Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Want To Be Famous Because I'm Great

That is, I have more ego than those who just want to be famous. I want to be famous because I deserve it. Which isn't to say I believe I deserve it yet. Deserving it is what I'm working toward, and yes please I'd like the fame that comes with it. Of course, I'm talking about the amount of fame that a well-known writer would get, which is not the hounded by paparazzi invading my privacy to the point where I should be allowed to shoot them variety. No, I aspire to be known as a writer (and I don't walk around claiming to be one just because I have a few novels in the works. Hell, everyone's grandmother has a few novels in the works. "I could be the next Agatha Christie." No thanks and no I couldn't, Ms. Christie was phenomenally good at what she did and I do something else.)

I can legitimately claim to be an editor on the small press level; we are working on the fourth issue of Swill and the eighth issue of Monday Night, both scheduled for summer publication, and I am proud of what both publications have achieved. Monday Night is more of a shared credit, as it was started several years ago as an off-shoot of the writers group I was in at the time. The number of editors has gradually dwindled to two, with Jessica's focus primarily on poetry and mine primarily on fiction; Sharon, who used to be one of the editors, does all the artwork and layout. And although a version of that writers group still exists, none of us who work on the magazine are in it.

Swill is more specifically mine. To a large degree it was my wife's idea, as she told me I should stop grousing if Monday Night wasn't doing everything I wanted it to do. Also it was her idea that I involve Sean. Swill owes a lot to the writing of Delphine LeCompte. Delphine has a lot of stories on line and I'm a big fan. She submitted stories to Monday Night and I was the only editor who liked them, and I loved them. There was a story of hers that was being considered for Monday Night and it got published elsewhere. Delphine and I exchanged numerous emails; I really wanted to publish her. And I wanted to publish fiction that didn't fit in the so-called "literary" magazines. I had fiction of my own that didn't seem to be marketable at all; I thought it was literary fiction but the literary fiction markets dismissed it as "genre." After a few years of this I came to the realization that what these markets considered literary I considered boring. They were rejecting me not because I wasn't good enough but because I wasn't part of the program. Whereas I'd been thinking they should publish me because my stories were so obviously superior to what they were receiving.

I guess Swill publishes the work of writers who don't do what they're supposed to. I like stories and I hate epiphanies because in real life there's action and there aren't epiphanies. In real life of course there's tons of boredom too, but that doesn't justify the stories that replicate those scenes. I really hate writers. Not all, but maybe all the ones who call themselves writers. I mean, unless that's what you do for a living, but so much writing is self-absorbed and why should I care about another person when I'm self-absorbed myself?

So Swill has gotten one terrible review from a zine press, one decent review from a litzine review magazine (I disagreed with their criticisms but it was fairly written, ran excerpts from a few stories, and clearly expressed the reviewer's prejudices, which I actually found impressive) and have had nice things said about us by Harlan Ellison. Let me rephrase that:


Because Harlan Ellison was one of three writers specifically mentioned on the back cover of the first issue of Swill. It was a note about literary fiction, which I said we like, but we think literary fiction includes Harlan Ellison and James Ellroy. (The third author I mentioned was Shakespeare - he included a lot of violence and humor in his work, yet some of the critics put up with him anyway.)

As I don't expect James Ellroy to ever say anything nice about anyone but himself (although maybe he'd like us, since he's one of my favorite writers), and Shakespeare is even less likely to give us a shout, we may have already achieved a chunk of the fame we're seeking.

We want more, of course. We make absolutely no money doing this and we think it's worth something. Issue 4 will be our best yet, and I was quite excited today when I found out that I know someone who knows one of the leading science fiction editors in the world, and he'd be happy to help me contact him. Not that Swill is all sf by any means; out of the 7 stories in the next issue, I think two would fit in that category, four would probably be best classified as crime, and one is a bizarre comic literary fantasy that has nothing in common with the rest of the issue except that it's damned good.

God, like authors aren't obscure enough. What if it turns out I get most famous for editing?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day Massacre

I am, of course, a bit late with this, but it's the sort of thing no one would complain about: "This is absolutely horrible, you asshole, and you should have given it to me yesterday." Nope, this is the music mix not to give someone you're courting, and probably not to someone you've broken up with - why bother? - but to give yourself after your heart's been stepped on.

Fortunately for me, none of this has anything to do with my current situation except that Jenny suggested that I do an anti-Valentines mix, perhaps so she wouldn't feel so guilty about hers. I'll be sending copies of this to those I think most likely to appreciate it. If you haven't received an email from me by Sunday morning (which, technically, it is now, but I think of morning as when I'm drinking coffee not alcohol) and you'd like a copy, lemme know. Playlist is:

1 H-A-T-R-E-D Tonio K.
2 I Don't Need the Reasons Eastern Dark
3 Sharpening Axes Graham Parker
4 Song For The Dumped Ben Folds Five
5 Devastation Malcolm Middleton
6 Shelter Black Mountain
7 Stupid The Dirtbombs
8 Repulsion Dinosaur Jr.
9 Pretty Baby (You're So Ugly) Ty Segall
10 Someone who cares The Only Ones
11 How Much I've Lied Gram Parsons
12 Hell No, I Ain't Happy Drive-By Truckers
13 Empty Heart The Hellacopters
14 Trouser Minnow Rapeman
15 Temporary Thing Lou Reed
16 I'll Say It Real Kids
17 Gun Uncle Tupelo
18 One More Night Dave Edmunds
19 Teardrops Must Fall Mink Deville
20 Ever Fallen in Love? Buzzcocks
21 You Don't Know Me Sister Double Happiness
22 The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow) The Jam

Friday, February 6, 2009


Hey man, this is love. Love you Lux, love you Ivy, love you Nick and Bryan and Kid Congo. Don't mourn, memorialize. Best to all, I can't convey what the Cramps have meant to me, I got kicked out of a Holiday Inn parking lot looking for this band. Aloha to Hell. "I've lost touch with reality."

Ivy, if somehow you ever see this, best to you, love, cheers however that comes.

I don't know where to stop with this. I could talk the Cramps forever. One of the greatest bands I've ever heard or seen, a band I felt physically related to those times when I was screaming animal noises drunk in the street but as songs. At the time I never saw not being a madman as an option, I felt like I was faking it. And here was Lux doing what I wished I could be doing, and I was "out there" compared to most people I knew, but not out there like the Cramps were out there. What a fucking blessing this band was. Whoever you are, whatever you are, you can be this. Release what's in you, let it out.

Of course it helps if it's musical, especially rockabilly/psychedelia.

Nick Knox was one of the best drummers I ever saw, and he could chain smoke an entire set, flipping his sticks between cigarettes.

I don't know how to talk about Ivy - every time I saw the Cramps I chose her side of the stage, got as close as I could, watched her shimmying shoulders while she played guitar. Sexiest goddamn guitarist I ever saw, and what a player, and this is supposed to be a tribute to her man.

Because Lux - there's no fucking describing Lux. Lux was everything I wanted to be. He was fucking insane, singing his ass off, all over the stage and amps, and if you ever saw that video where the Cramps played the asylum, Lux telling the crowd, "People say you're crazy; I don't think you're so crazy," and you know he's been hearing this and living this and it's funny, but it's also why I could relate. No matter how out there I was compared to my classmates, what had it been like for Lux in school?

They were sick, they were funny, they played great rock n roll and they never had a choice about becoming a part of the mainstream. They were always the Cramps, they couldn't be anyone else and no one else could be them.

Life stripped bare left them no choice but to make this noise, these noises. I'd say RIP Lux Interior but I don't think that's an option. Rock, Lux, wherever you are. As if you could say no.