Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sweetheart #9

uh oh, we're nearing the end of highschool and my sweetheart zine with this one, issue #9, finished April 1996.  There are 2 more issues left.  After that, I will go to college in Olympia, WA, where I will hold on to my depression and my gawkily pretty face but will otherwise change drastically, quickly.  I'll start smoking, drinking, doing drugs, giving in to my straightness (and in a related note, giving up my vast reserves of self-respect), wearing my self-inflicted cuts on my lower arms instead of secret spots like my stomach, and just being your typical college girl, I guess.  I could still turn out a pretty good zine though, and maybe I will put those on here once I run out of Sweethearts.  All the zines I did in college and afterwards (before the lobotomy of office jobs that screwed up that there part of my brain where the beauty lay) were one-offs.  some of them are a little too "Hey everybody, look at me!!!  I have sex now!  and I'm depressed!  Save me!  Fuck me!  Do you think I'm pretty?" to ever look at again, but I think a couple of them are decent.  Anyway, here is #9:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Are you nobody too?

I haven't been very chatty on here this past week.  I feel down because of my own usual problems, but also the news has really been getting me down this week, mostly the mass shooting in OC and the sad details I keep hearing about the country singer Mindy McReady's suicide.  I tried to enact a Harry Potter movie only viewing policy in my house for the week, for the window of time we watch TV at night, to avoid the real world and the news, but since I am not a somehow/magically all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful 9 year old, this enactment went unheeded.  Anyway this morning I was thinking about these 3 movies that I loved in my teens that I grouped all together because they were all traumatically sad and poignant to the point where I could only watch them once in my whole life (except the Sterile Cuckoo, which I think I would watch once DAILY if I could find a copy anywhere), even though I used to count them among my favorite movies.  They are David and Lisa (1962), The Sterile Cuckoo (1969), and Bless the Beasts and Children (1971).  Each of these movies contains the sort of ouchy ennui I've been dragging around with me.  They're all a bit obscure – have you seen them?  




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Anxious Poem

Loudly I waited afraid of the kill
No doctor saved me and no doctor will
The cross eyes and fat thighs and wet sighs and red
Everything's thoroughly hollowly dead
All the cracked children's books and the nights in my head
All are thoroughly sleeplessly recklessly dead
The Ovaltine covered with dust in a shed
It's all coated and bloated and breathlessly dead.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pretty Pasadena

The first town I ever lived in was Pasadena, a place famous for old money and white people, a fuddy-duddy suburban vibe.  That's mostly true, especially these days, when there are more atrocious condos going up every time I go there.  There really some of the ugliest buildings ever and there are blocks and blocks of them, like this:  

There are still some things I like in Pasadena, like a $2 movie theatre called The Academy, but when I go there it makes me sad to see all the places I knew and loved as a child torn down and replaced.  In particular, I miss how the area on Colorado Boulevard referred to as the "Playhouse District" used to be, before it was all revamped to be 'an eclectic, cosmopolitan community rich in history and architecture'(according to its website).  Before it was revamped, my mom's best friend Bill owned the best used bookstore ever, and it stood where a Laemmle's movie theatre now stands.  The Bookstore was called House of Fiction.  It was flanked by a cool old tux shop nobody ever went in and a gay bar called Nardi's that had good songs on its juke box you could hear through the walls of the House of Fiction.  Next to Nardi's was an indigent hotel called Crown Hotel.  I loved these buildings, which were all torn down.

I can usually find anything I am curious enough about on the internet, but I can't find any images of these buildings I miss, the tux shop and Bill's store and the gay bar and the residential hotel.  I did find some beautiful photos of Pasadena, though, and am sharing 3 of them below (and 1 from Little Tokyo).  You can find more of these moody Los Angeles photos, by photographer Corey Miller, on and Instagram (@toomuchfire).

Jim's Burgers

Wonder Burgers

Rise Above (La Canada Station Fire)

Wide Eyed Pessimism

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Interview with Musician, Writer and Personality Sam McPheeters

the faces of Sam McPheeters
Gosh, I wish TV and the internet hadn't burned through my attention span, because I want to write an intro about Sam McPheeters that is worthy of the interview he gave me, but I'm so lazy.  

When I lived in Olympia from 1997-2001, all my friends were so excited when Men's Recovery Project (one of McPheeters' bands) came to town.  Born Against, his earlier band, was really beloved, but I didn't know about them at the time, so I was unprepared for the audience fervor at the Men's Recovery Project show, one of their shows where Sam dressed up as Patrick Henry and recited the entire "Give Me Liberty" speech, which I thought was a trademark of his but as you will read, was more of a passing fancy.  The thing of it is, me and my friend stood out in the  audience because we were standing on a table to see better, so he ended up singling us out to recite part of the speech to, like "It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!", right in our faces, gesticulating and being weird for the pleasure of all, except me, because it was discomfiting to just stand there not knowing what to do with my eyes or my hands etc while this avant-garde historical re-enactor used me and my friend as props (she was totally thrilled, though).  So, while it was a great show with an amazing energy and indescribably weird songs, and the Patrick Henry thing was kind of funny, it was an embarrassing night for me.

Cut to my post-Olympia life, 2002 to the present, in which 1) I slowly outgrew the reflex of embarrassment, and 2) I became much more familiar with Sam's body of work, and am a fan.  I just thought to myself the other day, "Hey, Sam seems like a nice guy, I'm besties with one of his friends, and Facebook friends with his wife, and I think he would grant me an interview," so I asked, and he did.  Here it is. 


1. Is there any “ism” that informs your work, or your personality?  Like Situationism?  Existentialism?

Not in my work. In my life, I’d like to be known for my professionalism. But I’ve burned up so much lifespan being wildly unprofessional that I don’t know if I can recover. It’s a bummer.

2. I know writing the liner notes for the criterion collection reissue of Repo Man is huge for you.  What’s been another career highlight that you’re intensely proud of?  What about a serious low point?

In 2007, I wrote a profile on the former singer of the Crucifucks that will probably stand as the best piece of nonfiction I’ll ever write. The story was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it came at a point in my life when I could devote serious time to it.

There have been a lot of career low points, many of which seem to have escaped the Internet’s attention. So I should pass on that question. Plead the 5th? I’d like to plead the 5th on that question.

3. What is your favorite novel?  Song?  Movie?  

Novel: “World War Z” by Max Brooks. I know; what adult gives an ass about zombie novels? But Brooks simply goes farther than anyone else. His breadth and depth are staggering, and he remakes a tedious horror concept into something poignant, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and, at times, deeply terrifying. I can re-read certain passages of that book and get teary-eyed with pride that I’m a human being. That seems like an accomplishment for any writer, in any genre.

This selection comes with an asterisk, since I don’t yet consider myself well read. I made a huge list of classics to read in my thirties. Three years ago it turned into a list of classics to read in my forties. You get the picture.

Song: “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. And I fucking hate Led Zeppelin. That’s how good a song that is.

Movie: “The Shining”. But this is everyone’s favorite, right? Like, by law?

I’m not happy with how these answers make me seem like a really boring person. If I saw these three selections on my own eHarmony profile, I wouldn’t date myself. Let’s move on.

 4. With novel-writing, what is your writing process?  Do you write every day or only when you’re inspired?

I write every day, although sometimes I’m on deadline for a freelance piece and don’t have time to work on fiction. I like writing in the morning, when it’s possible. I never write after midnight unless it’s a serious deadline scenario.

I wanted to write novels before I could write. I’m still surprised at how little “inspiration” factors into the process. If I get a good idea, I make sure to write it down or email it to myself, but that’s about it for light-bulb-over-the-head moments. Writing a novel is like buying a huge piece of furniture at Ikea. You spend months or years putting the thing together. One day you’re done. It doesn’t get much more magical than that. At least that’s how it is for me.

5. Are you still in touch with the other members of Born Against?

Most of them. There were a lot. The band had a rotating rhythm section, so Adam (the guitarist and co-founder) and I are the executors of the group’s estate. We talk a few times a year, at least once a year about any outstanding BA matters. I’m relieved that we share a distaste for the standard posthumous punk band opportunities: merch, reissues, reunions. After the current pressings of CDs and vinyl go out of print, Born Against’s releases will be iTunes only. We both like that idea. 

If hundreds of thousands of dollars were at stake, I’d be forced to reconsider these matters. It would be irresponsible not to. But Born Against has the luxury of not having been immensely popular. I have friends who’ve been compelled—by the unyielding pressures of capitalism—into dusting off their old bands and remarketing their former selves. I’m grateful we’re not in that position.

6. What is your fascination with Patrick Henry?  Is it like an inside joke, or a genuine interest?

Not really either. It (his speech) was just a thing I did on one tour, 15 years ago. I guess that would be what a PR person would call an idea that “sticks to the wall”. I’ve done many things over the years that did not stick to the wall. So many.

7. While bored once at work, I looked up the property records of whatever celebrities popped into my head, and ended up discovering that Glenn Danzig lives in a house near a golf course in Cheviot Hills or someplace nice like that.  When you interviewed him for Vice, did you meet at his house, and if so, was it all satanic, or was it all nice, like exposed ceiling beams and classy yuppie stuff?  OR similarly, if you met him somewhere else for the interview, was he all satanic-acting , or straight-laced?

He owned the house, but it wasn’t his residence. We met in the back, in a building used for his office. There was 0% weirdness in the decor. He’s older than me, so I sort of got Dad Vibe throughout the interview. The only other weird parts to the whole experience were 1) when the publicist insisted I not ask about the YouTube punch out incident, and 2) when I tried to ask questions about the house itself.  Otherwise, it could have been a polite discussion with a cashier at Jiffy Lube. But I’m not sure which of us would own the car in that analogy.

8. Any collaborations with Joe Preston in the works?

I have an official Joe Preston shirt going up on my online store in a week. See photo. Good times.

9. Was it Amps for Christ and Man is the Bastard that got you interested in moving to the sleepy community of Claremont?  Being from L.A., everyone I knew who lived in Claremont, growing up, did so because their parents were professors at one of the colleges there. 

My future wife is from the east end of LA County, so I moved here for her. I mean, we were dating at the time. I didn’t move here to stalk her. I knew about Claremont from MITB, but I actually live one town over, in Pomona. And I’d come here a lot as a kid, when my grandparents lived here.  

Old town Claremont—The Village—is a nice resource. I like getting my mail at a place that’s not in a strip mall.

10. Where is your favorite place you’ve ever lived?

Place meaning house: where I live now, in Pomona. Place, meaning region, would be New York City. I don’t know why. It was gross, and dangerous, and expensive, and many people stomped on my heart, repeatedly, until it was a dirty little ball of street hamburger.

Wait, can I change my answer?

11. Some artists hate t.v. because it’s the opium for the masses or whatever and some like t.v. because it connects them in some way with the rest of society.  Where do you land in this debate?

I don’t look down on TV, I just have less and less room for it in my life. My wife and I have been watching “Boardwalk Empire” and I’m always the spoilsport who refuses to do more than one episode a night. I just don’t have time for more than that. Which is a shame, because it’s a fun show. Who doesn’t like seeing Omar Little in a Pee Wee Herman suit??

12. Do you have any upcoming projects you want to describe?

Short term: The Joe Preston shirt. Long term: Schemes. Books? Beard. Maybe a pipe.   Hang gliding. Success. Power. Flying stretch Bentley. Expensive toupee. All my loved ones gathered in a room saying, “we miss the old Sam”. Hang gliding away from that room. Victory.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tender Monster Destiny

Tender Monster Destiny

            Hope Street is a street just like any other in Los Angeles, except that its name makes it seem promising.  A useless person sitting in his or her car at a stop light and seeing that they are about to intersect Hope would probably think, Could this be a sign?

            Are there plain white college boys hidden in apartments on this street, writing screenplays for a movie they’re going to make someday for Public Television about their L.A. experience?

            The name makes this street sound full of action and import, a street with a secret, a street that lives out its charm with the clean bend of palm trees and Hopscotch formations drawn on its pavement.

            It was on this street that Joe’s car passed Judy and John Freshflower, the ex-proprietors of a Chinese restaurant that used to be next door to Joe’s store.  It’s Christmastime, and these are Christmases lived covertly in the lives of our imaginings, our imaginings being the sanctuary against what’s real down here. 

            From the age of seven, I knew I wanted to be famous.  I wanted to be the Beatles, so that I wouldn’t have to lay in bed listening to them on the radio, growing anxious thinking of how I would never be able to express in words the way their songs on the radio made me feel nostalgia even for the present moment. I wanted all the other people who were listening to the radio at the same time as me to be listening to songs sung by me, and I would sing songs about their favorite memories, of a father wearing a Santa Claus beard, a hydrangea bush peeking out from under a blanket of snow, going on a game show, drinking beer with a first boyfriend.

I didn’t become famous.  I became a typist in a mortuary.  The antique shop Joe owned went out of business, and he became an old man working at McDonald’s. 

Tender. Monster.  Destiny.  At night when the curve of a freeway overpass moves your body closer to death and waitlessness, the lit-up McDonald’s seen down below seems the perfect beacon.  I’ve been to McDonalds’ throughout the country but I was never an adventurer.  I was an agoraphobic who would tell my hosts when they’d get home from work that I spent the whole day feeling out the city, when really I’d spend the day sleeping the sleep of store-bought pills I got in a 30%-off bin at the grocery store Nora and I used to live near.

       In college, my roommate Nora and I ended up with two cats, Blackie and Rose White. The grass and wildflowers in our back yard grazed the low slopes of hanging clotheslines. We mostly slept over at her boyfriend’s house because our own house lacked panache and never had any food in the fridge.  She’d pull her car into the space next to the trash bin, and Blackie and Rose White would gallop through the weed jungle to     greet us.  Nora and I referred to the cats as our family, though we often forgot to feed them.  Rose White ran away, and one morning I found Blackie curled up behind an old paint can in the garage, dead.

            Judy and John Freshflower owned the Chinese restaurant near Joe’s old antique shop.  What Joe and I had was the surrogate father and daughter relationship that could only be shared by a man who thought he drank too much to have his own family, and the daughter of a woman abandoned by a man who’d said he was just going out for a pack of cigarettes, just like all the fleeing husbands of the nineteen-fifties are purported to have said to their wives.  What Joe and I had with Judy and John Freshflower was the kind of friendship that people sharing the same small square of carpet in a giant city develop.  When Joe would babysit me at his shop, he’d park in a lot overlooking the alley behind his and the Freshflowers’ businesses.  Often, exiting the car, we’d find Judy sitting at the wire table she’d set up in the alley, drinking tea from the blue kettle on the table’s yellow tablecloth.

            One time, she let Joe pass ahead of me a little bit before stopping me.  “Young girl, I would like to show you something.”  This was our first moment.  Judy grinned a big, Americanized grin.  “Are you ready?” she asked.  She pulled back the yellow tablecloth, and there, sitting under the table, was Blackie.

            I did not know who he was then.  I didn’t yet know about time travel.  Then, I was just a quiet eleven year old. I wore my pink satin baseball-style jacket with the denim heart sewn on the back and my name written in cursive letters with fabric paint in the middle of the heart.  Years later, I would go to college in another town, where Kurt Cobain’s ghost never walked me to Planned Parenthood but where the ghost of a happier rock star would tell me, “Hey, take it easy.  You’re young and life is so cool!” and I would never listen.  Years later, I understood what Judy had revealed to me that day in the alley.  Immortality.  Tender destiny.

            The day mom realized dad was never coming back with his cigarettes, she walked to Joe’s shop and invited him out for drinks, his treat.  She was pretty and complex.  He remained her best friend through all of the new boyfriends she met and walked away from.  There was a schizophrenic with a beard, who glued covers of mystery novels to pieces of cardboard and sent them through the mail to our subdued apartment in the valley, where we dutifully threw them in the trash and wished out loud that he would not stalk us.  There was an artist with worn-through long-sleeved shirts and silky hair, who jumped up and down on the Murphy bed with me one night when I couldn’t get to sleep, and ruined holidays with his moodiness.  There was a Vietnam Vet who was homeless when we first met him.  There was a lawyer who used to live in New York in the apartment where Rosemary’s Baby was filmed.

            Joe was the man who drove me to and from school when mom was at work, and who drove me from school to her work, to pick her up.  For awhile, Joe and I had a routine of stopping every Tuesday morning before school at a small bakery, for cheese danishes.  “Does the woman who worked there still remember us?” the little-girl-me who wanted to be famous asks.  We also had a routine of going to a video arcade after school on Fridays, and one of renting movies from the Central Library.

            Tender.  Our longest-running routine was of waiting in a park near mom’s office for her to get off work.  The drive there from my school was a drive through Mexican neighborhoods with colorful tigers painted on grocery store signs and baby girls dressed like morning glories.  This was before mom started working at home.  Joe and I would sit together in the park, not talking, the actual moments as quiet and poignant as memories.

            Monster.  I am now the kind of young women who forgets to feed her cats, letting them run away or die.  When I moved back to L.A., I put my Bachelor’s Degree in a desk drawer, and, not foreseeing any way to ever become famous, became a typist.  Joe’s antique shop went out of business; eventually, the building was torn down.  I dream of that place, but without its electricity or walls, or its merchandise.  On the other side of the shop there used to be a bar called Nardi’s, with a juke box that played lovelorn songs by Elvis Costello and the Pretenders that we could hear through the wall as we sat in the shop, playing card games or checkers.  Now it feels like Elvis is dead.

            Destiny.  At a red light on Hope Street, on our way to a coffee shop where mom waits for us, Joe spots the Freshflowers and decide to pull over. 

            “Joe.  I haven’t seen you since the store got torn down.  How are you?  How have you been?”
            “Not so bad, John.  I was selling things on E-Bay for awhile but I wasn’t making enough money, so now I work at McDonald’s.  It’s…and you?  You guys moved the restaurant over to that marketplace across from the new Target, right?”
            “Yeah, but we’ve been having some trouble.  Actually, we’re closing down in a few weeks.  We’re going to have to find a location with cheaper rent.  But you have to come to the restaurant before it closes, have a meal on us.”

            “I certainly will,” Joe says, but he never makes it to that last meal. Christmas morning, he wakes up with the stomach flu, and once he has recovered, he finds Judy and John absent from the space where their wasted efforts occurred.  What matters, though, is this chance meeting on Hope Street.  Judy is carrying a purse made out of woven white plastic straw, with blue and red and yellow plastic flowers sewn on it.  “I have something for you, young lady,” she whispers in my ear, smiling.  Her purse moves with something alive inside of it.  I open the purse.  Dear god, it is Blackie.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sweetheart #8

I know I just posted an old zine of mine up on here yesterday, but the baby and the old man are asleep and I still had a  bit of energy so I just scanned Sweetheart #8, put out in December or 1995, and here it is.  There was originally a very hard to read (too sad and very graphic) abuse story a friend contributed to this issue but I'm not printing it here because I've lost touch w/ her but have a feeling she wouldn't want it floating around the internet.  I have always been proud of this issue #8 -- I always really liked the clip art and felt like I pulled off some tone of cool that I'm sure I would see was imaginary if I were to reread it today, but like I hinted in the intro for #7, I don't like to reread these zines!  but I like to scan and post them and imagine a bored literary agent stumbling across this blog one insomniac night and thinking to herself "even as a teen, she had it. Hmmm... her blogger profile says she works for the government.  that sounds a little ho-hum for a mind such as this.  Let's give her a call, fly her out to NYC..." etc....