title: Travel On mini + Travel On (no. 4)
creator: David Solomon
date: 2013 + November 2012
pages: 6 + 36
Somewhat travelogue, somewhat letter diary, and maybe a pinch or two of fiction. The mini is like a taster of the regular half-size Travel On issues, where each page has a short account of a memorable moment from one of six states. Pretty good value for its size and money (only a quarter!). Still, for its amuse-bouche size, it gives you a good idea of the types of topics and stories that make up the bigger issues and is a strong introduction to the meaning behind the title.
David works in plant control—to be clear: the herbaceous kind, not the power generating kind—a job that seems to allow him to travel around the country on jobs that require stemming invasive, non-native plant species. Issue 4 covers one of these stints in South Carolina and includes personal letters, opinions on cell phones and the notion of love, fiction pieces, and a list of personal accomplishments in 2012.
The letters, presumably private letters (as each one is addressed to someone in particular), are cordial, playful at times, and often reflective. Because of the nature of the message in some of these letters, they could be to anyone, really, as they’re generally personal thoughts spoken on paper. They’re like reading letters from a lonely, faraway friend. Still, the name after the greeting is a reminder they have an intended recipient, someone else who is not us, and this adds a voyeuristic element for the outside reader.
The mood dips down a little on his solo entries, the ones where he’s just thinking on paper without a specific audience. He talks about his apprehension and disenchantment of the heartbreak that comes with love (something that probably underlines his other writings as well). He also bemoans the current ubiquity of technology in our modern, plugged-in lives. He sounds most content when describing moments at work. Moments when he is outdoors with people doing tiresome, gritty jobs, even if it is in the pouring rain. And it makes me think he gets to see a lot of the places the way I want to see them. Not as a laborer, but as someone who can roam freely and quietly discover the compelling views harbored in our National Parks.
Lastly, there are the fiction pieces. Three of which are micro-stories in the vein of absurdist fiction (but without the nihilism or despair). Fun, ridiculous, and light. And ending the issue is a short story that sounds and feels like it’s based off the frustration of personal experience. It’s a story that starts out with a generic bar scene and the reuniting of two friends but culminates in disappointment and resigned angst for the narrator. It’s about the way some friendships end on an uneven keel, one that I’m actually not unfamiliar with.
Of course, none of this tells you David is an avid fan of mail art. When his zines arrived in my mailbox, I was surprised by the envelope they arrived in and instantly recognized the work of a snail mail artist. I was amused at the creativity but was impressed by the effort and time, which, even if it wasn’t a considerable amount, was still more consideration than a hurried scrawl for a post office drop-off. If you’d like to see some of his mail concoctions, head over to his Tumblr.
p.s. [This was a typewritten zine.] Should typewritten zines be a genre in themselves? Maybe they should be. Or is it too ubiquitous to be a genre? To distinguish them from typewriter font zines at least.
sipping: Snapple Apple
nibbling: strawberry ice cream cone