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 Tarot.com. 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 olgaceline@gmail.com.
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.

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