Phoenix New Times

The Athlete and the Aesthete

The rules of the prize match are simple: No direct strikes to the face. No gloves are worn.

Jake Harman stares across the mat at his foe, a jacked-up Marine sergeant who looks like he could vaporize a village by flexing his atomic biceps. The combatants lock eyes, and Harman unloads with a melon-crushing slap to the back of the head.

It’s a favorite tactic of Harman’s. Not only does it hurt like hell, it lowers his opponent’s buzz-cut head. Harman has the advantage he needs. He chops at the sergeant’s tree-trunk-size leg with a precise kick. The Marine’s balance is now supported by one leg, and a hasty retreat gets the bad one out of striking distance. But Harman targets the wounded limb again, and this kick creates a snapping sound that forces the Marine into a humble submission.

No Semper Fi for you.

The $500 prize goes to Harman, money he will spend not on Creatine but on music-making equipment and photography supplies.

Fighting on military bases is not the easiest way to make a buck, but it will produce cash faster than an ATM machine if you know how to whup some ass. Besides, it’s much more profitable than the $34 Harman can get at the blood bank.

Plenty of artists claim that their blood and sweat go into their work. In Jake Harman’s case, the cliche is true.

It is February 4, and there is a free art and music exhibition at Arizona State University’s Memorial Union. The show is called “(r)evolutions,” and features photographs of the people and equipment associated with Tempe’s underground music culture. A comment book by the door is filling with positive responses from students and faculty who have been admiring the artist’s work since it went up on February 1.

“You can’t tell the difference between his work and that of a professional photographer,” says Frank Hoy, a professor of photo journalism at ASU, of the poster-size photos of Tempe ravers on exhibit. “It’s good to see someone that age on fire. His shots are top drawer.”

Jaws drop when people learn it’s the thick-necked guy with Popeye arms named Jake Harman who is responsible for the pictures and music that make up this event. Fair or not, Harman is a former varsity wrestler at ASU, and jocks fall into the meathead stereotype of someone who couldn’t spell “camera” or “computer,” much less operate either.

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