Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
It seems like only yesterday that Blaster stepped off the bus and we were getting mugged together in the alley between North Ave. and the Charles Theater after re-upping on beer for the Shattered Wig Night at The Astro Chimp Impact Crater. He's now been in Austin for a year and skull shaking hallucinations just haven't been the same, not to mention life behind the counter at Normal's or up on the Shattered Wig Night stage.
But he's getting daily fresh enchiladas and basking in the Texas sun, regenerating his formidable writing machine once again. Delaware poet and Blades editor Francis Poole and Baltimore poet and archivist Megan McShea happened to both be visiting Blaster this week and Francis was kind enough to send some jpegs.
Arriving just in time to make me feel almost like a real writer again is the beautifully bound Mud Luscious Stamp Story Anthology with my tiny 50 word story. Order a bunch! Perfect stocking stuffer.
[ C. ] An MLP Stamp Stories Anthology is shipping now & to celebrate, we've done two things: First, we hooked up with the wonderful & freakishly good Scott Garson to create a special edition of Wigleaf, including thirteen original Stamp Stories by thirteen of our [ C. ] authors, all online & free here. Second, we are putting [ C. ] on sale for the next few days, giving you one-hundred Stamp Stories by one-hundred of the greatest contemporary writers, all for $10 with free shipping here. Good right? We thought you'd like it. So, read the special Wigleaf, order a sale copy before our deal expires, & then wait hummingly at your mailbox for the likes of some beautiful new Mud Luscious.
Stamp Stories are texts of 50 words or less, printed on 1×1 cardstock, & shipped free from participating presses. We wanted to tie together the indie press community in a vibrant yet viable way, & so this venture was born. Through 2010, we solicited stamp-sized texts from 100 authors & distributed the physical Stamp Stories through more than 40 participating presses. [ C. ] collects all of these texts into one perfect-bound edition.
Participating Authors James Tadd Adcox, Jesse Ball, Ken Baumann, Lauren Becker, Matt Bell, Kate Bernheimer, Michael Bible, Jack Boettcher, Harold Bowes, Jesse Bradley, Donald , Melissa Broder, Blake Butler, James Chapman, Jimmy Chen, Joshua Cohen, Peter Conners, Shome Dasgupta, Andy Devine, Giancarlo DiTrapano, Claire Donato, Elizabeth Ellen, Raymond Federman, Kathy Fish, Scott Garson, Molly Gaudry, Roxane Gay, Steven Gillis, Rachel B. Glaser, Amanda Goldblatt, Barry Graham, Amelia Gray, Sara Greenslit, Tina May Hall, Christopher Higgs, Lily Hoang, Tim Horvath, Joanna Howard, Laird Hunt, Jamie , Harold Jaffe, A D Jameson, Jac Jemc, Stephanie Johnson, Shane Jones, Drew Kalbach, Roy Kesey, Sean Kilpatrick, Michael Kimball, M. Kitchell, Robert Kloss, Darby Larson, Charles Lennox, Eugene Lim, Matthew Lippman, Lock, Robert Lopez, Sean Lovelace, Josh Maday, Dave Madden, John , Kendra Grant Malone, Tony Mancus, Peter Markus, Chelsea Martin, Zachary Mason, Hosho McCreesh, Alissa Nutting, Riley Michael Parker, Aimee Parkison, David Peak, Ted , Adam Peterson, Ryan Ridge, Joseph Riippi, Adam Robinson, Ethel Rohan, Joanna Ruocco, Kevin Sampsell, Saterstrom, Davis Schneiderman, Zachary Schomburg, Todd , Ben Segal, Gregory Sherl, Lydia Ship, Matthew Simmons, Justin Sirois, Amber Sparks, Ken Sparling, Ben Spivey, Michael Stewart, Terese Svoboda, Sean Ulman, Deb Olin Unferth, Timmy , William Walsh, Rupert Wondolowski, James Yeh, & Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé.
Participating Presses Artifice Magazine, Artistically Declined Press, Atticus Books, Barge, Blood Pudding Press, Blue Square Books, Calamari Press, Cow Heavy, The Cupboard, Dark Sky Books, Dzanc Books, Ellipsis Press, Fairy Tale Review, Featherproof Books, Gigantic, Greying Ghost, Hobart, The Iron Rail, Ink Monkey Mag, Keyhole Books, Kitty Snacks, Lazy Fascist Press, Magic Helicopter Press, Monkeybicycle, Narrow House, Opium, Outside Writer’s Collective, Pank, Paper Hero Press, Pear Noir!, Pilot Books, Publishing Genius Press, Quick Fiction, Ravenna Books, Scrambler Books, Starcherone Books, Typecast Publishing, Tyrant Books, Word Riot Press, & Yes Yes Books
Thursday, November 17, 2011
They say that when you travel a great distance with a loved one you unearth new secrets about each other. On this trip down South I discovered that Everly thinks hotel rooms are giant spunk traps where the spilt liquid DNA of lonesome truckers live forever like nasty sticky ghosts on every polyester fiber of bed cover, carpet, plastic tv remote and vinyl chair.
She brought this up vividly as I tried to choke down a Greek salad and some of her pizza that we'd just purchased at a closing joint up the street in a strip mall. We turned on the clunker of an old electronic dream box and the remote system looked like the equivalent of the first Space Invaders video game. It basically seemed to be hooked up to be a conduit to porn movies. The four movies "currently showing in theaters" that you could see were "Captain Ron" starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, "Couples Retreat", "Bruno" and some movie where Amy Adams buys high heel shoes.
We happily went back to Duke University radio, which was playing all Rough Trade singles from 1978 to 1982. Kleenex and Delta 5 really hit the spot and still sounded fresh. And in honor of the land we were visiting (although in the Red Roof Inn we could have been pretty much anywhere) I cracked open the Collected Stories of William Faulkner.
Everly is nothing if not the researcher. Plowing through Yelp and old Splendid Table shows she got us to the amazing Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen somewhere near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A drive through only and a longstanding legendary joint they were not amused by or indulgent with our initial confusion pulling up to their window of vast splendid greasy coronary journeys. They knew that if we dithered for even two extra minutes there'd be a pile-up of hungry angry drivers.
When I'm at home I usually stick to just a piece of toast or croissant to line my stomach for incoming iced coffees and allergy pills, but I love me a good greasy breakfast on the road. But this place is the Speedy Meemaw of Hash Slinging. Just in the ten minutes that we were there wolfing down our chicken, egg and cheese biscuits (and I ate my hash brown hockey pock after standing and waving like a fool in front of the annoyed lady in the order taking glass box so I could get some hot sauce) at least a dozen cars went through.
With swollen gut and my pleasure centers sated with cholesterol and carbs and Texas Pete we headed for Chapel Hill's main drag and came upon a coffee place conveniently located next to Occupy Chapel Hill. Although I've been a fried and frazzled bastard and all my time lately has been sucked up by work and trying to at least keep up a pretense of being of a writer, I confess I haven't checked out Occupy Baltimore, but the movement has been a breath of psychic fresh air in the atmosphere of politicians fighting each other to see who can turn the clock back as far as they can to pre-FDR times and common human empathy.
The first bookstore of the day was Nice Price Books. A friendly unassuming shop that had the feel for some reason of a beach shop Nice Price also had a good vinyl record selection. In fact, I found the records to have nicer prices than the books, which were generally paperback and strictly half the cover price which these days and for most paperbacks isn't really that great.
But in the vinyl bins I scored a nice 12" Ramones promo, an original Bikini Kill split with Huggybear and a few obscure jazz pieces.
There was an enigmatic man working there who resembled a Nashville mix of Neil Diamond and Elvis with a sliver of Benicio Del Toro. He kept hovering nearby with a broom clearing phlegm and emitting a vibe of "I just want you to be aware that I'm miserable". But he kept reminding me of a lounge singer that used to be my assistant manager when I was a teenager working at Rite-Aid (it was a quaint pharmacy with a lunch counter and was named Reads before the Rite-Aid hog ate the head off it). He ate chili for breakfast every day, his admirable dark hair was always exactly the same without looking like a wig and he took me aside after we talked music and I told him I was a writer and singer and he told me to always follow my dream no matter how much resistance there was and who got angry about it.
Above is a picture of All Day Records, my Moby Dick of vinyl. It was such a beautiful day in Chapel Hill, around 70 degrees in November and we were on only the second day of our vacation adventure and Nice Price Books had whetted my appetite to find some great records.
Walking up to All Day Records I thought I'd found the place. The lights were out, although it was Tuesday and near noon, but I could see great stuff lined along the one wall in three rows - Erkin Koray, Skull Defekts with Asa and Brother Moonfish Higgs, a bunch of titles on the Indian label and Link Wray in front of the used bins.
Despite the darkness and no upright humans insight within I grabbed the door excitedly and it opened to an empty shop. Was this a cruel scientific lab test? Was William Shatner dressed as an army psychiatrist in a backroom watching me, waiting to send volts of electricity through me if I tried to pluck a $5 Ajda Pekkan album (the one where she's riding a horse nekkd) from a rack?
Apparently we had arrived at a time not falling within the parameters of "All Day".
But hey, I am a fellow dealer who does not like waking early. Or waking period, really. It's an ugly affair, getting the electrified ancient meat prone and functioning after 9 or 10 hours of flying through hidden mountain caves with Batman. Plus it made us feel like participating North Carolina citizens to hang out by the door and make sure those more desperate or less enlightened than us not walk in and have a mad grab of freebies or engage in a foul "Blastoma" - the medical term for an orgasm reached while having a Starbucks' induced bowel movement crouching in a darkened retail store.
Also we got to check out the graffiti near All Day and post some Normal's stickers (although if you're Johnny Law I'll deny it).
Eventually a much younger couple approached the store and sadly they weren't there to (hu)man the counter. The girl was touring under the name Headache and the gent was touring under the name Michael Collins, which he claimed was his real name. Turns out they had just played the Copy Cat building in Baltimore a few days ago, so that led to me heatedly throwing out all the Baltimore venues I could think of until they backed away Twittering.
The four of us did bring up the possibility, though, that maybe the counter person was collapsed behind the counter in the dark. This brought to Everly's mind a library story of a patron sliding under a table after a heart attack and not being seen in the slow, quiet period until another patron came along and discovered him.
At any rate, Everly ventured in just long enough to peek behind the counter like someone rushing through an apartment where you'd just set off pesticide bombs, then ran back out. Having determined no foul play or acts of God, she went to the open business next door and told them "Human Vaporizing, NC" what was going on. They kind of chuckled, shaking their heads and saying the record store owner's name in a manner that implied perhaps this wasn't unusual.
The young touring couple moved on, but I couldn't let go. Finally Everly lured me away, promising me we'd drive back after cruising the neighborhood some more. And to her credit, as always, she told the truth and return we did. At 1. Still no lights on. We exchanged a quiet moment of mutual understanding like in a Hallmark television special when little Aiden realized that Innskeep the Gerbil had gone on to Heaven and it was time to put it in the Keds shoebox and bury it next to Grandma's grave in the backyard.
And like many a human who's old enough to see end written in the newly exposed crinkle lines of his balding pate and no longer has good strong vices to erase the pain of being human, I happily let tasty North Carolina style barbecue assuage my vinyl lust at Hog Heaven, another Everly discovery (hopefully she will Yelp this bitch up, cause she writes real good like!). This place is on the outskirts of Chapel Hill when you're pointed towards Atlanta and they serve up a tasty subtle chopped bbq sandwich. And the best chicken and dumplings I've ever tasted in my life.
To top it off, they also had hanging the Men's Room this plaque that reflected both portions of their sign "Hog" and "Heaven". "Accept one another. Just as Christ accepted you." Sentiments I definitely like. But these hogs are up for slaughter!!!!!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Thankful and feeling more lighthearted now that the store was on somewhat of a roll and that I had a crew that I felt confident leaving it with, hungry as hell for some sunlight and new scenery and new books and vinyl, grateful and blissed out that I was with a partner who loved books, records and funky road food as much as me -, we set out to see what was left of America and how its mutation was going.
The first point of interest was "Aqualand" in southern Maryland. Sadly closed down, but it looked like it probably originated in the '60s or '70s and I'd never heard of it before. Had that Enchanted Forest kind of DIY vibe to it.
Our first stop was a very disappointing quick peek in at a roadside antique shop. It was full of granny lamps, but I thought it was worth a shot asking for records and books because it might be the kind of place where they just threw a few boxes of them in the back for sale cheap with no regard for their value. Instead, I just got a lecture from the too prim white moustachioed gent about how a man can't make a living off of selling records. "Tell me something I don't know Bizarro Santa. How many elves do you have strapped into Iron Maidens behind all those Tiffany glass trinkets?"
The next stop was much more fun and gratifying - Plan 9 Music in Richmond. After loading up on historic “Sally Bells Kitchen” potato salad, deviled eggs, cheese nip and Smithfield ham of course. The place was started in 1924 and some of the original sunlight from that year still warbles in egg yolky blobs throughout the eldritch interior.
As I was near giddy with happiness going through Plan 9’s International Music bargain bin and finding a few really cheap treasures, the gawky young teen behind the counter played some of the most gruesome hair rock I’ve heard since being mocked in Jumper’s Hole Mall in Glen Burnie in the ’70s. Refreshing, though, in a backwards masochistic way to hear such awful music in a record store in these ultra-hip times.
In their new arrivals I snagged a near mint Bob Dylan bootleg I’d never seen before called “Tangerine”. Live in Paris from 1978 it covers a diverse selection of songs from his career. And the cover is a photo taken during the shooting of Billy the Kid. Also got a really nice clean copy of Leadbelly Sings Play-Party Songs Volumes I and II on the Stinson label, pressed on red vinyl and a very good + original Reprise stereo copy of the Fugs’ “Tenderness Junction”. Does the gatefold include a nude picture of Sir Allen Ginsberg? Why, yes.
The one frustrating thing about picking up all this great stuff on the road is not being able to spin the new vinyl. I've got about a dozen Brazilian albums from 1975 or before that I've never heard but that look fantastic. Plus the Dylan boot has a live version of the weirdly compelling "Changing of the Guards" from the underloved masterpiece "Street Legal".
Cary Street where Plan 9 abides, also hosts a great new and used book shop called “Chop Suey”. It’s two-storied and the first floor is mainly a fairly small but well curated selection of new books. But their new arrivals area near the front boasted four Phil Dick paperbacks, so my bibliowillie was engorged.
One of the books I was seeking out for myself which I’d owned many times before but didn’t hold onto, was a copy of Paul Bowles’ autobiography Without Stopping. Sure enough I found it, along with a hardback bibliography of the books of William Burroughs, in their “Beat Era” section. It’s a fine UK Peter Owen hardback to boot. (And today I just found a Putnam first of it in Decatur, but more on Decatur later).
The stairs leading up to the used floor were lined with really good contemporary art. If I had had more time I would have gotten some information on the artists, but we wanted to get to Atlanta at some point and who knew how many more thrift stores and flea markets awaited us.