Sunday, March 30, 2008


I spent part of the early evening in my new garden. It's in my backyard. I shoveled a bunch of dirt. Sounds dull, but it was pretty awesome. Being outside in the great weather is a welcome relief. I'm ready for summer.

Walked down Broadway to a party. I bought a 34-ounce Miller High Life and later had a Pabst Blue Ribbon. In between drinks, a friend and I smoked a bowl in a corner of the apartment.

Saw a killer band called Ninja Academy. They rule. They play fuzzy bass and killer drums. Like the Minutemen if the Minutemen were into Spazz.

Got a ride back to someone's apartment near First and Cherry. Some girl went home and so did I. Filled a bowl and smoked it on whatever street I was on. Good buzz going, I walked down Broadway in no time.

Got home and went pee. Then a walk down Broadway to Temple and down to the water. I hung alone atop Bluff Park for about twenty minutes. The real people are out at 12:30a.m. We're all going somewhere, but where, none of us know. We should stop and talk, but the late night news have us convinced that everyone outside at this hour is crazy. Nevermind WE'RE outside at this time...

Really though, I love late night solo walks down to the water. It's there, might as well use it. There werew a few couples embracing. I was the only guy by himself. That's cool. I like being alone. Good time to think, refresh and replenish.

Wind was blowing like a mucka, but I through my hand over the flame and smoked a bit more. I've been kinda slow in the smoke lately. But tonight I said fuck it.

I'm sure there are better highs than the kind that take place in public, but I'm not sure I know what those are. Blazing a lil chronic out in the open is a big middle finger salute to the ways things are "supposed" to be. If I can't smoke a little weed at the beach, then we're all doomed.

Seriously, it feels good walking down the street smoking pot. Very freeing, relaxing. I used to follow the rule that if a person can smoke indoors, they should. Not any more. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em and wherever ya got 'em.

I was trying to get the attention of a cat that lives on the bluff. Loads of cats live there, but one was eye-balling me from ten feet away. I moved slowly, but it dispappeared into the dark night. Next time.

The rain started as a drizzle, but became a full on water assault after twenty minutes. It was time to go home when my glasses got foggy from the rain.

Good night Long Beach. Once again we've danced our dance, sang our song, met our match and lived to tell about it.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Here's the third and final installment of my interview with Long Beach writer/publisher Rob Woodard. These questions deal with the publishing side of things, along with some insight into his novel "Heaping Stones," which I highly recommend for those interested in an honest depiction of love, Long Beach and the struggles of being a writer.

Woodard also discusses his role as a publisher with writers Dan Fante and Tony O'Neill and the difference between wearing the writing hat versus the publisher hat. Each book, like "Heaping Stones," is honest and gritty and definitely worth checking out.

PS The picture to the right is of Woodard and Fante after a reading at Open in Long Beach. I was there. It was good. If you weren't, you missed it.

J: Why did you decide to start a publishing company?
R: It’s something I’d been thinking about for a very long time. Writers are getting reamed artistically and financially and the increase of infotainment and less about anything worthwhile that small publishing houses are necessary to counteract. There needs to be an underground culture with an outlet. There were plenty of examples for me to follow. I’ve always been a huge fan of City Lights from San Francisco. It’s one of the absolute jewels of American culture. Southern California sort of had that with Black Sparrow Press, but they moved up north eventually. I always wanted to do a City Lights type thing here, but I didn’t want a bookstore attached to it. I didn’t want to have to pay rent. Growing up, my biggest influence was not anything to do with literature; it was SST Records. I grew up a big fan of the Minutemen, Black Flag and the Meat Puppets. They said, “Screw you, I’m going to put it out myself.” The whole DIY generation just messed me up for my whole life. From a personal level, I wrote “Heaping Stones” and thought, “Looking at the current publishing climate, nobody’s going to touch this book. They want ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’” They don’t want anything real. I started looking at writers I admire. Henry Miller, who was publishing him? A little tiny press in France. Charles Bukowski? They had to create a press because nobody else would touch him. I sent it to publishers and they liked it, but didn’t want to publish it or spend money on somebody they’d never heard of. I had to claim my freedom and not go through gatekeepers.

J: What about from a technical side? Who edits your work? Things like that?
R: That’s a problem. “Heaping Stones” is filled with typos and things that wouldn’t have happened if I had taken my time. It was my first time, but it doesn’t bother me. That’s part of its charm. Someday when it goes into a second printing, the first will be worth more money because it’s the typo version. They’re not major typos, just things that wouldn’t have slipped through if I was paying attention.

J: How did you find Dan Fante and get to publish “Don Giovanni?”
R: I ran into Dan’s work right before I started writing “Heaping Stones.” I’d heard of him, but never read him. I’d been an avid fan of his father’s for years, but never read Dan. John Fante’s biographer Stephen Cooper was teaching a seminar at Long Beach State and I took the class for the hell of it. I mentioned to him that I was a big fan of Dan’s and Stephen gave me his email address. I contacted him and within a week, he invited me to Santa Monica, where he was living at the time, to get coffee and talk about literature. We started talking and he volunteered to read a draft of “Heaping Stones.” He was an informal editor and we kept in touch.

J: Were you surprised he was open to meeting with you?
R: It was weird at first because he looks so much like his dad in the face. If you read John Fante’s books and the dialogue, Dan’s kinda like that. Dan talks just like the dialogue in his own books. So that was interesting. And it’s always a little freaky when you meet someone you admire. It took about six months or so emailing back and forth before I finally got comfortable with the idea that he’s just a person.

J: So what about Tony O’Neill. How did you meet him?
R: Tony I met indirectly through Dan. Tony interviewed Dan and I wanted to use a quote from that on the back of “Don Giovanni.” Dan gave me his email, but I went to his website, where I read a lot of his poetry. It was one of those moments where I read a poem and a half and knew he was head and shoulders above 90 percent of other writers. Plus, he was writing the kind of stuff that I felt Burning Shore Press should be publishing. I was lucky enough that he allowed me to write the intro to his book. It was so real I knew I had to publish this guy and I knew he wasn’t going to find a publisher very easily. It happened within a day or so.

J: His book has a definite theme. Was that the goal or did that just happen?
R: He was in the middle of an incredibly fertile period. When I met him, he had at most half the poems finished. He was writing and would send them to me. Day after day I’d open my email and there was another poem. I read them and gave him some feedback, but he was on such a roll there wasn’t much I could say. “Oh, this one’s only 10 percent better than your last totally great poem.” When he told me he was coming to the end, I made two piles. One was poems I wanted for sure and the other wasn’t for sure. Then I started arranging them. They fell into three categories naturally. I’m hoping Tony becomes really famous someday so I get credit for being this great editor. But probably not. I took all the LA poems and put in the first section. Then he had all these poems written later, in New York or London for the most part, and put those in the end. In the middle he had oddball poems that were kind of political, more angry, less about his heroin life. It was the easiest editing job on Earth because he’s so talented and he was in a place where everything was clicking. Even though I’m the editor, publisher and wrote the intro, I did those things because I think it’s not just a great book, it’s an important book. Twenty years from now people will look at it as a major landmark for American poetry, even though he’s English. It’s just a matter of time. It will find its audience eventually.

J: Tell me the difference in publishing and writing.
R: For me they’re intertwined. I don’t think about publishing when I write. That’s part of the freedom – I don’t have to think about that. The problem with today’s writers world is the writers and publishers are two different camps and they’re hostile toward each other. Publishers are there to make a profit. Eventually it has to break even or I can’t keep doing it, but as long as Burning Shore Press gets there and stays there or gets to the point where it’s not losing too much money, I’ll keep doing it. I’ll do Burning Shore Press for the rest of my life if it’s not costing me an arm and a leg. There are times when publishing takes up so much time it starts hurting my own writing. That’s when I get frustrated. But also a result of the fact that it’s so new. It’s me with some friends who help. Eventually, I’d like to take on a partner who’s better at the business, technical side of it. I’d like to be centered around editing and book design.

J: Tell me about the process behind writing “Heaping Stones.”
R: I came out of a personal crisis that I’d been waiting for my whole life. I was finishing my master’s degree and I had been accepted into the PhD program at UC Santa Barbara. All of a sudden, the fact that I’d been using these degrees to hide from writing started coming to a head. I had to make a decision. If I got my PhD, I was going to be an academic anthropologist for the rest of my life. You can’t serve two masters. That was it. It was a tough decision because I knew I had the ability and background, but I’d never produced any writing that was worth a damn. I had to leap off the cliff or live the rest of my life as a lie. That’s a pretty tough decision. I turned UCSB down at the last second and they were freaked out. They’d never had anybody turn them down that late. I was also going through a horrid relationship that was ripping me apart. I had no idea if I was coming or going. Perhaps I was throwing my life away. I was throwing away a lucrative career, but I had to write something and I knew it had to be a novel. It had to be something sustained. I had no idea what I was writing about. I knew I was writing about somebody who was doing the same thing I was doing, making a break. So I made him a writer trying to find himself through women. Eventually I realized I was making the change by writing the change. I wrote a book about a guy changing while I was trying to change, which is very unusual in literature. Most people write about things after they happen because it tends to become journalism. It was such an intense experience that I was able to pull it off. I can only think of one other book like that, and that’s “Tropic of Cancer.”

J: How long did it take to write?
R: I don’t remember exactly. Once I got on track, it came quickly, but I made a 200-page wrong turn. I became a pussy essentially and started lying. I started dressing it up, making what I thought it should be as opposed to what it really was. Then I started freaking out even more. I quit this other life to write this book that failed. But I knew there was a kernel. The book was there, so I stripped it down to 20-something pages. And those formed enough that I worked it out.

J: One similarity I’ve noticed between “Heaping Stones” and the excerpts I’ve read from your upcoming novel is that both protagonists are in relationships with much younger women.
R: I think it’s an 11-year difference in the new novel. But there were problems between the man and woman in “Heaping Stones.” I played with the idea of the Rachel character being in the next novel, but she can’t be because of the epiphany the character has at the end of “Heaping Stones.” Soon after that, she’d be gone. “What Love Is” isn’t a sequel because you can read either book in any order or read one and not the other, but the events follow the same character but they take place before “Heaping Stones.” “What Love Is” is about love as a chemical addiction. The characters do not function sexually because they don’t really like each other. It’s purely chemical. They’re locked in this hellish relationship. It’s a descent into hell, just a different type of addiction.

J: When is this book coming out?
R: The book’s been done for a couple years. It’s just a question of money. I’m in no hurry because I spent the last year and a half paying attention to the publishing company and not my own work. Now I’m trying to sell “Heaping Stones” and getting people to read that book. It’s not time sensitive or anything. I don’t know what people will think. There’s hope in “Heaping Stones,” but there’s no light in “What Love Is.” There’s no light in addiction. I think it’s a better book.

J: Most people don’t write about love as an addiction.
R: I go for the Frank Zappa view that love songs are bad for our mental health. What we think of as love is need and coveting. You don’t hold on to love. Most love stories are bullshit because they’re about need and not recognizing that. “What Love Is” is a love story in the sense that it honestly tackles what real love is from the angle of what it isn’t.


If you haven't been living under a rock, you'd know former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer fucked some hookers, got caught, was made to look a fool and resigned. He's getting shit on all over the place, but the girl he paid thousands to fuck became a minor celeb. Pictures from her myspace page hit the news and it got me thinking.

What kind of impression would I make if something happened to me and the media took my myspace pictures to prove what kind of human I am? I mean, no one puts respectable pictures on myspace. It's all "look how drunk I am" or "look how high I am" or "look how drunk and high I am." Pretty unfair. I'd like to think there are lots of sides to me -- partying is one of them. Granted, I never got paid four grand for sex, but that's another story. Myspace is where young people put photos of themselves acting like young people. Before the Internet, these pics existed. They just weren't available for everyone to see.

Looking at my pics, even I don't know what I'm like. It looks like I drink a alot. Maybe I do. I don't think I do, but my selection of pics is obviously saying something. What that something is, I'm not sure. Maybe I should throw some up of me reading a book or playing with my cats or watering my lawn. I need some balance if anyone's gonna come after me, which I suspect they will sooner or later. I'm working on a novel right now. The plan is to finish it, release it and conquer the world. If this is to happen, I'd better have my pics lined up. The book is already gonna make me look bad. I don't need any barfing photos to back that up.

Or even worse, what if I died? Imagine all the "oh, he was a young partier with no redeeming social value blah blah blah." It's fairly easy to make a person look immoral based off their myspace pics. If I died and all the media has were these pics, I'd be bummed. I'd never get the chance to explain myself. If this girl in the Spitzer case has anything positive to look forward to, at least she's alive to state her side of the case. Not that we care, but hey...


Yo, peep this video of Snoop Dogg freestyling on BET.

Freestyling is a touchy thing. Some emcees suck. Some don't. But most do. I never believe rappers are totally making this stuff up off the top of their head, but this seems legit to me. What's crazy is, after all these years and nasty amounts of money, Snoop still has it.

I've always been a fan of Snoop's. I even try to catch that Father Hood show of his on E. And you know I bump Doggystyle weekly fifteen years after it came out. I'm pretty sure it's the best hip hop record ever. People can say whatever they want about Snoop -- he's famous, he's Hollywood, he's this, he's that. But what they can't say anything about is Doggystyle. Damn, I might go put that on right now. Whenever I'm in the shower getting ready to go out and do some damage all over town, I always put in Doggystyle. It's my soundtrack to partying.

Of all the people I've interviewed, Snoop has eluded me. Before I die, we'll get high together. Mark my word.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Lots of random things...

At work. Bored. The only thing worse than having too much to do is not having enough to do.

Sang karaoke for the first time in a while last night. Then woke up with a tiny hangover.

Part III of the Rob Woodard interview will be posted tomorrow or late tonight.

I'm feeling this change of weather. Time to dust off the BBQ and croquet.

Went to the Beer and Politics meeting at Gallagher's Tuesday night. But I got there late and missed the whole event. I stuck around for the post-party, which I guarantee was more fun. Nothing better than disgruntled journalists (and PTers to boot!) getting drunk and complaining. Ran into a few friends. Not sure why they were there, but they were. When I asked what the meeting was about, someone told me it had to do with the way the Press-Telegram is going downhill. Well duh. In the newspaper game, we call that old news. Isn't Long Beach tired of this already? The PT sucks. Get over it. It's a shame what asshole Singleton has done to it, but the damage is beyond repair.

Lakers lost to the Bobcats? What? When's Pau and Andrew "gettin' all the fuckin' rebounds" Bynum returning? Not soon enough.

I'm broke, but thinking about hitting Gallaghers tonight for karaoke. It's run by a short Philipino man who's got a surprisingly good selection of Snoop and Dre. The same can not be said about the Wednesday jock at the Prospector. He didn't even have songs listed by artists' names. Song titles only? What the fuck kinda karaoke is that? He must be new. But that didn't stop me from ripping up the joint with Young MC's Bust a Move. It's my new karaoke standard.

I'll add more as I go. I gotta pretend to be doing something. Or maybe I don't. One thing's for sure, there's only so much Free Cell and Solitaire a guy can play before he starts getting a bit stir crazy. Maybe I should download AIM and bother my friends. Nah. That takes too much work.

Oh, I almost forgot. Italy Fuck Beach. Fuck Italy Beach. Beach Fuck Italy. Fucking in Italy. Fucking on the Beach Italy. Beach fucking in Italy. That should boost the ol' hit counter through the roof!


Hey all in Internet land, check out these three stories I wrote in the current issue of the District. The paper is nearly a year old and getting better. And I'm not just saying that because they say yes to some of my ideas. I actually read it and like it.

This one's about the Long Beach Public Library:

This one's about an amazing Italian beer called Moretit:

And this one's about the potato tacos at Hole Mole:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I hate this feeling. It's difficult to explain. It's 12:28 a.m. In bed with my laptop while my girlfriend and the cats are sound asleep. I'm wide awake with nothing to say, nothing to do. So much of my life revolves around writing. But what does a writer do when there's nothing to write? Easy answer -- post blogs like these. Hard answer -- not sure. I took a walk earlier to calm myself. It helped a little, but mainly I got more upset looking at the marvelous homes in my neighborhood and thinking how I am nowhere near owning one myself. Not that owning a home is some major goal for me, because it's not. But it all comes back to writing. This is what I do and when I don't do it, I get down on myself because I don't know what to do with myself or who I am without it. Having nothing to say really sucks.

I'm nine chapters deep of my first novel. I wrote all weekend but hit a wall. Now I don't know where to go with it. Tried some poems tonight -- they all sucked. I dig deep into my mind to draw on experience and come up empty.

I talk to other writers. They seem to have a goal in mind. I don't. I want it all. Novels, poetry, short stories, blogging, journalism -- it's like a drug and I'm all out at the moment.

There are times when I feel like a real doofus. I talk to friends and inevitably work comes up. I don't want to talk about what I do at home all day. But maybe secretly I do. If the subject comes up that often, there must be something to that. I don't think anyone believes me when I say I am working all the time. It's almost always a different project from day to day, but I am consumed with it. And not in the way that most of my friends would assume. Before a year or so ago, I was consumed with work, or how much I hated it, to be specific. Now, the guy who screamed into a microphone about how much work sucks can't get the topic off his mind. There's some irony somewhere in there. It's different making money for yourself as opposed to some big corporation. But I swear it's not the money. I am battling with myself constantly because this is what I do, who I am.

Writing makes me comfortable and gives me incentive to be a productive member of society. God knows I suck at everything else. Everything I do, everywhere I go, every person I meet -- it's all work for me. In some way, it all relates to writing. I don't know why. I am a stutterer in certain situations. It's a trait I got from my late grandfather. I'm not very good at conversation. There are only a handful of people in my life who I feel really comfortable around. But writing transforms me into someone else. I am so much better with words of the written variety.

Now that I've got this off my chest, let's hope I wake up with an overflowing amount of words that leap from my mind, through my fingers and onto the screen.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Neighbor 1: "Hey, whaddya guys doing Sunday?"
Me: "Nothing."
Girlfriend: "Working."
Neighbor 2: "Nothing."
Neighbor 1: "We're cooking dinner. You should come by."
Me: "Ok. What's the occasion?"
Neighbor 1 (with a puzzled look on her face): "Uh, Easter."
Me: "Oh."
Neighbor 2 (to me): "You didn't know Sunday was Easter?"
Me (to neighbor 2): "I don't know what Easter is, let alone when it is."

And I really don't. What is Easter? Something about Jesus, I know that. Oh, and candy and eggs. That part I really dug as a kid. I suppose I stomach Easter more than Capitalistmas, er, Christmas, because the religious overtones seem to be minimal at best and there's no pressure to spend a bunch of money I don't have on shitty gifts people don't really want. I bet I'd changed my mind if I walked into a church today, but God knows I'm not doing that!

There are lots of things I don't know. Like how to pronounce the different between the thing a woman wears in her hair as a clip and those artsy-looking caps worn by the French, or whether or not the bright-color load goes warm or cold (I think it's warm?). Not knowing things, especially commonalities like the aforementioned, always gets me down. I don't like feeling stupid, but sometimes I do. The exception is religion. I LOVE not knowing anything about trivial religious holidays and little tidbits of info that the rest of the United States thinks I should know. Fuck that. My brain has room for only so much info. I've smoked lots of it away and God knows (I'm two for two with the God puns today!) there's no space left for anything that isn't going to better me.

The best part is when others think I am pretending to be ignorant to the ways of religion. I'm not. I know I've been told what Easter, Lent, Fat Tuesday, Christmas and all those other days mean, but I can't retain that info for more than two seconds. After that, it's gone because I know I'm wasting valuable real estate if I try to remember that sort of crap.

So enjoy Easter. Just don't try to lecture me on what it all means because, honestly, I don't really care.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Just happened to be in my car driving down Cherry Avenue when I flipped on the Bubba the Love Sponge show on Sirius Satalite Radio. I love Bubba, so this isn't news. But Bubba started the show with some important info that still isn't being picked up by the national media.

Turns out that clip of Barack Obama's minister/pastor/father/preacher/whatever the fuck he's called was edited together to make both the speaker and the candidate look bad. Now, I'm not an Obama backer. In fact, I'm not backing anyone, so this isn't some sort of pro-Obama post.

But how can anything get done in the political realm when the media -- which I openly admit that I am begrudgingly a member of -- reports falsehoods and won't rec-count their statements when said statements are proved wrong. This reeks of a witchhunt. Or community college journalism.

Where did this begin, you ask? According to Bubba, it was Sean Hannity on Fox News. Wouldn't ya know it, as of 12:43 p.m. today there's no mention on the Fox site about how this man's soundbite was portrayed inaccurately. Turns out Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright was himself quoting another person -- an ambassador who worked in the Reagan administration. This man (whose name escapes me at the moment) was discussing all the times the United States has acted like terrorists. He began with stealing this country from natives and rattled off a list of other examples -- Hiroshima, Nagasaki, South Africa. Bubba played the entire clip. Wright begins by explaining the quote and how this statement was said by a white man, not a black fundamentalist.

But the media left that part out. So maybe this Wright guy's NOT as crazy as we thought he was. Maybe Obama's 20-year affiliation with this guy isn't a make or break deal for the candidate. But the damage is done. Until all these talk shows, newspapers, bloggers and Youtube posters give as much coverage to this massive mistake as they did to what Wright supposedly said, Obama won't completely recover.

Like Bubba (when I say Bubba, I mean the entire show) said, this clip has to have come from the Clinton camp. At this stage in the race, the Republicans/McCain camp doesn't need to release misleading info like this. Like the Dude said, look for who benefits from all this and you'll find the culprit. It's Clinton. Oh Hillary, why can't you be Bill?

Who am I going to vote for? Like always, no one. But let's at least try to report the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be.

Check this video out to see for yourself.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I've got this little counter thingy on this blog that lets me track where people come from. It's pretty cool. It tells me what keywords get the most attention and that sort of thing. So with this info, I've decided to start including the words "fuck," "beach" and "Italy" in every blog because I get hits from people searching for this from all over the world. I thought it was funny when I wrote about this once, but it keeps happening. I'm all about giving the people what they want (well, not really), so here goes. Fuck. Italy. Beach.

Are they looking for porn? Are there places where fucking on the beach is accepted? Whatever the case, it's really helping bring people in.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Here's part two of my interview with Rob Woodard. I should also mention Rob is responsible for convincing me to read some of my poetry at certain places around Long Beach. So I thank him for that. And if you've heard my poetry, you can blame him for that.

J: You bring up Mike Watt in your writing. He definitely fits into that category.
R: He plays what he wants to play. Nobody told him he couldn’t combine Richard Hell with Funkadelic or the Sex Pistols and jazz. The first mistake people make in the arts is planning to make a living. If you’re really good and stick to your own path, you’ll make a better living than trying to make a living. That’s one of the reasons I got an anthropology degree – I wanted to learn. It’s a good field because it combines archeology, sociology and biology all under one package.

J: Have you incorporated that into your writing?
R: I haven’t so far, but it informs what I’m doing in my new novel. It’s set in the future and is very different than anything I’ve done. I’m creating a society – and it’s not our society – from all these things I learned about social structure, group behavior and all these things. But it’s not a formal thing. Nobody reading that will think they’re reading an anthropologist.

J: You’ve said you don’t write short stories because you’ve never gotten into them. Why?
R: I’ve never enjoyed reading them or writing them. I’m not sure why. Short stories all seem the same. There’s three ways to write them. They have the same rhythms, structures and they don’t interest me much. They’re confining and predicable. There are a few exceptions. I really like Hemmingway because he was a born short story writer, much better than a novelist. I like some of John Fante’s short stories. People treat it like practice and that’s part of the problem. It’s not treated as an art form in itself; it’s treated as a stepping stone to something bigger. People like Hemmingway proved you can say more in a short story than you can in a novel. It’s like going to a baseball game and watching the pitcher warm up. I suppose it’s interesting in a sense. But I must admit, because I never got into them, I haven’t read that many of them so I am more than willing to say I’m ignorant don’t know what I’m talking about.

J: You just started a blog. How do you think this new medium affects writers?
R: It’s a whole new genre within writing. I’m really enjoying mine and I’m still feeling it out. Mine’s really formal in places and it’s not what I want it to be yet. It’s a weird combination of diary, speech making and novel writing. It forces me to think about things like what if radio announcing was writing? It’s going out in the airwaves as you’re doing it. I don’t know where it’s going and that’s the interesting thing. I see books coming out of collections of blogs. It’ll be interesting to see how the printed word and blogs combine. I like the honesty and whether they say it or not, writers are always writing to be read. This brings that to a forefront.

J: I’ve heard you mention how you think today’s underground writing culture is perhaps influenced too heavily by Bukowski.
R: He freed language from the academics. The Beats started the process and his stuff was the death blow. Most academics don’t realize how incredibly irrelevant they are and how far behind the times they are. He changed everything. That doesn’t mean everything he wrote was great, but he opened up real language to come back, especially in poetry. A lot of people don’t understand was what he gave people was the license to do their own thing. But they thought it was an invitation to do his thing and they just keep copying him. In the long run, he’s revolutionized the English language. Eventually, the direct influence will start to fade. He’s only been dead for about a decade. He’s still very fresh and people are still discovering him. Right now, underground literature is buried in Bukowksi and it’s not helping anyone.

J: Tell me about writing poetry. For some writers, crossing the line from novelist to poet is looked down upon.
R: I don’t think writing poetry really helps you do anything. Artistically, it’s who you are. It used to be unusual to do both. Prose and novels used to be considered second tier. The serious people were poets. At some point those positions reversed. Most of us are trained as prose writers. Bukwoski did a lot of that by writing both and the fact that he was trained as a prose writer, he injected narrative back into poems. With narrative becoming important again in poetry, it makes it that much easier for a prose writer to write poetry or understand they can. It never occurred to me to limit myself to one. Knut Hamsun wrote everything. His poetry wasn’t very good, but he wrote it.

J: Is there a difference? Are you trying to say something different or is it just a different medium?
R: I think I am now. My poetry is changing rapidly. I’m trying to move away from narrative. Now it goes in more than one direction; it’s not straight storytelling style. Now that the narrative style brought me into poetry, I’m realizing there’s a lot more I can do with it. It’s taken me in directions that make me nervous. Am I leaving audiences behind? But you gotta do what you do. I can’t pretend I’m something I’m not. There’s a lot more symbolism, the imagery’s different. I’ve always had this fascination with painters. Part of me wishes I had become a painter instead of a writer. From the outside, it seems like there’s more freedom of expression. You can say many, many things at one time, whereas writing it’s much harder to do that. What they’re do with painting, I’m trying to do with poetry. I’m not sure how possible that is.

J: Kerouac tried to incorporate that idea into his poetry, but I’m still not sure how successful he was. He gets an A for effort., but…
R: My guess is that it would read a lot better in front of an audience than on paper. It sounds really pretentious, but everything happening in his poetry is already happening in his prose. It’s distilling and I don’t see any reason for that. His prose says all that. He wrote some really good poems, but if you took all of his best work and put it together, it would be a chapbook. Poetry went off the deep end and Kerouac’s attempt was to bring it back to real people and Bukowksi finished the job. People like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound…I have no idea who Pound was writing “The Cantos” for. I don’t know who can read that. Parts of it are fabulous, but most of it is unreadable and that’s what people think of when they think of poetry. They think of something they don’t understand, something they were forced to read in high school.

J: That’s how I felt about poetry until I read Bukowski. He showed me it doesn’t have to be stuffy.
R: I get really frustrated with Pound because his earlier stuff was so amazing. He took the biggest wrong turn in literary history. You shouldn’t have to take a seminar to have to understand a poem. A lot of poets aren't very good writers because they haven’t trained themselves to write. Especially poets that that’s all they do, write poetry. You can get away with that on the surface, but it shows in the long run. Prose writing teaches you respect for your audience because you have to write something they’re going to read. A lot of poets don’t respect their audience, they attack them. Their basic attitude is, “Look how much smarter I am than you. You should really want to be like me. Buy my book please.” I don’t want to talk to that poet.

J: When will your book of poetry be out?
R: I’m hoping next summer. But there’s nothing set in stone. “King of Long Beach” will be crowned whenever it happens. People keep thinking that title is very arrogant, but it’s actually really self-depreciating.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I walked into the men's restroom on the third floor of the Humanities building at El Camino College in Torrance yesterday and instantly was hit with what I swear to God was the worst fucking smell of all time. I shit you not (no pun intended), it was like some dude crapped out a dead body, like his feces had been living inside his stomach for years. I had to piss real bad so I couldn't leave, but the aroma was too much. Out of nowhere, a vurp (vomit-burp for the uneducated) came shooting up my throat as I was leaking into the urinal. I didn't know if I should let it out or not, so I swallowed it back down. I've been around some nasty smells before, but I'm not one of these people with a gag reflex. I NEVER puke unexpectedly. But this was obviously something different. I zipped up and washed my hands and saw my face in the mirror. It was paler than it normally is. I could see my bones, that's how bad it was. What causes a person to create a stench like that? What are these kids eating? Whatever it is, whoever dropped that deuce needs to change his diet. Man, that was some rank shit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


It's a question that had no answer but beared repeating. The chicken or the egg, you ask? Fuck no. That's a bullshit question that hardly matters. No, this is serious. Like most men, I was captivated by the prospect of having either one of them. But now, some twenty years after catching re-runs at my grandparents' house after school, I have an answer.

I watched Gilligan's Island and could never decide which sexy piece of ass I'd be tapping if I was stuck on that tiny slab of land. Was it the sultry Ginger or the girl-next-door Mary Ann? In a perfect world, I'd say both. But this ain't a perfect world. The second a dude fucks Ginger, Mary Ann's never gonna touch him. And vice versa. That's one of the main boundaries for people stuck on islands with two incredibly smoking hot women. Pick one and make it good cuz you're stuck.

There's a solid case to be made for each one. Ginger's a smoking hot redhead with lips that could do wonders. But Mary Ann's got a personality that wouldn't make me want to stab my ears. What's a boy to do? Wait, what's that, you said? Mary Ann just got busted for having two joints in her car. BINGO!!!!!! WE HAVE A WINNER.

Anytime a celebrity gets busted for weed, instantly I like them way more than I did before. And that's not just cuz I've smoked enough pot to cure cancer. No, I dig when weed hits the mainstream news because it shows how stupid the legality of this plant is. So Marry Ann from Gilligan's Island smoked some weed in Idaho. Big fucking deal. It shows she's a real person, one who's capable of recognizing the difference between the truth and a bullshit law with little to no relevance to most people. The travesty is she had to do five days in jail for it. I mean, come the fuck on. Sure, I don't recommened anyone smoking and driving, but it's much safer than drinking and driving. You ever driven stoned? I have. Plenty of times. And I've got zero accidents. How could I? Stoners drive in the right lane while pedestrians pass them on the sidewalk. We break fifty yards before the stop sign and throw our blinker on three blocks before we make a turn.

I wasn't much of a Lamar Odom fan when he played for the Clippers. Not sure what I think about him now, but he's a Laker, so I got his back. But when he was caught a few years ago puffing a doob, he became one of my favorite players. Same with off-again/on-again Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams. Steroids are one thing, but athletes smoking weed in their free time is another. If anything, opposing teams should WANT other players getting high. It sure doesn't turn you into a wide-necked asshole, that's for damn sure.

So Dawn Wells, this bowl's for you. I wouldn't ever say everyone should smoke weed, but everyone should realize the shit your ninth grade health teacher and your dickhead Congressperson tells you about marijuana is dead wrong. The funny thing, the people who critisize weed the most are usually the ones who need to get high. Go figure.

But here's what's really important. Can we start calling her Mary Jane Ann? Can someone name a strain of weed after her like pronto? Let's celebrate this joyous occassion. The more stoners go public, the more the stigma lessons and I can start walking down the street smoking a joint. Wait, I already do that. I mean...I can start walking down the street smoking a joint and not worry about getting arrested. Wait, that's not true either. Ok, howzboutthis? I can walk down the street smoking a joint and the rich assholes in my neighborhood can't give me funny looks for the smell coming from the lit cigarette in my hand.

I could -- and should -- write a book about this. But I won't. So here's something to think about next time you're at a concert and someone passes a spliff your way. Like Nate Dogg so eloquently said, "Hey hey hey hey...Smoke weed everyday."

PS Dawn Wells (or Lamar Odom or Ricky Williams for that matter)...if you read this, email me. Let's get fucked up.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I first heard about Burning Shore Press about a year or so ago. I knew I wanted to investigate for reasons both personal and professional and now that I've met the man behind the company, I can say I am glad I did.

His name is Rob Woodard. He's a novelist/poet from Long Beach who's published three books --his novel "Heaping Stones," Dan Fante's play "Don Giovanni" and Tony O'Neill's book of poetry "Songs From the Shooting Gallery: Poems 1999-2006." Each is different than the next, but there is a common theme to what Woodard chooses to release. His publishing house deals with the gritty, the downtrodded, the sorts of things mainstream publishers aren't interested in. Which just so happens to be what I like to read.

I was excited when I discovered someone in Long Beach doing the kind of work he does. This is a special town and needs someone to shine the literary spotlight on it. And his work does just that. From scenes at Acres of Books or driving down Seventh Street, "Heaping Stones" is a Long Beach book that should be read by everyone who lives here. Woodard said something in this interview regarding why he writes about Long Beach and I agree. But you'll have to read to find out the answer.

I picked up "Heaping Stones" one Saturday afternoon and was finished before I went to bed. I can't say the same for many other books I've read. It's chalk full of despair, honesty, confusion and sex -- all things that can make or break a book. For Woodard, it makes it.

This interview is pretty long, so I'm going to break it up into different parts and give a mini intro before each one. So here's part one. And don't forget to visit It's full of details and all kinds of good stuff. If you want to check out his blog, it's linked on this here site. Enjoy.

J: Your work reflects your background as someone who’s read a lot. How did you get interested in reading and writing?
R: I had a weird background. My family watched a lot of TV. My mom read a lot, but she liked mysteries. Murdering doctors are the best for her, which is fine, but it’s not exactly stimulating if you want to write. My stepdad used to read Edgar Allen Poe out loud, which is creepy when you’re a kid. I read “Little House on the Prairie” and “Tom Sawyer” and I loved it. But it didn’t stick. It was more important to watch “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch.” It wasn’t until my teens that I picked it up. I read a lot of Steinbeck and Hemmingway, then I got more into music. I started getting back into literature through bands where the lyrics matter. One of my favorite bands was X. This was serious musical poetry. Poets tend to look down on lyrics, but to me they’re the same thing. I started listening to the Minutemen; their lyrics are fascinating. Then I got into Bob Dylan and that blasted my mind about the potential of language. Also Lou Reed. He’s the opposite of Dylan. He’s a poetic journalist. Then I started reading the Beats. In my senior year of high school I took a poetry class. My teacher was so cool that she brought Bukowski. She was careful of which ones she brought. That got me reading other poets. It took off from there. Then I got really heavily into what I call the Pacific Northwest poets – Gary Snyder, Lew Welch, Philip Walen. I’ve always been into hiking and camping and stuff like that. They led me to ancient Japanese poetry and haiku. By then I was hooked. It just took me a long time to translate the influences into my own life.

J: Tell me about writing about Long Beach.
R: There are two sides. There’s the personal. I ran away from home essentially for about a decade. I had to come to terms with that in order to come to terms with myself. From a literary mode, growing up, the thing frustrating to me about books was they always took place somewhere else. I remember reading a scene in one of Steinbeck’s books that took place in La Jolla and I was all excited. Does everything take place in New York, London or Paris? Why are these places so special? It pissed me off. Why is my home not special? When I hit my Bukowski phase, one of the things I remember reading in “Factotum” takes place at the Los Alamitos race track. I grew up down the road from that. That really set off something in my head. And that’s where bands like the Minutemen came in. They were writing songs about San Pedro. If they were writing about San Pedro, which is nowhere near as cool as Long Beach, then I can write about Long Beach. At that age, I needed somebody to tell me it was ok.

J: Your work has a theme of longing for love. Where does that come from?
R: There’s a lot of personal overlap. There wasn’t a lot of closeness in my family or excessive emotion. We weren’t touchy feely people and I think I kind of am. I’ve tended to go for women who are completely self-absorbed and capable of giving very little. These women were exciting because they do bizarre things because they don’t see anybody else. I was mistaking crazy women for interesting because they can’t get out of their own head. Part of writing “Heaping Stones” changed that. I’ve moved past that, but I still write about it. There’s nothing more harrowing than a crazy woman. When I write it now, it doesn’t feel like me. It feels like I’m copying myself.

J: Who are some of your influences for novel writing?
R: I really like John Fante. Nobody ever caught this and it really pisses me off. The opening of “Heaping Stones” makes jokes off the opening of “Ask the Dust.” My character walks into a coffee shop and has the same kind of sarcasm. Basically, it’s a re-write and nobody’s ever caught on to that, including Dan. It was designed to be an homage and a loving parody. D.H. Lawrence was a major influence, Henry Miller, lots of old Russian novelists like Dostovesky, Proust.

J: How does your time spent traveling the world affect what you write?
R: It opened my mind to seeing lots of different things. I did it so young. I was on the road, thousands of miles from home before I was 20 years old. I’ve never written about the places I’ve traveled to. I don’t know why, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that those years I was running away from my problems. I wasn’t facing my problems and there wasn’t much to write about or worth writing about. I tried setting a novel in Honolulu and Australia and it seemed really surface level. I couldn’t get it to gel and go anywhere else. It may very well happen some day. I need to be connected to a place before I can write about it.

J: Is that why you write about Long Beach?
R: Yeah, and exercising demons, coming to terms with my hometown. I had a less than stellar family situation. My father didn’t exist and my stepfather caused more problems than he solved. I never felt like I fit in growing up. My mom re-married when I was 6. The person she married had substance problems and troubles keeping a job, so for three years we moved constantly. I lived in Beaumont, Texas, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Phoenix, Arizona and Santa Rosa, California. Those are formative years and by the time I got back here, my social skills were really limited because I never stayed anywhere long enough to become friends with anybody. Those places today are kind of sophisticated, but back then they weren’t. When I got back here, I felt like a hick. I never recovered from that.

J: You have two degrees in anthropology. Why didn’t you pursue an English degree?
R: I have a BA and an MA. It was a lot of things. When I was traveling, I always wanted to be a writer. I was trying to write and I wasn’t doing very well. But I was constantly reading. By the time I got back here, I started looking at the classes and I’d read all those books. I wrote about this in “Heaping Stones.” I gave my protagonist the same problem. I felt like I would have been dotting my Is and crossing my Ts to make it official. Plus, I was older and I was at that point where I wasn’t going to jump through hoops for professors to tell me what to write. Literature programs are cool because they expose you to lots of literature and help you teach, but as far as writing, I always thought that was a joke. I don’t think that’s how you become a writer. As soon as somebody tells me I have to read something, I don’t want to read it. That would have been a drag. Of the writers I’ve been influenced by, they’ve all been autodidact or their backgrounds weren’t in MFA programs. You need to be living and everybody in MFA programs gets squashed in the middle. They make great writers mediocre and bad writers mediocre. Everybody comes out the same. It’s the same with any art. Some of the least interesting musicians on Earth are the people who come from the Berkeley School of Music; they all sound the same. They’re technically fantastic players, but who cares?

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Long time no post. Busy, busy, busy. I guess that's better than having nothing to do. Or is it? Either way, here's a link to a story I wrote for the District. It's about a local woman who runs a company called Veg-O-Rama. She makes vegan cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and a bunch more. I say this about everything I write, but this time I mean it. This stuff rules.

I'm working on transcribing an interview I did a few weeks ago with Long Beach writer Rob Woodard. The day we met was the day I got sick, hence the long delay. I want to break it up into a few parts and hope to have the first one up before tomorrow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Well, anyone who was interested enough in listening to me would known Long Beach's daily paper, the Press-Telegram, has been a sinking ship for at least the past four years. How would I know, you ask? Simple. I worked there for three of the most painful, agonizing and downright miserable years of my life. I've avoided commenting publicly about this (I know so many of you are dying to know what I think, sorry for the delay) for a slew of reasons, the most important being I still consider a few (see: two) people employed there friends and I don't want to say anything that might come off as intended for them. Like I suspect others at the PT, these two are good people who happen to work for a shitty company. Wait, that's it. I can talk about the company.

If you don't know, here are some links to what's going on with what was formerly known as the Press-Telegram.

But my favorite link, the one everyone should read, is the PT's. Naturally, they gloss over little facts such as laying off entire departments and then allowing 21 of those people to re-apply for 12 positions. Oh yeah, they also told a publisher and a managing editor to kick rocks. But their angle is how they got a new publisher.

Seriously folks, there's so much for me to say that I don't even know where to begin. I feel like not saying anything at all only because whatever clever story I can come up with won't even tell a portion of how shitty this company is. Which reminds me, those looking to take shots at the PT (myself included) need to remember why all of this is happening. There's an greedy asshole businessman named Willian Dean Singleton. He's the guy who runs MediaNews Group, the company that owns the PT. MNG is based out of Colorado. It doesn't take a genius to see how that can be a problem for a local paper like the PT. This guy was attributed as saying if he had a choice between pleasing a banker or 1,000 journalists, he'd go with the banker.

Fuck, I get pissed just writing this stuff. That's why I can't say anything. This guy's the reason behind the PT's decline, not the people who work there. That's not to say I'm 100 percent on their side either, but like all corporations, the problems start at the top.

I hope you read this William Dean Singleton. Fuck you for paying me $9.90 for THREE FUCKING YEARS and give me a raise up to $10.10. Fuck you for making me go to the union for health insurance after two years because the company policy is to pay for insurance for full-time employees, ie those who work 30 hours a week. Wouldn't you know, my contract was written for 29 although I never worked that many hours in three fucking years. Shit, I was working more than 40 for most of that time, taking work home many nights because I couldn't techincally work overtime. Fuck you and your bullshit company. If bad things haven't happened to you, I hope they do. Wait, don't you have some crippling disease like Parkinson's or something? It's hard to know because you're pretty good at keeping a tight lip on things. Whatever it is you have, I feel no mercy for you at all. You're a goddamn asshole who's making a shit-ton of money at the expense of others. Yeah, we live in capitalist society, but that doesn't give anyone the right to be a money-hungry prick who doesn't care about people's livelihoods. Good fuck yourself and the horse you rode in on.

Fuck, now I'm mad and I didn't want that. You see why I don't talk about this? But I have another thought. The PT staff has a blog called the Stress Telegram. I'm all in favor of people bettering themselves, especially when it's people vs. a corporation, but I think I've had enough whining from these people. If things are that bad, then fucking quit. I did. And I didn't have a goddamn cent to my name when I left thanks to the aforementioned reasons. You want a better job, go find one. Or do what I did and create one. Maybe start your own paper. Shit, the District did. Some of the people making noise over there were rude, shitty, selfish people who never bothered to ask my name. And a Union rep? He's probably the biggest waste of flesh on the planet. The guy couldn't remember my name or my boss' (she'd been there for, oh, maybe 15 years). But he's really good at mumbling, putting his forehead in his palm and starig into space. I get it. You people want to save your jobs. But shut the fuck up about it already. It's over. You lost. They won. Move on. Check out their blog for their side of the story, which I might add, is pretty lame. I mean, this ain't the PT and there aren't any names on this site. Why not let loose and tell Long Beach what's really happening? Trying to play it cool only makes this blog look like they're afraid. They probably are, but that's no way to win people over. You're already fucked, you might as well act like real journalists and say something for once. During my time there, I saw fucked up shit on a daily basis and it was always much worse than the version that hit the streets. Hey Stress Telegram, call a spade a spade and start naming names. Quit linking to other sites and OPEN YOUR FUCKING MOUTH AND SAY SOMETHING SOMEONE IN THIS TOWN MIGHT ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT! If the rest of the city knew had bad it really was, and not just the version that gets reported by every media outlet except yours, you might have a stronger case. But what do I know?

Maybe I'll comment more as this transpires. Believe me, I got an encyclopedia to fill with info about the PT.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I found this Youtube video of the two girls who were dressed as flight attendants at a Fat Thursday party in Garmisch. Honestly, other than the two guys I saw in San Diego dressed as secret agents, this might have been the best costume ever. No, wait, this was better than the secret agents because they had free booze. I want to email whoever took this video to see if they have more and maybe some I am in, but I don't want to sign up for Youtube just for that. Anyone have a password they're willing to share? It's grainy, short and not inside the club where we met them, but you get the idea.


I'm back. Well, not really. I am still dealing with a nasty case of the flu, but at least I am able to type a bit more than the past few days. But I am in bed on the trusty laptop, so I haven't made that much progress. So much going on. Where to begin?

Supposed to go out tonight and see a band. Do the whole mingle thing. There's a good business opportunity waiting for me at this place. It's a band I really want to see. But I could easily get some rest. Thanks flu!

We've had some strange shit going in with our neighbors up front. But they moved out today. Getting new neighbors is always a harrowing experience. Hope for the best, that's all I can do.

Reached the 1,000 hit mark today. Thanks people! Now can someone tell me how to get to 2,000 even quicker? Or better yet, how I can become the next Perez Hilton, minus all the gay jokes, bad hair, even worse clothing, fat ass and celeb gossip that absolutely no one but a guy who calls himself Perez Hilton would care about?

Seriously, people make cash money off these blog things. Could I be next?

I didn't go last night because I was tired, but the past two Friday evenings I have read some poetry at an undisclosed location in Long Beach. Testing the market, if you will. I've got enough poems to fill books, but no one has ever read or heard them. Well, a few people have heard them now. It's a daunting task getting in front of strangers are reading things I wrote, but I knew it had (and still has) to be done. Poetry readings are not for everyone and neither are my poems. But I'd say I'm 2-for-2. Whodathunk people would enjoy the bitterness that lives inside my head? I went for one reason -- feedback. Years in bands taught me that standing in front of an audience and doing whatever it is you do is the quickest way to refine your work. Bands can practice all they want -- and I can write as much as I want -- but you ain't shit until you do it with a crowd. It's interesting how performing new works breathes new life into things and can point out obvious flaws that can't be found otherwise. For example, I've got these poems written and I think they are good. Then I get up there and realize maybe the upcoming line sucks and I shouldn't read it because it suddenly becomes clear what works and what doesn't. So I'll be back, assuming I can ever get out of bed. I read three poems and leave them wanting more. So far it seems to be working out well for everyone involved.

Although they lost last night, the Lakers are kicking ass. When I'm sick, there is nothing better than a Lakers game on tv. I get in bed, turn on a soft overhead light, prop up my pillows and melt into the covers as my mind focuses on the screen. If the Lakers played every night, I'd never get anything done.

Two things I've realized about self-employment. Number 1: Taking a vacation not only means I'm not getting paid during the time I'm gone, it also means I won't be seeing any cash for a few weeks after because of the time it takes to recoup from a vacation. I was in Europe for two weeks, but the way the writing business works, I don't see checks until at least a week (usually up to three if I'm lucky) after publication. And what I write usually makes it in print 10 days after I wrote it. You do the math. I'm broke. Number 2: Being sick is like taking a shitty vacation. There's no income, no work, no nothing. I tried to piece some things together the past week, but I can't vouch for how interesting any of it is. A for effort? Maybe. But probably a C for an actual grade. If I'm going to have to be taken away from work, I'd prefer to do it in a foreign land, not my bedroom shivering from a fever although it's 80 degrees in February.

One thing I've learned about being sick: Number 1: Getting the flu is the best way to shed pounds. The first few days I ate nothing and, other than the fever, headache, sore throat and overall pain encompassing every inch of my body, it felt great. Then my body compensates and I eat like a fat ass for the next few days, not realizing I am overeating while not having the strength to exercise it off. So not only do I feel like shit, I feel like double shit because I haven't been to the gym in fucking forever.

I want to write more about relevant things and less about my petty shit, but that ain't gonna happen today. There's a whole world out there, but I guess I'm too much of an egomaniac to give a fuck about any of it. War? Elections? Gas prices? Who cares? I'm the star of this show, baby...