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January 22, 2010

This is a little slice-o’-life blog entry.


the van, all done up in front of the ranch
Justseeds Artists Cooperative have a collective wealth of skills beyond making radical prints. One skill that many of us share, including Shaun Slifer and myself, is the art of ROAD DAWGGIN. We have logged thousands of miles on road trips between the two of us, often together. Shaun is also very adept at cutting and installing vinyl text and graphics. We took these skills to the road last week, when we drove an extended passenger van from Pittsburgh to Austin, logging over 1700 miles in three days! The purpose of this kinda hairbrained trip was to decorate and deliver a van to my brother Chris, who purchased it for his Endurance Ranch triathalon training camp.

This was an idea that we had been kicking around for months, but after the New Year we decided to just give it a go. Time was tight, we were both working a lot, and I had to be back in Pittsburgh by the 19th to start a new radical teen program. Well, with days to spare I located the van on Craig’s List, bought it from a metal band who never took it on tour as intended, who in turn had bought it from a church. It was well below freezing in Pittsburgh, so Shaun cut all the vinyl and we threw it in the back with the intention to install it on a sunny day in the southwest.


mary with epic graizzly-salmon-eagle battle sculpture in front of cabella’s, rip van winkle label
Along the way we visited Cabella’s in Wheeling, West Virginia, an epic “outdoorsman” (read: hunting) store, with an incredible array of natural history museum-esque taxidermied beasts and diaramas, and a crucial penny-smasher (“Cabella’s: Where Eagles Dare”). We got amazing single barrel Rip Van Winkle bourbon at the Cork & Bottle just over the bridge between Cincinatti and Kentucky. We made a stop in Nashville, Tennessee, Shaun’s old turf, hosted by the exuberant Santana and his vegan tacos and an insanely lovable pit bull named Master Blaster. We pored over a collection of mostly queer/lesbian and fetish zines that Ryan brought over. The first issue of On Our Backs! All these writers who talk about female queer desire, who I had been reading for years, in the pages of these 80’s (maga)zines…totally mind-blowing. The collection will be making an appearance in Pittsburgh before heading on to a more permanent home at the Queer Zine Archive in Montreal!

van party in shreveport! low-hangin dipstick
We pressed on to Shreveport, Louisiana, where our buddy Bill Daniel is holed up for the winter, escaping the cold while helping to renovate his buddy Dave’s amazing block of buildings downtown. We helped pass the time on this 9-hour drive by reading aloud to each other, Shaun from The Future Eaters, and me from Angry Women. We had some stress about the oil gauge freaking out as we drove into town, but scraped in town in time to catch the Q & A of Bill’s talk at the Red River Valley Railroad Historical Society’s monthly meeting, where he had screened his incredible film Who Is Bozo Texino? . Highlights of Shreveport include Dave’s home, drive-through daiquiri’s, and warmer temperatures! After an evening of sipping said bourbon and catching up on our lives and future schemes, we were ready to hit the road bright and early…but first the van needed oil, and after some examination we discovered that the dipstick wasn’t resting in the oil pan, just dangling beneath the van!
Luckily with a bit of searching we found an oil change spot that would fix the problem with zip ties and not even charge us and change the oil…buncha southern gentlemen! This let us hang out with Bill a little longer and eat some real Mexican food (the likes of which are hard to come by in dear old Pittsburgh).
The drive to Austin was uneventful, but posi. My brother was beyond stoked to see the van. He fed and watered us and took us on a tour of the whacked-out insanity that is 6th Street on a Saturday night. We walked through in a daze, managed to have a beer at the not-too-creepy Lovejoy’s, poked our heads into a lil bar below a parking garage that Bill had recommended, Ego’s, but it was karaoke night, there was no where to sit, so we returned to the bike shop to crash out up in the guest loft.

my brother, stoked with some salmons on vinyl
The next morning some of the triathalon bros arrived, after having drove all night from New Jersey and Indiana, respectively. They were itching to start working out, but first we went to a Mexican joint that Shaun’s old roommate Johnny recommended, Mi Madre’s, where we had the migas we had been dreaming of. Bros took off in spandex, we took the van to the car wash, met up with my old buddy Skot!, and Shaun hunkered down to apply the vinyl.

shaun puts on the vinyl
It was really a kick to see my ink drawings transformed into intricate vinyl cutouts. I want to use this process more! Shaun got everything on in a few hours and then we were free to wrangle a canoe from the spot where Skot! works and take a paddle down the creek and into the lake, dreamy sunset on a January day.

dreamy canoe trip in barton spring
We capped off our visit the next day with more migas and a trip to Shepler’s, an enormous western store, where I got a pair of boys’ cowboy boots! We hitched a ride to the airport in the endurance van, and had a really mellow trip back to Pittsburgh.

Total miles logged: over 1700
Total Mexican meals consumed: 5
Total seafood meals consumed: 4 (if you count Long John Silver’s drive-thru! shh!)
Total jars of Earl Grey blend tea consumed: 8? 10? 12?
We’ll be putting this road dawg knowledge to the crucial test this May when we pack up the Justseeds distro into a truck in Portland, and drive across the country to move it to Pittsburgh! Stay tuned.


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Posts by Mary Tremonte