Sunday, December 31, 2006

Favorite Photos & My Accomplishments from 2006

The majority of these photos were taken prior to June, when I just about abandoned travelling north because of my mid-life career change, working at In-Print Graphics in Alsip. The first two photos I took near the Lake Street El when I was heading out to Melrose Park for my LINK card, to get food stamps. I had been out of work for over 15 months, after 23 years in the Loop and before that Evanston at a desk job, where my nom de plume was either Henry Desmond or Tony Mitchum. (For those who remember, that first fake name was the one Peter Scolari's character had on the show BOSOM BUDDIES.) A difference a year will make, I'm learning things I never expected, at first because I HAD to, now because I WANT to. 47 and making ten dollars an hour through a temp agency, but I'm enjoying it and I'm not standing in line for hours to get a plastic purple card that rarely activated my $158 monthly stipend on time. But I do miss my long treks downtown; my new commute is twenty minutes covering 40 blocks straight south. And I've worn a suit and tie only once since June. As well as a new "day" job, the only job I really felt I had--that as a WRITER--was kick-started into gear again with the publication of my first collection in a decade, FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT, published by Annihilation Press. I was also part of a 4-author collection, DOWNWARD SPIRAL, by Midnight Library. While unemployed, I tried writing in ways I had never expected (at least ways that would see print), and one result was a 55 page A-Z glossary in GETTING LOST, a book of essays on the TV show, published by BenBella Books out of Dallas. I visited their offices in November with Sid Williams, whose journal link is to the left under Willy Sid, who picked me up at DFW and then we drove to Austin and the World Fantasy Convention, my first con outside of the Chicago area in six years. Everyone seems to have gray hair now, except for people like me, and I look like a more anemic version of Lex Luthor. I got to see Joe Lansdale again, a guy who was always an inspiration for my writing even when the crazies were living in my head for seasons at a time, a guy who read PAIN GRIN in its rawest form and gave me my first cover blurb. 2006 was the 20th year of my having been published in hardcover and paperback, and WFC Austin was exactly two decades gone from my first convention, playing the part of complete unknown, in Providence, RI. I renewed friendships with Roger Dale Trexler, Charles Gramlich, made new ones with Mike Fountain and Stewart Sternberg. Well, I have to shield my border collie's ears from the fireworks in a few minutes, so I'll save you the cliches. I'll look at tomorrow as just another day on the road I chose long before I actually sold anything of note. I'm gone, Wayne

Friday, December 29, 2006

Augusta Boulevard, Summer 1992

Scott Kroll--over at the Citizen Nick link to the left--reminded me that he was with me when I took the photo of the caged angel in my Christmas post. We had been walking along Augusta Boulevard, Aw-GOOS-ta, as the old polaks still say. The bottom photo was taken on Western Avenue, but we had been further east (and yes, the tall building in the background is the John Hancock building, 3 miles away). Ukranian Village and Leona's pizza parlor, to be exact. Still trying to be regentrified as the East Village, those bastard real estate agents. A few blocks away is the Wood Street cop house, a block over from that is Wolcott Street and the three-flat my mother was born in. Actually, the Wood Street District is about a half a block south of Augusta, and at that intersection is Club Foot, long ago known as the Lizard Lounge and before that something Puerto Rican and way back in Nelson Algren's day, it was something unpronouncable but would bring in big points in a Scrabble game. Scott mentions this in his comment on the caged angel, which was on Honore Street and I'll leave it to the readers of Algren's THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM to know the varied ways of pronouncing that particular street. The interior of the bar is much the same as when I'd made Augusta Boulevard an old haunt back in the early 90s. But the two bathrooms are plastered entirely with Elvis posters and memorabilia, fittingly so for an Elvis fan as I, but over the head of most of the new clientele. I was going to post a photo from the bathroom of the Elvis wall, not the one of me with my business covered up but my knobby knees all pale and shiny, but it would detract from the gentleness of the 1992 photo. On second thought, the jarring difference one will see if I do post it will reflect the changing neighborhood. So I'll add that second photo, with one of me at the Ashland bus shelter as a buffer. One hopes. Wayne

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas In Chicago

For a hell of a lot of people here, I think they must believe that the angels are meant to be with them tonight of all nights, but some bastard has gone around the city caging the winged ones up tight, the way Larry Talbot wanted to be incarcerated during those full moons back in the 1940s. Wishing everyone well, Wayne

Saturday, December 23, 2006

First Images

I had left work early yesterday, around 4:30 PM, and the bus was 45 minutes late, mostly due to the traffic leading to the Tri-State Tollway in one direction and the Crestwood Shopping Mall in the opposite. The rain came down harder, in the oncoming lights from cars and pickups I could see the layered look rain has when the wind only picks up periodically. Getting soaked yet again made me realize the amount of rain we have had this year, as 2005, the Year of My Unemployment, was a drought. It gave me a decent opening line for the third section of my novel-in-progress, CITY WITH NO SECOND CHANCES. I have divided the book into three seasons, with the sections titled Shank Of The Night; Shots Downed, Officer Fired; and Proactive Contrition. I came up with some decent "narrative" thoughts of my character, Frank St. Cyr reflecting on how there had never been so much rain during the course of the years' events. I don't even plan on using the rain as a plot device, simply have the third segment open with that observation. After I had that thought tucked into my head, I shaped a blog entry around it. When I first was consciously putting words to paper with the intent of having them published, I started by writing down feelings, or better yet, conditions. One of the very first things I tried to write about, conveying my thoughts the way a caveman might attempt scratching a rock drawing, was being hungry. I was always broke and starving in college. I lived off of chicken broth from the coffee machine at Stevenson Hall and even took up smoking Marlboro Lights (70 cents a pack) because it cut down my appetite (for those who don't know me personally, I have actually smoked about 20 packs in as many years, many times tossing half a pack away in a fit of self-loathing.) One day, I was walking past the Chicago River one day, heading towards the used bookstores and thrift shops on No. Clark Street (lots now filled by Hard Rock Cafe and other theme restaurants). I was VERY hungry and actually told this to a guy begging for money. I knew he was a drunk living in a flophouse, but that might have been one of the few times I was actually pissed at someone not being truthful about their plight. My stomach was past rumbling, I was close to fatigue. I hadn't flipped him off, in fact I hadn't ignored him like everyone else had been doing. But I saw him on my trip back from the bookstores, hours later, and he seemed to remember me. For all I know he could have been jabbering away the whole time, but in an eerie JACOB'S LADDER kind of way, he looked at me and said, in exactly these words, "I will see you again one day." A dull look in his eyes. And in some way, I have been seeing him--on certain days, in certain forms--ever since. Wayne

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Value Of The Blog

Sid Williams is much better at adding those hyperlinks; I will just direct you to check the sidebar for Willy Sid (a police informant in my stories and novel), Charles Gramlich (who graciously wrote the intro to my recent collection), and Stewart Sternberg (whose blog photo looks like he has just taken a swipe at James Lipton). A discussion on their blogs in recent days involves the value of the blog. I have a different take on this, perhaps, because I do not drive, never have and never will. So, in truth, several of my blog entries are simply meant to be humorous, indeed, it was Sid who suggested I start a blog because of some of my e-observations. I also thought it a good venue for posting photos, instead of on flickr (I have an account with dust on it by now) or some other photo-thingie. But in those entries that have insight or introspection, those are my thoughts on any given walk to or from the bus stop. Whichever bus stop. Or while waiting for the el. Long thoughts, we called them as kids, the guy who lived the farthest had the long thoughts once the others hit their gangways between the Humboldt Park three-flats. At my very best, the words you read here are images from my mind while I was walking down an unlighted street that curved towards 127th and the I-94 interchange, cars blurring past with every small step I take. And that about sums it up...Wayne

More About Those Trading Cards

Well, this is frightening. Somehow the images doubled over, which just continues to prove the adage The Computer Remains My Nemesis. Well, anyways. First there was a shot of me as a junkie, then you saw the shot of me with the yuppie girl, portrayed by Laurie Fuka, and here I am being massaged by her husband Ted, although Ted seems more involved with his reflection than my aching back. These trading cards are kept with my Ed Wood and Outer Limits cards, so who better to add to the batch than Dudley Manlove ("You stupid humans! Stupid! Stupid!" Imagine Felix Unger using zombies to conquer Canoga Park.) and some guy who is as I type this is holed up at Fort Detrick, Maryland, trying to find a cure for AIDS and create a new bio-terror weapon. A win-win situation. Still trying to figure out the repeating images, Wayne

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Six Degrees of C. Everett Koop

Sid Williams and I were emailing the whole 6 degrees thing earlier, and the other night I was watching a VHS of a CourtTV episode where Michael Connolly the crime writer discusses the hunt for spree killer Christopher Wilder. (I had asked Sid to record the tape because Connolly is a very good cop writer; his connection to the segment was that he covered the Wilder story in 1984 as a reporter for a Florida newspaper, and reprinted in his recent book CRIME BEAT.) I always enjoy watching Texas tv commercials, just as back in the day, Sid's wife Christine was enthralled by our Spanish stations here, and I turned her on to SABADO GIGANTE with Don Francisco his ownself. The only tv show where the audience sings about Colgate toothpaste. Well, during the Wilder thing, an ad for HeartAlert comes on, and it turns out that "former surgeon general" C. Everett Koop endorsed the little hoobajoob, saying it is what has kept him going. I'm to lazy to check for the exact date, but I think the Koopster died in the previous century. And that, my friends, is why I love Texas TV. Why bother getting someone alive to endorse the product. Maybe they have Sonny Bono promoting the Abdominizer thing. So what does this all have to do with the illo above? Back in the early 90s, Greg Loudon painted a huge amount of the AIDS AWARENESS trading cards, and #1 was C.E. Koop. I appeared in several cards, both as a junkie and as the same junkie sharing his bad needle with the gigantic-earringed yuppie girl. I really did have that seedy Ned Racine moustache back then, that corrupt lawyer William Hurt portrayed in BODY HEAT. So, tell me, have I missed anything, anything at all, in this early morning post of mine? (It is 2:13 CST, but again, my blog is set to Ulan Baator, Mongolian time. Just because.) Much to awake for my own damn good, Wayne

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Saved By Supermodels

I worked a 13 hour sfift today print the SAME DAMN THING...a booklet on the Supreme Council of the Ameranth. An offshoot of the Freemasons. The men are Buccanneers and the women are Pearls. Actually, the women looked more like characters from CARNIVAL OF SOULS, even more so when the silk paper the photos ran on burned in the fuser area, giving the demented old bats a more shriveled look. Thankfully, I was saved by supermodels. Imagine what nonsense I would be typing if I had already gulped down my NyQuil drenched vanilla ice cream...? Without much sanity, Wayne

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tony, Tony, Look Around

...something's lost that can't be found. A prayer to St. Anthony, who I suspicion is NOT the patron saint for the Lost & Found Department. The actual phrase starts "Tony, Tony, come around..." but, being a dumb polak, I was brought up saying it wrong. I'll be the first to tell you that it works, if only as a mantra that gets your brain thinking in a different direction. Well, I didn't use the phrase today, but I read it in, of all places, a Stephen King book. I have never in my life of reading books written by Chicago authors living in Polish Roman Cat'lik communities seen that phrase. In the King book, the person who utters it is from the Boston area, so I'm certain the phrase was not out of place. I don't have any photos of St. Anthony, so here is a photo of myself and Tony Plichta, circa 1980. Looks like an early scene from GOODFELLAS, hmnn? Still lost, Wayne

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Werewolf Claws

That is me tonight, with the weather so cold my breath is like a steam engine and my hands like fetal stillborns. I leave you with artwork by Douglas C. Klauba which dovetails with the poem by Jen Christiano. Typing while my teeth are clamped to my collarbone, Wayne

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Peggy Nadramia & THe aMerican DReam

Yes, "Rapid Transit" sucks/sucked/will always suck because it was the first thing I ever sold, not counting my poem "Uncle Don" to BEATNIKS FROM SPACE. But the story did have a pupose, filling a certain void in 1985 Chicago, and Peggy Nadramia did indeed have the balls, or maybe her husband Peter Gilmore's nuts 'o fun, to publish the story. Even though it had no dialogue. Even though I resorted to having a cockroach crawling in a certain body area for effect. My final writing project at U of I, and she buys it! The only time you'll ever see my middle name missing in a story heading, though. But ENOUGH! Peggy had me in her magazine--and in their humble Hell's Kitchen abode--many times, and some dude named David Bruce wrote what would be the first nasty letter directed at me to Peggy. David himself wrote stories about joggers being eaten by steel vaginas, but I digress. GRUE#7 saw the publication of "I aM THe aMerican DReam." Evan Shustak would eventually appear in several stories and be killed off in my novel, THE HOLY TERROR. Almost fifteen years later, not a convention goes by where someone, and not always a stranger at the urinal next to me with orange ooze coming from a cast on his forearm, but again, I digress--asks if I'll ever write about the Dream again. All his stories were typed journal format, recounting his exploits, running around Chicago with wrist braces and a heating pad for a cape, dragging along his invisible sidekick, Blind Justice, who nowadays might represent The Patriot Act, but once again, I digress. The above photos show a copy of GRUE with photo work by HE Fassl, myself dressed exactly as THe aMerican DReam for the story "Smile For The Wild" in Rachel Drummond's SEQUITER one-shot, and the comicization of that first story in GRUE for Hart Fisher's OUTLAW NATION, produced by Boneyard Press. It may have been Karl Edward, rest his soul, that kept my name in peoples' faces for a decade, but I'd still be selling poems to BEATNIKS FROM SPACE if it wasn't for Peggy Nadramia, one of the coolest, neatest women on this, or any, planet. Blurt! Squib! (Inside joke c/o the Long Island RR conductor after having a few Jacks straight up). Your chattel, Wayne

Full Moon Monday Night

The bus ride went well, waited twenty minutes in 18 degree weather. I can deal with that, although my scripted writing--not printed--looks like crap even at work after I've been inside for an hour drinking water with radium in it and inhaling ink and paper dust by the snootful. I do eventually adjust to this weather. I'm getting anti-inflammatory shots in my back and neck in a few days, the equivalent of the Tin Woodsman's oil can. The sky is a deep blue here, I just came out from walking my dog, a collie named Buddy the Mitch (after Robert Mitchum and because my nieces wanted him to be called Buddy), and the full moon shines on frozen snow that mirrors the globe in the sky. I watched late night flights from Midway airport, FedEx, UPS, flights going straight SW. Crunching on the snow and occasional ice. I'm listening to Glen Gray & The Cosa Loma Orchestra, pretending it is March or April outside my window. Your chattel, Wayne

Monday, December 4, 2006

Twilight Zone

I have no clue why I can post photos from work--an option I do not have--yet I am unable to do so at home. Well, I changed the blog to be lefty. I'm just saying, is all. The background color is the closest to Frankenstein as I can get w/o it looking like pea soup. It is dang dagnab it cold here; 60s last week, 15 yesterday. In an hour, I'll be leaving work to wait for a bus on a six-lane highway, the interchange for Interstate 94 and Illinois Route 50, and oh yes, ramps that go every which way to the Tri-State Tollway. I stand under a pole in front of a house that has a green dolphin on its mailbox. I plan on making my wait in the cold enjoyable by either imagining Rod Serling is dictating my life in the background behind the inflatable Santa or pretending to be a serial killer hitchhiker. Of course, I can't drive, so after killing whomever, I'm pretty much SOL as soon as CSI Alsip shows up. I'd be a block away, waiting for a bus in front of the Bass Club neon sign. Ruminations on a cold, cold night, this is all. Oh, by the way, if the time stamp seems odd, it is because I have set the blog entries to the time zone in Ulan Baator, Mongolia. I'm just saying, is all. Off to see Mr. Serling, I remain your frozen chattel, Wayne

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Once More, Karl Edward Wagner

Rest in peace, old friend. Who'd have thought that I'd be older than you one day...? Wayne

Sunday, November 26, 2006

1994. The Check Says It All.

From the estate of Karl Edward Wagner. That's when it finally hit me as the truth.

Ghosts of October

In the time between my two blogs, October 16th marked the 12th anniversary of the death of Karl Edward Wagner. This is the guy--and don't let above photo circa Phoenix, 1993, befuddle or bemuse you--who found that story of mine in GRUE#1, the one that really TRULY sucked (if you look back on things, no dialogue, little character development), but he knew I had the imagery there, he could feel my Chicago, and knew I deserved a chance to swim with the sharks. When you hear me use the phrase 'commonplace book' instead of 'journal,' it is because it was Karl's phrase. Karl put me in the next decade's worth of Daw's YEAR'S BEST HORROR STORIES, taking tales that were not in mainstream magazines, but small start-ups like DEATHREALM and (NOT) ONE OF US, who would continue to survive for ten years or more, yet back when Karl and I first met, most every book was a saddle-stitched book the size of a phone book from out in the boondocks. Peggy Nadramia, Mark Rainey, John Benson, they published the stories first. Karl found me a bigger audience, gave me the chance to expose Chicago the way other city haunts like Nelson Algren and Frank Norris did in earlier decades. Rest in peace, Karl Edward Wagner. Christ knows you didn't find it here...otherwise you wouldn't have been a writer. Your pallbearer, Wayne

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Back Where I Belong

I went up north for the first time in six weeks, my new job keeping me tethered to the south suburbs, and it was great to see all the meltdowns I keep trying to avoid emulating; every day I struggle to stop dismembering my life. On Belmont and Wilton, a man near a dumpster enticed me to get some free seeds from the garbage rim, taking a few packets and opening them after I politely declined, and as I continued to the el, I could hear him singing a song about free seeds for the city. It was in the 50s today, so I ambled around downtown, bought Sean Doolittle's new mystery RAIN DOGS at Border's, looked out from the second floor windows at the rebuilding of Block 37, soon to be the new HQ of our CBS affiliate, long ago the hunting grounds of The American Dream and Francis Madsen Haid, THE HOLY TERROR. Across the street is a place I kindly call John Wayne Macy's in the earshot of locals. It used to be Marshall Field's, and I say it with common sarcasm and therefore do not look like the average nutbag. If anything, I am closest to the cat whose photo above I have tried to capture for two decades. Only the singing kid with the liters of Tab escapes my grasp now. The guy above howls when his mouth opens, his missing front teeth makes me think of someone with Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, a disease that causes people to actually cannibalize themselves. He will sometimes walk the train cars, invading ones space, never really asking for money, maybe wanting only a smile or a wish of hope in return. How this guy--who I first saw when I started working in the Loop in 1984--has fought this place so long is way past my understanding. It will be winter next week and I already want to call it quits. I'm chewing on toothpicks, channeling my pain, typing with my one finger as fast as I can, as if drilling through a wall that holds secrets that the unnamed fellow above certainly discovered long ago. I know that if I lived on the street, my madness would be cured. Right now, I'd settle for Ygor playing the violin from a window high above and far away from me. Beckoning. Your monster buddy, Wayne

Archives For Stately Wayne Manor Feb-Oct 2006

Should anyone want to stumble through my old blog, the one I had before completely effed up things by merging with Google, you can still access it at