March 31, 2006


I think juice is totally decadent. Like how many grapes does it take to make one bottle of grape juice? It doesn’t seem right. Juice seems like a Rome-like beverage. All those thousands of bottles of juice sitting in supermarkets. But it’s delicious. Soy breakfast sausage is also delicious. I ate it this morning. As are Gardenburger riblets:


They taste like McRibs. Some vegetarians stay away from meatlike food. Not me. I’m not a vegetarian but I try to stay away from meat. I don’t eat meat for both health and ethical reasons. I think it’s weird and bad to eat something that’s had a depressing life. Especially after I read articles like this one.


One our trip on I-5 up to Portland, we passed a feedlot: thousands upon thousands of cows. The smell didn’t leave our car for a long while, it seemed to stain our clothes. It stunk bad, we were fearing passing it on our way back. S. looked into it and found the expose about the place. It’ll make you feel bad about ever eating meat.

March 30, 2006


This blog needs to get more entertaining. I’ve been perusing some other blogs and when people write about pop culture stuff, it gets a lot of comments. So here: I can’t believe Gina got booted off. If you know what that means, you can slap me. Actually, I’m not surprised, Gina seemed slightly brain-damaged. Be certain, I do not watch this show alone and not with my full attention. Remember, I am married. American Idol is a show I do not get at all. One person after another singing terrible songs.

Maybe I should write about how dull my life is. Like writing about the cheese sandwich I ate. Or going on David Letterman. Only my wife probably knows what I’m talking about.

Here’s something to cheer up the place: It lists the people who have Myspace pages who have recently died. You can get a fair sense of a person from their Myspace page. You just read for a second, assess them, and move on. Very different experience when they’ve actually died. Makes you think about those people you’ve discounted in the past. Really tragic and sad but interesting. People die. I watch Law and Order and think, these things don’t happen. But it turns out a lot of people are getting stabbed and shot and murdered in some way. Really eerie to see the Myspace pages from the recent Rave shootings. Be careful with this site, it’s haunting. (via Metafilter).

I don’t think that’s going to get the comments rolling in.

March 29, 2006


Thanks to Writing Blind, a good new writing blog I just discovered, for the short write up. My link was there, then it was gone. I thought, man, I suck. Turns out it was a small mistake.

Tony O’Neill also now links to my review of his book.

Found at CosmoTC, Henry Miller’s daughter, Valentine, has a nice tribute site to him. Full of his watercolors which I’d never really seen.

Last night, in a probably-pointless bout to promote my novel, I made an Amazon listmania list of all my favorite novels. Mine’s at the bottom. For some reason the apostrophes don’t work, at least on my computer.

March 28, 2006


Speaking of which, I’ve got some copies of Gentleman Reptile on hand. I didn’t have too many takers for my French translation giveaway, but more people out there read English. I’ll also throw in a "galley" copy of North of Sunset back when I was trying to design the cover myself. One of a kind proof that I don’t know how to use Photoshop. If you’ve got something to trade, let me know. I’m not entirely sure if this will annoy my publishers. The copies are mine so I guess I can do with them what I want.

Also, if you’ve read North of Sunset, please let me know what you think of it and/or blog about it, even if you didn't like it. I’m curious, I need all the help I can get, and there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Murder Slim and 3 AM Magazine both linked to my review of Digging the Vein and Hating Olivia. If you write about me, I’ll link back, generally.

One of these days soon, this blog will get off the promotion kick, but probably not very soon.

March 27, 2006


Back from Berkeley. Reading went well. Read a section from Gentleman Reptile. Didn’t want to read the same thing at any of the readings. Felt sort of dishonest, too studied, to read the same thing more than once. I wanted to experiment how different things went over. Did I mention that the Cloverfield Press copy is fucking beautiful? It’s a nice looking book.

Met some very nice people in Berkeley but I wasn’t so taken with the town. Never been before. I was picturing something a lot more urban and unique. What I saw was American Apparel shops and Starbucks-like coffee places. I am sure the place has changed a lot in the last 5-10 years. I was looking to be assaulted by hippies and it just didn’t happen.

Back when I was listening to punk rock and worshipping at the altar of Maximum Rock n Roll in high school, I read about Gilman St. in Berkeley where Green Day (before they were famous!), Jawbreaker, Samiam, the Offspring (before they were famous!), and other bands played. Didn’t see it when I was there. It had to be so different 20 years ago, more punk rock and all. For some reason I wasn’t picturing Berkeley as a college town. I was picturing it as a place where there happened to also be a college. But it’s very much a college town, i.e. not exactly like life.

Why am I ragging on Berkeley? Why not. I am back now for good, the whirlwind book tour is over. Time to be very serious about finding work, or I might cry.

Update: Justus Ballard, Cloverfield cohort, wrote about the tour as well.

March 24, 2006

L.A. Reading

The reading last night for Gentleman Reptile went well. I read a scene from the novel. For those of you who’ve read North of Sunset (Steve), I read the scene where Michael Sennet is in a restaurant with his date and he pushes her plate of food to the floor. My wife suggested I read it and she was right. The reading was in a bar and there could have been a lot of clinking glasses and talking, but people were quiet. Made sense to read a restaurant scene where people are uncomfortable on a date. Also played impromptu guitar behind Justus Ballard who sang, very impromptu.

This morning I put around 30 copies of North of Sunset in the mail to reviewers and such. See where that goes. Feeling better about this book’s chances.

Tomorrow we get in the car again and head to a reading in Berkeley. Last one for a while. I’m getting used to this. Of course, that could be the champagne, beer, and stage fright medication. Info for the Berkeley reading:

Saturday, March 25
Justus Ballard, Henry Baum
Mary Rechner, Carol Treadwell and Laurence Dumortier
Pegasus Downtown
2349 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704

March 23, 2006

Two Things

I have another reading tonight in L.A. Starts late, past my bedtime. Info here:

Thursday, March 23
Justus Ballard & Henry Baum
will read and
Fleshpot and Space Mountain Solo will rock
Taix in Silverlake
1911 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

A nice mention about me and my dad on the Cantara Books blog. I wrote to Cantara Christopher at her site, Published in New York, asking about book distribution. I mentioned to her that my dad used to play in a string quartet with Stephen Gyllenhaal, father of a gay cowboy and a secretary. Cantara is publishing his book. She’s been extremely helpful all around. She sees no stigma in self-publishing. Mainstream publishing is too narrow and small publishers have too little money for their acceptance or rejection to be the final word about a book.

March 22, 2006


Back from Portland. A nice trip. Just hitting the road, staying in motel rooms, and eating cheap diner food was a nice vacation. Somewhat grueling, seven hours a day driving. Which doesn’t sound like that much. When I was younger, I might have driven 14 hours straight. Harder with Olivia in the back seat. She was great. Played hide and seek in motel rooms. On the way back she got sick--threw up on herself beneath Mt. Shasta.


It was the closest thing I’ve done to a rock tour in a long time, except with my wife and child. The reading at Powells went well. I read the story I wrote last week. If it failed, I could say, it’s brand new, it hasn’t even been through a revision. But people seemed to like it, they laughed, which is basically the only way to tell if people are paying attention. No pictures from the reading, so far as I know. Here’s a generic picture of Powells:


Took Olivia to the Children’s Museum in Portland. Went to Lewis and Clark College where I spent my freshman year. Olivia got to see snow for the first time in her life, at a rest stop.


We’ve thought about moving to Portland. Cheaper rent, fewer L.A. people. It’s a beautiful city. In L.A., everything’s five times harder than it needs to be--even just going to the supermarket. This city can seem against you if you’re not careful. It can be a 45 minute drive to my brother who doesn’t live that far away. You can get your head around a place like Portland. Cept that would mean leaving family to be in a place where we don’t know many people, don’t have jobs, and don’t have a place to live. We’re really just entertaining the thought, which is good those days when we feel Los Angeles hates us. I think we’ve got more L.A. living in us. We still want to make a home here.

I am tired.

I could have blogged from the road but I wanted to have a vacation from the computer. It’s good to be back.

March 16, 2006

Road Trip

I finished a story yesterday. I'm really happy with it. It’s the first thing I’ve completed start to finish in a long time. I’ve been revising old things.

I love the Internet. The Internet is my friend. The NPR story about me is up.

I’m about to embark on a major road trip to Portland, OR with the wife and daughter. I’ve got a reading at Powell’s Books on Sunday. Go here for info. See you next week.

March 15, 2006

Digging Olivia

digging the vein

Finished this last week. I wanted to wait a while because I wanted to see how it stuck with me. When I read it, the book hit me in the head and hit me at exactly the right time. Broke open my view of my life and this city. The morning after I finished this novel, I drove my daughter to daycare and I was picturing everyone on the streets as a possible murderous drug addict. The book paints L.A. as a wasteland. Which it is, but not 100%. I’ve been to Alvarado and 6th--where he scores and shoots dope a lot. A lot of people going on their way, not all of them traipsing through hell. Like any auto/biography it sees the world of the book as the only thing happening. This is especially true of drug addiction when only one thing matters.

This book isn’t Burroughs’ Junky. Junky had a sort of romance which has likely resulted in thousands of drug addicts trying to mimic the man--not his fault, just saying. This book is about the living dead. I’ve known junkies. Their lives were a fucking paradise compared to what goes on in this book. They had mostly-reliable dealers who would come to their doorstep or meet them somewhere. They weren’t shooting crack and heroin into every available vein. This story’s about being as close to dead as you can possibly be while still breathing. It’s like you cheat life by faking heaven so the trade-off is a living hell.

I’ve been around or done my fair share of most types of drugs. Don’t tell anyone. Almost exclusively during the time when I lived in New York. He starts off doing mounds of coke living a Hollywood party lifestyle. I’ve never been friends with people who were rich enough to have limitless supplies of cocaine. One time I spent a night with a guy who’d just made tens of millions of dollars on some internet thing. He had an empty, furnitureless penthouse apartment. Endless coke. Still I didn’t want to do it. Coke puts me to sleep. Believe it or not. It’s fine and fun for the first ten minutes but then I come down and can never regain it again.

I’ve done ecstasy exactly twice. Don’t know if I’ve written about this before. The first time I ended up under the covers in my apartment with the lights off. I did it a second time because I thought, shit, that can’t be what it’s like. It was described to me as the best drug on earth. The second time I did it I ended up under the covers in my apartment with the lights off. Freezing. Who wants the lightbulb to be 1000 times brighter than normal? It enhances all the stuff I spend my time trying to block out. I couldn’t imagine going to a club packed with sweaty people, loud horrible music and flashing lights. I’d have a seizure. Maybe I’m uptight, I dunno, but I have an opposite reaction to drugs than most people.

So the book’s about one man’s drug odyssey. Sometimes I feel like a failure, and this book made me feel downright upstanding. Also good to know that there are people out there who sympathize with fucking up all the time. I recommend it. Powerful, it’s like reading a book about a man who went to war. I read an interview with him on Scarecrow where he talks about liking Dan Fante and grateful that he was liking a writer who wasn’t dead. That’s how I felt reading this book. It’ll probably become a classic in drug literature and it was extra moving to read it from a writer who’s younger than me. Yeah, I’ve read Jim Carroll and Burroughs but those guys are sort of like mythic characters. Tony O’Neill is right next door.

hating olivia

Liked this book. Started off not as much. Seemed like a Bukowski book with less of the poetry. But he’s got his own story to tell. Brutally honest, which is all you can ask from writing. Unafraid to make himself look like a fuck. I liked it better when things start going downhill for him--good stuff about working for the corporate world, clinging to a relationship that should have ended years ago. Really this is another drug novel, with two people addicted to each other.

If you dig Bukowski, Fante, you’ll dig this. Arthur Nersesian’s The Fuck Up is another one. My first novel, Oscar Caliber Gun, came out of that kind of first-person writing. The second novel I wrote, called Dishwasher, was an attempt to write this kind of fiction. At nineteen, my life wasn’t interesting enough. And probably still isn’t. I appreciate people who can write first-person about their lives. I have a really shitty memory. This blog is the closest I get to it.

Tony O’Neill reviews the novel on Dan Fante has a quote on the back of Digging the Vein, and he writes the intro to Hating Olivia, so it seems like a little club. I want in.

March 14, 2006

Review of North of Sunset

At Grumpy Old Bookman, there’s the first review of North of Sunset. Can’t say I agree with everything he’s saying--he mentions there aren’t enough scenes. It’s funny because I was worried that the novel was too Hollywood. In my defense, he read the novel on PDF, so maybe it didn’t flow as naturally. The novel has met with widely varying reactions. Some editors said it was too literary, while some others said it was too mainstream. Which I’m going to say is a good thing. Thanks to Michael Allen for the write-up.

March 13, 2006

Sell Out

A strange weekend. On Saturday I received a box from Europe with 20 copies of the French edition of my first novel. About a celebrity stalker. It looks damn cool. Only thing is, I have no real use for 20 copies of a novel in French. If you can read French, contact me. Maybe you’d like to trade for something you’ve written, played, painted, etc.

That same night I went to the engagement party for a very famous Hollywood actor and his new wife, who I went to high school with. Partied the night with Naomi Watts, John C. Reilly, Beck, and others. Not really, but they were there. I mention them because celebrities are better than normal people. I wonder what they’d think if they knew I write books advocating the devoutly insane hatred of Hollywood.

My wife and I both took the stage fright drug, Inderal, before we went to the party. I was nervous as shit the day leading up. I always get nervous going to parties, and we hadn’t been to one in a while. This was not only a big Hollywood-type party, but also a part high school reunion as well. I got wasted. Probably embarrassing. Everyone was nice though. It wasn’t full of the beautiful people, as I was expecting, but people who looked human. Everyone was happy to be there. We enjoyed ourselves. I am selling out.

The book front is going better. Some people have been receptive to NOS. The woman from Dogmatika has offered to review the book and interview me. Go there and send them some love.

March 10, 2006


This is cool. I’m going to be on NPR’s Open Mic program. Down the Rabbit Hole. I had to record a 45-second intro. I’ll mention it again when they tell me when it’s going to be on.

March 9, 2006

Gentleman Reptile

New cover for Gentleman Reptile. They decided to ditch the Chinese food container. The triple X makes a lot more sense. The story’s about a father discovering his daughter doing porn on the Internet. They still liked the chopsticks though. So do I. The Cloverfield Press page is revamped. Click the cover to check it out.

gentleman reptile 2

Been feeling low, inevitably. The high from releasing the book has settled down and now, instead of having an obsession, I need to face my life. Happens every time. Also a little disappointed in the reaction to the book. I had dozens of contacts built up. Sent out a notice about the book release party to Litbloggers. No response. Sent out a notice to about revealing Shirley Shave. It’s not quite James Frey or JT LeRoy but still interesting enough. Sent the link to "Sunset Limited." Not an overwhelming response. Posted info about the book on many forums and book sites as well. It’s hard to get people to pay attention to a basically untested writer. Thanks again and again to those who have shelled out the $12.95.

I think much of my life is fueled by delusion--the belief that great things are going to happen. Every time I write something, especially a long novel, I think it’s going to be very good and it’s going to have an impact. A way to get it done. I’m sure I’m not the only one guilty of this. People do like what I write, I’ve gotten some good initial responses on North of Sunset, so I’m not completely deluded, but I don’t know where faith ends and fantasy begins.

I still have a bunch of review copies to send out, around 30 copies to various places. People are a lot more receptive about receiving a free book. See what happens when reviews come in. Some people do take me more seriously because I’ve published legitimately in the past. I should be happy. Things are progressing along.

Also, I need a job bad. Getting a lack of positive response on that front, which may be the reason for some of my anxiety about the book. Meantime, I started a story this morning, about a woman. First good writing I’ve done in some time.

March 8, 2006

The Sunset Limited

I’ve started another blog. Letter from the Sunset Limited. Exactly one post long. As it says there:

This is a letter I wrote to a friend of mine on a train going from Los Angeles to New York for the millennium new year. I was setting out to work on a novel, North of Sunset. The letter was translated into French and published in the journal Les Episodes.

I had a really involved correspondence going with that friend of mine--he’s the one who just translated my first novel into French. Our letters were a sort of precursor to this blog, which I kind of see as a letter to people I haven’t met.

The book is not quite what I intended when I first sat down to work on it. I mention East of Eden. It’s not East of Eden by a very long shot. I had ambition, I’ll give myself that. When I got back to New York, I thought I should make the novel more plot-driven, rather than character-driven and episodic. So it might have a better chance of selling. Jokes on me. Most of what I wrote on that train trip did end up in the novel.

It’s a long one. Whatever works to get people to check out the novel.

March 7, 2006


hustler magazine

Proof that I’m a professional sex writer. A while back, I wrote an article for Hustler Magazine about people with long-hair fetishes. The piece began like this:

These days the word "bush" conjures up images of our President-in-thief who has trouble pronouncing words such as government. (It has an "n" in it, Mr. President.) Well, here’s yet another word that junior doesn’t know: HIRSUTE.

The editor made me take that out. Too many Hustler readers were Bush supporters and they were complaining about Bush-bashing. My finest hour--"Tuft Love: Fur Freaks Favor Fuzzy Females"--in the Christmas issue. They completely rewrote the article to make it fit in with the rest of the magazine, so the article was full of writing like "glistening hot box," which I would never put to paper. The article was placed right next to a really racist comic and it kind of soured me on it.

My wife and I, then girlfriend, took a trip to Ohio to cover the Miss Bald America pageant in Cincinnati. Women got their heads shaved on stage. The audience voted. We came as representatives of Hustler and they thought we were hot shit. We took a lot of pictures, but my editor got fired and nothing came of it. I should find those pictures and post them.

March 6, 2006

God's Wife

Check out God’s Wife to see how I revealed who I am. I don’t have many qualms about revealing it now. The editor of Best Sex Writing might be pissed at me but it’s been 9 months since the book was released. And I’ve been out of a job for too long, and now my wife could lose hers as well because her boss might be dropping out of his profession. I’ve got to do what I can. Bullshit, maybe, because I’ve been meaning to reveal it at some point after my book was released, but now it’s more important. Don’t know how people will react or if anyone even cares anymore. Welcome to those coming here from Shirley Shave.

Here goes…

March 3, 2006


Feels very good to get this book out there. Sold 20 copies so far. Which is really cool, thanks to everyone who bought a copy. I’ve been waiting so long for this that every copy sold feels like a thousand.

I’ve been in a terrible kind of limbo waiting for this book to be released. I’ve been neglecting writing other fiction. The book’s all I could think about. Might seem crazy to get obsessed over a book that sells only a few copies, but it’s been almost 10 years since I published a novel. A long time waiting. A total relief. If it took publishing myself to do it, that's fine. I feel like a functioning writer again. I have a book people can read. There was some annoyance with people having trouble buying the book because their security settings were too high. What are you going to do, nothing’s ever easy. I want to get back to writing some stories.

I have been reading more. Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko. On its way is the heroin memoir Digging the Vein by Tony O’Neill. Published by Contemporary Press who rejected North of Sunset, so fuck them, sort of. Chump Change by Dan Fante (published by Rebel Inc. press who accepted The Golden Calf so they rule). Reading the Bukowski disciples again. I’ll probably write a review of all of them when I’m done.

A little while back I wrote a post about this blog sells itself too much, like I’m trying to sell myself as a writer. This doesn’t make much sense because all writing tries to sell itself. Each sentence tries to sell the next one, the next paragraph, and eventually the next book, etc. A blog is no different. This hit me especially when I read Chump Change. Fante’s always trying to sell himself as a bad-ass. In a good way because the sentences are so damn good. At first I thought I’d had my fill of down-and-out writing. At 20, I might have worshipped it as a way to be. Not as much anymore. But then, his sentences.

Myspace rules. Last week I had a correspondence going with Peter Bagge, of Hate comics. I added him as a friend, he wrote back. That’s cool. So much better than just emailing someone out of the blue. He heard my songs, saw the book covers, could see what I’m about. Speaking of selling, I made a Myspace blog out of all the reviews of my first novel.

March 1, 2006


North of Sunset front 1

It’s done. Took six months longer than I thought it would but the book is finally out. Welcome to the North of Sunset book release party. There’s cocaine if you want it:

cocaine razor

I don’t really like the stuff, but it’s good to have around. If people are high, they’ll be more willing to buy a book.

In the corner, there’s F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Bukowski, Nathaniel West, and Bud Schulberg, decomposing. There are plenty of strippers too, but only strippers who blog about it. If you’re looking to get laid, the ratio is 10:1 women to men and 10:1 men to women. There are celebrities of every shape and size. The main attraction is Tom Cruise, fresh from prison. Gallons of Jameson Irish whiskey. Kegs of Bordeaux wine. It’s a rager.

Please, uh, buy the book. It’s only $12.95. If you do buy it, get it sent media mail, it’s a lot cheaper.

Thanks to my blog friends who helped me design the cover. I’d like to especially thank my wife, Samantha, and our daughter, Olivia. They had to put up with a lot of shit from me over the past several months--isolation, irritability, tension, and all the other joys of writing. Samantha took Olivia to my parents’ house or the park or somewhere else so I could work on the novel. I basically lost a job over this book. Working too many hours a day--my brain couldn’t take it. The book better be good.

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