Friday, June 29, 2012

J.Haley Campbell At the Writing Salon - SF

My good friend Haley is now teaching at the Writing Salon here in the Mission branch of their organization. She's got her first class starting soon and I can assure you this would be a great opportunity for those of you in the area to get schooled on some craft technique while getting some of your own writing workshopped as well. She's super smart, an excellent writer, and real easy on the eyes. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the five week course. You'll thank me later. Info below:

Honing the Art of Storytelling: Fiction Workshop
Sundays 7:00 – 9:30pm
July 8th through September 9th (skipping September 2nd)
Instructor: J. Haley Campbell
“Imagine the story that you would most want to read,
and then shamelessly write it.”
– J.D. Salinger

Writing requires imagination and discipline, and we determine our output of both. Fortunately, the imagination follows a unique law of supply and demand: the more it’s used, the more it creates. Discipline for art seems harder to come by sometimes in our busy lives. But if writing fulfills you—makes you feel more engaged in the world—you can create the structure to make it a regular part of your life. This course will provide structure with a community of like-minded, literature-loving people to foster a positive and supportive creative environment.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

18 Pivotal Albums In My Musical Education

I'm gonna do this one chronologically, as I think that will be easiest. Autobiographically can get messy and this is just a blog post, not a cleaning house of my collection. There is no way this will ever be a comprehensive list as there are simply too many albums that have affected me over the years. These are simply some of the highlights.

For those of us who put a premium on the effect that music had (or still currently has) on our lives, albums tell a story. Just like John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" while he's sorting his album collection "autobiographically" (see video below), music has and always will be a constant for me.

When I still had a record collection (close to 4,000+ pieces of vinyl; 12"s, 10"s, 45's, picture discs, whatever...), there was really nothing like pulling every record off the shelves and spending an entire day reorganizing. If you've never had a record collection close to that size, I can't even begin to describe how cathartic an endeavor it can be. It might happen, at most, twice a year but was closer to once every two years. Who am I wasn't even a day long endeavor. It easily took a whole weekend.

But everyone's got their top lists of albums that come out in a given year or of all time. This one is different. These are the albums that, while I may not listen to now, were pivotal in some way at an important part of my life that is easily remembered through these albums and that, ultimately, lead me down some other musical avenues that lead down others that lead down others...etc.

Digable Planets - "Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time & Space)"

Eighth grade trip to Washington D.C., Spring Break of 1993. While in a music store, I bought this one, Soundgarden's "Badmotorfinger," and another tape (yes, all cassette tapes) that I don't recall now. We were in D.C. for four days and I had this one on repeat the entire time. It was unlike anything I had heard before, save for Arrested Development, but this one tickled my eardrums in the sweetest ways. The lyricism was unlike anything I'd experienced (and very little that came later, save for the stylings of Camp-Lo). It was poetic, it was surreal, it was new-agey hip hop, and after several years of not listening to it, I put it on in my car on the way to class one day and could still rap along to every lyric.

Standout Tracks: "Nickle Bags" and "Swoon Units."

Bjork - "Debut"

I first saw the video for "Human Behavior" on MTV (remember when they actually played music videos?) back in junior high and fell in love with it. It was new, it was weird, and her voice did something unexplainable to me. The entire album was all over the place musically; ballads, euro-house type tracks, and oddities like "Anchor Song." I have followed her success with every album since and while some albums were less successful to me than others, I listen to her often. This album opened my eyes to the female voice in the music world and the kind of power it could bring.  

Standout Tracks: "There's More To Life Than This" and "Aeroplane."

Pearl Jam - "Ten"

Like most everyone else at the time, I swooned over a lot of the music that was coming out of the Seattle area in the early 90's. Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, etc., and this album was the one that broke the dam wide open for me. There was the funk element of Jeff Ament's bass, the often unintelligible scream-singing of Eddie Vedder, and the emotional wail of the guitar work of both Stone Gossard and Mike McCready. I would listen to this one long into the night, well after I was supposed to be asleep in bed, and let it crash me down into dreamtime. I was less impressed with every successive album that came out after this one, but it still retains a ton of reminiscence of my early days of really understanding that I had a love for music.  

Standout Tracks: "Garden" and "Release."

Smashing Pumpkins - "Gish"

The lesser known debut album by these guys became an instant favorite between me and my friends after we found out about it. Originally influenced by their second album, "Siamese Dream," (a far cleaner, more concise, but no less powerful collection of songs), this was the one we'd drive around to with the windows down and the radio cranked loudly. Billy Corrigan's voice was distinctive, almost whiny and tinny, but was backed by what can only be called one of the loudest, heaviest bands to ride the Seattle sound without actually having originated from the region. I stopped listening to them after their third album, a double-disc called "Melloncollie and the Infinite Sadness," but I always return to the first two albums. There is something unabashedly raw and focused about them that feels missing from later releases. This is the album that really made me want to play the bass guitar.  

Standout Tracks: "Tristessa" and "Bury Me."

Fugazi - "13 Songs"

I first heard this album (and the one below) in my friend Anthony Verheage's basement. I had been playing the bass for awhile, but was nowhere near his skill. I had brought mine over so he could teach me a few tricks and once we had worn out our fingers, he began playing different albums for me, purely because he too loved all kinds of music. This album was the combined effort of earlier EP's - "Margin Walker" and the self-titled "Fugazi." He played "The Waiting Room" with it's bouncy opening bassline and that was it for me. My love affair with Fugazi had begun and until their "indefinite hiatus" in 2003, I have collected everything they've put out. When I sold my record collection to move out to San Francisco, their records stuck with me and remain on my bookshelf now along with a very few others I simply couldn't part with. The band erupted out of the old New York hardcore scene from lead singer Ian Mackaye's first band Minor Threat, but you wouldn't know it to hear them. They are about as experimentally punk as you can get, playing with discordance and off-notes to create atmosphere and feeling. A truly amazing band.  

Standout Tracks: "Bulldog Front" and "Provisional."

Quicksand - "Manic Compression"

I used to buy a magazine called "College Music Journal" back in high school. Each month, they put out an issue chock-full of album reviews, bands to watch, and a cd of songs from almost everyone they talked about in that issue. A brilliant little rag that opened up the doors to a gargantuan amount of music for me during my high school years. One issue talked about Portishead's first album "Dummy" (another highly influential group for me) and this one, Quicksand. Quicksand, like Fugazi, was the afterbirth of a New York hardcore band called Youth of Today lead by frontman Walter Schreifels (who has since gone on to do several side projects post-Quicksand). Anthony played this sophomore album for me in his basement as well and I'd never heard anything so delicately angry before. Awash in guitar effects and low-tuned bass guitar work, this album was a sonic wall made by only four guys. The lyrics? Fantastic. The music? Mindblowingly good.  

Standout tracks: "Landmine Spring" and "Skinny (It's Overflowing)."

Morphine - "Good"

We didn't have any good alternative rock radio stations in Oklahoma City when I moved to Kansas City in 1995. Thankfully, 105.9 the Lazer, based out of Lawrence pumped out new music to Kansas City all the time. Morphine was one of those bands (along with Soul Coughing) that I got turned on to as soon as I arrived. A three-piece pseudo-jazz outfit, lead singer Mark Sandman played a two-string bass alongside a drummer and upright bassist. They made songs that were both homages to the old jazz crooners, the lonely sax players in dark New York alleyways at 2am, and raucous rockabilly equally. If you've never heard any Morphine before, go out and grab any of their albums, but this is the one for me.  

Standout Track: "You Look Like Rain."

A Tribe Called Quest - "Midnight Marauders"

Ask any fan of true fan hip hop and they'll tell you this album is in their top ten. Possibly their top five. Released in 1993, this album helped propel what some now call "conscious rap" into the musical lexicon and has been a staple of almost any good dj's record bag. Party jams, social commentary, lyrical word play; this album's got it all. As shown by highlighting as many of their peers in the industry on the front and back covers, this album was all positivity from front to back. I had been listening to a lot of guitar-based music by the time I heard this in 1995, but my band mate Jerry let me borrow the album. I had it for months and never wanted to give it back. This is another of those LP's I kept after selling off my record collection and has become the standard by which I judge all hip hop albums now. And really, I know that's unfair, but this collection of songs is one I listen to front-to-back, never skipping any. Ever.  

Standout Tracks: "Award Tour," "Electric Relaxation," and "Lyrics to Go."

Ella Fitzgerald - Any Album

I got first turned on to Ella through my ex-girlfriend Erika. We would spend hours curled up with each other in her room, napping away an afternoon with Ella playing softly on the cd player. Every time I put on an Ella album, I'm reminded of pillows and softness, the smell of rose water and relaxation, lazy Saturdays and lilting naps. I can't imagine nicer moments attached to an album than those.

Standout Tracks: "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "Wait 'Til You See Him."

Roni Size / Reprezent - "New Forms"

I graduated high school in 1997 and took a trip that summer to Germany. While there, I saw on the European version of MTV two videos: Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" and Roni Size's "Brown Paper Bag." Up until then, I had no idea that electronic music even really existed. I didn't know anything about the various genres that made it up, I didn't know the performers, nothing. I wasn't as impressed with Prodigy, but the video for "Brown Paper Bag had me captivated. The opening bassline clinched it as well, a raw, but natural sounding upright backed by hard hitting double-time boom-bap drums. Once I grabbed the album, a double-disc of jazzy drum'and'bass, I was completely hooked. One of the earliest electronic albums I ever owned and still one of my favorites to this day, despite where the genre of drum'and'bass has gone since. It's the EDM album I use to turn other people onto the wider genre of dance music because it is so accessible without being hard on virgin ears.  

Standout Tracks: "Watching Windows" and "Share the Fall."

The Miles Davis Quintet Box Set - 1965-1968

My boy Scott worked at a music store in high school. For Christmas, he secured me this super dope box set of the Miles Davis Quintet. Six discs of pure excellence from the man himself. Every time I hear certain songs now, I see the colors of the discs they were on. This was my true introduction to the larger body of Miles' work which bubbled over into his more fusion work on "Bitches Brew" and "Filles De Kilimanjaro" later on.

Standout Tracks: "Pinnochio," "E.S.P." and "Nefertiti"

Fiona Apple - "Tidal"

Another amazing female vocalist. Lot of angst on this one but coupled with a very sultry, cool piano style. Where Tori Amos felt too classically trained for me to really get into, Apple's work felt more visceral and primal - untrained, but deliberate. This is the album my roommate John and I would put on when we got home from house parties in college. It was a good way to unwind after a night of nonsense and, often, drama.

Standout Tracks: "Sullen Girl" and "Slow Like Honey."

V.A.S.T. - "Visual Audio Sensory Theater"

This band is...interesting. Imagine heavy industrial music but with benedictine monk chanting added over the top. It's a contradiction in terms, maybe, but it works. My friend Mandy turned me on to this one during my sophomore year of college late one night. She played "Pretty When You Cry" and it was a jolt to my system. Personally, if I'm in a weird mood and it's a choice between Nine Inch Nails or VAST, I'm going with VAST the majority of the time. I think the music is more intricately layered and far more interesting than Reznor's work (though I like Reznor). Lyrically, I find him more interesting as well; less "depressed angry teenager" and more "sullen angry adult with hindsight in check."

Standout Tracks: "Pretty When You Cry" and "Touched"

Braid - "Frame & Canvas"

My friend Steve turned me on to these guys that same year. Based out of Champagne/Urbana, IL., Braid was a four-piece 'emo' group back when emo didn't mean "whiny teenagers with shitty lyrics who buy their clothing at Hot Topic." He gave me their first album, "Frankie Welfare Boy, Age 5" and I was hooked. Their debut was loud, it was screamy, but there was a ridiculous amount of melody within the chaos too (check out the opening track "Angel Falls" to get an idea of what I mean). By the end of 1998, near the middle of my enjoyment of their music, they had broken up. This was an album that was raw, both emotionally and sonically, but with enough growth shown over the previous albums to have cleaned up the rough edges. Not five minutes ago, I found out they're playing a reunion show here in San Francisco on August 8th. And there's a new EP out. And I got real excited.

Hum - "Downward is Heavenward"

What to say about this album? I've mentioned it numerous times throughout the blog. I've recommended it to damn near everyone I know. It is yet another album that I never skip tracks on when listening to it; start to finish, in one listen, every time. I had the opportunity to see their reunion tour last November back in Kansas City. Since I'm only going to repeat myself on its importance to me again, go HERE to read more about this album and the others.

Standout Tracks: "If You Are To Bloom," "Green to Me," and "Apollo"

The Cinematic Orchestra - "Motion"

In 1999, when I bought my first turntable, first pair of headphones, needles, everything...and maxed out my credit cards doing it, my roommate John and I went to St. Louis one weekend. This album had come out sometime earlier that year, but I had no idea who they were; I just wanted to buy some records to play on my new turntable. What did I happen to find during my first completely uneducated record shopping experience? This, L-Fudge, Nightmares on Wax, some Beastie Boys, and a few others. Very beat heavy and very unintentional. There's a good possibility that this first trip to the record store completely directed me towards the more chilled out trip hop/lounge genres than I would have believed possible. I had absolutely no education in most of the artists (Beastie Boys being the one I actually knew and loved at the time), so it was a total crapshoot when I paid for them all at the counter.

This album, along with the Nightmares on Wax single ("Finer" / "Les Nuits"), was the nicest surprise. A full jazz band playing some super mellow, super lush instrumentals that were so expansive in sound they made me feel small. An amazing album that I still listen to on the regular.

Standout Tracks: "Night of the Iguana" and "And...Relax!"

Dj Cam - "Mad Blunted Jazz"
Dj Shadow - "Endtroducing"

When I finally flunked out of college from too much partying and not enough studying, I moved back to Kansas City and lived with my good friend Katie. Her older brother Josh had been a dj for years before I had ever even thought about doing it myself and we would usually head downtown to a super tiny joint called YJ's to hear him play every week. Whether he knew it or not, Josh's influence on my particular dj-ing aesthetic was massive. He downplayed electronic music and hyped the skill needed to play the more hip hop oriented beats.

He also played tracks off both of these albums (among many, many, many other albums that I've since added to my collection of listening enjoyment) while playing at YJ's. Graciously, if I ever wanted to know what he was playing, he'd show me and let me make notes in my little notebook. Once I really got moving with my own dj-ing, I frequently went back to these notes and found these records. Some got put into the rotation, others didn't due to my changing tastes. But these two albums...oh man. I CANNOT get sick of "Mad Blunted Jazz," no matter how many times I listen to it. And the further backwards I go through the history of music, the more I hear the samples in Shadow's "Entroducing." Believe me when I tell you it's not hyperbole to call these two albums absolute classics amongst most hip hop fans and almost all fans of trip hop and chillout. They're essential listening for any time of day or night.

Dj Cam Standout Tracks: "Sang-Lien," "Romantic Love," "Dieu Reconnaitra," and "Pure Pleasure"...but really, the whole album plays like one long musical foreplay session that shouldn't be ignored. 

Dj Shadow Standout Tracks: "Changeling," "What Does Your Soul Look Like, Pt. 4", and "Midnight In A Perfect World."


Monday, June 25, 2012

Sorkin's Latest: "Newsroom"

Let me make one thing clear: I hate Aaron Sorkin. No, I hate his talent for writing smart shows. Perhaps it's more a serious jealousy as the guy simply writes his ass off and honestly...I think you could give him a cast of nobodies and they'd shine with any of his scripts.

Like I've lamented before in a previous post about his last show, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, Sorkin got a bad deal on that one. The show was pitch-perfect both in casting, tone, and humor. Its problem was that it came out at the same time as "30 Rock," another show about the behind-the-scenes view of a comedy program I've tried to watch many times, but whose appeal is completely lost on me and seems to pander to the lowest common denominator. I digress.

I was hesitant about this new one, this "Newsroom" that had popped up in entertainment mags and Life sections of newspapers. I knew the writing was going to be phenomenal; Sorkin never disappoints on that front. I knew it was going to be political, which is both Sorkin's strength and his weakness (as liberal as I am, sometimes I feel the political rhetoric gets too far lefty for me). But...I was more than pleasantly surprised. And I'm so glad this is on HBO. Overjoyed, in fact, because the cable channels have done in recent years what the basic programming channels have failed to do time and time again: grow some balls and put on intelligent, well-written shows.

The show opens up with Jeff Daniels' character sitting on a panel at Northwestern University. He's known throughout the news world as the great middle-man, in that he never chooses political sides and remains completely neutral. When asked what makes America great, he ends up on a Howard Beale-esque rant (not unlike the opening scene of "Studio 60" as well, which was a disappointing start for me) and loses most of his staff to a late night host on the same news channel. The rant itself starts off well and makes you really hate the character of Will McAvoy, but Sorkin does doubles down on the lofty idealism. The language is nice but you could insert Martin Sheen's President Josiah Bartlet or Judd Hirsch's Wes Mendell and...we've heard the sentiment before.

Cue three weeks later. McAvoy returns from a vacation to find the vast majority of his staff gone and his executive producer replaced by Emily Mortimer's Makenzie MacHale. It's referenced that the two had some kind of relationship previously that went sour, but it's not brought out into the full open in the first episode. What we know is that she's done him wrong in some way. What we also know is that, in real life, there's no way Jeff Daniels would ever be able to land a woman as attractive as Emily Mortimer. Ever.

As the two of them come to grips with how they're going to work with each other (McAvoy has his agent change MacHale's contract to his liking so that he can fire her whenever he'd like), the BP Deep Horizon explosion happens. Makenzie's long-time assistant producer, Jim Harper (played by John Gallagher Jr.) takes the lead and tries to get the newsroom up and moving on the story while McAvoy's previous executive producer Don Keefer (played by Thomas Sadoski) tries to assert his own control over the room. The two clash a bit before running the story by McAvoy, who decides to take it to the air.

As with every Sorkin show, however, there's always one character you can count on for the intentional/unintentional humor quotient. Strangely enough, this time it comes in the form of Sam Waterston's character Charlie Skinner, the bow-tie wearing, scotch-swilling president of the network. In what is easily one of the funniest moments of the opening episode, Skinner rails against Keefer's character, screaming:

"I am a Marine, Don, and I will beat the shit out of you. I don't care how many protein bars you eat!"

Pure brilliance. It would've been easy for Waterston to play this overboard, but it's so subtle that you actually wonder if he's drunk at the moment or simply unhinged, especially considering the conversation between him and McAvoy that comes right before this. And really, watching him play something other than an uptight lawyer is pretty damn decent too.

Final verdict: I'm stoked for this show. I wasn't before, but I'm thoroughly in it for the moment. While there will most certainly be some political preaching and moralizing, you're really not gonna find a better writer of television shows out there. Sorkin has already laid some really excellent groundwork in regards to these characters and I'm anxious to see what he's got in store for them all. Though when the credits came at the end of the show, I really wanted to continue hating McAvoy's character. I think that was an opportunity missed by Sorkin, but I'm sure I'll be right back to hating him with the next episode.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Six Months of Literary Deaths

"From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity."
- Edward Munch

Death, it's said, is the great equalizer. No one can escape it; we all succumb to it at some point and some cherished writers have, unfortunately, succumbed to it in the last six months. Here's a (partial) list of some of the more notable deaths and my musings on how the writers and their works have affected me personally.

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
Hitchens was a world-renowned (and hated) Atheist. While I consider myself an Agnostic (I believe in something that I refuse to put a name or specific dogma to), watching the logic of Hitchens' mind on a wide variety of talk shows was always interesting. I didn't always agree with his positions because I think pure Atheism ignores the simple POSSIBILITY of some higher forms, but his thought process was a joy to watch. I never read any of his books, but I know a lot of people who were huge fans of his. Either way, it's always a shame to see a great mind go.

Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)

Wislawa was a Polish poet. The only book I read of hers was "View with a Grain of Sand," but I found it to be a phenomenal read. I had to teach one of her poems (one I've long forgotten) during my Intro to Poetry class. It was about the nature of a rock and a leaf and I found it to be incredibly elegant and lovely. Of all the poetry books I've collected over the years, hers is most likely my favorite.

Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

Author of the fantastic "Where the Wild Things Are" and "In the Night Kitchen," Maurice Sendak was, I believe, fairly essential reading to most of us during our elementary school days. I remember his books, along with Roald Dahl's and Ul De Rico's "Rainbow Goblins," being the ones I checked out the most in my early days. Whether it was the school library or the city library, I was spellbound by the images and the rhythmic prose that appealed to the child in me while the burgeoning adult I was to become latched on to the inherent messages. While I wasn't a huge fan of the movie version of "Where the Wild Things Are," I hope he enjoyed a resurgence of interest in his work before his death by those of us that still remembered it fondly from our youth.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

The most recent of the literary deaths, Ray Bradbury was a monster of an influence on almost everyone who reads, even in the most subtle of ways. I remember seeing "Farenheit 451" before I ever read the book, but I watched the movie again just last year. Amazing to think the kind of imagination the man had in order to create a novel about a future civilization that so directly mirrors our own now. People gathering in living rooms to watch reality television and violence from the comforts of their home while "firemen" hunt down and burn collections of books because of the information inside, information that could possibly make people to think on their own, to navigate the wonders of their own mind and come to their own decisions on topics. Granted we don't have state-sanctioned book burnings to the degree found in the novel, but his prescience on the topic is eerie. His imagination foreshadowed reality much in the way some people attribute the camera-filled world of the now with Big Brother from Orwell's "1984." If you love where the genre of science fiction has gone, you have this man to thank. Writers and movie-makers everywhere tend to cite him as an early influence and rightly so.


Monday, June 18, 2012

ZyFez 2012 - SF & Oakland

Sometime back in 2006 or 2007, some friends of mine at and Kill Poet Press threw a week long debauchery fest of poets and writers in Kansas City. I got to meet tons of great people, almost all of them writers in some way, from across the entire country. From as far away as San Francisco and Boston and as close as a four-minute drive from my house in KC. Now, quite a few of them are making the trek out to the Bay Area for another week-long debauchery fest put on by the collective efforts of Red Fez and Zygote In My Coffee.

Here's the list of events and performers at their specific locations both here in SF and in Oakland. The events start on July 3rd with a grand finale on Sunday the 8th.

Jeanne Lupton’s Poetry Series
Tuesday, July 3.
Bread Workshop, 1398 University Ave., Berkeley, CA. (corner University Ave. and Acton St.)

This poetry series is hosted by Jeanne Lupton. The featured reader is Lynn Alexander, followed by an open mic.

Toxic Abatement
Thursday, July 5, 7:30pm
Viracocho, 998 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110-2322

Spoken Words, Contaminated World. Full Of Crow Press/Fashion For Collapse present TOXIC ABATEMENT on July 5, 2012 7:30-10 at Viracocha, 998 Valencia, San Francisco. Hosted by Paul Corman-Roberts and Lynn Alexander. Featuring The Three Times Bad Band and Youssef Alaoui-Fdili, Zarina Zabrisky, Cassandra Dallett, Sharon Coleman, John Swain, Tim Murray, Joel Landmine, Shali Nicholas, Amy Glasenapp, Jezebel Delilah X, Missy Church, Frankie Metropolis, and Brian Fugett

Punk Hostage Press Reading
Friday, July 6. 4-6pm Pacific
The Baltic Restaurant
135 Park Place, Point Richmond, CA 94801

this a non-salon, casual, open air reading brought to you by Iris And Razor to celebrate the fruition of Punk Hostage Press with all our friends in the bay area. The reading will feature Iris Berry, A. Razor, Frank Reardon, Lindsey Thomas, Frankie Metropolis and more TBA
For more info visit:

Morrigan Wars
Friday, July 6. Berkeley

Performance art by Lynn Alexander and Paul Corman-Roberts. For more information please contact Lynn here.

Beast Crawl
Saturday, July 7, 5-11pm
Beast Crawl is the East Bay Literary Pub Crawl. This year will be hosted by a variety of Bay Area curators who have chosen to feature many fabulous writers in venues located in the 19th St. BART vicinity between 25th St. and 15th St.

Performance times are 5:00, 6:30 and 8:00. Readings to begin simultaneously at those times in all the different venues. There will also be an afterparty at 9:30.
For more information visit their tumblr page here.

Red Crow @ Beast Crawl Leg 2
Saturday, July 7 6:30-7:30
Inwell Tattoo, 2400 Broadway Ave. Oakland, CA

Hosted by Michele McDannold and Lynn Alexander, performers include Jason Neese, Aurora KillPoet, and Frank Reardon, for Full Of Crow, and Bill Gainer, Lynn Alexander, and Paul Corman-Roberts reading for Red Fez. Special guest Puma Perl will bring her ink from the East- coming all the way to Oakland from New York!

Crawling Zygote @ Beast Crawl Leg 3
Saturday, July 7. 8-9pm
Xolo, 1916 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94612 (across from Fox Theater)

Hosted by Brian Fugett, performers include Tim Murray, Cathleen Daly, Frankie Metro, Lindsey Thomas, Rob Pierce and Youssef Alaoui. 

Beast Crawl After Party
4th leg of the Beast at Club Paradiso, located at 2272 Telegraph Ave, Oakland (#27 & #28 on the Beast Crawl Map, between 23rd and Grand, next to Rock Paper Scissors).

The after party is FREE and open to everyone (21+). We have the private upstairs room reserved for drinking, dancing, and schmoozing. 

Zyfez 2012 – Oakland (Finale)
Sunday, July 8th. 3-8pm
The New Parish, 579 18th Street (at San Pablo), Oakland, CA

Schedule of Performances

Brian Fugett
Paul Corman-Roberts
Shali Nicholas
3x Bad Band
Lynn Alexander
John Swain
Jason Neese
3x Bad Band
Puma Perl
Tim Murray
Aurora KillPoet
Bill Gainer
David Smith
Frankie Metro
Steve Goldberg
Zarina Zabrisky
William Taylor Jr
Jason ‘Juice’ Hardung
Lindsey Thomas
Leah Angstman
Jesus Angel Garcia
Iris Berry
Frank Reardon
Luis Rivas
Melissa Hansen
A. Razor
Cathleen Daly

For More Information, go to the ZyFez 2012 Website


Friday, June 15, 2012

Art Imitating Life

I hate the phrase, but it's a truism; it's a valid statement that covers a lot of the art world, whether that be music, visual art, or writing. I was reminded (yet again) that I need to be less solitary, that getting out and doing something outside of the house will only benefit my writing in the long-run, which is true.

I had the pleasure of spending most of May not at home in San Francisco. My youngest sister graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor's in Sociology, the weekend after that my good friend Surya got married to a wonderful woman in El Cerrito, which was followed by another wedding in Los Angeles between my old friend Mel and her beau TJ (whose blog is pretty hilariously entertaining), which was again followed up by another family reception in Los Angeles the next weekend for Surya and his wife Jessette.

I had been struggling with ideas for some of my flash fiction-turned-short stories for this post-apocalyptic short story collection, but as I sat in the crowd watching Mel and Tj getting married, I realized that one of my strengths (and ultimately, a story that was lacking) is a good love story. I don't mean the romanticized "all ends well" kind of story, but just that the story itself encompasses an emotion greater than the characters involved. I'm good with the nuance of the interpersonal, at least on the page.

So while in Los Angeles the weekend after their wedding, I sat in a hotel overlooking the city of Torrance and crafted the first rough draft of what came to be the impromptu wedding vows of two people stuck in a world that was quickly falling into ash and crumble around them. There's potential for this one and I really love the ideas I've got for it. See the vows below:

"Under the rust brown sun
     Feet firm on wilted grass
With lover's hand in mine
     With lover's hand in mine
I sacrifice my solitude
     I promise to protect my love
My body, heart, and mind.
     From the world of things unkind.

In these times of dust and trouble,
     Upon this ground devoid of life
I give you all my cocooning warmth
     I stand to guard you from every harm
And pray this ring remains 'til death
     And with this ring as my promise,
I thee wed with open arms
     I thee wed; my life, my charm."

In other news, I've been re-reading through "Impasto." I removed all the paintings-as-characters sections and decided to see how the actual story between the human characters holds up. I had to ask myself if the paintings were simply a "clever" trope or if they were actually serving the greater good by breaking up the story. After a six month hiatus of not even thinking about the story, coming back to it with a clear mind as a reader and not as the author of it...there are parts that make me cringe. Some of the writing is truly terrible, which is both good and bad. It's good because the story needs work and there are about a thousand ways it can be made better. It's also good that I didn't start sending it out to publishers when I was high on the tail-end of my thesis work and firmly enmeshed in the story. I was too close to it.

But finding out the bad writing is bad because...well, it means there's a ton of work ahead of me. I became bored with some of the writing, which means other readers will too, so it's time to step up my game and make sure all the human character pieces fit. After all, their relationships to each other are the most important part of the novel and if they don't work, it doesn't matter what the art has to say about their lives.