Multiple Bibliomaniacs


One of the best things about scouting for treasures in thrift shops is that I never know what I’ll stumble upon next or what strange and unexpected paths I may follow as a result of my finds.  Over the years I’ve found $1000 in the sleeve of an old all-weather coat (many years and several moves after I bought it), two first U.S. printings of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the copy of local writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life that led me to become a Supremely Excellent Judge on her Beckoning of Lovely project.  And so it goes.   Although theoretically I am working when I’m scouting books, it does not feel like work to me.  When I pick up a book that has been rebound in a nondescript tan library binding and see it’s a copy of Shock Values by John Waters, I flip it open to the title page, where I hit paydirt (click to enlarge):


This made my (very hot and sweaty) day, partly because I knew I could get a few bucks for this book, but largely because John Waters is one of my heroes and Shock Values happens to be one of my favorite books of all time.  Not only does Waters have an endless supply of great stories to tell, but he also delivers them with self-deprecating humor, joie de vivre, and panache befitting a man with a pencil moustache.   More than almost any other book I’ve ever read, Shock Value serves as an inspirational tale for overachieving misfits.   In a society deliberately engineered to instill and positively reinforce conformity, one simply cannot overestimate the importance of witnessing the journey someone who paid no attention whatsoever to what he was “supposed” to do, but instead followed his own deepest creative urges to make a movie of a hot tranny mess eating dogshit.   Not only has Pink Flamingos made back its $10,000.00 budget many times over, but then John Waters got paid all over again to write about making it.  Is this a great world, or what?

I knew I should sell this book, but I was tempted to keep it because it had personal meaning for me and would fit so nicely into my collection, if not my groaning shelves.  Looking at the book more closely, I saw it had come from the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.   Via my tour of the Columbia College library for a class, I understood what sorts of books were most likely to disappear from university libraries.  This is just the sort of thing that gives hipsters a bad name, because when I looked up the book’s call number in the SUI online catalog, I found there had been two copies cataloged but both were now listed as missing.   Since I had been so torn as to what to do with this book, it was almost a relief to have the decision taken out of my hands.  As an MLIS I could not sell or keep a book I knew was stolen from a library, so I contacted Carbondale to see if they wanted Shock Value for their Special Collections.

I could see there was a gift inscription, but at first glance I thought it said “To Fred, Love From John Waters.   I assumed this Fred was the culprit who had filched it from SIU, but when I showed it to a friend, he pointed out that it looked more like “To Fred, Love Irwin,” with the signature in a different handwriting altogether.  Fred was hence exonerated, and now all fingers pointed to Irwin as the culprit.  I couldn’t help wondering what had happened to make the book land in a resale shop.  Perhaps Irwin and Fred had been romantically involved and had such a bitter breakup that Fred couldn’t stand to see Irwin’s name ever again in his life.  Perhaps Fred had a conscience and simply could not enjoy possessing a book that didn’t belong to him.  Perhaps Fred was no longer among the living, in which case I am very sorry.  Clearly this was not Fred’s fault, unless he put Irwin up to it.

I am picking on Irwin because it is fun, but these things sometimes pass through many hands and someone else altogether may have originally removed it from the Morris Library.   The best thing about this story is that in in true nonconformist fashion, Shock Value took an unconventional and roundabout path and and came out somewhat the better for it.   I don’t approve of taking things from libraries and I doubt the John Waters of now would approve of it either, but I know the book well enough to know that Irwin may have read this passage, from page 49:

I supported myself by selling diet pills and shoplifting.  My specialty was a Navy surplus store, popular with all the tourists in town.  I’d go into the store dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and put on layers of clothes without hiding anything and go apply for a job dressed in the stolen clothes.  The manager never expected that anyone would have the nerve to shoplift and apply for a jobat the same time.  We got so chummy that I almost got the job, which really panicked me.

Morris Library Rare Book Librarian Melissa Hubbard has assured me they would be delighted to have Shock Value back and would house it in Special Collections, where folks can hopefully absorb some of its gloriously filthy essence for generations to come.  I am equally delighted to have played a part in returning it, and I am publishing this story first and foremost in support of my belief that anything can happen.  I would also like to take this opportunity to remind folks that it’s not very nice to steal library materials.  If you really pay attention to Shock Value, John Waters says he quit shoplifting when he started worrying about theaters pocketing his receipts.   Being on the up-and-up seems to have worked for him, as he hasn’t done too badly for himself.


10 Reasons to Love So You Think You Can Dance
July 17, 2009, 4:08 am
Filed under: art, Music, Pop Culture, Uncategorized, World of Wonder

Because People Like Lists, oh yes they do.

  1. Cat Deeley is not only nice and pretty, but also endearingly whacky.  This is a rare and appealing combination.
  2. Where the hell else on American prime time TV can you hear Bollywood, Rufus Wainwright, and African drum music on the same program?  It’s almost enough to forgive the mostly uninspiring musical guests.
  3. The physicality of it all just might inspire you to get up off your chair and shake your booty.
  4. Phillip Chbeeb
  5. It is just jaw-droppingly astounding and spiritually elevating to see folks rise up to such challenging creative tasks as learning partnering, killing routines in styles other than their own, and having to pick a new partner’s name out of a hat in midseason.
  6. Creative synergy is the best thing in the world, so to see what happens when the dancers are inspired by the choreographers and each other and vice-versa, and etc. is sheer magic when it works and pure entertainment even when it doesn’t.
  7. I have so much respect for so hard these people must have to work their bodies and the risks they take.  What gets me every time are the flips, because, damn.  I’ll never do that.
  8. The audience always sounds genuinely pumped, as opposed to the prompter-generated arm-waving that is fairly routine on American Idol.  You know what I mean, not that the audiences on Idol are never genuinely pumped.  Just that when they are, you can tell the difference.  It’s nice, because it gets me excited too and I like that.
  9. Wade Robson, Genius.
  10. Being the deeply snarky soul I am, I never get tired of snickering at the self-conscious artiness and self-importance of Mia Michaels and Sonya Tayeh, and by that I mean their outfits.  And just who the hell does that Mia Michaels think she is?  Well, I never.

I blame Marianne S. for all this nonsense, because I sensed this show would be trouble for me and hence managed to avoid it until she kept dropping little teasers about how much more better it was than American Idol.  Three hours a week she has stolen from my life, much of it eked out in frustrating little snippets in the midst of domestic chaos such as my daughter managing to shatter my L’oreal nail polish whilst using it to weigh down the shower curtain on the windowsill (I guess I wasn’t worth it after all).  I could of course download the damn thing, but I would then miss out on the excitement (and by excitement I mean commercials) of the live broadcast.  And let’s face it, if you wait to download there is always the chance of encountering a spoiler.  Life is hard.

Janette for the win!

Feeling the Burn, Part II
July 1, 2009, 5:21 pm
Filed under: art, Pop Culture, traveling, Uncategorized, World of Wonder
Prow of SS Bacon

Prow of SS Bacon

It seems I am so literal I am damn prophetic, as I made it to Lakes of Fire but I missed the historic burning of the SS Bacon.  Temperatures on Saturday were above ninety, about ten degrees higher than expected, and after very little sleep it was all I could do not to throw up or pass out.   At that point it was clear I was just a burden and I didn’t want to rain on anybody’s fire processional, so I wound up crashing at the Fairfield Inn while my spouse and daughter stayed for the festivities.  I am sometimes picky about my hotel accommodations, but I have never before in my life been so grateful for a room on the ground floor facing the parking lot.   There I showered, slept and nursed my sunburn, grateful to have met some lovely folks at Lakes of Fire and reasonably at peace with my own physical challenges.  I had no regrets for going, which became even clearer when I realized I was mentally surveying workarounds that would allow me to attend next year without bailing.   I had felt the burn alright, just not the one I asked for.

I’ve always been alternately fascinated and repelled by Burning Man.  The culture and spectacular art installations in the starkness of the desert landscape were enticing, but I’m afraid of camping, heat, and dust storms.  The cost of traveling to Black Rock is prohibitive and the size of Burning Man seemed overwhelming, but I thought a few days in Southern Michigan with several hundred people might just be doable.  As I’ve remarked already, I was intrigued to get in on the ground floor of a new regional event and hopefully help shape it.    For much of the time I was there I was not in any shape to do much shaping, but I was lucky enough to enjoy and hopefully contribute to the congenial atmosphere of the family zone.  One of several reasons I’d decided to go was frankly that I wanted to see what the experience would be like for my daughter.  The only bad thing I have to say about this was that my heart stopped when I saw her climbing trees above my head, but since that and the burn were her favorite parts of the weekend, I can hardly begrudge it.



I think one of the best things about this event was the mix of seasoned and new Burners, imposing enough of a structure to inspire those of us who were just figuring it all out for the first time.  I would suspect this process was infinitely more challenging for those of us with children on board, and I was pleased to see the event planners had obviously gone to a great deal of effort to accommodate families and anticipate their needs.  Within the spatial limitations of the property, they placed Hushville as far away from the loudest music as they could have.  There was also room for kids to run and play, although the terrain was just rough enough to mandate socks and sneakers.  The atmosphere was mellow and respectful, people shared, and the youngsters managed to amuse themselves with no Disney Channel in sight.   Who needs Hannah Montana when you can shoot water balloons or make sock puppets as you attempt to process the equally unsettling and intriguing information that your parents are not fazed by naked people walking around in public?

Speaking of naked people walking around in public, this seems like a good time to announce that I see Burner culture as  perhaps our best avenue to provide our daughter with a sense of community and spiritual foundation.  Since we are Atheists and our daughter is an only child, we have puzzled over how to nurture positive humanistic values in the absence of a church.  We want our daughter to learn to treat other people as she would like to be treated, but we also want her to learn self-reliance, cherish freedom of expression, and respect her surroundings.

Burning Man events are organized in such a way as to help and support parents who wish to raise open-minded children without exposing them to sights that will sear their eyeballs, because eyeball-searing should be reserved for those of us over eighteen.  They were also very strict about checking IDs and issuing wristbands for drinking.  As for drinking, there was plenty of alcohol around but I saw very few people who were visibly intoxicated.   The expectation that you will do basically whatever you choose within the three main ground rules of the event is paired with the expectation that you will not make yourself a sloppy nuisance to others.   Freedom and responsibility are two of the main tenets of existentialism, so perhaps that explains why it all made so damn much sense to me.

The short version of the Lakes of Fire rules were as follows:

1) Ask first

2) Protect the community

3) Leave no trace

Granny may not exactly have asked before he and his cohort quite abruptly but nonetheless endearingly reeled my spouse and I out of the woods into a Hunter-S.-Thompsonesque encounter I’ll never forget, but I’ll forgive him because, well, he was Granny.

From babes in arms to folks who clearly get the senior discount, everyone at Lakes of Fire was friendly as can be without crowding me.  I’m a hard-of-hearing classic introvert and was fighting the quease, so I struggled a bit to communicate and didn’t interact as much as I would have liked.  Nonetheless, I felt welcomed and I valued every opportunity I had to get to know these fascinating people who had all descended on this rustic space in the Midwest for the first time and created magic.   Folks around our camp gave me my space because they knew I wasn’t feeling well, but I knew they were there if I needed them.  Even when I felt to ill to talk or approach the fire, I just sat in my camp chair and took it all in.

I think everyone remembers the first time they saw day turn into night at a Burning Man event.   The premises looked a bit scrappy at first sight in daylight, but the magic comes at night when the lights transform the place into a wonderland.  I particularly liked the vehicle tricked up to look like a tent with lights on the outside, which I think may have belonged to rangers.   Watching it glide through the grounds in the darkness inevitably made me smile.  The lights also transformed many of the art objects and installations including the SS Bacon into sparkling oases of enchantment, with fire spinners further adding to the luminosity of the event.

If you are intrigued by Burning Man but not sure if you can handle the environment or the sheer sensory overload, I would highly recommend attending Lakes of Fire or another one of these regional events as a way of testing the waters.  I learned from this experience that my delicate constitution probably precludes my attending Burning Man unless I can afford an Airstream but when all was said and done I did not feel the aversion you would expect from someone who spent at least half of her time there trying not to hurl or pass out.  Instead, I found myself strategizing for next year, plotting workarounds that would enable me to participate more fully without unweaving into a basket case.  I’ve also found myself exploring some of the history and culture of Burning Man  and salivating over the stunning array of theme camps available on the playa this year.   Sometimes I’m not quite sure if I’ve liked something or not (like a first kiss) until I get some distance from it, and in this case the clear answer was a resounding yes indeedy.  Besides, where else am I going to wear my shiny silver pants?

Nothing is perfect, least of all a first attempt at anything as incredibly complex and labor-intensive as this event.  I did hear at one point that not quite as many tickets had been sold for Lakes of Fire as had been hoped, but in fact my only concern for the event is that I don’t think this space would accommodate a lot more people without feeling overbooked and cramped.   I could see the organizers did as much as they could to separate the family area from the camps playing the loudest music, but as I lay awake and felt the persistent bass thump vibrating in my absurdly skinny sleeping bag Friday night I couldn’t help wishing Hushville had been, more, well, hushed.  Folks have also suggested both more showers and a shuttle or a few to the Lake to cool down, both of which I think are fine ideas.  So, for that matter, would have been a Slip ‘n’ Slide or sprinkler system, but for that we would need running water.

I did not slink home from Lakes of Fire like a scurvy dog of failure who fled to a chain motel with her tail between her legs.  Once I’d showered, slept, and decompressed, I felt so energized I came home and did 90% of the unpacking before I even sat down.   I’ve been writing, thinking, dreaming, jotting notes on projects I may or may not ever get around to doing, all of which is as it should be.  Things may not always go smoothly when I stretch myself beyond my comfort zone, in fact they rarely do.  But like my literary totem animal Mole from Wind in the Willows, I am compelled to occasionally leave the comforts of my home to seek adventure in the company of other breeds.

Back in the safety of my lair, I feel stronger for having tested my limits.   Sure enough I bumped right up against them, but I’d rather barf in a tent than give up seeking new experiences and I’d rather brave a group hug in Tick Town with a wonky gut than be a poor sport.   The nausea passed long ago, but I’ll be chuckling about that hug for as long as I live.  Kudos to the organizers of Lakes of Fire, as your work and planning obviously didn’t go to waste.  I’m quite sure I’m not the only attendee who came home inspired and energized, and I look forward to seeing how all this collective energy manifests next year.  I may be a camping wussy, but I know a good thing when I see it.  I may not have been in any shape to contribute much to the community in real time, but perhaps my best contribution is to share these few thoughts and impressions.  Burning Man events are not for everyone, but these communities are about as close as we can get to Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone.  If you have a dream of being, doing, making, or just living in the moment with no golden arches in sight, here is your golden ticket to come and fly your freak flag high.


Kaplan’s Embraces the Krazy
June 30, 2009, 6:03 am
Filed under: art, Pop Culture, Uncategorized, World of Wonder

On our way home from Lakes of Fire in Michigan (longer post to follow in a day or two), we stopped to look at fireworks strictly for research purposes.  I had always loved the signs for Krazy Kaplan’s, so that’s where we headed.

I have been in stores that carried fireworks, but I have never seen one that had row after row of them and virtually nothing else.  The place was huge, with an overwhelming array of colors and graphics begging to be chosen and wheeled out in a shopping cart to those states where pyrotechnics are legal (click on pictures to see larger version):


I would have like to have gotten more pictures at Krazy Kaplan’s than I did, but my spouse and daughter were worn out from camping and I wanted to get home and unpack.  I will say that some of my favorite packaging featured U.S. political figures.  One of these featured an image of George Bush and was called Ambushed, the 436 Dollar Deficit Man:


Even better were the Area 51 fireworks that for some unknown reason featured an image of Bill Clinton:


I don’t quite get the alien connection here, but the visage of Slick Willie fits in amicably enough with warnings of flaming balls and reports.

Yet another favorite category of mine were the fireworks with adorably nonsensical names such as What Dat Do.  This rings even better as a statement as a question, so I’m glad they left the punctuation out for my entertainment:


A little copyright infringement is always fun too, as evidenced by these American Idol fireworks.  Simon Cowell eat your heart out, :


Having had our eyeful of explosives and then some, we made our way out and paid our respects to old Krazy Kaplan himself, just beyond the registers that we of course did not visit, seeing as fireworks are illegal in the state of Illinois:


I frankly don’t care much for things that explode, but in this world of sanitized politically correct discourse, it is somehow reassuring that Krazy Kaplan has yet to be bullied into changing his name and/or identity.  Emotionally Disturbed Kaplan has much less of a zippy ring to it and takes far too long to say, by which time you would miss the exit.   In the highly competitive world of Indiana fireworks, never underestimate the value of a crass and vulgar mascot.

Feeling the Burn
June 13, 2009, 2:15 am
Filed under: art, Pop Culture, traveling, Uncategorized

Those who know me know I do not do camping, so I struggled mightily to decide if I should grace Lakes of Fire (the first Great Lakes Regional Burning Man event) with my erstwhile presence.  Pros were the lack of sandstorms and the relative closeness of the event as compared to Nevada, weighed against my general intolerance of noisy crowds and my distaste for anything that might remotely be described as “roughing it,” given that my need to urinate tends to increase exponentially in relationship to my distance from the designated receptacle.  Having devoted serious thought and research to such urgently pressing matters, I think I have found a solution.  That is probably more than you need to know about the distribution of my biohazardous fluids, but I can’t resist a pun.  As it happens I also cannot resist the opportunity to be a part of great public spectacles and art happenings, so I shall brave the insects and other petty inconveniences in hopes of being moved and amazed.

Lakes of Fire is happening in Michigan from June 25 through 28, and registration has just been extended through 11:59 CST on Sunday June 14.  If you want to know more, the main Web site is here and the event also has a Facebook page.  I don’t know what to expect, but I do know it will be more fun if you and your monkey come too.

The Future Has Arrived
May 5, 2009, 3:39 am
Filed under: Chicago, Music, Pop Culture, Uncategorized

I am heartened by the extent to which Leonard Cohen has been adopted as a beloved cultural icon by my generation, mainly because I think he is one of a divinely sanctioned few who have genuinely earned the title.  Although I had of course heard of him before that, I finally stumbled into his music in spring of 1992 in the midst of an emotional crisis.  His voice and melodies drew me in, but the words and their ever-changing shades of meaning are what have made Leonard Cohen’s songs so enduring.  A perfect example is “Democracy,” which is from 1992 but rings more true in my ears now than it did at the time:

It’s coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.
It’s here the family’s broken
and it’s here the lonely say
that the heart has got to open
in a fundamental way:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
It’s coming from the women and the men.
O baby, we’ll be making love again.
We’ll be going down so deep
the river’s going to weep,
and the mountain’s going to shout Amen!
It’s coming like the tidal flood
beneath the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious,
in amorous array:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Of course we cannot be too self-congratulatory, because to hear this song also forces us to recognize that it has taken us seventeen years and a lot of harsh lessons to get to this point.

Not coincidentally, these last few years have also taught Leonard Cohen a few harsh lessons.   Everybody knows he wouldn’t be touring if he didn’t need the money, but that’s how it goes.  Wednesday will be my second time seeing him, as I was lucky enough to catch his Park West show in 1994 (not 1992, as I may have mistakenly written elsewhere).  We had seats near the front and this was his last U. S. tour with Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, so I felt blessed and blissed indeed to be there.  I assumed it had been my one and only chance to see him, but now his fiscal misfortunes have compelled him to give things another whirl.  To see this show is an extravagance we can hardly afford, and I was initially baffled by the mad ticket frenzies that ensued when both Chicago shows went on sale.  Only since then have I really grasped that at least one more generation has wholeheartedly embraced his music since that 1994 tour, and for them it is not only their last chance to see him but also their first.

The great thing about seeing Leonard Cohen perform live is that he knows he is no musican.  He does LC as no one else can, but he also surrounds himself with outstanding musicians who provide a sweetly melodic counterpoint to his time-gravelled tones.  This is why his live albums are uniformly excellent, despite my habitual disdain for the form.  Cohen frequently directs attention to his band during shows in a way that shows he knows how good they are, which makes the whole thing even more of a mutual appreciation society.  The positive energy flows in all directions at a Leonard Cohen show.  The audience appreciates both Leonard and the band, Leonard appreciates the band and the audience, and each band member plays as if they are thrilled to be there and know they have an integral role in the proceedings.  Cohen’s whole approach to performing speaks of a deep respect for the audience, right down to the email reminder I received today that he will take the stage promptly at 8:00.  I appreciate the care and preparation this reflects and will accordingly return this respect by being in my seat at the Chicago Theatre well before showtime on Wednesday May 6, ready to give my full attention to a man who has earned it several times over.

Here’s a clip of “Democracy” from his new live video, filmed in London in 2008.  Leonard may admittedly be a bit more grandfatherly than he was in 1994, but I’d still hit it:

To All My Frieeeends

Back in the days before Mickey Rourke’s face got really scary he made a great movie called Barfly, directed by Barbet Schroeder.  My favorite scene is the one where Henry Chinaski (standing in for Charles Bukowski) buys round after round of drinks for his friends:

I would like to do the same, but my friends are all spread out and it’s hard to get them in one place.  I have fantasies of throwing a big party and flying them in from all over the world for a gathering like the one in the movie, in which case I can only hope I have two men fighting over me like Henry did the ladies.  I am feeling even more celebratory than usual this year, because my friends have been up to all kinds of creative mischief.  Everywhere I look, they are blogging, publishing books and spooksmodeling, recording, touring, making videos, and just generally doing all kinds of cool stuff.  Needless to say, I am impressed, inspired and delighted to be hooked up with such a bunch of groovy go-getters.  Since for now we cannot all raise a glass together, this post will have to do and will at least not leave us indisposed and toothless in the morning.  Feel free to get smashed and wake up in a stranger’s bed tomorrow morning if it puts you in the spirit, but don’t tell your wife or dentist it was my idea.


First and arguably foremost simply because there are votes involved, Nora O’Sullivan is one of thirteen contestants vying to be Fangoria’s 2010 Spooksmodel.  She will be flying to Los Angeles for their big Weekend of Horrors from April 17-19, so if you helped vote her there on my behest, I thank you.  But we aren’t quite done, because now she’s in it for the win.   I need you to CLICKY HERE and cast your vote, which in this case requires you to register with your email address.  After that, they will send you an email, you confirm, and you’re all done.  If you want to be extra-kind, you can send the link on to a few friends and ask them to do the same.  Voting ends at midnight Friday April 17, so don’t wait forever.

You can see from the pic that Nora is lovely and vivacious, but what you cannot see is that she is a talented makeup artist, smart and friendly and industrious as all get out.  Once upon a time I was afraid of teenagers, but thanks to Nora and a few others of her ilk, I am cured.  I would like to see her win this contest, because so many teenagers are out there huffing, tipping cows and getting pregnant while this fine, upstanding citizen who is active in her local zombie community goes unrewarded.   End this madness with your vote and win my eternal gratitude.  Thanks!!

Nora isn’t the only O’Sullivan who’s been busy, though, as her dad Joe was recently published in the Spring 2009 issue of Farmhouse Magazine.  His story, My Day With Antonia, not only appears on the Farmhouse Web site, but also appears in the actual print publication.  I’ve known Joe for about 25 years, but not until he started blogging at the Sprawling Ramshackle Compound did I discover what a damn fine writer he is.   Joe also had a (very) short story published on Six Sentences.  Called Every Rose’s Thorn, it actually garnered more comments and ratings than Neil LaBute’s submission!  It is good to have friends, no doubt about it, and Joe gathers them more effortlessly than anyone I’ve ever known.  I’m intrigued to see what else he’ll come up with, as he keeps surprising me.


Another friend of mine currently experiencing a creative renaissance is the lovely and talented Marianne S., who not only posts something on her blog Diarrhea Island EVERY SINGLE FLIPPING DAY and has been doing so for over a year, but also has recorded two musical numbers (one original and one Led Zep cover) and made YouTube videos for them.  All of this while parenting not one but THREE kids ranging from six to seventeen.   Her secret weapons are naps, caffeine, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope.  No, not that last one.

Marianne’s first recording and video was If I Were Zooey Deschanel, a tuneful and gigglesome lo-fi macbook recording.  It impressed me quite a bit that my friend had written a song, recorded it, and made a video.  iMovie may be relatively intuitive to use, but GarageBand is a bitch and I miserably failed when I tried to use it for a class assignment.  Hats off to Marianne, because she not only managed to accomplish all these things, but she did them well enough that I looked forward to seeing what frothy creative efforts she might whip up next.  I done embedded it already, but if you missed it, by all means do click on the link above.

A little-known fact is that if you do a YouTube search for “marianne fish,” your top result will be this obscure gem:

Marianne’s rousing, Kinks-driven take on “Gimme That Fish” followed close on the heels of “Zooey Deschanel,” so close that I was shocked–shocked, I tell you–when soon after she released an mp3 cover of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”  This techno version featured layered vocals that sounded like they took a lot of work to create.  I was impressed enough at this point, but then M followed right up with a video that knocked my socks off.  Now my little tootsies are cold, and it is all her fault, but I will forgive her because this is officially funny stuff:

Moving down the Pacific coastline a few miles, we find my old friend Jon Ginoli has been busy as well.  He has been talking about his book for years and it is finally out!  Called Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division, it is currently available from Amazon at a discounted price of $11.53 and is worth every penny.


Jon has referred to Deflowered as being probably the only book he will ever write.  He may or may not be correct about that, but for sure he is the only one who could tell this story.   I will have more to say about this book later, but I have enjoyed not only learning more about the bits I missed (including more than a few naughty ones), but also being able to line up Jon’s experiences with what I was doing at a given time.  Since in my case this involved school, work, and baby, the split-screen would show vastly different experiences on either side.  Vive la difference, I say, because Jon has some very entertaining stories to tell.

The quality I have always admired most about Jon is the DIY-drive and tenacity that not only gestated and built Pansy Division to a point where they had both the chops and reputation to tour with Green Day, but also has kept the band alive through many changes and upheavals.   Continuing in this vein, he has quit his job of ten years and embarked on a massive book tour, which continues through May and beyond.  Please go see him and buy a few books, and if you mention you heard about about his presentation here at Linkadelica, he might feel obligated to buy me lunch!  Yee-haw!!

If by some chance you are in the Chicago area, Jon will be here this week and has three separate appearances scheduled.  The first will be tomorrow, Tuesday April 7, at Homolatte.  Homolatte is a Big Chicks/Tweet, at 5024 N. Sheridan, and admission is free!  They do pass the hat for the performers, so I suggest you do throw in a few bucks.  This self-described bi-monthly all-ages queer music and spoken-word series recently was given accolades as one of Chicago’s Best by the Chicago Reader, so I’m guessing they’ll be packed for Jon.  If you want to see him play an acoustic set as well as reading from the book, this is probably the appearance you should attend.  Wednesday April 8 he’ll be at Quimby’s, a venue I am proud to say I suggested and at which I’ll be in attendance.  I defy anyone to walk out of that place without spending money.  For those who will be in or around Lincoln Park that day, Jon also reads at Borders at 2817 N. Clark Street on Thursday April 9.

That’s not all for Jon, who also has a new Pansy Division album out called That’s So Gay.  It’s their first in six years and I would have heard it by now if it was on eMusic.  I have high hopes, as thus far the band has just kept getting better as they’ve matured.  Pansy Division are also rumored to be touring later this year, although dates have yet to be announced.

I could not in all fairness refer to Amy Krouse Rosenthal as my friend, but I would be amiss if I didn’t say a few words here about her book tour and The Beckoning of Lovely.  Most of what you need to know can be found on this site, which will be relaunched soon with a thematic look and feel.  The short version of a long story is that Amy wants to make a feature film about all things lovely and toward that end has solicited several hundred submissions and enlisted a few hundred strangers to collaborate on the final product.  See, I told you it was hard to explain.  Amy has been traveling around the country making appearances on her book tour and also doing official Beckoning of Lovely gatherings, some of which may appear in the film.  She is also looking for opening acts, although I don’t know which dates have already been filled.  The Chicago Beckoning of Lovely event is scheduled for Saturday May 15 from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, although the location has yet to be announced.

I am honored to be working on the Beckoning of Lovely project, as I was one of eleven people chosen to serve on the Chicago-Based Panel of Supremely Excellent Judges.  Although my actual judging duties are over, I will be helping to document the above event and at least one other Chicago-area appearance.  I am also looking forward to more loveliness later this year, about which I shall remain mum for the time being.  I also participated in Simultaneous Mass Existence and would like to do more things of this nature, so we’ll see what comes of that.

I don’t know what else you should expect from me this year, but I do have a few surprises up my sleeve.  One of the best things about having busy friends is that it challenges and inspires me to get off my duff and do things, although I don’t think I’ll be recording any music soon.  I feel energized that all these good things are happening to my friends in the year 2009, a year in which I shall turn 50 on 09-09-1959 and on which my only offspring turns 09.  You can expect me to launch a small but amusing project of my own on my birthday, but in the meantime I’ll keep beckoning the lovely, blogging here and posting at my tumblelog, Herr Machine, and hawking the usual fab assortment of books and t-shirts in my eBay store.

One of the benefits of getting older is that I can now appreciate exactly how lucky I am to have such a creative and productive group of friends.  Many of us have been late bloomers or are currently experiencing a creative renaissance of some sort, which is the most life-affirming way I know to respond to the inevitability of that final taxi for which there can only be one destination.  They should hurry up and find a way to reverse the aging process so we can all just keep getting better until we are so awesome it is sick, because, well, because it would be far preferable to the alternative.  I never cease to be amazed at the things my friends and I are capable of accomplishing, thank goodness.  I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I cannot wait to find out what comes next.  I hereby raise my glass to all my friends, with an extra shot for Marianne S. on her birthday.