Band members (L to R): James, Larry, Dug, and Gray
Dirt City Zine
Dirt City Zine is a collective voice of talented individuals and creative scenes who breathe energy into the Daytona Beach, FL and Phoenix, AZ metro areas. The purpose is to serve as a community resource by welcoming new forms of artful expression, with hopes of our articles feeding and inspiring each reader's own creative aura. If you want to keep up with the skateboard world... link up below at sk8dirtcityzine.blogspot.com.
Band members (L to R): James, Larry, Dug, and Gray
The Art Institute is located in Costa Mesa, CA. A few weekends ago they held an event to promote their college programs, as well as, hand out scholarships to their devine students of Design. Between the student gallery, live art exhibitions, a skateboard demo, fashion show, and culinary delicacies, there was plenty to do.
How I ended up here was due to my fiance setting up the skateboard course for The Red Bull Demo. This was the first road trip since I'd moved out to AZ from FL, so I was pretty happy to be checking out the scene and tagging along.
The main art exhibit was a group called EVOCAL. Some of their graffitists are shown in the pictures above. For more of a full story on the skateboard side of things click here or go to Sk8 Dirt City.
For instance, I've had to settle with the fact that Arizona sized portions of sake are very small (due to the strict drinking laws around here). A bottle of sake is 6 to 8oz. This is the largest! There is nothing I can do about this, but alongside crappy service, and tiny sushi rolls... the points definitely go down a few in my book. I like the fish to be so fresh it melts in my mouth, and a good variety of new rolls to try is also a plus. I have eaten at many a sushi places, so if nothing grabs my attention I probably won't be back. Since in Arizona (one month and a week today) I have been to four sushi places in the Gilbert region (15-20 minutes east of Phoenix), and would like to grace you with my expertise.
I have lots more to try, so keep checking back for my subjective, yet seasoned opinion.
1. The Blue Wasabi- Needless to say, the wasabi's blue color is their trademark. It is open late,
has a good vybe, good menu, and great service. Definitely recommend the Dirt Sanchez roll.
- located in Gilbert's Santan Village Mall.
2. Sushiya- Flashing Christmas lights which hung from the window are actually what grabbed our attention, as we were aimlessly looking for another sushi place. Turns out, like the flashing lights, it was nothing new or grandiose. Definitely recommend for the happy hours though. We missed this, but need to go back for the bottle of sake and edamame for only a buck! The tables are equipped with a slideshow menu of rolls, which is pretty cool for visualizing.
2531 S. Gilbert Rd. #109, Gilbert, AZ
3. Way Sushi- A pretty good sushi restaurant. Recommend this place for a weeknight where you just want friendly service and a more quiet atmosphere.
- 2512 S. Val Vista Dr. Gilbert, AZ
4. Sushi Ave- We heard good things about it, but our experience was a 6 oz bottle of sake (only 2 shots each), horrible service, not much of an atmosphere, and tiny rolls.
-located off of Higley Rd and Guadalupe in Gilbert.
Scum of the Earth is an independent film in the works by faculty at Daytona State College. This interview is with Gary Monroe, professional photographer and faculty member of the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies; he had the original idea for the movie. I've actually had this article done for quite a while, but am just now putting it up. It was sort of sitting in queue as I decided where to submit it to. Let's just say... I got lazy. Anyway, it is a pretty controversial title and topic. So feel free to comment.
Photos_ Gary Monroe
“But it is true. By extension, the people telling us their stories are both writing and rewriting the biographies. Some are more convincing than others. But I think it’s normal if not, to a degree, an unconscious act to emphasize certain facts over others, or to massage them into an acceptable, even convincing, narrative. We are willing accomplices.” ~ Gary Monroe
Morgan McDole: I think recording the lives of convicted sex offenders is quite an intriguing and risqué topic. Who or what inspired this project?
Gary Monroe: I came across the trailer park where these people reside serendipitously, while researching something very different. It’s a topic that’s consistent with my photographic interests.
Do you have a title for it yet?
GM: Scum of the Earth. I was a bit taken aback by it at first, so we surveyed
offenders, management, the counselor and others; they all thought it to be a
terrific choice. “That’s what we are considered,” was the offenders’ consensus.
Who is involved and what are your roles?
GM: I quickly realized the narrative imperative and thought that film would be the way to go. So I took the idea to Phyllis Redman, who has a background in social work. I sensed that she’d be the right person to direct this film. Eric Breitenbach signed on as cameraman. I wanted to do still photography and have these images integrated into the film. The three of us are co-producing the film, and later we brought Benji Clyde onboard because of his editing skill.
Have all of you worked on films before? Is this film or digital video?
GM: Of our production team, I’m the sole non-filmmaker. Though I did a “short” many years ago… We are recording the piece digitally.
Photography and video go hand and hand. Have you had any students who have worked in the film industry post college?
GM: Yes, we have, and some with great success. Larry Cumbo comes first to mind. He became chief producer for National Geographic Films and later began his own production company.
Describe the “set” of this current project.
GM: Almost all of the filming takes place at The Palace, the mobile park home where these sex offenders live. The place was reconfigured to provide a transitory residence for just-released sex offenders. Their options, due largely to the 1,000 foot rule, are very limited. Also, they may get counseling there.
Explain the difference between a sexual offender and a sexual predator? Which are you dealing with mostly?
GM: There are several criteria that distinguish a predator from an offender, including habitual behavior and recidivism among other considerations. We are dealing mostly with sex offenders.
What are you all trying to capture or show?
GM: We are concerned with countering the mindless demonizing of these people; the problem is that the acts vary in their severity and we, society, haven’t met the challenges of punishment and rehabilitation wisely. The public, I doubt, knows much about what we/ they are dealing with when it comes to these types of terrible behaviors and insidious crimes. As it is said there, society views all sex offenders as baby rapists. It’s much more complex than that. And that popular attitude doesn’t do a thing to help alleviate the causes of the problem.
Do most cities have a campground set aside for sexual offenders? Do we have one in Daytona Beach?
GM: Do you mean under bridges?
How did you get permission to be in this campsite, and how do you go about getting people to let you record their personal lives?
GM: It’s not a campsite but a trailer park where the mobile homes are permanently stationed. We met with the management. Told them we are professors from Daytona State College, and we shared our track records with them. They welcomed us. Although at first it seemed that it would be difficult to get people to be recorded, it turned out to be just the opposite. People want to tell their stories. Our trick is not to quite distinguish fact from fiction, not to handle what we are told as necessarily either. Confabulation is at play here. Ours is to make filmic sense out of this ball of wax.
A mentor of mine told me years ago that all writing is story telling. I thought I’d find a hole in that broad statement. But it is true. By extension, the people telling us their stories are both writing and rewriting the biographies. Some are more convincing than others. But I think it’s normal if not, to a degree, an unconscious act to emphasis certain facts over others, or to massage them into an acceptable, even convincing, narrative. We are willing accomplices. Our job is to give the offenders a voice and the piece a veracity that involves the viewers and compels each one to come to his or her own conclusions, on their own terms.
How do the residents/ talent react to the camera?
GM: Surprisingly well. That’s in part due to the synergy and synchinization of the four of us. We work well together, contributing to a comfortable environment. We are genuinely intersted, and don’t come to this judgmentally. Eric handles the camera deftly; Phyllis is confident with sound (given her background); I, as always, am at ease with my Leica in hand. Benji’s putting the pieces together in his head, preparing to edit with Phyllis.
Does it make a difference if say you or Phyllis is doing the shooting? Just wondering if people are more or less reserved opening up to a male or female.
GM: I don’t think so. We are doing the B roll, anyway.
Have you noticed any similarities in these residents: mannerisms, demeanor, and look in their eye…?
GM: Nothing that insidious. The place is an odd environment by its very nature. There’s strangeness there, for sure… I think it’s because of the old trailer park, the fact that two to as many as six people live in each trailer, one after the next. They are castaway beings in a twilight zone that’s set in the middle of seemingly nowhere. But more so because these people are monitored and restricted. They walk a very straight and narrow line or risk being violated (imprisoned) at the drop of a dime.
More than anything else it struck me that each person seems to be cast from central casting. I don’t know if this is a sort of projection on my part or if there’s something to it. But even their characteristics and voices are somehow perfect, slightly larger than life, and yet tragic.
Do any of them have similar life stories, traumas, etc?
GM: Yes, most were abused themselves, when youngsters. And most offended close to home, within their families. This alone casts another light on the problem. Environmental and biological factors are at play here, as are stupid errors in judgment.
Have any of your subjects had more on their criminal record other than a sexual offense?
GM: Yes, but nothing, as far as I know, that’s especially egregis. But they aren’t “subjects,” and they certainly aren’t mine. They are vehicles, if you will, characters through whom we are telling a tangled story. The subject is sex offense and society. The subject is each viewer.
Do you ever feel threatened? Do you carry a weapon?
GM: I don’t feel at all threatened there. Remember, these folks are on short leashes. I don’t carry a weapon and never have. I’ve long relied on my wits and, perhaps, naiveté. Or may I say amazement at what I’m photographing?
Okay, what has been the best part about working on this project? Worst part?
GM: The best part, as always, is the quality of discovery, the amazement and surprises… There hasn’t been a “worst.” We, the filmmakers, are friends and get along well and are creating something we believe in, something of interest and significance. We are privileged to be doing what we love doing.
When can we expect the film?
GM: Around April 2009. We’ve done more shooting than originally expected because of the people’s wanting to be part of the production and our increasing awareness of the complexity of the story.
Do you have plans for this film showing, film festivals, etc?
GM: This is now getting our attention.
Eric Breitenbac- breitred.com
Gary Monroe- garymonroe.net
Thank you to those listed above for the additional time you took out of your busy work schedules to talk about the film in production. Good luck!~ Morgan
Interview with Janicka Rouse by Morgan McDole
"If you pay attention life gives you a chance to give back." ~Janicka Rouse
Morgan McDole: Talk a little about the project you were doing on Saturday, and how it came about.
Janicka Rouse: Saturday was titled Operation Community Capture which is basically going to become the umbrella name that all other volunteer events I put together will fall under. The original idea for Saturday came about early in the semester as Professor Vandusen spoke to us about the power of photographs. He specifically noted a project where photographers had taken unique portraits of foster children that captured their individual character, versus what a typical head shot would convey to a prospective foster parent. The end result being more children placed in homes. The assumption being that the portraits brought out qualities about each child that would not otherwise have been noticed. I wanted to bring that experience to families who otherwise would not be able to have those moments captured. The families being brought in for this day are on deeply personal journeys at this point in their lives and would not otherwise be able to share in a private studio portrait session with their families. Many only see their loved ones one day a week and holidays. It is my hope that the portraits taken on Saturday will truly be making this holiday special for many years to come, and that they can refer back to these family portraits for inspiration, hope, and reflection.
MM: How many families did you shoot? How did you choose which families to shoot?
Chidavaenzi recommended I contact Captain Karla Perez of the Salvation Army, since they already had a process in place for providing for families in need. Captain Perez was as excited as I was to provide families with portraits and immediately had names in mind. We were especially excited to add these prints to the families' Christmas baskets for Christmas day.
MM: Name some people who helped you pull this off, and their role.
JR: If I only name a few I will feel horrible for leaving someone out! How about I just list the volunteers?... First to volunteer and offer to help was Kenny Glass, Duane Rodriguez, Jenna Michaels, Tyson Robertson, Patricia Woods and Amber Plutowski. From planning to execution those guys were there. Of course without the rest of the team of volunteers like Roger Linke, Jared Siegel and Lukus Harden, Nancy Boudreau, Becky Zackary, and Molly Coffin the day would not have gone as smoothly as it did. Then there were the donations from Sorrentos Italian Restaurant, Jeanne Fish, and even the stockroom! You were even there to help! Add to all of that, the support of Dan Biferie and all of the professors. How can I name just a few? It was truly a team effort all the way around with everyone doing what they could when they could, which is what I appreciate most. This may have been one person's idea, but there was a team behind the day and memories these families will always carry with them.
Above L: Tyson Robertson takes time out to teach D.J. a survival skill (shoe tying)
Above R: Tyson in session
MM: Who pays for the prints?
JR: Speedway was kind enough to offer a significant discount to help with the printing costs. Originally, I was seeking a donation to cover the costs of printing but was unable to find one. Just when I thought I would personally cover the costs, the Pastor of The Salvation Army offered. She called at the end of Saturday's sessions and said with all I had provided and already paid for she felt I had done enough. This touched me. I just figured I had committed to this cause and would see it through.
MM: What semester Photography student are you?
JR: I am headed into my fourth semester.
MM: How did this photo shoot differ from past projects you've done this semester?
JR: Well some differences would be this wasn't for a school assignment, my portfolio, or a paid assignment. And, I only shot one family! The volunteer photographers had everything under control. Though, the biggest difference for me was feeling as if we were truly doing something special for others. Using our skills to give back.
MM: Did you have a favorite family portrait?
JR: I did actually. It is a moment so spontaneous you can not help but smile when you look at it. Three sisters are sharing a laugh and Molly, the photographer for this family, caught it. There is another of a young boy pretending to meditate while a pose is being organized around him, Tyson Robertson happened to catch that one.
MM: Seeing families who are struggling economically, did this rub you in any way?
JR: Growing up in Baltimore, raised by a single mom whose biggest determination is to keep her family together and beat the odds, I believe makes me sensitive to the plight of struggling economically but also reminds me to never give up. Witnessing families who try so hard to survive and stick together through the toughest of life's circumstances, and then being apart of a family that did so, gives me hope that there are others who can benefit from my experiences. If you pay attention life gives you a chance to give back. I plan to take that chance every opportunity I get.
MM: What are you doing for Christmas?
JR: I will be spending Christmas with my family. This year is extra special because we will all be together at home. Last year my baby sister was born two months early, so Christmas was spent in Orlando by her side because she was not allowed to leave her incubator. This year she is a healthy one-year old, running around and reaching for anything she can get her little hands on. We are a little worried about her and the tree. Also, my Great-grandmother will be visiting from Baltimore.
MM: Is this something you would like to do next year? Anything different you would do?
JR: I would love to do this every year, growing to the point that we offer holiday baskets. My goal is to hold events yearlong in the community, not just during the holidays. It would also be nice to give back to the volunteers who donate their time, especially if the same people participate in Operation Community Capture efforts often.
MM: What's the most joyful thing about Christmas season to you?
JR: The most joyful thing about the Christmas season for me is the memories created with my family, especially my son. Each year his ability to remember and grasp the importance of our time together amazes me. Its like he has never forgotten any one-time we made Santa cookies and chocolate milk. Or, donated toys to other children. He is always asking me, "Hey mom, remember when we..?" I am so grateful he holds on to those memories of us as a family. He does enjoy the gift part just like anyone else! This year, as he puts it, "Its all about Star Wars mom". He is hoping for a real LightSaber!
MM: Anything else you would like to share?
JR: I just wanted to add that there were some really special moments; for example, Mollie Coffin took special time out to give an aspiring photographer, from one of the families, a personal tour of the studio and building. She and her parents could not stop smiling and saying thank you.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share this story!