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Brutal Reality Digest is 1 Year Old!

It’s been twelve months since the first issue of BRD erupted into life. To mark this occasion, we decided to check in with everyone on the BRD crew.

First off: Tracy. Tracy creates cartoons and serves as our community liaison. When she looks back on our first year, she remembers the heights of joy and valleys of despair. Despite the challenges, Tracy values how BRD has been able to give readers a little something to look forward to, a wee dose of hilarity (or confusion) in their day, and a resource for seeing what’s going on in the community. As she puts it, the magazine has been a bit of a substitute for “all the hugs and handshakes” people have been missing. While she “hasn’t been able to get out and socialize” like she needs to, her community liaison role means that “talking to every person that I meet makes me definitely feel like I’ve got friends going on.” She can’t wait for us to be able to hold some live events, once we can responsibly and safely do so (this has always been such a huge part of our vision since the beginning), and there’s no doubt that everyone in this article would wholeheartedly agree. If BRD can be a resource for Red Deer, for people looking to pick up new hobbies or looking for something a bit lighter and more hilarious than possibly their day has been, she’ll be very happy! Tracy recommends: “take time to have a nap.”

When asked how he remembers the beginning, Parker recalls it as “weird, exciting, and oh so erotic.” Not all of us experienced those things, but who are we to question Parker’s memories? He’s a guy who likes to wear shorts. He’s a guy who likes Ape Escape. He’s a guy who describes himself as the “f---’in nerd of this group”. His most unsung contribution to the crew is either his work on the website, or the fact that he’s Josh’s illegitimate son (more on that below). When asked which video game character he would recruit to join the creative team, he says: “If I could recruit any character from any of the games, I would probably recruit Ryuji from Persona 5. He’s basically me, but somehow even louder and more obnoxious.” This reference probably fits if you have the slightest clue what Persona 5 even is, but for now, us normies have to take Parker’s word for it: “It would make everything worth it!” he insists. He remembers the early days as weird and exciting, recalling how he set out to write “anything, so long as it was funny” (a requirement he has yet to meet.) With the changes in his employment He thrives on chaos (hence Ryuji), takes it off for BRD movies (no, really), and recommends “wearing a mask”. So there, you just got told by Parker, so quit screwing around and pull that thing up over your nostrils, because they’re connected to your mouth.

Next is Grover, our curator of top-ten music lists, where his goal is to put together an “eclectic list of punk rock, indie, a little bit of anything that’s different...local stuff, underground stuff...whatever pops up on my radar.” In addition to the regular list published in our monthly magazine, Grover tends to a Spotify playlist with the same mission. He normally minds his own business, doesn’t overthink, and focuses on taking it all a day at a time. He looks forward to “whatever hits us at the right moment.” Since Grover lives out in the country, we asked him to share his creepiest country story. Besides watching deer infiltrate his yard and nibble the laundry hanging on his clothesline, he says that the creepiest thing he’s ever experienced out there is hearing the coyotes howling at night. Nothing paranormal, though. Grover’s advice: “Keep your head up!”

Mia’s writings have been a stream-of-consciousness window on her adventures as a mountain climber and backcountry adventurer extraordinaire here in Alberta. As this issue went to print, she was gearing up for a winter camping expedition; she describes how important it is to save space when packing a 60-litre backpack, which requires going as far as removing the cardboard tube out of the centre of toilet paper rolls and refolding all the TP back into a snug little bundle. Her trek would take her 16 kilometers into the backcountry of the Castle Mountain Wilderness Area near Pincher Creek, to the end of a gully surrounded by ice and mountain peaks, where she would set up a wood stove and tent with her camping companions. Climbing and hiking have been a great way to stay fit and sane over the past year. Like many of us, she’d lost her job (and national park access) in those days, which were both major defining properties of her identity. One of the adventures she wrote about early in her BRD experience was what it was like to live in her car out in Canmore. As she confronted the “now whats” in her life, the writing and discussions with the rest of the creative group helped give her as outlet, as she reflects on ice climbing, rock climbing, skiing and more. “Keeping it real honest” has been a focus for her writing. She’s enjoyed a year of sharing her experiences on these pages, and reminds you: “celebrate with a beer!”

Where to start with Gabe? He is the author of Gabedog’s Lament, a regular feature in our magazine (“stories from an old, punk perspective”), but he is also a hockey fan and a reviewer of many beers. “I write very badly. I apologize for that.” No apology is necessary. The stories are what matters! “None of them are really exaggerated whatsoever, which makes me question what I’ve done with my life. But hey, you’re free to draw your own conclusion, if you don’t believe it…” Maybe you’ve noticed a theme in his articles, but as wild as his stories may be, they don’t reveal everything. As Gabe himself admits, if he’d had a Go-Pro back in those days, “Oh lord, the stories it would tell.” Some of the greatest stories are the ones you can’t remember. Highlights of Gabe’s experience over the past year include the encounter with Viking Lord (and the rest of the epic Best Entertainment Wrestling experience); if you haven’t heard Episode 12 yet, you owe it to yourself. Gabe enjoys sharing what he does remember with all of you, and his words to you are simply: “hang in there.” And also, “I’ll french-kiss anyone. If they’re into it. If they’re into it!”*

Alison, our irreplaceable art director, draws great satisfaction from designing and illustrating our cover pages. BRD came to life during a turbulent time for Alison, and it brought her a rewarding way to engage her artistic skills and make progress through tough times. She is proud of the effort that everyone has made to keep the project alive throughout the pandemic period. When asked about how her experience of the “lockdown” went, she replies bluntly: “As a loner and introverted person I believe I wasn’t affected as much by the changes then, or even the changes did seem quite surreal at first, like a science fiction book or film.” As time went on, the group provided a way to create relationships and establish trust, which was a pleasant difference from the way the anonymous, outside world was going at that time. Alison’s countless contributions to the cause include designing “Brutis,” the scruffy mascot you see on many of our issues. Legend has it that Brutis hails from Drumheller, but this isn’t confirmed. Does he look like he’s from Drum? Is he really a he? Questions for another time. Meanwhile, here and now, Alison advises you to “stay brutal!”

Next there’s Naethon. His M.O. in the organization is making “stupid videos and funny videos” along with writing a monthly movie review in the magazine. The review does not focus on good movies. He is currently working through a stack of 200 terrible VHS tapes and handpicking beautiful, terrible movies from this treasure-trove to critique. How does he do it? “I’m pretty much a hero...This is what I do: first I have a quick drink of whisky. And then I have another. And then I have maybe one more. And then I go to the movies...and then I suffer through it.” He confesses that even if he were not writing a bad movie review, he would probably still be putting himself through these terrible experiences. He receives plenty of laughter and air-hugs in return for his work, and loves getting out in the community and meeting new people. We are glad to hear that his Mom does in fact read his reviews, and she tells him he’s doing a good job. So do we. “The movies are going to get worse, but the year will get better!” Going into 2021, “be safe and have fun!”

For Stuart, the past year has been a combination of expressing bizarre and personal creative impulses, and learning the thrilling pursuits of bookkeeping and video-editing. He didn’t fall in love with spreadsheets or adding up receipts, but creating the videos was definitely a highlight, because it brought out the uniqueness of everyone on the crew, what they're into, what they like to talk about - it's been good fun. Having a place to write is rewarding, and also challenging, given that good ideas do not always strike as often as deadlines do. Stuart hopes you understand. And if you don't, it's fine, because there's plenty to like here at BRD. That's the point! He looks forward to a year of new connections, good laughs, and welcoming new faces to the team. “Don’t give up on all your own weird s---.” Embrace it. Share it.

Now we come to Josh, editor-in-chief, podcaster, El Presidente and shepherd of BRD. When he looks back on our first issue, he’s very proud of how much this project has evolved and grown, even as “normalcy” always stays just out of sight. This project has always been a tool to bring the local artistic community together, and Josh is keen for more of the new projects and partnerships that lie ahead. This March, Josh and his lovely wife, April, are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new member into their family, so this particular moment is a big one in Josh’s life. The fact that Parker claims to be his illegitimate son is a bizarre wrinkle in Josh’s backstory, and not one that this article can explain. We’re just going to plow ahead. Josh has made many sacrifices to get BRD onto shelves and screens across the world, whether it’s long hours in the editing room, seeking out interviewees for the podcast, or tormenting himself with a screening of Son of the Mask (thank you for your service), he firmly believes that his efforts are leading to even better things. “There’s no limit on it, what we can do and be involved with in the community, so I’m very excited to see that!” He echoes Alison with words of wisdom: “Stay Brutal!” And of course, "Cheers and a beer" to whoever is reading this. Thanks to everyone who’s been a part of this crazy journey we’ve put together over the past year.

During the podcast interviews for BRD’s first birthday, almost every one of the contributors paid tribute to the people we’d come to know during this project, without realizing that the others were saying the exact same thing. This is a great - not in a cheesy way, and not because we want to pat each other on the back or tell each other how great we think we are. It’s because it just goes to show how finding people with the enthusiasm and grit to build something special can really bring rewards into your life, whether it’s something to look forward to, sharing good times, or trying something you’ve never tried before.

Basically, BRD is one example of what people can do when they get together and decide to make it happen. We want to keep that going.

*He probably won't though

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