The magazine of the photo-essay
March 2020 back issue
A Period of Juvenile Prosperity
“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine. Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
An Afterword I was born in Mesa, Arizona in 1985. My mom said I looked liked Charlie Brown. I never saw the Grand Canyon or the Petrified Forest. My grandma was a truck driver and my grandpa liked race cars; his favorite driver was Richard Petty. My grandma died of cancer; she let me pull some of her hair out. My grandpa touch my penis; I never saw him again. I remember collecting cicada shells off picket fences; the 127- degree summer day, stealing lighters, setting stuff on fire, getting punched in the stomach, being attacked by a pit bull, and digging in the dirt with silverware until the handles bent. My dad said he was stoned when he married my mom, said he “banged hundreds of sluts.” He flew through a car windshield once and survived. He wrestled five cops in our kitchen; there was pepper spray all over my bedroom door. Dad went to prison. I had a crush on a girl named Sabrina and once we shared ice cream using the same spoon. She wore hot-pink tights. Her mom was my mom’s best friend. She became a drug addict. I saw her mom sell a ring for a “dime”; I thought she’d sold it
by Mike Brodie
for ten cents. I didn’t see Sabrina for years, and then I ran into her one day. She was wearing black lipstick; she was a goth. She gave me her number but I never called. In the second grade I got caught masturbating during class. In fourth grade I won first place in a writing contest. My teacher taught me it was okay to wear the same pants for two weeks straight; I live by that. In fifth grade I had to start wearing glasses. In seventh grade I wrote the word KORN on my knuckles, like the band with the “R” backwards. I only did it because I saw another kid do it. In 1996 my dad got out of prison and took me to see the movie Twister. He stole a BMX bike from another kid and gave it to me for my birthday. I had to give it back. My mom had a boyfriend who took her skinny-dipping; she had a boyfriend who broke his leg skydiving; she had a boyfriend who said he was a Navy Seal and he was in the Tour de France and that we were going to wear plum suits to the wedding. He was a liar-fuck that guy. I saw my mom kiss a Mexican landscaper. I wish my mom had a boyfriend now. My mom cries when I only recall the sad parts, like my dad coming home with his gasoline breath after siphoning fuel for his primer-red El Camino. My mom became born again, so I became born again. I got baptized with all my clothes on and started believing in God. My mom stopped drinking. My mom worked hard; she wipes old people’s butts and cleaned their houses. I told he I’d wipe her but when she was old; she said she’d rather be dead. My dad wen back to prison for nine years. I visited him four times and cried once. My mom, brother Jake, and I moved to Florida when I was fifteen. The bright white sand hurt my eyes. I got a job bagging groceries. In high school I won first place in a drawing contest and first in a BMX trick-bike contest. I kept bagging groceries and riding BMX. I didn’t like girls, but then I met Savannah. She was a punk. She took my virginity; I was seventeen. We tried to have sex on the bathroom sink and it broke off the wall. I lied to my mom about how the sink broke. Savannah taught me how to drive and she took me to my first punk show. I got fired from my job, dropped out of twelfth grade, and stopped believing in God. I got arrested for doing graffiti. A friend gave me a Polaroid camera I found in the back seat of her car. I took a photo of the handlebars of my BMX bike and it looked incredible, so I kept taking pictures. I got my first tattoo by a guy named Gabe and hopped a train to Jacksonville. I moved to Portland and lived with vegans. I moved to Philadelphia and lived with an underground rock band. I went back to Florida. In the hottest part of the summer I hopped a train to New Orleans and photographed a girl named Ali. She was beautiful. Her hand was tattooed. Three days later New Orleans was trashed by a hurricane. I didn’t shoot photos of that. I went to San Francisco and let a man put my penis in his mouth; I’m not gay though. I photographed him with my Polaroid. I photographed Monica with her bird and she introduced me to Paul. Paul supports my work. I moved to Philadephia and tattooed my hand like Ali. Then I photographed this kid who liked my hand tattoo. I tattooed his hand like mine; maybe somebody tattooed their hand like his. Polaroid stopped making film, so I bought a Nikon for $150. I’ve ridden trains over 50,000 miles and taken over 7,000 photos. I won first place and $10,000 in a photo contest. I gave the money to my mom. I got internet famous. I deleted my website and stopped taking photos and went back to school and became a diesel mechanic. I quit being a diesel mechanic, but I learned how locomotives work. I started taking photos again. Paul introduced me to Jack. Jack’s been making books for thirty years. Jack is publishing a book of my photographs. I don’t think much about being rich, but I hope I can make a million dollars. I don’t want to be famous, but I hope this book is remembered forever. I’m not sure I want anyone to read this. Now I live in Oakland, California. I’m twenty-seven. Mike Brodie July 31st, 2012 Santa Fe, NM
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