January 31, 2006

Jason Boog's Adventure at the RNC

In honor of the State of the Union Address, in honor of the strangeness of a world where newspapers can write about the contents of the State of the Union Address before said speech is actually delivered, in honor of a political system where political parties can wine and dine me, and in honor of the fact that I cringed when I imagined the 2006 State of the Union Address when I attended the 2004 Repulican National Convention...

I give you a wailing spoken word story about Jason Boog's Adventure at the RNC.

Dig it...

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January 27, 2006

Lust for Life

Almost three years ago, I met Ethan Minsker and Bryan Middleton during an accidental visit to Black & White in the East Village. I was just another kid from the Midwest, lost in the big city. After a couple whiskeys, they had convinced me to join the Antagonists and tell this tall tale about Iggy Pop, bad dreams, and burning coincidences.

Today, I'm resurrecting my Iggy Pop story on Travel Goat, the New York City podcast archive. Check it out:

"When I was young, I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, hoping to make it big as a writer. The first place I found was a basement room, with one window in the corner and bare bedrock walls. One particular winter night, I was cuddled up with my girlfriend in my warm blankets.

Something woke me up in the wee hours, this prickling feeling.
I scratched at myself in the dark, but my leg burned, it stung. See, I'm one of those people that sleeptalks. I perpetually wake up confused, never knowing how much is still a dream and how much is real..."

Over the last few years, I've spent some good nights at that bar
. Most of them revolved around the Fahrenheit storytelling night, an event sponsored by the crazy East Village Antagonist Movement. I'm going back on February 5th for the storytelling night, right after the Super Bowl. If you're in the neighborhood around 10 o'clock, stop by Black & White...

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January 24, 2006

Release Me

It's been a funny week. As part of my new relationship with Know More Media, I have this crazy flash ad blinking "The Jason Boog Show" over and over on The Publishing Spot. Then, today, they published My Very First Press Release. Writing is such a funny business. I need readers to survive, and I am so grateful that more people are coming to visit. If you stick with me, I promise to take you to good places.

That said, all these bells and whistles make me anxious. I'm obsessing over existential dilemmas (Did I really exist before the words "Jason Boog" were repeated over and over on a flash ad?), authenticity issues (What if my hardcore street-credibility fizzles under the pressure of a flash ad?), and inferiority complexes (What makes my writing more worthwhile than any other writer with a flash ad?)

Just before sell-out anxiety overwhelmed me, one of my favorite blogs, The Comics Curmudgeon, tipped me off to this life-altering comics feature at The Houston Chronicle--free, customizable, syndicated comics pages! No matter what sort of postmodern crisis all this PR spree may bring, at least I have two pages of nostalgia-evoking goodness that I can read every day...

January 22, 2006

Like a broke radio

A couple years ago, I wrote a story about rats in Union Square Park. When it finally got published, I think the story lost some of the ragged, mad feeling it had when I read the story out loud.

Hoping to reclaim a bit of that broken radio feeling, I just recorded a short audio version of the story at Travel Goat, the New York City podcast archive. Check it out...

One summer night on a pitch-black sidewalk in suburban Michigan, I literally stepped on a skunk. I screamed like a little girl and ran home through an eye-watering cloud of stink—stripping off clothes my clothes one by one. I crashed into my living room, barefoot in my boxer-shorts, and screamed at my shocked roommate: “Do I smell like skunk?”

Eventually, the smell went away, but the accident changed me forever. Like a broke radio receiving transmissions from outer space, I’m tuned to the stranger frequencies. Now I notice all the sinister sounds at night, the crinkle of garbage bags or the scratch of tiny claws on cement.

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January 20, 2006


Sometimes, I find a writer that writes such spooky, pretty stories that I want to call my friend Amy Hayes and show her too. It's been a few years since Amy died, and I still Google her name every once in awhile, just checking if she has mysteriously transubstantiated on the Internet. Because if anybody can mysteriously transubstantiate on the Internet, Amy can.

So today, I found "The Faery Handbag" by Kelly Link, from her brand new book, Magic For Beginners. I bought Stranger Than Fiction, a couple years ago, and now you can download the whole thing for free, god bless it. After I read this part, all I wanted to do was call up Amy and share. As long as somebody like Kelly Link is still writing, it feels like Amy is still reading...

Zofia never looked like a grandmother. She had long black hair which she wore up in little, braided, spiky towers and plaits. She had large blue eyes. She was taller than my father. She looked like a spy or ballerina or a lady pirate or a rock star. She acted like one too. For example, she never drove anywhere. She rode a bike. It drove my mother crazy. "Why can't you act your age?" she'd say, and Zofia would just laugh.

Zofia and I played Scrabble all the time. Zofia always won, even though her English wasn't all that great, because we'd decided that she was allowed to use Baldeziwurleki vocabulary. Baldeziwurlekistan is where Zofia was born, over two hundred years ago. That's what Zofia said. (My grandmother claimed to be over two hundred years old. Or maybe even older. Sometimes she claimed that she'd even met Ghenghis Khan. He was much shorter than her. I probably don't have time to tell that story.) Baldeziwurlekistan is also an incredibly valuable word in Scrabble points, even though it doesn't exactly fit on the board. Zofia put it down the first time we played. I was feeling pretty good because I'd gotten forty-one points for "zippery" on my turn.

Zofia kept rearranging her letters on her tray. Then she looked over at me, as if daring me to stop her, and put down "eziwurlekistan", after "bald." She used "delicious," "zippery," "wishes," "kismet", and "needle," and made "to" into "toe". "Baldeziwurlekistan" went all the way across the board and then trailed off down the righthand side.

I started laughing.

"I used up all my letters," Zofia said. She licked her pencil and started adding up points.

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January 17, 2006

Our Hardboiled Future

While I read Matt Zoller Seitz's movie column in the New York Press every week, I had no idea he had a blog. Even more to my surprise, Seitz blogged about his obsessive reporting quest to find out more about Brian DePalma's upcoming version of The Black Dahlia. Turns out DePalma has shot a movie version of James Ellroy's twisted and excessively obsessive novel that inspired three more books revolving around a couple generations of crooked cops in L.A., spawning the austere film interpretation, L.A. Confidential.

If Brian DePalma has anything to do with it, this movie will be anything but austere. I love DePalma for his criminal camera-eye, equal parts artist and voyer. The film version of L.A. Confidential dropped all of James Ellroy's gibbering insanity, glossing over an entire serial-killer subplot and crafting beautiful retro atmosphere instead. I've always wondered what would happen if a mad director paired up with this mad writer, and now I got my wish--a hardboiled future to look forward to...

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January 15, 2006

Paul Auster and Me

There are three main reasons why I’ve obsessed over the novels of Paul Auster for the last ten years: he blends the twisty genius of Borges with the American novel, he wrote the Definitive Literary Private Detective Novel, and finally, his stories make me feel like the two of us are sitting in a coffee shop and hashing out the universe.

In honor of Paul Auster’s new book, The Brooklyn Follies, I just published a short audio story about one snowy weekend when I heard him read an entire novel out loud. Check out this link at Travel Goat, the New York City audio story archive.

“In the middle of the worst snowstorm all year, I huddled in the Paula Cooper Gallery with 150 other people and listened while Paul Auster read his entire novel Oracle Night out loud in a two-day, ten- hour marathon.

Paul Auster can convince you that anything is true, just like a good writer or cult leader. All his books all involve obsessive characters trapped in elaborate story-mazes—earning him the kind of crazy devotees like me that trudge through snowstorms for two-day readings.”

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January 12, 2006

"There is a carnival outside my window."

Despite a management snafu that left my building without heat for 5 days, without hot water for 6 days, and without stove gas for 7 days, I am still kicking.

I feel like Charles Kinbote in his Pale Fire commentary (which I am re-reading like a kid in a candy store this week, but don't have with me to verify the exact quote that follows; which is appropriate for a blog post about a fictional character commenting on a fictional poem; and come to think about it, really, really appropriate, considering), when he sez,"There is a carnival outside my window," and you realize for the first time that there is something really, really wrong with the person telling you the story.

On a completely related note, Jeff VanderMeer is coming to New York City to read next week, at the red and stylish KGB Bar. I'm going. You should go too. It's not very often you get to meet somebody on your blogroll...

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January 10, 2006

Now it gets serious...

I just took on a contract blog gig with Know More Media, I'm now handling The Publishing Spot. Metaphysical musings and Neil Diamond puns abound. Look out, baby...

"If you are reading this, most likely you want to get published. The funny thing is, I want to get published too. Starting right now, we're going to work together and get published.

Welcome to Publishing Spot, a writing resource built on a simple premise: with blogging, podcasting, and web publications, there has never been a better time for writers to find their audiences."

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January 05, 2006

"And he was quite mad."

I just published an appreciation of the late, great Robert Sheckley on the Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project. You could spend a week reading all the 300 stories they keep stored over there...

I heard my first Robert Sheckley story on the old-time radio drama, X Minus One. Even though it was recorded twenty-five years before I was born, Sheckley’s exuberant adjectives, alliterative phrases and deadpan delivery inspired my Star Wars-saturated imagination. Re-reading “Bad Medicine” this week, I could still hear Sheckley's radio voice booming:

“Caswell was a choleric little man with fierce red eyes, bulldog jowls and ginger-red hair. He was the sort you would expect to find perched on a detergent box, orating to a crowd of lunching businessmen and amused students, shouting, 'Mars for the Martians, Venus for the Venusians!'

But in truth, Caswell was uninterested in the deplorable social conditions of extraterrestrials. He was a jetbus conductor for the New York Rapid Transit Corporation. He minded his own business. And he was quite mad.”

With pulp-fiction syntax and brassy vocabulary, “Bad Medicine” tells the story of a homicidal maniac named Caswell who ends up seeing a robot psychiatrist—a special Martian “mechanotherapist” he bought from a hapless computer store employee. In this story, corporations like General Motors and IBM rule the world, paying a separate police department to enforce brand loyalty. Instead of Orwell’s 1984, Sheckley sketches a hyper-consumerist, more familiar nightmare: a place where bad publicity can land employees in the dreaded “General Motors Reformatory” and consumers are addicted to fashionable machines that cure psychological defects.

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January 04, 2006

"First you dream, then you die..."

Today, after a long, long, long afternoon of botched writing attempts, I thought, as I usually do when I feel like a failure, about the melancholy life of Cornell Woolrich-- the world’s most underappreciated pulp fiction master.

I've been reading Woolrich's paranoid thrillers for most of my adult life. A couple years ago, I even interviewed Woolrich’s biographer Francis M. Nevins for a magazine story that never panned out, in true Woolrich failure fashion.

A few months later, Nevins had this amazing Woolrich article published in The Believer magazine, in honor of Woolrich’s 100th birthday. My editor killed the Woolrich story the same week, and I buried my head in the sand.

Despite that initial failure, I hung on to my notes about Woolrich. Today, I am happy to announce, I just published my own spoken-word tribute to Woolrich here at Travel Goat, the New York City podcast archive. In honor of Woolrich and my own battle against obscurity, I wrote:

“His biography title sums it all up: 'First you dream, then you die.' Cornell Woolrich was the godfather of the noir fiction, and his paranoid, twisty prose inspired masterpieces like Hitchcock’s Rear Window. While his hardboiled characters lived out adventures, Woolrich lived in hotel suites with his mother for 30 years.

After his mother's death in the Fifties, Woolrich drank himself to death in the Sheraton Russell. Woolrich fans celebrate his centenary in 2003, but nobody remembers him at the hotel. When I interviewed his friend Donald Yates about the hotel, he told me, ‘Why don't you just make up a room number? I assure you that no one will protest.’

It's lonely reminder of how fickle fame can clean anyone's hotel room, and then wait for the next doomed guest to arrive..."

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January 02, 2006

My Future and Doom

For my first, sheepish New Year’s post, I’m going to remind everybody of something important that happened last mixed-up year...

The movie version of the videogame Doom was a landmark moment in human consciousness.

For the last eight years or something like that, millions of kids have steered space Marines around bombed-out space stations in this first-person shooter game. The Doom screen scaled the videogame world to fit between your own two eyeballs, changing the way we imagine things forever. Pounding the keyboard in Doom, you had the jumpy, 3D illusion that “your” shotgun was sticking out into the zombie moonscape.

Directors used to worry about how to transfer readers’ imaginary expectations about novels into movies; now they are figuring out how to transfer videogame expectations about “you” into movies. Doom was just the beginning, imaginary versions of "us" will never be the same. From Videogame Media Watch to this Guardian piece we have to figure out how to represent these new perspectives.

This year, I resolve to write stories, blog posts and novels that explore videogames more, mapping out the last imaginary frontier before other writers get there.