Search

Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary

Tag

American culture

Drive-By Self Interview Book Review “So Sad Today” Melissa Broder

MGM’s Drive-By Self Interview Book Review of “So Sad Today” by Melissa Broder

front-cover

Q.     How much did you love this book?

A.     I loved it with the intensity of a thousand blazing suns.

 Q.     To whom would you recommend it?

A.     Curious readers with a capacity for self examination, an appreciation for existential absurdity, willingness to experience things from a deeply personal perspective other than their own and any reader who loves poetic prose and damn good writing.

 Q.     What did you learn from reading “So Sad Today?”

A.     How everyone we meet is fighting their own personal battles, inner demons and hidden insecurities, no matter how much it appears they may have their shit together. Also how little I know about Twitter and that I’m a really lame tweeter. I also learned some texting shorthand, although I had to Google some of it. I also realized that I am sexually repressed Catholic schoolboy.

Q.     Would you compare Melissa Broder’s style as an essayist to any other authors whose work you enjoy reading?

A.     I like David Sedaris and Jenny Lawson (“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened”) for similar reasons. I think Melissa Broder is a brilliant humorist and a keen observer of human nature and commentator on social norms with a stunning command of the English language. She pulls no punches and writes with astonishing candor.   

Q.     You’ve been described as a gushing fanboy. How do you feel about that?

A.     I am absolutely, without a doubt, 100% a gushing fanboy. I totally OWN that shit. As a middle-aged, mediocre monogamous white male, I might be a bit of an outlier from the rest of her fan base, but that’s never stopped me before from going out on a limb. A limb that may snap at any moment, and send me crashing to the cold, hard ground.

Q.     Why are YOU so sad today?

A.     Because I finished reading “So Sad Today.” NOW what the Hell am I supposed to do?     

Q.     How would you describe “So Sad Today”?

A.     I am a raging adjective/adverb abuser in recovery, with a touch of OCD, but here are a few descriptors off the top of my head. I had listed one for each year of my life in alphabetical order in two columns, but WordPress doesn’t DO that kind of formatting, and now I’m REALLY so sad today! Damn it Jim! I’m a DOCTOR not a code writer!

acerbic       addictive          beautiful          brilliant            brutally honest   candor     compassionate      compelling       courageous      creative     dead on      dead serious       delightful   erotic   excavation       excoriation       existential     exorcism    experimental extraordinary   fascinating  funny  genius  happy  heartbreaking  hilarious    hot      humanistic       humane   humble    humorous   hungry    imaginative  in-your-face     insightful     inspiring          instructive       intense    interesting      off -beat    off -kilter   painful   playful    poetic      poignant           provocative     redeeming        resilient      revealing      sad   seductive   self-effacing     sexy     spiritual  straight-up  strong  thought-provoking     titillating   trenchant  truthful  uncommon  unflinching   unique  uplifting  voyeuristic   witty

Q.     We’re just about out of time. Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

A.     Yeah. What are you doing just sitting there? Go out and get this book and read the Hell out of it. Then, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll go out and buy any and all of her four poetry books you can get your hands on because  that’s EXACTLY what I’m going to do.

About the Author:

Melissa Broder is the author of four poetry collections:  LAST SEXT (Tin House, 2016), and MEAT HEARTWHEN YOU SAY ONE THING BUT MEAN YOUR MOTHER. She is also the author of the essay collection, SO SAD TODAY (Grand Central, March 2016). Poems appear in POETRY, The Iowa ReviewTin House, Guernica, FenceThe Missouri Review, Denver Quarterly, Washington Square ReviewRedivider, Court GreenThe Awl, Drunken Boat, et al. You can read the online ones HERE. Broder received her BA from Tufts University and her MFA from City College of New York.  By day, she is Director of Media and Special Projects at NewHive. She lives in Venice, CA.

author-photo

About the Drive-By Reviewer:

Michael Gillan Maxwell is a visual artist, author, and teacher. The Part Time Shaman Handbook: An Introduction For Beginners, a hybrid book of images and prose, was published by Unknown Press in 2015. Prone to random outbursts, Maxwell can be found ranting and raving on his website: michaelgillanmaxwell.com

 

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping

It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, two days before the Winter Solstice. There are no flowers blooming, no buds bursting forth, no harkening to the delightful song of peepers in the pond. Instead, wind howls like the furies over piles of icy snow. At this very moment, members of the Electoral College are casting their votes for the 45th president of the United States and I sit here, still in my jammies, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” This anachronistic expression has its roots in urban tenement life and alludes to a person waiting for the second shoe to drop after being awakened by an upstairs neighbor loudly dropping a shoe on the floor. In this case,I think it’s safe to say the other shoe has already dropped and it’s all over but the crying.

If climate change with its unseasonable and unreasonable weather patterns, polar vortexes, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, super volcanoes and solar flares aren’t enough to worry about, there are plenty of other boogeymen and evil clowns lurking under the bed to haunt my dreams in the wee, wee hours. At least one of them has a tragic hairstyle with an extreme comb-over. Never mind that a deer tick smaller than a poppy seed lurking in the grass is capable of inflicting an unholy host of autoimmune disorders. It almost makes me glad the lawn will be covered by a sheet of tundra ice until April.

The American political landscape is a 3 ring circus, a carnival freak show, a Wrestlemania smack down, an episode of the Jerry Springer Show meets Family Feud. While I had no illusions that the country was filled with happy campers from sea to shining sea, I had no idea that so many people were so pissed off about so many things, all at the same time. It’s kind of harshing my mellow. Why can’t we all just get along?

The super wealthy and all-powerful squirrel away fortunes in shell corporations and off-shore cookie jars. They buy up abandoned nuclear missile silos and build bunkers designed to withstand the impact of Planet X striking the Earth. It makes me wonder how far the spare change in my sock drawer and that extra can of Spaghettios in the pantry will take me when it all hits the fan.

I shouldn’t whine. When I think about it, I have so much to be grateful for. I’ve got my health, my demure figure, and more of most anything that I really need. I have food, clothing, shelter, modest resources and access to medical care and a social network in a place where everything isn’t blowing up or blowing away. Really. What more could I ask for? Well, maybe a little more leg room in Economy on commercial flights and tequila that is actually good for me. But still, I can’t seem to shake this sense of existential dread. Although maybe existential dread is itself a luxury? Who has time for existential dread when you’re trying to outrun a hungry lion, hide out from killer robots, or work two minimum wage jobs just trying to eke out an existence? What’s it all about Alfie?

But what truly effective action can one take to prepare for just about anything that might happen at any time? Some people become hardcore preppers and stockpile enough ammo and supplies to arm a militia and survive for years in a bunker. Some people count on being rescued by aliens, while others find solace in religion and await the Second Coming and the Rapture. Still others turn on, drop out and tune in to America’s Got Talent which really is just a 21st century version of Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. This, and The Lawrence Welk Show ruled the airwaves during the infancy of television. Even as a young child, those shows evoked in me profound feelings of existential ennui with so much cognitive dissonance that I thought I must be witnessing an alien invasion. Although, seeing an Amateur Hour contestant enthusiastically play The Star Spangled Banner on his dentures as if they were a xylophone, did leave an indelible impression on my unformed psyche.

Anyway, what does one do as it appears that the human race may be sliding irrevocably into dystopia? Squat down in the back yard, covering our collective asses with our hats and scan the skies for the apocalypse? Maybe six pack abs would help, although a six pack of IPA would be better. Perhaps positive affirmations or motivational phrases might be the ticket. Something like “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Hunter S. Thompson’s version of that was: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Maybe he meant when things get weird, people who have always been weird really come into their own or get even weirder. That certainly seems to be the case in what is evolving into a collective TV reality show.

But seriously, how does an ordinary Joe like myself respond to the threats we now face? What can artists do in the face of such madness? The artistic community in Europe, responded to the horror and brutality of World War I with the Dada movement, a clarion call to awaken modern art from its slumber. It was a call to renewed awareness and a new kind of social action as paradigms shifted and the old ways of doing things fell away. We are at a similar juncture at this point in history. Perhaps one of my responsibilities as an artist in these times is to persist in the face of adversity, and continue to try to make art that matters; art that helps elevate the human spirit and brings light and levity to the darkness. Be vigilant. Remain aware. Stay awake. Stay connected. Model civility. Perform random acts of kindness. Offer moral, emotional and economic support to each other. Be kind, but remain fierce. Keep your chin up and your eyes fixed on the horizon.

These thoughts do make me feel a little better. There are things I can do, even if it’s a little bit each day. Although, to begin, it wouldn’t hurt to actually put on some real clothes before 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Get out there. DO something. Even if it’s to go shopping, because when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Even though going to the store in one’s pajamas has somehow become the new normal, the least I can do is to go shopping in something resembling a civilized dress code.

 

 

 

Marker

From North Beach

North Beach (1)

Like Quicksand

We walk the streets of North Beach
follow the footsteps of Ferlinghetti
and the ghosts of Ginsberg and Kerouac.
In Washington Square Park,
under St. Peter and Paul’s twin spires,
an old hippie sits on a bench,
finger picks a vintage Epiphone guitar.

Next to him, another man
stares off into space,
cradles his mandolin, listens.
Joe Dimaggio marries Marilyn Monroe
in that church, she lifts her veil,
steals a kiss on the granite steps;
here in Joe’s home town.

Italian restaurants and coal fired pizza,
storied nightclubs and tattoo parlors,
psychic readers, butchers, bakers
and kite makers.
The City Lights Bookstore
stands like a shrine, a beacon.
Ground zero for a revolution.

A man lies fast asleep on the ground, under
a sparkling, golden sky and a pile of clothes
in the middle of the afternoon.
Some changes happen before we notice,
others sneak by under our noses,
but Time, a slow train runnin’
creeps up like quicksand.

My Short Story “Bowling For Jesus” is published by Connotation Press

My Short Story “Bowling For Jesus” is published by Connotation Press in the April 15th edition.

http://www.connotationpress.com/fiction/2279-michael-gillan-maxwell-fiction

From Meg Tuite, Fiction Editor: “The mid-April issue of Connotation Press is up and exceptional! Michelle Messina Reale is our featured fiction writer with three brilliant poetic prose pieces from her upcoming collection. Find out more in our interview. Also we have outstanding work by Michael Gillan Maxwell, Cort Bledsoe, Mike Joyce and Grant Faulkner! Thank you for sending CP some of your beauties!”

I am honored to be in such good company! Thank you Meg Tuite!

Michael Gillan Maxwell
Michael Gillan Maxwell

Lunch Lady Cookbook Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese

Lunch Lady Cookbook Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese

Lunch Lady Action Figure
Lunch Lady Action Figure

Hey there boys and girls! This is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell comin’ at ya with a new installment of The Lunch Lady Cookbook. Back when the Lunch Lady Cookbook was just a gleam in his father’s eye, the Lunch Laddy was on a quest for the Holy Grail of Comfort Foods, the ultimate Mac & Cheese. I know our thousands of foodie fans out there were dismayed and even outraged by esoteric vegan recipes and gustatory explorations into parts unknown and roads untraveled.

People were saying: “Hey Lunch Laddy! What gives? You promised us Mac & Cheese and you give us recipes for vegan burritos and free range goulash. You bask in all the glory and we get bupkis! Enough already! We want the Mac & Cheese we were promised!”

The people have spoken and the Lunch Laddy has heard. I am here today to deliver what was promised. The Lunch Lady Cookbook is proud to present Achin’ For Bacon Mac & Cheese!

The Lunch Laddy will be the first to tell you he’s not a doctor and the last to offer medical advice. However, due to the rich nature of this particular dish, all of us here at The Lunch Lady Cookbook offices recommended that you schedule an EKG and a stress test to determine if you still have at least one available unclogged artery before proceeding. It’s like having enough available memory on your computer before taking on a software update.

Achin' for Bacon

You will need the following: 

  • 1 package Gluten Free Brown Rice Elbows (Hey! Shut up! We need something healthy in this dish!)
  • 2-3 cups of assorted cheeses ~ sharp cheddar, colby, jack & Romano for starters.
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 5 slices cooked bacon ~ sliced, diced & chopped
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes

How we do it:

  • Cook pasta for 2-3 minutes and drain. (It will be super el dente, but this is what you need because it’s gonna bake for a while. It’s called Mac & Cheese NOT Mush & Cheese)
  •  Lubricate baking dish with butter. This is no time to be shy. Grease that puppy up!
  •  Pour in pasta and stir in cheese, bacon and spices, saving some of each for the coup de grâce topping.
  •  Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
  •  Brown, uncovered for the last coupla minutes.
  •  Cover and let stand for at least an hour.
  •  Serve with copious amounts ketchup.

A Lunch Lady Cookbook Repast

Musical Accompaniment: Todd Snider station on Pandora

Libation: A rich full bodied red wine with undercurrents of blueberry jam and hot dogs. Jug wine from the bottom shelf will be the prefect accompaniment to this prosaic dish.

Until the next time, this is the Lunch Laddy, Michael Gillan Maxwell signing off and saying: Eat hearty me hearties!

Lost in the Matrix Again: Consumer Madness and the Zombie Apocalypse

Lunch Laddy at the Dirt Track Races
Enough with the zombie apocalypse already!

I just returned from my mailbox. Today is Saturday and it’s a light day. There were only four catalogs. On any given day, it’s not uncommon to find a half dozen catalogs, and more as we approach the holidays. I wonder to what extent this may actually be keeping the US Postal Service afloat? Consider this scene from the classic Seinfeld episode “The Junk Mail.”

Postmaster General: “Kramer, I’ve been, uh, reading some of your material here. I gotta be honest with you: you make a pretty strong case. I mean, just imagine. An army of men in wool pants running through the neighborhood handing out pottery catalogs, door to door.”

Kramer: “Yeah! Ha ha.”

Postmaster General: “Well, it’s my job. And I’m pretty damn serious about it.

(from:Seinfeld Scripts episode 5 season 9)                                                                                http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheJunkMail.htm

I must admit, I’ve wondered how I ended up on so many catalog mailing lists. But then again, considering how much shopping I do from catalogs and from the internet in general, it should come as no surprise. Pretty much every active consumer in today’s economy ends up on multiple mailing lists. It’s almost impossible not to. All you need to do is subscribe to a magazine, fill out a warranty, register a product, enter a contest, carry a mortgage or auto loan, use a credit card, give to a charity, have a baby, use a retail store charge card, register to vote, send in for a rebate, belong to a supermarket loyalty club, or purchase anything from a catalogue or online. If you do any of these things, forget about it, you’re on someone’s direct mailing list. Unless you’re a monk or in an institution, that covers pretty much most of us in 21st century America. I’ve done all of these things so I’m on a diverse group of lists. So much for my fantasy of going underground.  Companies rent or sell these lists to other retailers who are searching for new consumers for their products. Hell, even a casual internet search puts you in the crosshairs of internet search engines. That’s how you end up with so many whacky ads showing up on your Facebook sidebar and your web browser.

Even though I like to think I’m doing my part to help bring our economy out of recession, there are times when I wonder if I’m contributing to the destruction of the rain forests with so many paper catalogs filling my recycle container on Thursday morning. Sometimes the sheer volume is a little much. People don’t write letters much anymore, and nearly all of my bill paying is done online, so most days my mailbox is filled with nothing but catalogs. It can be a little vexing. Consider this scene from that same Seinfeld episode.

Kramer: (entering Jerry’s apartment) “Will you look at this? More catalogs! ‘Omaha Steaks’, ‘Mac Warehouse’, ‘Newsweek’?! I can’t stop all these companies, so, I’m gonna attack this problem at the choke point. I’ve had it with these jackbooted thugs!”

Kramer: (throwing his catalogs in the Pottery Barn store) “Hey, you like sending out catalogs!? How do you like gettin’ ’em back!?

(from:Seinfeld Scripts episode 5 season 9)                                                                                http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheJunkMail.htm

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. They make marvelous reading material in the bathroom where I do most of my heavy thinking and profound intellectual work.

thinker

This is not really a new phenomenon. Going as far back as the late 19th century it was possible to purchase nearly everything you needed to survive from a catalog including food, clothing, shelter and even a mail order bride. From 1908–1940, Sears, Roebuck and Co. sold more than  75,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program. You could buy a kit for a complete house ranging from $425-$3,000, which is about what it might cost you to buy a garden shed today.

Now you can do it all online. All you need is an internet connection and a credit card. It is consumerism run amok on steroids, but I am an unabashed internet consumer and certainly not the only one who is attracted by the ease and convenience. However, I could do without those annoying live chat boxes. “No I don’t want to chat! That’s why I’m shopping from home on the internet in nothing but my underwear !”

In Buddhism, desire and ignorance lie at the root of suffering. By desire, Buddhists refer to craving pleasure, material goods, and immortality. If consumers are jonesin’ for that, then internet commerce certainly fills that need.

Happy Buddha

One catalog I got this week advertises “nothing you ever needed but everything you want.” That about says it all. From another catalog, it’s possible to purchase such other items of necessary esoterica as a genuine brass periscope from a World War II German U Boat, a “Faithful Freddie” Royal Navy Submarine Binnacle for $6000, Japanese Admiralty Signaling Searchlights for $3,000, Italian Air Force Long Underwear.  (I guess I never think “air force” when I think of Italy. When a country produces the quality of wine they produce, who needs an air force?) This catalog also offers dozens of Swiss Army surplus items, which are of superior quality. I can see why the swiss Army has so much surplus to offer since the country has been neutral since 1515 and their last armed conflict was a brief civil war between the Catholic and the Protestant cantons which resulted in about a hundred casualties. Instead of waging war like the rest of us idiots, they invested their time and resources inventing cool stuff like Ricola and the Swiss army knife.

Swiss Army Knife

Other catalogs in this week’s mail offer a men’s leather shearling coat for $3,000, a beaver fur felt stingy brim hat for $800,(who actually wears beaver hats anymore?) shirts for $200, an English pub sign for $1500, an Allied Victory Sidecar Motorcycle, a wireless Pavlovian canine trainer, a variety of haunting zombie statues and zombie garden gnomes. Still other catalogs offer classes like Defense Against the Paranormal for Men and Women and the Zombie Apocalypse workshop.

zombie_apocalypse_survival_kit_decal_vinyl_car_sticker_-_free_shipping_530f48e3

Enough with the zombie apocalypse already!

If you’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt and adventure travel is your thing, then why not take the 14 day Mongolian Horse Trek, or if your bucket list’s gettin’ a little low, how about  Around the World by Private Jet ~ a 24-day journey to five continents by private jet for $72,950? What’s not to love?

Yesterday, I got the ultimate catalog crammed with dozens of “must-have” items that you just can’t live without! Now you can have your own kitchen hot dog roller. Nothing handles a hangover better than a couple of gas station grade roller dogs. What about a flask that holds a gallon of your favorite libation? How can you say no to a pair of zombie flamingos for the front lawn? But wait! There’s more! You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood with your very own Zombie Apocalypse Tactical Tomahawk & Kommando Survival Tools and nothing settles an argument faster than a One Million Volt Zap Baton Stun Gun! And who can live without your own personal Backyard Tiki Bar~ on sale now for only $499?

Hold on a second ~ let me get my credit card …..

Catalogs

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: