14
Feb
2013

ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF: ‘Next big thing’ blog chain | Wing & Fly

There’s a series of blog posts all answering the same set of questions going around like a chain letter — in part, it will see something of a tentacle-end here, as I have been less-than-diligent about making certain friends and associates were lined up after me. There are two, however, folks perhaps more interesting than myself who will be taking part fairly soon, one a longtime T2Her who may or may not be living under an assumed name wherever he happens to be these days and the other a newer acquaintance/coconspirator living close by here in Guitar Town, as the highway haulers call it (find them at the end of what follows, a self-interrogation regarding my “long thing” long in the works). Gretchen Kalwinski gave me the big hand-clap over the turnbuckle to set me out on this, fyi — her addition to the “Next Big Thing” blog chain (whose name perhaps strokes my elementally narcissistic tendencies very nicely, thank you) you can find here. Well worth the time.


What is your working title of your book (or story)?
Shining Man, not that guy up there (yeah, that’s me)

Where did the idea come from for the book?
A couple places:

  1. A long admiration of — yes, bordering on obsession with — Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man and its interrogation of group v. individual identity in American culture, black and white. If you haven’t read it, you should. How did I miss an apparent 2002 PBS “American Masters” series episode about him that I just realized exists? I rarely watched television at the time other than to veg out for 30 minutes before sleep watching Seinfeld reruns.
  2. More pertinently, perhaps, the title character/narrator sprung into my life in Chicago in the year 2000 with a very short story about a down-and-out sort in his mid-late 20s whose disappeared father leaves him stacks of boxes full of  reflective roadworker-type vests he’s (the father’s) apparently purloined from his (the father’s) employer, i.e. a division of Chicago Streets and San. Narrator ultimately comes to craft full-body reflective suits from the reflective material on these vests and take to the streets in the wee hours, tempting fate out in the middle of any number of streets, expressways, bouncing back glaring headlights of late-night revelers and criminals like a ghost.

The extremities of bright light and darkness, the wild metaphorical possibilities of the activity of standing in traffic as a life’s pursuit, the character’s somewhat misanthropic but ultimately vulnerable and empathetic nature — all of these stuck with me through the years as I went about other business and watched a near-decade of war, greed, etc. takes it toll on the people and places around me. As the toll was becoming readily apparent in 2007, I was living in Birmingham, Ala., and picked the story back up for a long-ish amount of time before other projects intervened.

What genre does your book fall under?
Literary fiction, I believe, though Amazon at one point not so long ago had my first novel, Sons of the Rapture, categorized as “Men’s Adventure” or something similar — I suppose that might fit too!

There are some elements of mystery/noir, but they’re utilized to either satirical or character-building purposes, ultimately.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Are you serious? OK, I guess you are. The only actors who could potentially play the narrator that I can actually think of and name are way too old to do so by now, which may tell you a little about my connection with a lot of U.S. popular culture at this point. Actually, on second thought, the gent who played junkie/brit rock’n’roller/budding father figure Charlie in Lost I can sort of see as physically resembling my mental image of the character. Eh…

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young man, learning of his father’s disappearance and possible death, flies off on a series of goose-chases to which he is unwitting, works without meaning at one gig after another and ultimately drops out of the mainstream of American life when he’s able to see with clarity the very simply reality that he’s not the only one dealing with the many barriers erected in front of his pursuit of meaning, happiness. (Long sentence, I know — I need to work on that. Gretchen did much better.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Are you serious? OK, once I finish it I’ll deal with that — the last two book projects I’ve undertaken (click through the image at the right for the latest) have been entirely self-driven (with pro bono help, of course — thanks again, everybody), and it’s very time-consuming to get all the pieces of a quality project together. If I can get help, I will take it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Technically, I haven’t finished the first draft. But much of the material with this one has been rewritten over and over as I slowly move forward with the story. I’ve been working off and on since 2007 with this material, after the original short in 2000. The six years have been interrupted by those two book projects (in terms of writing, editing and producing), a full-time job writing for a couple magazines, and more, so saying I’ve been working on it for six years is not telling the whole story.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
As noted earlier, Invisible Man is a definite structural/broad-thematic inspiration. It will have some similarities to a number of first-person-told novels of coming of age or, rather, late coming of age and adjusting badly to adult life. Barry Hannah’s Geronimo Rex, maybe.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Cf. “where did the idea come from”/similar question above. Much of the inspiration these days is self-propelled, a matter of will, you could say, and creating the time to do the work. The Occupy phenomenon got me back into it in earnest a year and a half back, actually, supplying a sort of real-life corollary to a plot/thematic element I had long been struggling with how exactly to approach. Life is more interesting that fiction, reality catches up with fiction, all that.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It involves in its latter half or so a NASCAR driver and his team — Turner Bascombe is some senses intended as a contemporary version of wildman stock-car circuit pioneer Curtis Turner, one of the old driver-owners active mid-last century. Bascombe is something of an impossible figure in the reality of top-level stock-car racing today, being a successful driver-owner in an era of big-money multi-car teams and what-have-you, but I find the notion compelling and the potential for such a character great. I grew up near Charlotte, N.C., after all, home of most of the NASCAR teams, and a good bit of the novel is set there (the narrator spends a part of the book on the pit crew of the team after a chance meeting with Bascombe during a freeway traffic stand in Alabama on the eve of the Talladega race). I have an old affection for the racing pastime/sport/waste of perfectly good oil.

 

NEXT UP IN THE BLOG CHAIN:
Emerson
Dameron has been a THE2NDHAND contributor for a very long time, though not for a long time as well. We miss him. 

Chuck Beard is the proprietor the East Nashville-based East Side Story bookshop, dedicated to Nashville-based writers, primarily, and artists. He’s also the author of the novel Adventures Inside a Bright-Eyed Sky

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18
Oct
2012

YOU DREAM OF BIRDS, by Sonya Maizell

Maizell lives and writes in New Jersey.

1. In which you dream of birds
Four nights before your birthday, you dream of birds. There are a thousand of them perched in a great tree, their white wings drooped elegantly down their sides and their feathers trailing behind them like wedding veils. They sing a thousand beautiful songs each night, and you know this because they are singing them to you now. But one of them has no beak, and you know that if you catch it, it will grant you a wish.

When you wake up the sky is like frosted pearls, and you know that you must have a bird.

2. In which there are ants in the walls
You have no idea why you didn’t think of purchasing a bird before. It is easily the best idea you have ever had. You can hang out with the bird on your shoulder and feed it crackers and teach it foul language and you simply must have a bird.

But there is one small hurdle to leap before you can get one, and that hurdle is your roommate.

Your roommate’s name is Narandal and she is from Mongolia. You didn’t know that was even still a place that had people in it, but apparently it is because every time you come home she’s right there in your apartment being Mongolian. Narandal is a sweet girl with a round face and dark hair, but she has obsessive compulsive disorder. You think it’s a little weird, but you guess you’re OK with it. You try not to make a fuss out of anything she does. Besides, her OCD means the apartment is always clean, and as far as you’re concerned that is swell.

But it’s also why a bird may be a problem. You will need to go about this proposal very delicately.

When you get home, your roommate is sitting on the living room floor, peering earnestly at the couch. It is white and spotless, as is the carpet she is sitting on. There is a length of yellow measuring tape in her hand.

“Oh! Hello,” she says.

“Hey Nina,” you say. You call her Nina because you do not know how to pronounce her real name. “What’re you doing down there?”

“Oh, the couch, it needs to be two inches away from the wall.”

“Why?”

“Well! You know, there could be ants in the walls,” she says, looking at her hands.

“Neat,” you say. Narandal smiles at you and continues her meticulous calculations. You pause for a few moments before continuing. “So I was wondering, do you mind if I get a bird?”

“A bird?” she asks. Her expression does not look promising. You grapple for a way to get her to agree. You must have a bird.

“Yeah it’s uh, it’s not my bird. It’s for … my friend. She’s going to … Canada. She needs me to watch it.”

“Oh,” she says, “How long will your friend be in Canada?”

“A while,” you say.

Your roommate looks uncertain.

“I’ll keep it out of the way in my room! And she says it’s like really quiet.”

“Well, all right,” Narandal says. Your heart explodes into multicolored confetti.

“OK, cool. You need any help with the couch?”

“No, no. I’m fine,” she says, eyes fixed on the cushions. But you barely hear her. You are already in your room looking up pet stores.

3. In which you have waking dreams
That afternoon you head out to purchase your bird. The pet store you decide on is called Basically Birds, which you think is a bit silly because how could anything be Complicatedly Birds, but you are just an accounting undergrad so what the hell do you know about bird stores anyway.

You park your car in a drab shopping plaza filled with sidewalk cracks and angry mothers. Basically Birds is nestled between a thrift store and an Armenian bakery. The smell of burnt sugar wafts over you as you head inside the shop.

Basically Birds turns out to be a very self-explanatory name. It is basically filled with birds. There are cages of birds on the walls and hanging from the ceiling and standing on the floor and just about anywhere a cage could possibly go. The birds that fill them are multicolored and numerous. Tufts of their feathers wander through the air like flecks of prismatic ash. Some of these birds you immediately recognize: a fat, ruby-red macaw, a slim ivory cockatiel, a shy brown finch. Yet others seem strange to you, the patterns on their feathers complicated and alien. They regard you with wide black eyes when you draw close. You can see your face, awkward and flat, reflected in their eyes’ glassy surfaces, so you stare at the floor instead. The carpet is some kind of brown, and dust puffs out from it in tiny A-bomb clouds whenever you shift your feet.

Eventually the owner of the store shuffles sleepily through the corridor of cages to greet you. With your nose still saturated with the scent of sucrose from the bakery outside, you immediately compare her to a cake. She moves toward you, large and lumbering, as though she may tilt too far and topple over at any moment. Her face is framed by lazy curls of russet hair that spill out from her scalp, her clothes candy-colored and puffy. Her eyes, deep and tired, examine you skeptically before she welcomes you to the store.

“Hi! I’m, uh, I’m here to buy a bird,” you tell her. You find yourself raising your voice to compete with the squawks and chirps around you.

“Obviously,” she says, moseying over to the counter near the door. You note disappointedly that her voice is bored and gray and not very cake-like. “What kind?”

This question, though simple, catches you a little off guard. You didn’t really think about what kind of bird. You just want a bird. You are going to feed it crackers and teach it foul language and train it to bring you tiny objects that you are too lazy to fetch across the room. Who cares what kind it is?“Well, maybe one that can talk?” you venture, “And … that’s friendly?”

“Parakeet,” the store owner responds before leading you over to a tall gray cage filled with small, flashy birds the color of almost-ripe bananas. They flutter excitedly from perch to perch at your approach, chirping pleasantly and preening their feathers. A few of them hop closer and turn their heads to the side to view you with one eye before scampering away again. You decide that parakeets are adorable.

“Which one?” the owner asks.

You lean forward to give the flock a closer examination. They all seem pretty wonderful, but pretty identical too. How does she expect you to choose? You spend a few moments watching them quietly, trying to see if there are any personalities that stand out, but none do. They nibble at their yellow-green feathers and climb up the walls and squabble with each other for rights to the food bowl.

And then you see it.

Hidden away at the very top of the cage, above your head, is a bird the color of a pale summer sky. It is the sort of blue Aztecs wore in beaded flecks in their hair. It’s the indigo-gray that swallows up the sky after a deep storm. It’s the kind of sapphire that splashes up from the sea when it meets an ancient cliff. It is the innocent cobalt of a fresh-picked berry. It is the brilliant cerulean of a cloudless dawn. It is all of these, and yet none of them at the same time. It is beautiful. It is perfect.

“That one!” you say, pointing up at it.

“Huh,” the owner says, “You sure?” You nod enthusiastically.

She shrugs and reaches over your head to open a small latched door at the top of the cage. Several birds scatter out of the way of her hand, but the blue bird does not seem to mind the invasion of its space. She gathers it up in her palms and, holding it gently, removes it from the cage and places it into a small box. You hand her several crumpled bills from your pocket, take the box, and head for home.

4. In which there are two thousand eyes
Three nights before your birthday, you dream of birds. They circle their great tree as a flock. Their fluttering sheds the small, fluffy feathers beneath their wings and these fall around you like snow. You call up to them, asking them to come down and sing for you, but you cannot hear your voice above the discordant ruffling of their wings. They do not land. One thousand white feathered heads turn to look at you from above.

They watch you until you wake up.

5. In which you speak to the wings beneath the sun
Your roommate is not interested in seeing the bird. She is incredibly busy. When you wander out into the kitchen to give your new bird some quiet time, you find that she has removed everything from the cabinets and has set to lining them with very precisely cut lengths of cardboard. She’s good at it, and you wonder where she learned to cut cardboard for lining cabinetry. You speculate over what she did when she lived in Mongolia. Sometimes you hear her speaking in Mongolian over the phone, and you wonder if she is talking about you.

Narandal never speaks to you about her old home, which is probably because you never ask. The one time you did, she told you that her mother had abandoned her when she was very young, and you weren’t sure what to say about that, so then she told you her real name.

“My mother chose it,” she explained, smiling and patient.

“How do you say it? Narndle?”

“Narandal. Roll the R,” she said gently.

“Narrrr-andle,” you said, butchering it as much as is possible.

“Nina is fine.”

“What does it mean?”

Narandal paused a few moments before responding, looking thoughtful. “Sort of like … a pair of great wings spread out beneath the sun.”

“That’s beautiful.”

“Yes. I think choosing it is the one thing she did right,” Narandal said with a frown, and it was then you decided not to ask again. At the time you meant you’d never ask her about Mongolia, but somehow not talking about Mongolia became not talking about anything at all. You don’t ask her why she thinks there are ants in the walls, or why covering the cabinets in cardboard will keep them safe, or why she scrubs the counters even when they’re already glittering.

You leave her in her life and you stay occupied in your own.

6. In which you wait for silence
After sitting silently for an entire day, your new bird has begun to move. It slides slowly across its perch to examine the toy on one end, and then back to the other side, over and over. It does not seem to be doing anything similar to the excitable fluttering you observed at the pet store, but you are sure that it will take up more entertaining behavior in time. It is cute with fluffy feathers and you are going to teach it foul language and feed it crackers and take it for walks in the bird park, if that is even a real thing. You just need to be patient, as the woman you bought it from suggested.

So you leave the bird to get comfortable. While it settles you work on knitting a hat for your friend’s new baby. You can’t remember if it’s a boy or a girl, so you make it green. You work on a paper for your Auditing and Corporate Governance class. You pick up your room a little while Narandal washes the living room walls. You check your work schedule for the coming weekend. You quietly, and patiently, wait for your bird to notice you.

And that patience is rewarded with a shriek.

There is no other way for you to describe it. Suddenly, without provocation, your bird has begun to scowl and scream. The noise is high-pitched and unpleasant in every possible way. It flaps its long, beautiful wings and clicks its tiny orange beak and shouts and shouts and shouts.

This is not what you expected at all.

You phone the owner of Basically Birds, and she answers in a manner that suggests a recent nap. You picture red velvet cupcakes in the place of her hair as you speak to her.

“Hi, I bought a parakeet from you the other day and it’s making this really loud, squawking kind of noise,” you tell her.

“Yup,” she says. “They do that.”

“What do you mean, they do that?” you ask.

“They do that. They make all sorts of noises. That’s one of them.” She sounds bored with you.

“Well, you didn’t say that before,” you say, confused and worried.

“Yup, well, they do that,” she says again.

“Is there a way to make them stop?”

“Just give it attention and don’t stress it out. Should shout less. But they still do that. It’s one of their sounds.”

“OK. Thanks, I guess.”

It takes another 10 minutes for your new bird to calm down. Its vocal chords exercised, it takes to sitting silently once more. You are left feeling nervous and unsure, and you do not even think about feeding it crackers.

7. In which something is wrong
Two nights before your birthday, you dream of birds. They funnel into the sky like a glorious waterspout, but something is wrong. They are not beautiful and elegant. Instead, they are ragged and afraid. They flee their great tree as though it will bite. “What’s wrong?” you ask them. “Where are you going?” One of the birds lands on your shoulder.

“We have seen one thousand silver suns in the sky,” it says, “and they light the way to freedom.”

“But where?” you ask, watching the cloud of wings above you. “Where are you going?”

You turn to look at the bird and it is gone. The bird with no beak has taken its place, and it cannot speak to you. It turns its head to face you with one eye. It is wide and black and deep, like a chasm that falls down to the center of the earth. You shiver, and find that you can wish for nothing but for it to leave.

8. In which you take the bad luck
Your roommate is too nervous to drive anywhere, so the next morning when she tells you that she needs groceries you are the one to take her. You’re happy to go this time. Your new bird is still having shrieking fits about once an hour and you would be lying if you said it wasn’t a little annoying. You wait quietly as she examines the expiration dates on every item she selects, sometimes rifling through a shelf for several minutes to find a specific one. She blinks nervously at the shelves as though they are plotting to kill her.

When you get back to the apartment, Narandal refuses to go inside. There is a white cat lounging near the door. “We have to wait,” she tells you, grasping your upper arm. “We have to wait for someone else to go near to take the bad luck, or it will be ours.”

“That’s black cats,” you tell her.

“No,” she says, her dark eyes fixed on the animal’s fur. “No, it is white.”

You walk up to the door and shoo the cat away. You don’t think OCD makes people superstitious, so it’s probably just one of those Mongolian things. She probably has all kinds of crazy foreign ideas about bad omens and spirits and junk. Your roommate smiles cautiously at you as you walk inside together.

While Narandal spends the next hour putting her purchases away in carefully measured rows, you go to check on your new bird. It screeches at your approach.

“Hey, shh, shh, relax. It’s OK, little bird. It’s all right,” you say in a voice that could be soothing. The bird only shrieks some more. “Shhh, shhh,” you say. You promised your roommate that it wouldn’t be noisy, and you know she can hear it screaming from your room. You have to get it to quiet down, but it won’t. The more you try to assure it, the more it yells and flutters and squawks.

“Just shut up!” you eventually hiss, but it does not.

9. In which you dream of nothing at all
The night before your birthday you dream of nothing at all, and this is because you do not sleep. The bird will not stop screaming. You are sure that at any moment Narandal will come in to confront you about it, but she does not. Why won’t it stop screaming? It seems to you that it barely even pauses to breathe. It just shouts and shrieks and screeches. You resolve the next morning to take it back to the pet shop. Thoughts of teaching it foul language and feeding it crackers are far behind you. You barely think anything at all. It’s too loud to think.

Your fingers clutch at the quilt of your bed and the sweat of your palms rubs off on the blue-gray pattern of the fabric. Why won’t it stop screaming? You turn your head and yell back at your bird, but it is too loud to hear yourself above its shrieks. It’s too much. You leap out of bed and hurry to Narandal’s room. You need to apologize. She spends her life worrying about ants and cats and dirt and now she has to listen to your new bird and you just can’t stand it. You shove her door open and you are startled to find that she had been asleep. She sits up and asks you something. You know this because you see her mouth move, but it is too loud to hear what she is saying. She gets out of bed and clasps your hands, asking again. But you cannot hear her, and she cannot hear you when you respond. The bird isn’t just screaming now, it’s wailing and howling and squealing and roaring and you just can’t think at all.

You tear back into your room with the sun rising on your back and to your new bird’s cage. Its wings are the blue of old midnights and cold stars. You scream back at it to stop, to shut up, to keep quiet, but still you can hear nothing.

You rip open the door of the cage and seize the bird, its small beak open wide in an unholy outcry. You shake its tiny feathered form, begging it, pleading with it to be quiet, and it is only when small splotches of red begin to dye its indigo feathers that you realize it is dead.

But its screams do not go with it. They cling to your ears and rattle at your ribcage and leap down your throat and you begin to realize that the shrieks are coming from you and it is just too loud to think, so you think of nothing at all. Every sound begins to amplify itself in your mind’s emptiness. Your heart beats staccato rolls of thunder against your chest. Your blood pulses in ocean waves, crashing and roaring on the surf of your veins. Each ear-splitting exhalation that rushes through your teeth comes as a monsoon melody, dripping down into the cavernous bellow that is boiling in your stomach. It reverberates in a harrowing cacophony of sound, jumbled together and leaping from wall to wall, breath to breath, and ear to ear. Your eyes are filling up with the red of disharmony and your hands are filled with blue feathers and hollow bones.

You sink to the floor, surrounded by the remains of your new bird.

It all stops when you run out of air. The sound dwindles into the emptiness of your lungs, shirking away like a scarlet shadow.

There is no noise, now.

And that silence, quietly deafening, is the loudest of all.

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16
Jan
2011

Final 10-anniv. book push with Feb. events in Chicago, Nashville

With a month left in THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter.com campaign to fund the printing of our mammoth 10th anniversary anthology, I’m starting what may amount to the final big push to reach the goal. It’s most definitely in sight. As of today, we’re just more than $250 shy of it. Contributors, T2H partisans and others who’ve helped spread the word about the project, a big shout to you. Your efforts have clearly born fruit. Now would be the time to start shooting out those reminders to those who may have been distracted by the holidays or just, well, distracted… I know I was, to one degree or another, but still managed to, just prior to said holiday, get the second in our All Hands On special-edition broadsheets out. If you missed Chicago writer and lit scene force Fred Sasaki’s “Pressure Billiards” minisheet (here pictured, front side), read it here or download the minisheet directly by clicking on the image. Part of Sasaki’s “Letters of Interest” series, which might well be the “Lazlo letters” of the internet age — marketing its target, manipulation through on-the-spot digital, textual interaction its method — the piece is also featured in the 10th anniversary collection, after debuting to a crowd at the East Nashville Portland Brew back in September last year.

Speaking of Portland Brew, two events will cap the fund-raising campaign. Here in Nashville, a crew of All Hands On-contributing writers spanning THE2NDHAND’s 11-year journey from Chicago to Birmingham, Nashville, and Louisville, with faces new and old, gathers 11 years to the Saturday, Feb. 12, we hosted our first release party on the fourth floor of 1278 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. The reading will be in large part collaboratively focused, with Birmingham’s Nadria Tucker and Nashville’s Matt Cahan presenting work from the book and C.T. Ballentine, myself, Susannah Felts and Henry Ronan-Daniel performing under the Pitchfork Battalion moniker.

Martin Cadieux, too, the wood-block printmaker I’ve written about here, will table with certain of his prints, including examples of the envelopes he did for us to house collections of past broadsheets.

And if you’re in Chicago, Feb. 1 is the date of our next Nerves of Steel event — this one features the hip-hop of the Tomorrow Kings, Nerves of Steel alumnus Mairead Case, presenting a graphic novel, and All Hands On contributor Marc Baez, among others.

Here’s our Kickstarter link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

And for media folks among you, I’ve updated our press release to reflect the upcoming events associated, at http://the2ndhand.com/T2HKICKSTARTERRELEASE.doc. Full text is below. Again, big thanks for helping spread the word, likewise to those who’ve contributed.

Nashville and Chicago-based THE2NDHAND passes halfway mark in pledge campaign for ‘All Hands On’ 10th-anniversary anthology; ending campaign events in Chicago, Nashville Feb. 1 and 12

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND after 10, 2000-11, a Reader will be published in 2011 to celebrate and lay down the best of the broadsheet and online magazine’s 10+ years of publishing writing by the budding insurgents of the American lit landscape and other more established writers. THE2NDHAND reached the halfway point in a 90-day fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter.com a week after its launch on November 18 to raise $2,000 to cover printing costs.

By pledging $14 or more, readers can preorder a copy of the 300-plus-page book, which collects work all told from 40 writers, 3 illustrators, four editors, and a couple janitors. Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader for the campaign, or http://the2ndhand.com/books.html.

True to form, the book begins with a section of new, as-yet unpublished work representing the full range of the magazine’s long local presence in Chicago (with new work by Chicagoans Patrick Somerville, Michael Zapata and Fred Sasaki), Birmingham, Ala. (Nadria Tucker) and Nashville, Tenn. (Matt Cahan), as well as its far-flung influence in the world of new literary writing the nation over. Contributors to the front, new-work section of the book represent regions from New England to the West Coast, and the large majority of the collection is devoted to special sections highlighting short fiction by the magazine’s best repeat contributors, from Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps), first published in THE2NDHAND in its third issue in its first year, 2000, to more recent contributors like Chicagoan Heather Palmer, whose novella “Charlie’s Train” was serialized at THE2NDHAND.com as its 11th year began in February of 2010.

On Feb. 1, Chicago writer and All Hands On special-section contributor Marc Baez will perform as part of THE2NDHAND’s SoYou Think You Have Nerves of Steel? literary/variety performance series, hosted THE2NDHAND coeditor Jacob Knabb and All Hands On contributing writer Kate Duva, and in Nashville, THE2NDHAND founding editor Todd Dills and coeditor C.T. Ballentine (of Louisville, Ky.) gather with contributors Nadria Tucker (of Birmingham), Cahan, Susannah Felts and others for a reading on the exactly anniversary of THE2NDHAND’s first-issue Chicago release party in 2000, Feb. 12. See below for full reading details.

(Zapata’s “White Twilight,” a speculative fictional take of sorts on the first U.S. census to come back with those checking “white” in the race/ethnicity box in a solid minority, is the featured story in THE2NDHAND’s broadsheet No. 35, out now as a sneak peek into the book; also recently released was an installment — broadsheet No. 35.1 — of THE2NDHAND’s mini-broadsheet series featuring Fred Sasaki’s “Pressure Billiards,” part of his “Letters of Interest” series, a sort of Lazlo letters for the Internet age. )

Other pledge rewards include, in addition to a copy of the book, THE2NDHAND’s signature bergamot-infused bar by Alabama soap maker The Left Hand (thelefthand.net), several books by contributors and editors (from All Hands On cover designer and past contributor Zach Dodson and contributor Patrick Somerville to THE2NDHAND’s founding editor, Todd Dills) and, among others, packets of 10 and 15 broadsheets spanning the 10-year history of THE2NDHAND packaged in custom-designed and -printed envelopes by Nashville-based wood-block fine-arts printmaker Martin Cadieux. At the highest pledge level, $150, a limited number full boxed sets in packaging likewise printed by Cadieux are available.

For more about THE2NDHAND, visit THE2NDHAND.com and peruse past broadsheets and online-magazine archives. THE2NDHAND’s editor will be sharing previews, likewise, of some of the artwork to be included in All Hands On – Chicago artist Rob Funderburk, formerly THE2NDHAND’s principle designer, is at work on illustrative portraits of special-section writers included, for instance. Some in-process photos of Cadieux’ wood-block-printed envelopes are already available in this blog post from early November by THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills. A fact sheet of sorts about the book, its contributors and the history of the broadsheet and online magazine follows. For interviews with any of the writers listed, please contact THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills.

EVENTS (http://the2ndhand.com/events/events.html):

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m.
@ Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago
SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE NERVES OF STEEL?

Featuring:
*Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor, Chicago experimental writer Marc Baez
*Mairead Case
w/ a graphic novel slideshow
*hip-hop by the Tomorrow Kings (http://empworldwide.com/tomorrowkings)

Also: A special public service announce from Seth Dodson and Kellen Alexander

*House band: Good evening (http://goodeveningmusic.com)

*Hosted by Monsieur Harold Ray (the janitorial-services-type, still-West Virginian v. of T2H coeditor Jacob Knabb) and T2H regular Kate Duva

Saturday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m.
@ Portland Brew, 1921 Eastland Ave., Nashville, Tenn.
THE2NDHAND AFTER 10: A NASHVILLE READING

Four days before the end of its Kickstarter.com campaign to raise $2,000 to print its 10th-anniversary anthology, All Hands On, THE2NDHAND’s editors and contributors gather at this event to present new writing and work to be published in the book, with performances by:

*T2H shapeshifting collaborative writing crew of the Pitchfork Battalion

*T2H Louisville, Ky.-based coeditor C.T. Ballentine (whose “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella is featured in its entirety in the All Hands On book)

*Birmingham-based Nadria Tucker, a frequent T2H contributor, with a special section in the book

*Nashville’s own Matt Cahan, whose “Coyote Business,” a short exploring the cultural connections between Mexico and the United States excerpted from his “Straight Commission” novel in progress, via the tale of a group of would-be Mexican migrants and a U.S. chemical salesman

*Susannah Felts, Nashville-based author of the novel This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record, Watkins College of Art & Design writing professor and regular contributor to Humanties Tennessee’s Chapter 16 literary website

*Nashville-based Henry Ronan-Daniel

Nashville-based wood-block printmaker Martin Cadieux will be on-hand showcasing his print work for THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter campaign, among other work.

FACTS:

THE2NDHAND KICKSTARTER campaign main page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

VIDEO: A photographic tour through 10 years of THE2NDHAND’s broadsheets, with audio selections from editor C.T. Ballentine’s introduction to All Hands On and more is available via THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter fund drive page or www.youtube.com/the2ndhandutube.

IMAGES:

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, 2000-2011, a Reader, cover image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/allhandscovercolor.JPG
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 pdf:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/THE2NDHAND_35.pdf
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 front side image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/thumbnail.JPG

Some other things that are known:

75: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked or are currently working in the mag’s co-HQ of Chicago.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in West Virginia.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in past co-HQ of Birmingham, Ala., and current co-HQ of Nashville, Tenn.

50: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in Louisville, Ky.

42: Number of total THE2NDHAND broadsheets, including numbered half-issues 6.5, 13.5 and 16.5 and our recent 8.5-by-11-inch mini-sheets for primarily digital distribution, begun with No. 33.1 in January 2010.

Today, THE2NDHAND is:

Editors Todd Dills (Nashville, Tenn.), C.T. Ballentine (Louisville, Ky.), Jacob Knabb (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)

Janitors: Rufus Beady, Harold Ray (all over and everywhere)

And many writers

When it began with a launch party Saturday Feb. 12, at 1278 N. Milwaukee, Floor 4, in Chicago, it was:

Editor Todd Dills (Chicago)

Design men Jeremy Bacharach and (now children’s book illustrator) Matt Cordell (matthewcordell.com)

And fewer writers

Between 2002 and 2004, it was:

Editors Todd Dills and Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)

Design man Evan Sult (later of band Bound Stems, of Chicago)

Propaganda minister Eric Graf

And more writers

Between 2005 and 2007, it was:

Editors Todd Dills, Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago) and C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)

Design man (Chicago artist) Rob Funderburk (robfunderburk.com)

Propaganda minister Eric Graf

And more writers

Between 2006 and 2009, it was:

Editors Todd Dills (Birmingham, Ala.), C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)

And more and more writers

Of those writers:

Contributors to All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10
It’s been a long run for THE2NDHAND, the little magazine — not even a magazine in any traditional sense, but rather a broadsheet, perhaps the last periodical on earth to be launched without a prefabbed website to bolster its offset-printed pages (though ‘twas to follow shortly, publishing flash and serial fiction weekly from late 2000 on). We mean: THE2NDHAND is a page. A big one – 11-by-17-inch block of black text peppered variously with photo-illustrations, comics, line drawings, distributed in storefronts first in Chicago, then in an ever-growing list of cities around the U.S…. “New writing,” simply, has been its focus since 2000, when THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills founded the broadsheet working from a crackerbox hole of an apartment in Logan Square, Chicago — small-format has been its watchword physically, but a loud mouth and a big heart its most important parts.

True to form, All Hands On’s front section features new work by Michael Zapata, Nadria Tucker, Jamie Iredell, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Fred Sasaki, Amanda Yskamp, Ben Stein (Amherst, Mass.) and Matt Cahan, as well as a collaborative short by Susannah Felts & Todd Dills and a mini-epic poem (“Chicago”) by Doug Milam.

**Cover design by Featherproof Books’ (and T2H contributor) Zach Dodson
**Illustrations for the lead section by comix artist/cermacist Andrew Davis
**Author illustrations by Chicago artist and T2H occasionaljanitor-in-residence
Rob Funderburk
**Special sections with multiple short stories by Marc Baez, coeditor C.T. Ballentine (including the entirety of his “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella; Ballentine also penned, with copious editorial footnoting by Todd Dills, the book’s introduction), Philip Brunetti, Al Burian (the Burn Collector zine and associated books), Tobias Carroll (“The Scowl” blogger), Spencer Dew (Songs of Insurgency), Kate Duva (cohost of our Chicago “So you think you have nerves of steel?” reading series), David Gianatasio (Mind Games), Mickey Hess (Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory), Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps, Hairstyles of the Damned), Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out), Doug Milam (Still the Confusion), Anne Elizabeth Moore (Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity) with comic adaptation by Josh Bayer, Greggory Moore, Kevin O’Cuinn, Heather Palmer, Michael Peck, the Pitchfork Battalion (a collaborative crew with roving membership, including many of those already listed, plus, featured in the book, Sean Carswell, Jim Murphy, Emerson Dameron, John Minichillo, Motke Dapp, and Dominique Holmes), Lauren Pretnar, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Jill Summers, Paul A. Toth (Finale), and Nadria Tucker.

I-65 U.S. Interstate Highway within 40 miles of which 57 percent of all AHO contributors live.

30: Percentage of AHO contributors who live in Chicago.

ABOUT Special section authors in AHO:

Chicago writer Marc Baez’s work first appeared in THE2NDHAND in its second year, with a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart. Part 1 of his most recent, tricornered contribution, published in 2009, is featured here, among others. Baez teaches writing at the University of Illinois Chicago. Baez’s work was also featured in THE2NDHAND’s 2004 All Hands On: A THE2NDHAND Reader, 2000-2004 anthology.

C.T. Ballentine has been an editor with THE2NDHAND since 2007 and a contributor since 2005. Also a sound engineer in various music halls and opera houses, he lives, writes and loves between Louisville, Ky., Chicago and Huntsville, Ala.

Philip Brunetti lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has been contributing to THE2NDHAND since the fall of 2008.

Al Burian wrote the first issue of the Burn Collector zine in the mid-1990s and continues to write it — and much else besides — today. He’s behind a book of the same name collecting previous installments of the zine and Natural Disaster, collecting later work. When not touring with his work, he lives in Berlin, occasionally Chicago and elsewhere.

Tobias Carroll lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y. His work as a book and music critic has been published widely, and his fiction has appeared semi-regularly in THE2NDHAND (since 2007) and other mags. Find more at his indie-culture blog, The Scowl (yourbestguess.com/thescowl).

Spencer Dew, based in Chicago, authored the 2008 “Songs of Insurgency” collection, out from Vagabond Press, and his shorts have appeared in great frequency in many online and print journals, including THE2NDHAND. In 2010 Another New Calligraphy is publishing his Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres book. Visit spencerdew.com for links to pieces of his prolific online lit presence.

Kate Duva grew up in Chicago in a bar; she still lives in the city, where she writes and serves as cohost in THE2NDHAND’s ongoing So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? reading series, first Tuesday of the month at Hungry Brain on Belmont. Other of her work can be found in Fugue and Opium, on Vocalo Radio and at kateduva.blogspot.com.

David Gianatasio is the author of two collections of short stories, most recently 2008’s Mind Games (Word Riot). He’s published prolifically online for years. He lives in Boston, Mass.

Mickey Hess is a professor of English at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. His work for THE2NDHAND has included serving as progenitor and editor of our FAQ section, and his stories and essays have been published in journals and magazines ranging from Punk Planet and McSweeney’s to more scholarly affairs. He is the author of the memoir Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory and the editor of Greenwood Press’ two-volume Icons of Hip-hop, among other literary and scholarly works.

Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor Joe Meno is the author of several books, including most recently the novel The Great Perhaps (2009), as well as short story collections Demons in the Spring (Akashic) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (Northwestern University Press) and the novels The Boy Detective Fails and Hairstyles of the Damned. He is on the faculty of Columbia College in Chicago, where he lives and writes.

Jonathan Messinger is Time Out Chicago’s books editor and the driving editorial force behind the Chicago-based concerns Featherproof Books and the Dollar Store reading series. A prolific short-story writer in his own right, his first collection, Hiding Out, came out in 2007.

Doug Milam lives and writes in Bellingham, Wash. He is the author of a chapbook of shorts, Still the Confusion, and has been published in a variety of other literary magazines. Visit him at milam.blogsite.org/wordpress.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is the author of Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity (The New Press, 2007), and Hey Kidz, Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on Corporate and Governmental Propaganda and Artistic Activism for Short People (Soft Skull, 2004). Moore served as associate editor of the now-defunct Punk Planet magazine and was the founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin. Today, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when she’s not traveling the globe speaking on freedom of speech issues.

Greggory Moore is a lifelong southern California resident, freelance journalist and fiction writer and poet.

Kevin O’Cuinn lives in Frankfurt am Main but is originally from Dublin; he coedits fiction for Word Riot.

Heather Palmer lives in Chicago. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines. In 2010 THE2NDHAND serialized her novella, “Charlie’s Train,” at THE2NDHAND.com, parts of which are excerpted in AHO.

Michael Peck, after a time in Philadelphia and with roots deep upstate New York, lives and writes in Missoula, Mont. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Rittenhouse Revue, 34th Parallel and others.

The Pitchfork Battalion is THE2NDHAND’s answer to the Wu Tang Clan or to any collaborative artistic group, really. Typically, we collaborate on a theme, or do individual riffs on a phrase in prose – sometimes poetry, as the case of Jim Murphy’s addition to the 2009 “Extraordinary Rendition” is evidence. In AHO are some of our best. For the lot of them, written at the initial instigation of our FAQ editor and continuing contributor Mickey Hess, from 2005 to the present, visit http://the2ndhand.com/archive/archivepitchfork.html.

Lauren Pretnar lives and writes in Chicago.

Patrick Somerville is the author of a novel, The Cradle, and the Trouble collection of stories (patricksomerville.com). In 2010, his genre-busting The Universe in Miniature in Miniature was released by Featherproof Books. He lives and writes in Chicago.

Jill Summers’ audio fiction has been heard via Chicago Public Radio and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, including THE2NDHAND, where she is a continuing contributor.

Paul A. Toth is the author of a triptych of novels — Fizz, Fishnet and Finale — and lives today in Sarasota, Fla., after years in Flint, Mich. Visit www.netpt.tv; Toth also works in multimedia, poetry and nonfiction.

Nadria Tucker hails from Atmore in South Alabama, though she lives and writes in Birmingham.

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04
Jan
2011

TONIGHT

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26
Dec
2010

Holmes, Gianatasio, Baez — words for now

Big thanks to all the folks who’ve contributed to the fund drive for THE2NDHAND’s 10th-anniversary anthology, being conducted via Kickstarter.com here. A third of the way through, we’re more than two-thirds funded at this point, well on track to reach the goal — keep getting the word out there as you can. (Past THE2NDHAND.com contributor Ben Tanzer, proprietor of This Blog Will Change Your Life, take note, posted about ‘All Hands On’ a week or so ago, among other notes around the web — thanks, Ben!)

Today, a couple contributors to THE2NDHAND featured in special sections in the book whose work continues to be some of the most at once challenging and comically adept of all T2H’s writers’ to date.

Today we’ve got up as a little Christmas gift to those not worn out by present-getting the first part in Kingston, Jamaica, writer Dominique Holmes‘ “The Girls Talk to Her Like It’s Nothing,” a fantastic story of a world in post-calamity mode, after a flood. Holmes appears in the Pitchfork Battalion special section in the collection in collaboration with myself and T2H coeditor C.T. Ballentine.

David Gianatasio, Boston-based author of a couple collections of shorts, most recently Mind Games (Word Riot 2008), penned “The World Ends Every Day,” a perfect example of the playful intertextuality of much of Gianatasio’s work. We published it in our online mag just last week. It begins:

The onramp swoops overhead like some giant abstract sculpture. We made a film about the last man on earth, and this long-closed stretch of overgrown highway and its immediate environs provided the perfect set. If this were an apocalyptic novel, by J.G. Ballard perhaps, the central traffic island would be cluttered with rusted household appliances, mangled cars, shriveled-up condoms and empty cigarette packs…

The piece proceeds as part film script, part commentary on the script and the film’s making by the method actor telling the story. His ultimate apocalypse (an experienced unveiling, by definition, when the curtain is drawn back to reveal the heart of the truth), in story, is more affecting than the film, to be sure. Read it here.

The second, Chicago scribe Marc Baez, remains perhaps the most wildly experimental of all THE2NDHAND’s regular writers, and thus to my mind one of the most dynamically appealing. Baez’s triptych of stories — well, a poem (“Elegy”), a piece of disjointed poetic prose (“Bloodlines”), and an hilarious exchange between a mother and son (“The Similes”) — featured two weeks back at THE2NDHAND.com is a quick blast emblematic of the author’s range. From “The Similes: Episode 1 — Eat Your Greenbeans”:

Mother: You better eat your green beans unless you wanna look like an old scratch instead of something the lord made.

Son: But they taste like skin.

Mother: Don’t you dare talk to me like I’m some whitefaced doll sewn in an Alpine meadow that you can just hang out with on the moon because nobody on earth likes you.

Son: Lots of people like me. I’m like euphoria for British rockabilly addicts.

Mother: Actually, you’re like an American rapper sucking the milk out of a fainting goat.

Son: You’re like a person who just sits on a chair and paints meat.

Mother: You’re like a local Nebraska television cameraman eating a macaroni salad on break.

Son: You’re like a middle-aged guy from Arizona who just opened the door of his Honda Civic.

Baez I’ve known since the year 2001, when we published the first of his pieces in our then newly minted online mag. Twas a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart.

Highlights from his later work include “Report From Dr. Fugue,” published in our 10th broadsheet, the story of the title Doc’s reanimation of the corpse of Henry Miller and the ensuing havoc wreaked on Chicago bystanders. Read it here: http://the2ndhand.com/print10/story1.html.

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03
Dec
2010

Revisiting Billy Clockout, Antipurpose; New Davis illustrations to be featured in 'All Hands On'

If you haven’t in the recent past, take a moment to page back through the installments of Indianapolis/Bloomington, Ind.-based comix artist and ceramicist Andrew Davis’ “Hideous Bounty” series.

The latest edition, “Sea Snake” (pictured here) is live. Davis cut his artistic teeth in a grad program in Northwest Pennsylvania after a childhood and undergraduate work in South Carolina, where we shared an apartment for a brief time. He inked the original comic to appear in THE2NDHAND‘s first broadsheets — the adventures of one “Billy Clockout,” a young loser bumbling his way through a bizarre existence with a very large rabbit-human for a girlfriend — and the “Hideous Bounty” series was launched way back in 2004, during the arguable height of American messianic tendencies, as the “Antipupose Driven Life.” And I quote:

The Oath of Antipurpose
1) Create your own chemicals or use already existing ones.
2) Have five cats or have none.
3) Watch the sun rise or sleep in.
4) Fight or make love.
5) We must repeat.

Davis’ illustrations also show up in THE2NDHAND no. 35, our latest broadsheet, which showcases new work from All Hands On, where his work will be featured prominently.

Last week, we passed the halfway point in our fund drive at Kickstarter.com for the AHO book, marking THE2NDHAND’s 10th anniversary. Check out the video on our Kickstarter main page for several close-up stills of Davis’ past Billy Clockout comics.

****
And hey, Harold Ray made Chicago weekly New City and other papers this week, in stories about the So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? event upcoming Tuesday, Dec. 7, next week, which features among others broadsheet no. 35 writer Michael Zapata, AHO contributors Spencer Dew and event chost Kate Duva and many others. Ray (aka T2H coeditor and ACM fiction editor Jacob Knabb) talked with New City’s Kristine Sherred about the event’s genesis about a year ago in the mind of coeditor C.T. Ballentine as well as, well, the Kickstarter pledge campaign. . . T2H partisans, thanks for all the support in that endeavor thus far. Keep the word moving out there, and a big thanks, again, to all who’ve laid down preorders and contributed thus far. If you haven’t, go for it.

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23
Nov
2010

Shya Scanlon's 'Forecast'; THE2NDHAND's 10th anniversary anthology

Kudos to Shya Scanlon. His debut novel, available now via Flatmancrooked, marks the release of something long in the making that I’m happy to say we could be a part of via THE2NDHAND.com. Last summer, we published a small piece of the book in Chapter 8 here, one in 42 separate online pieces published in 42 separate online mags and blogs Scanlon proved marked logistical prowess by roping together in an uninterrupted chain of publishing.

He recent wrote all of us to announce publication of the ultimate results in a single volume, calling it “something I hadn’t, at the start, foreseen,” but I cry wolf to that. Anyone with that much pull on the imaginations of that many editors could well be forgiven for expecting as much, if not more. Get over to Flatmancrooked and order a copy.

And hey, in case you’ve missed the news making the rounds on the social networks and at our site, we’re live both with a new special edition broadsheet (with an absolutely kick-ass short by Chicago’s Michael Zapata) with a Kickstarter.com campaign to raise funds for printing and related expenses for our All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10 collection next year. You can preorder the book for $14, and there are other associated rewards at various pledge levels, including broadsheet packets and some full sets with block-printed covers by Cadieux (see previous post), bizarre “buy a header” schemes (think of it as a sort of satirical/whimsical take on vanity publishing, or textual/print tagging).

We’re doing well thus far, but still have plenty of ground to cover. Check out the vid below, and following find a link to a press release we’re updating with facts/figures as they are remembered/recorded.

A QUESTION: When did you first encounter THE2NDHAND. Tell me at todd@the2ndhand.com. Can’t remember? Hey, we like to read fiction, of course. -TD

Grab the press release, with links to images, video, etc.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezx5SYSMZc0]

From the release:

Nashville and Chicago-based THE2NDHAND launches pledge campaign for ‘All Hands On’ 10th-anniversary anthology / “Nerves of Steel” event Dec. 7.

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND after 10, 2000-11, a Reader will be published in 2011 to celebrate and lay down the best of the broadsheet and online magazine’s 10+ years of publishing writing by the budding insurgents of the American lit landscape and other more established writers. THE2NDHAND launched a 90-day fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter.com November 18 to raise the money needed to cover printing costs, and will host a kickoff party as part of its regular So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? reading series event Dec. 7 at Chicago’s Hungry Brain.

By pledging $14 or more, readers can preorder a copy of the 300-plus-page book, which collects work all told from 40 writers, 3 illustrators, four editors, and a couple janitors. Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader for the campaign, and http://the2ndhand.com/events/events.html for details on the event.

True to form, the book begins with a section of new, as-yet unpublished work representing the full range of the magazine’s long local presence in Chicago (with new work by Chicagoans Patrick Somerville and Michael Zapata), Birmingham, Ala. (Nadria Tucker) and Nashville, Tenn. (Matt Cahan), as well as its far-flung influence in the world of new literary writing the nation over. Contributors to the front, new-work section of the book represent regions from New England to the West Coast, and the large majority of the collection is devoted to special sections highlighting short fiction by the magazine’s best repeat contributors, from Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps), first published in THE2NDHAND in its third issue in its first year, 2000, to more recent contributors like Chicagoan Heather Palmer, whose novella “Charlie’s Train” was serialized at THE2NDHAND.com as its 11th year began in February of 2010.

(Zapata’s “White Twilight,” a speculative fictional take of sorts on the first U.S. census to come back with those checking “white” in the race/ethnicity box in a solid minority, is the featured story in THE2NDHAND’s broadsheet No. 35, out now as a sneak peek into the book.)

Other pledge rewards include, in addition to a copy of the book, THE2NDHAND’s signature bergamot-infused bar by Alabama soap maker The Left Hand (thelefthand.net), several books by contributors and editors (from All Hands On cover designer and past contributor Zach Dodson and contributor Patrick Somerville to THE2NDHAND’s founding editor, Todd Dills) and, among others, packets of 10 and 15 broadsheets spanning the 10-year history of THE2NDHAND packaged in custom-designed and -printed envelopes by Nashville-based wood-block fine-arts printmaker Martin Cadieux. At the highest pledge level, $150, a limited number full boxed sets in packaging likewise printed by Cadieux are available.

For more about THE2NDHAND, visit THE2NDHAND.com and peruse past broadsheets and online-magazine archives. THE2NDHAND’s editor will be sharing previews, likewise, of some of the artwork to be included in All Hands On – Chicago artist Rob Funderburk, formerly THE2NDHAND’s principle designer, is at work on illustrative portraits of special-section writers included, for instance. Some in-process photos of Cadieux’ wood-block-printed envelopes are already available in this blog post from early November by THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills. A fact sheet of sorts about the book, its contributors and the history of the broadsheet and online magazine follows. For interviews with any of the writers listed, please contact THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills.

FACTS:

THE2NDHAND KICKSTARTER campaign main page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

VIDEO: A photographic tour through 10 years of THE2NDHAND’s broadsheets, with audio selections from editor C.T. Ballentine’s introduction to All Hands On and more is available via THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter fund drive page or www.youtube.com/the2ndhandutube.

IMAGES:

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, 2000-2011, a Reader, cover image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/allhandsoncovercolor.JPG
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 pdf:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/THE2NDHAND_35.pdf
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 front side image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/thumbnail.JPG

NERVES of STEEL DETAILS:
SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE NERVES OF STEEL?
8 p.m., Tues., Dec. 7, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago

THE2NDHAND announces to Chi-town, city of its birth in 2000, the T2H Kickstarter.com campaign toward publication of its 10th-anniversary book, All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10… and of course much more, with performances by:
**THE2NDHAND No. 35 (just released) writer Michael Zapata
**the team of Matt Bell (Wolf Parts, among others) and Michael Czyzniejewski (Elephants in Our Bedroom)
**and Natalie Edwards, Mary Hamilton (of Quickie’s reading series) and Lindsay Hunter (Daddy’s) in a collaboration that will melt faces like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when they open the ark…

ALSO:
**Puppetry by Brandon Will
**music by Nerves of Steel house band Good Evening
**and a PSA by T2H regular Spencer Dew (touring a little with his Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres book out from Another New Calligraphy)

Some other things that are known:
75:
Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked or are currently working in the mag’s co-HQ of Chicago.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in West Virginia.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in past co-HQ of Birmingham, Ala., and current co-HQ of Nashville, Tenn.

50: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in Louisville, Ky.

42: Number of total THE2NDHAND broadsheets, including numbered half-issues 6.5, 13.5 and 16.5 and our recent 8.5-by-11-inch mini-sheets for primarily digital distribution, begun with No. 33.1 in January 2010.

Today, THE2NDHAND is:
Editors
Todd Dills (Nashville, Tenn.), C.T. Ballentine (Louisville, Ky.), Jacob Knabb (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)
Janitors:
Rufus Beady, Harold Ray (all over and everywhere)
And many writers

When it began with a launch party Saturday Feb. 12, at 1278 N. Milwaukee, Floor 4, in Chicago, it was:
Editor
Todd Dills (Chicago)
Design men
Jeremy Bacharach and (now children’s book illustrator) Matt Cordell (matthewcordell.com)
And fewer writers

Between 2002 and 2004, it was:
Editors
Todd Dills and Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)
Design man
Evan Sult (later of band Bound Stems, of Chicago)
Propaganda minister
Eric Graf
And more writers

Between 2005 and 2007, it was:
Editors
Todd Dills, Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago) and C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)
Design man
(Chicago artist) Rob Funderburk (robfunderburk.com)
Propaganda minister
Eric Graf
And more writers

Between 2006 and 2009, it was:
Editors
Todd Dills (Birmingham, Ala.), C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)
And more and more writers

Of those writers:

Contributors to All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10
It’s been a long run for THE2NDHAND, the little magazine — not even a magazine in any traditional sense, but rather a broadsheet, perhaps the last periodical on earth to be launched without a prefabbed website to bolster its offset-printed pages (though ‘twas to follow shortly, publishing flash and serial fiction weekly from late 2000 on). We mean: THE2NDHAND is a page. A big one – 11-by-17-inch block of black text peppered variously with photo-illustrations, comics, line drawings, distributed in storefronts first in Chicago, then in an ever-growing list of cities around the U.S…. “New writing,” simply, has been its focus since 2000, when THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills founded the broadsheet working from a crackerbox hole of an apartment in Logan Square, Chicago — small-format has been its watchword physically, but a loud mouth and a big heart its most important parts.

True to form, All Hands On’s front section features new work by Michael Zapata, Nadria Tucker, Jamie Iredell, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Fred Sasaki, Amanda Yskamp, Ben Stein (Amherst, Mass.) and Matt Cahan, as well as a collaborative short by Susannah Felts & Todd Dills and a mini-epic poem (“Chicago”) by Doug Milam.

**Cover design by Featherproof Books’ (and T2H contributor) Zach Dodson
**Illustrations for the lead section by comix artist/cermacist Andrew Davis
**Author illustrations by Chicago artist and T2H occasionaljanitor-in-residence
Rob Funderburk
**Special sections with multiple short stories by Marc Baez, coeditor C.T. Ballentine (including the entirety of his “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella; Ballentine also penned, with copious editorial footnoting by Todd Dills, the book’s introduction), Philip Brunetti, Al Burian (the Burn Collector zine and associated books), Tobias Carroll (“The Scowl” blogger), Spencer Dew (Songs of Insurgency), Kate Duva (cohost of our Chicago “So you think you have nerves of steel?” reading series), David Gianatasio (Mind Games), Mickey Hess (Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory), Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps, Hairstyles of the Damned), Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out), Doug Milam (Still the Confusion), Anne Elizabeth Moore (Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity) with comic adaptation by Josh Bayer, Greggory Moore, Kevin O’Cuinn, Heather Palmer, Michael Peck, the Pitchfork Battalion (a collaborative crew with roving membership, including many of those already listed, plus, featured in the book, Sean Carswell, Jim Murphy, Emerson Dameron, John Minichillo, Motke Dapp, and Dominique Holmes), Lauren Pretnar, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Jill Summers, Paul A. Toth (Finale), and Nadria Tucker.

I-65 U.S. Interstate Highway within 40 miles of which 57 percent of all AHO contributors live.

30: Percentage of AHO contributors who live in Chicago.

ABOUT Special section authors in AHO:
Chicago writer Marc Baez’s work first appeared in THE2NDHAND in its second year, with a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart. Part 1 of his most recent, tricornered contribution, published in 2009, is featured here, among others. Baez teaches writing at the University of Illinois Chicago. Baez’s work was also featured in THE2NDHAND’s 2004 All Hands On: A THE2NDHAND Reader, 2000-2004 anthology.

C.T. Ballentine has been an editor with THE2NDHAND since 2007 and a contributor since 2005. Also a sound engineer in various music halls and opera houses, he lives, writes and loves between Louisville, Ky., Chicago and Huntsville, Ala.

Philip Brunetti lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has been contributing to THE2NDHAND since the fall of 2008.

Al Burian wrote the first issue of the Burn Collector zine in the 1990s and continues to write it — and much else besides — today. He’s behind a book of the same name collecting previous installments of the zine and Natural Disaster, collecting later work. When not touring with his work, he lives in Berlin, occasionally Chicago and elsewhere.

Tobias Carroll lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y. His work as a book and music critic has been published widely, and his fiction has appeared semi-regularly in THE2NDHAND (since 2007) and other mags. Find more at his indie-culture blog, The Scowl (yourbestguess.com/thescowl).

Spencer Dew, based in Chicago, authored the 2008 “Songs of Insurgency” collection, out from Vagabond Press, and his shorts have appeared in great frequency in many online and print journals, including THE2NDHAND. In 2010 Another New Calligraphy is publishing his Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres book. Visit spencerdew.com for links to pieces of his prolific online lit presence.

Kate Duva grew up in Chicago in a bar; she still lives in the city, where she writes and serves as cohost in THE2NDHAND’s ongoing So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? reading series, first Tuesday of the month at Hungry Brain on Belmont. Other of her work can be found in Fugue and Opium, on Vocalo Radio and at kateduva.blogspot.com.

David Gianatasio is the author of two collections of short stories, most recently 2008’s Mind Games (Word Riot). He’s published prolifically online for years. He lives in Boston, Mass.

Mickey Hess is a professor of English at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. His work for THE2NDHAND has included serving as progenitor and editor of our FAQ section, and his stories and essays have been published in journals and magazines ranging from Punk Planet and McSweeney’s to more scholarly affairs. He is the author of the memoir Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory and the editor of Greenwood Press’ two-volume Icons of Hip-hop, among other literary and scholarly works.

Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor Joe Meno is the author of several books, including most recently the novel The Great Perhaps (2009), as well as short story collections Demons in the Spring (Akashic) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (Northwestern University Press) and the novels The Boy Detective Fails and Hairstyles of the Damned. He is on the faculty of Columbia College in Chicago, where he lives and writes.

Jonathan Messinger is Time Out Chicago’s books editor and the driving editorial force behind the Chicago-based concerns Featherproof Books and the Dollar Store reading series. A prolific short-story writer in his own right, his first collection, Hiding Out, came out in 2007.

Doug Milam lives and writes in Bellingham, Wash. He is the author of a chapbook of shorts, Still the Confusion, and has been published in a variety of other literary magazines. Visit him at milam.blogsite.org/wordpress.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is the author of Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity (The New Press, 2007), and Hey Kidz, Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on Corporate and Governmental Propaganda and Artistic Activism for Short People (Soft Skull, 2004). Moore served as associate editor of the now-defunct Punk Planet magazine and was the founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin. Today, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when she’s not traveling the globe speaking on freedom of speech issues.

Greggory Moore is a lifelong southern California resident, freelance journalist and fiction writer and poet.

Kevin O’Cuinn lives in Frankfurt am Main but is originally from Dublin; he coedits fiction for Word Riot.

Heather Palmer lives in Chicago. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines. In 2010 THE2NDHAND serialized her novella, “Charlie’s Train,” at THE2NDHAND.com, parts of which are excerpted in AHO.

Michael Peck, after a time in Philadelphia and with roots deep upstate New York, lives and writes in Missoula, Mont. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Rittenhouse Revue, 34th Parallel and others.

The Pitchfork Battalion is THE2NDHAND’s answer to the Wu Tang Clan or to any collaborative artistic group, really. Typically, we collaborate on a theme, or do individual riffs on a phrase in prose – sometimes poetry, as the case of Jim Murphy’s addition to the 2009 “Extraordinary Rendition” is evidence. In AHO are some of our best. For the lot of them, written at the initial instigation of our FAQ editor and continuing contributor Mickey Hess, from 2005 to the present, visit http://the2ndhand.com/archive/archivepitchfork.html.

Lauren Pretnar lives and writes in Chicago.

Patrick Somerville is the author of a novel, The Cradle, and the Trouble collection of stories (patricksomerville.com). In 2010, his genre-busting The Universe in Miniature in Miniature was released by Featherproof Books. He lives and writes in Chicago.

Jill Summers’ audio fiction has been heard via Chicago Public Radio and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, including THE2NDHAND, where she is a continuing contributor.

Paul A. Toth is the author of a triptych of novels — Fizz, Fishnet and Finale — and lives today in Sarasota, Fla., after years in Flint, Mich. Visit www.netpt.tv; Toth also works in multimedia, poetry and nonfiction.

Nadria Tucker hails from Atmore in South Alabama, though she lives and writes in Birmingham.


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01
Nov
2010

Carving w/ wood-blocker Martin Cadieux/Nerves Tuesday, Nov. 2

Ever carved a woodblock for a print? Let’s just say it’s not the easiest thing you could choose to spend several evenings a week putting your visually tuned/technically apt side to work. It hurts, strains some seldom-used muscles. Most printmakers today work in linoleum or by more automated means.

Which makes it, well, more valuable to my thinking, more interesting. I got the chance to try my hand at it (pictured below) in a sit-down with Nashville printmaker Martin Cadieux (picture, immediately below and right) at his place a couple weeks back and carved out several of the lines in the letters in the t – h – e – 2 – n – d – h – a – n – d logo/mast type stylization, with an All Hands On twist, Martin Cadieuxthat Martin’s put together to go along with a special collection of past broadsheets we’ll be offering as one of many bonus gifts with donations toward publishing our 10th-anniversary book, slated for the spring, via a Kicksarter.com program we’ll be launching later in November. (It follows with our Meupcoming, 35th broadsheet, featuring a story from “All Hands On” by Chicago writer Michael Zapata.) Essentially, Martin’s designed and carved a block for printing a set of 30 special envelopes for the packaging of the collection. They’ve turned out nicely, as you can see in the lead photo above. I met Martin when I happened to be tabling next to him at the last of the Walden Artisan Market events at Chapel/Eastland in East Nashville, shortly after I moved to the neighborhood. I couldn’t have been seated next to a more appropriate artist, to say the least. Stay tuned for more about the book.

Nov. 2, 2010, Hungry Brain, ChicagoTUESDAY: Chicago folks, don’t miss our newly reconstituted “Nerves of Steel” event — at a venue that couldn’t be better, the Hungry Brain. Details about the second installment at the venue here: http://the2ndhand.com/events/events.html.

And FRIDAY: Atlantans, myself and THE2NDHAND contributor/Keyhole mag editor Gabe Durham, along with Missuer Andy Devine, will be reading as part of the Solar Anus reading series there, curated by among others Mr. Jamie Iredell, whom you’ll remember from a mini-sheet of somewhat recent vintage. I’ll be reading from some of the ongoing work I’ve been posting in fragments here. Speaking of which.

Work in progress:
Charlotte wasn’t exactly all open arms and jubilation for me, in essence. All the same, the context for my return afforded entrée into a world I’d never known there. The ramshackle structures into which I was thrown as member of a NASCAR pit crew–socially, I mean, structures of meeting and greeting near nonexistent, a man a man not if he had the wits to outsmart Zeus but rather if he had the physical strength to best whatever foe happened to be standing in his way, whether three-foot concrete wall, rival for a woman’s affections or unemployed former tire carrier–carried enough a priori respect to make it fun to worry about keeping oneself fed and clothed and suited. A little fun, anyway. Not that the last required much worrying.

By the end of the week I was signing a $900 month-to-month lease on an apartment in a mixed-use building downtown. My neighbor to the immediate south on the hall was a young lawyer whose apartment was also his office, likewise the folks across the hall, a pair of former college roommates from Rock Hill, just past my hometown on the south side of the border, who’d gone in together on a graphic design business, building websites and such. The elder of them — Rob Rene was his name — was the artist of the pair, and I found out he was a race fan when I ran into him loading some stuff in Friday: bed from my mom’s, which I tied to the roof of Tacklebox’s Ford, some clothes. After I gave him my brief intro spiel, he sort of exclaimed, “I’m standing here in my own apartment talking to a bona fide member of a Cup pit crew whose background is in performance art?”

“And fryer art, too,” I said.

“My life just got a lot more interesting.” And he was off to find his roommate/business partner, Matt Caudill, who was strangely less outgoing than Rene. One always assumes the more sales-oriented person will have the people skills. It’s not always true.

But Matt was a fan, too, and came at me with a myriad of questions I had no answers for other than those directed at sussing out the real qualities of the job, many of which I was too new still to really know all that well. I could sense his disappointment. “Check back with me a month from now,” I said, and he nodded.

“Dover this week?” Matt knew the schedule.

Indeed it was – I was getting on a plane with several other of the guys, including Tacklebox, tonight for Delaware, and the relatively short track, after the mammoth Talladega, presented great opportunity for Bascombe to shine, to hear the crew chief talk about it all week long as a sort of pep-talk refrain to we team members: “Team Bascombe rules the shorts,” Huggins echoed that pep talk on a sports talking heads television program Thursday night that I’d caught at a less-than-lively but not quite lonely downtown bar. When Huggins came on the feature program, the bartender, in response to the shouted pleas of several men at a big table in back of the place, shut down the house music so all could hear the man’s strategy talk, which consisted of less actually talking strategy so much as talking around strategy with platitudes like the one above for the host, who joked and in only a minor way cajoled his path through the majority of the interview; he was ultimately the takeaway for viewers, or most of them, anyway. I didn’t think much of the silliness, but did at least perk up at the mention of “personnel changes, particularly in the pit crew area” in a question from the interviewer about Bascombe’s perceived good chances on Sunday.

Huggins, from whom I’d only gotten a sort of all-business attitude to date, here turned on some performer’s charm and “didn’t exactly regret the decision to fire my son,” he said, “since we’ve really shuffled the team around for the better, with an addition of a fantastic young tire carrier — who’s also quite a good driver, I understand, great addition to the team nonetheless, not the error of judgment I may have thought it was at the get-go.”

This was me he was talking about, of course.

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07
Sep
2010

Chicago comes to Nashville — Brick this Friday

Nashville, head out to Portland Brew Friday this week for the next installment in the Brick reading series (the rest of you, tune into the web stream at 7 p.m. CST here), which sees two of my favorite Chicagoans in town — Fred Sasaki, an editor with Poetry mag (a big force behind the conception of the grand and long-running Chicago Printers Ball) who contributed to THE2NDHAND’s 29th broadsheet back in 2008 (see the second page, at the bottom) and my coeditor Jacob Knabb, all-around outstanding photographer and fiction writer — he also edits fiction for the venerable ACM.

What’s more, Gabe Durham, Brick coproducer Keyhole mag‘s new editor, fairly new to Nashville, will be reading from his “Fun Camp” book, a sort of series of unlikely, philosophically madcap monologues surrounding an early-teen summer camp we excerpted in the latest mini-sheet, no. 34.2 (see second page). Gabe’s got a pretty excellent blog, too, in “Gather Round Children,” with a recent post detailing his encounter with the work of writer James Robison, published in the late 1980s, apropos of noting several writers other than Jonathan Franzen worth checking out. The exhilaration of discovery is palpable, better than most blogs (including, er, this one. . .). Gabe’s a fantastic reader, and if I’m reading certain of his e-mails of late you might well expect singalongs of various natures. Or not.

What you can expect in this is another in a series of collabos you may know by the name of Pitchfork Battalion. The last of these I helped debut at the last Brick with Motke Dapp, John Minichillo and my fave Nashville writer (yeah, I’m partial, and we share living space, and more…), Susannah Felts. Check out vid from that reading below. . .

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekyxv_10SkA&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Work in progress…
Huggins disappeared, riding a curse of his own family, now–including crew chief Eddy Huggins, no doubt–into some distant haze at the crown of some nearby mountain. He didn’t show for Talladega racing Saturday, and I got my training on the fly that night, Tacklebox running through the essentials of carrying–“squat, lift with your legs”–careful not to over-exert the new guy. “We don’t want you feeling like a dead mule in the morning,” he said.

If only he knew what I’d been doing all week. The cleanup in Ensley took its toll, and the long night previous hadn’t helped the stiffness at all.

I practiced throwing my legs quickly over the pit wall, a move Tacklebox said wasn’t necessary. “Most guys just get up in a crouching position on the wall, like this,” hopping onto the balls of his feet atop the small wall.

I closed my eyes, sat with my back to the pit road, trying hard to sense Tacklebox’s motion, sound, behind me. “I’ll do it this way,” I said, kicking my feet high and pushing off my right – I raised my body onto my left hand and threw my feet over the wall with the rest of my body.

“Ta-da!” he said. “That’s slick, but one misstep and you’re toast. I’d suggest extreme care. And remember, it might not be exactly easy with a tire and wheel in your hands. Speaking of which…” We walked through the garage area, something of party scene this evening after the junior series race, teams celebrating small victories and ignominious defeats in small groups on folding chairs set up at the back of big team trailers, lined up in two big rows ass to ass like slicker versions of the rigs at the truckstop I’d seen just a week ago with Stonefly Sanders.

Montuck Jr.’s team, Tacklebox pointed out, were “drunker than skunks. They rolled the Busch Chevy today.” Montuck and several other premiere series drivers moonlighted in the junior competition as a way of getting more track time, I figured, but Tacklebox disagreed.

“Every car’s different,” he said. “Practice with one won’t do shit for you with the other. They do it for the money. Not like they need it so badly.” Montuck, he added, speaking softly now as we strolled down the aisle between the two trailer rows, you wouldn’t find imbibing with the junior series team, one of the many indicators of his particular character. “Turner’s a party man, which makes him great for building camaraderie, see–or ‘team love,’ you could say. You’ll see these guys up here and the most relevant point of comparison you might want to make you saw coming at your face last night. Most of us can keep things in check because we like the job, you know. We like our driver. These guys here are just stiffs and, like factory workers or temp slaves, they tend to overcompensate in the off time. I have doubts about whether any of them have even talked to Montuck.”

He motioned their way as we passed–three guys, part of Montuck’s Busch team, still in their red-and-black fire suits, milling about the back of their trailer on folding chairs and looking as if they would fall asleep at any moment. We walked on for 30 seconds or more. “That doesn’t mean we don’t like them, of course,” Tacklebox laughing when we were out of their sight. “A friendly prank is friendly, in the end.”

He turned a 180 abruptly, then, and motioned for me to follow as we doubled back and slipped into the three feet, tops, of lateral space between Montuck’s trailer and the Canadian whiskey logo-emblazoned team house beside it. We stopped halfway to the front of the trailer, where tires were stacked high in several columns under a canopy: “For the race tomorrow,” Tacklebox said, then stopping, turning with his index finger firmly to his lips, before we continued on to walk through the space. In all of it, I could catch just the hint of grin.

When we reached the pile, he hoisted the top tire and passed it back to me. Each in the stacks had M-O-N-T-U-C-K written in fairly large yellow capitals and in repetition around its circumference. Tacklebox pulled a yellow paint pen from a pocket somewhere and, devilish grin spread over his face, directed me in the tires’ defacement. The difficulty was in morphing the C to a K without a black pen, but otherwise the joke was fairly simple. As it turned out, it wasn’t the first time Montuck’s team became the P-O-K-E-M-O-N express.

The sixth tire in for me, maybe the eighth for Tacklebox, we were spotted by a team member from the rear of the trailer, who gave pursuit. We exited at the front of the rig, by the tires–Tacklebox sprinting left, me right, divergent paths back to the main garage area between the rows of trailers. We convened inside the Bascombe trailer, Tacklebox already popping a beer when I entered.

“To a long and productive day,” Tacklebox raising the can, sounding like Trey or Carl or one of the many whose IDs I’d memorized at the Meadowlark. That was where the resemblance stopped.

He leaned from his chair and hit the play button on a stereo system’s CD unit, the opening cello strains of an old Anthrax record swelling through the team “lounge,” this 10’-by-10’ compartment at the back of the rig. “You like noise, you said,” Tacklebox raising his right hand, fingers configured to the horns of the devil, and banging his head a few strokes when the guitar and drums came in.

“Euphoria,” I said, “State of…” remembering the record’s title. We sang along at the chorus. “Be all, and you’ll be the end all / Life can be a real ball / State of mind: Euphoria!”

I popped open my own beer and relished the fatigue growing in my biceps, at the back of my thighs, calf muscles. I attempted to resist the urge to break back in the mind into my childhood’s dirt backyard and the little cassette player and its C batteries, nothing near the Scream’s surely more worthy D-powered behemoth. I nonetheless caught the thread of something fascinating there in the trailer. Tacklebox continued his ridiculous headbanging–ridiculous for his lack of headbanger hair, his ’do close-cropped over the ears and above the eyebrows and tucked under a ball cap–and I popped a beer and channeled the present aggression of the music, closing my eyes to feel the tinny speakers’ whine, dirt on knees and elbows and my muscles in the memory of flailing around the backyard, kicking up more dirt, alone and content and full of undirected rage ultimately false in its very conception.

“I fucking love that shit,” Tacklebox said when the song was over. “Now let’s get back to it a bit.”

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10
Aug
2010

Revisiting Doug Milam's 'Future History'

A quick mind-control experiment, here, if you could.

1. Read H.P. Albarelli Jr.’s June “Strange Story of Sally Hartman” at the Truthout site, about a purported case of a U.S. government employee turned CIA MKULTRA guinea pig. The piece ends with a rather ominous anonymous bit of quoting from an intelligence source about the world post-9/11, about the potential need for a “miracle” of mass mental influence to reprogram terrorists and their sympathizers worldwide. . .

2. Now read THE2NDHAND contributor Doug Milam’s excellent “Future History of How It Is,” published in 2003 at the T2H site as the Iraq War really got off the ground and American civic pride was, at least in my neighborhood, at one of its major low points.

3. Post your thoughts about the connections between one and two in the comments here. Who’s controlling whom?

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