Here are my impressions of some of the people I’ve met at The Nervous Breakdown.You might think of this as a TNB “Who’s Who.” (Please note that I’m only listing people I “met” before the “re-launch,” because this post is already way too long.)
AARON DIETZ: Author of Spaceballs: The Prequel.Takes pictures of himself displaying books by friends of his, in which his shirts match the book covers.I don’t mind getting “spam” from him.
ALEXANDER CHEE: “Alex.” MFA apologist. Professor. Literary heavy hitter. Impressive bona fides. Likes the films of John Hughes, especially Sixteen Candles.
ALEXANDER MAKSIK: Did the expat Paris thing.Now he’s at Iowa.I am intimidated by reasons of his male aggregate size.
AMELIA X: My Facebook friend.Not sure how I know her.Through Megan, I think.Hands down, the funniest writer of Facebook status updates.The Michael Ian Black of Facebook status updates.Often “shares” TNB pieces.
AUTUMN KINDELSPIRE: Met her in New York.She’s funny and cool.Her husband is Dave of Apocalypse.Claims she’s giving up writing in favor of editing.Which begs the headline: “Autumn Leaves.”
BECKY: You shall know her by the sign of the tiger.Likes ice hockey, T.S. Eliot, and a good argument.Author of some of my favorite Facebook status updates.
BEN LOORY: His full name sounds like it could be a last name.But then, I used to think the Stones’ lead singer was McJagger.Deceptively simple writing style.Very funny. Has a thing for octopi and other sea creatures.Fellow fan of Arvo Part and Julian Jaynes.Often described as “quiet.”Bummed I didn’t get to meet him in L.A.
BRAD LISTI: Our Fearless Leader and resident saint.Hung out with him in Los Angeles.Gave me a ride in his car (an Escalade).Wound up liking him even more after meeting him.I think he might be a socialist.A real socialist, not whatever Obama is.(Just kidding about the Escalade, by the way; he drives a Prius).
BRANDON SCOTT GORRELL: Lives in Seattle.Pretty sure he used to live in Portland.Seems to like the rain, American Apparel, and indiscriminate scare quotes.His chapbook contains the words “nervous breakdown.” “[P]urpose is the temporary relief of boredom” is a good line.I’m ripping off his template for this piece. Sorry, dude.
BRIN FRIESEN: May or may not be married, may or may not be living in Cuba, may or may not be Canadian.Likes telescopes.
D.R. HANEY: Goes by Duke.The nickname derives from John Wayne’s, but it is an apposite moniker for TNB royalty.When he posts, the comment board lights up like the phone lines at a Jerry Lewis telethon.The 700 Club is in his reach.The only person other than my mom, my wife, and my brother who I talk to on the phone with any regularity.Like him a lot.Hung out with him a lot in Los Angeles.And you may not know this, but I’m a big fan of his book.
DARIAN ARKY: Works for the U.S. Department of State.Writes about God’s female reproductive organs.The two are not necessarily related.
DAVID WILLS: A Scotsman living in the Orient.His tags often contain these words: Korea, poop.Because he hides behind the collage of pictures in his Gravatar, you might be under the impression that he’s not handsome.You’d be wrong.
DON MITCHELL: Erstwhile professor of anthropology.Possibly the only person on earth who maintains residences in both Buffalo and Hilo, Hawaii.Runs marathons.Has great taste in classical music.Knows how to tell a joke. Was supposed to meet him in New York, but I had to bow out because my grandmother died.
DUCKY WILSON: Talented filmmaker.Great taste in music. Can’t say more about her, or I’d have to kill you.
ELIZABETH COLLINS: “Liz.”Went to high school with her.She was orders of magnitude cooler than Yours Truly.In her yearbook, she wrote, “future plans include creative floundering.”I thought it was brilliant then, and I think it’s brilliant now.
ERIKA RAE: Married her high school sweetheart.Mischief lurks beneath her innocent smile.It was her idea to have all the dudes on the site dress up in women’s bathing suits for Rich Ferguson’s birthday.I still feel bad about not doing that, but come on.I wasn’t going to look as good as Simon.
GINA FRANGELLO: Her trilogy about her father remains the gold standard of TNB writing.Hope to meet her in New York when she’s in town for her Slut Lullabies book tour.
GLORIA HARRISON: Winner of the Totally Killer contest, which made me happy, because she is in fact totally killer.Longtime commentator, relatively new contributor.Her first two posts were about boobs and having a baby on the showroom floor of a Toyota dealership.What’s in store for Number Three?
GREG BOOSE: Has the same first name as me, but not the same last name.Met his wife, Claire, via TNB, and is the father of the first TNBaby.Continues to root for Lebron James even though Lebron James eighty-sixed him from his, Lebron’s, birthday party.
GREG OLEAR: Definitely Team Jolie, not Team Aniston.Likes cigars, or pretends to.Talks about Duke’s book too much.Comments too much.Wore a silly hat to the TNB thing in New York.Rocks back and forth when he stands, or sits, or writes—an annoying habit.His wife is much cooler than he is.
IRENE ZION: Does it count as a celebrity sighting when the celebrity isn’t a celebrity yet?If so, chalk up Michael Douglas for her.She’s a painter, a mother of twelve or thirteen children (she is prone to hyperbole), a comedienne, and a onetime resident of Trieste.And you may also be surprised to learn that she is Lenore’s mother.
J.E. FISHMAN: The “J” stands for Joel.I don’t know what the “E” stands for, but I’m guessing Edward.Cadaver Blues is good.You should check it out.
J.M. BLAINE: TNB’s Mystery Man.A character out of Pynchon.Write “W.A.S.T.E.” on an envelope and he’d show up to collect it.But that’s all you’ll know about him.His Gravatar suggests an adult who will only admit to enjoying Frosted Flakes if backlit.A music guy.Comments in verse.
JAMES D. IRWIN: His initials are J.D.I., so I decided to call him “Jedi.”That literally came to me in a dream.He’s I think sixteen years old, and British, so he spells stuff with “s” when there should be a “z” and adds “u” to words arbitrarily.Likes classic rock.Very funny bloke.
JASON RICE: Like Don Draper, lives in the suburbs. Like Don Draper, is a good father. Like Don Draper, does not have an iPhone
JEFFREY PILLOW: “Jeffro.” Starting power forward on TNB basketball team. Connoisseur of malt liquor. Nice guy. When he publishes a novel, I will call it The Pillow Book.
JESSICA ANYA BLAU: Her parents were naked a lot, but she turned out just fine.Met her at the first TNB-LE in New York, back when it was called “Off the Blog.”Great reader.A real pro.Absolutely delightful in person.Is going to be in one of the guests in the pilot of On the Road, the TNB original program you’ll hear more about as the weather warms up.
JIM SIMPSON: Egregiously nice guy. Off-the-charts nice. Big Elvis Costello fan. Has an affinity with James Fenimore Cooper.
JOHN SINGLETON: Hustler of words. WordPressario. Is not in any way affiliated with “Boyz in the Hood”. Came to my reading in Los Angeles. Is younger than his photo makes him look. Has cool tattoos and a very Zen-like quality. Nice guy.
JONATHAN EVISON: Has forgotten more about publishing than I’ll ever know.Has helped me a lot.Knows everyone.Frequent guest at book clubs.Likes beer and rabbits.Also sweatpants and bathtubs.Has great taste in literary agents.Brought me to TNB.In the parlance of True Blood, he is my Maker
JOSIE: Self-styled TNB groupie. Oracle, seer, keeper of secrets. Really likes the GnR design I did for the re-launch promos. I think I owe her a present.
JUSTIN BENTON: Master of observing trends concerning things I don’t ever think about, like rollerblades and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.Used to be my Facebook friend.Used to be a fan of “Totally Killer By Greg Olear” on Facebook.Committed Facebook suicide.Really needs to relocate to a more pleasant part of the country.Looks like my old college buddy Gates.In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually was Gates.
KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL: Talented filmmaker who made my book trailer.The doyenne of the Breakdown.Hung out with her in NYC.Like her a lot.Definitely pro-emoticon. Really a blonde, not a redhead. Hates to be called Kim.
KIP TOBIN: aka Tip Kobin, Lip Robin, Rip Bobin, etc.For some reason I picture him as Brad Pitt’s character in Ocean’s Eleven.Official TNB DJ.
LANCE REYNALD: Likes Warhol and Salinger.Posts cool videos on his Facebook feed, like that remake of “99 Luftballoons.”Enviably photogenic.
LENORE ZION: Heart & soul of this web site.Dislikes midgets.Thinks George Clooney is gross; prefers Christopher Maloney.Tends to be attracted to gay men and vegans.Hung out with her in Los Angeles.Met her cats.Also her neighbors, who are way cool.She drove me and Duke around.She drives like a Neapolitan cabbie.Sweet as all get out.
MARNI GROSSMAN: Vassar girl.Calendar girl.(Disclaimer: I know “girl” is not the accepted equivalent of the French mademoiselle; I use the word ironically).Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.Met her briefly in New York.She was very nice. Hope to meet her when we shoot the pilot of On the Road.
MATTHEW BALDWIN: A black belt in some martial art of Asian origin—I get them mixed up—he’s fought alligators, disarmed knife-wielding muggers, survived Katrina, and kicked a sensei’s ass in Sin City.I’d think he was Batman, except the Dark Knight would never high-five a check-out girl when buying Bat-rubbers.
MEGAN DiLULLO: Was never gangbanged by the Lollipop Guild, despite her claims, and thank God for that.Has tattoos and a very nice speaking voice.Once had a dream about my wife.
NICK BELARDES: The pride of Bakersfield, perhaps one of its Lords.Random obsessive.Dreams of underwear.One-man media blitz.Used to go by N.L.Really nice guy, generous and helpful.
PHAT B: One of my favorite commentators.Cracks me up.Once challenged me to a duel because I poked fun at Kim Kardashian.Later sent me a cigar in the mail.Didn’t get to meet him in L.A., unfortunately
QUENBY MOONE: “QB.” Late addition to the team, in the same way Pau Gasol was a late addition to the Lakers when they won the title. Very funny. She and my wife would get along better than Angelia Jolie and my wife would. But all three together would make for a fun porch night.
RACHEL POLLON: Doesn’t post much, alas, but she’s a dear.Would have met her in Los Angeles, but she had the flu.Bummer.
REBECCA ADLER: “Becca.” Book blogger at The Inside Cover. Just back from Istanbul, by way of Prague. Enjoy her Twitter feed.
RENO J. ROMERO: Not sure if he’s really a rock star, but he looks like one.His posts have long and funny titles.Used to live in Vegas, which is somewhat ironic, given his first name.Fan of the Oakland Raiders, unfortunately for him.
RICH FERGUSON: When I first came to TNB and saw his Gravatar, I thought he was using a picture of Johnny Depp.Then I felt like a tool for thinking that.Although you could do worse than have people think you look like Johnny Depp.Met him at my reading in Los Angeles.Really nice guy.He’s from New Jersey (my home state is the Ireland of the USA; we produce artists who leave the place and never return).I’m a big fan of his spoken-word stuff.Love love love “Bond Girl.”
RICHARD COX: Texan now living in Oklahoma.Writer of speculative fiction.Scratch golfer (not sure if he really is scratch, but I like using golf jargon).The titles of his pieces are lines from cheesy 80s songs.Songs I like, in other words.Zara calls him Richrob for some reason.Not sure why.
ROBIN ANTALEK: Fellow resident of Upstate New York.She lives right near the Corporation of Yaddo, but wrote her book without a residency there.Super, super nice.Is going to be in one of the guests in the pilot of On the Road, the TNB original program you’ll hear more about as the weather warms up.I still think about the piece she wrote about her dad and the clothesline.
RONLYN DOMINGUE: Grew up in New Orleans.Whereabouts now unknown, because her dateline used to involve longitude and latitude, and I’m not down with that.Likes insects and flowers. Seems very nice.
SHYA SCANLON: If lit blogs were reality/daytime TV, he’d be Joel McRae in The Soup that is the TNB Feed.I’m jealous of his mustache.
SIMON SMITHSON: Debonair and handsome Aussie who may one day realize his dream of living in Frisco, if not his dream of boinking Janeane Garofalo.Originator of his eponymous “Effect,” or “SSE”.Has so much water in his chart it leaked all over my computer.Is going through his Saturn Return, which is causing him to ponder the meaning of life and rub the magic Uche lamp.I won’t say he’s a clever wordsmith, but put it this way: if he had to choose the body part of any hot actress, he’d pick the Portman toe.
SLADE HAM: Stand-up comic from Houston.Funny guy (you can watch his clips on YouTube).Perfectly named for his vocation.“What a Ham!He Slade me.”
STEFAN KIESBYE: Don’t know him well. Friends with Don Mitchell. Runs marathons with Don Mitchell. Wears a cool hat.
STEPHANIE ST. JOHN OLEAR: Rock star (that’s her song in my book trailer). My helpmate and better half. Singer, songwriter, psychology graduate student. Mother of my children. Hottie. Recovering musical theatre major. Recovering TNB addict. Future plans include Skyping with Zara and playdating with the Jolie-Pitts.
STEVE SPARSHOTT:Londoner.Managed to pull off both the long hair and the short hair look successfully.Makes cool iMovie videos.
TAWNI: Rock star.Lovely writer.Lovelier person.Often on Facebook at 5:30am, when I first check the news feed there.
THOMAS WOOD: Being held prisoner by his cat, who is apparently the Kim Jong Il of the feline set.Quirkily funny.
UCHE OGBUJI: He’s, like, way smarter than me.
WILL ENTREKIN: Renaissance man: chemist, personal trainer, professor, graduate student, writer…I think I’m missing a few.Recent devotee of massages.And ruum.Since he said he loves Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, I keep picturing him as one of the leads in the play.Haven’t met him yet, but will soon, as he is also slated to appear in On the Road.
ZARA POTTS: New Zealander, or Noo Zellendr, as it were.Partial to words that begin with f: fury, fear, flowers, friendship, fuck.Talked to her on the phone once briefly.Can’t wait to meet her and Simon this summer.She’s a doll.
ZOE BROCK: Also a Kiwi.Old friends with Zara, whom she brought to TNB.Also recruited Simon.Looks like a model. Is one.
Thank you for reading this piece.
Also: I know I’m missing someone, or sometwo or somethree, and I apologize in advance.
For more on Breakdown society, hitch a ride on Duke’s stolen car.