By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The white felt head of a snow tiger bobs up and down on the black vinyl dashboard of Dylan Haley’s 1987 Volvo. An unsigned San Francisco folk/rock band, Dame Satan, plays on his Sony. He picked up the CD a few months ago at a Spaceland show.
“I don’t think there is anything individual about me,” the 34-year-old announces as he cruises north on the 101, returning home to Silver Lake from San Pedro, where he purchased some used car parts at a salvage yard and snacked on a couple of fish tacos while he waited.
“I’m like every other person like me,” he continues, taking his hand off the steering wheel for one brief moment to turn down the music. “I’m a typical graphic designer. I guess I could be in a band —I don’t know — what else do people do?I feel I am a total prototype, like: skateboarder/graphic designer, doing a T-shirt company, [riding a] fixed-gear bicycle, Silver Lake. . . . . You know what I mean?”
Haley, who has an assortment of tattoos on his arms, is wearing a green American Apparel hoodie, slip-on Vans with palm trees, and one of his own T-shirt designs.
“When I filled out my Friendster profile a few years ago,” Haley says, “it was totally pathetic. ‘Favorite TV Show: Simpsons,Sopranos. Favorite Books: Catcher in the Rye, Vonnegut. Favorite Movie: Mulholland Drive, La Dolce Vita.’ It was like everyone else’s. So many people put Mulholland Drive.”
Haley, who has thick brown hair and an athletic build, thanks to a rabid obsession with riding his bike almost everywhere he goes, including the monthly Midnight Riders eastside tours, believes he could insert just about any of his friends’ pictures into his online profile and it would still apply.
“I used to go out of my way to put something unique,” he says, adjusting his visor to block the afternoon sun.
“But, if I’m really honest, it’s not too spectacular. Favorite music: The White Stripes, Elliott Smith, Dr. Dre. It’s the same shit everyone else listens to. I even put up the same jokes as everyone else. Age: 85. Did you know everyone fills out the form incorrectly in the same way?”
Where else have you lived?
You think you’re a product of your environment?
But, your environment has always been fringe, left-wing, bohemian, American environments?
“Yes. When I grew up in Berkeley I was totally a product of that city. I hung out on Telegraph Avenue, I went with everything that city was supposed to represent. I wonder what kind of person I would be if I were from someplace else.
“I mean, my father is a lawyer, and I guess I did take a different path. I didn’t go to law school. Instead I went to art school. I just feel like there are people thinking the same thing I am thinking, like it’s a mold for thinking.”
You believe you even have the exact same thoughts as other people like you?
Well, what do ‘people like you’ want?
“I don’t know. That’s the problem.”
Do you have any goals?
“That’s the thing, I do, but they’re real vague. I would like to make money — and I would like to make money doing things I like to do. But, I think I would settle for a lot less than what most Americans would. My time, or how I spend my time, is more of a priority.”
What is it exactly about the way you spend your time that is so important to you? That you can feel the wind in your hair?
Haley, who also designs beautiful Web sites that have high-tech/lo-fi graphics and could be described as edgy, fresh or postmodern, has had serious 9-to-5 jobs in the past, or rather 10 to 6. Until recently he designed graphics for the clothing line C&C California, and a few years before that was headhunted for a high-profile Web design job in New York.
“I got a big salary,” he says, pulling off his sweat shirt.
“I was like, ‘This is gonna be different. I’m gonna stick with the winners. I’m gonna wear my slacks and collar shirts.’ I even went out and bought two really expensive design books,” he chuckles. “But the problem was, it was like 900 degrees and I’d be dripping with sweat. By the second day I was wearing my flip-flops and wife beater, and by the third day, I was in the back of the class with the shit-talkers, just like in high school. It couldn’t be any other way.”
What do you mean ‘the back of the class’? How did that translate on the job?
“We would take three-hour lunches and talk shit about the other people who worked there. I would leave the very minute it was time to go home; everyone else would stay late. I don’t know what they were doing.”