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Draplin Design Co., North America
November 23, 2000
Draplindustries Gazette #23: November 2000
Posted at 01:54 PM

Big news from Eric Campbell, New Hampshire Division: Ma Nature stepped in and delivered some good news in the form of critter arrivals. Megan’s fertile soils have a small miracle developing as you read this. Breathe easy, this project is fully sanctioned by the Draplindustries Design Co, our first of the sort. I can’t tell you how amazing the phonecall was from Eric, I was in full goose-bump mode! All of us here wish the expecting parental units 9 months of health and happiness. May is the big month.

A word to the little one: “Godspeed you angel-straight-from-heaven, burrow in and kick back — we’ll see you in the spring!”

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We decided to go to Vegas on Memorial Day. We were feelin’ lucky. No strangers to the glitz of the strip, we loaded the Mazda and head east over the mountains dropping down into the Mojave desert. As we approached the dry expanses, the uneventful topography reminded me of a rock band, their package designs and the haunting sounds they made together — music + design = this magical set of images of faraway lands. So I pulled the rig over in the hot desert sun, grabbed the map and notified the better half we were gonna veer off the beaten path a bit.

We headed down the lonely road into the western edge of the Mojave Desert national monument, greeted by prickly fields of Joshua Trees on either side of us.

The catalyst of this expedition is a band called Scenic. Headed by one Bruce Licher, they create these landscapes of sound — inspired by lonely southwestern expanses, textures and colors. He also handles the design and fabrication of the albums and discs, the most amazing pieces of letter-pressed wonders you’ll ever unfold. So over the last couple years, reading the liner notes, guided by feel of the music, savoring the desolate images — in my mind I was catapulted into a lonely desert — alone and at peace with the desolation. Titles like “The road to Ivanpah” and “Incident at Cima” puzzled me. Were these fictional places and events? I had to find out for myself. And someday, I would venture into the southwest in search of the lands that inspired these guys.

So here we were, flying along in the middle of nowhere — but, in the middle of somewhere alright — the open road expanses that went on seemingly forever in front of us blurred into a slightly convex desert horizon. I drove along, crossing roads that correlated with moments in the disc — the delicate packaging unfolded on the dashboard for quick reference. Every couple miles I’d jump out and snap off a couple shots — visions of Licher’s images inspiring every shutter click. Some consider the desert a wasteland — a big area of nothing — and that is exactly what I loved so much about it. No strip malls or rumbling freeways. Time stood still as the hot sun beat down on me, perched outside of the rig, miles and miles of “nothing” in my viewfinder. Beautiful.

Melissa couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of my mouth: “I think I want to live out here someday.” I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my mouth. Hot, arid, lonely, harsh, bright, unforgiving — but — amazingly mysterious. Imagine a little cabin or even a motorhome for a couple month. Get in tune with the cycle of the days — sunrise, sun, sunset — hike, draw, take pics, fighting rattlesnakes and cacti with every step! It was very romantic out there. Not in the sense of the mushy sort of romantic, more like the cowboy type. Maybe I should push for a “Raising Arizona” situation? — alone in the desert with my gal and little Nathan Arizona.

With a quick left were back onto the highway, crossing the border at Pistol Pete’s Gamblin’ hall. The billboards told a sad story. It turen out we (I) missed Willie Nelson by one goddamn night! Ol’ blue eyes cryin’ in the rain! After fillin’ the rig we picked up speed and were ‘On the road again’ head to Vegas.

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Once in Vegas we drove the strip for a couple hours in search of a hotel for the night. We settled on the Tropicana and pulled in, fingers snapping out the driver’s-side window for valet service. Luggage in hand, we made our entrance, cracked the knuckles and made our way to through the nauseating circus of blinkin’ lights, big dreams and dinging slots up to our room. Mirrors on the ceiling! Class. We kicked the desert dust off our boots, tucked in our tails, slicked the hiar back and hit the nightlife. That night we hoofed it up and down the strip people watching. The strip gets bigger and bigger each time I roll through town. I was pretty impressed by the Paris deal. Melissa successfully navigated us to the replicated Eiffle Tower for some upward gazing.

The next morning after a hearty, healthy buffet meal we hit the road back, once again, veering off the beaten pavement and down into the nowhere lands, following Old Route 66 as close ass possible. It was great. I have to say, one of the highlights of the summer. Driving that stretch, thinkin’ about travelers in the old days — cruising their nation. Decrepid fill stations would pop up with each little town. Great photos all around. I can’t wait to process. Open road shots are among my most favorite.

Miles later we pulled into the painfully safe confines of Laguna Gardens, through the secure gate and into our air-conditioned palace to regroup and reminisce about the adventures of the weekend.

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Nike, nike, nike. Ho-hum. The Nike ACG Indoor event took place at the Los Angeles Forum, home of Kareem and Magic! An impressive collection of professional snowboarders were in town competing for the big purse of 30 grand. Nike kicked down some big bucks. I was surprised by how well the quarterpipe was, considering it’s location in hellville, Los Angeles. The floor was a river, “snow” melting away by the minute. I was in awe with the whole production. Faceless drones scurried around suckin’ face with walkie talkies, coordinatin’ this and that, stressed and such. Their work was great entertainment for the rest of us. Seeing the boys hittin’ the jump got the old snowboardin’ blood boiling a bit. Been a long time since I did some riding. Mikalchuk took the honors, complete with a unenthused, glased look on his face as some chump-dick reporter prodded him for his post-game reaction.

Snowboarder magazine’s own Pat ‘the eYe” Bridges announced the practice runs and the competion. He did an amazing job, full of facts, figures and commentary. I was impressed.

Oh, to draw the crowd they invited Eminem and the Kotton Mouth Kings. Boy, so much talent, so little time, eh? Man, what a bunch of Motherfuckers. I can’t believe people are buying into that shit. Eminem is from Detroit — yet another scar on the city’s legacy — why can’t he be from Gary, Indiana or something? I found myself hoping he’d trip over his crotch or something on the stage. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic! And man, the crowd was eatin’ it up. Sad.

Snowboarding, Southern Calilfornia and pro-weed, whitebread hip hop — yay.

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Cameron Barrett, information architect and lover of Jazz music came showed up for some SoCal vacation time. And let me tell you, he needed every second of the down time. See, he’s this big shot web guys living the highlife in New York City programming and designing highly articulate back end website systems. His description of his job is very complicated and leaves me scratching my head. I know this though, he is very passionate about his work, to the point of getting himself worked up trying to explain thing to simple-minded fuckers like myself.

He flew into LAX, we picked him up and smuggled him behind the Orange Curtain. He didn’t take to the surroundings to well. “Man, I’d hate to live here.” He’d say as we whizzed around on congested highways.

After a couple days of magazine drama we headed north to San Francisco for a couple days of action. Cameron and I drove north early — reaching the city in time for a quick visit to his Collab.net offices. Interesting scene. Programmers — dilligently pecking away, hitting “enter” and waiting for results. Then more pecking away. Honestly, after interviewing some of the workers I still don’t really have any idea what they were up to. I guess I can think of it this way, when I go to a site and shuffle through info systems — the frameworks that keeps the machine well oiled is “what they are doing” — I think. Amazing.

That night we hung out at the 4th Annual Fray Day shindig, shootin’ the shit with calculated weblog junkies. Pretty interesting folks. Warm and inviting. Cam is quite a hit in the online community. Revered and respected by many for his skills and insights regarding the world wide web. I was impressed. Melissa flew in that night to Oakland. We grabbed her and raced back to our South San Fran motel. Howard Johnson’s or something.

We slept and woke, heading into the city for some action. We did some shopping some sight-seeing, some chowing, took some cabs all around San Francisco. The “dot.coms” have taken over the city. “Sillyclone Valley Cowboys”, as Biafra says. Rent is steep steep steep and the place is very claustrophobic.

The next day we drove back to Orange County and resumed our little lives, Cameron flying right back to the collab.net San Francisco offices to work a couple days. Quite the internet jetsetter, eh?

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One of my biggest projects has been debt extermination. During the college months and most importantly, in the sluggish weeks following the Minneapolis departure I built the card’s balance up pretty well with trips to IKEA, lavish meals and plane tickets. Time to fess up. I can proudly say my focus seems to be working. I pay big chunks off as much as possible. My little dream is to get myself as “debt-free. It weighs on my every purchase. I can’t help but getting a little ticked at the credit card companies. Man, they send the cards and just kick back — and in no time, they have you right where they want you. Yeah, this is no big news to the readers of these words, but take this paragraph an ode to fighting these demons. I’m at war here, and I’m gonna prevail.

My focus is to get things down to zero so I can hang out in the positive numbers for a fuckin’ change.

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I watch these channels each night: Discovery, History Channel, The Learning Channel and A&E — .I think I’m addicted to hour long docu-dramas. I can’t get enough.

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The Factory Floor wore one pair of Carhartt shorts all summer long.

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I think about Minneapolis constantly. I really like the scene there. I was comfortable there. This place is trying me — trying us. Melissa is having a tough go at thing too. Breaks my heart to see her frustrated. I love my job, I designing those page and seeing them on magazine racks in brightly-lit grocery stores — I escape into the office and dig in for the day. Our time spent cruising around town often results in sad conversations wondering about fall foliage and family and the greatest diner in the world, The Ideal Diner up on Central Ave. As I type this the sadness sets in. I want to go back. I liked it there.

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Let me take this opportunity to give thanks to my better half Melissa. We celebrated 10 months of golden bliss on the 18th — .10 months! Some gal, eh? This place has been tough on her. She left her family, friends and employment to venture out here with me. It’s the biggest jump she has made yet. It hasn’t been easy. The miles, climate and job have put a strain on us. I love my job so much — and I’ll more or less spend the whole day there without thinking. Thanks to Melissa for sticking it out down here. Love you. We’ll split outta this dump someday.

Aaron James Draplin>
Draplindustries Design Co, California League

  1. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker (amazing!)
  2. Spinanes – Manos
  3. PAW – Home is a Lonely Place
  4. Paul Westerberg – Grandpaboy
  5. Peter Bruntnell – Normal For Bridgewater
  6. Mark Kozelek – Rock-n-roll Singer
  7. Ida – Tales of Brave Ida
  8. Modest Mouse – Antartica
  9. Richard Ashcroft – A Song For The Lovers
  10. Damien Jurado – Ghost of David
  11. Slobberbone – Everything You Thought Was