David Pischke – Ruminants of the American West

We are pleased to announce our newest piece, Ruminants of the American West By: David Pischke

This an eight part poem. The first four are now up and available, parts 5-8 will be available Thanksgiving day.
Ruminants of the American West

Lucky, lucky white horse, ding, ding, ding, everywhere I go I find something.
I.
Butch and Sundance bucked through Utah
and Wild Bill Cody saddled through Wyoming
and Cherokee Bob sidled up to Idaho
and the other Wild Bill gamboled in South Dakota
and Billy the other kid galloped New Mexico
and the Earp brothers on Holliday trotted Arizona
and Calamity cantered into Colorado to start a hotel
to accept the weary traveler’s head and hold it soft awhile.
Are you the West?
Are you won?
Have you a hat dry as dust and wet as rain?
II.
Near Albuquerque, lighting hits so near the cows
we are afraid of electrocution.
Impossible loudness hails on the windows.
We are the family that fears together: he cries
in the back, I clench the wheel, he screams at the thunder,
she tries to calm with tremulous coo.
And the cows keep their heads down—stooped and still
as the cars pulled off the road—they weather, they keep,
they eat wet grass, they flip a tail, they flick an ear, they champ at weed.
Armored in leather, they only feel pings of hail,
stings of iced rain, slaps of thunder that shake
us all together. Even bovine spots tremble.
All us families born from families calfed here
in the high desert are wrapped in wind
winding around our chests, arms, legs, and hips.
It strikes. We tense.
III.
Under the Victorian windows of the old hill neighborhood
across the street from the bus stop where the yells of people
under lights of night or drips of pleasant day rains
who throw dice or bicker proudly before crossing the street
toward the two goats kept in the iron-gated back yard
that come maaaing when I call, Goats? and are milked
to make cheese, I wander, with those across, even
from my lofty position, searching for what’s promised—
in books, tv, movies—; the thing where finding a place
with fences to yard a space where goats can be kept and bees
can be hived for honey all next to Thai food, tortas,
marijuana dispensaries, still-neon-lit bars and an ongoing
flow of cars from Arizona or California, the park next door,
or Boulder, is certain; I watch from dimmed lights
through the splayed curtains knowing the other mes
down there—wheelchaired young black man with friend
pushing, middle-aged Hispanic man in all white lying
on a bus stop bench, obese Indian woman with rivers of silver
in her black hair sitting on the curb—wondering where this is
on our lists of wheres we will rank when we find more
wheres and wes moving from bench to bench, window
to window, sidewalk to sidewalk on feet, or on buses,
or on bicycles, or on too-thin white mother’s arm
over concrete paved over planes, dynamited
through mountains, stuck on shrubbed valleys,
or poured next to rivers.
One time, the hotel owner tells us,
the goats got out and walked the street for miles.
IV.
For his 80th we had earth-roasted swine.
The skin was maroon.
The meat was nearly white.
The eyes were sewn shut.
(I’m guessing they melt?)
The mouth was agape.
The hooves were all paralleled to the snout.
(A preposterous position)
Its guts had already been removed.
The skin was knifed open.
The meat, so tender, was pulled apart.
(Like wet clumps of potting soil)
Even the children ate of the flesh.
But they had not been told it had come from the pig.

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Local Artist Profile – Enrique Varela

Enrique Varela is a young & upcoming photographer living the life in the Phoenix Valley. You can find more of his work on Instagram @enrique.v.photos . We’re proud to present some of his finest work regarding the spirit of the southwest.

If you are or know somebody who should be featured as a local artist, feel free to submit an enquiry here.

Orange Juice, Frank Ocean, and Point & Shoots – An interview with Enrique Varela

RR: How did you get into photography? Was it by chance or was it something you sought out? Further, how have your views on the subject changed over time, from that first snapshot to today?

EV: I got into photography back in 2011 or 2012 when I was using my mom’s lil point n shoot. Then I asked for a camera for Christmas & just kinda went from there. My sophomore year I tried to get into yearbook as a photographer, gave the instructor sample photos I had taken, then he put me in yearbook the next year. Doing that helped me grow immensely & helped me develop an eye for this kind of stuff.
What inspires you to pick up the camera the most? We see on your Instagram you’ve done a lot of work with portraiture, but you’ve also covered a broad spectrum of other “styles” of shooting on other sites. Is there a certain type of photography you do for your “bread and butter” so to speak and another for the hell of it, or does all your work serve the same goals?

I’m inspired most by movies and music, then I get a lot of inspiration from tumblr as well. I mostly go after portraits for more professional stuff. My “bread and butter” is going after more cinematic styles, it’s like I’m filming a movie in my head, then I capture one individual frame with the camera.
Tell us about your most memorable shoot. Whether it was something where everything “just clicked”, a dangerous or exciting shooting environment, or something else entirely, has there been any shoot that’s stood out from the rest?

My most memorable shoot… hmmm… I have two; I took my cousin’s senior photos out at White Sands National Monument. The day that we went, it was completely overcast and just gave an amazing look to all the photos. The next one, is I photographed my buddy Kyle under a black sheet in the middle of the desert for a school project. And it was supposed to represent a dream that I had, and I kinda made half of it up and kind of didn’t at the same time.
With the advent of the picture phone and the prevalence of social media, we live in a time where everybody has a potential claim to be an artist. What separates you and your work from that? In other words, what makes you stand above the rest? Also, what impact has this had on both your work and your workflow?

I mean in terms of my work, it forces me to make something so original and out of the box. Something that stands out above everything else. And in terms of workflow, I use film, DSLR & iPhone. They’re all just tools to create the same outcome.
Who and what would you say has had the greatest impact on your work? Feel free to name as many as you need, whether they’re contemporary photographers or historical figures in the field, family, critics, movies, what have you. Why and how would you say these have affected the way you shoot?

I’m inspired a lot by the surroundings & who i’m with. Sometimes I’ll be hanging out with my friends and we’ll pass something or we’ll do something and in my head I’m like, “Damn I need to bring my camera here and shoot some shit later”. I’m also super interested in Japanese culture & Miyazaki films. Ryan Booth, he’s a cinematographer & photographer. He creates some beautiful frames look up #fujiframez on Instagram, he’s a good majority of the photos that’ll pop up. Takuya Matsumoto, Eric Gesualdo, Tom Westbury, Will Scott (Seaside Shelters).
If you could shoot anybody, anything, or anyplace in the world, where would it be?

John F. Kennedy, one of the most influential & controversial presidents ever. Or Frank Ocean. I would photograph Old School BMW’s. Poland, I was there a couple years ago and I would love to go back for a couple months.
Lastly, and this is the most important question: what’s your ideal Sunday morning? What kind of breakfast, where would you be spending it, etc.

A quiet calm morning, around 7AM, in the early fall in Italy. Go sit out on my balcony and watch the early morning light hit the city. I would be having some french toast, over hard eggs, sausage patties, a glass of OJ and some pour over coffee all made by myself.

ARCOSANTI

Seventy miles north of the Phoenix valley and a few turns down a dirt road lies Arcosanti. You may have heard of it, or you may have not. It’s a very small town, home to, give or take, eighty people, but it’s got a big dream.

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Arcosanti – A Paolo Soleri concept
Arcosanti was conceived of and started in 1970 by Italian architect Paolo Soleri. Soleri had previously opened up a workshop, somewhat confusingly named Cosanti, in Paradise Valley before purchasing a large patch of land east of Prescott. With this land, and with Arcosanti, he’d hoped to find a creative, eco-friendly solution to urban sprawl. The plan was simple; small, self-sufficient communities with populations of around 5,000 and an ongoing effort to co-exist with the natural environment around them. He named the concepts governing Arcosanti “arcology” for being equal parts architecture and ecology.

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A very, very big arch
In the nearly fifty years since construction started on this small desert locale, however, Arcosanti is as-of-yet unfinished. Construction has tapered off, and the last building to be completed was done so in 1989. Today, Arcosanti can be seen more of as half museum/half workshop. The town offers daily tours through some truly innovative architectural work, and biweekly workshops that promise to teach its proteges about all things arcological.

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The Arcosanti Apse
The town and its design read as part desert oasis, part forgotten sci-fi city. Great adobe arches and apses sit next to space-age apartment suites. Everywhere you look is an intricate detail; an inconspicuous stairway leading down to what must be a hidden living space, a small private balcony, a passage leading to a roof with a great view. The town may not be “finished” per se, but it’ll take you completely by surprise, and it’s not hard to see why so many aspiring architects fall in love with it.

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With tours of only $15, the hour long drive up from the Phoenix valley is well worth it if you’re looking for something to do this week.

Jesse Sensibar – How Easy the Digging

Hey there readers. We’ve got a brand new piece from Arizona’s own Jesse Sensibar for you today. It’s a quick one, perfect for a lazy Sunday read, but we’re sure you’re gonna like it. And, if you stick around, you’ll find a sweet bonus interview with the author below.

Jesse Sensibar loves small furry animals and assault rifles with equal abandon and has a soft spot in his heart for innocent strippers and jaded children. Jesse’s work has appeared in such places as Corner Club Press, Grey Sparrow Journal, Niche, The Tishman Review, Stoneboat Journal, and Waxwing. Jesse’s first full-length work, Blood in the Asphalt, is forthcoming from Tolsun Press. You can find him at jessesensibar.com.

How Easy the Digging

At 3:30am the stars are bright and the moon is low out here on the high desert. The trustfund hippie-kid I just picked up with the dirty Jeep Grand Cherokee that snapped a tail shaft and threw its driveline is trying to get all weird and metaphysical on me. I got a feeling I know where he’s going and I don’t really like it ‘cause I know that we’re gonna’ end up with him claiming to be poor, suggesting that I should be out here working for him for free. So I just jump on in and get a little stranger than he’s pretending to be, tell him about all the skinwalkers and witches that are just out of sight of the headlights surrounding us right now, out here on the desert in the dark, tell him that the only thing that keeps him safe right now is all the spirits of all the dead people that have taken their last ride to the other side in this here old flatbed tow truck I drive. I tell him about how easy the digging is out here in the desert and how nobody ever finds the bones. He’s dead quiet when I finish. I light a cigarette with my old chrome Zippo and grin like a coyote in the flash of a spark in the dark ‘cause I know now, I’ll get paid.

The Disappearing West – An interview with Jesse Sensibar

RR: From your piece, we can tell you see some really cool things and meet a lot of “interesting” people out on the roads in your line of work. But, what about the downtime? What do you do during the more “routine” stretches of the job to keep entertained?

JS: I restore junk cars and travel trailers and I tell stories and I look for small artifacts and bits of graffiti and broken glass that represent the disappearing West. And I pet kitties.

We saw somewhere that you’re not originally from Arizona. What was your perspective, taking in the Copper State for the first time?

I was amazed at the lack of rust in the Copper State. When I got to Arizona, there were no rusty cars and no potholes.

Tell us a little bit about the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is an indigenous Catholic/Spanish saint who watches over all of us in the American Southwest and especially in the borderlands between Mexico and the United States.

Your website says you’ve had a lot of jobs, from being a private investigator to fighting wildland firefighters. What’s one of the best, and one of the worst experiences you’ve had in any job?

Once I got asked out on a date by a woman whose car I was repo-ing in Prescott, Arizona. Once I knelt down in what I thought was a mixture of automatic transmission fluid and water but it turned out it was actually a young man’s brains.

Lastly, and this is the most important question: what’s your ideal Sunday morning? What kind of breakfast, where would you be spending it, etc.

My ideal Sunday morning involves waking up after getting some uninterrupted sleep through Saturday night. Then I would have Earl Grey tea with lots of half and half and watch the sunrise. Then I would take a stripper half my age to breakfast.