Monday, April 7, 2014

HOW MANY CHAPBOOKS DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO THE CENTER OF YOUR BRAIN SCREAMING "WHY DOES HE RELEASE SO MANY CHAPBOOKS!" RHETORICALLY

SO I have two things out now in the past week or two. 

The most recent is HOT DOGS! which was published by NAP, one of the best electronic publishers in the history of electronic publishers. The design and, as far as I know, everything was done by the beautiful Chad Redden. At one point he apologized for delays, citing his son's lacrosse schedule. That made me think, "Damn."

Read it now by clicking on this line, which provides a hyperlink for you to reach the e-book.

I was so pleased with the cover he made for this:



Below is a list of the poems in HOT DOGS! with their year of composition, location of composition, and, if applicable, source of previous publication. Thanks to Ana Carrete, Adam Robinson, Matt Margo, and Lucy K Shaw for publishing some of these in their original form.

As I may have said before, this collection includes basically every poem I have ever written and liked. It's not that many. Give yourself a break and check out my expression of my inner self, and all that crap.

Below is the list I mentioned above:

"room and board crisis for a fish" [2007, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio]

"if all actions have meaning then i would like to create the meaning in all my actions but i would probably never know the meaning of that action" [2010, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York]

"The Day Factory" [2010, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York] [originally published on New Wave Vomit]

"Moan" [2011, Harlem, Manhattan, New York] 

"harry potter as a sex guide" [2011, Harlem, Manhattan, New York] [originally published on Everyday Genius]

"Staring At Photographs of the Human Brain" [2011, Midtown, Manhattan, New York] [originally published on New Wave Vomit]

"Times I Thought that Something Else was Going On" [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"I Had An Out-Of-Body Experience As I Stared At My Chili Burger" [2012, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York] 

"Smiley Face Anonymous" [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York] 

"Unpublishable #1"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"Unpublishable #2"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"Unpublishable #3"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"Unpublishable #4"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"Unpublishable #5"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"I Used To Listen To That Modest Mouse Song A Lot"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"The Newest Blockbuster Hit: Now In A Theatre Too Near To You"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York] [originally published on Cormac McCarthy's Dead Typewriter]

"Untitled #1" [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York]

"fast asleep and smiling in front of a 7-11 international terrorist massacre"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York] [originally published on Shabby Doll House]

"My Body is a Temple"  [2012, Harlem, Manhattan, New York] [originally published on Shabby Doll House]


______________________



OK SO HERE'S THE SECOND BIT OF SELF-PROMOTION

I made this chapbook with my best friend Niki Schur-Narula. It is called "Everyday Mr. Kent" and it has words (by me) and art (by Niki) and it is only a few bucks. Go over to the Keep Away store and pick up a copy.

Here is a very high definition photo of me holding a copy of it:

Wow! Look at that high quality photo!
That is me holding up a copy of a new fiction & art chapbook that is out now. It is called EVERYDAY MR. KENT. It has words by me and illustrations/art/[hey sensitive artist please insert the correct term] by Niki Schur-Narula.

Buy it in the Keep Away store


Until next time, wonder what next time will be.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Noah Cicero and Frank Costanza







I wrote a review of Noah Cicero's new novel for Bookslut.

I think I would change maybe 5 things in the review if I rewrote it (even though I only wrote it 2 months ago).

For a while, I thought I wasn't in that phase of throwing away writing sometimes or being ashamed of writing sometimes, but now maybe I'm back.

I'm back baby....



Friday, February 7, 2014

My Bands (2004-2010)

HTO (2004)

I "jammed" with this group. I think it was my first time playing with other people who actually knew how to play their instruments, except only one or two of the other guys knew how to play, out of five of us. I met the guitarist, Ben Shuber, who was my connection, in the parking lot of our junior high. He said he had to pick up the singer and the bassist. I had thought I was the bassist. I had packed my bass guitar and my bass amp.

We drove from Cuyahoga Falls to Akron. There are two different roads you can take from my neighborhood to Akron. One goes through some poorer neighborhoods towards downtown, and one goes through a sprawling shopping complex and on the way there there are lots of big nice houses and developments. That was the road we took.

The drummer was Jacob Mothersbaugh, who I found out was the son of an original member of Devo and the nephew of Mark Mothersbaugh. He didn't go by Jacob, he went by Cob, which wasn't a name I had ever heard, or have heard since. There was a gold album framed on the wall of the basement, in addition to a bunch of cool-looking instruments, including a weird electric ukulele, which my friend Ben started playing and shredding on, before Cob yelled at him, saying that it was priceless or just not to play it because Ben was hyper and would maybe break it.

I sat and watched them play. Ben shredded on guitar, Cob played an almost on-beat drum line, the bassist used a pick to pick at the same string repeatedly, not really making noise, and the singer sat on an amp, alternating between nodding his head and glaring at the rest of the band, and not singing at all. After a few minutes, I was allowed to play, and I played a bassline from a Rancid song, and one member of the band, the guy who had a bass but apparently didn't know how play at all, said, "Our last bassist could play all the hard solos, too", which I thought was odd because this guy couldn't play shit but felt it necessary to rip on me.

I left feeling uncomfortable and uncertain about my future as a rock star. I never played with them again.

Until recently, I didn't remember what 'HTO' stood for or if it was even an acronym. While doing research for this piece, a close childhood friend, Ian Stroud, said that it stood for Hostile Takeover. There is also the chance that they may have just picked some letters that they thought sounded cool.

Band founded: 2002
Band tenure: 2002-2004
My tenure with the band: 2004 (one day? not even really)
# of practices/"jam sessions" with the band: 1
# of shows with the band: 0
Relevant links: http://www.purevolume.com/hto
Associated acts: unknown



Mark Mothersbaugh at any unknown date, probably circa 1979. 

KARLO MARX AND THE KLAMPDOWN (2004-06)

Over the course of a couple years in high school, I attempted to start a jam-punk (genre almost made us doomed to fail, right?) band with various folks. It consisted varyingly of different folks I knew--some who drastically exceeded my own skills, some who's skills I drastically exceeded--mainly focusing on producing catchy pop-punk songs that had guitar solos.

The name of the band was made by me (and there is a >50% chance the band was just a creation within my own imagination and was never recognized as anything by anyone else) and it came from a mix of the character Carlo Marx from Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD, the political philosopher Karl Marx, The Clash's song "Clampdown", and the fact that I was very interested in 60s counter-cultural literature, where it was cool to use K's a lot (ex: Amerika).

Unfortunately, it proved difficult to get punk-leaning types to mesh with types who loved classic rock, metal, and jam bands. During my junior year of high school, I finally found a somewhat workable mix of guys including Ben Shuber (from above), my friend Ryan (not very good at guitar, as I remember), and a drummer who's name I don't remember but who was a friend of Ryan. The drummer was not very good. Our only song we successful played was a rendition of "Brainstew" by Green Day, with no vocals and with our custom of touch of shredding guitar solos, which continued until we realized we'd been playing the same thing 5 chords for like an hour. I remember after we did ok "jam-out" to it, the drummer's mom came into the room and said, "Wow, that was really just great guys. Wow!" and the drummer blushed and said, "Get the hell out of here, Mom."

The band "broke up" after our second "practice", during which Ryan didn't show up at all, and before which I received my first of three tickets, this one for going 92 MPH in a 55 MPH speed zone. The police officer who pulled me over was known as The Boston Strangler, because he only worked in a several hundred meter stretch of the highway within the limits of the town Boston Heights. I never found out if there was actually just one Boston Strangler policeman, or if it was just a generic name for all Boston Heights police officers who patrolled that stretch of the highway.

There was never another meeting of the band in that line-up, and it is possible the band's only concrete existence was on my folders I took to school, where I wrote the names of bands and political slogans and other stupid shit. The folders don't exist anymore, except in folder heaven.

Band founded: 2004
Band tenure: 2004-05
My tenure with the band: 2004-05
# of practices/"jam sessions" with the band: 2
# of shows with the band: 0
Relevant links: n/a
Associated acts: unknown


Cover for the Green Day single for "Brainstew", with "Jaded" as the B-side.

THE ALGERNON GORDON EFFECT (2006-2008)

This was in almost all senses my most successful band. We even had a rival band. This band formed when I was a senior in high school. The original two members were Bob Dorff (guitar, vocals) and Dave D'Altorio (drums). They formed the group after one was one of many frustrating band practices with Darwin's Pinto, who would become our rival band.

Bob had his lunch table with the nerds and I had my table with the long-distance runners (almost soft-core jocks, os), and I had actually been pretty mean to Bob when we were freshman and he unsuccessfully tried to run on the cross country team. However, during senior year we began to slowly build a friendship out of the fact that most of the other kids in our school lacked any real sophisticated or interesting music taste (basically, we were hipster snobs). One day in February of 2006, Bob told me he had formed a new band. He said they were looking for a bassist. I told him I played bass, and a legend was born.

By this point in high school, I had become a decently-skilled bassist, and Bob and Dave were both very new to their instruments. In fact, Bob had played rhythm guitar in Darwin's Pinto and was now playing lead guitar in T.A.G.E., while Dave had been the vocalist in Darwin's Pinto and was now the drummer in T.A.G.E. According to the legend, the two of them began playing together when yet another practice fell apart because of D.P.'s rhythmically-challenged drummer. After the rest had left, Dave picked up some drum sticks and started playing some basic beats. Bob began riffing over it. The name they chose came from the book Flowers For Algernon, written by Daniel Keyes in the 1950s.

Our first song we wrote together as a trio was called "Butterfly Propaganda." It chronicled, in lamely poetic terms, my angsty animus towards the United States Air Force Recruiter who had set up a table in our cafeteria that week.

Our second song we wrote together as a trio was called "Plans and Cancellations", an emo song that reflected on an imaginary relationship I had had with a real girl, wherein I utilized almost all the cliches of romantic popular music.

Our other songs included the following:

"Liberation Hop": a pretty typical shitty punk song. Good stuff.

"A Foray Into The Psycho Ward": a sort of blues/garage rock song that mixed my personal experiences with those of a creep guy who went to our high school, who I think is now married.

"The Mustache and the Horn": a ska song, in which Bob and I switched instruments, with lyrics mixing personal experiences and Hitler, Satan, and the concept of pure evil. Ian Stroud, my best friend from childhood, played the trumpet on this, a talent he brought with him from his days as the first chair in every high school band (marching, jazz, concert) before he quit all bands, got depressed I think, and then got sort of happy again at the end of high school, around the same time he joined TAGE.

"We Put The Excess In Success": possibly my favorite T.A.G.E. song, this is a damning lyrical assault on suburban America, featuring a steady punk chord progression on the verses and then a hardcore chorus that is probably ~10x the tempo.

"Lost?": the only song I did not sing on (Ian did). Consequently, it was my least favorite song. Just kidding. It was a fun song, positive and healthy. Good for all involved.

"Larry's Bar": named after Dave's mother's boyfriend (husband?), who had his own keg in the basement, where he would come periodically throughout our band practices, cigarette in his mouth, to refill his mug with beer. This song was our only song without vocals, and is probably our worst song, featuring fairly boring and mediocre blues/garage style jamming.

"In the Clouds": our attempt to write an epic "last song on the album" like Weezer's "Only In Dreams" (from the Blue Album) or Built To Spill's "Broken Chairs" (from Keep it Like a Secret). At the end, of the track, there is some silence, some bonus material, more silence, and more bonus material. Download it below to hear it for yourself.

As I mentioned during the song descriptions, my friend Ian joined the band once we had written a handful of songs. He didn't play with us at our first three shows (a Battle of the Bands at our high school, a show opening for a bunch of bands at the defunct Orange Street venue in Akron, and a show at the Peabody's venue in Cleveland).

Ian played trumpet, keyboard, and sang, and we began our rise to stardom, playing more shows and eventually recording an album ("You Don't Need A Weatherman", a title taken from the Bob Dylan song "Subterranean Homesick Blues") and playing more shows at venues around Akron and Cleveland. For the album we added one song to introduce the album. It was called "Intro" and it was influenced by the bands Socratic and Arcade Fire.

We made t-shirts, printed albums, and acted like a real rock band. It was great.

As the summer of 2006 ended, we realized that it was all over. Bob and I were going away to college. We reunited over break several times, but never played another show and never printed another t-shirt.
I miss them both a lot every time I think about T.A.G.E.

I think the last time we played together was during summer break in 2008. One of the best post-Golden Era moments was when someone from Darwin's Pinto wrote disparaging comments in a Facebook group I had created called "I Was In The Algernon Gordon Effect", and there was a community outcry, sort of. I looked today and I guess the content of that fbook group has decayed :(

Band founded: 2006
Band tenure: 2006-2008
My tenure with the band: 2006-2008
# of practices/"jam sessions" with the band: ~100
# of shows with the band: ~12
Relevant links: http://www.last.fm/music/The+Algernon+Gordon+Effect/+albums (full debut album available for download)
https://myspace.com/rocktage (once flourishing band Myspace)
Associated acts: Baby Bear, Darwin's Pinto, Another Day Late, Electric Fuzz Party, Slapdash



The Algernon Gordon Effect (T.A.G.E.) original lineup. Me, Dave, and Bob.

THE CATHOLIC MAVERICKS (2007)

Another band that existed mostly in my imagination. During my first year at college, I became very depressed and anxious about various things, such as college, and lost my interest and ability in artistic pursuits. However, during spring break, in New Jersey, at the home of my friend Dennis Donnelly, I rekindled some of my creative juices, writing a song that I would later record as "Oil Town" during my next band. No one else in the group except for me really knew had to play music at all, but it was sort of fun to just fuck around a lot. At one point, we went to my friend Brady's house in upstate minor New York, and jammed there in a recording studio that his dad owned. I remember wondering why his dad owned a recording studio. I don't think he was in the music business. I never found out.

Band founded: 2007
Band tenure: 2007
My tenure with the band: 2007
# of practices/"jam sessions" with the band: ~5
# of shows with the band: 0
Relevant links: http://www.purevolume.com/thecatholicmavericks (a PureVolume page with no content)
Associated acts: unknown

THE ELECTRIC FUZZ PARTY (2007-2008)

This was probably the height of my interest in songwriting.

I jammed with a couple different drummers: Matt Schlosser and David Braver.

We never played any shows. I smoked Black and Mild's with Matt sometimes on his parents' porch and wondered if they cared.

Band founded: 2007
Band tenure: 2007-08
My tenure with the band: 2007-08
# of practices/"jam sessions" with the band: ~100
# of shows with the band: 0
Relevant links: https://myspace.com/electricfuzzparty (other recordings also exist, but I lost them at some pt....occasionally attempting to get them back from Niki Schur-Narula or Bob Dorff, but no go, thus far....)
http://www.reverbnation.com/electricfuzzparty (also, this reverbnation, which I didn't realize existed until today as I was researching, although maybe I just forgot about it)
Associated acts: The Algernon Gordon Effect, Capybara Sounds


Noise session. Photo by Matt Schlosser. Unknown year. Ben Shuber playing with some device and me playing with microkorg.

THE BRAIN FARTS OF OHIO (2009)

Essentially a continuation of the Electric Fuzz Party. I think I only made a new name because I wanted to put more songs on Myspace, and Myspace had a limit of the amount of songs you could have.

This was also at a time when I was pretty lonely, and listening to a lot of post-punk and noise rock. I had recently read that book OUR BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE. Idk.

Also, Ben Shuber, from back in the days in high school, got on board to play some shredding on a few songs. You can hear them below at the band Myspace page. This was the last time I recorded any music with other people. What happened?

Band founded: 2009
Band tenure: 2009
My tenure with the band: 2009
# of practices/"jam sessions" with the band: ~15
# of shows with the band: 0
Relevant links: https://myspace.com/thebrainfartsofohio
Associated acts: Electric Fuzz Party, Glow Old

SLAGS (2009-2010)

This was my last attempt at a band, and the last time I played shows. We performed two shows at Bard College: BardStock and Punk Rock Prom. At Punk Rock Prom we covered "Damaged Goods" by Gang of Four, "Transmission" by Joy Division, "In Bloom" by Nirvana, and "Gut Feeling" by Devo.

At the cover show, I sang, while Niki Schur-Narula played bass, Stefan Klecheski played guitar, and Max Basch played drums. At the BardStock show, I played bass and sang, Niki played drums, and Stefan played guitar. We were OK. I never played in a band again.

Band founded: 2009-10
Band tenure: 2009-10
My tenure with the band: 2009-10
# of practices/"jam sessions" with the band: ~100
# of shows with the band: 2
Relevant links: https://myspace.com/slags (yet another social page with no musical content)
Associated acts: The Brain Farts of Ohio, Glow Old



From right to left: Vanessa Haroutunian (yellow shirt, ponytail), Ben Flynn (guy staring seriously at stuff), Me (guy holding microphone), Stefan Klecheski (partially seen, w/ white shirt and black tie and guitar), and Niki Schur-Narula (foreground, bass in hand)
_____________________________________________


This is the part of the blog post where I talk about what this all meant to me.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Commando: A Plot Summary (****spoliers alert****)



The last decade of the Cold War begins and ends in Commando (1985), starring Arnold Schwarznegger as John Matrix, who is ready to retire from a life of freedom-fighting all over the world in Syria (Hafez Al-Assad regime), South Africa (anti-apartheid insurgency), Russia (pre-Glasnost Soviet communism), and other terrorist-havens. 

As he eats lunch with his daughter, who cooks for them because his wife is dead, they hear then see a helicopter, revealed to be American Special Forces personnel sent to inform him that someone is killing his former Special Ops unit. Now they want him dead, too. It could be the anti-apartheid terrorists from South Africa.




The Special Forces tells John Matrix that they can save his life if he rejoins the Special Forces. He refuses. The Special Forces leave. 

Next, terrorists arrive at Matrix's house to kidnap him and his daughter. They succeed in kidnapping both of them. 

Matrix is ordered by the terrorists to help a wealthy Latin American political boss perform a coup of the wealthy Latin American political boss' country in order to install the Latin American political boss as dictator. If Matrix doesn't help them within 11 hours, they will kill his daughter in 11 hours.




Matrix pretends to collaborate, gets on a plane, but escapes, but no one knows that, because there weren't cell phones back then(?). Matrix then brutally kills members of the Latin American political boss' army, befriends an attractive flight attendant (played by Rae Dawn Chong), and raids an arms supply store for Uzis, grenande launchers, and armed trucks. He attacks, or is attacked by, the police, but escapes.




In the end, Matrix arrives on a deserted island occupied by the Latin American political boss, where he kills the entire army, including the Latin American political boss. He rescues his daughter, and it is assumed that he later has sex with the attractive flight attendant, who even was able to help him kill some people.

It should be noted that the Special Forces essentially got everything they wanted. They wanted Matrix to rejoin them, and they probably also wanted him to kill the Latin American political boss. They may have orchestrated the entire plot just to get his blood thirst re-established. 

They arrive at the end of the movie to congratulate him and ask him to come back to the Special Forces. He refuses their offer, but he already did that, and we know what that means. We have been given an excellent taste of the paranoid covert mind-trickery militarism that exists in the era of Ronald Reagan's 1980s, in the twilight of the Cold War.