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Guest BROWNer

Collosus of Roads Interview

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Guest BROWNer

if this was already posted, sorry...

 

some of you might find it amusing to check the current issue(#39)

of elemental magazine for a interview with the one and only.........

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Haven't had a chance to read it all, but it looked intresting. I thought the sudden design change in the mag was funny. ghetto as hell design in one issue, the next its starting to look like an "art mag"...odd.

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Guest BROWNer

well it used to be in the music section at chapters here,

then it got transferred, presumably with the design

toss up, to the 'culture' section..

another amusing thing i noticed about that

mag is that invariably the graffiti pages are

ripped out. in the new section this seems to

have been averted for the time being.

as for the interview, yea, he said some interesting

things...that cap he dons is quite handsome as well:dazed:

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The interview was pretty cool. old guy that has pretty much the same ideas as us...gettin up alot, and changing it up enough for each piece to be unique (his quotes and shit). Its ironic how he doesnt really like writers but we are probably his only fans...

 

 

is it just me, or their graff pages layouts are the shittiest ever? I mean, the flicks are pretty good most of the time, but reccently they lay them out so that the peices are half cut out, or they put 2 of EACH peice in the 2 pages of graff. Different..but not useful for us.

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elemental and wyws have both turned into weenie ass fashion/ culture magazines.....seriously....check right under maxim and gq and youll see what im talking about....

 

not that i really care....theve both always been garbage anyway....i just found the sudden change amusing.....

 

still....kudos to elemental for having something more intresting than your typical writer interview which we all know is always ssssoooooo intresting

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well...i think its gone now....i found mine at barnes and nobles....mabey a record store who hangs on to out of date magazines would have a copy...its last months

 

im sure you could also order it online

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Originally posted by Mega Tron

Collosus of Roads is probably the only streak i like. Mad weird and mad original.

 

 

thats just silly....how about "buster hymen" (cherry with a crack thru it)

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Guest LethalDosage

theres a great interview with CofR in The Fifth Goal out of Utah...

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Guest Wilt

someone should post the shit for the poor motherfuckers out there

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...yeah may be i'll spend the next three hours of my day copying an interview out of a magazine for some lazy people on 12oz...or i might not...

 

...it was a pretty good interview though and yes the graff layouts in elemental are horrible, they fill half the page with a giant white block with small letters that says "freights", i think most of their flicks are stolen from other mags and websites too...

 

...There's graff in wyws?...could have fooled me...

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no interview, well there might be, but there are lots and lots of COR aka buZ blurr? on this sitehere.

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regarding Elemental jacking flicks of graff..I dont know about the new and improved issues...but the freights were always taken in the same spot as far as I know. at least a lot of them that is..pornobenching. elemental does suck though. free tume!

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a COLOSSAL interview

 

with

 

COLOSSUS OF ROADS

 

by

 

MICHAEL POULIN

 

Foreward by

 

buZ blurr

 

Steel Road,Evanescent Route

My life on the line -The railway line.

A love-hate relationship with "the railroad" and expressing it with captions/titles to a boxcar

icon.

 

There was an idiot savant who intriqued and frightened my father growing up in a small

community bisected by a railroad track.Absorbed in a loop of string Richard could devise

all kinds of intricate designs with interlacing between his fingers,Cat's Cradle,Jacob's

Ladder.Richard hungout on Crossno's Store front porch,where people would bribe him with

soda pop purchases to teach them how to make a design.This one grocery

store,rendezvous point,gossip central,community center,was Richard's proscenium.When

everyone else had to go off to work,he stayed on the porch playing with his string.Free

soda pops,and no work was impressive.Trying to learn one of Richard's string tricks

following the loops,and finger piercings,Richard would complete the design and then drop it

away to a single loop before my old man could grasp the finish.These limitations of wit and

quickness in the humiliating presence of a crowd on Crossno's porch taught him therein

lies madness,and not enlightenment.Leave it Alone.Know your limits.

 

Endangering and risking my own sanity,as well as my livelihood,I began to make drawings

on the railcars.Already committed to a family ,with almost ten years lapsed of a brakeman

career,I'd been practicing a drawing on paper,and wanted to start it off on an auspicious

date,11.11.1971.

 

I'd been reading the novels of Kurt Vonnegut,Jr.,and in one he surmised the only time God

ever spoke was the silence at the armistice of World War I. Clinging to the conceit of an

artist's identity,and this kind of Kilgore Trout thinking,I amended the first drawings with

that date.

 

Allowing the drawing to evolve by the most rapid and automatic application,I continued to

date them.Although it was interesting to see the degree of fading in the elapsed time of the

returning images,the dates could not prompt any recall of the time they were applied. Since

the drawing was automatic,the only engagement of mind required was the date,and that

wasn't satisfying.I began to put words,phrases,and anecdote titles to accompany the image

to shake the monotony,and memory nudge the synapes.It seemed language required more

engagement than numbers.

 

 

 

 

 

the COLOSSAL interview

 

MP: Explain the origin of your name and why the side profile of a face donning a cowboy hat with

caption underneath opposed to something else.

 

CofR: Captioning the icon with words and phrases seemed like an identity search.So when

I arrived at the GypsySphinx appellation for the first boxcar icon,I felt that was the

definitive descriptive moniker,and so searched around in my psyche for another character

while I gave GypsySphinx an adequate sendoff with a year of that caption.

 

Doing research for a publication,Loaded Magazine,about the medium,and discovering the

original Bozo Texino was also a Missouri Pacific Lines employee,I doodled around a few

drawings as variations on the smoking cowboy image.Either a nod to history or totally

derivative,I came up with a rider motif to the loner cowboy image,as opposed to the static

stone-like character of GypsySphinx.

 

Practicing the new icon while dispatching the old,I allowed it to evolve with rapid automatic

application.When we moved to Main Street from Smith Street Chronicles, GypsySphinx

ceased and The Grabiron Kid mounted up.

 

buZ blurr came from the use of language...a buzz word,a reference to current usage,going

by in a blur on the railway line. I capitalized the Z to emphasize the single letter,and I like

capital Z,and the double r in blurr is like RR,or R.R. Suppose I should have been Buzz

Blur.

 

 

 

MP: Where do your ideas for captions come from? Is there a new caption every day? Are you trying

to convey a message with each of these statements?

 

CofR: DumbBardedBoxcars.Again the language is an attempt to avoid the redundant

commonness of the image.Sometimes I stick to a word or phrase for an extended period of

time ,but usually it is day to day different . And the caption most always remains the same

for the entire day.Borderline dyslexic,titling or captioning the image has helped me retain

some writing or spelling savvy,by repetition repetition.

 

Is there a message? The medium is the message. Who's reading the Boxcar Sloganeer,and

what do the words mean? Given they have a singular meaning to me,but impossible to

know that meaning by a stranger,the language is moved into the concrete,whereby they are

letters without meaning ,or all meanings.For example,I recently received an e-mail from

The Solo Artist,with a list of various captions he sighted on a trip to Texas,so the next day I

did maybe a dozen drawings with the caption,"Fortuitous Logos,Arlington Sightings".Then

perhaps a week later I received an e-mail from The Solo Artist ,another Continental

Drifter,that he had witnessed the caption on an MP boxcar in Portsmouth ,New

Hampshire.Fortuitous!

 

MP: Were you the first to use the caption? If so how does it feel knowing that many have followed

your lead over the years?

 

CofR: Suppose I was the first to use extensive word captions,but the medium I have

emulated is the image word date numbers game of dispatch.

 

 

MP: Do you have documentation of all your work, whether it be photos or in log form?

 

CofR: No.

 

MP: You were the first person who ever mentioned the term "participation" with regard to individuals

going up next to one another. Can you describe what this means to you?

 

CofR: The first character, "GypsySphinx", with the face minimally defined by a brow &

nose shadow mark, invited participation. Witnessed lots of amended drawings with

expressive faces,which was always a pleasant surprise, since it meant someone was

prompted to the action of filling in.

 

MP: How do you feel about individuals such as Goofy that have taken a liking to destroying your

work?

 

CofR: Goofy mars! A law of physics, for every action ,an equal but opposite reaction. Bad

Karma hostilities.A nemesis in an absurd Dada equation. How appropriate.A symbol of my

bad luck.

 

MP: On that same note, what about all the taggers using aerosol covering up your work and many of

the others. What are your feelings towards those using spray paint?

 

CofR: The idea being Art on every train in America,seems to have come to

pass.Unfortunately there's so much of it,there's a disconnect,since it's viewed as an affront

by most,and therefore goes unregistered.Of course the aerosol assault is a superior

medium to paintstiks or chaulk,and youth has never been a respecter of age.I'm trying to

understand this,and give a more generous view to all the dissing of my work.Stuck on a

recent caption of mine for quite a while,"Graffiti Culprit Too",meaning I'm also adding to

the Jumble.

 

MP: Have you noticed that alot of these individuals have become hip to sketches as of recent years

and developed their own monikers? What do you think of this "new generation"? Any names stand

out?

 

CofR: Perhaps because of my own jealous disconnect,I haven't noticed any transition from

aerosol to paintstik or markers by any artist,except Twist;I have seen work by him in both

media,but I'm sure he would not hesitate to execute a work in spray paint,if it suited

him,being an artist.The same is true of another "new generation" artist whose work I also

admire,Matokie Slaughter.

 

Not sure if The Solo Artist would qualify as "new generation" artist,but I admire his

apparent rapid and fluid line.

 

Another persistant artist with a wide presence,I'm now reminded perhaps migrated from

spray to paintstik,is admired for his coverage and tenacity,SCAM PUNKS.Also his

language is decidedly punk and nihilistic.Trust SCAM PUNKS!

 

Of course,"Faves" does a fabulous rendering of a speeding boxcar,which I admire greatly.I

also like his language.

 

MP: When you first became involved who were some of the names you remember seeing up? Over

the years who are some of the boxcar artists that you have found to be inspiring of have made an

impression on you?

 

CofR: Of course,Herby ruled as I began walking the rocks between the tracks.Blues

weeping STINKY.Right looking,raised left ankle,"HI" nude,named Tuscan Red by Larry

Penn,was very prominent.Sad lonesome-looking magnificently moustached KID

IDAHO,rarely sighted but much admired.Even saw an original Bozo Texino,and the second

or third generation Bozo Texino was already up.Later there was Water Bed Lou,Charlie

Brown,Don A.,Easy Honey!,and The Rambler started before I did.Early on there were

sightings of various J.B.King Esq. signatures. Glad there is an approved version currently

riding the rails as homage to one of the originals.

 

 

MP: Who are some of your inspirations in the art world?

 

CofR: Reading biographies of tragic artists,such as Henri de Toulous-Lautrec,Van

Gogh,Paul Gauguin,etc. Formed an earlier impression of art being a self-destroying

compulsion,which seemed to match my teenaged angst,moving around from railroad town

to railroad town,always being the new kid outsider,following my father's career as a track

maintenance official,facing the challenges of resident bullies and cliques,ala Jim

Stark/James Dean,escaping on the train,passenger trains,riding my old man's card

pass,Holden Caulfield,reading Jack Kerouac,learning to give up and be BEAT,yet dig the

Rock n' Roll,Movies and cars I wrecked.Yes,being an outsider,riding all night on trains

back to the previous town we'd just left,back to old girlfriends,my Maggie Cassidys,and

reading Jack Kerouac,traveling alone,was a major influence,late Fifties.Later the novels of

John Steinbeck,and identifying with the down-trodden.Later Tom Joad reads Albert

Camus,and Jean-Paul Sartre.The Self-Taught Man studies

Abstract-Expressionism.Monsieur Antoine Roquentin studies Pop Art and R.D.Laing's

The Politics of Experience.

 

Other major influences=the black and white photography mailed to us by my parents

siblings,who had migrated to middle class prosperity in Michigan and California,while we

were still stuck on the tracks in Arkansas,Texas,or Louisiana.

 

When I still wanted to be a painter or printmaker,Tom Seawell brought a traveling exhibit

of Robert Frank's The Americans photographs to Henderson State University,then

Henderson State Teacher's College.

 

The photographs of the Farm Security Administration.

The lives of two other brakemen,Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy.

Dada,Surrealism,Fluxusism,Mailism,Neoism,Tourism,NeoSpiegelmanism.

The silence of Duchamp,the noise of Beuys,the black of Ray Johnson.

The cut-up theories of the Commissioner of Sewers.

Four frames of Boxcar Bertha.

The stamps of E.F.HigginsIII.

John Held,Jr. in Texas.

The irony of H.R.Fricker.

Laurel McElwain,Portland,OR.

The Blues of Robert Johnson.

Dragging,Kicking and Shoving Blues.

Subterranean Homesick Blues.

 

 

MP: Why have you chosen rolling stock as the surface to apply your work rather than on a canvas?

 

CofR: When I had a narrow-view of art being painting or sculpture it fostered a

condescending look at the folk art tradition of railroad graffiti.The economic reality of my

life and situation,working night locals and switchengines,and handling all those

freightcars,brought about a respect for the medium offering a respite from the mundane

sameness of a uniform car with differentiating graffiti marks.Then it seemed foolish to

ignore the vast network as a concept of communication.I didn't have time to make a

painting,or sculpture,and if I did,no one would be interested.Here was a ready metal canvas

awaiting my expressions...sing the blues with chaulk,say JOY!,or despair.The concept of

remaining private/anonymous in a public forum also appealed to my shy insecurity.The

transitory impermanence of the work seemed a profound metaphor for Vita Brevis/Ars

Brevis.

 

Trying to stay current by culture/vulture reading I discovered the existence of the mail art

network shortly after I began to utilize the rail dispatch.Rail/Mail Nexuses seemed

conceptual in the age of conceptualism.Although I was attacked as being the worst of a new

generation of mailartists in the bastard child of alternative arts,the mongrel of

marginalia,Mail Art,it felt right for me.

 

 

MP: Do you feel that we are now in a "countdown to extinction" era? Meaning do you feel that alot

of the work from the 70s and 80s is now on the verge of dying out because of weathering, being

defaced by aerosol, repainting,etc,etc?

 

CofR: Indeed,"countdown to extinction". Statement of mortality,something always inferred

in my boxcar language.Sad to say,we're doomed,just as the scribbling on the metal canvas

shall pass.I sent a clipping from a newspaper to one of my favorite correspondents in the

mailart network,concerning a grant of some 30 million dollars awarded to a group of

scientists to determine if neutrinos,which we are continually bombarded with,have mass or

weight,more as a philosophical question,than a scientific one.Eric Finlay,a fine lyric,shoot

back a bunch of equations,explaining neutrinos didn't have mass or weight,they had

"SPIN".After Eric shuffled off the mortal coil there in Wimbledon,England,I read another

article about the scientists' findings about neutrinos,and they had determined that their

nature was "Zero Rest Mass",or SPIN.Should've asked Eric.

 

MP: How do you feel about rebuilding?

 

CofR: I'm in favor of rebuilding.Have done a little bit of it myself,mostly old Herbys and

KID IDAHO,out of respect and homage.

 

 

MP: With regard to exposing the artist behind the sketch/moniker, do you feel that this takes away

from the mystery? How does it feel knowing now that people are going to know who you are?

 

CofR: In my Mail Art Tourism travels, I've found after personal contact the exchange of

mail noticeably drops off,once the mystery of imagination is confronted with

myth-destroying reality.I would attribute this to my grandiose stances being exposed as

charlatan,if it had not been acknowledged as a general truth among the mail art

community.So,phantasy and imagination are always more generous than absolute

reality.Colossus of Roads is certainly a phantasy figure,and a bit pretentious as heroic

posture.That's why there's always such negative hostility toward the drawing,and not just

by Goofy.One of my favorite rubberstamp slogans in mail art is Art/Life Takes

Risks.Exposure as the author of Colossus could mar the phantasy of the fans,and inflame,or

diffuse,the hostility of the detractors.Could also jeopardize my employment,now that I'm so

close to retirement,and the railroads are so incensed at the proliferation of graffiti.

 

 

MP: Are you aware of the fact that you have a big following/fan base? Would you like to hear from

these individuals?

 

CofR: Aside from a few individual correspondents like yourself and The Solo Artist,and

others who also indulge in graffiti,like Photo Bill,North Bank Fred,Obscura/Flange

Squeal,Twist and Matokie Slaughter,expressing an interest in my work,mostly what I see

are hostilities and disrespect.Suppose the afore -mentioned could constitute a fan base

large enough to be greatly appreciated,but beyond those and a few others,plus the people

in the mail art network aware of my work in the railroad network,I'm not cognizant of a "big

following/fan base". Yes,I would like to hear from these fans,and find out how extensive it

is,and perhaps further destroy the myth/legend,or add to it.

 

MP: Do you consider yourself and "obsessive compulsive"?

 

CofR: Yes,exposure of faults/"obsessive compulsive",Melancholiac,manic-depressive=Tap

Dance or Suicide.Graffiti tagging as equilibrium device to stay on the beam.

 

What do you think I do with all those switch lists? Cut them up into little bitty pieces of

paper to be distributed in ..

Papercide Park,or Traces in a Brake;a site-specific environmental artwork for the rapid

decomposition of paper back to the stuff of all the world,A process,an action,a sanctum.

 

What do you think I do with all the non-recyclable glass that passes through this

household? They go to Bottles Pond,and when Bottles Pond dries up Breakman of Jars

smashes them to bits in Slough of Glass,an adjunct to Papercide Park.

 

What do you think I do with all the biodegradeable stuff that passes through this

household? It is recycled through a compost bin,back to soil,and that soil added to another

project/life work entitled,Earlene & Sweeney,Moundbuilders......... Earlene being my better

half,soulmate,Performance Partner.

 

What do you think I do with the little rock I select from the stones all in my pathway each

day. I give them to Earlene to place in her Gravel Jars.

 

What do you think I do with all the newspapers that give me information? I tightly roll the

pages into scrolls that are lashed together with string into chair sitting effigies as sculptural

collage Porch Haints to spook the trick-r-treaters Halloween.Later they are placed in

Papercide Park,as ROT OBSERVERS.

What do you think I do with all the small pieces of metal I find in my pathway along the

tracks,like bent spikes,chain links,wire,nuts and bolts? I place them in the cab of Rust

Never Rests,a defunct 1962 Chevrolet pickup truck,placed on a low pedestal,and

allowed,nay encouraged, to rust away.Larger pieces are placed in Gonna Booglarize

You,Baby Ford,a 1950 model Ford four door sedan,and Earlene & Sweeney's courting

vehicle.Another Life/Work.

Rust & Rot.

 

What do you think Earlene & Sweeney Atrophy do on the Fourth of July for fun? They

throw a TV off the top of the house and videotape it. Breakman of TVs then sets off

firecrackers in the wreakage.

 

"Obsessive Compulsive" indeed!

 

MP: How does your family feel about this hobby of yours?

 

CofR: Certainly wasn't intended but all these strategies for coping with life hastened our

children's departure for their own independence,and they are fairly well-adjusted,and

normal,given their upbringing. Still look askance at the Art definition for all this.

 

 

MP: After all these years, why have you now decided to go public?

 

CofR: Don't know that I've ever denied being the author of Colossus of Roads.In fact I

published an artist's bookwork in 1984 listing the language of the line up to that time.

Probably would shy away from contexts,such as local newspapers,TV coverage that would

bring the wrath of the Federales down on me.Essentially this is an outlaw activity and I'm

subject to be busted at any time.Public? Yeah! I'm hiding all over America.

 

 

MP: Is there any end in sight for Colossus of Roads?

 

CofR: Have you seen the boxcar icon caption "Center Ridge Plot"? That means that

Sweeney took a ten foot pole and tried to square off a ten foot burial spot at Center Ridge

Cemetery.If you mean the drawing,I've been working on another design,perhaps I'll start

using in earnest when I'm paroled.

 

CofR: Yes,Language of the line abbreviated lingo of boxcar communications has destroyed

my coherence .

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