the johnstown manicure

cambria city, pennsylvania

old town johnstown rests on the banks of the conemaugh river. coal, iron, and steel jobs brought workers from central and eastern europe to this spot in the allegheny mountains. today, the mine’s closed and the operating mills are automated; structural skeletons of better days deteriorate on their own tales, in a city center whose masses have long since fled uphill. yet, it exists

the people still here are in it. maybe they own property or a business or it’s the only place they’ve ever known. some of have been here for generations, calling it home long before industry. many of the stories are of prosperity or the current state but these topics may be because i’m not chatting about the penguins, who are in the playoffs. while taking pictures of the old turnstiles at the entrance to a mill, a guy with long white hair asks me why i’m “doin’ that… ain’t nothin there”. it isn’t so much a question as the type of thing someone yells at another as they’re walking into a bar (he is). he used to work at the mill but now there “ain’t no jobs”. i asked why he stays, “too old to leave” – he couldn’t have been 55. this is this

1889 – south fork dam and reservoir is fourteen miles upstream from johnstown. recently renamed “lake conemaugh” it is the highlight of the south fork fishing and hunting club; an elusive and exclusive getaway for robber barons like andrew carnegie, andrew mellon, and henry clay frick. discharge pipes which allow the release of excess water have been removed without the aid of engineers and the spillway is covered with fish screen (it was a recreational lake after all). on the 31st of may the dam fails. the flood and resulting fire takes the lives of 2,209 people, a third of whom are never identified. today there’s a national memorial on the old club property with a tree suspended in the air next to a man without shoes. visitors can relive the johnstown flood of 1889 with led lights and a short a film.

the city blossomed after the flood, bigger than it had ever been. the event became part of the lore, part of what differentiates johnstown from all the other coal and steel towns in the rust belt. the cause and symbolism of the flood are decidedly timeless

as an episodic transient, it’s difficult to understand why people stay in places that no longer serve them, but when i travel i most often visit where people do. would i even be there for more than a photo if it were a ghost town? i enjoyed johnstown, the company was warm, the inclined plane the biggest, AND it’s where they shot the 1977 classic, slap shot!

like eddie shore

JUNE2017: a week after my visit the penguins win the stanley cup
JUNE2018: pennsylvania grants permit to grow medical marijuana at the old bethlehem steel corporation machine shop (where some of these photos were taken)

what else am I gonna do

motivation and inspiration for a bike story not shown
humboldt park, chicago

before it got cold my front tire slid into a crack on the chicago avenue bridge. i flew forward and fractured a rib – couldn’t exercise, could barely breathe much less meditate. it’s cold and dark but i’ve found myself a creative mindset – what else am i gonna do? cry? i can barely breathe!

my streak runs through recovery, the first is a bike story video (obviously)

after this, with a new whip i get back on the road and tell myself ill be more careful because nothing’s worth the physical downtime. in march im hit by a corolla…

protip: if this happens to you: lawyer

listening to WITCH’s home town (1974)

the towstory

see also: toe

chicago, illinois

14/Aug2016 my car disappears to the lower lower wacker impound lot:
“parking in front of a hydrant” – a ticket and a tow

lower lower wacker is not a typo. it’s below lower wacker, which is below upper wacker. three floors down, the office of the central auto pound is housed in a white trailer at the end of a cul-de-sac of sorts. to get there one must run the labyrinth past the shantytown, or take a taxi

in 2016 chicago makes $264 million in parking fines

the city employees use archaic technology to process a large portion of that $264 million dollars. a thankless job with the most unpleasant of customers and they’re probably not pulling the same kind of clout-pussy the alderman do. if these workers taught a workshop on not taking things personally, i’d go.

no one knows the pound is there unless they’ve had to go or know someone who has, which is pretty much everyone in chicago. the first time i went was a pain in the ass, i didn’t know what to do and it was before gps so i had to write down directions, it was awful. since then i make a point to check my parking spots before locking the doors. sure getting towed is a hassle but i’m not stressed: a mistake by the city / a call to adventure. i’ll document my vindication and make a video

writing continued below*

listening to billy ocean’s pressure (1993)

*writing continued here

is of the essence

project for soul clap. our idea is to show the boys as aliens landing and broadcasting their message as entertainment to the people. thus alluding to the efunk “mothership” homage and transition to the chameleon (reptilian-esque) artwork of the new self-titled album.

we print and cut up a dozen or so color copies of the artwork in various sizes. zey does the drawings by hand for rotoscoping. was a fun couple days

listening to soul clap at sunday school for degenerates (2010)

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pass into the night

south st. louis

you know when you call a friend but their significant other answers their phone? sometimes it’s fine; you didn’t call them but whatever. other times it’s like wtf

we’ve been friends through a lot of significant others. whenever i’m in town we find ourselves on the inside of laughs and mischief. in fact the first draft of this was reminisces of our battles on convention but they doesn’t make sense here. none of this does

friday morning i call. her partner answers her phone,  he’s crying and that’s it. a different kind of wtf. the three of us saw each other the week before; looking back she seemed less like herself… the underground stage of RTS

her viewing is my first viewing, i’ve never seen a body all made up the way they do. up-close, it’s a lot. the funeral home is full and everyone is sad. people cry. some of the girls scream. everyone’s dressed in their best blacks (a normal color choice for her mourners on any day). it’s uncomfortably somber. i think: this is not the funeral the girl i knew would want – the girl i knew would want a bacchanalia. no clothes allowed. i say that to the girls and they laugh, if only for a moment. it’s true, though you may not know it without the reminisces of the first draft.

her father gives a sullen speech. it’s short. he pauses then tells everyone the ceremony is over. they were close. and that’s it



you’re visual (name pending)

or the what happened to the book story…
and/or the what are you doing with your life(‘tory)

chicago, illinois


listening to tracie spencer’s this house (1990)

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