Millions of Women are Waiting to Meet You
Sean Thomas

Da Capo Press
Street: 05.01

When freelance journalist Sean Thomas (who’s pushing 40 and still single) is asked by an editor of a men’s magazine to do a cover story about online dating, he was reluctant. Hell, I don’t blame him. After all, internet dating is a little fucking weird, but he accepts the assignment, and eventually that cover story became this memoir. Millions of Women are Waiting to Meet You truly captures the awkwardness that is associated with dating (online or otherwise) and through his trials and tribulations in the online world, readers get to peek at all of his previous conquests. There are prostitutes in Thailand, a near threesome in Russia, abortions and girls that liked anal. The memoir is hilariously awkward and brutally honest, often simultaneously. It lets one glance into the most intimate moments of an individual’s life and begs the question: Is sexual deviancy really all that weird? The memoir is good (until the cliché ending) but I still think that flying to Thailand to fuck some prostitutes isn’t normal. –Jeanette Moses

On the last Friday of every month, cyclists all over the world take to the streets in a loosely organized celebration/protest known as Critical Mass. Safety in numbers and promoting the idea that bikes are legitimate traffic are the two key statements Critical Mass makes. The number of participants varies from month to month, anywhere from 30-100; the route is never the same and there are no leaders. In fact, the only planned element is the cyclist’s meeting place and time––in Salt Lake it’s on the north side of the Gallivan Center around 5:30p.m.

I first saw flyers for Critical Mass around town about four years ago, but didn’t participate in the ride until a few months ago. I was hesitant to attend because I wasn’t a very active bike rider and my bike wasn’t my sole form of transportation. Thankfully, a handful of years later, I finally let go of my inhibitions about being heckled by “hardcore bike riders” for driving a car. It didn’t take long to realize that my fears had been unfounded.

The first Critical Mass, originally called the Commute Clot, was held in San Francisco in September 1992. The same year Ted White released Return of the Scorcher, a short film that explored the culture of bicycles and documented a phenomenon in China. Cyclists would pile up at intersections without lights and after a large group had compiled they would go through the intersection together. The phenomenon was called a Critical Mass, and early participants of the San Francisco ride decided to change the name of their event after seeing the film.

“I wasn’t around for Critical Mass when it hit Salt Lake City, but have been informed it dwindled in and out of Salt Lake in the late nineties and didn’t take hold until the new century,” Cory Bailey, a regular participant of Salt Lake City’s Critical Mass tells me. Bailey discovered Critical Mass after seeing stickers and flyers for it around town. Bailey can’t recall when he started riding in Critical Mass but says, “I feel like I have been riding in Critical Mass my whole life.” In addition to riding regularly in the event Bailey is the group’s self-appointed bike DJ. Bailey’s bike is equipped with an iPod shuffle turned into a stereo via computer speakers and a rechargeable battery unit. The makeshift boom box provides Critical Mass participants with a soundtrack for their ride¬, and Bailey is always taking requests.

On Friday July 27, I attended my second Critical Mass. I rode to the Gallivan Center with two of my friends and waited for the group of cyclists to assemble. When I’d participated the month before my roommate and I had barely made it. We pulled into the Gallivan Center right as Critical Mass was leaving and fell in towards the back of the group. This time around I was one of the first ones there. After about an hour, when a large number of bike riders had assembled and no more seemed to be trickling in, someone made a few announcements about rides coming up. Fundraisers being held for Marty Kasteler, an active bike rider who had been intentionally hit and nearly killed by a delivery truck earlier in the summer, were the main events discussed. After that the bikes took to the streets en masse.

Someone near the front of the pack of bicyclists picked a direction and everyone followed. As we began to overtake the lanes of the road, thus becoming traffic, old school hip-hop, punk rock and even some bad 90s music blasted from Bailey’s bike stereo. As we rode past lone bikers, participants of Critical Mass yelled, “Come ride with us.” Cars began to swerve around the bikes, sometimes attempting to pass the horde we had created in the opposite lane, but more often honking at us and looking annoyed. People on the streets asked us what the hell was going on as we rode past them.

Everyone participates in Critical Mass for different reasons and the event is promoted as a celebration. “I imagine a million different voices offer a million different messages. Critical Mass is an ‘organized coincidence’ it offers no single, unified statement,” Bailey says, “[The idea I hope to spread is] that it is good to ride your bike and that you can feel safe riding your bike.”

Riding as a group is an important aspect of Critical Mass which helps keep bike riders safe too. To prevent separation, a few cyclists will block traffic so anyone near the end of the pack will be able to make it through red lights and intersections. “[People] often feel that the cars are for the roadways and that everything else belongs on the sidewalk. We offer a friendly reminder that sometimes gets taken in an unfriendly way; we are not blocking traffic, we are traffic,” Bailey says.

Critical Mass avoids breaking the law by refusing to pin down an exact goal of the ride. It cannot technically be labeled as a protest and so the city needs no advance warning that it will occur. Although there is nothing illegal about riding bikes in a large group Critical Mass has still encountered some run-ins with police. “In cities where numbers have been large they [the police] have arrested, harassed and taken bicyclists’ bicycles. [The Salt Lake City police] have mostly chosen to ignore Critical Mass,” Bailey says, “However, I don’t think it is beneath the Salt Lake City police to do the same when there are greater numbers.” In July 1997 San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. attempted to map out a route for Critical Mass participants with the help of police escorts. Around 5,000 riders showed up and the monthly event turned disastrous. During the ride, police corned 250 bicyclists, arrested all of them and seized their bikes—no convictions were made and Critical Mass in San Francisco continued without police escorts.

Critical Mass is largely defined by its loose organization and that the only requirement is that you bring a bike. Those two factors make it very inclusive and allow riders to make the ride their own. “We come from all different walks of life, but when we ride together in Critical Mass we become close to each other and empowered,” Bailey says.

If you own a bike and know how to ride it, it’s high time that you attend Critical Mass. The ride occurs the last Friday of every month, no matter what the weather conditions, at the Gallivan Center around 5:30p.m. Get out of your house, cut the leash from your car and go do something you won’t regret.

“I didn’t think we’d make it six months,” jokes Anna Brozek, one of the owners of Slowtrain Records while standing behind the counter of their modestly-sized retail location. “We really went into it with the intention that it’d make a good story and that we’d have a good record collection when it was over.” Chris Brozek, Anna’s husband and co-owner of Slowtrain, chimes in. “We didn’t really have high expectations for how long we would be around.”

In November 2005, the married couple visited a friend in Salt Lake and decided that they wanted to open a record store here in Zion. Shortly after, the Brozeks were offered a chance to buy the inventory from Stinkweeds, their favorite record store in Tempe, AZ. On July 22, 2006 Slowtrain opened its doors for business on the then-quiet 300 South. “We couldn’t have done it without her [Kimber Lanning, former owner of Stinkweeds] or her inventory. We would have been floundering,” Anna says.

Over the past few years many independently owned Salt Lake record stores have closed their doors. Digital music is on the rise and the small mom-and-pop shops just can’t seem to compete with the likes of FYE, Best Buy and other corporate giants. Luckily, Slowtrain has flourished in its first year, and it doesn’t look like they’ll be closing their doors anytime soon.

“I think the difference between us and other record stores is that we’re here all the time, we’re here a ridiculous amount of time, seven days a week,” Anna says. “We know all of our customers, we know what they want to listen to and when new releases come out we know who wants it.” Anna has a day job as an office manager at the Junior League of Salt Lake while Chris spends his days at the store. Slowtrain has two other part-time employees, one of whom works one night a week and the other who works Saturday morning every other week. The store manages to pay for itself while Anna’s income helps pay for “rent, car insurance and booze,” she says.

slow trainThe couple have one-on-one contact with their customers, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s not going to make us rich, so if we’re breaking even and we’re never here then it’s worthless,” says Chris. “I wouldn’t know what to do with extra time if we didn’t work here,” agrees Anna.

Over the past year Slowtrain has become an integral part of Gallery Stroll and the lives of local musicians. The store boasts a diverse section of local music. Cds and records of all genres are sold on consignment with artists taking the large majority of the commission. The record store sells tickets to most Kilby Court and Urban Lounge shows and was voted Best Ticket Outlet by City Weekly in the 2007 Best of Utah issue. Slowtrain also serves as a venue space for many local bands. “We usually have bands that support us [play]. It’s our way of letting these bands get exposure. A lot of them don’t [normally] play all-ages shows,” says Chris.

The quaint record store became a frequent Gallery Stroll stop with the help of poster artist and printmakers Erin and Nick Potter. Slowtrain has also featured the artwork of Mary Toscano, Tim Odlin, Dan Christofferson and many others. Every month the store is stocked with homemade pastries and cheese platters from Erin Potter’s mother.

The couple has also been successful in giving touring musicians a new perspective of Salt Lake. This past April, Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts played a surprise show at Slowtrain. With only a day’s notice of the performance, the store was packed. When asked what his hopes for Slowtrain are, Chris says, “If we could bring more touring bands to stop [in Salt Lake] instead of just passing through because it’s on the way from Denver to Seattle, that’d be great.” Anna agrees, “If we can get 40 people to an in-store, it shows [an artist] that there is a little more reason to start coming through.”

To celebrate their one-year anniversary and love of local music, Slowtrain is hosting a 10-hour party and releasing a local compilation, Around the Bend. “We were inspired by [SLUG’s] Death By Salt. We loved how it introduced us to a lot of local music,” Chris said. “We felt that there were a lot of bands that were not getting exposure because they didn’t fit the sound that appeared on Death By Salt. We thought we’d go with the mellower, folkier type of thing.”

The compilation will feature four different covers by local artists Nick and Erin Potter, Mary Toscano, Sumer Bivens and Sarah Martin. Around the Bend will feature roughly 80 minutes of exclusive tracks from bands like Taught Me, Calico, Band of Annuals and many others, all handpicked by Chris and Anna. “We just wanted to give back to the bands that have been supporting us. We wanted to give an outlet to bands who might not make it onto Death By Salt,” says Anna. 1,000 copies of Around the Bend will be released, and the couple hopes to press at least 100 on vinyl if monetary constraints allow.

Slowtrain’s anniversary party (which techincally spans two days) should be just as mind-blowing. On Friday, July 20, there will be a screen-printing party at the record store as part of Gallery Stroll. Two new Slowtrain t-shirt designs will be available to be screen printed on whatever patrons bring in. On Saturday, July 21, Chris and Anna will be hosting a party from noon to 10 P.M. that will feature eight live bands: The Lionelle, Palimino, Band of Annuals, Glinting Gems, Cub Country, Ben Kilborne, The Vile Blue Shades and one more band TBA. There will be food, raffles in between sets and delicious food.

When asked about their plans for the future Chris replies with a smile, “Another year.” Anna laughs as she says to her husband, “We didn’t really think that far ahead, did we?” The couple has a few ideas in mind, though; another compilation may be in the works as well as a small Salt Lake music festival. “The next goal would be finding a place where we can all go after the rent gets ridiculous,” jokes Chris.

“Yeah, when they decide to put in a Borders,” Anna says sarcastically before getting a bit more serious. “We are really thinking that far ahead, about what to do when our lease is up. We won’t be able to afford this [place anymore] because it’s getting so cool.”

Be sure to check out Slowtrain’s one-year anniversary party on Saturday, July 21. In the meantime, stop by the store and buy some sweet records from clerks who will remember your name.

Gentry Blackburn graduated from the University of Utah in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Her first solo show, Frosty Darling, was held at the Downtown Library in the spring of 2005. The show was primarily oil on canvas paintings with a few suitcases painted with acrylics. On March 2, 2007, she opened her boutique, Frosty Darling (recycling the name from her first show), on 177 E. Broadway. At only 24, this young entrepreneur has accomplished quite a bit.

Frosty Darling’s interior is painted to resemble a circus or carnival—the loose theme that the store revolves around. “I don’t want to pin it down specifically. I want [people] to be able to discover it,” beams Blackburn. The floors are light blue and turquoise checkerboard; the white walls are decorated with many of her paintings and framed by a red-and-white striped border that resembles the edges of a circus tent. The register sits behind a counter covered in candy that looks like it belongs in a 1950s drugstore. Behind the register is a dart toss game that customers can play for a dollar. If they pop a balloon, they walk away with a prize. The store matches Blackburn’s bright cheerful personality and the eccentric and eclectic quality of her art.

“It is sort of a surprise that I did it,” Blackburn said, when asked about the store’s opening. Frosty Darling sells an array of unique gifts crafted by local artists. There are button earrings, painted suitcases, aprons, finger puppets, pillows and oil on canvas paintings all created by Blackburn. The store also features work by Trent Call, Dallas Russel, Magdalyn Merie, Travis Dinsmore of Pragmatic Design and many others. “It’s a store for grownups, but I want to make them feel like kids.” Blackburn said. The products are functional, but fun too.

“I love color and shape. I’m influenced by pop art,” Blackburn said of her art. “I’m really inspired by graphic design ads from the 50s. My work is really nostalgia-heavy.” Much of her work and the items found in her store resemble the kitschy quality one would find in a sitcom made today about the 1950s.

Blackburn’s boutique serves to not only showcase her work, but the work of other local artists. Frosty Darling is open from 11a.m.-7p.m. Monday thru Saturday and the third Friday night of every month for Gallery Stroll. Watch out for Blackburn’s next show that will be occurring sometime next year at Kayo Gallery conveniently located next door to her shop.

On St. Paddys Day over sixty of Utah’s best skiers and shredders dressed in flannel, gathered at the top of the Magestic lift at Brighton to participate in the last installment of the 2007 SLUG Games, The Lumberjack Jam. The day started early for the SLUG crew, but the comp was postponed until 11 am due to the icy conditions on the exclusive all wood course built by Jared Winkler and his KAB rail building company. The comp was solely done in jam format, a first for the SLUG Games. By 11 the conditions on the mountain were sunny and beautiful, men’s boarders and skiers started the day off and with 30 minutes to show the judges (Blake Hyman, Mike Schnieder, “Teen Wolf”, Toni Perez and Laura Hadar) what they were made of.

Slug Games, Lumber Jack Jam. 3.17.07
Slug Games, Lumber Jack Jam. 3.17.07

By noon, fueled by Rebull, flapjacks and hot dogs grilled from the boys from Celtek, men’s boarders 18+ got their half-hour to tackle the course. Josh Palmer walked away with a helmet from Union Board Show for best crash after catching his front edge on the wooden stump at the top of the course. He was allegedly knocked out by the crash. Neil Scheuerman fast planted the stump and walked away with an OGIO backpack full of goods donated by the sponsors. By this time the competition and contestants were heating up, who knew flannel shirts would be so fucking hot?

Boarder’s and skier’s men’s and women’s open ended the day with forty-five minutes to win big. There was lots of jibbing the tree stump (at the front of the course) and many contestants successfully homicided the wooden down rail. Highlights included back flips off of the stump and one kid who planted it. And to the guy who ended up sitting on the stump halfway through his jib, hope your tailbone isn’t broken!

Throughout the day the SLUG crew raised over $100 for the MS foundation by selling raffle tickets for a snowboard provided by Union Board Shop. Before the results were announced the board, and a personal pancake making kit (syrup, butter and PAM) were raffled off. Photographer, Bob Plumb walked away with a pair of gloves from Celtek for the best beard. Celtek also out gloves to participants of the hatchet-throwing contest. After some deliberation from the judges the results were in. Congrats to the winners, thanks to the judges, everyone that came out and our sponsors: Scion, Red Bull Energy Drink, the Utah Winter Games, Milo, Blindside, Quicksilver, Salty Peaks, OGIO, Union, Ride Snowboards, KAB Rails, The Levitation Project, Smith and Ghetto Slider. And if you missed out on this sick comp, check our website, www.sluggames.com for footage and pics.

Lumberjack Jam results:

Mens board 17-
3rd Derek Fuhr
2nd Uriel Ruvalcavd
1st Brandon Hobush

Mens Board 18+
3rd Jesse Bohannon
2nd Skylar Seabrook
1st Neil Scheuerman

Slug Games, Lumber Jack Jam. 3.17.07
Slug Games, Lumber Jack Jam. 3.17.07

Boarders Open Men
3rd Eric Fernandez
2nd Alex Andrews
1st Cameron Pierce

Boarders Open Women
3rd Callie Conaghan
2nd Alicia Trujillo
1st Marley Colt

Mens Ski 17-
3rd Patrick Drowne
2nd Austin Schleidt
1st Brady Monk

Skiers Open Men
3rd Brody Leven
2nd Chris Short
1st Weston Charlesworth

Skiers Open Women
2nd Shelby Jensen
1st Kristey Giles

Best Crash- Josh Palmer
Best Trick- Neil Scheuerman

When 35-year-old Renae Bryant isn’t teaching fifth grade, you can find her touring with her band All or Nothing Hardcore or running On the Rag Records—a label dedicated to releasing the music of female-fronted punk and hardcore bands.

In 1993, a group of local musicians met at Cheap Guy Music (a record store owned by the Voodoo Glow Skulls) to discuss the possibility of starting a zine. At the time, Riverside, Calif., lacked a good music publication to the support local band community. Bryant (who was then playing in He’s Dead Jim) was among the musicians in attendance. Four months later, no fanzine had been created, so Bryant and her best friend, Alicia Lopez, published the first issue of On the Rag.

The first three issues featured interviews with the Voodoo Glow Skulls, The Bellrays, Human Waste Project and others. Initially, the fanzine was meant to be a bi-monthly publication, but only three issues were produced during the first year. To date, only six issues were ever published, the last one featuring interviews with X-IT, Stormy Shepard and Justice Howard. “I’ll probably never do another hard-copy issue again. I don’t think I could do a quality magazine while trying to do a band, a label and teach 34 fifth graders,” Bryant said.

The label was launched in 1996. “I wanted to put out a comp to help bands that were really struggling,” Bryant said. During the mid-90s, labels scarcely backed bands featuring female musicians. “I didn’t really want to do a label. I knew nothing about doing it, but it’s like anything else in life; if you see a need, you can either sit around bitching, or you can do something about it,” she said. The first compilation, Put Some Pussy In Your Punk Vol.1, was released in 1998. It featured 16 female-fronted bands from the California area.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 10.08.27 AMOn the Rag released Vol. 2 of the comp (2005), a four-band split titled Don’t Fuck With Her (Nov. 2006) and carries three titles by Bryant’s own band. Their last release, What Doesn’t Kill You, was co-released with Rodent Popsicle Records. Although Bryant has yet to produce a full-length album from a band other than her own, she plans to in the future. “I would like to release a full-length of a gal-fronted band that has released a CD on their own, has a strong DIY ethic and has toured,” She explained, “I think it keeps thing in better perspective for the band working with such a small label.”

Bryant isn’t only dedicated to releasing good music by females, but also to eliminating the bullshit values that are already beaten into the 10-year-olds she teaches. “Our society is set up [to be about] competition. Girls are taught that they should be valued for their looks above all else. I have to work against that all the time,” Bryant said. “I have this skinny girl in my class that wrote in a paper, ‘I wish I was skinnier.’ They’re already brainwashed. If you’re not a size one or three, you’re not skinny enough; if you don’t have fake nails you’re not cool enough—just the crappiest, most superficial things.”

Unfortunately, this competitive and cutthroat attitude that’s taught to young women is also seen throughout the punk scene, a place that many members claim is more open-minded than the society that surrounds it. “I would like to say that every woman that I’ve dealt with was female-friendly, but that’s not true, especially when I was younger. They were kind of like, ‘there’s only room for one of us.’ It’s a starvation mentality,” Bryant said.

In the male-dominated punk scene, where the phrase “you’re pretty good for a girl-fronted band” is far too common, it’s a damn good thing that there are women out there willing to work towards solidarity. Bryant mentioned Cinder (Tilt, Retching Red) who took her band He’s Dead Jim on tour, and Kirsten (Naked Aggression) as women who’ve always been female-friendly and helpful within the punk scene. “Now, in 2007, the girls are less threatened, and I think it’s because there are more of us. I hope that more women are out there talking about how other girl bands are good,” Bryant said.

Although Bryant doubts she’ll ever do another print issue of On the Rag, she plans to update the website weekly and expand the label. “I would like to do a single-band release,” Bryant said, “but pretty soon, if I’m going to be serious, I’m going to have to run it [the label] like a real business.” She continued to explain to me the way that things are currently run at On the Rag Records. If she presses 1,000 albums, 200 are given away and then the remaining 800 are split between her and the band. That way the band can make money off of their 400 copies and she can make money off of her 400.

“I don’t really care about making money,” Bryant said, “I just don’t want to lose money all the time on my label. I’d at least like to make the money back, so that I can do another release. I do have a job. I’m not relying on my label to pay my bills.” Put Some Pussy In Your Punk Vol. 3 is due out in April. The album will be two discs and feature Gruk, All or Nothing Hardcore, Naked Aggression, Kung Fu Dykes, Menstrual Tramps, The Secret Cervix, The Twats, Kriminal Pogo and many more. All or Nothing Hardcore will be playing a show in Salt Lake with Fail to Follow May 4, venue TBA.

The early 1980s was an interesting yet often overlooked time period in music. The bands that came out of the era of 80s punk rock are some of my favorites, and they seem to be rediscovered regularly by every generation. The resurgence of older bands in the last few years has been amazing. In 1980, Bill Morgan and his partners at Angel City Productions began filming their documentary about X called The Unheard Music. “We were a little skeptical at first, because with the The Decline of Western Civilization no one got paid or got any royalties, but they were really good about letting us know that we’d be paid upfront,” Exene Cervenka, lead singer of X said. This year, over two decades after the film was created and was unavailable for much of that time, it will show at the Sundance Film Festival as part of the Sundance Collection.

Although filming began in 1980, the film wasn’t completed or released until 1985 due to the shoe-string budget. “We had to beg, borrow steal and get whatever favors we could from people,” Morgan said. The small crew used a film school’s animation department after hours to animate sections of their movie, “tested” cameras for free over the weekends to shoot their footage and were constantly running out of money. “I thought it was a great experience for all of us to learn film from the ground up. We did all of our own single-frame animation because we couldn’t afford to hire anyone,” Morgan said. “That was kind of the punk DIY ethos. It was a lot of fun, and a large chunk of our lives was taken up by it.” As a result of the long production time, the film turned out to be a very different animal than it might have been. “The film kept evolving, which in retrospect was very cool. It would have been a very different film if we had been able to get it all done when we had first started,” said Morgan.

While creating The Unheard Music, Morgan avoided stereotypical documentary techniques. Instead of having close-up shots of band members being asked questions and answering them, Morgan used methods like mixing in visuals with X’s live performances, before MTV was doing it. He let X’s music and the members speak for themselves. Exene agreed that the result was a touching one that “really let people know who we are.”

The current live music scene looks like a barren wasteland compared to the one depicted in the film. “Touring is becoming kind of archaic. I enjoy it and will probably always do some kind of personal appearances in my life, but I think that you can reach more people on the Internet than you can touring, which is really bizarre,” Exene said. She went on to explain how she missed the days when live music was a big deal and how vital it was to go and see bands. “I think that people don’t trust their ears anymore; they don’t know what they like,” Exene said. “People used to come to sound check when we toured just to see what we looked like. They’d never seen a picture of us or a video; they only owned the record. I think that the overexposure now is kind of sad because it doesn’t let people self-discover anything.”

The recent resurgence of the old 80s punk bands seems to indicate that there may be a glimmer of hope for the music industry and both Exene and Morgan only see the film’s enhanced availability leading to good things. “I’m hoping that people rediscover that period [of music] through this film,” Morgan said, “The influence is so pervasive in so many ways that people don’t even realize in our society. I’m hoping people will look back to the original sources. Sort of like when you had early white rock n’ roll stars, people rediscovered some of the early black rhythm and blues that really spawned rock n’ roll. I feel the same way here; I hope people go back to some of the early punk bands and see how great they were.”

X and 80s punk in general wouldn’t have made such an amazing comeback if there wasn’t something vital in the music. “The songs are too good to let go of,” Exene told me of X’s music. “I still want to sing those songs.” I’m sure that generations of X fans to come will want to hear them, too.

The Unheard Music will be screened at Tower Theatre on Fri. Jan. 19 at 6pm and at The Egyptian Theatre in Park City on Fri. Jan. 26 at 6pm.