Bell to Bell

Art by Ben Passmore

Art by Ben Passmore

I don't like being "busy." On an ideal day I work a few hours on my fiction, cook a few meals, spend time sitting under a tree with a book, pet my cat, admire my garden and go to bed with my sweetheart. Ambition's not my most prominent characteristic; I'd call myself lazy.

...all of which said, the breakneck pace at which I've been chewing through paid work since Carnival season has been more fun than I'd have expected. I've been very fortunate lately in terms of writing opportunities, most of them connected with the upcoming WrestleMania XXX. I can't wait for the big WrestleMania weekend, and then I can't wait to resume what I anticpate will be a more leisurely lifestyle.

In the meantime, I've been in the Gambit's blog a bunch: writing about my passion for pro wrestling itself, earnestly discussing the WWE's relationship to labor, and exhaustively compiling & characterising the numerous events taking place during WrestleMania week.

Most recently, I had the privilege of interviewing legendary WWE broadcaster-- and podcaster, and BBQ magnate, and writer, and live performer-- Jim Ross about his upcoming one-man show. There is, I hope, more to come; you can stay up-to-the-moment apprised of my Gambit writing through my author link on their site.

The Brooklyn Paper has another one of my book reviews, and I co-wrote a piece about AirBnB in New Orleans for Antigravity Magazine that attracted a lot of attention from all over. While I have friends who voted Obama, the fact of the matter is nobody does self-serving outrage as energetically as liberals, and the Airbnb shoe fit a lot of yuppies less comfortably than they liked. I daresay few folks of any caste enjoy having their pieties poked at, but when you challenge the comfortable choices of people whose entire sense of self is founded on condescension, the result is a figurative firestorm. They excoriated me on Reddit, they inveighed against me on Facebook, and they flung Prius-purchaser poo all over the article's comment section. Hilarious!

Writing the piece itself, in collaboration with another anarchist writer I only recently got to know, was a cool experience, notwithstanding the unpleasantness of working late nights during Carnival's final weekend. I do a few things well enough, and a lot of things half-assedly; teaming with someone whose areas of strength encompass some of my more glaring weaknesses was rewarding.

My novel, now titled Fuck or Swim, is in the hands of a potential publisher... I've got my fingers, toes and Singapore canes crossed.

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My Special Interest

WrestleMania XXX coming to New Orleans (April 6!) has brought me a lot of opportunities to write about pro wrestlers and pro wrestling. As a lifelong fan, I'm very grateful.


I love pro wrestling as a fan. I've never aspired to be "behind the scenes" or be a wrestler or make money off wrestling. I just like sitting in the audience, yelling encouragement at my favorites, insults at the jerks, and maybe occasionally throwing my soda if a loudmouth bad guy really gets under my skin. I'm happy being a fan... but of course, I have opinions.

I watch wrestling for hours every week, listen to hours of podcasts about it, and discuss it, largely via long chains of e-mail, with friends. I wondered, when I recently began trying to do "serious" writing about wrestling, if in doing so I would finally hit the limits of this obsession. That doesn't seem to be the case. I'm enjoying writing about wrestling and thinking about it in different ways.

I still find talking to professional wrestlers, whether well-known stars or less well-known ones, intimidating. Very few other categories of people intimidate me that way. While I will always regard pro wrestlers and the sacrifices they make for our entertainment with the utmost respect, I am slowly, through meeting and speaking with more of them, becoming (I hope) a little less foolishly tongue-tied and starstruck-seeming.

For better or worse, I do have other obsessions. I'm not a casual person; almost everything I'm into, I'm very, very into. But at least until WrestleMania is over, I seem to be eating, sleeping & dreaming pro wrestling, which is abso-fucking-lutely fine with me.

While much of my recent wrestling writing has been for the Gambit's blog, my profile of Luke Hawx and Wildkat Sports, a local indie wrestling promotion, made it into the Gambit's print edition.

I had the supreme honor of interviewing Sergeant Slaughter. I have a lot of tape from this interview. We discussed a ton of interesting stuff-- including details of his career history-- that didn't make it into this article. Sarge was hugely generous with his time and patient with my questions.

I contributed blog pieces on the fallout from two pay-per-views, the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, as well as on the announcement that Hulk Hogan will host 'Mania here in New Orleans.

Finally, on a non-wrestling note, I contributed what I think is my best book review yet to the Brooklyn Paper.

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When It Rains, It Pairs

Art by Ben Passmore

Art by Ben Passmore

It's a busy time. I'm looking forward to next week, when I should finish what I expect is the final rewrite of my novel Fuckboys before I submit it for publication.

In the meantime, I continue to churn out what a generous heart might call "journalism." Since my last blog post, I've written two cover stories for Antigravity-- one an interview with anti-capitalist rapper Truth Universal, the other a lengthy disquisition on surveillance in New Orleans.

The surveillance piece is something I'm particularly proud of; a lot went into it.

Jules Bentley February Houses Brooklyn Paper

I've also published two more li'l book reviews for the Brooklyn Paper. The Paper's given me my own monthly small-press review column, complete with an author caricature that, though I am fond of it, makes me look both more aryan & more emo than I am. I reviewed a graphic novel, Iron Bound, and A Long Day in November, a short, unforgettable book by Louisiana author Ernest J Gaines.

I meant to mention this previously, but I was grateful & gratified that my six-part essay about the destruction of the Times Picayune was quoted twice & cited in the footnotes of a new and authoritative account by Rebecca Theim of the paper's dismantling, Hell and High Water: The Battle to Save the Daily New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In further long-tail news, my 2012 piece on the wrestler Junkyard Dog, an interview with the author of The King of New Orleans: How the Junkyard Dog Became Professional Wrestling’s First Black Superhero, was recently discussed on Metafilter, and made that site's front page.

Jules Bentley on the front page of metafilter


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Fresh Embassies and Suits

illustration by Ashlee Arceneaux for Antigravity

illustration by Ashlee Arceneaux for Antigravity

While my novel, Fuckboys, slithers slowly through revision, I've been busy getting my nonfiction into some new places. This week's Brooklyn Paper has the first of what I hope will be many book reviews by Jules Bentley and here at home, my account of a New Orleans Wrestlemania ticket "On-Sale Party" is up at the Gambit's blog.

It feels great to be writing literary criticism. I love reading interesting books, and teasing out what makes them interesting is an exercise that enhances my enjoyment rather than diminishing it. I'm not as well-read as some, but my catholic tastes have given me a breadth of comparison that I think is useful.

Also, as those who've endured me interpersonally for any length of time know, I love professional wrestling. I have been following, watching, attending and thinking about pro wrestling for decades. I love the small-town deep-South indie shows with 20 attendees, the giant slick spectacle of a WWE pay-per-view and everything inbetween. I love how crazy it is, how magical it is, and even how corny it can be. Wrestlemania, the biggest pro wrestling event of the year, is coming to New Orleans, so it's time I upped my game a little and tried sharing my enthusiasm for this art form with as broad an audience as possible.

Back on more familiar territory, I'm very pleased with my piece in October's Antigravity Magazine, in which I hunt Vampires in 2013 New Orleans. Beware!!!

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Hashtag #Douchebag

Here, here, hereI'm gonna totally overhaul this website real-soon-now. So: a few months back, I woke up not just with a hard-on but very specifically with a hard-on for Hackathons.

New Orleans is lately awash in undersunned messianic dweebs who seem to genuinely believe their post-flood fortune-hunting is somehow doing New Orleans a favor. There's a long history of people coming from elsewhere to make a buck in New Orleans; what bothers me about the App schmucks is not their fortune-hunting as such, but their inexplicable self-congratulatory attitude.

They somehow think by rolling into town, taking advantage of tax breaks and venture-capital rent subsidies, and starting software-related businesses that exclusively hire other white people from elsewhere, they're doing New Orleans a favor. It's crazy. Compounding their cluelessness, they inhabit an echo chamber: there's a new-minted media stratum, including a dedicated reporter at, that exists entirely to run unedited (and unread!) these newcomers' masturbatory press releases and their announcements of the latest in an infinite overlapping series of conferences, panels and hackathons to do with #Innovation and #Startups and #Disruption and #Entrepreneurship.

You think I'm joking about their arrogance, or about the delusional bubble they inhabit? "What the Dalai Lama and New Orleans Entrepreneurs Have in Common."

These kids are smug, rich, boorishly unselfaware... and, down to the last man-child, thin-skinned. All those elements combined in the southern heat make for a raw batch of San Francisco tech-sector sourdough I just can't resist punching the lumps out of.

What pushed me over the edge was a particular loudly-touted June "hackathon." "Hackathons" are where these geniuses gather for a 24-hour period during which they code up solutions to various problems other, lesser humans have wrestled unsuccessfully with. They're all fucking ridiculous, but the Hackathon that raised my hackles above what I could endure was "Hack the New Orleans Murder Rate." They were going to gather and develop iPhone Apps that would somehow remedy our impoverished, historically oppressed and significantly illiterate city's horrifically high incidence of homicide. Wish I was joking!

Anyone who's read this far in will likely be unsurprised to learn that there are at any given time a number of things ambiently aggrieving me-- a cloud of annoyances, hovering like horseflies around my greasy head. Mostly I go about my days without squandering much time swatting at them, but every so often the cloud coalesces sufficiently to become a target, and however fleetingly, my wroth overtops my sloth.

Thus it was one morning I woke up, registered the URL, and built a website there. It was a day's work, and a means of expressing-- in the medical sense of forcing out-- some of my accumulated disgust towards these creepy god-complex freaks. I'd figured the site would be an inside joke at best, but my critique resonated with a far wider audience. It "went viral," as even people like myself say of such things. In its first ten-or-so hours of existence, drew thousands of visitors from all over the world, thanks in large part to the URL being tweeted by some prominent techno-critics, as well as, it must be said, some techno-evangelists with senses of humor. Then, late in the afternoon, Wikileaks itself promoted (which it described as "delightfully viscsious" [sic]) to its more than 2,000,000 twitter followers. At that point, the visitor numbers went fucking bonkers.

They think I'm delightful!I hate technology, science, all that shit. Basically, everything since penicillin I think we'd be better off without, and I'm open to arguments going back way further. Having said that, it's pretty remarkable that some words I wrote upon waking up in a bad mood can be in front of the eyes of hundreds of thousands of strangers within a single orbit of the sun around the earth, or whatever.

So that's my post about It was initially unsigned, but eventually people locally started to ask me if I was behind it (although I think most knew from the get-go, since the trail of tweets mentioning it began with me), so I copped to it. And hey: if you don't think I take a savage, ugly & unwholesome satisfaction in seeing some shit I wrote critiquing the social-media-obsessed NOLA technology economy garner more attention and more readership, via social-media technology, than anything ever produced by the social-media-obsessed NOLA technology economy, then you must have mistaken me for a far, far less venal person than I am.

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Culture and Conquest

The cover story of April's Antigravity Magazine was my interview with New Orleans bounce rap legend Ricky B. He and Bigalow were great company, and rather than type up the interview as we talked (as I usually do) I recorded the audio of the conversation, and then transcribed it.

This entailed hearing a recording of my own voice for the first time in a while, and it was humbling to say the least. Whether it's cause or effect, part of being a writer is that I express myself best in writing, ideally after two or three drafts. I don't like public speaking (listening to it or doing it), I'm not a live performer as such-- I like to be at my desk, at a keyboard, writing. I know this is not an experience unique to me, but hearing how I sounded on that recording was horrific. Stammering, adenoidal, ineloquent to the point of incoherence... it was one long wince. What I'd remembered as a very natural, comfortable and informal conversation sounded on tape more like a Sasha Baron Cohen skit, where the tension is just how terrible the interviewer can get before the interview subjects catch on they're being pranked.

Regardless, since the bulk of my recent non-fiction entails savaging people and things I find terrible, it was rewarding to write something positive, and try to help elevate the profile of a musician I admire.

The bigger reward, though, was seeing Ricky B perform later that month at the Blue Nile, joined onstage by the Stooges Brass Band... and Big Chief Brian Harrison Nelson of the Guardians of the Flame. In a time when culture is treated as a disposable commodity, seeing the love and respect that the Stooges had for local hip-hop pioneer Ricky B-- a man many of them had grown up listening to-- was a reminder of why New Orleans is worth fighting for. This is a city that values culture, that respects and celebrates its history. Then, when Big Chief Nelson emerged onto the already crowded stage, resplendent in his feathered suit and attended by a retinue of other Indians, an already awesome moment crossed the threshold into something transcendent.

It is moments such as those that allow me to believe New Orleans can survive the onslaughts of capitalism and modernity, just as she's survived poverty, exploitation, centuries of occupation by various imperial powers as well as the disasters-- floods, oil, destruction of affordable housing-- that those powers have wrought. I'm a New Orleans exceptionalist: I really do believe this city is different.

Many have thought they knew the secret to resisting the crushing homogenizing superforce of global capitalism, and history has so far proved all of them wrong, with a couple notable exceptions (mostly in the mountains of Afghanistan), but my belief in New Orleans is not rational. It's a religious conviction, grounded in the power she seems to have over those who live here, grounded in the feelings I experience in a good second line or at the Blue Nile that night in April. It's a belief that exists outside of economics, outside of politics. I believe she cannot be conquered.

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Permission to Enrage

People have opinions on my food truck article. I write provocatively. It's a choice, to the degree anything I do is a choice vs. a symptom of pathology.

Among the reasons I publish in Antigravity is that I find it a good editorial fit for this style of nonfiction, a su byorek  of journalistic expose & personal opinion-- or, let's be honest, polemical savagery. Some more traditional journalists, including writers I respect, are discomfited by how nakedly I present my own viewpoint; they feel my rhetoric is a distraction from the facts or renders the facts suspect. On the other hand, there are those who love the ranty razzle-dazzle but find the underlying politics or dot-connecting boring.

Nobody reading my work is going to mistake me for any kind of objective, professionally-detached anything. Some strive for respectability or the appearance of neutrality. I don't; I'm about war. I don't care about being "fair" to the powerful or the wealthy; I care about destroying those who would destroy what I love.

This doesn't mean I'm just a raving dickbag all the time, but it definitely means my work isn't to every taste, and it means when people bother to read my stuff-- something I don't take for granted-- I get some angry reactions. I read them all, and I wonder: should I wade in and engage? The ferocity of my writing doesn't mean I'm not bothered by people returning fire. I have the impulse to rebut, the old Usenet veteran's urge to go point-for-point.

But what would that accomplish? Shouldn't I let the article speak for itself, regardless of whether or not I'm "a left-wing Pat Buchanan?" (hilarious, btw)

On the other hand, by not entering the comment stream below the post, I feel I'm pretending to be above the fray, which I'm absolutely not. I have bad impulse control-- I upvote and downvote things within the recently-added "DISQUS" comment system, although I feel ashamed of doing so. It's a sneaky way of trying to control the conversation without further exposing myself. Is it ethical?

There are people upset by the article commenting on it both "anonymously" and under their own names. That's ethically questionable too, but I look at it as a triumph; I've pulled some of these sanctimonious liberals down into the muck.

The response thus far hasn't focused on the racial- & class-exclusion aspects of the article, although I agree with the commenter who said Ben Passmore's art makes those points far more eloquently than my writing. Maybe because the readership are concerned with whether or not they themselves are hipsters, a lot of the response has to do with hipsters. Worryingly, no-one has accused me of being one. Am I so clearly over-the-hill that I'm not suspect?

I'm not sure I even know what a hipster is anymore, if I ever did. What's going on in the Bywater these days is at least a solid Campanella-phase beyond "hipster." It's more conservatively dressed, more overtly affluent: globe-trotters with elegant evening-wear and late-model Porsches.

My frustration with a lot of the talk of hipsters, especially with regard to gentrification (and even with Richard Campanella's recent article) is the lack of a power analysis. Too often, vague talk of culture or subculture obscures the realities of who has the money and who has the power.

If everything and everyone is "gentrification," then the word gentrification becomes as meaningless as "hipster." If low-income white people who find housing they can afford in mostly-black neighborhoods are told to feel liberal guilt over "gentrifying"-- first of all, that's a waste of time, but more importantly, it lets off the hook some specific people who've been deliberately driving these changes behind the scenes-- the developers, the jail-builders, the politicos and connected corporations who stand to profit.

For the record, I'm not saying I don't  believe white people deserve extermination-- I'm just saying that belly-button-gazing guilt is pointless. Stewing in angst about your own whiteness doesn't do anything for the thousands of New Orleanians in Sheriff Gusman's deathcamp, and it doesn't shed any light on the real forces that are reshaping our communities. The same is true of the arguments over what and who is "authentically" New Orleans. At the end of the day, under capitalism, what matters is the money.

I don't believe the post-Katrina gentrification of downtown or assaults on New Orleans tradition and culture are mystical, inevitable or the result of natural forces-- no moreso than the destruction of public housing or the privatization of public education have been. These changes to the city are driven by a relatively few key people at the local level, not by artists, or punx, or "hipsters," or Mark and Mindy renovating a double shotgun into a single. The people driving change are people with real money, big money... and in the case of the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition, money apparently originating with the Koch Brothers.

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Off Twitter for Lent

The reason I don't have a television isn't snobbery; it's because I'm powerless to resist television.

Back in the 90s, I lost a spring and summer to Baywatch re-runs. In the backwater where I then lived, one of the three channels that my little black-and-white TV could receive played Baywatch re-runs all day long. When I discovered this, and discovered how fun it was to get drunk and watch Baywatch, I'd come back from a night shift washing dishes and watch Baywatch until I fell asleep. It was a simple, yin-and-yang sort of life: Dishes, Baywatch. After I was fired, life got even simpler.

The show's formula was so soothing-- I loved its predictability, its reliable, reassuring rhythm of narrative recurrence. Every episode followed the same pattern. Every episode was interchangeable. Every episode was a minutely varied iteration of every other episode. Each began and ended with someone needing to be rescued from drowning. Following, or as a consequence of that first lifeguard rescue, an interpersonal drama would unfold, a microwave-brief soap opera angle which would be resolved, instrumentally or merely chronologically, by the second rescue. In between, ITT Tech would urge me to take out loans and my homeboy Wilford Brimley would admit his diabeetus. So little in life is as we expect it to be; Baywatch always was. So little in life delivers on its promises; Baywatch always did, as faithfully as the sun (presumably) rose and set out beyond my closed blinds.

Although lying on a dirty mattress, drinking Mad Dog and watching endless episodes of Baywatch surely don't rank among the habits of highly effective people, I don't consider that summer an unhappy time of my life. I suppose at some level I must have been depressed, as I often am, and I remember I felt annoyed with myself for being poor, as I often do. I was aware of how frustratingly unlike Baywatch my own existence was, but mostly I think I was successfully, comprehensively numbed, lulled by sugared day-glo alcohol both literal and televisual.

When I thought about the few other people in my life, I contemplated them in terms of which Baywatch characters they were most like. The show began to seem archetypal, a useful lens for understanding the inferior-- or at least less sun-tanned & cheerful-- facets of the universe. Most of my dreams took place in a context either directly or indirectly drawn from the show. I didn't think it was awesome or healthy to be absolutely lost in Baywatch, but it wasn't uncomfortable. Baywatch didn't take itself too seriously, anyway; it wasn't ponderous or pretentious. It knew what it was, and it did what it did. I knew what I was too, and I did what I did. It wasn't such a bad way to be. If I hadn't run out of rent money, it probably would have gone on much longer.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I no longer own a television.

While I'm no less fallible than I ever was, I'm more mature now; I know myself better. I have experience (if not wisdom) and tools of analysis at my disposal I didn't useta. I came of age before internet "social media," thank heavens, and like all right-thinking people I abhor Facebook. I consider it as close to objectively evil as technology can be. Let's not get into all that right now, right here; suffice it to say Facebook is as vile a realization of Debord's idea of the Spectacle as famine is a realization of the idea of hunger. Facebook is almost everything I hate about the internet. I don't use Facebook, and I bullied my partner into quitting it as well. Twitter (I tell myself) is not as bad. It doesn't encourage or require the cultivation of a specifically capitalist-situated persona; it doesn't want to know what I look like or who my blood relations are.

Still, it's insidious. I began using Twitter for the same reason I built this website: because I'd like to have my work read, and it seemed a tool with which to build readership. Of course, I quickly settled into using Twitter the same ways everyone else does. In February when I "retweeted" something supportive of Christopher Dorner, however, I lost some "Followers," the first time that had happened. Losing followers (oh my god, the terminology!!) bothered me... and it fucking horrified me that it bothered me. I realized I was thinking of Twitter as if it mattered; I had given it power over me. So, while on a walk the first Thursday after Mardi Gras-- on Saints Cyril and Methodius Day-- it occurred to me I ought to give up Twitter for Lent.

Denying myself my desires is among my greatest gifts. It's what's made possible my perfect record as a monogamist & my years of abstension from alcohol, and is not incidentally why I haven't done most of the horrible things I feel myself powerfully moved to do every second of the day I'm around other people. That is, compared to the levels of self-control I must continually and consciously exercise in any social setting, refraining from Twitter is nothing.

My hiatus from Twitter does mean, however, that when I've penned a juicy piece for Antigravity Magazine, raining fire on the (it turns out super-crazy right-wing) Food Truck movement, I lack a convenient means to promote the piece. If you're reading this, let me assure you: it's a great article, anchored by some really shocking tip-offs from comrades about the powers behind the New Orleans food truck movement, enlivened by hilarious/brutal art by Ben Passmore. It's worth seeking out a print copy of March's Antigravity to see.

The editor says the online version will be up in a week or so. Since I can't "tweet" a link to my article, I'll have to post about it here again.

In the meantime, I'm relieved to find I don't miss Twitter too badly. Because I don't find myself fighting a strong compulsion to use Twitter, I'll let myself get back to it after Easter.

On balance, I like Twitter. It's interesting to follow a weird hashtag and read some distant Sam's Club employees shit-talking their manager. It's interesting the way younger people use Twitter to flirt; it's interesting how racially segregated Twitter is. I feel Twitter provides intriguing glimpses into other peoples' lives, and I think that's worth the trade-offs. Is Twitter inane? Sure. Is it ridiculous to attempt expressing anything worthwhile in 140 characters? Of course! Is it a time sink? Often... but christ almighty, it's not Baywatch.

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Summer Thunderstorm of the Month

I miss summer. Been reading & greatly enjoying H.D.'s semi-auto-bio novel HERmione. It's no more semi-auto-bio than many novels are, but probably because H.D. was a woman and consorted with famous men, the book's dustjacket & introduction promise characters who are Nin-like transpositions from the author's personal life.

I prefer H.D.'s wonderful (and underappreciated?) novel without tabloid context. When our narrator canoodles in the moss with a suitor, I'd rather imagine him entirely based on H.D.'s language. Since I've been instructed by the dustjacket that this suitor is "really" Ezra Pound, however, the suitor must sweat inside a great Ezra Pound bobblehead, like a space helmet with Pound's visage painted on it.

HERmione is a book of many virtues. H.D.'s prose has a slow-building hypnagogic quality: a hothouse, heavy-lidded lushness that can be cozy or claustrophobic. Although she controls the reader's attention with paranoid rigor-- we mayn't look at very much, for very long, and only just where she directs us-- the velvet glove's so plush that her grip feels like a caress.

In the excerpt below, we're treated to a morning rainstorm as viewed from indoors. It's Cadillac writing, though I'll admit some bias; as a lazy gardener, I do dearly love rainstorms.

Thunder reverberated across wet lawns, shook the middle forest, prolonged itself like some beast growling under deep-sea water, shook the water above their heads, broke through it and let down more water through a funnel. Water poured through a funnel on the roof above them, slid off gutters, made a sheet across the window, darkened the dining room and blotted out the dining room silver. Silver forks, spoons, a bowl on the side table became lost in silver, mist in and out, a sheet of silver hung permanently across the dining room window. Window tight-fastened, odd shut-in feeling on a summer morning. Outside the odd tight-fastened window, a sheet of thin metal hung wavering ominously. "I feel we're shut up inside a submarine or a bomb that will burst suddenly."
Brrrr-ooooo-ommm-- the bomb burst suddenly. "This is ghastly. I thought the storm was over." The silver went platinum-white in the succeeding sudden flashes. "The whole world's blown up suddenly." The silver went lead, less than silver in the reassuring heavy downpour that almost drowned the distant BRRRooming drum, reassuring drum of raindrops beating; we're coming to help, we're coming to help, we're on the way to rescue you from lead and shot and silver turned to gunfire...


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In Print, Death of Print, Printing

Having survived another Mardi Gras, I'm renouncing Twitter for Lent, and my intention is to post more often here. To begin with, I've been remiss in posting links to some of my recent writing in Antigravity Magazine.

Jules Bentley cover storyIn the February 2013 issue, I profiled the couple who run Creeping Hemlock Press, a successful independent publisher here in New Orleans.

Interviews are fun for a couple reasons. I get paid without having to write nearly as much, and I also love hearing about a subject or field-- almost anything-- from people who've spent a lot of time studying or working in it. Among the material cut from the interview (by yours truly, not by an angry editor) were hundreds of words of RJ & Julia analyzing the history, present & future of the paperback industry.

With so much already in the piece, I had to let the publishing-industry stuff go in favor of subjects that grab a broader audience, but I learned a great deal from the conversation. I accept-- grudgingly, unhappily-- that making a living as a writer increasingly involves online texts and "downloads." I don't much mourn the death of Big Publishing, but to me, the words book and novel will always connote a real, physical, bound & printed-on-paper object.

Speaking of which, I also wrote about the re-opening of the New Orleans Community Print Shop, the cover story of Antigravity's 100th issue. The article shocked a few people... a few dickheads, really. People who deserved it.

A couple months after writing the piece, I availed myself of the Print Shop (or "Printshop") facilities for the first time; I went there to print up some custom handkerchiefs as favors for a Carnival Walking Krewe. It was a messy and frustrating process, like most first times at most things, but the results were thrilling. I'm happy to have the Print Shop open and nearby me!

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