Michael Fournier, Amelia Garretson-Persans, others at Portland Brew June 6

Michael Fournier we met on tour last fall with our All Hands On anthology, at the Amherst event. You may remember him for his contribution to the 33 1/3 series of books about records — he authored the tome for Double Nickels on the Dime, by the Minutemen, and for 1980s/early 1990s punk culture and history and its place in the American arts pantheon, you’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who gets it more. He’s touring with a new novel, Hidden Wheel (click through the cover image to order at Three Rooms Press’ site, or better yet, pick up a copy at the show!), after the classic Rites of Spring song of the same name, and will be joined in Nashville by local T2H editor Todd Dills and Clarksville, Tenn.-based master-in-waiting Quincy Rhoads and Nashville-based art-book maker and writer Amelia Garretson-Persans (check out the stop-motion animation she completed recently for Nashville’s “By Lightnin” band in the vid below), among others TBA:

@Portland Brew, 1921 Eastland, Nashville
June 6, 6 p.m.

Join us.

Here’s a great description of the new novel from the 33 1/3 series blog:

The novel focuses on the art and punk scenes of the Midwestern city Freedom Springs, where an opportunistic trustfunder named Ben Wilfork starts an all-ages art/show space names Hidden Wheel. Max Caughin, who tags under the name Faze, gets famous quick with a series of paintings on CD covers. His buddy Bernie Reese donates sperm to raise money for a new drum kit so his two-piece noiserock band Stonecipher can record. Bernie’s romantic interest (and former chess prodigy) Rhonda Barrett does dominatrix work by day and paints her life, sixty words at a time, on giant canvases by night. Their fates intertwine in a story reconstructed by William Molyneux, a 24th Century scholar reconstructing the Hidden Wheel scene after a solar flare erases all digital data in his era.

The Band
Dead Trend started as a fictional band in Hidden Wheel, Freedom Springs’ biggest musical export. As I wrote the book, I also wrote Dead Trend songs — short blasts of punk focusing on 1986 topics like Reagan, the Berlin Wall and Chernobyl. Some friends and I put the band together this summer, with me playing drums and doing backing vocals. We have a 7″ coming out soon on Baltimore’s Save vs. Poison Records. In the meantime, our music is available via cassette tape — demo versions of our songs recorded this summer, as well as a live set recorded in Orono, Maine.

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Over the Top stops in Nashville April 7


Matt Bell (Michigan), Brian Oliu (Tuscaloosa), Tyler Gobble and Christopher Newgent (Indianapolis) are striking out together into the Deep South to get their new books — The Fullness of Everything (Oliu, Gobble, Newgent) and Cataclysm Baby (Bell) — into your hands, or at least to armwrestle you. Get ‘Over the Top’ and diesel-soaked with the lot and THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills at Portland Brew East on Eastland in Nashville (not the Deep South, as it were) Sat., April 7, early style. Plenty of time to get a workout, then hit the neighborhood establishments for food and refreshment after.

Join us.

Over the Top
Saturday, April 7, 6 p.m.
Portland Brew East
1921 Eastland Ave, Nashville

Order THE2NDHAND’s 10th-anniversary collection, All Hands On, featuring the work of more than 40 contributors.


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Nerves Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Hungry Brain to feature Paul Lask, Amanda Faraone…

Join us for this last of our regular first-Tuesday-of-the-month installments at the Hungry Brain in Chicago. This one brings house band Good Evening and our inveterate redneck crooner of a host, Harold Ray, together with several quite recent THE2NDHAND contributors. Y’all, we couldn’t be no prouder.

So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel?
Feb. 7, 8:30 p.m. @ Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago

Featuring, with tales of misery and intrigue, T2Hers all:
The intersection of rock and lit: Paul Lask
Experimentation personified: Amanda Faraone
And the beast himself: Untoward editor Matt Rowan

Click through the text links on their names for recent work from the three. And don’t miss it… (A-and keep an eye out for a late-March blowout at the Brain to thank the kind staff there for the great year-and-a-half-or-so we’ve resided there.)

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Catch Pine live with THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills, Joe Meno, Rob Funderburk, Fred Sasaki, Marc Baez and others at our Nerves of Steel event Oct. 4, 2011.


Did you hear the news yesterday? Did you read about the latest trends in financial crises? Did you hear the news the day before yesterday? Did you learn about children using technology more sexually? Or about the tense negotiations about the price of money?

Let’s be blunt. You spent five minutes, or thirty minutes, or perhaps only ten second learning about industrial nocturnal emissions, about short selling votes, or about das capital punishment. While doing dishes, you turned on NPR. When fortifying yourself for another hour of desk work, you skimmed the New York Times. Let’s ask the unasked question: why? What is different in the world today, because you heard the news yesterday? What has ever changed in the world because of your knowing more about it? Let me answer this for you. Nothing.

Certainly, you could argue, there’ve been small changes. The biggest one? The one you can immediately observe? Depression, yours. Distraction, you at work. Apprehension, constant — about large things that change too quickly, or about diffuse things that cannot be changed.

You are wasting the great cycles of your mind. Preoccupation with manufactured powerlessness has made you unhappy. But there’s a cure for this. And that cure is Stupidism.

Who is most happy? A person who, on hearing information, can act to rectify wrongs or prolong righteousness. And what’s the opposite of the news? Art. Therefore, the most meaningful art addresses a place that you can change immediately, with the powers of a feudal lord. Yes, my friends, consider restaurants. The specials are reported, and you make a choice. You have the powers of edict, be it food allergies or mere distaste for, perhaps, cilantro. It is as if by will alone that a pepper grinder becomes manifests and seasons your food. The dessert menu arrives like a late-breaking bulletin. You choose what you want. At the end of a meal, your thoughts have been about what you can control, and nothing else. This is Stupidism. This is happiness. Join me, and we will photograph our food, which has been subjected to advanced foaming technology, and we will photograph our lattes, which have been decorated with foam leaves, and we will eat and drink our foams. We will write great exegeses from the plate, memoirs of snacking.  This is the highest art, because it is art of the tangible, art of the changeable, art of the stupidly present.

Stupidism doesn’t end at eating out. Another terrain of total domination is my sofa, and whether I’m seated or lying back. We will sketch, with charcoal on drafting paper, our physical inclinations. What station my television is set to, and what six or seven or perhaps twenty tabs are open on my web browser — these are entirely under my control. We will write sestinas about web surfing and compose sonnets of ass scratching. We will consider living rooms the same way transcendentalists looked upon nature. All we describe will be within our control. All art will make you think of yourself as more powerful.

We are in charge. We will be in total awe of ourselves so long as the little things comprise our art. Because nobody, not even the rain, says how I put things in my mouth or sit on my ass. Stupidism — we savor like champs.


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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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NERVES OF STEEL back Aug. 2 @ Hungry Brain, Chicago

Nerves is back at the Brain August 2 w/ host Harold Ray and house band Good Evening. And:

Bad Bad Badness by Jesus Angel Garcia, author of the novel badbadbad.

Dr. Huckleberry Persimmon Explains Very Little for You
Dr. Persimmon made a deal with a demon to have brilliant thoughts. Unfortunately, he didn’t specify “significant” or “useful,” and things therefore haven’t really worked out. Now he’s got just 44 thoughts left before it’s time to pay up. By Mark Chrisler
Starring Brian Nemtusak and Kevlyn Hayes

Appalachian Antics by Jay Hill & Richie Ray Gene Bull Tipton (vets of our W.Va. edition from June)

Punk, Suffering (w/ Banjo) by writer Chris Terry

w/ Backup Dancers in Tim Jones Yelvington

& Piano Musics by Azita Youseffi

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Boom boom — events in Nashville, Chicago this week

Busy week at THE2NDHAND HQs in Chicago and Nashville this week, on top of festivals of hot chicken and backyard BBQ and fireworks, as well as the more not-so-backyard variety, as shown here. (Gotta love that Nashville blow-stuff-up spirit.) Tuesday night Nerves of Steel is back in Chicago after a brief June West Virginia sojourn. It ought to be a rad showing, with writer Michael Czyzniejewski on the program with the comedic duo of the Puterbaugh Sisters, band the Post-revolutionary Letdowns, and more.

In Nashville, an event I’ll be hosting, writer/comix artist Cassie J. Sneider stops off on a 48-state tour behind her new Fine Fine Music collection. She’s joined by a Nashville writer folks will remember from one of the first couple readings we put on here, in 2010, Katrina Gray. Two Clarksville-based scribes are headed in for the event as well, Amy Wright and Quincy Rhoads, who oddly enough were at one point in the distant past prof and grad student in a class at Austin Peay uni there. They’re all awesome writers, in any case — don’t miss it.

Finally, Cassie herself shared these seven reasons to come to her reading, “even though you don’t know me,”  as she puts it:

1. You can tell all of your friends you ‘attended a reading’, which makes you sound really smart and superior and better than them, which you undoubtedly already are.
2. It’s like Hulu-ing Hoarders, but WITH YOUR IMAGINATION.
3. Free comics for everyone!
4. I’ll let you pet my hair and pretend I’m not creeped out by it.
5. I’m, like, a really good reader.
6. Did I mention free comics?
7. I will pet YOUR hair and you can tell your friends you went on a date with me. …


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MOLE, by Cassie J. Sneider

Sneider’s on tour with her new Fine, Fine Music collection of stories, of which “Mole,” first published in 2008 at our old site. is part. Sneider will appear at an event hosted by THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills Wed., July 6, at Portland Brew East in Nashville. She’s joined by Nashville’s own Katrina Gray and Clarksville writers Quincy Rhoads and Amy Wright. Find full event information here.


The headlights of the cars drove on an invisible track across the ceiling and I was lying in my mother’s bed. A t-shirt that didn’t smell like my dad anymore slept peacefully between us, not knowing it was only enjoying the comfort of a bed because it was being used for its smell. The t-shirt didn’t know he was gone yet, and I wondered if the half-smoked cigarette in the ashtray next to my side of the bed knew its last drag would never be tasted. I was five years old and wide awake, wondering if the cars were projecting themselves onto the ceiling so I could think about them, instead of how I was laying in the empty space of someone I knew was never coming back.

My uncle had died before I was born, overdosing on heroin, and leaving his twin and my father to sort through everything he’d left behind, which included a pregnant girlfriend, a wreck of an apartment, and a closet full of personal effects. My father sorted through papers and overdue bills while my other uncle sat on the bed trying on a pair of boots.

“What the hell are you doing?” my father asked.

“These are perfectly good boots,” he said, knotting the laces.

“They’re a dead man’s boots!” my father said.

“They’re perfectly good boots,” my uncle corrected, and he took them home.

I was with my dad when they broke the news. We drove from doctor to doctor that day, white knuckles on the steering wheel of the pickup truck. When we got home he told my mother, and everything after that was a blur, mental pictures ripped up and thrown out; faces scratched and negatives burnt. The day he left for the hospital, we sat on the bed and he pulled up his socks over gray feet, the feet of someone with a heart older than his 32 years.

“Buddy, I want you to tell Uncle Jeff to stay the hell away from my shoes.”

“That’s a curse.” I was well-trained.

“You can say it just this once.”

“OK.” I don’t remember seeing my dad in the hospital. I don’t remember seeing him on morphine, or my mother walking in on him sitting up in the crisp, white bed, pretending to sew.

“Keith, what are you doing?”

“I’m sewing wings,” he said with his eyes closed, thumb and forefinger making sweeping circles in the air.

I do remember wondering what intensive care was. I remember wishing my dad had a dictionary in his dresser instead of a 1978 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records so I could learn what the words meant. I remember spending a lot of time at my aunt’s house, in the sprinkler, in the sun. I remember listening to my dad.

“Uncle Jeff,” I said, nervous about using the H word. “Daddy said to stay the hell away from his shoes.” My mother and uncle went pale. Exeunt. Fin. Fade to black.

I hated the dark, but the bedrooms of our house were permanently bathed in streetlight. A fuzzy dark orange fell on my mother’s face. She hadn’t been sleeping and I had a sore throat again. I had climbed into my dad’s spot next to the shirt to count the cars. With the looming prospect of having my tonsils taken out and no one to tell me what they were, I needed something more real than sheep.

“Do you know how to pray?” my mother asked after she’d turned off the lights.

The only thing I knew about God was the tattoo of Jesus on my dad’s arm, and that he said he was an atheist. It was not until many years later that I would learn atheist was a synonym for “man contradicting himself.” My reply came in the form of a vigorous headshake.

“You put your hands together like this. Then you say ourfatherwhoartin heavenhallowedbethyname… Then you could talk to Daddy if you want.” She turned over and I was left to try to remember all those words, empty and hollowed in thy name. They didn’t mean anything to me, but did they open a porthole, a skipped stitch in the space-time continuum, that allowed the living to speak to the dead and the dead to hear them in their graves with voiceless ears?

Was that what it was?

“Um, today in school Miss Welch yelled at me because I went to the school store to get a pencil and when I got back she was already teaching.”

From within the pine of his coffin, my father makes a fist. If radiation should leak into the ground and all the dead fathers of five-year-olds rise as a collective body, the first thing they will do is shuffle to the local elementary school and eat the brains of every Kindergarten teacher. Then they will go to the Home Depot and look at tools. My father will test-drive a riding lawn mower. Then they will look at their watches and return to their graves in a punctual and orderly fashion.

When I was six, I was forced into the World of Girl Scouting, which in hindsight is as corrupt as the World of Mail-Order Brides or the World of Swallowing Balloons of Cocaine and Smuggling Them Across the Border. Girl Scouting is a form of trickle-down capitalism, the troop leaders shrewd and cunning businesswomen, and the Scouts proletarian worker bees, our tiny hands being frostbitten in subzero weather to push our product. For every box of Tagalongs, three Girl Scouts are sold on the black market. For each package of Samoas, one Girl Scout is put to death. The statistics are as chilling as a bite of a Thin Mint.

The lessons we learned as Scouts were nothing short of useless.

“Today we’re going to learn about nutrition!” said Miss Leeann, our troop leader. Everyone cheered, and I silently picked a scab.

Miss Leeann produced a piece of loose-leaf paper, a carrot, and a jar of mayonnaise. “When something has fat in it, and you rub it on paper, the paper will magically turn clear.” She spooned a glob of mayonnaise onto the paper. The troop watched with bated breath. Miss Leeann wiped the mayonnaise off of the loose-leaf and held it up for all to see. “The mayonnaise left a clear spot. That means it’s bad for you.”

The troop booed the mayonnaise. I, on the other hand, was mayonnaise’s biggest proponent. Everyday for lunch, I asked for mayonnaise on white bread, and everyday I was told by my mother that everyone would think I was on welfare. The way she pronounced “welfare” made me think that being on it was like accidentally stepping in dog shit. I imagined myself eating a mayonnaise sandwich and scraping the dog shit onto the third-rate playground equipment relegated to the Kindergarteners. Welfare was nothing that couldn’t be scraped off onto a lawn or doormat, and I proudly ate my mayonnaise.

Miss Leeann brandished the carrot and crumbled the loose-leaf tainted by the fatty mayonnaise. She rubbed the carrot and held up the paper. “Carrots are good for you, because they don’t leave a mark.”

The troop cheered the carrot.

The last I checked, there hadn’t been any developments in the way carrots tasted in at least 500 years. Also, I had never been to a restaurant where fat people and diabetics brought loose-leaf to test their food on. This meant two things: A) Miss Leeann was a fucking moron and B) the merit badge for nutrition was bullshit. I went to work on my scab, and left the oohing-aahing sheep to their loose-leaf paper.

The only thing I looked forward to in Girl Scouts was the Wish Circle. At the end of the meeting, I stood in a circle with my comrades, holding their hands while I thought of who I had seen with their fingers buried deep within their noses. Miss Leeann started us off by making a wish and squeezing the hand next to her, and we all did the same until our wishes came full circle.

I took the business of wishing very seriously. While everyone else in my troop was probably wishing for a new Popple, I was carefully considering if my wish would be twisted into a horrible monkey’s paw situation that I would have to spend the rest of my life trying to rectify. The only thing I wanted was to have my father back. If I wished for him to be alive again, would I come home to him sitting in a lawn chair, partially decomposed, trying to light a cigarette? What if he needed to feast on the flesh of the living to stay alive? There were only so many scouts I could lure home without someone noticing.

For this reason I made sure to word my wish with the utmost caution: “I wish for everything to be exactly the way it used to be.”

One day, this wish would make my life play like a country song on rewind. I would emerge from the fluorescent basement meeting place into the warm sun and return home and me and my dad would sit on the couch watching a nature special and eating all the mayonnaise in the world.

This wish was foolproof. Even if it set time itself back to zero, I could still do it all over again. My first words would be “Watch your cholesterol!” and “Chest x-ray!”

“Did she just say chest x-ray?” my dad would say.

“I think so,” my mother would say, “and she’s pointing at you.”

Every week, I would leave the fluorescent basement meeting place, and every week my unsinkable faith in wishes would tell me maybe next week. My mother picked me up from Girl Scouts one of those weeks. “When you do the wish circle at the end, what do you wish for?” she asked, fumbling for a cigarette with her keys in her hand.

“Popples!” said the part of my brain that was deeply embarrassed by wishing for the impossible. “Say Popples!”

I stuttered and tried to form the word Popple.

She stopped and looked through me. I watched the unlit cigarette moving up and down with her words: “If you’re wishing for your father to come back, you can stop wishing because it’s never going to happen.”

The t-shirts were starting to smell more like an empty bed than my dad. My mother fell into a restless sleep each night with a prayer taking the place of a cigarette on her lips. I slept in my own bed, the soft orange glow falling onto my toys. God sat outside atop a wishless star, shining headlights onto my ceiling.


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Nerves of Steel July 5 back at Hungry Brain in Chi

This installment of THE2NDHAND’s Chicago “So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel?” performance series brings host Harold Ray back from the home front in West Virginia to Chicago for an evening program combining two fiction writers, a poet, comic duo and more than one band for more of the now prototypical mixture sure to rattle your sensibility, if you had one. The show gets started after 8 p.m. at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago on Tuesday, July 5. This installment features:

**A live performance of Jennifer Karmin’s Aaaaalice, with friends.
**Tales of the sins of notable Chicagoans told by Michael Czyzniejewski, author of Elephants in Our Bedroom
**An experimental freakout w/ extended kazoo patriotics by the Post-revolutionary Letdowns
**Song & dance w/ the comedic team of the Puterbaugh Sisters
**Wizardry by James Kennedy
**And house band Good Evening

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Sex, Pugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll: Cassie Sneider in Nashville July 6

THE2NDHAND hosts a past contributor in New York-based Cassie J. Sneider in Nashville on a stop on her tour supporting her “Fine, Fine Music” book, just released by Raw Art Press, a collection of shorts in part about coming of age in Ronkonkoma on Long Island. Sneider joined us in Birmingham for a reading or two a couple years back — she’s absolutely great live. Don’t miss it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 7:00pm at Portland Brew, 1921 Eastland Ave, Nashville, Tenn.

Check out the New York Press interview with Sneider.

Joining her will be two Clarksville-based writers in:
Poet and fiction writer Amy Wright, author of two chapbooks in “There Are No New Ways to Kill a Man” (Apostrophe) and “Farm.” Other work has appeared in, among others, American Letters & Commentary and Quarterly West. She teaches at Austin Peay State.

Quincy Rhoads, whose work has been feature in the Red Mud Review and Unicorn Knife Fight, among others. His most recent contribution to THE2NDHAND you can find here in our online mag.

& Nashville’s own Katrina Gray. Her work has appeared in Women Writers: A Zine, JMWW, fourpaperletters and the Belmont Literary Journal, among others, including THE2NDHAND.

THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills hosts.

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