MEET AMERICA: ARIZONA

Through the miracle of the Internet, I have once again effortlessly traveled to meet my next MEET AMERICA CAMPAIGN victim —  I mean — friend.  Where was he?  Somewhere much hotter than Massachusetts and with way more cacti: ARIZONA!

My new friend is Reynell, whose laid back lifestyle and Navajo blood make him wayyyy more tame than this New England Italian.   Reynell hails from Mesa, AZ where he masters skateboarding and photography simultaneously.   He has a love for music and for God and always seems to have a smile on his face.  Favorite movie? Crossroads — not the one with Britney Spears.  There’s just something about Reynell that makes me want to hold up a peace sign.

I must warn my readers, it is impossible not to fall in love with Reynell almost immediately.  And, of course I’m totally not biased because I have an oddly severe obsession with all things to do with Native American culture and he’s full-blooded Navajo…. completely not biased. At all.

Nope.

So, let’s get started!

A: Reynell, tell us a little about yourself and your hobbies.

"No matter how long you’ve been in AZ, you still can’t stand the heat."

“No matter how long you’ve been in AZ, you still can’t stand the heat.”

R:  My name is Reynell, but my friends call me Reynolds.  My hobbies are drinking, smoking and all types of ill stuff, lol, just kidding.  I live a sober life thank God.  My new passion is Church; now I see things in a brighter view.

A:  I know you love skateboarding and photography in particular, so I’d love to hear about your passion for them in detail.

R:  Skaters see things in a different view, for example, if I see a stair set, or a gap, or a rail, or a ledge, I wonder what tricks I should try on it… I don’t really think about falling, I just go for it.  Sometimes I think that’s why I wear Nikes because I “just do it” haha.  Photography is amazing!  When I take a picture I see beauty, life and most of all freedom… I have to capture the moment.  I don’t know if I’m easily amazed or just weird, but what I see is what somebody else has seen but has not seen it, haha, you know?

A: I think that last sentence was the best sentence I’ve ever read.  Haha.  I love the ramblings of artists!  I know you’re 100% Navajo, (so freaking cool) can you tell me about the culture and any festivals or events?

R:  The Native American culture is very spiritual. They pray to the Sun God, Father Sky and Mother Earth. They do things called ‘sweat lodges’ where they make a round tent with blankets over it and… put hot coals in the center with the tent closed, so they pray and sweat out unclean spirits… The reason the sweat lodge is round is because it represents a womb, hence Mother Earth.  Ever heard of a ‘skinwalker’ AKA ‘shapeshifter’?   They wear animal skin and through demonic forces in the spiritual realm they receive power by… offering a sacrifice… and they can change form because they are filled with evil spirits.  I remember when I was like 6 or 7 me and my sister would hear footsteps on the roof of our house, but when my mom or grandma would go outside, whatever was on the roof fled.

fire

“If you look closely you can see an eye right in the center of the flame…”

Then there’s a medicine man who finds and tries to break curses.  I witnessed one before, he put hot coal in his mouth, sucked on the cursed persons chest over where the heart is and he spit out a turquoise stone.  He said that it came from the jewelry of a dead person.  The picture [to the right] is of the night before the medicine man came to find the curse.  He needed ashes so we burned a stack of stickers (tumbleweeds).  If you look closely you can see an eye right in the center of the flame, I believe a demonic spirit manifested itself through this picture.  Scary stuff right?

A: Holy crap, I totally see the eye!  I must change the subject because I’m freaked out.  What is your dream job?

R:  My dream job… maybe a musician because it doesn’t involve twisted ankles, scrapes and bruises.  It would be a blessing to be able to reach out to people like LECRAE or KJ-52, they’re both Christian rap artists and way better than mainstream artists singing about stupid things.

A:  Everyone can hear No Regrets by Lecrae through its link.  I dig it!  I myself love lesser known rap artists because the radio is garbage.  So, Reynell, what’s up with the hair?

“Everyone asks…if they can braid or touch it. I’m not going to lie, I do like the attention.”

R:  I’ve been growing my hair since October of 2008.  I honestly don’t know why I have it so long.  Everyone asks if it’s part of my tradition or if they can braid or touch it.  I’m not going to lie, I do like the attention, haha.

A.  How is growing up in AZ different from growing up, say,  somewhere like New England?

R: Growing up in AZ compared to New England probably has more Native Americans & Mexicans.  Lol.  So, it’s a must to know a bit of Espanol, especially in the work environment.

A:  When I think Arizona, I think hot and barren. Is there something about AZ that other states don’t know about? i.e. Is there more to it than heat and a few trees?

R:  AZ ain’t all snakes and cacti, hah!  Payson and Flagstaff both have national forests, so people can go camping and get out of the city.  Also… we get massive dust storms, it’s pretty gnarly.

A:  What is one thing I’d have to do if I visited?

R:  The Grand Canyon is a sight to see, the Meteor Crater near Winslow, there’s Lake Havasu, [and] South Mountain where you can overlook the city lights. Since you like the Native American culture, The Heard Museum is the place to go! They’ve got all kinds of amazing artwork and artifacts of Native American Culture.  I know you’d enjoy it!

A: You already know me so well! What is your favorite thing about AZ?night

R:  My favorite thing about AZ: the sunsets!  It’s like a pinkish orange, it’s quite amazing especially if there’s clouds involved.  I believe that’s how the Phoenix Suns got the “purple & orange” color for their jerseys. Go Suns!

A:  Do you have any questions for me about New England?

R:  Does New England get awesome sunsets? How hot does it get?

A:  Haha, we have beautiful sunsets!  Not as often as Arizona probably, but they are pink and purple too from time to time.  As far as how hot it gets, hmmm, I think the hottest I’ve witnessed is 98 degrees, but it doesn’t happen often.  Our summers range from 70′s to 90′s.  I personally prefer a crisp 65.

Leave it to me to end an interview with questions about myself. I’m so vain.

I had a blast talking with Reynell, I hope you all did too! If you’d like to see some of his skateboarding photography, check him out on Instgram: SURREYNOLDZ

Next week: ARKANSAS

 
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