on pasture that are taken care of. I think if [eating meat] is going to be happening, this is the best way and I’m part of that. I integrate it with the vegetables to make it more manageable, so it’s all flowing as a cycle where the pigs fertilize the crops. I have one boar and he is a couple years old and weighs hundreds of pounds. He gets the ladies. He gets four sows. I rotate two in at a time. I put two in with him and pretty much after a couple months you can tell they’re pregnant—it happens pretty quickly. I never leave him by himself—he gets ornery. He’s happiest with some companionship. After a couple months they give birth. Typically it’ll happen that one day I walk up and there the babies are, or maybe I’ll be going into the pen to feed them and she’ll be in the middle of labor. I try not to interfere. They usually have about average of eight babies per litter. I leave them with the mom for two months. I will keep and raise the babies myself or I’ll sell them. Not many people breed [pigs] because it’s extra work in the sense that you do have to do a lot of moving, moving the moms in with the boar when you want them to get pregnant and then moving them out. It’s hard to move an 800 pound pig. You have to make the pig want to move. It’s not that big of a deal but it can be. You’re dealing with big personalities, and a lot of people don’t want to deal with that. I sell the pork and the vegetables at the Carrboro Farmers Market on Wednesday and Saturday. Produce probably comprises about 60 percent of what I sell. The other 40 percent I sell through a CSA program. I have about 110 families this year that have signed up for the program. What happens with the CSA program is they get a weekly delivery of produce—what’s in season and available on the farm for 20 weeks. And then I have a few delivery spots in Durham, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough and Carrboro. They come every Wednesday and pick up their box. I’ve chosen to primarily be selling and harvesting in the spring and summer and early fall. I take time off in the winter. I’ll do some traveling. There’s always some work to be done getting ready for the next year, sharpening tools, doing some computer work, doing taxes.


Keenan McDonald Duck Run Farm, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, about five acres. Keenan grows vegetables and fruits, and raises ducks and pigs.


here to talk to if I have duck questions. I am on a number of newsgroup lists and so there’s constant conversation, at least nationally. Dave Holderread is the duck guy, at least in the United States and his books are invaluable. A lot of my initial animal experience was being on different peoples’ farms. I think there’s something, not to be cheesy about it, but I think that there’s some sort of connection with animals—the communication is obviously very different than it is with people. That is something that I needed and wanted to explore in my life at this time. I appreciate that about them.

My grandfather was a cotton farmer in Mississippi. I spent a lot of time in the delta when I was a kid, around a lot of tobacco and cotton. I did a lot of gardening and smaller things when I was younger. But I truly started farming straight after leaving Chicago after six years there. I had become increasingly concerned about a number of things, climate, not the least of them. My mother passed away in October of 2005 and at that point it all sort of crystallized. I felt really compelled to leave the city, where I’d been working for a software company, to try and grow some new things, no puns intended. Shortly after I got down [to North Carolina] I started getting to know people and getting a sense of the land.

IF YOU WANT TO START A (DUCK) FARM There are a lot of considerations, different types of ducks, different breeds of ducks have different needs and preferences. I ordered the ducks—you can order them and have them delivered through the mail. The original ducks were from Metzer Farms in California. They come in the mail as 2 day old ducks and you put them in a brooder for a couple of weeks. I would like to get to a point where I could offer larger numbers of local hatched ducks. There aren’t any local hatcheries. There are smaller ones but not any that provide larger quantities of birds to farmers. One of the caveats of certification for AWI (Animal Welfare Institute) is that the birds are not sent through the mail, because it’s not considered entirely humane. That’s the primary way most people get ducks and chickens and geese and have been doing that a very long time. [That’s another] reasons for raising the animals without having to slaughter them for food. The ducks came in the mail and then stay in a brooder for a couple of weeks. We gave them time to go swimming. They’re fairly messy, a little bit messier than chickens, so you have to take different sort of steps to help manage that. We built an indoor/outdoor brooder house for them. At about a month old, we moved them to adult houses in electrified fencing to keep predators away and put them up at night. The houses were for two reasons. One, I think people have a hard time getting ducks to lay in the same place, they tend to be less broody than chickens, so they drop eggs wherever. I wanted to make sure that they didn’t do that. The houses have nest boxes on the sides and so we keep them in until about 9 o’clock every morning. They lay their eggs in early morning.


Hawks are a concern. We’ve definitely had some fun with black snakes. Some of the biggest issues with the ducks, honestly, is making sure that we take care of their feet. Their feet are less keratinized than chickens—it means that they’re just not as hard and they should be spending a lot more time in water, by their very nature. So if their feet get kind of dry and cracked, they can get infected. They also do not like to be alone at all. They’re highly intelligent, which, maybe I’m biased, but they do know who is who and who’s come in and who’s left. You can see how the hierarchy evolves when you bring new people (ducks) in or remove others. They eat and drink about three times more than chickens. So they can be a little bit messier, but I think with a good system you can take care of that. The manure is excellent. I’ve been putting it directly on the garden, it’s not as hot as chicken manure; instead of being a waste product, it’s gold.

THE FARM I’m currently leasing land from the farmers of [Periwinkle Farm]. Their farm is 33 acres and so Duck Run is kind of a small subset of that. Right now I’m growing three kinds of edamame and I’ve got a few varieties of flowers, five or six kinds of heirloom watermelons, five or six kinds of specialty melons, different kinds of specialty cucumbers, lots and lots and lots of okra. Ducks, pigs.

Unfortunately we had a snapping turtle attack in the pond. I think it was probably 4 or 5 months ago. Since then, the ducks have refused to go back in the pond. I have ducks over at my cabin for breeding purposes, but the main laying ducks pretty much are too fearful of the pond, so now we have little pools for them to swim in. As long as they can clean their faces out, they won’t get infections. You need to give them plenty of bathing water. They don’t do as well in the heat as chickens—they’re more cold weather animals.

Duck eggs have more protein and nutrients than chicken eggs. People that are allergic to chicken eggs often times can eat duck eggs. The eggs themselves have little harder shells and they’re quite a bit bigger than even jumbo chicken eggs. They are less acidic, so sometimes people that are trying to manage their blood chemistry prefer duck eggs as well. The ducks actually lay as much or more than chickens, which is a really fascinating thing. I still meet people at market who don’t realize that ducks lay eggs. Most of my girls lay every single day. The eggs keep for a really long time. They’re superlative for baking, so there’s a lot of demand from high-end pastry chefs because the cakes stand up more and it’s a richer yolk.

We haven’t had really that many predator problems. I think part of it is the electric fencing—raccoons and foxes we’ve been able to avoid because of the electric fence and having them closed in houses at night.

There’s not that many models for [duck farming]. I tend to do copious amounts of research and I think that comes from having spent a lot of time on the computer. I go to conferences. There’s no one

I’m breeding my first group of ducks. Currently I have four females and three males that are set up in a breeding area. We do keep them very well hydrated and very well fed. They eat a little bit of a different diet. They get as much watermelon as they can eat. But typically we make sure that they’re happy and that encourages them to get frisky which ducks don’t have a problem doing. They all get to sleep together. Then we collect the eggs, clean the eggs, and hold the eggs at about 58-60 degrees for up to ten days. I’m really eagerly awaiting this hatching experiment because I have 20 little ducks that are going to be coming out in about eight days. Everyone keeps asking me what am I going to do with them. There’s no way I’m going to let any of them go. I’ll definitely keep all the females and some of the males. I think it will be quite a moment for me to see them coming out, knowing who the parents are, kind of come full circle now. I clean the eggs and at about seven days you can know for sure [if there’s a duckling inside]. I candle them at four days. Basically I built a little thing with a bright light in it. In the dark, you hold the egg up and the light shines through the egg, so as the embryo develops you can see it thickening and developing certain characteristics. The advice that I’ve read is don’t discard any until about the tenth day. But you have to get them out in case they’re bad and you don’t want them to explode. We start turning them after the first 24 hours, turning them to exercise the embryo. After the first week, start sprinkling them with water. Duck eggs need a lot higher humidity than chicken eggs. I think the theory is that the mother duck would get hot and swim and come back to sit on the eggs. So, the theory is, sprinkling the eggs with water once a day helps keep the humidity right. Otherwise the shell—either they dehydrate too much or the shell gets too hard and the baby ducks can’t get out.

ON BEING A FARMER Over the last few years, I’ve had a much more visceral connection to this work and a mindset. That’s been a deeply emotional thing for me. There’s a degree to which I feel more comfortable with animals or in the garden, than with people sometimes. You’re out there 18 hours a day. It really starts seeming quite different. You see a lot more, and that’s something that really struck me yesterday, was that wildness. I feed off of that now and I need it. I don’t know how I’d ever go back to sitting in an office for 50 hours a week. I very well may have to at some point in my life. I don’t anticipate it. I wouldn’t look forward to it. I think there’s definitely a very potent need to be outside. It’s like once you start doing it you can’t stop really. That’s fairly spiritual for me.

Natasha McCurley & Simon Rose Small Potatoes Farm in White Cross, North Carolina Working on five acres of land belonging to Simon’s parents.

HOW DID FARMING FIND YOU? Simon: I went to southwestern Virginia. I was still in college and I was going to go to Senegal on a studyabroad trip and was losing interest in college and wanted to do something that seemed like it mattered more. I was spending the summer doing mountain justice. I got to stay on a farm and work as a place to stay. I was enjoying that and thought it would be better to try and work longer than just go off to Senegal to another random place and show up and start all over again. I decided to stay for a good while and then as all of the activism against the mountaintop removal didn’t really go anywhere, I started really enjoying the farm work and decided that was something I could put more time into and feel it was worth it to do farm work. You can look everyday and say, well, the animals are taken care of, there’s food coming in. It felt more useful to me. It was basically the first time I had ever [farmed]. I didn’t know shit about it Natasha: I have been interested since I was little because my family in Columbia—my grandfather had a farm. He didn’t produce a lot, but he was out in the countryside and we would grow some stuff and ride horses. Because of that I’ve always been interested. It was Simon working on that farm having the vision of "I could do this" and said we should do it, and that’s kind of how it happened . . . We have about 17 goats now, six of whom we milk, we’ve got three pigs now, two sows and one boar. We have 99 laying hens and two roosters and we just slaughtered 40 roosters for meat and they were heritage breeds. How did we decide on goats? We said we didn’t want sheep because sheep are not very smart. S: And it’s not a good climate for them and you’ve got to shear them, which is way more work than it’s worth. A lot of it was because of the land—this back field is really brushy and we’ve got a thick clay soil. N: Cows wouldn’t really work because we didn’t have clover or grass on this back field. So we bought two goats off of Craigslist. Our first two were Mama Luba and Cinnamon, they were pregnant. Our little house is 12' x 16'. It’s just one room, got a big bed, small table, two burner stove, small refrigerator. We have a well outside, no running water inside the house. S: We don’t have heat. I think part of this, too, was growing up not experiencing this kind of stuff that it’s sort of fun to do that for a while. To live somewhere without heat and we were first toting water here, so we were carrying buckets, for our own consumption and for the animals.

S: We just got a new pot [for making the cheese]. It’s amazing how all these things make such a different. You heat it up to pasteurize it. There’s two ways of doing it: one’s to 145 for 30 minutes but then you need to be able to stand there and monitor it, but we take it to 160 for 30 seconds. That takes an hour and half to get to that temperature. After that you try to chill it immediately, as fast as you can to bring it down to 87 degrees—between 74 and 87. Then you add in cheese culture and rennet. We buy a starter culture and then the rennet comes in a little bottle but you just need a few drops. We don’t know that much about cheese making. We just make chèvre. N: After you cool it, let it incubate for 12-24 hours, then you take the cheesecloth and drain it. We take the curds out of the whey.

S: Another thing is we can just produce less and make more for everything we do if we don’t put so much money into it to start with. As soon as you put down $30,000 for your tractor and all your implements or a big milk machine, then you have to start getting so much stuff to make it worth while. So if you skip all of that, you got to do it all by hand. The challenges of starting it, our vision of how it’s going to work is constantly changing. At one point we thought about not having any electricity and wanted to see if we could work that out. There are certain things you start to find out. It’s just not worth it to be spending all my time coming up with alternatives to electricity. We could just have a small place that uses some electricity. We can be more efficient somewhere else. We’ll find a balance with it as we continue. S: I feel like what is really important, to go along with keeping it really simple without much machinery, is keeping a lot of things on site and incorporate animals into a farm. What we’re doing is moving animals so they’ll fertilize the fields and the whole action of them grazing is also building up the field. It’s the goats and chickens crapping on the field, but also how the field responds to the grazing. All of that after several years will make this much better for vegetables and what we could have done is tore the field up, bought a lot of fertilizer, even if it was organic, thrown it down and started planting. I like the idea of trying to keep it more from the land. Of course, we buy feed from other sources.

N: You experience something like this and I wouldn’t call this all that uncomfortable now. But people come in here and find out we don’t have heat, no running water inside. They’re like, how do you do it? You just get used to it.

N: [When you take your animals off site to slaughter] they’re getting all your waste. We keep it, we compost it. You’re not finishing off the whole cycle yourself if you just sent it off to a slaughterhouse, and the slaughterhouses around here aren’t that great. We hear stories how you don’t know if you get your pig back. Who knows which pig you end up getting? You put all this work into raising them, and you don’t even know if you’re eating your own pig.



S: We don’t want to milk more goats than we can do by hand. That’s how we feel about most things. A lot of enjoyment is being able to do it yourself, if you’re just popping milk machines on, you could be doing anything, you could be doing factory work.

S: We filter and cool [the milk]. We’ve got some people that like to drink milk, so some of it goes to that but most of it goes into cheese. With these two new goats, [milk] piles up quick, 12 gallons in three days, so about four gallons a day.

The whey is the really liquid part and the curds are the solids. We have to strain out the curds, using a muslin [cloth]—a butter muslin is what they call it, a finer weave. We let it hang for 8 hours and then take it out. We season [the cheese] and then package it, which takes a lot of time. We make pepper dill, a classic that has different garden herbs, a garlic and chive, plain, honey walnut, salt and pepper. S: We want to be able to make a whole lifestyle here that integrates everything. To me it seems goats have a place in a farm, but if you just turn the land into an area for goats, you start to lose out on some things and you run into some problems. There’s more parasite problems, the pasture will become overgrazed eventually. You can do it in better or worse ways, but if you can switch things in and out, then you don’t run into those types of things. It’s pretty different to slaughter a pig versus a chicken. We just read a little bit, looked on YouTube to see some how-to videos, talked to a couple people and then had some people around who had slaughtered deer. But that was it. We just did it and it worked out right. N: Simon and I don’t really have a lot of experience eating meat because we were vegetarians for so long. We thought our pork was really good. A lot of people told us our pork was really good. Some people said that because the pig isn’t afraid when it dies, it changes the flavor of the meat. S: Most people are going to take [their pig] for at least an hour ride in a trailer, freak it out and then it’s going to get dropped off at the slaughterhouse and the guys there aren’t going to be gentle with them. The pig’s got to know something’s coming. That’s another reason to do it ourselves, [to avoid] that suffering for them. S: I like the routine. I like getting up and seeing the goats every morning. I really like pigs—they’re fun to hang out with—and I love learning. I love doing new experiences all the time. Every day there’s a new thing to try. OK, we’ve raised some pigs, now we’re going to breed them. S: Basically, we’re living in this cabin—we’d like to get almost everything we need from the land. We basically don’t do groceries anymore. All those sorts of things get taken out of our expenses. We’d like to be able to make what we need to take care of ourselves and leave it at that.


Stuart + Alice White Stuart and Alice run Bluebird Meadows Farm. They own 30 acres, but are cultivating three-and-a-half acres.

HOW DID FARMING FIND YOU? Stuart: It would have to be in New York City, the "aha!" moment. I was doing documentary films in New York. I’d go to the farmers market in Union Square almost every chance I could get and talk to the farmers. I was thinking about a documentary on the farmers. I’d just go and talk to them. I had a friend in Virginia who was farming and I liked what she was doing. I was kind of torn. I’m in New York and I like what I’m doing and like filming, but I really want to do something with more of a purpose behind it. Filming for me wasn’t as fulfilling as it could be. I decided to go back to Virginia. I still wanted to do filming. I was trying to find a filming job and I got [one] in Chapel Hill. I came here and the community was great. I met Ken Dawson at Maple Springs Gardens and he hired me for a year [farming]. That’s when it hit me, OK, this is what I want to do. It feels so good. I love what this community is supporting, I love the way they’re farming, the philosophy behind it, and the many tasks you do on a farm—it was just perfect for me. That’s kind of how I got into it. The path chooses you, you don’t choose the path. It was open in front of me and I was lucky enough to be here at the right moment and get involved. Alice: My dad always had a really nice garden that we ate from growing up in the suburbs of Durham. It was your typical brick ranch-style house with this yard that should have been all lawn, but he tilled up the whole thing and planted fruit trees and vegetables and flower beds. Of course I never even thought about farming. I started working for Ken Dawson of Maple Spring Gardens—he asked me to help him at the market. He was a family friend. [Stuart and I] met our first time at the farmers market, which is funny because I always thought I would meet somebody at the farmers market. If I’m going to meet anybody, it’s going to be at the farmers market S: Ken had offered both Alice and I positions on his farm at much higher positions. We just wanted our own farm. So Alice took the initiative and applied to Durham market while I spent another year with Ken just trying to get a steady paycheck and hone in the skills. A: You just get that notion in your head that you can do it and it just kind of enables you to do it.

IF YOU WANT TO START A FARM A: Stuart proposed to me in the spring of 2006. We kind of knew we were meant for each other before then. I had gone and peeked at some land. S: We looked for land for about a year and half, two years, to own. We looked at some really bad properties and we [felt like] we’re going to have to settle because we can’t find something with everything we want. Water, first of all, and then a nice hardwood section, nice cleared section, something with character, like old growth on it, nice soil of course, really good tilth, something that hadn’t been beaten to death. We wanted to go north, because as crazy as this sounds, it’s about 5 degrees cooler up north of Chapel Hill. So we searched up here. A farmer who used to go to Carrboro told Ken about this land. Ken said, "There’s some land for sale, go check it out." I came up and immediately went back and told Alice, "You’ve got to check this piece of land out, it’s got a spring on it, it’s got creeks in the back, it’s got a pond, it’s got crazy


and figure out what we’re doing wrong with beets. They’re the most pathetic beets. In the summertime, we do an array of squash. We do heirloom varieties and we’re trying to do more and more open-pollinated seeds. I love growing tomatoes, but they’re just so tricky here. We’re trying to do more and more of fruits too. We put in kiwi trees, figs and apples and pears, and blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. Whatever we can grow.

tree lines that partitions each piece of land off into its own little section." So Alice came out and completely fell in love with it. You could just tell it was meant for us, some kind of character, some kind of energy about it. We dug about 100 holes all over the place to see what kind of soil it was. We worked it out with the owner and bought the 30 acres. The land was 30 years of pasture so it was really nice, we didn’t have to do much like add amendment. This is last year and there was a huge drought. First we had to get irrigation set up and an overhead sprinkler and it took a while to get that going, just tilling [the land]. I’m sure I did till in some places that were just too dry but I [thought] I need to put a cover crop on here. So I put a cover crop on. A: We planted our over-winter stuff and put a fence up. The fence was one of the first things we did. Basically, we’ve been behind since we moved here. We bought [the land] last March. We’ve sold at the Durham Market since 2006. I did it the first year and Stuart and I, this is our second year doing it together. Durham is our big market and we have a 40-member CSA and a 30-member flower CSA, so that’s all we do. And we’re making it, which is amazing. We’re just behind in basic planning. So it’s OK, this is our third year. S: I have to keep reminding that to Alice, she goes over to other people’s farms—like Ken, who’s been doing it for 30 years—and she just freaks out, oh my god did you see what he has, his blueberries look great. Just calm down.

THE FARM A: I grow every kind of flowers I can get my hands on that I hear will grow well around here, and I try some that don’t even grow well around here. We must grow at least 40 or 50 different kind of flowers. S: We do flowers and we do vegetables and fruits and we’re trying to get into birds and some rabbits. We want to do pheasants and we want to do guineas and quail. But it’s hard to not live on the farm and take care of livestock. We’ve decided that once we get our house built [on the farm] then we’ll start delving more and more into the wildlife. We do as many varieties of vegetables as we can. In the springtime we do every brassica we can—radishes, turnips, arugula, salad mix, all the greens, carrots. Peas, beets, although we’re horrible at growing beets. We really need to sit down

A: I think it would be incredible if we just keep [the farm] manageable for us two with part-time labor during the summer. But realistically, we’ll probably end up needing a full-time person. We’re just now getting our greenhouse up. We want to have a greenhouse, a hoop house or two, because that increases your profit so much and to go to winter market, which is pretty new. We like the idea of year-round production, we’re just trying to figure out how we can have some down time and stay sane. We don’t want our farm to get too big. We want to keep it manageable. We want to grow really smart, so that we’re not wasting our time and our energy. Our energy is the most valuable resource we have. A: It’s not a profession you get into for the money. It can be really hard sometimes when, like Stuart said, when you have your driveway. We only did half of the driveway because we couldn’t afford to have it go all the way back. So it’s piece by piece. You go a few months and save enough money to buy a big expense like the rest of your driveway and then you’re back at breaking even. S: It’s being smart with your money. For our tractor we got a three-year payment plan with no interest. It’s been so nice to pay it off all on principle. We want to take out a small loan with a low interest rate for building a hoop house. Take out like $5,000 and you would make that back in a year with the hoop house. We don’t spend that much. Food, that’s probably the most, we just love to go eat good food. We probably spend 150 dollars a week on food. We just like to indulge ourselves in good food. And that’s one of the things that we were not going to compromise when we started out with a farm. We know we’ll spend money on food. As long as we can get good food. I want to put roots here. Before North Carolina, I hadn’t lived in the same place for more than a year. I was switching all over the place, Then I fell in here. A: It’s a huge load off to know what you’re going to do with your life. It’s like this huge burden has been released when you finally get to focus. S: It’s like when I knew I would marry Alice, it was a huge burden off. I remember talking to Ken, I was out in the field and it just came to me. I was like, "I’m going to marry Alice. Why didn’t I think of this before? Alice is the one for me." Ken said, "Of course you are." A: I had the feeling that he was the one since I had first met him, so I was cool with waiting and being patient. If it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen, but of course I wanted it to. S: It was those moments, farming and proposing to Alice, that came so naturally. n



We feel pretty passionately about these next two pages. We’re proud to share with you our top 100-ish favorite places and venues in the Volunteer State, so if you find yourself in the land of Jack Daniels and Elvis, you’ll know just what to do.


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t i s i V



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Music Venues

TENNESSEE Thanks to Nick Dupey, Rachel Briggs, and Tim Regan for providing listings. We're sure we've left a lot of great things out. Please write to us, no matter where you're at to be included in our next guide:

CHATTANOOGA A Young Monster Silkscreen Studio & printing Co-Op 100 Cherokee Blvd


JJ’s Bohemia

Best Chatt. venue 231 MLK |


Pisa Pizza

Great Pizza. Where everybody both works & drinks. 551 River St | (423) 756-7492



Punk house shows. Northside



Great ghetto liquor store 607 Cherokee Blvd | (423) 265-8711

Record Stores: 6

Chad's Records

326 Vine St | (423) 756-7563


A Hunter Museum

10 Bluff View | (423) 267-0968



For the best jewelry, cards and unique makings. 30 Frazier Ave. | (423) 266-8010



Get yer hair did. 2 North Shore | (423) .752.0050



Fosters the creative community of Chattanooga, helping with arts move and cultural development of partnerships, programs and arts related projects. 55 E Main St., Suite 37408 | (423) .648.2195



Old jazz lounge. The stiffest drinks & velvet wallpaper. Sometimes venue. 1018 E 9th St. (423) 266-0988

NASHVILLE Record Stores: 12


New & pre-loved music 1604 8th Ave. S. | (615) 254-4801

The Groove

Five points area, East Nashville

Coffee Shops: 14

Bongo Java

Four cafes and a wholesale roasting for locations


The Basement

1604 8th Ave. S. #330 | (615) 254-8006


The End

2219 Elliston Pl. | (615) 321-4457


5 Spot

1006 Forrest Ave | (615) 650-9333


Cannery/Mercy Lounge

1 Cannery Row | (615) 251-3020


3 Crow

1024 Woodland St. | (615) 262-3345


Red Door East

1010 Forrest Ave. | (615) 226-7660



2511 Gallatin Pike | (615) 226-7305



115 27th Ave N. | (615) 830-0345

Food: 23


722 Thompson Ln. | (615) 383-2252

Hair Cuttery Food Clothing

Cafe Calypso

Five locations! | see:

Mas Tacos Por Favor

Mid-’70s Winnebago turned late-night taco truck


Prince’s Hot Chicken

123 Ewing Dr. #3 | (615) 226-9442

Websites of Happenings: 29



Local Clothing/Vintage/Resell Stores: 32

Local Honey

1207 Linden Ave. | (615) 915-1354 33

Hip Zipper

1008 Forrest Ave. | (615) 228-1942 34

Two Elle

2309 12th Ave. S. | (615) 269-9954

Showprints: 35

A Boss Construction 36

A Grand Palace 37


1402 McGavock Pike | (615) 262-9862

Baja Burrito


Family Wash


A Isle of Printing

Mitchell’s deli


27 13




A Hatch Show

Other places/things worth noting: 39

Halcyon Bikes

Great new co-op


Nashville’s Smallest Art Gallery

In Hillsboro Village | 41

A Lipstick Lounge

Walden Artisan monthly markets (craft revolution/ craft mafia monthly fairs year-round) 42

A Rabbit Press

local artist/literary movement publication 43

A Belcourt Theatre 44

A Arts Avenue gallery

6th Ave., the Arcade galleries

Next Big Nashville music festival

MEMPHIS Venues/Bars: 46


Memphis’ best venue. The Hi-Tone brings in all sorts of national and great local acts seven days a week. They have just rebuilt their stage and upgraded their sound system. It has recently started serving amazing NYstyle pizza and one of Memphis’ best Sunday brunch.



1368 Monroe Ave. | (901) 278-0909 Midtown pirate bar and intimate venue. Great music every day of the week.

Young Avenue Deli


2119 Young Ave. | (901) 278-0034

1589 Madison Ave. | (901) 726-4193 50

P&H cafe

1532 Madison Ave. | (901) 726-0906

Recording Studios: 51


926 E. McLemore Ave. | (901) 946-2535 The legendary Stax recording studio has been rebuilt and turned into a really great museum and youth music center. Highlights of the tour are definitely the control room and Issac Hayes' pimped-out, shag carpet interior Cadillac. 52

Sun Studios

706 Union Ave. | (901) 521-0664

Payne’s BBQ:

1762 Lamar Ave. | (901) 272-1523 On the corner of Mclain and Lamar Ave. The best Memphis-style sweet BBQ…find it. It is worth getting lost for. 54

Young Ave Deli:

2119 Young Ave. | (901) 278-0034 Giant bar with great food. Second’s as a midsize awesome music venue. Ask for Tiger. 55

Fino’s (deli)


Memphis Pizza Cafe

5061 Park Ave. | (901) 684-1306 59

Chinese Sub Shop

614 S Highland St. | (901) 324-3728 60

RP Trax


The Arcade

540 S Main St. (901) 526-5757

coffee shops: 62


Java Cabana

2170 Young Ave. | (901) 272-7210 64

CK’s Coffee

3139 Poplar Ave. | (901) 324-1249 65

Republic Coffee

2924 Walnut Grove Rd. | (901) 590-1578

Record Stores:

Memphis has two great independent record stores/ labels that are within a mile of each other. Get lost in the stacks of records, cd’s, magazine, and cult history. 66

Shangri la Records/

1916 Madison Ave. | (901) 274-1916 67

Goner Records:

2152 Young Ave. | (901) 722-0095

Cooper Young Festival 69


A Memphis Media Co-Op

Local co-op of film makers, artists. 70

Goner Fest (music)


A South Main Arts district

The Lamplighter:

5040 Sanderlin Ave. | (901) 766-7616 A great dive bar with one of the city's best old jukeboxes.


A Studio on the Square

Independent movie house. 2105 Court St. | (901) 681-2020 73

PILOT LIGHT, Bar & Venue

ROCK QUARRIES, For unlawful night swimming. Ask anyone. 77

LEGACY, Vintage Clothing

Best duds in the land. 117 S. Central St. | (865) 523-7335 78


800 N. 4th Ave. Art house & show space


2615 Chapman Hwy. | (865) 573-5710 79


Drink like it’s your momma’s house. 820 N. 4th Ave. | (865) 525-5839 80


Sing the night away. 114 E. Anderson Ave. | (865) 673-8788 81


Local food co-op. 937 N. Broadway St. | (865) 525-2069 82


I once heard someone say, “What’s a Kepner Melt?” The response: “Give me your arm. Oh, my god! It’s a kepner melt!” as they rabidly bit into the person’s arm. Seriously, try the Kepner Melt. Those who know yearn for it. 12 Market Sq. | (865) 637-4067 83


Soul food for Hangovers. 3101 Magnolia Ave. | (865) 595-0212 84


413 S Gay St. | (865) 522-1812 85


Massage, belly dance, intuitive healing 711 N Central St. | (865) 522-5829

Arts: 68


Best Venue of All Time 106 W. Jackson Ave. | (865) 524-8188


Memphians of all sorts visit and hang out at this midtown Memphis staple coffeehouse. Great soups and great acoustic music throughout the week. Sometimes referred to as “the office” by local musicians and artists. 63


127 S. Central St. | (865) 523-5569


A Black Lodge Video

Independent movie rentals. 831 S Cooper St | (901) 272-7744

KNOXVILLE 74 A KNOXVILLE GALLERY OF ART, Dedicated to new and emerging art. 317 N. Gay St. | (865) 595-4401


109 S Central St. | (865) 523-9817 87


1209 N Central St. | (865) 524-1155


(TN’s North Carolinian Sister City)

Downtown blocks of galleries/shops, on trolley tracks.

food: 53


1853 Madison Ave. | (901) 272-3466



The Beauty Shop

3547 Walker Ave. | (901) 327-1471




966 S. Cooper | (901) 272-7111

Harvest Records

88 415 Haywood Rd. # B | (828)-258-2999 89

Lock and A Light

Thompsons St. | Sundays after 2 90

Freds Speakeasy 91


113 Broadway St. | (828) 285-0400 92

New French Bar 12 Biltmore Ave. | (828) 225-6445



I The first time I walked into Asmara Café, situated in a Hispanic/immigrant neighborhood on

sounded happy to hear from me. He said I was welcome to come by any day around 10 a.m.,

the north side of Chicago among liquor stores and bodegas, I felt as though I had mistakenly

before the rush; always polite, he thanked me for my interest. One week after my first visit, I

opened a door marked "private." A group of men were speaking Arabic in hushed tones

found myself in my car, heading back to dig deeper.

as mounds of food were shared between them. My appearance broke their concentration for I wanted to walk right out the door, but felt compelled to know more about Asmara, the


capital of Eritrea; I hoped that by eating a meal at the café, I could get a glimpse into a

“I promise that I would never be where I am now if I was back home or somewhere else in some

world distant from my own.

other country,” Kidane said about his financial stability. "You want to go to school? You got it.

a moment and suddenly I felt self-conscious about my blond hair and suburban upbringing.

When the owner, Kidane Mihtsun, emerged from the back with an apron on over what looked like business-casual attire, I noticed him survey the room approvingly. In the review that prompted me to go to the café, I read that he is a refugee from Eritrea. As I watched him fill empty cups of water and wipe off a few tables, I wondered about the journey that brought him to Chicago. His kind eyes peeked out curiously at me from behind wire-rimmed glasses when he stepped over to

some countries you have to line up for bread!” he explained. Although he’s in his mid-forties, the oversized jacket he wore accentuated his boyish features and made him look like a teenager in a hand-me-down. You’d never know from his demeanor that Kidane’s native community was brutally torn apart.

my table and asked me if I’d eaten Eritrean food before. When I told him I had once dined at an

On that clear Thursday morning in October when I stopped by, the smell of simmering garlic

East African restaurant, he gave me a casual smile and nod then inquired about what I wanted

and tomato filled the air while customers flitted in and out of the café seeking help with their

to order. He motioned to the waitress and in another language, gave her my order. Ten minutes

taxes, to get some breakfast, or just to say hello. Photographs of Eritrea—a street-vendor-

later, my fragrant vegetarian platter was before me. He disappeared again into the back, but left

stand brimming with fruits and vegetables, tree-lined mountains, and the reflection of a

me feeling welcome and comfortable because of his approach and smile.

sunset in the Red-Sea—lined the green walls of the café.

As I ate lentils and spinach with my injera, a mildly-sour, unleavened bread used to scoop up

I tried to ask Kidane personal questions but learned that his sense of self is inextricably

bites in place of utensils, an Eritrean woman walked in. She exchanged greetings and familiar

intertwined with the history of his homeland, Eritrea, and its contentious relationship with

hugs with the men, who I learned were also from Eritrea, and then sat down at their table to

Ethiopia. When I asked about his childhood, he gave me a brief historical synopsis: “One

order. “You don’t want to join us?” she said after shooting me a quick glance. “Sure, I will,”

year before I was born, in 1961, a 30-year struggle for Eritrean Independence from Ethiopia

I said, before I moved my plate over to their table, feeling slightly intimidated. She offered me

began …”

to take as much as I wanted from her plate while she helped herself to mine. As we continued

Situated in East Africa between the Red Sea, Sudan and Ethiopia, Eritrea is a country

sharing each plate and eating with our hands, in the traditional East African way, I was

slightly larger than the state of Pennsylvania. European colonization preceded the struggle for

brought into a three-hour-long conversation about the ensuing presidential election, labor rights

independence when colonialists passed around the Eritrean territory. At the hub of the Italian

and immigration, but mainly listened. As we enjoyed tea after our meal, I was amazed when

empire in Africa, modernist architecture still stands in Asmara. After WWII the British military

one of the men, a cab driver, offered to pay for everything. On my way out I grabbed one of

ousted the Italians and took over as the colonial force, but stirrings for self-determination showed

Kidane’s cards that read: “Maxumun Savings, Inc.” above a list of financial services.

that Eritreans wouldn’t give themselves over easily. When the United Nations federated Eritrea

At home during the next few days after my visit, a curiosity to find out more about the charismatic owner and Eritrean community gnawed at me. Maybe it was the food or the


You want to work three jobs? Go ahead. Here you can eat 20 different kinds of bread. But in

with Ethiopia, the nation came closer to some semblance of independence, but it was taken away all too quickly when Ethiopia decided to incorporate Eritrea and annex the territory.

warmth of the people there, but I had an inexplicable urge to go back to Asmara Cafe. I

Young Eritreans were required to join the Ethiopian National Service after high school. From

didn’t realize it at first, but it was the strong sense of community that intrigued me about the

the different neighborhoods or sub-zones, the Ethiopian army’s administration selected about

café. When I decided to call Kidane, to see if I might be able to talk with him some more, he

10 people at a time to force into the army. Those who refused selection were often carried

off into the night and murdered. Out of fear of such reprisals, many people joined the military

Dining out on Eritrean food with his newfound friends reminded him of the generous spirit

ranks and feigned support of the Ethiopian regime. “All of the sudden at nighttime, they just

inherent in his culture. Eating in exile, gathered around one big dish, he saw the importance

show up at your home and pick you up, many chose to flee and go into hiding,” Kidane said,

of community during difficult times. Growing up, whenever his mother made food, friends and

as he shuddered a bit.

family came by. Considered a blessing if someone showed up while they were eating, there was

Often, those who went into hiding became renegade fighters who distributed literature at night for Eritrean independence. These ideas spread among the youth who sought to hold on to their

always enough to share. “Culturally the way we eat is with one big plate, so mother, father, children all gather around,” he said.

Eritrean heritage. The youth, including Kidane’s older brother, Gebrehiwet, organized with

After four years in Sudan, Kidane received sponsorship from his cousin to go to Chicago. He

the guerilla groups.

worked several different jobs, often two at a time. He saved up enough to buy a cab, a common

At this point, Kidane’s story began to take a more personal tone. “If they had taken me then, I don’t know where I would be now. It could have been a different

profession among Eritrean immigrants in Chicago. “You get laid off on Monday, you can drive your cab on Tuesday,” he said.

story,” he said. Small for his age, Kidane was not accepted when he tried to join with his

Seeing how much he paid to get his income taxes done, he learned how to do his own then

brother. As I looked at him, coddling his body with his arms for warmth, I tried to picture him

started a business doing taxes for others. He slowly built up a customer base of 400 people.

fighting as a soldier, but it was impossible. He does not look like a fighter to me.

Most of them are Eritrean cab drivers, but many are from Somalia and Nigeria, as well. He

Following his graduation from high school, Kidane still supported the Eritrean cause, but

saw his customers spending extra time around his office with each other and knew he wanted to

lost his youthful vigilance when he witnessed the suffering and death war brought to friends

create a space they could always go to. “Since my customers follow me wherever I go, I brought

and family. Knowing that if he didn’t join the fight for independence, he would be forcibly

my office here, and I turned it into a café,” he said, implying our location, “they’re happy, so

conscripted into the Ethiopian army where he might fight against his brother, he decided to

I’m happy.”

escape Eritrea. Leaving his home for Sudan, Kidane plotted the eventual journey that would bring him to the United States where family had taken refuge in Chicago.

Down in the basement of the café, along with Kidane’s office, a table is set up for biliardo, a game similar to pool, which harkens back to Eritrea’s Italian-colonial past. The marked up

When Kidane saw his mother weeping as he crossed the first checkpoint into Sudan, he was

scoreboards on the walls are evidence of the way members of the community often stay all night,

overcome with a sense of doom. “I knew that if I got caught and faced one mean soldier, I could

playing round after round. Comfortable chairs and couches sit facing each other, ready to burst

be in big, big trouble. They could take you and throw you in jail and nobody would know where

with stories of late-night conversation. “We grew up in a dictatorship and when you come here,

you are. It’s not like you have a right to see a judge or lawyer in 48 hours, there is no such

all of the sudden you are free. You can go to school, you can work, you can smoke, you can go

thing. It’s like you are a terrorist and they’ll take you to Guantanamo. So many people have

crazy, you can drink, you can do anything you want. It is your choice,” Kidane said as he led

disappeared like that,” he said.

me back up the stairs.

When a military superior showed up at a subsequent checkpoint, a fear of jail or even death


overwhelmed Kidane. “Where are you going?” the official asked Kidane, who made up a story about wanting to see his dying grandfather and showed the official his legal permit. The official took his permit and handed it to an inferior officer, telling him to keep it but to give

In 1991, after 30 long years, Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia when Eritrean guerilla

it back when Kidane returned. Although the unspoken truth was that people rarely crossed

forces defeated the Ethiopian government’s military. Eritrean soldiers slowly started to return

that checkpoint to return voluntarily, the military superior was acting like he believed Kidane

home to their loved ones from the battlefields of hard-won territories. Kidane’s family anxiously

would come back. Kidane was dumbfounded that such an important officer had come all that

awaited his brother Gebrehiwet, but weeks started to go by, as he remained absent. When months

way, just to let him go. But when they finally crossed the border, the merchant who was helping

passed without any word, the reality of his absence replaced their hopes. “My brother fought and

him explained that the official was already taken care of with a bribe.

died, but we celebrate his life rather than mourn his death,” Kidane said.

Trucks came to take the people who crossed the border from Eritrea into Sudan. That night he

But the battle continues for Eritreans. It remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and is

shared a room in a building, in a small Sudanese village, on a dirt floor with several people.

constantly on the brink of another border war with Ethiopia. Kidane’s version of a moment in

In the morning, more trucks came to take everyone a few hours further from the border. There

Eritrean history is one among the millions of lives affected by European colonialism. But in the

he was in the middle of an unfamiliar country. He felt hopeless, and lonely. “I didn’t speak the

face of the disparity and division colonialism often causes, it is a feat that Kidane and the exiles

language and it just devastated me. I didn’t want to be there, but I had nowhere to go and I

at his café maintain their East African identity.

didn’t have a job,” he said as he shook his head. The people I met at Asmara Café, traveled across the world to preserve their sense of community. He was left with some distant relatives, that couldn’t understand his feelings of isolation. They

They are taking refuge here, trying to adapt and assimilate into a culture that is not their own,

insisted things would improve for him with time and that he would get used to his new life,

but have made the café into a bit of home where people from outside the community, such as

but they couldn’t tell him how. “It was like a prison,” he said. But at least he was out of the

myself, are treated like guests. Given the isolation we often face in contemporary American

war zone of Eritrea.

society, with an over emphasis on the individual, in this age where a "community" is often a

Desperate for something to occupy his time, Kidane was overjoyed when he heard about

list of screen-names, their communal spirit is a refreshing reminder of the importance found in

Eritreans working a few hours away in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Thrilled about

shared experience.

companionship and a chance to learn something new, he didn’t even ask for pay when they offered him work as a mechanic. “Working as a mechanic was a big deal for me, I was just so happy to be there that I stayed for six months,” he said.

While dining at the café that first time, I remember one of the men, Shofi, telling me that Eritrean immigrants have a certain look on their faces until they become more Americanized. As I sat there eating, I noticed a man who walked in and sat by himself in a corner. He wore the

When an 80-year-old leader of the Eritrean revolution went to Khartoum to speak, thousands

look with a reserved gaze that turned away from us, his arms were crossed and his body dressed

of Eritreans gathered to see him. Unaware so many Eritreans lived in Sudan, he was elated to

in clothes that didn’t fit. “He just got here,” Shofi said, with understanding. Although the man

see them all. “It was beautiful and wonderful,” he said. At the gathering, Kidane found people

appeared disheartened, the specifics of why, I suppose, are another story. While I walked into

he’d grown up with, but hadn’t seen for years. “I got to meet lots of old friends, people who were

the café out of curiosity, the man who sat alone was there out of need, but at least he has a

still with me, where before I was just seeing one or two at a time…” He got a job that actually

place to go where he can openly express his feelings without saying a word, around a supportive

paid and stayed with his welcoming friends every weekend.

community of people who can imagine what he’s going through. n


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L at the s o s r . u t l h as c a in c o e n g ls h o is us c om t ck q a o y s n , s i t a c ’ a e e it. nte is t r i a a s e s i s t s / a w r u c r n o . s r A he d o in g a Bri h l n t hi u f e th s s r y an d b k i C o s t o r g o all y h o d ie o m c k m t lin u l t ha g it ali You a ps 19 ng h r f T h I t r p i “ S h y t l i a g e e m e s t h n d o re c c l s s e n i a B n T o w g c t n g n t e o o o o e o g r s 6 l t a h y b d e w ed e i s i th g , d y b e e re d o e e c e o u t h m n t o i n ss f th oun dd ard terl ych 0’s me s fo to rd" you n y tro o m a m t m S k t h e s s we n g nu e eve elf. of Kn enu mi kin ani as rel ad i n at di n 2 isfi ma er. o ) z e s e u f u i g o e c i g e ’ f t s, , it h D s. i r n 7 r r n u m s u t e O th ov ’s o s n r w l o a s t d a d a u b m a Ve lf . to ll S L d h e u 8n e S n n ti lb l s y e d e i m ro w t h c r l ic t he b s t y en a m s e c t i o 0 0 2 g u sk . e e h am eas ttle he’s ollo so es her el m l ve e r s g s u l t h e r o r I L l o s i g h o w t h re na rcr lo ow sta ako and qu le, tum me age Sk um is us d a n d m o u n w a n d t hr , is li c n n m o w i , e a r t n a t a . d i r t . a a w s rc o w g ev d t a ys s ru w n a t U . “ v a a c w i s i g i n v e t c n i n f re s r i c a i n W fte a u re w ta w / row ith ca e i s s d c b l e re a f t s s gui s s .” s i lls t h . 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C u c ns d e u c a l lu l y ’ t i n r m t ” e “ h w t y s t i " f t d l i n m iz e ll ca n h ’s e h e n S e s e t e h i e h a l n ) t r o u e P T e ls c o m si c nin a r O ere om llin f a sse y w d A vi t b Gle inc gin fu nd ( orro tne aby of ate at . IV osm o R o , ps as ed, y. “ g F app nde d t se th e .n R. rv e o w e g , ir b r s or ro r l e b r a a s nn e I g o ll r " M w s s pl m g. e m d t t i S t h e i c o c k f l o yc h w i s I n T o r c t ” r e o d h b r r a x h im ay p a T M h a ut es o c an . us oru In itte eco ird rne ide s a is tor y s, J. ns ot at mit ma Lig ” s ngi ed hat as he he ria co gain s en d k o o W t h s o c l u d n a r d i s p a i s n o f n d G i d p e J e s o re v e s c a n a i n g m T. I cen ion one h’s n’s htn tar ng, elic it affe Ca M tes ust . t r nc i V m a t n s d n s e e u a i c ith hy g r d ’ r l g s n c e f w f l n e t g y h i t t li f si o c , a o i o o c e ” s w u t g h f : fr in d e ” f t o s u o d a e n " e f th to hile lk s s. ing wr an e - a u s this Th Tim ar me stu ing org me nd ’s ss a W ds t yo to fin e. H c, e as hem om ar itar . I lo uf d s i s ve a b , w e re e e at dio by, ott y. P im spa ion . U in t’s ist am e re the “T ong “S in w itte d r i g su b u I n f v s dr n e l o e g p a M L n s e r h h th t al ag so r fr e’re is n a oic the filt cra n a alm ge rkli ( M. ht tle t l t i m i d u r e n e m c o vo e , p e n g h a m e ll e e if M ci n g o m g ot c h e s y s ey pi er ck nd s a r y - ng W on l i s n t h e o t r a t e y p o s ny i n r d i d r fe Fo t ty i l o w a w d i s n i t p i h a o w w t s e re s t g u a r d v o s n r hr n n en c e .co ac ho n u es K l i a g be a p en ing e," f r e. r t er on’ s in sce y w rse w aye d o ins th n itor tly im o, in o u ro e c a l a i d o n i t a , m ho a a th y c w m g ge r, f e s s a o e l s n m ak ” om u c a nd ou b s a f o h s p s u “ m s , r it s h n o s r s ia o fe ong uri ed go . T s o a ve p a /s sic hi ho lay to ce m ara ed s o e a p, s t t o h i n e b . b u s a y h r t e r ic b e le el co m t h ak s a t h l e r u f hi ne / th g b te d ‘o ese und bit o m ld i l e i g e e h l e n of m b n e d s es t f l o m e ys g . a y to her for re i th am Po so s of d e wa d o se g r ho o m H r is p i t h s n S h il y r t l a n g s se st ing s t ate ut es e rt t o c e o n r v e d s o h ro f u a n s a b h e s e t hi e ll e in t d , es d u l n y h h ov s , . n i f th in h g h th a l e a rd g g a n e e t is is .n tt h he d a one d re o w i s is se ys . . su n si I f e ng pi


REVIEWS h Featured Label



The recordings of Clark Williams, a.k.a. Big Kitty, are both winsome and thoughtful. He has found a way to seamlessly connect the American folk song with sweeping images of the otherworlds. He travels from green pastures to alien heavens in the breadth of two hard-lipped lines. His ballads go from traditional structures and timing to moments where the tracks seem to disintegrate, and back again. He sings of loneliness, long-lost cultures, abductions and the loneliness of being abducted by long-lost cultures. To download five hand-picked Big Kitty tracks, visit What is your current location (physically or metaphysically)? Chattanooga, Tennessee, both physically and metaphysically. I live in a green house with two magnolia trees in the front and wallpaper with cows on it in the kitchen. I also live in a treehouse with hot chocolate in the front and humansize caterpillars lounging in the kitchen becoming giant butterflies. My secret is I’m not one of them physically and this is my effort: to become a butterfly in every other way but physically. Is there a place you go? The library is my favorite indoors winter place. In warmer months I like the little forests near my house and playgrounds with swings, and wading places, cool streams full of pebbles and leaves and green moss and water bugs. What instruments do you play? I play guitar, fiddle, sing, and plunk around on pianos and organs and synths. I would love to play the trumpet because it sounds like gold. How long have you been writing / performing your own songs? I was influenced by the Star Trek issue of Mad Magazine, in which popular songs like “The Sound of Silence” and “Call Me” were used in a hybrid Broadway musical/Star Trek parody. I asked my parents the tunes and sang the songs out of the magazine. So I was singing parodies of songs before I ever heard the originals. I remember writing my first original song when I was ten years old. It was called “Chinese Food.” I first started performing about five years (a lifetime of pubescence) later in a band called Dewey and the Decimal System. When that band split up in 2000, I became Big Kitty and began playing on my own. I play in two bands currently: an old-time band called The New Binkley Brothers and a sort of country/punk band called Faberge Leg and the Erotic Nesting Dolls. What does your writing process look like? I’m on the floor, crouched on one knee. Or on a park bench. I wish it were more regular, but I go about it in a haphazard way so far in my life. 38

How do the people, landscape and culture around you influence your writing? I think they influence me in ways that are very deep and structural that I’m usually unconscious of. But individual people are more influential to me than culture or landscape, especially interesting conversations I’ve had recently, like the song “Nibiru” which came about after many interesting conversations about the ancient Sumerians with Matt and Page Downer. Your writing and recording seem to play with the duality of the cosmos and the countryside, of the vast and the specific, how do these ideas make their way into your songs? I come from Maryville, Tennessee, which is a southern town in-between big and small. Living in an unknown place made me dream in two different spaces: the big city and outer space. The city offers thoughts and emotions that weren’t available in Maryville, and outer space is a beautiful place of invention and dazzling funkiness. There’s room in space for 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Silver Surfer, and George Clinton. Have you ever experienced celestial visions? Yes, and I hope everyone has. I know anyone can. I remember looking in my grandma’s eyes and feeling a telepathic message: I am you. That was the most beautiful moment of my life. Another is when I was living in Brno, Czech Republic, and I used to go to a park most nights called Stranska Skala, which was a little mount, and listen to shortwave radio from China and the Middle East and West Africa and watch the lights turn on in the Soviet-style high-rises in the distance, which is a dazzling sight. Have you ever done any busking? Yes, busking is tons of fun. You make people happy by making yourself silly. Or if you sing a serious song, like a murder ballad, you can freeze time for a second. Buskers inspire me and I want to return the karma. Where did you learn to yodel like that? I learned by practicing switching from regular voice to falsetto and back. It’s hard for me, though—sometimes I can’t yodel at all and I have to make apologies. I remember going on a fishing trip with my brother in Texas and he was driving, and we had been listening to Hank Williams. Then we started listening to Jimmy Rodgers and the way he yodeled in comparison, and my brother got so excited that he made the car go a hundred miles an hour. It’s because Jimmy Rodgers is such a damn yodeler. n

The Black Tower and My Old Black Suit A short story with three alternate endings by Clark Williams fter the interview, when Dr. Aslet told me over the telephone that I was hired, my mind brimmed with exalted thoughts of the blood brotherhood I was to enter into at IBM. I went immediately to buy this suit, which looks entirely different today than it did when I first wore it, back in the 1970s. That first morning I walked miles through the streets and never took the train, despite the snow; I was shielded like an armored knight patrolling the king’s woods on horseback, ejecting riffraff like sunlight off a chest plate. How powerful it felt, to walk up to that tower of black glass, what a forbidding place and I had access to it! That impenetrable black glass that reflected each onlooker back at himself, opaque to hobos, children, businessmen who worked in other firms, who were likewise probable to block our sight by similar contrivances from their own offices where untold secrets flashed and sparked from eye to eye and grin to grin, sparking and careening from the lenses of the horn-rimmed glasses that were worn at the time. I wore this type of standard-issue spectacles myself, and occasionally in my moments of reverie, my eyes would reflect on the backs of the lenses, my eyelashes slashing a border into the irises, and I liked to imagine myself as Henry Kissinger, whose eyes peered through the same glasses at world maps, envisioning the actual missiles he would rain down upon foreign nations. I was proud to be a businessman, religiously devoted to the furthering of IBM as others further Jesus of Nazareth. In my nighttime meal, which I invariably ate alone, I would imagine the offices of IBM spread further and wider, colonies established throughout the solar system with pressurized domes regulated by great halls of murmuring machines, and enormous black towers like steel bricks without any windows at all, in which Neptunian hobos reflect nothing but black abyss. But from inside - a businessman wouldn’t look out at squirrels jumping through the branches of a tree but comets leaping through a mess of stars, like a celestial kaleidoscope of sidereal other worldliness, a world not only understood by the computers but that would work in concert with them, in the creation of intergalactic winds, urging the solar system into new development: the birth of new planets, planets populated by our machines, industrial planets which self-propagate and ship their products over an intergalactic rail system, all of which one scientist, who in my daydreams had the face and hands of Dr. Aslet, controls at one lonely interface. I began to elaborate upon this scenario in my daydreams, when I lay my head on my pillow and clutched and pulled the blankets around me in a tense bliss. When my mind gave out and I fell asleep, I would never encounter these dear visions. My sleeping dreams never ceased to irritate me and deviate my thoughts into senselessness. I would often dream of being enrolled in summer camp, enclosed in a mammoth, labyrinthine cabin built of decomposing wood that splintered, rotted, and broke at diagonals, exposing nails. I rolled through this building on a fast wheelchair in search of my young cousin, Geoffrey, who had contracted a rare disease ,which had developed into infantile dementia. And I would attempt to find a door to the outside where he was to be with a group of sick kids playing ninepins on the lawn, and I would be horribly nervous and fearful of reprimand from some unknown authority who I felt was watching over my shoulder the entire time. This dream visited me every night so that each morning, before I donned my suit and made my way to the black tower, I awoke unbalanced, nauseated, and with the sensation of being a slug or some other lower life form. I began to hate sleeping.

Then one day I received a letter from my mother who lived in the country. She wrote that my aunt was in a hospital in the city and requested that I visit her to encourage her recovery. When I entered her room she was eating her evening meal in darkness on an ingenious one-armed table on wheels, which created a small table over her bed. I interviewed a doctor about how I might acquire one of these for my own personal use, that I could afford such a table because I was well-off as an employee of IBM, etc. My aunt quietly observing - sweetheart. When the table was delivered to my apartment I assembled its parts and set my typewriter on top of it, and from here I typed my nightly daydreams before falling asleep, a practice which kept me awake longer into the night; I also took to setting a cup of black coffee on the table, and I began eating less food all in order to make myself restless. The first week I was able to stay awake until nearly 2 a.m. each night and my days at the office were filled with glee. I began to expand my daydreams into the workday as well, taking notes on practices which I could relate to our future colonization of the solar system. Our business would need to expand in many areas: agriculture, education, medicine, military, scholarship, masonry, trades of all kinds; more than I could even begin to consider. One Saturday night, deep in my plans, I became overwhelmed at the realization that the necessary computations were far too abstruse, and I decided to make use of a device I had fully ignored in the two years I had been employed at IBM: I watched television. A 15-year-old science fiction movie was playing, the sort of movie I ate up as a kid. But this time was different. I watched it with rapture, I saw glimpses of the future which seemed plain and palpable, able to be lived and possessed. I began staying up late every Saturday night to watch science fiction movies on the television, and I kept my suit on when I watched these movies to remind myself that I was not at leisure but at work, was still spiritually connected to the black tower. I brewed coffee in the electric percolator and drank it as I took notes on the films. I had never before given as much thought to IBM’s inevitable encounter with extraterrestrials, to the various circumstances of language, deportment, and their own indeterminable prejudices towards us, as one must not forget that we to them are equally unpredictable. In short, over the weeks of television-viewing my original frustration remained intact: the variables are infinite, impossible for the mind to compute, which requires one to return to the development of IBM’s mainframes, it was the black tower who had the gift and not me. I experienced a metamorphosis when Dr. Aslet, who oversaw my department and occasionally worked at the machine next to mine, informed me that for the past two years that I had been working at IBM, I was part of the development team for a project called Future Systems; he informed me that even he had no complete notion of what the Future Systems project was, but that it involved an entirely new architecture for our machines. At this moment I realized that I was not alone in my large estimation of IBM’s potential, that I was indeed involved in a project which might outstrip my own thoughts by unimaginable degrees. I came to suspect, and then finally to know, that IBM’s corporate hierarchy ended with alien intelligence; this revelation overjoyed me, and I began compiling all the notes I had been writing, unwittingly in harmony with the serene aliens which were my true equals, and late one Friday night after work I slipped this file under the door of Dr. Aslet’s private office. This was the last memory I have of the following week, in which I didn’t sleep one minute, after which I woke up under a tree far from the city, in a place far more beautiful than any I had ever dreamed of.

to read the conclusions visit 39


When we started our online magazine network, we had no idea just how prolific everyone

who joined would be. Every day the galleries grow, and hopefully people reach out and befriend one another. Join us, at


Leslie Hadden HEAD, Oil on canvas

(opposite page, to the right) Leslie Hadden EXCUSE ME, Oil on canvas (opposite page, to the right) Leslie Hadden UNTITLED, Oil on canvas

(above) Miles Masci BIRDING 2, photograph

(opposite page, left) Kirby Lane Taylor expedition 23, 36"x 36"inches oil and house paint on canvas, 2008


(opposite page, right) Kirby Lane Taylor untitled #4, 18"x24" inches oil paint and wax crayons on canvas, 2007

(above) Kristen Freeman Pie Contest Pencil on paper

(opposite page, left) Chris Jager Sawhet Own through the Peep-Hole, photograph

(Some of our favorite artwork posted to the mule network)

(opposite page, right) Miles Masci BIRDING, photograph


(right) Sarah Shebaro Last Summer, 24" x 24" monoprint, pencil, ink, and acrylic on paper, 2007 (left) Sarah Shebaro Samples, Loops, and Remixes digital photography and acrylic on paper, and album covers altered by scratching away the surface to the white of the paper, 2008 41

the clothing of frei designs Photographed by Thatiana Oliveira assisted by EMILY CLAYTON ∙ hair and makeup by COLLEEN O’SULLIVAN clothing worn by RACHEL WILLIAMS ∙ JENNIFER BUFFETT (left to right this page) SARAH MCKEMIE (reclining) ∙ ELIF TUZER (following spread) LIZ TAPP (final spread) frei designs is ANNIE NOVOTNY ∙








DAVID DANIELL BY GRAHAM STEPHENSON From folk music to swing, blues and rock and roll, the guitar is almost always present in American music. It may be the instrument that, more than any other, defines Americana, accompanying the passage of songs through generations and allowing every kind of people to put words to melody. It’s so common an instrument, yet still it is relatively uncommon to enter a club and see a single person on stage, guitar plugged in, without a microphone in front of their face. David Daniell occupies stages as a solo guitarist, but the instrument is just a means to an end in a career of experimentation and exploration of possibilities. Daniell has called Chicago home since 2006, but was previously based in New York and originates from Georgia, first performing in Atlanta. Growing up in the South shaped his approach: attending his grandparents’ Georgian Baptist church, being exposed to the blues and Appalachian folk music, and living in the general openness of the space and its slow way of life. But calling David a traditionalist would be impossible—historical and regional influences aside, he uses modern technology for good. He works on various computer programs for composition and treatments, and regularly extends his guitar with an arsenal of electronic devices. The first time I heard David was in an improvising trio at Heaven Gallery, with Tomas Korber of Switzerland matching Daniell on guitar and electronics, and Greg Davis performing on laptop. Any guitar notes were almost lost, concealed in a swirling mass of white noise and electronic tones. Not yet familiar with David, it was hard to say what to expect from him in a different setting. This has been the common factor in the three years since, as I’ve come across David performing in a handful of varying situations, all bearing his mark but varied and unpredictable. The common thread would have to be David’s guitar playing, which builds on itself, one part determining the next, following its own logic and gradually adding and subtracting elements. The guitar becomes an orchestra, an electric organ, or the siren of a passing barge. The attack of individual notes is often omitted by use of a volume pedal, with the ringing tones combined and layered in combination with melodic playing. The peak era of deconstruction may have come and gone; this music is all construction, like watching an architect build a model. Later, when it is taken apart, it seems to be done not for the joy of breaking things, but neatly disassembled and put away for next time. Exactly how these processes unfold, though, are probably a mystery to audiences as well as David himself.

Daniell’s first solo album, sem, is worlds away from the more raucous situations you can often find him in in Chicago. Consisting of manipulated field recordings, and presented unpretentiously (“Dixon Lake Road, July 31, 1999, 5:45 AM”), it is predominated by near-silence, with very small sounds occasionally intruding. Field recordings are often more like sound-effects libraries, but sem is a listening experience of its own sort. Some will find it demanding, others, relaxing—if they notice it’s playing at all. A recent quadrophonic performance/installation was held in New York. More often though, in a repurposed chapel, an art gallery, or a rock venue Daniell can be found weaving loops of playing into dense, vast pieces of sound. In performance at the Hideout, I watched him work with an eBow, magnetically resonating the strings of an acoustic guitar and using a pedal board to capture and repeat segments at his discretion. It was a spiraling and slowly evolving piece with the solid tonality of folk music employed within the sort of evolving progressions and self-evident processes used by classical minimalists. He uses the acoustic guitar for highly planned-out sets like this but more often plays electric, saying that it lends itself better to improvisation. In a performance I was able to catch at the Empty Bottle, electric was the name of the game, as Daniell played in duo with Doug McCombs of Tortoise on lap steel. Licks were traded back and forth, and a relaxed musical exchange grew into quite a powerful beast. A later show added the drummer Frank Rosaly, who extended the palette and dynamic and played mostly arrhythmically but occasionally brought the group into a pulse. This loose grouping, David says, is focused on a mutual construction of the music in real-time, while collaborations with other members of the Chicago jazz scene tend toward more moment-by-moment exchanges. Daniell and McCombs will soon release a duo CD on Thrill Jockey. It’s near impossible to get a full picture of the scope of David’s music, since he’s always up to something new: on tour with his primary ensemble, San Agustin (dating back to 1996), joining avant garde legends Loren Connors or Thurston Moore on stage, or quietly releasing albums on his label, Antiopic. When asked to name inspirational contemporaries, Daniell praises other guitarists including Jack Rose (known for his steelstring American ragas) and Alan Licht (who has released an album called The Evan Dando of Noise?). Devoted to his own equally eclectic pursuits, David Daniell should be considered their peer in delivering our most enduring instrument into the 21st century. n





interview by LIZ


Above: On the banks with Stevie Fielding, James sits at right.


Steve James started his career in the journalism department of James Madison University. It wasn't until his final year of undergraduate study, that James discovered his love for film in an English class. James explains that he proceeded to follow his then girlfriend, now wife, Judy to Southern Illinois University as she moved to seek her masters degree in psychology: “I thought ‘You know, it’s kind of a two for one—we didn’t have to break up, and I could go study film.’" As haphazard as James's recounting sounds, his path has been filled with marks that seem notably destined. In Carbondale, James not only developed the idea for his award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams, but also became a Big Brother to Stevie Fielding (who would later become one of his documentary's main subjects), made plans to move to Chicago, and was introduced to his future filmmaking family:

KARTEMQUIN FILMS. -----------------------------------------------------------------SJ: I knew Chicago would be a great place to pursue this one idea I had, which would become Hoop Dreams. Having grown up being really into sports, particularly basketball, with a lot of African American team mates in those years, I had a real curiosity about what it was about the game that was so important to them, that wasn’t the same for me. I had heard about Kartemquin because they have a festival down at SIU called the Big Muddy Film Festival. The very first year they had the festival, Jerry Blumenthal from Kartemquin came down, presented some of their work. I liked the films I saw and what they were about—so I had this notion it would be great to approach Kartemquin and see if they would be interested in this idea.

LT: Can you describe the difference in how you approach documentary as a longer format? SJ: People have called what Hoop Dreams is—and there are other examples of course—longitudinal documentary film making, spending long periods of time with subjects. One influential longitudinal

film is Harlan County, a classic film that takes place in the mining industry in West Virginia. It spends at least a year with folks in Harlan county, documenting the story of both sides of the strike. Also the Up Series, the Seven Up Series, 28 Up, 49 Up. That’s a different kind of longitudinal because they spend a very little bit of time with people every 7 years, but over the span of decades, literally capturing their lives. I think there was always something attractive about that notion of spending time with people. Hoop Dreams wasn’t conceived to be a longitudinal film, there didn’t seem much chance of a film maker fresh out of school pulling off anything so ambitious. It wasn’t ‘til we got underway that the notion of follow them over time became much more exciting. It just kind of grew organically. Stevie also started as a shorter film but grew to a much longer piece.

LT: When I was reading about Stevie, the gaps in time, it had been ten years since you’d been with him and then you spent four years in documenting him. It seemed strange to me how those fractions of times compare. How much can happen in ten years... SJ: Stevie went from being 14 to 24, which is a huge difference in a person’s life, physically and otherwise. That film started out to be a short portrait of him, sort of “here he is now, here’s how he was when I was his big brother,” based on recollections, some photos and primarily journal entries. I had kept a journal at the time, and there were quite a number of entries about him when I was his big brother. It started out as that, and it became this whole other thing when he was arrested.

LT: You had journal entries, so you were obviously noting something. But being his big brother, did you know what a huge part of your life and work he would turn out to be? SJ: I thought I was just doing volunteer work; it was something my wife had encouraged me to do. No, I didn’t anticipate it. If you look at my journal entries, I never once speculated about making a film about him, though I was in film school. I think once I say, “His story would make an interesting book.” But it was not something I intended to write. I never really saw it as anything but volunteer work I was doing, and I thought that when it was over it would be over. Of course leaving and loosing touch with him was something that gnawed at me so much. Every year at Christmas I would send his grandma a Christmas card and tell them what I was up to and send a little bit of money. I would always have a pang of guilt, that “this is not enough” . . . so instead I made a movie [laughs].

LT: Once you stepped back into it, where there times where you felt it was too heavy to have gotten back into?

SJ: I had misgivings, and I say that in the film. I went down there with a naive idea about who he was now, based on talking to him on the phone. I found that it was a much more desperate and tragic situation, even before he was arrested. I stepped back into his life and I realized that I couldn’t just easily extract myself. I couldn’t just walk out the door—I could, but I’d have felt even worse. One way to look at the film is that it became a way to be in his life, that worked for me, as a filmmaker. I like to think that with him getting in trouble, that even if I hadn’t been making the film, I would have tried to play a role, however bumbling and ineffective. But I think there’s no question—having this common purpose making the film and he being the subject gave a structure to our relationship—that has had ramifications ever since. He’s been in prison now since 1999 and we stopped filming in ‘99, so he’s coming up on ten years.

LT: Does he correspond with you at all? SJ: Oh yeah. We correspond. I visit him some, not nearly enough. I write him regularly enough . . . well, as far as I’m concerned. He loves records and is dying for people to write letters to. I’ve stayed in touch with him continuously over these ten years and it’s an interesting relationship to say the least.

LT: When I was watching the film, I saw how conscious your interactions would have to be, not only as a friend but also as a filmmaker. There was the scene with your wife, and I was struck by how meditative and counseling she was when she spoke with him. Even meeting him came from her suggestion. How much does her profession influence your own, or does that overlap or inspire your own work? SJ: I’ve always joked with Judy that I should have been a psychologist or something. I think I have always had a fascination with trying to understand what makes people tick. I think that most good documentary film makers have that curiosity about people different from themselves. You have to be willing to suspend judgment about people—you can’t be moralizing the people that you encounter, because that would prevent you from understanding. I think those are all qualities that Judy brings to the work she does. She has to. She works with people who are viewed as the most villainous of society. Who most would as soon see dead than walking the streets. She says in Stevie, they’re treated worse than murderers. Her job is to work with these men and try to help them find a path to their own redemption, a way to live in the world. There are a lot of people who would never consider working with that population. She really likes working with that population. It’s because she


On the set of At the Death House Door—Carroll Pickett on left, James far Right

can put herself in that position, try to see the world through their eyes. But also without letting them off the hook. She’s not an apologist. You see that in the film. The way she deals with Stevie, you see what she’s good at—she’s able to express her caring and understanding for him, but at the same time hold him accountable. She’s much better at it than I am. I have the same impulse and in the movie—it’s what the movie is about ultimately. I think the movie is a sympathetic portrait of how someone becomes Stevie Fielding. But I don’t think the film lets him off the hook. It doesn’t say it’s okay to do what he did, given what he went through. I think, in a way, the movie manages to do some of those things. I hadn’t really thought about this until now . . . what my wife accomplishes at work.

LT: I come away with a sense of being able to feel your instinct to do good, with whoever the subject is. I can see a sense of remorse if things aren't going positively or there’s a sense of strain in people’s families. SJ: I think that it’s important. In all the films that I’ve done, they’re sympathetic portraits of the main


subject. I’d like to think they’re not whitewashed— they’re complicated portraits, but their goal is to help you understand. Where they fail and why they fail, and in that sense, the film’s sympathies lie with the main subjects no matter who they are. And in the case of Stevie, who’s a much harder person for audiences to like than Arthur and William in Hoop Dreams, that’s part of what makes Stevie a more complicated film watching experience. People pull for the boys in Hoop Dreams. You’re pulling for them to succeed even when you face that they could get ground up by this business, this exploitative business of sports. With Stevie, people really battle their feelings. People have told me they’re conflicted by how emotional they feel— there’s a part of them that wants to send him to prison, but also they know him now, though, and feel sad for him and don’t think prison’s going to do anything for him. If you go to sites like IMDB or NetFlix, where people can leave comments, read through them. You will see the gamut: from people who view it as profoundly sympathetic in all the right ways to people who say, “I hate this film. I hate Steve James for making this film.”

It’s a film that elicited complicated responses. I’ll never forget one of the reviewers for the New York Post wrote—because Stevie came out at the beginning of the Iraq War—that “For people who are focused on the Taliban and Arabic extremists, there’s just as bad of a person here at home in Stevie Fielding. “ A friend of mine said that the movie’s like a Rorschach. That your view of humanity will dictate how you see it. I realize that’s self-serving because it’s like saying people who are more humane will like it and the people who aren’t will hate it. But I think there is some truth, in the sense that whatever your attitudes about people who have done bad things . . .

LT: When people recognize part of themselves in someone who’s done something bad . . . SJ: It’s the same thing with Pastor Pickett too. He’s a complicated guy, and I think what Peter [Gilbert] and I set out to try and do there is tell his story and try to get him to reveal himself as much as

If you see something that you think is relevant and important, you should get it now. he could. He’s a closed individual and it wasn’t easy to get him to reveal his feelings. He’s been through this journey from being for the death penalty to against the death penalty—that was the whole attraction to doing that film—to try and understand the journey he went on, in the physical sense obviously, but really in the psychological sense.

ther. In fact, he told us after making the film, that

gry at this inmate, and I thought by now he was

this film was the therapy he never got.

very sympathetic to all of them.” I think listening to the tapes we understood that it was not a

LT: It seems like his own private therapy had been his tapes. In his memoir did he address the impact of everything on his family?

straight line from pro-death penalty to anti-death

SJ: No, in the memoir he talks about the breakup

lated to him. If he was a nasty, hard-bitten crimi-

of his marriage, not at great length, and because

penalty. Depending on the inmate and how sympathetic a person he was affected how Pickett renal who had no sense of redemption or guilt, that made it hard for Pickett to relate and feel for

LT: The movie was so intense, I had an emotional hangover. You watch Pickett go from feeling he’s doing God’s work, to reclusivity, as if the pain of all that death were infectious. I couldn’t imagine a death penalty supporter, leaving the movie unaltered.

it was part of what shaped where his life went—

SJ: I think the hard part with a movie like that,

His kids don’t play a prominent part at all in the

explaining that, at a certain point, Cuevas said

and in general it’s hard with documentaries: get-

book. In fact, when we went to spend time with

to him, “I’ve been praying for forgiveness every

ting the people who could benefit the most from

them, we had no idea that they had not really

day since it happened.” Pickett finally felt like he

seeing it to see it. And with an issue like the death

talked about any of this. I think the film helped

saw the humanity in this guy. Then the guy got

penalty, because it’s so divisive, it’s hard to get

create an environment for them to talk about it.

on the gurney and said, “I’m innocent.” And it

people who are pro-death penalty to watch it. In

It was amazing to us that he had written a mem-

made Pickett feel so angry that it put him back in

a few situations, some people on the fence have

oir but they’d never had that conversation at the

touch with all those feelings of why he wanted

told us that it definitely did shake them up and

kitchen table. Ann, says, “Daddy, if I was raped

to see the guy die. He says in the movie, it took

made them really think about their position, and

and murdered would you want that guy to die?”

some real prodding to get him to say it, which

some told us that it changed it. If someone comes

They’d never had that discussion. They also nev-

was so evident on the audio tapes. He said, “I

to it in an open way, it’s a film that takes you—I

er knew about the tapes—which amazed us. Yes,

wanted to go over there and bash his head in.”

we knew they were private from the press, but

Then he says, “Oh I’m sorry,” he takes off his

we figured they must have known about them.

glasses, and goes, “That’s not very Christian;

think part of it is that we don’t condemn Pickett for being pro-death penalty. He has very compelling reasons for being pro-death penalty: his grandfather had been murdered, he was raised in a very strict disciplinarian household and he’d seen two

it was the possibility of impending divorce that caused him to quit the church and eventually work for the prison. In order to explain all that, he talked about his marriage being in trouble.

him. Whereas a guy like Carlos, he can feel for him. That’s why the Cuevas thing in the film is an important moment. Cuevas is the guy who was involved with the siege, and in the film Pickett is

I just wanted to see him die.”

LT: It seems your films all reveal how even in isolation people are affected by their family members.

That moment crystallized for us in a lot of ways the push and pull of emotion that one feels about

members of his congregations murdered in a

SJ: I had this sort of same insight at a certain

prison siege. He had compelling reasons to feel

this issue. He had every personal reason to want

point not that long ago—that most of the films

the way he felt. We tried not to diminish those.

to see this guy die (he'd lost two members of his

I’ve directed or been involved with are ultimately

But to show, through his experience, how he

church to the prison siege Cuevas was involved

about family. They start out being about people

came to see it in a different way.

in), but there was another part of him that just

who are facing significant obstacles or potential

wanted to have a reason to believe in this guy's

change in their life. In each of those, at the heart

essential humanity and be able to forgive him.

LT: How did you find Pickett and his story? SJ: We were introduced through the Chicago Tribune reporters. Kartemquin was approached to

of what they’re about, it really is about family.

LT: Was it different, with Death House Door, working in reverse, investigating the past ?

investigate the case of Carlos De Luna. But Carlos had been dead for 17 years, and that’s pretty

SJ: You’re right, the body of that film and the

daunting to think about centering a film around.

heart of that film is a story of the past. It’s a dif-

They mentioned Pickett in passing, saying he

ferent kind of story than one when you’re living

was kind of an interesting guy because he was

in the moment of someone’s life unfolding. As a

with 95 men, and “people don’t know this, but he

consequence, it was a different process. It was

told us that he recorded tapes after each one.” I

a lot of spending time with Pickett and talking

was like, “Really? You heard any of them?” Steve

about his life, and going over things over and

said, “We heard the one on Carlos.”

over. Each time trying to get a little deeper. There would be times when he’d be basically giving the

Immediately I thought, well that sounds like a

same answer he gave a month before or an hour

film we can make. And maybe what we do is we

before. I’d be like “I know this answer, I know

make a film about Pickett and Pickett brings us

this.“ You just wanted to get him past that. But

to Carlos.

then he’d do things like answer something and

Carroll Pickett was at a point in his life where he was ready to do this film and reveal the tapes, and go back through his life in that way. He’d

then the next day say, “I thought about that,” and he’d add something else to it. It had its frustrations, but it also had its rewards. It was this in-

LT: The theme of this issue is sharing. If you could talk to yourself or someone like you just coming out of school and take away some of the smoke and mirrors of documentary making, what would be your advice? SJ: If you see something that you think is relevant and important, you should get it now. It may seem like something that’s going to be there. A perfect example is in Hoop Dreams: Arthur and William go out to this suburban school and we didn’t film either of them freshman year in the school. It was going to require some bureaucratic hoop jumping, and so we didn’t. I remember thinking “They’re going to be here four years, what’s the difference.” Arthur ended up getting kicked out before we actually filmed him in the classroom. We were so frustrated. I’ve been burned on that since. You see something and you think, "Oh it’s easy I’ll get it next time or down the road," but

terestingly therapeutic process.

it goes away or it changes. And you wished you

it’s not as revealing as you want it to be. It comes

It was a slow process, one step forward and two

cially in a case like Arthur. To have images in that

out against the death penalty, which is a brave

steps back. Sometimes, at first when we listened

school that he then had to leave against his will,

step, but the film allowed him a chance to go fur-

to these tapes we’d think, “He sounds pretty an-

would have been powerful. n

written a memoir, and the memoir is great, but

had it. It sure would have been nice to have. Espe-





9am. Seriously, Harmony Korine. I worshipped this guy in college. He dignified the concept of the productive weirdo. Kids spoke to me through my haze of cynical ineffectuality as a work of great consequence, both for politicizing AIDS and illuminating that this brilliant ambitious nut job creator was my age. Young Oklahoma weirdos, like Tennessee weirdos or Ohio weirdos—itching to carve out the zeitgeist amidst a cultural famine identified. The creeps that did shitty drugs and hung around the plasma bank talkin’ Rilke and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 saw Gummo and suddenly got arty (and then I boyfriended them). In fact, I blame Korine for baking the template from which I measured all future romantic prospects. Did they realize the genius of Linda Manz? Could they tap dance and quote Fassbinder? Would they consider making a 40-minute three-screen collage featuring a boy burying his dog, kids in satanic dress tearing apart and vomiting on a Bible, a man in black-and-white minstrelsy make-up dancing and singing “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” and title it The Diary of Anne Frank Part II? A tall order. At any rate, I could free-associate nostalgic all day about his cinematic masterpieces, but the task at hand is understanding his latest literary compilation. Drag City recently published one elegantly packaged The Collected Fanzines Book & Limited Edition Box Set of Korine’s zines spanning from 1992 to 1999. I highly recommend picking this up. It has all the palpable character development of A Crack Up at the Race Riots, and the narrative arc seen in Pass the Bitch Chicken, but with all the "Aha!" moments to make it into Oprah’s Book of the Month Club. I woke him up when I called to ask him questions about it. Note: Since this interview was conducted, Korine and his wife Rachel have borne a child named Lefty, and John McCain, fortunately, was not elected 44th president of the United States. --------AC: Hi Harmony? Did I wake you up? HK: Hi Hi Hi. Oh!

AC: You grew up there? HK: Yeah, yeah yeah, I left after high school.

AC: What brought you back? HK: Well, it seemed like a good thing to do…like I visited, was visiting and I met a girl and married her, so it seemed like I should just stay here.

AC: I just saw that you are having a baby— congratulations. HK: Yes, thanks. Next month, I think.

AC: Do you know which kind of baby? HK: Nope, we’re still waiting.

AC: Neat. So, looks like the beginning of these zines start in 1992, was that the real beginning? HK: Yeah, I think the very very first one was probably my senior year of high school.

AC: So when did Mark Gonzales get involved? HK: I met Mark around 1993 and he was skateboarding through a park on a long board and both his knees were bleeding and he was carrying a suitcase full of paper, filled with drawings and things. Mark has always been like, from afar, one of my favorite people—one of my favorite skateboarders. So we became friends. So basically the whole thing started when we just used to hang out and just like make each other laugh. We would say “let’s try to write a book of jokes in six hours,” or at that time I was really interested in reference books, it was before the internet or anything. I was just really into books of lists, film reference books, joke books, books of rumors, just things like that I like the way that they were written and, um, some of it just started out like that. Just trying to emulate that kind of like, almost like, clinically funny style.

AC: This thing is full of lists. “Top Skinhead Music: Elton John, Tiny Tim, Tito Puente, Sacred Death . . .” HK: Yeah! Now it’s funny you see people with lists everywhere, like lists of 100 best songs or I don’t know, but I just thought it was like fun to—I mean, some of them are true, some of them are like true up to a point, and then others are completely fabricated. I also lose track of which ones are which.

AC: They are really funny, but I felt uncomfortable laughing sometimes. HK: Yeah, that’s good.

AC: Is this a good time?

AC: “Patty Duke, WTF/Fuck A War”?

HK: Uh, yes—I mean, I thought it was an hour from now.

HK: Yeah! That became another kind of game that we started—those kind of name poems.

AC: Oops, that’s not what I heard! Can I call you back?

AC: So lists which then evolved into what almost seems like OK! Magazine or Enquirer… where it seems to get sparse, what was going on there?

HK: Ooooh it doesn’t matter, I’m up. I’m up. Let’s do this! [small talk]

AC: So I just got this 178 page .pdf of the zine compilation. HK: Jeez

AC: And I was looking through it and, it’s really funny…but wait, how’s Nashville? HK: Nashville’s good, it’s nice.

HK: It seemed funny at that time in my life, I thought the funniest thing in the world would be just sitting on an airplane reading a magazine and reading an interview with Clint Eastwood or something, just in my mind imagining if actually it wasn’t Clint Eastwood giving that interview but it was like Ice-T. Do you know what I mean? Like it’s the same words—or Ol' Dirty Bastard was talking like Madeleine Albright. It seemed great to me so I used to play

those games in my mind of replacing things and imaging things and it was kind of like that. I mean we really just kind of made those for ourselves and there were a few tramps and it was my first apartment when I moved to New York and it was close to the bowery and we were living there with I guess it was a convalescent’s home for hunchbacks, and people with arched spinal cords and they used to just sit down on the sidewalk by my house just like—you know, they would almost look like human lampposts, and I always felt sorry for them because I never saw them smile. So Mark and I, we would make these things at like Kinko’s and hand them to these hunchbacks and they always seemed to get a kick out of it, and eventually, it seemed to be the only real way we would distribute these things. We would print up a hundred and we would have five a piece to a hunchback and they would sell them for like 50 cents or a dollar.

AC: Whoa. So you were actually doing a community service. HK: Yes [laughs] there was definitely therapeutic value in it.

AC: Nice distribution model. So it was pretty much for your own amusement though? HK: Yeah, and also there was never any thought that these would be in any way collectible or even thought about more than the day they were made. They were immediate and fun to make and also Aaron Rose would also print or give some away through the Alleged Gallery his gallery on Ludlow street and also ones that I did alone Andrea Rosen Gallery was putting out. The idea of putting this book together came from the fact that I didn’t have all of them and I didn’t know anyone that did and I started seeing them pop up every once in a while on eBay, it was like kind of ridiculously expensive, so I just thought it would be a good idea or a nice thing to put them together in the way of which they were made, which is very low-tech and cheap.

AC: It’s found a perfect little home with Drag City. HK: Yes, it seemed like a good fit.

AC: So there wasn’t an immediacy to this in terms of being invested in zine culture? HK: Nope, there was pretty much next to no thought. I was kind of just copying what was in my mind at the time.

AC: Later on it gets into these more developed character sketches that you are doing that seem to fall in line with what emerges in your films—were these kind of early character babies developing? HK: Yeah, I think it was because it was all during that period, that time. So a lot of it was just about these half-thoughts and fragments and like moments where you would like just look out my window and see some woman with boxing gloves beating up her husband and that was enough—just to write that was enough. It became its own thing, kind of collecting like series of events and then some of them—I mean, I bet there is even things in there that—lines, or sentences, or characters, that would end up in the movies. 55

AC: So would you then go back and look at this stuff and pull from it? HK: Sure, well, I don’t know if it was even that conscious—it was more just some of the things could have even been notes from films or ideas that I had just been living with for awhile or could just be as simple as a line of dialogue.

AC: What are you working on now? HK: I’ve just been trying to write my next movie before the baby gets born. I’m pretty close to finishing the first draft of the new script.

AC: Can you tell me anything about it? HK: No way, I haven’t told anyone about it—even my wife doesn’t know about it. But I think it should be pretty wild and I think well, I can’t say too much about it—and so yeah I’ve just been doing that and taking a lot of photographs and going to the shooting range by my house to blow shit up.

AC: You don’t say? I think returning to a small town, if you grew up in a smaller more rural place—it is really important to keep going back, to remember the ideas you had before the Internet, when it was just your brain and your boredom or your brain and your drugs or whatever combination made you come up with the most outlandish shit.


HK: Yeah, it’s really easy to dig yourself in a rut these days, just sitting behind your computer all day, and not blow up enough shit. You gotta let loose on occasion.

AC: Are there a lot of shooting ranges there? HK: Yeah, I actually went with that guy that does my teeth—my dentist—he’s been my dentist for long time and he is a real gun enthusiast, and we went to the shooting range by our house and it’s like a low-budget shooting range “Gun City” and he got a piece of shrapnel lodged in his cheek during one of the, uh, things.

AC: Oh my god! Don’t you have to wear some face protection? HK: Well, it didn’t protect him. I heard somebody a couple of years ago threw a grenade in the shooting range!

AC: Jesus. Can anyone walk out there with, like, a sub-machine gun? Like R. Kelly? HK: I have never seen that kind, but I can’t imagine anyone would discourage that—it seems pretty free-form. Like, if you brought a rocket launcher, you might get reprimanded, but other than that it seems pretty mellow.

AC: Nashville! Not like the movie then… HK: Nope. Now it’s like a lot of dilettantes, but the

dilettantes here—there is still something interesting about them.

AC: How did you meet your wife? HK: When I met her she was waitressing and just getting out of high school, but she was not an actress—just living here in Nashville. So I met her at a friend’s house, a mutual friend. Someone told me about her, “There is this girl—this really beautiful girl,” and so I met her and was wowed.

AC: And you said “Will you be in my movie?” HK: Kinda like that, and I think she was repulsed, and she had this friend who is kind of like a legendary character here who had a sloth, and he drinks beer with his sloth, and it’s an alcoholic, and so this guy told me about her, and so I met her at his house and we watched the sloth get drunk and I tried to seduce her and she wasn’t having it.

AC: Sounds beautiful. HK: I wore her down eventually.

AC: Is she going to be in other movies of yours? HK: Yeah, I want to put her in other things for sure.

AC: So, your thoughts on the Wall Street wipeout? HK: It’s frightening. It seems like we are in for it. All the signs are pointing to that. It’s not such a big

surprise, it’s something we’ll just see what happens. Hopefully we’ll have a new president and there will be kind of a new psychic release.

AC: Either way for sure. HK: Either way for sure, it will either be bright or grimacing. I am hopeful, but it still seems pretty crazy right now. There seems like there is something in the air. Rachel and I were at the debate in Nashville, it’s just at the end of our street so we were actually there. We were in the audience— sitting close to Al Gore and Eddie George. I guess we were like a row or two in front of Mitt Romney and the waft from his cologne was so intense that like I honestly thought that like I might pass out! Remember in that show Quincy or something people were constantly passing out by putting a rag or that bottle under your nostril? Well that’s what Mitt Romney’s cologne was like. It was insane. I had never smelt anything like it, like a mix of melted car and like pure grain alcohol. So Rachel and I would be trying to watch and our eyes would be blurring.

AC: Sounds harmful to your unborn child. HK: Totally! Mitt Romney­—maybe he’s not even human, he’s putting off such a scent.

AC: That was an especially disorienting debate, because the whole Town Hall style did not lend itself to grace on behalf of John McCain. I felt so uncomfortable watching him bob around, so awkward.

HK: McCain seemed like the Crypt Keeper! “Myyyyy Frrrrrrriieeends!” “Grrrrrrrrrr!” He was like a character out of Dr. Strangelove, ARRRRGGGGGHHH. And also it was so uncomfortable because when you’re there, you can see all this extra stuff—he couldn’t technically sit on the chair, so he couldn’t get comfortable and like half his body was like contorted.

AC: The fog of war. HK: It’s not comfortable to watch. After it was done, and the cameras were off, we noticed that he didn’t shake Obama’s hand—but I swear to you he must’ve scratched his balls 30 to 40 times on the way out. It was insane! It was if he had the worst testicle rash in history. He would like, you know when like a little kid plays with his pecker? Like just yanks on it? That’s what it was like with McCain on the way out. He wasn’t shaking any hands, his wife was shaking hands, but he was just going off on his nuts. It was like he was playing an instrument with his balls. Yeah, so, that happened. And there were a few people talking about that, because they make you take a bus back and there were these ultra-fat conservatives talking amongst themselves saying “what was up with the McCain ball scratching?” It was a historic event. Some behind the scenes shit.

HK: I think they pulled everyone from Weight Watchers because there were also like, before you go in there was a snack bar, and the whole audience you saw on TV was just eating these huge pieces of chicken, and I just kept thinking “Oh god, this is what it’s about now I guess.”

AC: It definitely painted a rosy picture of the Nashville demographic. HK: They just got all these chicken-eaters in this room, and gravy-lickers and I don’t know.

AC: Yeah, I don’t know either. Well, thanks for chatting it up and congratulations on procreation. HK: My pleasure.

--------Harmony Korine’s The Collected Fanzines is available from Drag City. DRAGCITY.COM

AC: And what was up with all the bald white guys in the audience?



Arrington de dionyso Arrington de Dionyso, front man for Old Time Relijun not only has a new solo release, but he's made the cover art for it too. allegorical and primitive, dionyso’s work shows men morphing into birds and other primordial man/woman/animal spirit-shifts. if you like what you see, go to for more.


GREGORYEUCLIDE Gregory Euclide makes objects that explore how he experiences land. euclide’s recent work shown here and featured on this issue’s cover, is “a mixture of landscape images painted on paper, which have been shaped into three-dimensional sculptures that protrude from the wall.” Viscerally tactile, even two-dimensional photographs of the work beg to be touched. see for more.

ABOVE—Scoring a chorus in the crests that could not be owned—30" x 25" x 8"


acrylic, bubble wrap, foam, milkweed, pencil, pinecone, plastic, resin, satin ribbon, styrofoam, wax, wood

Your work is landscape, but in an entirely new format. Can you speak to your relationship with landscape, and its subversion/celebration in these pieces? What is your work seeking? A more accurate depiction of how I experience land. A reflection of our times.

What time of day do you find best to work? I used to be an owl. Now, I am more of a canyon bird . . . I have to wait for canyon walls to warm up before I can discover the airfoils.

What’s your advice to someone newly trying to make art? Do it all the time, learn what others are doing, and determine who your audience is.

Is there a particular location where you find your ideas? I enjoy going to places that are not familiar. There is a certain amount of exploring that can be done just about anywhere. Whether it be a motel room or a plot of land, there is usually something interesting happening. There is no specific location that these works are made from. They are a composite of memories and experiences in the land. Visiting new locations sometimes reinforces certain ideas and sometimes it brings about something new in the work.

For our sharing issue, do you have a secret recipe for goodness that you would suggest others try? One’s practice is developed over time. It is a relationship. Something works for you and you do it more. I find that music is a very important part of my work, but as I become more object-based there is less and less that is spontaneous about the work and the music plays less of a role then. I don’t adhere to a rigid notion of what I “should” be doing, I experiment and it all informs the work. I may do something in the studio for a week and not use it for six months. I might come back to it and recontextualize it—find out that it is a useful way to approach an issue. RIGHT—Walking gave unraveling a plane to spill—21.5" x 23.5" x 10" acrylic, foam, organic matter, paper, pencil, photo transfer, plastic, satin ribbon, wood LEFT—Struggling swept canyon’s focus toward tangents—30 "x 26" x 8" acrylic, pencil, pen, bubble wrap, foam, waxed thread, leaves, photo transfer, on paper

I was raised in the country, and I think that has a big effect on people and how they view land. We were surrounded by farms and forests and fields. I was free to walk in any direction without much of a notion of property. I had daily experiences in the land, either making forts in the woods or sitting in tall trees, silently observing the lakes from above. I was always interested in the land for the sheer complexity of it. I was able to witness the unfolding of systems upon the land—the action/reaction dynamic that takes place between forces.

Your work often begins in two-dimensions before finding itself molded into three It is the depiction of landscape becoming land. It is representation becoming actual. Flat work asks the viewer to project themselves into the work using their mind. Relief work invites the body to move around the object—invites the body to learn and have a relationship more fully. It first happened when I was interested in capturing some of the paint that I was spraying off the work. I work very wet and use a spray bottle to wash away drawn areas. I build up the works over and over again, the whole time spraying them as I go. I made tears in the paper and folded the works up onto themselves to capture some of the paint. I noticed that the pools of paint in the folds looked like actual lakes and rivers. It was conceptually interesting to me that these pools were made of representational imagery that had been sprayed away—and now it was becoming something actual. (I would use paint to create the likeness of a lake and trees and spray it away . . . and what was left in the folds of paper was something that actually resembled a lake and topography). This is what initially started me on the path to working in relief—that tension between representation and something more actual.

Are you purposefully littering within your own artwork with the plastic material you’ve integrate? Litter is a fact of the modern landscape just as much as the tree. I have been to the most remote places and found a plastic bottle there. In fact it would almost be impossible to escape this material. Either it is placed there directly by someone or it is carried there by nature. Litter can be viewed as a seed of consumerism. Just as a fruit is the carrier of a plant’s hopes to proliferate and thrive, the plastic bottle is the same. It reveals how successfully the throw-away mindset has spread. It is interesting if you think of humans as the fruit, the nourishment for such seeds. n



Earlier this year, in the depths of winter, we happened upon the work of Nico Camargo. Nico had loaded his details of maps and overlaid transit-like systems onto our online magazine network, Though they are blueprints in a way, Camargo's work has a vivacity far from mechanical. Having never encountered his work before, we couldn’t help but get in touch . . . Nico, can you tell us a little bit about you, your background, where you’re from, and how you got started making art . . .

Your work reflects a lot of map-making and circuit-like imagery. What do those things mean to you? These aesthetic features really began showing up in high school, maybe even earlier. They

I’m a Chicagoan from the North Side, but was born in Bogotá,

come from a fascination I’ve always had with large constructions that push the limits of

Colombia. I’ve been here for what I consider the most important

engineering, and with cars, trains, and planes that push to the limits of physics.

portion of my formative life. My artistic inclination began as soon as I could hold objects in my hands. My dad owned an antique store and a contemporary art gallery, and my mom was an art restorer. At my grandmother’s house, art was all around from inherited and other objects my dad collected.

What is your art striving for? As an artist, I’m striving for others to take away part of my personal experience with them—through what I say in my work. In my pieces, I form conclusions, ask questions and develop ideas based on piled-on knowledge. Pretty much everything I invent deals with sociology, urban planning, ecology and history—among many other subjects I’m interested in. For others to grasp even a sliver of what I personally touch upon in my work, is satisfying to me. That’s what I strive for.

Growing up, I started, as best as I could then, drafting blueprints of buildings and designing super vehicles of all kinds. Dream homes, skyscrapers in the middle of forested city centers, bullet-speed trucks, spaceship . . . I was like any other kid with a big imagination, but I was dedicated to drawing. Even when I was unhappy or gloomy, making things was therapeutic. When feeling down, I often drifted more into abstraction. Effortlessly—almost impulsively—I drew very basic lines and shapes that looked like ones and zeros, or even tribal marks. They were, and still are, places of my imagination where I escape when I’m holding a pencil and reflect, complain, or idealize on the picture plane. If I were to psychoanalyze the reason why I keep coming back to aerial landscapes that look like circuits and maps, I’d say it is because I have obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I’m a control freak and I suffer from “the nonconformist's dilemma”—thinking I can change the world single-handedly. Frankly, I just love looking at maps. I also need to keep up with new engineering and technological marvels. Science is like my religion and astro-quantum/basic physics show me the deities I have faith in—in the shape of observations, theories, formulas, and constants—so astounding, sometimes I can’t wrap my mind around them.

I’m motivated to contribute to the quest of improving life

In my work, particularly in the series Plans, there is the optimistic thought of being able

and the world we live in—through smart planning and careful

to organize the whole world effectively, efficiently—each and every thing fulfilling a

development, by respecting and valuing nature, and most

crucial role in society in a healthy, natural way.

importantly by educating everyone to become better world citizens. My art is not yet quite doing all of this, but I’m pushing my body of work in hopes of reaching that goal some day.

Do maps mean something different to us now than they did 30 years ago? 100 years ago? I don’t think so. We just have more complex things to map. And cool ways to map things. n


Full Image (left) and detail (above) Drawing Installation 2 from the series Maps, 2009. Colored pencils on board, 4.5’ x 15’ 62

Top Map 2, 2004. Acrylic on canvas, 59"X 76" Bottom Cloud, 2005. Ink on paper towels and other materials, Aprox 6.5' x 10' x 11'



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