November 3, 2006


It’s kind of sad though, stopping this thing. It’s been a pretty big part of my life for over two years. A lot has happened, but now I need the change. I feel like people have stopped being as interested since I got an agent. It’s like this blog was about a guy who was hard-up and suddenly got married; it lost its purpose. The blog was used to buoy the spirits of a writer who wasn’t as successful as he wanted, and a major issue was answered. That’s how I see it—it was around then that people stopped reading like they had been. Strangely, right when the blog became less important to me.

I feel like there’s some final thing I need to write down before the blog’s complete—like finishing a novel. But my life’s always unfolding, so there will always be something to put down here. Just don’t know if I will. I’ll still post reviews and whatever seems really important. I still like posting music here. But everyday blogs, I don’t know. I need to cut the umbilical cord.

When John Coltrane stopped doing dope—I think around 1960—his playing started getting far more piercing and soul searching. He wasn’t medicating the pain away, instead he used music to medicate it. Blogging is heroin. A quick fix of writing and response. All the energy I expend here should probably be put into my novel.

For all I know, I’ve written that thing about Coltrane before. It’s a pretty good lesson. That’s another reason I need to stop writing here. I think I’m repeating myself. Maybe everything from this phase of my life has been said, in one way or another. I think I’m going to write private journals now, a place I can be far more honest. I feel like I’ve done blogging. It’s liberating. To not have the obligation. Who knows, maybe I just need a new template.

November 2, 2006


I’ve been thinking about something mentioned in the Daniel Pinchbeck interview linked a few posts ago. As I mentioned in my Cesar Torres interview, Pinchbeck’s my favorite writer. He takes the most chances, even if he doesn’t write fiction (though I’m sure many find his POV fiction). I’ve been reading some bad blood about him lately, not sure why. Maybe that’s what happens when you get successful—jealousy and judgment.

Him and the interviewers talk about how we’ve got a skewed value system in America. How money is the main barometer of a thing’s worth. I’ve done the same thing in my life. I should be prouder about what I’ve accomplished, but I have very little money to show for it. I was also thinking about housewives, how taking care of children is not considered real work, even by some feminists. What’s better—a woman who takes care of children, or a woman who gets an executive position for a plastics manufacturer that pollutes the environment. There’s a lot more that goes into a value system than money. Same goes for a husband, the breadwinner, who works a mostly pointless job—as many jobs are mostly pointless, except to keep the economy going. Do there really need to be 50 different brands of paint? Not really. So the man goes out, brings in money working a pointless job, the homemaker stays home taking care of the kids. Who’s more important?

I saw March of the Penguins the other night. Depressed me, mostly because I was already depressed. Life is hard. Those animals suffer so hard to raise their kids. That’s what life is about—creation, either procreation or creating something else. Forcing women into subservience is one thing, but there should be no problem with taking care of children. Perhaps reading Natalia Antonova’s blog has got me thinking about feminism.

Today a Jackson Pollack painting sold for 140 million dollars, which is really fucking retarded, an insult to anyone who’s starving. Our value system makes no sense.

Another part of the value system: a blog is only as good as the number of comments. Though there’s actually is some truth to that because a blog should be a conversation, not a monologue. This blog peaked a while back, as most blogs seem to. I used the blog to help me believe in myself as a writer again, after too much rejection. I don’t need that as much anymore, especially now that I’m writing more consistently. I was always writing, but not how I have been recently. Maybe people can sense that.

In another Viking Youth Power Hour show, they talk about the singularity—when technology overtakes us in both a negative and positive way, the tech apocalypse. It’s already happening. I may not have any cyber implants, but this computer is as part of me as my brain. Information that I’ve discovered online, people I’ve met, have altered the trajectory of my life. I write on the computer, I published a book on the computer. I am part robot. In a positive way, for the most part, because I’ve learned a lot.

Blogging is tied up in this. To take a PK Dick line of thought: blogging is a form of schizophrenia, a separate, independent personality, an approximation of me, but still a part of me. A blog has less distance than fiction, even if the fiction is autobiographical. Something about there being a three-dimensional object of a book and paper, rather than residing within the strange mind of the Internet. Cybernetic again, part of my mind is trapped online, in robot form. A negative spin, because part of my personality has also really grown online. All in all, it’s a pretty heavy relationship, especially to someone who takes writing ultra (too) seriously. Makes me want to stop it. Again.

November 1, 2006

2 Reviews

So North of Sunset got its first bad Amazon review, from someone who liked Oscar Caliber Gun. I’m not totally surprised, but it’s still a bummer. I figured this would happen with some people who read OCG and liked the hard-boiled, angry narrator which is not as present in NoS. I think more people will like NoS than OCG, actually, it’s broader, but those who like OCG seem to believe in it more. If you read NoS and liked it, feel free to leave a comment on Amazon (now available) and tell him how wrong he is.

Matthew Selznick, author of Brave Men Run, writes up the book. Mostly very nice, but says the first third is too slow. Another thing I was anticipating being criticized. Spends some time setting up the characters. I justify it by saying it’s like a Hollywood movie, where in the first ten minutes people get to speak dialogue outside the lines of the plot, and after the plot starts rolling it’s all they think about.

The new novel’s getting even further away from hard-boiled noir writing. I don’t feel like going back there. Closer to Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus trilogy and PK Dick’s Valis novels. If I do it right. Different sorts of readers read that than crime fiction. I just ordered up RA Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati, which I haven’t read. Found a copy of Caleb Carr’s Killing Time and Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon the other day for two dollars. That’s where my head’s at.



We had an excellent Halloween. Went to Angelino Heights, a collection of old Victorian houses in L.A., beautiful and haunted-seeming even when it’s not Halloween. Most everybody decks out their houses like crazy, dresses up, even does performances. Hundreds of kids. Liv loved it, made both of us very proud.

Speaking of Halloween, yesterday’s flap with John Kerry made me want to hurt somebody. Politicians are evil and awful people. They are children, bullies with power. Kerry messed up a joke and it was seized on to help elect a party that is responsible for hundreds of thousands dead. Fuck John McCain, a weakened shell. Really, anyone who votes Republican deserves what they’re going to get—to watch the earth fade. Not that Democrats are going to save the planet, but the more stupid America becomes, the more selfish and thoughtless, the more they vote Republican.

Personally, I’d like to see John Kerry get the nod in 2008. Hillary Clinton? Of course not. I think she’s put out there to make the Democrats look clueless. Reminds me of 2004 when the Repubs said they feared Dick Gephardt, which sounded like opposite-speak. They actually wanted Gephardt because he’s such an unmanly politician in these regressively manly times. John Edwards? A too-nice boy with no experience. Wesley Clarke? Belongs only on TV. It’ll probably be McCain or Giuliani, which, honestly, would be preferable to what we’ve got.

Note: The President of the U.S. is a character in the novel I’m writing. The world in 2020. I’ve been watching the election closely. I don’t have great hopes that the Dems are going to win on Tuesday, despite the polling. People this awful find a way to stay in power. Just look at 2004.

Rant over. Feel bad? Look at that picture of my girl. There is still goodness out there.

October 31, 2006


Happy Halloween. Mess with my picture.

And Happy Anniversary, Samantha. 4 years.

October 30, 2006


Do I want to blog? Hmmn, not really. Had a sour weekend. Went to a couple of parties where I didn’t have a relaxing conversation. I could go off on that more, but I won’t. I really need to connect to people in this city. I shouldn’t pity it, I’ve been a very serious loner since I was 16, rather be home alone writing songs or fiction than failing to have a conversation. Now that I’m married with a kid, I have to rewire myself.

My daughter yesterday went to a princess party. The other month, my brother gave me a couple of princess coloring books, given to him by a friend who doesn’t want his daughter exposed to any princess imagery. Thought it was silly at the time. Though you open the book and there’s the Barbie princess admiring herself in a mirror. Still, I don’t think this is eating my daughter’s soul. She’s too pure for that. Yesterday, though, was something else. A true piece of L.A. decadence. All the girls made up Jon Benet style. Still, again, she had a great time. I wouldn’t take that away from her.

Last week went through a very fortuitous bout of unemployment. Think I mentioned that my job’s been going through a transition period. Got an encouraging email that the transition is almost over. In that time, I’ve been able to work on my novel full time, which is a kind of fantasy. Got 30 or so pages done on it—encouraging because I thought I’d lost some of the energy for it, having to pour so much energy into paying work. But I still want to write this book, and have been. Felt like dying for a second there, not having work coming in, but I was able to get good work done.

I did a numerology assessment on It said don’t worry about money in 2006, work on yourself. Everything’s going to come together in 2007. I believe every word. I have to.

Been going on a bender for this record:

monk coltrane

It’s like going to the record store in 58 and picking up the latest Monk/Coltrane record, hearing this record that no one's heard for fifty years. A lot more intimate than I thought it was going to be—thought Carnegie Hall would sound cavernous. Not so. Listening to Monk and Coltrane is like listening to fictional characters.

I’ve also been listening to this a lot, got it from the library:

lou reed

Great live Transformer-era show. Personally, the last era of his I can listen to. Worth it for the version of “Waiting for my man.” In the recent MLB playoffs, they played the song, I think when a relief pitcher was coming in—about waiting for his dope dealer. I think some intern was having some fun.

Another time I was watching football and they showed highlights with the song “Perfect Day”:

Just a perfect day
You make me forget myself
I thought I was someone else
Someone good

Sports just don’t get irony.

My daughter just went to sleep singing loud, "Satellite of Love, Bam Bam Bam, Satellite of Love!" She rules. I don't think the princesses have gotten to her.

October 27, 2006

Viking Youth

New favorite thing: The Viking Youth Power Hour. Like the people I wish I knew talking about things like this and this and this.

October 25, 2006

Pinchbeck & Rushkoff

Getting these two guys together could only be interesting. Doesn’t disappoint. Watch parts 2-4 here.

October 20, 2006


The reading went very well last night. I read a section from my novel, which was good for me, to see that people could like it--this book I’ve been writing privately for some time and probably won’t be seen in full for a long time more. My story on Cloverfield Press, Gentleman Reptile, is the first chapter of my new novel. It’s about a father discovering his daughter doing porn on the Internet. The piece I read last night is the continuation—when the father goes out looking for the guy who made the video. People seemed like it, they laughed. Which is strange, in a way, because I’m not ever writing thinking, This is funny. And the section is about a pretty fucked-up situation, with some bumbling weirdness as the father tries to deal with what his daughter has done. It’s heartening to know people could like it, especially as I’ve been getting more and more momentum with the book.

I almost didn’t read the piece because my daughter was in the audience. Had my story “Camera Shy” as a backup. Felt strange reading it with her there, even if the writing went well over her head. She’s a writer’s daughter, there will be much more stuff like this in her life. I’m very glad I chose to read it. Laurence Dumortier, the writer before me, used the word “Fuck” in her story and that freed me up. Reading the other story would have been a cop-out.

The small triumph made the Mets’ loss go down a whole lot easier. I brought a walkman so I could hear the game. I was huddled every once in a while trying to get a glimpse of the game and I thought, Why bother, this is what I do when I’ve got nothing else to do. Seemed silly to be obsessing at the reading. I was able to catch the last inning on the drive home. Truth be told, I’m glad to not have to obsess for another four to seven games, watching hours of television. Sort of hard to tell my daughter she can’t watch TV and turn around and watch TV myself. This postseason has been nicely diverting, but exhausting.

The Mets just got beat. It wasn’t a tragic mistake of a loss. Bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, their slugger up, they couldn’t get the hit. Wasn’t meant to be. I can live with it.

Thanks to Christopher Meeks, author of The Middle Aged Man and the Sea, for what he has to say about North of Sunset in his newsletter (under “A Colleague”).

October 19, 2006

Game 7

So I have a reading tonight and it’s game 7 of the NLCS. GAME 7. Years of obsessing about the Mets comes down to this. May be better because it would be too depressing to see them lose. But if you see me huddled over a radio tonight, that’s why.

I’m thinking of reading something out of the new novel. Never read it out loud. But I’ve got to step up to the plate, it’s do or die time, win or go home, I control my own destiny, I’m still very much alive, I have to remember what got me here, in the playoffs anything can happen, etc. (via Sports cliché.com)

Someone who’s had a hard time of it at readings is Frank Daniels. Read his book tour diary here and here.

Don’t understand tours so much. Been on one book tour in my life, a couple rock tours. The book tour was better because the headliner, John Hall, had a following. The rock tours were mostly a case of driving four hours to play for eight people who wouldn’t remember you the next day. I think the internet’s changed all that. More people will probably read this than I would ever meet on a book tour. I’m talking touring a self-published book or a book on a micro press. A major has got to be different. I’ve only toured with writers on small presses and bands on indie labels.

October 17, 2006


Because my life is basically uninteresting, I thought I’d write about some records, maybe books, that have meant a lot to me. When I lived somewhere overseas, I was good friends with a guy who had studied to be a concert pianist. I’d never spent any time with people who lived and breathed classical music. I’d never listened to it much, it was my dad’s music. My friend got me into it, to understand it. A mentor to me in many ways. A Neal Cassady type, energetic, masculine ideal, always smoking hash. He, by the way, translated my first novel into French.

I asked him for his top ten pieces/performances and I got them. When I got back to NY I spent a lot of time at the 42nd street library, checking out music. The first classical music record I discovered on my own, the first one I wasn’t told was good, is a piano quintet by Dvorak, played by the Alban Berg quartet.


I have other recordings by the Alban Berg quartet which I put on often, nicely modern and dissonant for older stuff—the kind of thing I didn’t know before I hit 25: (a) Schubert quintet, and Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge. I put on the Dvorak every once in a while. There’s something about that first record I discovered myself—found that I liked classical music sincerely and not because I was supposed to.

The equivalent jazz record is John Coltrane’s Coltrane.


I might have written about it before. (new theory: they say novelists write the same novel over and over again. I think bloggers write the same post over and over again. At least I do.) I’d always liked Coltrane, but I didn’t reach much far beyond Giant Steps. My French friend was also a jazz freak, a real prototypical beatnik, smoking hash, listening to jazz. Taught me about jazz too. All while playing backgammon, pretty competitively—something I just taught my wife to do, been enjoying the game again. Where was I…I found Coltrane’s Coltrane, again on my own, and then went nuts for everything Coltrane recorded. Still, it’s that first record that feels more like a friend.

When I was a kid, there was a bathroom stall in this supermarket where we used to go. Every time I’d go to the bathroom, I’d pick this stall, the last stall, in this dimly lit, beige bathroom that seemed like it was never visited. “How you doing?” I’d whisper warmly to the stall, as if we knew each other. I may have made more relationships with things than people in my life.

October 16, 2006


So I had a pretty terrible week last week. Wanna hear about it? My employer’s going through a transition, moving offices to a new place, so there hasn’t been a lot of copywriting work coming in. Driving me half crazy. I was down, really down. Meanwhile, my novel’s presumably going out to editors right now. One acceptance could change/save my life, which is good/bad because it makes me obsess about the thing that could save me. A lot of pressure to make the dream real. Screaming Led Zeppelin’s “Your Time is Gonna Come” to the ceiling. Not really, but I loved that song when I was 13.

Sitting with my wife the other day, my girl off with my parents, so my wife and I could brood and talk things over. I said to her, imagine if I did get that book deal, and we’ll have the comfort to look back on this as the lean years. It’s possible. But I’ve had this hope many times before. At least it’s a possibility, though, I’ve got that. My book’s out there. I hope it happens. To actually be able to afford things. Other people can do it, why can’t we? If I made something like five figures it would help us out a lot. That’s not asking a lot for 15 years of work. Of course, I’d like more, so I could work on my novel without suffering waiting for new work to come in.

In the wake of not getting enough copywriting work, I wrote a story about all this: a screenwriter waiting for the big sale, fighting with his wife. Half the story is the screenplay he’s been writing, a private investigator fighting with his wife. Don’t know where I want to send this. Screenplay formatting won’t work in a web magazine, harder to get published otherwise, especially a story like this one, more personal than I usually get, one writer’s ego, and I’m not famous yet to warrant it. But I justified the stupid money suffering of last week by writing a story.

Good thing that happened though is my wife got sick over the weekend. No, really, it was good. I was a crank last week, with my daughter, with everyone. My wife out for the count, I spent Saturday and Sunday with O. Went to the library, the mall, the park, Sunday went to my parents, the park. Good quality time that was well-needed. She appreciated it, hugged me big before going to school this morning, really sweet.

At the library found this book:

L.A. Exile

There was a display of novels and collections about L.A. and Hollywood. Of course, I thought, the fuck am I not up there? The book’s not great. The pieces are about people who have lived and written here, rather than fiction directly about the city. Like the excerpt from Cain’s Double Indemnity is about insurance, not L.A. Nice pictures of places people lived when they wrote here. Didn’t know Brecht lived here, during WW II. A piece by Stravinsky’s assistant describing a breakfast at the Farmer’s Market with Stravinsky, Christopher Isherwood, and Aldous Huxley. I mean, what the fuck? Are Martin Scorsese, Bruce Wagner, and Steve Reich having tea at the Grove? Anyway, nice to read about a culture of writing in this city, the way it’s been regarded by other writers. Sometimes this city can feel dead. L.A. is like somebody who’s rambling on, only occasionally making interesting points, but still weirdly driven.

Also got a few Thelonious Monk CD’s. Been going crazy for Monk. Beautiful dissonance, ugly beauty. Bought the Coltrane/Monk at Carnegie Hall CD which I have yet to hear and couldn’t find otherwise. A decent price, don’t have a lot of money to burn, but I needed this one.

What else: saw Little Miss Sunshine last night. It was OK. Entertaining. Seems like the movie equivalent of Mcsweeney’s writing. Nice and intelligent, but there’s never any fear that problems have any weight. Even when somebody dies. It’s comforting, but hardly truthful. I know this is a farce, but I liked Flirting with Disaster more—more insane, less trivializing people’s problems. Another one, The Royal Tennenbaums I hated. Rings false, unreal. The tradeoff is a movie like The Squid and the Whale where people are miserable 100% of the time. There’s got to be a medium. Opinions.

Finally, Fucking A, New York Mets. I was depressed after that game two loss. Thought they needed it. After game three felt it was over. Their starting rotation is in threads. But they’re back in it.

October 10, 2006

Cloverfield Reading

This is a week off but...


October 6, 2006

Torres Interview

There’s an interview with me at Cesar Torres’ blog, conducted last spring. Thanks to Cesar for putting this together. He’d email me a question, I’d respond, he’d email me back another question. Most times, I’ve gotten the questions all at once. I’m in a slightly different place since then, gotten an agent. Might be less bitter today.

October 5, 2006


So I’ve been going through a bit of a self-apocalypse lately. Meanwhile I’m working on this rock opera thing and thinking about more than writing (recently) a novel about the apocalypse. Point of an apocalypse is that something better is supposed to come of it. This song is after the disaster has settled and they’re happy to survive (“We’ll drink to life and light”). Personally, I’ve been in a better place myself. Pinpointed some of the stuff I need to deal with and I’m not taking some important things for granted.

I think I’m about done recording like this, or I’d like to be. Last weekend I went to a friend mine’s house. He writes music for commercials, stuff you’ve probably seen, the Verizon wireless commercials and others. He does all his stuff on computer. There’s so much he can do, and do flawlessly. Strings sections, horn sections, anything he wants. I’ve avoided thinking about recording on the computer because it seemed too cold. I like the feel of an actual recording instrument. This is what I’ve been using:


Hugely limited. The computer stuff he showed me seemed pretty tactile. But setting up on the computer would cost a fair amount of money, which I don’t have. So that’s out for now. I’ll record like this, more raw, more of a demo, but I’ve been enjoying it:

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October 4, 2006


foot massage

I just bought this for myself because my right foot keeps getting hurt. A couple of years ago I worked on a movie set. 100-degree valley heat carrying stuff up steep hills, and I was pretty fucking tense to be working on a movie set. Recently, I played tennis with my brother and it got mangled again. I went boogie boarding and it got mangled. I walked around the L.A. County Fair and it got mangled. Either that or I’ve got gout. Something about my feet. All fun things to do but it’s like my feet are telling me I’m not a Southern California person. I think I might have a blown Achilles tendon. I should, you know, go to the doctor but maybe this will help.

I also got this to soothe the aggravation about all the NY Mets injuries as they play their first playoff game today. Go Mets. They’re playing L.A., my town. Everything I do goes against this place.

October 2, 2006

RA Wilson

Robert Anton Wilson needs money. Via Douglas Rushkoff’s blog:

I hope people I've inspired with my work would band together to help me out in my later years if I needed it. Which is at least part of the reason why I'm sending what I can to support cosmic thinking patriarch Robert Anton Wilson, whose infirmity and depleted finances have put him in the precarious position of not being able to meet next month's rent….

Any donations can be made to Bob directly to the Paypal account
You can also send a check payable to Robert Anton Wilson to
Dennis Berry c/o Futique Trust
P.O. Box 3561
Santa Cruz, CA 95063.

In an Amazon list I wrote that Cosmic Trigger is a manual on how to be open-minded. Any book by RA Wilson will rewire your mind. A writer like him shouldn’t have financial problems, ever.

October 1, 2006



While I'm at it. Another review copy waiting for me: The Sound of Meat by Randall Radic. He needs to start blogging again.

September 30, 2006


allen ginsberg

Received this in the mail yesterday. I haven’t received too many review copies in my time, but I’m really excited about this one. Seems synchronicitous given where my head’s been. This wasn’t a man who was afraid to be open. It might just teach me something. I’ll write about it again when I’ve read it.

September 29, 2006

Dear World/Come on, Peace

I finished something. Another layering of guitar song, for the rock opera/concept record. Dark, but then the end of the world is dark. Two songs together, with some Soufjan Stevens-style cultish singing at the end.

Two ways to hear it:

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Dear World/Come on, Peace

To Blog

More epiphanies last night. A lot, strangely, had to do with this blog. My ego’s really tied up in it. In a way it’s a lot easier to work on a novel or story. With a blog you’re writing and then posting it five minutes later. With a novel, you live with it for a long time. By the time you get to 150, you might change page 5. You get used to what you’re expressing. With an article or story, you might have an editor who takes some of the blame if the story’s not well-received. With a blog, it’s just me against the world. A lot of the time I think, what the fuck did I just write? I think way too much about what other people think, these strangers whose faces I’ve never even seen.

I’ve written as much here before. I’ve stopped the blog because I thought I invested too much energy in it. I think because I have a number of cyber relationships with people, that I’m conversing with the world through this blog, I’m less inspired to meet real live people. I have this tether to the computer. It takes away from the time and energy I have to work on fiction. It takes way more of my will to write this blog than it should.

There’s also a lot that I can’t write about, personal stuff and so I end up writing these philosophical posts trying to seem impressive. Man, I hated this blog last night. I was trying to reconcile how much of my ego goes into this blog and fiction. Buddhist thought talks about separating from the ego and I’ve always wondered how this is reconciled with artists who are 100% ego, trying to create something that makes their ego unique—even if we’re all connected. I don’t really have an answer.

I’d love to write about my wife who’s one of the best bloggers out there, but she writes some stuff that she doesn’t want everyone reading. We’ve been through some really hard times in the past few years and I’ve written about almost none of it. Maybe this could be like a political or litblog, writing about stuff out in the world without getting too personal. But that’s not really my style.

Even this entry makes me nervous. This is better suited to a personal journal. I mean, shit, do I really want to be that naked? I counter it by saying people aren’t that invested—they’ll read a couple of paragraphs, maybe, and then move on. But I’m invested, so that’s what matters. Sometime in my distant past made me continually judge the shit out of myself. I’m not sure what it was.

I was in Paris listening to John Coltrane with a friend of mine. It was a 1965 concert with Eric Dolphy, when he got a lot more dissonant. My friend said to me, “No one should be that naked,” and turned it off. I thought, immediately, that was wrong, even though this guy was a mentor, taught me a lot about music, what it is to be a writer. To create anything you do have to be that naked, you have to get down to everything. Then I think I’m trying to prove something again—show people, here’s a guy who lived in Paris, who listens to Coltrane, who writes, ain’t he grand? I need to own what I know along with my opinions.

I doubt I’ll kill the blog. I never do. If writing comes from someplace honest, it doesn’t exactly matter what’s expressed. Or if someone doesn’t like it. So that’s what this entry’s about.

The Forge of God

forge of god

I was going to write a bad review of the book, but then I thought what’s the point. I enjoyed it, it went fast, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. The reviews on the back say things like it has a “depth of characterization” rare for a science fiction novel. Just writing, “He had a bad childhood. He never got along with his father” (not actually in the book) does not make depth of characterization. Really, this is a page turner like other page turners—very good at doing that but it doesn’t uncover anything about people that you haven’t read before.

The story is about an alien civilization that comes to destroy the human race, with another alien race trying to save it. Meanwhile, the President is losing his mind and thinks it’s the Book of Revelations come to life. Exactly up my alley and I feared for a second that it’s already the novel I want to write. It covers some similar territory, but it stays on the President’s insanity for around 20 pages and then drops it.

Bestseller writing gets too cheap for me. There’s this part in Richard Price’s Freedomland, another thinking man’s bestseller, where they’re looking for a dead kid and they have to go by an abandoned mental hospital overrun with howling stray cats. Pretty chilling and suspenseful but also cheap. At every turn, even if the character’s just getting milk out of the refrigerator, you’re wondering, “Oh no, is there going to be any milk in the refrigerator???” Makes you turn the page, every second is suspenseful. Which is good and makes you keep reading but it counters the “depth of characterization” by creating a world of suspense that does not actually exist. It has nothing to do with how people interact with each other.

Still, calls bullshit all those arguments about what makes “good” literature. This isn’t good literature as people talk about it but it’s still useful, a good read, and it’s much more intelligent than a lot of science fiction out there. I’ve read some bad books about UFOs. I have two more end of the world books coming my way: Alas, Babylon and Earth Abides.

Philip K. Dick never wrote such an obvious page-turner, and he’s basically the only science fiction writer who’s books I keep reading. I’ve also been reading the Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick. He talks a lot about characterization—bringing it to science fiction. The man was a genius. I don’t mean to speak hyperbole, he was. People who can’t read his science fiction—they can’t read about precogs, life on other planets, hovering satellites, and the like without glazing over—might get him if they read this book. It’s like a manifesto for science fiction. I’m halfway through—haven’t gotten to his Exegesis passages.

Amazing that at the time of A Scanner Darkly being released, he was broke. His electricity had been shut off the week before. At the same time, he was supporting himself entirely by writing novels, so he had that going for him. Here’s a brief interview with him. Haven’t seen much footage of him. I have yet to see the movie, but I want to as soon as it comes to DVD.

September 28, 2006

Brave Men Run

I’ve been in touch with Matt Selznick and we traded books. I finished Brave Men Run last night.

brave men run

A great read, a real page turner. This is not an insult: it should be a TV show or movie. That’s been leveled at North of Sunset once or twice. People say they like it but also say, “I kept thinking: movie” which is sort of like saying it’s not weighty enough to be a novel. But…I thought the same thing when reading BMR: geeks with superpowers, how superpowers set some people apart from others, would make a good movie or TV show. It reads at that kind of pace. It should get bought by a young adult publisher, but that might be insulting too. Shouldn’t be a problem, they teach Catcher in the Rye in high school. This book could be a bestseller.


At Posthuman Blues, Mac Tonnies links to a provocative You Tube interview with Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. I started this as a comment and then started going off…I like what he says about atheism not being able to be proven. Atheism is really another kind of fundamentalism. Agnosticism is healthier. Really, his point of view is dogmatic—as is every point of view. Until he’s tried every psychedelic or set foot on Jupiter, or died, he can’t have a complete idea of the nature of God. He’s after truth, he wants people to believe in the “real world.” What on earth is the “real world”? I wish people didn’t believe in myths as truth either, but the alternative—science is the only truth—is equally one-dimensional. This is an old argument. The “real world” of science as we know it today is not truth—it’s grounded in perceivable, provable reality, but it is only half the story. Human senses can only perceive so much. More scientific principles are being discovered all the time, meaning today’s truth is tomorrow’s myth. All that said, this world would be a hell of a lot healthier without the belief in God that many people currently hold.

Like most people who are against God he equates God and religion and they’re separate. Because religion is so backwards (see last post) God doesn’t exist. Because stories in the Bible (Noah’s flood, Moses floating upstream as a baby) have occurred in older Mesopotamian texts, it may discount the Bible’s accuracy, but it still speaks of a mythic archetype—there’s some reason, beyond plagiarism, why these specific myths are repeated. It is curious—and scary—that so many religions mention Armageddon, having been developed completely independently. It speaks of Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy—all myths and religions are describing the same thing, in a myriad of different ways, but they’re getting at a fundamental truth. Science isn’t the only answer—it’s one part of the equation. As it stands, science is another type of religion—something people believe in too absolutely. Basically, Dawkins is a materialist who thinks everything originates in the brain, it’s all chemistry. Maybe he’d feel differently if he took some DMT. I haven’t, but damn it sounds interesting.

In other news, I haven’t written about politics in a while. Isn’t Bush an unpopular President? Would it be so hard for Democrats to oppose the torture amendment? It will not make them look weak on terrorism. This makes them look weak to fight anything. People hate Bush and what he’s doing. The Intelligence community is against him. Generals are against him. The U.N. is against him. But he still gets his bill for people with “bad ideas” to be detained indefinitely with no proof. Fuck the political process. It’s run by half people. I recently quoted this to someone who’s pro-right in the face of terrorism--from The Sun Also Rises, also the epigraph to Bright Lights, Big City. It describes what’s going on in this country:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

The cover of the book gives new meaning to that epigraph.

bright lights

September 27, 2006


If you didn’t think religion was weird enough—today I found a flier on the sidewalk on my walk to pick up my daughter with the words, “Repentance and charity can be better accomplished by using money instead of a slaughtered chicken.” I live in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Here’s what the flier is referring to: slaughtering chickens for Yom Kippur:

While many modern Jews consider the practice barbaric, some Jewish communities in eastern Europe and abroad observe the ritual of kapparot. A chicken is slain by a rabbi, then the owner of the chicken takes it by the legs and swings it around over his head, while reciting a prayer to God that all his sins during the year be transferred to the chicken.

Guided by Voices

watch me jumpstart

I saw this last night. Inspired me to want to pick up the guitar again. He’s written 5000 songs. I’ve written maybe a tenth of that. I haven’t turned on my recorder in two months. I need to finish my songs. Maybe if I advertise it here I’ll hold myself to it.

I saw GBV in Paris once and they sort of bugged me. Screaming to the audience, “Stella Artois is some good fucking beer!” Robert Pollard spinning his microphone like Robert Plant, living the rockstar dream. This was after Mag Earwig came out, not my favorite record. Too big and Foo-fighters sounding. Same thing live maybe. They lose their boombox charm. He’s a real outsider songwriter—living in Dayton, surrounded by people who don’t seem to give one shit about indie rock. Which means he’s authentic as they come, even with the British accent. Somehow all those songs come out of him. Some people just get hit with involuntary talent.

September 26, 2006

Book Reviews

I figured I’d group my book reviews together so they don’t get lost to the archives.

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland

Demons by John Shirley

A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates by Blake Bailey

Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessen Boyle

Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick by Frederic Raphael

Chronicles by Bob Dylan

Digging the Vein/Hating Olivia by Tony O’Neill/by Mark SaFranko

Dope by Sara Gran

Wrecking Crew by John Albert

futureproof by N. Frank Daniels

Beautiful Blemish by Kevin Sampsell

Mop Men by Alan Emmins

Prisoner of X by Allan MacDonell

2012 by Daniel Pinchbeck

The Woman Chaser by Charles Willeford

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

X Prisoners

More Prisoners of X.

September 25, 2006


I smoked pot for the first time in like ten years last night. It was fun! I’ve had a weird attitude towards pot. When I was fifteen I smoked a whole lot of it. My best friend’s mom let us smoke pot in the house. We smoked with her. An intimidating, burnt-out old hippie woman. My friend eventually lost it after a bad acid trip. He saw coyotes in Temescal Canyon—they must have told him to lose his mind.

It was, overall, a bad experience smoking pot in those days. I wasn’t enough of a bronze, Southern California surfer hippie to be comfortable in that scene. Too pale and neurotic. At the tail end of it, my friend said to me, raining, on the balcony, “You know, I’m anti-semitic...Oh, I guess that would bother you.” I just wasn’t one of them. Pretty sad and formative. I discovered punk rock soon after and declared myself straight edge.

Cut to around ten years later. Hanging out with my friend in Boston. I knew him in Minneapolis, we lived in the same house, played music together, worked at the same restaurant. He’s a character in my first novel, Dishwasher. He’d become a total pot-head, painted a marijuana leaf on the back of his jacket. Irony was dead in him. “What have you been doing with yourself the past couple of years?” I asked. “I don’t remember,” he replied. We recorded some songs—I played drums and he sang and played songs I wrote. I had just started writing songs, wasn’t comfortable singing on my own. We also took mushrooms, but he started lecturing me about revolution and it got boring.

In his apartment, him and his roommates passed around the bong. J. took a big hit and sucked out all the smoke. “That’s a beautiful hit,” his friend said. The bong came to me. I sucked up barely any of it. They looked embarrassed and kind of annoyed. I failed. I smoked too much pot and was literally convulsing.

Since then, I’ve stayed away from it. It seems to call attention to all the terrible stuff between people, in yourself—all the doubt, all the awkward moments. I realized last night I’ve never smoked pot with people who sincerely like or get me. My wife does. I still felt some of the self-doubt, but it wasn’t so bad—more instructive. I said to myself, yes, you fuck up, everybody does, just do better. I didn’t spend all of my time brooding about my problems, but given my history with smoking pot, this was a major leap forward.

I’ve been reading the book, Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves by Clifford Pickover. In the book there’s a Terence McKenna quote which says something like: too much artificial light is curbing people’s imaginations. Which means I've got to get away from the computer. This is what I thought last night: TV and computer screens are causing people to see in two-dimensions, only the immediate world around them. This is how it is for me. I spend so much time repressing regrettable things from my life that I repress other people’s concerns as well. Last night, I saw in three dimensions, saw life from other people’s eyes. This is just pot, mind you, not LSD or something else. But I took it to heart.

Part of me wanted to write down what I was thinking while I was stoned, and I did write some stuff down, but mostly I just wanted to BE, something I don’t do a whole lot. I’m glad I don’t fear this stuff anymore. Realized how uptight and unhappy I’ve been and seemed for a long while, running away and not relaxing. Weird thing is despite my bad experiences smoking pot, it turns out I’ve got a lot of hippie in me.

Here’s one thing I wrote down, really amusing at the time. I was ripped:

The bullet-soaked serpent in even water
takes a break in the waves


Tired of that last entry being up there. Don’t have time to write something new, but I’ve got a lot to write. Here’s something happier. This weekend we went to the L.A. County Fair where Olivia rode her first roller coaster:


September 22, 2006

End of the Week

On another too-absolutist post by Noah Cicero, an anonymous person wrote a comment leading to a great Ukelele treatment of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I love your drive Noah, but saying untrue stuff just to get a rile out of people is not the way to go. Tao Lin does the same thing, facetious to me. Every woman who’s beat by her man wants it. No. And even if she does out of devout self-hatred, it doesn’t excuse him, even if he's had a terrible life. But that’s obvious.

Reminds me of that song by Smog, “Every girl I’ve ever loved has wanted to be hit. Every girl I’ve ever loved has left me cause I wouldn’t do it.” I remember a story where a guy went onstage and hit Bill Callahan during the song in a fever of political correctness. The song’s got more empathy than the Cicero comment.

I wrote this is in a letter to someone about my previous Cicero post: “He's the real thing. But then some other ideas creep in there. That's what gets to me: someone who's got so much and fucks around with it, gets sloppy. I think there's some jealousy in there too. I wish I still had some of the angry young man I had when I was 25. Since I hit 30 and had a kid, I just can't afford to be that way anymore, and it's really no way to live an entire life. But, ah, the good old days.”

I wrote a comment on the ULA post which could be its own post. It’s been an interesting week of blogging.

Rock Stars

1966. John Lennon hates Bob Dylan.

September 21, 2006

Elliot Smith

Recently I went through an Elliot Smith phase. I came late to him. I had records but didn’t play them a lot. I need things to age. He aged too much. A girl said to me, “Elliot Smith killed himself? That’s so nineties!” I wanted to smack her.

I did a reading with him way back, I’m pretty sure. During my book tour in 1997 we went to a college town that was having some sort of festival. I read at the same place he played, just him and a guitar. I saw him afterwards, him and a girl looking sullen and proud. At least I think it happened. It could’ve been a dream, but I almost swear.

One of the things I don’t like so much about Elliot Smith is the sterility of the playing. The session musicians are too good, they need a little Ringo sloppiness. They sound like they're playing for him, not with him. But he plays all that guitar stuff himself. He was a great guitar player:

Same song, with a band:

Want Milk

I found a YouTube of the band I lived with when I lived in Minneapolis, Walt Mink. I’ve written about it here. Might sound too muddled to someone who’s never heard it. Me, I can follow everything. I’ve seen this band dozens of times and heard the song more. But you can tell they’re monsters at what they do. Cool to see this stuff again.

(found at Walt Mink the Movie)

September 20, 2006

Tao Cicero

Tao Lin annoys me. There’s no good reason to attack someone like Tao Lin, a writer who doesn’t sell a huge number of books, doesn’t have a lot of power, and so on, but…he annoys me. Noah Cicero does sometimes as well, but for different reasons.

There’s a controversy at Reader of Depressing Books. Tao’s been banned from Pindeldyboz for submitting a previously published story. Here’s something in the comment section:

"I run a literary magazine with the single and simple intention of giving talented writers like yourself a forum to present your work to the masses--"

if that was true you would not care about 'first serial rights'

by publishing a story you will increase its readership by a certain amount no matter if it was previously published or not

so there is something else involved, probably that you want to have a 'good' online literary magazine that people will think is 'good' and by extension will think that you are 'good' and will then 'respect' you and the people associated with your magazine.

I get what he’s saying. If the small online lit press was really interested in the story being read, he’d let it be published a 100 places. But he wants “respect” and to be a “good” magazine. And after all—this is a big Taoist thought—respect is an abstract concept. My response, so what. So what the man wants to have a well-respected literary magazine. It may not be about promoting the writing in the way Tao would like, but the litmag is an artistic project—he wants the project to be unique. I think Tao is disingenuous in saying that he does not care about concepts of respect and being good. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t blog, he wouldn’t write, he wouldn’t be happy about being published by Melville house. He’s an opportunist like anyone who wants his unique vision to be respected. If he says he doesn’t care, it’s a fiction.

Noah Cicero says something that also gets under my skin in another provocative post on his blog. He writes: “No one likes John Updike and no one likes classic guitar. it is cool to hear some classic guitar every once and awhile, but to actually like it. Well, it is like violin players, they are just people that want to be construed as intelligent.”

This is bullshit. As if anyone who likes “high brow” stuff does not do it sincerely, only to be self-important. Not true, Noah. He continually derides fiction for being for educated people—like Rick Moody—and then says how Nausea, Dostoyevsky, Mailer are good. Man, those are read primarily by educated people. And there’s nothing wrong with educated people, nothing wrong with books not about people destroying themselves. Basically, Noah Cicero writes too many absolutes.

Thing is, I like both these writers, especially Noah, I like how they give the finger to how things are run. But they’re also nihilists. But half-nihilists. Saying nothing matters on the one hand and espousing good literature on the other. I think they’re both young writers who are going to be around for a very long time who haven’t completely figured out what they’re trying to say. Both of them seem to talk out of both sides of their mouths, which is what gets under my skin—which is really the point of good writing, to get a rise, but there’s something here that irritates me. They’re both bold and honest, much more than most other writing I see out there, but they're also misdirected.

September 19, 2006

The Mets

Congratulations to the New York Mets, National League East champions. I’ve spent too much time following baseball, especially this perpetually disappointing team. But baseball’s a good distraction from all the shit in the world. Wait, that sounds like a backhanded compliment. I was making fun of my wife the other day who sometimes has to couch things with cynicism, like saying, “Wow, it’s such a beautiful day today…not like most days that suck like hell.”

But I feel like guilty about following something so money-drenched and mostly-stupid as baseball. Even though I like it. In a correspondence with Daniel Pinchbeck he lamented all the “Weapons of Mass Distraction” that tear people away from important things. He’s right. Doesn’t stop me.

There’s something scary about the cheers in this video when the final out is recorded:

(via Metsblog)

September 18, 2006


A couple things: Tony O’Neill, author of Digging the Vein, is going to be on the radio tomorrow night. Here:

The Riot Lit Collective is online. I was once part of this. Now I’m not. Long story. Check it out:

Site: Riot Lit


Had a nicely literate weekend. On Saturday, I took my daughter to the library. Read her some books, got her some books. They were having a book sale on the second floor, everything 50% off. I hadn’t been to any kind of used book store for a long time. I’ve been getting my books from the library, my dad’s library, or used off Amazon. I got a nice copy of Swann’s Way, Remember to Remember by Henry Miller, The Forge of God, by Greg Bear (for 10 cents), some others.

I used to live at used bookstore in NY. East Village Books, don’t know if its still there. The Strand. That one by the Angelica. Nice to go to a used bookstore again, especially in an unliterate place like L.A. I've written half a story about a guy who buys a book at a used bookstore, finds an address of the previous owner written inside, goes to find her, turns out she’s a psychic. Then I don’t know what. I should finish it. The woman’s based on a freaky lady who lived in my apt. building in NY.

On Sunday, we all went to the West Hollywood Book Fair. Much better than I was anticipating. Tents upon tents set up—L.A. based lit presses and bookstores, authors hocking stuff, panel discussions, sort of hyper-serious but still interesting. Talked to Allan MacDonell, the Prisoner of X. Saw Mark Danielewski talk about historical fiction. Missed Whitley Strieber talk about vampires. The face-lifted nightmare from America’s Top Model. Insanely energetic kids’ singers and dancers. Liv loved it all. Got a free copy of Richard Grayson put out by Red Hen Press. A very nice time. Some people read and write books here.

My story, “Camera Shy,” is going to be in an anthology put out by Another Very happy to finally have a home for the story. I like the way they do things. Free for download, pay what you can for the printed version. They put out a great book that I read a few months ago and should have written about earlier.

click cover

Mind-opening like reading a book about the new physics. It’s harder to do with fiction and Young pulls it off.

September 15, 2006


Interesting discussion going on at the blog of King Wenclas of the Underground Literary Alliance. People are up in arms that Rick Moody wrote the introduction to a book on Soft Skull, because he’s not underground enough. Instead it was suggested that Thurston Moore or Henry Rollins should write the intro. Hardly underground figures anymore. Rollins in Black Flag: "Swimming in the mainstream is such a lame, lame dream." Broke that promise a long time ago. And Rick Moody? Really that bad? I have one book of his, couldn't finish it. But of all the enemies in the world, Rick Moody is not high on my list. I had a book on Soft Skull. They wouldn’t accept another unless it could be guaranteed to sell 3000 copies. Impossible for me. Soft Skull needs to sell books. Everyone loses integrity when money’s involved. Everyone.

Yes, it’s terrible that media monopolies have taken over publishers. I’m a victim of it. And yes, places like McSweeney’s seem filled with fabulously beautiful and intelligent people who go to parties you’re not invited to—and all write the same. But I still don’t see writing or publishing as dead. If--as Noah Cicero stated recently (can’t find it)--you shouldn't get published by a big house b/c they're run by an evil corporate entity, you might as well quit your job and stop paying taxes. We live in an evil corporate entity.

Me, I'd rather be read than have indie credibility. I have all the indie credibility I need having put out the book myself. Tony O’Neill said it was punk rock of me to get into Entertainment Weekly, even though the book attacks celebrity. I’ll take that. I guess I’m uptight about this because I do want to belong to the mainstream. I don’t give a shit if Rick Moody writes the intro to a Soft Skull book, or writes a quote on the back of my book. I write books attacking the mainstream—celebrity culture, so far—but I also want to be on a major press. I want to be in Barnes & Noble, etc. That doesn’t make me a sell out, unless I change the nature of my writing. But then, the nature of my writing maybe doesn’t need to be changed. My writing is inspired by mainstream sources—50s pulp crime novels, science fiction. Richard Yates is mainstream. Kerouac is mainstream. Etc. Though Chapman makes this good comment:

The shelf of permanent great stuff is at least 50% full of books by outsiders. people who worked alone, without support, for years, for decades, without having first gone to the cocktail parties to get the material help of the then-current power brokers. people like faulkner, joyce, melville, beckett, agee, blake, dickinson, kerouac, lautremont, burroughs, rimbaud, on and on.

Still, this could turn into a rigid view of what is underground writing and what is mainstream. As if something has to be experimental to be sufficiently underground. Writing just needs to be a pure expression of the writer—wherever it’s published. There’s crap in the mainstream, crap underground. This whole thing feels like another type of conspiracy theory: just because Rick Moody’s words touched a Soft Skull book, it means underground writing is dead and gone—it’s all part of a media conglomerate. I don't see that. This feels like an intellectual exercise.

I don’t know—talk to me in a couple months when my book has been read and rejected. Right now, I’m hopeful. So far everything I wanted to happen with the book has happened. It’s killed some of my cynicism.

September 12, 2006

Own Opinions

My wife says I should own my opinions more, and she’s probably right. “Fuckin A, I believe in UFOs.” “Fuckin A 9-11 is suspicious.” I’ve mentioned before that I come from a family of skeptics. Even at 34 years old, they influence my thoughts. Every opinion—about a movie, and especially as something as deep as this—I feel them there, wondering how they’ll react to it. It’s no wonder I believe in conspiracies, I’ve got a strange conspiracy of voices running in my head.

But I also want to be measured about these topics—especially 9-11, where people are grieving. Not that I’m a spokesman for anything, but it’s still important to put it in reasonable terms. It’s the reason I love Daniel Pinchbeck’s writing. He goes far into outerspace, or innerspace, but he also tackles entheogens with a fair amount of sobriety. Alex Jones—head conspiracy theorist of the moment--loses a lot of credibility standing on streetcorners, screaming into a bullhorn, “9-11 was an inside job!” Even if he’s right. Might speak to 18-20 year olds, but he needs to reach people older than that, people who have actual power, and skeptics who never, for a second, would believe in these things.

That said, Terrorstorm is worth watching. As is another movie: The Death of John O’Neill, an interesting depiction of what it feels like when this sort of information overtakes you.

I love Google video, by the way, as might be obvious. It’s the best thing to hit the internet since the internet. Words are one thing, but nothing will spread information faster and more convincingly than images. It almost makes me think it’s why the internet was invented.

Press for Truth

Another good documentary about 9-11: 9-11: Press for Truth. It’s more sober, methodical, and so more convincing. It’s not about controlled demolition, tower 7, and the like—it’s about omissions in the 9-11 report and the lack of wide coverage in the mainstream media—with mainstream sources, making it much more credible to skeptics than a speculative documentary like “Loose Change.” It’s important. Watch it.

Sheds new light on a news story from May—The U.S. gave sophisticated arms equipment to Pakistan. At the time, I thought, What? and moved on. They’re currently in a near-nuclear struggle with India. We gave arms to India as well. Our allies today are our enemies tomorrow. We supported bin Laden 20 years ago in Afghanistan. This is not fun stuff, but it must be looked at.

I was fairly careful with my post yesterday. I’m trying to reach skeptics, not believers. The same goes for anything I write about UFOs, alternative energy, psychedelics, and so on. It’s probably not wise to write about 9-11 and UFOs in the same post, because I’ll sound like a quack, but the way to approach each subject is the same: with an open mind. I say over and over, the implications are too important to ignore these issues. What’s reported in the mainstream media has nothing to do with the amount of information that’s available—by reported, I mean investigated, not dropped a day later. It’s likely easier for people to be open about 9-11 because everyone lived through it—though it’s harder too because it’s about 3000 dead, not lights in the sky.

Interestingly, on Kos this morning there’s a diary that brings up the 9-11 truth movement and other stuff usually relegated to conspiracy sites and it wasn’t automatically attacked: Appeasing the Nazis - Bush family history.

September 11, 2006


Maybe not the best day to post this. But I’ve been avoiding posting it for weeks. Possibly because I’m a coward. For a long time I avoided 9-11 conspiracy theories. I’m open-minded but it’s just too depressing to believe to be true, so I avoided it. Recently, I started looking into it. There’s a lot of convincing information put together by credible people--enough that it shouldn’t be thrown out immediately. If people don’t want to believe this, it's understandable. But accepting anything unquestioningly, especially from this administration, doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t have a problem with people not believing in fringe ideas—just not investigating them, not even entertaining the possibility. The implications of this are too huge to write off. If you read up on it and still aren’t convinced, then fine. At least you’ve done some work. 911 Blogger is an epicenter. At the very least watch Loose Change. In a recent interview with the filmmaker, he said, “We know there are errors in the documentary, and we've actually left them in there so that people discredit us and do the research for themselves.” Which is completely fucking retarded. But there’s still enough in there that will make you think. Sites like 911 aren’t much more conclusive—their debunking has as many questions as the conspiracy theory.

The Pentagon video shows just a flash of light, no plane. The collapse of building 7 is the other big one. No building had ever collapsed due to fire. These are enough to consider alternate theories. Major strikes against: people who are capable of planning 9-11 are also capable of planting WMDs in Iraq. They had to bend over backwards to prove their case for the War in Iraq. It would have been easier if the hijackers were Iraqi instead of Saudi. I am not 100% convinced—of anything. But it has to be debated.

The left’s attitude towards this topic is puzzling. The Daily Kos FAQs include this:

DailyKos accepts that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by agents of Al-Qaeda. It is forbidden to write diaries that:
1. refer to claims that American, British, Israeli, or any government assisted in the attacks
2. refer to claims that the airplanes that crashed into the WTC and Pentagon were not the cause of the damage to those buildings or their subsequent collapse
Authoring or recommending these diaries may result in banning from Daily Kos.

At Kos, there is no end to the vitriol spewed against George Bush—calling him a war criminal, and more. For instance: “This amounts to cold-blooded mass murder willfully committed in the name of politics by men so beneath the standards of civilization as to constitute a whole new species of soulless sub-creature.” George Bush is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in Iraq. He has ruined a country. The Iraq War is a conspiracy, based on false pretenses, planned before 9-11. Bush was negligent during Katrina. Yet, somehow, planning 9-11 is beneath him. The political left is accepting a story put forth by the right wing. It’s a strange disconnect.

I understand why Kos censors 9-11 truth talk. Kos is a politician. He can’t be aligned with the fringe or he won’t be taken seriously. Still, the censorship is wrong. Especially when combined with his censorship about election fraud in 2004. Veers off into being mysterious.

I watched the French fireman documentary last night. I had never seen it before. I didn’t want to hear the sound of people crashing to the ground. The Proby says, towards the end, it’s not just how you respond to the tragedy, it’s how you interpret it. I was in NY on 9-11. Saw the first plane struggling in the sky, heard the boom, saw the second plane hit, had to go uptown to Penn station to pick up my girlfriend, now wife, in the last free cab in New York. I picked her up, terrified Penn station would be hit. We could only get a cab downtown as far as Gramercy Park. From uptown, it looked like our neighborhood—Chinatown—was buried in smoke and rubble. Maybe an overreaction, but I left S. and ran downtown to our apartment, thinking our dog could be suffocating. Got there, she was OK. Called my parents who hadn’t heard from me in hours and didn’t know where I was. We stayed uptown with my parents’ friend. The smell reached far uptown. People don’t talk about it much but that night there was a huge rainstorm—booming thunder which kept me up all night, thinking it was another explosion. But it was like the sky was putting out the fires, washing away the dust.

The day broke something open in me. After that, I got very interested in fringe subjects. Not that I wasn’t before, but not nearly to the same degree. Someone said to me recently that the 9-11 truth movement is a coping mechanism. Possibly, and especially if it’s true.

The topic is slowly coming into the mainstream. Something like 35% of people don’t believe the official story. That’s a lot of people. This a day to remember how powerfully awful it was, but I had to get this out of me.

September 8, 2006

Zero Point

On the free energy front, here’s a documentary about zero point energy. Has a lot of inventor speak that went over my head, but still interesting. Why is it we live in a world where world-saving ideas and inventions are suppressed? Tesla’s laboratory was burned down—doesn’t seem like an accident. Someone like Bill Gates should be funding these projects—health care and education are important, but saving the planet might be more so. The documentary’s two hours long—I watched it all, because I am a nerd.

By the way, I have gout. Not the worst-of-it kind, or I wouldn’t be able to write, but a pain. I recently got some detox tea, which detoxed everything into my toe. This is how my body works. I haven’t been really bad off since I lived in New York. Back then, I was stupid and didn’t know any better and kept eating things that would hurt me more. Can’t eat meat. Easy enough, but you also can’t eat soy, beans, grains, mushrooms, spinach, and a lot of other things. Sad trips shuffling to the pharmacy, three inches at a time, to get some medication. A 25-year-old shouldn’t have to use a cane.

Now I have to make the painful walk to pick up my daughter at preschool. Not so bad, really, I can make it, and this preschool is a great place. She’s been coming home with new artwork, stories to tell. It’s like she’s going to kindergarten a year early. She was confined by her last daycare place, just as we were. We didn’t realize just how much.

I don’t know why I haven’t written more about her. Getting that agent has freed me up a bit. I used to be more obsessed about establishing myself, and this blog was part of it. A little less intense about that now. They booed the paparazzi at the screening of “The Queen.” Someone should publish North of Sunset.

Speaking of children, here’s some weirdness from the Prisoner of X camp.

September 7, 2006

Young Man

More Neil Young, younger. Man, his guitar sounds good. And he hits Cobain-esque notes. Wish I could. Always figured Linda Ronstadt or someone else sang those parts. This is rock godlike. Been playing it over and over. Play it.


Holy Jesus, weirdest William Burroughs footage ever made. Possibly the weirdest thing on Youtube. Not safe for home.

Bonus: Neil Young and Devo playing “Hey Hey, My My.” Why do these things happen, and why haven’t I seen them before?

More Left

Why the intellectual left annoys me almost as much as the idiot right. (I’m two months late on this, but whatever: I wrote this and never posted it.) In the July Harper’s, there’s a review of the new Timothy Leary biography. The review ends like this:

One of the reasons America hates the sixties may be because so many of its performance artists, like Jerry Rubin and Hunter Thompson, were such tiresome clowns, showing off instead of hunkering down. About Leary another drunk, Jack Kerouac, is quoted here, with maybe the smartest thing he ever said: “Coach Leary, walking on water wasn’t built in a day.”

Is it me or does this read like it could have been written by Bill Bennet? Read that again and imagine it in the National Review.

I do think Leary fucked up. Consciousness-exploring is important but he made it look like a circus. Made LSD look like a game to be played, a fad, rather than something that should be explored—soberly and intelligently—like Huxley did. It did the same thing that tabloids have done for UFOs—made it seem ridiculous. Still, Leary is not worthless.

Luc Sante’s take isn’t much better: “In part because of Leary, however, ideals and delusions were encouraged to interbreed, their living progeny being avid consumerism and toothless dissent.”

He whittles down all of Leary’s ideas to that of “delusion.” I don’t mean to defend Leary so much as this kind of thinking—that reaching beyond what we can see, however flawed the process, is fruitless in the face of rational thinking. If anything, I think this kind of thinking will inspire consumerism: why look any deeper, there’s nothing there. Consumerism has less to do with the failure of the sixties and more to do with the anesthetizing influence of television. But that’s a whole other discussion.

Leary was a major ego but you have to respect his drive. You don’t just look at someone’s actions, but their will. Have we had anyone who touches that in American culture in years? John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Warhol, Jim Morrison, MLK, JFK, etc. That’s why people might hate the sixties. Because we suck compared to it. We’re still living in the era of Nixon, yet without the dissent. That’s not a result of the sixties, that’s a result of there not being enough Learys in our culture.

In a sort of similar vein, there was a recent article on a possible free energy discovery in Ireland. I thought, cool. I went to Daily Kos, which I’ve been doing too much of lately, and found this post:

World Saved! Pigs Fly! Film at 11.

No, the sum of these claims is a collapse of physics as we know it and a complete overturning of the world order. Unfortunately, the sum - and the parts - are also completely unbelievable.

Reads like it could have been written by an oil company executive. Nothing to see here, move on. I like the Shaw quote put forth by the Ireland company: ”All great truths begin as blasphemies.” It’s fairly retarded to claim something like this to be impossible. There’s no limit to what we don’t know. We could channel energy from the ninth dimension, who knows? Liberal, rational thinking is a way to preserve the status quo. Basically, everyone’s too conservative, just in different ways.


Thanks to Notorious Radio for featuring me on their podcast, the song “Kill are We.” Click here to hear it:


Here’s their Myspace page.

September 6, 2006

Angie's Delight

Dammit, I’m late in posting this. The director who optioned The Golden Calf has a short playing at the L.A. International Short Film Festival tonight. Started ten minutes ago. Don’t miss it. Click on the ad to see it streamed online. It’s good.

Arc Light

Really Back

My girl’s at her first day of preschool today. I hope posts like the last one don’t show that I’m only frustrated by her. Not so at all. Read some Grace Paley or something. Frustration comes with parenting. People who don’t have kids, or who are pregnant, might not get that—I know, I was there. She’s beautiful, smart, good-hearted, talented, everything you could want. Just hard to do my job and take care of her at the same time. Love this new preschool she’s going to. And my wife’s taking her in the morning. For the past two years, I’ve been taking O. to daycare. Now I’ll be picking her up at 4. Small changes mean a lot. Means I’ll be able to hit writing ground running after my first cup of coffee, which is when I work best.

Bought strings for my guitar this weekend. I’ve been missing the low E for two months. That’s not right. At the music store—West L.A. Music where I spent a lot of teenage time—I played drums for the first time in 4 years. An electronic drum set, sounded just fine—a Zeppelin setting, Ringo setting, techno setting. I want that drum set. My dream: a house or apartment with an office, backyard, pets, a studio with a 16 track and electronic drum set in the office, healthier food, a vacation now and again, more time to write. Not a crazy expensive dream.

My dad’s working on something—he’s a writer, you know—that touches on Ufology, except he has no respect for the subject. I probably shouldn’t write that because he reads this and it will be worth a phone call. But if I’m ever going to get rolling with this blog again, I’ve got to write about the stuff that’s happening. Always discouraging talking to my family about the subject. It’s not that people don’t believe, it’s that they don’t want to believe.

Sundays we go to my parents house where the two cousins get together. I was anti-social and rude. Stayed inside watching Spike Lee’s Katrina documentary. A relaxing Sunday. Right now our apartment looks like we just moved in. Crap and boxes everywhere. My wife is in the process of detoxing the apartment, fall cleaning. My life is basically uninteresting. Needs to change, and will. I live in a perpetual state of, Things will be different. Ala Fidel Castro, as I learned in a good “American Experience” documentary last night. I am my own dictator.

I am having reader’s block. Every book I pick up lasts around five pages. I can’t read fiction right now. The small, personal stories of fiction just seem self-obsessed, avoiding reality, wallowing in bad behavior, not hitting me where I need it. Actually, I shouldn’t say that entirely. I just finished Christopher Meeks’ Middle Aged Man and the Sea—my cohort in the recent Entertainment Weekly piece, we traded books. Enjoyed it. A lot of good lines: “I take the bouquet of flowers from behind my back and enter our condo. The air feels stale, stiff, like a forgotten closet.” (from “He’s Home”) Since then, fiction hasn’t been working. Non-fiction not doing much better, currently. I hate when I don’t have a book to read.

What else? Not much. Time to get back into the swing of writing here.

September 1, 2006

Back and to the Left

It’s done. Just submitted my work for the week. Spent the week working in the mornings while—I’ll admit it—my daughter was parked in front of the TV. Last one of these vacations for a while.

All told, not such a restful week. Especially when at night I watched shows like this one:

last days on earth

…about the top seven ways the world could end—black hole, nuclear war, exploding star, asteroid... The top one is global warming. Surprisingly liberal for ABC news—a station that is going to have a mini-series about 9-11 that puts the blame on Clinton. There was also a news special about the Kennedy assassination that said there was “no truth” to claims of a conspiracy. There are enough questions that you can’t say it’s true either way. I like Peter Jennings, but that wasn’t a good moment.

One expert said that global warming denial is akin to Holocaust denial, or to the big-tobacco experts who said under oath that cigarettes were healthy and non-habit forming. A reminder that despite the state of the world, we live in a paradise. It could be Katrina all the time, everywhere. Kurt Vonnegut says the same thing:
“I pressed him to expand, wondering if he had any advice for young people who want to join the increasingly vocal environmental movement. ‘There is nothing they can do,’ he bleakly answered. ‘It's over, my friend. The game is lost.’”
(via Post-Atomic)

Hooray! What can you do? Enjoy your life, try not to suck, write a book trying to make sense of it.

August 28, 2006


My daughter’s on vacation before her new school starts. We went to the Long Beach aquarium this weekend. Got our brakes fixed yesterday for $500.

I would like to mention how great the New York Mets are. Any Mets fans out there? Last week they got Shawn Green. A nice Jewish boy. His best friend is first baseman Carlos Delgado, who protested singing “God Bless America” at baseball games. I love this team. They have a very good chance to make it to the Series. Unfortunately, turns out that Metsblog, which I’m addicted to, is now part of Pajamas Media. Home of retarded fanatics. Say it isn’t so.

Thanks to Natalia Antonova for the congratulations. The blogger with the best name and a nice new site.

Just saw a Dan Aykroyd movie about UFOs: Dan Aykroyd Unplugged. He knows his stuff. I recently met with some Belgian admirers of the French translation of my novel. So nice to meet with Europeans: they respect writing in a different way. Cool thing, he’s also into UFOs. Told me I should see this movie about Dana Croix. Could you spell that please, I asked. “Dana Croix. You know, he was on Saturday Night Live.” Ah, Dana Croix.

Here’s a good movie about UFOs. It also has a Myspace Page.

August 24, 2006


Contracts are final and I am now part of this agency:

literary group

Home to Britney Spears AND Jessica Simpson, so they recognize good writing. Really, though, I’ve never had an agent at this level. The letter he initially wrote to me was like a fantasy I’d made up ten years ago. Basically: I want to make you a best seller and make you money.

Maybe with Tom Cruise being dropped by Paramount for his “recent conduct” and Mel Gibson’s meltdown, the novel will make more sense to people.

August 23, 2006


Nick Mamatas writes about my recent EW appearance.

“I don't know whether to be pleased that he got some attention for a lulu title, or sad for him.”

I don’t know, pleased for me? I’m bitter because he rejected God’s Wife while he was at Soft Skull.

I’ll update about the agency stuff when the dotted line is finally signed. Don’t want to do it till then. Superstitious maybe, or paranoid. Turns out they didn’t get my signed contracts and I have to send them again. The postal worker seemed really angry, having a bad day. I never saw him put stamps on the envelope and he threw the envelope at his feet. Olivia was clawing me at the time, so maybe I just didn’t see it right. I thought I was being paranoid. Maybe I’m not. It’s a great agency where teen sensations, like me, get to sell their books.

August 22, 2006

Woman Chaser

woman chaser

I forgot a book that I’d read in my last three. An actual novel. Ruled. Not really about a womanizer. It’s about a used car salesman who becomes a movie director, falls apart. I’d never read Charles Willeford. At one time, I was reading nothing but noir writers. David Goodis, Jim Thompson, Cornell Woolrich, James Cain and so on, read everything I could get. I always liked Jim Thompson more than Chandler. In Chandler, the main characters always win their fights, in Jim Thompson, the main characters always lose.

If this was 100 pages longer, fleshed out, it could be one of the great American novels. Same goes for some Philip K. Dick books, other science fiction. The premise is so great, the plotting, some of the writing, he should have put just a little more time into it. Still, so much more honest than most other writing.

Also, larvae.

Cock Cheney

Interesting pre-2004 election article from Rolling Stone about Dick Cheney.

People who find Cheney's extremism as vice president surprising have not looked at his congressional voting record. In 1986, he was one of only twenty-one members of the House to oppose the Safe Drinking Water Act. He fought efforts to clean up hazardous waste and backed tax breaks for energy corporations. He repeatedly voted against funding for the Veterans Administration. He opposed extending the Civil Rights Act. He opposed the release of Nelson Mandela from jail in South Africa. He even voted for cop-killer bullets.


Actually, my sickness wasn’t all good. I got teary-eyed watching some of Lilo and Stitch with my daughter. That alien just needs someone to love! I got worried there for a moment when I wasn’t getting any better. Recently there’s been an illness in my family—trips to the hospital. Everything’s OK now, but it probably contributed to it. The absolute sadness I would feel not being able to be a part of my daughter’s life. Having kidney problems contributes to this—any sickness could be much worse. I was overreacting, lasted a couple of hours.

It was also very hard on my wife who had no help with Olivia, who’s going through a phase. Olivia’s going to be changing schools in September, which is going to be great for her, and us, but it’s got to be hard on her 4-year-old brain. We’ve always been fairly uncomfortable around the other conservative Jewish parents. She’s outgrown the daycare place—in a home—and needs to be in a school setting with more 4-year-olds. It’s also weird for her to be learning about Jewish holidays that we’re not practicing at home. Overall, it’s been great for her, but it’s time to move on.

Her best friend recently moved back to Israel, which spurned on the decision. “They had a cease-fire just in time,” the father said with a nervous, but optimistic, smile at the going away party. Not the sort of conversation you should be having. He’s working at a think tank that studies how notions of Jihad filter through the Arab media and the Internet. A conservative Jewish Islamic scholar. I didn’t want to talk about the book I’m writing—about WW III--so I told him about the documentary I’d seen the night before.

protocols of zion

An interesting, troubling movie about the growth of anti-semitism, as exemplified by The Protocols of Zion, which outlines a Zionist takeover of the world. The movie never mentions that conspiracy theorists call the Protocols a front for the Illuminati (freemasons, Rosicrucians, Templars, etc. etc).—i.e. it’s about the Illuminati takeover of the world. Not that it’s true, but it’s part of the story. But it goes against his premise—that there’s rampant anti-semitism. And he’s right.

The reaction of the left to the recent conflict in Lebanon is baffling. The Israel mess was awful and wrong, but people jump suspiciously fast on Jews. Andrew Sullivan linked to some signs at anti-war rallies that are really hateful: “Mel Gibson was right” and “Nazi Kikes out of Lebanon.” Maybe five seconds later, that guy was told to take down his sign. Maybe not. Invading countries doesn’t work. Neither does diplomacy with people who don’t want you to exist. Islamic fanatics suck. That’s not a right-wing talking point, that’s rational.

Today is supposed to be the End of the World. Watch it Live-Blogged at Armageddon Cocktail Hour. While you’re there, check out Know Your Antichrist Candidates.

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