Here in the PNW, it’s Pride Season, or as I like to call it, Summertime Sadness. I’ve gone to a couple Pride Festivals in Los Angeles, where I moved from a year ago, and then my first Portland one last year. It was fun, but I usually just go to the parades and daytime festivities, and I found myself shrugging off Portland Pride 2014. It seems I had lost the spirit of Pride; so this time, I summoned the ghosts of Pride Past, Present, and Future to get it back. Continue reading
Two years ago, when I lived in Los Angeles, I left my job to take a year-long “artistic sabbatical”. I felt a creative itch that was brought about by working with my LA family at Sacred Fools Theater Company. A few months into that year, I went through some shit. I came out on the other side more determined than ever to create a life that was artistically fulfilling, and more than anything true and authentic to myself. I visited Portland for the first time in February of 2013, and instantly fell in love with it, thanks to my good friend and tour guide Summer Olsson. And then a funny thing happened: Continue reading
“I have been holding this fart in from the day I met you, and now I’m ready to let it go.” When it all boils down, that’s really what I’m looking for, someone to say that to. In Part 1 about dating guys from the Scruff app, I mentioned that there were a million and one different things that people on there are looking for, but that’s the common denominator. Whether it’s friends, or “workout buddies” (hahahaha who the hell are you kidding), or an eventual husband, we’re all looking for someone to get know on a comfortable level. Someone who we don’t have to worry anymore about holding in our farts around.
This occurred to me while I was in the grocery store, where most of my Deep Thoughts happen (hey, dawdling stranger, get the fuck out of the boxed wine aisle so I can get to My Preciousss). Being single for a couple years isn’t a big deal…unless you’re someone who loves to be in monogamous relationships, like me. Loading my cart up with cat litter and Juanita’s chips, I thought Maybe it’s the first impression. If I’m going to make Scruff the primary thing I use to meet guys, maybe I should work on my profile.
Let’s break this down one section at a time, shall we? Continue reading
BLCKSMTH first talked to Michelle Lesniak last year for our Princess Mononoke-themed photo shoot. To say she’s a force to be reckoned with is an understatement. This talented Portland-based fashion designer makes bold choices, has clear vision, and is humble about her successes. 2014 looks to be a banner year for her, with her recent engagement and her studio/retail space opening up in SE Portland this month, with a trunk show June 13th and 14th from 2 to 9 both days.
Michelle’s song contributions this month were dark and moody, and inspired me to make similar choices for my picks. We went up to the Pittock Mansion for a Gothic-inspired photo shoot from the masterful Chase Person, with makeup by Jill Greenseth. Michelle is modeling looks from her own current collection. This month’s soundtrack knows what scares you:
Michelle’s Pick: Radiohead, Climbing up the Walls Dark. Hidden. A song of terror and the creepy-things under the stairs. I listen to this song and think of boarded up houses and stained wallpaper. It brings me to one of my favorite short stories “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a tale of a woman trapped behind vintage, torn wallpaper…or is she?
As I posted recently with as little fanfare as possible, I released Part One of my first novel, The Tropic of Never last month. It’s very “me”: a gay sci-fi epic with a main character, Edgar Locke, thrust into an unfamiliar world full of wonders, on a city-sized ship that shouldn’t exist. Recently, I asked three artists whose work I admire greatly to read the book and create art from it (with minor, but barely minor spoilers). I couldn’t be more honored to have these talented people interpret my words. Here are their creations:
The above is Edgar Locke’s beginning of his passage through The Spikes, interpreted by Nick Fauble, a Portland-based artist and graphic designer. This passage was easy for me to write, because it was a sequence I always knew was coming and I had lots of time for the ideas to marinade in my brain before I typed it out. I’m really looking forward to future collaborations with Nick, do check out more examples of his awesome work here!
So I’m standing there in front of the bathroom mirror in my apartment the other day with my shirt off, trying to take a selfie with my phone. I’m heartbroken, because swimsuit season is coming and my naked body looks like it’s covered in cargo shorts. I’m jockeying for a better angle, and then I drop my phone, which has a stupid-heavy case. It hits the glass soap dispenser on the way down, shattering it and terrifying my cat Ned, who has come into the bathroom to investigate and maybe drink some toilet water while he’s at it. He’s startled and knocks some decorative stuff off the top of the commode into the toilet bowl.
After he runs out of the bathroom through the pieces of glass, tchotchkes, and a possibly broken phone, I take a long look at myself in the mirror. How did it get like this? I think. What the hell has happened to romance and dating?
One thing opening up these soundtracks to guest collaborators has done is allow BLCKSMTH to work with intelligent and inspiring artists. Nick Mattos, a columnist with PQ Monthly, has curated a soundtrack that’s both complex and accessible, and the photography of the talented, skilled Chase Person complemented the music choices perfectly. Nick’s also a co-creator of our upcoming webseries *How To Save Your Own Life. Be sure to check out Nick’s 18-song playlist on Spotify for BLCKSMTH, and check out more of Chase’s photography on Instagram at @chasepersonphotography.
Nick’s Pick: Banks, Change Oh man, Banks is so wonderful. She makes electro-infused R&B that sounds like a seance hosted by Sade, the xx, and Jamie Woon. One of the things I like best about her is the amount of emotional intelligence and insight she brings lyrically; in “Change,” as one example, she transcends the R&B trope of being dedicated to someone who doesn’t treat you well to instead consider the ways that people excuse others’ behavior in difficult relationships. I love her so much, I can’t deal with it: