Jerry Stahl (another "narco memoir" author who has appeared on Oprah and also wrote the genius-level novel Perv-A Love Story) has written a very funny and somewhat scathing essay about the AMLP shenanigans. Had me laughing out loud, and frequently. Here are a few samples from the bit:
"That is to say, I may experience the despair and soul-death of a man who has knocked over convenience stores — though, technically, if you’re going to go all Smoking Gun on my ass, I was held for shoplifting M&Ms. Peanut.
The kind that feel like little skulls between my pain-racked teeth. The chocolate mushing to bloody brown with every bite. Blood. Mouth. Peanuts.
Okay, okay. Fuck the bullshit. I wasn’t exactly arrested. There was a security guard, in a turban. Whom I turned into a cop for dramatic purposes. And fuck you if you think I need to embellish my super-bad criminal status by describing how I smacked him in the face with the jerky rack. Jerky everywhere.
Preserved meat. Which I ate off the floor on all fours. Like a wolverine . . ."
"Haters like to make a big deal out of whether I really murdered the rabbi who asked me to take the dreidel out of his pocket and cup it. Maybe I did. And maybe I didn’t. You smoke crack and guzzle brewskis under a parked bus for two weeks and see how your fact-to-fantasy ratio shakes out."
Here's the link (you have to scroll down after you get there): Free James Frey!
Also, here's an interesting article about another acclaimed author. The article pitch- "Did a struggling white writer of gay erotica become one of multicultural literature’s most celebrated memoirists — by passing himself off as Native American?"
And the link (scroll down again): Navahoax
Avant Garde DNA-
A few days ago this, over at the Mondo Bizarro forum, I received an unexpected post from hyper-cyber-avant-garde-David-Bowie-acclaimed-author Kenji Siratori:
"Jeremy Robert Johnson, you mash-up the apocalypse head of a drug fetus and brew the genetic code of guerrilla=sex."
Which is weird, because I've always kind of felt that way about myself but have never been able to articulate it.
I will, of course, create a T-shirt utilizing the quote. Too great not to.
Rust and Bone-
So, a while back I saw an ad for a fiction collection called RUST AND BONE by Craig Davidson. I noticed the acclaim it was receiving from folks like Bret Easton Ellis and Clive Barker. I maximized the cover image for the book and saw that Chucky P also had some kind words for the work. "So," I thought, "this is the other guy." I knew Chuck had blurbed two books in 2005, but wasn't sure what the other one was. Turns out RUST AND BONE is a dark literary fiction collection from a guy with a background in horror. Sound familiar?
I got my grubby mitts on a copy as soon as I could and by then end of the first story I realized this guy was the most exciting new author I'd read since Cody Goodfellow. Craig Davidson (whose highly amusing blog can be found here) is "realer than Real Deal Holyfield." Were I to continue to quote that delightful rap couplet I'd also say, "and now you hookers and hos know how I feel" but that's always seemed a bit redundant to me, despite the delightful rhyme cadence and important message.
Back on point- Davidson has delivered a hell of a first book. Odds say you'll love it. You can check out more details and see a rather rambling review from my alter ego S.P. Doyle over at:
RUST AND BONE at Amazon.com
Hell, you could buy a copy of ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE with it and get Super Saver shipping and all that. Wouldn't hurt my feelings.
Okay, pimping done, I'm off to brew the genetic code of guerilla=sex, and then maybe I'll eat some sourdough toast. That sounds fun.
Kill all machines,
Go. Make sure your clothes are weather-appropriate and get the hell out.
I did it, at around 2:30am, this Wednesday morning, and it was great. I'd spent five hours straight in my midget-box office, typing away at short stories, blogs, message boards, emails, etc. My wife is working out of town and the place was (and is) Capital L Lonely and feels quiet even with my computer pumping out tunes. The rain outside has been near torrential and has rendered my life into a series of boxes. Apartment to car to grocery store to fast food joint to Post Office to home, etc.
This place, my brain, the patterned but effective lifestyle- all gone stale. So I grabbed my keys and got out. But where to go?
Anywhere. Just walk. Just breathe. Pull some fresh air into your lungs.
I spent half an hour trolling the streets, in the rain. Gallivanting. Being a flaneur (I think that's the word). I saw one other human being. We nodded at each other and kept walking. TV's flashed through a lot of the windows. The only screen I caught was selling air filters with seven layers of protection.
Seven layers of protection. You know, for the boxes we live in.
The rain picked up its force. I started to soak and turned back towards my place. On the way back I stopped and touched the bark of a tree. What kind of tree, I don't know. I'd check Google but that seems so against the point. It was the kind of tree that was rough and thick and huge and will outlive me, and I could barely see the moon through its branches and the thickening clouds.
Before I reached home, I heard a noise. Like industrial bird song. Beautiful but metallic. As I got closer I realized it was water running and pressurizing through pipes on the outside of a building. I stood and listened to the song and its rusty melody and imagined a nice drumbeat boom-bapping under it.
The noise ceased as I walked away. Kind of perfect, this tiny performance.
And that kind of shit is happening everywhere, right now. It's not huge, but it's something different. It's something I can't fucking Google up.
My hair is still wet with the rain as I type this. I'm tempted to head back out. I didn't want to write this down, didn't want it to become part of the culture where an experience is only validated if you have fourteen forms of digital files notating its existence, blog included. But I've got a lot of love for the people who read this, and I'm telling you...
Get out of the house.
So, you may have noticed a change over at JRJ.com. When you click on the handy Blog icon on the menu, it brings you here, to my newfangled Blogger page. I've outsourced my blog for a few reasons- ease of interface, presentation (I think this page looks halfway sharp and should improve as time passes), and most of all, the COMMENT option.
I say some ridiculous things in my blog and I've always wanted to give readers a chance to hammer me for my indiscretions in a public forum (aside from, you know, my actual forum). So the next time I say something like, "There's no one in modern Croatian hip hop that's worth listening to!" you can respond with a comment like, "Well, obviously, Mr. Johnson, you've never heard of DJ Zeb and the Dzirn Street Krew." And then we'll all reflect on the brilliant discourse and laugh like kings with mouths half-filled by mutton!
Of course, you don't have to be contradictory... any kind of comments will be welcome.
And no, I still have no idea where the name for the blog comes from. I was drunk when I came up with it and have kept it out of a vague sense of nostalgia, despite its silliness. I suppose it has vague connotations in either sci-fi, math, or hip hop territories. But I've never once written a blog anywhere near the basement. I've done some other things in the basement, but that remains under lock and key (and some of it is under quicklime). What happens in the basement, stays in the basement...
Oh, and for anyone who really enjoyed the old blog entries, they've been archived here at the Blogger page, all under January 2006.
ADA For Collectors-
There are only 16 copies of the "Old, No-Palahniuk-Quote-Having Edition" of Angel Dust Apocalypse left in the known galaxy. 6 have been shipped to my friend John and the remaining 10 are with me, available for purchase at my website. There are less than 300 of these in print, so it may be worth a couple more bucks on eBay some day.
Pick one up if you're interested in having a copy that'll prove you were down for Bizarro work before it was lauded by one of the World's Best Authors (caps and title inserted subjectively by blog-writer). Just indicate "Old Version" in the inscription zone during purchase. These are likely to go quick, so establish a false sense of urgency... NOW!
(Update: "Old Version" copies have dwindled since this announcement, so the sense of urgency could now be considered genuine if this sort of thing is up your bookish alley.)
2005 Top Five Lists
My lists will involve what I call "the cheating," meaning that not all picks will actually have been created in '05. Last year is just when I happened to come across the item.
Oh, and if there were any doubts about how truly un-hip my taste is, these lists should serve as a permanent confirmation. What can I say? Maybe my near-thirty status is starting to show through. Or maybe I've always been a nerd. Probably the latter.
1. Radiant Dawn/Ravenous Dusk by Cody Goodfellow- HP Lovecraft meets David Foster Wallace meets James Ellroy meets Robert Ludlum meets Alan Moore meets... okay, enough of that. What I'm trying to say is that this guy has skills and you need these books. Plan on losing some sleep once you're addicted to this epic chunk of madness.
2. Off Season by Jack Ketchum- One of the most balls-out and lyrical examinations of human darkness I've ever read. Plus, there's some mid-book trickery that will shock you. That Ketchum was capable of pulling off such a nasty coup still amazes me.
3. A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli- This book sucks you in from the opening sentence and pulls you deep into a mutant southern gothic that's often poetic, sometimes surreal, and always engaging. It's like someone slipped absinthe into your moonshine.
4. Porno by Irvine Welsh- Being back in the presence of Sick Boy and Begbie made me giddy and nauseous, respectively, but always with a smile on my face (okay, except for that scene with poor Spud and the bar-slag- that's just nasty). Plus, seeing characters from Glue added into the picture helped to further define Welsh's sick and wonderful world.
5. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk- "Shooo-rook!" From the heartbreak of tales like "Post-Production" and "Exodus" to the straight-out existential horror of "Hot Potting" and "Ritual" this was the year's most enjoyable horror collection.
Honorable mentions include Blood Father by Peter Craig, Play Dead by Michael A. Arnzen, and The Troublesome Amputee/The Horrible by John Edward Lawson.
1. Brokeback Mountain- Forget the words "gay cowboys." That's boring. Really. Just know this- Brokeback is one of the finest representations of love, longing, and loss ever committed to film. Beautifully written, beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and brutal in its emotional implications.
2. Syriana- When's the last time you spent an hour after the film just trying to sort out the plot, but finding the act gratifying? A smart, gritty, and surprisingly even-handed examination of the geo-politics of oil (and a rewarding character study).
3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang- Fast, funny post-modern noir (PoMoNo?) with a real love for the genre and one of the best recent performances from Robert Downey Jr.
4. Ong Bak/Kung Fu Hustle- Hell, both these movies made me want to take up martial arts again. Tony Jaa is like the love child of Jackie Chan, David Blaine, and Jesus. I'm pretty sure he's not even human. And KFH is pure cinema, the sort of thing that feels new but presses the old buttons that made you love film in the first place.
5. Wolf Creek- Yeah, you might think there were a lot of other films worthy of a top five spot, but I've got to hand it to Wolf Creek for sheer effectiveness. I cared about its protagonists more than any other batch of horror flick kids in recent memory, and I started grinding my teeth and having rapid palpitations as they were dragged further and further into their outback hell. Sharp cinematography, too. I don't want to watch it again, but I respect it.
Honorable mentions include Munich, Ju-On, and A History of Violence.
1. Frances the Mute/Scab Dates by The Mars Volta- Did anyone else even try to rock this hard in 2005? Okay, so they got a little indulgent on Scab Dates (who really wants to listen to ten minutes of backstage noise through LSD filters?) but when they hit those high points, there's no-one else I'd rather be listening to.
2. Saul Williams Fader Album by Saul Williams- Saul channels his poetry into more musical structures and adds a new punk energy and aggression. "Shakespeare," his collaboration with Zack De La Rocha, kept me going through four months of harsh marathon training. "When they tell you to achieve, ask yourself, 'Is that for them or for you?'"
3. Vheissu by Thrice- The singer learned how to sing but didn't forget the power of a guttural scream, the songs got even more complicated (but somehow more song-like than their prior work), they donate album proceeds to Eggers' literacy program, and the songs all contain a real sense of urgency in favor of human transcendence. Ambitious without over-reaching, this is a very positive slab of punk-metal energy.
4. A Healthy Distrust by Sage Francis- Every time I listen, I pick up a new genius line. Whether rapping about politics, relationships, or a hip hop battle between the sun and the moon, Sage is furiously on point in his best work to date.
5. Hell's Winter by Cage- I never thought Cage would come anywhere near one of my favorites lists, but something must have happened to him when he went through that mushroom coma (or whatever trauma hit him). His Def Jux debut is so full of neck-snapping beats and sharp lines that I have to give him props. The old Cage was content to offend with nasal tales of drugs and misogyny. The new Cage is flexing a variety of flows on topics like his jacked-up childhood and the "war on terror" over ridiculously hot beats from El-P, Camu Tao, DJ Shadow, and RJD2, among others.
Honorable mentions include With Teeth by Nine Inch Nails, Arular by MIA, Black Dialogue by The Perceptionists, Leviathan by Mastodon, and B-side and Rarities by Deftones. And the best live show of the year was incontestably Ozomatli at the Kauai Convention Center, followed by The Mars Volta at The Rose Garden, The Perceptionists at Doug Fir, and RJD2 at Holocene.
2005 will be a tough year to leave behind. Somehow in the last twelve months I managed to have two books published, run a marathon, get married, and get a literary quote from one of my heroes. In 2006 I'm going to have to get four books published, run an ultra-marathon, move to Utah and marry some more people, and get James Ellroy to co-write a book with me.
I'm going to need some benzedrine, for starters. I better get moving.
And thank you to all the wonderful friends, family, and readers who made 2005 such an incredible year.
Let's make 2006 The Year of the Lazer! (Hint: this will involve lazers!)
I need another drink,
TEL : Stories is a new anthology edited by Jay Lake, two time World Fantasy Award finalist and 2004 John W. Campbell Award winner. The basic premise of the antho is that "great style makes great literature."
Yeah, I have a story in it ("Last Thoughts Drifting Down") and I'm excited to have it included alongside fiction by folks like Forrest Aguirre, Greer Gilman, and Jeff Vandermeer.
This batch of stories is fresh out of the oven and already receiving very positive reviews, which I will now indicate the presentation of using what most folks call a colon (looks like this ':') :
"Elegant, erudite and strange, TEL:Stories is a remarkable anthology, containing much to enchant, perplex and terrify."
—Liz Williams, author of Snake Agent
“In some cases, the style is challenging enough that the reader is likely to experience an ‘A-ha’ moment when, well into the story, the style's role in the fiction as a whole is suddenly understood. Jeremy Robert Johnson’s ‘Last Thoughts Drifting Down,’ exemplifies this approach, gradually revealing the narrator's identity to powerful effect.”
—Rudi Dornemann for Rain Taxi
TEL : Stories is also available at Amazon for people who like to shop there.
In a semi-interesting side-note, this publication marks the second re-printing of one of my Nuclear Family stories from Angel Dust Apocalypse. The other two, "Snowfall" and "The Sharp Dressed Man At The End Of The Line," either have appeared or will appear in issues of Verbicide Magazine. Who knew my insane fear of nuclear war would prove so beneficial?
And why won't my fear of clowns yield the same result?
Bizarro Interview at Hail Saten
And yes, there’s a reason he spells Saten that way. Don’t ask me, ask Keene. If you’re reading this much later, check out the December 2005 Hail Saten archives for the interview.
I’m off to Central Oregon to celebrate DMX-Mas with the fam. It’s like Christmas but we celebrate the birth of everyone’s favorite Ruff Ryder by drinking codeine-laced egg nog, riding around the tree on quads, shooting at each other, and saying the occasional prayer to show how deep and conflicted we are. Get at me, dawg!
Hope everyone’s having a lovely holiday season,
Reading Frenzy is a huge supporter of local writers and independent press and Powell’s is, well, it’s Powell’s- the biggest, best bookstore on Earth. I remember being a little guy and asking my parents to drop me off there for four hour stints. Growing up in Oregon, the place has always been a literary Mecca for me, and I’m honored to have my book available there. Where is my book shelved? Check out the substantial Small Press section. I think it’s in the Blue Room, but might be wrong. Like I said, this place is BIG…
And thanks are due to Powell’s fixture Kevin Sampsell for choosing to stock the book. As an aside it’s worth noting that Kevin himself is a respected author and editor and the major force behind indie powerhouse future tense publishing. I hope PDX people interested in the book will head downtown and support their local booksellers. And when you’re there, why not ask when the next Jeremy Robert Johnson reading will be…
Also, issue #15 of Verbicide is now available. For those on the fence about picking up ADA, here’s a great chance to check out a short of mine (“Swimming in the House of the Sea”) and get the best issue of Verbicide yet. Even if you’re not interested in my story (and by the way, what are you doing reading this if that’s the case?) the new issue has an excellent interview with hip hop pillar Chuck D, as well as sessions with Kim Coletta of Jawbox and 40 Oz. Comics creator Jim Mahfood. Verbicide is one of those magazines that gets better with every issue and with their recent expansion you should be able to find an issue in your zone.
All business today,
The wall, for me, was invisible and hovering somewhere around mile 24. And I hit it hard. Blood competition led to abdominal cramping. My left hamstring knotted up. My eyes sunk so far into my head I started collecting rainwater in which sparrows were a-play. It was harsh. But I slogged through to a decent finish time, and was in the upper 25% for a bunch of categories by race end.
And hey, I finished in much better shape than the poor man we now refer to only as “BloodCrotch!” This poor guy, he ignored all the good advice too, and ran the 26.2 miles in gear he apparently forgot to field test. His shorts liner dug out furrows in his crotch so deep they struck red gold, and it was running in garish red rivulets down the back of his legs. Too late to apply the Vaseline at that point, I guess.
But even “BloodCrotch!” finished. Tough to quit a sport created buy a guy who died birthing it. Because of the hubris.
And, yeah, I’m now married, and the wedding was perfect and the honeymoon was even better and that’s all I’m saying about that.
The other big news is something you’ve probably seen plastered all over this site, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. I returned from vacation to find that one of my literary heroes, Chuck Palahniuk of Fight Club fame, and author of one of my top five books of all time (Choke), has given me a quote to use for my collection Angel Dust Apocalypse. The full quote now sits above the cover image on the Currently Available page. I couldn’t be more honored and can only hope that the book will live up to the expectations Chuck’s quote may set for it.
Carlton Mellick III and I have revamped the book design, so copies shipping in the next couple of weeks should begin to feature the quote. We’ve also created this sharp little banner:
And, yes, I do plan on revamping this site soon. It looks like it was designed by two guys with a vague knowledge of HTML who might have been drunk on Steel Reserve (and it was, and they were). Plus, the menu gets all jacked up if you don’t maximize. Look for a sharper JRJ.com by mid-’06.
Oh, and the new PROTECT compilation from Fat Wreck Chords is out, too, and definitely worth picking up. Not only do all sales fully benefit the National Association to Protect Children, Verbicide’s own Jackson Ellis had a huge hand in putting it together. The CD contains 26 tracks from 26 bands including Coalesce, NOFX, The Mishaps, Jawbreaker, Western Addiction, Hot Cross, Bars, and more. You can pick it up here or at places like Amazon.
Okay, enough flim flam…
Jodorowsky Needs to Make a New Film, As Does Aronofsky,
In other developments, the first ever comic adaptation of my work is on its way. Jon Towers, the guy behind The Heart of Abracax (www.jonnyaxx.com) is hard at work on a graphic version of my story “Amniotic Shock in the Last Sacred Place” to appear in upcoming issues of brutally nasty magazine The Meat Socket. From the look of Jon’s early sketches, this is going to be an outstanding envisioning of one of my weirdest stories.
Also, for those interested in a preview snippet from my profane interview with Meat Socket editor Mikhail, head here. The interview will be accompanied by two shorts from ADA, and Issue/Ordeal Five also include written work from other twisted folks like Ed Lee, Jeffrey Thomas, and Peter Sotos. Also featured- the bands Bathtub Shitter, and Crackwhore. No, I’m not kidding.
There are a couple of other cool interviews in the works, but the level of cool involved is to such a degree that I’m held to secrecy. Masons may or may not be involved. Shhhhhh…
For any folks out there interested in a quick way to become an emaciated bird, try marathon training. I’ve just calculated my miles run in the last four months, leading up to the PDX Marathon, and the number comes out to 393. 393 miles! Not including miles logged on my bike for cross training. And during the process I’ve managed to drop 15 pounds from my frame (mostly Black Butte Porter-related belly weight) and 7% of my overall body fat. I’m not quite starvation gaunt, but I am looking more and more like the main alien from Close Encounters. And my resting heart rate is around 40 BPM. It’s like the screwed & chopped version of my old crunk heartbeat, all sizzurped out. It’s okay if you can’t translate that last sentence. All I’m saying is that there have been strong physiological changes related to me running around in circles in the woods. All that time among the trees and now I’m the twig-boy. It’s been fun. It all culminates on Sunday, and after that it’s straight to the opium den!
And to the folks out there who are continuing to rep for ADA, giving copies to their friends, doing Amazon reviews, that sort of thing… I salute you! I couldn’t have predicted it’d be doing this well, and I have y’all to thank for it. Next time you’re headed through Portland the beer and tacos are on me!
Doing Okay With Regards to Vitamin Intake,
August, 5 2005 - Portland Zine SymposiumPortland State University, Smith Memorial Center Ballroom, SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97201 Author Jeremy Robert Johnson will be representing Scissor Press at the Portland Zine Symposium 2005. The PZS will be held on August 5, 6, and 7 on the campus of Portland State University, and Jeremy will be giving away hundreds of copies of the latest issue of Verbicide, as well as regaling Symposium-goers with wild tales and crackpot conspiracy theories. He will also surely have copies of his newest books on hand. For more information, visit www.pdxzines.com.
So that's about that. Verbicide's an awesome internationally-distributed mag that features music, literature, culture, poetry, reviews, the whole big stew. And I'm proud to be shilling for them at the zine fair. PDX people should come say “Hi” and grab some free loot. I'll have copies of ADA there, too. And if you want, I'll do palm readings. Or I'll just stare at you and then fall over. Depends on the room temperature.
And I’ve recently learned, via a device I like to call “the electronic mail” (it resides in my very computer!), that Carlton Mellick III and Rose O’Keefe will also be at the zine fair spreading the word about Bizarro. If all goes well we’ll be sharing a table and maybe a pizza.
In other news, I have to report that there have been several winners of the “contest” on page 180 of ADA, and the promised points and free books have been distributed via a system I call “the olden-tyme mail.” The contest has been a fun way to find out that not only are people reading my inane author’s notes, they’re also well-read regarding famous physicists. So there’s that.
Also, I’m happy to say that I’ve recently been invited to contribute my weird fiction to a couple of interesting anthologies. I’m not sure how much I can say about either, but I can tell you that one will also feature the work of the incredible Cody Goodfellow and a couple of other very cool contributors. And I can also tell you that my invite to the second anthology was later revoked when it was revealed that a.) I don’t want to write about unicorns and orcs and b.) I don’t know how to write and can barely speak English (or Elvish). Regardless, two anthology invites in two weeks means that the mainstream is starting to pick up on Bizarro work and artists, and it makes me feel all cuddly like a Pegasus/unicorn/panda cross-breed that soars on butterfly wings. Wow, maybe I can do fantasy!
And finally, I have to note that the aforementioned Cody Goodfellow has written a couple of awesome books that are wholly worth your attention- Radiant Dawn & Ravenous Dusk. You can head to their respective Amazon pages, the Bizarro Forum, or my MySpace page to see a full review of both books. Definitely worth checking out.
Unicorns vs. Unicrom-The Final Battle
p.s. Check out the Currently Available page for some strange new music from the Siren Promised release party!
“There, at the foot of the door to Mid-World, Jeremy decided ‘Screw the Tower’ and took a much needed nap.”
The circus is in town so I’m ducking the inane prattle that usually heads off my blog-type materials and getting right to what I like to call “The Biz”:
1. Angel Dust Apocalypse is now available for secure purchase via this website! It’s over at the Currently Available page, with only a Buy Now button between you and said purchase. The upside of picking it up here rather than Amazon is that you get free shipping, the copy is signed (for later eBay sales value), and you can request inscriptions. Want a drawing of Webster molesting a cow? Done! And it keeps the big A’s corporate hands out of my pockets, which means I get a better cut and can eventually afford that skull-piercing I’ve been saving up for.
2. Siren Promised now has a spokesmodel (!) repping it over at the Bloodletting Press site. While I might question the idea of using heroin chic to sell such a surreal, brutal tale of drugs and derangement, I wouldn’t do so for long. Because, hey, when’s the last time Stephen King had a spokesmodel? Jealous, King!? Oh, you are? Oh, okay, sorry, that was rude of me. At top, as a consolation, I present my personal spokesmodel shot for the Dark Tower series.
3. It’s Bizarro time! You may have noticed the new link to the Forum. Hell, you may have even clicked on it. It’s the gateway to the heart of Bizarro-land, wherein several writers of the bizarre have joined forces to… well, we’re working on that part, but I’m pretty sure global conquest or the acquisition of a great deal of sugar is somehow in the works. You’ll be hearing more soon. And by “more” I might just mean “me singing songs about a Delorean (aka That wingy-car made with coke money)” or I might really mean more.
That should cover things for now. I’m off to the circus to put the pain to some clowns. Hate me some clowns, I do.
With greasepaint on bloody knuckles,
Allergy season is here. Trees and grasses and flowers are all ejaculating poisonous motes into the air, and unless I want to start rocking a Jackson-style surgical mask, I’m breathing this noxious junk in. And on a windy day like this, I’m praying for a rain to rush in and wash all this floating nastiness into the gutters. This is Portland, so my prayers should be answered any time now. I’m wasting your time (and, hey, the point of most blog-type content is time wasting, so don’t complain, or do, but only vocally so I never know) with this info because I want you non-allergic folks to understand how lucky you are. You can breathe this same air, swallow up deep lungfulls of it, like it was just air. I take a deep breath of the exact same air and my head fills up with great writhing slugs of snot and my eyes are pepper-spray red. Makes me want to Agent Orange every green growing thing in my perimeter… but enough lamentation… Watch out! Here… comes… the…
MEDIA BLITZ!!! Put your Propaganda Hat on (yes, the one with the bells) and take a fanciful tour through the halls of modern marketing! Peruse the many hyperbolic review quotes that now parade their way across the Currently Available page! Watch my skull expand as I start to believe my own hype! Check out the awesome reviews of Siren Promised and Angel Dust Apocalypse at Horror-Web! Or let your eyes take in the majesty of Verbicide editor Jackson Ellis’ review of ADA over at Amazon (which will also appear in Issue #14 of his mag)! Wait for the upcoming review of ADA in Dark Discoveries #5! Make your own reviews with refrigerator magnets and bask in their multi-colored alphabetic glory! Blitz over… for now.
Aside from the good reviews, I’m also happy to announce that Angel Dust Apocalypse has been officially recommended for two Bram Stoker Awards (Best Fiction Collection and Short Fiction-“The Sharp Dressed Man at the End of the Line”), the highest honor given by the Horror Writers Association. 2004’s nominations includes folks like Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Chuck Palahniuk. The idea that I might make it onto the 2005 ballot, well, it almost makes up for the fact that the planet is trying to kill me. Wish me luck…
And in the biggest news of the week- Siren Promised is here!!! The official hardcover release from Bloodletting Press is now available, and from the copy I’ve received I can tell you that it’s gorgeous. Alan’s art has never looked better. People that pre-ordered copies should be receiving them within the next week. I hope you dig it!
If my allergies get any worse today, I’m going to use my home norepinephrine injection kit. And then I’m going to go bowling and utilize that synthetic adrenaline rush to roll the best game of my life. This is the lamest plan I have ever cooked up, but it’s got a certain charm.
Solidarity, brothers and sisters,
I was attending the 2005 World Horror Convention at The Park Central Hotel (one of those “Whore With Pretty Make-Up” hotels that have a gorgeous lobby and front but rooms fit for cheap affairs and booze binges). I was rolling with the Eraserhead/Raw Dog Screaming crew (Carlton Mellick III, Rose O’Keefe, Kevin Donihe, Andre Duza, John Lawson, D. Harlan Wilson) and we had a fine time pushing books and hefting a wide assortment of beverages. I had a good reading on Friday and also participated in the Celebrity Charity Poker Game (sponsored by Raw Dog Screaming/ promoting Michael Arnzen’s upcoming psycho-poker thriller Play Dead) along with horror masters like Jack Ketchum, F. Paul Wilson, and Tom Monteleone. F. Paul Wilson ended up taking the game, but I finished third, which meant $300 went to my charity of choice, The National Association to Protect Children, a pro-child/anti-abuse organization that you should go check out right now (or later, but seriously check them out; they’re doing great things).
The convention was a blast. The Eraserhead Press table sold quite a few copies of Angel Dust Apocalypse, and it was great to meet so many of my literary heroes (Dallas, Jay Clarke, the ever-manic J. Skipp). It was also cool to meet (and this is a partial list due to booze-related brain damage from the con): Cody Goodfellow, Jeremy Lassen, Matt Schwartz, Steve Vernon, Brian Keene, James Sneddon, Andre Duza, Linda Addison, Kevin Donihe, and a host of others. I can’t wait to get back to New York again.
I also got to visit with my friend Erin who showed me around town but, alas, could not find a way for me to make out with Chloe Sevigny, who was supposedly around, somewhere. Still, Erin, you kick ass. Thanks for taking me out on the town.
Further thanks go out to Jackson Ellis, editor-in-chief of the awesome Verbicide Magazine, and Nate Pollard (of Abstract Fantasy comics fame), for showing up and rocking the spot as if it had been there awaiting a mighty rocking for lo these many years. I shall remember your crackpot conspiracy theories and “tap fury” for the rest of my years.
Also, a quick shot of good news: Angel Dust Apocalypse is selling well and has even hit the Amazon Top 50 on five different occasions since its release. BIG thanks to all the people picking up this psychotic piece of work. I hope you’re enjoying it!
I’m on an awkward sleep schedule that modifies my melatonin to the point where my brain gets this weird pharmaceutical fog over it, like Dinty Moore Beef Stew is all I’ve got floating between my ears. So, if this entry seems particularly disjointed, blame the brain stew.
Once there was an English gentleman who was asked to type a sentence that he believed represented how Americans spoke. He responded with the following: “Fancy a corndog, bro?”
That just makes my day…
Your friend and neighbor,
2005 should be fun year. I’ll be attending the 2005 World Horror Convention in April. And I begin marathon training in July, a month known for its pleasant, balmy, distance-running conducive weather. So at some point this year I’ll probably get heat stroke. I’ve heard brain trauma can be very inspiring for writers so I’m actually looking forward to that.
BIG NEWS for the start of ’05- It’s just been announced that I have won the “2004 Eraserhead Press First Book Contest” for my book Angel Dust Apocalypse. This is a manuscript that I actually sent to them before Siren Promised sold to Bloodletting Press, so luckily I still fit the judging criteria. This book will be out early this year, possibly even before the long-slated Siren Promised. And it’s a doozy. This book pretty much covers every color of my patented “Jeremy Robert Johnson is Effed Up Spectrum.” It should fit in well at Eraserhead’s stable, home of the notorious Carlton Mellick III novel Satan Burger. For more early info, head here.
Also on the slate for 2005- trying to prevent the Bush administration from killing Social Security. I’d prefer to not think of the Boomers as a bunch of clear-cutting parasites. Or at least I’d like to make sure my parents still get their benefits when they retire some twenty years from now. Look back at the last sentence. Look closely at the tiny space between the “w” at the end and the period that follows. That little space right there is one hundred times larger than my trust for Wall Street privatization schemes. Didn’t the base populace already take it deeply enough up the ass on the fabulous “Tech-Boom”? So I’m writing my letters and making calls and signing petitions and doing all the things that are supposed to make the democratic process so great.
I’m trying to stay optimistic. All civilizations eventually fall, but I’d prefer if this one not fall right on us and our children. Let’s move this out a couple of generations and teach our kids to live sustainable and ethical lifestyles and maybe when this ship goes down we’ll have some well-crafted lifeboats. Because if things go belly-up now, or in the next thirty years, well, I just can’t picture it being too rosy.
There’s some mixed-metaphor lefty chatter for y’all. Not what you came looking for, but it’s what you got.
I have grown a beard. It’s pretty shaggy and less writer-riffic than it is transient-tastic. I’m tempted to shave it but it seems to actually be keeping my face warm, of all the wonders.
Hopes for the new year? Pretty much the same as last. Health and happiness for friends and family. Musical success for my friends Mike and Max. More time to spend with my bad-ass nephew, Ryan, who is sweet at crashing toys into other toys. A country-wide realization that the Bush administration’s actual policies do not forward a “Culture of Life.” Asia Argento’s phone number would be nice, too.
Plus, it’d be cool if DIO revived his “Sacred Heart” tour and brought the mystic metal show to P-town. Dragon included. That’d be the best.
aDIOs, por la noche,
JRJ (who on top of not knowing Latin also manages to not know Spanish and is thus multi-unlingual)
Moving to Portland, OR- “What,” you ask, “Salem wasn’t good enough for you?” No, it wasn’t. A city composed almost solely of strip malls, jails, mental institutions, and cookie-cutter suburbs is not good for anyone. Okay, so LeGuin wrote about it as idyllic, but that was a long time ago, and you’ll notice, she moved. To Portland.
I followed her lead, and I’m enjoying the honeymoon phase with my new home. It’s rainy here, gloriously rainy, which means I don’t have to be confronted by the giant nuclear explosion in space that many refer to as “The Sun.” I’m living in a cool, old three-story house and the roommates keep me in the attic. I ask them to send up cakes. They do not respond.
There are a lot of bookstores here, and you can drink beer in the theaters, and the young people don’t look so much like they’re dying from meth. Here, they’re dying from being hip i.e. Walking in front a mass transit bus which they did not see (because their shaggy, black, and purposefully unkempt hair and tattered copy of Tropic of Cancer kept them unaware). Not that I’m immune to hipsteritis. I’ve started wearing more black t-shirts. I tell myself it’s to slim the burgeoning belly created by drinking beer in theaters, but that’s probably a lie. I’m really hoping that Suicide Girls will hit on me.
And here’s a shout out to the nice lady at New Beijing. Thanks for making the General Tso’s just right.
Going to the Burn- Burning Man ’04, The Vault of Heaven. I’ll have pictures up soon, I swear. Burning Man melted my brain. I’ve tried, often, to convey the experience in words, but they tend to pale. And I’m not short of the damn words, here. This was the most fun I’ve ever had in a totally barren desert environment that humans should be smart enough to stay away from. A genuinely other-worldly experience. Where else can you molest a Theremin-alien, bike ride through a twelve-story dust storm, hear an aria, get a lesson in astronomy, play a tiny wooden flute inside a giant domicile made of white balloons, and reconfigure space-time and the consequences of death through the yellow fluid-miasma of existence, all in under two hours? Okay, that last one may not have actually happened, but it felt pretty real at the time.
And here’s a shout out to all the Burners. Especially the guy who offered to hit me with a mallet and the lady who showed me how to drink tea out of the giant nose.
Unicorn Business- I had a lot of fun at the 2004 World Fantasy Convention, in Tempe, Arizona. The event was well organized and through the dealers room I managed to finally find a copy of Jack Ketchum’s Off Season (which really was the kick in the gut I’d heard it was). I dressed up like a business man, and even acted like one, too. I handed out business cards and plugged Siren Promised like it was the second coming of Mailer. I got to meet a lot of cool people: Mike Arnzen, John Lawson & Jennifer with Raw Dog Screaming, Allen K., Paula Guran, Ellen Datlow, Tom & Elizabeth Monteleone, Steve & Melanie Tem, Nancy Holder, and more people who I will later feel like a dick for forgetting. Alan M. Clark showed me the convention ropes and bought me a pizza, and Liz Engstrom made me a righteous devil-head necklace that I used as a tie-tack.
I wore pants for the entire event.
And here’s a shout out to all the people who showed up early in the morning for my panel on Collaborations in Horror and Fantasy. Thanks for listening to my jibber-jabber when you could have been across the hall at the Bruce Holland Rogers reading. Hope those who won the free copies of Pain and Other Petty Plots… are enjoying them.
Selling Stories, Sucka- “Dissociative Skills” will appear in the upcoming holiday issue (#6) of the righteous City Slab magazine. I can’t think of a less Christmas-y, more vulgar story in my meager canon. That said, happy holidays to all the City Slab readers out there. I hope yule love the tale. Keep your Christmas stocking close by in case you lose your lunch. Good God.
Also, “The Gravity of Benham Falls” will be part of Triple Tree Pub’s Ghosts at the Coast: The Best of Ghost Story Weekend Vol. II, which is going to be a great book for ghost story fans (like me) and people who like stories with the word “gravity” in the title.
And here’s a shout out to all the editors currently cringing their way through a story of mine. Buy it up, pals. You know you like it. Send me money; I’m runnin’ out of cakes and pants.
Shepples (aka JRJ)
“I just… sob… I just never believed… sob… that I could be chosen. I’m gonna be a swan… sob… a beautiful swan. Now chop this thing off of me.”
Before you know it I’ll be wrapped up like a mummy with half my ass injected into my lips. The glory, the sweet, stapled glory of it all.
Actually, I was stoked to see “The Swan” and “I Want a Celebrity Face” airing this month. Gives me a bit of the old Nostradamus complex, since my story of televised surgical freaks, “The League of Zeroes,” hits bookstores by the end of this week. It’s in the new Verbicide #11, which also features interviews with The Shins, The Descendents, and Tiger Army.
Not much news to report, now that I’ve begun work on my first solo novel. I’d tell you more but, really, I should just be working on it right now, instead of writing this entry.
I recently caught The Mars Volta in concert and I’m still trying to reconstruct my brain. People used to associate Zeppelin’s live shows with the word blitzkrieg. I’ve created a new word, far more devastating than blitzkrieg, solely to be used in describing a live Volta performance: Kramstacktanfronshein! Note on pronunciation- should be yelled as loud as possible in a voice so guttural it sounds like you’ve been drinking hot asphalt.
Are you registered to vote yet? November isn’t that far away. Especially if you live near wormholes. Not earthen wormholes of course, but those tear-in-the-fabric-of-time-types. They speed things up like Newtonian Mini-Thins. Don’t let a lack of registration or a time-warp stop you from helping in the upcoming (intensely necessary) regime change.
Also, I’ve added some cool new links on the Elsewhere page.
I’d say more, but I’ve got to get off the net. Somewhere out there, producers are trying to call me, wanting to turn me into a swan.I’m ready for the knife guys. Let’s get to it. Chop-chop.
Your Surgically Jonesing Bro,
Here's hoping that 2004 will hand everyone a basket full of golden eggs (of equal monetary value to whatever you may have lost via the Nasdaq crash and the various public robberies of the Bush presidency).
Here's hoping that Kill Bill Vol. 2 will have its release delayed no later than April.
Here's hoping that it will be much harder to steal the presidency this time around.
Here's hoping that hip hop fans will come to appreciate lyrical quality more than bullet wounds.
Here's hoping that Stephen King wins the Nobel this year, just so I can watch the literati throw another fit.
Here's hoping that I get pictures of my new, grown-out haircut on the website this year, thus ending the questions and speculation about me being a Nazi (which is just ridiculous; I'm the guy that plays the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in slow motion because there's very little as satisfying on God's green earth than watching Nazi's heads exploding).
Here's hoping my friend Mike finally gets his band together this year and saves the airwaves.
Here's hoping my friend Kane finds his way back to Thailand and continues cracking skulls legally.
Here's hoping my baby nephew Ryan learns some words this year, because, seriously, it's hard to carry on a conversation with this kid. Eat, play, and sleep, that's it. The kid's living the unexamined life.
Here's hoping that the resurgence of all things 80's wanes (aside from bands using keyboards again), and that we can all create a new decade instead of recycling the last. This does not apply to a potential reunion of Faith No More.
Here's hoping for more hope, and the action that turns hope into reality.
On the writer's front- much tumult. I've sold four stories in three months (check out the Currently Available section) and Siren Promised is now available for purchase.
The new issue of THE EDGE should be available within weeks, and "Working At Home" has been picked as the Feature Story, meaning Keith Minnion will be doing an incredible cover based on the tale. Keith has been one of my favorite illustrators since the early 90's, so having him illustrate my seething story of parasitic worms is a real buzz. There's a link to his website in the Elsewhere section.
My story "Luminary" will see daylight in the very cool "Darker Than Tin..." anthology. Sales will benefit the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Scholarship Fund which means I've done my one nice thing for the year. I can be rotten for the remainder.
If you haven't already checked it out, "Sparklers Burning" is still available for reading at Horrorfind.com. It's deeply strange... you've been warned.And finally, I just sold "The League of Zeroes" to Verbicide, for publication in Issue #11, May 2004. For those unfamiliar with Verbicide, it's a great combination of music, literature, politics, and culture. It's one of the only places you can find a Ray Bradbury story back-to-back with an interview with Minor Threat/Fugazi founder Ian MacKaye. The current issue features an interview with Mystic River author Dennis Lehane. I can't recommend it enough. And, it's distributed widely, so you won't have to pay for shipping to get it (assuming you've got a Borders a.k.a. Starbooks nearby).
Your Pal, Currently Couched in Superstition and Wary of Witches,
What a mirthful fancy!
Yes, the Fall doldrums are here, wherein I allow an acute but self-denied case of Seasonal Affective Disorder to push me to the brink of madness. Or, at least, the brink of stupidity (the thinnest and most easily trespassed brink I’ve ever met).
Chimcham1903 wrote, asking if I planned to start Blogging on my site soon. Well, Chimcham1903 (if that is your real name), I will resume Blogging once the damn Bgovernment rolls back all this red tape about their precious Bspotted Bowls. But only then will the Blogging commence. Until then, the Rarely Visited Self-Congratulatory Author Website Squad & The Precious Coalition for Northwestern Blogging will be at the legislature’s collective throat, demanding that Oregon welcome and embrace the Blogging that served it for so long.
Actually, I just don’t Blog because I don’t. Might someday. Maybe if I can get a hold of some extra daylight.
GOOD NEWS: "Working At Home," my fast, gruesome tale of parasitic worms and the doctors that love them, has been sold for publication in issue #18 of THE EDGE: Tales of Suspense. Look for the issue to hit the stands in January of 2004.
Also, I’ve got the latest update on my long-awaited collaboration with Alan M. Clark, Siren Promised. The book is complete and due for publication in Fall of 2004. Published by Bloodletting Press (www.bloodlettingbooks.com ), Siren Promised will be available in limited and lettered hardback editions. Both editions will feature new art from Alan M. Clark. The lettered edition will include a handcrafted steel traycase. Alan’s incredible cover art for the book is done, and I will post it to the site the moment it’s available. Stay tuned for more info as the book’s release date approaches.
As a final note, I’ve been learning about writing techniques from the esteemed Eric M. Witchey, and have taken to heart his advice about the alpha-wave conducive hypnogogic states that account for the best writing. As a result, this entire journal entry was written while napping.
Hit the snooze button one more time,
Strangely enough, I’m eating a cold turkey sandwich right now. The soda I’m chasing it with doesn’t have the satisfying, syrupy kick of Robi, but it’ll do. It’ll do. (subject sighs, twitches, prays he develops a cold).
On the upside, within eight days of writing this entry, the initial draft of Siren Promised will be complete. There are thirteen chapters in all (they’ve even been placed in sequential order), and I’m very excited about the project. I know, I know, even parents with ugly babies are proud, but there’s something about this little novel that has me more jazzed than Bob Fosse.
In other writing news, I sold a story to a magazine that’s suspending printing indefinitely, and was short listed for an anthology that’s been "round filed" by the publisher due to a merger.
The charms of publishing are a wondrous multitude.
On the flipside, Pain and Other Petty Plots continues to put the critics in a critically wowed condition (do you ever type a sentence just to amuse yourself?). Cemetery Dance #43 even features two very positive reviews, one of which contains the sentence "’Amniotic Shock in the Last Sacred Place’ spotlights a horror-filled pediatric wing that Jeremy Robert Johnson has now seared into my mind forever." You should know that I used to read CD under the covers, with a flashlight, back when I was a wee laddie. So, you can guess how great it was to see my name, in a positive context, in the hallowed pages where I first discovered Ed Gorman, Joe Lansdale, etc.
The ego had briefly gone interstellar. I was so excited I put down my bottle of Robi and took a shower. It was glorious.
I’ve become inane. Thus, I bid you adieu. Which is French, I think, for "goodbye". Or perhaps, knowing the French, "go away".
The drug memoir is a smart move. Jerry Stahl had Permanent Midnight, Wurtzel had her Prozac thing going, this Frey guy is blowing up with his crack smoking journal, and J. Carroll did the heroin bit to perfection.
And, most of these books get the romanticized cinematic treatment, wherein the drug use is incredibly fun for the first sixty minutes, before the inevitable descent into pathos and pain, and "oh, gee, I can’t believe I’m making gay porn in front of my neglected children while my eyes are bleeding due to my tear duct heroin injection techniques."
So, Costco’s got crates of Robitussin DM on sale right now. My credit card limit just got bumped up. Magic in the making? Maybe.
Writer news? Well, there’s a very exciting contract on the table for Siren Promised, but I can’t divulge the details until I put the ink to the paper. I can say that Siren Promised may be my first book to see deluxe hardback treatment, which is a kind of special and significant joy to me.
Danimal12 from Bisby asks why I don’t swear in my journal entries (his perplexity stemming from the pervasive presence of vulgarity in many of my short stories).
Well, Danimal12, I have a simple answer. This website, much like the Wu-Tang Clan, is for the children.
Keep it crunk, children. Keep it crunk.
(And to MSexxxktty420 from Akron, Yes, I did get your e-mail, and yes, they are my “real” elbows in all of the photos. I’ve actually considered having them reduced, because women seem to pay more attention to my elbows than they do to me, and that can cause a hurting, inside, where the heart is.)
Where have I been during the long months between journal entries? So nice of me to ask.
On the writing front, I’ve been working diligently on Siren Promised, my first full size book due out in January of 2004. Progress is steady and with each completed chapter the book gets longer. I’ve been writing it in English, so I think those that speak the language will have an even greater appreciation for the material. That’s about all the details I can give you right now. I’d post a sample chapter, but those bootleggers, man, they can’t wait to get their no-intellectual-property-respectin’ mitts on it to make a dollar and a cent. Goin’ out like suckers
My last collaboration with Alan M. Clark, Pain and Other Petty Plots to Keep You In Stitches has now hit the market, and you can get it at Alan’s site or via Amazon. Check out this site’s Currently Available section for links. So far the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I hope you dig it, too (if you’re really buzzed off the goods, spread a little of that joy around the Amazon reader reviews).
On the stranger side of things, my twisted tale of acid overdose, Catholic ravers, and obsessive compulsive disorder a.k.a. "A Number of Things Come to Mind" did not win the 2002 Pushcart Prize for which it was nominated. However, others who didn’t make the cut this year include two of my personal heroes, David Foster Wallace and Rick Moody (who seems to win every year), so I’m among a fine pantheon of losers. I’m also consoled, in the weirdest way, by the fact that Susan Lucci was nominated 9 times before she won a Daytime Emmy.
Jeremy Robert Johnson, The Pushcart Susan Lucci.
As far as the short story market goes, look for new fiction from me in the near future (which, in publishing schedule time, is actually pretty far away). Things are going well and I’ll post news about a couple of big sales soon!
Did I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Well, I’m not Irish, and I think it’s a little weird to just co-opt some culture’s holiday and slap binge drinking onto it (not that the Irish don’t engage in their fair share of drinking, but you get my point). But, yeah, I did celebrate and it was a Lucky Charmsian good time.
Still, you can’t just add beer bongs to Kwanzaa, can you?
(If you can, the idea is hereby copywritten in digital print. Hallmark, give me a call.)
On a final note, on the eve of war, I also have this to say:
Down with the imperialist monarchy.
I’m not an erudite political writer, but I do know that I didn’t vote for Bush, nor did the majority of this country. He’s like one of those bad kings you see in the movies, where you know he has neither the right, nor the mind for true leadership, and yet somehow he is the king. The people go unheard, strife increases. The king’s mindless ambition, driven by greed and the thirst for power, forces the country into war. To turn our mind away from the king’s ineptitude, the volume is turned way up on any available distractions.
Now, like in the movies, we’re waiting for a real king to step up.
And we’re still waiting, while we coat our babies with duct tape and mainline potassium iodide.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
It’s gonna be great.
For example, I could tell you about the time I took too many yohimbe pills and tried to make love to a bowling ball. But I’m not giving away the golden moments so early in the game.
One thing I promise you. I will not type word one after this moment about my other "money" job with a successful commercial and agricultural lending business. Grass seed and cattle breeding, figure crunching and phone answering. That’s my 9-5 alter-ego for the meantime, until my writing becomes more profitable.
I can’t wait to make that big time "writer money." At this point feel free to picture me typing away with a diamond-encrusted platinum tooth smile. Bling, as they say, followed by a subsequent bling. (I know the majority of writers can concur here, that after that first short story sale it’s all caviar and croquet and witticisms exchanged at the expense of the lower-class while sipping Belvedere in a cocaine-filled hot tub).
Actually, I’m at the stage in my "writer’s life" where I’m happy if my story sales recoup the year’s postage cost. A penultimate bling followed in rapid succession by a final bling.
So stay tuned. And give the site an occasional furtive glance when you’re not busy buying anything I have in print.
2003’s going to be a big year. Until the bomb hits. But let’s not think about that.
Let’s get distracted.