Riding with Jesus Part XV: a badbadbad tour blog
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
On Midwest Strangeness (Part II)
After Iowa City and Indianapolis, the tour headed south for a noir weekend in Missouri. Jesus Lives! large in Mark Twain’s mythic playground for do-gooders and good-for-nothings, just as He does in Indy, Atlanta, Nashville and Virginia Beach. Hell, maybe Sarah Palin is right: the United States is the Promised Land for True Believers, who won’t have to fight for a seat in the skybox come Rapture. I always forget how the middle states are blood-red. Not my fault, not by choice anyway. I’m genetically predisposed to not knowing where I am at all times. Geographically challenged, my father calls it. Good thing Missourians value family alongside beefsteak, popcorn and praise. I felt well taken care of here.
1. Noir at the Bar Anthology: Doom! Lust! Filth! 2. Holy N@Bar co-host Jedidiah Ayres.
The Noir at the Bar release party for an anthology of the same name at Meshuggah Café was a hot time. The venue was packed with darkside lit lovers, many of whom went home not with handfuls but armfuls of books by featured authors Jane Bradley, Scott Phillips, David Cirillo, Phillips’ screenwriting partner and N@Bar co-host Jedidiah Ayres and myself. This was the most passionate book-buying crowd I’d met yet. Profits from the anthology — with contributions by nearly 20 “distasteful” fiction writers, including Kyle Minor, Jonathan Woods and Frank Bill — go directly to local indie retailer Subterranean Books, the only place you can purchase this collection, described in the groovy throwback trailer as “Doom! Lust! Filth and Vile Unpleasantness!” You can read more about N@Bar here and here.
1. Scott Phillips. 2. Jane Bradley.
St. Louis strangeness #1: Rather than pummeling listeners with graphic depictions of murder and mayhem, Phillips read the relatively tame setup to his new novel, The Adjustment, where “violence is a virus,” per Stephen Aubrey’s recent Outlet review, which leads me to believe neo-noir authors are less confrontational in person than in print.
St. Louis strangeness #2: Bradley read with a subtle, almost sweet, Southern drawl that belied the creep of her tense narrative.
St. Louis strangeness #3: I’d never met anyone in this town before, yet I was embraced like family and gifted with fine food (Thai!), drink (Schlafly!) and a cozy bed for the night.
St. Louis strangeness #4: When an audience member heard I was hard up for crash pads along the desolate stretch from Kansas City to Portland, she at once wired a blogger pal in Boise, who welcomed me into her home no questions asked.
1 & 2. Blasphemy in KC
I first met Brandon Tietz and Caleb J. Ross at AWP DC last winter. When I asked for their help setting up something for us in KC, they conjured this unusual GOD HATES AUTHORS showcase at the Czar Bar. The gig would feature literary readings, badbadbad multimedia, spin-doctoring (from DJ Preston Parsons), a live Twitter feed of the event and comedy from emcee Michael Gomez. They planned to raffle off one-of-a-kind prizes, including a disturbing photography book on STDs and “Holyish Bible,” an installation art piece Ross concocted, pairing our novels with a wayward Word of God, thrift-store edition. This was my kind of art-crazy: inclusive, transgressive and not a little blasphemous. You can hear the entire performance, if you like, on this podcast.
1. Hawking books with a black-cloth merch table. 2. Live tweets: #hateauthors.
KC strangeness #1: Though I barely knew Brandon Tietz before this event, he greeted me like a brother, and with manly Midwest politesse, grilled us the thickest, juiciest steaks I may have ever tasted.
1. Brandon Tietz. 2. Caleb J. Ross.
1 & 2. God hates authors? 3. Even popcorn in the midwest is holy.
KC strangeness #3: The blue sky darkened, and thunder and lightning rained down — just as I hit the Kansas City freeway — and I wondered briefly if lit blasphemy might reap unjust deserts.
Playlist highlights: Oxford American’s 10th Anniversary Edition, Newtones, Sergio & Odair Assad and Ali Farka Toure’s African Blues:
Next up: Lit Love from the Lonesome Highway, Noir Edition: First Lines, Last Lines & Love Letter to Chicago.
— Jesús Ángel García’s badbadbad summer road show is done but far from gone and the tour continues in Oakland, California, on Saturday, Sept. 10, at East Bay on the Brain’s “Missed Connections” with Lizzy Acker, Andrea Kneeland, Joe Loya, Tomas Moniz, Jan Richman, James Warner and host Lauren Becker with heartbreaker Paul Corman-Roberts, and on Monday, Sept. 12, with Michelle Tea, Susan Straight, David Rocklin, Hate Factory, Kengarden and host Stephen Elliott at “Let’s Talk About Us,” a Monthly Rumpus coupling with The Believer Magazine in San Francisco.