Punk Rock Dreams SXSW on Frontier Psych

Frontier Psych editor Keith Meatto asked me, when he heard I was going to SXSW, to write something more… overarching and thoughtful.” Or something like that. I was so dizzy and exhausted when I got back from Austin I became one of those nightmare writers, who kept stressing about word count and trying to beg more time before the deadline. I’m grateful that Keith stuck it out with me, and am very proud of the pieces that ran. It’s a two-parter, and it skews a little heavy. Part 1 is here and Part 2—skewing heavily heavy—is here.

Killing Williamsburg flows really well and is easily a one sitting read. If you enjoy apocalyptic, horror, or novels that deal with epidemics or take place in Brooklyn, you will love this book.

—Mandy Boles

‘I’m not really an artist. I’m something else. I’m probably first a hustler.’ When I later asked him to expand on this, he said that he was alluding to the art world as a whole. ‘I’m actually impoicating everyone,’ he said. ‘I’m the hustler who’s just willing to admit this is all a fucking hustle—like, you think that Basel Miami isn’t a fucking hustle? For a hundred and twenty-five square feet we got to pay seventy-five thousand dollars. It’s a five-day real estate!’”

—Theaster Gates, interviewed by John Colapinto in the New Yorker

After “Naked Girls Reading”…

I feel compelled to offer a sincere, heartfelt thanks to everyone in the chain of events that led to what happened last Wednesday night at Under St. Marks: Naked Girls Reading presenting my book, Killing Williamsburg, as read by Gal Friday. Thank you to Michelle L’Amour and Franky Vivid for starting this wonderful series, thanks to the reader at NGR in L.A. who first dug me out of the slush pile, thank you to the judges of the contest who named me the winner. And THANK YOU, Nasty Canasta, for deciding to include me in the New York chapter’s event, and for all the kind words about my work. And THANK YOU Gal Friday, for the work in choosing what sections to read, for editing them so cleverly, and for your heartfelt and shocking rendition of my words.

All mush aside, this goes out to all you writers: You should be so lucky. There is something absolutely transcendent about hearing someone else read your words. Starting with what she decided to read, then sitting on pins and needles while deciphering which paragraphs and sentences she decided to skip—totally fascinating, as I have to do that for my own readings but she did it differently. And then, how she read. Choosing different tactics. As a woman, able to impersonate the woman in the scene as I couldn’t. Her gestures and her looks to the audience—completely unlike mine. Her seduction of the audience. And getting to feel the audience and their reactions, without being distracted by my own performance. There was a shiver when the scene went to suicide. Gal Friday made choices I wouldn’t have, and I got the unique sensation of watching these choices wash over an audience—while simultaneously letting them wash over me. This was the writerly equivalent of going to a hamman and getting hot/cold buckets of water poured over me.

And did I mention she was naked?

I enjoyed the entire evening, as the performers read wonderful spy stuff, and I have to give low, humble bows to all the lovely ladies of the evening, hostess Nasty Canasta, Barbara Gordon the Naked Librarian, and RunAround Sue. And Gal Friday.

Best of 2013

At the end of the year we’re inundated by lists: Best of this, best of that. Human beings like to read lists—which Buzzfeed has turned into a profitable business strategy—and the internet has made us all a little list-addicted.

I’m not a professional critic, but I am a working artist. This fall, I did a number of readings and a couple of Q&A panels, and was questioned informally many times, and people always want to know two things: stuff about my process, and about what stuff I like. People want to know what other writers I like—but most artists are influenced by art in media other than their own. I’ve worked as an actor, a musician, and a filmmaker, and I’ve met artists of all stripes over the years, and it seems to be something we have in common: We like to experience art that isn’t our main output. And we sometimes dabble in it. (Many of the writers I know are also musicians.)

Here’s my take on the best culture of 2013, across the board. The best movies I saw, the music I listened to. And yes, books. And even some other stuff that seems strangely relevant which means it probably isn’t.

“It’s pointless. Which hopefully means something.” —Banksy

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