Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Feeding Mona Marie Claire": A story based on "Blood and Tears" by Danzig, as suggested by musician Andrew Tweedy of Buried Inside (8/100)

Feeding Mona Marie Claire

I graduated with a film degree and ended up with a job instead of a career. The only work I could find that required no skills but still had enough tact to sort of frown upon felony charges was a job delivering groceries to the elderly. That’s how I met Mona Marie Claire. She was an actress, still is if someone were to ask her what she does, though she’s over eighty years old and hasn’t had a leading role in fifty years and not so much as a cameo in twenty-five.

I was obsessed with writing a successful script. I kept a pad and pen sitting in the basket of the cart when I was going through the grocery store and when I wasn't at work I was writing through the night, passing out in my desk chair more often than not. I finally sold my bed, got enough money to pay postage on a couple dozen scripts.

Mona was always watching her movies when I would deliver the groceries. She knew when I was coming every week, but I don’t think she ever planned it out. I don’t think she even knew that I was aware of her acting career, let alone that the fact that it could possibly be her on the screen, bronzed and busty, sparkling with chastity in the 1950s, clutching scarves to her chest and fainting between two prospective lovers, being Mona Marie Claire better than anyone: the virginal tease.

I wasn’t sleeping very well or very much. It had been months and there was no reply from any of the scripts I sent out. When I’d go out for Mona’s groceries, I’d take all day and add on anything I wanted to the bill. First it was just a Twix, but when she didn’t notice, I did it again. In a few weeks she was feeding the both of us. She didn’t seem to care, and if she did, she never mentioned it. I would sometimes try to make small talk when dropping off the groceries, some comment about how many people were at the store or about something different on her list, but she would only nod or wave me off with a smile. The only time I heard her voice was when she had lines in whatever film it was she was watching.

I was working on a new script because I was always working on a new script, convincing myself they were becoming better and better, slowly realizing they were all just different sorts of decent. I was missing the x-factor. That’s what I was thinking about one day on deliveries. I spent so much time focusing on the one scene or shot that would define my art that I missed the idea of an ever-receding context, the idea that a scene needs to fit into a film as much as a film needs to fit into something larger than it and larger than that, even. I was about to tell Mona all of this, just gush to her in an insomniac’s ramble, but as I turned to her, I noticed the film: The Mercy Club. 1954. Mona Marie Claire’s character is Hosanna, a newly married girl thought to be living the perfect life up until her husband’s betrayal. In this scene, she is absorbing the story of her lover’s infidelity, crying with both passion and dignity, both literally and figuratively holding her head up. It’s famous in some circles, as the director called for Mona to be wearing heavy, black eye make-up, seated and looking upward as the camera shoots her from the ground. The man speaking is off-screen, but his voice is resonating through the image of those dark tears, those Mother Mary tears collecting one, two, and three before dropping from the corner of her jaw. I see this and can only think of our usual non-sequiturs. I watch until the end of the scene, the part Mona ad-libbed on set, the part where she looks at the voice off-screen and says, now smirking, “Darling, nothing lasts.”

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Lyrics

Danzig is a band fronted by Glenn Danzig, a very angry man of very little stature. He's from New Jersey, if that explains anything. His first four albums are pretty kick ass. I was in a band that covered the majority of Danzig II, and we even paid tribute to it with the artwork and title of our second album. Danzig is also an internet celebrity and book enthusiast. He should start doing stand-up, as he's one of the funniest dudes ever, albeit unintentionally. My friend Jack met him once and said he was pretty cool, though when everyone else was on the bus, Danzig just sat in the back painting D & D figurines and looking at porno mags. Danzig is the little brother of metal culture: if you're a metalhead, you're allowed to make fun of him, and if not you can go fuck yourself, because he's awesome.

Andrew Tweedy is a member of the Ottowa, Ontario band Buried Inside. The band recently broke up (or at least decided to play a couple more shows and make no plans for new material or gigs), which is a bummer, because their last couple of albums were amazing conceptual pieces of soundscape-sludge. Their 2009 album Spoils of Failure is especially badass, as is the Eugene-Debs-influenced (amongst other things) Chronoclast from 2005. Their first two albums (1999's In and of the Self and 2001's Suspect Symmetry) have a bit more of the hardcore and straight-ahead pummeling stuff, but are still killer. In keeping with the idea that Canada is one tiny city where everyone knows everyone else based solely on the fact that they're all Canadian, I can only assume that Tweedy is meeting up for coffee later on today with Trish Stratus and the dudes from The Tragically Hip. And the members of Exciter will be out front begging for change. Check out Tweedy's solo material, where he gets all tender and lovelorn.

"In and of the Self" from In and of the Self

"Terrortourismology"
from Suspect Symmetry

"Time As Imperialism" from Chronoclast

"IV" from Spoils of Failure

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

Next week: A story based on "Jesus Christ" by Brand New, as suggested by writer Adam Gallari.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Follow the Water": A story based on "New Kind of Kick" by The Cramps, as suggested by writer yt sumner (7/100)

Follow the Water

AVAILABLE IN THE COLLECTION SHAKE AWAY THESE CONSTANT DAYS, AVAILABLE NOW THROUGH JERSEY DEVIL PRESS.

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The Cramps were a Sacramento, California punk band that was kind of a big deal in the CBGB New York scene in the mid-to-late 70s. Guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach scares the shit out of me, which I think is the point. The band split up in 2009 after the sudden and fucked up death of vocalist Lux Interior. White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult--who I totally had the hots for when I was fifteen--was in the band for about two months. The Cramps were active for over thirty years, a career that spawned twenty-four singles, nine studio albums, and an appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210.

yt sumner is a charming Australian writer. She likes all the important k/hard-c sounds: Carver, Kyuss, and candy. Her writing is often absurd, often all-too-real, but it never fails to provoke emotion in all the right ways, skipping sentimentality completely and bashing through a series of internal organs until planting itself firmly in a reader's gut. We both have a thing for Jessica Rabbit, probably because you can't go wrong with a busty redhead. If I had to pick the most important flash fiction writers in underground literature today, yt sumner would be on the tip of my tongue (in a platonic way). I stole the idea for this project from her "you and me" project. Go to her site and contribute to it and then become a fan of hers on Facebook.

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

Next week: A story based on "Blood and Tears" by Danzig, as suggested by musician Andrew Tweedy of Buried Inside.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Haunt": A story based on "Ghosts of the Garden City" by Caspian, as suggested by musician Philip Jamieson of Caspian (6/100)


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Philip Jamieson is the tallest member of the band Caspian. I'd like to thank him for not beating the shit out of me when I asked him if he was going to be playing any Aerosmith songs at the Red Sparowes/Fang Island show I saw him at in April of 2010, though he did offer to beat the shit out of me later for a completely different reason. We both respect and enjoy the music of Neil Young and Mark Kozelek. His guitar gear is way badass, and I don't know if I've ever seen so many delay/echo pedals on one board. Despite his height, I think I could take him in a one-on-one (or two-on-two) game of basketball.

Caspian is an instrumental band from Beverly, Massachusetts. They do not play any Aerosmith songs, but that's all right because their original music is a transcending force to be reckoned with, the sound of prettiness eating itself at a thousand decibels. They're pretty tasteful with the drum machine stuff, too. And they like noted author/scumbag Charles Bukowski. I've heard a couple people say that only the first EP is good, but these people are being assholes (and incorrect assholes, at that). That EP,2005's You Are the Conductor, is a great album, but they've only gotten better with time. In 2007 the band released The Four Trees and in 2009 they released Tertia (my personal favorite). If I made a list of my favorite songs from 2009, I bet "Sycamore" from Tertia would be in the top five.

"Loft" from You Are the Conductor

"Moksha" from The Four Trees

"Vienna" from Tertia

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

Next week: A story based on "New Kind of Kick" by The Cramps, as suggested by writer yt sumner.

(Note: This week's story owes a huge debt of gratitude to Kevin Brockmeier's fantastic book The Brief History of the Dead. I consider this story to take place in an alternate-yet-similar location as the city created in Brokemeier's book, and on the offhand chance you enjoyed my take on literary sci-fi involving the post-mortal, do yourself a favor and get The Brief History of the Dead.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"Focus": A story based on "Hyperballad" by Björk, as suggested by writer Benjamin Rosenbaum (5/100)

Focus

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Björk is an Icelandic siren with a voice that can do anything. People have speculated that she's also completely batshit crazy. Her knack for odd dresses has garnered attention that should have been on her music. Her 2004 album Medúlla was made using only sounds made by the human voice (though there is a bit of piano on there, it doesn't really count). It's really damn awesome. In the DVD about the making of Medúlla, she mentions really liking the band Swans, which is also really damn awesome. "Hyperballad" is from her 1995 sophomore album Post, which I listened to a lot when I worked at a gas station a few years ago, often recreating the dance moves from the video "It's, Oh, So Quiet" while mopping the floor at the end of the night.

Benjamin Rosenbaum is a creative, talented writer who married a Swiss woman. He has two children and a book, The Ant King and Other Stories. He is also a computer programmer who speaks several languages. And he's rather handsome in that "Jeff-Tweedy-needs-a-fucking-nap,-dude" sort of way. As soon as I'm done being jealous of his talent and Swiss wife, I'm going to switch to being jealous of that other stuff. His short short story "The Orange" was made into an award winning short short film. He's currently working on a bunch of stuff, including giant ray guns.

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

Next week: A story based on "Ghosts of the Garden City" by Caspian, as suggested by musician Philip Jamieson of Caspian.