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Writing About Places Where I Write Aug. 9th, 2011 @ 11:00 am

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

Last week, I contributed an essay to the excellent “Write Place, Write Time” series of, well, short essays about where writers do their thing.

I’m going to need to sketch out a shared history for the three primary main characters — including former bandmates, families, classmates — as well as a small town near the Pennsylvania border in northwestern New Jersey. I keep a Moleskin notebook around, but more recently I picked up a half-dozen Field Notes notebooks so that I could keep things project-specific.

You can read the whole thing right here. The whole site is well worth your time as well…


Bringing the Cognitive Dissonance Thunder Aug. 9th, 2011 @ 09:00 am

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

Here is Buffalo Tom’s video for “Summer.”

Here is Carl Wilson writing about 90s nostalgia for the New York Times.

Go to town, everybody.


Western PA Jul. 6th, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

I’ll be making my way to Western Pennsylvania tomorrow, boarding a bus at 6:50 in the morning, reading material in tow, bound for Pittsburgh (and elsewhere). Returning to New York come Monday night, hopefully with many a story to tell.


New fiction: “Winter Montage, Hoboken Station” Jun. 21st, 2011 @ 09:20 am

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

The fine people at Storychord have published my short story “Winter Montage, Hoboken Station.” You can read it here.

Here’s a short excerpt:

Transit always reminds me of transit. The light rail that runs along the Hudson calls back every trip I’ve ever taken to the Twin Cities — if the cars used on each line aren’t the same make, they have to be siblings or kissing cousins or flat-out doppelgängers. Minneapolis makes me think of winter, makes me think of long walks through the same snowbanks that petrify my clients out here. I spent four years there, punctuated by repetition: every six to eight weeks, I would take the light rail from riverside neighborhoods to the airport, would step out into the airport’s cavernous station, and would take flight. I almost always returned at night, and sitting at that station, half a dozen standing in random concentrations along the platform, might as well have been heraldry for that time in my life.

More on how this story came to be will appear in this space before long.


Secret Audio Doppelgangers: Pierce/Martsch Dept. May. 24th, 2011 @ 09:00 am

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

Am I crazy here, or is The Gun Club’s “My Dreams”:

an unlikely yet eerily similar sonic ancestor to Built to Spill’s “Goin’ Against Your Mind”?

Other entries
» On “The Avian Gospels”

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

A man named Adam Novy wrote a novel, published in two volumes, called The Avian Gospels. I reviewed it for Word Riot, and you can read that review here.

Here’s a bit of it:

On the one hand, The Avian Gospels meets many of the criteria of dystopian science fiction: an ambiguous and shattered city, ruled by a dictator; the involvement of the paranormal — here, the ability of a father and son to psychically control the flocks of birds that have gathered around said city. (At times, The Avian Gospels would make an interesting double bill with Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking books.) At the same time, Novy sprinkles references throughout the novel that suggest a more self-aware level beyond the revolutions, denunciations, and abuses on display. There are specific references to the unlikely trifecta of James Ellroy, William Faulkner, and Oulipo; more generally, some of Novy’s use of specific words seems intentionally disjointed, recalling the rewritten syntax of Ben Marcus’s The Age of Wire and String.

And here’s what the two books look like:


And here’s a link to a conversation that Jason Diamond had with Mr. Novy for Vol.1.

» New fiction: “An Apolitical Song”

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

A while ago, I took part in a day-long at-home writing session to benefit Dzanc Books. The story that began its life then — a riff on Brooklyn winters, isolation, and the notion of “fake jazz” — ended up becoming something called “An Apolitical Song.” And now the fine people at Metazen have chosen to publish it. Here’s an excerpt:

My current state: false starts and lyrics sitting half-written in notebooks. Seated at a table looking at fresh-made coffee. Watching steam ascend into late-morning light and thinking it looks like nothing more than smoke rising from a newly kindled fire. All I want to do is collapse around the phrase fake jazz, half-obsessed after a late-night remembrance of a long-ago late-night ramble about John Lurie. Thinking: I’m going to call this my fake fake jazz band, thinking that might blow minds, thinking that’ll leave holes in the world and realign things, wanting to see how people react, wanting to hear them run the combinations through their heads, wanting to see what their eyes do when they think. My fake fake jazz band.

You can read the rest here.

» Kinsellaology

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

Word has come that Tim Kinsella — of many fine bands, including Joan of Arc, Owls, Cap’n Jazz, and Make Believe (pictured below) — has a novel forthcoming on the fine indie press featherproof.

SXSW2008 | Make Believe @ BD Riley's

I ended up writing a short blurb about this for Vol.1. What I wasn’t able to work in there was a link to this short story of mine that appeared on THE2NDHAND a couple of years ago. Called “Party Able Model,” it was written for a night of stories inspired by songs that was held in Chicago a few years ago. Given that Kinsella’s music has inspired fiction, it seems only fitting that he himself should also be working in that realm.

» At the Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

2011-05-15_14-32-47_657So: I spent my Sunday afternoon at the Astor Center, taking a class as part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. This was my first time attending, and I didn’t entirely know what to expect: would it simply be an overview of cocktail-related lore, or something more hands-on?

The event I attended was — as the photograph above suggests — a look at assorted bars and clubs across nearly seventy years of film. Nora Maynard covered a series of films, ranging from Laura to Almost Famous, with four cocktails to be consumed over the course of the afternoon. (Two came pre-made; two were assembled in the space.) It was a very enjoyable way to spend ninety minutes, and it reminded me that I really, really need to watch Hannah and Her Sisters.

After the course, we headed into the main space, in which assorted spirits companies had bars set up at which cocktails could be made. It was there that I tried the drink pictured below, made with vodka, grapefruit and lemon juice, and topped with freshly-ground salt and pepper. Which was not something I’d have previously thought to put into a drink, but which worked remarkably well.


» Signs of an Aging Hardcore Kid

Originally published at the scowl. You can comment here or there.

Every time I take the E or M train to Court Square to transfer to the G, I see this sign.


And every time I see this sign, I want to write “Welcoming Committee” right below it.

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