Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The words that Paul Maziar writes are for real consumption, for people to eat like ripe strawberries and explosive oranges that shoot bullets of juice out like sniper fire, splattering onlookers or bystanders, depending on what the surrounding parties are up to. The words are the best burger that you've ever had and they're like a dessert that within the first half-bite a person just closes their eyes and rolls the mouthful around to get all of their taste buds a flavor as the vocal cord lets out a satisfied groan. The thing about even the best of food is that no matter how memorable it is, the taste fades rather quickly, only to be unleashed again when recounted or elicited, recounted again in another meal. They can hold their place as memory, but they cannot be what they were when they hit the tongue. This goes for all that hits the eyes and the ears as well, not just that which was encountered in a dirty diner or freshly off a tree or yanked off the vine. As magnificent as the senses are, they lose their shape in recollection only to be reenergized when they're perked again some time later and so begins the flood. The way that Maziar approaches his chronicling and the prose of it in his debut book What It Is: What It Is, a collaborative effort with the photography of Cold War Kids bassist Matt Maust - his former roommate in Long Beach, is with an astute take on the same principle, where he lets the moment consume him totally, smacking him down with the kind of memorable overload that you can only feel if you want to, if you're receptive to being smacked down. The words are his very impressive attempt at making his memories - those tastes and people, the sights and sounds - that couldn't have lasted for long, but they were important and parts of simplistic, everyday brilliance. It's not a passive expression that Maziar takes, but one that makes his nostalgia as life-like as it could ever be - hitting on the small details that will taste like the strawberry seeds rubbing onto the tip of the tongue, the rolling of the red juice into tiny streams on each side of the squirming muscle and the slight crunch of those seeds into the crevices of the slowly grinding teeth. It's in that rush of sensations and with that rush that he cooperates with, letting it blindly make his pen or hands talk, whichever he uses when he sits to do that. He gives you the impression that his prose doesn't start or end in its cycle, but it just keeps looping through his mind, imprinting as it all happens, giving it an unmistakable property of immediacy - the immediacy that lasts.