All posts in books

stuff[s]. and more.

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every time I go to write something, I usually don’t write something because writing takes effort. and I’m trying to enjoy the downtime between this book being officially released [read: on Amazon in the next few weeks, ebooks, etc.] and the next one starting. it’s a collection of short stories between Dec ’08-present. I’m looking forward to starting it, and I’m looking even more forward to being done with the first one. did you know I’ve never even read it? it’s sitting right next to me, as I had to reference it for a slight design change, but I’ve never picked it up. I should though, it’s a good book. but I digress…

this shall be the most random of catch-ups. I’m doing it more for me than you, but that shouldn’t come as a shock:

– it’s a shame we lost in the final minutes of the Women’s World Cup. it’s a shame we don’t give a shit. but well-played [for the first 108 minutes, at least], girls. you actually made female professional sports exciting. weird.

– the Vespa Saga continues. that actually deserves its own post and I will – as soon as I’m official – post the entire headache. if I do it now, I’ll just be annoyed.

– speaking of annoyed. I can no longer hide my insane jealousy for Mel and Nick’s choice to put their stuff in storage, quit their [very successful] careers and took off sailing the world for a few years. the only thing that outdoes my envy is my intrigue. and respect.

this has been a favorite summer song for some time, and it is again this summer. hey, you should make it one of yours.

– oh! the second day in Philly I wanted to tell you about? the crazy castle [yes, castle. see below] we went to, built by the eccentric tile-maker James Mercer? one of the coolest places in the States, I kid you not. the website doesn’t do it justice. well worth a day trip from Philly. no photos allowed inside, but I got a few of the exterior.

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– the hair stylist convinced me to get something called a ‘keratin blowout’ done to my locks. I’m still confused to what happened.

– the ‘101 best sandwich’ attempt died out [shocking!], as they were all a] more than $10 and b] beginning to not be within walking distance from my office.

– my office is in the exact area the term ’23 skidoo’ was coined. good band as well.

– I haven’t picked up my Leica once since moving to NYC. this hipstamatic stuff is brilliant.

– ah. yes. photos and NYC – that reminds me. took a shot of this the other week and made a point of going back when it was open. one of the coolest shops I’ve ever been in. worth a trip to Park Slope. am pretty sure it’s a Dave Eggers project.

– speaking of iStuff. if you have an iPad, download this. Brother Scott did the music for it and it’s been charting for weeks now on Apple.

– while I’ve always been mildly interested in the occult, reading ‘The Serpent and The Rainbow’ has elevated my curiousity in voodoo and black magic to a point of virtual hopelessness. I’m obsessed. have never seen the film, but have it downloaded for when I’m done.

– speaking of things to watch, I get about 40 minutes a week of time to do it, but Californication is one of the smartest shows ever to come out of the States. season 5 especially.

– this also looks amazing.

– NYC is a fucking fun town. has anyone ever said that before?

– Brother Ben [remember Brother Ben?] has a new project he’s working on and needs help. am hoping to interview him before the deadline, but if not, try and wrap your head around this.

– I rarely drink beer these days. if you email me, I’ll let you in on the best kept secret in the wine world. I’m buying it by the case and would love to say ‘and I’m even dropping some weight in the process’, but no. it is good, though. and cheap.

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– please stop using photos of your child for your profile picture on Facebook. Brother Cohn wrote last year that ‘I’m friends with you, not your child’ and it caused a shitstorm. why? I don’t know. photos of your kids on Facebook? of course! photos of you + your kids in your Facebook profile? sure! photos of your kids as your profile photo? no. stop it. it’s weird.

– this little blog is about to have some major changes happen to it. I’m kind of excited. I hope you like it. it’s cool. and exciting… thus, the excitement.

– a copy of my book was handed to Annie Clark [St. Vincent]. I’m totally keeping an eye out for her next album to see if I’m mentioned.

– I’m turning 35 in a few weeks and change. please don’t forget.

– this is a fun town.

– see ya later.

shelf life.

get this – I’m about to write about books.

and it doesn’t have a thing to do with mine!

enjoy this while you can.

despite my latest offerings,  I don’t consider myself to be a solidified writer. a good one? yeah – not bad. but during the past year, I’ve had to stay away from any books that would influence me. and that’s just about any non-fiction. this was a problem when I first started; if I re-read High Fidelity [which I do every 3 months or so], then the book would come out sounding like Nick Hornby’s delinquent student. one version, after reading ‘The Road’ came out with the same short sentences with no punctuation. and don’t even get me started on what my writing was like after devouring Camus one night on a lot of malbec.

long story short – I haven’t been able to read like I usually like to.

but now with the book done, I can. and I quickly used up a few old Amazon credits I had kicking around. and I chose wisely:

‘the yage letters’; by william s. burroughs and allen ginsberg

oh man. talk about excited. I had pretended to read this years ago [2001, I think] whilst trying to convince people I was weird. so I didn’t really get it, but this time – wow. 2 days and I’m already mostly done with it.

long story short, bill – a few years after william tell-ing his wife, goes down to columbia in search of the mythical yage [pronounced ya-hey] plant. a plant rumored to be stronger than any hallucinogenic known to man. and bill knew his hallucinogenics. during this time period, he wrote numerous letters to ginsberg.

5 years later, allan heads down to the same area in search of the same thing, this time writing burroughs.

unbelievably sharp. and so, so good. highly suggested.

it’s hard not to like mark twain. but in all of the times I’ve read and re-read tom sawyer and huck finn, I’ve missed hearing his profound one-liners and take on life that he’s so known for.

enter: ‘mark twain’s helpful hints for good living – a handbook for the damned human race’

and while I’m waiting to finish up the above, a few peeks into this already has shown it’s brilliance.

one of the few quotes I spied:

‘I thoroughly disapprove of duels. if a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.’

and:

‘always obey your parents, when they are present… most parents think they know better than you do, and you can generally make more by humouring that superstition.’

got to love a man who started writing at – ahem – 30.

‘the joke’s over’; by ralph steadman

[Josie is currently reading this and we’ve agreed to a book trade – although postage to/from australia is more expensive than just buying it off of amazon, but love makes you do some silly stuff sometimes]

anyone can point out a hunter s. thompson book by the art. and the font. and that is all down to steadman.

from what I can gather, they had a pretty volatile relationship; which always makes for a good read, people who thompson was volatile with… this, hunter’s opening epitaph for the book: ‘don’t write, ralph. you’ll bring shame on your family.’

[the guardian] ‘steadman… alongside a generous selection of his drawings, he recounts their shambolic adventures together, from the kentucky derby to the rumble in the jungle to the kona coast. while steadman’s slashing, ink-spattered art seems the perfect embodiment of thompson’s booze- and drug-fueled prose, in temperament he was a foil, a welshman who hated america, while thompson, in his excess, was perhaps the quintessential american.’

you know, I’ve had this book – ‘desolation alley’ by jack kerouac, for god knows how many years. but I would just find myself running back to either ‘on the road’ or ginsberg’s ‘howl’.

it should be said a few people I asked said this might be his best…

[the observer] ‘one of the most true, comic and grizzly journeys in american literature.’

[time] ‘the Beats drug, hop freight trains, live on the road and contemplate buddha. a nerve-jangling, sometimes sentimental, always sincere and funny book.’

[sunday times] ‘a beatific glow turns ginsberg into a great poet, not a hairy rhymester selling his vaseline jars as fake holy relics. Burroughs becomes an all-american folk hero, swinging and swaggering down the calle larache, rebuking his companions for walking too slow. all in a prose-poetry out of whitman and wolfe and dylan thomas.’

your suggestions are always welcome…

poll position

it’s just about 3 months before the pre-sale of the book The Book is released [St. Paddy’s] and it’s time for me to start doing some recon. but before I start asking questions, I’ll answer a few – as I’ve gotten so caught up in writing it, I’ve forgotten to explain what it’s all about.

– The Book [it will have a better title… I hope] is about a number of things:

1. the main one being the 5 years I spent in Shanghai, and the final few months leading up to the Olympics when I produced the underground series ‘The Shanghai Diaries’ – an expose on what was really going on in China leading up the 2008 Olympics – and then the government coming after me, my friends, my bank account, my clients because of that.

2. because of that, I couldn’t get back into Shanghai – my home – and spent 6 months on the road, covering almost all of SE Asia, then India and Nepal [can’t be viewed on Chrome for some reason]. this would be adventure enough for anyone, but my main account had been frozen by the Chinese government, resulting in me having to live on less than $15 a day.

3. it’s also a memoir/confessional of sorts – the admittance of what happens to a white male who spends too much time in Asia. add to that I was making magazine and newspaper headlines because of the shows I was producing, so was more than just a little up-my-own-ass. factor in a lot of drugs, bourbon and sex and you have a delusional half-a-decade.

… it’s dark, sad and it’s funny and it’s probably not the best travel book, but I took every writer’s advice that I know and ‘wrote a book that I would read’ – but then again, I suffer from narcissism, so of course I would read anything that I wrote.

which leads me to the little questionnaire below – because I can’t see eye-to-eye with any of the few publishers I originally started working on this with and because if I was being totally honest, I would admit to writing this for the sole purpose of making my friends laugh [and after my earlier Facebook Cull, I don’t have that many… so much for brilliant marketing], so self-publishing ended up being the way to go. and it’s a funny thing, self-publishing – many authors I know cringe at the sound of it, as if it were an open admittance that their book wouldn’t sell to the public, but a little research will tell you that as long as you have a decent base of people around you that might buy it, it makes much more sense.

I have no more pride left, anyway.

long story short – if I can sell 500 copies [a failure by any other novel’s standards], then I can afford to take my red boat and my redheaded girlfriend sailing for a year. which is all I want. and then I’ll write another one.

thus the need for a few polls in the coming weeks… starting with these 3:

would you buy it?

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which version of the book would you rather have?

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how would you prefer to pay?

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… I appreciate it, and any other questions/suggestions you might have.

see, if this works and I can actually move a few copies, then it’s less time spent on your couch.

win-win.

2027

uncle aric and gaige

if you’ve ever wanted to drive me nuts – I mean, nuts – say something like ‘remind me to tell you something later’. I’m serious, that phrase alone, or one like it, does my head. I go crazy trying to figure out what it was, or what I’ve done wrong. same goes for me, I can’t keep my own secrets – even at Christmas, my parents have to buy presents for everyone else from me, less I end up telling them early what’s in the box.

it’s bad.

in fact, it’s so bad that I can’t even not come clean about the book I’ve started.

the other one is almost done, due early April, so please buy it – my self-validation is still dangerously in the balance.

but this one, this is one I kind of feel I was meant to write – as upmyownass as that might sound. but it’s true and I can’t keep a secret any more.

see, the birth of my nephew affected me so profoundly, I knew something special was happening. and then, this past Christmas, where I finally got to see him in real life, well, it became very, very clear to what my magnum opus was to be.

it’s called ‘dear nephew’ and, due to a certain amount of adult content, it’ll be given to him on his 18th birthday. with each place that I travel, with each fascinating person I meet, with every experience that shapes me and with each mistake I make, I’m writing it down in letter form to him. and, a quick look back on my first year of his first year on this earth will tell you I’m not with lack of content – be it for destinations or screw-ups.

and the best part is that I’m writing it to him and only him. in this last book, I wrote to an audience of friends, but this one is simply uncle-to-nephew… and I’ve never been more excited to write something. granted, I get to spend most of the chapter talking about myself, but in all honesty, ‘me’ is probably the only thing that will hold my written-attention for the next two decades.

and who knows? maybe that’s why I’m here – not just to live it, but to write it down for someone I love.

it’s somethin’ to help me cut back on the whiskey nights and chemical sunrises, that’s for sure.

the friday cinco 10 – luke st. germain [author, bell-ringer]

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[I want to tell you of the story about how I met Luke, but he already did… in the form of a novel – so I won’t tell you about that. what I will tell you is that Luke has a certain air about him that tells you he’s already succeeding at whatever it is you think he’d be good at. and he’s a nice boy. so read his book. and find yourself stuck inbetween the hell of going door-to-door selling paper, and, well, the hell of believing that it’s about to make all your wildest dreams come true. well done, old friend. and thanks for the mention]

okay… as annoying as this has probably already become – what is the book about?

The book is about how a beach bum in San Diego became a door-to-door sales cult leader.

and at what point in this ‘career’ did you realize the absurd comedic value, even, book-worthy, of it?

The absurdity is evident on day one, of course- that’s the only way to describe barging into quiet offices and cracking horrible icebreakers. But the deeper into “the biz” you get, the more absurd it becomes, until one day you’re living with twelve strangers in a house with no furniture.

you might cover this in the book, but did you ever find yourself believing the promises of, well, all things promised? a team? riches? nice cars?

I thought I would be a millionaire by the time I was thirty- that I would own multiple houses, and expensive cars, and be able pay off my student loans. In retrospect I was a lethal combination of naivete and ambition.

what was the breaking point?

The breaking point was watching the snow fall through a window and feeling depressed, because it mean that people would quit the next day. Then I realized that I didn’t want to be the kind of person who was depressed watching the snow fall.

poetic. and symbolic. but c’mon – surely it was something said, something you witnessed that made you realize that this might not be all that was promised?

Yeah, that’s the melodramatic answer. It was a gradual decision, though, not one specific event. I saw plenty of problems in the biz, but the real problem was realizing that I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore.

take us back to your prime in ‘the biz’ – were you good? did you make any money, or, as the book echoes – ‘ring the bell’?

Hey, you saw me ring the bell, baby! But yeah, I was good. Killed it in the field, but gave away a ton of money to my team- I made about 25k as a rep. Of course, the real money was supposed to come in management, and there’s the rub. There is no red sports car waiting for you. I made about 55k the year I was nominated for Rookie Manager of the Year.

describe one of the more ludicrous experiences you had while working there.

I gave this guy  in the San Diego office a ride home, and it turned out he lived on a boat. We had some wine on the boat, then I had to drive through the gate of the marina to get out. The next day I went out and rang the bell. Of course.

it was my Uncle’s boat. and your destruction of the marina property got me kicked off. anyway – which is your favorite passage, line or chapter of the book?

My favorite chapter is probably the one that describes one business type after another in the field. I always thought a good book would be “tales from the field,” just interview everyone and put all their best stories together. You never know what you’ll find out there.

so, published author. what’s next? please tell us it still involves writing.

Next is writing scripts (feature length and shorts) and working on the Rapture Club site.

any backlash?

No real backlash to speak of, surprisingly. One person asked me to change her name. So far the only feedback I’ve gotten from everyone is “Yep, that’s what happened all right.”  But who knows, maybe no one has even read the thing yet.

how can people get the book?

Right now it’s only available as an e-book. Either barnesandnoble.com or smashwords.com.

number seven

Increasingly of late, and particularly when I drink, I find my thoughts drawn into the past rather than impelled into the future. I recall drinking sherry in California and dreaming of my earlier student days in England, where I ate dalmoth and dreamed of Delhi. What is the purpose, I wonder, of all this restlessness? I sometimes seem to myself to wander around the world merely accumulating material for future nostalgias.

Vikram Seth


weymouth photo of the day – 15

there’s something about a U.K. record shop on a rainy Saturday morning.

it’s something.

you should read High Fidelity.

yes – I know you’ve seen it, but as good as the film is,

the book takes you there – here – right inside that red door.

I’ve never owned a record player.

my parents had one – motown, The Beatles & Perry Como’s Christmas.

and I remember at a very early age them taking such good care of their collection.

they also scare me, these record shops.

filled with people who know a lot more than I do,

who thrive on being asked for advice.

and give it loudly.

they’re like the people who intentionally make friends with older people

so they can talk all about their older friends.

‘________ is going to spend allllll day with her 89-year old friend, Sam’.

these kind of people…

you know what I mean.

teletype. tellitagain.

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

oh. you know.

hi there. you good?

I feel we never talk – oh, sure, there’s the occasional ‘here’s what I’m doing’,

but never anything about you.

but since you don’t have a blog,

I’ll just tell you more about ‘what I’m doing’.

the book is coming along – slowly, but still coming along. writing it was easy, going back through each page and making it make sense is another. but thanks to a random email from someone I barely know, I was given an idea of how to make it all work. so, thanks random friend.

got me some new-old boots on the way. I’m quite excited.

headed back to Hawaii on Thursday  – which will be fun.

which means I’m gonna have to rock my Frank Zappa on the islands.

need a new addiction? this tea is insane.

this song has been played a lot these past few days – the Swedes really can do no wrong.

I’ve become addicted to Netflix – and shall be posting some of the better ones soon. [it’s Blaxploitation Week this week – lucky Lori!]

if you need a ridiculous sausage-and-rice recipe, I’m your man.

we attended some Gay Polo yesterday in Santa Barbara before hitting some wineries for tastings – you know, your basic Sunday.

I think I’m going to like Kodak Gallery is doing for storage these days.

…and I think that’s about the highlights.

I hope it’s nice-and-cool where you are. this time of year it should be nice-and-cool.

[and isn’t that a great picture? I snapped that at St. Vincent De Paul’s]

let the great re-write begin…and end. quickly. please.

well, this sucks.

see yesterday, I had me a book.

it was big and thick and I showed it off.

today, I have a mess.

a mess of red ‘fix it!’ notes.

arrows with ‘eh?’

chapters that don’t make sense.

it’s been an entire one day since I printed it off,

and it’s back to being a mess.

there’s more work left than I thought,

and that’s just before sending it to the publisher.

and I’m tempted to go back to what I had yesterday,

throw in some photos

and return to have something nice again.

there’s a few books people have bought me,

to help along the way.

it’s too late to open them up now,

as I’ll realize most likely I did it all wrong.

does everyone have a book in ’em?

absolutely.

but maybe, just maybe,

the smart ones sleep well just knowing that.

a mess, I tell you.

a mess.

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