Hey Déjà! Hey! How are you? Right now, I feel great! What’s new in your world? Working on new music, new management and new ideas! At what age did you start singing? I was about four years old. When was it that you decided that singing was what you wanted to do with your life? Singing, more or less, chose me. It has always been in me. I don’t remember beginning to love it—I think I always just did. Has much changed since then? Nope. I still love music the same, if not more so now. How would you define your style as a singer? It’s really just my sassy personality in poetic form with simple messages that I feel should be heard. What separates you from the competition? Well, credit is to be given, not taken. So that’s a question you’ll have to ask my listeners. I do, however, feel that every artist is unique and special in his or her own way. Who is your biggest supporter? Other than my mom, my biggest supporter is a woman I love—her name is Tracie—she rides with me until the wheels fall off! …Biggest fan? I’d have to say a guy named Maurice—he comes to almost every show, supports every record, gives me his honest opinion and encourages me—he’s very dope! How does your positive outlook on life shine through in your music? I’ve always wanted to be a beacon of light in my music. It’s sort of a rubric I follow to make sure there’s a
positive message in the music— that’s more important than anything else to me. When faced with adversity, how do you fight back? I’ve learned that I don’t have to fight back. In the end, if I’m supposed to be here, that will speak for itself. As far as the haters go, I just hope they have a good time. Other than that, I just try to stay positive and work hard for love of the art, if nothing else. Of all the songs you’ve written and performed, which is your favorite? I have a new song on the upcoming album called “Just A Woman”. Right now, it’s my favorite composition because it’s my most emotional song—I didn’t hold back how I was feeling at all. The harmonies and background vocals are also my favorite because they’re so full of depth and emotion. Could you explain to us the feeling you get on stage doing your thing? I feel light, like I’m floating. For that moment I can feel everyone’s energy and give it back through song. It’s the best feeling ever to be appreciated by a room full of people who are sharing their energy in exchange for yours. On your new track “Move Along” are you speaking on someone in specific? Yes and no. The song applies to people in my life, but overall it’s the general ideal that no matter what, you can’t stop. You have to leave the past behind and keep moving forward—the only direction to go! How do you gather inspiration for a new track? I work in cycles. I have a creative cycle, a work cycle and an enjoy life and do nothing musical cycle. I get the most inspiration in the “do
nothing musical cycle,” because I’m not looking for anything specific. I’m also heavily inspired by live shows, sports and rap music. Not to mention my friends & family, romantic relationships and all of my vacations. Could you take us through your creative process? Yes! Most of my ideas come spur of the moment in the form of a melody I can’t forget. More often than not, these moments come to me when I’m driving alone or in my bed relaxing. I immediately record it either on my phone or in the studio. I start all songs with a freestyle of oohs & aahs. From these oohs & aahs, I start developing the melodies and the overall feel of the song. Once I have the feeling, I record scratch vocals that sometimes are gibberish lyrics. Like I said, it starts with the feeling. From there, I start with big vocals and once I have somewhat of a form, I write the correct lyrics and re-record everything. What can we expect from your newest album Revolution? It’s all live rock, soul and R&B. Expect it to be diverse and to showcase a wider variety of sounds and styles. I can’t wait to present this album to people—it’s something I really believe in and love. When can we expect your next album? It’s set to be out by the end of this year. We’re just about done with it! Who are you currently bumping on your iPod? I’m a diehard Jay-Z fan, so I’ve def been listening to him. Lately though, I’ve been breathing Fabolous’ album The Soul Tap, Big K.R.I.T.’s album Return Of 4ever, Jennifer Hudson’s song “Angel” and Beyoncé’s new single with André 3000, “Party.”
Do you ever sit and think about your future and what it may look like? All day, everyday. I’m very anxious and excited to see what will shape up in the next year. I have a hunch that it’s going to be amazing! What matters most to you? Lately, I’d have to say friendship, peace, clarity, honesty, fashion, fun and good music! Are you doing what you love? I definitely am. I enjoy every bit of what I do. Are you happy? I’m very happy! What’s next? We’re about to launch “Move Along” on a nationwide level and see what happens from there! Also, I have some new music we’ll be releasing soon! We’ve also been working on a new stage show that I’m looking forward to presenting as well! Thank you very much Miss Déjà, do you have any shout-outs? Thank you!!! Yes!! I wanna shout-out my mom aka LT, Tracie Smith, Masterpieces, PYT Films, Urban Renaissance Accessories, Matthew Day (my choreographer), Rozalynn & Tia (my amazing dancers), Designing Eye (my web designer), Lish Muhammed, Nechelle Turner & Tiffany Hollister (Glam Squad), RKD Music, Keith Douglass, John Costen, Maurice Sapp and UNDR RPBLC MGZN for the love! God bless.
The man, the myth, the Änkłes! What’s happening player? Hey UR! Been pretty busy lately closing old doors and opening new ones. Besides recently quitting my depressing job in graphic design, I just moved into my new studio and house to start afresh. I’m well chuffed about this place though! The front is an old shop-front from the 1880s and turned into a studio with concrete floors, big glass frontage and plenty of character. At the back is a good-sized house to separate work from play. Great location from the city, and right across the street is a great pub. How about that, eh? Where are you from? Originally from Sydney. Where are you now? Adelaide, South Australia. Where are you going? I’ve got my eyes on the West Coast. I’m blessed with triple citizenship, including the States, so the world’s my oyster when it comes to work and travel. Why the name Änkłes, what’s up with that? When I was a kid we all had to come up with nicknames—I found Anklepants hilarious, I’ve held onto it ever since. There’s no inherent meaning to it, but like all monikers it creates meaning for itself. What else do you write? I’ve always stuck to Änkłes as a signature, but I love using phrases at the centre of the work. Sort of like freight train monikers mix it up with original quotes next to every
tag—love it. What’s your background with graffiti? I started doing the standard street art thing in ‘05, making stencils and paste-ups. I really found my own feet when I began experimenting with different materials and techniques. Switching it up across different pieces using wood, metal, masking tape or adhesive vinyl has set me apart from all lot of the other street art that’s out there. But I love graffiti too, and I try to place my work somewhere between the two. Street art vs. graffiti… Go! They’re two sides of the same coin—plenty of differences to nit-pick at, but there’s so much going on in both of them. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a mutual appreciation? Help us out with the feeling you get seeing a piece run for months… Reminds me I’ve gotta be doing new stuff! [laughs] You know that cringe feeling you get when you see something old you’ve done and all the things you’d change if you could re-do it! Always move forward. What effect do you see street art as having on society as a whole? I appreciate that our work can brighten up cities and completely cheer someone up when they’re having shit day. It just pisses me off to see street art constantly being sold as this hip/cool thing, like some kind of lifestyle commodity—when it’s supposed
to be all about rebelling against that shit. Graffiti has always battled with exposing itself to the public, but any kind of art communicates much more powerfully when it’s speaking to a tight audience. Have you always been a creative person? Yeah, of course. I started off building crazy cities out of Lego when I was tiny, now I try and do the same with graffiti. I get all my inspiration from my environment— I’m massively sensitive to the objects and colours and rhythms around me and making street art is about collaborating with my source of inspiration. How often do you go out? Haven’t kept up the momentum lately. I cook up some tags and stickers fresh daily, but only get around to a proper mission once a week. Would you care to announce a best bombing bud? I’d have to say some of my wildest nights were spent decorating rooftops with my mate, Depart. Have you gone to art school? I finally graduated last year after studying Graphic Design, and before that I did a bit of Architecture—all really helpful stuff and hugely encouraging for creating original work and meeting good people. What are you trying to achieve with your work? Big question, so the short answer: It’s about the city and me. If no one was around and I’d still be
doing the same stuff. What brought about the Licio pieces? That paste-up was part of a series of illustrated pieces I did, each a tribute to the different graffiti writers in my city. Specifically, they were a tribute to the names that writers scrawl all over the city, sometimes without too much focus on the words meaning. My paste-ups took the name of a writer and illustrated what I thought they should look like. So my tribute to the local roller-king Licio materialized in the likeness of Licio Giorgieri, an actual Italian mobster, high-level banker and allaround shady-character from the early 20th Century. Lougle the shit out of it and learn something new. Happiness is… Freedom to live your own reality. Money is… Just paper. Art is… One of the biggest pranks we’ve pulled on ourselves. Rollers rock! Am I right or am I right? Spot on! It’s such a fun medium because you’re forced to go big and relatively simple. My man Smiles and I have recently kicked off the Rawhide Crew exclusively for roller missions. Whenever we head out with the extension poles we start singing “Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’—Rawhide!” Look out for more cowboy-themed roller graffiti near you! Photo link: www.flickr.com/photos/juliewhittle/5872014235
Do you get down with the broad daylight boogie? Depends what I’m doing, but wheatpastes are super safe in the daylight, especially on a weekend. And slaps, of course. Then there’s the installations, like fake shopfronts and street-signs are always done in the afternoon sun, dressed up in overalls and complimented with the staunchest look possible. Are you doing what you love? Definitely, but like most people I’ve always got my mind on the next project, so it’s hard to be completely content. At the moment I’ve got a fresh plate and everything is lined up to release some original work, so keep an eye out. What’s next? Aiming for my debut solo show by the end of the year. Bringing old-style typography to the front and centre with light boxes and woodcut letters. Back outdoors, I’ve been returning to papercollage paste-ups made from this box of ‘50s magazines I found in the trash. Keep an eye on the Flickr for new work… Thank you very much Signor Änkłes, do you have any shoutouts? Magazine Gallery, Smiles, Gary Philips, Enjoy Tasty Treats and Above. And UNDR RPBLC! Cheers for throwing me some great Q’s. Pce, Ä
What up Layne!? God is what’s up. It feels good to be sitting down having this interview with UNDR RPBLC MGZN. How’s life in the fast Layne? It’s a thrill ride… I would say there are a lot of ups and downs that I encounter, just like everyone else. I’m just trying to avoid the curves though—I can’t let anyone or anything slow me down. Where are you these days? Everywhere. Booked doing shows, interviews, photo/video shoots, as well as being cooped up in the studio. Hard work pays off, so I put in overtime. I just did a show in Florida alongside Ace Hood for DJ Christion’s (Fat Joe/Terror Squad’s Tour DJ) Birthday Bash and the club reached capacity. It was a sold out event and I loved every second of it. I also just headlined a show in Nashville called “Birth of The Originals Jam Fest” on July 13th. All the proceeds from that show went to three year old Natalia Smith who is battling Wilms’ Tumor (stage V cancer). Hailing originally from Memphis, how has the town helped to shape your sound? The soulful recordings of mine that you hear are me going back to my southern roots. I was born in Memphis, but raised in Brooklyn and Germany for the majority of my childhood. So with my songs you will receive diverse concepts, not just one generic sound. Your new album Hate Is The New Love is about to drop, what should we expect there? I actually pulled the plug on r eleasing the album—I will not settle for anything less than perfect. I’m the artist and at the end of the
day it’s my name stamped on the front cover and I want to make sure the product is well rounded for the fans. On the Hate Is The New Love album you will hear all of the personal, touchy subject matter and feel good joints on there. You will enjoy the album that’s for sure. It will be something that you can vibe to and remember what “hip-hop” feels like. Why did you choose Hate Is The New Love as the title? The title is self-explanatory. I’m not trying to be sarcastic or anything, but if you do not have any haters that means you’re doing something wrong. You need haters in your life to keep the momentum going. We all have friends who turned enemies and enemies who turned friends and there will be records that display that message in full detail. The word hate has so much meaning to it—you can even have family members hate you, but still have “love” for you because you’re family. How’s the label situation? My situation with Island/Def Jam Recordings is a blessing. I chose to digitally distribute the album through the label, so when it releases the fans don’t have to worry about leaving their house to buy the album. They can just go right on iTunes to purchase it that way and add it to their iPod playlists. Believe it or not, sooner or later CDs will no longer be in existence—we must stay relevant as artists. What doors have opened up for you with your success? Let’s just say this, all the doors that closed on me before have finally opened. I would say that’s a good thing and a bad thing because the more doors that open for you the
more negativity that seems to flow in your direction. I’ve been blessed to be the face of top clothing lines in the US and overseas and had major support from fans and the industry. Have you sacrificed creative control in regards? Absolutely not, I have creative control in all of my projects. I’m the type of artist who will voice my opinion, because if you never say anything, your voice will never be heard. Has the business side of things changed “hip-hop” for you? Yes. When it comes down to the ins and outs of the industry, you have to be on both sides of the fence. Everything is business when it comes to the industry—never personal. So before you sign on that dotted line, make sure you know the business side in it’s entirety. If all else fails, always have a backup plan. What’s up with you on the photography tip? My photography company “Vroom! Photography” has been sponsoring various events. Sometimes you might even see me at the events, but I’m rarely with my camera/photography equipment. I’ve been busy working on this album, so I haven’t been out there in the field as much. I am, however, hiring upcoming photographers to be under the umbrella. Have you had your camera by your side documenting your travels? When it comes to shows or photo/ video shoots, yes I have—you never know when you will need that footage for a documentary. What else have you been working on? I’ve been working on being the best father I can be for my sons Xavier
and Jaydon and preparing to be the best husband for my fiancée Jennifer. What’s one thing about Layne that we might not know that you would like us to… I’m actually the graphic designer behind all of my single artwork for the album. When did you first realize the power you held through creation? I realized I had power through my music when I released my record The Letter. The message behind the record was to reach out to the families and friends of suicide victims and to speak on the matter at hand. The individual I spoke upon on the record was a close friend of mine and I really let my emotions take the best of me. The record was released too early after her death and the family was still in mourning. So the mother and father of the individual, as well as some cousins reached out to ask me to remove the record from all media outlets, which I did. That record, to this day, is one of my favorite records. What do you hope to achieve through your music and art? I hope to reach the listeners who have previously not given my music a chance. All it takes is that one record that can change their whole outlook on my music. Hopefully then they become a fan of my music. Has success changed you? No it has not and never will. I will keep God first and stay humble in the process. What would say, if anything, has pushed you to go this far? My sons have given me the strength to keep pushing in this oversaturated music industry. The new sites looking sharp, are you
planning any new features there? Thank you. The site is updated daily, but I will be re-launching a new design momentarily. What do you feel that hip-hop is missing? Originality. There are too many artists in the game who sound similar to each other. Of course when you first come out, people will compare you to someone else because they might be unfamiliar with your sound, but that’s why you must pave your own lane. And whoever rides with you, rides with you and whoever doesn’t can move on with their lives. Are you happy? I am blessed—therefore I am very happy. Are you doing what you love? Absolutely. What are you doing all this for? My sons and myself. I set a goal for myself when I was five to become a household name and my goal has not been met yet, so I’m still shooting for the stars. What’s next? Only God knows. Thank you very much Layne, do you have any shout-outs? God, my sons, mi amor Jennifer and all of my family and supporters who’ve been down with me since day one—I love you all. -@LayneHarper
What’s good JKB!? Life is good. How’s Melbourne treating you? Really well, I have been living here for four years now, so it is like a second home. What does JKB stand for? My name is Jonathan Kris Burton Fletcher, but that is a bit of a mouthful, so everyone calls me Fletch or JKB (Jakub). What’s up with the Superheroes? I’m a fan of their underlying roll— once you strip their entertainment value away, your left with something worth listening to and living up to. Most people have a favorite superhero or two and their usually extremely picky about it. They have a way of striking some personal cords with people and that interests me. Are you a Superhero? I’m still looking for that special vat of toxic waste or radioactive experiment, so I’ll keep you posted. Who is your favorite super hero and why? I have three: Superman, Dr. Manhattan and Spiderman. I try not to let my personal favorites influence my work. The heroes are just tools that represent the idea of improvement or idealism (in very loose terms). There have been a couple of times in the Hero Face project where the hero was relevant to the individual I painted it on, but it doesn’t happen often. How well did your Hero Face installation work go over? The projects on the streets of Melbourne don’t last long… I have had written warnings from property owners telling me to stop paint-
ing over their posters. The small framed works last between a few hours to a few weeks. One particular piece of work put up at a Ralph Lauren store is still there months later. I’m not sure if they decided to keep it or they just thought it was part of the decor. What was the most rewarding aspect of the Hero Face campaign? I felt like I was participating, as opposed to being a voyeur. It is an opportunity to interact with my surroundings and the community. Why paint flesh? The main reasons are because flesh is beautiful, sensual and intimate. It is a good way to paint something recognisable and leave it ambiguous at the same time. How often do you think about sex? Apparently, every six seconds—or so I’ve heard. Has your work offended folks? Yes. When I was at University, I did some work on the relationship between plastic surgery, pornography and car design. One day, I went into my studio and one of my framed works was on the floor smashed to pieces. I saw firsthand how powerful artwork could be— and how angry rampant feminist students can be. What would you like your audience to walk away feeling after having viewed a collection of yours? I am not really fussed about what they think, as long as it makes them think. I am not trying to make a statement—so much as I am asking questions. Have you found the results to coincide with your intentions?
Every time I speak to somebody about my work they give me another idea of what they think it is about. The point is not to tell somebody how to think, so I guess that is a yes. So… First it’s the photo, then the selection, then on to the painting? It starts with a few rough preliminary sketches, find a model, paint the models face or body parts, take a few hundred photos, choose one or two photos that I like and then paint from the photograph. I spend anywhere between eighty to a hundred hours on a painting. How long have you been painting? I have been using oil paints for over ten years now. As long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed painting. I didn’t start painting what you would consider “fine art” until I was fresh in University at nineteen years old. …Photographing? I did a black & white photography course at College, which taught me the basic rules of photography. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but I have always enjoyed it. These days it mostly comes in useful as a tool to hold a pose. Do you have any formal training? I studied for five years at a College in Redditch, England, doing Art and Design courses, which led me onto a “Fine Art: Drawing and Painting” Bachelor degree at Duncan of Jordanstone University in Scotland. What about photorealism do you find to be the most appealing? The way people approach it differently—it is probably the only
painting you approach as an “image” before it is a “painting”. You can look at it like it’s a photograph or the image itself and then subconsciously judge it on those terms—after a few moments you realize it is a painting and it falls under a different category. You then judge it on the terms that it is a painting and start to realize the talent, the brush strokes and see the hand of the artist. With most paintings you do it the other way around, you see it as a painting first and then as an image. How are you at keeping secrets? Rubbish!! My girlfriend tells me I am the worst liar on the planet. What do you do to help blow off some steam? Go to the gym, I quite enjoy throwing weights around. Are you doing what you love? Absolutely. Are you happy? Yes. What’s next? The Hero Face project has drummed up a fair bit of interest and so far there looks to be a few shows in some commercial galleries on the horizon. Until then, I am in my studio painting. Thank you very much JKB, do you have any shout-outs? Yeah, to everyone involved in helping me put on my shows, you know who you are! And Adshel Street Furniture for putting up a show of my Hero Face works— hopefully next time we can get their permission...
Hey Dolly, how are you? I’m Doing great! What’s shakin’ in Tampa? Tampa is approaching Spring/ Summer ‘12 fashion season and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m also preparing for my Fall/Winter ’13 collection, which is premiering at Fashion Week Tampa Bay in September. Have you lived in Florida your whole life? My family is from Queens, but I’ve been living in Tampa Bay for about sixteen years. Any plans to re-locate in the future? Definitely! I hate the sun, heat, beach, sand and lizards—it makes living in Florida a little difficult. I’m hoping to move to New York within the next five years depending what opportunities are out there for me. I found you on http://modelmayhem. com, which led me to your website, “House of Donshey Custom Millinery”. I see that you design hats for women or in other words, custom millinery. Tell me a bit about your work… I’ve been studying the craft of millinery for two years now and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve always loved fashion and the creative freedom I have within my look, but I’ve always felt that clothing never fit me properly. I’ve found over the years that it’s the accessories that can make or break an outfit and that accessories can always fit and make a person look fantastic. Headwear and shoes have always been my focus, so I started House of Donshey in ‘10 to provide women with the same confidence in accessories that I have provided for myself. Is there a team behind House of Donshey, or is it all you? I may be the sole creator of all
handmade headpieces, but I wouldn’t have House of Donshey without a solid team of amazing industry professionals who help me bring my vision to life. Monique McLaughlin of Makeup & Hair by Monique and Michelle Owens Cobble of Wicked Threads Wardrobe Styling are head of my beauty team. We work together to establish a story through hair, makeup and overall look with Moe and Michelle bringing that story to life on my models for events, shows and photo shoots. Bryan Claburn of Table 22 Production is my technology and promotional guy. He does all my graphics and videography work that I use for promotion. Jeremy Koegler (interning for Michael Kors, NY) is an amazing designer that I have collaborated with many times in the past and who is working with me once again for my couture Fall/Winter ‘13 collection. He’s designing these amazing animalistic dresses to match my hats. Your pieces are so unique and intricate. I especially love the hat featuring the pocket watch with the pieces of the watch scattered on the hat. Where do you gather your inspiration and ideas? My main focus for each collection comes from a very specific source. For my first two collections, I gathered inspiration from two very special women in my life, my grandmother and my cousin. My Fall/ Winter ’12 collection is very elegant and classy. I use a lot of dark lush fabrics, crystals and feathers. These are pieces I could see my grandmother (who is completely fabulous) wearing throughout her life. In my Spring/Summer ’12 collection, I pulled inspiration from my cousin Emma who is very playful and eclectic. I used a lot of pastels,
flowers and lighter fabrics. I made pieces I felt were fresh and pieces that I thought my cousin and girls like my cousin could mix and match with many different outfits and looks. My main goal was to pay homage to my mother in my newest and biggest collection for Fall/Winter ’13, but that is what happens when you plan your inspiration, you end up changing your mind. My upcoming Fall/Winter collection has very little to do with my mother at all. I titled this collection “Cycles” because I ended up designing a collection based around the idea of the cycle of life. I’m in a darker place then I was last year creatively and I wanted to portray how we are born one way and end up another. Isn’t it interesting how the paths throughout our lives determine this odd outcome? I’m by far most excited and proud of my latest collection. How long does it take to design and put each piece together? That question along with “What’s your price range?” are the hardest questions for me to answer. I say the same thing every time for both: “It really depends on the materials used.” It comes down to the fact that I’m a hard worker and always work with the client to give them what they need, want and can afford. Do you typically design a whole line per season or do you design one item at a time? My business comes from custom work. Clients call or email me and we discuss the perfect one-of-a-kind piece for them. With custom pieces they are made to order. Then there’s every fashion season, where I create a complete collection, which I then premiere at fashion shows around Florida. The collection each season is generally designed all at once and
created one by one a season before. So if I’m showing a Spring/Summer collection, I’m actually building my Fall/Winter collection to premiere a few months later. I saw on your website that you have an exclusive offer on couture hats for bridal/groom parties. Do you have other clientele that you design for? My clients range from high school girls going to prom, fashionable women who want something beautiful to wear to church, brides, pin-up/rockabilly girls, Kentucky Derby attendees and the everyday girl who wants something cute and simple that can still make a statement. On your Facebook page, House of Donshey, I see you are supporting a great cause, RAINN.org and that you had an event in support of such on July 20th. Why this cause? I believe that getting help is a very important step to take for a victim of sexual assault. RAINN.org provides free and anonymous support 24/7 for victims, family and others affected by rape, abuse and/or incest. This is the number one organization for this cause in the country and can use all the promotion and support it can get. What did this event entail? My event was called “Make it RAINN” Hat Party & Silent Auction Fashion Event for RAINN.org. This was a fun, free event dedicated to the survivors of abuse. The way I raised money was through the silent auction, donation buckets and the “Build Your Own Hat” station where guests who didn’t have a hat to wear were able to donate $15.00 to the cause and make their own creations right then and there. We also had an amazing hat contest judged by Tamy Lugo of vStylist with prizes having been awarded for Best Hat, Most Original and Crowd
Favorite. There was also an outstanding fashion show that featured designs from top Tampa Fashion Designer K. Hendrix. Are you planning any more events? I’m not planning any more events until this time next year. I am, however, the featured designer for St. Pete Art and Fashion Week on September 6th-9th (Spring/Summer ’12 collection), Fashion Week Tampa Bay on September 21st-24th (premiere of my Fall/Winter ’13 collection), and SRQ Fashion week in Sarasota on October 24th-29th (Fall/Winter ’13 collection). I’m also premiering my Bridal Collection in October (date TBA) and my first ever Menswear collection in the coming new year. I’m very excited about these opportunities. Where else can we find more of your styles and House of Donshey Custom Millinery? My online boutique is the number one place to find me (http://dollydonshey. com) as well as on Facebook (www. facebook.com/houseofdonshey). My pieces can also be found at two boutiques in Wesley Chapel, FL—All Brides 2 Be LLC and Formalwear, and the Organic Spa Group. Ok, Dolly… Time for some random questions: If you could design anything else, besides hats, what would you design? Shoes! I’m actually planning on expanding into shoes within the next five years. Do you prefer dark colors or bright colors? I’ve always been drawn to dark dramatic fabrics and color schemes. I just feel it when using darker colors— the finished product looks so much richer and elegant (I’ve always been a little bit of a drama queen). When is the best time for fashion? All the time is fashion time! We should
always be on our toes when it comes to fashion. It’s the number one form of self-expression! In all seriousness, I prefer the fall/winter season only because I prefer the dark and dramatic side of fashion, and I always tend to lean that way in the fall and winter. Who is your fashion icon? In regards to hats, I wouldn’t be a milliner if I didn’t say Phillip Treacy or Stephen Jones—they are just so inventive. You can’t learn to be that creative, you are just born with it. I could never dream up pieces like they do. As far as overall fashion design, my all time favorite designer is the late Alexander McQueen. He was truly the most innovative designer and has really inspired me to stay strong in fashion. Do you prefer to be spontaneous or stick to something current and on track? I make what I want to make and I design the way I want to design. Many people have told me to do things in different ways and to follow certain trends, I listen and I truly think about it, but in the end, I do things the way I feel most comfortable with. In the end it’s my name on my pieces and they will be portrayed the way I think myself and my brand should be portrayed. Basically, I have to know at the end of the day that I’m happy about what I’ve produced. Dolly, it was pleasure to meet you. I love your work and I hope to see more of you in the future. -Jen
Summer ‘08 by Evan Ray Parks Continued... Wyoming I stretched from my hammock to the fire pit and yawned at blackened chili still boiling from the can. Chum had toilet paper. After slipping and grabbing at a hill to a log that no one could have seen from the trail I squatted, flung my overall straps from under my ass cheeks and visualized breakfast. Burned chili wouldn’t do. I’d have to be patient and jack off. I hadn’t dug a hole for my turd, so I laid next to it and unzipped. As I came I rolled to my side and sprayed a fallen pine with my seed. I zipped and found Chum packing when I stumbled into camp. “Where’s Alex?” “Taking a shit. Let’s pack our shit so we don’t have to wait long to hike in.” “Yeah, I’m down.” Alex returned and I asked him what he wiped with. “Bark.” I threw the roll of toilet paper at his face and laughed. “Asshole.” A few hippies were skateboarding in the dirt, avoiding tree stumps and smoking cigarettes. “Hey! You guys wanna try it out? We strapped off road wheels to the board so it’s easier to go downhill!” Alex jumped on. Chum did the same. “You wanna try it out, brother?” “Nah, man, I’m good. Just
wanna get to main meadow is all.” “Oh, yeah! You guys are almost there. It’s beautiful this year.” I asked Alex and Chum what their favorite words were until the trail opened into main meadow, the meadow where people sat in the evening to eat with thousands of other homeless travelers, street punks and dreadlocked assortments. Three gigantic mountains peaked over the tree line on one side of the meadow, a boulder and its progeny loafed in the middle and yellow flowers danced from everything. Chum asked if it was ok to walk on the flowers. “Yeah, that’s what they’re here for, Chum.” We could have pushed off the surface by standing on our toes to watch smoke rise from a few of the kitchens. “We should probably find a place to post up.” I agreed with Alex and followed a trail to a camp and its Jolly Roger. It was downhill and out of sight, but close enough to the meadow that we strung our hammocks from a few of their aspen trees. Alex climbed one and tied his anchors to branches ten feet from the ground. “How are you gonna get in your hammock every night if it’s that far off the ground, dude?” “Climb up the tree.” Chum asked what he’d do if he was drunk. “You know that drinking alcohol is looked down upon during the festival, right? You can drink at A-camp and shit, but I don’t plan to go down there.” “What happens if you drink?” “Nothing, really. It’s just looked down upon. Last year Evan and I were at trade circle and this drunk guy wandered in. He went around to every fucking trade blanket and yelled at the top of his lungs, ‘Fight! There’s a fight over here!’ move a blanket or two down and yell the same thing. Went on
for like twenty minutes. Eventually someone grabbed him by the collar and dragged his ass back to A-camp.” I strung my hammock above Chum’s, figuring that I’d insulate him from the cold. The sun was setting. “So, what do you guys wanna do?” “Fuck it, let’s just wander around and see what there is to see.” The three of us had just passed the Jolly Roger’s sag when an ember floated by, then turned back to us. “How’re you guys tonight?” “Not bad. Can I hit this?” “That’s why I handed it to you. This your guys’ first Gathering?” Alex passed the joint and Chum spoke up, “This is my first, these two have been to one before, though.” “Rainbow Gatherings are good for the Earth, and good for its children. They make me sing: I had been walking forever in my hair when, dirtied by ropes, I swung from my cheeks to a stump where I stuck in sap which was rising in flame. My ankles dripped to my boots while my pelvis cupped an armpit. Fire bent these shins to feet, though no longer a part of me, twisted toes to tongues lusting for capillaries and marrow. My kneecaps popped and the fire tongued all sweat from my thighs. Lost, tunneling my lacerated liver, what arms I had to my lips slipped to my chin, and I am an envelope, now,
and have nothing to say, but my eyes still burst at the seam when I see my ashes rising in forms at your feet.”
The man reached for an inner pocket of his jacket. Our fingers tugged at the leather he held out to us. “Remember when you walk; remember not to walk forever. This skin is the elephant’s only gift. Look to the top of your skull like his skull is the dome of the night sky, roll your eyes into your spine and remember.” The three of us stood in a trance, clutching the elephant skin. Our eyes shut the stars. When we opened them he was gone. We listened to drums beating the pine needles rustle and realized the joint was at least half mescaline. Alex spoke in puffs, terrified of breaking something delicate, “Who was that?” “He... it was Elephant Jesus.” Trade circle was busy. Hundreds of blankets lay on either side of the trail, forming an alley rather than the shape the name would imply. Fists of amethyst, chocolate, moldavite, turquoise, a cracked compass, leather bound albums, howtos, opiates, mushrooms, clothes, patches and up to date weather reports were piled onto red Persian rugs, neon scarves, orange tents and straw mats lain over wool. Traders bent over each other’s wares, clutching scraps of hemp or an unused multi tool. The epicenter for dirty kid shopping. Alex, Chum and I laid out our
blanket (Chum’s hammock) and arranged what we had to trade. Alex flopped his box of harmonicas and placed it at the edge of our blanket. The polished silver attracted some trades. A few of our shirts were pushed to the back, ramen packs, a set of gloves and a roll of twine were set neatly in the middle. A short girl with short, dark hair, and equally dark glasses, plopped and jiggled onto our blanket, sloshing whiskey on my leg. Her whiskey arm wavered as she offered the bottle. “Namesh Jobott.” I jumped at the intensity of Chum’s laugh. “May I shit here witht yous guys?” “I guess. You have anything you wanna lay on the blanket?” Jobot farted as she wrestled with her tank top. Her tits were sunburnt purple and vastly different sizes. The smaller of the two’s nipple was grossly oversized while the other tit sagged with moles. She laid on her elbows and spread her unshaven legs to reveal her brown, pockmarked pussy. “Yous guys wants some?” “Are you offering a trade? All I have is a set of harmonicas, but…” She was asleep halfway into Alex’s offer. “Do we just leave her here?” Chum looked offended, “Dude, of course. She has whiskey.” The three of us passed around Jobot’s bottle and dealt with the scarce trade offers. A few people placed offers on Jobot’s cooch, but because of our high moral standing we refused them. Alex traded a shirt for a Stetson hat that the owner
couldn‘t explain his hatred for. “Fits me perfectly.” “Then it’s yours, Evan.” Jobot grumbled, rolled to her side and pointed to a girl’s double image. “’Ey! Hey Mama, come look at our shit!” I blushed, and Alex hung his head. Jobot’s double image slinked to our blanket, glanced at the worn labia, and offered candy for thirty minutes in a tent. Jobot, willing to trade, petted herself to warm up. She wasn’t satisfied. She demanded her whiskey and fell backwards, knocking herself unconscious on a tree stump. Chum grabbed the bottle before it spilled. “Fuck this, dude, I’m gonna grab my sandals from camp.” “To trade?” “Try to.” “I need some water anyway. You gonna stay here and watch the blanket, Chum?” “Nah, this girl smells like shit. No one’s gonna mess with our stuff.” Chum stretched his legs on the way to camp. Alex flapped his sandals and grabbed a bottle of St. John’s Wart. I drank some water. “Think she woke up?” “What if by the time we get back she’s playing your harmonicas with her cooch, Alex? Blowing pussy juice through each of the holes?” Chum laughed, “I can picture a bunch of kids running around popping the bubbles.” “Gross, dude. Don’t even say that.” By the time we got back Jobot was swaying heavily from side to side. “How was the nap, Jo-” “Dude, what the fuck!? She traded all our shit!” She hiccupped and lifted a Hello Kitty backpack from the blanket, “Hey, I trad-,” hiccupped, “got a new packs.” I picked a jump rope off the blanket by
two fingers. “What the hell is this?” “Jump rope! Wan see?” She ripped the rope from my hands but tripped herself on the first revolution, fell on her face and puked on Alex’s harmonicas. Alex reached into his pocket, popped the top off the St John’s Wart and poured most of the bottle into his mouth. A sinewy naked man appeared at our blanket. “There you are, bitch!” He grabbed Jobot by the hair and dragged her a few feet before he dropped her and marched back to us. His dick swayed heavily from side to side. “Gimme dat whiskey, I have to teach dis bitch a lesson.” Chum’s eyes moistened as he held out the whiskey to the naked man. I handed the man the jump rope, “Just in case.” He winked at me. Alex grumbled that he felt, “like shit.” “Yeah, fuck trade circle. How long have we been here, anyway?” “Nah, like, I feel sick. I’m gonna go lay down.” “Alright. We’ll probably only stay here for a little while longer. Have to trade this backpack.” “Yeah. Just bring my stuff back when you leave.” Alex walked off, holding his stomach. “What’s wrong with him?” “Probably the puke on his harmonicas.” Chum and I tried trading off the Hello Kitty pack for anything more manly but couldn’t find a reasonable deal. “Fuck it, wanna roll up and check on Alex?” “I’m down.” We packed up, carefully rolled the harmonicas in an old shirt and walked back to camp. Alex was lying in his hammock, strung
much lower than before. Toilet paper and puke were steaming from the ground under him. “At least he’s warm. You alright, dude?” “No.” “Was it the St. John’s Wart?” He handed me the bottle. I laughed and showed it to Chum. “It expired like three years ago, dude. How many did you eat?” “Like, thirty.” “Do you need anything?” “No.” I asked Chum if he wanted to walk around. “I’m down. Let’s find that naked guy and drink some of his whiskey.” “Alright, Alex. We’re gonna walk around, dude. Hope you feel better.” His response was a creaking hammock. Chum and I decided to explore the meadow a half mile out and above the first. On the way I filled my tin with tea from a camp called Tea Time and watched a pair of sandals get repaired at Jesus Kitchen, but didn’t see the naked guy. “He must be beating Jobot somewhere.” Chum spotted Stephan and Kevin sitting at a drum circle in the meadow. “Did you know they were coming?” “Yeah, didn’t know when though,” I raised my voice, “Stephan, Kevin!” “What the fuck!?” We exchanged hugs and stories. “Well, where are you guys camped?” “We’re like right there. Phil and Jen are over there right now.”
“We have a sick spot in first meadow if you guys wanna move down there.” Stephan looked at Kevin and nodded. “We’re down. See what Phil wants to do.” Chum and I convinced Philip, Stephan’s older brother, that our spot was closer to the gathering action and helped carry their gear to our spot. Phil peaked inside Alex’s hammock, “What’s wrong with him?” “He ate thirty pills of St. John’s Wart that were expired by three years.” Phil and Jen cackled in a synchronized, ‘We’ve been lovers for years,’ kind of way. “There’s a whole bunch of kitchens nearby if you guys are hungry.” “I’m down.” Phil looked around, “I want to help Jen set up our tent first, though.” On an edge of main meadow a cook waved his spatula and announced that a nine course meal would be served there within the hour. The theme was Indian and all we had to do was ‘gather into sixteen small circles and send a representative to the kitchen when the kitchen announced that a course was ready. Ours was the only circle of the sixteen playing music, beating out the wait. One of the drummers sang about how, at last year’s festival, he crapped in grey water and that grey water wasn’t enough for him, that soon he would crap on kitchen floors
and inside bathtubs. A child with a feather fell into another drummer’s lap. She tickled his face, giggling herself. He sang backup vocals to the grey water chorus: “A tickle, a pickled peacock. A fickle, tickled pickle. A we mock, tickles a fickle pickle” The first drummer shot into the air, slipped from his pants before touching the ground, tore at his yellow shirt and headed a march farther into the meadow. Jenny blushed whenever his cock moved. A guitar player strung himself behind them and the symbiotic, multi-celled amoeba crawled from camp to camp, leeching volunteer cooks banging on pans. A woman playing spoons ran in to join them. She couldn’t stop laughing. Her tears left clean streaks on her cheeks and neck. The fourth of July is the biggest celebration at a Rainbow Gathering. It’s supposed to be ironic. It was dark and Alex felt well enough to explore. Our group sat with sweating dancers; the fire reflected drum beats in their bellies. An arm’s silhouette held a fist in front of me. The fingers unwrapped when my palm opened. I picked through a few crumbs of low grade weed and to my left, a road worn satyr materialized in a plume of smoke I had to wipe from my eyes. He asked for a snap of what I was picking through, and because I didn’t work for it, I dropped it into his palm. Another smoke screen washed me and he was gone. Alex tugged a robe as he was leaving the circle. He mentioned that we had no LSD. “I have some,” said the cool, breathy voice. Alex asked if I had goods to trade and I explained to him the silhouette and the
weed. We traded the awful flakes for two, five-hundred mic tabs. He breathed, “Lovin’ you,” and spun into a kitchen. The rest of the group (Chum, Kevin, Stephan, Phil and Jen) sucked on theirs an hour previous, so Alex and I stuffed the tabs on our tongue. A man spun fire near another drum circle. All of us scooted in. Every circle spun revealed the emptiness of space to an increasing acuteness. When he sprayed his chest with kerosene and lit, I sensed what a solid object was; when the flame shrank to an artificial blue, nearly exhausted of fuel, I understood pain. He was a showman and he rolled as a gymnast would. He opened. I suggested we move before he couldn’t close again. On another trail, flailing glow sticks into a gentlemen’s fencing match, I parried and someone thrust. I swung a neon worm on its axis and the pink light was a disk I caught in the swamps of a meadow where we tumbled in mud to our waists. Grass stuck from my nostrils. We plunged water from each other’s ears, tilting a dim yellow shine in a silver platter, “Danish?” the woman asked. I chose a cheese and Philip a raspberry notes of a saxophone theater. The brass dueled and a man blew fire to cornets I’ll never understand. Someone cleaner than we explained that a boy was missing, that it was our responsibility to help. Through the mud we darkened. Men shouted, “Skylar!” from bushes and trees and Alex asked if it was still acceptable to have fun. A white beard wove into mine and its blocked hands covered my ears while it yelled into me, “Look for Skylar!” My spinal column wavered with each syllable. I asked Philip if he heard what it said. “No, what happened?” “I think an old guy with a beard stomped up to me and yelled at me for not looking for Skylar.”
The beard heard me, partially, and replied, “It was tea, actually.” Kevin pissed himself laughing until our eyes turned blue. Alex’s incisors tore into a glow stick, chewing on neon liquids. He smiled his flesh rotted through by speckled neon teeth. Alex puked and the grass lit. I broke a new stick and spread its iridescence over new patches of grass. Jenny was entranced, “What is it Evan?” I pointed to an obvious figure in the blades, “Well, that right there is the Star Flutterous Clusteration.” “Seriously?” Philip popped a jar of honeyed mushrooms from a pouch at his waist. He handed me a glob. The psychedelia immediately overwhelmed me. The sun rose, was a rose, the sky a cerulean. Smoke from camps across the meadow swirled into words, without syntax in the tree line. Orange and green moss dove into cracks and exploded from a boulder they sat on. I climbed down, limped to the meadow and squinted at the words. The sun is rose and I sunk to my knees in dandelions.
Colorado I woke in a train yard in Denver. Alex slept in an abandoned semi truck trailer next to mine. Kicking him awake, we ran from the weeds to an empty silo closer to the tracks, slid under black plastic used for water runoff, and watched. The two of us hid there four days, running to the
trailers at night, absorbing as much about trains as the train yards. One would roll past as a clunk on the tracks and we’d match their parts to those in books and pictures, confirming their existence. “The knuckle is the joint that connects two cars?” “Yeah”; “That grainer likely has a rideable porch, you can tell because it doesn’t have ribs”; “Ribbed, it must be coal.” “Can you ride it?” “Yeah, just have to sit on top of the cargo.” “Double stacks are those rectangular buckets filled with international cargo containers.” “Where do you sit?” “Some you can’t ride; safely anyway. You have to check behind the cargo. If there’s room you can hide in the bucket. Mostly called hotshots cause they‘re high priority. Train runs fast.” “Can you ride the flatbed ones with semi truck trailers on them?” “Pigs? Yeah, you can ride them. Just have to crawl in between the wheels for a hiding spot.” At night, when we couldn’t sleep, we’d crawl on our bellies just outside the trailers and watch the activity in the yard: a city of stadium lights blanketed the black sky, tracking Union Pacific trucks and SUVs; workers on graveyard, a resistance to the stars, wore reflectors and hardhats; the cold crash of boxcars locking sent an empty heartbeat through every knuckle on the train. We listened as the snakes were built and drafted a rough schedule as they rolled by.
“Think this is the right track?” I rolled a rock from my greasy fingers to our substitute bocce ball. “Dunno. May as well try.” A train rolled past, its midsection a string of porches. “Go, dude!” I ran alongside the train, footsteps pulsing in the gravel, grabbed the ladder and climbed onto the porch. My back slammed against the grainer, hiding behind a jut in the steel. Alex followed. Within ten minutes our grease had been covered in dust. We felt comfortable in the countryside. Alex quit hiding. He did pull ups from a bar above a twisting knuckle, swung to our adjacent car, wiped his harmonica on soiled corduroys and played a little too quickly. Our hair was unwashed, sun bleached and knotting in the dry winds. He played in the yellow orange light with closed eyelids dirtying and I felt a pity for those inexperienced in the blues. We zipped past a thousand bales of hay, livestock and a granary. He slipped his harmonica into a burgundy pocket and the train rolled to a stop. We waited for near two hours for the air brakes to release but decided it was too hot to sit on steel slabs with no water. “Maybe it’s supposed to fill up tomorrow at the granary we passed.” “Maybe. It is getting pretty late.” Alex hopped into the weeds beside the tracks and I followed him through a field to the freeway. “That’s gotta be what they’re doing. They disconnected the engine from the rest of the train.” “Fuck.” Alex sat on the freeway east and I on the west, our thumbs lumping into the faces of unnerved motorists. We agreed to head in the direction of the first car that stopped. A cop pulled off on the east side and waved for me to cross to join them. He told us that someone complained and that we’d
have to drag ourselves a mile and a half to the nearest town without water. Kicking pebbles at passing cars and covering spider tunnels, we basked in an overpass’s shade, off an off ramp and into a town too small to name. I tried filling my orange juice jug with hose water from a tap outside a gas station but the water was white and smelled like rotting hair in a bathtub drain, so we crossed the street and filled up at a small grocery store. We sipped clean water on the benches outside and discussed our options. “Wanna look for a place to sleep? Onramp‘s pretty slow right now.” “Down in a few minutes?” “Yeah. Lemme see the water.” A dented car skidded into the parking lot. A dark man in a straw hat jumped out, ran to the door, cursed God for closing the store and ripped his hat in two. His wife pleaded to him from the car window. “Juan! My mother bought you that hat!” “Damn your mother!” Glancing at Alex I ran to the driver in sympathy, hoping for some in return. I explained how we came to be marooned on the benches and asked for a ride back to Denver. He shrugged to his wife and she shook her head. He fumed to the window, threatening to tear his hat into four pieces. She curled into herself with a meek love that tapped from her eyes. Juan told us stories about his traveling at our age. He hopped freight and hitched around but gave it all up for his wife. A blend of regret, about travel or his wife, and bliss in his voice as he wove his bar fights into traveling stipulations, that he would never travel with more than one partner. The one time he had traveled with three people the third wheel pressed the brake in an engine they were riding. Juan sighed and rubbed his wife’s shoulder.
“I’m just gonna ask, dude.” “It’s like a club or something. They’re not gonna have cheap beer.” “After our first train ride we need a fucking drink, dude. It’s worth asking.” Juan and his wife drove us downtown. He gave us a few dollars in quarters and dimes, begging that we drink for him, pointed to a few dive bars and drove off. The crumbling hole in the walls was expensive. I asked an old man for directions. He told me to get a job. Turning a corner we sat in the street opposite a club radiating fuchsia lights from two stacks of windows nearly defenestrating its patrons via house music. Everything shook with the beat. A girl in a white dress saturated with neon lights stood at the door dancing out greetings. The patrons were well dressed and gelled, wafting manufactured scents to our side of the sidewalk. I sniffed my armpit and fingered a hole in my overalls. Alex shrugged. The girl in the saturated dress watched me walk from the street. I expected a snarl but she jumped, slightly, with excitement. “How cheap is your cheapest beer?” She constricted her throat to raise her voice above the music, “We have one dollar PBRs tonight. No cover charge. It looks kinda slow right now but it‘ll pick up.” Nodding, I slunk to the back and set my gear on a couch, poked my head from the front door and waved for Alex to join me. His face bubbled in the frosted tables and glowing bottles of liquor. He dropped his gear to watch bass notes warp the glossy film on TVs.
“How much are the beers?” “Dollar each. Guess they’re having some kind of special.” “Dude, everyone’s looking at us.” “Who cares, they didn’t just sleep in a train yard for four days.” I followed Alex to the bar and ordered two PBRs. The bartender explained that the beers were on the girl in the saturated dress and that if we needed anything else to just ask her. We drank the beers on a couch near the restroom and eyed our packs. People waiting to piss asked about us, what we were doing and why. My first beer drained and the girl in the saturated dress tapped us, cracked two more and said, “My brother travels like you guys do. His name’s Skip, you know him?” We finished those and again she brought us two more. The club was louder and full. Alex had to yell for me to hear. “Is this how a Sunday night in Denver always is?” “I don’t know, dude. I’m gonna smoke a cig, wanna come with?” I shouldered my way to the front. Violet lasers circled the dance floor; strobe lights broke dance moves into how-tos and the sweep of a bracelet into photographs. Green light burned my retina. Women spoke, sprawled on their girlfriends, “That’s them!” and, “Do you think they’ll talk to me?” Even on the porch people bumped each other’s shoulders. Most of them asked about our travels when they handed me cigarettes or offered to buy us drinks. We were celebrity, in stitched pants and body
odor. I poured half a beer into a cup for a home bum, handed it to him from the railing, was handed another free beer and spotted Alex with a beer in each hand and a girl clinging to his shoulders. Jealous, I asked the girl in the saturated dress if she knew where I could take a shower. She wrote her number on a bottle of water and told me to call her tomorrow, handed me two beers and scolded me for giving alcohol to someone not on the property. I felt a spray of beer. Alex’s girl had knocked his hand accidentally. Her body arched backwards in hysterical laughter. I needed to brag about the showers. I shouldered through circles to get to him. He pulled the girl to her feet, dangling from his waist, and realized she was thirty years old. I snuffed my enthusiasm. “Where have you been, dude!? This is Beth. Beth, this is Evan. She said we could stay at her place tonight. Take showers and shit.” I snuck the bottle of water with the phone number on it into my pocket and sipped my beer. “Sweet.” “Nope. He’s staying with her,” Beth swung from Alex’s arm and pointed to the girl in the saturated dress. “Nah, I got yelled at ‘cause I gave a bum some beer.” “Awwwww, how sweet! Ok, you can stay with me.” The three of us drank burgundy and chatted on a couch in Beth’s living room. She told us that the girls of Denver had kidnapped us and that we could never leave. I laughed at Alex’s purple teeth and asked to use the computer. “Sure. It’s on the kitchen table.” I dug through a rat’s nest of unpaid bills and textbooks, opened the laptop and leaned into the living room to ask if there was a password, but they weren’t there. I found a bottle of whisky behind her toaster
and opened it. The bottle raised to my lips. Squeaks and moans pierced the bedroom door. The decibels doubled every beat. It was obnoxious but I figured that she wanted me to hear, so I rubbed my nuts and talked shit on the Internet. The next morning, hung over and knotted on the couch, keys jingled and my vision focused on a bare ass in a short dress bent over in front of me. I made my fingers into a gun and poked her asshole with its barrel. She jumped and turned with a surprised but satisfied look, her lips curling upward. Instead of bringing the gun to my mouth to blow on it, I brought it to my nose and sniffed. Raspberries. “What’s your secret?” I asked. She smiled, rolled her eyes and handed me the key to her apartment, explaining that she had to go to work. That night the three of us drank wine on her couch. A knock. The guy introduced himself as Ian, someone that had met her a few nights ago, and sat down. He asked what she was doing with us, that we were disgusting, dirty people and that she deserved better. I stood up and he stumbled to the door, called Beth a slut and left. I went out to dumpster pizza but my raspberry hostess demanded that I come inside, to eat whatever I wanted from her freezer. I ignored her, walked downstairs and stopped to watch her tits lean from her window, pleading, “Evan, I’m serious! You can eat anything in my house!” I continued walking. A middle aged black man leapt from an old porch with a purse flagging from his forearm to a side street. His bald head shone afternoon sun a dingy yellow. An obese woman burst through the doorway in a periwinkle muumuu. She threw a wooden spatula in the direction he ran, puffed up and slammed the screen door behind her. With every rot-
ted, sun baked house we passed, the Denver ghetto morphed into an industrial district. Ruffled warehouses leaned against one another for support against a failed business; tunnels snipped from rusted metal fences led to a girlfriend’s window; chips of blue paint wrapped our feet like sky fluff from paneling; a malnourished dog rubbed its ribs on the baseboards of a gutted cathedral, walking in circles until nightfall. “Hey, remember that shit I took?” “Which one?” “The one in Idaho. The one that scared those kids.” “Yeah.” “I think I saw this cathedral in the toilet, dude. I wiped it on my face.” “It’s an old sardine factory.” “…oh, yeah. Guess it is. I swear to god I saw this building in the toilet, though.” “Whatever. So what’s this guy’s name that we’re going to visit in Utah?” “Nick.” “Right. Is he pretty cool or what?” “Never met him. Hella good artist though.” “What? How do you know him if you‘ve never met him?” “Known him for years online. We post in an arts forum on a superficial dating website. Pretty good forums, though.” Orange advertisements and newspaper lined the train yard fence across the street. We knew that our train stopped at an old sports dome, and we could see it on the other side of the yard, but we couldn’t agree how to get there. Alex wanted to turn around but I said that we could just
about touch it from where we stood. “But if we keep going this way we don’t know if there’s a road that connects to the dome.” A couple of dirty kids, about our age, rode up to us on bikes. “You guys lookin to get on a train?” “Yeah, we heard the west bounds stop at the dome over there but we’re not sure how to get there.” “Just go under the overpass and follow it to the park, we’ll meet you guys there. Have some shit to do first. You have a railroad map?” “No.” “Meet me at the park and I’ll hook you guys up. Name’s Ben.” “I’m Evan.” “Alex.” “Cool, this is Jess. See you guys in a bit.” They rode off and we followed their directions to the park. The sun set after an hour of waiting. We set up camp on a hill of gravel to train watch. “I think it’s gonna stop on the third track.” “Nah.” “Check it out, dude, bats.” A coal train lurched. Ben skidded. A dog ran behind him. Jess squeezed her brakes. He unzipped his pack and tossed each of us a juice. “So, ya’ll wanna hang out at the Outpost? Ain’t too far.” “What’s the Outpost?” “Train house. Bunch of train kids live there.” He rode alongside us until we were down the street, sped ahead of us and told us to walk in when we got there. The train yard was basically a part of the house. It was the backyard and the front porch was a
pile a bicycles, dried weeds, a couch, some chairs and slanting support columns. ‘The Outpost’ was carved into a weathered two by four leaned against a window. The screen on the front door squeaked and a beer can hit the floor. It exploded with a pop, soaking Ben, the walls and the homemade coffee table with yellow tendrils of foam. Sighing, he picked the can off the ground and checked it for beer. He spread around the foam with his foot. “Make yourselves comfortable. I’ll grab some shit for you guys to flip through.” He came back with a coffee cup of mead and a rail map from ‘03, then sunk into the couch. “That’s for you guys.” “Damn, thanks, dude. Do you own this place?” “A few of us pay rent, but most of them are on the road right now. We’re never all here at the same time.” He played a vulgar folk album on vinyl. “You guys know who this is?” “No.” “Good. You guys can spend the night.” “Who is it?” “GG Allin.” I made an airplane and threw it. It back flipped and landed in the mead cup. “Come upstairs, I wanna show you guys something.” We followed Ben to an upstairs bedroom, crawled through a window and onto a ruffled sheet metal balcony overlooking the train yard. “We’ll go down there after this beer and check it out. Try to find your train,” he sipped his beer. We drank on the balcony and absorbed the trains; built, shipped off or loaded. Ben climbed down and whistled for his dog. Its head poked from behind an ambulance, panting. Alex climbed down. Halfway to the ground I heard barking and Ben yelling for his dog. There was movement in the trail of
dust the dog kicked up. What looked like an opossum/wolf/kangaroo ran along the tracks. The dog was teased. Ben was yelling, and the beast hopped over train knuckles and ducked, then bolted through a fence. Ben dragged the dog inside. “God damn dogs, man, I swear to god. Wait here.” Ben wove in and out of the train cars, looking for numbers and talking on the phone. He wiped grease from a number painted on a grainer and shook his head. The opossum/wolf/kangaroo poked its head around a pile of refrigerator doors, but I ignored it. “Found your train.” It was noon. I smelt breakfast, possibly carrots, being stewed in the kitchen. A skillet of dumpstered potatoes, celery and carrots fried on the stove. Dousing my plate with hot sauce I scratched my ribs. Jess worked at a café in a bookstore downtown. Ben told us to grab a couple of bikes from the porch. He wanted to show us a few of his sites before we left. We rode with Jess to work. She didn’t shower, shave her legs or armpits and didn’t change clothes. God damn was she sexy in the white shirt brown with sweat worn threads around her tits. She held a coffee cup to one, “Hey, Evan, check out my bra.” “What is that, A cup?” She giggled and said goodbye. “Where’re you taking us, Ben?” “To dumpster.” Alex and I followed Ben to the back of an organic food store. The dumpster was locked. Ben pulled a key ring from his pocket, unlocked it and swam until he found two cookies. The gears on my bike were missing a few teeth. They stopped at a sport store’s
dumpster and unlocked it. I clicked and jumped gears behind them. “What’d you find?” “Few things for my own dumpster.” “You have a dumpster?” “Yeah. I’ll show you when we get back.” “Alex, switch me bikes for a bit.” “Fuck that, dude, this one’s fine.” I grumbled for five miles to the back parking lot of a tortilla factory. A machine used for compressing cardboard overflowed with tortillas. They flapped in the wind from the machine’s joints. We pulled them from the machine’s seams and stuffed corn tortillas in one bag while large flours were packed into another. We crawled to the top and tossed them down, picked them from the back to examine the grease that had collected and chose the finest of the discards. I compressed one into a ball and lobbed it at Alex’s head. Riding farther into the Denver boondocks, we stopped at a microbrewery. Ben told us to find cardboard and hopped into the dumpster. I leaned in to see what he was sifting. Bottles of half full beer were collected and placed in a corner away from the piles of shattered glass. Ben saw my amazement and smiled. “They throw out anything that isn’t completely full or isn’t sealed properly.” He pulled out a full beer. “And sometimes the good ones.” He handed me at least eight half full beers and six that were nearly full. Alex laid them on cardboard rolled into his pack. Ben pulled a few more from the glass and cracked
them open. He handed one to each of us. “Your guy’s train leaves at four in the morning. Get some sleep when we get back to the Outpost and I’ll wake you up at three. Oh, and I’ll show you that dumpster.” On the Outpost’s side yard was a dumpster of collected road gear people had donated or dumpstered. “Take what you need but don’t get greedy. Other people need that shit too.” I took a pair of boots, Alex a couple of canteens. Ben woke us at three and walked us to where the train departed. He gave us most of the beer; all of the tortillas, then wished us luck. He watched his footsteps on his way back to the Outpost. Four o’clock rolled around and with it our train. We hopped over an idle string of cars, jumped onto ours, slid between the wheels of a semi truck trailer and waited. The air brakes released and we creaked forward. Alex said he felt like Fievel, going west.