Quickly: the setup. Our CW professor told the class to write a couple pages entailing a fictional character professing their love for something, and diving deeply into why they love it so much. Ideally: “I love it when it rains at night without warning. Something about the gentle reminder that outside of ourselves…” Something like that. I wrote this. We all ended up passing our stories around to everyone else. One by one, just about every member of the class ended up laughing so hard, a few tipped over in their chairs. And every time, it was when they had my story in their hands:
WHY CHOO CHOOS ARE THE BEST AND HOW I CAME TO KNOW IT
My first experience with choo choos came at an early age. Back then my family and I lived in a suburb of Chicago. One afternoon my mother and father wanted to take my brother and me to the city to a festival with food and music that was very good.
“Say gang, let’s all motor downtown,” my father said.
“Oh shove it along, Daddy,” my mother said. “You know we’ll end up tight, and then motoring won’t be safe. We should take the train. And Jason has never been on the choo choo before. Why, isnt’t that right, Jason?”
Mother and Father
It was true, I had never been on the choo choo. And so we took the choo choo. I remember the man on the choo choo who punched the tickets, the conductor, was very nice to me. It has been many years since that day, but I still remember him. He was a very tall and handsome man with a blue hat and a good smile. I remember he gave me a small model version of a choo choo. I was very happy and I still have it today. My first thought on the choo choo was, “This thing is not moving, this is dull,” but then my father said “Here we go!” and the trees and the telephone poles began moving past the window. My mother said “Chooo, chooo!” and then we were going very fast. I laughed and put my face to the window to watch everything going so fast, and I was not scared at all. I was happy and did not want the choo choo ride to ever end. In fact, I remember that I was sad when we got downtown because I wanted the choo choo to keep going somewhere, far past the city, so that I could stay on the choo choo for many days.
Ever since then I have loved choo choos. The reasons that I have continued to love choo choos have changed over the years, but the one thing that does not change is that I love them. They are called “trains” by most adults but I still call them choo choos. At first I was stubborn in calling them “choo choos” only because I thought it sounded good, much better than “train,” since “train” is not at all the sound that they make. Recently I was calling them “choo choos” because it made my college friends laugh. But now as I write this sentence I think that I call them “choo choos” because it is what my heart tells me is true.
There are many reasons why choo choos are still the best, even today, so long after that afternoon. You do not have to be a child to think choo choos are the best, or have a good experience in the past that makes you think they are so.
First, choo choos are better for the world. Studies show that automobiles are bad for the air and that we cannot keep using them without the land becoming one where we live only to pillage and hunt one another. I have seen places in Asia and Europe where choo choos are used more often. Sometimes they go faster than America’s choo choos. I think America is a good country, but when riding a high-speed choo choo from Madrid to Barcelona it is not hard to think that other countries are better.
Second, choo choos are safer than automobiles and jogging, because when you motor there is a good chance that you will be killed by another automobile, and when you jog to get from one place to another, there is a good chance that you will be hit by one or many automobiles, but on a choo choo there is no danger of being killed by any automobiles at all. A choo choo will defeat an automobile every time, and a person jogging on account of a choo choo is always going to be jogging very fast either from it, so as to survive, or toward it, so as to jump on it and hide inside of it.
This is why choo choos are the best and how I came to know it.
The occasional humorous (or serious) commentary beneath photos,italicized and in bold, isme, Jasontalking.Hi. MyTwitter. We both follow back.
Now let it begin.
It was only supposed to be five questions, and a few pics…
Seven Weeks Earlier
Thanks so much for this. You’re my first interviewee on this blog (I’ve been blogging for a decade. Humor’s me love) because I stumbled upon your blog, Toki Doki (Nomad), which is just mindblowing. It’s kind of a big deal, actually. It’s won at least two awards: #17 (update: she just reached #15 for 2023) out of the Top 50 Best Graffiti Blogs on the Planet, and #53 out of the Top 100 Travel Photography Blogs on the Planet (that’s what those two awards up there in the title read).
2014. Kobe, Japan. “Mirror in the Abandoned Maya Hotel.” Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).(Jason: This is how Japanese horror films start. Please tell me you didn’t sleep here.)
1. Jason: Have you really been, as it seems by merely looking at your site, to nearly every country in the world? And Emily Dickinson, poet who needs no introduction, was famously reclusive, rarely leaving her room. If there were a highly skilled photographer who rarely traveled farther than the edge of her city block, do you think such a hermit blog could be as expansive as Toki Doki, and just as beautiful?
1. Jackie: Hi Jason, thanks so much for your interest in my blog. LOL, no. I haven’t been to EVERY country, but definitely to many. I’m not living to ‘tick boxes,’ just for the adventure of it. I often get asked: “What’s your favorite country?” Always my reply: “It’s wherever I am at the moment.”
Back in 2013, I saw my first City Kitty piece in Long Island City. Instant fan. In 2018, at Art Basel, I was wearing a City Kitty T-shirt and took a mirror selfie. City Kitty took that selfie, made this piece and put it on St. Marks. I ended up collabing with the artist himself!”-Jackie Hadel.
Jackie (continued): One of my social media taglines is “traveling the world taking photos of beautiful things. And it’s ALL beautiful.” So, yes, I believe just as much importance and beauty can be found through the lens of someone who lives on a city block and doesn’t travel much further than that. Every day is a new day in a neighborhood. The faces of familiar people are expressing different emotions, the cats are lying in a different position on the sidewalk—
April 12, 2023. Tallinn, Estonia. “Wow,” by Multistab. Or,”Cat Lying in a Different Position.” Via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
—and it’s always fun to make a Top 10 favorite food list by experiencing it 10 different times at 10 different restaurants – the best kind of adventure! LOL.
December 19, 2o14. Kobe, Japan. “My favorite food— sushi—from my favorite, cheap sushi spot: Gontaro.”-Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
September 13, 2017. Budapest, Hungary. Photo by Jackie Hadel, Todi Doki (Nomad).”So Many Questions.” Jason: And I pray the police were asking a lot of them. This looks like the calling card of a serial killer. I hope this area was searched well.
2. Jason: Living here in Medellin, Colombia, I’ve met quite a few “tick the box” travelers. What were you doing before nomading and photography? What drew you to street art originally? And how do you fund this nonstop traveling? I did do some digging, and know you’re a CELTA trainer (a CELTA is the Mercedes Benz of Teaching English as a Foreign Language certifications).
2. Jackie: I left the USA for Japan and never looked back. I was born in Maryland and grew up in Pennsylvania and Florida. Happy childhood, lots of sunshine and riding bikes with friends.
September 2, 2014. Kobe, Japan. “I saw this man all by himself, just staring out of the train window, smiling. Inner peace is a wonderful thing to behold,” by Jackie Hadel, via Toki Doki (Nomad).
I first became interested in graffiti and street art when I was living in Bogotá, Colombia in 2012. And since it was already dangerous there just to be walking alone with a camera, I never really considered the alternative— that there were actually “safer environs.” LOL. I think I started this passion with a healthy dose of vigilance.
And yes, as a global CELTA teacher trainer, I am fortunate in the sense that mostprojects cover my flights and accommodation, so I am able to just keep moving from project to project.
I live in gratitude and humility and never take anything for granted. I thank the universe for all of it.
October 7, 2012. Bogotá, Colombia. “Good Girl Gone Tramp,” by Lesivo. “Notice the little girl intent on getting an education, in line with her parents’ dream (in the lightbulb), but who clearly fears the all-too-common sex worker destiny of Colombianas .” -Jackie Hadel. Toki Doki (Nomad).
October 7, 2012. Bogotá, Colombia. “Love Tattoo,” by TOXICOMANO, DjLU, and LESIVO. Toki Doki (Nomad).
October 7, 2012. Bogotá, Colombia. “Disillusioned Girl, Probably a Drug Addict,” by Toxicomano. Toki Doki (Nomad).
October 7, 2012. Bogotá, Colombia. “Black Man Screaming for Justice While White Man Remains Silent,” by Toxicomano and Lesivo. Toki Doki (Nomad).Jason: I’ve often asked Colombians, playing naive: “Is there racism here?” and they’ve often replied—in front of rooms full of strangers(yet fellow non-Afro-Colombians)— “No, not at all. We’re not like YOUR country, with racist police always killing blacks on TV. But personally, I hate black people. They’re all lazy, violent thieves.”They simply CANNOT seetheironyof such self-refuting statements, coming from otherwise intelligent people. The ensuing arguments were always unbearably frustrating.And they’ll say this to me knowing full well I’M half black.
October 7, 2012. Bogotá, Colombia. “Man Covers his Mouth in the Face of Injustice,”by Lesivo. Toki Doki (Nomad).
3. Jason: Yet again, someone who started in Colombia in some way and fell in love with it! Despite its share of problems, like any country, everyone should visit Colombia at least once in their lives. Whatever you do, just stay away from the drugs. Haha. Sigh. So, it seems that the rest of your blog is generally split into two main categories: graffiti art, and architecture. (So many breathtaking church photos among your many pages!) Is that right?
3. Jackie: Well, to me, EVERYTHING IS ART: architecture, food, life, events, like, a couple Lady Gaga concerts— one actually in Bogotá. I do love architecture because it’s a combination of art and history. I will stand in front of a structure built in the 1800s and just try to imagine what it was like living at that time, how the building was used, etc.
September 10, 2016. Lille, France. From the “Take me to Church” collection by Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
When I visit an old cathedral in Europe, I can’t help thinking about Tom the Builder from “The Pillars of the Earth” trilogy. It’s fascinating.
August 31, 2016. Cologne Cathedral. Cologne, Germany. Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).Jason:Finished in 1248AD.Holy shit, look—really look—at how massive this fucking church is. Note the people standing at the base.And finished in 1248? I call Ancient Aliens.
Fall, 2o12. Bogota, Colombia. “Lady Gaga in Concert.”Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
February, 2011. Madison Square Garden, NYC. “Lady Gaga in Concert.” Click to enlarge, unless you’re just being a perv about it. Well actually, it’s OK if you are, as long as you don’t drain all your “energy” here and stop reading the rest, if you catch my drift. Photos by Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
Jackie: Like this photo. Not street art-related, but it’s one of my favorites. It was early morning in Islamabad, Pakistan, and I was walking around alone, and saw this man through an open wall in an outdoor kitchen, preparing breakfast. I never went any closer, I just observed from afar.
Circa 2015. Detroit, USA. “One of my favorite Detroit photos.” -Jackie Hadel. Toki Doki (Nomad).
4. Jason: So, to my shock, along with Detroit and some rough-looking areas of Bogota, I saw you’ve also done the infamously dangerous Venezuela. What are some of the riskiest things you’ve done to get photos, and where were they?
4. Jackie: Caracas did have a few dangerous moments, because at the time it was notorious for having an above average weekly unsolved murder rate, and the country was in turmoil with inflation as Chavez was in Cuba getting surgery. Not a stable time, and I had been told not to be outside after 7 p.m. There was a dark, narrow alleyway with no exit, but with some murals on the walls that I just had to get, and there were four guys in there hanging out—eyes glazed, dead—talking and looking at me, and I just kept my eyes on the walls, overemphasizing my camera’s aim to be on the murals and not them, and just backed out as soon as I could.
January, 2013. Caracas, Venezuela.“A woman praying and lighting candles in front of a mural of Chavez. It was something to see that day as Chavez was in Cuba getting cancer treatment.” Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
January, 2013. Caracas, Venezuela. Mural by Artist Unknown, via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
Risky— definitely my first Beirut trip.Unbeknownst to me, I wandered into a Hezbollah neighborhood. As I was walking, I noticed it becoming quieter and quieter. I looked around, then up, and saw men just staring down at me from their balconies. A woman approached me, asked what I was doing, and then explained that a Western woman walking through their neighborhood with a camera doesn’t bode well with its inhabitants. I was like “Of course, of course, I understand, and thank you for coming out to tell me. I will leave now.”
I found out it was Hezbollah the following week. I had to essentially remind myself “Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore, so don’t be stupid. This is real world shit.”
“This is that moment– right when I realized I wasn’t in Lebanon, Kansas.” Beirut, Lebanon. Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
Lebanon. “Worn-out apartment building in a Beirut suburb. Soldiers had to grant me permission to take this photo. This is a Hezbollah area (I took a wrong turn). ” Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
Jackie: I guess, looking back, there were a couple times that I “took a wrong turn.”
Beirut, Lebanon. “Graffiti writer. This is what it’s all about. Must have been a sensitive area because this is the day I was questioned by soldiers and sent packing.” —Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
Lahore, Pakistan was another one. One Sunday, I was stopped by soldiers with BIG GUNS, demanding my papers. I really shouldn’t have been in that area at that time, walking alone in search of murals, but that’s why I do what I do: to get the pieces no one else can. It’s such places that usually have graffiti in their language, expressing local injustices—which I feel I should share—said injustices being, of course, exactly what officials don’t want me to share. My only hope is that authorities believe I’m just seeking out pretty pictures, with no politicial angle. I play dumb as best I can.
Chicago also had some tense moments, with a tinted-out Rolls Royce stalking me at dawn (I like to get up early to start getting photos).And of course, getting out of these entanglements makes for great “survival stories.” There IS a strategy, though. I walk like I own the streets, because if you look like you don’t belong somewhere, you’re inviting trouble.
June 8, 2015. Chicago, USA. “Hat’s Off!” by Ador & Semor. Via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
5. Jason: Ha. I LOVE how Chicago, my hometown, made the list with Venezuela, Pakistan, and Beirut. Chiraq it is.
Maybe I should have started with this: it was hard even to contact you! No email on your blog, or anywhere, really. First: care to go into how you nailed a closer connection to Banksy than the vast majority of the world will ever hope to, and what the experience was like? Second: am I right in feeling that you’re similarly low-key, even a bit guarded about your personal life, like Banksy?
2013. Ramallah, Palestine. Separation Wall. Iconic “Flying Balloon Girl,” by Banky. Via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
2013. Ramallah, Palestine. Separation Wall. “Cut it Out,” by Banky. Via Jackie Hadel, (Toki Doki Nomad).
5. Jackie: First, BANKSY. I’ve never met him/them (theories abound that it’s Robin Gunningham from Bristol, UK, to Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, to a global art collective). My book ,”My Month with Banksy,” documents Banksy’s 2013 project “Better Outside Than In,” which took place in the five boroughs of NYC, with the goal of putting out a new piece of street art every day for the 31 days of October. I was one of the fans chasing the pieces. It was chaotic and exciting: we were all in a race to find the piece he posted on his Instagram every morning because there were just as many haters who were trying to destroy the artwork. We all wanted to get it before anything happened.
October, 2013. “This is My New York Accent,” by Banksy. Classic Banksy humor. He’s now in NYC, and it’s on. Via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
My ‘connection’ to Banksy was through his management team “Pest Control.” On the 7th of October in Brooklyn, I snapped a shot of an NYPD police officer “fanboying” on the band-aided heart balloon piece. He was taking a pic of it and I caught him, as well as the Banksy image on his phone. Just good timing. It was a big deal to Pest Control because the New York papers were chock-full of headlines about how Mayor Bloomberg was on the hunt to catch Banksy. So, to have a police officer doing that was funny. Pest Control emailed me requesting to use my photo on their official “Better Outside Than In” website and asked how best to credit me.
October 7, 2013.Red Hook, Brooklyn. NYC. NYPD caught fanboying by Jackie on a pieceby Banksy,“Bandaged Heart Balloon,” via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki Nomad.
October 18, 2013. NYC, USA. “Geisha Silhouttes,” by Banky. Via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
October 20, 2013. Upper West Side, NYC. “Hammering it Home,” by Banksy, via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
October 24, 2013. Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. Crowds gather around a just-announced Bansky piece outside of Larry Flynt’s famed Hustler Club.
“Hopeless Romantic,” by Banksy. This was the piece that drew a crowd, placed brilliantly outside of the Hustler Club, above— for all those who naively buy the illusion that sex workers sell.Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
October 9, 2013. Another Banksy-drawn crowd, earlier in the “Better Outside Than In” street art chase. Lower East Side, NYC. Via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
Jackie (continued): That’s the addiction to photography for me, I think. Always on a quest for that perfect shot. I got it that time, and it was Banksy, so yeah, it was pretty special. My DMs lit up after that from people all over the world who wrongly assumed I had to be on the Banksy team for him to use my photo. He rarely does that. And the number of people writing to ask if I would tell Banksy about a wall they knew of for one of his pieces…my inbox became unmanageable.
The piecethat drew crowds, above. Banksy’s “Night Vision War Horses,” perhaps the most ambitious piece of his NYC residency. Instead of a wall, he cleverly painted thisonan abandoned truck and car, which provided striking depth. It included a 1-800 number for viewers to call, which played a 39-minute WikiLeaks recording of a 2007 Baghdad airstrike. Photo by Jackie Hadel.
About my low-key nature: I just believe the art should be the focus of my social media, not me.
“Sometime in Paris,” Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).The flat earth-minded will definitely look at this and see Jackie shooting JFK.
6. Jason: Do you ever have dark, depressed moments as a nomad? Recovering from opioid addiction as I am, completely alone in Colombia, I know I get dragged and drowned by terror tsunamis almost every day, as I remember— often in bed, ripped from sleep by the morning wakeup call of cart-pushing street vendors shouting in Spanish— just how far from home I really am. Ever consider just settling down somewhere? If so, what are some places in which you would choose to settle down?
6. Jackie:Yes, sure there’s a healthy, sometimes unhealthy, dose of existential dread as a nomad, but I push those thoughts out of my head because the benefits of this lifestyle far outweigh the negatives.
Vancouver. “Immediately after my Israel/Palestine experience.” -Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
2019. Costa Rica. Logically, I know this thing is a bird. But I just feel it’s a floating demon-thing. I’ve been having trouble sleeping since I first saw this. Photo by Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
IF I were ever to do the USA thing full-time, I’d love to have a 9-month appointment in an ESL department at a university in a city or town with massive creative vibes, and still have the three months for global adventures.
7. Jason: Austin just popped in my head, for what it’s worth. Did you have any formal training as a photographer?
7. Jackie:I’m not a trained photographer in any sense of the word. I see what I see, how I see it, and I shoot it. End of story. The device doesn’t matter. I mean, was your pot roast delicious because of the oven it was roasted in, or because you knew how to season it just right and prepare it in the perfect way? When the camera is at my eye I just have a compulsion to communicate through the images I capture. Want to know who I am and what I’m about? Look at my photographs.
8. When and how did your blog, Toki Doki, start? (And what does Toki Doki mean?) Was it after you started traveling the world?
8. Jackie: It sounds sappy, but I started my blog in order to share the world with whomever, for whatever reason they may not be able to experience it themselves. I had been traveling already for almost a decade before my 2012 trip to Cuba, but since Cuba was still an almost impossible trip for most Americans, I started my blog solely to show people what it looked like on the inside. And keep in mind, at that time I was living in Colombia and already immersed in Bogota’s street art, so the true impetus for the blog was my upcoming Cuba trip.
2012. Havana, Cuba. Daily Cubano life. Again, this is a photo from 2012. I don’t think that can be emphasized enough. God I could have gone to Cuba but I had to stick to Puerto-fucking-Rico because my super-ghetto Chicago best friend is scared to leave the country/order a passport. It’s like time traveling, look at this shit. Fuck fuck fuck. Ok roll the goddamn interview. Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
*TOKIDOKI (all one word) is just one of my favorite Japanese words and one of the first that I could read in hiragana. 🙂 It means ‘sometimes’ in Japanese. Which, I know, doesn’t really fit, as I am much more than sometimes a nomad—I’m just about always one— but the Japanese word for ‘always’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it. So I went with TOKIDOKI NOMAD. Instead of taking the meaning of ‘tokidoki’ literally, I see it as an homage to Japan, land of my humble nomadic beginnings.
June 16, 2016. Tokyo, Japan. Around the Imperial Palace. Photo by Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
9. Don’t you sometimes hate just the…generally uncomfortable and chaotic nature of airline travel, or long bus or train trips (although train sleeper compartments are fucking amazing). That’s one huge reason I could never be a true nomad.
Airport in Osaka.
9. Jackie: Exactly right! It takes energy for sure. I prefer train travel WHENEVER I can get it (I LOVE trains). As for the other aspects of travel, I just grin and bear it, knowing that there’s a cool destination at the end of it. 🙂
“Anywhere and everywhere all at once.” -Jackie Hadel. Photo by Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
“Why Choo Choos are the Best and How I Came to Know It.” From a stuffy grad school writing exercise, gleefullyclowned on by Jason. February, 2013.Via awkward transitional blog.
June 17, 2015. On train, Chicago to Detroit. Ah, look at that relaxed, shoes off, choo choo chillin’ vibe. God, choo choos really are the best. Photo by Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
Jackie snapping photos out of the train window.
10. Name some street artists on your all-time greats list—artists you think are absolutely brilliant, but of whom not enough people have heard.
Circa 2o15. Brussels, Belgium. “Peace,” by HMI CNN, via Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).Note the dope hip-hop shirt and the boombox.I learned Jackie loves conscious hip-hop, among many other genres. For younger readers, I’ll break it down: a ‘boombox’ was that thing in the above photo.
10. It’s BANKSY, actually. His work is my favorite.
Others: Findac, Conor Harrington, Kashink, Anthony Lister…
Berlin, Germany street art. “Cat Lady,” by Fin DAC. Photo by Jackie Hadel.
OK, which one of us was supposed to issue the jump scare warning at the top of this section?(No, I love sphynxes.)
Belfast, Northern Ireland Street Art: “The Duel of Belfast, Dance by Candlelight,” by Conor Harrington (no relation), photo by Jackie Hadel.
December 7, 2o13. Wynwood, Miami Beach. Florida. “Lister Adjust,” by Anthony Lister. Via Jackie Hadel.
11. So would it be safe to assert, as the kids say these days, that you fangirl hardon Banksy? Perhaps even that you fell for his work?
See what I did there?
11. Jackie:You got me.
London. January 18, 2015. “Woman Falling with Shopping Cart.” by Banksy. Via Jackie Hadel. It is, of course, well known how street artists manage to paint in the center of walls, and at such high altitudes: they can fly. As well as hover for extended periods of time. Trust me, I’m like, really good at knowing things.
January 17, 2015. London. “Hoodie Guy Haring Dog,” by Banksy. Via Jackie Hadel.
January 16, 2015. London.“I Love Londonrobbo,” by Banksy. Via Jackie Hadel.
12. Jason: What other languages can you speak?
September 16, 2015.Weston Super Mare, UK. “Your Dreams Are My Nightmares,” part of Banksy’s “Dismaland” exhibition, described by Banksy as a “family theme park unsuitable for children.” Via Jackie Hadel.
12. Jackie: I practice Spanish, Japanese, German, and French every day, so a bit above basic in those four. Basic conversational level of many others languages. I strongly believe in learning your host country’s language. It’s a huge sign of respect.
September 8, 2016. Lille, France. Sticker on a…huge. Sign. Of respect. I said GOTdamn, did it again. Photo by Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
13. Jason: When was the last time you went, I guess, home? How often do you stop back “home,” if you do?
Sykesville, Maryland. “My childhood home. Actually, my maternal grandmother’s home, but she essentially raised me and I lived a majority of my young life in this house. My soul is in that house. My grandmother’s soul is in that house. Unfortunately, it is no longer in the family, but it will forever be in my heart.” –Jackie Hadel. Photo by stepmother, edited by Jackie. Toki Doki (Nomad).
13. Jackie: I’m the traveler of the family. Last time in the States most recently, was two years ago before I accepted the language fellowship and came to Estonia.
“Me getting lost in a gargantuan Os Gemeos Mural, in Boston. I don’t think it’s there anymore.” -Jackie Hadel, Toki Doki (Nomad).
14. Jason: What was one of your most memorable meet-ups with a street artist?
March 26, 2023. Telliskivi-Tallinn, Estonia. BOLD, artist from Paris. “One of my most recent meet-ups with an artist.” -Jackie Hadel, via Toi Doki (Nomad).
14. French artist, Kashink! She contacted me when she saw in my IG that I was in Paris again, and I met her at a wall, and got to watch her paint (without permission from the city.) I am fortunate, because if an area artist happens to catch wind of the street art and graffiti pics I’m taking of their hometown on my IG or blog, they will reach out.
This is like watching a WAY cooler version of Bob Ross.
Paris, France. Street Art. “Let’s Bounce” by Kashink! From beginning to end, full session with Jackie on ride-along. Photo from Toki Doki (Nomad) by Jackie Hadel.
15. Jason: So you have five books on Amazon, including “LA Street Art,” “Japan Street Art” and of course, “My Month with Banksy.” How has self-publishing been treating you?
“My Month with Banksy,” by Jacqueline Hadel. Available on Amazon.I bought a copy.All around fun and of course, visually stunning experience.I truly recommend.
15. Jackie: With “Bogota Street Art,” being my first, self-publishing has been fine, I was just trying it out as the quickest way to get published— the Banksy book sells most because it serves as a ‘small souvenir’ of that special project and of course, Banksy has fans all over the world, so I think their friends and families buy it for them. I hope to expand in the future with an actual publisher, but not sure of angle yet or anything.
January 18, 2015. London.“If Graffiti Changed Anything,” by Banksy. Via Jackie Hadel.
Jason: Well, hopefully a publisher will read this and you’ll get the major book deal you deserve. Well, I’m fresh out of questions, so let’s call this a wrap. Thanks Jackie.
Phew!Without DOUBT the most work I’ve ever put into a single blog post.Check out Jackie’s Amazon author page for her other, Non-Banksy-In-NYC books, with many more beautiful photos, from myriad artists, in myriad cities.
Follow this blog if you dig what you see. (And Jackie JUST inspired me to take my adorable/embarrassing first Insta baby steps.)
I was supposed to leave Colombia 3 years ago, but the pandemic stopped me. I became trapped in Colombia, which, as you can imagine, was fine by me. Medellin has the nicest people, perfect weather all year round, currency that makes a meager US income a person of wealth, and, honestly, some of the most beautiful women in the world.
Now I am going to type something I have been despairing over, in terms of whether or not I should do it. While we were locked down, I became addicted to codeine, little by little, at first as a way to help me power through my boring job, then as a sort of replacement for beer. I would have a six pack of codeine in the fridge everyday, the same way one would have a sixer of beer. Little did I know, the beginning of the end of my life, as I had known it, was upon me.
In addition to this, I had attained, several years prior, a book deal with Random House, for an autobiography. I failed to deliver it, and simply stopped all communication with them. I still owe them a sizeable advance, which I burned through during 2 years of self demolishing Medellin super models and cocaine partying. I ruined my chance to be an author, for many complex reasons I am writing about in my current, and likely, final autobiography.
The liquid codeine ended up hurting my body so badly that I could only pee sitting down, and had to do so every 20 minutes all night long. I took to peeing in empty detergent bottles bedside. I had to scream, so hard did I need to strain to get what would turn out to be only a trickle of urine, which seemed to relieve me, until 20 minutes later, when I was awoken again by the pressing need to urinate, and had to do it all over again.
This could not go on, or I would off myself within a few months of this nonstop hell. I also soon came to find out what happened if I went a night without codeine: the worst imaginable withdrawal. So terrible, heart racingly, suicide-inducing, that I will leave any attempt at a full description of how bad the hellfire, I had dubbed it, was. I went to a toxicolologist here, desperate and crying. She prescribed me methadone, in this nonstop, fatal, comedy of errors which, it turned out, I could get from any of the pharmacies on my block here, under the counter, or delivered to my front door. Every prescription drug on earth, every opiate, benzo– anything you can imagine, vicodin, morphine, methadone, oxycontin– can be easily delivered to your front door by a corrupt pharmacist.
So now, I am addicted to methadone– what is supposed to be the drug that helps opiate abusers– essentially, I am hooked on synthetic heroin. It is harder than heroin to quit, due to its long half life. Every morning is hell, a dark swirl of suicidal thoughts and regrets and the certainty that nothing remains me for, now that I have ruined everything, here at the age of 41. I will stop typing for now. Getting this out and pressing publish was hard enough. For more backstory on me, to get an idea as to how the book deal happened and what I was before all this, read my Wikipedia page (no, I didn’t make it. I was shocked to discover it myself). I will continue to document my struggles, which I am sure wil not end well, almost certain, if there is an audience for it. I am living in hell, I do not feel ready to go back to the U.S., largely because I have almost no family or friends to go to, and although methadone is bad, I fear the most what would happen if, in a state of devastating withdrawal/hellfire, I bought fentanyl off the streets of Chicago, or even heroin, along with a needle. I am living in hell, surrounded by paradise. I would amputate my right arm to go back in time…how I would…
And yes, I’m sure the job offers will come pounding on my door, now. I have given up the button-up writer for hire thing, as you can tell, and am giving you the real. Now…publish…god help me…