Archive for the ‘The Game’ Tag

Neil Strauss, Chuck Klosterman and Plastic Sheets: Musings on fear in writing   2 comments

I’m lying naked on a bed covered in plastic sheets. The bed isn’t the only thing covered in plastic.  There are coverings on all the clothing in the closet and anything else made with thread fiber. “I have fleas in my place,” Jen says to me. Not that it meant anything an hour before, shortly after a petulant conversation about contemporary music over a few beers in the darkness of her rear patio. We had met a few days before at a bar in D.C, which lead to the usual cycle of hanging out, partying and then hooking up. The walls of her room are a dull grey, and there are assorted packing boxes on the floor. Jen is leaving the city in two weeks. She smiles and rubs my chest. For some reason we start talking about writing, and I give her the summary of my conundrum; how I was losing my self-perspective as writer, and fell into that void where I kept wondering if I should continue. Her eyes sparkle and she hops off the bed with a resounding squeak.

“You should read this,” she says.

She hands me a book, Killing Yourself To Live by Chuck Klosterman. I glance at the book cover and the back, wondering who the guy with the red bowl haircut wearing heavily rimmed glasses was.

“He did a reading at Wonderland the other day,” she says to me.

The Wonderland Ballroom is probably D.C’s most famous dive bar, so this guy must have been somebody. But, like most post-coital conversations, this one felt a bit random, at the same time, the scenario had a touch of serendipity. Up to that point I’d written a few full-length manuscripts, including a hefty two hundred and fifty page behemoth that had been sitting in a desk drawer for years. I’d wanted to explore a new way to look at writing, and maybe laying naked on plastic sheets with a girl named Jen would be the genesis of that. I thought the book that she gave me would be weird, possibly interesting. I was wrong.

The book was a revelation.

I’d never read writing that was both self-deprecating and open at the same time. With his pop culture prose, Chuck weaved between stories of his life, infrequent drug use and musings on humanity in a way that felt real. What struck me more than anything was the fact that he was speaking about himself. This was a far cry from the stylized writings of Dean Koontz, Sidney Sheldon and other “movie in a book” authors I’d grown up reading. This was inner dialogue on cocaine.

As I read about his stresses over his ex-loves, the ways he would fall into emotional traps and his other thoughts while traipsing around researching why rock stars get immortalized after committing suicide (the theme of his book), a familiarity tingled in my brain, both in the style of writing and manner of delivery. Some of the things he said sounded like things I would say.

Ping. The light bulb came on.

I realized I was a similar creature, a journeyman with that particular mix of visual memory and writing ability to create scenarios from my life that weren’t an unintelligible mish mash of curse words and rambling text. I saw that there was writing out there that wasn’t just about mysterious creatures hiding in church belfries waiting to eat innocent children, that sometimes the monsters in life are right in front of us; in the mirror. A child hides from the creature under the bed because he is afraid; his mind conjures up the most grisly disgusting image imaginable, one only an adult can save him from. Likewise, many writers are afraid. Afraid to put themselves on the block, to speak the truth and let the world have its way with them. After reading Killing Yourself To Live, I couldn’t imagine doing what Chuck did; letting the world know about my personal habits, and the number of women I had slept with, among other things.

Traditionally, I always thought writing was about putting down details that spark the imagination and work the body up into a spicy lather with such lines such as:

She was a tall brunette with a lithe body and sensuous lips. At first glance, Mark felt his heart flutter as she paused in the doorway.

Lines written like this make you think of YOUR ideal brunette with a lithe body, not mine. But what If I was to write on paper the details about my ex-girlfriend’s body? Or all of my ex-girlfriends? I couldn’t fathom dishing out the dirty on Marcus Birdy. But after my foray into Chuck’s mind through his book, I realized what real writing might be. A boxer punches meat, top-class lawyers do lines of coke off supermodel’s inner thighs and actresses date their line directors. Writers write.

So I said, “Heck yeah!” and decided I’d put it all out there.

But I was afraid.

Each time I felt the fear, I imagined a little garden gnome trying to get me to do crazy things, talking in his nasal, ethereal voice. He’d be sitting on my bed, next to a Marc Jacobs travel bag.

He’d say, “Let’s go Buddy.”

I’d say, “Wait, where are we going? I need to go to work.”

The gnome would be like, “Fuck work, let’s partaaaay!” Then the gnome and I would head to numerous strip clubs, go on a shopping spree, buy his and his g-strings for our debut at the “oldies night” in a shady part of the East Village and then end up on a boat to China, singing praises to the two Ukranian women and the saucy septuagenarian who decided to tag along.  I would play guitar all the way to Beijing, where some angry coast guards would think I was somehow connected to the CIA and torture me in a dilapidated warehouse and then issue an apology the next day because they thought I had a high tech listening device safely ensconced in my aforementioned guitar.

But this would never happen because I was afraid. The kind of afraid where you are scared of being judged by your friends, your parents, your high school home room teacher, the cool neighborhood ice cream truck dude AND your grandmother at the same time. How could I write about “real” things? And (egad) sexual scenarios?

Then came Neil Strauss.

After reading, The Game, I realized that there are people out there with massive insecurities that they challenge head on and are brave enough to share all the grisly details with the world. Where Chuck had opened my mind to the reality of “me-speak”, Neil took me on a journey through what I call, “super interesting transformational journalism”. I really got to understand how he saw himself as a person, show he shattered the barriers of his negative self-perception and all the trappings that came with it.  I saw the fearlessness in his writing. It takes balls to tell the world a Porn star tried to have sex with you in a bathroom stall and you had whiskey disk.

I saw that being interesting is relative, and also that your experiences are relative to how you portray them. I researched more books and saw that there were people who wrote about sex addiction and how they overcame it, people who wrote about returning to the real world from prison, people that wrote about being abused as children and a whole slew of topics that would have a therapist booked straight through to next year.

That’s when I realized that my stories, my novels and my writing were just a drop in the ocean of a sea of creative ideas. In an extremely negative way, I had always thought my writing was “nothing” and that I “had nothing” as it related to the stuff I’d already made. I was anxious and worried about people knowing things about me or judging my writing and I didn’t even know that many people.

I was the scared little boy, hiding under the covers with a flashlight, hoping the creak creak of the wind blowing the windows wasn’t the frantic scratching of some malevolent creature only too happy to have a late night Jamaican snack.

Then I thought, maybe the plastic sheets in Jen’s bedroom were a strange microcosm of all my fears. Maybe I just needed to peel that bitch off, grab some bug spray and turn the bedroom into the O.K Corral.

A few years ago I got that book from Jen, and in a few days I’ll release my first novel Sex, Drugs and Jerk Chicken on Amazon. If Neil can tell people he toured with Motley Crue and only kissed Tommy Lee the entire trip, or Chuck can tell the world about his strange relationship with a girl named Lenore, maybe I can tell them something, and for a little while, let the world have its way with me too.

Sex Drugs and Jerk Chicken is now available on Amazon. For a free sample or to read the book, click here

   

Phone Sex with a Robot   2 comments

My neck is acting up today. I wake up feeling my neck stiff and pained up. It’s a result of some whiplash—due to the presence of a bird in my room. Two weeks ago, I woke up to a shuffling noise in my room. As I opened my eyes, a thing flew over me, a blur I couldn’t really discern as I was still foggy. Regardless, I freaked. I fell off my bed, knocking over my space heater and slammed into the door, somehow managing to shout “Fuck!” at the same time. I spent the next hour trying to cajole the poor creature to get the hell out of my room, reinforcing the opinion that animals really aren’t that smart. Some might be, but this bird certainly wasn’t. I wonder how a person could explain the concept of glass to a creature who’s daily life consists of eating crap and crapping on things.

 

I spent most of the day in Chinatown, experiencing another one of those rainy days. I’m riding on my bicycle, which is now creaking magnificently, and I enjoy the wet drops seeping through my trucker hat as I enjoy the inner vista of Washington D.C. I go to Urban Outfitters—my latest treasure trove for interesting mental fodder—and pickup two books. I’ve been reading with a monstrous appetite lately. Since the start of the year I’ve read eight books:

 

Think and Grow Rich, The Game, The Road, Spook, Fast Food Nation, I’m Dreaming of Gwen Stefani, Working Stiff, 22 Jamaican Stories and Brave New World.

I pickup Secrets of a Model Dorm and Rules of Attraction. This is my stilted form of research into sharpening my writing craft. I’ve written a lot, and lately I feel the need to do more non-fiction than a bunch of fast-paced thrillers. The more I read non-fiction (especially those with lots of sex, introspection and random scenarios) is the more I know I can tell a GREAT story for example, this happened today:

 

February 18, 2008:

 

I’m sitting in my room, watching Tony Soprano eat ice cream. I think to myself it would be great to do something sexual with his wife Carmela. She has that constant look of stress and sexual tension built into her so well it seems she’s just dying to get laid, multiple times. My phone rings and I don’t recognize the area code. I answer.

“Hello.”

A woman speaks to me. Her voice sounds like the voice you hear in any elevator; computerized, young and hot.

“This is IP Relay.” She says.”Someone is calling you using their computer to communicate with you.”

I raise an eyebrow.

“Uhm.. who is this person?” I say, playing along.

“I am not allowed to tell you who the person is, but I can initiate a conversation.”

I smile for a second. The woman really sounds like a robot.

“What is this?” I ask. I am genuinely confused.

“IP Relay allows someone to talk to you while they are using an online service. They will type something, and I will read it to you while they type. You can respond, then you must say “Go Ahead” then I will type your response to the person.”

“Okay…” I reply.

“Is that a Go Ahead?”

“No….wait, I mean, Okay to you, I still don’t know who that person is.”

“Are you going to initiate the chat?”

“Sure.”

“Is that a go ahead.”

“Yeah, Go ahead.”

I hear furious clicking of keys in the background. I wonder if she’s really typing. She has a flat monotone that doesn’t’ sound human. It is perfectly practiced and whatever questions I ask don’t seem to stimulate her emotionally. I wonder if she’s a new prototype from Japan.

“The conversation has been initiated. You may begin speaking.”

“Who is this?”

“Is that a go ahead?”

“Whoops, yes, Go ahead.”

More clicking. What would come next would be disturbing and also fascinating. The lady begins speaking.

“What do you mean you don’t know who this is? I let you come all over my face this weekend. How many deaf guys do you know?”

I froze. For two reasons. One, the lady said it with ZERO emotion but managed to make it sound like a person was speaking. Two, Cum on who’s face?

“Okay, I get it. This is some kind of weird prank. What is this?” I say.

“Is that a go ahead?”

“No this is not a ‘Go Ahead’ I’m talking to you.”

“I’m sorry sir, I’m not allowed to speak to anyone while the chat is in session.”

“Well if you don’t tell me what this is then I’m hanging up. What is this?”

Silence.

I hang up, and look at the phone. This really is America, I think to myself. I pause my Sopranos episode on my computer and grab my bag, the day awaits.

End of daily log

 

We’ll see what happens. As the days go by and my scenarios get more bizarre, I also have to grow and change as a person… y’know, so the story can have meaning and what not. I just watched this film called 4 Months. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Now that was a film. Ballsy.

 

I wonder If that lady is going to call me back.

 

 

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