I was shocked to discover I hadn’t posted here since March. I feel like the dad who went out for cigarettes and wound up on the bum in Oakland. Really, I’d meant to come back. There has been some writing since then although not enough to justify my existence by any means. You can find some of my snarky recaps and other snark about my mother television here. As you may also know, I’ve been gigging it teaching ESL and doing some writing coaching, so there’s a language blog here, which may be entertaining even for native speakers, assuming you’re obsessed by the difference between “got” and “gotten” or you live in an actual democracy and are still trying to figure out how the electoral college works.
As to the reason for my “silence” — don’t get me started. It’s a crisis of confidence that’s been coming on a long time, a feeling that I’m shouting in an empty room, etc. You know the scene in Peter Pan where Peter shamelessly makes us applaud to save Tinkerbell, that’s got to be some kind of metaphor for the arts. No one writes for themselves alone.
The better-half comes home from getting a haircut and tells me how his barber is taking online Russian lesson through some outfit called Got Classes. (That’s not their real name, but you’ll understand the alias later.) He says to me, “Why don’t you check them out? Maybe you could teach English online.”
This was more than a gentle hint. See, I quit the last job, which was in many ways the perfect “part time” gig at a nearby community based organization, except no matter how hard I tried, part time always became full time, and I wanted to spend more time writing. However, three years later, neither the novel or novella I’d produced during my hiatus, were offering me enough in royalties to buy more than a monthly latte at Starbucks, and that would be on a good month, nor was I living large on Continue reading My Gig Economy→
(I’ve got to start writing content for this blog again. In the meantime, I’m reposting this piece from November, which holds up well I think.)
(11/18/16) At this moment, I’m sitting in New York’s Winter Garden, across the street from One World Trade. It was the first place to be rebuilt after 9/11. It’s difficult to believe that was fifteen years ago. And everyone who was in New York will tell you how extraordinarily beautiful the weather was, and that it was a Tuesday. There was no hint of the coming catastrophe. Workers showed up, piling into their cubicles as usual. There were warnings, which were ignored by W and Condaleeza, but we, the people, didn’t know anything about that.
Today is a little colder than that morning was. Of course it’s November already. Almost Thanksgiving. It’s nearly lunch time. Office workers are window shopping on a break, or walking through on their way to the food court. Tourists are taking pictures. There aren’t many homeless people here, Continue reading The New Normal Will Never Be Normal→
As this will probably be the only way I will EVER get my name in the New Yorker, I am thrilled to announce that I have won this week’s New Yorker cartoon contest. I’d show you my winning entry, but I’m afraid they’d sue me, so you can go here and see it for yourself.
Wasn’t that fun? They shot me an email to tell me I was finalist and check how I wished to be identified. They also asked if I would like to share how I came up with my totally original caption that was probably similar to many others. I explained that I had lived with cats for a long time, so I often thought of what I’d say in that very situation.
It used to be the winner would get a signed copy of the cartoon with his or her caption on it, but they seem to have cut that service right out. Still it is an honor to have won.
Would you like some advice on how to win the caption contest? Be funnier than everybody else.
(You can thank me for my awesome, life-changing, and totally free posts by checking out my books on Amazon. There’s no donation button, but nothing says thank you like buying a [cheap] book.)
Self-pity is not a good marketing tool. Then again, nobody reads my blog anyway (You see what I did there) so…..
In October of 2015 a novel called City of Fire came out. It got spectacular reviews and the young author was lauded as the next new thing even bigger than any of the Jonathans maybe.
More recently Christadora – A Novel was released. It also got spectacular reviews and its young (white male) author is also being celebrated as the greatest thing to happen to literature since Bob Dylan.
Both of these masterpieces are set in the New York’s East Village. City on Fire takes place in the pregentrified 1970s, and culminates in a shooting and the blackout of 1977. It deals with the punks, anarchists, runaways, junkies and other assorted East Village types. Christadora is set a bit later, that period of time when the East Village started to become gentrified and was made safe for suburbanites and the rich, even while a good number of its native population was dying of AIDS. It’s told from multiple points of view, and touches on the Tompkins Square Park riots.
All this I know from reviews of the works. I’ll never read them. I couldn’t bear to. Why you ask? (You don’t come here often, do you?) You see in 2010, to little fanfare, my novelLoisaida – A New York Story was released to the public. Here’s the blurb:
“The core of this gritty, only in New York-story was inspired by realevents – a beautiful, aspiring dancer slain. The psychotic roommate has confessed, but a dilettante actor-turned-journalist thinks there’s more to it and investigates. Soon one of his sources mentions he might have better luck gaining trust if he’d shoot dope.
Welcome to New York’s East Village, aka Loisaida, circa 1988. Meet your neighbors – artists, dreamers, hustlers, devil worshipers, anarchists, junkies and yuppies – all competing for breathing space in a city without air. It’s the era of greed, when the poor are objects of scorn not sympathy, and the gentrifiers view themselves as urban pioneers. This is a story about sex and drugs and real estate. This is a story about a murder…”
Not only does Loisaida take place in the East Village, like both of those respectable novels, but it takes place in around the same period as Christadora, and like Christadora it is also told by multiple narrators. Christadora involves the tenants of a particular building, the (real life but fictionalized) Christadora, a one time settlement house that was turned into a fancy condominium in the late 1980s. The Christadora (the building, not the novel) is also referenced in Loisaida, though it’s given a fictional name, and a much less prominent role. Both Christadora – A Novel and Loisaida feature the Tompkins Square Park police riots. City on Fire, which is set years before those events, has a shooting. I don’t know whether or not anybody dies in it. Loisaida, as explained in the blurb, has a murder – a strangulation probably, though there wasn’t enough left of the body for an autopsy.