Thursday, July 28, 2011

EXIT Strata: New Lit/Art Magazine

Attention Writers/Artists:
Open call for submissions through September 1st for the first issue of EXIT strata, a new lit/art magazine.

What is ‘EXIT strata’, you might ask? Well, it’s a little Dada, so to speak. EXIT strata is an upcoming art/lit magazine, which will be a postmodern take on the traditional literary magazine, as well as a parody on everything that is a consumer magazine. It will be absurd, necessarily, and a 50/50 split between art and literature, often merging the two through collaboration between artists and writers. Flash fiction, poetry, short essays, new york sights and scenes, play excerpts, equations for a better life, parodies of magazine ads, art/word spurts, all playing with the left/right, two-page spread of books (both vertically in the juxtaposition of two pages, and horizontally across the fold) and what can only be done with a book in its hard-copy print form, reinvented between the margins.

For more details and submission information, please visit the EXIT strata website.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Plain Jane - Jazz Noir

This is the live performance of Plain Jane, a jazz noir experiment a few years back at the Roger Smith Gallery in New York for John Mclane's Shotgun Project. All music composed by Mike MacAllister, with exception of the Plain Jane theme (which I wrote for the piece). Jazz trio is Gerad O'Shea on tenor sax, Jamie Bishop on upright bass, and Mike MacAllister on electric guitar.

Part 1. "Rude Awakening"

Part 2. "Coffee & Jam"

Part 3. "Motel Room #19"

Part 4. "Dirty Laundry"

Part 5. "Morning Paper"

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Ghost Among Us

Here's another typewritten scrap from The Last Days of Lawrence X. Polk (novel-in-progress). It comes from Winston again, the starving artist of the written word who refuses to write in anything other than stream of consciousness prose.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

And... We Are In Orbit!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the book launch for Arbitrary Nonsense (or the Pendulum Rift) at Home Sweet Home in NYC last Saturday. Special thanks to my sister Emily, overseer of the book table, and photographer Katie DuBois and Chris Conly who were kind enough to take photos of the shindig.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Launch Party for Arbitrary Nonsense (or the Pendulum Rift) in NYC

If you're in New York City this weekend, come out for the book launch of Arbitrary Nonsense (or the Pendulum Rift) at Home Sweet Home in the Lower East Side on Saturday, Dec. 4th. There will be an open bar (grab a flyer with drink tickets on your way in) and a short reading, followed by a Q+A session.

When: Saturday, Dec. 4th

Quelle Heure?: 8 to 10 pm

What: Open bar, reading, books

Where: Home Sweet Home bar
131 Chrystie Street (between Delancey and Broome)
New York, NY 10002

How the Heck Do I Get There?: F train to 2nd Ave or Delancey, J train to Bowery, B/D to Grand St., 4/6 to Spring St.

Sponsored by Swift-Tuttle Press

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arbitrary Nonsense (or Pendulum Rift), a novel

So this is it. Arbitrary Nonsense (or the Pendulum Rift), the novel I've been working on for the past eight years, is finally out, soon to be in bookstores and available now online (in print: barnes & noble, ebook:, It's a bizarre and funny book, a Jungian novel so to speak that takes artistic license with the theory of the collective unconscious.

I started writing the core of the story when I was eighteen after junking a 375-page medieval fantasy novel. I was a philosophical brat at the time, reading a lot of Plato and Nietzsche, and skipping school to drink coffee and play chess and talk intellectual nonsense at the coffeeshop. The story came about as sort of a response to the contemporary fiction I was reading then, which was wonderfully written but kind of boring. Fantasy and science fiction wasn't doing it for me either; it had great leaps of imagination but took itself just as seriously as contemporary fiction. So it's totally tongue-in-check when I say that I decided to write a novel in defense of the absurd. But, you know, that was the idea. A madcap defense of nonsense.

It's a zany storybook narrative that has all the weird elements of fantasy and science fiction, the pulp of hard-boiled detective fiction, the philosophical undertones of serious literature, while not taking itself too seriously. Eight years and hundreds of revisions later, this odd and whimsical novel wriggles out into the world.

Last Days of Lawrence X. Polk - The Baron

This photo is from a recent reading at Penny's Open Mic under St. Mark's Theater in the East Village. Many thanks to photographer Cathryn Lynne.

Here's excerpt of what I read that night, the introduction of the Baron character from The Last Days of Lawrence X. Polk, a novel in progress.

Bad actors in a dawdling play written by a blind poet, the Baron would say. Act two of a four-part tragedy, which inevitably ended with us settled down in a suburban lot, far away from our ghosts, mowing the manicured lawn of somebody else's aspirations, gazing over the hedges, past the last stonewalled house, off at the scrum horizon of our golden years like the ruins of a kingdom conquered and forgotten. At least we were old enough to drink whiskey in the afternoon and not feel guilty about it.

"Life takes participation," the Baron told me one Saturday night in the den. An angel, with wild black hair, nodded on his response from the couch, readjusted her wings, and crossed her white-stocking legs in agreement. This was at one of the now-infamous Polk parties when the tenants in the Sackett lofts would sandbag open their fire-red, fire-proof doors and invite in whatever odd assortment of freaks were hanging out in the halls. By the 11th hour, Lawrence and Nikko's apartment was wall-to-wall with costumed party-goers, a Noah's Ark at the End of Time, or that was the theme if I remember correctly. We were supposed to be living myths, carried onboard a make-believe spaceship to the stars, a historical record of mankind's imagination in a tin can, although most people simply dressed like woodland creatures and behaved far worse. The Baron, in an authentic tartan kilt as the Scotsman, had taken up residence in an armchair so best to address the cultish followers of his poetic wisdom. With no place else to sit, I was on the edge of a glass coffee table, not yet under the spell but chugging down a quarter bottle of rum to deliver me there.

"Life calls for exaggerated action," he continued, "an affirmation and exaltation of everything laid out under the sun, epiphany by night and admiration of the mystery in the darkness, the twilight vigil by which we map our destiny. Today, a man flies through fire for a photograph, for proof…"

The Baron was prone to these lyrical flourishes, especially when he had a whiskey in hand and an audience. His carpe diem speeches were not without a certain degree of irony though, since his reputation as an armchair man preceded him. Once he'd settled into a comfy seat, he was harder to budge than a stubborn cat, content to laze the day away, reading or watching soccer on the television. It was from this same chair by night, in the dark with the incense burning and a circle of mystical objects for inspiration, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, an ankh, a bleached human skull, that he penned his many horror stories. The stories sold well and this was how he made rent, juggled with a few pickup jobs. He wrote them begrudgingly however, since he'd always considered himself more of a poet than a storyteller and gave the art more weight. And so when he had an audience, he'd lay on the verbal wit, the rhetorical splashes, to show that he was more than a spinner of gruesome tales. That night, I welcomed his attempts to cheer me up, regardless of the motive, since it was the first time I'd left my studio in weeks, depressed by a number of colliding failures. I'd come out in hopes to forget a lot of things under an alcoholic fog.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life in a Box

Life in a Box is a short story about the claustrophobia of cubicle life in the city. The audio link is from a performance of the story at Goodbye Blue Mondays with friend/jazz guitarist Chris Conly and his ever-changing trio. Amazing group of musicians. I seriously just walked into the studio, riffed off the theme that was in my head while writing the story, and the band immediately started playing the tune on the spot. The only unfortunate part was we had no vocal mike on stage during the performance, thus the shoddy mix.

Check out the live performance of Life in a Box

Photo Credit: Matchbox by Allard Architecture

Pendulum Rift Reading for the NYC Writers Circle

I was recently invited to read a short excerpt of Pendulum Rift at Lolita Bar for the NYC Writers Circle, the bizarre novel I've been working on for the past decade, soon to be published in October.

This is an excerpt of the excerpt I read that night:

"The nefarious trio had grown up together in the small town of Warren, a western suburb of the city. Small as any town, same as anywhere with apple-blossom groves and birch trees for lovers’ initials winding in consummate rows by scarred tar roads and old colonial houses. On any given day, they could be found up in these trees shouting obscenities/absurdities or downtown by the coffee squat singing with trashcan percussion late in the evening, all the while ranting nonsense philosophies about immoral fish and heaven as a giant cup of tea. Although the neighbors generally frowned on such silliness, their antics might have been ignored were it not for the constant pranks. During their reign of terror, they’d spray-painted I HATE VANDALISM on the stucco of town hall, added bubblegum appendages to cartoon figures on Slow Children signs, faked seizures in Paterson Park with shaving cream and blood capsules, held protests against political activism, and similar acts of ironic stupidity which inevitably aroused public scorn and suspicion. But they didn’t care. They were young, wild and alive. Ready for whatever adventure lay down the road, no matter how ludicrous or stupid. They were reckless but passionate in their absurdity. And nothing mattered because nothing mattered and that was a beautiful thing."

Descending the Bowery

Here's a typewritten scrap from The Last Days of Lawrence X. Polk. It's a stream of consciousness recollection of a walk down the Bowery in lower Manhattan. Winston, the obligatory writer character, is obsessed with Andre Breton and composes his thoughts exclusively in subconscious prose.

Negotiating with Tigers: Safe Practices

When negotiating with tigers, remember... keep your distance.

Talk softly, slowly, no sudden movements, and remember to freshen up with a mint beforehand.

Always say you'll give in to its demands for a) a barge of elk or b) to release all the tigers from the park zoo, but DON'T because 1) elk are hard to come by nowadays and 2) tigers don't play well with children.

Be on guard, though. Tigers are tricky.

Try to talk it down, because that Venetian lamp isn't worth fifty bucks. Look, it's scratched. You call that Murano glass? Although the tiger may look like it's upset, start gnashing its teeth and salivating in a manner that can only be interpreted as predatory (or the onset of an aneurysm), don't be fooled. The furry bastards love to haggle.

Tell it in a calm voice to 1) quit bitching about the rent, you get paid on Friday 2) it's not your mother and you'll come home at whatever hour you please 3) stop leaving dirty pots and pans on your bed, you'll do the dishes in the morning.

Don’t be afraid to face off in a tête-à-tête and assert that you deserve a raise for your nine months of hard work, and no, you won't work on Sundays, and that it's ridiculous you can't get health insurance just because you missed the one-month window to apply with Aetna. What's up with that? But keep your distance as this should prevent a) relentless mauling b) getting fired.

If the tiger looks hungry, feed it… quickly. No explanation needed really, but here's a fail-safe recipe for rigatoni in case you don't have one on hand: one box of rigatoni, cook al dente, mix in sauce, sautéed garlic. Garnish with basil. But make sure that the sauce is thick. Tigers may love pasta, but if the sauce is too soupy, and without the right amount of fresh pepper, you can say goodbye to your leg.

Pull over, be polite, apologize for not having your registration card and explain: No, you have no idea how fast you were driving, but you're sure it was below the speed limit… Stop sign?... One beer, you know the law.

Feel free to argue that the tiger doesn't exist and that it's impossible to negotiate with something that doesn’t exist, but avoid a) Wittgenstein b) Descartes c) allusions to apriori knowledge of the universe. Pre-Socratics, also ineffective.

Be sure to explain to the tiger: That it's not it, it's you. You're not emotionally ready for a relationship right now. You're in a strange place in your life and you need to figure things out on your own. And, although it may be difficult, that you want to negotiate with other tigers.

If you find yourself at an impasse, briefly debate the relativity of truth and hide behind a large rock. This almost always works.

But if all else should fail, shoot it with a blow dart and run. Because the sad truth is, nine times out of ten, you can't negotiate with tigers. They are tricky.

Click here for the audio track of Negotiating with Tigers

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Manhattan Skyline

Yes, that's the Manhattan skyline at sunset (or was it sunrise?) as seen from my bedroom window in Brooklyn. I'm particularly a big fan of the way the American flag waves in the foreground, saluting the nation of New York.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bernard the Typewriter

This is Bernard...

Bernard is a Remington typewriter from the 1950s and we've been hanging out for about two years now. I unfortunately had to retire Nancy (a Remington 666) because she may or may not have been possessed by foreign demons. Can never be too careful, especially with strangely branded curios purchased from shady old Chinese women in basement Brooklyn junkshops. Anyway, bizarre ruminations and superstition aside, Bernard is a heavy son of a bitch, but the machine works like a magic, even though you have to bang away at the keys like a grand piano in order to punch the page right.