Just prior to my trip to Chicago last month (hey folks in NY, MASS, PENN, we’re headed your way Nov. 17-19) I got an email from Mairead Case and Erin Teegarden looking for volunteers for an “oblique strategies” zine project that involved the use of the eponymous deck of cards made by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt that offer randomized techniques toward solving various dilemmas. In the project Case and Teegarden described, writers were asked to pick an original piece to revisit, using the “oblique strategy” on an assigned card toward a redraft / rewrite of the piece.

Case and Teegarden made zines featuring eight pieces written in such a fashion, one of them mine, on the occasion of the Chicago Calling Arts Festival, a multi-arts fest celebrating collaboration and culture. The “oh bleek strategy!” I worked from was “Retrace Your Steps.” Given that I was preparing for the Chicago events at the time, our Stupidist Manifestos were high in my mind. So, here’s the retracing of my manifesto, followed by the original. Enjoy:



Would that it were not a cable news catchphrase: Lean Forward

-17. There is we. It exists.

-16. The little girl and I play for keeps, a movie is broadcast on a pile of woodchips, another girl dares the little girl to do what she herself just did. No, I say, shuddering.

0. I speak much and often in the first-person plural about things that have nothing to do with anyone but myself. Is it about me? It is. More than likely, anyway.

1. Wanting send-off, intertextuality, life to imitate art and vice versa.

15. There was a reading in a cellar for books. I had returned briefly. I had been gone a long time. I was not yet a father, though what would be a daughter was a reality in the womb of the woman accompanying me to the reading, who by this time knew it. I tried to smoke cigarettes as far away from her as I could get. It wasn’t far enough.

19. I read the rest of Shklovsky, including his 1920s Soviet military expansion notes; his biographical sketch of Mayakovsky, that pompous ass, on honeymoon on Greek beaches and cafes; his third factory. I read Bolano and well remembered conceptions of movementeering, of schools of aesthetic thought that above all else held themselves in somewhat satirical regard during moments of high philosophical import. Friends laughed, drunk with it all. I laughed with them.

20. A picture in a box in someone’s closet of three humans, two men and a woman as young and perhaps drunk as they look, one of the men with his mouth wide open as if an ape high as a kite. This picture is the essence. This picture distills the day of its taking – stars in high regard, beer patios, drive-by shootings.

24. Surrounded by dumb, loud music, surrounded by bodies, sweat, someone proffers a name. “Listen: ‘Stupidism.’” “I like it.” “No, listen: ‘Stupidism.’ You don’t get it.” “I like it.”

33. There was another reading. I used the first-person plural to make myself sound as if I had a core of humans at my back who were ready to tear down the walls with me just to get to her. I didn’t think it worked, then, but it did.

38. There is no we.

39. We were not at the airport – or on the avenue in Brooklyn running parallel to the East River, Greenpoint, where I last saw her — when she gave me the book, a full-edition photocopy of the book, rather. It held stupid lessons in stupid art, in stupid love, some of the lessons all the more true for their stupidity. “We are in the business of the creation of new things.” That’s one, if extrapolated. “Routine we transform into anecdotes.” Another. “Insults aimed at us can always be jotted down.” The ultimate.

56. I drank a measly quite hefty pint of whisky at a party. It all ended well, after the brief headache.



We are the lesser primates among humanity — we require digital extensions with pens — but we wear the label proudly, hopefully, forcefully. Apes unite!

We live in a time of intelligence. Everything — from bombs and insurance policies to mood medications and the interfaces that guide our communications devices, which is to say nothing of the communications devices themselves, to the multiplicity of the choices available to us (make it the smart choice, goes a commercial local to someplace in the anonymous American wilds, for a particular brand of soap) — yes, everything, is smart. Everything, except for ourselves, and by extension our literature. Where we might achieve success, ever defined by money and happiness, our literature can only be a good read, a page-turner, a titillating memoir of a CEO come from the brink of financial ruin to a truer self-understanding. Malarky, we say, a word with a rich history that we well know. And this: if we are being excluded from the panoply of intelligence amassing in veritable constellations, or massive, very real military ranks, around us, what can we be but stupid?

It sounds like an insult, but let us embrace it. Philosophs and litterateurs the eons over have played games of definition, after all. Let us be stupid like the fox, that trickster of folklore, stupid like the fools of Shakespeare, like the Invisible Man of the modern American canon, he who once warned us to beware of those who talk of the spiral of history, for they are preparing a boomerang. We hold our steel helmets at the ready. The messengers of the new intelligence amass at the gates to the halls of the literature. The Stupidists meet them, remanufactured typewriters and pens stolen from office garbage bins our weaponry, cast-off printouts from PowerPoint presentations our ammunition. We fill the empty backs of the prints with exquisite stupidity. We need not loaves and fishes — we feed the armada with words.

The Stupidist needs not the comfort of home, she draws sustenance from the road, the experience of the new. And when in Rome, when immersed in the culture of the humans, the apes lives on the rooftops, ever roving, well above the umbrella. The Stupidist is a litterateur for the unsuspecting. We are in the business of the creation of new things.



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STEEL proclamation, or A NERVES manifesto, or WE WELL know now who’s got it

Let it be known that when there are challengers there are challengers. One calls to front brain wellsprings of people power sweeping certain distant locales and our own calcified North American adventures of yore, perhaps also in my mind at least the brightening though perhaps still quite dim star of Califone in the pantheon of candidates for Band of a Particular Generation of Which I Am Part, stiff competition for the most consistent, at least, or Radiohead.

Chicago insurgent Mason Johnson came into the Hungry Brain last Tuesday night planning on out-Nerving — or, perhaps, out-Steeling — our own Harold Ray, host of the Nerves of Steel performance series and, well, one tough son of a bitch. Johnson went so far as to build his own parodic event flyer in which he proclaimed his prowess, and there was much online verbal abuse hurled back and forth in the run-up to the event. WWF/E-style theatrics — razorblades, chest-thumping, neck-tendon-tightening growling, etc. — seemed the order of the day.

Needless to say, as results are clear from the picture above (that’s Ray in the wifebeater, Johnson in the karate outfit getting whipped; pic from Untoward mag), the ever-more-lit West Virginian Ray emerged triumphant, a victory Untoward Mag attributed to his “mountain man’s grit,” among other things. Get over there and read their account.

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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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Give me AWP, Steel, Brick, Sansei, Whipsmill

THE2NDHAND coeditor Jacob Knabb, along with the great people at Make Magazine and Knabb’s cohorts at ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), will be hosting “Make it Another Afterparty” during the AWP conference in Denver on April 9, 8-midnight at The Great Room, 901 W. 7th Ave., 80204. If you’re lucky, THE2NDHAND’s So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel host, the janitor Harold Ray, may make an appearance with or without the crew he’ll have on hand at upcoming Nerves of Steel events. The next one, Sunday, April 18, 8 p.m., at Whistler in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, will feature my old friend and fellow scribbler Brian Costello, creator of the Book Cellar series Second City/Third Person, devoted to Chicago tales told in the third person and reacting quite nicely to the paucity of such perspective in our selfish times. (The next SC/TP event is happening April 10.)

Also reading are Mairead Case, Literago.org editor and author of THE2NDHAND’s latest minisheet, No. 33.2, and Alexis Thomas, Windy City Story Slam finalist and the writer behind this story of fallen love and octopi.

Ray may well introduce a few of his barroom pals to you, too. Here’s a quick detail of two of them:

NAME: The Sansei Samurai

BIO: The Sansei Samurai is a third-generation Japanese warrior descended from the Yamanashi forests of Mount Fuji. He was raised by a Polish chambermaid in Chicago’s Lakeview and educated in the school of Mushin (Mind of no mind). He has so perfected the state of “no-mindness” that his words are not words; his movements are sitting still; his conscious is subconscious.

MOTTO: “Sword and Zen are the same.”


NAME: B.R. Whipsmill

BIO: In 1859, Kentuckian B.R. Whipsmill cofounded Le Nuage de Mourir, a transcendental experiment in communal education and agriculture. Whipsmill chaired the departments of French and Time Machines. Exposure to water from the farm’s contaminated cistern sent Whipsmill’s mental health into a viscous downward spiral, ultimately leading to his disappearance into the Appalachian hills and, possibly, the future. Sources close to Whipsmill indicate that he might not actually speak French.

Look for them in the dark corners of the bar, perhaps, or hiding in the bathroom.

For his part, Whipsmill made this unsolicited proclamation about the Nerves of Steel series (please do not confuse the future dweller’s pronouncements as those of THE2NDHAND or any of its associates): “Because, thus far, the Nerves of Steel series has failed to realize established financial expectations, we will be enlisting certain celebrity personages in an effort to both expand and monetize hitherto unforeseen avenues of STEELabilistic synergy within our target demographic.  With this in mind, references to Toni Braxton during, before, or after officially sanctioned Nerves of Steel events, while not necessarily required, are definitely encouraged.”

That doesn’t mean we don’t like Toni Braxton, but of course, but has anybody seen that new Erykah Badu video?

Also, prior to the AWP event, April 8, Nashville-based Keyhole Mag, our partners in the Brick Reading Series (next shot: April 23), put on a big event at the Mercury Cafe in Denver, with readers Matt Bell, Amelia
, Elena Passarello, Kevin Sampsell, Matthew Simmons and Rachel

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