120 Seconds with … Risica Caputi

Meet Risica Caputi. She is the author of Keep Your Left Up & Chin Down (Volume 14).

  • Day Job: By day I work as a cashier at the local Circle K. I am also a licensed massage therapist, and do that gig on the side whenever I have the time. 
  • 3 favorite authors: Ray Bradbury, Charles Bukowski, and Agatha Christie. 
  • 3 artists I admire: That is a tough one. I have always wished that I could have Marina Abramovic’s courage and passion. I am constantly mystified by Bernini’s sculptures. I have visited the Borghese Gallery several times and I can’t figure out how someone could make something so perfect. Lastly, I admire Dali— he embraced his weirdness. 
  • Bragging rights: tell us about something you’re really proud of. I’m proud that I have finally learned to love myself. It’s taken a while. 
  • What’s the toughest criticism of your work you’ve ever received? How did you respond or deal with it? I once sent a sonnet I wrote to an online magazine. They told me it was too rhyme-y. How did I deal with it? I stopped rhyming. 
  • Must-have item for my workspace: Quiet. 
  • Where do your ideas come from? What can you tell us about your creative process? My ideas come from what I see at my tedious, stressful, and crazy job. I get inspiration from my interactions with others. For example, I had a male customer recently tell me that I should re-paint my nails—he could see the polish was chipping. So I wrote a poem about how women are seen as the property of others; how some men see it as “okay” to tell a woman how to look, dress, or simply be. 
  • How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?I never really know if a piece is done. It just comes out of me, and that’s that. Sometimes I go back and change things around or edit. But then again, sometimes I don’t. 
  • Tell us about an under-appreciated artist, gallery, writer, or bookstore do you think people should know about. My friend from high school, Nick Sirotich. We rode the bus together for 2 years, and we were really good friends. He is an illustrator and tattoo artist; he’s the coolest guy ever. You can find his work at nicksirotich.com
  • 3 things that will be obsolete in 10 years: cursive writing, CD players, ugg boots (I hope). 
  • Any fun plans for the summer? My plans for the summer are to work, write, garden, and to finish up the courses I need to become a licensed body piercer. 

Vol. 14 POWER AND CORRUPTION: Risica Caputi - “Keep Your Left Up & Chin Down”

"The piece I’ve written is about how backward American society is. Although we have made incredible advances in technology, medicine, and so forth, our country has the mental attitude of a four year old. We want to be cool. We want to be perfect. We want everything, and we want it now. This poem is a bit cynical, but who isn’t nowadays?"—Risica 


Welcome to America
Land of freedom and prosperity
Where the old are forgotten
Shut away inside graying walls
So we are not subjected to their slow decay
Where the prosperous ascend to the top
On the broken sweating backs
Of the middle class

This is the land where vanity is god
Where we starve and cut and die
To meet impossible standards
Where higher education is for everyone
As long as your pockets are lined with gold
We are deluged with images of the beautiful people
Leading lives that we wish we could have
Famous for nothing and loving it

Welcome to America
Land of freedom and acceptance
Where you are judged not on the goodness of your soul
But on the price of your Louis Vuitton handbag
Where some struggle and toil just to make it to next week
While the one percent sip champagne over breakfast
Watching the rest of us work ourselves to death.

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120 Seconds with….Jon Walz

Jon Walz is the artist behind Untitled.

  • Day job: Glass artist
  • 3 favorite authors: Oscar Wilde, Orson Welles, Henry David Thoreau 
  • 3 artists you most admire: Marc Chagall, Gustav Klimt, Theo Jansen
  • Bragging rights: I brag about everything…
  • What’s the toughest criticism of your work you’ve ever received? "I could do that"
  • How did you respond or deal with it? "Go right ahead"
  • What is the must-have item for your workspace? Other than myself and paint… Lots of wine.
  • Where do your ideas come from? Usually people who piss me off.
  • What can you tell us about your creative process? It’s never really the same twice so I just put my self in a position to create and sometimes good things happen and sometimes they don’t.
  • How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work? When I roll it up and start the next piece. I can’t leave work out or I’ll keep messing with it until its a completely different work so I just have to put it away. 
  • Tell us about an under-appreciated artist, gallery, writer, or bookstore do you think people should know about. Steven Powell. He’s an amazing glass artist out of Danville Kentucky.
  • Name three things that will be obsolete in 10 years. Wish were obsolete or actually? I wish: Ugg boots, reality TV and religion. 
  • Any fun plans for the summer? Some friends and I are in the early stages of starting a clothing company so hopefully we can get that up and running this summer. 

Vol. 14 POWER & CORRUPTION: Jon Walz – “Untitled”


Acrylic on un-stretched canvas

5.4ft X 7.7ft


"This image deals with the type of predatory behavior exhibited so often in recent years by corporations. They’re literally crushing people so that they can turn a profit. This, of course, has become so common place that no one really seems to notice or care unless it is happening to them, which I believe is symptomatic of a general indifference in the world."—Jon

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120 Seconds With…Cali Chesterman

Cali is the author of "Two-Millionths Sneeze".

  • Day job: High school senior.
  • 3 favorite authors: Cassandra Clare, Charles Bukowski, Augusten Burroughs.
  • 3 artists you most admire: Artemesia Gentileschi, Henry Asencio, Henri Matisse.
  • How do you get going with your work?: Either to pass time on the bus or procrastinating an assignment.
  • If we googled your name, what would we find?: An organization I volunteered for once, the online copy of my school’s cultural newsletter that I write articles for and profusely advertise, my name listed under “Honorable Mention” for pieces I had submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition.
  • What’s your favorite way to waste time at work without getting caught? Daydreaming or conversing with friends… I don’t really waste a lot of time. I take my work very seriously. 
  • Name two words you always misspell: Definitely and conundrum.
  • What’s the last song to get stuck in your head? "You Know I’m No Good" Amy Winehouse Ft. Ghostface Killah.
  • What’s a movie you can rewatch or a book you can reread over and over again? Forrest Gump.
  • Describe your dream workspace/studio: Near Center City, where there is a lot of hustle and bustle, cultural crossovers, varying age groups, and history, all in one convenient location. I need culture and chaos in order to flourish in art and writing. Ideally, my inner studio/ workspace will have three rooms, all with wooden floors. One room will be my living space, complete with a cabinet full of candy. One room, the largest, will be my workspace, with my desk and computer set up on one side of the room and artworks in progress on the other side. A huge stereo system will be in the middle of the rooms. There will be a few windows for ventilation and lighting, but that’s it. The third room will be a storage space.

Vol. 13 MOMENTUM: Cali Chesterman - “Two-Millionths Sneeze”

“It is about two friends who are in some unspoken, petty argument. It relates to the theme of momentum because there is a need to move on: either the friend can apologize to mend the friendship or they both go on to see new, unplagued people.”—Cali


You sneezed and filled my head with a thousand pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, so a sneeze must be worth a million.

The point is, I don’t want your sickness anymore, your lack of self-control to PLEASE cover your nose or at the VERY least bring with you a goddamned box of tissues, it’s an issue when your runny nose drips onto that doorknob, the one I gripped just yesterday so it didn’t hit this sultry lady’s heels.

Those fine, red heels.

 Now she has it too, the flu. All thanks to, well, me. See I too am plagued by your friendship, it’s difficult to quarantine myself from a commitment built over ten whole years, a commitment you had “accidently” forgotten, so willingly threw away, just like that tissue you never seemed to get hold of.

And what am I to do? Perhaps I could be like you, abandon everything. I’d rather follow this sultry lady with red heels, I trust that when she gets sick her sneezes aren’t so carelessly lethal, that she keeps them calm and contained and somewhat friendly.

Or maybe you could swallow your pride like that glob of phlegm that just made its way down your throat and utter the two millionths of a sneeze we need to repair our friendship:

 I’m sorry.


Cali Chesterman, a senior at Central High School in Philadelphia, spends her time people watching. These mundane observations develop into fictional characters that she uses in art, writing, and film projects. She plans to study digital animation in college.

120 Seconds With…Louis McGill

Louis is the author of "Hypnic Jerk".

  • Day job: Education reporter in New Mexico. It mostly consists of me trying not to curse in front of children.
  • 3 favorite authors: Hunter S. Thompson, Raymond Chandler, Kurt Vonnegut.
  • 3 artists you most admire: Salvador Dali, Jose Posada, Fancisco Goya. Apparently I like dark, weird Spanish-speaking people.
  • How do you get going with your work? First, I drink enough coffee to make me see God. Then, I sit down and start typing out whatever comes to mind.
  • If we googled your name, what would we find? Mostly dead people who aren’t related to me and McGill University employees. 
  • What’s your favorite way to waste time at work without getting caught? Sorry, that’s top-secret. If my boss happens to find this, the jig’s up. 
  • Name two words you always misspell. Desperate and maintenance.
  • What’s the last song to get stuck in your head? "Got My Own Thing Now" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
  • What’s a movie you can rewatch or a book you can reread over and over again? Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Describe your dream workspace/studio. An adobe casita looking out on the Sangre de Cristo mountains which also happens to sit on the corner of Lincoln and Damen in Chicago. Because dreams are weird like that.

Vol. 13 MOMENTUM: Louis McGill - “Hypnic Jerk”

“‘Hypnic Jerk’ is a story about the momentum of life, and how it can
run off without you if you let it.”—Louis


It felt like a splash-down from a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge.

I woke up with a start after that half-asleep feeling like I was hurtling downward. At two in the morning, I still couldn’t get to sleep. My mind reeled after the past few days. Life felt like it was gaining speed, slipping away and I couldn’t hold on. Soon it may run off without me.

I sat up and picked a glass of water up off the bedside table.

Didn’t I just graduate yesterday? I thought.

No, that was at least two years ago, said that know-it-all little voice in the back of my head.

Quiet, I said.  I graduated, moved, moved again, left everything behind, and here I am. How long have I been here?

Nearly a year, now.

When did that happen?

Well, I guess it sort of crept up on us.

Smartass. I took a sip, set the glass back down, and tried to go back to sleep. I knew sleep wouldn’t come easy. It hadn’t for days, ever since this thought latched on to my psyche like a tick.

Well it’s not like you didn’t see this coming, the voice said.

She’s getting married, I said. Everyone’s getting married. Everyone’s having kids. Everyone’s moving on, and I’m halfway across the country from anyone I give a damn about.

Wah, wah, wah. You knew this would happen when you left.

I didn’t have much of a choice, now did I?

Sure you did. You had two choices: go or stay.

Like the Clash song.

Now who’s the smartass?

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120 Seconds With…David Comfort

David is the author of "The Kiss".

  • Day Job: Writer, painter, sculptor, furniture maker
  • 3 favorite authors: Chekhov, Kafka, Jean Genet. Runners up: Dostoyevsky, Rimbaud, Henry Miller, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Donald Barthelme, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Denis Johnson, Thom Jones, Peter Handke, Roberto Bolano
  • 3 artists you most admire:De Kooning, Rothko, Paul Klee. Runners-up: Bosch, Breugel, Vermeer, El Greco, Grunewald, Van Gogh, Corinth, Rouault, Modigliani, Munch, Nolde, Kokoschka, Dubbufet, Sautine, Gorky, Kline, Basquiat
  • How have you changed as an artist since you began creating/writing?Less optimistic about getting into Gagosian, or winning the Nobel.
  • Describe your dream studio/workspace.2,000 sq. ft +, cathedral ceilings, skylights, overlooking Banff/Lake Louise.
  • Where do you feel the most “at home”? At home, alone. Or in dreams.
  • Something you never leave the house without: Anti-depressants.
  • How do you unwind and get in the mood to create/write?Unwind: Meditation and/or controlled substance abuse. Or watching Colbert, Maher, or “Breaking Bad”. Mood to Create/Write: Burn effigy of Hemingway, Bret Easton Ellis, or Julian Schnabel (among others). Reread: Ward Six, Notes from the Underground, or “Cathedral.” Relisten: Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child” (slight return)
  • Tell us about a favorite holiday/wintertime tradition.Burning my Simon & Schuster holiday sell-out title, Just Say Noel, on the yule log.
  • Name the last song that got stuck in your head.Beethoven’s Ninth. Muskrat Love.

Vol. 12 HOME: David Comfort - “The Kiss”

"This is a story about an elderly widow who loses her home during a home invasion, but gains something far greater."—David

She was taped to her high-backed chair at the dining room table. There, in front of the bay window, beside her husband’s military portrait over the mantelpiece. Scattered on the floor was the Sunday newspaper she had just walked up the lane. Lying next to the paper was her cane and her Audubon calendar. She put everything on her calendar. The little white boxes were filled with her meticulous print. She included the weather, when her boys drove home, when she visited the cemetery. 

She was beginning to lose sensation of her right hand now. They had wrapped the tape tighter on this. It had been the first one. She didn’t recall them taping it. When she had opened the back door, carrying the paper, they had been behind it, waiting. Then she heard the explosion. Later, she had opened her eyes, as if from sleep, to the sound of panting behind her.

Now, the tall one was already upstairs, in her bedroom. She could hear the sound of telephones being torn from the walls and smashed. Of lamps falling to the floor. Of her dresser drawers being thrown open. The other one, the shorter one, was standing beside her. He wore a stocking over his face, with three holes. He had kind, gentle eyes.

When his partner disappeared upstairs with the gun, he put his hand lightly on her shoulder. He wore thin white rubber gloves. The medical kind.

"You believe in Jesus?" he said. "You believe he is the Savior?"

She tried to look around again. Behind, her Labrador retriever was lying on the kitchen floor eyes open, legs quivering, blood pouring from his mouth.

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