August 27, 2012


Lopez shoots a scene for At Dawn. Photo from Lopez.
Climbing Rope:Rodrigo Lopez trudges through the secret jungles of filmmaking for his first major production, At Dawn.
   Rodrigo Lopez doesn’t waste time. When he gets an inkling, he goes. “I got this idea that I wanted to do something,” he said, looking out from a pair of sunglasses on a bench in Davis Square. “I blindly went into it and asked questions later.” The idea in question is the short film, At Dawn, currently in clockwork production and representative of Lopez’s giant creative leap forward. [READ ON]

August 22, 2012

Scout Profile//Jasen Sousa

Jasen Sousa Puts the Company on his Back
Cover of Jasen Sousa's novel-in-poems, "Fancy Girl"
SOMERVILLE//Jasen Sousa, a Somerville native whose novel in poems, Fancy Girl, will be published in September by his own imprint, J-Rock Publishing, fell into the role of writer unintentionally. He’d pass along stories to friends in juvenile detention centers and mental hospitals as a way of keeping them in tune to the outside world. “I used to bring them little wraps of writings of things that were going on in the neighborhood,” he said. The recipients were grateful and repaid him with compliments and encouragement to continue writing. “As I did more research I noticed a lack of urban literature out there.”
            Thus, a void he sought to fill. Fancy Girl deals with the livelihood of Deanna Keight, a teenager, as she turns to prostitution in a wholehearted attempt to save money for her and her daughter. She is driven by the choking desire to leave Somerville and the characters of her life behind. There is no holding back. Sousa keeps the story believable and is able to spool out compassion from moments of degradation. For him, writing in the voice of a female call girl provided the biggest challenge, but was offset by being the biggest reward. “Their life is tough to most people,” he said of his protagonist. “[I was] trying to be authentic and accurate as possible, tell their type of story, what they go through on a daily basis and how they do what they have to in order to keep their family together.”
            Deanna walks the tightrope of single-parenthood, leaving her daughter in the care of Johnny J, who may still harbor some past love for her, while she scuffles in bedrooms all over. Meanwhile, Machinegun Mike, the father of Deanna’s daughter, is about to be let free from jail. As her corrosive journey shifts, the people in her life uncoil right along with her. The reader travels along in the girl’s mind, experiencing bouts with doubt, humiliation, self-righteousness, misguided love and triumph. Sousa succeeds tremendously at bringing this more-common-than-you-might-think tale come to life.
            Fancy Girl has been available as an ebook through Sousa’s own website and since July. Come September it will be available in print form from J-Rock Publishing, the company Sousa started with the purpose of providing a platform for urban youth to stretch their literary desires. At age 17 tragedy put a dent in Sousa’s life when a close friend died from a drug overdose. “I felt that if he had an outlet to tell what he was going through then maybe he wouldn’t have come to that outcome,” he said. The loss helped Sousa to push J-Rock, which he’d start a few years later while still a teenager, into existence.
He sensed a lack of opportunity within the city for kids beyond high school, especially within the arts. “I wanted to create this small publishing house just to give kids an opportunity in a field they would normally be shut out of,” he said. “The whole point was to build this literature for urban teenage readers [and] to create this environment that urban kids from everywhere can relate to.”     Sousa looks to employ anyone with a solid interest in the market at J-Rock. “Even if you weren’t necessarily interested in writing you could do graphic design, photography for book covers, marketing. You could get experience in all these areas.” All work is done on a contract basis. Interested applicants need only email Sousa through his website.
            When sitting down to pen Fancy Girl, Sousa asked himself an important question: “How can myself, as someone who writes for teenagers, create a product that would get them interested in reading when they come from a family history where books are not in the household?” One answer was to feed them the story, line by line, in poem form, an idea he got while at Pine Manor College, where he earned his MFA in Creative Writing. He also has a Bachelor’s Degree from Emerson College.
“Teenagers are more receptive to things that are fast. I wanted [Fancy Girl] to be hard-hitting, easy to read for a teenage audience and something to introduce kids to books.” The book consists of brief one or two page poems, each one carrying the story along, each one a story in itself, and is divided by chapters. Often when a teenager is folded up into a book these days, it’s the otherworldly Twilight series or Harry Potter books, Sousa said. With Fancy Girl he wanted to provide a realistic story that kids in urban areas could relate too. They won’t know what hit them.

August 11, 2012


Art on the Run:Navigating the Convoluted Advertising of Geoff Hargadon
Geoff Hargadon will tell you advertising has misshapen the landscape. Signs are pasted all over, trying to pull your line of vision this way and that.“We allow ourselves to be inundated by visual propaganda,” Hargadon said. Relationship Advice. Uncle Sam Wants You. Mr. Smiles For Office. “It’s everywhere—in advertising, in every bus, every taxi, billboards, everything. I’m throwing myself in there saying,‘Alright, I’ll chip in to that.’”There is no escape, he said, but to join the melee. [READ ALL]

August 05, 2012


Crimes Against the Music Credential Hawk

When I mentioned to Person X that I had just been playing the drums to Frank Ocean's new album, Channel Orange, he picked up the newest copy of Rolling Stone, pointed to Ocean’s spot on the Billboard list and asked if that was where I learned of him. When I said, No. He replied, Good for you. Previously I overheard this same Person X use the word, Pretentious, twice, to describe others, in the span of about thirty minutes, but that’s just a side note.
In the last decade or so a new crop of music fans have become cynical little imps, overly preoccupied with everything surrounding the music—except the actual music. In a world of mass sharing and interweb interjecting, this just cannot be acceptable.
The tone in Person X's voice was intended to make me feel emboldened by the fact that I learned of Frank Ocean elsewhere from a major American publication. (I was first drawn to Ocean by his video for "Novocain," which I saw posted on His response made it seem that the origins one first discovers a certain artist or band by actually mattered, and somehow changed the power of the music; as if learning it from something popular made it less good. This is a problem because it feeds into the notion that good music can't be popular; which is a trite, unbecoming, shit-in-your-ears kind of statement to make. It's the exact kind of thinking that disallows the work of some glorious music to be heard by people who might actually need it.
Now, don't get this writer wrong: a lot of popular music is total trash. A lot of fourteen year olds are easily persuaded; they'll change their minds one day. But, some of popular music can be quintessential shit. I could list examples of bad and good, but everyone's got their own lists. What you listen to does not sound any better if only a few shmoes in Austin and Brooklyn listen to it and conversely, what you listen to does not sound any worse if every yoga mother or obnoxious preteen listens to it. When the stuff slides into your earholes none of that surrounding information should even be close to entering the equation. When you press play just shut your trapdoorhole and groove your knees into a funk. I want to see that sweat leaking from behind your kneecaps!
Music is not and never was meant to be a vehicle for division. It's not like politics where if I say I support Obama then a whole flood of perceptions can come into view (though they shouldn't). It's not as if I get all my music from one magazine my mind is being shaped by that one entity like it is for people who watch Fox News or MSNBC religiously. I’m not only hearing one side of music while the rest is tuned out. Getting music from a recognizable source does not brainwash you or sink you into category because its power is way bigger than all that. Music, more than anything else in this world, is meant to be shared. You don't hole it away in the corner of your room rationing it to yourself. You don't fear someone hearing your favorite song because then they might listen to it all day and then you'll just be hearing them listening to your favorite song. Music lives in the fucking air. No one can claim it. Lighten up and let go. It doesn't matter where you get your music from, it only matters that you got the music and that you love it ‘til death does you apart.

August 01, 2012

Scout Profile//Scott Mastro

The Writer Strung Along
Scott Mastro & His Dog 

"Blood Money," Mastro's book of short stories.
SOMERVILLE//Scott Mastro meets for our interview trailed by his five-inches-off-the-ground “terrier-hound,” Georgia. Georgia drags a black leash behind her, zigzagging in the shadows of her master. Mastro walks with a crisp jutting, as if bee-bop blares constantly in his head, and looks in every direction behind dark square sunglasses. He’s all distracted energy with a mouth like a motorcade and last February his first book of short stories, Blood Money: Tales from Two Continents, was published by Savant Books.
            “You get that big rush when you first get published,” he tells me, then catches his breath, “then the real work begins. Then the guilt sets in and you’re like, ‘Damn, I got a book and I can’t sell it.” Mastro lives the writer’s gutter lifestyle, traveling every which where inspiration leads and knows he’s stronger for it. “I sacrificed just about everything to write.”
The chapters in Blood Money could represent the small wisps of storylines Mastro has picked up in his travels. There’s the flash of love between a Korean girl and an Iranian man; the English businessman burdened by a bucket; the church-going pothead in Rome. The stories are loose and laced with odds-and-ends humor. Reading through them pin-balls your mind across the globe. The book can be found at The Book Shop (694 Broadway), Porter Square Books in Cambridge and online at
Mastro lives in Somerville. But, he probably won’t in twelve months’ time. “I moved to Boston after college. I lived in Cambridge, across from Market Basket. I moved out West. I lived in L.A., Colorado. I lived all over,” he says. “I’m originally from Pittsburgh, but I’ve been mistaken for being from all types of places: Canada, England, France. Lately people say I’m from the South because sometimes I’ll have a Southern accent.” His voice falls into a slow drawl.
            Last winter found Mastro in Key West, Florida where a few sparks of inspiration jolted his senses. “I just came back to Boston and this time has been the best because not only did I become published, but one of my plays is warranting the possibility of being a stage reading,” he says. The play, Moon Over Mangroves, is based off his time in the swamp state. “I was down in Key West living a fairly precarious lifestyle. By that I mean I didn’t know where to go.” He soon found out after driving through the beach and spotting an aimless crowd of van campers.
“My people!” he shouted at the comforting sight. “I pulled in and fit in right away.” Some in the crowd were homeless, some, like himself, were there just to party in the beach sand with waves surrounding. When a heavy cop presence pushed them north to Stock Island, where the mangroves still grow thick, Mastro discovered his plot.
Video still of Mastro's tune from Christmas 2012 in Key West.
Four of the men he made friends with boasted about their getting a dinghy. “You can live inexpensively on a boat and live on the hook,” he explains, “which means, go out in the water and drop an anchor.” Thrilled at the prospect of life on the open water the foursome celebrated, but soon lost their composure and wound up brawling and bruising each other. Mastro just sat watching the scene unfold.
“There’s mangroves, the cove, a full moon was there,” he says, frothing excitement, “and it just dropped. I went, ‘This is a play.’ It was a gift.” Currently the play is undergoing edits, and Mastro has been working with a filmmaker in Cambridge to form it into a movie.
Writers today have to find a whole new hustle online, Mastro says. He has gained a little traction by using Craigslist to connect with editors and writers. It’s how he got in touch with Savant as well as his collaborators on the play. “It’s tricky,” he says, considering the financial uncertainty of the written word. “You have to follow up with every lead. You have to be diligent, kiss people’s asses, research your market.” Lastly, though, it’s simple. “Always show up everywhere with a pretty girl—or two—if you can,” he adds with laughter. Even if that girl is a dog named Georgia. 

Originally from:, 2012