April 28, 2005

Things I Noticed

I recently plugged my brother’s name into Google along with his first rock band Love Child. These are the things I do sometimes which might creep out my brother. I found an assessment of the band on Mystical Beast, which is an mp3 blog I go to--though for some reason mp3s now open up as a real player file instead of a separate screen: this annoys me. Anyway, Love Child were pure indie-rock, the Velvet Underground that never were, mixed in with Jonathan Richman and other things…she conveniently has Love Child mp3s up so you can hear. I read Kurt Cobain’s journals when they came out--actually my brother bought it for me for Christmas. In it, he had mix tapes he made and Love Child was featured on a couple of them which was pretty fucking cool.

I gotta disagree with the reviewer that they recorded too many songs. The best thing about their record "Okay?" is that it has 20 some songs on it and they’re all different--some with loud guitars, some weird K records cute with female vocals, other frantic love songs by my brother. It is a strange, sloppy, perfect indie rock record.

So listen and learn about Love Child on Mystical Beast.

Leonard Lopate

Something else to listen to, especially for those people who don’t live in New York City. When I lived in NYC, I used to listen to the Leonard Lopate show religiously, every day at 12 noon. He interviews all sorts of hyper-intelligent people--he’s an artist at it. Check the archives. Back then I thought if I’m ever interviewed by Leonard Lopate I’ll have made it as a writer. Still haven’t yet. L.A. public radio sucks miserably, so I still listen to the show, though not as much as I once did. I used to aspire to it like the "New Yorker" which I now realize has nothing to do with me--except to make me jealous. It’s still comforting to hear smart people talk.

April 27, 2005

Show You

I’m not doing much blogging so in the meantime does everyone know about the power of Kikkoman soy sauce? This is a pretty old internet thing but it needs to be seen. I first found out about this at the King of France links page which has a really good collection of links, and not just cause I’m on it.

April 24, 2005


From the library this weekend:

Bruce Jay Friedman- Far From the City of Class
Jean Stafford- The Collected Stories
Peter Taylor- Miss Leonora
R.V. Cassill- Collected Stories

All story collections and all writers who crossed Richard Yates’ life in some way. I can’t actually remember how. I don’t have the headspace right now to work on anything but a short piece. The instant fix of publishing is good too. I need to complete something. I unearthed an old story that I’d abandoned and I’m going to work on it. If I don’t, never come back here.

April 22, 2005



This picture comes from a book of my daughter’s called "Bunnies and their Hobbies." Teaching young children that work is depressing.

My daughter’s out of daycare for Passover break. She goes to a Jewish daycare center, if I haven’t mentioned it, and she comes back singing songs in Hebrew. She knows this whole other language that we can’t understand. Every Friday she comes home with a roll of Challah bread. She loves it there. Every time I turn around there’s another holiday. I can’t blog much while she’s out.

April 20, 2005

Ash Tree

Why do I get dozens of hits every day for "Ash Tree"? Those are just the people who bothered to click on my link. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people are searching for the ash tree every day. It’s a weirdly big world we live in. People search for "Picture of an ash tree," "Ash tree disease," "Ash tree borer," and others. I don’t even want to write these words out because it’ll bring in more people who are going to be sorely disappointed. I should have named this site "Pulitzer prize."

I’ve also gotten many hits for "Tortilla Curtain." I stopped reading it after part one. The Mexican immigrant gets raped, predictably, at the end of the section and I thought I’ve had enough. One disaster after another. My wife has a pet peeve about movies where every thing goes wrong for the characters. Usually this is happens in bad comedies, oftentimes criminals who screw everything up. It’s an amusing pet peeve and I might have adopted it. Tortilla Curtain’s a drama, mostly, but every last thing goes wrong. She finally makes some money, then loses it…

I need to start catering my blog posts using keywords that will bring in people who might actually like my writing--mixed in with some sex searches which really brings them in. Here I go.

Indie rock charles bukowski
Jim Thompson The Killer Inside Me
Fiction pornographer
The Vanity Plate Killer
Philip K. Dick Exegesis
Taxi Driver Travis Bickle Iris
UFO porn
Apocalypse Novel
lo-fi recording
minimalist prose hard-on
Celebrity stalker novel, best
tragic undiscovered genius history
self-important writer
publishing can go to hell

It’s a new kind of poetry. Please help me out. The comments are indexed by Google as well.

April 19, 2005


Amazon has gone nuts. Now you can see stats based on the number of polysyllabic words that are in a book and other information. In the future, this is what all reviews will look like. Apparently, my novel can be read by people with only a fourth grade education. That’s if you want your nine-year-old to go out and start killing people.


Man, I’m glad the comments in the last post are over. Brief, but it made me feel like shit. The first bad blood to happen on this site. I hate actual conflict.

I’ve known a couple of wife beaters in my life. I’m not saying the guy from that post is, but that’s just the direction I’m going. One was a friend of mine who I lived with in Brooklyn and Northampton, Mass. There was a rumor that he had date-raped a girl in college but was falsely accused. I took his side but I wasn’t sure. In Northampton, I fell asleep--probably drunk, I don’t remember--on the couch with his girlfriend. We weren’t anywhere near each other on the couch, but he took this as his opportunity to hit her and break things in the house. I tried to stop it but it was a fucking mess that lasted the entire night. The man’s eyes had gone from blue to black. A real demonic kind of sociopath. I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard he had killed somebody.

Our friendship was fine in the beginning, nice even. We were all writers living in a broken-down Boerum Hill house. It was the house where I wrote my novel Oscar Caliber Gun in a spastic month. He was very charismatic, women loved him, which probably fits the profile. The second guy I knew was my sister-in-law’s husband. Also a manly little-boy demon, charming to everyone else, but possessed by something deeply bad. They’ve since divorced.

This is depressing, why am I writing about this? The last comments got me thinking. I used to be a misogynist myself--not a wife-beater, please, just not all that in favor of women. It’s a really complicated experience to be sexually attracted to someone you don’t like personally. This is the experience of a lot of hard-up guys in their twenties.

Now, I’m the opposite. I once aspired to a Hemingway-esque masculine ideal. I find real men’s lack of emotional awareness sort of brain-damaged. Male aggression is infantile. I used to think bookish intelligence was all that mattered. I’m not saying that women can’t be bookishly intelligent, just that men are more competitive about making it known--like an intellectual bar fight. Women are more interesting to me. Intuition is more interesting to me. There are plenty of awful women out there, just as there are plenty of awful men. But men have been a whole lot worse to this planet than women.

April 18, 2005


Last night I watched "Don’t Say A Word" on TV, with commercials. This morning I unplugged my TV.

April 16, 2005


Things I did last night: watched "Alien vs. Predator." I liked watching the Alien and Predator fight each other.

Also saw Dinosaur Jr. on the talk show that now follows David Letterman. That’s Dinosaur W/ Lou Barlow--the same guy who wrote "The Freed Pig" about J. Mascis, though it’s mainly hard on himself. They seemed sloppy and unrehearsed and maybe like they still hate each other, but I’m probably reading into it.

Weird that I’m so old that a band like Dinosaur Jr. can reform and it seems like the Rolling Stones reforming for another show. Indie rock is the new classic rock. Can't really fault them for getting back together. They can sell out a lot of shows.

Speaking of which, Our Band Could Be Your Life is a great book--about the eighties underground/indie rock scene, mostly about SST: Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Minutemen, etc.


Made me appreciate the bands that I grew up with as an actual phenomenon. I spent most of my time thinking how much better the sixties were, not realizing I was sitting on top of something that was just as vibrant. The chapter on Dinosaur Jr. is the funniest--Lou Barlow phallicly chewing on a pen making J. Mascis nervous. Reading that book kind of opened up my world. I started reassessing a lot music I liked, and looked into new bands, realizing I could be missing something. It even indirectly led me to researching underground subjects like UFOs, magick and so on which are going into my novel.

The writer of Our Band, Michael Azerrad, plays in my friend’s band The King of France. I once recorded drums with the songwriter at a half-built house in Vermont. Our payment for using the house was to dig a ditch for an outhouse. I now appreciate how hard it is to dig a six-foot wide/deep hole in the ground. We had to move the massive, shit-stained outhouse over the hole we had dug. I also got a spider bite which made the back of my head swell up. There were no showers and we had to bathe in a drum full of rainwater. Made some nice recordings though.

April 13, 2005

Review 2

Another review from Splendid E-zine, this time of my novel. Splendid is a good place to get a review if you’re sub-independent.

Not the greatest review. "Boring and confused" comes to mind. But still, better than no mention at all. According to her, I aimed to create the "Sister Carrie of the 21st Century." I guess reviews are designed to make an author sound more important than he is. I’ve never read Sister Carrie. An American Tragedy was all right. I was aiming to create a young adult Lolita.

April 12, 2005


I unearthed this review of my CD, "Living Room." Someone recently did a Google search for "Henry Baum living room," which was flattering that someone’s at all curious about it. Then again, there could be an interior decorator named Henry Baum. I clicked on the link and it led me to this review which I’d forgotten about.

An all right review. Again, I’m just glad that someone took the time to think about it. She says that I sound like Kurt Cobain but I’m "easily amused" which is strange because often I think my lyrics are too depressing. Nice that someone could think otherwise. Though she also says my melodies aren’t memorable. No review is perfect.

You might have noticed that I’m writing a lot more about music lately. It goes back to something I wrote in the last post. It’s much easier and faster for me to complete a song right now than it is an entire chapter. Also, music is an unexplored part of myself--on this blog and in my life. I’ve played drums in other people’s bands most of the time, so songwriting has always been second class. If I had a choice between being a famous writer or a famous songwriter, I’d choose a writer first. Questions like that are pretty useless, but that’s my answer. If I could be a famous songwriter, I’d take that too, of course. Most of the time on this blog I write about books I’ve read, the process of writing. But I spend just as much time playing, listening, and thinking about music. I’m glad to be finally going in this direction because it’s like I’m admitting part of myself.

April 9, 2005

Last Thoughts


Last thoughts on the Richard Yates biography. I’ve written a lot about this book because reading it was seminal to me. Though in truth I’m glad it’s over because it was really kind of depressing.

He was a total homeless-style wreck for most of his life, beginning mainly after he wrote Revolutionary Road. He started taking anti-psychotic drugs right after completing the novel. He washed them down with whiskey. Not so coincidentally, he then has a number of psychotic breaks, he doesn’t complete his second novel for another nine years, and no other novel is ever as good as his first. Not enough is made in the book about how much these pharmaceuticals might have screwed with his mind, especially a mind that was already so unnaturally open and observant. It would be interesting to see an alternate universe where Yates was never prescribed an anti-psychotic and see what would happen. Maybe he’d be just as dysfunctional, or maybe the drugs were the entire root of the problem.

There’s also an irritating thread in the book where Yates complains about every thing in his life. This is perhaps the weak link in his novels as well. Every moment is defined by people’s unspoken weakness, as if they’re always on the edge of a breakdown. Beautifully done, but taxing. His life was plagued by the same kind of pessimism. He gets offered a $50,000 book deal and a teaching job at Columbia and he finds fault in it. Vintage puts out a reissue of three of his books and he complains incessantly that the covers are too surrealistic. It’s partly inspiring to read about someone who so deeply believes in his vision, but for someone who’s struggling to get published, the other part says, get over it.

One of the most dangerous things in this book was reading about Yates’ family life. He was able to write Revolutionary Road and the stories in Eleven Kinds of Loneliness because he basically abandoned his daughters. For the stories, he stayed behind in London, while his family moved back to the States. Throughout his life he lived in depressing one room apartments where he’d lose his mind and write.

Jack Kerouac also abandoned his daughter, which is one of the lower parts of his life story. I could not help making connections with myself. I am not thinking of leaving my wife and daughter, believe me, but these thoughts were fairly inevitable. I wrote a lot in my twenties, all the while mostly alone. I have yet to complete something significant in my thirties. It is really hard to be a family man, have a job, and work on a novel. It’s a new experience and I have yet to figure out how to balance it. Yates sacrificed his family life and his sanity to write his novels. I’m not up for doing that.

April 8, 2005

Catherine Wheel


Third time listening to this in a row now. If you like the Talking Heads at all, this is right on. Actually it’s better, because it’s just David Byrne messing around in the studio. Half instrumentals, half Talking Heads-like songs. Sounds sort of like a cross between "Fear of Music" and "Remain in Light," which makes sense because that’s when it was recorded.

One of my dreams is to write an indie rock version of the Talking Heads’ "Remain in Light." On that record, most of the songs stick with the same music/drum part throughout and the only thing that changes is the vocal line and some Brian Eno noises thrown in. Part of the reason I’m getting down these old songs is so I can be finished with them and work on a rock opera, for lack of anything else to call it, about WW III, basically the same plot as my new novel--inspired in part by records like this one.

Don’t think a novel/soundtrack has been done so often before, which is why I have some hopes for it. There aren’t so many novelist songwriters. Nick Cave is one. I once saw a reading of his in Central Park. During the reading, he told the producer of the festival to fuck off. People cheered. "See," he said, "they hate you and they love me." Asshole.

"Remain in Light" is the eighties "Sgt. Pepper" in my book. The Meat Puppets "Up on the Sun" was another one, but not as much. There’s my first music review on this blog. I think I’ll stop because writing about music kind of creeps me out.

April 6, 2005

Travelling Loose Leaf

Song of the day. I don’t actually care if I get a response to these songs anymore. I’ve been really enjoying putting these songs together. This is a throwaway song when I wrote it, but I like how it turned out, though I turned it into a Pixies song. That’s never stopped Arcade Fire from being strangely hugely popular. Actually I’ve only heard one song from them, but the guitar part was a direct rip-off of the Pixies. Maybe other songs sound different. I’m pretty out of it when it comes to new music.

Travelling Loose Leaf

Streets and dirt roads that rhyme like the groves that are growing nowhere.
Streets and dirt groves that rhyme like the roads that are going nowhere.


Post Office

This past weekend I mailed off a manuscript of "North of Sunset" to a publisher, a copy of The Golden Calf and my CD to a London reviewer, and a novella I wrote awhile back about a guy getting released from prison to the Bullfight Book Prize. Walking to the post office with all that stuff in hand made me feel like maybe I’m not such a terrible fuck-up.

I come from a family that puts some emphasis on monetary success as being the barometer of actual success. My father has a very writerly story about becoming a writer. I don’t: I just happened to be the son of a writer. My grandfather--Otto Sigmund Baum, is there a more serious name?--is a stern, German doctor and he always pushed becoming a doctor on his son. My dad made it through a year of medical school all the time wanting to be a writer. He actually dropped out of medical school without telling Dr. Baum and instead wrote his first novel.

Since then, he’s sort of had it out to prove to his father that he could make a living as a writer. Which he has, incredibly. Some of this feeling has transferred to me. It’s probably the root of much of my ambition, and why it hurts to not make good on it. I should feel better about sending off 4 things I completed.

My dad put out a novel around the same time I did and we did some readings together in NYC. We also did a joint interview on a New Jersey local TV show which I’ve never seen and is probably pretty excruciating. My father’s now finishing up a novel and he’s daunted about sending the book out. It’s a horribly uneasy feeling to have your future in someone else’s hands. He worked at NBC in the sixties writing ad copy, sort of like what I’m doing now for money. He wrote for Playboy, I wrote for Hustler. We have a lot of strange similarities, then and now.

Last night, I picked up Max Barry’s Jennifer Government . I put it down quickly because it reads like young adult fiction. I also come from a family of critics. I could hear my family reviewing the book as I read. One of these days I’ll get them out of my head, but probably not.

April 4, 2005

Opening Day

The Mets played their first game today. Yes, I care about this. And of course it led to another soul-crushing loss--a blown save, walk-off home run, Pedro Martinez doesn’t get the win, etc. The Mets have really sucked in the last couple of years, which can be dispiriting if your life isn’t going so well. It’s been almost cosmic--nothing has gone their way. At the same time I’ve been struggling the most I ever have. It’s ridiculous to equate the two, but when you’re unemployed or struggling with a novel it’s nice to not see failure when you turn on a game. Which doesn’t mean I’ll stop following it. There’s always hope for tomorrow which is the nice thing about baseball.

  © Blogger template 'Morning Drink' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008 / An SEO Wordsmith Production

Back to TOP