Monday, July 30, 2007

Better Breed of Bastard

Sorry about how these images cut and pasted, its kinda like if someone gave the Unabomber a cheap-ass scanner. I touched on the subject of John Wayne Gacy in my Storytellers Unplugged entry for July 28th, and it prompted Thomas Sullivan and David Niall Wilson to get me to give up the goods on where I was on Monday night, May 8th, 1994. I wasn't watching the second half of THE STAND miniseries, if that helps. Gacy went to Hell that night, and I was indeed a part of the crowd watching him wheeled between Death's waiting room and the table where he'd get the black needle. (In the end, all I had to do was fax Nic Howell at the Illinois Dept. of Corrections my business card and intent to write an article for DEATHREALM magazine.) I've added the front page from that article on the left side of my blog, and it was reprinted in FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT. The clown with the briefcase was actually in Daley Plaza during the events of Gacy Day Parade. I corresponded with the killer several times in the early 90s, simply to have documentation for my file cabinet, along with items like Police Evidence and Property Envelopes, things like that. (Of course, never knowing that one day Google Images would make my visual catalogue obsolete). I had very much wanted Gacy to send this questionnaire thing that he was fond of sending people, and I received it the day after he was executed, as you can see from the postmark. The strangest thing about the page is where it says Address: Death Row, Menard, Ill. The guy lived fourteen years too long, as long as the age of several of his victims. People ask me about Gacy at almost every convention I go to, I was even asked to speak in front of the Midland Authors Association about it at a paid dinner. At times, I feel like the dentist who identified Mengele by his dental work down in South America. At least that breed of bastard is dead, as well, although sticking around decades longer than he deserved.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Back to Flashback

Best get these out of the way before the conventions goes the way of summer, moving along as fast as expected. I have circulated the top photo, Mike had to crouch down far enough that his testicles were likely dragging on the carpet so he could be eye level with shrinking with age me. The bottom shot was the last photo in the roll of my disposable camera, the ghouls had just left the bar and pretty much walked into my path--isn't that always the way?--and the middle photo...well, I have no idea how the four of us ended up in the same place at that same moment. But there you go...Wayne

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back At The Farm

Bob and Charles asked about the status of the farm off Flat Rock Road. First off, my grandmother's name was Grace, we called her Busha, being the polaks we are, and eventually everyone called her that until she died in 1992. My granddaddy Grover died in 1996, but the two had been divorced since the 1940s. As you can see from the photo with me in the pink and black bowling shirt--Louisville has a Big Lebowski Fest every summer--and the bottom family photo, the farm always seemed in need of repair. Never had indoor plumbing, a barrel next to the crumpled awning provided rainwater, the coldest water I ever drank as a kid. The property was sold in the late 90s, don't know much more as the Kentucky kin can stay tight-lipped, though I do know that my Auntie Dorothy sent me a check for $5,000. (If only I was aware of eBay back then). Many of the rooms were empty while Busha lived, as various relations died, my great-grandmother Amanda in 1973--October 11th, driving down I-65 all night, as she lay on her deathbed, I heard Elvis singing "Burning Love" a dozen times, as it had been released that same day. Mary Alice, a mentally disabled half-sister who was deaf and dumb, and her brother Marvin, who had been kicked by a horse as a kid. That's Marvin in the photo, I inherited his clothing, wallet, glasses, and Bible. I'm dressed in his clothes in the Johnny Algiers photos on the left side of the blog. I have no idea when the photo was taken, or why, but it came with the package and I'm hoping he's getting a laugh from the caption I added. The last photo is of Grace and Amanda on either side of my parents, James Leland and Dolores Josephine, my father always had a little James Garner in him, particularly from THE ROCKFORD FILES days, and my sister Debbie evidently trying to strangle our chihuahua Pebbles. And of course, me. Evidently, my mother had been shopping for my clothing at the LOST IN SPACE resale shop....Wayne

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Scenes From Shelbyville, Kentucky

I have the photos from Flashback Weekend, but I think I'll stay away from jovial posts for a day or so. Yesterday I mentioned that many readers may not be aware of the amount of stories I've written that are set in Shelbyville. "High Moon" and "I Said Nothing As The Horse Flew Away" in FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT and "Things We Do At Night" in WITH WOUNDS STILL WET, plus several more in various small press magazines. The photos are of my grandmother's farm, I saw it last the weekend Katrina hit New Orleans. 88 acres of tobacco at one time, now a cul-de-sac full of people who think they are rich living around a man-made lake. My cousin Danny drove me there and snapped photos in black & white with me lurking in certain places. The color shots are mine. I swiped a brick from the chimney, its about my most prized possession, and I had sincerely hoped that after I pulled out the brick, the farmhouse would have imploded. Better than being razed for a two-dimensional subdivision...Wayne

Monday, July 23, 2007


My namesake passed away from cancer yesterday. Wayne Henley was my daddy's best friend in grade school and however far along in high school they got. He worked for a trucking company that went bankrupt and so he moved to Madisonville, KY near his wife Bobbi's family and for a decade or so ran a general store. We hardly get to Kentucky much since my Grandaddy Grover died in 96, but we were in Shelbyville in the summer of 03, and with several nudges, I was able to get Wayne, Bobbi, and their oldest son David, to make the two hour drive to my Auntie Dorothy's house to surprise my dad. It was fascinating to hear them talk, about as close as I ever got to being inside the head of one of Nelson Algren's Division Street characters, as they talked about when my dad lived on Willard Court and how they'd each walk a mile from opposite directions to meet at Peabody School and hang out. No one had cars, no one had much money. How they were visiting my mom and her younger sister Ceil and had to jump from a bathroom window when my Uncle Ed showed up home from work early. (Ed and Flo took care of mom and Ceil after their parents died around 1935, though no one really knows how my mom's mom died or where she went, she just left). I like that memory best, I had been aware of some of their misadventures already. We had exchanged letters over the years--Wayne and I--his letters were always in pencil on unlined paper, mine often bemoaning how little news I had to impart. In just the past two weeks, I've been emailing another son, Jeff, and playing catchup. I dedicated FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT to Wayne, and when he received his copy, he decided to tell me about his cancer, but I was at work and my father spoke with him instead. Jeff gave me more details, mainly that his daddy lived 19 months longer than the doctors expected. I did one good thing, one correct and right thing, just this once. Wayne pestered me that summer four years past to write a western story, as he loved westerns, read them on his front porch every day. I told him that I'd create a character and call him Gun And A Half Henley. As I fought my brain to write the story, I would visit the Gallery Bookstore on Belmont and purchase early Elmore Leonard and Loren Estleman westerns and send them southward. I finally wrote the closest thing to a western I ever would, a kind of small town monster story where everyone flees but the sheriff, which of course had to be called "High Moon." The character is Wayne in an abstract way, because the events and thoughts revolving around why he is called Gun And A Half (one hand is crippled up)have no bearing on his true beliefs. I threw in a bunch of werewolf in-jokes such as naming a nearby town Talbott, things like that. Some of you reading this might not realize that about a dozen of my published stories are set in Shelby County, Kentucky. Well, now you know lots of things. I'm proud to hold Wayne Henley's name.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

If You're Hairy, You Belong On A Motorbike!

I'll be posting photos from Flashback Weekend once I actually have the money to get the film developed. Took some new ones with Michael Berryman, one where we look like two skinny, bald sumos giving each other the stink eye. The man's generosity towards his fans never ceases to amaze me. I spent way too much money on DVDs, buying quite a bit of anime for my niece Ashley at decent prices (along with a Misfits concert from 1983 which I'm sure will win me a glare from her mom), and several winners for my own shelf. MUD HONEY is a Russ Meyers' film I saw on Turner Classic Movies back in the spring, and the best I can describe it is a mix of COOL HAND LUKE and most of my family reunions in Kentucky, EL TOPO, an odd little Mexican grindhouse film, and...if you're hairy, etc.,...WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS. All made between 1965 and 1972, the last scared me as a kid by the title alone, as we lived off Southwest Highway, and you'd hear bikers more often than Amtrak trains late into the summer nights. I bought two Universal Monsters shirts, one with Frankenstein alone, because the current one I have--which seems to be my Wayne Meets Mike Berryman shirt--smells like ink and is somehow taking on a different form, it fits one side of my torso in a lopsided way now. I also bought one other DVD, THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH, which truly deserves a blog entry all its own.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Flashback Weekend Flashforward

Tomorrow I'll be attending Flashback Weekend 2007. Last year, I finally met Michael Berryman and told him how I had been visiting a friend years ago and his brother had been hosting a Hallowe'en party. One guy heading to the john passed me--I had just been wearing jeans and a black shirt, mind you--and he stops, points at me in awe, and tells everyone within earshot that I was "The Hills Have Eyes Dude." Mr. Berryman had as much a laugh from that as from my blatantly whoring myself, asking if he needed a Mini-Mike for convention appearances. We then posed for the infamous facial pose everyone knows from the DVD cover...Wayne

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Red Lion, Twilight Tales

Mark Millar must have some history with the pub, as the Scottish comic book writer had Captain America track down Giant-Man and beat the crap out of him. On Monday nights, since 1993, Twilight Tales has hosted readings from every genre, including open mike for novices and old farts alike. The first night I read, Bill Bixby died of prostate cancer. Three winters ago, I read on a particularly brutal night, standing at the podium I felt like a marionette, I had one arm folded with fist clenched behind my back as I read fragments of FOR YOU, THE LIVING in my little puppet voice. My heartbeat was closing in on 175 beats per second--I'm acutely aware of how well my body fails me--and it seemed as if my bloodstream was replaced by tap water. Heat pads are now available that I stick to my back, I would have worn them in 04 and the domino effect would be that I'd gradually revert back to what I call normal. One other time I was there in very much pain and there was a deal going on where Richard Engling played various instruments as readers took their turns with poetry or minor rants. That time was quite therapeutic for me, as are most times I am there. Even when I am feeling perfectly (for me) fine, I can enjoy the show or sit downstairs and talk with owner Joe Heinen over coffee for awhile, until the clock tells me its time to catch the last el train southward...Wayne

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Four Deuces

2222 South Wabash. The last surviving building that had survived as Al Capone's HQ. I took the Archer Avenue bus there one winter, walking down Cermak where a guy tried to get me to donate to some charity after he had me sign my name to a petition with a--get this!--purple Crayola. (This was in my pre-Jonny Algiers days, I used random signatures back then when I needed one in a pinch, Richard Kimble, William Shatner, Billy Carter). I couldn't get any decent photos from of the interior and the outside looked bland, but for the side facing the lake which had these wonderful posters half torn off one outer wall. The other photo was of Ronny's BBQ after it was demolished, with just a poke of the red CNA Plaza in the background. That was what I was hoping for at the Four Deuces, something cool like the CNA fragment, or even some errant bus or el train.

Monday, July 9, 2007

This Tired City

This is my 100th post. I thought I'd post some random shots of the city to the lyrics of Three Dog Night's "Family of Man": This tired city, was somebody's dream, a billboard horizon as black as it seems,four level highways across the land, we're building a home for the family of man... As far as I know, this is one of their lesser-known songs, but I find myself singing it some days, much to the disdain of anyone within earshot. Enjoy the photos. Wayne

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Prince Castle When Its 94 Degrees

See those veins in my temple? That's from the sun, which I relish more than I do the cold, the only down side being that I get wavering vision and can feel my heartbeat in my eyes and without my reading glasses I feel like the guy on the receiving end of that scalpel in the illustration. Today would have been a great day for Prince Castle, which Richard recalls, I'll wager. Went there as a kid, even when I lived in Humboldt Park and we traveled southward to see my auntie and uncle. The fortress stood at about 97th and Southwest Highway, and had multi-colored cubes of ice cream and sherbet. Maybe the cubes went with the castle motif, I don't know. Another place that is RIP, I think there is a Ford dealership there now...Wayne

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Riverview Park, RIP 1967

In my previous post, Charles commented that there's a tale to be told about this old park. Perhaps a Twice-Told Tale, as Nathanial Hawthorne was so fond of. The top photos are off of Google--the entrance always reminded me of the Taj Mahal in some small way--the bottom two photos, well, scans, are from my secret stash. Richard Chwedyk, who, like me, tends to reply in email rather than on the blog, further described the Aladdin's Castle from the previous post as having rolling wooden floors and the turban dude's eyes moved back and forth. Its been in the 90s quite a bit this month, ideal amusement park weather, and I still can't believe we had this joint right in the middle of the city. A couple of generations ago...Wayne

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Richard Chwedyk & Aladdin's Castle

Chwedyk sent me a photo of him sitting next to lips. Not the MagiKist lips. I don't want to know where the photo was taken. I don't. When I shrank it down from the enormous size it was when Rich emailed it to me last week, I found the photo of him standing sideways on Bizarro-Earth underneath the original photo. Enough of MagiKist already. On to other haunts. Riverview Amusement Park stood on the north side for over half a century, the most iconic image being Aladdin's Castle, more of a maze of mirrors than a haunted house. What amazes me is that these structures were built withing a city neighborhood, much like Wrigley Field is surrounded on all sides by businesses and apartments. Riverview WAS bounded by the north branch of the Chicago River, but I would have loved to have grown up in a three-flat that faced the back end of that giant turban. Elvis knows what I'd be typing instead of my current drivel. To be continued. Wayne