The ash tray sat in my bed. There were cherry holes in the blanket. My cat stunk of smoke. Colds lasted the entirety of the winter. The metric I used to measure distance was not miles. It was American Spirits. It took two to get to work. The cigarette smoking man on The X Files, the one who smoked through his tracheotomy, was my trigger. The cigarette between my fingers would remind me how much I wanted the next.
Smoking was part of my identity. Every one of my MySpace profile pics featured a filter screwed into my mouth. Smoking was my social in. It was my outlet when I felt put out to pasture. I smoked a pack and a half a day. My nicotine tolerance put yours to shame. Other smokers would point and say, “Well at least I’m not that bad.” Continue reading The Nicotine Always Wins
You find yourself pressed between the dueling kick drums of neighboring apartments. Off tempo rhythms compete for dominance. Giant blacksmiths hammer anvils as big as houses. Dinosaurs march down the street. Subwoofers fart. Every so often, you make out the digital squeal of auto-tuned vocals. The rapid fire pulse of an arpeggiating synth.
Continue reading Writing Space
This was found on the first page of my notebook for the screenplay Savior Complex (my second attempt at a feature film back in 2008). I think I wrote this montra to motivate myself to write from a place of honesty. This last line kills me every time.
Dig: A Writer’s Oath
To the shame and embarrassment
To the parts you’ve disowned
The habits you can’t seem to break
Show us your temperament
Your teenage oath Continue reading Dig: A Writer’s Oath
“One voice” is one of the cardinal sins of writing. It’s when each of your characters use the same turns of phrase. When each of them are endless quip machines, hurling clichés in place of banter.
In this poem “one voice” is used to describe the shared experience of living in Minneapolis. It’s about coming of age with the same peers. Living in the same city, going to the same house parties, living out of the same coffee shops and bars. It’s about the regional accent that extends beyond words. One voice, is how we walk, how we dress, where we go and what we do. But it’s not about uniformity. It’s about isolation. It’s about the effect that people and places can have on your identity.
The meta tag for the file says it’s from 2005. That would make me 24 when I wrote it.
We speak in one voice
One accent swapping vowels
Our “I”s become “E”s
We say “Melk”, we say “Pellow”
We are the ventriloquist dummies
That the city speaks through
We call carbonated beverages “Soda”
We call romantic interests “Prospects” Continue reading One Voice
Artists make attractive protagonists because they’re driven. They pursue their passions despite the odds, odds that are rife with conflict. The chips are stacked against them. You can’t paint your student loan checks away. You can’t sing your credit score higher. You can’t pay your electric bill with a poem, believe me I’ve tried. Artists are society’s underdogs. We love to root for the losers. The dreamers who just don’t want to wake up.
The hero with the artistic temperament, doesn’t always change at the end of the story. Sometimes they change our expectations instead. Continue reading An Artist Statement About Artist Statements
This is another one from the archives. The meta tag says it’s circa 2006. It’s the one optimistic document in a folder full of pessimism. I figure it deserves its day in the sun.
This Is What We Do
We’ll set the industrial strength fan in the hallway
Prop all the doors on the way to the exit
Make a funnel to suck out
All the thought clouds in the air
All the questionable motives
All the sneaking suspicions
All the secret agendas
All the breathing hazards
We’ll fumigate your mind Continue reading This Is What We Do
When naming a child, modern parents find themselves faced with a Herculean task. It’s not enough to choose a name that sounds strong. Nor is it enough to chose a name out of a baby book. This is the age of the Internet after all. Modern parents must scour the list of most common high income baby names. They must consider how the name will look on an admissions slip, on a resumé, on a loan application. A name that once signified high stature, might find itself dated, co-opted by the lower classes. Today’s “Madison” is tomorrow’s “Maddy.” What you find to be a strong declaration of your cultural heritage, might just damn your little darling to a life on the pole.
Continue reading The Name Game
Mr. Song is a song about the role of lyrics in our lives. It’s about connecting to an idea and realizing you are not alone. It waits in your headphones and peaks out at the end of a long hard day. It’s another piece continuing the theme of self referential art.
Its meta tag puts it at about 2004. Its an oldie but a goodie. Check it out.
I am a song
Never mind who sings me
They are just a vessel
A method of delivery Continue reading Mr. Song
Submitted for your approval: you’re writing the great American novel. Scratch that. Your idea is so inspired the great American novel is writing itself. Galactic forces dictate cosmic secrets and you, the humble writer, just transcribe them. You are a vessel, a witness to a celestial ritual that has been documented throughout the ages. Sure, you have a hand in building this universe. You populated it with characters, but the characters have all the real clout. They make the decisions for you.
The writing is automatic. A seance across your keyboard. The characters borrow your hand when they need it. They page you at the least convenient times: at work, in the shower, on the bus.
Continue reading Submitted For Your Approval
Lights dim as we enter the room
Songs change mid verse
Desperate hands shake volume knobs to signal
The shoplifters are coming
The shoplifters are coming
Our hands are so deep in our trench coats
They’re coming out the inside
With a wave of yellow fabric
We steal chunks from the setting Continue reading Writers Guild