Near and Fargo: New Mexico 20140831

“I haven’t ridden since May,” my friend said.

“Good.” “I want you fat and slow,” I replied.

The goal was just twenty-five miles of hilly, New Mexican gold. My house, north of town, east of town and then back into the guts of the city. But this was my first ride with someone else in roughly a year. I knew we would ride fast, too fast, because neither of us knew the correct pace. I on the Fargo and he on his road bike. The route begins straight up. Within ten minutes neither of us can speak as we gasp for anything we can. “I can’t talk anymore,” I said. “Give me ten minutes.”

Cold to hot and the sun begins to show it’s face. Strong enough to tan my arms through sun sleeves. Lips chapped. Legs on fire, but the conversation, when possible, is fantastic. That’s one of the great things about this pursuit. Time in the field. Time to think. Time to talk. Time to wonder if coincidence is really that or something far more.
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Heading west from a small bridge. “Now we have a nice, long downhill,” say lowering into the drops and crouching just over the top bar. The road is rough, vintage New Mexico, with dirt, glass, broken road shards and other debris. The bike is so stable and rolls supremely over everything in my path. Rounding at corner at high speed I nail a medium sized rock lying in deep shadow. It fires off the tire like a gunshot into the brush but the bars never tremble or move.

By mile ten my legs are good. Solid. Ready. A short stop for a bite and then back to finish the ride. Done.
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“Will you ride with me now?” my wife asks as I roll to a stop in front of the casita. “Sure.” “Why not.”

Bikes on the back of The Duck and off south of town where the road ends and the dirt begins. She is tentative, still learning, but the trail is perfect. I air down the Conti’s but she doesn’t want me to TOUCH her bike. A short, steep drop and the trail begins. Twenty-five miles of rolling singletrack. It’s beautiful. Truly beautiful as the wind from the east assures us a tail wind on the return trip. A few steep, sandy dips but otherwise packed to perfection with the wet summer.

This is my first real trail work on the Fargo, and I’m amazed at how solid it is, how smooth. Even with the new tires, and the sand, the ride is fantastic. My seat post and saddle making strange popping noises, but I pretend they are bird sounds and enjoy the ride.

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There are hills here. Oh ya, there’s that. First ride, out and back, 16 miles with a little over 1100 feet of climbing. Not much, but enough compared to Southern California. The air is clean here, so my lungs burn from lack of as opposed to quality. First light, alone and bordering on cold. Fall is winking at us from the shadows.

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Rivers of Earth, dried and washboarded cover the road. The silence or morning punctured by tire on powder, then back to silence as the wheels find tarmac once again. My seat post creaks. In fact, my seat appears to be broken, or sagging, forcing me to sit on the far back rim. Adapting is the key. I’m down to 157 pounds, and I’ve never broken a seat before.
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The community is still quiet. A ride quietly to keep the dogs at bay, a chance to bark missed as I slip by. The bike is so solid, so stable and geared for these places. Comfortable. Effortless. Me on the other hand, a temperamental creature. Unsure what I can do. Consequences around the bend if I go too hard. New meds are helping, but everyday is a maiden voyage.
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A tire change. Travel Contacts spin silently on the road, so smooth. And quiet. And when the road turns to dust they are just fine. Even in deepish sandy spots I roll across. Water bottles, x 3, go down rapidly as the environment sucks out all that I have to give. Mile after mile ticks by. I love it here.
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The return trip to Santa Fe is downhill and I mean downhill. No pedaling required for eight miles and all the speed your nerve can handle. The bike is stable, very stable and rolls almost as well as my road bike. At home others want to ride, so back on I go, legs somewhat in rebellion but luckily they are slow and I can follow and watch as the light turns to white-hot midday form.

For those of you wondering. This bike is far more capable than my cross bike, and more comfortable. This bike is also as stable as my old touring bike, but again, far more capable. I have it loaded down somewhat, but it doesn’t ride like a heavy bike. I can ride 40 miles on this and feel like I haven’t really ridden, not something I could say with my carbon cross bike or my old steel touring frame. There is something strange going on with the seat however, which is odd. The center part of the saddle collapsed to some degree, but shows no crack on the underside. Thudbuster seat post creaks like mad but I think this is common, and I still love having that small bit of give.I think there are nicer version of this post out there, and could be worth exploring. Rode Shimano my entire life, so still getting used to SRAM, but just as capable. However, if I was touring mostly I would go Rohloff. Tire change was huge. From 2.2 knobbies to Continental Travel Contact 2.0, which by the way they advertise as 700×50 but are actually 28×2.0.(Tire math is more confusing than high-school trig.)

Gig Magazine

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Welcome to Gig Magazine. I dig the Hell out of this. One guy, a desire and boom….a magazine. I keep waiting to see more of these efforts so get off your butts and make one. I’ve done two in the past month, but am working on my next “official” version which might be for sale….

From the “about” tab.

“gig MAGAZINE is unique because each issue features only one band at one gig.

The goal of gig MAGAZINE is to bring attention to the band, the venue, as well as the people in the background that work to make the gig happen and connect them with the fans. Our magazine is not filled with ads, each issue is 12 pages, has about 10 photographs and an interview with the band. The issues will also include contact information for the band, venue, and promoters involved to make the gig happen.”
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This beast is the brainchild of one Justin Thor Simenson of Nuevo Mexico. I thought it would be a stellar idea to drop him a few questions and pick his brain about life, love and the merger of music and magazine.
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1. Who are you? What are you?

My name is Justin Thor Simenson. I am a photographer based in Albuquerque. I photograph long term projects as well as live performances.

2. Why Gig? What is the story behind the music?

After shooting quite a few shows and reviewing my photos I realized that the story of just a single show was well worth telling. gig MAGAZINE is about a single artist at a single show. That brings a certain weight and meaning behind that show and all the effort involved in it. I also do my interviews at the show. That makes them relevant. they are open conversations that I record. I do try to talk about the artists’ creative drive or something relative to the show they played. Their words combined with about 10 to 12 photos make up the magazine.

3. Why Blurb?

I had some experience with MagCloud before gig. I had used them to make a catalog for a friend and some digest sized books for myself. I knew that the magazine size was perfect for gig because it is such a traditional size to hold. MagCloud, now Blurb, also offers an easy to use marketplace for me to sell them in both digitally and in print. Plus the price is amazing.

4. What’s the short term and long term goal?

Short term I plan to cover Albuquerque’s local music scene and New Mexico’s venues. I am still working through tweaks in the layout and different ways to distribute the printed versions locally. Albuquerque has some great talent and I feel gig MAGAZINE can help them with exposure.

Long term I would love to collaborate with other photographers around the country. I know there are other towns and cities that have great musicians and great venues just waiting to be shared with the world. I would also love to collaborate with local venues to create unique issues of the magazine.
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5. What would you like to see improved, changed or added?

It would be great to have the option of different paper selections for the cover. gig MAGAZINE is only 12 pages and because of that having a slightly heavier stock on the cover or a matte finish would be awesome.

Also, I look forward to working in Blurb’s Bookwright software. I have been creating my issues in an older version of Apple’s Pages because the new one has some ridiculous limitations for magazine layout. I am not a designer by any means and I want something that is straight forward, I hear Bookwright will be a step in that direction for me. And after further consideration and after downloading Bookwright….Justin added this thought. Actually there is one thing I would like Blurb to add. After I downloaded and installed Bookwright I realized that Blurb magazines doesn’t allow 12 page magazines. MagCloud has a stapled edge option that allows me to do my 12 page magazine and is a bit cheaper than the perfect edge.

I would also like to see a thicker cover or a matte finish cover option added. That would make the magazine stand out a bit more.

6. Influences? Who are the folks turning you on creatively?

My biggest music photography influence has to be Douglas Kent Hall hands down. His photographs from the 60′s and 70′s are amazing. There are quite a few current music photographers I follow, Peter Pabon, Erez Avissar , and Jesse Littlebird Because of the other work I photograph I also pull a lot from the fine art world and Fraction Magazine.

Nature Always Wins

“Nature always wins,” she said.

“I wrote that in my journal yesterday,” I said. “Those exact words.”

This is a place worth getting involved with. There is meaning to life here. Good, bad, beautiful, ugly, all of it. The weather has meaning as well. Water means a tremendous amount, even if the rest of the country doesn’t seem to notice the lack of life’s fluid in the Southwest

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June is known for hot and windy not hail and gully-washing downpours, but here it was, for the taking. A thirteen-hour drive complete, fatigue overwhelming me, my soul and every trace of my DNA. And then came this, like a freight train of ice and wind. I had to record it. Had to.

In the grand scheme this was a kiss from a baby. Down south they got baseball size gifts wrapped in seventy mile per hour wind. Nature here likes to remind, and it’s comforting to know your place in the world. Concrete has yet to consume here, and I hope it never does. This place is still wild and we are just visitors.

New “Field Magazine” for New Mexico

I just ordered this thing and received it in less than one week. The doorbell rang and I looked through the glass to see yet another Blurbish box, the 157th time this has happened to be exact. I actually didn’t know what it was because I had only ordered the magazine a few days ago and didn’t think that could possibly be enough time. Apparently it is. BOOM, it’s here. I did one of these months ago, a small one, 20-pages, which I’ve been using in the field. This last trip, which was mostly wasted replacing the entire sewer line at my house, I used the magazine while working just outside of Santa Fe. The response to having the magazine was as good as you could get. In fact, it was what prompted me to do this version which is 80-pages and has more of the full story of why I’m out doing what I’m doing.

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Making a publication like this, and then showing it in the field, is evidence you are not messing around. In fact, after I showed the previous version, the person I showed it to referenced the magazine later the same day and then again a few days later. I think it also had a lot to do with this person saying “You guys are okay,” and “I think you have good intentions with what you are doing,” and in that neck of the woods trust is essential to do any kind of photographic business. As for making a tool like this I don’t over think the matter. I see a need and I just go. So far this methodology has worked out pretty darn well, both commercially and now entirely and joyfully on my own.
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As with many of the things I create these days, I didn’t have a lot of time to obsess about the meaning or particulars. Even with limited time the creation of this tool forced me to spend focused energy in regard to editing and sequencing. This is NEVER a bad thing even when after doing so you realize how LITTLE good work you actually have. Sob, sob. I think it has been four years and counting on this project, but a very, very light part-time at best. Doing this particular kind of work you realize the world isn’t a small place at all. You realize that even one state, in one country, on one continent would take a lifetime to really get to see and understand.
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Full admission here…looking at this magazine makes me FEEL really good. It FEELS great to find a bit of clarity in the photographic clutter of life. I carry this thing in my bag and hope I can show it to others. It makes me think about what I’m doing and how the people IN the photos would respond to this. How would they feel? What does it mean to be included? What will it mean to those who have yet to see it? Having this magazine also makes me feel like there are A LOT of photographers in the world who could do amazing things with this tool. The magazine represents a very special place in the heart of generations of photographers. We all know the current state of the editorial world, so when you think about doing a magazine on your own, and running work the way it was intended to be seen, you realize just how powerful a tool like this can be. If I was a better designer I would love to create a collaborative, quarterly publication showcasing good photography with enough real estate to allow the work to shine.