A Period of Juvenile ProsperityMike Brodie(Twin Palms, 2013)
The desire to escape the burdens of the cultural mainstream and to reject career, responsibility and convention, is for many, a reassuring but unfulfilled fantasy. A manifestation of this ideal is found in the romanticism of the train-hopping hobo: a utopian adventurer that freely evades the bureaucracies of society and state. For those of us left behind, the notion of clambering aboard a diesel train, destination unknown, is nothing more than a nostalgic myth– one that is sedated in adulthood by conventional aspirations.
In 2003, Mike Brodie, a curious eighteen-year-old, hopped his first freight cart to Jacksonville, a brief experience, but one that initiated an epic migratory exploration of the United States. Brodie and his fellow community of punk-rock hobos were propelled by road and rail, destined for unfamiliar locations, plotted and inscribed on grubby maps. They were an unbridled gang of frontier-seeking romantics, hungry to exploit the adventure and opportunity that lay before them.
Meandering state-to-state these young drifters share the most intimate of moments, with their spontaneous and thoughtful diarist. The heavy grime, dirt and blood of the open road are ingrained in each detail of this intrinsically American adventure. The sprawling landscape provides an endless canvas to what becomes an ever-increasingly isolated narrative. The early, idealistically fueled optimism of riding the rails gives way to a more subdued journey, littered with the perils, danger and violence of life on the margins.
Mike Brodie’s forty-six state odyssey is propelled by discovery, friendship and expectation. The mythology of Brodie and his fellow subculture pioneers has elevated this work into the realm of photographic cult. In our inundation of contrived and regurgitated concepts, our appetite for authenticity can largely go unfulfilled– however, in the intimate sincerity of these vignettes, our youthful hopes, joys, and expectations are revived– even if for just a brief moment, we can live our very own period of juvenile prosperity.