Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shameless Promotion, part IV: the LINEUP

Continuing my series of uncharacteristically selfless promotion of other people's projects (shouldn't I be feeling better about myself by now?), I present to you The Lineup no. 3. Editor and pal Gerald So was kind enough to send me a couple of review copies of this most unusual poetry mag, which he co-edits with Sarah Cortez, R. Narvaez and Anthony Rainone. What's unusual about it is that all the poems are about crime, and the poets here include Patricia Abbott, Wallace Stroby, James W. Hall and Reed Farrel Coleman, and the poems are pretty badass. If you like hardboiled crime writing, this is right up your sordid, trash-strewn, bloodstained alley.

You can buy it at and you can get submission guidelines, author bios and more at

Sunday, March 28, 2010

shameless promotion, part III: Heavy Rotation!

Here's the latest thing from Mike Coykendall (

It's a groovy little pop masterpiece on which Herr Coykendall plays bass and occasionally sings, and which he engineered and mixed to boot. He's backing up M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, better known as She & Him. Ms. Deschanel is a pop songwriter of the first order, with a voice that calls to my mind such voices as Shannon McArdle (late of the Mendoza Line) and Miss Peggy Lee. And the thing has a sound to it that's pure confectionary joy. It's been in heavy rotation at home and work for days now:

She and Him, Volume Two, on Merge it now.

And in case you forgot to buy this last time:
The Unbearable Being of Likeness Cover Art

"The Unbearable Being of Likeness" is still available from
And of course he's an ex-Wichitan. So get out there and buy some records, kids!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Grandfather Paradox

Duane Swierczynski has written a number of hard-to-classify books that straddle various subsections of the crime, science fiction and thriller genres, all of them well worth your hard-earned dimes. His new one, Expiration Date, comes out March 30, and it's not only the best of the bunch, it's also planted square in the tiny, hard-to-hit intersection of science fiction, crime, horror, fantasy and probably a genre or two I'm forgetting right now. When I recommended it to a bookseller friend here in St. Louis I told her it reminded me of Joe Hill's "Horns" in its determined shotgun wedding of nuts and bolts quotidian reality and psyched-out gonzo fantasia, and it deserves to have that kind of commercial success.

Here's the gist of the thing, though it's impossible to do justice to it justice in this short space:

Mickey Wade is a recently terminated reporter for a Philadelphia alt-weekly who ends up in his grandfather's dilapidated apartment in the run-down neighborhood Mickey grew up in. Suffering from a blistering headache Mickey takes what he thinks is a handful of Tylenol from Grandpa's medical cabinet, and what happens next is either the most wacked-out time-travel story ever or the worst trip in the history of psychedelic medications. Duane is a lifelong Philadelphian, and one of the book's pleasures is the changing portrait of the town's lesser-known neighborhoods from the seventies up to the present.

So on the 30th head on down to your local independent bookseller and buy it. Duane's always-entertaining blog can be found here:

Maybe someday he'll reveal the secret behind his nickname: Duane "Three-balls" Swierczynski.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Other People's Stuff

I have been accused (by my own self, even) of using this blog for shameless self-promotion. And so my next few posts, in order to restore karmic balance, will be shameless promotion of my friends' work.

Today's subject is my pal Julia Clift, an amazingly talented painter whose work I just saw for the first time last week (though I've known her for about a year). Here's one she painted in Norway in 2009, "Monika":

And this one, also from last year, entitled "Camera and Lanterns":

Her website is here:

There's a lot of implied narrative in her work, not unlike Hopper or the photographs of Gregory Crewdson, the kind of work that rewards repeated viewings.

And she's a real keen gal, too.

Next: Duane Swierczynski!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Smutty Olympia

I wanted to post this during the Olympics, but it didn't arrive in time. Still, a lovely little piece of erotica from the bottom of Grandpa's sock drawer:
And once more, rolled stockings! And with skates. That is a very specific fetish, my friends.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kirby's '88

I took these pictures of Kirby's Beer Store in April '88, shortly before leaving Wichita for good. Above is one I've posted before of a dissolute bartender.
And here's the legendary northeast corner, home of many a session of tonsil hockey and drunken loutishness. GLOBE OF FROGS!
And from the men's room, the ancient condom dispensers, for those who were about to be lubricated.
Remember that ceramic thing with the matchbooks? For a while people amused themselves by writing predictions in the matchbooks, as though they were fortune cookies. My favorite was "You will have a very disturbing wet dream about the disinterment of Miss Lucille Ball." Look! Regulars!
Many, many manhours wasted on the pinball machine, not to mention quarters.

The walls, covered with crapola.
That same dissolute bartender. Does that look on his face remind you of the sleeve of "Lust for Life?"
The TV, above the legendary jukebox. Note the print of Marilyn Mao.
More crapola, plus a view of that amazing jukebox, which contained among many, many other gems the 45 from my GI Joe astronaut circa 1968 of John Glenn's Mercury-to-Earth transmissions.

I hope you've enjoyed this trip in the way-back machine.

Friday, March 5, 2010

From the Bottom of Your Grandfather's Sock Drawer

Here are two recent acquisitions. The first, above, is a promotional photograph of young actress, or possibly a dancer, circa 1925. It was taken the Theatrical Studio, at 359 N. Clark Street in Chicago. The bathing suit is interesting considering that she's also wearing shoes with rolled stockings (a big fad in the 20s; Louise Brooks made a film by that title, and I have another piece of vintage cheesecake coming featuring the same fetishy style.)

The second is a bit more risqué, though it's still quite innocuous by 21st century standards:
This one definitely falls into the category of erotica, expertly shot in luxurious surroundings. It's a tiny image, about two inches across; Grandpa (or Grandma, in some cases) would have had to hold it quite close to his face using his left hand. As ever, CLICK TO ENLARGE! You won't be sorry. (Carole P., I'm talking to you.)