The trials, tribulations, and triumphs of two people on the road.
I’ve been a fan of Max Eisenberg since I saw him perform a few years ago in London. The show was an intense experience - the audience seemed shocked into stasis by the raw power of both DJ Dog Dick (Max) and Sewn Leather. They had clearly tapped into something pure and their energy was intoxicating. Their attitude was ruthless liberation.
I had a chance to meet Max before a show a couple years later and learned that we were both from St. Louis, separated by a year in highschool, and played lacrosse against each other. I mention this to illustrate how, when Max released his recent Identity EP as a meditation on growing up, I could relate to much of his experience and process of coming to terms with growing up in (and then leaving) suburban St. Louis.
Progress means different things to different people. For me the dominant cultural forces in St. Louis encouraged growth by traditional values: perform well in school to secure a stable job with potential for upward mobility, get on the property ladder, find a suitable partner and raise a family. For many, many people this is a rewarding trajectory, but personal growth for me always involved an exploration of otherness. And for me a necessary step was leaving the comfort of home to find my own sense of place.
I suppose the most important factor in anyone’s development is mindfulness. However we define progress, I think it’s important that we are conscious of the decisions we make and attempt to understand the resulting repercussions. Without that reflection, I don’t think we can evolve our understanding of ourselves or the world we live in. Without a quest for understanding, we become drones.
People like Max Eisenberg help me stay awake, remind me that I’m alive in my body, and inspire me to continue my search of the other.
You can watch the video in HD over at Vimeo.
Since 1972, Sarah’s father and a group of male friends have been going for a 24 mile cycle every Thursday night around East Lothian. They cycle when it rains. They cycle when it pours. They cycle when the wind blows a gale and sleet whips their faces. They cycle when the night is clear and still and the air is cool.
Though the numbers vary slightly from week to week, each Thursday there will be one or three or a dozen riders. When it began, the men would cycle to a pub, sample the offerings, and stagger home (by bike). Things have calmed a bit over the years. The men now wear helmets and high-visibility jackets and visit the pub at the end of the cycle for a responsible two pints (or three).
Whenever we visit North Berwick, Michael has ridden with the men. On his first cycle, the moon was so full and bright there was no need for lights. The roads were empty and smooth and the hills rolled in a sweep of black to the horizon. There was little light pollution and the stars were marvellous. An owl swooped across the road during a stretch through the forrest.
This humble tradition is remarkable for a number of reasons. It gives everyone a chance to clear their mind, get some exercise, enjoy the landscape… but most importantly it reinforces their community. One frustration with living in London was the constant sense of incredible pace. So many friends doing so many cool things, and so little time to hang out with all of them - which is why a group of men getting together for a weekly ride is really a great thing.
Over our last visit, Michael decided it was time to bring the camera out for the trip to try and document some of the wonder. Moody clouds hid the stars, but it was beautiful - albeit windy - night.
More photos here.
Spring is arriving in Missouri.
More photos here.
Coffee is a wonderful drug. Like most things worth consuming, it reveals itself slowly and changes with experience as appreciation for the subtleties of taste develop with age. As children, most of us crave bland taste experiences like white bread sandwiches with no crust and mild cheese. Over time, we build a vocabulary of tastes through our experiences. Our horizons expand till we can draw connections between seemingly disparate flavours - finding grapefruit in coffee or butteriness in beer. We employ descriptors like clean, bright, or complete. We fawn over moldy ass cheese and fermented sausage and peculiar flavours of ice cream. And single origin coffee.
Michael loves coffee. A couple weeks ago, he met up with Hans-Erik from Steampunk to learn about the roasting process. Hans-Erik’s passion and respect for craft have led to a sophisticated approach to roasting that produces remarkably good and consistent coffee. He uses excellent, single-origin beans and supports farmers through direct trade, building a network of other small, likeminded businesses. Exciting stuff.
Michael sat down with artist Charles Avery to talk about his Islanders project, narrative, facts, discovery, and nonsense.
Michael called up his dear friend Orstun Rumsie to talk about picking up girls in the men’s bathroom.
Part of a conversation with Stewart Auld about childhood passions, the Victorians, craftsmanship, and Rod Stuart.
Last Thursday, Michael went to visit model train enthusiast Stewart Auld at his home in North Berwick. Over the course of his life, Stewart has slowly expanded his model in area and complexity. The set now lives in Stewart’s attic, spanning the entire length of his flat and covering over 60 years of railroad history.
Carefully preserved posters and packaging cover the walls and the electric hum of spinning motors fills the space as Stewart calls the trains to life. He operates the rail network from a large switchboard in the middle of the room, carefully monitoring each trains progress and switching lines to avoid collisions. Without explanation, the process appears almost impenetrably complex, however the system is actually built around a set of rather simply rules. The complexity arises through years of adding more track and the ripple of effects that each new line brings to the system as a whole.
The joy Stewart gets from the trains is clearly visible as he unwraps controllers from the 1950s. Still housed in original packaging, these artefacts have been carefully looked after since his childhood and indicate the respect Stewart has for the tiniest detail. Taken as a whole, the installation is a great illustration of what is possible with ample space, keen interest, and some free time.
You can find some more photos here.
Watch the video in high definition over at Vimeo.