My visual, audio and literary stuff is free here, but my hold-in-your-hands books, prints, and CDs cost real money. If you want to buy something tactile from me, contact me at stujenks at gmail dot com, or message me on Facebook. If you simply want to look and read for free, that's fine too, but don't hesitate to send me your sofa change. My snail mail address is P.O. Box 161, Tucson, Arizona 85702. Keep those cards and letters coming. And sofa change too. Love and light, Stu.
Images from top to bottom: "The Wall, West Of Naco, Montezuma Pass, Coronado National Monument, Arizona", "The Digital Wall, Montezuma Pass, Arizona" & "Trump Pinata, Tucson, Arizona" (c) 2017 Stu Jenks.
DIGITAL, PHYSICAL, AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WALLS by Stu Jenks.
There are already physical walls on the border. Lots of them. Also, The U.S. Border Patrol has very advanced digital monitoring systems all up and down the Arizona border. They have for years. I talked briefly with a couple of the officers yesterday and thanked them. I'm a progressive Democrat but I greatly appreciate the work these men and women do.
But I can only imagine what some of them must feel when they hear what Trump, their future boss, said in his press conference today, that the border is wide open, a complete mess, a disaster.
It is not wide open. Hasn't been for a long time. It is not a disaster.
You will be seeing more politic posts from me on Facebook, and on my website in the future. I really don't care if it affects the sale of my work. Fuck it. (By the way, I've closed my Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts. Can't stand those platforms.)
I'm going back to Virginia and North Carolina next week to visit with friends and to see an ailing family member. (Say a prayer for Victoria and the Hardy family.) I'll also be in Washington, D.C. either on Inauguration Day or the day after. Plan is the visit the new African American Museum. Not sure yet which day I'll be there. Depends on a number of things. I'll keep you posted.
Lastly for today, I watched both Trump press conference and Obama farewell address this morning. I wonder what my British and Canadian friends must think, seeing the stark contrast between those two presentations. How could we go so wrong in our election, they must think?
Well, I can only speculate. And coulda, woulda, shoulda, we are long past that now. Donald Trump will be our President a week from Friday. I did predict Trump winning the nomination back on the Summer of 2015, but I didn't see him winning the general.
And I have another prediction today.
Trump will either be impeached or removed from office, probably in two years time if not sooner. It will take time to build a case against him either for mental instability or for corruption, using his influence with foreign governments to line his own pockets and that of his children. If things go south economically, and the Republicans get creamed in the midterms, look for President Pence in 2019.
But I could be dead wrong. Worse things could happen.
Trump will start a war, perhaps using small or large nuclear weapons, and what I write on my blog or on Facebook won't really matter very much.
Or there is this.
The percentage of the American people who support Trump and the Republicans (It's really only about 30% of all adults in America.) will continue to be misinformed at best or blatantly incurious and dumb at worse, blaming whatever bad things that happen on Obama or Clinton or whatever paper tiger they come up with. And about 10-20% of Americans are perfectly happy with a bully, a narcissist, a crazy man as President. (I heard people laughing in the room at the Trump press conference today when he was rude, obnoxious and insulting to reporters. He actually brought in Trump supporters to a press conference to mock the journalists.) Some Americans love this guy. He truly represents them. That is a fact. So things will get worse and the conservative media will gas-lighting the living shit out of it. And many people will believe the sky is blue when it is really black.
Enjoy my factual photos of how the Arizona/Mexico border is actually quite secured.
And pray for all of us.
And for Peter's sake, people, vote in the mid-terms in 2018. We can roll back this shit.
"New Christmas Light Hoop, Flame Spiral Studios, Tucson, Arizona" (c) 2016 Stu Jenks.
Night before last, I made a new Christmas light hoop. 200 lights wrapped around a large embroidery hoop I inherited from my sister. May have to take this into the woods sometime this winter and shoot some nocturnal work. And happy 90th birthday, Mary Jenks. You taught me to be generous with my money, my time and my compassion. Thank you for that. Rest in peace, Mom.
"Star Circle at The Biscuit, The Mustang Mountains, Arizona" (c) 2016 Stu Jenks.
I went out to shoot the meteor shower last night. No meteors crossed my camera's view but I did see a bunch with my eyeballs, and I got a nice star circle out of the night. And nothing, my friends, nothing is like gazing at the bright glow of the Milky Way above your head.
Many thanks to Jill for contacting me to assist with this article. It's a big deal to be asked by the largest photography retailer in the world to help keep people safe and sound. More than happy to help y'all.
...As a bookend for the encounter, Jenks offers one last piece of etiquette for the end of the night. “As you load up and prepare to leave, turn back to where you’ve worked and thank the land. Say, ‘Thank You’ out loud,” he suggests. “Show a bit of gratitude to the land that provided your images and this experience. For me, it puts food on my table, but it also puts joy in my heart.” - Jill Waterman, B&H.
I was preparing to hike to the top of C.J.'s Fault yesterday, to shoot lightning just past sunset, when I noticed lightning bolts hitting a similarly high ridgeline a few miles to the east. I walked a few hundred yards toward the peak when I heard these three words in my head.
Don't die dumb.
Yeah, I thought. I know.
I walked back to the car, put my gear in the Buick, then drove to a lower elevation. I shot these two images an hour or so later. They are probably not as good as what I would have gotten atop C.J.'s Fault but that's OK.
Because I didn't die dumb.
"Did you hear what happened to Stu Jenks?" a not-so-close-friend says to another acquaintance.
"No, man. What?"
"He was hiking up to a high ridge last week to shoot lightning but then lightning hit him on the head and killed him."
"That's a bummer," say the other guy.
"But here's the kicker," says the first guy. "The hill he was on top of? It was the same hill he wants to have his ashes placed after he died."
They both laugh.
"I guess they didn't have to move his body very far," says the second guy.
They laugh even louder.
I don't want to hear those two dudes laughing from the other side. Ever. No-sir-ree-Bob.
Leashed: A Performance Piece by Stu Jenks, 608 Airport Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (c) 1978, 2016
(with Manfred the Wonder Dog at my feet. Inspired by the German artist Joseph Beuys.)
1) Find a good length of heavy jute rope. At least 15 feet long.
2) Tie one end around your waist, the other to the front porch.
3) Don't speak for 12 hours.
4) Stay tied up for 12 hours.
5) Play with Manfred The Wonder Dog from time to time.
6) Pee around the side of the house as needed.
7) Hope roommates bring you beer and food. Don't tell roommates before hand what you are doing. Smile when they laugh at you.
8) Have 35 mm camera around, loaded with Kodachrome slide film. Have 8mm movie camera close by as well. Silently give cameras to friends and roommates and beseech them, without words, to photograph and film you. Document fully the next 12 hours.
9) After 12 hours, untie self and go get ice cream with your girlfriend.
10) Develop slide film and movie film.
11) Show slides to your art teacher within a week. Show movie to your art class soon thereafter. Talk about the idea that we all are the ones who leash ourselves to things, that we are responsible for our own limitations.
12) Get a grade from your teacher.
"Joseph Beuys at Newgrange", 1974, photographer unknown.
I was a big fan of Joseph Beuys at the time of this piece. Still love Joe's work, even though I am fully aware he created much of his own life's story out of whole cloth. No sense letting the truth get in the way of a good myth of being healed of your war wounds by nomadic Tatar tribesmen. I loved his vision and his willingness to bring ecology and a love of the Earth into Contemporary Art.
Regarding my piece "Leashed," I now believe that there are many factors, other than ourselves, that limit humans in this world: race, gender, poverty, illness, nationality, religion, many outside, uncontrollable factors, but at the time, I was trying to think big thoughts and reason out the world. Not bad for a kid from the suburbs, but not great either. But I was trying. In 1978, I had little idea of the privileges I had, being the white son of an IBM middle manager. I now know that by being white and male in America, I was born on second base. Add being middle class puts me on third, ready to steal home.
Fun fact: I was silent for all 12 hours except for one slip, when I said to a roommate out of the blue something like, 'I agree with you.' All five of us on the porch that night feel silent, then all my friends laughed. I simply smiled and felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed a lot of the time back then.
Heading out tonight to shoot, equipped with battery-powered Christmas lights and with my grandmother Nannie's mirror. Wish me luck. I always go with some plan, that I tend to throw away once I'm in the space. Hope plan B works out, but you never know. I have high standards for my stock photography work. If it's crap, you won't see it here.
Also, I'll be talking more about politics on my blog.
One of the unspoken rules of being a working artist or musician or writer, who isn't rich to begin with, is to not to speak your political mind because a good 1/3 of our customers are conservative folk, that we don't want to insult, so they don't then buy our work. Well, screw that. There is too much going on in 2016 for me to keep quiet any longer.
Arizona is in play this election. Polls show Thump is only up by four points in Arizona, a Republican Goldwater state, mind you. Senator McCain might lose his re-election bid to a very competent Democratic woman. And a narcissistic businessman with orange hair wants to be the king of America.
No matter what any of the talking heads on TV says, there are really no undecided voters out there. It's all about turnout. If progressive people of colors, forward-thinking women, hopeful young people, and liberal and moderate white folk don't show up at the polls in November, Donald Trump just might win. If however we show up in force, it will be a landslide of biblical proportion. Ann Kirkpatrick will send John McCain back to Sedona, and we might actually get the U.S. Senate back in Democratic hands. (Sadly, due to gerrymandering, the U.S. House is pretty hopeless, but who knows. Maybe.)
So vote, ye moderates and liberals. The other side, those conservative white folks out there? They will show up, no matter how much they dislike Trump. They will vote for him. We need to vote for our side.
And if you hate or distrust Hillary Clinton and are a progressive, you need to get over that, hold your nose, and think of the greater good.
Three words, people.
The Supreme Court.
I frankly don't want to see one of the guys from Duck Dynasty on the Court. Or freaking Chris Christie either. Abortion needs to stay legal, Obamacare need to not be overturned, and voting rights needs to be restored, just to name a few important issues.
Politics may be athletics for ugly people, but policies matter. Laws matter. The Social Contract matters.
So here endeth my political message for today. If you disagree with me, fine. Just don't be a jerk and type troll shit back to me. It's not polite.
Wish me luck tonight. Hopefully I'll get some good images that I can make a little coin with, and that will make y'all smile.
I'll listen to what the land and the sky says to me, and I'll bring those voices back home.
1997, Photography Studies, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona. 1979, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Studio Art: Sculpture, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2016, “20 Years: 1996-2016,” Wee Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2015, “The Little Ones,” Wee Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2014, “The Ancients,” Wee Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2009, "At-One-With," Jewish Community Center, Tucson, Arizona. 2008, "Nine Prayers," Hotel Congress, Tucson, Arizona. 2007, "A Very Large God," Unity of Tucson, Tucson, Arizona. 2005, "If There's a Heaven...," Endicott West Art Foundation, Tucson, Arizona. 2004, "Mystery And Magic,” Metroform Limited Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2002, "Circles and Spirals," Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona. 2001, "Analog and Digital," Safehouse, Tucson, Arizona. 2001, "Circles and Spirals," The Image Gallery, The Screening Room, Tucson, Arizona. 1998, "Sacred Spaces," Hercules Florence Gallery, Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona.
2016, Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press 2015, Step Zero (The Special Edition) by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2014, Balthazar and Zeeba: A Christmas Novella by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2014, A Rolodex Of Haikus by Tunafish Smith (Edited by Stu Jenks), Fezziwig Press. 2014, Air & Gravity by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2013, Pamela’s Baby Rocking Chair by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2012, Step Zero by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2012, The Fatal Figures (Or How I Got In Trouble With The Law In Art School), by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2011, The Transpersonal Papers: 1861-2010 by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2011, Bozo In Love by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2011, Dementia Blues by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2009, Hoop Dancing: More Journeys Through Nocturnal Photography, by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press. 2008, Flames Spirals: Journeys Through Nocturnal Photography by Stu Jenks, Fezziwig Press.
Music And Audiobooks:
2003: The Three Surrenders: Soundtracks for Photographs, Vol. One, Fezziwig Press. 2005: West Of The Fires: Soundtracks for Photographs, Vol. Two, Fezziwig Press. 2008: Gladstone Mothershead: Soundtracks for Photographs, Vol. Three, Fezziwig Press. 2010: Hoop Dancing (The Audiobook), Fezziwig Press. 2011: Deaths & Injuries, Fezziwig Press. 2013: Pamela’s Baby Rocking Chair (The Audiobook), Fezziwig Press. 2014: Balthazar & Zebba: A Christmas Novella (The Audiobook), Fezziwig Press. 2015: Angel Ghosts, Fezziwig Press.
Selected Group Exhibitions:
2016, “Into the Night: Contemporary Art and the Nocturne Tradition,” Tucson Museum Of Art. 2016, “In Full Bloom,” Tohono Chul Park, Arizona. 2015, “Small Works,” Tohono Chul Park, Arizona. 2015, “Dia de los Muertos,” Tohono Chul Park, Arizona. 2015, “The Photographers,” Contreras Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2015, “The Sky Above,” Tohono Chul Park, Arizona. 2014, “The Trees: Myth, Symbol and Metaphor,” Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona. 2012, "Vicios y Virtudes" (Vices & Virtues), Raices Taller 222 Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2010, "Night Moves: After-Dark Images," Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona. 2009, "Print Pop," Lulubell Toy Bodega, Tucson, Arizona. 2009, "Curious Camera," ArtsEye/Photographic Works, Honorable Mention, Tucson, Arizona. 2008, "La Celebración y el Sufrimiento," Union Gallery, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. 2008, "The September Show," Point Of View Gallery, Raleigh, North Carolina. 2008, "Big Ideas, Small Frames," Dinnerware Artspace, Tucson, Arizona. 2008, "Darkness, Darkness," Three Columns Gallery, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2007, "Salon Des Refuses," Dinnerware Contemporary Arts, Tucson, Arizona. 2006, "Big Deal 13," SOMarts Gallery, San Francisco, California. 2006, "Transcending Boundaries," Point Of View Gallery, Raleigh, North Carolina. 2006, "Tough Lovelies: Agaves and Yuccas in Art," Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona. 2006, "The Art Of Photography,” Lyceum Theatre, San Diego, California. 2005, "Día de los Muertos: Contemporary Expressions," Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona. 2004, "Hotshoe Salon" Studio 455, Tucson, Arizona. 2004, "Wildfire!", Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona. 2003, "First Annual Winter Group Exhibition," Metroform Limited Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2003, "Small Works Invitational," Metroform Limited Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2003, "46th Annual International Awarded Exhibition," San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, California. 2002, "Rocky Mountain Biennial," Museum of Contemporary Art, Fort Collins, Colorado. 2002, "Spite: Ten Years of The Toole Shed," Museum of Contemporary Art/Hazmat Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2002-2004, "Saguaro: Popular Image and Cultural Icon," Arizona Commission of the Arts Touring Exhibition (with Tohono Chul Park), Arizona. 2001, "Response," Tucson/Pima Arts Council, Tucson, Arizona. 2001, "In God We Trust," Zahorec Hughes Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio. 2001, "Michael Cajero, Stu Jenks, and Rudolph Nadler," Jewish Community Center's Fine Art Gallery, Tucson, Arizona. 2000, "La Petite VIII," Alder Gallery, Coburg, Oregon. 2000, "44th Annual International Awarded Exhibition," San Diego Art Institute, California. 2000, "Visions VI," Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, Kentucky. 2000, "Nocturnes 2000," Pacific Media Arts, San Francisco, California, Curator's Choice Award. 2000, "Tucson/Pima Arts Council Fellowship Exhibit," Tucson/Pima Arts Council, Tucson, Arizona. 1999, "43rd Annual International Awarded Exhibition," San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, California. 1999, "La Petite VII", Alder Gallery, Coburg, Oregon. 1999, "Visions V", Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, Covington, Kentucky; Jury's Award. 1999, "Arizona Biennial '99," Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona. 1999, "Photowork '99," Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, New York. 1999, "Miniatures," The Galleria, Bisbee, Arizona. 1979, “Bachelor of Fine Arts Show”, Ackland Museum, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
2012, “Open Circle for Pamela,” Glow Festival of Lights, Oracle, Arizona. 2009, "Open Circle Plus Seven," Metanexus Conference, Tempe, Arizona. 2004, "Ancient Spirit, Modern Voice: The Mythic Journeys Art Exhibition," The Defoor Centre Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia. 2002, "The Open Circle Cairn Project," Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, Arizona.
Grants & Fellowships:
2000, Tucson/Pima Arts Council, Visual Arts I Fellowship Awards (Honorable Mention).
Selected Lectures, Juries & Workshops:
2011, Juror, Third Annual Curious Camera Competition, ArtsEye, Tucson, Arizona. 2010, Co-Executive Director, "All Souls' Procession 4th Annual Photography Exhibition Competition," All Souls' Procession, Tucson, Arizona. 2009, Juror, "Blue Nocturne," The Nocturnes, San Francisco, California. 2006, Presenter, "The Rhythm of Mythic Journeys '06," Mythic Imagination Institute, Atlanta, Georgia. 2001, Juror, "A Little Night Music," TheNocturnes.com, Pacific Media Arts, San Francisco, California. 1998, Guest Lecturer on Sepia and Selenium Toning, Photography Program, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
I've been asked to write for B & H Photo, regarding safety and etiquette when shooting nocturnal photography.
I've made my mistakes in the past. Yes I have. (See the chapter in my book "Flame Spirals" regarding the shooting of “Owl's Head Flame Spiral.” I had a white gas incident where I used too much of the fuel but I had a fire extinguisher at hand. And luckily within seconds, the flames dissipated. Dumb.)
I learned and grew from those mistakes. (See "Altar of Repose" where I created the illusion of the flame spiral, made with a Zippo lighter, being much closer to the lace than it actually was.)
I also changed lighting instruments over the years to be less dangerous. (See "My Ghost Likes To Travel" or "Abajo Mountain Hoop Dance" that were created with large hula hoops with Christmas lights attached.)
And of late, I've gone lighter, making it easier to hike into the wilds or around the cities. (See "Paris Hoop Dance," "Catawba Falls Hoop Dance," and “Avebury Hoop Dance” where I now use swinging strings of battery-powered LED Christmas lights.)
That's the progression of how my lightning instruments have changed in my 20-year career, but it just talks to how I make stuff. It doesn't speak to how to be a good person as I make stuff.
Here are some simple rules that I try to live by when shooting at night.
Rule One:Do no harm. Don't hurt the plants and trees, disturb the rocks, or make a mess on the streets. Go in, get the shot you want, and then leave the land or the cityscape as you found it.
Rule Two:Don't be a jerk. This is a big one and those of you who are jerks don't think you are. But you are nonetheless. You getting that cool shot at any cost. Good folk with morals and values feel guilty when they hurt the land or are loud and obnoxious around other people or burn an old abandoned store to the ground just to get that cool steel wool shot. Many photographers and people in general, feel no shame these days. We live in a very self-centered, shameless culture now. I don't know what to say to change that. Jerks are jerks. Some people just have to get The Shot. Whatever. I'm telling you, your photos are not as important as you think. Nor are you. For the good folk out there, (and I would include most everyone reading this article), just be the good man or woman you are. Be respectful. Be quiet. Be kind. Be generous. Be nice. Not only will you feel better, but your photographs will look better.
Rule Three:I quiet my mind as I unload the truck to go shoot at night. I say a little prayer. I take a deep breath. I close my eyes and meditate for a couple of seconds. I open my eyes in the full moon light and see what I see. I think. I feel. I plan. I throw away that plan and do something else. I breath. I breath again. I take a better photograph than the one I first had in mind. By quieting my mind, I open my eyes.
Rule Four:Bring at least two extra camera batteries. Bring at least two flashlights.
Rule Five:Hiking boots with hopefully good ankle support. Really. Even in the city. I mean it.
Rule Six:Don't fall off a cliff while shooting a shot. (See "Ghost Horses.” Dancing with that hula hoop of light was a little dicey there for a moment. It was a long way down. I almost went. Glad I didn't. My motto now? Don't die dumb.)
Rule Seven:As you load up your vehicle at the end of a shoot or sling your bag and tripod over your shoulder as you prepare to leave, turn back to where you've taken your photos and thank the land. Say it out loud. Say "Thank you." You, as an American, are living in a relatively safe country, where you can walk the city and trek into the woods and out into the desert, and shoot these images without the fear (mostly) of being shot and killed yourself. So show a bit of gratitude and thank the land that gave you this image and this experience. For me, it puts food on my table, but also puts joy in my heart.
Hope this helps, buckaroos. Be good out there shooting at night. Remember, the condition of your body and soul are more important than the pixels stored in your camera.
Below is a cover letter I sent to The White House with a handbound copy of my new book Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service. Some of you will like this. Some of you will think I'm naive. Some of you will hate this letter. Do me a favor. Keep your negative internet opinions to yourself. I'm a sensitive soul who hurts easily, and when I get hurt, I get mad or sad. I'd prefer to just feel happy about sending a nice note to a President I voted for twice. If you want to talk politics with me in person or on the phone, great, but don't type shit to me, all right? All right. Enjoy the letter. Or not.
Dear President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama and First Daughters Sasha and Malia Obama,
Enclosed is the fourth book in my Step Zero series in which I write about The United States in the years 2079-2080. In this and in previous books, I created a fictional character named Sasha Obama Fulbright. I’m simply honoring the good work you and Michelle have done for our country, by making that character, a tough, sweet, elder, female President who has helped America also return from very tough times. I’m not crazy nor dangerous or anything. I’m just a writer and an artist with a good imagination. Hope you like the book.
Thanks again for the thank-you note and the lovely photo of you all and the girls, that you sent a few years back when you received the first book. (By the way, Mr. President, you make a brief appearance in the first book, Step Zero, as a loving ghost. Just saying.) The photo and note are framed in my house and are one of my most priced possessions.
Maybe in 2017 you might be able to read this book, after you leave office, but it’s not a big thing if you don’t. What is a big thing is the true and loyal service you have given to our country. I too believe, like you, that change is incremental, that justice and progress often happen slowly. But you have done much, Mister President, to kick the can of American Goodness down the road. Thank you for that.
I’ll miss you a lot, Barack, come January. I think Hillary will be a fine President, but frankly, she can’t tell a joke as well as you. She just doesn’t have your timing.
Much love and thanks again for all you have done.
Stu Jenks P.O.Box 161 Tucson, Arizona 85702 email@example.com
All photos by Stu Jenks (c) 2016. Top photo is a kaleidoscope image taken in front of The White House. Bottom photo was taken off my TV of the President crying after another mass shooting, in which children were killed. Again.
Below is the introduction/cautionary note to the readers of Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service. My previous Step Zero novels have produced, how can I say it, some interesting and unexpected emails. ("Stu Jenks, you suck."). This intro was written to help quell some of nastier emails, if that's at all possible in the digital online wasteland of people with personality disorders. But I try.
And if you steal the ebook online, by striping out the code and putting it on a pier to pier site, to hell with you. I ain't going to pray against you, but I ain't going to pray very hard for you either.
Bottom Line? The new novel is out, and I'd like you to buy.
A Cautionary Note From The Author:
You hold in your hot little hands, either as an e-book or as a real-live-book-book, the fourth installment in my Step Zero series, but I believe some polite warnings to readers are needed here, given questions and concerns I have received in the past.
This is a stand alone novel but if you haven’t read Step Zero, the first book, or Air & Gravity, the second book, some of the plot twists, suspense reveals and arch conclusions here may spoil some of your enjoyment of those two previous books, if and when you read them. (Balthazar and Zeeba, the third book in the series, is a Christmas novel with its own individual side arch, which will not be affected by reading Victor Mothershead.)
Victor Mothershead: U.S. Secret Service is a hard R rated book as are Step Zero and Air & Gravity. There is a ton of cussing and a bit of sex in this book. Victor himself is a polite, soft spoken man who rarely speaks profanity but in the Step Zero world of 2079, particularly in the American Southwest, folks cuss like sailors on drunken leave and have sex like they will never ever screw again. It’s just how my characters roll. So if foul language and hot sex upset you, thanks for buying this book but you might want to give it to your college nephew to read. (Regarding the age appropriateness of this book, 17 years old and above seems about right. Use your best judgment. You know your kids.)
Many of my characters in the Step Zero universe believe in a spiritual force called God-Goddess-All-There-Is or GGATI. It’s a made up higher power by me, not affiliated with Wiccan or Pagan faiths (Not that there is anything wrong with those.) I was simply trying to expand the spirituality and religiosity of 2079 to include a specific feminine side as well as the masculine and universal aspects.
The politics of many of these characters is progressive and in some cases, specifically Democratic. The Presidents mentions in the Step Zero series are all Democrats. If you are a Republican or an Independent, and don’t agree with some of the policies mentions in this book, relax. It’s OK. This is speculative fiction. It’s the United States in the year 2079. I’ve just made this stuff up. Sasha Obama of course is a real young women today, but President Sasha Obama Fulbright and Vice President Florence Biden are completely made up people. You don’t have to agree with the politics here to enjoy this read. The characters are fun, the story I think is strong, and did I mention there is sex in this book?
Lastly, 12 Step fellowships play a major role in many of the characters’ lives in Victor Mothershead, U.S. Secret Service; one, a real program, Alcoholics Anonymous, the other, a fictional one, Mormon Tea Anonymous. None of the characters here represent any living or dead members of Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Al-Anon or any other 12 Step groups. That being said, I have talked with many clean and sober members of these fellowships over the years and I have attended a few 12 Step meetings myself, but I will neither confirm nor deny if I personally belong to those groups. There are by-laws regarding anonymity of members speaking publicly. The problem is, if you thought I was in A.A., or C.A., or N.A., and you hated this book or disliked me personally or think in any way I poorly represent a particular recovery program, you might feel reticent to seek help from those 12 Step programs if you ever needed it. They tell me these by-laws or ‘Traditions’ are there to protect the fellowships from its own members’ mistakes, yet recovering people want very much to be available and to help everyone, regardless of gender, race, color, creed, economic situation, and political leaning. Bottom line is no one in this book is any one person in A.A., but the views of some of the characters do reflect the beliefs of some members of those Fellowships.
I truly hope you enjoy this book. I’ve enjoyed making it for you.
Keep your lamp trimmed and burning, and as President Fulbright often said: “Be nice.”
Stu Jenks Spring, 2016 Studio BR-549 Tucson, Arizona
All photographs by Stu Jenks. Book design and layout by Gail Cross of Desert Isle Designs, Mesa, Arizona.
"The Abyss, Rockwell Kent, 1930, Woodcut at Tucson Museum of Art's Into The Night show." Photograph 2016 Stu Jenks.
23 years after this woodcut was made, a friend of Rockwell's and his wife came to stay at their home on Monhegan Island in Maine. Sally Moran was going through a messy divorce from an ad exec and had lost her apartment in New York City. Sally had been a model of Rockwell's back in the day and perhaps his mistress too. (Rockwell seemed that have fooled around a lot.) Rockwell and his wife, also named Sally, were away from Monhegan in early July, but their eldest daughter and her two children were home at the time. On the night of July 9th, 1953, Sally Moran went for a walk before dinner along the cliffs. She never returned. Three weeks later her body was pulled from the ocean. Months after that, the Kents sold their house.
Life imitating Art, in the most tragic way.
"A Dale Nichols at the Into The Night show at Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona." Photograph 2016 Stu Jenks.
I love his work; the palette, the forms, the exaggerations. Like those saguaros. No cactus are that tall or that smooth. Great stuff.
"Catalina State Park, Arizona at the Tucson Museum of Art's Into The Night show," (c) 2016 Stu Jenks.
En plein air. French phrase for an artist who makes his work out of doors. Art curator Julie Sasse says I'm one of those artists. She's right.
Thanks Julie for selecting me for the show.
P.S. I'm two pieces down from a freaking Misrach and across the way from a Jeff Smith, a Tom Willett and a Bill Lesch. I'm in very good company. Shows up until July 10th.
"The world is falling to pieces and all Adams and Weston photograph is rocks and trees." - Henri Cartier-Bresson
The same can be said of me. I vote and I try to be a good man, but besides that, there is little I can do to change the world in a big way, beside taking photographs of rocks and trees, and add a little mystery and beauty to an already ugly world.
Photo: "Catawba Falls Hoop Dance, North Carolina" (c) 2011, 2016 Stu Jenks.