June 30, 2005

Hugo the Hippo

Hugo The Hippo - Front lg

My dad wrote the book and the screenplay for "Hugo the Hippo"--a seventies kids’ movie which I haven’t seen in 25 years. My friend in elementary school got my dad to sign the book when he came over to our house for the first time. It was his favorite book. I think it has a small cult following. I just discovered there’s a site devoted to it: Hugothehippo.com.

June 29, 2005

Happy Birthday

It’s my birthday today. 33. June 29, 1972. NYU hospital, New York City.

True story: a girl once said to me, "You were born on June 29? That’s such a nothing day."

"When were you born?" I asked.

"August 3rd," she said.

From "Taxi Driver": "June twenty-ninth. I gotta get in shape. Too much sitting has ruined my body. Too much abuse has gone on for too long. From now on there will be 50 pushups each morning, 50 pullups. There will be no more pills, no more bad food, no more destroyers of my body. From now on will be total organization. Every muscle must be tight."

Hey, and Christ was resurrected when he was 33, right? OK! It’s going to be a good year.

June 27, 2005


On Friday night, my wife and I went to the Cloverfield Press reading and then to drinks afterwards. I had a Jim Beam on the rocks. I don’t think I’ve drunk hard liquor since my daughter was born, almost three years ago (in July). Drinking Jim Beam reminded me of being in New York, going to Ludlow bars, drinking shot after shot of Jim Beam, maybe Jameson, and chasing it with beer. Getting really fucking drunk.

Those days seem long past. I could never be a hardcore drunk because I can’t really drink hard for more than two nights in a row. Maybe it has something to do with my bad kidneys, I don’t know, but I could never be a hard-drinking writer type because my body just shuts down after a couple of days. Still, though, it was very satisfying to get a drink or two with my wife in an L.A. bar.

Our social life has been pretty much nil since we moved to L.A. I think this could change dramatically soon enough, but then I always have felt this. We’ve been here a year and a half and we don’t have many friends. People who we see often and feel we can count on and count on us. Actually, this is part of the reason we came together. We both lean towards being hermits. We bring this out in each other and tend to foster it. It’s been like this everywhere we’ve lived. Not the greatest impulse in the world and we both want to shed it. We’re good for each other in many other ways.

Being parents makes it that much harder. We have had a very hard time meeting conducive people in Los Angeles. The parents at the park are so aggressive and competitive, and sort of hyper-normal. I have a theory that women who wear beige capris and pastel shirts: suck. Sorry if I offended anyone there. They exaggeratedly push their child on the swing, chirping, Wee, Wee! not for the benefit of their kid, but for everyone else, as if to say, "LOOK! I’m a good parent. LOOK! I’m a good parent." My wife recently went into a public restroom at our neighborhood park where two women had their shirts off, comparing their breasts after implants. "Sometimes they sag, but they look so much better than after my baby was born." We feel like aliens in a world of aliens.


Don’t take that the wrong way, we take her to the park all the time, we’re just not always comfortable.

No doubt we’re too judgmental, but we just haven’t connected with anybody. My wife feels very distant from these women. She’s a former stripper and many women might judge that. Somewhere there are stripper friendly, non-competitive parents out there. We just haven’t found them. We also live in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood so many parents we meet are staunchly religious, Bush supporters. On election day, our neighbor asked her husband, "Who are we voting for?" It’s been hard.

So…we went to a literary reading and got a taste of people who like books and such. Had some conversations that didn’t make me want to kill myself afterwards. I’d like some more of it.

June 24, 2005



More about music. I love the Beach Boys’ "Smile." I’ve got "Smiley Smile," the stuff from the "Good Vibrations" box set and "Brian Wilson’s Smile" which was just put out. That’s it though. Empty Drum and I used to religiously listen to a "Smile" bootleg tape which I’ve since lost, or maybe he took it. The people at The Smile Shop could nerd me under the table any day. In their forums, I found a link to someone who made a mix using the sequencing of the new "Smile" using the old recordings. It’s good. I like the old recordings better--they’re more innocent, and so weirder. But they did an amazing job with the Smile remake.

While I’m writing about epic psychedelic records, Ray Davies and Pete Townshend should be slightly murdered for selling their songs to American commercials. Every time I hear "Picture Book" on that commercial for a printer I feel sort of betrayed. Even if the effects are kind of neat. Same goes for "Tommy" and a car commercial. Ann Margaret rolling around in baked beans pouring out of the TV in the "Tommy" movie is a great anti-corporate moment, and the story is about a spiritual awakening. I guess Pete Townshend is trying to resurrect himself after being accused of pedophilia. Hence the use of the song, "I’m Free."

Magazine Man

Read Somewhere on the Masthead.

June 21, 2005

Tom Cruise


A few people have written to me about the Tom Cruise madness going on right now. I doubt there are too many people here who have read my novel:


It’s about a stalker of Tom Cruise. Actually, the first draft was written about Tom Cruise entirely. When the stalker watched a movie, it was "Risky Business" or "Top Gun." People thought that might be taking it too far. I don’t want Tom Cruise dead, I just want certain kinds of celebrity worship to die. So I changed the celebrity to the fictional Tim Griffith with movie titles like "A Kingdom of Trenches" and "The Winning Team."

So the thing with Tom Cruise getting shot with a water pistol is very reminiscent of the novel, when the stalker finally tries to kill Tim Griffith at a premiere. For some reason, I’m not rejoicing in it. Ten years ago I might have thought, serves him right. Today, his whole public meltdown seems kind of pathetic. I actually feel sorry for him. He’s finally being himself--i.e. slightly demented. He’s always been a Scientologist, he’s always dated movie stars. He’s now just being more open about both, and he’s getting shit for it. His handlers have just kept his personality at bay, which is demented in its own right.

Maybe this will be the tide that turns people against Hollywood--finally realizing that movie stars approximate sincerity. And Tom Cruise is the fall guy. Maybe people finally feel betrayed by movies--no one really loves the movies coming out, but everyone goes to see them. Because there isn’t that much else to do. It’s like that line from "Fight Club"--we were all told that we were going to be rock stars and it didn’t happen…we are the Great Depression, etc. Now even the rock stars themselves are losing their sheen.

Maybe. More likely, this negative wave about Tom Cruise is just another way to gossip. This unraveling of Tom Cruise is just the flipside of worship. People still love talking about him, even if cynically. People want to believe in celebrity like they believe in God--it’s comforting to know that there’s someone out there that’s so far above regular life. People have told me that I think Hollywood is more powerful than it is. I think that’s bullshit. Pop culture is a form of religion.

I’ve been thinking about all this a lot because this is exactly what I’ve been working on. The novel I’m currently writing is from the opposite angle of OCG. Instead of a novel about a lowlife on the outside looking in, it’s about a movie star who becomes a lowlife. Sort of. A guy who gets off a little too much on his power as a celebrity--and fears just as much that his celebrity will go away.

Being famous has got to be a very insane way to live--to be that loved as well as scrutinized. But then they foster it by marrying another celebrity. They announce their love on a TV show--that’s the insane thing, not jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch. Celebrity, like plastic surgery, seems like a kind of illness--once you start, you want more, you get off on the buzz and need it again. Everything is a drug. Hell, I get off on the buzz of someone writing a comment on my blog, so I couldn’t imagine what it feels like to be written about everywhere. These are the kinds of things that I’m trying to figure out with this new novel. The Tom Cruise stuff hit at an interesting time. I am fascinated and repulsed by celebrity, though after this I’m done writing about Hollywood. Maybe.

Update: Here's some more Cruising.

June 20, 2005


NBA Finals. That was a good game last night, even if I was rooting for Detroit. They seem like a seventies throwback, especially Ben Wallace's hair. Al Michaels' announcing partner sounds old school as well. I can’t be the first to mention this but Robert Horry has a weirdly pretty face. If you put him in a wig and a dress he would be beautiful. That’s all. Oh, and the Mets suck again, sadly.

June 18, 2005



I’m a pretty big Velvet Underground fan, but I recently discovered that there’s a mysterious final record by the Velvet Underground called Squeeze--put together by Doug Yule without Lou Reed. There are also concert recordings with Nico, John Cale, and Brian Eno that I didn’t know about. I also love Brian Eno’s 70s recordings. Not that I love Nico all that much. But I think I’m not a very good rock history nerd.

June 17, 2005


More about the apocalypse. There was an earthquake yesterday, which makes me not want to talk about the apocalypse in jest whatsoever. Felt like a three-second apocalypse. Very primal and uneasy and, uh, groundless.

Here’s some 9-11 conspiracy theorizing. He kind of loses credibility by talking about planes "allegedly" hitting the towers, but it’s still interesting.

Former Bush Team Member Says WTC Collapse Likely A Controlled Demolition And 'Inside Job'

(via Posthuman Blues)

June 16, 2005

Reverend McKendree Robbins Long


Now, pictures. When I lived in Wilmington, NC, the local art museum had an exhibit of this preacher’s apocalyptic paintings. Insane, eerie--we were alone in the museum. You can’t really get a full sense of the insanity from this small picture. Click the painting: there are a lot of interesting paintings and bios at the Dilettante Press site.

June 15, 2005


The last story I wrote is going to be published by Identity Theory. I’ll post a link when it’s up on the site.

June 14, 2005

Checking In

The revision’s going well. My plan is to get a chapter done a night, which means I’ll probably be done in a month. Very strange to be revisiting this novel which I haven’t read in over a year. It’s an L.A. novel which I wrote in New York and North Carolina, so it’s strange to be rewriting it now that I’m living here. I work on it after the daughter goes to sleep, or at the Beverly Hills library, heart of wealthy L.A., and the novel’s in part about wealth. I always hoped to work on this thing again with an editor, but I’m happy to be my own. It’s fun work to sit down with this novel every night--easier work than writing a novel from scratch but still satisfying because I know it has a purpose. Glad to find that the book doesn’t suck either. It needs to be filled out more than rewritten, for the most part.

Feels great to put my two books side by side. Makes me feel like an actual writer. I felt the same way after I put out my CD. I was feeling down because everyone else was putting out records but me. So I went out and bought a digital 8-track and a CD burner and made it myself. All of 25 people have probably heard the CD, but it doesn’t matter, it’s out there. I feel the same way about this book. It probably won’t get a hell of a lot of readers, but I’m doing something about it, rather than waiting for someone to discover me which may never happen.

So I’m writing this novel about Hollywood while Hollywood goes nuts. I wrote the first draft of this novel the week that Princess Di was killed, chased by paparazzi. This week Michael Jackson gets off and Tom Cruise acts demented in public. Actually, I think he’s just being himself and people are finally realizing that he’s creepy. Saw a preview for "War of the Worlds" (before "Revenge of the Sith" which, amazingly, I liked all right because I wasn’t expecting anything. The last half hour spoke to the kid who had a lot of action figures and the Death Star.) My prediction for "War of the Worlds" is that people are going to call it "unpleasant." Looks like the realism of "Saving Private Ryan" meets "Independence Day": i.e. a realistic apocalypse, watching people die repeatedly. I always thought it was weird that in "Titanic" you watch people die for two hours. People like that for some reason, touches something…I’ve got an interest in this because my next novel is apocalyptic, UFO-inspired. One of these days, I’ll get back to that novel. Now that I know I can publish myself, I’m less daunted about writing a part sci-fi novel which is probably going to confuse people.

That’s where I’m at. I probably won’t be writing any in depth blog posts for a while. Instead, I think I’ll put up pictures or links I find interesting. I don’t want to abandon this place altogether.

June 8, 2005


I got the book, looks good. The images need cleaning up and the inside needs some reformatting, but, man, I have a perfect-bound book for the first time in years. Feels very good. I probably won’t be coming here for a little while. I’m going to go through another revision for however long it takes.

June 2, 2005

Phases and Stages

I haven’t been feeling it here. I’m waiting for phase 2 of this blog to begin, when I try to market a book on my own with very little money. I wrote a post about being a parent in L.A. but I didn’t publish it. It didn’t feel right.

I’ve rearranged the sidebar a little. I put the mp3s up high so people might be more likely to listen to them. I still want people to hear the songs, though I haven’t recorded in a while. My buzzing CD burner makes me less than inspired. I think I’m going to put the money into the novel rather than buy a new burner. I picked up the guitar for the first time in a month and went through the songs for the rock opera I’m writing. I don’t like that term but I don’t know what else to call it. It’s up to around 15 songs now.

I also added a "Good Posts" section in the sidebar, which entailed me going through all of my old posts. Some embarrassing writing in there and it definitely got better as time went on. I’m glad to have a permanent link up to posts like the Seward Park post which I don’t want to fade out. I also put up posts that have a good comment discussion.

Finally, I’ve been distracted by something I can’t yet mention. A lot of traffic is going to come here soon. The older posts are for the new traffickers. Three people here might know what I’m talking about. I wish it was here tomorrow because I need the boost. I’m being cryptic. Soon I will reveal my secret identity.

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