I attended Sisters High School from 1996 to 2000 and can attest that it would be a highly ironic place for a King Dork book signing to take place at least for my band of friends and I (The Pickups). I'm not sure what it's like now, but ten years ago, Sisters was a tourist town solely obsessed with its 3A state championship football team.
In order to escape the military-like recruiting tactics of the high school football coach, my friends and I would hitch rides with older kids from the neighboring city Redmond (Population 7000) to Portland in order to see MTX, The Queers, and The Parasites.
Needless to say, we got a lot of shit from the jocks until late Junior year. When The Pickups became popular for playing gigs at Ranch Records in neighboring Bend, OR (Population 50,000), the jocks started listening to Lookout, and soon enough we were booking acts like The Automatics and Tales From The Birdbath to play in the Sisters High School cafeteria. Hell, our class song at graduation was Sicko's "Indy Rock Daydream."
As far as miniature western villages go, Sisters probably has the best poppunk spirit of any of them. The amount of Chuck Taylors and Horn Rimmed glasses that can be seen at the annual rodeo can be downright unsettling.
6 October, 2006
I mentioned this a ways back, but it's coming up soon so here it is again. I'm appearing at the opening night of "Litquake" which is a highfalutin San Francisco literary festival type thing. The title is
the Festival of Lights"Between the Bridges" (for some reason) and the theme of the program is: musicians reading from literature that has inspired them. Participants include Dan Nakamura, Penelope Houston, Ray Manzarek of the Doors (seriously),Jay Farrar, Samantha Stollenwerck, Mark Eitzel, my buddy Chuck Prophet, and others, including me. I'm going to sing my posthumous collaboration with Dorothy Parker ("Somebody's Song"), read from KD, and play a KD song - at least I think that's what they're expecting. Dave Eggers is going to be there, too, but I don't know what he's going to do. The host is Ben Fong-Torres.
If you're interested (and rich) you can order the $25 tickets here.
21 October, 2006
Three events in Bend, Oregon, believe it or not, sponsored by the Bend Public Library.
11 - 12:30: performance/reading/signing at the Paulina Springs Book Company, 252 W. Hood Avenue, Sisters, OR 97759
3 pm: performance/reading/signing at the Bend Public Library, 610 NW Wall Street, Bend, OR 97701
9pm: acoustic set at The Grove, 1033 NW Bond Street, Bend, OR 97701
27 October, 2006
San Francisco Public Library. Main Library Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St. (at Grove) 4pm.
5 November, 2006
Kitchen Sink Magazine's Telegraph Stories 4, at the Makeout Room, 3225 22nd St., San Francisco, 6 PM. 415 647 2888. $5 - $10. With Chris Baty, Sam Hurwitt, Juba Kalamaka, David Skolnick, Pillows, Sweetbriar, and DJ Jeff T. Johnson.
5 December, 2006
Moe's Books in Berkeley. Details soon.
Yes, I just wrote a couple of checks to the US Treasury for an obscene, unmentionable amount, and yes, in the title I am referring to our thinly-disguised socialist overlords and their draconian, sadistic self-employment tax.
What I'm starting to think is that Frank is just too well-adjusted for me to get in to his lyrics or something. Is that a fair assessment? Maybe I just tend to like things written by troubled people.--some dude on the Pop Punk Bored
(I have to say, though, that I pretty much agree that "The Future Ain't What it Used to Be" may not have been my finest lyrical hour.)
(Thanks for the heads-up, Crumbly.)
Remember that bloggy virtual book tour I did in the first week of King Dork's release? Well, John is doing a blog tour for Katherines, and he's really going to town on it. I mean, 19 "stops." You can find links to the stops so far on his blog. Today it's at The Answer May Surprise You (from whom or which I swiped the graphic.) Here's a good interview from a previous stop at Fuse #8.
I have nearly finished An Abundance of Katherines and it is ace. I have a special interest in and affection for sidekick characters, for some reason, and Hassan is one of my favorite ones I've come across in ages.
I was a fan of Looking for Alaska long before I knew that John Green was (and apparently still is) an MTX fan. When he blurbed my book, he mentioned that he had written me a fan letter when he was 18 or so, and that I had written back a kind of memorable note. We both tried to find it in our ancient mailboxes, and we both failed, which is a shame. Anyway, his blog tour rolls through the What's-it on Monday, Oct. 2. It will be a MTX- rock and roll- tragicbreakup-oriented booky blog event. So watch this space.
That's the cafeteria of Capuchino HIgh School in San Bruno, where I did an "author event" last night organized by those swell gals of Books, Inc./NYMBC in concert with a student reading group called "You Say Read, We Say Party." (Food provided by the "catering class," who had little chefs outfits.)
I was really amazed at how many kids showed up - around 150, believe it or not. The kids got extra credit for attending, which partly explains it maybe, though that probably wouldn't have tempted me when I was in high school, I have to say. A handful of students had me sign charming little scribbled "forms" saying "I went to that dork thing" so they could prove to their teachers they had been there. (It wasn't a sure bet though: when one kid asked a kind of smart-ass question, I could hear a teacher say "he's not getting extra credit...." in the background.)
The teachers are in the midst of a contract dispute and (if I have this right) are withholding their participation in extra-curricular activities, so the ones who showed up were either really dedicated or risking some kind of "scab" situation. Sadly, this meant that the faculty rock band (yes, that's right) that was scheduled to open the show with one or more King Dork songs didn't show up. Several of the teachers who were there did stand up and read their favorite bits, though. The assistant principal read a Mr. Teone excerpt with considerable enthusiasm.
For my part, I simply played a few songs, as usual, and answered questions. It was great talking to the kids, a pretty good cross-section of high school society overall: geeky guys, semi-nerd girls, some not-at-all nerd-in-any-way girls, quite a few nice normal-looking kids, a hip-hoppy dude who called me "blood," the athletic types clustered in the back. As usual, I recognized most of the "types" even from my own high school experience so long ago. I even got a few of my favorite kind of comment from teens, the one that goes "you really get it, this is exactly what high school is like." There are those who believe that contemporary kids could not possibly relate to King Dork, and it's always nice to know that some of them actually do. I also got what is perhaps the saddest question of them all: "can I get your records in stores?" Sigh.
They did buy quite a few books, too, which kind of surprised me:
The "You Say Read, We Say Party" girls made that sign.
One thing really has changed since I was in high school, though: there was this unbelievable amount of "school spirit." I went to Mills HIgh School, which is down the road from "Cap," and the two schools are
allegedly locked in a fierce rivalry. I crossed out that "allegedly" because when, in answer to a question, I said I went to Mills, the entire room erupted in booing and catcalls. Back in my day, that wouldn't have happened: everyone was too stoned to care about anything, maybe. And as for me, I always thought of my own school as the enemy, which it pretty much was. That school spirit stuff (e.g. where there's this other school somewhere for which you have a bitter hatred and whose football team you really, really, really want to lose) always seemed fake and manufactured by teachers with the image of Ronald Reagan in his yearbook photo vaguely in mind. Granted, in my day, no one would have shown up to this event, either.
To indicate something of my background: the last time I was at Cap, it was late one night in order to use a sharpie to cover a doorway with graffiti in Elvish. Last week. No, actually it was around twenty-five years ago. Time flies.
No this post isn't actually about Office Depot. I just happen to have that song stuck in my head right now.
The big news is that it looks like we finally do have a deal for the film rights to King Dork. I'm not allowed to "release" the details yet, but trust me, said details are pretty juicy. More later, I promise.
In other news, I don't think I ever mentioned here that Random House/Delacorte has indeed bought my second novel-in-progress, Andromeda Klein. Also, I am told that Penguin Puffin has acquired the UK rights to King Dork. I'm not positive yet, but it's likely that the British KD will be a paperback original and will come out, perhaps, in Spring 2007.
Finally, I just noticed that there are only a few days left before the Sept. 30th deadline for public voting for the Quill Book Awards. As I said before, there is some crazily stiff competition, and maybe I don't have much of a chance, but if you haven't already voted, you might as well vote for King Dork. I mean, it costs you nothing. If you can find it in your heart to click here and also here, then by all means, click away.
UPDATE: the Pop Punk Bored kids have some casting suggestions.
I no longer remember how or where I acquired this photograph, but here is the front and back:
Children's/YA author Gail Gauthier didn't much care for King Dork (which is fair enough, of course - some people just don't dig it, and you can't please everybody.)
Even so, in this post she quotes Tom Henderson's attempt to analyze the workings of the high school girl social structure and asks an interesting question:
I keep wondering how teenage girls feel when they see this ["mean girl"] stereotype in a book or movie. Do girls recognize themselves as the head harpy? As the social climber hoping to get the harpy's place? As the loser girl in the bunch? Do they see nothing wrong with this scenario? Do they just assume the author is talking about someone else? Or do they wonder who the heck these people are?
Boys take a beating in a lot of YA books, too, including King Dork. When, say, an adolescent athlete sees his kind described as tormenting and abusing weaker kids, what goes through his mind?
But Gail's question has always bugged me, too: what if you are (or were) one of those people, the "psychotic normal" people Tom complains about? A huge chunk of popular culture, of which King Dork is only the tiniest, flimsiest, most insignificant flake, is devoted to satirizing you and criticizing your behavior. And that must be pretty strange.
when I moved back to the area after being away for almost 20 years, I bumped into some of my school days tormentors. Not a single one has ever been anything but pleasant. If they mention our youth at all they will say something along the lines of "you were such an individual, I really admired that."That is exactly how the conversation goes, always, in that situation. I have a dark, perverse maybe, turn of mind, and I have to admit that I often imagine these people rushing off afterwards to phone up one of their fellow former alpha-sadists (as Tom would say) and secretly rubbing their hands together saying things like "yes! remember when we always used to make the skinny girl/nerdy guy/handicapped kid cry at lunch? Remember how the fat kid tried to kill himself? Good times!" But of course, they don't do that, i know. What do they say to each other, though, really?
Natalie Eve stumbles on a spectacularly loopy review of Veronic Mars on netflix.
(via Bookshelves of Doom.)
Daniel Robert Epstein Suicide Girlses me.
Our increased appetite for non-fiction is a crucial factor in both the inception of A Million Little Pieces and the subsequent persecution of James Frey - a persecution that seems particularly vicious when you consider that a man who is known to have manipulated the story of his own past is allowed to occupy the White House...
--Laura Barton, defending James Frey's honor in today's Guardian.
(via Ytossie Fandango.)
Mr. Young's spiritual path has been rich and varied leading him from the Presbyterianism in which he was raised, through agnosticism, New Age spiritualities with Wiccan and Pagan influences, and back to Christianity through Roman Catholicism with strong Quaker leanings. He's identified most firmly as a progressive Christian humanist and ecumenist, who attempts to promote "critical thinking and intellectual honesty."
Gavin is a 29 degree Taurus with Cancer Rising and an Aries Moon. His Meyers-Briggs rating is either INFJ or ISFJ and he is a Two (The Helper) on the Enneagram. His soul and personality card in the Tarot deck is the Hierophant V.
As I mentioned earlier, my friend Tristin was commissioned by salon.com to write a follow-up to her widely-linked, -forwarded, and -discussed essay about her experience of losing a close friend in the 9/11 attacks. As so often on these internets of ours, the resulting barrage of hostile letters from mostly anonymous commenters resembles nothing so much as a pixel-text manifestation of the Jerry Springer audience's catcalls. (The only thing that would complete the picture, I suppose, is if Tris herself were to contribute a letter reading "do you know me? do you know me? do you know me?") Sad.
For many Oakland residents, the horrifying case of Sandra Tellis has become an emblem of the dramatic increase of violent crime in this city over the last couple of years. She was beaten, tied to "an object" and set on fire in a school parking lot (just three blocks from my north Oakland apartment.) With three months left to go, the Oakland murder rate this year stands at 99, already surpassing last year's record of 95.
I have no idea how accurate the statistic is, but fliers I have seen handed out by angry neighborhood organizations claim that we have the lowest police per capita ratio of any major city in the US. There are those who will tell you that more cops doesn't necessarily equal less crime, but I'll say this: I haven't seen a cop in my neighborhood after dark in months. Maybe they should send some out here or something, just to see if it helps.
Short of that, one thing the Oakland PD is trying, according to this article, is a kind of Let's Make a Deal approach called "Operation Ceasefire":
After identifying the city's top 100 violent offenders, police plan on offering them a choice of continuing their criminal activity and being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, or receiving employment training and other assistance to clean up their lives.Am I crazy, or shouldn't they be prosecuting them anyhow? Why aren't they?
They have set up a medical fund for Sandra Tellis and here is the website.
UPDATE: I just heard on the local news that there were two more Oakland murders this weekend, so we're up to 101.
Hey, remember the Slime Sluts (Robin the MTV-watcher and Super Bimbo)? Well, Robin unearthed a page from their comic book:
I take Dana Milbank's point about skewed Congressional priorities. On the other hand, for some reason that probably doesn't reflect all that well on me, I sure am glad I got a chance to see this sign:
Plus, did you know about H. Res. 912, "Supporting the goals and ideals of National Life Insurance Awareness Month"? Well, you do now.
(via Harry's Place.)
I've come back and read this last entry several times already. It makes me terribly sad, but I keep re-reading it anyway. Alisha Cooke (a.k.a. Ralphie, later Twitch) was my Sam Hellerman. We met in sophomore year of high school and were best friends until freshman year of college. She was loud, always had a plan, and popped anti-anxiety pills with a frequency only rivaled by Hellerman's painkillers. Our band was called:
1.) The Conniptions. (Me a.k.a. Frankie on guitar and vocals, Ralphie on drums, Mikey on bass and narcolepsy. First album "...Have a Fit!")
2.) Tuesday Effort. (Frankie on guitar and vocals, Twitch on drums, Brooke on bass and apocalypse, Arsenal on rhythm guitar. First album "perfectly happy.")
3.) Bottlerocket. (Frankie on guitar and vocals, Twitch on drums and four-track, Miko on bass and unpleasantries. First album never named.)
We had a Hellerman-worthy zine that we cowrote called "Not Since," and we also had a comic book, penned mostly by me with a little of Twitch's help. I guess girl pop-punk little bands are big on comic books. I only got about five pages in, but it portrayed the true story of us trying to get people to buy tickets for a Battle of the Bands we signed up for. (We were kicked off the roster though for not selling enough. What shame as we gave them all their money back.)
At a rate of two shows in total over the course of three years, I guess we at least had one up on The Chi-Mos. (So far.) I also guess we were pretty decent for an all-girl pop punk band. We wrote probably about 15 playable songs in total, and I wish to god I still had our lyric book but it got left at her house the last time I was there, right before she decided to hate my guts and break up the band. That was about five years ago. I do still have our EP-type-thing though, at least. Only three songs, but it's something. I also still have the zine and the part-of-a-comic book. Score!
Last night I put all our band names into that tape generator. It made me happy to see it, even if it's fake. It felt like what could have been.
My friend Tristin lost a close friend in 9/11. When her essay about it was rejected by Punk Planet, I posted it on my blog instead. Five years on, she has now written a sort of follow-up essay for Salon.com.
According to this, page 163 of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces is now worth $23.95.
In the same general sort of ballpark, Robin writes in, with the subject line "My Sam Hellerman...":
...was Anna Wareham. Our band was called the Slime Sluts... Super Bimbo lead vocals, and Robin the Mtv Watcher on keyboards and cassette recorder. First single: Got So Many Bones Now (sung to the tune of I Think We're Alone Now), followed by the Christmas album including the hit "Skate or Die Rock." We even had a comic book! Sad part is, I can't find the recordings anymore. I'm afraid they may have been ruined sometime in the past 20 years. The comic books are still with me though!
Thanks for the laughs. Now I'm trying to find Anna Wareham. Even if we have nothing in common in our old age, she needs to read your book!