Nat. Brut Submissions Are Open & I'm Going To Read Everything (Except For Your Short Fiction About Frankensteins)

Hello writers or readers of this blog who clicked the link and aren't writers. As you may know, I work with a literary journal called Nat. Brut that's prepping to release its sixth issue (the second in print) and submissions are open throughout May.  

I, along with a few other intrepid authors, poets, and the cajoled, will be reading the submissions and be deciding your fate. Will we be swinging down the axe on your lovingly crafted haiku about space puppies? Or will we be sending your flash fiction about sexy vampires on to the second round? There's only one way to find out. 

 

Issue 5 Is Alive

I thought about titling this blog "Long Live Print Media, Print Media
Is Dead," but that honestly sounds like the biggest pile of shit that's ever been written.
Today, the online version of Nat. Brut Issue 5 has been released upon the world and the beautiful print version will begin shipping soon. Inside I have a piece of short fiction
available for you to read and interpret as you please. I'm quite happy with the
story, but what tickles my insides more than having a story published
is that I've become involved with a wonderful group of artists intent
on keeping print media out of the ground for the foreseeable future.

I've been fortunate in this last year to work with numerous artists,
writers, and other multi-hyphenates who strive to create something
concrete, from Kayla, Axel, Tyler and the entire crew at Nat. Brut, to
Tyler at Kill Pretty, and John at Lovers and Other Strangers, it's
been a profound experience to be a part of a small beehive of tactile
fetishists and lovers of the printed word.

Please go read Issue 5 from cover to cover (or the online equivalent)
and order a copy before it sells out if it hasn't already. Other than my story and some other oddities that I had a hand in, the issue features a photo collection by libertine flea market beauty Obscura LA and a poem that opens with the line "ESKIMOS HAVE VARIOUS THOUGHTS
ABOUT WOLVES." I love it. So will you.

Ain't Life Grand - The Time I Accidentally Followed Widespread Panic on Tour

“Caw! Caw Caw! Caw Caw!” Lauren crowed out the sliding glass window of the Waterfront Hotel. Earlier in the afternoon she had insisted that this was how all Widespread Panic fans communicated, but I’m certain that this is just a thing that people do that is unrelated to being a fan of a particular jam band.

She crows on for another three minutes and no one crows back, they don’t even look up to the second floor balcony that she’s squawking from. “Whatever. That’s what real fans do.” Lauren takes another sip of her Elvis Presley (coconut rum, pineapple juice, and a splash of ginger beer – shaken) and collapses back into her deck chair. There’s only an hour and a half until the show starts and she plans on being annihilated before the first notes of a song I’ve never heard ring through the Fox Theater.

Three weeks ago I started filming a documentary about a guy suffering from stage four- stomach cancer. He wanted to show the world that he could do more with the little time he had left than most people do in a lifetime. This included trying to get a social media site for cancer patients off the ground while exploring various methods of treatment, both Eastern and Western.

What I didn’t know was that this also meant drinking cheap booze, having a nonstop contact high, and following Widespread Panic to four shows over the course of seven days.

On our way to San Francisco we made a brief detour in San Luis Obispo to visit a reiki specialist who banished me to her waiting room because she was uncomfortable on camera. I spent most of the afternoon reading under a meditation lamp and eavesdropping on the hypnotherapy session that was happening ten feet away from where I sat. I’m still a little worried that about what my trigger word may be.

We arrived in San Francisco a few hours behind schedule and we had already lost most of our light so instead of shooting we decided to get dinner. Nick’s baffling San Francisco fallback was a Cheesecake Factory on the third story of a mall that promised a “beautiful view of the city.” Denying a dying man’s last wish I insisted that we eat something a little more authentic, and with a better rating star rating on Yelp. With each circle of the block The Cheesecake Factory became more appetizing. I knew a few people that had eaten and enjoyed their mass produced appetizers and lauded the extensive menu. I’d spent months on the road with men that sang the praises of their glam burgers and strawberry cheesecake, was I really so up my own ass that I couldn’t stoop so low as to order an over the top meatloaf sandwich and enjoy it?

“You guys lookin’ for something’ to eat?”
A withered man with matted hair and a beard reaching to his chest had stopped us at the edge of a street that lead directly into the towering, very un-SanFran mall. Trailing behind him was an oxygen tank with tubes that snaked up to his nose; the hiss of leaking air, once noticed, could not be ignored. Thank fucking Christ he had some dinner recommendations.
“First Crush is right up the street and among other delights it boasts one of the best burgers in the city. I strongly recommend the kobe beef burger. It’s absolutely delicious.”

We had lucked out and met one of the few decent wizards left in North America. We began walking to First Crush as he continued helping us plan our meal.
“The only thing I don’t recommend is the lobster mac and cheese, not because it’s bad but because there’s not enough cheese. You need a lot of cheese to make a good mac and cheese, it’s not good unless the cheese strings out from your fork and you’re not sure where your mouth begins and the mac and cheese ends.”

We neared the entrance to First Crush, a bar and restaurant that was significantly more upscale than I had imagined. The wizard’s spell had worked. I popped back outside to give our guide a few crumpled dollars but he had vanished. There was no way he could have walked off that fast and there were no alleys available for a quick getaway, I'd never believed in magic but there were no other explanations. 

Here’s something I didn’t know about stomach cancer that I now know. When you have your stomach removed you can still eat. The doctors actually encourage you to eat the same stuff that you ate before, but you have to relearn how to chew. If you don’t spend at least an entire minute chewing your food you run the risk of throwing it all back up again. I don’t know where the food goes; I don’t know how your body breaks down the nutrients to keep you alive, I just know that it does. If you asked me to explain how a healthy body breaks down food I would say the same thing. When you don’t have a stomach you’re supposed to eat a bunch of small meals throughout the day to keep your body from freaking out and hating you, so when you decide to shoot your documentary about a guy with stomach cancer who’s starting his own hot dog stand make sure that you don’t take a six hour drive (extended to eight with a stop over in San Luis Obispo) without eating.

Nick began to throw up at the table about ten minutes after Brady, his friend who lived in Hawaii, arrived and ordered the lobster mac and cheese (against the recommendations of a guy with stomach cancer, a writer moonlighting as a director, and a wizard). Nick had imbibed approximately one eighth of his peartini and half his kobe beef burger before he turned bone white and began coughing up into his hands. While Nick was vomiting in the men’s room I carried the weight of a conversation with the business owning beach bum. The reason Brady was stepping foot in the good ol’ contiguous was two fold. Obviously he was in town to see his long time friend for what could be the last time. Also he was selling water bottles (I’ll get to it). Growing up in Kansas City, Brady and Nick an adolescence straight out of the music video for “1979.” They set off fireworks in parking lots, made out with chicks in basements, and got stoned before skipping class. They went their separate ways sometime after college but had remained close in the interim. Now that Brady lived in Hawaii he was no longer a ne’er-do-well, he had made the transformation to an honest to goodness business owner. He had recently purchased “a shit load” of stock in a company that manufactured (I think – I had finished two beers Nick’s peartini at this point) water bottles that kept liquid cold for twenty-four hours and hot for twelve. I know it sounds like a thermos but it’s not because shut up. Nick returned from the bathroom and the night withered from there. The scent of the peartini stuck to my beard and as I drifted off to sleep I began to dream about shampoo.

“Caw! Caw Caw! Caw Caw!” Lauren was seated in the Escalade’s limo seat and crowing out of the open window. People on the street stared and shrugged at one another, just another drunk asshole. Through my camera’s view screen I watched Nick catch himself having fun and then check to make sure I was filming, preserving the moment in amber. Before we arrived at the venue Brady opened the Escalade’s door and tried to step out on the pavement, moving under his feet like an airport sidewalk. In unison, everyone shouted “Woah-oah-oah-oah” and pulled him back in. The driver didn’t seem to care, just another drunk asshole. Outside the venue a dense swarm of dreaded couples in ponchos smoked pot openly, guys in polos giggled at their audacity, and scalpers on every corner sold tickets to fans whose fingers weren’t fast enough for Ticketmaster. Brady and I didn’t have tickets but for sixty bucks and a nug, Brady was assured a spot in the pit and for fifty dollars I was afforded the same pleasure. I know that seems unfair but outside of a Widespread Panic show it isn’t so much the economic model of supply and demand but rather, are you cool and whaddaya got?

Inside the venue I notice that the crowd is stacked with people wearing their “big night out” outfits. I was confronted with a mélange of plaid pants, Hunter S. Thompson shirts, sweatbands, fedoras and trucker hats. The fact that there was enough tie-dye to stock an Etsy store for eternity goes without saying. As I made my way down to the front of the stage with Nick and his ragtag crew (of which I have now become a member) the lights went down and I began to take mental notes of the music and my surroundings, pretending to be a journalist or a spy, whichever was sexier. Whatever the band opened with made the audience flip the fuck out, it was like everyone had won the lottery. The crowd control that bands like Widespread Panic, Pearl Jam, and Phish have is astounding. Speaking of Phish, do you think it’s possible that, not now, but in the late 90s or possibly in 2009 when the band reunited, that Widespread Panic were ever jealous of Phish and their parking lot goo balls? (Google it). They’ve now obviously settled into a late career plateau where they can play literally anything and people will freak out but it had to irk them a bit that they weren’t headlining Madison Square Garden three nights in a row during New Years Eve. Although every great story needs an underdog, and it must be a good feeling to know that even if you’re not the most popular jam band, you’re easily number two. Or at least you’re in the Big 4. If this were the SATs a very possible test question would be Widespread Panic is to Phish as (blank) is to Metallica. The answer is, of course, Anthrax. No one thought either of the bands would have the staying power that they did and both bands contain a member with a segmented beard.

At one point there was a guy in front of me that kept taking secret hits off his miniature pipe and then doing a move that can only described as a “light shimmy.” After a spectacularly botched moonwalk he made eye contact with me as if to ask “isn’t this the best night of your life?” He quickly looked away, bashful that I couldn’t reciprocate his enthusiasm. After the first set ended I reconvened with my group and caught up on the latest Widespread gossip: JB changed the intro of a song, there was a little bit of “Keep On Truckin” in the middle of one of the songs, and who was that new roadie onstage? We made our way back to the pit where I was immediately separated from the group as dudes in cargo pants and girls with newly purchased tour shirts rushed the stage to do their whiteboy dance. Two songs into the set and I began to feel stifled, a claustrophobia overtook me like I’ve never felt in my life. I was not underwater, I was standing in more or less fresh air and all I could do was choke.

Once I stumbled onto Theater Avenue some of the fog floated away from my brain, outside the box office I was reminded that once I stepped onto the sidewalk I could no longer return to the show. I heeded the ticket takers advice and turned right, I needed a drink and had faith Oakland would answer my unvoiced request. After a couple blocks I stumbled into Café Van Kleef. I don’t know why (and if I did even the most cursory of Google searches I’m sure I could tell you) but every drink contained at least one slice of grapefruit and the bar was littered with grapefruit rinds. I drank slowly, Widespread Panic couldn’t have been more than four songs into their second set and the crowd was promised a third. My beer did the trick and fished me out of the jam band lake that I sat at the bottom of like an old boot or something much more appealing than an old boot. Maybe a new boot that was filled with diamonds. The new boot is also encrusted with diamonds (so as to not make the finder of the boot toss me aside when they dump out all the diamonds). The more I drank the more I liked Café Van Cleef, it had the feel of a nice dive bar where the perpetually collegiate could drink and talk shit while muted indie rock plays on the stereo and a local band takes an ungodly amount of time to set up.

If I were an Oakland local or a diamond lake boot wearing Berkley student I could see myself becoming a permanent fixture there and I’ll bet you all the diamonds in my boot that I would have fallen off the stage at least once.

I still had time to kill and my stomach was begging for something other than beer, Elvis Presleys, or grapefruit so I made my way to Hi-Life pizza and watched The Godfather II while I ate my slices in silence, the crust tearing in half as Michael embraces Fredo and reveals a plot point that couldn’t hear because some guy asked me which Godfather was playing. I walked back to the theater as the show was letting out and neo hippies were spilling out onto the Oakland streets. Brady was looking for a ride to Reno but no one seemed to be offering, there was no more space on their private jets or in their stretch limos with peace signs for hubcaps.

The next morning, in our San Francisco hotel and in between fits of vomiting, Nick would instruct me as to which angles we would need of him throwing up as I sat on the tile floor and watched my sort of boss, sort of friend puke up bile.
“Are you getting all of this?”
He would ask in between retches, denying the water I offered just out of frame.

Epilogue

Nick passed away around Thanksgiving 2014 in Marina Del Rey. I wasn't personally informed of his death, but I saw a few facebook posts and was able to connect the dots. We weren't friends, just coworkers inhabiting a profoundly heightened space for a couple of months. Today would have been Nick's 30th birthday and as I read over my words it feels as if I'm proofreading a dream. I wish that I could close this out with a philosophical one liner akin to Vonnegut or Marquez,  but the only thought in my head is that the heaving feeling in my chest is heavier than it should be for someone that I hardly knew. 

Books I Read in 2014, a Semi Out of Order List

I read some books this year, and a few short stories to boot. I also read a couple of articles on the internet but did not post them here as they are special gems that I plan on keeping to myself. I also read quite a bit of poetry but no one wants to hear about that. 

Fiction

Home Land - Sam Lipsyte (twice - it's quite good.)

The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen (also very good but rather long, I cried at the end.)

A Visit From The Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan (also cried at the end)

The Family Fang - Kevin Wilson

How Soon Is Never - Marc Spitz 

The Rules of Attraction - Bret Easton Ellis

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack - Mark Leyner (incredibly confusing but I was able to use the phrase "purposefully impenetrable" when speaking to someone about the book so there you go)

Unreliable Narrator - T. Sean Shannon

If On A Winter's Night a Traveller - Italo Calvino (disappointing. I felt hoodwinked)

Anthropology - Daniel Rhodes (one of the best collections of short fiction I've ever read)

The Girl on the Fridge - Etgar Keret (Rebecca thinks I hate this book but it was very good)

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - Haruki Murakami 

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul - Douglas Adams 

 

Non Fiction

Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris

Assassination Vacation - Sarah Vowell

The Partly Cloudy Patriot - Sarah Vowell

Hella Nation - Evan Wright

The Wordy Shipmates - Sarah Vowell (I feel like I read a fourth novel by Vowell but for the life of me I can't remember what it was)

Canon EOS 7D Digital Field Guide - A Man or A Collection of Men

Fargo Rock City - Chuck Kloisterman

Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Easy Riders and Raging Bulls - Peter Biskind

 

Short Fiction

Bored To Death - Jonathan Ames

Joe Meno - Stockholm, 1973

How To Make Millions in the Oil Market - Christopher R. Howard

Man's Fate - 98: Learning To Love Again, A Story In Three Parts - Neal Pollack

R.W. Apple, Jr. Is Prejudiced. (An Open Letter To R.W. Apple, JR.) - Zev Borrow

The Discovery of El Dorado, City of Gold - Marc Herman

Thanasphere - Kurt Vonnegut

Mnemonics - Kurt Vonnegut

Any Reasonable Offer - Kurt Vonnegut

Yet Another Example of the Porousness of Certain Borders (VIII) - David Foster Wallace

What books did you read last year? Did you check out any good literary journals? Did you start a zine? If anyone has a bead on a cheap copy of the David Lee Roth Autobiography, "Crazy From the Heat," please let me know.

 

Working With Nat. Brut

"I'd like to start a literary journal" is not a phrase that I've ever uttered aloud or in my head. It's probable that I've never even said it in a dream. Fortunately for hard work leery artists like myself, the sweethearts at Nat. Brut have decided to take their already stellar online literary journal and propel it to new heights by making the fifth issue a tangible piece of enduring art. 

It should go without saying that creating something as bold and interesting as the fifth issue of Nat. Brut is not cheap. I've never tried to print a booklet of any sort but having been a part of a few bands that have released physical albums (both with and without the help of a record label) I know that printing prices can be astronomical. To offset the cost of printing the Bruts are running a Kickstarter campaign that will hopefully fulfill their wildest dreams and leave everyone with a feeling of wonder and beauty. So go give to them, give to the arts and fill the emptiness that sits in your chest. 

SEXY NAT. BRUT KICK STARTER LINK

Minor Phrases/Television Woodshed/Staying Busy

In what may seem like an unnecessary update to my severely underblogged (not possible) website I would like to direct anyone reading this to both Television Woodshed and Minor Phrases. Both of the aforementioned web sites are places where I'm expressing myself in a variety of ways. At TVWS I'm being allowed to jabber on about programs like Gotham, The Flash, and Nashville (as well as a few one off things like the Saved By The Bell Lifetime Original Movie). At Minor Phrases I'm writing short stories about photographs that I find at flea markets and the like. Both bits of writing are serving the very necessary purpose of keeping my brain busy with jumbles of letters instead of harumphing about things I can't control.

Because I miss livejournal, I'm listening to Tweedy and before that I listened to the new Aphex Twin - both records are quite good.  

Experimental Film

Last week I had the good fortune of needing to learn how to use a piece of equipment for a job and a few friends who weren't doing anything for the day. After doing some location scouting to find the hottest apartment in LA and purchasing a very expensive ghost costume (authenticity comes at a price) I filmed a very odd short film. While I'm not happy with a few technical issues (mostly ghost authenticity related), I've made my peace and now I would like to share this with you. A hefty thanks goes out to Chance Royce and Thérèse Harvey, without whom this would not have been possible. 

 

Procrastination Destination

Am I editing or am I re-writing? Most of my afternoon was spent typing, and retyping a story that I began with fervor two weeks ago before finishing a poorly constructed first draft and promptly ignoring the story for a full two weeks. In the grand scheme of things this is kind of okay. I'm not being paid to write about international art thieves, I haven't been given a truckload of money and a swiftly approaching deadline, or a third thing - so I should be able to take as much time off from my personal work as I like. Except when I do I feel like shit. But I can't stop taking breaks! I love it! I rewarded myself for retouching the first three paragraphs of my story with playing scrabble and writing this blog post. Here's the kicker -

Even now I'm procrastinating with this blog post by adding tags to the post and checking out Vulture's "7 Books You Need to Read This July," and while Last Stories and Other Stories, by William T. Vollmann seems to have an alluring quality around it, I have a stack of books to work my way through before they topple over and no one is happy with me. 

That last sentence was almost a break into a whole new post! I can't stop. I'm addicted to procrastination. So much so that lately I've been reading up on the best way to keep from dawdling in the 21st century when you work on a computer and can therefore google whatever you want and also watch a movie (today I watched two episodes of MST3K while I did some work and then I watched The Late Shift because of course I did). What I've gleaned from my many online sources is that I should be buying a program that shuts down all of my applications except for my word processor, turning off my wifi, not even using MS Word, writing only twenty minutes a day, and not doing it at home, the office, a coffee shop, or anywhere else where I may be distracted. What's a girl to do?

It's with a heavy heart that I'm informing you that I'll be writing from inside the lip of an active volcano, the possibility of a burning and ashy death is the only thing that can get me to finish writing this story and submitting it to a literary journal on time. Right after I work on a new work out playlist and comb through Netflix for the next hour. 

A Couple of Shows This Week

Just checking in to let you know about two shows that I'll be performing at in the Los Angeles area this week. On Tuesday the 13th (spooky) I'll be performing at The Yoohoo Room in Burbank at 9:30pm with a lot of great comedians. You can (and should) purchase tickets online at www.flapperscomedy.com or by calling (818) 845 9721, that room fills up fast so get on it. On Wednesday the 14th (less spooky) I'll be at Sal's Comedy Hole on Melrose performing for Joke Squad, a newish production company that's putting a lot of really great young comedians on stage. /advertisement

 

 

Needles, Blood, and Something Called a Chest Port

Last week I began filming a documentary about the CEO of So…It's Cancer, a young man with stage 4 stomach cancer who is intent on getting his company off the ground before he dies. We've been having a lot of fun (at the moment we're in San Francisco filming his trip to a Wide Spread Panic Show) but the notion that the guy in front of the camera is slowly deteriorating is never far from the front of my brain (or where ever your main thoughts reside, I assume the front or top). If you'd like you can watch a scene from the documentary below where Nick has something called a port put into his chest. Enjoy?

Performing At Flappers - March 4th (this blog contains a coupon)

On Tuesday, March 4th I'll be performing a short set at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank with Stephen Thomas and Paul Laier, it's already a pretty cheap show but if you use the coupon code in the link I've provided below the show is half off. I apologize for the informative tone of this blog, it's just that I stayed up very late watching footage from Woodstock 99 with my roommate and I need to drink my weight in coffee before I return to normal. You understand.

HALF OFF COUPON LINK - CLICK IT COME ON CLICK IT

 

 

The King in Yellow Goes To The Mall

In honor of tonight's upcoming episode of True Detective I have composed a poem. 

The King In Yellow Goes To The Mall

The King in Yellow showed up to the mall. Everyone was worried that he would induce despair and madness; that the world as we know it would become a riot.

But it was fine; he just needed a new cloak from Banana Republic. 

Sons Of Sierra

John and I drove five hours to Weatherford Texas from Austin (normally a three hour trip) the weekend before Christmas to spend the evening filming, joking and drinking with Sons of Sierra, a new roots rock band that puts more emphasis on having fun and grabbing a drink than worrying about band dynamics or what shirts to wear at their next show. If the phrase "three friends that also play music together" weren't so clumsy I would suggest that you refer to Sons of Sierra as that rather than a band. It's not that they aren't a real band, after watching them practice for a couple of hours proves that notion, it just seems like a nicer way to speak about such great guys. Anthony, Mike and Rene took the two of us in, fed us (a welcomed home cooked meal of spaghetti and meatballs to be precise) and bought us drinks all the while letting John and me get in their faces with our nosey cameras. With every shudder of our shutters they never missed a beat. If you live in the greater DFW area and have a chance to check out the gentleman sierra in the flesh I suggest you pay them a visit, you shan't leave disappointed. Until then enjoy the first in a series of featurettes concerning Sons Of Sierra. 

 

PS

You can find new SOS episodes at youtube.com/sonsofsierra

xo

More like "Handsomthony".

More like "Handsomthony".

Eat your heart out Abrams. 

Eat your heart out Abrams. 

Mike, in his usual surly mood. 

Mike, in his usual surly mood. 

Jacob shows Mike and Anthony the footage so far. Anthony is unimpressed. 

Jacob shows Mike and Anthony the footage so far. Anthony is unimpressed. 

As usual Jacob Shelton is in the fucking way. 

As usual Jacob Shelton is in the fucking way. 

Three Illustrated Poems

The lovely transatlantic human being and good friend Tom Levinge illustrated a few of my poems for his blog (www.tomlevinge.tumblr.com) and I absolutely love the drawrings. I hope against hope that I'll get a chance to work again with Tom soon but at the moment he's in England and on a figurative rocket to the moon so we'll see how that works out.  Go laugh at his solo work (in a good way, not like that you urchins) and have a lovely day.