The Nervous Breakdown and Emergency Press host TNBLE New York on May 28th at Public Assembly, in Williamsburg.  
 

For TNB NYC on May 28th, we will open up Public Assembly for 4 performers and writers – Edgar Oliver and Elna Baker from New York, and TNB authors Chad Faries and Lenore Zion. The event will be hosted by TNB contributor Tove K. Danovich. 
 

Oliver and Baker are featured performers at The Moth, the national storytelling organization. Faries and Zion are both Emergency Press authors. Zion, out of Los Angeles, is one of the original writers at TNB, and author of the novel Stupid Children, due out in early 2013. Faries will tell stories at the center of his new memoir, Drive Me Out of My Mind
 

Public Assembly is located at 70 North 6th St. (Wythe) in Williamsburg. Event runs from 7:00 – 10:00, and admission is $5 at the door. Full, satisfying bar. 
 

Chad Faries is the author of Drive Me Out of My Mind, a memoir published by Emergency Press. His two books of poems are The Border Will Be Soon and The Book of Knowledge. A recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, he lived and taught in Central Europe for many years. Currently he teaches at Savannah State University, where he also hosts a radio program on WHCJ 90.3. 
 

Lenore Zion is the author of My Dead Pets are Interesting, published last year by TNB Books. An original writer for The Nervous Breakdown (TNB), her first novel, Stupid Children, will be released by Emergency Press in early 2013. 
 

Edgar Oliver started performing in New York at the Pyramid in the mid-1980′s. As a playwright, many of Oliver’s plays have been staged at La MaMa and other downtown NYC theatres, including The Seven Year Vacation, The Poetry Killer, Hands in Wartime, Motel Blue 19 and Mosquito Succulence. As a stage actor, he has performed in countless plays including Edward II with Cliplight Theater, Marc Palmieri’s Carl the Second, and Lipsynka’s Dial M for Model. He is also one of the most beloved storytellers at The Moth. His film roles include That’s Beautiful Frank, Henry May Long, and Gentlemen Broncos. He is also the author of A Portrait of New York by a Wanderer There and Summer and The Man Who Loved Plants. 
 

Elna Baker is a writer, comedian, and storyteller who has performed with The Moth, on This American Life, Studio 360, Radiolab, BBC Radio 4, the Upright Citizens Brigade, and at many comedy clubs throughout New York. Her work includes the show, If You See Something, Say Something, and the book, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, published by Penguin in 2009. 
 

Tove K. Danovich is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. She is a contributor to TNB and an associate editor at Anderbo literary magazine. Her work has most recently been published in The Brooklyn Rail and Slushpile. She is also the author of the food blog Eighty-Sixed.

From galencurry.com:

Galen Curry honed his skills as a musician in the most intuitive way: by playing music whenever and wherever possible. He [has] played in jazz combs, chamber singing groups, wedding bands, and wind ensembles. He has toured the Eastern Seaboard with a rock [outfit] and Eastern Europe with a concert choir. For years, Galen front Upstate New York alt-rock band The Beds and Virginia funk-rock ensemble Ultraviolet Ballet, and it was with these bands that he began to find his voice as a songwriter.

Galen’s musical talents are now focused on a burgeoning solo career. Based out of a vibrant Charlottesville, Virginia, music scene, Galen honors his southern heritage with unmistakably American tunes that supplement his singular tenor with clever lyricism and upbeat rootsy instrumentation, but it is his penchant for heartfelt and rollicking live performances that definitely set him apart from the crowd.

Hi, self, let’s agree to pretend that there’s an actual interviewer, shall we? Otherwise, we, you and I, are going to choke on the preciousness of it all.

Yeah, let’s do that. The whole notion of a self interview is endlessly cute and irritating. It’s like club promoters who “let” the band set up their own bill. Nobody wants to work anymore.

 

Well, your work ethic is terrible too.

Yeah, but I NEVER wanted to work. I think it’s a new thing for everyone else.

 

Fine. Did you read that book that n+1 put out on “the hipster”?

No, I read the shorter New York Magazine piece. It was fine. Life’s a bit too short to read a book length treatment on the subject. When I worked at The Strand, my boss gave me advice that has served me well up to this day. He said “Zack, life is too short to read Tom Wolf.” I use it often and I think it’s given me an extra lifetime of spare time. Spare time I use to download Crust demos and think of snide things to say about Let The Great World Spin.

 

What are you talking about, you loved that book. You were, like, crying through the whole thing.

Sure, at the time, but now all I remember is the part where the Irish dude talks about playing Tom Waits in a bar. Nobody plays Tom Waits in a bar. It’s like wearing a sign that says, “I’m in a bar! Ask me about it! Bar bar bar bar bar . . .” The only people who play Tom Waits in bars are college kids and people who write “Great American Novels.” Nobody should have to drink with either of those types.

 

Do you mean what you say, or are you just trying to be interesting?

Chuck Eddy’s Stairway to Hell was a huge influence on me. People thought he was just being contrary because he put Teena Marie and the Adverts in his top ten Heavy Metal albums of all time, but he was being sincere while never losing sight of the fact that shit should actually be interesting to read. I’m interested in the truth, but I don’t make a fetish of it.

 

Let’s get back to the hipster thing.

Why?

 

Because people like to talk about it. It elicits strong feelings. And your writing has been criticized in the context of you being a hipster asshole.

Yeah, fair enough and, by current loose standards, I am. I guess I’ve been hearing people I’ve been serving drinks to calling other people hipsters for as long as I can remember but, to me, it’s not a terribly interesting subject. I mean, I work, pay my rent, plan on eventually paying taxes, I figure the obscurity of the band t-shirt I’m wearing is my business. If it makes you feel bad, on whatever level, don’t tip me. I’m a grown-ass man, I’m too busy fearing death to flip the fuck out over a blogger’s disdain for my life.

 

But you live in Williamsburg, play in a band, and have black rim glasses. You’re a goddamned cartoon.

Luckily Williamsburg is no longer hip. It’s now just a rich shitty college town. A guy like me can now, walking down Bedford Ave., safely get called a faggot by a white person. So I would hope everyone would update their cultural references accordingly. Anyway, there seems to be a real element of “disco sucks” to the hatred of all things hipster. Know what I’m saying? People can’t say what they mean. Hardly ever.

 

OK. We already knew that. So, what’s next for you and Stacy and Nick?

We’re doing a reading/performance in SF for the Noise Pop Fest, at the end of February. I’m not allowed to talk about all the neat stuff Nick is working on musically, but it’s real neat. Stacy has a cool book of show dog photos out on her and her sister’s publishing house, Evil Twin. I’m working on a novel (like everyone reading this I imagine), a piece on my love of Cop Shoot Cop, and an essay for a Jane Eyre zine.

 

A Jane Eyre zine?

Yeah. I think I’m going to defend Rochester. I don’t see the problem. He seems fine to me.

 

 

When I was about to publish my novel, Banned for Life, I had a number of exchanges with Jonathan Evison, whose counsel I sought with regard to promotion, among other matters. He was aware of certain aspects of my past, and he advised me to be forthcoming about them, since to do otherwise, he said, would amount to breaking faith with readers.

Jonathan is a wise man, but I regarded Banned as my child, and so wanted to shield it from the sins of its father. I imagined dismissive reviews based less on the book and more on my rap sheet, as well as sneering remarks posted on message boards. Paranoia? But I’ve been the target of such remarks, and I wanted to give Banned a running start before falling on my sword.

Now, I figure, the time has come. Banned has barely been noticed since it appeared more than six months ago, and I’ve tested the waters with friends made since, and none have responded as feared.

Hair Today

By J.E. Fishman

Essay


By happenstance or predilection, I am generally surrounded by people who embrace change with the enthusiasm of a koala hugging a porcupine.  For example, my parents stayed on the same floor of the same hotel every winter in Boca Raton for more than a decade before moving there from Great Neck.  And for the past ten years, they’ve stayed in the same hotel in Great Neck every summer when they’re not in Boca.

My father has done the New York Times crossword puzzle every morning of my entire life.  My father-in-law has used the same style date book for as long as I’ve known him, and probably much longer than that.

My stepmother — whom I’ve known longer than I had my deceased mother — didn’t learn to drive until she was nearly forty and then did so only under duress.  My mother-in-law takes one of three identical walks on her Eastern Shore farm every day she’s there, rarely venturing a new one.

My wife kept the same cell phone until an AT&T store salesman informed her that replacement batteries could no longer be found.  For twenty-five years, she has squirmed when I mention that I’m thinking of revising my hairstyle.  For family peace, I never do.

Hair is one of those things some people change as frequently as their shirt.  My people, not so much.

A few weeks ago, my parents, ensconced in their Great Neck hotel — not a place they own, mind you, though, at a month at a time, by this point they might have — invited us out to brunch (which they eat daily) at a place called Bruce’s where we always meet at least once when they’re in town.

They were already seated when we arrived, and after forty-seven years I am pretty familiar with my father’s face.  So what was this thing under his nose?

I did a double-take and a triple-take.

He arched his brow.  “You haven’t seen the mustache before?”

“Before when?” I wanted to say.  “Before the seventy-nine and a half years you’ve been clean shaven?”

But my mind was at sea.  All I could think of at first was the line from Jerry Seinfeld, who once said he’d thought about growing a mustache, but then he’d have to walk around in a bathrobe carrying a pipe to complete the look.

When I recovered a few senses, I tried to put the mustache in a more personal context.  This mustache on the man whose prior attitude toward facial hair took inspiration from the ancient Romans, who, after all, coined the word “barbarian”?  This fresh mustache on the man who drove the same model car (though a new one every time his lease expired) for three decades?  This new mustache on the man whose every suit and sport jacket bore the Paul Stuart label for literally half a human lifetime?

Maybe the shock wouldn’t have been so bad but for an announcement that my wife had made three months ago.  “I’ve decided to grow my hair out.”

It seemed like an innocuous statement at the time.  In the quarter century I’ve known her my wife’s hairstyle has evolved at a pace so glacial that distinctions between periods lay beyond recognition by heterosexual males.  So I wondered, how long would it have taken me to notice if she hadn’t mentioned it?

“I like it short,” I said, “but sure — whatever you want.”

Well, three months later and my wife’s hair had become an entity unto itself in our marriage.  A tote’s worth of equipment attended to it: bobby pins and hair blowers; a brush with a giant cylinder at its center and dangerous-looking spikes coming out; hair clips that could eat the world.

One day, when we were packing to go somewhere, she called up the stairs: “Could you put my flat iron in the bag before I forget!”  I thought: So that’s what that thing is with the cord and the prongs.

Worse than the equipment is the disruption of routine.  A good quarter hour has been added to her prep time, and when we’re both pressed I find myself showering to the roar of what sounds like a three-stroke engine on the other side of the bathroom.

Similarly, my father — who shaved for his whole life with a manual razor — now travels with a Norelco for trimming the weed under his nose.

Thus we all become slaves to our own ornamentation.

One evening this summer in Williamsburg, my immediate family signed up to attend the re-creation of a small ball, the kind they’d have put together for fun in 1774.  It felt like two hundred degrees, no air conditioning, and the Williamsburg women were wearing layered silk dresses and gloves up to the elbows.  They plucked me from the audience to join in a dance, and I ended up paired with the one who was playing the role of eligible widow.

“Mr. Fishman,” she said in character, “what a pleasure to make your acquaintance.  Are you married?”

I could hardly deny it with my wife and daughter sitting in the audience.

“Do you know of any eligible bachelors, then, a friend or a cousin perhaps?”

“No straight ones,” I said.  “Aren’t you hot under all those layers?”

She’d been asked that question a thousand times, I’m sure, and had some diversionary reply ready.  And then the dance was over and I was back in my seat.

But it occurred to me that the authentic clothing they wear in Williamsburg, so impractical for hot and humid Virginia summers, wasn’t born here.  It was the fashion brought over from England, where the weather is, well, English.

These people, our Founding Fathers and their peers, were slaves to fashion just like the rest of us.  Maybe clean-shaven George Washington spent half the morning primping his wig.  Maybe he let his beard grow at Valley Forge when no portraitists were around to make a record of it.  Maybe he returned to Mt. Vernon for a long weekend and Martha took one look at him and laughed her corset off until he got the razor out.

As I’ve documented, though, the members of my modern tribe don’t change so quickly.  My best guess is that I’ll be lugging around totes full of hair supplies for the foreseeable future.  And my father will wear that mustache until some salesman tells him he can no longer find replacement batteries for the Norelco.