Zine Review: Railroad Semantics Issue 5
Aaron Dactyl fell in love with freight train culture while putting in work painting graffiti in yards in his home state of Kentucky. 0ne night while out painting freights Dactyl met a transient passerby who was train hopping his way to Kansas City. Dactyl immediately became inspired to ride the rails, making the obvious correlation between freight train graffiti and those who brave the elements to ride the corroded relics born of our industrial past, traversing the American landscape leaving marks of their own. Ultimately discovering that “hobo graffiti” and the pieces that the younger suburban graffiti enthusiasts painted on trains shared a familiar spirit, Dactyl sought to satiate his passion for the entire freight culture whole-heartedly.
Eventually Aaron Dactyl began to document his adventures of the Rail, a form of journalism that has been loosely called “Hobo Journalism”. In 2009 he ultimately began to transcribe these experiences into a homemade zine entitled “Rail Road Semantics”. Three years later, Dactyl continues to produce this personal exhortation of his time spent train hopping and painting graffiti, recently releasing “Railroad Semantics #5”.
Railroad Semantics #5 is an all-inclusive ode to West Coast train hopping that conveys Dactyl’s wanderlust in the form of journalistic narratives describing his grimy boxcar travels through anti-urban landscapes. In this issue Dactyl also pays tribute to Wyze STC through a recount of his journey to Sacramento to honor the notorious writer after his passing. He also recalls a dialogue with its correlating tale of depravity that took place during a visit with Read in Seattle. The zine features photo documentation of graffiti that he has benched during his countless tours of various yards.
Comprised of over 100 pages, this zine is absolutely packed with hobo tags and burners. In conjunction to the various often-morbid train related news excerpts, maps of different yards and train routes supplement detailed records of Dactyl’s expeditions of the North American railways. Ultimately the gravity of Railroad Semantics inspires one to seek what lies beyond the socially acceptable mediocrity that seems to permeate our existence. In addition to the present issue, Railroad Semantics #6 has recently become available for $7.95.
Text and Photo: Kelso