Since 2014 was the launch of Hartford Handsome, we thought we would close out this incredible year with a conversation with each of our campaign winners. Today, we catch up with Brett Maddux, whom you might remember as the guy that walks Hartford with his legal pad of poetry. The search for the modern man will continue in 2015!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Why do you choose to live in Hartford?
I am Brett A. Maddux and I am originally from Iowa. I was born and raised in Cedar Falls, IA and studied poetry at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, after which I joined the Peace Corps. I choose to live in Hartford because I think it is a vibrant community full of interesting, intellectually and artistically curious people who have started to form a community about which I feel invested and passionate.
You ladies, certainly, are an example of this. I truly do not think of any place as highly as I think of Hartford Prints!. You all, more than anyone else I know quite frankly, do the work of making Hartford and Connecticut places one should be proud of. There is very little practical use to putting down the place you are from or the place you are living, and there is so much that can happen when you instead you decide to do the work of making that place better. I prefer to surround myself with people who would rather build Hartford up than tear it down, and over the course of the last few years I have found an increasingly large number of people who share that perspective. Once there are enough people who are here because they want to be here and because they feel culturally and artistically fulfilled in this place, then any number of the other issues Hartford faces can be dealt with.
I think every single day that I meet more and more people that love Hartford as much as I love Hartford. There is a growing sense of momentum toward something great here, something everyone feels they have a part in. The Hartford Hot Several, the things Real Art Ways and the Wadsworth are doing, Sea Tea Improv, the wonderful people at Tisane, ArtSpace, the Whitney House, A Happy Life Coffee, all the wonderful programming at WNPR, reSET, the Connecticut Forum, the Scapegoat Garden and the Dirt Salon, Night Fall, Cinestudio, and all the creative folks making clothing at places like Hartford Denim or The Brothers Crisp or Bad Bunny or the new, wise young gentlemen doing deMuerte (these are the scratch-the-surface examples I can think of literally off the top of my head in two minutes, and obviously not a complete list of all the great things in Hartford) there are an enormous amount of wildly inventive people calling Hartford their home. I love Hartford because people like that, like you all, are willing to be here, and I want to be anywhere where I can find great people like these.
Where do you get your style inspiration from? What magazines/blogs/media sources do you look to?
I frankly don’t know how to answer this second question. I cannot say that I have any style inspiration, mainly because I am not entirely sure I have style. I grew up with punks and hardcore kids so I think I generally default to whatever is most basic, which in my estimation and recent history has been black pants, white t-shirt, black shoes (this white t-shirt is swapped out for a gray or black sweatshirt as the cold weather slowly rolls in.) In my day job they make me dress like a real adult boy, so I have to wear a suit, but that is less based on stylistic inspiration than it is “you have to do this to have this job.” So I wear a suit to work, and then I come home and change into the most basic pieces of clothing I can think of, the white shirt/black pants combination. Although I must say I do still have a bin of old, highly inappropriate shirts from all my friend’s punk bands that will be taken out from time to time. I am sorry to say, to address the second part of this second question, that I do not consult any magazines/blogs/media sources in this manner. I wish I could help!
What is your favorite Hartford designer or product?
My favorite Hartford designer is Hartford Prints!. I do not say this disingenuously, I think you know it’s true.
What would you like to see arrive in Hartford that isn’t currently here?
I would love to see way, WAY more music in Hartford. More house shows, more smaller venue shows, more effort to make Hartford a destination worth coming to. I think Infinity Hall goes some way towards addressing that concern, and already the fantastic Deer Tick played there (with openers Oh, Cassius!, who are another reason I’m proud to live in Connecticut), but there is certainly room in a city this size to grow the musical identity of the community. Obviously my predilections lie with what they do in places like the Whitney House, and there are potentially more young kids making sweaty music in basements and garages around this city that I am simply unaware of (I am, after all, a fool), but I think the only thing that makes me long for the cultural epicenter that was Iowa City, it is the lack of music on a consistent basis. I mean come on, we have UHart, we have Trinity, get those young people out there playing tunes to small-to-medium sized crowds full of drunks and social rejects. That’s the American dream, after all.
People opening up their doors to music of all shapes, sizes, sounds and volumes is what this town needs. Also, more poetry/writing unity, some attempt at coalescing this burgeoning faction of like-minded miscreants into a genuine literary community. It’s entirely possible once again that this is already happening and I am simply unaware of it. My only point of entry is the fantastic, truly inspirational Julia Pistell who does the closest thing I know of to inspiring a writing mentality in our community. I remember in Iowa City we’d do this thing on Wednesday nights where this bar would have a reading and it was always well attended and full of drunks and assholes and writers who were both drunks and assholes and there’d be a mixture of readings and noise and revelry and I still write a poem every day just in case we ever get such a thing here.
What style advice would you like to impart to the other fashionable men of Hartford?
If I could give the men of Hartford any style advice, it would be “do not take style advice from Brett Maddux. He is a known fool.”
What does winning Hartford Handsome mean to you?
Winning Hartford Handsome has meant that my friends tease me on occasion, that sometimes people see me and think they know who I am but can’t figure out why and then they say “wait, did you do that Hartford Handsome thing?” and I say “yes” and then those people tease me as well, and that my father is proud of me because he feels as though me winning means that he must be handsome himself. I have disabused him of any notions of me being handsome in any way but have been sure to reaffirm that my lack of handsomeness is in no way a reflection on his definite handsomeness. He’s 60, but he’s still got it. Great looking man, my father, the midwest really does its thing.