August 9, 2013
Last year, someone I worked with sent me an email about me. Meaning, an email complaining about me, addressed to someone else, but almost certainly intended for my eyes. After all, what are the odds of someone actually, literally doing this? In all my decades of emailing, I’d never come close to this kind of a blooper.
And yet, just a few months later, I emailed a company I do a lot of business with, and accidentally attached this image:
It took me thirty seconds to realize what I’d done, and another thirty seconds to realize that I’d named the attachment “Sexies”. At the time, I was mortified. Now I’m thinking maybe this was an astute keep-everybody-on-their-toes business maneuver. Perhaps this kind of thing happens of a daily basis in the Fortune 500 world.
August 7, 2013
Episode 6 of The Organist—the podcast produced by KCRW and The Believer—is now online, and includes a bit I did about robbing a record store in 1989. It’s sort of a companion or maybe a prequel to the thing I wrote in Apology Magazine about living in the YMCA in late ’89. It’s a good piece, even if I’m not happy with my own delivery. Reading in front of a mic is goddamn hard. You try it.
1989 was a weird year in my life. Since much of this weirdness involved the music scene in New York, I’ve never really figured out a good way to write about it. Every time I try, I get grossed out on the nostalgia factor and give up. But inevitably I remember those rare music pieces that transcend nostalgia—Brendan Mullen’s Darby Crash profile, ANP Quarterly’s look at LA punk gangs, the untold account of NYC’s skinhead-Puerto Rican wars that somebody (not me) needs to write—and I realize I’m just being lazy. Maybe I’ll tackle the year in tiny increments, like this piece.
August 5, 2013
Last month, we flew to San Juan with the Burkes. Until this trip, I’d always assumed Puerto Rico was somewhere off the coast of the Carolinas. Maybe I’d confused it with Bermuda, I don’t know. The world is huge: I can’t be expected to keep track of all of it.
When one spends time in NYC, or Philadelphia, or Providence, one could easily assume that everyone in Puerto Rico is really, really excited to be from Puerto Rico. That is not actually the case. I didn’t see one car sporting the island’s star & bars flag. Are residents of Puerto Rico aware that their mainland expats are acting like a bunch of Texans?
We visited the Arecibo radio telescope. Arecibo is basically the only safeguard this planet has against a killer asteroid. It’s the size of like 200 parking lots and you feel kind of crazy when gazing at its vastness. After buying some pencils and astronaut ice cream in the gift shop, we hiked back down to the parking lot as a scientist careened up the road in his battered Corolla, frantically working out calculations on the dashboard. As he passed, we heard him shriek, ‘idiots!’
Later, this place happened. Somehow, I convinced myself that this was just the name of the establishment—some nightclub’s ironic take on a cruel tradition—and not a place where cocks were made to fight. It was one of those weird things were the brain tries to superimpose What It Wants To Be over What Actually Is (cockfighting is totally legal in Puerto Rico).
I am going to give this unincorporated US territory a good review on Yelp.
July 12, 2013
I finished the thing I’d been working on for the last year. It took a lot longer than I’d expected. The final few months got kind of rough. There were several days when I wrote until I got chest pains. I put on some weight and grew a nasty little goatee. From a distance, I might’ve had the vague air of a Bond villain, but up close I just looked like a really tore up 15-year old, and it always felt like I had cake frosting smeared across my chin.
Because I’ve already dealt with postpartum project depression, I was prepared for the weird wall of despair. This time around, it came at 3AM. I was assembling a large manuscript when I realized, with utter clarity, that I’d wasted the last year of my life, a life that itself had been one colossal garbage can of waste. I was expecting this, so the moment was mostly funny. Besides, even if it’s true: so what?
I wasn’t, however, prepared for the very serious medical problems that went down 48 hours after I’d stopped writing. This was not so hot. Several blood tests and one ultrasound later, I guess I’m fine. The only moral here seems to be: don’t sit in front of a computer for ten hours a day, with no days off, without exercise or breaks or a social life, and expect your human body to function 100% correctly. My doctor pretty much gave me this warning verbatim last autumn, and I give him credit for not doing an I Told You So now.
July 4, 2013
January 21, 2013
If you owned a store a hundred years ago, you probably wouldn’t have had any opportunities to forget that you owned that store. Like if you were walking down to the saloon and someone said, “hey, old timey Sam, how’s your store going? Sellin’ lots of penny candy?” It’s a safe bet that you wouldn’t have slapped your forehead and said, “My store! I forgot all about that place!’
This is more or less what happened to me last month. I forgot I had a store, then I remembered I had a store, and then I felt ashamed that I allowed that store to languish. So I’ve revamped the place. It’s a little thin right now, but I’ll have lots of new items—books, fanzines, new screenprints—up in a few weeks.
Another upside to owning a store a hundred years ago is that you wouldn’t have been made to feel like a cheesebag as a result of posting about that store on your blog.
Also, my liner notes will be part of Criterion’s definitive edition of Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man, which will be released in April. I dressed like the main character for 2 years in high school: Unless I someday win a Newbery Award or the oversized key to an American city, this will be the highest professional recognition I will ever achieve.
January 9, 2013
I just remembered this afternoon that it was 2013 already and that I needed to resume this blog. It’s been a dense six months. I got a lot of work done. I still have a lot of work to do. I probably won’t be back on here full time until March. It was a weird, occasionally frustrating period to be blogless (and certainly the only half-a-year in human history when the Cro-Mags and Riot Grrrl both made the front page of the NY Times).
Back in 2000, I put some serious thought into starting a weekly fanzine newsletter that I would mail to people. In the years since, I’ve been trying to remember what I was going to fill it with. I was brimming with ideas. But what were they?
In the last six months, this blog has come to feel like that newsletter. Hopefully, I’ll have it figured out soon.
June 18, 2012
MY OWN PARTICULAR LIFE, June 18 – I’m taking a six-month break from the Internet to finish my next novel. This blog resumes in 2013. If you want to keep abreast of my freelance doings in the meantime, you’ll still be able to check my public Facebook page. So I guess it’s not a full break from the Internet. Just the part I have to keep tithing my time and effort to.
What’s that? You’re angry I won’t be providing free chuckles for six months? Well, have you read everything over here? That’s 80,781 free words. There are another 100,000+ free words on my archive. You’ve read all my stuff? Really? Have you read this or this or this or this or this? How do you know I won’t be quizzing you on all this if we ever meet in person?
June 15, 2012
SALES, June 15 – All those juicy art prints I had on tour are now online, at my store. If each of you buys just one print this weekend, I’ll have enough money to rent a Porsche Panamera S for most of next week. Isn’t that how you’d like to think of me, whipping down the PCH in an awesome car instead of hunched over my computer in Pomona???
Also, an interesting review of my book went online this week. It’s written by Jan Galligan, an Albany, NY artist I’ve known for thirty-eight years. A portrait of me and Jan’s son from 1981 hangs above my dresser today (it’s visible in the 2nd photo in my Fader piece). In 1985, I sold Jan a lifetime subscription to my fanzines (although not, as his review states, my complete works). It’s refreshing to read press with this kind of perspective. Probably not something I’ll get used to.
June 13, 2012
LIFE, June 13 – In a year filled with big announcements and abrupt changes, here’s another one. Jesse Pearson and I will no longer be partnering on Exploded View Quarterly. This was a mutual decision. Although we both wish the best for each other, our creative differences were insurmountable. All other factors remain the same: he’s still doing the magazine, and it’s still going to retain its unique vision. I just won’t be on the masthead.
This might sound like good-sport boilerplate from a jilted business partner. It’s not. “Creative differences” really does cover the predicament we were facing. It’s a bummer, but a bummer we identified and dealt with relatively early in the process. In the end, this is a minor speedbump for a great magazine (one I’ll probably be a frequent contributor to).
We reached this decision late last week, so something that may seem startling to readers of this blog is already old news for me. I’ve been in this position before, more than once. Many times, over the last three decades, someone has dug up some oddity from my past—my book in the early 80’s, or my fiscal snafus in the early 90’s—and treated their own discovery as a present tense revelation. This time around, I’m grateful that the gap between News For Me and News For You is only a few days.
If nothing else, this frees up more time for me to work on other large projects. It’s just a speedbump in my life as well.