Kate Duva lives and writes in Chicago, Ill. For more from her, order our 10th-anniversary book anthology, All Hands On, in which she commands a special section.


Download “A Treat…” .doc for your eReader.


My parents held their wedding at home. It was 1979, a second marriage for them both, and their biological clocks were pounding. They lived in a scrappy Chicago neighborhood and instead of a living room, they had a private saloon with a mammoth mahogany bar. Al Green and Blood Sweat ‘n Tears sang through the record player, and the vast mirrors behind the bar reflected the guests as they mingled, sparking up, laughing, dancing, dissolving into stupor.

It was at this homespun wedding that my father’s father asked my mother’s mother for the service of a blow job.

Helen was my grandma’s name. She wore a knit turtleneck dress that night, and a silver owl-shaped bolo tie. She had beauty moles and her hips swooped like a ripe, soft, pear. She saw people’s auras, knew the arcana of the tarot as intimately as her alphabet, and smoked Luckies with a fuck-all verve that many men found magnetic. Helen had been married six times, and now she was about done with the male species.

My father’s father, on the other hand, kept the same sweetie his whole life. He made good money running taverns, and he passed a mighty alcoholic heritage and a liver of steel to all three of his sons. Cletus was his name, and his hair was white as snow. His brain was mildly seasoned from a drag-racing accident many years past. He was the kind of fellow who would walk into the lounge of his favorite suburban supper club just as they opened at 5 p.m., booming “All right, ya sons a’ guns, let’s get this show on the road!” Cletus attended church weekly, but only since his first heart attack, when he had a sudden vision of hell.

His wife was a submissive woman, a casserole baker and a collector of figurines who chose to remain as woozily unaware of his roguery as possible. She was the forgiving kind, the forgetting kind, the kind to sit quietly swallowing vodka until she fell off her stool.

My mother wore a simple cream-colored shift and a string of precious pearls that night. “Never wear a dress that’s prettier than you.” That was always her advice. She looked stunning. She was a chiseled blond sexpot. She was a fiendish reader, a wicked gossip, the kind of woman who would cross the street to give a dollar to a panhandler. She had sworn that day to forever love and cherish my father, a pothead with a healthy salary, a foulmouthed, exuberant man who collected rocks and cried whenever he was happy. She made him cry a lot.


In the kitchen, Grandma lit Mom’s cigarette, caught Mom by the small of her back, and reeled her in. If you’d watched her holding her daughter close, you would have noticed Grandma’s huge, honking rings of tarnished silver and speckled turquoise. I imagine her aura at that moment as blazing orange.

“Hey,” she whispered to her daughter. “Your new father-in-law just asked me for a blow job.”

The bride’s blood jumped to her face and then she crumpled halfway floorward with a  seismic laughter, choking on her smoke.

“I was heading for the john,” Grandma said, “and there he was at the door when I turned to close it — ‘how ‘bout you give me a blowjob, babe?’ I just shut the door in his face!”

That bathroom where my grandma was propositioned is exactly the same as it was in 1979, but everything else has changed. My parents made a baby and split up. Helen died of lung cancer. Clete met his maker and ascended to heaven from his adjustable motorized bed.

When I enter that crapper today, I note the golden eagle knocker that’s always hung on the door. The tiles are the same beige and the walls are the same dusty rose. The wood of the cabinets still matches the wood of the toilet seat, and my father still lives here, still a pothead and a rock collector, still a man who cries when he’s happy. When I sit on his toilet, I envision my face in the mirror as a fresh-blooded combination of my various ancestors. I envision my dad’s dad rejected by my mom’s mom, tottering back to the bar muttering, son of a gun, ya used to have to beat the broads off with a stick. I envision my mom’s mom plopping to this very toilet with rolled eyes and a girly snort, murmuring, mmm hmm, still got it. I flush. I cackle. I bang the door open, eagle knocker quivering in my wake, and my dad says: “Whadayou laughin’ at?”





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Nerves of Steel returns to Empty Bottle April 11

Spring has sprung and host Harold Ray’s thoughts are returning time and again to “The Ballad of Neal & the Nerve Pills,” a truly haggard tale that he will surely have to tell. House-Band Good Evening just hopes old Harold won’t pass out on the railroad tracks again. Chicago’s most Appalachian literary variety show, SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE NERVES OF STEEL? returns to the Empty Bottle for its April installment!: Wednesday, April 11, doors 8 p.m., show at 9. @Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, Chicago. $3.

Part One of a Complex Curtain-Raiser by Johannes Göransson
Rapped Attacks on Crapitalism by Kris De La Rash
Metier Buffalo Sauce Whipped Up by Patrick Culliton

plus: the Microphone Gymnastics of Russ February and Something Weird That Lasts for a Little Bit and Involves Marc Baez

And our house band, the great Good Evening.

Join us.

And check out Baez’s performance at our October 2011 edition, which follows in the vid — in addition to being a great writer, Baez’s a fantastically funny stand-up. Who knew? More vid at http://youtube.com/the2ndhandutube.

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THEY WERE GODS — redux, by Kate Duva

Kate Duva (pictured, with chinchilla) performed this piece, with considerable laughter as part, alongside Jonathan Messinger, Jill Summers and THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills‘ own “They Were Gods” riffs, published as a unit here. The performance was on the occasion of release of All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, where you can find more of Duva’s work.


They were gods. King Tut. Genghis Khan. Crazy Horse. Erik the Red. Bootsy Collins, Elvis Presley, the Backstreet Boys. And I slept with them all.

It all opened up for me shortly after my 969th birthday. I was still active in my local singles’ adventure club, where a swing dance or a mystery dinner theater or haunted hay ride inevitably ended in a love marathon — but — I just burned out on the physical demands of it all, not to mention the danger of modern day cooties.

And then the perfect solution to the hassles of dating hit me — virtual sex. No technology involved — I’m talking séances. Ethical séances! — lest you think I raped Genghis Khan. I’m not a succubus. If anything, Mr. Khan had his way with me, but I can’t say I didn’t have fun. I always ask for permission, and I always get it.

Seances aren’t limited to the dead, I call in the spirit of my neighbor, the guy with a wife and newborn triplets and a dog that squirts its way around the block four times a day, and believe me, he’s always ready for a little action.

On September 3, 1988, Little Richard made an announcement that he had seen the light of the Lord and could proclaim himself a proud ex-gay — and you’d best believe I was in his bedroom the night of September 2.

My man-journeys do go beyond the strictly erotic. I don’t do it just to get my rocks off anymore. I had big plans when I seduced Donald Rumsfeld, for example, or when I appeared in Karl Rove’s secret chamber — those were genuine missions to dig up the dirt we need exposed to set America back on track, but I have to admit I found myself getting a little sidetracked by the humanity I found lurking under the surface both in Karlitos and Donny Boy.

I’m a bleedin’ heart. I’ll give a demon my breast. In fact, when I lived in Kathmandu I had a volunteer job doing just that. That is one culture in which they’ve recognized that it’s more cost-effective to suckle demons than to lock them up.

I did — get — a temporary case of gonorrhea when I slept with (God, I have selective amnesia when it comes to certain tortured souls) the vice president who shot someone and had the lesbian romance novelist wife — Cheney! Dick Cheney gave me the clap, a full-blown case of it, then POOF! It disappeared. No antibiotics. Just prayer, and a little shamanic healing from my meerkat guides. Clearly that was a psychic illness that manifested, ever so briefly, on a physical level.

It taught me that I can use that physical level wisely for erotic multi-tasking. I call in the spirits of men to help me open jars, or show me how to use tools — take a peek at my engine, check my oil — and one thing leads to another. Just think about who you could call in to check your oil. Ramses. Sun Ra. Alexander the Great. Homer. Rumi. Poseidon. Jesus. Vlad the Impaler.

So — moving along! What I’d like to do this evening is share some of my techniques in seductive séance with all of you so that you too can benefit from this sustainable technology of safe and pleasurable lovem– did you hear that? Whoa, did you feel that? Hahaha. Yeah, I actually need to get going now. It’s Genghis paging me. Ladies and gentlemen — I think I have a booty call.



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THEY WERE GODS, by Pitchfork Battalion (Jill Summers, Todd Dills, Jonathan Messinger)

Debuted at THE2NDHAND’s release event for All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10 Oct. 2, 2011, at Quimby’s in Chicago, this piece required the three collaborators to use the phrase in the story’s title. It’s part of a long-running series of collabos we’ve engineered under the Pitchfork moniker. For more from pre-2011, check out this page, and otherwise search “Pitchfork Battalion” on txt here. The live version included an otherwise untxtable performance by the great Kate Duva, which itself included an onstage laughter freakout — you know how infectious it is when someone is just truly cracking up? It was like that, really and figuratively. Oh if only the vid camera had been running. Here’s to you, Duva.


Hildy is holding Nemo under his front legs with one arm, letting his hind legs and tail sway back and forth under his bloated stomach. She is calling him “my baby” and reaching for a popsicle that I am holding just out of her reach, just for the hell of it. Every time she reaches for it, I pull it away and Hildy jerks forward to try and reach it again. In this manner, she has stepped on Nemo’s tail four times, each time sending a low growl up into his throat like a pump organ. I hold the popcicle over my head. Sticky red syrup drips onto Hildy’s mom’s couch, which is new and white leather and wraps around the perimeter of our living room. We have the same dad, but regardless, Hildy is a pretty stupid kid. She’s nowhere near old enough to have a baby and Nemo is a cat. It’s fairly obvious.

“Is that your baby?” I ask her as I bite the top off the popsicle, “Is that your big ugly baby, Hildy?” the remainder of the popsicle between my cheek and bottom teeth.

She erupts in a wail that sends Nemo flying. “Can you say ‘pussy,’ Hlldy?” I say. “Go tell mom your big fat pussy ran away, Hildy,” the popcicle melting down the side of my face.

“Jeremy,” Hildy’s mom says, suddenly in the doorway. “We are using ‘vagina,’ and you know it. Don’t you have homework to do?”

When my mom lived here we had a regular fabric couch but at least she wore normal pants. Hildy’s mom wears loungewear and even when she was pregnant her velour track pants were tight enough to make out every curve of each cheek. She caught me looking at them once and told me I should have seen them ten years ago — “They were Gods,” she told me, “Gods.” –Summers


“Oh no oh no!” she said, crouched, top of the slide. “You’re falling, you’re falling!” She let go of the boy’s hands and he slid down on his stomach, feet first, laughing. “Aw,” she lamented when he reached the bottom. “You don’t have any hands, little doggy. Your paws can’t hold on. Try it again, c’mon c’mon.”

And the boy rattled over gravel on hands and knees, barking, around the bottom of the slide to the ladder, still barking, up in quick steps and pulls with newfound climbing joy and, laughing now, back to the platform where she chastised him for climbing – “Doggies can’t go up ladders,” then: “I am God,” she said, “I’m killing you.” She quickly extended her right arm, finger pointed in his direction, striking him down.

He barked, falling onto his stomach, barking again, laughing. She was “my favorite,” he’d told his mother. Her father could at least see that he was her’s too, unlike most of the other three-year-olds willfully, easily dominated in celestial gaming. He wondered, watching from outside the fence, across the playground, what God meant to her other than the ability to kill, where exactly she’d first heard the word.

“Oh no oh no oh no!” she shouted this time, letting go of the boy’s hands. But he did not slide. He held on, laughing as she waved her paws in his face, then relented – “OK OK OK” — and laid belly-down next to him, her hands like his gripping the edge of the platform.

They were gods, one and all. “Ready, set,” she said, and they both let go. –Dills


Shortly after I first moved to Chicago, I was riding the Red Line at a time when no one wants to ride the Red Line. Around 2:45 in the morning, at the Granville stop, a couple boarded. I’d guess they were in their 50s, the man dressed in a large suit the color of the deepest red sunset, when the light in the sky is humming at its lowest frequency. It had shoulder pads somewhere between Brian Urlacher and Murphy Brown, and sequins squinted out in well-worn patches. I can’t describe the dress the woman wore, except to ask if you remember how at one time women’s dresses were made out of an almost dangerous gold-metal fabric that looked like foil. It was arranged in impossible shapes. It didn’t even appear sewn together, just bunches of dress-like substance orbiting her body.

They were tired, these two. We shared the car with a few somnolent drunks. I wasn’t drunk, but I was stupid at the sight of this couple. I stared at them with no shame. Just laser focus through the murky CTA dust-light. They smiled and talked to no one. I couldn’t imagine what world they’d just emerged from, certainly one long closed off to me. They were used to being stared at, or once were. Once, they were gods, probably.

When I was a bored kid, I would crack the spines of my brother’s D&D reference volumes, the ones that detailed the miscellany of creatures of various dead mythologies. What always fascinated me were the horrifyingly inconsequential divinities, the ones that, right beneath their names, were labeled “Lesser God,” like Tyr, the god of combat who only had one hand. It seemed like such an unnecessary downgrade. I understood it in some cases, I guess, like with the God of Apples. That’s a pretty lesser god.

Later, I realized that Chicago is a city of lesser gods. So many fiefdoms and cults and walled communities full of their own mythologies. That couple on the Red Line, royalty in some netherworld. A one-legged vendor on Maxwell Street once tried to sell me a stolen bicycle by demonstrating how he could ride it one-legged. It didn’t work but I could tell it had in the past and would again. He’s a lesser god. Sharkula, the rapper, his whole existence screams chaotic neutral, and someone out there worships him as a lesser god. Cynthia Plaster Caster, Rich Koz, Jojo Baby, Miguel del Valle and the puppet bike. Lesser gods, minor Midwestern divinities, all of them. –Messinger


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Busy several days for ‘All Hands On’ upcoming

We’ve got work to do, with a daylong festival in Nashville on Saturday, a drive to Chicago on Sunday for readings Monday and Tuesday evening at Quimby’s and Hungry Brain, respectively, then back Wednesday. It’s all in the name of celebration of 10 and more years of writing published in these halls, which makes it sweet indeed. Below is a listing of the events upcoming, with links to
more information for those interested. Hope to see you out at one.

And here’s a picture from All Hands On‘s first Chicago date this past Monday — with featured writers Lauren Pretnar, Heather Palmer and Mike Zapata at Katerina’s on Irving Park Road. Jacob Knabb snapped it, of Zapata wearing a most apropos t-shirt for a T2H event, I’d say. Apes unite!

NASHVILLE: Saturday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Handmade and Bound Zine Festival, Watkins College of Art & Design, 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN. THE2NDHAND will be tabling with the new book and a new broadsheet and editor Todd Dills will be giving a workshop tour through THE2NDHAND’s history in a practical, conception-to-nuts-and-bolts-type program titled “Toward a self-sufficient, long-lived zine”, 12:30 in room 503: http://handmadeboundnashville.com

CHICAGO: Monday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m.: All Hands On released at Quimby’s Books, 1854 W. North Ave., Chicago, featuring AHO contributors Jonathan Messinger (Time Out books editor, Featherproof publisher, Hiding Out author), Jill Summers and Kate Duva, as well as THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills: http://the2ndhand.com/THE2NDHANDTXT/all-hands-on-launched-at-quimbys-oct-3/

CHICAGO: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 8:30 p.m.: All Hands On @ So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel?, THE2NDHAND’s monthly variety show at Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago. This month’s installment brings together longtime THE2NDHANDers with new faces, featuring AHO contributors Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps, Hairstyles of the Damned), Rob Funderburk (visual artist/designer, formerly THE2NDHAND’s design man), THE2NDHAND coeditor C.T. Ballentine, editor Todd Dills, Fred Sasaki and Marc Baez. Also featuring Chicago writer Matt Pine, music by Young Coconut, and Nerves host Harold Ray: http://the2ndhand.com/THE2NDHANDTXT/nerves-of-steels-special-all-hands-on-edition-tuesday-oct-4/

For performer bios and more information about these events, visit http://the2ndhand.com/THE2NDHANDTXT/category/events
For more information about the new All Hands On anthology, available in both print ($16) and ebook ($6) versions, visit http://the2ndhand.com/THE2NDHANDTXT/books

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‘All Hands On’ launched at Quimby’s in Chicago, Oct. 3

THE2NDHAND began its life in the year 2000 as an 11-by-17-inch block of black text on white paper peppered variously with photo-illustrations, comics, line drawings and 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 editor and publisher Todd Dills (author of the novel Sons of the Rapture) founded it—a small format its physicality, but a loud mouth and a big heart its most important parts. And without Quimby’s bookstore in Chicago (1854 W. North Ave.), where we began hosting readings shortly after we launched, we would never have built the community of writers and readers we now enjoy.

We return to Quimby’s with our new 10th-anniversary collection, All Hands On: THE2NDHAND after 10, on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. with an all-star cast (all contributors with special sections in the collection) joining Todd Dills, up from Nashville, for the program. Details follow (all illustrations here by Martin Cadieux):

All Hands On @ Quimby’s Book, 1854 W. North Ave., Chicago, 7 p.m. Oct. 3.

Jill Summers‘ work has been featured on National Public Radio and in Stop Smiling, Ninth Letter, Make and others, including THE2NDHAND. Find more in her special section in All Hands On.

Jonathan Messinger is one of the driving forces behind Chicago-based Featherproof Books. A prolific short-story writer in his own right, his first collection, Hiding Out, was released in 2007. Messinger you’ll also know as Time Out Chicago‘s books editor.

Kate Duva grew up in Chicago in a bar; she still lives in the city. Outside the pages of All Hands On, her work can be found at, among other spots, her blog.

Todd Dills plays host for the night, joining the others in a collaborative effort at its nadir, part of THE2NDHAND’s ongoing Pitchfork Battalion series of collabos, also featured in All Hands On. Today, Dills lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife and daughter. He is the author of a novel, Sons of the Rapture, and edited All Hands On‘s predecessor collection in 2004.

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‘Leak’ is the new ‘press release’; AHO in Nashville Feb. 12, Rob Funderburk’s ils and more

This year’s Chicago snowmageddon, I’m happy to note, didn’t outrank my personal midwest winter initiation. After moving to the Chi in the fall of 1998 from the humid climes of Rock Hill, S.C., come the holidays I was back in S.C. but left early. A blizzard was predicted, see, and I was to start a new job Jan. 2 in Evanston, of all places. I motored back to Chicago in time for New Year’s Eve, as the snow began sometime early the next morning, not stopping for the next 24 hours. I was at that new job the following day, a near-four-hour public transit nightmare (never been so damn cold in my life, standing hopping foot to foot on the platform at Diversey, running in place, etc. etc.). That, friends, still sits in the history books as the No. 2 biggest Chicago snow, hell of an initiation rite for a Southerner. I have nerves of steel. Nah, but ’twas a great time to pretend.

Fortunately, in 1999 THE2NDHAND was just beginning to rise in my brain — we wouldn’t launch for another year — and there were no readings to cancel.  Our Nerves of Steel event last Tuesday coincided directly with the worst of the recent white torment, and we unfortunately had to cancel as participants, well, faced travel nightmares to and from the Hungry Brain. We’ll be featuring all — Tomorrow Kings, Mairead Case, Marc Baez and more — in upcoming installments of the event, we hope, the next one to take place March 1.

Meantime, disheartened by the decidedly un-nervy cancellation, Chicago writer Mason Johnson reportedly had his own “Mason Johnson has Nerves of Steel” extravaganza at Moe’s on the northwest side (Central Park and Milwaukee).  Check out the partial results.

The final day to preorder a copy of All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10 (our 10th-anniversary reader) via our Kickstarter campaign is Feb. 16. Reserve your copy. Sometime on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 26, we hit the funding goal, so barring a disaster the project’s a go. Among features will be  special-section author illustrations, some of which are leaked below, in process, by former THE2NDHAND design man Rob Funderburk — my favorite working painter, no doubt, and one of my favorite illustrators (he’s also a longtime and great friend, of course). Working from photos in many cases (most of the subjects he’s trying capture in portraits he’s never met), he’s been experimenting with all manner of techniques on these, as you can see. The technique behind the Michael Peck il Rob describes this way: “Laid paper over source photos on a lightbox, used flat side v. pointy corner of a graphite stick to render.” Makes it sounds simple, right?

Pretty stunning preliminary results, I’ll say. Find more from Rob’s illustration, painting and mural work, as well as framed watercolors and maquettes and a screen-printed study of the Chicago Rookery building, at robfunderburk.com. Or read his blog.







THE2NDHAND anniversary celebration | 11 years to the day after our first-ever release party
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 ourKickstarter.com campaign to raise $2,000 to print our 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, is among new work featured in AHO
*Susannah Felts, Nashville-based author of the novel This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record
*Nashville-based Henry Ronan-Daniell

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

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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

*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.

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.


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.


All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, 2000-2011, a Reader, cover image:
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 pdf:
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 front side image:

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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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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Nerves of Steel vids

So far, a couple shorts after jokes from me — “Dogs on a Plane” and “Building With Brick” — and Kate Duva’s electric public-service announcement, all from the May 16 event at Whistler. To come: One epic staring contest and work from Heather Palmer, maybe an excerpt or two from Patrick Somerville’s likewise epic tale of his traveling dentist grandfather, the Harold Ray cover of “Send Me Dead Flowers”…

It’s all at THE2NDHAND’s utube channel here: www.youtube.com/THE2NDHANDutube. Or start here with Kate’s performance:


And here’s “Building With Brick,” too. Enjoy — as you can see, the light is so low in Whistler, all I could do was grain the picture out in B&W to get any contrast whatsoever. Audio quality is A-OK, though. . .


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