North Face by Chelsea Werner-Jatzke

North Face

The gang bang of a street
torn up with developments,
this mess that makes a city
feel like home. The way
I love the gore
behind every bridge
of every straight nose,
the silence of it
inside of a fist.
The gouache of it
waiting to drip—
the line of it
a mark of things
as they are now.
This is the hard work
of insulation, defining
the oldest technology
of warmth.

John Criscittelo: I Wish, 1, 2, 3 (2015 Gouache on paper) by SUZANNE BEAL

John Criscittelo
I Wish, 1, 2, 3 (2015 Gouache on paper)

Even though the engineer hardly ever spoke, he was down with visiting any of the hole-in-the wall bars I proposed, as long as we wrapped it up by about 9:00pm. He was an early riser.

He was in the middle of remodeling a three-story house in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, a posh suburban street in the middle of the metropolis. He was still living in Eastern Washington where he and his ex-wife were working out the custody of their four kids.

He told me, that his ex girlfriend had spray painted “asshole” along the entire south side of his home-to-be. Maybe I should have asked more questions, but the few I did ask were met with a smile and a shrug. I didn’t push. I kind of liked the whole not talking thing. I’d been told that the house was fairly large (in which case spray-painted signage would have had a profound impact) but I could only imagine it because up till now I’d declined visiting it. It was mainly the whole not talking thing. He could have been a murderer. A construction site seemed as good a place as any to leave a corpse.

The engineer was a sportsman. That was why he needed his rest. He arose at the crack of dawn to go skiing. Sometimes he’d text images of himself on the slopes. Sometimes he was in the company of his kids. He seemed like a nice guy. He just didn’t talk much. He often wore a sleeveless puffy vest and looked like one of those guys in the REI catalogs: competent, laid back. I remember the vest because we were fooling around once and the zipper on it jammed. It didn’t really matter though because our kissing wasn’t going anywhere clothes removal-worthy. Still, we had these comfortable silences.

We drove around in his Westfalia, the back of it a jumble of sports equipment and camping gear. Sometimes he’d text me a picture of himself at the beach and the caption “wish you were here.” I couldn’t tell if he was being ironic or literal. This had been a problem in the past. A boy I’d met in Paris once wrote me after he’d returned to the States to say that he missed his laudanum. I thought he meant the dreamy, drug-induced state of our coupling. But later I discovered he hadn’t meant it metaphorically. He’d brought home a few bottles in his backpack, got hooked, and was craving more.

The last time I saw the engineer we were driving on the freeway when his Westfalia started to sputter. “We’re running out of gas” he said. It seemed incongruent with being an engineer—but who was I to judge. He pulled into the right hand lane then slowed down in an effort to conserve gas. But even with the emergency lights on, a backup was underway. The first few people flashed their lights before pulling around and ahead of us. It wasn’t until the first guy honked that all hell broke loose.

The engineer rolled down his window and flipped the driver the bird. Then, as the honker sped ahead of us the engineer leaned out the window and screamed, “Suck my dick motherfucking faggot!”

Regardless of whether or not you believe in hyphenating “mother-fucker,” this was the longest sentence I’d ever heard him spit out. The Westfalia made a couple of gassy attempts to lurch forward. The engineer thrashed his arm outside of the car, his middle finger rigid with rage, and repeated “Faggot!” while the veins on his neck bulged.

We rolled off the freeway, through the fortuitous blur of a green light, and into the brightly lit Shell station. I turned to him, incredulous, waiting for an explanation. Was he being ironic?

He chuckled and shook his head. “Fucking Faggot,” he repeated.

“My Dream Date with John Criscitello” by Jo Smitty

Back in the day, I was a huge“Ren & Stimpi” fan, yet I never met John Kricfalusi.   I  was curious to hear that he’d moved to Seattle, gone gay, made his name more American,  quit practicing law,  and was gluing things to walls, "art " some said,  "just a pest" said others.  I decided to find out for myself and went on a date with Mr. C.

John’s publicist told me that I would be picked up by a Google self-driving car but I must say I was handily impressed at the relative ease with which the Google car dispatched the competing Uber vehicle and how much blood gushed out of the driver’s neck.  “Hopefully, that was a Mexican,” I said.  “I never knew they were all rapists until I heard Donald Trump speak the other day,” John said, walking up in his ultra fashionable, floor length Jag Fag North Face jacket, an incredible co-branding between Jagermeister, North Face, and Bud Lite.  The entire back is covered in pink rhinestones and under the Jager logo, it says “I’ve got a legendary dick and I cocked it up on Cappe Hille.”    JC looked a bit like a more sports ball based Kid Rock as we headed out to the highway, having nothing to lose at all.  “I’m not sad anymore, now that I’ve got all these endorsements.  Some people say art shouldn’t have as many logos on it as NASCAR, but I say they’re just jealous,” John retorted.   “Haters will hate,” I said.  (I don’t know what that means but I saw it on a black guy’s cap, so I figure saying it makes me “chill on the street with grills” or one of those other Keith Urban things. 

John screams “Faggot!” out the window and at first I think he’s spotted a bundle of sticks, but he’s just glad to see his friends, if you know what I mean.    “Ha” as the kids say in those text messages they love so much now, but I had never heard of until I read about them in “Parade” magazine.

I like to think I can drink but we were both pretty wrecked, fairly quickly, from all that Jager.  The Google car knew the way, like an old sleigh in a gay ‘ole Christmas song and after all JC’s initials are “JC,” after all, although the 12 men following him are…no, hold, they are fishers of men too.  “Never mind,” as Kurtdt Cobain so often said, before he blew his head off.  Some folks are glad he did that, as it saved him from making shitty folk records with Michael Stipe and selling steak knives on late nite TV. I learned that Howard Schultz, the Starbucks guy killed Kurt and Courtney Love and replaced her with a robot, cos he was pissed at them for tagging his garage. 

We were headed to the North Face Outlet Mall in Edmonds, “the gayest place in the North West,” the brochure said and that, frankly made me a little nervous. “The Fairy City” it said.  ‘Cos even though I think it’s sort of ok that the Gays are all over Seattle, it made me nervous that they had spread to Edmunds and plus I didn’t want to be forced to “go gay” or marry a dog, you know, right?   I think JC could tell I was a little nervous from the shots and the gay agenda, so he had his super straight, cute young publicist give me a massage. ‘You masturbate, right?” the pale, hairless Aryan boy asked.  I nodded “yes,” spaced out and the next thing I knew, the assistant was sponging me off with a warm towel.  “Happy endings, baby,” he said which I think is from “The Wizard of Oz,” which they told me was really popular with the gays.  Who knew?  It turns out they love Judy Garland too.

“Do you use a lot of black and gray paint because you liked painter John Michel Bisquick and Vincent Gallo’s band GRAY?” I asked.   “Vincent Gallo is a huge dick, he has a huge dick, but he isn’t gay….yet,” replied JC. 

“Is the Tom from Tom of Finland’s the same Tom that makes Tom of Maine’s Deodorant?”  I asked cos I figured he’d know, ‘cos he’s, you know, gay and I bet they all hang out at that giant Gay Clubhouse the Gay Mayor made.   “I don’t know,” said JC but I can ask Dina Martina Navratilova.  

Gay Art was still pretty confusing, but the ¾ bottle of I’d  Jagermeister I’d drank was making it make more sense and their new slogan “We’re all fags when we suck Jager on Cappe Hille” was making more sense to me.

We made our first stop at Amazon headquarters where both Pikachu and Jeff Bezos (they’re fraternal twins, you know?) greated us and gave us each huge green delivery bags packed with all kinds of yummy pot from Amazon Bud To Go, their new weed delivery service.  “I wanted to call it Weed Share, but Leighton Beezer had already used that for his Lazer Disc download service, “ the chip monk like Bezos informed us, packing another praline into his bulging cheeks. 

For a leprechaun, he was really friendly, so  I asked him, “ How does Amazon, a company with razor thin margins, afford to support so much gay art, well, some call it porn, but I call it art.”   “That’s a fine question, son, “ said Bezos.  (He kept calling me “son” despite the fact that I’m 11 years older than him.)  “We give ALL our profits to queer artists, that’s why we’ve never paid a dividend, son, and never will, by God!  Fuck Wall Street!!”

I’d seen the phrase “Tech Money Kills Queer Culture Dead” and wondered what it meant so I asked John.   “It’s an ad for MONY, the Insurance company, it’s some kind of gay life insurance, I think,” he said.

Next stop was Microsoft, world famous maker of soft serve ice cream and sponsor of the PBS show “Koch Bros world of Tomorrow.”  “No one really likes Windows, “ said Microsoft ‘s new CEO Depak Chopra, “so we’re adding doors, floors, roofs, and walls, to create Micro Houses on Cappe Hille, 126 square feet of urban dwelling ultra lifestyle pods that will solve Seattle’s worst problem for ever!”

“What’s that?” asked JC.  “That black people still live here?” I posited.  “That’s a whole’nother ball of blacks, I mean wax,” sputtered Chopra.  “No, the biggest problem facing Seattle today is, not enough condos for millionaires.  When these are built, there won’t be anymore homeless soft serve millionaires camping on my porch anymore.”

I had thought it was just a marketing slogan before, but I was slowly learning how “the real revolution is artists and corporations working together,” as Ray Manzarek said before he tried to license a Doors song to a commercial.

“I wish I could tell him I love him,” I thought to myself looking up at Chopra’s looming 7’4” frame.

In a voice over my voice reads these lines “Is attraction and repulsion just two sides of the same Gay coin?  That “Perv” book seemed to think so and that guy was a gay and sometimes what makes you hard (or wet for the ladies) also makes you throw up other times, like that “6 girls, a pig, and still only one cup” video I used to watch over and over again.  And I don’t mean just in a Shit Barf Baby Bird way, I mean more like sometimes a hairy bear jacking off at 8:17 AM in a Google search for  an “Old Bear and Friends” episode you haven’t seen can be a bit much, not that I’m not in favor of Gay Rights but I really don’t want to be forced to marry a dog or end up like those politcians, sucking off grease monkeys in Arby’s bathrooms, but I do get confused cos hipsters use “gay” to mean “lame” or “sad” or just “lousy,” yet I’m told that’s not homo erotic…you know like how Trump got caught with Mexican meat in his mouth ?"

“It’s homo bionic, I think,” JC says and he’s probably right.

I ask JC about “Street Fighting Man Art,” a movement I hear he’s the secret chief of which might explain why he’s wearing the full head dress and war paint. (He could just be a really big Adam and the Ants fan, he’s that age, you know)  “Urban Micro Density with no street people, no minorities, no noise after 8 PM: is it possible?,” asked Mayor Mc Cheese.  JC responds, “Totally!  All we need is way, way more cops!  Especially those hot Tom of Finland ones in chaps.  As to Street Fighting Man Art, I’m so over that,” he sneers  (sounding really GAY I might add), that’s  so last week.  I really think there is no place for art in the street, let alone in any public place.  Art belongs in the museum, so only rich people can see it and it won’t scare children or confuse old people. Plus, in the street, it can get dirty and that lowers its value.   That’s why I am so proud to be in the new EMP GAY, Paul Allen’s salute to Jimi Hendrix’s legendary dick.  He was able to buy Cynthia Plastercaster’s original cast and they’ve made a giant cock shaped museum where all my art will be shown now.” 

“Wow, that’s a big switch for you, isn’t it?”  I stutter.   “Would you address the role of the artist in society, please?” I say, as I barf a steady stream on Jagermeister and soft serve ice cream, it doesn’t mix very well, into the grateful mouth of Seattle’s last living homeless wood carver.  “Bang!”  One of Seattle’s finest shoots him down and we all rest a bit easier as the Google car pulls into Dick’s on Broadway.  We enjoy a Dick’s Deluxe, extra tartar sauce, and John gets a Dick’s Deluxe Dildo for later.  Just then a fat, 50-ish black man comes up, all hopped up on fries and says something to us “about our futuristic Jetson’s space car being fly.”  Figuring he’s about to rob us and or that it’s some kind of gang lingo, the Google car shoots him.  Dead.

“You’ve killed Sir Mix A Lot!” yowls some Cyber Space Steam Punk on Unicycle but we just roll up our windows and continue the interview. Me: Kids!    JC: “I think the role of an artist in society is to create focused lifestyle choices that dovetail with consumer needs and choices in a way that harmonize with a variety of decorating choices.”   Me: “So you’re done with slogans and satire?”  JC:  “When I looked up what satire actually means, I felt really bad, it’s so mean.”   ( A single tear appears in his eye, but I don’t think he’s a gang member and the car doesn’t kill him, so I feel safe for now. And even though he is gay and covered in tattoos, he is white.)

“People thought I was making fun of that jungle bunny slogan “Black lives matter” but I had never heard that before.  I just really thought that “Bellevue Wives Matter” cos they do, right?  They have to look their best ALL THE TIME, some even have to clean and cook a little bit, I don’t know how they do it?! And I’ve heard a few even have to work at jobs.”

Me:  “Wow.  I didn’t know.  I also didn’t know you were so political!” 

JC:  “ I wasn’t but I am now and that’s why I’m working so hard on my new project AMAZON’s CAPPE HILLE MALLE, it will have a Hooter’s, a Fox Sports Bar, that giant gun shop with all the stuffed animals, and lots more places where real Americans can shop safely. 

Thinking it was like the night Larry Kramer kissed me, I reach over to kiss John as our interview is over and stops me, saying “Dude!  Pride is fine and all was last month  but don’t act Gay on Amazon’s Cappe Hille!”

I’ve learned my lesson and I hang my head in shame.

“Don’t feel so bad kid,” JC says.  “Here, have a Soft Serve Micro Cream Shooter Pop.”

He’s right, it does make me feel better, although I do feel some vomit surge into my throat as well.  Seattle is a great American city and it gets better each and every day, every time any one shops in Amazon’s Cappe Hille Malle they will have the best time they’ve ever had in a mall ever and ever and ever,  Amen!


John Criscitello Filled a Small Room with Penises, And Then I Looked At Them or Wikipedia Saves the Day. Again. by Sarra Scherb

Don't ever hire me as your stylist.

That's what I learned looking at the many penises of John Criscitello at The Factory. I've never been particularly brand-focused in my fashion, but my lack of brand knowledge and recognition became painfully clear as I puzzled over why Criscitello's show revolved around The North Face puffy vests. Sure, I was familiar with the brand and the object. But why were Capitol Hill's finest penises alternately pissing on, ejaculating over, and coming inside them? A lambasting of fake outdoorsy people who spend too much money on hiking gear? A searing commentary on the comfortable, anonymous uniform that men can (and do) wear to literally every occasion? Surely, if it's Criscitello, tech bros and Bellevue wives had something to do with it. I just couldn't figure out what.
Criscitello is the creator of a series of popular anti-gentrification posters that have recently sprung up around the Hill. Relying on a mix of slogans and straight up smart-assery (Bellevue Wives Matter, We Came Here to Get Away From You), he seeks to provoke an instant reaction while drawing a line between the Hill's old guard and Amazon arrivals. That reaction depends on whether you're in on the joke, or the butt of it (deserving or not). It's not surprising, then, that his paintings seek to provoke as well: how else to interpret a show filled with slurs, golden showers and titles like “North Face Gang Bang?”

I tried to dig up meaning behind the shock value for a while before giving in and Wikipedia-ing The North Face. And then it all fell into place. The North Face company—as likely everyone but me knows—was founded in California, and is owned by a giant conglomerate on the East Coast. Ah, there it is. A perfect symbol of corporate greed, California excess, and encroachment on the Northwest's local outdoor companies. A visual shorthand that continues Criscitello's outrage against new tech employees fleeing the Valley to hole up in overpriced condos on the Hill and stamp out gay culture.

With the iconography of the vest now illuminated, I could now interpret the Vest paintings as a symbol-laden trio of possibilities for the gay citizenry of the Hill. Three options: rejection, acceptance, and transformation. “North Face Gang Bang” shows the penis wielders—symbolic of the “native species” of the Hill, nevermind the lesbians—rejecting the foreign interloper of the vest. Against a turbulent, seething purple background a circle jerk of penises makes a mockery of the vest and considers it worthy only for wiping up. GTFO, in painting form. Then, “Fist Vest”--with its rich green background and a man's O face in the blurred depth of field—shows the Hill's acquiescence to the new California overlords. If you can't beat 'em, get fucked well by 'em, preferably on a bed of green. Finally, in “Piss Vest”, there's apotheosis. Rendered in the turquoise and gilded gold of a medieval rood screen, the vest is anointed and transformed into a golden object worthy of veneration. The vest is brought into the circle of penis wagglers, and accepted in its new form. Hallelujah, it is Piss Christ reborn.

The moral of the story? If you have a penis, use it for good. Or to transform things. Or to piss on corporate shills from California. Or something. Just don't let me dress you for any music videos any time soon.  

Dicks: John Criscitello at the Factory by Ellie Dicola

Dicks Dicks Dicks. So many dicks in my face. Brown dicks, white dicks. Six of them here, gangbanging the empty torso of a Northface jacket.

Normally, like while watching porn, I'd be offput about so many dicks in my face. Like, it's totally necessary to remind me how much you rule...I forgot.

But I like that these dicks are hard, and that they don't seem to like Northface. They circumvent the rhetorical altogether and just go for the arterial corridor. I hate being told what to think; luckily the dicks have no interest in my opinion. The more thrusting the gesture, the better. There's no time for wistful commemorations or hand-held there-there's.

'Why am I still so sad?' implores a triplet of health goths. Goths, or normcore? --Hell, I can't even tell anymore, and does it matter? And if you don't know, we won't save you...

Next, three more dicks spray yellow on so many healthy life choices and a fourth lies in wait. Someone needs to stage an intervention on all the healthy life choices going on. Just because I quit drinking doesn't mean I plan to give up my diet Coke and sugar cookies, after all. When Whole Paycheck Foods moves in, I am definitely out. Yes, I keep saying that as it gets worse and worse, but I really mean it this time!

Meanwhile, a 'legendary' dick casually leans into the wall, waiting to be hung.

But let's talk about the faggots. 'FAGGOTS!' screams a cruising bro out the car window. In what might be a Freudian slip of desire or an assertion of manliness, or both, his friend grabs his own crotch. It's all too real: I haven't seen it happen exactly like that yet, but I heard a rumor they're throwing a straight pride parade here later this summer. This, truly, is the question at the crux of all these dicks.

'I wish I could tell him that I love him.’