Because You Can't Burn an Ebook, Part II

Are you an intolerable outrage junkie? Have you been stockpiling Bibles and cans of baked beans to prepare for the coming antifapocalypse? Did you hire a defrocked priest to exorcise the libtard out of your Keurig machine after the company pulled its advertising from Sean Hannity's TV show after Hannity defended a guy who fucked a fourteen-year-old girl when he (Roy Moore) was in his thirties? Do you think Timmy Tebow is the GOAT even though you know in your cold, dead heart he couldn't throw an on-target deep ball to save his soul? Or maybe you've been laughing so far but now you're kind of uncomfortable because you're the type of person who thinks that my genitals make me incapable of opening my mouth without "mansplaining"? Listen, you're not as bad as the Famous Keurig-Killers, but you can't defeat Fascism with portmanteaus.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, I NEED YOU! I'm a writer, and I'm just sort of languishing over here. I'm an outsider. Not a fake outsider with eleventy million Twitter followers like some people who call themselves outsiders, but a real outsider with a little over two hundred Twitter followers and half a dozen fans. I've never been able to find an agent that gets me enough to take a chance on actually repping me. I get published in literary journals, but I'm not widely known. Because I can't find anyone who wants to publish my books I've published them myself, and because I published my books myself nobody wants to write about them, and because nobody writes about them almost nobody reads them. A few people have found my books by accident, which is not the best marketing strategy.

I need to find a way to trick someone into writing about one of my books. The way publishing works most of the time these days is you basically can't get a book deal until you get famous. I used to be pretty good at baseball, but it's too late for me to try to break into the majors, and I'm too shy to go on TV. The only thing I can do to get famous is to just piss a bunch of weirdos off.

Which is where you come in.

My new book, which is a collection of short stories, is pretty offensive. One of the characters is a superhero who sets a Confederate flag on fire with his laser eyes. Another character refers to Donald Trump as "Captain Spraytan." I—not a fictional character, but me personally, the actual author—refer to members of the men's rights movement as a bunch of "cockalorums and dingleberries." Plus this book of fiction is called The War on Xmas, playing off the fictional War on Christmas that Fox Newsians whinge about every December. So get on your high horse, ride it down to the bookstore, or your computer, and buy my book, and tell your stinky friends to do the same, and y'all dumbasses can have a righteous bonfire that will really show me where I stand while at the same time putting me in my place. Go ahead and burn it. There's no way I would have used a special type of ink that converts into an airborne poison when exposed to heat.

Still not offended enough to organize a boycott-a-book-by-buying-it-so-you-can-set-it-on-fire campaign? "Deplorable" is an insult. Jesus hates Nazis. Slavery was bad. Robert E. Lee was a traitor. Richard Spencer is a Hitler fanboy with a shitty haircut. Milo is a racist dufus who suffers from joke blindness. Donald Trump is a fucking rapist.

Still not offended? Here's an excerpt from the first story in the collection. It's called "Doppelbänger":

Melora left me, after five years of non-marital union, over my disposition. My acid tongue amused her, but it left a weird sensation in her vulva. And then suddenly, just about a year after our bitter split, came a card informing me that the honor of my presence was being requested by Victor Jensen Johnson and Melora Simone Roland, who would be united in the sacrament of holy matrimony, celebrated at a nuptial mass on the fourteenth of February in the year of our Lord two thousand and fifteen at six o’clock in the evening at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1530 Logan Street in Denver, Colorado. Melora, the mellifluous one, is who trained me to say vulva instead of vagina, and she left me for a VJJ.

So I was grumpy and bitter, a fount of vituperation. What sentient being isn’t? If you’re not a raging misanthropist you’re not paying attention. Isis. Congress. Fracking. Murder. Lobbyists. Wal-Mart. Pedophiles. Rapists. Birthers. Birchers. Holocaust deniers. Fascists. Fundamentalists. Omnipotent corporations skullfucking the impotent people. Racist cops. Racist pundits. Racist leaders. Racist peons. White college kids having blackface parties. Superstition. Manspreading. People who talk on their cell phones in public restrooms. Sidewalk skateboarders who text and ride. Poachers. Pesticides. Credit cards. Climate change. Climate change “skeptics.” 9/11 truthers. Mitch motherfucking Albom. Fucking 19 Kids and Counting. Or is it Fucking 19 Kids and Counting? Plastic. Poverty. Insurance companies. People who trash up trails and campsites. War fatigue. Rally fatigue. Fact fatigue. The great unwashed, uneducated, unvaccinated. Ignorance. Patriotism. Here’s some fucking patriotism for you: my sister was raped by a soldier while on tour in Iraq, and when she reported it to her supervisor she was gang-raped by four men from her unit, men she had called her brothers. She killed herself, one shot to the head, and they walked free. The gods protected them, the brass, too; they all made it through without a scratch, no limbs lost, no traumatic brain injuries (that requires a brain), no post-traumatic stress disorder, all back in the States with their families, living their lives, raising hell over here. ISIS, by the way, did not invent recruitment through social media. And social fucking media. Cyberbullying. Internet trolls. Viral videos. Efuckingbola. Wife beaters. Men who wear wifebeaters in public. Homophobes. Drug dealers. Cartels. Meth-heads. Originalists. Tea party animals. Astroturfers. Populist plutocrats. Modern poetry. Burnouts. Binge-drinking. Binge-watching. At least Allen Ginsberg got to see the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness; the best minds of mine were destroyed by Netflix.

If that excerpt doesn't fill you so full of rage that you pay a lot of money to have your Keurig repaired just so you can smash it again then you might actually be the type of person who would like to buy this book just for the old-fashioned purpose of reading it, rather than boycotting it. Either way, it's available on Amazon for $13 or in the bookstore of this website at whatever price you choose to pay, in increments of one dollar, between $6 and $13. Yes, there's a goddamn $0.99 ebook version, but buying that won't show me anything; take another look at the title of this essayvertisement.

For those of you who do choose to boycott, I humbly suggest that while you're boycotting The War on Xmas you might as well go ahead and boycott Barn Again, too. Here are the instructions: "Because You Can't Burn an Ebook." And remember: "boycott" is one of those words, like "liberty" and "prolife," that changed its definition after Y2K, and now it means you buy the product you're trying to protest so you can take pictures of yourself protesting it so you can post those protesting pictures on social media.

Side note: I found an interesting documentary about Richard Spencer.

That's it. I hope you're real mad now. Buy the book. If you want to, I mean; I'm not your boss. It's just a suggestion. But buy it.

Fun fact: if you click on the image right above this text you'll be able to buy the book.

Fun fact: if you click on the image right above this text you'll be able to buy the book.

©Alan Good 2017

Malarkey Books: A Playlist

These notes accompany a Spotify playlist called Malarkey Books. I've tried to include every song or artist mentioned in my books, plus a few that didn't get mentioned but are still there under the surface.

50 songs. 3 hours, 20 minutes.


Side 1: Barn Again: A Memoir

1. "Special Death," Mirah.

The first song on the list is not mentioned anywhere in my books; nor is the artist. However, Mirah is one of my favorite musicians. "Special Death" is probably my favorite song of hers. I listened to it nearly every day for two years when I was still in college, especially in England. It was on the playlist I made for myself to accompany the book I was working on through those years, a book that wasn't any good, that I gave up on, thankfully. The book was called Malarkey. It was shit, but I liked the name so much that I used it as the title of Johnny Barnard's first book in Barn Again: A Memoir, and it's also central to my website and imaginary publishing company, so there is a connection.

2. "Fuck Tha Police," NWA

The first musical allusion in Barn Again comes in the author's preface.

3. "A Horse With No Name," America

I don't hate America as much as Barn does, so even though I don't like this song I'm still including it on the playlist, mainly for the contrast with "Fuck Tha Police."

4. "Rocky Mountain High," John Denver

I've never been a fan of this song, but it is mentioned in Barn Again in the Unabombinator chapter, when Barn is driving around, on the run from Fate, who has been stalking him with plane crash movies as he anticipates flying to Spain. He's listening to the radio in the car, and the DJ queues up a set of plane crash music: John Denver, Otis Redding, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

5. "Cigarettes and Coffee," Otis Redding

6. "Texas Flood," Stevie Ray Vaughan

7. "Johnny's Gonna Die," The Replacements

This song comes on in the coffee shop, another message from Fate.

8. "London Calling," The Clash

One of Barn's stall wall poems alludes to this one.

9. "I've Been Everywhere," Johnny Cash

He takes the title of his projected collection of latrinalia from this song.

10. "La Bamba," Richie Valens

You can't sing "La Bamba" in an airport.

11. "Gimme Back My Bullets," Lynyrd Skynyrd

Plays on the stereo of a stolen Hummer.

12. "Pay Me My Money Down," The Weavers

From chapter twelve (you have to know Samuel Beckett's most famous quote and some banjo terminology in order to get the "Frail Better" joke):

I was in a few atrocious bands in my youth, and I could never decide whether I wanted to be a post-punk rocker or a folk player. I earned drinking money in England playing songs by Pete Seeger and The Clash on a cheap Chinese banjo, as described with very little fictionalization in chapter twelve of Malarkey, a chapter I proudly named “Frail Better.” In a life filled with puns, that was my best. I’m a member now of a roguish band of strings players. We call ourselves The Prairie Dawgs. We’re a lot like The Weavers, if The Weavers were a bunch of tattooed, bearded anarchistic environmentalists. I don’t have any tattoos; I do have an on-again, off-again beard. We play a few old folk songs and a very few standard bluegrass tunes, but mostly we write our own songs. We all contribute to the music, but I write most of the lyrics. Songwriting satisfies my yen for rhyme. One of my favorites is a standard-sounding country tune that starts off like this: “This morning I got born again, again, / A new lease on life, a refund on my sin.”

13. "Robin Hood Theory," Gang Starr

The footnote to the part where Barn's making fun of music videos:

I don’t want to leave the reader with the impression that I am some smug white guy who thinks that hip-hop is not real music. On the other hand, a list of all the hip-hope artists I enjoy and admire, such as Gang Starr, De La Soul, and Blackalicious, might appear as over-trying. Any writer who isn’t at least mildly enamored of hip-hop is probably a poseur, his purported love of language just a front to compensate for lack of skill and soul. Believe me or don’t; I quite like hip-hop, but there’s a subgenre within it I don’t care for, and that is hip-hop of the MTV bitch-ho variety.

14. "Oooh," De La Soul, featuring Redman

15. "Release," Blackalicious, featuring Saul Williams, Lyrics Born, and Zach de la Rocha

This one's long but worth the time.

16. "Tom Sawyer," Rush

The undercover officer who tries to bust our fuckup hero at the end of the book seems to be doing an impression of Geddy Lee, the singer of Rush.

17. "Stereo," Pavement.

No reason to include this, other than I love Pavement and this song includes a solid Geddy Lee reference.

18. "The Donald," A Tribe Called Quest

I set up a Spotify account just so I could listen to the new Tribe Called Quest album. This song's on here for the two paragraphs on Trump toward the end of the book.


Side 2: The War on Xmas

19. "Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down," Kris Kristofferson

The introduction ends with an allusion both to this song and The Handmaid's Tale.

"Doppelbanger"

20. "Barracuda," Rasputina.

I recycled the name "Melora" from one of the characters in that abandoned novel; I took the name from the singer of Rasputina, which was my favorite band for a few years. I saw them play in Lawrence, Kansas. Rasputina is a cello-driven gothish band. The covers album, The Lost and Found, is probably my favorite, probably their most accessible. This track comes off a live album. I was pleased to discover that they've put out several albums while I wasn't paying attention.


"SuperChad"

21. "Let's Get Fucked Up," Tech n9ne

This happens to be the only song I know of KC rapper Tech n9ne, who is just under SuperChad in the hierarchy of Kansas City heroes. 


"Paris (When I Die)"

22. "Fancy," Reba McEntire.

"I might have been born just plain white trash, but Fancy was my name."

23. "Texas (When I Die), Tanya Tucker.

I prefer the altered lyrics in "Paris (When I Die)," but this is still a great song.


"Empties"

24. "La Juala de Oro," Los Tigres del Norte

The unnamed narrator of this story is drinking beer with a guy named Miguel, who is an undocumented immigrant who hates norteño music but listens to it out of solidarity.

25. "Life on the Border," Piñata Protest

Sort of a stretch, as it's not mentioned in the story; I'm just including it for fun. This is norteño punk.


"In the Penile Colony"

26. "Summer Babe," Pavement.

My favorite band. Herb, the narrator of the last three stories in the book, was in a band called The Magic Skinflutes, "a hillbilly noise group out of Stillwater, sort of Slanted and Enchanted-era Pavement blended with Ray Wylie Hubbard." The band is called The Skinflutes in the version of the story that appears in Word Riot. I took the name from a fake band I was in for a couple days in high school. We were going to perform at the talent show until our religion teacher took us aside and told us what the term "skinflute" means. We acted shocked and soon after disbanded, since we'd only formed in order to perform as the Skinflutes. After "In the Penile Colony" was accepted I found out there was a real band called Skinflutes, so I updated to The Magic Skinflutes.  

27. "Conversation with the Devil," Ray Wylie Hubbard

I could have chosen any Ray Wylie Hubbard song, but I probably enjoy this one the most: "What you won't find up in Heaven are
Christian Coalition Right Wing Conservatives, / Country program directors, and Nashville record executives."

28. "Something Happen Always," Preston School of Industry

Here's an excerpt of the fictional review of The Magic Skinflutes album Ghetto Palm:

We had a modest following but never made it big, even though, maybe because, our only full-length album was reviewed in Pitchfork: “If Scott Kannberg raped an inbred Appalachian, and their offspring recorded an album while simultaneously being waterboarded and trying to pass a gallstone, the result would sound exactly like Ghetto Palm.”

It was inspired by actual Pitchfork reviews of Kannberg's music. (Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs, was in Pavement. He formed Preston School of Industry after Pavement broke up and has a new album out, simply as Spiral Stairs.)

29. "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," Otis Redding

In jail, Herb wonders who's going to sing this to his children every night. I sing this one to my children. At least once a day for the last four years. Never get tired of it.


"One Man's Trailer Trash"

30. "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore," John Prine

One of my favorite songs. Herb moves into a trailer park, next door to America Joe, who looks like the narrator of this song.

31. "Mr. Banker," Lynyrd Skynyrd

People in the park lose interest in Herb's musicianship when they find out he doesn't know any Skynyrd. Most people don't know this song. Fuck "Sweet Home Alabama." Listen to this one instead.

32. "Ghost Rider," Suicide

Herb tells someone his favorite band is Suicide.

33. "Colorado," Paper Bird

Herb gets replaced and The Magic Skinflutes get a track played on Open Air, Colorado Public Radio's new music station, so here's the first song ever played on Open Air, on Halloween of 2011.

34. "No Deal," Townes Van Zandt

One of my favorite songs. Herb records a solo album in his trailer: "My album was called, naturally, One Man’s Trailer Trash, and it had sort of a punk/post-punk singer-songwriter aesthetic, Townes Van Zandt with Descendents and Hüsker Dü influences."

35. "Suburban Home," Descendents

36. "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely," Hüsker Dü

One of their more well-known songs.

37. "Gin and Juice," Snoop Dogg

Herb sings this one (with different lyrics) to his kids: “Rolling down the street blowing bubbles, sipping on Naked Juice, / laid back, with my mind on my bunny and my bunny on my mind.”

38. "Karma's Payment," Modest Mouse

Herb describes one of his guitars as "a claptrap-looking guitar with an old hubcap for a body. It looked like something the people from The Hills Have Eyes would play, but it had style. Its sound was a paradox, bright and clean but also dirty, like Carlos Santana and the young Isaac Brock were playing at the same time, competing for control of the guitar’s soul." Brock is the singer and main guitar player for Modest Mouse.

39. "Black Magic Woman," Santana

40. "Angel from Montgomery," Bonnie Raitt, John Prine

Herb plays this song, in a duet with Ryann, at his concert in the trailer park.

41. "Enter Sandman," Metallica

Herb only knows this song because he used to sing it to his son.

42.a. "The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey's Grave," The Butthole Surfers

Writing lesson: Herb could have said, "I woke up with a massive hangover." Instead, he went with "I woke up with the worst hangover of my life. It felt like The Butthole Surfers and the Art Ensemble of Chicago were using my empty head as practice space, but it was just Jen. I had rigged 'The Shah Sleeps in Lee Harvey’s Grave' as her ringtone."

42.b. "Combat Rock," Sleater-Kinney.

It's not that I don't like The Butthole Surfers, but very few people are going to want to listen to this song. This playlist has a lot of great songs. Most of them are by men. That wasn't intentional. It just worked out this way; the ring-tone/hangover thing only makes sense with two dissonant groups like The Butthole Surfers and Art Ensemble of Chicago. I could make it work with My Ruin, who I saw perform in Brighton, England, many years ago. But the reference would be even more obscure. I'm taking the opportunity to just sneak in a couple tracks by female artists, songs that I like from musicians that I like but haven't alluded to in the books.

43.a. "Backyard Scuffle Shuffle," Art Ensemble of Chicago

43.b. "The Greatest," Cat Power

I've tried to like Art Ensemble of Chicago. I just can't do it. I've tried to listen to this playlist with The Butthole Surfers and Art Ensemble of Chicago right next to each other. I just can't do it.

44. "Skinny Love," Bon Iver

This song signals the hipster invasion.

45. "Anarchy in the UK," Sex Pistols

Not a Sex Pistols Fan, but Herb's new band The War on Xmas sings a cover of this song before the riot breaks out.


"The Magic Member"

46. "The Preacher and the Slave," Utah Phillips

The War on Xmas performs an impromptu version of this song.

47. "Box Elder," Pavement"

One of my favorite Pavement tunes, sometimes covered by The War on Xmas.

48. "Gone Daddy Gone," Violent Femmes

Herb notices his ex-wife, Jen, is wearing his old Violent Femmes shirt, which probably means something. (The t-shirt is the exposed part of the iceberg.)

49. "Marquee Moon," Television

Last song reference in The War on Xmas, special to Herb because he was listening to Television while he was redoing the floor in the children's room before they were born. 

50. "This Land Is Your Land," Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

This one's not mentioned in either of the books, but it's my playlist, I can do whatever I want here, and I love this version. The bastards are always trying to take our land away from us, by the way. Don't fucking let them. 

©Alan Good 2017

Party Unity 4ever!

There once was an outcast New Yorker
who love-hated Senator Corker.
They fought online,
yet both fell in line
to betray th'American worker.

I don't normally go for sight rhymes, but in this case I think it was justified, although I'm not going to try to explain why. If you want to just mispronounce "worker" that will be OK with me.

Curse of a Betrayed Fan

"Damn! Damn! Damn your black souls down to HELL!
You spoiled 'kneelers' of the NFL.
Beware! O beware!
I'm sendin' ya there!
Soon as I light this damn flag—oh well."

Here's the full video, in case you're interested in unintentional self-parody:

Please note: I don't know this person. I don't know anything about her. I don't enjoy making fun of her. I'd much rather take the piss out of a monstrous, attention-seeking public figure, but when you upload a ridiculous video to the internet, you open yourself up to ridicule. I'd like to hope she regrets making this video. She should certainly regret posting it, although judging from a Facebook post boasting about how many views it's gotten, she doesn't seem to regret it. She doesn't offer much in the way of argument or thoughtfulness in the video, but she seems sharp enough to have absorbed Donald Trump's First Rule of Social Media Dominance: it doesn't matter if seventy-five percent of the people sharing your content are mocking you; you still get big numbers. I don't want to say she is racist, or Racist-racist, because I don't know enough about her, and reducing her to racist status gives her an opportunity to deflect legitimate criticism by saying no, she's not racist, and how dare someone say that about her! While I don't see how anyone could separate racism from the nationalist fervor that some NFL fans have been displaying since Trump declared war on black athletes in order to distract us from more important matters, I want to acknowledge that "racist" is the term used by the person who uploaded the video, which was originally posted on Facebook, to YouTube. The first time I watched this video, I laughed, I thought it was better satire than anyone at Funny or Die or Saturday Night Live could have created, but more than anything the video makes me feel sad. Maybe I feel bad about making fun of her, but not bad enough not to do it. She deserves it. Fortunately for her, we live in a country, a culture, in which millions of people will watch her halfassed rant against the Steelers and her Chaplinesque fumbling with the team flag, which appears to be impervious to fire, and only three or four people will read any of this.

 

©Alan Good 2017

Trump's DACA Strategy

There once was a merkin-haired cocka
lorum who rescinded DACA
to force the hands
of congressmans
who couldn't co-work to kill ACA*.

*The point being, how are Congressional Republicans who, with full control of the legislature and a Republican of sorts in the White House, failed to pass legislation to get rid of their least favorite thing, the Affordable Care Act, going to work together to pass DACA-like legislation to protect the thousands of young people who risked their futures by putting their faith in the government and coming forward to register for the program? These people, brought to the U.S. when they were very young, raised in the U.S., could be deported if Congress doesn't pass legislation. The GOP couldn't work together to get rid of the thing they hate the most, but they can use that same strategy to get rid of the thing they hate second-most, immigrants. There's no way the right-wingers will be unified on protecting young immigrants, so the only way this succeeds is if there are enough Republicans willing to work with Democrats. 

Note on pronunciation: nobody says "ah-kuh"—they say "the ay-see-ay"—but ah-kuh is the only way it works so go with it.