The RT 20 Podcast: Books, Soundtracks, Vagabonds, and Cogan(s) Part 1

Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners soundtrackThe new episode of the RT20 Podcast is now live and I’m proud to say it centers around two of my favorite topics: books and soundtracks. I joined host Steve Reynolds and fellow Blacksmith for Literary Progress Brian Cogan for a lengthy discussion of music and writing and how the two intertwine. As expected, we talked about my new book, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, and the soundtrack I created for it. We also waxed poetic about our favorite soundtrack music and songs that inspired us when we wrote. In between all the jabbering, Steve spun a selection of songs hand picked by Brian and I, including some great stuff by Iggy Pop, Glenn Branca, John Carpenter, Neil Young, The Dead Kennedys, and others.

Click here to check out Part 1. The song playlist for this installment is:

  • Dead Man, Acoustic Theme – Neil Young – Dead Man (Music from and Inspired By the Motion Picture)
  • Non Ho Tutto Il Giorno – Ken Wohlrob – Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners
  • Structure – Glenn Branca – The Ascension
  • Haunted House – John Carpenter – Halloween
  • Part 2 of the Podcast coming soon…

    And the winners are…

    Songs of Vagabonds Misfits and Sinners giveaway packageThe Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners giveaway is now over on GoodReads. I couldn’t be happier with the results: over 1,000 readers entered to win a signed copy of the book along with a copy of the soundtrack created by yours truly (check the photo to the left). The lucky winners were:

    Jalin M. from Palmdale, CA
    Greg H. from University Park, PA
    Rudy M. from Centennial, CO
    Lauren W. from Davis, CA
    Shad C. from Dover, NH

    The books and CDs have already shipped, so watch this space for a few photos from the winners. Sadly, their is no home version of the game for the people that didn’t win. But I can’t thank them enough for showing their interest in an indie-pubbed book and entering the giveaway.

    The Claimus Saga Continues… Part 2 Now Live on Undie Press

    Claimus Flees Manhattan Part 2“Claimus had the willies. No one called it that anymore. Whenever the term crept into his brain, he heard organ music, sharp and punctuated.”

    Part 2 of my brand new 6-part story, “Claimus Flees Manhattan,” is now live on Undie Press.

    The story so far: It is the hottest day of the year. And for some reason, the portly Albert Claimus is sweating it out on the streets of New York City. Working as a somewhat high-priced sketch artist with a dubious pedigree, Claimus delves into impressionistic portraiture, much to the dismay of his subjects. However, we soon learn that this is a cover-up. Claimus is on the run. But who is after him?

    Once again, this installment includes a new illustration by Chris Sinderson.

    If you still haven’t read Part 1, you can check it here.

    “Claimus Flees Manhattan” is also in my new short story collection, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, which you can grab just about anywhere (but here’s a handy link with places where you can get the book or eBook):

    And there’s even a soundtrack I created for the book, including a theme for “Claimus Flees Manhattan.” You can grab it off iTunes or BandCamp.

    #SongsVMS Photo of the Day: The Metronome

    I’ve always been fascinated by the Metronome. Perhaps because it is so arresting — one cannot avoid noticing it upon setting foot anywhere in Union Square — but also because it is so uniformly hated by the locals. The interesting part is even most born-and-bred New Yorkers have no idea what this public art piece is, let alone it what it’s called. Many don’t even realize that the bank of LED digits to the left is actually part of the overall piece. But it is part of the fabric of New York City, especially Union Square. When I was writing the story that would eventually become “The Metronome Winds Down,” I made the protagonist somewhat numbers obsessed (you’ll find out why upon reading it). At two crucial points in the story, he enters Union Square, and is confronted by the ominous presence of the Metronome. I actually used this photo for the single-story eBook version of “The Metronome Winds Down,” which is no longer on sale, but luckily you can still read it in Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners.

    View other other photos from the Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners series here. And you can click here to get the book and soundtrack.
    Network The Entertainment Company in Hell's Kitchen

    decomP Puts Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners Next to Henry Miller on the Bookshelf

    decomP MagazineBut I’m not packing up for Paris anytime soon…

    decomP Magazine’s Spencer Dew chimed in with his thoughts on Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, and I was surprised to read his comparison between my work and Henry Miller’s. While I’ve always been a big fan of Herr Miller, I don’t consider him a direct influence on my writing style. Yet, Dew saw in the stories a certain bent that reminded him of Miller’s commitment to working class folk. Or as he stated:

    “Ken Wohlrob shares a certain ideal with Henry Miller, a commitment to ‘the streets’ as that which stands in opposition to ‘literature.’ As laid out at the start of Black Spring, Miller believed that ‘In the street you learn what human beings really are; otherwise, or afterwards, you invent them.’”

    It is an interesting take on my style. To be honest, I don’t write about the people I do as a stance against literature. I do it because these are the type of people I grew up around and lived next to all my life. So those types of stories and the fate of those characters are fascinating to me. There’s a lot of bad in those tales, but also a lot dark humor, that laughing at the struggle. And to me it makes for a potent cocktail, one that is neither for or against anything in particular. It’s just what I like doing.

    But I enjoyed Spencer’s review because it was well thought out and dissected my writing more than anyone has in a long while. And he gave me a few jabs as well, but that’s what makes for an interesting review. And I’m glad ultimately, he found more good in the book, than bad.

    “…in the end there is an ample dose, too, of the ‘accident and incident, drama, movement’ that Miller argued was the inheritance of being born and raised in the streets.”

    As for Mr. Miller, he’ll be joining Nathaniel West and Nelson Algren based on the reviews Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners has received so far. Not bad company to be in.

    #SongsVMS Photo of the Day: Sneakers on a Wire in Williamsburg

    I always loved this photo as it comes from one of those lazy summer days walking around what used to be the quiet backstreets of North Williamsburg in Brooklyn. This was when the industrial waterfront area was still relatively unsettled. There are no quiet streets left in that neighborhood anymore and the waterfront is now a string of condo towers. But this image also served a special purpose as the end sign at the conclusion of the stories in Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners. I thought it would be creative way of closing out the tales and giving readers another dose of the New York City character.

    View other other photos from the Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners series here. And you can click here to get the book and soundtrack.
    Network The Entertainment Company in Hell's Kitchen

    The Pussycat Lounge Goes Down

    Gothamist reported this morning that dive shithole strip club the Pussycat Lounge has shut down. This New York City institution (of sorts) opened way back in ’69 and was a holdout of the old strip club model: a small dancing stage up above the bar (to keep the patrons at a safe distance), shitty drinks, dirty ashtrays, and an overall funk of human sweat and body odor. It never purported to be a “gentleman’s club” and other than the upstairs bar/club which hosted bands and dance parties, kept its grim, gritty interior intact. For some reason, it always reminded me of the strip club from Scorcese’s Mean Streets.

    I report this not out of any love for The Pussycat Lounge, but rather as a nod to it as the inspiration for the Beat Around the Bush strip club in “The Look,” one of the stories in my new book, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners. I played at the Pussycat Lounge’s upstairs bar with John Hovorka and the Dawn of Mechanized Farming back in November 2006 (yup, that’s me laughing in the back). After seeing the true show — the grotesque scene of drunk Wall Street office types (still in suits), postal workers (still in uniform), cops (off-duty, but yest still in uniform), and hipsters slumped over the downstairs bar holding up dollar bills as they gawked at a group of not-so-attractive ladies parading on the tiny stage — I knew I had a great setting for a story. If you’ve ever been to the Pussycat Lounge, I think you’ll agree I got the grit of the place nailed down in “The Look.”

    Pussycat Lounge photo courtesy of Flickr user gbaron1

    The Word Riot Interview and Some Free Book Goodness

    The January issue of Word Riot is now online and along with the new short stories, poetry, and flash fiction, is a lengthy interview with yours truly conducted by the great David Hoenigman. There were a ton of questions thrown my way, but it gave me the opportunity to wax poetic about all things Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, talk about how I got into writing, and give some credit due to a few fellow writers. The top question in my mind: “What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?” Click here to read on.

    In addition, I’ve just launched a free book giveaway on GoodReads where you can win a signed copy of Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners along with a CD of the soundtrack I created for the book. I’ll be giving away five copies of the book/CD package. Already, 350+ people have entered as of this AM, but there’s still plenty of time for you enter. All you need is a GoodReads account. Click here for full details.

    Now Live on Undie Press: Claimus Flees Manhattan Part 1

    Claimus Flees ManhattanMy good friends over at Undie Press have just launched a brand new 6-part story by yours truly, titled “Claimus Flees Manhattan.”

    The story features one Albert Claimus, another character in my stable of love-to-hate-em-but-you-have-to-love-em misfits (or as the good folks at Undie Press called him, “one of the most pleasantly unpleasant protagonists this side of Ignatius J. Reilly”). Even better, each installment will include new illustrations by Chris Sinderson, who did a stellar job of nailing the grittiness and humor of the tale (see his great version of Claimus to the left). “Claimus Flees Manhattan” will be running bi-weekly through March. There are also some great new articles up on Undie Press now, including Xian Pitt’s series of actual fan letters written to Charlton Heston.

    “Claimus Flees Manhattan” is also in my new short story collection, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners, which you can grab just about anywhere (but here’s a handy link with places where you can get the book or eBook):

    And there’s even a soundtrack I created for the book, including a theme for “Claimus Flees Manhattan.” You can grab it off iTunes or BandCamp (and here comes another gratuitous link).