Showing posts from March, 2011

Shane Stevens Saturday: In the City

Shane Stevens' novels were all published from the mid 60s through the late 80s (the J.W. Rider books). In my piece on Stevens I quote a good deal from his letters. Much like with the opening dedication of his second novel, Way Uptown in Another World , Stevens speaks a lot about the violence happened all around him. This obviously had an affect on his work, on his opinions of the world, and his own behavior. It's easy to dismiss all of those words as just being posturing or exaggeration or, worst of all, just a reference to his time in Harlem. But it's not. For those of us from my generation, it's difficult, I think, to put the time that Stevens was writing into perspective. I know I wasn't alive then. However, I think it's important to be aware of what was going and it's something I didn't really have the space to go into with as much detail as I would have liked in my piece. The Vietnam War was underway, giving birth to the radical actions of The

Short Story on the Web Nominees

For me writing is a solitary sort of madness... However, regardless of my own imbalances, it does my misanthropic little heart good to get some recognition--especially when that recognition comes alongside such an extraordinary list of my peers whose work I constantly admire: Spinetingler Award: Short Story on the Web Nominees

Shane Stevens Saturday: The Crime Writer as Political Activist

On December 3, 1970, The New York Review of Books ran a letter from Shane Stevens in response to an article called "The Dark Night of the Soul." The article was about the Berrigans. The names probably mean nothing to you, but back then Daniel and his brother Phillip were fairly well known. The Berrigans were poets, political activists and priests. They served several terms in jail for their Vietnam protests, helped with the release of the first wave of POWs, napalmed draft records, and spent time on the FBI's Most Wanted. In Stevens' letter, he addresses the fact that serving time in a federal prison prevents the Berrigans from publishing anything they write during their sentence. Shane closes his letter, "Because so many of us writers today face the possibility of federal imprisonment for exercising our constitutional rights, it becomes mandatory that we have the regulation changed. Father Berrigan is merely the latest to fall victim to this inhuman bit of ind

Easy A

Easy A opens with Olive Penderghast using a fake date with a fake boy to get out of a weekend camping trip with her best friend, Rhiannon, and her weird, hippie, nudist parents. When they return to school, Rhi presses Olive to dish the details. Olive gets carried away with her lie and tells Rhi that she lost her virginity—but it’s not that big of a deal since she doesn’t even plan on seeing the boy again. Unfortunately, all this is overhead by Marianne, the school’s Evangelical zealot and moralizing fascist. The story goes viral and Olive is suddenly the school skank. Several days later, during a discussion of The Scarlet Letter , one of the Christian girls makes a rude comment in class. Olive’s comeback gets her sent to the principal’s office. During her labor intensive detention she admits to the gay and constantly bullied Brandon that she made the whole thing up. Olive’s confession gives Brandon an idea that sets up the rest of movie. He’s tired of getting bullied. If Olive wil

Shane Stevens Saturday: The Me Nobody Knows

I've been able to verify that Shane Stevens wrote two different screenplays for Hollywood. The first was the planned adaptation of the musical The Me Nobody Knows . Essentially a series of connected vignettes about being poor, the musical was itself adapated from an anthology that collected the writings of New York City school children. On one hand, it seems a little strange, even with the subject matter, that Shane Stevens would be writing the screenplay for a musical. On the other, it is called "The Me Nobody Knows." Finally, as part of the massive deal surrounding  By Reason of Insanity , Stevens wrote the screen adaption of his novel for Columbia Pictures. Neither one of the two screenplays were ever produced. I've heard rumors that Stevens did other work in Hollywood, but I've never been able to verify that and, if he did, it must have been uncredited re-writes and polishes of someone else's work.

Kung Fu Factory

 Rina Takeda in the film, High-Kick Girl  The special issue of Crime Factory is now available in print, .pdf, and, as soon as a some technical details are fixed, Kindle format. As a writer and a martial artist, I was honored to be invited to participate. A couple of weeks ago when I was sent a version for final edits, it blew me away. The roster of writers was impressive. But the finished product is even more astonishing thanks to the quality work put in by Keith, Cameron, and Liam. Crime Factory is obviously a labor of love and it's never been clearer than with this special edition. So, dig if you will: From the far East-to-the backwoods of the American Nightmare - Crimefactory Magazine Presents: Kung Fu Factory! Crimefactory's hardest hitting pulpfest to date! Featuring new fiction and features by Christa Faust, Anthony Neil Smith, Frank Bill, Cameron Ashley, Duane Swiercynski, Chad Eagleton, Chris La Tray, Matthew McBride, Liam Jose, Jimmy Callaway, Garnett Ell

Shane Stevens Saturday: Acid Trip in the East Village...

While re-reading Way Uptown In Another World lots of things struck me. This is one of them. Marcus Garvey Black, the main character, young African-American conman, asks an East Villiage dealer named Super Spade about this new "acid thing" going around. Garvey wants to know if Super Spade is worried about what's gonna go down when the heavies try to take over. Super Spade isn't worried about that. He knows it'll never happen. Acid, he tells, Marcus is too dangerous. Marcus wants to know for whom. Super Spade tells him: '"For whoever ain't taking it. Listen, baby, this acid ain't like the hard stuff. Society don't care nothing about the junkies cause they ain't no threat really. They just got a job like everyone else. Their job is taking junk. They steal and kill sometimes but that gives the po-lice something to do. And everybody's happy, you dig?  But acid's a whole other thing. It lets you see what life oughtta be like. It

Karate Kids

Recently we watched both versions of The Karate Kid. The original was airing on television the other day. I’ve always liked that movie and hadn’t seen it for a long time. While the clothes and the soundtrack do date the film horribly in spots, I was pleased to see that it held up well. Until then I didn’t really have any desire to see the remake. First of all, I generally loathe remakes. I can’t think of too many examples where a remake has improved on the source material. And besides that it really annoyed me they called the Jaden Smith/Jackie Chan version The Karate Kid. There’s no karate in the film. They practice kung-fu. But anyway… The basic plot of both films is the same. Kid moves to a new place with his mom. He crushes on a rich girl. Doesn’t fit in. He gets bullied and beaten up by some other kids who learn martial arts from some dickhead. Kid befriends the maintenance man. Turns out the maintenance man knows how to fight. Maintenance man teaches kid martial art

The Double-D...Reissued

Christopher Pimental accepted the second story I ever sent out, “The Double-D.” It’s a twisted piece about John Dillinger’s pickled penis. In the story a nameless narrator is working for a rich eccentric who likes to collect seedy and one-of-a-kind memorabilia from figures involved in crime. You see, according to legend, Dillinger had a monster schlong. Supposedly, after the gangster's death by cop, J. Edgar Hoover had his manhood amputated and put in a jar he kept on his desk. The idea came to me after details of the Marilyn Monroe sex film surfaced. If I remember correctly, the footage was purchased by an individual working for an unnamed private collector. I thought the whole thing was fascinating. How do you find out something like that exists? Who do you send after it and why? Monroe’s fellatio performance sent my imagination working in overdrive. I was proud of this story when I sent it out. When it saw the light of day, I was even more proud of it—thanks to Christophe