Sunday, November 7, 2010

"In the Kind of World Where We Belong": A story based on "Mike's Love Xexagon" by The Fall, as suggested by writer Thomas Cooper (20/100)

In the Kind of World Where We Belong

I married Ed’s sister a couple of times and now he hates me. He’s a drummer, and when we play together, I have to stand next to him, in the back by the rest of the brass section. If his sister, Cheryl, is singing back up instead of lead, she has to stand next to him, too. He doesn’t like her, either, to be fair. There’s nothing he says one way or the other, no outbursts or sharp words, there’s just nothing. He became fed up with our problems long before Cheryl or I did.

The first time we got married, it was an accident, despite being a good lesson in just how legally binding the state of Tennessee considers drive-thru weddings to be, and the second time was on purpose and sober. Now, Cheryl won’t drink around me, do much of anything around me, and even though she doesn’t hate me as much as Ed does, she still hates me. Other than the repetition and hiccups, the way we got to this point is pretty commonplace: in love, out of love, finish. Cheryl, Ed, and I grew up together and I think we all have different ideas as to what that means we’re entitled to. I thought it meant that it was okay to marry Cheryl, Cheryl thought it meant that it was okay to divorce me, and Ed thought it meant that it was time to leave town.

But, Ed stayed in Nashville, worked at the same job he’s always worked at, lived in the same apartment he’s always lived in. We’re not in a band, really, but we fall into a lot of the same gigs, playing whatever we’re needed for: Latin dance music, small jazz groups, raucous Tejano funk. By the time the dollars trickle down to the musicians themselves, there’s enough for the essentials—food, instrument repairs, cocaine—and that’s it. It’s no way to live. Or die.

Some small label has commissioned us to be part of the backing band on a Beach Boys tribute album. The studio where we’re recording is nice, with beautiful, resonate wood all over the walls and a big open floor, large enough for a small orchestra. They sent the charts to us a couple of weeks beforehand and we’ve done our homework, just like everyone else in the band. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” is up first. Cheryl’s standing around a microphone with four other people, ready to sing her part of the harmonies. Ed’s seated behind his drums, eyes forward and ready to go. I’m on tuba and I don’t come in until about twenty seconds into the song.

Even though an instrumental version of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was playing at the drive-thru chapel where Cheryl and I got married that first time, it’s our second marriage I think of when everyone starts playing. The way I stood there in my tux, ill-fitting as it was, and how Cheryl would gently sink her nails into the soft pink of my hand every time I’d fidget or try to readjust my jacket. The lights were dim, and I remember thinking how much brighter it was the first time, every bulb in the light-up Preacher Elvis looking about to burst. When twenty seconds have passed and I’ve counted all my rests, I inhale and begin to play. The horn fits onto the end of my lips like death. Ed’s eyes remain forward.



The Fall is the name of whoever is currently playing music with Mark E. Smith. They have a thousand albums out and, one time, they made John Peel faint.

Thomas Cooper
lives in New Orleans, so I hope he's into all the sweet sludge metal bands down there. He also writes awesome short fiction. Check out some links to some of his writing here (including the awesome "Scapegoat," which is how I found out about him). Cooper is also a musician and fan of William Gay, so you kind of have to like the guy. Seriously, though, he's one of the strongest voices in all of flash fiction, like if Grace Paley and Amy Hempel were not just dudes, but one dude with a hyper-focus problem, which is to say his stories are clever and wound tightly, with each sentence doing several things at once, transitioning from line to line while composing the guts of the story. Read him.

Next week: A story based on "Brain of J" by Pearl Jam, as suggested by writer Stephen Schwegler.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"When There Is No Road": A story based on "Rock N Roll" by Paleface, as suggested by musician Monica "Mo" Samalot of Paleface (19/100)

When There Is No Road



Paleface is a band from North Carolina. Paleface is also the name of the tall, singing/guitaring man in the band. Mo the name of the short, singing drummer in the band. Their sound is fun and casual, enjoyable without being pointless. Daniel Johnston and Beck both like Paleface, and you should, too. They have a new album called One Big Party, featuring the song this story is based on and other sweet jams. Order it here.

Monica "Mo" Samalot
is a drummer. She is quite nice, rather adorable, and a good musician. She is Puerto Rican, though she relocated to the USA in 1993. Because I don't know much about her, I will just say that 1993 was a great year for black metal.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Mike's Love Xexagon" by The Fall, as suggested by writer Thomas Cooper.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sittin' In: "Double or Nothing" by Eirik Gumeny, as based on the song "Waiting For An Alibi" by Thin Lizzy

Double or Nothing

Ramirez went down in the second. A couple times. He’s standing now, on the ropes, uncertain of his footing, of where he is, but he’s standing. The referee calls it anyway. TKO.


The room erupts, four thousand people on their feet at once, spilling drinks and tossing fight cards, shouting and calling for blood.

I grab Maria’s hand and make a break for the exit.

* * *

Outside the casino, I light a cigarette mid-stride and start, quick, toward the St. James stairs. I can hear Maria behind me, the crowd pouring out of the casino behind her.

“Val,” she says. “Slow down, Val. What the hell’s going on?”

I can hear the staccato of her heels against the boardwalk. I’ve got nearly a foot on her; she’s practically jogging to keep up.


I ease up, just enough to let her know I heard, but I’m still moving. Her steps are staggered by vodka and vanity, like Morse code against the salt-stained wood. She’s sending me a message, a broken S.O.S.

I’m halfway to the stairs when she finally catches up. I feel her next to me, her hand warm against mine. I can’t keep myself from slowing.

“Val,” she says.

“Maria . . .” I say.

“Valentino!” says someone else.



I toss what’s left of the cigarette, grab Maria’s arm, and start sprinting.

“God damn it, Val,” she says. She’s furious, stumbling, but she’s running. Right now, that’s good enough.

We fly down the stairs, off the boardwalk and onto St. James. I turn sharp, barrel through the door of some dive bar and collide with a table. I kick it to the side.

“Jesus, Valentino,” says Maria. She’s on one bare foot, removing her shoe from the other.

“The back,” I say, nodding toward the kitchen door.

I can hear the fat man behind the bar shouting.

Maria throws her heels in his face.

* * *

“Valentino,” Maria says, her hand on my back. “Talk to me, God damn it.”

We’re eight blocks from the bar, in the parking deck beneath some boarded up motel. I’m bent at the waist, elbows on the hood of my car, sucking wind and seeing stars. I haven’t had to move like that in years.


“We gotta go, Maria,” I say, my chest heaving. I stand, eyes still swimming. “And then you’re not gonna want to be around me, not for a while.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Things – the fight – didn’t go the way they were supposed to. The way I said they would. And now I gotta get outta here.”

I hit the keychain in my pocket, unlock the doors.

“We gotta get outta here.”

I pull open the passenger side door.

“What did you do, Valentino?” she says, her voice cracking.

It’s not fear, though. And it’s not a question. It’s anger, accusation. She knows me too damn well.

“I fucked up, Maria. Took money from the wrong guys, told them to put it on an even worse fighter.”

There’s footsteps, echoing against the buildings across the street. Voices. They’re not happy.


“Who is that?” she asks.

“No one you want to know,” I answer.

I hit the button for the trunk on the keychain, hear the thunk as it opens. I walk to Maria and take her hands in mine.

“I will never understand why a woman like you is wasting her time with me,” I say.

I kiss her hard. Then I give her the keys.

“You know what kind of shit is about to go down. I don’t want you here for it. I don’t want you to see it, and I don’t want them to see you. You need to run.”

“Val . . .”

“Go. You have to.”

I go to the trunk, lift the door all the way open. I stand, holding it with both hands, and take a deep breath.

“Maria,” I say, “I love you. When you’re around I’m a better person, smarter. I don’t do the kind of shit that gets me into situations like this. All I want is to be with you, a million miles from here, where tonight is nothing but a terrible memory.”

I grab the tire iron from inside the spare and step back.

“But I’ve got to get through this before I can forget it.”

Maria’s standing next to me.

“Maria . . .”

She reaches into the trunk and returns with an aluminum baseball bat.

“I love you, too, Val,” she says, resting the bat on her shoulder, “but I wish like fuck I didn’t.”

Shadows spill down the street, crawling across the opening of the parking deck. We can hear the voices distinctly now. They’re still not happy.

“I wish you didn’t either.”

I can’t keep myself from smiling.



Thin Lizzy is the best band ever.

Eirik Gumeny is a writer from New Jersey. He runs Jersey Devil Press and knows what to do in Denver when you're dead. His book,Exponential Apocalypse, has bad words and pop culture references, which the 15-year-old in me cheers, and great writing, which the English major in me cheers. Place your orders along with the other book JDP released this year: the 2010 Jersey Devil Press Anthology, featuring almost two dozen stories in it, including one by yours truly and one by OBCBYL alumnus yt sumner. Get that one, too. Eirik's favorite pizza topping is victory.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Rock n Roll" by Paleface, as suggested by Mo from Paleface.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Call For Guest Posts

Starting in November of 2011, I'll be posting a new story every Wednesday from a guest writer. Submissions are open to everyone. Unfortunately, I will not be able to accept every story, but I will try to leave unique comments when responding with a rejection.


* Stories should not exceed 1000 words, not including the title (this makes a big difference sometimes, I know).

* Stories must be sent as an attachment (.doc preferred, but I won't snub my nose at .rtf or .docx). Please don't copy your work into the body of the e-mail. If sending more than one story, it doesn't matter if you attach two individual files or combine both stories into one document.

* I'm not too picky on the formatting of the story itself, but don't be a dickhead. Shoot for 12-point Times New Roman with 1" margins unless you have a really good reason not too. I can already tell you that your story does not look better in Comic Sans or Chiller. Also, I don't care if the body of the work is single-spaced with a line break between each paragraph or double spaced with a tab at the beginning of each paragraph, as long as it's readable.

* For the e-mail itself, format the subject line like this: SUBMISSION, YOUR NAME, TITLE OF STORY. (Ex: Submission, Samuel Snoek-Brown, "Orgasm In French"). I don't need a fancy cover letter or anything, but it'd be nice if you clued me in to some information that could be crucial--simultaneous submissions, a bio written in third person, which song your story is based on, etc.

* Simultaneous submissions are totally cool with me, just make sure you let me know right away if someone else has picked up the story. I'm going to try to respond within a few weeks, but response time is usually much shorter than that. Please query if you don't hear back within a month. I'm not interested in previously published work. (And, actually, I think it'd be kind of weird if you just already had a story sitting around that was based on one of the available songs.)

I look for some sort of synchronicity between the story and the song, both lyrically and musically. Sometimes it manifests itself as a glorious retelling of the narrative and sometimes it's a left-field interpretation on some parallel plane of reality. Either one, or anything in between, is acceptable, as along as it's a good story. Let one medium twist itself into another and interpret the song as you see fit. There's that one quote abut how writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and maybe whoever said it is right, but writing through music is a different thing entirely. So do that, instead.

Please send one or two of your most realized, completed attempts at capturing one of the songs below.

Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You

Roky Erickson - Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)

Morphine - Cure For Pain

Lifter Puller - Sherman City

T. Rex - Life's a Gas

Prince - Pussy Control

Floor - Night Full of Kicks

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Moya

Sleep - Dopesmoker

Dinosaur Jr - Tarpit

Earth - Omens and Portents I - The Driver (Taken by Samuel Snoek-Brown)

Thin Lizzy - Waiting For An Alibi (Taken by Eirik Gumeny)

Guided By Voices - I Am A Tree (Taken by Mike Sweeney)

Swans - Failure (Taken by Melina Rutter)

As soon as someone does a story about one of the songs, I'll cross it off and add a new one (so check back every week). When the story goes up, I'll provide a link to it.
Send away, y'all: ryan.j.werner [at]

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"To Be the Sun": A story based on "Farmer In the City (Remembering Pasolini)" by Scott Walker, as suggested by musician Steven R. Smith (18/100)

To Be the Sun

Gabe counted the ten-penny nails in his lower lip. There were two rows, like the base of a pyramid: eleven in a line and then, a bit further away from his teeth, ten more. He had woken up seated at his kitchen, his hands bound behind his back and his lower lip nailed to the edge of his giant oak table. The blinds and curtains were open, but the windows were closed. It was dark outside and the lights overhead were dimmed to a dull yellow.

“You’ll start to get some more feeling back in that lip as time moves on,” John said from behind Gabe.

Drool and blood were pooling together in Gabe’s mouth. He kept moving his tongue forward and pushing out loads of the whole mess, where they fell in long, shiny pillars that crawled downward onto the carpet.

“I’m not the brightest, and I can admit it,” John said. “But I do know what a premonition is. And, since you seem like a man refinement, is it fair to assume you know what that means, too?”

Gabe said nothing and John dropped a hammer onto the table. It landed within an inch of Gabe’s lip, and the tiny vibration cut into his mouth.

John pulled out a chair and sat next to Gabe. “Good. I had one of ‘em, once. It was after you killed my daughter.”

Gabe became omniscient. He knew the things he already knew, that nearly two decades ago he had helped two other men kill John’s daughter. He’d been consumed in a fit of restlessness. Extreme restlessness. Still, it was just a magnification of simple, ceaseless anxiety. And in his omniscience he learned new things. His current position—punishment—and what would come. More punishment. Heavy and soon.

“That premonition I had came after y’all killed her. I thought, ‘Hell, this thing came a bit late. All the bad stuff already happened.’ But then it got worse and worse and I figured that the premonition came just in time.” John cleared his throat. “I began to forget everything except that dream, that crazy dream where I see three guys beatin’ her. I couldn’t remember how to run the thresher. I couldn’t saddle a horse to save my life. There was just that dream.” He kicked his feet up on the table, and Gabe felt another vibration surge through his lip, regaining feeling faster now. He both smelled and saw the cow shit sitting thick and green in the treads of John’s boots.

“Farm’s gone now, like everything else. I like to think if I still had her, I’d still have the rest of it. I can’t prove that, though, you know? I can’t prove that you had anything to do with it, either. A dream don’t hold up in court,” John brought his feet down and stood up. “But I ain’t wrong.”

The kitchen lights were dimmed slowly down to nothing. Gabe remained silent. Within a moment John had taken out a large, wide buck knife and rolled the edge of the blade over Gabe’s lip. The sound was like that of a palm slowly gripping a moist sponge, coiling finger-by-finger into a fist. Gabe fell to the ground and began kicking his legs. He didn’t yell out, but he began to nosh his teeth and sputter out moist noises, producing tiny bubbles that ran down his face.

John watched him, would watch him and occasionally feel for a pulse until there wasn’t one. The bottom of John’s stomach was cold and he felt as if it were cavernous, completely empty and larger than his body would allow. He walked over to the window and looked through it for hours until the sun began to come up. It slipped in between the buildings, unlike on the farm, where it hit everything at once, like a new apocalypse every day. I’d switch you places in a heartbeat, John thought, looking at the rising sun. John began to think of the places it would light, the places it would pass over.



Scott Walker is a crazy old genius from Ohio. In the 1960s, he was a part of the group The Walker Brothers. None of them were related or had the actual last name of Walker. They're probably best remembered for their version of the song "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" but I think their best track is "The Electrician" from their 1978 reunion album Nite Flights. Scott put out four self-titled solo albums in the late 60s, each one showcasing his giant voice and, as time went on, his originality as a songwriter. After the completely-original Scott 4 was declared a commercial failure (and later praised as a masterpiece, as is usually the case), he lost whatever self-confidence he had gained and made a couple lackluster albums that were supposed to pander to the masses. Then he started taking about eleven years between albums. But goddamn, it's so worth it. 2017's gonna kick ass!

Steven R. Smith is a highly-prolific and inventive Californian that people sometimes refer to as "the ambient David Lee Roth." His music is occasionally like Jim O'Rourke and occasionally like Stars of the Lid, but more often than not his music is his own and, because of its emotional impact, it is ours, too. His album Cities is the audio equivalent of a Cormac McCarthy novel, the way violence sounds when it's slowed down enough to be beautiful. The rest of his catalog is as wonderfully thoughtful and apocalyptic, and you can order some stuff from it right here.

"Oriel" from 2002's Lineaments

"The Road" from 2009's Cities

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Mike's Love Xexagon" by The Fall, as suggested by writer Thomas Cooper.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Grace": A story based on "Code Blue" by TSOL, as suggested by writer Matt Baker (17/100)


Most of the people who remembered Monica Kelly remembered her because she had two first names and she was dead. Will thought there was so much more to her than that, but the name and the death were the only things people ever brought up about her. Will himself remembered that her father had been the undertaker in town, running the funeral home out of the basement of his house, and that Monica looked like the people her father worked on. She wasn’t morbid or suicidal. She was just soft porcelain, shapely and white, calm as a coma.

When Will got the invitation to his ten year high school reunion, he contemplated not going, but he was more curious than spiteful. Monica Kelly had been gone for almost fourteen years and his Mohawk had been gone for about seven. All that was left was everything else.

Will had been at the reunion for over an hour and no one had recognized him yet. A few people walked by him and assumed he had shown up with his wife—the real old classmate of theirs—and had been left to fend for himself while she was away talking to old friends. He overheard one woman say to another something about that one girl who drowned freshman year, the one with the weird hillbilly-styled name, Mary Betty or something. They agreed it was a shame, a tragedy, even, and then kept eating chips and commenting on who had gotten fat, who had gotten fatter.

It had been years since Will had thought of Monica Kelly, and he hadn’t expected to hear her name that night. She came up again later on, an entire table of people trying to recall anything else about her. No one there had grown up with her. She was homeschooled until high school and even then was only with them for three months before she drowned, down in the deep, wide part of the Fever River, her ice skates sinking her to the bottom like a bullet. When Will first heard about it, he imagined her pirouetting like a drill.

The people at the table were all guessing wrong. Monica hadn’t been short by any means. She had been of average height, average weight. She had several different green shirts with the bottom hem colored in black marker. She slipped her shoes off in class and scratched the top of one foot with the bottom of another. These things were lost and Will wondered why. Had everyone done so many things before and after Monica Kelly’s death that they were able to squeeze her entire life into a non-sequitur? Will went over to the table with the yearbooks. He turned the pages of the book from his freshman year and found Monica’s picture, an inch by an inch with a timid, black and white smile in the center. He walked to the table with the people arguing, debating one inaccuracy against another, and then slammed the book down, his palm sticking to the open page.

“Monica Kelly smelled vaguely of formaldehyde and had such grace that you missed her completely,” Will said. The yearbook was splayed open on the table and Will remembered why he never bought one, from any year of high school, and looked around at the sallow eyes of the people around him, people he’s always known to have the worst qualities of both the hectic and the dull: disorganization with no eye for detail and nothing relevant to say. They turned to one another and asked loudly if the man in front of them was Will the Punk, Fuck-up Will. As they sat there figuring it out, Will walked away from them, the real corpses of his youth.



TSOL are a punk rock band from Long Beach, California. In 1988, I bet a couple metal nerd started to get into punk because they saw Steven Adler wearing a TSOL shirt in the video for "Sweet Child O' Mine." Unfortunately, Izzy Stradlin was unable to bring back the vintage Rod Stewart haircut he was sporting in the same video. In a move that I thought only happened to Ratt, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, and other bands of that style and era, there were once two different TSOLs playing shows at the same time (sometimes in the same cities). We can get two TSOLs but not one Misfits. I call bullshit on the universe.

Matt Baker
is a writer from Kansas City who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. He thinks the movie Repo Man is awesome and he saw Slayer a few times back in the late-80s/early-90s. He also likes Bill Hicks and Barry Hannah. As if you don't think he's exceptionally rad already, he's also a badass writer, and you can read his short short story "Frank"--which is how I found out about him--over at SmokelongQuarterly. He rarely does flash fiction, though, so you should also do yourself a favor and get his novel, Drag the Darkness Down. I'm guessing his height at about 6'2".

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Farmer in the City (Remembering Pasolini)" by Scott Walker, as suggested by musician Steven R. Smith.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sittin' In: "Buzz" by Samuel Snoek-Brown, as based on the song "Omens and Portents I - The Driver" by Earth

It's only fitting that Sam Snoek-Brown stepped up to the plate to sit in on this week's OBCBYL, as I spent a fair amount of my time away from this project reading/editing/mocking/feedbacking the stories in a collection he recently finished. (Ten years of work, but a hell of an anthology so far and only getting better. Butthole Surfers fans, stay on the lookout.) He whipped up a killer little short short about Earth's "Omen's & Portents I - The Driver" and I did some Gordon Lish style heavy-editing to it--with Sam's consent, of course.

I'll be back next week with a story based on "Code Blue" by TSOL, but for now, enjoy Sam's story (and check out his blogs).

(Also, for anyone else interested, the list of songs featured in this post still stands if anyone would like to do a story for OBCBYL in the future. I'll always take time off if it shows up.)



There had been thunder, flat as a hand, driving in the storm behind Ray, and it had reminded him of earlier, the click and the pounce and the silence. He’d left shortly afterward and had been in the old Ford for some time, almost nine hours since, with the promise of Texas hills ahead of him.

He wasn’t sure he could sleep or if he deserved it anywhere except behind the wheel. When he saw a rest stop up ahead, he felt like he’d found a church. He didn’t need confession, he just needed sanctuary. For now, sleep. Forgiveness would come later or not at all.

He parked his car and dozed in a driving position, his head leaned back against the seat. When he woke, he did so in a flash, gripping the air with all fingers. He blinked and looked at his hands, remembering the way the white noise we all hear every day—the hum of lightbulbs and refrigerators—grew louder in his head, like a bright pang of reverb, and then snapped off in an echo.

A door opened and closed behind him. Ray sat up and cranked the car. The sun had just stuck up over the hills as the starter whined and quit. He scooted forward in his seat and turned the key again. Nothing else happened. He tried the radio. Static. Silence. Again.

He thought about the car that woke him, but when he turned in his seat to find it he saw it was a state trooper’s. He squinted his eyes and saw the seats were empty. He pulled on the door handle and eased out of his car, left his door open. Stubby cedar trees dropped down a slope behind the rest stop. A tangle of barbed wire outlined the woods.

“Can I help you?” the trooper asked from the restroom doorway, a paper towel still in his hands.
Ray swallowed and blurted out, “Battery’s dead.”

“Don’t you worry none,” the trooper said. “Got some cables, I’ll give you a jump.”

As they stood between the open hoods, the trooper’s engine running and Ray’s battery charging, the trooper said, “Arizona plates? You drive all this way by yourself?”

“My wife,” he said. He had left her on the floor, head broken and limp as a single plum in a plastic bag. Her neck turned purple before he even made it out the door. Ray felt, but did not hear, the slight crunch of her throat in his hands, like a beetle under his foot. “She’s back home.”

The trooper nodded, said, “Shoot, I wish sometimes I could get away myself.”

Ray’s stomach churned. Blood throbbed in his brain, bile jumped into his throat and burned. Sweat poured from his messy, oily hair and dripped all down his arms. When he opened his mouth, he vomited in a spray that splattered the trooper’s pants and car. Ray himself fell down alongside the vomit, and nearly beat it to the ground. The trooper jumped back and cussed, then said, “Listen, sir, no offense, but you been drinking?”

Ray coughed twice, gripped the trooper’s shoulder, and pulled himself up to his knees. “No sir, I’ve just been driving all night to get here.”

“Well, I feel a little woozy after a double night shift m’self. I guess that and the heat must of done it to you.”

Ray nodded along, anything to explain himself. The tropper insisted Ray not drive just yet and offered to take him the twenty miles into town and back. Ray was in no position to decline, though he tried faintly to do so.

As they stood there waiting for the battery to finish charging, Ray stared at the shotgun perched between the front two seats. The trooper spoke into the microphone clipped to his epaulette, and he was writing something, then he opened the back door for Ray.

They pulled out from the rest stop, the sky behind the car, back west, roiling dark and thick. Little flashes jumped in the clouds and the trooper said, “It’s something, ain’t it? It’s all one system, I think. Pretty sure it started east of California, just inside Arizona. You must of been just ahead of it the whole way.”

Ray thought of his wife eyes bulged in their sockets, the vessels an absurd red. The living room furniture lay in ruins around her. Two flies moving through the dust mites.

It was so silent then.


Earth is a band that used to play really loud, heavy-as-fuck power drone music until guitarist/leader Dylan Carlson took too many drugs (and then stopped taking drugs). Then all the songs became like the background music to a western made in Hell. One time, while listening to Earth 2, I thought my brain stopped working. It was that awesome. This song is from the 2008 album The Bees Made Honey In the Lion's Skull, which I played one time for a girlfriend who said, five minutes into the first song, "So it's pretty much just this for 45 minutes?"

Samuel Snoek-Brown is a Texan living in the Middle East. He owns over 400 bolo-ties. He has been known to write short fiction, with his most well-known story being "Orgasm In French." He put out a poetry chapbook as an undergrad. I think one dude bought it (collector's item, bro). Due to "a few" streaks of grey in his hair, he refers to himself as "the Anderson Cooper of literary fiction." Here's a link to some of his stories, all of which should be required reading for any writer worth their weight in free trade coffee and black berets. He runs a blog about smiley faces and I'm pretty sure I saw him wearing a Rusted Root shirt once. Everything else about him is unknown.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Code Blue" by TSOL, as suggested by writer Matt Baker.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

"What the River Drinks . . .": A story based on "Doing An Evil Deed Blues" by John Fahey, as suggested by musician Drew Bissell of Aseethe (16/100)

What the River Drinks In Sun, It Spits In Bones

Moses figures there’ll be a next morning, because there’d been one every day thus far. He’ll be right, and on that next morning, the police will drag the lake and find him at the bottom with his tools in his pockets and a 12 foot boa around his neck. The kids will not stop playing nearby after he is found. Three boys will count the sunbeams on the water and argue over the numbers they come up with. A thousand. A million. Infinity. An old negro will tell them that it don't matter who's right and who's wrong, because no amount of sunbeams is gonna move that damn still water. The sheriff will tell them all to leave when he notices that the snake isn’t constricted and stuck, but, rather, tied in a knot. It’ll be an albino that’s even more pale than when people spotted it originally, whiter than a wedding dress and looking a whole goddamn lot like the snake the Keech boys had found dead near the lock and dam a few days ago. The sheriff will cross his arms and tell his deputy to quit taking notes, that a snake around a nigger’s neck is accident enough, knot or not. They’ll laugh about that for the rest of the day. Knot or not. They’ll go home to their wives and God and whiskey. Until then, until the next morning, Moses will be whistling, walking along by the river and saying Morning, morning to everyone he passes. The words will slip through his lips pained and quickly, like a tongue made of sandpaper, in such a way that everyone will swear that they hear his mantra as Moanin’, moanin’.


John Fahey was a guitarist who played unaccompanied steel guitar licks and made it sound totally badass.

Drew Bissell is a bassist who likes to ask the question, "Are you sure that riff can't be slower?" when writing songs with his band Aseethe.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A guest post from someone!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Vandalism": A story based on "Only Shallow" by My Bloody Valentine, as suggested by writer Victor David Giron (15/100)


Growing up Catholic meant that I learned context faster than most. Good sex was functional, bad sex was vandalism. I explained this to Sandi on our third or fourth date and she asked me about dancing.

“I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of Baptists. As far as I know, Catholics don’t have any rules regarding dancing.” I told her.

She jangled her bracelets, leftovers from her mother’s gypsy phase in the 70s. “Are you sure?”

“Not really,” I said and looked at the bracelets again. She wore them well, all the way up her forearm to the meat above her elbow. She was thick everywhere it mattered, but instead of finding a charming way to tell her that, I picked at my food for a minute and she did the same, bites the size of dimes as we watched each other on the sly. Slow sips of wine, pretending to be able to pick out the different flavors.

She went back to the sex thing. “What do you mean by vandalism?”

“Destruction with no motivation. Misuse of the body, depreciation of the soul.” The light didn’t hit her so much as meet her, glide across the top of her chest and lower neck. “Things like that,” I told her, hashing over the first time I heard such implications at mass and in bible studies. Some things we’ll believe forever just because we heard them first.

I start again. “There was a philosopher who rallied against people being the means to an end instead of the end itself, which is the exact opposite of Catholicism, I think.”


“No, it wasn’t Kant.”

"No,” she said, setting her wine glass down gingerly. “I’m saying the word ‘cunt.’ Can you say it?”

“You mean, am I spiritually allowed to say it? Sure. Cunt. I like big ol’ sloppy cunts.”

“You’re not the best Catholic I’ve ever met.”

“I doubt you’ve met any,” I told her as a joke, but we both became quiet as she thought about it. I had moved to the city a couple years ago with my faith already gone. The people I met seemed to never be born with it, which was fine but different. The sex thing was the weirdest to me, how open a topic it was. The first summer I was here I saw a man sitting down against a dumpster I normally jog past. When I slowed up to check on him and make sure he was all right—not passed out from the heat or anything—I saw he was holding his cock in his hand, a pile of semen on his shirt above his navel. Several flies had landed in it, their wings in a drastic flutter to help their legs get out. The man looked up at me and said, “Howdy.”

She was still thinking when I said, “No worse than Kerouac.”


“I’m no worse a Catholic than Kerouac was, and even though he battled it in odd ways, he claimed to be a good little French-Catholic boy his whole life.”

“I never liked Kerouac.”

We were quiet until I said, “He’s a very male writer.” She’s smart and uninterested, like other girls I’d met in the city, but she had the good nature to roll with things for her own amusement, meaning, at that time, that she questioned me and Kerouac’s supposed denial of feminine adventure. I denied it on behalf of the both of us. Women are plenty adventurous. I just think Kerouac gets a bum wrap sometimes. He’s adventure, on the road and intelligent reverie and all that stuff, but he never gets credit for his lack of understanding and dislike of cruelty in his own life and work.

“To me, that’s the male of the 1950s, the perfect male who has taken up the option of spending his lifetime pondering the blatantly incomplete aspects of his being.” I notice that I’ve been holding my fork in the air this entire time, poised for the bite of steak at the end of it. I take the bite to shut myself up. She asks for the check.

I feel wrong, headstrong for no good reason. We go back to her place and she’s forgotten about it. When I’m taking off her clothes, I bring it back up. “I think I was wrong about that 1950’s male thing.”

“I don’t care.”

“Fine. But just so you know.”

“Thanks, but I still don’t care.”

The things that happen next happened next and then we laid ourselves there, deliberately, to prove we could have been elsewhere had we so chosen. The only thing left ahead was sleep. She went there and I didn’t. I straightened up next to her. The sheets and the pillows and the people on her bed were pressed fine and smooth. There was nothing in the world but surface: the buzz of flies, flesh and silk.



My Bloody Valentine is a band from London, currently trying to shake off about twenty years of dust. They put out a shitpile of EPs and two full lengths. Enough stuff has been said about their 1991 album Loveless--regarding both the music and the folklore--that I don't feel the need to really say anything about it except I wish people would talk about it less and listen to it more. Bilinda Butcher's name reminds me of that Patton Oswalt bit where he talks about how "b" sounds are the fattest sounds a person can make.

Victor David Giron is a writer who lives in Chicago, IL. He's the head honcho over at Curbside Splendor, an independent publishing company based out of Chicago that aims to publish solid writing, often with an urban tilt. He is the author of the novel Sophomoric Philosophy, a book that has been called something by someone (No blurbs are out there yet, folks, which means you're just going to have to buy it when it comes out soon here and blurb it your own damn self). He's got a couple little kids who seem pretty rad and he likes The Sonics. No word yet on if he likes the restaurant Sonic.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: I haven't decided yet, but I'll probably do that soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Rust": A story based on "Your Friend and Mine--Neil's Song" by Love, as suggested by musician Bob Bucko Jr (14/100)





Love were a band from L.A. that had about as many different members as Dokken, but were always led by Arthur Lee (though they would have been better if they had been led by Don Dokken). Their album Forever Changes is famous for being one of those records that hipsters and their parents can both enjoy unironically. Their name proves that the idea of someone trying to Google them 40 years later was not even a concern.

Bob Bucko Jr has been in a thousand bands you've never heard of. He used to play baseball and he loves the Harry Potter books. He's also one of my favorite guitarists, and he wrote one of my favorite songs ever. I've never heard anyone use the phrase "three-minute pop song" more than Bob. A true multi-genre embarrassment, I've heard him play doo-wop, Poison, jazz, bar rock, Captain Beefheart freakouts, and just about everything else. Also, he's always wanted to write a song called "Is My Pussy Man Enough For You?" but is yet to do so. I urge you all to steal this song title from him.

MySpace grab bag of songs

Nitetrotter solo guitar session

Always With the Don't Go EP

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Only Shallow" by My Bloody Valentine, as suggested by writer Victor David Giron.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sittin' In: "A Short Illness" by David Maizenberg, as based on the song "Good Fortune" by PJ Harvey

If you want to be a jerk about it, you could say that I spent too much time reading comics and buying old Rod Stewart shirts on eBay, and when it came time to write this week's story, I let it slide because it was the one thing I had to do that required any actual thought. However, I encourage you to be civil and look at the facts: I worked an unusual number of hours (read: full time, like any other functioning member of society) this past week in addition to having to find time for music-related projects such as two band practices, two shows I rocked out front row at, and listening to the new albums by Heart, Accept, and Katy Perry (I'm not as surprised as I wish I was that Katy Perry's is the best of the lot).

Regardless, I wrote no story for this week. Not even a first draft. I listened to the song, got no ideas, and went back to not writing the story. I blame exhaustion. Luckily, in his attempts to help me out, my friend and fellow fiction nerd Samuel Snoek-Brown was soliciting this website out to some writers he knows. David Maizenberg thought he was taking the bait. Really, though, Dave is the one who reeled me in. He thought he was to write a story based on a song of his choosing. I blame Sam's explanation of the project, which is probably a verbatim copy of my explanation of the project. So, I blame me.

Write a story based on a song of his choosing is exactly what Dave did, and it turned out fantastic. I've been toying with the idea of having guest stories every once in awhile, though I was originally opposed to it. If the quality comes out like this every time, however, I don't see how I can stay in that frame of mind.

Enough blabbering. Here's Dave's story. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.


A Short Illness

(Fiction inspired by PJ Harveyʼs song and video for “Good Fortune”, for Ryan Wernerʼs song-inspiration website project. August 2010)

When I found her, in winter, she was a beautiful, starving disaster. Bundled in throws and jackets, a kaleidoscope of bad choices and artistic fantasies. When she left me, in summer, she was a wraith, on a mission, sleek black, armored by my love, in the glow of the secrets I revealed to her. God knows how I worshiped that fickle witch. And now every night is a lonely fantasy. Visions of her naked writhing, her wide mouth, her whispered visions.

She was coming off some real bad luck that winter. Her appearance was unsettling. Beneath colorful thriftstore coats and shawls she wore draped over her boney clavicles an ancient cashmere cardigan, grey, the color of her disposition and the city’s winter-blasted sky. Her hair was a mousy brown, the tips blond and red from ancient dye jobs. Her hungry eyes stared out half-hidden behind her bangs.

She’d been on some complicated missions, and they’d all failed. She was of the surprised generation. The generation that discovered it didn’t really know what it wanted after all. Unmoored from traditions, betrayed by theories, left with nothing, the party had long ago stopped.

I stripped her down, unwrapped her identities, sat her on my bed, and performed a great and intricate magic show for her. I took my limbs apart, wrapped them in my lungs, tied the whole package with my ligaments, and gave it all to her: my secret wisdom, the key to my luck and prosperity.

Winter turned to spring and she became a new woman, her hair jet black, her gaze steady and vulpine. I introduced her to my friends, hoping they would tame her, but she insulted every one. They are simple people who just want to have a good time. They feared for my safety. Nobody knew what she wanted or what she would do to me. They suspected she was prone to random attacks. And she would never surrender the tasty discipline of her starvation fetish.

By summertime she was entirely new and ready for the next phase of her life. She no longer needed me, and she told me so directly. I could not respond at first. The air was hazy and tasted full of grit. Finally I burst out “I love you more than life itself!”

I regretted saying it the moment it left my mouth. How absurd and grandiose a statement. What could such a pronouncement possibly mean in our world? Such love would make any normal person uncomfortable. In her it brought forth venom. At first she looked appalled, but then all at once she smiled, knowing now she was free for sure. She went to the window to smoke, tap her high heeled boots against the wall, and prepare a few words to mark her exhuberant departure, complete with a handbag twirling, life resetting street celebration. I had given her my mojo and she gobbled it up! What an appetite she turned out to have! And now she was heading back out into the streets from which she came.

Its a pitch black night and the apartment is empty. I go to a bar and get too drunk to stand. As she dances past the window she sees me slipping, windmilling backwards, and then collapsing, knocking over a table and chair in my fall. As my faithful friends rush to help me she just walks past, knowing she cannot be seen in the darkness.



PJ Harvey is a svelte musician from Corscombe, Dorset in South West England. She has worked solo, with the PJ Harvey Trio, and contributed to multiple songs on the Desert Sessions series.

David Maizenberg wrote stories and scripts back in the nineties. Thankfully heʼs been otherwise occupied since then. But every once in a while . . .

(Note: Dave wrote his own bio. PJ did not.)

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Your Friend and Mine--Neil's Song" by Love, as suggested by musician Bob Bucko Jr. (For real this time.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Always Say the Person's Name": A story based on "Ode To Billie Joe" by Bobbi Gentry, as suggested by writer Jenny Diski (13/100)

Always Say the Person's Name

I’m in a self-esteem workshop trying to—what else—feel better. I’ve been to a bunch, all over the place, and one thing they always do is hand out these half sheets of paper with two columns, ten questions each. Except they aren’t really questions, just the words “I am” and then a three-inch line for your answer. Twenty times. When someone shares their “I am” conclusions out loud, they end up explaining what they just summed up and people chime in with encouraging statements like “Fear is in all of us, but so is strength, Frank,” and “You know, Susan, big is beautiful.” You always say the person’s name when you give them encouragement.

Of course, the people in these workshops are never here because they have a problem with high self-esteem. It’s hard to imagine someone coming in and saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me—probably nothing—but I just feel so good at so many things.”

After the “I am” portion there are one-on-ones that take up the rest of the time. The “Six Minute Power-Up” is what they call it. Each person gets together with someone else for six minutes, and before rotating they just have a conversation about how a free throw is so easy but so unattainable or the way their cats look at them when sensing shame.

The woman running the workshop is shaped like a pill and wearing mostly denim. When it’s my turn she tells me about coming-of-age in Colorado, how she worked in the public relations department of a popular but morally bankrupt ski resort and had to overcome how she felt about spinning their problems. This takes less than two minutes, which is a third of our time spent together, something she has planned: always give away the bulk of your time.

“How are you?” she asks, and then pauses briefly before adding my name.

* * *

My “I am” list reads something like this: taller than most people, wearing expensive glasses, thirsty for something other than free coffee.

“I am never going to learn to sew properly,” one woman says, and then while everyone else is telling her that it’s a matter of practice, amongst other things (“And what does properly even mean?”), I’m sitting there thinking about how little I care about sewing and, everyone’s right, how easy it’d be to just practice if I did care. The thing I’d write down if I got the kind of serious everyone here wants is I am incapable of letting the right things go. I can never figure out the correlation, but whenever I think about writing that one down I always think about a girlfriend who made me spray her with a fire extinguisher. She told me that she loved the feel of it, and it was harmless as long as I wasn’t too close and she didn’t get it in her eyes or mouth. So, once a day we’d go into the garage where she’d strip down and spin while I sprayed her with a fire extinguisher for a few seconds. When I’d stop, she’d keep spinning, right into me so I’d have to catch her.

I tell all that to the pill-shaped woman. Her smile is unwavering. She scratches her jaw-line and starts telling me that we all sometimes harbor odd feelings of regret. Her eyes dart around the room, maybe for a clock but maybe just to think.

I can see that she’s struggling, so I go on to say that I always caught my girlfriend, but I always held on to the fire extinguisher, too. I ask her almost rhetorically if she thinks it’s possible to handle them both and for the next minute she tells me stock phrases, how material goods can’t take the place of human connection and how any bond is only the sum of the people in it. Then a bell dings and she moves on.

* * *

When we’re on the final round of the power-ups, I end up with a woman in her late forties. She says that she has trouble speaking to people because she’s afraid that anything she says will be seen as stupid. I’m gentle with her. I tell her the fire extinguisher story I told the moderator and this woman tells me that it’s just a matter of getting her back.

I don’t think that’s it. What if it’s not a matter of going back? What if it’s a matter of taking back? Of being able to get back? What if that’s impossible?

I only say that last part to her. She scrunches up her nose and then sets her face in a wise old way. “If it was impossible would you be telling me about it?”

What I tell her is “No.” What I write at the bottom of my paper is I am saying yes.



Bobbie Gentry is an American singer/songwriter mainly known for the song that this story is based on. It seems like people were really latching on to that meandering, Bob Dylan story-song thing at the time (stuff like "Tangled Up In Blue" kind of pisses me off, but I was never a huge Dylan guy), but Gentry nails it. Just the perfect amount left unsaid. She put out a shitload of albums--fourteen between 1967 and 1971, four in 1971 alone--and singles in a short amount of time and then said "Fuck it" and quit show business in the late-70s. She was one of the first female country artists to write and perform her own material, which is impressive, considering a dude like Scott Walker was still mostly sucking from the Jacques Brel musical teet at the time. Also, she had big hair and was really adorable. Nobody's really heard shit from her since 1981, but, hey, here's to her.

Jenny Diski
is a British writer who loves to smoke. She has about a dozen-and-a-half books in print, and while I'm sure they're all fantastic (her personal exploration of the sixties looks especially awesome), I've only had the pleasure of reading Stranger On A Train: Daydreaming and Smoking Around America with Interruptions. In it, she speaks humorously and honestly about America, riding the trains in search of nothing much and finding truth (and the truth about truth, in all its clichéd glory) without having to go much further than the smoking car on her train. The best parts of it, however, are the ones where she reflects on her past, her times spent in mental institutions and coming of age at a weird time in the world. As if there isn't a weird time to come of age in the world. I mean . . . you know what I mean. Buy the book here and read it. Jenny lives in Cambridge with The Poet, leading, I hope, a very pleasant life.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Your Friend and Mine--Neil's Song" by Love, as suggested by musician Bob Bucko Jr.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Excuses": A story based on "No Love Lost" by Joy Division, as suggested by musician Aaron Beam of Red Fang (12/100)


The autumn I tried to start smiling with more teeth, I got caught stealing cigarettes from the gas station and then went on a big family revival kick, deciding that I needed to visit all of them, every aunt uncle and cousin I never see. It was a bust like it is anytime someone tries to do something like that, but I was so caught up in all of it that I ended up not shaving between Thanksgiving and a week into the new year. I was out of a job and the majority of my savings when I finally got around to shaving, so I had time to do it in stages over the course of several days: chinstrap beard, then chops and a goatee, then the Frank Zappa, etc. My only option for the last day seemed to be a Hitler mustache. So, I shaved it in and walked around my house with it for a day, forgetting I had it until catching my reflection in a window or mirror.

I left it for another day. That’s when I started acting like him. On purpose, of course. I was bored and kind of curious about how much it takes to get caught up in an idea, fake or not. It started with standing on a chair in my kitchen and yelling in German, which amounted to a lot of harsh vowels strung together with throat-clearing noises. It was nonsense, but in my head I was speaking of freedom and infestation, the things that hold my people back. I would move slowly around my room on my desk chair as if in my dictator’s car, saluting people who stand up for me, idolize me as a savior of their beliefs, a savior of their morality.

I left it for a while longer. As I became more removed from the initial shaving-in, I became more removed from being Hitler. I felt as if I had moved from being the man himself to being a look-alike, someone designed to throw his detractors off his trail. I was shaving daily but leaving the mustache, trimming around it. I still had it a week later, by which time I was just a loyal soldier, herding the people through the camps, standing in front of my bed with my chest puffed out, holding my mother’s old color-guard rifle and pretending to oversee the abuse of the prisoners. I was watching the rapes and beatings with pride, knowing that bringing the world back up from its forlorn condition involves a cure that must be achieved and instituted, country by country, starting with mine.

Days passed and I lost sight of Hitler completely. I went from the camps to the crowd, staring out my window at cars driving by and pretending Hitler was in one. I wouldn’t salute. I’d just stare, hopeful. It all trickled down though, and I ended up becoming myself one morning, some guy with a tiny square mustache looking into the mirror and wondering how and why it all felt so natural. The things that came out of me surely were not in me. That night, when I tilted my head under the light and picked up my can of shaving cream, I set it back down and walked away, slowly, with a stride that said, “I’m going nowhere.”



Joy Division was a band. Then they weren't. Then (a version of) they were New Order, which played up every Joy Division fan's secret desire to dance and be sad all at the same time. Like INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence, Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis died from hanging himself. Unlike INXS, Joy Division didn't have a shitty reality show to find a new lead singer, though Rockstar: INXS runner-up Marty Casey pretty much kicked ass when I saw him singing with LA Guns on the back of a flatbed truck in the outfield of a softball field in Farley, Iowa.

Aaron Beam plays bass and does vocals in the band Red Fang. They are based in Portland, OR, but instead of holding that against them, I will instead say that they are an awesome band in a place I don't think I'd like very much. Red Fang's music is pummeling rock and roll. There's really no other way to say it, and you should order their album through Sargent House records, because Sargent House fucking rules. Aaron is actually a Midwest boy, much like myself. However, he's from Iowa instead of Wisconsin. Still, his music is a throwback to the days of bearded men playing giant riffs, so I will not hold that against him either. The Red Fang burger at Kuma's Corner had bacon on it, and though I am unsure of the other toppings, it looks delicious. I also find it highly unlikely that they are not named after the Native American football player Chief Xavier Downwind.

"Prehistoric Dog" from Red Fang.

"Sharks" from Red Fang.

"Reverse Thunder" from Red Fang.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Ode to Billy Joe" by Bobbie Gentry, as suggested by writer Jenny Diski.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"An Abridged History of Never Coming Back": A story based on "Pulaski Skyway" by Clutch, as suggested by writer Eirik Gumeny (11/100)

An Abridged History of Never Coming Back

We’ve got a history of dock workers, and have for a long time in this country, which is probably why so many folks try to peg the origin of the disappearances in the early part of the 1900s. The main argument is between those who believe it all started at the beginning of the 1930s, when Frank Hague got into it with the labor unions during the construction of the skyway, and those who believe that it started when the Holland Tunnel between New York and New Jersey was being designed in 1919. All of these people are wrong.

Here’s how far back it goes. In 1021 AD. Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah took a donkey ride to the outskirts of Cairo for a little night meditation and when people went looking for him later on they found the donkey and some bloody clothes but no Al-Hakim. It’s true that people disappear all the time: kidnapping and runaways and mental cases who just wander away to nowhere with something resembling soap opera amnesia. But, what’s also true is that someone always chooses to make these things happen, whether it’s the individual in question or not. Sometimes it’s random, to prove that it can be done, that one person can take another person and not kill them so much as delete them, just remove them from whatever it was they were going to do for the rest of their life. More often than not, though, there’s a reason. Some might say that we hold grudges and drop bodies.

All of these people are right.

There were obviously lots of disappearances between Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah and the early 1900’s dock days, Edward V and The Roanoke Colonists and so on, but those latter glory days are the ones people are most interested in. Going into that century it seemed like the whole country was dancing on steel just because it was possible. There was so much of it. I can’t say the industrial advances didn’t have their logical perks, but the men who made them became invisible. The real middlemen, the men on the docks and the men building bridges, became invisible. To make up for it, they started their own variation on the nameless disappearance religion. It started from the bottom, the very bottom, the dwellers and, later, mole people, who made the city move simply by being the ruled class, by being the lowest level so nobody else had to. Once they were one, the stevedores and labor workers got in, maybe only twenty people all together to represent this larger faction. They abducted twenty-five year old Dorothy Arnold in 1910 because she was a bratty heiress to a perfume empire and a shithead boozer from Manhattan. They dug deeper and spread further, which isn’t to say they got smart. In 1914 two men in Santa Barbara, California made Idaho businessman F. Lewis Clark disappear because they thought he was “the man who went across the USA with that Indian broad.”

They went to the spine of it all in 1938 and flew Andrew Carnegie’s nephew and his plane into an uncharted area around Long Island. Then a few of those idiots tried to take credit for Amelia Earhart the year before. I helped build the Jersey Turnpike in the 50s, and even though they weren’t the brightest group, they got on track by the time I joined. I had a hand in a few of the big ones after that, namely Nelson Rockefeller’s son Michael and that son of a bitch Jimmy Hoffa. We didn’t have anything to do with D.B. Cooper, though he seemed like our sort of man. He had it all: everybody knows D.B. Cooper and nobody knows D.B. Cooper. He could have been another criminal, but he could have been like us, too, a guy who wanted to draw and erase certain lines between output and recognition. I’d love to meet him, assuming he’s still out there. He’d be about my age, which is to say that we’re both too old now to do any sort of disappearing other than the kind that comes naturally with getting old and fading, the kind where it just sort of happens, when the choice is finally no one’s.



Clutch is a band from Germantown, Maryland. Singer Neil Fallon doesn't look anything like what I imagined him to look like before I actually saw him. The band added a full-time organist to their line-up as of their 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus, making them the second coolest rock band ever with a permanent organ. I think their 2004 album Blast Tyrant is their best album, putting it in the running for one of the best riff rock albums of the decade. They've chilled out a lot in the past several years, and I heard all they do is sit around and smoke weed and talk about theological issues. Pure Rock Fury is their best-named and least-enjoyable album, which is kind of a bummer, but the least-enjoyable Clutch album is still way better than most bullshit out there. Maybe I've just got a soft-spot for bands whose songs can be learned within a month of picking up a guitar, but Clutch really are masters of the groove riff.

Eirik Gumeny is a writer from New Jersey. He is the head honcho at Jersey Devil Press, an underground journal of misfit writers who are too beautifully fucked up for anywhere else. Much like Neil Fallon, Eirik doesn't look how I thought he would. I expected a white dude with dreadlocks, fingerless gloves, and Hawaiian shirts (strikes one, two, and "get the fuck out of here" in my book). He has a book called Exponential Apocalypse that I've been meaning to order for a long time. You should all make an attempt to beat me to the punch, and place your orders. I bet it's as great as the other book JDP released this year: the 2010 Jersey Devil Press Anthology, featuring almost two dozen awesome stories in it, including one by yours truly and one by OBCBYL alumnus yt sumner. Get that one, too. Eirik also enjoys tacos. Probably.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "No Love Lost" by Joy Division, as suggested by musician Aaron Beam of Red Fang.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Love, I Guess": A story based on "Pyramid" by Andreas Vollenweider, as suggested by musician Ulrich Schnauss (10/100)

Love, I Guess

Keri had moved out of our cabin in the fall, but I found out where she went to. Every once in awhile I’d pay the grocer’s boy in town fifty cents to call her up and just listen, write down everything she said. Which was this: Henry, I know it’s you and you need to stop calling me and figure out your life. Except the boy was thirteen and a terrible speller, so when I’d go into town to get supplies and pay him, he’d hand me the notepad paper he transcribed her words onto and it’d come out looking like Henree you aint never bin a god dam foole til now and I just need to see things you cant show me. I dont hate you but im gonna let the police no abowt this if I get won more call from you I sware to God. I’d thank him and give him his fifty cents.

“She sounded mad, Hank” he said to me once.

“You didn’t say anything, did you?”

“Nope. I just listened like you said.” He clicked the two quarters together. “Why you havin’ me do this, Hank?”

“Love, I guess.”


“It’s,” I started and then stopped. “Go like this.” I held my arms out in front of me with my fingers pointed up, elbows bent at a ninety degree angle, and then tilted my hands towards each other at the same pace until the fingertips touched gently in the middle.

The boy copied me exact. “Like this?”

I took my pointer and middle fingers on each hand and walked both of them halfway up his slanted arms. “Like that.”

People in town started talking about how Keri got her pilot’s license in December. I kept watching for planes to fly over the farm. It was late April when one finally did, and I started making the shapes the next day, when the winter wheat was knee-high. I counted the rows and had my whole crop all drawn out on some graph paper. Every couple of nights I’d belt some tennis rackets to my feet and go make a big shape in the wheat. First it was something simple, just a circle or a triangle. Then I’d climb up on my roof to get an idea of how I did.

I wasn't great at first, but eventually I got better. And wild, too. I could make a horse. A guitar. A cowboy hat. I made a three-tiered cake over the course of an entire day, all by myself, rolling my feet like an ocean and flattening the wheat. I made angel wings. Medusa's head. I was crushing the crop with expectations, strapping leather to leather and trying to see how much more beautiful it all could be, each strand of wheat laid down flat and looking up as part of something larger than itself.


Andreas Vollenweider is a Swiss harpist who, in my head, walks everywhere with his harp. He's really into non-violence and all that stuff, which makes total sense, because his music is so chilled out that I'd find it really hard to beat anyone's ass while listening to it. He worked with Carly Simon on some stuff, so we know her taste in musical collaborators is far superior than her taste in men.

Ulrich Schnauss ist sehr gut. He is an electronic musician from Germany. His music takes nods from shoegaze and all sorts of electronic/hip-hop stuff and just keeps layering it all together until there's some really gorgeous soundscape where there was previously only a smattering of noises. He's released music under his own name as well as various others such as View to the Future, Police In Cars With Headphones, Ethereal 77, and others. I can't say enough nice things about the guy. And he looks like a suave and less "I'm going to eat your children" Nick Cave. And his name is fun to say. Like I said, the dude's awesome. My personal favorite album of his is 2001's Far Away Trains Passing By, but you can't go wrong with any of his stuff. His record labels sued Guns N' Roses. It's hard to say Axl doesn't have shit like that coming to him."Knuddlemaus" is one of my favorite songs ever, which is something I know I say a lot, but it's always true.

"Knuddlemaus" from Far Away Trains Passing By

"Blumenthal" from A Strangely Isolated Place

"Never Be the Same" from Goodbye

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Pulaski Skyway" by Clutch, as suggested by writer Eirik Gumeny.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"After I Threw the Ball At Thomas Hernandez and Before It Killed Him": A story based on "Jesus Christ" by Brand New, suggested by writer Adam Gallari

After I Threw the Ball At Thomas Hernandez and Before It Killed Him




Brand New is a band from Long Island, New York. The reason I never listened to them is because some douchebag I knew in college really liked them, but it turns out they're pretty great, often spooky and finding new ways to bring rage to music aside from angst-metal. I'm kind of bummed that nobody makes happy metal anymore, but that's what the dollar section at record stores are for, I guess. Frontman Jesse Lacey, like J Mascis and that dude from MONO, plays Jazzmaster guitars, which is something you can't really argue with as a tonal weapon. I'm trying really hard to not make a joke about how the band has been around for ten years, thereby making them not-all-that-brand-new, but instead I'll just say that All Music called "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" a "semi-hit," which is kind of a backhanded thing to say. "Yeah, people almost cared." What a bunch of dicks.

(I feel bad about that last bit. Sloan rocks)

Adam Gallari is a writer from Manhatten, but he's currently in the United Kingdom, growing his hair out and posing by fountains all day. His book We Are Never As Beautiful As We Are Now (published in April 2010 by Ampersand Books) has been described in all sorts of ways, but everyone seems to find a way to mention the words "muscular" and "masculinity" as well as some sideways reference to Richard Ford or Raymond Carver. I can see that, but the real appeal of his stories is that they have a sharp eye that zooms in on the right details of something that might otherwise seem anecdotal, as if the characters, if left alone without Gallari writing through them, would falter and stop halfway through trying to tell their own stories. He doesn't just know how to write things, he knows how to see them and make the reader see them. He also likes baseball a lot, and I can only hope he isn't a Yankees fan (or, even worse, a Cubs fan). His essays and fiction have appeared in The Quarterly Conversation, LIT, The Millions and others. He is currently working on a novel. Also, go Brewers.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Pyramid" by Andreas Vollenweider, as suggested by musician Ulrich Schnauss.