Recent Work By John L. Singleton


Los Angeles-based writers! LA Musicians! LA Poets! We want YOU for the 24-Hour Literary Marathon! See details below! (If you’re not LA-based, you’ll still be able to watch highlights from the marathon when we stream them on the web!)

Please join The Writers Junction, in association with WordHustler and The Nervous Breakdown, on July 24th, 2010 for a 24-hour celebration to commemorate our shift to 24/7 access.

This literary event will star some of the literary, entertainment, and music world’s best and brightest including Jose Rivera, Obie Award winner and Academy Award nominee for THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES. The performances will be going for 24 hours straight, as will the food, drinks, and revelry.

There will be a silent auction, giveaways, a DJ spinning and you can check out the amazing workspace that is The Writers Junction. We’ll also donate a portion of the evening’s proceeds to The Young Storytellers Foundation.

Come check out The Junction, meet some fellow writers, and perform your work in front of a live audience and members of the press!

What’s The Writer’s Junction?

The Writers Junction is an affordable workspace for writers: where writers write. It’s where you’ll find the quiet of a library, the society of a coffee shop, the focus of a daily office, and the camaraderie of a private club.  It’s where you can work in solitude within a supportive community.  It’s where you can be a member for less than the cost of a latte a day.  Visit www.writersjunction.com for a free day pass.

How Can I Get Involved with the 24-Hour Literary Marathon?

Funny you should ask. That’s why we’re sending you this info- we’d LOVE to have you involved! Whether you’re a poet, actor, screenwriter, novelist, journalist, or a little of all that- we’d love for you to sign up for an 8-minute (or less) spot. We’ll be going for 24 hours: we want you. We need you. We’ve got to have you!

Note: If your fantastical piece is longer than 8 minutes, let us know and we may be able to work something out.

What Kind of Material Can I Perform?

Since The Writers Junction is a workspace for writers and artists of every kind, that’s the vibe we’re celebrating in the 24-Hour Literary Marathon. Screenwriters can read a few scenes from their latest work, musicians can play some of their jams, poets and spoken word performers can read their brilliance, novelists, actors, and journalists can wow. If you wrote/composed/compiled it, we want to hear it.

What’s WordHustler?

WordHustler is the world’s first online submission management platform for writers. We’ll help you find markets, compose letters, and physically and digitally send your projects out. We’ve helped people get agents, win contests, and more.  You’re a writer…you should be spending your time writing.

What’s The Nervous Breakdown?

The Nervous Breakdown is an online literary magazine featuring the work of published and emerging authors and poets from around the world. Authors are featured in TNB’s Arts and Culture, Fiction, and Poetry sections.  Check them out!

What Are the Details for the 24-Hour Event?

The 24-Hour Literary Marathon will begin on Saturday, July 24th at 9 am and run for 24 glorious hours through 9 am on Sunday, July 25th.

The Writers Junction is located at 1001 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Contact them at 310.451.0999.

Parking is on the street and in the parking lot directly behind the building.

Note: If you are reading/performing, you need to arrive at least a half hour before your time slot, but you’ll want to come before that since we’re having the best entertainment around! Be sure to bring your friends/fans/groupies!

Okay, I’m IN! What Do I Need to Do?

Huzzah! We’re so excited to have you! To reserve your spot, email [email protected] and we’ll send you a Sign-Up Sheet to fill out.

We can’t wait to experience your literary genius. Be sure to bring your friends to cheer you on (yes, even you 4 am kids!). Thanks so much for helping us make this event great

I’m in my room. Through the thin, rotting trailer walls, I can hear the muffled sound of the television preachers on The 700 Club. I know my parents are in the next room sitting on our mismatched furniture, watching the TV that is on top of a larger TV that broke many years ago, but never got thrown away.

A few years ago, an ex-professor of mine wrote to tell me that she was up for an “Excellence in Teaching” award. She asked me for a letter of recommendation. The following is that letter. Some names have been (poorly) changed. Some haven’t.

 

92819 Deadwood Creek Road
Deadwood, Oregon 97430

30th December 2002

Dear Excellence In Teaching Adjudication Committee:

School doesn’t pay—you pay school. This is not the case with Professor Linda Ross. I realized this one day while at the University of Miami, which as you might know is located in balmy Coral Gables, Florida.

I had just finished having sex with my girlfriend in her dorm room, Room 307 in the Eaton dormitory, when she, in post-coital lucidity, mentioned that I might want to investigate these odd little white notices that kept appearing under my door each day. Something about the “cancellation of classes,” if I recall correctly.

Oh, I remember it all so clearly… The underpaid minority groundskeepers buzzing all around me as I walked up the cobblestone steps to the Office of Financial Aid. Then, the well-dressed gentleman leaning over the counter, telling me that I was to vacate the premises immediately—post haste. Looking back on it, I don’t know if it was that or the single file lines of friendly UM students in green and white embroidered polo shirts so kindly helping me move my stuff out of my dorm and into my small Hyundai…but something told me it was my time to leave.

I seem to have strayed from my topic sentence, the one about Linda Ross paying—either in some sort of tangible or perhaps more metaphorical way—but sit tight, oh inaccessible teaching excellence adjudication committee; I shall return to my point shortly.

After I got the news, I went to see the only person who could console me: Linda Ross. She invited me over for dinner that night for what was to become the first of many life-altering dinners at Linda’s. By now I’ve had so many that I’ve thought of making a movie called “Dinners at Linda’s.” At this first dinner, after she had gotten me thoroughly drunk on boxed wine and jerked chicken, she showed me a painting. This painting was to change the direction of my life forever. The painting, quite simply, was a painting of her naked. It was done by an old boyfriend of hers, shortly before committing suicide. Now, I know this isn’t exactly Dead-Poets-Society-level shit, but despite my inebriation, it was a very sobering night.

Fast forward three years and now we are in the present, wherein I am broke and live on a commune in Oregon. Here Linda comes through again. She tells me, over email, that if I write her an award-winning letter, she will split the 4,000 USD prize money with me. What luck! So you see, ladies and kindly gentlemen of the Excellence in Teaching Committee, while with school I am some 40,000 USD in the hole, with Professor Linda Ross, I’m 2,000 to the green.

 

Most humbly yours in erudition,

John L Singleton


I left home when I was in high school without a diploma and shacked up with a floozie. I call her a floozie not just because my mother called her that, but because she was a floozie. She was a floozie to end all floozies. If being a floozie was anything like being in the Army she’d have been a general. And instead of painting skulls on her helmet to represent vanquished opponents, she’d have painted dicks, to represent vanquished dicks. And to accommodate all the dicks she’d need something like a million helmets and a whole convoy just to transport them.

When I left I had no means to support myself other than an almost uncanny ability to make chicken wings, which I’d learned from a brief apprenticeship at Skeet’s Wing shack. I didn’t make the wings all the way though. I wasn’t worth a damn as the fry man. I battered them and put the hot sauce on. And let me tell you, it takes a special touch to understand the subtle graduations between hot and atomic.

Well, anyway. I used to brag to my floozie girlfriend about my chicken wing making abilities. This was before we ran off. I was still working at the restaurant and on occasion she’d come in all coked up and I’d slip her a few wings on the sly. After I got off work we’d go out into the parking lot and drink beers. Then she’d let me do lines of coke off her tits. Man, what times.

But now it was 2:00 am and man, did she have a hankering for some wings.

“Baby, can’t you make some?” she asked as she held in a rather large bong hit.

I tell her that our motel room, while very nice, lacked the basic facilities of a proper chicken wing making outfit. She looks at me, all disappointed-like and returns to doing drugs.

Later that night I must have gotten really drunk or stoned or something. At one point I remember standing on top of the sink in my underwear raving about how chicken wings were going to save us. I told her that I’d be famous and we’d be rich.

She asked me if she’d still be a floozie once we were rich.  I said yes. She seemed satisfied with that.

2.

Chicken wings? What the fuck was I thinking? I woke up the next morning on the floor wondering what happened. My girlfriend was in the tub. I went in to see her. She was passed out. Even asleep she looked like a big floozie.

Then, there was some banging at the door.

“Come out of there you slut! Leave my brother alone!” yelled a voice from outside. Seeing as she called me her brother, I had no choice but to assume it was my sister. I looked out of the peephole. My sister was in the parking lot with a tire iron in her hand. She was making some mondo menacing gestures.

My girlfriend got  out of the tub, applied some lipstick in the mirror, and went to look out of the peephole.

My girlfriend yelled back, “Get out of here you crazed bitch! I’m calling the cops! Stay away from Joe! He’s happy now!”

Then she lit up a cigarette. She appeared to be considering the situation.

My sister was still out in the parking lot. She was going from car to car trying to figure out which was my girlfriend’s.  She was still waving around the tire iron, and something, call it a hunch, told me she didn’t just have a hankering to change a tire.

“Aren’t you going to do something?” my floozie girlfriend asked.

“She’s my sister!” I said.

My girlfriend knew my sister long before she knew me. They used to clean houses together. My sister used to complain a lot because, most of the time, my girlfriend was either too drunk or too high to tell the difference between a vacuum and a boa constrictor.

“Come out or I’ll smash the door down,” my sister yelled.

“You still owe me twenty bucks, bitch!”

This really sent my sister over the edge. She started smashing up everything that could be smashed: car windows, discarded beer bottles, whatever. When she ran out of things to smash she began assaulting the concrete.

In the course of smashing up everything she’d managed to smash out the windows to my girlfriend’s car. My girlfriend, still in her underwear, ran outside and tackled my sister in the parking lot.  Soon the other low-life tenants of the motel were outside watching the two girls wrestle in the parking lot.

During the struggle, my sister ripped off my girlfriend’s top and threw it down.

Now, everybody was watching. Some people even started throwing money. I ran around to collect it.  As I picked up a five I thought about how these men were flat-out ogling my girlfriend. Ogling! Didn’t she feel the least bit ashamed to be half naked in a parking lot with strangers looking at her! God, what a floozie, I reminded myself.  She could have at least covered her tits between swings! As I watched her I wondered if she was secretly enjoying the attention.

Then, the cops showed up.

3.

There was this slogan on the side of the police cruiser that pulled up. It said: “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect.” The words were right on top of one another so that they formed an acrostic. CPR. Cute, huh? Well, apparently these cops had never even read the side of their own car.

They got out and beat my sister and my floozie girlfriend to the ground. Then they handcuffed them and threw them into the back of the police cruiser. CPR my ass.

Then they started asking questions.

I was staying at a pretty shady motel so by the time the police showed up everyone was back in their rooms. I stayed outside, but I shut the door to my room so as to conceal the almost unimaginable quantity of illegal drugs I had inside.

“What the fuck happened here, son?” one of them asked me.

I looked at my sister and my floozie girlfriend. They were in the back of the cruiser head-butting one other. Then I thought about the wings. Then I thought about my floozie girlfriend’s tits. Then I remembered the wad of cash I’d just collected during the wrestling match.

I looked the cop square in the eye and said, “Know any good wing joints around here?”

Author’s Note: For those interested, no, I’m not the guy in the story. But I do enjoy a good chicken wing now and then.

So, I’ve been working pretty hard lately. And by working hard, I mean that I’ve been working really hard, for long hours (12 or so of them every single day) for about the last two years. As a reader of this little article, you might wonder what I’ve been working at for all of these hours, but that’s not important. What isimportant is that at this point, the only thing that really punctuates my working of really long hours is the drinking of highball glasses of Jim Beam, which helps me work more but alas (according to all of the addiction recovery books I seem to be reading lately) doesn’t really relax me. At least not in the way a good vacation would. A good, sober vacation. And what better place to get away from it all (or at least the burning, wood-fired Tandoori oven that is LA right now) than Palm Springs, California, just two hours away!

At first this seems like a great idea, right? A relaxing desert, a pool, room service… All awesome things. However…

The twist on this vacation was that I was going to do it totally sober. No Jim Beam to keep me company, no flaming shots of tequila to wash down my sickly sweet roadside tamales… nothing. Now, if you’re anything like me, the idea of going on a vacation without libations seems like a suicide mission. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t go to Vegas to gamble or see shows/get prostitutes. No, I’m the kind of guy who goes to Vegas based solely on the fact that you can drink and smoke indoors. Indoors! Now, I know that doesn’t sound terribly novel or interesting for those of you who don’t drink or smoke, or perhaps live in places that let you do that anyway, but for those of us who do, well, let’s just say I would (and have) crossed a burning desert (the Mojave, to be exact) to do so.

So anyway, as a result of this vacation, I have now watched over 16 hours of the History Channel, which, lucky for me, happened to be running an “Oh Shit, It’s the End of the World” marathon. That’s not what they called it (likely the studio execs nixed that one) but I like my title better. During this stint I learned about the Mayas, the ancient Greeks, Charles Manson, and, my personal fav, how the world will end in 2012. Allow me to summarize:

Charles Manson

Charles Manson killed a bunch of people basically because he couldn’t get a record deal. Now, to be honest, I thought he was a lot crazier, what with the whole Helter Skelter/race war thing, but now I kind of understand. Here you have a guy who just wants a break. But no one will give him a break. Worse yet, he’s hanging out with that no-good Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. To deal with this obvious discrepancy he rounds up a bunch of drifting hippies, gets them addicted to drugs and group sex, and tells them to kill a bunch of people. When faced with career failure, most people in LA just move to Encino or get jobs in HR. Charlie was obviously slightly more ambitious. And he would have gotten away with it, you know, had he not killed some of the most insanely rich and famous people of the time. Whoops.

The Mayans

Oh those crazy Mayans. All this time I thought they were just a bunch of crazy Indians living in Mexico but it turns out they were actually wicked good at astrological stuff. According to the many semi-obscure authors of conspiracy books the History Channel interviewed, the Mayans had the most accurate calendar ever made by man. And not just accurate in the sense that they knew when eclipses and such would happen, but accurate in that they could tell when, say, Cortez would show up to wipe them all out. Pretty impressive, I think. But also sort of depressing. Why can’t my iCal do this? I mean, thousands of dollars of transistors and doodads and all iCal can do is tell me when my next doctor’s appointment is. All the Mayans had were like, sticks and shrunken skulls and such. Come on Apple! It’s time to get your (non-shrunken) head in the game!

2012: High Budget Movie OR the End of The World?

So here’s where it gets interesting. See, the Mayans, what with their fancy calendar and all, had this weird thing about the year 2012. Namely, their calendar stops there. No “to be continued” or, “sorry, we ran out of stone,” but nothing. It just stops. According to more semi-obscure authors who write about the topic, 2012 is supposed to be the year when there is some kind of galactic alignment wherein the earth and all surrounding planets will get sucked into a black hole in the middle of the galaxy.

It’s a little depressing.

Even worse, the account of the Mayans is authenticated by ancient Greek oracles who basically said the same thing. Not to be a downer, but when the year 2012 rolls around, well, let’s just say you might want to cancel your gym membership.

What the fuck is up, History Channel? You know, isn’t shit bad enough what with the not drinking and all to go and lay this shit on me? Granted that at home I don’t have a TV and don’t give the History Channel any money whatsoever, I still don’t think it’s too much to ask the powers that be at the History Channel not to be so damn heavy handed on my vacation. Telling me about the Apocalypse? All while I’m sitting in a room with a fridge loaded with beer and liquor that I, absolutely, must not drink?

This is probably why I don’t have TV.