Far From Flatbush
El lunes 27 de noviembre yo arribaré a Buenos Aires, Argentina, para el lanzamiento de la nueva edición en rústica en lengua española, de mi biografía de John Lennon Nowhere Man, cual fue anunciada oficialmente hoy, en el 77 cumpleaños de Lennon.
¿Por qué viajar 5,310 millas para presentar un libro, que Random House Mondadori (ahora Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial), publicó originalmente en 2003? Porque Nowhere Man no se ha impreso por años, y yo no puedo pensar un lugar mejor que Buenos Aires para celebrar su regreso. Lennon es amado en Buenos Aires, una ciudad donde los aniversarios de su nacimiento, el 9 de octubre, y muerte, el 8 de diciembre, son siempre conmemorados, y donde hay incluso un Museo de los Beatles.
Es asimismo una ciudad impregnada de mitos literarios y políticos, y aunque yo nunca he estado allí, siempre me he sentido conectado a ella, porque Eva Perón murió 12 horas antes de que yo naciera, el 27 de julio de 1952. Su muerte estaba en la primera página de todos los periódicos de Nueva York ese día. Y mi madre, quien idolatraba a “la dama de la esperanza”, siempre estaba hablando de Evita como si fuera una amiga personal.
Pero no se equivoquen: el objetivo primordial de este viaje es empezar a difundir la noticia, de que una edición re-traducida en español de Nowhere Man: Los últimos días de John Lennon, se vuelve a imprimir después de una prolongada ausencia. Con un precio de $ 12.60 dólares, el libro está ahora disponible en Amazon España, Amazon México, Amazon USA, Barnes & Noble, y directamente en CreateSpace. (La edición e-book, por un tiempo limitado, se vende con descuento en $ 9.00 dólares, y la edición de Kindle Matchbook, como siempre, tiene un precio de 99 centavos si tú ya compraste el libro en rústica).
Mientras esté en Buenos Aires, yo estaré firmando libros en una serie de eventos, está atento a los detalles.
Así, sí, yo estoy deseando mucho conocer a mis lectores, los medios argentinos y a mi traductor René Portas. Yo asimismo espero mejorar mi muy limitado español, y quizás incluso aprender a bailar un poco de tango. Y sí, mi esposa, la cantante y compositora Mary Lyn Maiscott (a quien Nowhere Man está dedicado), se unirá a mí, y mientras esté en la ciudad, podría ser persuadida de tomar una guitarra, y cantar una o dos canciones de los Beatles.
Te invito a unirte a mí en Facebook o a seguirme en Twitter.
On Monday, November 27, I will arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the launch of the new Spanish-language paperback edition of my John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man, which was officially released today, Lennon’s 77th birthday.
Why travel 5,310 miles to present a book that Random House Mondadori (now Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial) originally published in 2003? Because Nowhere Man has been out of print for years, and I can’t think of a better place than Buenos Aires to celebrate its return. Lennon is beloved in Buenos Aires, a city where the anniversaries of his birth, on October 9, and death, on December 8, are always commemorated, and where there’s even a Beatles Museum.
It’s also a city steeped in literary and political myth, and though I’ve never been there, I’ve always felt connected to it—because Eva Peron died 12 hours before I was born, on July 27, 1952. Her death was on the front page of all the New York newspapers that day. And my mother, who idolized “la dama de la esperanza,” was always talking about Evita as if she were a personal friend.
But make no mistake: the primary objective of this journey is to start spreading the news that a retranslated Spanish edition of Nowhere Man: Los últimos días de John Lennon is back in print after an extended absence. Priced at $12.60 U.S., the book is now available from Amazon Spain, Amazon Mexico, Amazon U.S., Barnes & Noble, and directly from CreateSpace. (The e-book edition has, for a limited time, been discounted to $9.00 U.S., and the Kindle Matchbook edition is, as always, priced at 99 cents if you’ve already bought the paperback.)
While in Buenos Aires I’ll be signing books at a number of events—stay tuned for details.
So, yes, I’m very much looking forward to meeting my readers, the Argentine media, and my translator, René Portas. I’m also hoping to improve my very limited Spanish and perhaps even learn to dance a little Tango. And yes, my wife, the singer-songwriter Mary Lyn Maiscott (to whom Nowhere Man is dedicated), will be joining me, and while in town she might be persuaded to pick up a guitar and sing a Beatles song or two.
I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Read More
Mary Lyn Maiscott and I were married at the Municipal Building in New York City in the aftermath of 9/11. The ceremony was broadcast live on The Louie B. Free Radio Show. Soon after our 15th anniversary, we returned to the show to talk about our marriage, 9/11, my books, and Mary Lyn's music. In the ensuing years, the radio show has evolved into Louie TV. Here's a memorable hour that was broadcast live from New York on Wednesday morning, November 2.
I invite you to join me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Read More
Ever since YouTube achieved global dominance, book trailers have become de rigueur for every author, from Nobel laureates, like Mario Vargas Llosa, to self-published scribblers who give away their e-books on Amazon.
A well-done trailer can create awareness that a book exists and can attract media attention, which can lead to… more media attention, which can be helpful if you've written a book that's worth reading.
The Pornographer’s Daughter, by Kristin Battista-Frazee, is a memoir that vividly depicts the trauma and chaos of growing up with a father who was a sex-club owner and a major distributor of Deep Throat, the fellatio flick that changed everything.
To promote The Pornographer’s Daughter—and her September 26 panel discussion about pornography’s impact on pop culture (in which I’ll be participating), at the Strand, in New York City—Kristin has released the above trailer, starring David Koechner, best known as Todd Packer on The Office and Champ Kind in Anchorman and Anchorman 2.
Koechner plays two roles in the trailer: himself and a character named Gerald “T-Bones” Tibbons, an obnoxious reporter who interviews Kristen about The Pornographer’s Daughter even though he hasn’t read it and thinks it’s a filthy book, like Fifty Shades of Grey.
Kristin holds her own against both incarnations of this bona fide comic heavyweight. And maybe the trailer will persuade you to venture out to the Strand to see our porn panel, which also includes Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, and will be moderated by Dr. Belisa Vranich, author of the self-help book Get a Grip.
In the meantime, for your edification, please contrast and compare The Pornographer’s Daughter trailer with my own trailer, below, Erich von Pauli on Beaver Street: Episode 1—there are four episodes altogether—starring Paul Slimak as renegade Nazi Erich von Pauli. Shot on a budget of approximately £1, a few months before Beaver Street was published in the U.K., the video features Agnes Herrmann’s voiceover and Mary Lyn Maiscott’s performance of the Beaver Street theme song (with apologies to Ray Davies and the Kinks).
Gerald Tibbons, meet Erich von Pauli. Long may you run.
My favorite comment: "Your shirt was terrific too."
For that I give full credit to Mary P. Fox, who selected the shirt in a second-hand store in Santa Barbara and persuaded my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, to buy it for me. I'd also like to thank Salvatore Ferragamo, who designed it. Read More
Last month, as Mary Lyn was searching for artwork for the cover of her soon-to-be-released EP, Crucified, guitarist Gary “Hoop” Hoopengardner pointed to the photo and said, “That’s it!” And so it was—with the minor addition of that naked silhouette in the window.
Tomorrow, at 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time, Mary Lyn will be appearing on Rew & Who to talk about her EP and EP release show—featuring Hoop, Peter Weiss and a surprise guest—at Ella Lounge, 9 Avenue A in New York, on January 18, at 9:30 P.M.
In the meantime you can listen to another song that will be on the EP, Time.
And yeah, it’s kind of cool to be on the cover of a record album, looking as if I might be about to get some. Read More
· Mary Lyn Maiscott's well-received Linda Ronstadt interview was posted Monday on the Vanity Fair website. She was worried that "Linda," as we now call her in the Maiscott-Rosen household, talked too much about singing--something she can no longer do because of Parkinson's disease.
“That’s like interviewing Picasso and saying that he talked too much about painting,” I told her.
The reason I think the interview went so well is that Linda, in the course of promoting her new memoir, Simple Dreams, has probably spoken to hundreds of interviewers, the majority of whom did not read the book and asked her the same canned questions over and over. Not only did Mary Lyn read the book, but she, too, is a singer, and when I listened to the recording of the interview, I got the sense that I was listening not to a journalist interrogate a rock star, but rather to two singers having a heart-to-heart conversation.
· I don’t remember what provoked me to listen, from beginning to end, to The Velvet Underground & Nico last week. But for some reason, I did. So, when I heard the news Sunday that Lou Reed had died, it was both eerie and shocking. (He was, after all, a fellow New Yorker and a Brooklyn native who was born at the same hospital I was born—Beth-El, now Brookdale.) Stranger still was what I found out about Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker as I was Googling various Velvet Underground things while listening to the album: Tucker, a member of one of the coolest rock bands ever, is now a Tea Party supporter! You can read all about her politics in this interview that ran in the St. Louis Riverfront Times. (And I will, at some point today, listen to Lou Reed’s eerily appropriate “Halloween Parade,” which happens to pass by my house.)
· Since its U.S. publication 18 months ago, Beaver Street sales can at best be described as a steady drip… drip… drip… But this week, for reasons unknown, that drip turned into a mild flurry, sending the book to its highest point on Amazon, and keeping it there for six days. In no way can this compare to the explosive sales that, from 2000-2003, propelled Nowhere Man onto bestseller lists in five countries. But it is a hopeful sign, and in the ravaged economy of 2013, that’s about all you can ask for. Read More
But next Tuesday, October 15, at 8:00 PM, at the 2A bar in the East Village, I will be celebrating Lennon's life by reading from three chapters of Nowhere Man. Joining me will be my Title TK co-producers Eric Danville and Lainie Speiser, adult actress Alia Janine, radio personality Ralph Sutton, writer James Sasser, character actor David Healy, and writer and musician Mary Lyn Maiscott.
The event, as always, is free, and if you have an urge to tune into the Lennon vibe, 2A is the place to be on Tuesday night. Read More
They were into wordplay, John and Yoko, especially when it came to their names, which lent themselves to a variety of combinations, like Lenono Music and Discono, a title John suggested for one of Yoko's LPs. In that spirit, I'm calling this post "Lennonight," which will take place at 8:00 PM, on Tuesday, October 15, in the upstairs lounge of the 2A bar in the East Village.
This is number four in the Tuesday night reading series that Eric Danville, Lainie Speiser, and I have been producing. We've christened our spoken-word collective Title TK, and Listen to This Reading is our celebration of John Lennon's birthday--he would have been 73 on October 9.
I’m going to read from my Lennon bio, Nowhere Man, specifically the opening chapter, “Being Rich,” the closing chapter, “Dakota Fantasy,” and “Chapter 27,” which is a reference to the nonexistent chapter of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the novel that drove Mark David Chapman to murder.
Mary Lyn Maiscott, who’s more accustomed to performing with a guitar in hand, will read from “Birth of a Song,” the Nowhere Man chapter that explores the inspiration behind Lennon’s “I’m Losing You,” which Mary Lyn covered at the first Bloomsday on Beaver Street.
Lainie will read from May Pang’s memoir, Loving John.
Other readers include actor David Healy, adult actress Alia Janine, actor James Sasser, and radio personality Ralph Sutton.
As always, admission is free and there’s no cover.
In other Title TK news, Lexi Love has created a long-awaited Bloomsday on Beaver Street page on her Website. The page features some very cool photos and the complete audio of her reading that night. Check it out for a taste of the unexpected drama you can expect on October 15, at 2A Read More
Four months ago, having finally reached the point where I felt I could do no more on my own, I gave Mary Lyn the complete manuscript for Bobby in Naziland, a novel I'd been working on for more than five years and had shown to nobody. She has since read it and has been giving me feedback--specifically flagging passages that she thought could be clarified, tightened, or somehow improved. (I gave an example of this in a previous post.)
Though I’ve been making improvements, there’s one passage that’s been driving me crazy since 2009, and that I continue to struggle with. It’s the primary thing that stands between me and a finished book. I call it “The Eichmann Transition.”
The capture of Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Final Solution, is a story that I knew as well as any story: In 1960, the Mossad kidnapped Eichmann off the street in Buenos Aires and spirited him back to Israel to stand trail for crimes against humanity. I drew on my memory of these events to write a chapter titled “Tales of Eichmann.”
But when I turned to the historical record to check the accuracy of my memory, I came upon a fantastic tale that had been declassified only a few years earlier, and that changed the very essence of the story. Though the Mossad had taken all the credit for capturing Eichmann, acting as if they’d learned of his whereabouts clairvoyantly, it so happens a former Dachau inmate who’d fled with his family to Argentina had tipped them off.
Once settled in his new country, the former inmate, Lothar Hermann, did such a good job of concealing his Jewish identity, not even his teenage daughter Silvia knew about it. She was, in fact, so oblivious of her heritage that she began dating Eichmann’s rabidly anti-Semitic son Klaus, who used his real name and bragged to the Hermanns that his father was a high-ranking Gestapo officer.
The Hermanns, acting as spies, then confirmed Adolf Eichmann’s identity, at which point the Mossad took over.
This story, reduced to little more than a historical footnote, remains generally unknown to anybody who hadn’t researched the matter in the past few years. And it cried out to be included in Bobby in Naziland, a fictional memoir that in part explores the meaning of memory. But how to include it? The story of the Hermanns was not part of the narrator’s memory and its inclusion seemed to violate the narrative structure of the book.
And this is what I continue to struggle with—how to seamlessly transition from what the narrator remembers about Eichmann to what he couldn’t have possibly known, because nobody outside a select inner circle knew it.
Sometimes it feels as if Eichmann will be the death of me yet. But, I swear, with a little help from the Mistress of Syntax, I’ll nail the bastard sooner or later. Read More
Well, people came--thank God or the devil or whatever higher (or lower) power is paying attention for that. And though it wasn't the overflow crowd that packed the Killarney Rose last year, on a Saturday night, we did okay by the standards of any literary event.
The people to whom I’m most grateful—and you know who you are—are the dozen or so repeat customers, our hardcore supporters, our friends, neighbors, and family who came to Bloomsday on Beaver Street last year, and have come to more of Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP’s shows than I can keep track of. They are the ones who can be counted on to buy our books and music, and have worked with us behind the scenes to help us make our way in an impossible business. We are lucky to have them in our lives.
Interestingly, two of the people who came as spectators last year, Eric Danville and Laralu Smith, made the transition this year to performers, with Eric reading his vintage ’70s-era Linda Lovelace advertising flyers and Laralu reading a Molly Bloom passage from Ulysses and performing in a scene from Byron Nilsson’s play, Mr. Sensitivity. It bears repeating that this is one of the unique aspects of our Bloomsday celebration—the way that the line between performer and spectator has been virtually erased, making for an unusually intimate setting.
And it goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway) that it was great to see all the new faces, too, and that everybody’s enthusiasm and feedback was more than appreciated. As far as I know, everybody had a good time, audience and performers alike. So, thanks for joining us, and we hope to see you again next year, when Bloomsday falls on a Monday, the day after Father’s Day, which I’m sure will free up everybody’s complicated schedule. Read More
One of Michael's specialties is the group selfie. So, in case you've been wondering what the man behind the camera looks like--and who hasn't?--here he is, posing after the show with me and my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott. Ain't we a threesome?
Stay tuned for more paparazzo shots of the non-selfie variety. Read More
This year, Mary Lyn and guitarist Gary "HooP" Hoopengardner--vice president of the New York chapter of Guitars Not Guns, an organization devoted to stopping school violence--returned to the Killarney Rose, along with backup vocalist Samantha Echo, who also sang two of her own songs.
The musical themes for the night were literature, Ulysses, and transgression, and every song performed referred to at least one of them. Mary Lyn opened with You Can't Do That, the Beatles classic that she sang 13 years ago, at the publication party for my John Lennon bio, Nowhere Man. (You can hear it on her CD, Blue Lights.) Samantha provided the soaring backup vocals for Mary Lyn’s next song, the just completed Angel Tattooed Ballerina, about a boy who wants to be a girl struggling with his (or her) sexuality. And she ended the set with Madam Olenska, a tribute to the scandalously divorced central character in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocense, published in 1920, the same year as Ulysses.
The second set, which followed the readings, began with singer-songwriter Ray Fuld performing two originals, including a tune about a Brooklyn hooah, which seemed to be the perfect complement to my reading from Bobby in Naziland.
Next up was Samantha, who’d studied Ulysses in college, and sang her song about Gerty MacDowell, the character who was responsible for provoking Leopold Bloom to an act of public onanism, which was the passage that got Ulysses banned in the United States. (You can see Samantha perform regularly at the South Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from Beaver Street.)
Finally, Mary Lyn and HooP returned for two more songs, Toxic City, Mary Lyn’s paean to Paris, where Ulysses was originally published, and Crucified, a religiously transgressive song about sex.
All in all, it was a night of good music and good literature, and you should have been there. But if you weren’t, we will have video in the coming weeks, and there’s always next year. Never too early to make plans. Read More
The play is ribald comedy about a husband (Byron) who presents his wife (Laralu) with a porn stud (Joe) as a birthday surprise. (Mary Lyn read the stage directions.) Highlights included watching Laralu transform herself from the dramatically aggrieved Molly Bloom, whom she played moments earlier, to the comically aggrieved Tiffany Lawrence, and listening to Joe recite with feeling porn star Barry Woodman's doggerel, which contains the classic line, "You’re so refined, so full of class;/You taught me how to touch your ass."
Mr. Sensitivity made Bloomsday on Beaver Street seem like an Off-Off-Broadway revue of literature, music, comedy, and theatre, where the line between the audience and the performers is almost nonexistent, and as Lexi Love demonstrated this year (and Bernie Goetz demonstrated last year), the performances themselves are completely unpredictable.
I see the event heading in a more theatrical direction, something Saturday Night Live or Second City-like, with a touch of the avant-garde thrown in for good measure. But designations like “On Broadway,” “Off-Broadway,” and “Off-Off-Broadway” seem somehow inappropriate. How about we call it “On Beaver.” You know, just like the song: “They say the neon lights are bright on Beaver…”
They’re obviously singing about the neon lights of the Killarney Rose. Read More
Or click here to see the helpful mention that Media Bistro has given Bloomsday on Beaver Street, where low culture meets high, and you never know who the hell is going to show up. Read More
Robert Rosen will read a historical passage from Beaver Street and the opening pages of his just-completed novel, Bobby in Naziland.
Eric Danville, author of The Complete Linda Lovelace, the original basis for the film Lovelace, starring Amanda Seyfried, will read from a collection of over-the-top vintage 1970s flyers advertising Lovelace’s 8mm loops.
Lainie Speiser will be read the Mia Isabella chapter of her book Confessions of the Hundred Hottest Porn Stars.
Lexi Love, AVN Award nominated adult actress and inventor of the board game Uncle Don’s Exotic Interludes, will read from Cookie Mueller’s memoir, Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black.
Actor and writer Bryon Nilsson will return as emcee and sing a song.
Laralu Smith will read a passage from the Molly Bloom section of James Joyce’s Ulysses that graphically demonstrates why the book was banned in America.
Joe Gioco, Laralu, and Byron will perform a staged reading of a scene Byron’s ribald play, Mr. Sensitivity, last seen at the New York Fringe Festival in 2009.
Singer-songwriter Mary Lyn Maiscott and guitarist HooP return to perform a selection of originals and covers.
Singer-songwriter Ray Fuld returns to perform original songs.
And if need be, we’ll go all night long. Read More
This photo, by Michael Paul (who will be the official Bloomsday on Beaver Street photographer), was shot late Sunday afternoon, as Mary Lyn and I walked past the Joe Strummer mural on East 7th Street, across the street from Tompkins Square Park. The dates on the mural, 1952-2002, always shock me when I see them--because Strummer, of The Clash, was 25 days younger than I was when he died, at 50, of a undiagnosed heart defect. So, for me, the mural has that extra-added jolt of poignancy.
What I like about the photo is its naturalness—we didn’t know that Paul was taking the picture, so we weren’t looking at the camera. And my and Mary Lyn’s slight blurriness brings to mind the cover of Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush.
But long gone are the days when people bought record albums as much for the covers as for the music. (Need I mention Cheap Thrills, Sgt. Pepper, and Volunteers?) So, Mary Lyn will just have to get by on her music, and you can hear some of it June 16, at the Killarney Rose on Beaver Street. And though I will be reading on Bloomsday, I will not be singing or playing an instrument—because I can’t. But I’ll still be happy to appear on the cover of Mary Lyn’s next album. Read More
A final look back at some of my favorite posts, selected at random, from The Daily Beaver on its third anniversary. Then, on new blogging frontiers.
Godfather of Grunge Meets Godmother of Punk (June 7, 2012)
A report from the BEA.
Bernie on Beaver Street (June 19, 2012)
This is what happens when a celebrity vigilante shows up at a book launch party.
My Book Promotion Philosophy (Sept. 6, 2012)
Why I’ll talk to anyone who wants to talk to me about my books.
Distinguishing Characteristics (Sept. 11, 2012)
A guest post from Mary Lyn Maiscott on the anniversary of 9/11.
Google Is God (Oct. 18, 2012)
What do you do when you don’t like the way a powerful monopoly is treating you? Nothing you can do. Read More
Yesterday, after appearing on the Louie Free Radio Show and singing a capella a few verses of her Christmas song, Blue Lights, my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott (aka the Mistress of Syntax) made her annual appearance on Rew & Who? With Gary Hoopengarden (aka HooP) accompanying her on guitar, she performed a Blue Lights encore and sang an especially touching rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin. (Both songs are on her CD, Blue Lights, available for download on CD Baby.)
Michael Paul shot the above video of Mary Lyn and HooP’s performance. You can watch the entire Rew & Who? segment here. Read More
Bloomsday on Beaver Street was a celebration of literature of all kinds. Here is Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP celebrating Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence with Mary Lyn's song about one of the novel's main characters, Madame Olenska.
Mary Lyn will be performing her Christmas song, Blue Lights, tomorrow on ReW & WhO?. You can watch the show live on the Internet, beginning at 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time. (Mary Lyn is scheduled to come on at 4:45.)
You can also listen to her songs on the Louie Free Radio Show: Brainfood from the Heartland, streamed live on the Internet from 8 A.M. to noon, Eastern Time, Monday-Friday. All her songs are available for download on CD Baby. Read More
Mary Lyn Maiscott and HooP's Blue Lights Christmas show, tonight at Ella Lounge, is dedicated to the memory of John Lennon. Tomorrow, December 8, marks the 32nd anniversary of his murder, an event that I explore in my book Nowhere Man. To commemorate Lennon, here's a clip of Mary Lyn and HooP performing I'm Losing You at Bloomsday on Beaver Street.
Also tomorrow, December 8, at 11 AM Eastern Time, this link from Indies Unlimited will go live and take you to an excerpt from Nowhere Man. Read More
I heard it on the radio yesterday for the first time this year. Louie Free, host of the Louie Free Radio Show: Brainfood from the Heartland, closed out his broadcast with Mary Lyn Maiscott's Blue Lights, my wife’s Christmas song from her album of the same name. Louie, determined to make the song a holiday tradition, has been playing it every year at Christmas since 2007, when she released the CD, which you can download at CD Baby.
This year, in New York City, Mary Lyn, along with ace guitarist HooP, will be performing in the first annual Blue Lights Christmas Show, on Friday, Dec. 7, 8:30, at Ella Lounge, 9 Avenue A. This intimate holiday concert, dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, will feature such Maiscott originals as Crucified, Things I Lost, and Blue Lights (of course), as well as covers, including a mashup of the Beatles’ You Never Give Me Your Money and You Can't Do That, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, which she's never before performed in public.
Tickets are $10 at the door or $5 online (listed under HooP). Hope to see you at Ella Lounge. If you can’t make it, please listen to Mary Lyn on the Louie Free Show, streaming live on your computer or on WYCL, 1540 AM, in Youngstown, Ohio, weekdays 8 AM-Noon. Read More
I'll go out on a limb here and say that Mary Lyn's touching take on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas rivals Judy Garland's 1944 version, recorded for the film Meet Me in St. Louis. And though Blue Lights hasn't yet achieved universal status as a Christmas classic, for years Louie Free has been playing the song on his radio show, now broadcasting weekdays 8:00-noon on the Internet and on WYCL, 1540 AM, in Youngstown, Ohio.
If you’re in the New York area, you can hear Mary Lyn live on December 7, at Ella Lounge. I’ll be writing more next week about this special Christmas/Hanukkah show. Read More
If you go to the site, you can also see how 31 other VF staffers spent their summer vacations. Read More
I’ll be there too, in my usual capacity as roadie. Hope some of you can stop by. Below is an exclusive peek at the set list. You can hear some of these songs on Blue Lights.
Madame Olenska (Maiscott). Midnight in California (Maiscott). Crazy Girl (Maiscott), Things I Lost (Maiscott), Sweet Dancer (HooP), Crucified (Maiscott), Well-Adjusted (HooP), Time (Maiscott), Be-Bop-A-Lula (Tex Davis and Gene Vincent), You Can’t Do That (Lennon-McCartney), Brown-Eyed Girl (Van Morrison) Read More
What follows is an unfinished piece, "Distinguishing Characteristics" that my wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, who was also working at home that day, wrote shortly after 9/11.
Dental implants. Old burn scar covering entire right knee. Gold tooth.
My idea at first was to write a poem about the distinguishing marks, which were at once lyrical and heartbreaking and overwhelming. To this end I carried a spiral notebook up to the armory. People gathered there to register their missing, and the walls outside were plastered with hundreds of flyers showing pictures, giving descriptions of their relatives and their clothing, telling where they were last seen. This is when we were calling them missing.
I also carried a cheap automatic camera that my credit-card company had given me as a gift (I found out why when I developed the pictures, which were hardly worth keeping). I took only a few pictures. The first was of a bride (at first I wrote “a bridge”; this seems significant) and groom in Madison Square Park. I’d always been leery of the whole institution of marriage, but something about the delicacy of the short tulle veil—lifting as the bride ran a little, smiling, her new husband right behind her, both of them of a dark-skinned extraction that would not help them in the coming days—tugged at something inside me, made me want to cry as so many things did.
I also took a couple of pictures of the flyers, which were ubiquitous, well before I got to the armory; they were on lampposts, on windows, on fences. I stopped so many times to read about this person, that person, to take notes, to stare at their faces, that by the time I got to the armory the light was getting very dim. One of the posters that stopped me cold—it was scotch-taped to a store wall—showed a photo of a thirtyish man with his family. That family now begged him, “Please come home!” This made me—inexplicably, guiltily—furious. Of course he would come home if he could! As though it were up to him whether he was dead or alive. And of course he was dead—didn’t they know?
Birthmark on hand in the shape of Puerto Rico.
In the shape of Puerto Rico? What shape was that? I had to look at an atlas. It’s not like Texas or Florida, not a really distinctive shape. Kind of an oblong island with a curl or a twist here or there. But this island danced every day on the man’s hand, or anyway his loved ones wanted to think so, even while he negotiated the mind-boggling island of Manhattan.
That morning I’d gotten an e-mail, among the flurry of e-mails sent in those days, that asked the receiver to add an item to a list of things about Manhattan to love. The woman who’d sent it to me—an old friend who’d moved to Colorado—had written something about bagels. I thought about writing in the Chrysler Building or the sunset from Hudson River Park but never did. It was odd in a way to remind ourselves; could we possibly have forgotten? It came to me, though, that everyone in New York who loves New York (and of course there are those who don’t) thinks secretly that no one loves the city the way they do. If I’m thinking that—even with the occasional fantasy of escaping to a less target-rich, as the military might say, place, some remote corner of Vermont maybe—then so are millions of other people. Which is fine, because otherwise how would we survive here?
Tattoo on left shoulder of whale/dolphins surrounded by starfish. Butterfly tattoo on lower back.
There were many, many tattoos. Imagine someone sitting in a tattoo parlor enduring the pain of that big needle for their own whale, their own dolphin, their own unique butterfly or rose or heart (one of these in the webbed area between the thumb and index finger). They are not thinking, here’s a good way to identify my body when I am crushed or burned to death. There were scars too, which are rather like tattoos that nobody asked for—an appendectomy scar, facial chicken-pox marks, a “bite mark on the chest.”
On the way home I passed by the Gramercy Park Hotel. My husband (domestic partner then) was staying in New Jersey, visiting relatives. It occurred to me to check into the hotel, even though my apartment was only a twenty-minute walk away. I wanted to forget everything, even who I was. To be somewhere clean and stark. I thought of the woman in the novel The Hours who checks into a hotel just so she can read. I didn’t have to be anywhere the next day because my office, like my home, was in the “frozen zone” below 14th Street. That meant no cars, no people who weren’t residents, and very little business going on. I had to show my ID twice to get home, at 14th Street and at Houston Street.
At 14th, I passed through Union Square Park. Amid the flowers, candles, and taped-up signs—“Osama bin Laden, look out” but also “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” …
I thought then that my idea for a poem—or, rather, a compilation in poem form—had not worked out, but when I recently looked back at what I had, I decided to finish it.
A birthmark in the shape of Puerto Rico
on his hand.
Scar between eyebrows.
A heart tattoo on her right hand,
between the thumb and the index finger.
Gold necklace with jade pig.
Mole at jawbone near right ear.
(Young man:) tattoo of tiger on right shoulder;
(his sister:) gold chain with key charm.
A circular beauty mark
on his right wrist.
Tattoos: dolphin on foot,
turkey on hip.
Right-hand ring finger severely bent;
gold neck chain with cross.
Yellow rose tattoo on right ankle;
two earrings in each ear.
Bite mark on his chest
just below left shoulder.
birthmark on one of his shoulders,
and a small dark mole in the center
of his back.
Black mole on each cheek,
black spots on his neck.
Has a Florida tan.
Chews tobacco, so first fingers
on his right hand may be stained.
Wearing a gold rope chain on his neck,
with a rectangular charm that says
“Jesus Is Lord.”
Faint birthmark on back of neck
under his hair
(may need to look real hard for it
since very faint).
Has thick hair on his chest,
a very hairy man.
A scar which extends from the
upper right side of forehead to the eyebrow,
which appears to be an upside-down V;
scar on left arm has a black tattoo
one-inch in width
that bands around left bicep.
Two gold bangles and one gold bracelet.
Wearing a wood cross.
Tattoos lower back tribal (dark green),
upper right heart and rose with initials LER.
Has on a silver fossil watch.
Has a French manicure on both her hands
and her feet.
No scars or tattoos.
Brown spot, right shin;
scar from hip surgery;
Chicken pox scars on cheek.
Tattoo on left shoulder of whale/dolphins
surrounded by starfish.
Butterfly tattoo on lower back.
Skin tag on neck;
small scar on chin;
cast on right hand.
Tattoo of Puerto Rican flag
on right arm.
Old burn scar covering entire right knee.
White gold ring with the letter C
in diamonds. Read More
I took the summer off to concentrate on the new book I’m writing, Bobby in Naziland, and to recover from my exhausting battle with Amazon to make the print edition of Beaver Street available. For the past ten days I've been chilling with my family in Jonesport, Maine, in a house on the ocean, doing little more than eating too much lobster and blueberry pie as I watched the gothic fog roll in every day, and thought that if I stayed there long enough I'd start to write horror stories. But I wrote nothing while I was there, not even a postcard, and let me tell you, it feels good to go ten days and write absolutely nothing. Now that I'm home and feeling fully recovered, I'm more than ready to launch the Beaver Street autumn offensive, which I'll kick off by getting back in the blogging groove (though not necessarily every day just yet) and preparing for the first event since Bloomsday on Beaver Street.
On Friday, September 14, at 7 P.M., I’ll be reading and signing Beaver Street at the Book House in Albany, New York. And I can thank none other than E. L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, for this opportunity. Ms. James’s mega-blockbusting trilogy has made filth, especially of the S&M variety, palatable to the masses. In tribute to Fifty Shades, I will consider reading an S&M scene from my book. Though I’d like to point out that there is at least one major difference between James’s S&M and my S&M—Beaver Street is nonfiction. So, you 50 million S&M fans, if you’re in the Albany area and you like your S&M real, I hope to see you in September. I suspect you can all use a little literary discipline, if not necessarily a little bondage. Read More
Many things were spoken of at the Killarney Rose on Bloomsday: literature, pornography, book banning, censorship, Amazon, Watergate. In future postings, I’ll write in greater detail about this night to remember. But for now, as I sort out my thoughts and await photographic evidence of some of the things I mentioned above, I simply want to thank everybody for coming to the best Bloomsday party in New York City and reminding me why I became a writer. Read More
As if that’s not enough to celebrate, this Saturday, June 16, is also the eve of Father’s Day, and Beaver Street is dedicated to my father, Irwin Rosen, who passed away in 2005. I dedicated it to him because I think he would have enjoyed the book, and I explain why in the Prologue, titled “A Kid in a Candy Store.”
My father used to own a candy store on Church Avenue, in Brooklyn, around the corner from where we lived. I spent a lot of time there, working and hanging out, and one of the things I witnessed was the passion that my father and his pals expressed for books like Tropic of Cancer and Last Exit to Brooklyn—so called “dirty books,” many originally banned in the U.S., that he displayed on a special rack in the back of the store. Beaver Street, I think, would have earned a coveted slot in that special rack.
In honor of Father’s Day, the Prologue is one of the two passages I’m going to read Saturday night. And I’d like to suggest that if you have a certain type of father, Beaver Street, now available in paperback and all e-book formats, just might make the ideal Father’s Day gift. If you buy the book at the event, as a bonus you’ll receive absolutely free a copy of Blue Lights, Mary Lyn Maiscott’s CD, which is dedicated to her parents; the title song is about their wartime romance.
So please join us on Beaver Street to celebrate more things than we can keep track of. It’s going to be fun. Read More
Music, performed by Mary Lyn and the gifted guitarist HooP, is going to be a big part of Bloomsday on Beaver Street, as well. The duo are slated to perform two sets of originals and covers to open and close a show that will also feature readings from Beaver Street and guest singers performing cabaret-style songs.
Some of the songs are favorites that HooP and Mary Lyn have performed in clubs like The National Underground and Ella Lounge. And most of them are, in one way or another, related to the theme of books—writing books, publishing books, promoting books, and reading books. I’m not going to give away the set list here, but will simply say that if you’ve heard HooP and Mary Lyn live, then you know how good they are. And in an intimate, living-room-like setting like the back room at the Killarney Rose, it promises to be very special night.
Hope to see you there at 7:00 PM on Saturday. Read More