{ Cultural Flowering }

November 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

“There was a tremendous cultural flowering that took place. All flowers eventually curl up, but the significance of the flower is in the seed. And the seeds were planted.”

– Steve Gaskin on the energy of the sixties, in an interview by Michael Thurman for The Sun, 1985, republished November 2014.


{ Plato, Missouri: Center of the U.S. (a new photozine project by Ben Hoste) }

September 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Have you ever seen Plato, Missouri, looking so good? I hadn’t. But I do really really appreciate when people pay attention to tiny rural places. So I’m really really excited that photographer (and University of Missouri J-School alum!) Ben Hoste is coming back all the way from New York to document a place just 30 miles from where I grew up. If that makes you excited too, you can back the project on Kickstarter!

For the 2010-2020 decade, Plato will be known as the exact population center of the United States, one point on an persistently westward path, which Ben elegantly says, “can be seen as the echo of manifest destiny.” He’s making photozines out of the pictures he’s taking there.

You know what I appreciate? Commitment. This will be the second time he visits and makes a zine. I also appreciate universalizing experiences:

I choose to focus my camera on seemingly momentless situations in an effort to make photographs absent of time. My goal is to explore both a local and universal understanding of America through the people and landscape of Plato, Missouri.

I think Ben makes a good enough case for his project, but just so you know, all my most talented photojournalism friends confirm he’s awesome, too. I’m admittedly a little late to the game (he was already 122% funded when I finally pledged some money), but dangit I want those photozines! If you want one to, go back it yourself, because he’ll only print as many as get backed.

(P.S. – Ben recently finished another local project, “Good Earth: Missouri’s Old Lead Belt.” It’s appropriately beautiful and eerie.)

(P.P.S. – Good Earth reminds me of Stacy Kranitz’s Appalachian photos.)

(P.P.P.S. – Speaking of documenting tiny places, remember that time I did a Q&A with the directors of Rich Hill?)

{ Alt fashion mag publisher talked to The Riveter. And thus meets my yearly quota of fashion news. }

September 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Aren’t Sunday mornings great? After recovering from a busy river cleanup and music festival in Boonville, I woke up to a crescent moon! In my window! And the wealth of the internet! At my fingertips! Thank God it’s 2014.

So while shaking off sleep, I checked in on websites I love and admire and stopped at The Riveter, a year-old publication founded by two Mizzou J-School women dedicated to women in longform journalism. They’re rad, the magazine’s rad, and you should probably go like them now before they’re famous.

Anyway, The Riveter’s most recent Q&A introduced me to Haley Mlotek, publisher of 10-year-old fashion mag WORN Fashion Journal and new editor of The Hairpin. She talked about the publisher-editor relationship, whether anyone at Worn gets paid, and what she thinks of Vogue.

“There’s a lack of urgency to a lot of their pieces,” she says in the interview and later, “As the publisher of WORN, I’m always thinking about why my magazine needs to exist, why people need to read it, because there’s a huge newsstand out there, and if you can’t tell your reader why they need to read the magazine you’ve made, then it’ll get lost.”

That’s great in itself, but the interview also links to Mlotek’s fascinating dissection of Vogue and fashion writing. It’s a worthy article for anyone interested in magazine identity and voice and—bonus—it forced me to Google “normcore.” Because hi, sorry, I live in mid-Missouri, and ironic fashion takes a while to settle in here.

WORN looks beautiful and meaningful and energetic, like a zine with more time on its hands. And I mean that as a high compliment, especially because I just watched this really good Kathleen Hanna documentary on Netflix last night.

Anyway, go click those linksss. But then come back and give me more links to read! I became the caretaker of an iPad yesterday and I hear I’m supposed to be doing something on it all the time. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Triceratops Weekend with the Missouri Institute of Natural Science }

April 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

It’s like the start of a joke: a geologist, a psychologist, a journalist and a jolly man named Larry are going to retrieve a triceratops skeleton from Wyoming…

Triceratops baby along for the ride. He kept us company through the Osage Plains, loess hills, IOWA, Badlands, Black Hills and empty, empty Wyoming grasslands. What a trooper.

Triceratops baby along for the ride. He kept us company through the Osage Plains, loess hills, IOWA, Badlands, Black Hills and empty, empty Wyoming grasslands. What a trooper.

The dig site! Very cool to visit.

The dig site! Very cool to visit.

Ok, who has a Bobcat in Springfield? We're going to need one.

Ok, who has a Bobcat in Springfield? We’re going to need one when we get in.

Matt Forir ratchets it in.

Matt Forir ratchets it in.

“How often does a little hillbilly girl get to meet people who do important things like this?” – says the woman at the hotel who just took a picture of our sorry 5-hours-of-sleep selves. Sigh.

The short of it: I had the opportunity of a lifetime to go with a ragtag crew of Ozarkians to retrieve a dinosaur for display in the Missouri Institute of Natural Science. It was sick. I’ll let you know when the story’s out. If you see a U-Haul on the road today, assume it’s carrying a dinosaur.

{ Crawdads, Caddisflies and Clifty Creek }

March 22, 2014 § 3 Comments

Every day during elementary school, my bus driver forded Clifty Creek in our yellow school bus, driving nose-down on a steep gravel road, then climbing straight up again. He did this every day, that is, unless the rains were bad. Then, it was an hour detour around that low-water bridge in some rural school emergency orchestration that I’d never want to plan myself.

Unarguably, my great-grandfather had it worse: the mother of one of his school mates had to give him a ride to the other side on her horse.

clifty_creek_conservation area

On second thought, that sounds a little more efficient than a one-hour detour.

Both my favorite and the most frustrating thing about the part of Missouri where my family is from is how cut-off it feels from the rest of civilization. There’s Clifty Creek to contend with, sure, and crossing the Gasconade River was even trickier. Add to that the consistently rocky and hilly terrain, other creeks, and the Big Piney River, and it’s easy to find yourself wanting to get somewhere half a mile away and driving twenty-eight to actually get there.

This does have its up-side. Because southeast Maries County/northeast Pulaski County is so untouchable, it has, for centuries, remained untouched.

Clifty Creek was the state’s first natural area, designated in 1971, and became a conservation area under the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1984.

I never explicitly knew that. To me, Clifty Creek was that spot near the water crossing, just off of the gravel road (private property, I’ve since learned). When family visited, the older kids and my uncles would always head upstream to see its famous natural arch. My grandmother never let me go with them, so I splashed around near the road and got my toes bitten by minnows. (She also never allowed me in deep water, so I still can’t swim.)

Much later, after I had moved from Dixon and graduated high school, a couple of friends and I went on a Route 66 trip. I suggested stopping by my old home place and expected to just hang out at that low-water bridge, but that same year a 2.3-mile trail in the conservation area was opened. We didn’t make it to the natural arch (foiled again!), but it was a good taste of the glades and woodlands.

It’s hard to separate my sentimental feelings from the experience of hiking there, but I will say this: the Gasconade dolomite on the trail seems to sparkle, the biodiversity is plain to see, and the water is crystal clear.

I often bring friends here with me, paired with Bluegrass Pickin’ Time and Elbow Inn. The weather’s usually warmer and we get in the water and meet more crawdads. The Spothanded Crayfish and Golden Crayfishes pictured above are fairly common and found in the same places together. I know we’ve seen at least four or five distinct species at one time before. Next trip, I’ll come armed with my copy of William L. Pflieger’s The Crayfishes of Missouri, which I almost just typed as “Crazyfishes of Missouri.” Also accurate.

The goal today was mostly to move around and be in the sun, but I managed to score a few bird finds, see a groundhog and a little brown bat, and — most exciting — I got to watch this caddisfly larva do his thing. Caddisflies are known to glamp under the right conditions, but I’ll leave you with the naturally fancy one from today:

« Read the rest of this entry »

{ A Confederate Soldier’s Thoughts on Human Trafficking }

March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Observed by my friend and former art professor Matt Ballou:

Portrait of Jeremy Grove from Matt Ballou’s “Becoming the Student” series.

“A good thing to come from my participation in reenactments is that we highlight a time when slavery was an issue. The reality is that human trafficking is still an issue; slavery is still an issue. And if, through my portraying a Confederate soldier, I can have conversations and engage with people – and ultimately raise awareness of the reality that human trafficking is perhaps worse now than it has ever been in history – then I feel that it’s a good way to use history to learn from our past and make a change.” – Jeremy Grove

Emphasis my own. Really striking thoughts coming from a Confederate reenactor, a symbol so easy to stereotype—for some people, anyway. (And by “some people,” I mean Northerners. And by “Northerners,” I don’t mean to imply Missouri is part of the South.) Read more from the “2nd Corporal, 3rd Missouri Infantry, CSA.”

Matt, the artist, is a thoughtful, passionate, lightning-bolt-and-ensuing-slow-fire of a person, and I’m proud to know him. He has been blogging for years and recently started a series of posts called “Becoming the Student,” where he shares a portrait and pieces of wisdom from the people he draws. This is the sixth. Go check him out at his blog, eikonktizo! « Read the rest of this entry »

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