Ray and Karl go to writing school

You Or Someone Like You, from The Rumpus

Raymond did not say much. He wrote several stories about dead things. Every living thing that could die and had EVER died on earth, it seemed: bugs, raccoons, zebras and bunnies and people–they all became an undead version of themselves. And pissed off and blood-thirsty versions at that. They would come alive (or become undead, as the case might be) and kill living things (again, all living things). But/and the NEWLY killed things would stay dead.
When we workshopped one of his stories, I asked (I was trying, after all, to help) why the newly-killed people and rats and warthogs and kittens and Lhasa apsos (and so on) did not then become part of the dead/undead menace of killing machines that walked, crawled, slithered, flew or undulated the earth of his stories. It seemed like a valid logic question.
He looked really angry and shook his head like I was a moron and he spoke in a quiet voice that made it sound like he was fighting tremendous rage. Like Billy Jack talked before he kicked the living shit out of a group of yokels. “That’s not how this world works.”

And then

And every one of Karl’s stories were first-person narratives about a guy who was from, at various times, several cities in Europe. He was a coke-dealing bartender in Copenhagen who had logged, yes, a Mick Jagger-esque number of sexual conquests over the years. He was later a coke-dealer/bartender in a hip joint in Paris, and, well…you get the idea.
This main Karl-esque narrator, though, had another character trait that showed up in every single story he did: He wanted to fuck his brother’s daughter. That would be his niece, who was fourteen years old. Every story had the narrator finding ways to visit his brother in Paris and finding creepy ways of being around his niece and, when his niece (thank goodness, for her sake) was not around, he would–again, in every story–slink into her room and go through her things and sniff her panties.

At some point they should start to rub off a little

Thanks to prodding from the Chin Music Press folks, I now have a real live Author Profile at Goodreads. Actually I’ve had it since around the time Where We Know launched at the beginning of 2011, but I just went over to update the picture and a few publications. And I filled in the Influences section.
And I know you’re thinking “Ya right. Carver? Nick Flynn?” Like at some point their influence has to show, right? It’s hard to write them down without sort of feeling a little, I don’t know, pretentious. Presumptuous. Something. To think that if I don’t actually place myself in the same circle as these writers, that I am at least aiming toward the general part of the universe where they live. Come on, Ray.
Thing is, it may not show in my writing. Yet. It may never show. But these are the writers who I reach for when I’m stuck, when I can’t remember how to work this thing and I need to be reminded. These are the writers who, when I read their work, sometimes it’s all I can do to not drop the book and start furiously scribbling my own stories.
Influences? Maybe a reach. Inspiration? I’ll take that.

I’ve been punched in the face

I don’t recommend it. Not as foreplay, not as a pre-condition for love, or the cost you pay for having having a roof over your head, or the consequences of mouthing off to the wrong guy on the street.
I think most people know this and think of it as common sense. I know that common sense does not always prevail.
Despite the reconstructive dental work and the scars, I can even joke about this topic on occasion. I think other people are capable of joking about it too without it being prima facie evidence of their ignorance or callousness. I wouldn’t presume to know what is in their head or to lecture them from afar.
[Comments closed. I don't feel like getting into it. I just had something I wanted to say. If you're my buddy and you want to talk, you know where to find me.]

Rage attacks are rarely helpful

So, yeah, NabeWise is kind of a grody hipsterish web site. And at least one of their employees is probably pretty damn clueless.
Was their email insulting? Yeah. Disrespectful to the people who lived through or died in Katrina? Pretty much.
Did me teeing off on her like I did and then posting it here do anything to make it any better, or make the world a better place? Probably not. It made me feel better for about 15 minutes. And then it made me feel worse.
I was having a bad day and was angry at people who I can’t yell at, and people around me would be really hurt by my unloading on them, and right then this hapless hipster from New York happened to wander by, and, well, target acquired.
I should do better than this.

NabeWise, American idiots, and Katrina Rage six years later

Got this in my email:

Dear Ray,
I’m reaching out to you regarding one of your photos. We’re building a website, NabeWise.com, that helps people who are moving figure out the best neighborhood for them.
We’re working on compiling the best visuals for the New Orleans area right now, and I’m writing to ask if you’d be willing to let us use one of your photos of Village de L’Est on NabeWise and our partner sites.

Village de L'Est

We’ll give you attribution and you’d gain some exposure from the ever-growing traffic on our site.
We are a bootstrapped startup, so unfortunately we do not have any money to pay. We are just calling on photographers who have great neighborhood shots and want to get their names out there or just want to share their work. If you are ok with us highlighting some of your work please let us know. We hope to hear from you!
Katie Przybylski
Senior Editor

And this, my lovelies, is the photo they wanted to use. Taken on August 18, 2006, less than a year after the storm:
Village de L'Est
This is my response. I’m cranky today and got my WWAD on:

You must be out of your fucking mind. Did you look at that photo? Did you look at the date? Does “Hurricane Katrina” ring a bell?
Do you see the X painted next to the door of that house? It was painted by Search and Rescue teams looking for bodies. That “0″ at the bottom of the X means that they searched the house and did not find any dead bodies. And you want to use it on a real estate site?
In case you were wondering, here’s a map of where more than 1,000 of those bodies were found after the storm and were still being found a year later when I took that picture:
If you’re wondering where Village de L’Est, it’s on the upper right. Count the dots. Those are dead people.
You do not have my permission to use this or any other photo of mine.
Good luck on your “bootstrapped startup.” You’re going to need it if this is what you think startup execution looks like.

So yeah, it’s kind of a mess

Most of my blog templates got kind of whacked when we upgraded to MT 5, so I’m having to do some redesign, which is something I’m lousy at and something I hate doing. So links will be broken, stuff will be missing, etc etc, for the foreseeable future. The both of you ought to go find something else to read. I spend way more time on Twitter these days anyway.

Running Away

I’m back in The Rumpus, this time in their Readers Report Back From…Running Away. Scroll down, it’s the last one. Or better yet, read all of them. I really love this series. A writing prompt, a 400-word limit, and usually less than a week to work on it, so you get pieces that are tiny and raw and direct. And most Rumpus readers are also writers, and they’re smarkle, as The Boy likes to say.

Also sobriety

From Bluets, by Maggie Nelson:

I have been trying to go limp in the face of my heartache, as another friend says he does in the face of his anxiety. Think of it as an act of disobedience, he says. Let the police peel you up.

I fucking love this book.