Friday, December 28, 2012

"restless and reckless"

"restless and reckless"
after nothing in particular by jake kilroy.

i know that my ears are rusting over the sound of the future,
and i'm only digging two graves on each side of my head
every time i end up in a bedroom to play music.

but how else are us gentlemen supposed to stay warm
between the beds and the vans and the wilderness?
all these church notes scribbled in holy ink
are busting from the guts of a shoebox
that technically only exists in a poem.

and so does that magic coin trick of the fingers
that pays for every drink that hits those red lips,

i've been called a snake charmer at best
and a charming snake at worst,
or so came the blasting poetry
from my think tank of a conscience,
all while i remembered the girl
i promised blues to on the road to chicago,
though we later danced to ella fitzgerald
on a jukebox tucked away under
elvis presley and pink walls.

god, i went mad for her.

i went mad for her when she was lost to nyc.
i went mad for her when she came home.
i went mad for her when i lost her to europe.
i went mad for her when she returned.
and i went mad for her when i knew she'd be married.
but i never went crazy.
maybe that was the trouble.

one wild summer and a dozen long winters
all came to be religious textbooks for romantics,
as we wrote longhand to each other,
stuffing love letters under the mattress
like separate outlaw incomes.

when i finally made it to new york,
i was ten years too late.
when i made it to manhood,
i was five years too early.
autumn leaves flew by like the present,
and the wind wrapped the coasts together for me,
as i slumped on a stoop cursing the good life
and trying not to get drunk on cheap champagne.

oh, i was endless then.
i was an eternity in those clothes.
i was youth eternal and immaculate.
i could've lived forever in those days.
but then came a sound i'll never forget.
it was the pulse of a heartbeat,
and all was forgiven.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012: My Life In Books

For the last few years, I've set myself a goal of taking in 100 stories. This includes books, graphics novels, and audiobooks. I've always fallen short, except for this year. I finally did it, and, hot damn, I still think I need to make reading more of a priority. Anyway, as I've done before, here's my end-of-the-year recap of the best pieces of the written word that I read/listened to in 2012 (with the past and present tense battling each other pretty hard below).

Novels, Short Story Collections
1. House Of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
The most "book" I've ever read, this heavenly monstrosity went far beyond what I thought was capable of literature. It's the only thing I've ever read that honestly made me think "it's unlike anything else I've ever read." It terrifies me to own it, and I'll always, always, always want to talk about it.

2. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
An epic tale of gods in the modern world, this gorgeous read was violent, weird, wild, crazy, serious, and incredibly done, as it took the madness of fantasy and applied it to real-world darkness, leading up to the young gods of America battling the old realm gods of everywhere else.

3. The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon
It was Jewish noir, and it was unreal fantastic. I'd kill to be able to write noir like Chabon. Dead junkie in alternate history of Alaska sparks a detective stumbling upon a great conspiracy of politics and religion.

4. The Golden Compass, by Phillip Pullman
Young adult has seen a brilliant evolution in the last decade, and this book may be the best proof. It maturely and patiently took dark religious cynicism and smoothly stirred it together with wide-eyed adventure and exploration.

5. Moonlight Mile, by Dennis Lehane
The follow-up to Gone Baby Gone, it's totally crime fiction, and it's totally the best example of the genre. It stomped the shit out of other mystery tales of by crafting real characters with real problems, real motivations, and real reactions.

6. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
After a lifetime of hype, this thing followed through with being the most stand-up, firmly articulate observation of southern culture. An immaculate read, it gave the world Atticus Finch, and he's just as amazing of a character as society has built him up to be.

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
It's a satirical dystopian masterpiece, and it's written by one of the most energetic typewriter maestros. Every character lives in a tender moment of existence and offering up profound perspectives of literature and life. Also, it's fun as hell, even when it's serious.

8. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
I wish the adventure genre was still as mysterious and chilling and bold and wild as it used to be. This was exceptionally written, maddening and thrilling, while also posing as a thoughtful musing on man, nature, and the constant battle and love affair between the two.

9. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, by Kurt Vonnegut
A quick, delightful read, Vonnegut has the Doctor of Death kill him in each vignette and awakens to engage the most varied characters of history. It's light and silly while offering up some of the best philosophy of the 20th Century, but, then again, what Vonnegut work isn't and doesn't?

10. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson
The third installment of the Millennium Trilogy, it solidified the series as one of the most well-written "international sensations." It was strong and heavy while somehow seamlessly moving into the legal thriller genre.

11. The Western Stories of Elmore Leonard, by Elmore Leonard
All of the wild west tales from crime fiction's poet laureate, the short story collection rocked like a runaway train and moved carefully like a cautious outlaw. It had every pulpy move of cowboy classicism without ever doing cheap shots of Americana prairie.

12. B Is For Beer, by Tom Robbins
It's a kids book for adults and an adult book for kids, and it's about the righteous foamy brew. It carries innocent childhood fun as well as it does the straightforward dilemmas of adulthood.

13. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
Sort of like The Empire Strikes Back of young adult lit, this was a more in-depth outing of the trilogy (all before everything gets unnecessarily hectic in the third installment). Twas wild, fun excitement.

Graphic Novels
1. Bone, by Jeff Smith
A magnificent piece of the medium that works tremendously well for both kids and adults, it's like Lord Of The Rings meets Three Amigos. It's a solid reworking of medieval fantasy with stellar pacing, and it's funny, goofy, sad, strange, and, above all else, epic. I could've read it forever.

2. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
With gorgeous, immaculate artwork, it became a resounding non-linear story tied directly to the Quran. Beautiful, tragic, haunting and superbly told, the narrative of Muslim characters and culture was old world and majestic, and the epic was richly, wonderfully unraveled.

3. Funny Misshapen Body, by Jeffrey Brown
A sketchy graphic novel memoir, it was like catching up with an old friend who doodles. Nothing crazy, nothing tragic. It's just a nice dude recounting how he got through an average life and into art.

4. Hellboy (#1-12), by Mike Mignola
Outrageously self-aware pulpy horror tales, Hellboy and his crew take on one monster after another, and every creature of darkness hides a sly grin of the apocalypse. So, so, so fun.

5. Sin City (#1-7), by Frank Miller
Always violent, always brutal, always on the verge of a dirty joke, the neo-noir saga is intense and light somehow from start to finish. Pulpy and messy, it's wild and weird through and through.

6. Criminal: The Last Of The Innocent, by Ed Brubaker
It had nostalgia pluck away at the heartstrings without giving up the noir self-indulgence. The real world is gritty and dark, but the main's character's memories of childhood and his adolescence are done up like an Archie comic. It makes everything seems weirder, and it works really well.

7. Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
Simply done, thoughtfully crafted, it's a high school tale of woe, brimming with ghost story entanglements and swimming with observations of Americanization from an endearing Russian teenage cynic.

8. Ghost World, by Daniel Clowes
Without a real plot, it's mostly just two teenage girls wandering their own world that bores them, so they criticize and imagine. It's overly realistic without trying to be, which makes it all the more honest and beautiful.

9. Blacksad: A Silent Hell, by Juan Díaz Canales 
With rich dialogue and richer animal humanoid characters, it's a dark and straight up cool classic noir with a swirling, almost Disney touch. I just wish the stories were longer.

10. The Man Who Laughs, by Ed Brubaker
The best incarnation of The Joker is the one that loves being crazy and admits that there's no alternative. It's why he's one of the best all-time villains: precision mixed with chaos. Poor Batman, with the most exhausting bad guy around.

Non-fiction, Plays, Poetry
1. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
Honestly, it's probably the funniest book I've ever read. It's funny almost line by line, and she doesn't fall back on memoir cliches or lose steam like a humorist. She chooses select moments in her life to utilize as chapters, and it's goddamn hilarious.

2. Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America, by Leslie Knope
It's pretty difficult to write a television companion book that doesn't suck, and this collection from the writers of Parks And Recreation posing as every single character, major or minor, was brilliantly done. It added a rich history to a fictional town that's silly and somehow believable.

3. No More Poems About The Moon, by Michael Roberts
I like the world within his poetry. It's everyday nonsense mixed with anything-is-possible-but-not-precious consideration. Butterflies in the kitchen, palm trees in the living room, hope in every heart.

4. My Life, by Bill Clinton
The start to finish life reflection of a charming goof, the memoir is so damn conversational, you almost expect him to use your name in the middle of the text. It's traditional, but so fun and engaging.

5. The Year Of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
In one year, Didion loses her husband and daughter, and the memoir documents the tiny details of grief while offering up a life meditation rarely seen so articulately done.

6. Churchill, by Paul Thompson
Winston Churchill was a lunatic, and it's impossible for anyone not to be fascinated by him. Teddy Roosevelt though Churchill was a brute, and Churchill thought Gandhi was an asshole. This biography, and probably every other Churchill biography, is amazing because it has history's best character.

7. Homegrown Democrat, by Garrison Keillor
One long, all-over-the-place musing on politics and growing up, Keillor recounts life in Minnesota and why it matters to be in the liberal crowd of America. It's whimsical and sly, even when it borders on preachy.

8. A Coney Island Of The Mind, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Purchased solely because of the name, the collection of titleless poems bounced around, all colorful and chiming. Twas the noises and images of an America you'd hope to find in a jazz club, read by a drinking buddy romantic with a lust for life.

9. The Importance Of Being Ernest, by Oscar Wilde
A play of and on the trivial, it's Victorian Era meets vaudeville, tripping over itself with boundless wit and goofy grace. It has every madcap farce cliche before they were cliches, mixing mistaken identities with societal scandals.

10. The Audacity Of Hope, by Barack Obama
Almost terrifyingly articulate, Obama observes his American life versus the American life in a slow, engaging musing posing as a memoir. It reads superbly clean.

Special Mention: Reread
On The Road, by Jack Keruoac
Not only does the book hold up, it's an entirely different story as an adult reader. I only recalled the wild hooligan fun and it being about adventure. But it's a tragic saga of men who can't give up their youth and freedom, and it's more about escape and desperation. The idea of "it" isn't cool, poetic gibberish. It's recognizing the failure of maturity.

Old Flames XXI: The Ol' Patriots of Romance

Dearest sly protectors of saintly hearts and groves of men and women out of line with the American Dream, it's time to rise up and get yours. What was redder than the farmhouse? What was wilder than the river? What was scarier than the night sky? The heart.

Wouldn't you agree, students?

Truly, truly, truly.

This is the afterglow of conversation, the coy nap of the ancients, the truest form of dreams. Wait for the end of time, and you'll discover a mass grave of clocks, but you won't get the wrath of a god. And so goes the ocean, and so goes the horizon, and so goes people. We are the worst forever that somehow has the reputation for being the best party.

Beautiful confetti, angelic cake eyes, every balloon in town, why wouldn't this be the reclaiming of our childhoods? The future is the most sold-out show of our time. Ask the priests and the rabbis. I hear they're in a bar somewhere right now, according to some joker.

Hear those church bells and dinner party string quartets? Oh, this will surely be the swelling of summer and Christmas in the same gut reaction. Century lands for century men, say the willing. Beg not the word of god, for our ears are fragile, say the others. What gods would be here for a vacation home anyway?

Pirates slurs and patriot sweats, this is the free-flow panic of a lofty, crafty zeppelin of a man. Wit has no end for the wealthy, just as the gods have no end in sight of all humans. Wrap this world like a banshee and wait for us to pen the great works of a century empire.

Played well for a bad deal.
Sung high for his dead pals.
Waited in line at the pearly gates.

This steamship chants out a blues song as it coughs along the evening water. White memories just floating down the forest glass with orange jives and yellow whys awash in the golden hue of the background. Spill some pinks and reds, we're sweet on the onlookers.

I just hope we did this better than anyone. I hope we rocked out for good. I hope we ruined that party we only now heard about. Slummy chumps squawking on the radio; too poor, too sane, to get on the megaphone. But we were boys, and boys will listen to anyone with a hero's inflection.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, sell us the sandlot back. We've hardly touched the place since childhood, all with nostalgia biting at your heartstrings that you mistook for intestines. It's a complicated issue, says the guardian angel on-watch. What, glorious angel of time and regret, do you really work for minimum wage?

I was born a charity case, and I have the trail of fallen women to prove it, wrangles the mouth muscle in a fit of old-timey swagger. Born to Hollywood during the Golden Age, everything changed when they gave superheroes a drinking problem. It was supposed to be real, says the executive. It was supposed to be art, says the critic. It was supposed to be both, says the artist.

From all angles.
Out of lungs, out of mouths.
Out into the world, those fresh breaths.

Why did we have to die all those times before? Because we had to get broken to get mended to get strong. I get it now, says everybody and nobody at once. Watch out for the boundaries of this play, it may be on its way to Broadway.

Junior high memories crank out like bluegrass, and I wait for the birthdays and holidays to stop, but once I get to the end, I only want to go back. It hurt like hell, but, as Churchill chuckled his philosophy, if you're going through hell, keep going.

So that's how I became a writer, I'll tell the interviewer. And she'll laugh to her male co-host, and I'll go home a rich man. I'll go home in my fast car, to my faster wife, to my slow-motion wet dream of a life. I was made king of your dreamscape, lord of your nostalgia, prince of your longing. I was the playwright that murdered that plot. I was the anarchist that burned the government. I was that wordplay on that wordplay. And I didn't even have to beg to do it. It was given to me by time. I was the first at this. I was the first car to race, the first tv to destroy, the first whisper to be heard after love-making.

So true was this grief, I wailed as a vaudevillian for days. I was hope uncouth. I was barely awake in a song. I was the tremulous yearning of better days. Where were you in that labyrinth? Did you see the end of days? How did we end up here?

And what good was any of it?

I wonder.

Friday, December 21, 2012

On This Day Of End Of Days

I wrote this essay/rant a year and a half ago, and it seems strangely relevant on this day of end of days.
If The World Ends Tomorrow: My Thoughts & Concerns

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Heart Hurts

My heart hurts.

This is not poetic.

As much as I'd love for that to be the entire post, I suppose I should explain. Recently, as in the last few days, I've felt like my heart beat is a liiiiiiittle too prominent, and that's not a metaphor even a tiny bit. It's like a bizarre dull ache on the left side of my chest, and, since I eat and drink whatever the hell I want, while also being a wildly engaging on-and-off hypochondriac, this is cause for alarm.



Anyway, I spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to google this literal heart ache without getting recommendations of eating ice cream and "dating other boys because the right one's out still there." You know what I learned instead of what could be responsible for this pain? Every single person on Yahoo! Answers is a goddamn idiot, and I'm a goddamn idiot for even checking Yahoo! Answers.

Also, because I ended up in heartache forums, I can tell you that way too many boys and girls on the internet answer their own relationship questions. "We've been talking and laughing and having a great time but then he/she said he/she just wanted to be friends and then I thought we went on a date and I went in for the kiss but they said no and I wonder, what does it all mean? So I broke into their house and read all of their emails and WHO THE FUCK IS ASHLEY/KEVIN? Does he/she like me or not?"


I wish I was either not a hypochondriac or a more severe one, so it would either mean no stress at all or the craziest week ever. However, I'm somewhere in between, not enough to have my doctor on speed dial but enough to where a doctor has definitely greeted me with, "Didn't I just see you?"

Furthermore, that's just when I feel something is intense enough to call a doctor. Consider the time I legitimately thought my tongue wouldn't properly fit in my mouth for a week, and maybe your sympathy for me has drastically lessened.

Well, I finally called the doctor, and I have an appointment tomorrow. Who wants to put money on one of these medical responses?
  • "It turns out you're just insane." (diagnosed with disgust)
  • "It turns out you're starving...for attention." (with jokey pause)
  • "Diabetes." (said with Wilford Brimley impression)
Wish me luck / great knowing you all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

"pirate regret"

"pirate regret"
with no energy by jake kilroy.

i did my best to clean out my mouth with soap and honest words,
but stuck forever in my gums were desolation and desperation.
they rotted my throat over the course of a sad chess game of years
with each speech i made spilling the humdrum sound of glory
that was wasted young, developed late, and then seen as a treasure
in the fitting rebirth of a scalawag miner turned blacksmith legend.

surely, in the prophecy of headstrong men and stubborn women,
there is room for the meandering sense of doom that catches us wild
when we massage rummy hearts and paint nostalgia as a big clock,
for if this is the wretched shipwreck we were hoping would sail,
then every carcass on deck, as none of us have done this before.

for when i was a young man,
says every long-winded old man,
i wore birds as necklaces
and claimed the teeth in my jaw to be jewelry,
all while i grinned a burnt church and stumbled into a lone tavern,
to let my wages rot in my rotten mouth with rotten folk to call rotten.

twas a fool's errand
to scour the earth,
trying to make a bed
that looked like a grave
after living long enough
to sleep forever.

smothered by orange and yellow at dawn,
i waited for nightfall to ask or beg or force
the gods of the horizon to let me see my insides,
without death, without whispers, without lies,
and use them as the body of the ship that i sail alone
to truer lands that would be as soft as a wink.
the wake will be pages and the sun will be growling,
and i can tip my captain's hat to the sinking world,
while i waste away in the squalor of eternity.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fashion Pit: Volume I

It will almost certainly come as no surprise whatsoever when I describe myself as "not all that fashionable." When once asked to describe my personal style, I chose, "These are my clothes. Watch me wear them." I actually own a full wardrobe, and I've purchased/received a substantial number of clothing items over the years, yet I still wear the Operation Ivy t-shirt I bought in high school about once a week. I see the appeal of fashion, or I at least see the fun and fulfillment in swapping style tips and trying out new looks. However, I've yet to understand catwalk shows where outfits look like they were made by some out of touch designer's hipster nephew that read way too many sci-fi paperbacks as a kid. But, truly, what do I know? I'm most comfortable in blues jeans and a plaid shirt, I've only written one fashion essay in my life, and, at some point, I looked liked this:
Needless to say, I haven't always been the most in tune with the style scene. In recent times, I've at least learned how to cut my hair.
Enter Sara. Sara, for those of you who don't know, writes the popular stylish and thoughtful blog Glitter + Grace. She has come to be the closest thing I have to a fashion guru in my life. Her nail polish shelves are a work of art, she does DIY clothing projects, and she's also one hell of a ping pong player. Over time, she's explained the world of fashion to me, just as, in trade, I've explained to her why I swear so much.

Anyway, I told her how extraordinarily well she dresses, and she said she dug my writing, so we decided to do a project together with each person contributing one skill (Sara - fashion, Jake - nonsense). This essentially became me texting Sara a theme (which, I agree, seems suspiciously close to being a totally random phrase), and then her dressing in an outfit according to her own interpretation of said theme/borderline gibberish. So, without further adieu/rambling, here's Sara's radical style and my unholy delirium.
"Librarian Out on the Town"
Sara: I used this as an excuse to wear a pencil skirt I never get to wear anymore. A button-up cardigan also seemed like a librarian thing to wear. To add the "out on the town" part and avoid total costume librarian look, I wore my hair down and threw on some high-heeled boots.
Jake: In the wretched head of every forlorn bibliophile, there's a gorgeous daydream of a woman. It's the librarian who loves Jose Cuervo as much as she does Thomas Pynchon, loves Jack Daniels as much as Jack Kerouac, and hates James Joyce as much as she hates Jager. It's the girl that's had enough of the late fines, staff meetings, and lanky stoners who just want books on "growing." She's South County vixen meets North County sweetheart, and she secretly has a heart that's like an old Cadillac, pristine and gentle, with a roar that could destroy every boy in town.
"French Girl Car Wreck"
Sara: Look disheveled while still looking chic. Gave me the chance to wear a hat for once.
Jake: Not quite the drunken rage monster that a "train wreck" is, a "car wreck" is a girl who dents, but doesn't destroy, the evening. She's the one who takes over the stereo, but doesn't break it. She can down wine, cheese, and a baguette so fast that it turns a picnic into a festival. She creeps around men's apartments, purring over her shoulder, usually wearing a top, rarely dawning a bottom, and all she wants to do during the day is lounge around and listen to her native land's songs and her nearest man's words. At night, her eyes glow and she disappears into a crowd to turn heads and ruin lives.
"Cream Soda Jazz"
Sara: Went with a cream sweater, neutral colors, and a "jazzy" crystal-y necklace. Pretty basic.
Jake: There is such a thing as a girl who loves jazz without carrying the blues in her soul and her heart on a sleeve, and behind that sultry minx is a man who has beat himself better and badder than any other brawler there that's taken a dive swing at him. It's a cool, slow molasses life for the world of the trumpet lull and the martini-sipping heartbroken. So when an innocent girl comes in with a style that's soft with grace and firm with manners, a smile from her could light up the room and put out all the cigarettes for good.
"Croquet Espionage"
Sara: Upon asking my friends for their interpretation of this look, I was told stripes and blazers. So the stripes were for the preppy part, the blazer was for the spy part, and the rest was just because I wanted to wear those red tights.
Jake: Not every spy has charmingly destructive hobbies like drinking themselves to death or racking up STDs. Some spies have a sense of laughter and culture, and maybe, between the theater outings and charity events, they play croquet. If every move can end up in a shot at the head or saving the world, what secret agent wouldn't want to come home, drink wine, listen to bossa nova, and play croquet? Even the wild and the cunning need freshly cut grass, sunshine coming through the trees, and a game for ladies and gentlemen.
"Sunset Cruise"
Sara: Scanned my closet and my eyes landed on the first color that screamed sunset: those pants. The picture hardly captures the neon nature of them. Then, in an attempt to achieve the look of a 65-year-old frequent cruise-goer, I thought that animal print and gold metallics (belt + shoes) seemed appropriate.
Jake: With the colors of the horizon ringing out the colors of a bonfire, a boat could lurk in the harbor or a car could speed down a seaside road, and there would surely be a girl in either mode of escape hellbent on looking good in a summer outfit. If not, why bother?

And, well, that's it for now. But there'll be a second volume, maybe a third, and who knows after that? Sara's been a real sport, but she might call this thing quits once we finally reach phrases like "pomegranate dreamscape" and "time-traveling mistress." Also, if you're wondering why Sara looks like a bobble head in those last two photos, it's because I took them, and I'm, like, 8'9". But, other than that, style it up, people.*

*That's something fashionable people say, right?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"the artist's mouth"

"the artist's mouth"
after many eye rolls by jake kilroy.

the immaculate groaning came from the cavalier
hell-bent on shooting his mouth off,
as if carrier pigeons would spring from his throat
to drop great truth bombs on the masses
that carry as much wisdom as fortune cookies
and offer as much tact as a firing squad drunkard.

he kicked out the priests to criticize the church
and dragged the politicians through the square
to talk of how dirty politics could be at high noon,
but, in his best suit, he couldn't attend a brunch
without being hanged by his scrawny neck
with the rest of us chomping toast and downing coffee.

what good is an artist if he can't shut his mouth?
where is the craft if the good pulsates with the bad?
he wonders, and then steps on the chests of philosophers
to tell the world that all these bodies are a stage
and the curtain will never set on his social suicide.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Life, According to Jason K.

"I envision your mailbox overstuffed with spam mail leaking out of it. Then you grab that pile, walk inside, throw it on the Christmas tree-sized pile in middle of the living room, blast Dylan, get high, and play air guitar like Hendrix. I'm also sure you have a closet full of facial hair wigs because yours has changed throughout the years in most photos. I'm onto you man." - Jason K.

"the well of man"

"the well of man"
written in a black shirt by jake kilroy.

i had two hot air balloons in my cavern of a chest
trying to find their way out through the gutter chambers
of my heart, or the long winding tower of my neck.
what holiday was this that celebrated wrong turns
like it was the right way to break everything about?
i huffed the vapors of soup and had brandy for dinner
and still i wandered the graves, stalking the earth,
like a monster hunting zombies waiting for demons,
all for a card game that would be rigged from the start.
lights were aglow in the swinging lanterns of the porches,
and i marched with ice for blood and a crooked smile
that could bury winter for good here in the soft, idle dirt,
bring summer back, drag it crying from a vacation home,
and put it to work, all with cigar smoke polluting my mind
and the comfort of a thick peacoat hailing nirvana
from a park bench in the middle of hell,
all while the Devil himself played golf.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bully Bands: Tycho

I can't remember the last time an instrumental made me think this much. This song's been carving out my insides and filling it with a watery stir of dreams and memories recently. It's also been shoving and shaking the open future in me like I was a teenager with a world ahead that is remarkable and endless. This thing is morning plans, afternoon daydreams, and late-night sex rolled into one heavenly smirk of a tune. Fuck yeah.

"A Walk" by Tycho
A Walk by Tycho on Grooveshark

Friday, December 7, 2012

"all irish cousins"

"all irish cousins"
dwelling on somebody else's past by jake kilroy.

it was an empire of boys with denim jackets and fast cars
and girls with eyes that batted like the wings of a drowning angel,
all while the law had it in for them 'cause they were young.
sure, there were still arcades and boardwalks and even circus clowns
that hung around in pool halls and surf vans and an endless summer.

but then came the tiny apartments and the linoleum floors.
then came the televisions with bunny ears and static.
then came the swift anxiety and swifter drags of smoke.

so the ties felt like nooses, the shoes felt like bricks,
the women were mothers, and the handshakes were pricks.
the world changed, all along a watch tower,
as the bugs were sold and the beards were shaved,
and the late-night drinking came to stain the credit bills.

but all the world was a stage,
and everything was in flames,
so i played a pogues record
and summoned her like the devil.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Path of Nonviolence to The Lost Boys

My very talented friend Lindsey, along with two of her friends, is opening a drive-in theater. It was originally supposed to launch in October with a scary movie double-feature, and, over summer, she asked me to write an essay or two about movies for their site. So, naturally, I wrote about one of the movies they were going to show: the wild, fun ride that is The Lost Boys. Due to some changing insurance policies, the three girls are now launching the drive-in this spring, and it's still going to be rad as hell. But it wouldn't really make sense to show The Lost Boys when the ghosts and ghouls aren't out, so I'll write another essay come the new year. Anyway, here's the essay I did about the bringing up I had which ultimately lead me to vampire cult classic.

My Path of Nonviolence to The Lost Boys
by Jake Kilroy

I first heard about The Lost Boys from my dad.

I was stumbling out of junior high with a heart on my sleeve and a hard-on for film noir at the time, so vampires weren’t even on my radar. But, my father, the man I had a year-long argument with about the violence in Quentin Tarantino films, told me, to my very great surprise, that The Lost Boys was “awesome.”

This is the man who wouldn’t let me see Jurassic Park in the theaters, by the way.

Now, my father wasn’t a square by any means. He surfed, owned a VW bus and went to Sex Pistols’ shows in the ‘70s, and then raised me and my siblings in the ‘80s. He just didn’t like violence in film. Or at least he didn’t like modern or gruesome violence in film. I mean, as a kid of the ‘50s and ‘60s, he was practically raised on war and cowboy movies.

So my father never rented me Tombstone or let me see Scream in the ‘90s like the other dads in the neighborhood. Instead, he rented How Green Is My Valley and The African Queen. It affected me greatly, because then, when I finally started making my own movie-viewing choices as a teenager, contemporary violence was way too intimidating for me.

At my friend David’s sleepover in sixth grade, we had his mother-approved option to watch Species, which had violence and boobs (the joyous sixth-grade equivalent of free alcohol and a surprisingly high tax return for a twenty-something). But because I was raised on annual viewings of The Quiet Man and It’s A Wonderful Life, the very idea of watching an (albeit, wildly hot) alien chick savagely kill like a maniac was too much for me. I told the mother in charge of us young idiots that my mom wouldn’t be all that happy if we watched Species, which was entirely untrue.

So we watched Jury Duty instead.

I know, I know, but whatever the fuck ever. It was 1996 and Pauly Shore was hilarious at the time.

Anyway, when I was picked up in the morning, I stood next to my mother, saying goodbye to David and his mom. Then, my great fear realized, David’s mom told mine not to worry, she didn’t let us watch Species. My very confused mother replied, “Oh, I told Jake it was up to him.”

And, I swear, to this day, that look from David haunts me. That dude was fucking pissed. I don’t remember if he said anything. I must have blacked out from sweating. But I’ll remember those angry pre-pubescent eyes for the rest of my days.

But that was how I was raised. I was raised to be freaked out. I was raised to be unfamiliar to the brutality and the lust for gore. Murder (human, monster, or hybrid) as a means of cinematic fulfillment was extremely surreal to my very pale and lanky existence as a kid. But I came to understand it in junior high. I didn’t exactly embrace it, but I at least heard it out. I watched movies as a young teenager that I knew would scare the goddamn daylights out of me (and, to be honest, Silence of the Lambs might do that forever).

By the time I started high school, my dad began to hand me the reins to my life and started renting classic violent movies he secretly loved, but didn’t want his kids to see too young: the Alien series, the Terminator series, etc. I realized he had been the way he was with me because I was the oldest child, and he legitimately wasn’t sure if I’d turn out to be a sociopath.

Still, vampire flicks never really became my thing. And it wasn’t the violence. I just didn’t see the fervent appeal of vampires, even as I watched more of my peers turn all goth and spooky. I never got into From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, I’ve still never seen Interview With A Vampire, and the only thing I remember about 1992’s Dracula is that Gary Oldman dressed sick as hell.

I suppose I was always more of an Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein kind of guy. I liked my vampires slow and spacy. Maybe it comforted me to know that I could outrun Nosferatu as an eighth grader. However, a decade later, I got wildly stoned and watched Nosferatu again. This time, the slow and spacy quality of that tall drink of water scared the shit out of me. Sure, it was partially the drugs, but...ok, let’s be honest here. It was almost entirely the drugs.

Anyway, when I finally saw The Lost Boys, I dug it. I dug it a whole lot actually. It was the first modern vampire movie that I really got into. It was As a fun all-around grab-bag of cinema, The Lost Boys had old-school suspense by not showing anything early on and it offered up that peculiar Hollywood hoodrat dreamy interpretation of surf culture, all while making jokes as townspeople were being killed off.

The cult classic follows two brothers and their mother, and it takes place in Santa Carla, a fictional sprawling coastal town in California with “murder capital of the world” spraypainted on the back of the city’s welcome sign. Guess what? The town’s got a vampire problem and only a few people know it. Enter several issues with living a normal life for the summer.

And everyone’s rad in the movie, even sweet mama Dianne Wiest. Also, almost every single thing Jason Patric does is smooth and nearly everything Kiefer Sutherland does is pretty goddamn cool. At some point, Alex Winter hands Sutherland a box of take-out, and he just mumbles, “Chinese. Nice choice.” And even that seems cool, since, you know, you have this gigantic hunch that he’s the leader of a pretty sweet local vampire gang. What the fuck does he care about Chinese food? Later, when heavy shit starts going down, he doesn’t drop some harrowingly condescending line like, “Stupid mortal.” No, Sutherland, in all of his leather hipster glory, yells, “You’re dead meat!”

The movie dashes between comedic and eerie pretty frequently. It never fully leaves the realm of simultaneous light and dark. I mean, there’s the scene with the little dudes filling up canteens with holy water and everyone in the church is just staring at them. And then there’s that one shot I remember well, and maybe I always will. It only lasts for a few seconds. As some weird misfit jock surfer bro gang (who appear in too many ‘80s movies, by the way) are hosting their own personal Burning Man on the beach, just raging their arrogant balls off, the vampires loom, watching them from a tree with the night behind them and the fire before them. It’s an intense (and strangely artistic) shot.

But why does it make sense? Because anything goes in The Lost Boys. It has the snarky but childish hero little brother. It has the earnest single mother. It has some hot babe named Star. Plus, it has motorcycles, roller coasters and Corey Feldman doing an entire movie in the tough guy voice. It all works. It’s campy, violent, silly, wild, spooky, cool, weird, suspenseful and just straight up rad.

Last week, I told my dad about the Dead Ringers Drive-In and that he had the chance to see The Lost Boys on the big, big screen, and he seemed uneasy.

Lost Boys freaked me out,” he told me. “It was so well done.”

“But you dug it, yeah?”

“Yeah,” he answered. “It had style.”

I guess that was what all those other vampire movies were missing. Style.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


a quick thought by jake kilroy.

because her bedroom was laced with barley,
and her white dresses fluttered in the breeze,
i barely made it out alive.

Monday, December 3, 2012


remembering shadows by jake kilroy.

the shadows of l.a. climbed her dress
like they were begging for mercy,
while the moon stumbled across the sky,
awash in the bourbon fumes of below.
what was sacred was burned
to the slow hum of a trumpet,
as the wet evening came to a fiery end
with long cigarettes and glowing teeth.

this was noir taking a nap without nightmares
and the slow motion gaze of a city's longing stare,
as men hulked through the halls like monsters
and the women slid their eyes like demons,
with everyone dressed like angels and saints
reading magazines in the waiting room of heaven,
wishing the wonderful wasteland had a casino
and skinny dipping was still a good secret.

i read her body cover to cover
and the sighing breath of los angeles
kept me up as the neon whispered through the blinds,
and i tossed and turned and found sanctuary
in knowing there was another day
ready to beat its way into me
and i could sleep another night.