Letter from the Founder


I’m in Cape Town, South Africa. A blood crescent moon shines down on the South Atlantic Ocean, which I can see just beyond the next building outside my window. Tomorrow we depart for AfrikaBurn, the biggest regional Burning Man event in the world. That makes it the second most populated Burn on the planet after Burning Man.

One of my favorite mis-attributions is the one we’ve attached to Hemingway: Write drunk and edit sober. He probably didn’t actually say that but it’s a fun idea to play with. Being that our theme for this collection is Moonshine, I wanted to get drunk on some actual moonshine before writing this collection’s Letter From the Editor. This seventh shot of Reposado Tequila Corralejo will do just fine though. My primary motivation for this evening’s binge drinking is either less or more rockstar depending on your personal stance. I caught a bug on my 20+ hours of flight from Southern California and my go-to one-punch cold-knockout cure is excessive tequila. It’s a tactic I’ve employed on various trips to various parts of the world. I drink a stupid amount of tequila till I pass out and then the next day I wake up feeling like a million bucks.*

Point being that I’m writing this theme’s Letter while far past the line of tipsy, which is what got me thinking of Hemingway. He is somehow as famous for his drinking as he is for his writing and so I am wondering if the myth is more important than reality.

In reality, he reportedly wrote only in the earliest hours of the morning when he was most clear and focused, which is coincidentally my personal preference. In fact, saying that I’ve written this drunk and didn’t edit till I was sober would be a lie itself as I’ve edited multiple times already. Because the thought of editing several pages of a rant tomorrow morning sounded like a whole lot more work than I’d like to do. Like, ever.

But we often like the myths more than the reality. There were 7000 other troops backing the 300 Spartans but the legend of the 300 is just so much more romantic. JFK was into some seriously weird shit with women but the stories of Camelot inspire us. As artists, a lot of what we do is find the most interesting, beautiful and/or fascinating angles of our subjects. With photography, for example, the image we capture in the lense is very rarely what the final published product actually looks like.

Is it our job to capture reality accurately? That might be pretty impossible because whatever moment of reality we’re attempting to capture, it is passing through our personal filters and biases. Every moment is changed by our mere observation of it.

Beyond that, art itself, is its own intoxicant.

Visual artists capture the “perfect” angle of their subjects, one we tell ourselves, based on our own needs, is the most honest representation of the story we’re telling. Could it be that we’re projecting our own views onto the world and then justifying our creations? Could it be that we fall in love with our own creations more often than we’re willing to admit? Do we create our own elixirs?

Moonshine has this legendary status because it was forbidden but it was basically alcohol made in a time where it was illegal. Similar to the Absinthe which history blamed for van Gogh’s ear. I’ve drank plenty of absinthe and I ain’t seen no fairies. These things were simply intoxicants. The true power lay in the hands and minds of the people who held the bottles, the brushes and the pens.

There is the dry, journalistic approach to history and then there is what the artist creates. There is the 500 page document and then there is the Oscar winning movie. We may not be drunk on scotch, moonshine or absinthe while we create it, but we’re most definitely intoxicated by something when we’re in the creation process. And the final product we share with the world is what future generations look back to when creating the vision of reality in their heads. The world is looking to the stories, to the art, when attempting to understand the reality they’re in.

No pressure, right?

Gotta go. It’s time for another shot. I heard someone say that they heard someone else say that Burning Man is Salvador Dali’s fever dream incarnate. But I’d definitely double check my sources on that one.

*This is not medical advice. Please don’t do this without consulting your doctor, whom we’re sure will laugh and advise against.