I first met James A. Reeves in a bar called Ahven, a couple of blocks from my apartment in the centre of Helsinki. The bar was decorated in brown and served expensive imported ales. James drank a club soda with lime, wore an eggshell white blazer and was tall.
We introduced ourselves. He’d just moved to Helsinki from New York. He ran a design agency and a record label. He was trying to be a writer. He took photos, thought a lot, and wanted to run. I had just moved from London to Helsinki. I designed and wrote music. I smoked Kent Menthol cigarettes and I did not run.
In the summer, James and I would carry his big desk into the yard and work in the warm sun. Several months later, he left Finland and moved back to New York. We had become solid friends and agreed that one day we should work together. And that was that.
Months later, James moved to New Orleans. Together with Candy Chang he founded Civic Center, a creative agency that makes cities more comfortable for people. And most recently, in the summer, James invited me to join Civic Center. I accepted his invitation, quit my job, packed my bags and took a flight to the United States of America.
Now, my local convenience store is called Mardi Gras Zone. They sell boat soap, mouse traps and Bob Marley dietary supplement. Strangers smile and greet me on the street. I like to smile back. Some days I wear shoes but not socks. There are palm trees, freight trains and secret Asian restaurants. There is a voodoo temple behind our house.
I don’t smoke, but I run. And I do good work with good people.