October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween


Happy Anniversary, Samantha. Three years. That’s right, we got married on Halloween. Our daughter was three months old and I said, "You wanna get married today?" We went to the courthouse, filled out our paperwork and got married at the local jail. It was easy to do in a small town like Wilmington, NC. Some insane, rail-thin woman was there to complain about her boyfriend keying her car. Prostitutes were being brought in by the cops. We asked some strangers to be witnesses. We went upstairs to the jail courtyard and we were wed.

One of the women who was acting as a witness gave us her ring to use in the ceremony. She was crying throughout. When it was over she gave us a hundred dollar bill and told us to keep the ring….It was actually a very romantic experience. Weird and fucked up but that’s our style. Both of us thought that getting married was a sort of formality because we already had Olivia. But the ceremony was powerful and spiritual and meaningful. Only drawback is we didn’t have any brown wedding cake.

So Happy Anniversary, Sam. We have some very hard years behind us. Things are looking up. And Happy Halloween.

October 30, 2005

My Space

Is anyone else on MySpace? I set up a MySpace page to force people to listen to my songs. It’s here:

http://www.myspace.com/treeash (plays a song right away).

My brother also has a page. He gave me the idea. You can hear a great song of his here.

October 29, 2005


I’ve added a Govt. section on the sidebar. I go to these sites so often, especially recently, that I should link to them. I wish I could conjure up the energy to write a long post about Fitzgerald, but I don’t have it. David Brooks pisses the shit out of me. Saying that the Democrats are paranoid--Libby wasn’t part of a massive conspiracy leading up to the war, he’s just one man who made a mistake. Really? This kind of negation of the obvious makes me believe more in a conspiracy. Libby was a protégé of Wolfowitz. They covered up information in order to go to war. It’s as if those crimes aren’t indictable as part of Fitzgerald’s investigation, they don’t matter.

Hopefully, the investigation will continue, though I was surprised to hear the Lehrer News Hour pundits all think the investigation is over--by reading Fitzgerald’s body language. Everyone on Daily Kos was reading his body language and saying he’s got a lot more on the administration that he’s not divulging. Sometimes reading Kos can give you a skewed vision of mainstream reality--like leading up to the 2004 election. All that hope sometimes seems like truth.

I’m not a very good at writing about politics. I link to Sullivan, Kos, et al. because they write better about it, and care more about it, than I do. I like Andrew Sullivan because he gives shit to both sides and he gets interesting email. The Daily Kos is sometimes too cliquish, too one-minded--I’ve got your back, Senator Obama! And I don’t know how anyone can write the phrase "Troll Rating" without laughing.

October 27, 2005


Congratulations, White Sox. Screw Barbara Bush.

And Harriet Miers. And Karl Rove.

Book’s about to be released, hopefully next week. It’s all I can think about. I want to start the next wave.

Amusing discussion of ridiculous band names at Metafilter. I never thought Marilyn Manson was such a clever name because there was already Elvis Hitler in the eighties.

I am listening to Sebadoh.

October 24, 2005

Jonathan Lethem

If anyone’s wondering, my daughter’s out of daycare so I don’t have much time in front of the computer--which is probably a good thing. Since she’s turned three, she’s stopped taking her afternoon nap, which was when I was able to work.

In the meantime, here’s some Tree Porn.

And some more tree porn: There was a recent interview with Jonathan Lethem that made me feel like an idiot. I haven’t read Jonathan Lethem yet because…I haven’t gotten around to it yet. He waxed on about Philip Roth and said things like this:

American writing, its roots in Poe, Twain, Melville, and extended through Faulkner and, for gawd’s sake, everyone else—is encompassing, courageous, omnivorous. It gobbles contradiction, keeps its eyes open, engages with the culture at every possible level. But boundaries being crossed make the inhabitants of the increasingly isolated castle of the status quo all the more anxious. If we’re free to use these methods, allowed to talk about everything we know, if we are allowed to describe the world of advertising, the world of capitalism, the world of pop culture, the actual world where the elements described as of high- and low-brow are in a constant inextricable mingling—if we let down our guard, where will our status emblems be? What credentials will we burnish? How will we know we are different from the rabble outside the gates?

Again, it’s sheerly class anxiety that is expressed in these attacks. And, as well, a fundamental discomfort with the creative act, with the innately polymorphous, the innately acquisitive, curious, exuberant and engaged tendencies in the creative act itself.

The interview made me feel stupid--that he could spout like this off the top of his head. As if he’s read every book ever written.

Books I’ve read by Philip Roth:

Goodbye, Columbus
Portnoy’s Complaint
When She Was Good
The Ghost Writer
Sabbath’s Theater
The Professor of Desire
The Plot Against America

Maybe I’m not a complete idiot. Maybe Jonathan Lethem is very practiced at talking this way because he’s had hundreds of interviews and discussions at high-brow cocktail parties. Probably. Now I feel better.

(I found the Lethem interview at the Ash Thomas blog--because I’m a site referral addict. Someone clicked on "Ash" in Technorati, for whatever reason, and I found the blog. I’m sure this interview is on dozens of other litblogs. I also saw it on Mumpsimus.)

October 18, 2005


I’ve been getting more spam-like email from writers. Which is actually kind of flattering. I guess they get my email address from this blog. Someone from the L.A. Times sent me a link to a story. One writer is sending me a review copy of his book--first time for that. Another sent me a link to his book on Amazon. It seems like he’s doing pretty well. His book’s being translated into ten languages and the movie rights were bought by the producer of "Chicago," so I don’t know what he needs with my little 100-hit-a-day blog. He asked, so here it is: The Town that Forgot How to Breathe. The book looks interesting.

I don’t get a lot of strange referrals coming here like Banality Fair. Most of the stuff is on topic. And for some reason I don’t get any hideous porn spam like Okay Kabuki. Mostly I get offers for mortgages, money scams, and Viagra. The weirdest referrals I get are people coming here looking for "Tree porn."

October 17, 2005

TomKat 2

My wife had fun with our digital camera program:

down with xenu


October 16, 2005


I’ve been looking for something to blog and then something drops in my lap. I took my daughter to La Cienega park on Saturday. We were sitting watching a soccer game when a group of paparazzi started swarming around a black SUV. Out came Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes as they made their way to watch the soccer game.

In the novel I’m putting out, I write about a celebrity who is driven fairly insane by the constant attention of the paparazzi and celebrity itself. And it does seem kind of insane. The look in the eyes of the paparazzi as if they're running for their lives to get war footage. Dozens of them poised with their telephoto lenses while Tom Cruise just sits there. Really, I wouldn’t wish that on an enemy. Having your picture taken every time you take a trip to the park. That’s my version of a nightmare. Maybe the paparazzi are waiting for a bird to shit on him or a ball to hit him in the head or something. It takes a kind of psychosis to want to be followed by photographers all the time.


I was glad to see I got something right in the novel. Though I was surprised that the paparazzi were good-looking, both male and female, like aspiring actors. The paparazzi photographer in North of Sunset is more of a loser.

I walked around to the other side of the park. Crazy that I took a picture of Tom Cruise. Here’s what they were after:


The back of Tom Cruise’s and Katie Holmes’ heads. Fascinating.

October 14, 2005

Open Thread

I’m having blog writer’s block. Someone please write an interesting comment.

October 11, 2005



Does anyone know how to use Photoshop and is feeling generous? I’ve been trying to clean up this image…and failing. It needs to be 1704 x 460 pixels and white instead of gray. After obsessing incessantly it still looks crappy.

I think I may go with this one instead:


Not as thematically cool as the one with the sun, but it’ll be easier to clean up. I've been married to the despeckle and blur commands. A little bit late in the game to be dealing with this, but I’m no graphic designer so this is taking me a while.

October 10, 2005


Turns out my grandfather was staunchly in favor of drug legalization. My wife discovered this online:
To the Editor: The article by Dupont and Voth and the editorial by Dr. Musto fail to address the question of crime related to the drug trade, that is, violent acts committed to obtain money for the purchase of drugs. If addicts were given drugs from the huge stores of seized cocaine and heroin and were given sterile syringes and needles, the profit motive would disappear, the crime rate would be reduced, and the rate of transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus and other pathogens by injection would be decreased. Legalization could be aided by appropriate education of younger persons to prevent initial use of drugs.

Rock on, Otto. Weird too because my dad wrote a novel called Paradise County about drug legalization being tested in a small Midwestern town. The novel wasn't published--my father calls this the "Baum curse." Somehow I doubt that my dad and stern Dr. Baum talked too much about drug legalization.

October 9, 2005


Thanks to Brooklyn Copeland for the write up. Nice that she can describe my songs as "sweet." Sometimes I think the problem with my songwriting is that it is overly depressing…I read somewhere that Americans don’t like people who are talented in more than one field. So it looks like I’m stuck being a rock star.

October 7, 2005

Bob Dylan

Finally saw Scorsese’s Bob Dylan documentary last night. Listening to "Live 1966" right now. I found it inspiring…to wanna be a rock star. I don’t think about being successful with my songwriting very often. I’m more obsessed with being a successful writer. An ex-girlfriend once told me that if she had a choice between being a rock star and a fiction star, she would choose rock star. I chose writing star. These are the stupid conversations I sometimes have.

Anyway, now I want to be a rock star, instead of scrounging for my next job and having three people hear my songs at a time.

People have said I look like Bob Dylan. Just look:


That’s me hanging out in an apartment.

The documentary was also somewhat dispiriting, in the sense that it focused a lot on his malaise during the 66 tour--people’s booing and the inane questions at press conferences. It didn’t show the other half--that this was the most creatively explosive time of his life. It had to be fun too. I didn’t realize that he went electric at Newport well after "Like a Rolling Stone" came out. I always figured that it was his electric coming-out party. But really the booing was done out of self-righteousness rather than surprise. My parents were at that show at Newport. They didn’t boo--they’re not the type to care if someone stops playing folk music. They also saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium. Cool.

Another revelation was that Dylan’s drummer was this guy:


He’s been in hundreds of movies playing white trash/rednecks/bikers. I thought Levon Helm was the drummer, along with the rest of The Band. I read a biography of the band once, Across the Great Divide. The main thing I remember about Levon Helm is that he has a gigantic cock. That must mean something.

October 6, 2005

Laguna Beach


My parents took Olivia for a day and a night and my wife and I took a short vacation to Laguna Beach, CA, home of resorts and bad nature art. Walks on the beach. A romantic dinner. A balcony overlooking the ocean. Made believe we were rich people. It was nice.

October 3, 2005

Free Books

Here’s my ploy to win free books:


If you want to be in the running, go here.

October 1, 2005


I got another copy of my novel to go through the final reading. I spent hours fixing the images and the cover looked fine in the "Print Ready" PDF. It still looks screwed up. This is really annoying. I’d love for something to be easy.

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