Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Zine Review: Railroad Semantics #3

Aaron Dactyl [Microcosm]

Aaron Dactyl is back on the rails in Railroad Semantics #3, stowing himself away on freight cars and dodging rail workers and “bulls” as he heads east out of Portland on another railroad adventure. This issue recounts a 2010 trip Aaron took through Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, California and Wyoming and features his photos along with maps, diagrams and newspaper clippings detailing stories of life and death on the rails.

Aaron is a photo-journalist and self described hobo. He doesn't reveal much about himself in RS, outside of his train-hopping lifestyle. Where he lives and how he feeds himself when he's not riding the rails is not revealed, but he has been jumping on and off trains since the 1990s and documenting his travels along the way, painting a picture of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It's not an easy life and Aaron doesn't downplay the fact that it can be bitterly cold and more than a little uncomfortable being huddled up in boxcars or sitting on the top of gondolas, but that’s what booze is for.

The appeal of Railroad Semantics, and of train-hopping in general, is the freedom it offers. To do it you must leave everything behind, only bringing with you what you can afford to lose, as your pack may need to be abandoned at a moment’s notice. This lifestyle can also be monotonous and lonely, all of which is self-inflicted — Aaron tells no one of his plans before he leaves which tends to increase his isolation in his own mind — but the rails act as a magnet that continually draw him back, and this depiction of that world attracts those who can only wonder about the transient life of the self-styled railroad tramp Chris Auman

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