A few weeks ago, it was Michael Bible’s birthday. His girlfriend Kelsey got him a landline: red and corded, like the one from Dr. Strangelove. We conducted this interview over that secret line, sharing drinks on either end. 

 

All his books have been novellas. All his books have been immaculate. The most recent, The Ancient Hours, is a stunning lyrical look at guilt, love, and the small triumphs that are still available to us despite the indignities that time and other people ruthlessly dole out. It centers on Iggy, who burns down a small town church and is sentenced to death and dies, and the lives he’s affected. Imagine Meursault in the American South and you’ll have some idea of Bible’s achievement.

This week on Otherppl: an epic end to a pathetic and demoralizing year.

 

With guest appearances by Megan Boyle, Leland Cheuk, Richard Chiem, Rachel Bell de Navailles, Juliet Escoria, Joseph Grantham, Mik Grantham, Ben Loory, Gene Morgan, Timothy Willis Sanders, and Bud Smith.

Special guest: Rich Ferguson.

4 poems

By Elizabeth Ellen

Poetry

 

for garielle lutz

 

(the) Conjuring

 

As a new hobby, I think about sabotaging our relationship. I think about this a lot while we’re at Home Depot looking at Christmas lights.

“If we ended it right now, think about how good it would end,” I say.

You look at me funny when I say this. We are each buying a new Dustbuster, tho for some reason yours costs twenty dollars more than mine.

“I don’t get you, baby, why would you say shit like that?” you say, your mask under your nose. “If you want to break up with me, just do it; get it over with.”

But that’s not what I’m saying at all.

 

I spend another twenty minutes after dinner fantasizing about ending things. You come in from smoking and playing video games on my front porch and I’m crying and crying. I thought you’d left.

“I’m just so tired,” I say. I am apologetic. (I am your baby, your baby girl.)

 

I hide my eyes with your hands. An hour ago you wanted me to dominate you. Thigh highs, cock ring, handcuffs. You can’t get more All-American than that.

 

When you come inside me you say: shit, goddamn, fuck.
When you come inside I say, “We better break up now,” and I am crying and crying.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Alex Branson. His new novel, Water, Wastedis available from Rare Bird Books. It is the official December pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 
Branson works for a non-profit in South Jersey. Before that, he worked at group homes in rural Missouri and Chicago for eight years. He is one of the hosts of E1 Podcast.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Michael Schumacher. He is the editor of The Fall of America Journals, 1965-1971, by the late Allen Ginsberg, available now from the University of Minnesota Press.

 

Schumacher is also the author of the acclaimed Ginsberg biography Dharma Lion (Minnesota, 2016). Along with Ginsberg’s Iron Curtain Journals and South American Journals and Conversations with Allen Ginsberg (all from Minnesota), he has edited Family Business, selected correspondence between Allen and Louis Ginsberg, and The Essential Ginsberg, a reader of Ginsberg’s best work. He lives in Wisconsin.

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On December 6, 2020, Megan Boyle, Juliet Escoria, and Joseph Grantham liveblogged in solidarity. This took place exactly 212 days after the last time they liveblogged in solidarity. Here are their days:

 

JULIET ESCORIA

DEC. 6, 2020

 

~9:30 am: had a thought/dream about a terrarium/geode that was the size of a large marble but when you opened it up, it was much bigger. In the thought/dream, that was how things worked: things are bigger on the inside. I guess that’s not a lie since my intestines are like 600 miles long but I am only 5’4.75”. (when I googled, the answer to how long intestines are was inconsistent but it was about 15’, less than I thought, disappointing)

 

Phone was “popping off” with joey and megan texting about the liveblarg. Went to pee, put my sleep mask on so I could go back to zzzzzzzzland.

 

~11:30am: woke up for real. Responded to texts, stared at phone. Felt excited to get up and do liveblarg, which is good because yesterday I felt very very bad and not excited about much of anything. Went upstairs, made coffee, took dog out to pee, got work area ready downstairs, etc. It is pretty today, sunny and a little cold. Also ate a large brownie from brownie batch I had made yesterday. It is currently 12:10pm. I have my SAD lamp on. Both Scott and I are now SAD lamp users. SAD lamps rule. Going to work on this story that I absolutely and completely hated yesterday. Hopefully I do not have hate for it today. 

Steel and Glass

By Chris Oxley

Essay

 

In 1777, George Washington found a site in Springfield, Mass. to store weapons inaccessible from the British Royal Navy. Aside from housing cannon and muskets, what became the Springfield Armory also manufactured cartridges and gun carriages for the American Revolution.

 

Nearly a couple of decades later, the armory produced the Model 1795 Musket, the first such firearm to be made in the United States. It was designed by Eli Whitney. At the turn of the century, the musket was also produced at the armory in Harpers Ferry, Va, (now West Va.), the second federal armory commissioned by the U.S. government, as well as the site of John Brown’s famous raid in 1859.

 

In 1835, Samuel Colt was awarded a British patent, and two U.S patents in 1836, for his revolver design. He promptly started a company in Paterson, N.J., but after production problems, closed in 1842. Undeterred, he soon collaborated with the family of Eli Whitney at their armory in Whitneyville, Conn. His newly revised revolver design was available just in time for the Mexican-American War and, in 1855, he started Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Conn. A year later, the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company was founded in Springfield, Mass., a few miles from the Springfield Armory.

 

The region saw several other gun manufacturers emerge over the years: Remington (Ilion, N.Y.), Winchester (1866, Springfield, Mass.), Savage Arms (1894, Utica, N.Y.), High Standard (1926, Hamden, Conn.), Sturm Ruger (1949, Southport, Conn.), Sig Sauer (1985, Newington, N.H.). Meanwhile, for nearly two hundred years, the Springfield Armory continued to serve as the U.S. Army’s prominent design and production workshop for small arms.

 

With the British invasion thwarted, a New England industrial economy boomed and “Gun Valley” was born.

 

“Happiness is a warm gun.”

 

I’ve never, and will never, fit the skin of my father’s name. People call him Steve, and when people call me Steve, I tell them I prefer Steven. Steves are the all-American in their varsity jackets and high school sweethearts and salaries, while Stevens are just Stevens. The day I was born, A Bronx Tale, a film so important to my father he watches it weekly, was commercially released, so he saw it the first time while I was a pudgy pink infant spitting up breast milk, with no clue as to how it’d define his relationship with me. The day I was born was also my parents’ third anniversary and a weird one in terms of when I’d start kindergarten— my parents were conflicted but decided I would be a year younger than my classmates, which hardly mattered because things consistently came easy: I aced quizzes and tests without studying, finished cross-country meets as a high school freshman short seconds after our captain, read every book I could. But while I exhibited ability and potential, clinical depression and anxiety bubbled under the surface. I ran cross-country for the endorphins and friends, so it hardly mattered when other runners outpaced me; I discovered authors like Palahniuk, Robbins, Hesse, Kundera, so it hardly mattered what was on the curriculum; I didn’t live up to my previous report cards, which hardly mattered because I was filling journals. My parents swore I was on drugs because they couldn’t think of anything else– but I’d known early on bad things happened in my brain and I refused to take or drink or smoke anything that might make things worse. They were so ashamed their first was a black sheep, they’d tell white lies to protect me.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Travis Hoewischer. He is the author of the Two Dollar Radio Guide to Naming Your Baby, available now from Two Dollar Radio.

Hoewischer has spent twenty years as a journalist, standup comedian, and non-profit leader. This is his first book. He was almost called Andrew.

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