June 30, 2006


There's a short article up that I wrote about my experience self-publishing.

June 26, 2006


Castpost.com doesn’t seem to be working so I uploaded all my remaining songs to my iDisk account. Here they are:

Buy the Time
Chinese Hope
Come One
I Didn't Know
In the Beginning...
I Walk The Line
None the Rest
Now is the Time

June 24, 2006


I am writing this entry on my new Macbook. The other night my old G3 was totaled. The screen burnt out and it wouldn’t be worth the money to get it fixed. Been thinking about getting a new computer for a long while. Internet service here hasn’t been much better than dial-up. Now I belong to civilization again. Video! I can watch video! I can watch the end of the world in real time! The speed!

The computer died just as I was writing this entry in a journal with the thought of blogging it:

Just started reading The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village, Samuel R. Delany’s memoirs. This is why I get addicted to the Internet. I clicked a link on Metafilter (I don’t remember what it was) and in the comments thread someone recommended the book. What made me click on that link that led me to a book that might have a big impact on me? Books find people, and all that. I don’t think it’s random. It’s kept me tethered to the computer as a lot of these seemingly random clicks have led to some good encounters, with books, people, or something else, which is kind of bad news because I keep clicking hoping for another fix.

The computer crashed while I was writing that paragraph. Something doesn’t want me to use the computer so much. I can do a lot more with this new computer, but it's a blank slate, too many bad habits had built up on that computer. Man, it even feels nicer to type on the keys. A white computer rather than black which had become like typing on Darth Vader.

Here’s a first glimpse of things I can see now. John Lennon playing “Yer Blues” with Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards on bass. “I’m lonely, wanna die." I know how to celebrate.

June 21, 2006


Max Dunbar, who wrote the Ready Steady Book review, wrote an email response to my post about the review. Our exchange is now linked on the RSB blog.

"Thanks for your feedback on my review. Despite my criticisms, I did like the book. It's a fine story and you are good at convincing characters and at creating a mood.

The main point of Vicente's blackmail is the affair. Correct me if I'm wrong but that is the main hold he has over Sennet and the reason Sennet kills him. What I am saying in my review is that adultery isn't a big deal and will not cost you anything in status or money. You might have heard about our Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. He's been revealed to have been having an affair with his secretary. Despite massive attacks from the conservative press he still has his job and remains, as far as I can tell from talking to people, popular with voters.

If Vicente really had proof that Sennet was trying to kill Persephone that might be more significant, but all he says is 'Your fist's in the air and then it comes down on the back of the head. She screams.' (p70). Presumably if Sennet took Vicente to court Persephone would testify that he was not trying to assault her. In fact a good lawyer could build a convincing invasion-of-privacy case on what Vicente has got (at least in this country- our libel laws are very draconian).

Books about celebrity culture - Bret Ellis's Glamorama, Ben Elton's Dead Famous - are often seen as Marxist fables and sometimes they are. The point I tried to make on RSB is that there is another criticism of celeb culture that is conservative, less about redistribution of wealth than simple puritanism. There is an element of envy in this. Columnists on British tabloids insult the A-list because they covet it and want to be part of it. You need to know what you're saying and be careful where one critique fades into the other.

And you make a very good point in your rebuttal that I hadn't considered- 'criticising Hollywood-style hedonism could be considered right wing because it is a mantra of conservatives.' People on the right are always going on about Hollywood liberals poisoning American society with their permissive and materialist ideas. McCarthy thought half of the film industry was run by Communist agents. And anti-semites also target Hollywood as a base of the international Zionist conspiracy.

You say, 'Celebrity has a far reaching grip on our culture... it should be reined in.' I hear you. I am with you. I just think that, although you have written a good novel, you have not made a particularly original critique. You don't take account of the changes in celebrity culture over the last ten years. While I don't think that celebrities are incapable of murder, I also disagree that being a celebrity makes one more likely to become a murderer.

Thanks again for reading and responding to my review. Feel free to publish our correspondence on your blog."

…I’ll say what I said before. The murders are just a way to explore the insanity of celebrity culture. I don’t think celebrities are all capable of murder. Though Tom Cruise has proven himself to be pretty damn unstable. Do I think he’s capable of serial killing? Probably not, that's an exaggeration--though there is a rumor that he had his gay lover offed to cover up his homosexuality.

In the end, I’m glad the book’s getting such careful attention. It’s amazing to me that a sentence could begin "Hobbes, Houllebecq and Henry Baum…"

June 20, 2006

Ready Steady Book

There’s a review of North of Sunset at Ready Steady Book. Not the greatest review but I don’t care completely. I’m glad that someone took the time to think about it. The best I can grab from the review is that it is a "Gripping, readable story."

As for his criticism that the blackmail is unrealistic: Sennet has pictures where it looks like he could be killing a girl. There might be rumors that Jude Law is sleeping with his nanny, but they’re just words. Pictures are something else. Besides, I don’t think this really matters. The man’s vanity is at stake. It is a book about how vanity and celebrity can drive a person insane. The reality of it is not as important to me. I’ve seen a similar criticism when people say, "I don’t believe a celebrity would become a serial killer." Doesn’t matter to me. The book’s about the madness of celebrity--the self-love and the worship--not all about serial killing.

Finally, he calls the book "conservative" right after calling it a Marxist fable, so I don’t know where he’s coming from. I guess criticizing Hollywood-style hedonism could be considered right-wing because it is a mantra of conservatives. There’s enough wrong with celebrity worship that it can be targeted by both the left and right.

He writes: "Hobbes, Houllebecq and Henry Baum are saying that the individual has an unlimited capacity for evil and violence and must therefore be kept subject to authority, restraint and checks."

No, but I am saying that celebrity has a far-reaching grip on our culture and that it should be reined in. The book isn’t about man’s capacity for violence, but man’s capacity for worshipping things that don’t deserve it. And anyway, who ever said murder shouldn’t be against the law? I'm no anarchist. People aren't ready for it. Anarchy would be apocalyptic. Should there be laws governing celebrity worship? No, fascism doesn’t work. But humanity doesn’t work all that well either. Left to their own devices, people fuck around.

I’m not bitter, just addressing some things. At least it got him thinking. If you haven’t read the book, this probably isn’t so interesting. Or better yet, buy it, and see if he’s right.

June 19, 2006


Reading went well. Read the story, "Camera Shy," that I read in Portland to a lot of laughter, which was sort of weird at the time because it’s not supposed to be that funny, but I was glad that people were enjoying it. When I read it on Friday, nothing, not one laugh. My brother, in the audience, said people were listening, following it, liking it. Interesting to get two totally different reactions to a story. The venue was a theatre with lights in your face so you couldn’t see the audience, not even silhouettes. Up on an actual stage. Spent the show in the green room talking to the other writers, mostly stand-up comics. And Antoine Wilson, who was nice enough to give me his copy of A Public Space and happens to be married to a girl I went to elementary school with. So it was a class reunion too, which was enough to kill me with nerves, but I enjoyed myself. I liked doing the reading cause I like the story. So far it’s been rejected by Tin House, Eclectica, Land Grant, and The Paris Review. They’re all wrong.

I was a bit wary of the show because it was billed as a comedy night. I didn’t want to follow someone who just brought down the house. My writing isn’t humorless, but I’m no comedy writer. In fact, it kind of bugs me when writers go for laughs, or art house laughter when people laugh at something that’s not funny at all. I remember going to Cassavetes' "A Woman Under the Influence." She’s drunk and dragging her kid upstairs, tragic and sad, but still frenetic, and the kid makes a funny face, and the crowd erupted in laughter. Nervous laughter, maybe, but still annoying. Going to see "Taxi Driver" is impossible. The knowing, ironic laughter from the audience makes it unwatchable. It’s fine to want to be entertained, but sometimes it crosses a line to a point where people don’t want to take anything seriously. The reading didn’t unfold like that. I got more laughs at the bookstore than the comedy club.

I’ve been writing a lot more fiction lately as well as letters to myself. Stuff too personal to ever put here. Things I need to excise from my brain and explore, privately. Writing’s going well though, the novel’s rolling forward. I’d like everyone to read the comments to the 2012 post. I think they’re interesting. Here’s my theory: a writer needs to have a spiritual side. Without it, writing would be one-dimensional. Writing is supposed to mean more than the flat words on a page. Without believing in some layer of magic behind everything, this might be harder to reach. That’s my theory. Nobody said writers aren’t supposed to be eccentric. I think eccentricity has been sucked out of America. I remember thinking the same thing while living in New York: where have all the freaks gone? I don’t think you can chalk it all up to Guliani and the cost of living. People are more afraid to breathe than they used to. Mainly because other people are more quick to be cynical. Such as myself.

June 13, 2006


Mark your calendars. The word "calendar" doesn’t look right. Costs $8.


June 9, 2006


I want people to read this more than my own novel. I wonder what would happen if everyone on earth read and absorbed this book. The Amazon graphic makes this especially accurate and amusing:

amazon pinchbeck

There are plenty of ideas that people will be skeptical about, but if you come away from this book thinking about reality in the same way as before then, frankly, there’s something wrong with you. I can’t even begin to summarize all the bits of wisdom in this book. Pinchbeck’s first book Breaking Open the Head broke open my head. This book did it again.

The book is a very serious look at ideas that are mainly ridiculed or ignored: UFOs, Global Warming, crop circles, mysticism. These are all issues that have major implications for the future of humanity. UFOs, are you kidding me? The fact that such a critical issue has been banished to the tabloids is evidence alone of humanity’s blindness and fear of new ideas. The "What if" scenario is reason enough for this issue to be explored with seriousness and sobriety and not cast off, as it is by intellectuals, with, "I don’t believe in flying saucers." The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" of the left is a conservative invention. Tossing away important ideas with a laugh. Snark is the enemy of sincerity. Because wishy-washy New Agers have taken over certain mystical ideas, they’ve lost their validity. It’s like saying Christ’s message is B.S. because Pat Robertson is evil. I hear people react to the actions of the religious right by saying, "See, that’s why I’m an atheist," as if one has anything to do with the other. Global Warming is part of the same fabric. People see it as a fantasy, or ignore it outright, instead of facing the obvious.

The book doesn’t propose a new religion. Pinchbeck is not painting himself as a guru, only as a person on a personal exploration. I trust what he has to say. I love Pinchbeck’s point of view because it’s similar to my own--a cynical city boy who had no use for spirituality. Punk rock had taught me nihilism. I come from a family of doctor-headed people where science was the answer to religion. Punk rock also taught me to go against convention. The conventional wisdom today is that science is progress and spirituality is primitive. Also that they’re mutually exclusive. Science has created the capacity to kill along with the capacity to heal. Religion is the same. Both are imperfect systems of thought, or at least they are used incorrectly, an extension of humanity’s imperfections. There has to be another answer. This book tries to uncover that.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m going down this road. So far I’ve written about celebrity, but I think these issues are two sides of the same coin. I’ve written about targeting superficiality and materialism. Fame is killing people’s self-worth: if you’re not famous, you’re nothing. Fame teaches people to worship rather than look within themselves. It’s dangerous and I don’t think I’m taking it too far. Scientific materialism is just an extension of that--that science is the answer to everything. A Theory of Everything can try to come up with the how but it won’t come up with the why. 2012 is like a Theory of Everything Else. I deeply recommend it.

More: an interview with Pinchbeck on the RU Sirius radio show. A lot more to listen to on that site as well.

Here’s my new desktop. A few years back I had been obsessed with all of these ideas in preparation for writing a novel, and then promptly dropped them. I’m very glad to be getting back to it. Click on the picture for a much larger image:


June 7, 2006


An excerpt of North of Sunset is up at Storyglossia. It’s the second half of Chapter One.

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