‘Nerves’ next Monday; Cambodian holiday collection released

Leave it to me to put a semicolon in the title of a blog post — I could immediately tick off the names several people, some of them bosses, some of them wives, who would disapprove, no doubt, but contrarians be damned! The relationship-suggesting stop that is the semicolon is an underutilized piece of punctuation, and its use broadens the meaning-creation tools at our disposal.

New NERVES OF STEEL on Monday, Feb. 8, at Chicago venue Whistler (Logan Square): twill feature two of my favorite writers working in Chicago. Kyle Beachy’s The Slide is quite likely the best bildungsroman of sorts I’ve read from a contemporary writer in years; if you missed my interview with him in these halls, check it out here.

Kate Duva, meanwhile, will also appear.-The author of the last full broadsheet release we put out, Duva’s got more moxie than most in the subjects she tackles. In No. 33, “Life on the Frontier,” she took on the setting of group homes for the aging mentally disabled.

The third writer, Irene Westcott, is a growing fave of mine, too, though I know her work less well. Check out her “Rabbit” at THE2NDHAND.com here.

Almost forgot: Ray. If you missed the first event in the series Jan. 14 at Quimby’s, here’s something of recap, something of a challenge, from our indisputably (maybe) janitorial host Mr. Harold Ray (aka Mr. Knabb of ACM and T2H fame, wink-wink):

“Most folks don’t know how to really get a thing clean. I mean, spic and span. Well, man, I tell you the secret is spit. Spit is God’s lube. I ain’t sure what all you may know about spit, but there’s a few things to bear in mind. A man can use spit for other things besides cleanin’ but he has to be careful about what he eats. Don’t want to spit shine things with onions on the breath. Much less a ramp. No that ain’t no good. Won’t stand up no better than it’ll roll down hill. And I don’t even need to go into what might happen if you got Copenhagen on your breath. That ain’t no way to live. It’s like I was tellin’ these folks at Quimby’s last month before that no-count son of a bitch Fred Sasaki stole the stage with his poor attitude. It’s about seein’ people livin’. That’s the thing.  Ain’t no poetry in standin’ up and restorin’ some sense of order to a thing. A thing has its own order. And a man can’t force his own personal order onto a thing. And it don’t mean that I’m some kind of bully or that I ain’t tolerant of other opinions. Hell, you can spit-shine any old words and folks’ll buy ‘em. But at what cost? I’ll tell you, folks, it’s at the cost of real livin’. That’s the cost. And it’s a steep price for a person to pay. That’s what I like about this here city they call Chicago. If I sing a song then I sing it. I don’t just dribble spit. But I want to warn you. I could tell in that boy’s eyes that he would come again and be itchin’ for trouble. That sawed-off motherfucker Sasaki will be there on Monday. I just know it. And we done had four women leave out from the last meetin’ because he didn’t have nerves of steel. And he cracked and it all thinned out like spit in a river. You just can’t expose yourself that way when folks are tryin’ to show you themselves livin’. There ain’t no poetry in exposure. There ain’t but a little bit of poetry in livin’. And we have to beat life to a pulp in order to wrench whatever poetry we can from it. That thought don’t scare me. I’m spitting piss and vinegar. Sterile, man. Clean. I got nerves of steel, fucker. Question is, do you?”
HOLIDAY IN CAMBODIA: the collection I wrote about two months ago that the people from Annalemma were putting together back in December, holiday stories going to the cause of raising money for activist/author (and THE2NDHAND contributor) Anne Elizabeth Moore’s trip back to Cambodia, is out in record time. And I’ve got a piece in it. It’s a story some may recognize in parts from readings and other shorter versions from past mags, but it’s in a new incarnation rewritten whole hog, called “My Justice for All.” Also in there, friend and cohort Al Burian, among others. Pick up a copy here.

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