from our own correspondent

A new, and occasional item, featuring the thoughts, amendments, clarifications, rebuttals, and personal notes from our Editors at Large from around the World.

This first, highly prized, contributing artist feedback comes from Joe Mudnich, whose photos were featured in our first aesthetic review: aesthetic review – ~

Joe has kindly taken the time to write up a little about the particular shots that I found demanded a close inspection, and throws a new light onto both the three featured pics and his own personal relationship with donuts and the economic and cultural implications of the sweet confectionary bakery trade in the United States.

(I include Joe’s personal note to me as it leads nicely into his essay.)

Read on:

From: Joe Mud
Date: 4 January 2022 at 22:03:13 GMT
Subject: Donut Man! Hi Jeremy,

Happy New Year!

I told you I’d offer a response to your aesthetic review.

I hope it’s not too long. I always write long. I also don’t write
often anymore, hence the procrastination, since I wanted to do your
piece justice, and I think I have.

I hope you enjoy. Maybe in the next chapter I shall return to Donut
Time to enquire about Johnny, and maybe capture some of the images I
didn’t on my first visit. the old Asian lady behind the donut display
case was the sweetest. She gave me free donut holes. And the menu was
made up of tiny plastic letters fitted into a plastic grid sign, old

Kind regards,

Joe Mud

Hello, I’m Joe Mud. I first followed Fittleworth on Flickr, in ‘008,
having found him while answering Help tickets as a contracted CS
Helpr. Later in ‘013 when I started posting to IG I searched me up
some Fittleworth and was delighted to find JR on there as well. So
I’ve long enjoyed his pics and quips and seeing what things are like
in his world in a place that has, as I understand, a single pub. That
situation differs from most places in CA (and sometimes NOLA) that I
get to visit, but I’ve always loved his aesthetic and particular
attention to many of the same sorts of details that I pick up on and
revel in over here where I’m at, even if his stream trends more
bucolic than mine. (I ADORED his urban pics from his American holiday
a few years back and was glad to visit those places through his eyes.)

As for my own nascent photo style, finally starting to post to IG made
me focus my choice of subject and also in its design gave me an idea
early on to stick to only posting three related pics at a time. What
the connection is, sometimes is a puzzle, sometimes obvious. It’s been

And now Mr. Fittleworth himself has honored me with this encomium to
my photopics. To say the least, I was hecka stoked and wildly
flattered. It’s a rare gift to have someone describe with such insight
their reaction to and interaction with your work!

Photons hit a retina and a biochemical chain reaction occurs. From the
optic nerve to the cerebral cortex or whatever’s the portal into that
human’s mind, there my art becomes theirs, mingling with their
memories and their own understanding of the world. Every time someone
sets loose an art into the world and someone else picks it up and
gives it a lookit, that process is replicated.

So in a real way when someone experiences art, they make it their own.
I may have had any number of things in mind when I made and posted
some triptych, but what someone else takes away will be unique to
them, and that take-away won’t be wrong. It’ll just be their personal
version of the art that I’ve let run in the world.

Moreover, I might not know the story that my own photo tells. While I
know for sure (most of) the details I found interesting when I
snapped, there’s often a lot I don’t know, don’t notice straight away
anyway and sometimes there’s even unknown unknowns, like the
consideration of the identity of Johnny, who is the Donut King. All
hail, Johnny! But I realize now that when I made the pic I also made
some snap assumptions about Johnny that I didn’t even consider.

So, let’s get down to setting a few things straight, as far as can be
known about this mysterious, paper-hatted fellow. Or rather, I’d like
now to share some of the context that I bring to this triptych and its

I’m an American. I love donuts. I don’t eat them often, but still
maybe too often. I can name them, right from my dome. You got yer
Cake. Yer Chocolate Cake. Fruit Cake. Raised. Cruller. Buttermilk
Old-fashioned. “Holes” and of late Cronuts! Those all can be served
plain, glazed, sprinkled, sugared, crumbed, mapled, crusted with many
types o’ bits (Google: Voodoo Donuts), filled with jelly or creme or
chocolate. There’s bars, bear claws and apple fritters.

There’s also genres of shop. National and local chains of various
quality. Shops specializing in candy coatings or tiny donuts. Fancy
boutique shops with flavors attuned more to adult tastes.

But if you’re looking for flavor, visual flavor, that’s always going
to be found pretty much only in the generic, independent mom-n-pop
donut shop. Places in strip malls with names with words like Time.
Man. King. Bob’s. Tang’s. Quach’s. Crista’s. Uncle’s. Yummy. Tasty.

I’ve a reverence for The American [Independent] Donut Shop as culinary
and social institution, and as temple to what’s been called The
American Dream. And therein I fear my kind West Sussex reviewer may be
at somewhat of a disadvantage, since it would appear that he has, in
his innocence with respect to the manifold versions of Yankee-fried
dough, mistaken a humble, plain glazed raised for. a. doo doo. I am
not offended. I don’t even like that kind of donut.

However, Johnny the Donut King might be sad at the mistaken identity,
even considering the absolute fact that some “doughnuts” really do
resemble spreading piles of dark and chunky putty worthy of a pasture.
(I’m looking at you apple fritter. Never again!)

Johnny, I suspect, might take some pride in the products of his toil
as perhaps even a part owner in the concern. Because a key aspect of
The American [Independent] Donut Shop is that it is among the
remaining categories of small business available to entrepreneurial
immigrant families who lack an excess of capital. Dough is cheap!
Often, on the US West Coast at least, those families hail from Asia.
As a grandchild of immigrants myself, from Yerp, I hope to capture and
honor the character and story of these shops as not just places where
I can get my prized occasional cinnamon sugar cake donut, (the only
donut I eat) but places where that purchase might support sending that
child on the wall, or even Johnny himself, to college. Or to owning
his or her own shop. That’s why I tagged, on the photo with the child,
my dear donut friends Penny and Boun who run Delicious Donuts, my
favorite shop in America’s Great Donut City, Portland, Oregon. They
have three sons, who have names that rhyme, and their donuts are
delicious. (

I know that every independent, family-owned donut shop across America
may have its own Johnny, even if there may be some level of fun-making
at this particular Johnny’s expense in the conspicuous framing of his
disembodied face on a big, fat (ahem) donut for all to see. So I say
let’s raise a pint, and/or the donut of your choice, to all the Johnny
the Donut Kings out there!

Johnny, you’re The Shit! And, Jeremy, you take the cake! Or is it biscuit?

For reference, a link that may give you an idea of how deep the
American donut hole goes: