First off, if you just wanna skip straight to the important part and get your own The Sandusky Review, go here.
I don’t have many high opinions about art. If anything, I mentally turn and bolt in the other direction when I feel something akin to an artistic prejudice take hold. Perhaps Tony Gwynn says it best: â€œOnce you’re where you think you want to be, you’re not there anymore.â€ Now Tony was talking about hitting baseballs, but I hold that little maxim true for a good many things in my life, and art is perhaps the most important of those things.
Now having made that bold statement, let me go ahead and shatter that glass house I’ve just signed the papers on. Because when it comes to Southern Art (and while I’m winding up to throw stones I’ll just go ahead and capitalize both of those), I have one very strict criteria that it must adhere to, and if it doesn’t, then it’s of no interest or use to me whatsoever. It’s not a very hard criteria to meet, and need not even be a dominant theme. And even easier yet, it does not even have to be a theme that was addressed intentionally as long as upon intake, I can somehow connect with it through my own devices.
Basically what it comes to is this. It is my hard, fast and unequivocal opinion that Southern Art must some how address the journey of assimilation that this region and its people have been making into mainstream America for the last, oh, 80 years or so. And that’s it. I’m not sure if that is a decent or fair standard to hold Southern Art to, but that’s my prejudice, nonetheless.
I subject you to the above pretentious self-indulgence for this reason. Two weekends ago, sitting in the cold, dark confines of New Cherokee, I was honored and humbled to have one Gorjus Glam put into my hands copy 1 of 150 of his opus, The Sandusky Review. With my head already addled by a few freon-cold Budweisers, it became immediately apparent, without even cracking the cover, that I was holding in my hand a piece of Southern Art that was extremely important to me based on my aforementioned prejudice. It came in the form of the cover Polaroid (in that faded, yellowed exposure that is a signature of Gorjus’ camera), a portrait of a trestle on the seemingly-ancient ruins of the Pearl River Bridge, which a graffiti artist had prominently adorned with his/her tag, â€œPIXELâ€ (the last one on the second row). Perhaps, again, the previous chug of liquid air conditioning was a contributing factor, but I absolutely shivered when I saw it, and thanked the muses for this one little piece of Southern Art that seemed tailor-made for a guy who spends his days writing web applications for a living and his evenings sipping a Sazerac and plotting his next visit to New Orleans where he hopes to recreate Binx Bolling’s walk downtown upon which he happens to see the actor William Holden on the street (therefore executing a meta-repetition that Binx would quite approve of), and maybe, if time allows, he can finally go track down the grave of Gram Parsons.
Once I got back to the friendly confines of Baton Rouge and spent an evening with The Sandusky Review in its entire, my opinion that this truly is an important piece of Southern Art within the confines of what I think/hope Southern Art should be were only reinforced. Within its pages, with its short essays and cartoons you find Gorjus on a first-person exploration of the joys, sorrows and contradictions that come with being a modern human in a place that, in many ways, still clings to a way of life that has long since departed, if it ever really existed at all. Sample ye just a few lines from the essay Chevrolet Truth:
Listen: I put that blue Chevy in a ditch somewhere in Oktibbeha County on the cusp of my twenties. Don’t believe the stories, I was sober as hell, but maybe that was my teenage Altamont, the end of going back home pronounced by a slur of twisted steel and shattering plastic jammed deep in to the Mississippi dirt, rain dripping on my face, heart twisted up in my throat, chrome skittering across the asphalt.
Better yet, another piece, from Switchblade Sunday:
My dad used to tell me about growing up in Sandusky, going to Minor in the sixties, turning a hundred screws on a hundred Chevrolets on a hundred Saturdays. He and his friends would hunt switchblades in the pawn shops, ribbing the old guys running the stores in Bessemer and Jasper, asking for prices on Saturday Night Specials and pop-out knives.
If you don’t know why his son was looking for switchblades a full thirty years later, then give yourself and “F” in “Southern Manhood and Fiction.” In the alternative: If you do understand why his son was looking for switchblades thirty years later, please mark your grade as an “A” and also indulge in Cud’n Walker’s delicious mint julep recipe (please note the crushed ice must be crushed eggs-ack-erly, with a wooden mallet upon a Delta cotton towel).
Yep, folks, that’s the real deal, as far as I’m concerned and since there are only 150 of these “artifacts” in existence (and many have already found happy homes) I implore you to contact Gorjus about getting a copy of your own. First off, because it’s a great little piece and if you’ve grown up in the South then it will speak to you in a way that I hope that my ramblings have given a bit of a clue to. Second, in 20 or 30 years, when we are no longer growing up in the South, but are growing old in a South that probably in no way resembles the one we find ourselves in today, this is something that I know I’m going to want to pull off the bookshelf and peruse, a reminder of all the beauty, tragedy and paradox that came with growing up in a place and time that you couldn’t possibly comprehend, but had so many meaningful times just existing in with a sense of sadness, bemusement and wonder that few people anywhere else in the world can understand.