Let’s never spend even half a second indulging in the idea that there is a single spot on the Earth where something moving and weird isn’t happening pretty much constantly. We can look out over Tampa Heights or north Ybor or the stretches of swamp around Miami and sniff and shrug at the ugliness and treat it like it’s not really there. Or we can take the effort to turn to it a certain kind of eye able to see it.
It’s the eye of the artist, one we all have but rarely use, which is why we need people like Paul Kwiatkowski to sometimes help us open it. Kwatkowski, originally from Miami, is the author of And Every Day Was Overcast
, a book full of grim hedonistic tastes of South Florida at its bleakest and most moving.
Now Kwiatkowski is back, with the help of New York-based Black Balloon publishing, with a digital project called Eat Prey Drug
, a serialized essay mixing photos and text. Even though it’s set in California, the first installment of Eat Prey Drug
, called “The Hollow Earth
” [NSFW – Nudity], carries a sense of the mundane-as-otherworldly that for me defines something importantly Floridian (and which I also found in fellow central Floridian John Brandon’s work
“The Hollow Earth” has a lot more going on than its knee-jerk degenerate title suggests (although come to think of it, the world is due for some knee-jerk degeneracy to counter all this Millennial “Generation Nice” horseshit). We start with a protagonist who suspects he’s been infused with mold spores released by an earthquake, then seeks help from an ex-porn star turned spiritual healer. He continues on to try and uncover the story of the Lemurians – people who live in the hollow earth beneath Mount Shasta.
It’s a mix of journalism, personal essay, scum-streaked photography, and new-age gawking that will connect instantly with anyone who’s had to extract their experiences of wonder from beneath a layer of squalor and error.
The second installment is due to be released today, August 28th, at Black Balloon's blog, The Airship