Monday, March 30, 2015

In December A Reading

In December I gave a reading at Doc's Lab in San Francisco as part of the Quiet Lightning series. It was the second time I read THE VIBES MANIFESTO, and I think it went pretty well. I realized that the first time I read the MANIFESTO I kneeled on the ground as a I read while the people in the audience sat on the floor. I think when we are all sitting on the floor, close to earth, the MANIFESTO seems to make more sense. I'd prefer not to be above the audience, looking down at them, unable to actually touch them if I need to.

Which reminds me of when I performed music as Souvenir and when I would play shows I always tried to get off the stage, if there was one. I'd rather the performance be a thing that we all do together instead of me doing the thing.

The thing which I am not writing right now but will in two seconds, the thing I am keeping from this blog is that my relationship has ended. It's a funny and scary thing to share out in the open like this but it is part of my life and theoretically, this is a place where I can write thoughts down. The important thing to know I guess in relation to the THE VIBES MANIFESTO is that they were born - that is the vibes, as an idea, as a place to write about - when I was 20 or 21 and getting weird with B. in her room drinking wine and listening to Bright Eyes and Mirah and who knows what else.

When we came back together as I was beginning grad school, the vibes were sort of reignited. I had felt them ever since obviously but rarely spoke about them. I knew there was something in the world, something like the vibes, which I tried to express or share with other people as I was coming up. How to say the thing that brings people together? How to describe what made them friends and what made them love? I don't know what it was. In my music projects (Souvenir/the body) I tried to get at that feeling, the vibes. In one song I sing "I'm playing my ribs like the vibes / In California I like the vibes". So they were always there. But when B. and I came back together it was the right time to figure out what the vibes were and so I started writing about it in earnest. And ever since they have been the most important part of my life. Everything involves the vibes, everything comes back to the vibes.

When they started it was only about romantic love. Proving that love was real and would stay because it was natural and good. It was worth risking your heart to someone else because love was good. How could it not be? But then the vibes expanded, as they obviously would, and I began to fall in love with world, and now it's a sort of spirituality to me. Though I still don't always understand what the vibes are or how they work or how to best describe them. You know them when you feel them. The relation of people to people, a person to a person. It's the connection between the two and between the three and the rest.

Anyway. I guess I'm just trying to say that I am sad my relationship has ended because the relationship was the origin of the vibes. I know the vibes continue on but there the relationship goes. I don't know, there's nothing profound to say about it. But it is a thing that has happened.

What I've realized too is that the vibes are true. They are everywhere and you find them in some seriously surprising places. In other words, love is true and good and will stay no matter what we do. 

The Wolves in the Hands of Friends pt 2

Monday, November 3, 2014


May: I drove with B to Oregon and read and partied for the release of The Wolves at Publication Studio. It's impossible for me to read without first drinking alcohol - usually wine - because I get so nervous I feel like I might die of embarrassment. I had never been the center of a reading like this, of a 'release'. Patricia and Antonia of Publication Studio were wonderfully kind and gave me that feeling of truly being celebrated. It helped that before I read Patricia read an email she had received from Kevin Killian introducing my manuscript to them. I had that feeling, after listening to Kevin's promotion of my manuscript, of finally getting my father or mother to express or admit their love for me. My mom and dad express themselves freely so it wasn't like I was starved in real life, but it was like that feeling. Finally, Kevin told me how much he loved the book! I had a similar feeling after reading Dodie Bellamy's blurb. Writing The Wolves was both a process of learning to write a novel and a process of constantly trying to impress my supporters - Dodie, Miranda Mellis, and B, mainly. If I could first impress them with the story and the writing there wouldn't need to be any additional accomplishments. Now that I am working on another novel I don't feel the same need to impress or rather I am not trying to impress anyone but myself - though myself has accumulated the critical eye of Dodie, Miranda, and B. I can hear Dodie telling me to 'kink it up' and then I read or re-read Cunt Ups or Cunt Norton and I am reminded of how to do this. Miranda's influence is much more disperse. Rigorous and searching. B's influence is practical. Why are you writing a 1000 page novel? Who do you think is going to read something like this? I can only laugh at my own ambition.

October: Jason File, Jason Scheinheit, and I read at Needles & Pens in San Francisco. Three Jasons. First, I will mention that at this reading I read 'The Vibes Manifesto' - which is what it sounds like. Over the past year or so I have read 'vibes' essays whenever I have been asked to read somewhere. It's a philosophy I am in the process of developing. The vibes philosophy. It's a way for me to read something not related to The Wolves. It allows me to play with the audience. When I am at poetry readings I envy the play. I sit there thinking, 'Damn, I want to do that!' I am thinking of Evan Kennedy's readings generally and David Buuck's reading at Woolsey Heights in particular where his poem ended in a dance party. Or even Cassandra Troyan's reading - the one I saw at 851 - where she drank cough syrup and either she pretended it was blood or I just imagined it was.

June: I worked for my dad's construction company for a week or two. I returned to the same crew of men who I had worked with about 6 months earlier. Since I am an academic type and they are 'workers' I always arrive fearing they will think I am weak and an elitist. I am weak when compared to their years of strength. I watched them lift walls onto their shoulders. Drag metal hammers like they were toothpicks. They are friendly and admire my education. I am a part-time employee, not making very much money in academia, and they are full time laborers, making what sounds like a glorious sum to me. I wish I could wake up at 4am every day and do what they do just so that I would be paid well and could let my mind have a reprieve from the vaulted crises of 'being a writer'. But then I find out they don't want to wake up so early and while they're cutting concrete they are constructing elaborate novels of their own but have no way of ever writing them. The strain of the physical labor gives me endless headaches, bruises my hands and legs, makes me glad I didn't commit to working for more than two weeks. It's true you would get used to it, but ultimately I am glad I am able to return to desk. I want to say something like, 'I don't want to forget those workers or how hard their work is' but it's hard to say that without appearing as some typical 'liberal' romanticizing the life of the worker. Maybe it isn't. I just can't help but think of the privilege I was granted by the work of people like those workers. My dad and my mom. My grandfather who was a plumber. I don't know, whether it is right or wrong, I feel guilty, and I'd rather feel guilty than forget what waking up at 4am feels like. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Reading I Gave Months Ago

Here's video which Evan Karp took of the reading I gave in January at the Emerald Tablet for the Under the Influence series (which Evan hosts). I was invited to read by Evan after Miranda Mellis suggested me. Each reader then suggests/nominates another writer for a subsequent reading. The person I suggested doesn't know I was the one who put their name out there. So this is sort of an unveiling. I asked Evan to keep me anonymous. But, now, I'm happy to say I suggested Evan Kennedy for this reading - which he then gave in March. I've seen Evan Kennedy read a few times now, I think, and it always blows me away. I'm sorry I wasn't able to attend his Under the Influence reading. Oh well. I wanted to stay anonymous just because I thought it would be fun bit of mystery. Maybe Evan Kennedy didn't even think about it.

So for my reading, I responded/was influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh and Ludwig Wittgenstein. I'm not 100% engaged with either of their work. I've only recently started reading Wittgenstein and have only read two small books by Hanh. So my response is slightly superficial. I don't feel bad about this. I'm just mentioning it in case someone watches the video and feels like I did a poor job of representing their work. But whatever.

The essay I read from doesn't have a title but if I were to title it now I would call it "Essay on Human Suffering". It's written in my 'vibes' style. People might be familiar with this if they have seen other readings I've done. It's my preferred style to use when I read. It's more poetic. Recently, I also read at CCA and for that I read from my just published novel The Wolves from Publication Studio. Yes, it is fun to read certain parts of The Wolves but usually I feel uncomfortable reading from it because I worry people would rather hear something else. I'm probably being neurotic about it. Honestly, it's just more fun to read from my vibes essays. At some point I should put them together into something more cohesive and make it a book. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Wolves official book trailer

I'm excited to post this beautiful promotional video made by Jessica Yatrofsky. My novel The Wolves will be available March 2014 from Publication Studio as part of their Fellow Travelers Series.

The Wolves is split between two parts. The first is the story of two ill-starred lovers, overcome by their devotion to each other and their destructive appetites. The second is a re-telling of the life of the 14th-century catholic Saint Catherine of Siena and her relationship to her biographer Raymond of Capua. The two parts mirror each other and question the limits of identity, bodies, and faith.

Here is a short excerpt from the first part of The Wolves:

I thought you had really left, now you're bleeding, you're going to die. I see, feel, or imagine the dick going inside her. The trapped blood rushes from my feet to my abdomen, fills up my scrotum, my cock is fat. I wish there was a way to fuck without blood, to love without the body. I thought you were gone. Hairless stomach, brown pussy. Did you consider leaving? No, I knew to wait for you. Once our bodies meld together, her hair will become mine and a fine layer of fur will shroud our pussy and cock. We will encircle our abdomen, spin into a tiny clump of flesh, we float through the air invisible.

I've been thinking about our diamond rings. I didn't know we still had those. I saw her swallow it. No, you weren't there because that was your fantasy, this is real, the rings aren't real. But, this could be a dream. I'm telling you that it's not, I'm sorry for telling you I didn't want to talk to you, I shouldn't have said that. Her lips are dry, I bite them, careful not to bite the side that Raymond tore. When we kiss, I feel like I'm kissing you and everyone you've ever been. That's wrong, I'm the only person here. We can swallow our rings. I think we should bury them. We can do it your way if you want.

We were always together, and I made you my husband, you were mine and I was yours, didn't we link ourselves enough? I want you to go deeper, right there. The inside of my asshole is pink, my dad told me, oh never mind. Yes, I understand. What about your parents? They don't matter. None of this seems real, you're talking too much. I want you inside me, I am already. The inside of her pussy is pink, I feel its color now. Head near her heart, where everything takes place. We combine lungs, throats and ligaments.

Feeling is expansive. Even our small skeletal bodies are infinite in feeling, minds surpass canvased skin. Feeling is not infinite, it begins and ends. Fucking you doesn't feel any different than before. I was upset when I thought you had really left, I felt I had lost you. The bodies melt, summer finally ends with no music. I am unable to think, thought sits just outside my grasp. I wish you had four dicks, I would put them all inside me. Where would the fourth one go? She laughs, I want you to fuck my brain. A dick isn't a body. I tighten the muscle, it's a story-teller, glyphs, and smoke signals. To me it's only your cock. I have dreams of being inside you. I want you inside me. I dream we are fucking and I am someone else, you are someone else, but it is still us.

Your skin tastes like my skin. You want to believe. Our skin flaps, sweats, and slides on top of each other. I let go of her nipple, kiss my way to her lips. Our tongues slip out of mouths, we are still hungry. Her nose and cheeks are cold. The center of her heart is white and I feel its color with the tip of the dick. The rest of my body is shutting off, toes knees shoulders off. Are they finally disappearing? I open my eyes to see her staring back at me, pupils black and dead. The cock hemorrhages and fills her with come, our body shuts off. Stillness. Wolf stares into me, oh fuck, don't move. Do you feel that? Shhh. Her breath is hot, I want to crush in my hand the empty space that sustains her. I might be wrong. Look at me longer, don't stop looking at me. Could this have happened without knowing the colors of the inside of our bodies, without losing or exorcising limbs? //

I'll be reading new work at Under the Influence in San Francisco on Friday January 24th 2014. Please come and watch me channel Wittgenstein and Thich Nhat Hanh. I will be performing a part of my on-going "vibes" lectures.

More on Publication Studio's Fellow Travelers Series: The Fellow Travelers Series is modeled deliberately on Olympia Press's outstanding Traveller's Companion series of the 1950s and 1960s. Where the Traveller's Companion series published work that had been banned or censored through moralistic prohibitions, the Fellow Travelers series presents great new work that has been effectively "censored" by the market. (From Publisher's Forward to Spreadeagle by Kevin Killian, another in the Fellow Travelers Series)

Book trailer #2 THE WOLVES

A second, shorter trailer for The Wolves.

Here's a very short excerpt from the first part of the novel:
Wolf returns without the books and stands by the open window smoking a cigarette, red stained lips. Black leggings and a sheer white tank top, afternoon sunlight confuses white skin and cotton, contoured bone, dry, freckled hips, the black outline of her cross. Dust particles float around her small breasts, she jumps up onto the windowsill, brings her knees to her chest, small feet, dirty soles, taps her foot, takes a drag from the cigarette. She blows the smoke out the window, takes three vicodin, she's about to speak, is this summer ever going to end? //