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Playa del Rey and Venice Beach, California

7:05 p.m.: Seated at a fine restaurant. Intelligent, attractive, interesting and sometimes flammable man on one side of the table. Me across.

Trout with almonds. Carrot soup. Half a bottle of chardonnay. Mountain elk.

Dessert: the one on the cover of a magazine that made me want to dip my finger onto the page and come away with a drip of chocolate. The photo that led us here.

Photo by Andrei RozenFirst question, gotta ask: What’s up with the hat?

A lot of people ask me that question. And it’s a valid one, as I’m wearing it in most every photo. Though, there are certain spoken word videos where I don’t wear it, or a bandana: “All The Times” and “Human Condition” are two videos that come to mind. I also never wear it in the shower, to bed, or to work. Haven’t worn it to a funeral either. Or when getting a driver’s license photo.

When words meant to be spoken are bottled up for too long, those words stop showering and shaving. Crank speed metal at four a.m. Carve lines into your forehead with rusty knives. Illegally park in handicapped spaces, create fake ads on Craigslist. Those bottled-up words trade up for down, left for right, dropkick you into the shacklebone zone. They smile in public, beat you in private. Fill your mouth with rains and hurricanes, pee a circle around your soul and mark it for extinction.

By the dawn of the 80s, punk rock was dead and a leaner, more muscular sound known as hardcore had commandeered the underground. On the West Coast, hardcore pioneers like Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Social Distortion and The Minutemen unleashed rage-fueled anthems that bypassed the cheek of punk and went straight for the jugular.

Chronicling every show, rumor and police raid was We Got Power, a fanzine founded by a pair of first generation hardcore freaks and best friends, Dave Markey and Jordan Schwartz. The epitome of DIY publishing, We Got Power seethed with unchecked passion, snark and attitude, and three decades later, their humble periodical now stands as one of the most vivid and enduring documents of Los Angeles in the Reagan era.

It was around 9:30 P.M., and I was waiting for the bus in Hollywood after being momentarily paroled from my job as a so-called telefundraiser. When I applied for the job, I didn’t think I stood a chance of being hired at that company or any other, having been out of the mainstream work force for the majority of my adult life, which I’ve spent eking out a living as an actor and screenwriter. The entertainment business used to be said to be recession-proof, but if that was ever true in the past, it’s true no longer; the minute the economy went to hell four years ago, I received fewer and fewer offers of acting and screenwriting jobs, until finally I received none at all. Even production-assistant jobs were, in my case anyway, scarce, though I did manage to PA for a couple of days on a teenage space musical financed by NASA, as well as on a Disney Channel spot in which Miley Cyrus was interviewed alongside her achy-breaky father to mark the end of Hannah Montana.

I accepted a job out past a boulevard named Rampart, the last name anyone would ever dream up as a short diagonal through Los Angeles, California. I crossed Rampart in the morning going east, retreating over the last stretch of continental pavement I’d traveled months before. The downtown by now looked exposed, without the fortified walls.

Author’s Note: A musical track I created with L.A. musician Bo Blount is currently featured in the trailer for The Beautiful Anthology (BIG thanks to David Grossbach for putting it together). Below you’ll find the poem which inspired the piece. If you’d like to listen to the track, or download a free version of it, click on the SoundCloud link at the bottom of the page. Hope you enjoy…

 

Like a Russian mobster tattoo
This is you forever inked into my flesh
Telling the story of us

That story’s name: Butterfly, Moon, Bed

Reading Ray Bradbury’s work marked the first time I ever took reading seriously. The first time I borrowed his short story collection The Golden Apples of the Sun from the library was the first time I tried to appreciate fiction for grown-ups, the first time I wandered into the quiet neighborhood of the adult fiction stacks.

To be honest, I’ve always had a difficult relationship with fiction. I’m insufferably impatient. In the fifth grade, I enjoyed reading Bradbury’s short fiction because it was ofttimes really short. (I still can’t help but peek ahead to see the glorious white space marking the end of anything.) I liked that Bradbury wrote about space travel and elementary schools on Venus and what household appliances would do after the bomb dropped, but most of all I liked how he wrote about summer.

Please explain what just happened.

I’m not totally sure what just happened. I think someone roofied me and now I’m just passed out somewhere dreaming all of this.

 

What is your earliest memory?

Being two or three years old and barfing my brains out in the car. Every time I got in a car I would get motion sickness. This one time I got really sick and decided to use my mom’s purse like a barf bag. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I still get really car sick if I’m not driving, but I don’t puke in purses anymore.

Anna was a metaphysical meteorologist. Could always predict whenever my heart’s weather was nearing rain.

Jen was born under the sign of an electric guitar. She could turn me up. Turn me on. Did anything but turn me down.

Doris took everything that wasn’t nailed to the floor or superglued to my conscience.

Kelly would cage me. Let me roam wild in her heavy-petting zoo.

Fiona was my judge, jury and executioner. She never inflicted a painful death; more like the death of all my pain.

Certain things about certain women I’ve known…

Ashley was a blizzard in a box.

Please explain what just happened.

I just read your question.  No, wait, I just answered your question.

 

 

What is your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is probably watching the film Gandhi in a movie theater and having no idea what was going on but knowing that I thought the whole idea of being at the movies was awesome.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a carminative, carnival-hating carnivore with a voracious appetite for plump pluralists speaking in the persnickety pluperfect; and was constantly being busted for driving drunk with an expired poetic license.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a highly intoxicated, contumacious succubus; a mealy-mouthed, heavily medicated, nitrous-huffing hitman that couldn’t shoot his way out of a greasy paperbag.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a snide, snafu-loving, crappy lapidary, whose drooling dreams of overly depressed dromedaries were more painful than a demonstrative dreadnought in your noggin.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a double-crossing, conniption-throwing con artist that was once busted for keeping an arsenal of saccharine, Silly String, and sodium nitrate in a mountain cabin once owned by the Unabomber.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a sarcastic, hotel towel-stealing, hangover artist; a hanky-panky practicing, skank-loving, loopy & loquacious Wall Street banker whose soul was an all-night crematorium for creativity & coincidences.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a defrocked and dehydrated follower of zymurgy and zombie logic; a bowlegged & brainwashed, jukebox-bashing bondsman, highly skilled in the ju jitsu of junkfood.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a Viagra-popping, far-from-demulcent denominator for the fraction of fractured faith healers; a hernia in the body of hope; a hemorrhoid on the ass of ardency; and a total cheater when it comes to Parcheesi.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a somnambulant, shrink-wrapped & wilted vibrator for the sex life of lethargy; a tantrum-throwing, Mother Theresa-hating headbanger whose great hubris & halitosis were far more unnerving than being tailgated by a time bomb.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a fainthearted & hypersensitive sesquipedalian; a distraught & divisive virologist whose life was a facsimile of a facsimile of a poorly written simile.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was a cholera-ridden, mosquito-bitten polysyllable basher; a party-crashing conduit for slobbering dromedaries and fractured fairy tales full of false endings and wishes that never come true.

 

Happy a happy holiday season anyway, y’all!

 

 

Today was a day of redemption for those of us that were picked last.  Today, we went to baseball. Baseball didn’t come to us.

Slake Magazine’s Craig Gaines called the game and the challengers were Red Hen Press, Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), and Black Clock Magazine.

It was the first game of the Los Angeles’ indie press initiated Litball.  When you get a bunch of writers together, some of them in matching outfits, the quality of conversation goes up.