Friday, November 30, 2007

December 7th 1972, Just Before 3 PM On A Friday

I heard the crash from my seventh grade classroom at Dawes, a mile to the south. The crash, the thud, was nothing compared to the sirens. A United flight had overshot the airport and crashed into several houses on 70th and 71st Street (Midway being at approximately 59th Street). My father--on patrol with the 8th District at 63rd and St. Louis--was the second squad responding at the scene and so I did not see him again until sometime on Saturday the 8th, our house smelling like blood and smoke for hours. My father, James, never talked much about his 31 years on the force, he might've mentioned in conversation the first time he shot his service revolver on the fire escape of the old Colony Theater, things like that, when pressed for the info. It was later that I heard about the dead bodies on garage roofs, the bodies in the plane melted into the coil springs of the seats, a severed head caused by an overhead compartment spilling luggage. My father still has frostbite in his right toes, 35 years later, and the crash is only recalled on conspiracy websites, E, Howard Hunt's wife died in the crash at the height of the Watergate investigation, why were there FBI agents at the scene before Chicago cops and firemen? For months I've been looking for the Chicago Tribune photo of the tail section sticking up out the the winter trees, but to no avail. There was another crash in 2005, almost the same day, this time the plane not stopping on the slickened runway. A kid in a car was killed, back in 72, 45 died and 3 on the ground. You can still drive down 70th Street near Kostner and see four homes that look out of place in the center of the block, new brick, built almost identically alike. (Nowadays, two-dimensionality in a neighborhood or subdivision is the norm.) Its always interesting when relatives from Kentucky or friends from downstate Indiana visit, they spend so much time looking at the skies at moving objects I've long ago taken for granted. Every twelve minutes if you keep watch on the right mote in the daytime sky that passes overhead as the next mote takes its place. Motes that sometimes fall from the sky...Wayne

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Decade Of World Wide Wayne

I thought it was cool when Rick Therrio's painting of me was hung on the wall of the Bop Shop on Division Street, just a few doors down from one of the bars in Nelson Algren's MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM. I also thought it was clever to be with my friend Dan in a rented car and we drove from Las Vegas to the California border but I only leaned against the Welcome sign and took a huge whiz so I can still, nearly a Half Century Man, say that the only part of me that has been in California is my urine. Its been ten years, give or take a week, that I have had an email address, and I used to have to send out mass emails to send these odd photos to you all, but now I can simply post them on my blog. Is this a good thing? Also, when I typed my first email, I was terrified that I would be the one (ME!) that would activate SkyNet and then the Terminators would come looking for anybody named Sarah Connor...Wayne

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Murder Out Of MySpace

Warning: Stupid Alert! This is the first time I tried to add a link. If you can't open it, cut & paste it. Then if you can't read it, email me and I'll send the link.

I remember when Ashley sent her first email, back in the summer of 2003. Now she has a MySpace account, can sit there and text message while she's carrying on aconversation with me, all kinds of stuff to put her light-years ahead of me on this damn thing I type on. She had to deal with her share of online sparring with wannabe friends and juvenile goofs. I recall high school in ways that make me wonder why I didn't go Columbine on Bogan High School. (Instead I wrote "Corky's Quickies," adapted into a section of TRUE TALES OF THE SCARLET SPONGE.) I recall people laughing when I did a Lovecraft riff about stories called "The Sumbitch Horror" and "The Coulour Out Of MySpace." The above article tells how a mother in downstate O'Fallon created a fake name to get a neighbor girl with low-esteem to believe a guy was interested in her. Others were let in on the joke, nasty emails were sent by the fake person on how bad this girl was. She hung herself. There is no way to prosecute the cowardly cunt of a mother. The FBI was even involved. Forget Gacy and Speck, the BTK Strangler and The Green River Killer, Terrible Ted Bundy, too. I was sickened by this article and want nothing more than to go to that subdivision and torture the holy hell out of that shit of a human. I can't, though. (Not even because my blog is likely examined ever since I posted the photo of Vampire Bush and Bush & Cheney kissing). But I can write a story using my persona Every Mother's Son, a serial killer who kills the ones who escaped the law. You can read other EMS stories in my collection FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT, both true tales of Illinois, a guy who strangled dogs as he raped them (honestly), and a committeeman in Bible Belt Bureau County who terrorized a woman reporter who was going to out him as an embezzler with fake emails that her husband was a child molester that she had a heart attack and he watched her die, then called the sheriff. Time to send my alter ego south. Because I like to think I'm decent. I read the Act of Contrition every day, keep it in my wallet. But I had to create Jimmy Dvorak, my killer by name, to keep my blood pressure and brain patterns in check. I try to tell people that I am simply a writer, but when I am pushed into the corner and have to admit that I'm a horror writer, well, if I am, then its for the greater good....Wayne

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks For The Viking

I'm thankful for Karl Edward Wagner, who put me in the midst of this pavane with madness that is the eternal life of a writer. If it wasn't for Karl, who I never truly expected to outlive, I'd never have been able to keep my career going and create images like this. He could find gallows humor in anything from a convention banquet meal to either of our various afflictions he and I will never be rid of, even after death.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Misty Mother Fog In A Dead Chicago Dream

The first part there was the last line of a poem some guy whose name I can't recall wrote in Poetry 101, back in the day. May of 82. Can't tell you anything about the poem but those three words. I added the rest many years later.I got off the subject with the last post, I had wanted to talk about what Charles calls "iceberg memories." He brought this up commenting on my Don't Fear The Reaper post. It has rained these last few days, today much colder, but the last couple were simply delusional. Part of that could be my working 17 of the last 18 days, and I had moments of clarity as I simply kept my eyes focused numbly on the road ahead. A wind from the south, it could have been March. Iceberg memories are the ones that are deja vu-like, some underlying event that is so seemingly inconsequential that there is no reason to even own it in your brain. Walking in that rain, I kept thinking back to 1975, I rode my bike to my night job as a dishwasher at Ford City restaurant and later Golden Bear, further down the drive. The entire stretch of 77th Street Drive (you figure out city planning, ok?) between Pulaski and Cicero was empty lots of weeds, can of Pabst Blue Ribbon (none of that cute PBR crap), and a mile's worth of log thoughts. One night in that summer of silk shirts and hair that flew back over my shoulders as I rode down the cracked asphalt, I had an eight-track player on a strap over my shoulder and some nights it was Seger and NINE TONIGHT or NUTBUSH CITY LIMITS, Three Dog Night's SHAMBALA or FAMILY OF MAN, and the one song that always surfaces first is The Eagles' HOTEL CALIFORNIA, hence the title on my last entry. Long-winded am I, yes indeed. Maybe because I'm actually rotating the rods in my brain at a slower pace. But when I am in the March in November rain, walking in the darkness and hearing muted traffic, I always remember that summer I rode a bike across a deserted lot like I was Robert Neville in I AM LEGEND, nobody else alive, the Ford City apartments like a ruined smile as I closed in on Cicero Avenue. Now there is no emptiness, just fast food joints, banks, gangs, Daley College drop outs, abandoned cars and gunfire. Maybe I hear those songs because I want to remember a time when I felt I could actually control my destiny. Another
iceberg memory, the rain taking me back thirty years in an eye blink....Wayne

Monday, November 19, 2007

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like

Windows lit and unlit. The skin of buildings. I've had the above ad, which was actually on the flip side of a more important article fifteen years. I just love the layout, part of the fun is guessing where the woman is headed, which room, or is it just a short cut across the parking lot of dirt and tar. Anyways. It was one of the unseasonably cool nights as I walked down that winding road and waited for the 383. A breeze from the south, stars and planes dotting the sky. Wishing I had someone to share nights like this with, instead of relying on the voices in my head creating dialogues and situations where the narrator dies YET AGAIN in one of my stories. I'd be pleasantly pleased if at least one of the voices behind my eyelids started talking in a female voice, I'd settle for Phyllis Diller, even. Just so I could say something and get a laugh in return. Instead, I walk the walk. And I'm not alone, there are more like us....Wayne

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Back From The Dead

Forget talking about nonstop work to the point of just under a hundred hours in ten days. What free time I had I was writing an essay on cyanide for Salem Press and doing an interview with David Bainbridge for DOORWAYS magazine. See that book cover up there? That was the first time I got killed off, I was a cop named Whitey Sallee. Jerry Williamson, rest his soul, wrote a ton of books and was a decent fellow at conventions in the 90s. This is another book that deserved better notice, as it involved a guy who had a curse put on him so bad shit rained down on him at high noon, not in the middle of the night. Kind of a cool idea, if you think about it. But. I want to talk more about the Caponegro book. I had not finished it when I made the original post, and at the point that Chapter 28 rolls around, it becomes somewhat ludicruous. But only part of it, more involving the main character of the book, Sandy. Or Cassie, depending on who is stalking her. And the book jumps in time, whereas the first half of the book is just a few weeks in July, the ending goes from November into March. As I have said, it can be skimmed, the writing is what was expected in the 1980s and, sadly, even now when you get the WTF? in your head when you find some schlockster won another Stoker award. But there is so much bizarre imagery involving the odd undead and their torture of those stranded on the island. Its the kind of thing Rob Zombie does with bhis remakes of the Herschell Gordon Lewis films like 2000 MANIACS. And the ending is one of the most disturbing and deplorable moments I can recall in anything I've read. Its hard to critique writing of any sort when one writes for a living (insert canned laughter here), but tarnation, mud and thunder. THE BREEZE HORROR, badly named, terribly described in the cover copy, likely given a two week shelf life before one of the Big Four drooled out their next novel, is an experience I hadn't expected to read from start to finish. Something I can no longer say about many of the Big Four's novels....dead on my feet, Wayne

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Breeze Horror, Memories of 1988

Mike Fountain reminded me that The Occult Bookstore used to be in The Flatiron Building, as well as House of Monsters. Myopic Books is still across the street in the midst of regentrified Hell. The latter store has a section that brings back memories of the late 80s, when we had Horror sections instead of Dark Fantasy at all the major bookstores that have closed here since Borders opened. Zebra and Onyx were putting out 15 titles a month. Years ago, I started one of my little quests for the above book, I recalled the cover distinctly, even the author's name. With advent of Google, that proved no help past the info I already knew, that was the author's only novel. (Remind you of anyone?) I found this about five years ago online (yes it takes me awhile...) but I had 58 hours of work last week and thought I'd at least bring in a couple of books to flip between, I also had Charles Beaumont's THE HOWLING MAN. But get this, the book isn't some spooky ghost story. Its what amounts to a zombie novel. Preceding Skipp & Spector's Books of The Dead. Google the book now and you'll find several references to the book as being a cult classic, nothing I saw posted years back, with bloggers referencing the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD and 28 DAYS LATER. Well, the book is just an ok read, probably good by 1988 standards. But, whereas it was the title that always made me recall the book even existed, to see the contents as something so vastly different, people stuck on an island off the NJ coast with toxic rain reanimating corpses...its too bad no one thought to do more with this, maybe give the author confidence to write another book. As Charles noted last week, the same kind of thing still happens with the Hollywood pitch. Maybe it is time to wrote THE COLOUR OUT OF MySPACE."...Wayne

The Breeze Horror, Memories of 1988

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

House of Monsters

Bob caught this with only the images, which i sent from home. We had been talking about various shops full of goodies like dinosaurs and old books and vinyl records, and I thought of the House of Monsters, which closed about three years back. It was on the third floor of the Flatiron building at North and Milwaukee, the ground floor of which had several intriguing businesses such as The Quaker Goes Deaf, an oldies record store (sadly flooded during heavy rains in the late 90s) and a few small restaurants and tiny shops. The upper floors, accessible from a massive stairwell or the clown-painted hand crank elevator, were artist lofts. This area of Wicker Park was a haunt to Nelson Algren and has been regentrified to the point that nothing is as recognizable now as it was even ten, well, fifteen years ago. Ah, but House of Monsters. I still have a Universal Monsters tie I bought there, a Godzilla one was badly stained by some nasty coffee. Everything one could want, most I could not afford. I found copies of Fangoria I did reviews for and its sister magazine, Gorezone, which had my stories in it, back in the day. 16mm Japanese films, Frankenstein stamps and mousepads and keychains. Dozens of models and ready-made dolls and articulated scary things. Ceiling high racks of VHS tapes ranging from Murders in the Rue Morgue to Nightmare on Bare Mountain, which takes place at a nudist colony. I was able to locate the original version of Carnival of Souls there, about the creepiest, cheaply made film that I've ever seen and highly recommend. I don't know if HoM is selling online now, but i really don't care, because there is no real experience, and joy, and pleasure, as walking up that Frankenstein's castle stairwell and opening the door on such claustrophobic madness.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Footloose Flashbacks

I fully expect to have some odd dreams come 4:30 when the REM kicks in. Tonight I was at Reavis High School watching a production of FOOTLOOSE because my niece and godchild Ashley was in the crew who built the church and the bridge platform. Her quote in the program book was exactly what I'd expect from her, having been trained so well by her Uncle: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." (Of course, if she follows up in that thinking as I seemed to, well, who knows what the employment outlook might be.) Her best line to me a year ago was "I don't watch the news, because it's all made up." Pretty much true, when you think about FOXNews Live and Geraldo Rivera describing New Orleans post-Katrina as "what Dante must have imagined when he wrote "The Inferno." (Never mind Dante wrote "The Divine Comedy"). So now I have memories of 1980-something stuck in my head, when I had hair covering my ears, worked with the Elvis band, never dreamed I'd apply for a job at CLOWNS2GO and selling my cache of 1960s Supermans for food money. During the intermission, the piped-in music included Boy George and whatever band played "(Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go)." the end of the play, everyone danced to "The Time Warp," one of my all time favorite songs, if only for the line "the black mists start calling." So you're guess is as good as mine if Kevin Bacon (or Boy George *shudder*) will visit me behind my eyelids dressed as FrankenFurter, or if it will be a mix of Elvis rehearsals in an attic off Archer and St. Louis, the movie theaters long gone like the Marquette and the Colony, or me being dressed as Slappy the Clown (which thankfully never happened as I got the job at the printing plant). I'm probably not helping matters by listening to a Cat Stevens CD right now, either...Wayne

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Go Hungry

I didn't much have anything to post last night past my silly photo. I'm paying for it today, because the latex or rubber has given me quite the sinus headache. I wonder if werewolves, with their flaring nostrils, get problems with their nasal passages. All that snarling maybe clears things out. Anyways. There is going to be a re-release of the Frazetta book above, but because of my idiotic headache, I can't recall who is putting it out, possibly Dark Horse. Whereas Bob said there were many trick-or-treaters down in Hemlockland, Charles said none at all arrived at his and Lana's place. Perhaps its because he doesn't care much for werewolves, even though he's the one who looks like one, whereas I look like Max Shreck as Nosferatu only with George W. Bush type ears. Or the Green Goblin's ears. Yes, that's better. I do enjoy writing about the Old Guard, though I try my best to give it my own spin, like the masochist who was turned into a vampire and got pissed off because he could no longer feel pain, the vampire who couldn't hypnotize a girl because she didn't have her contacts in, I've even written about an anorexic zombie and had a Lovecraftian monsters described as "Some Kinda Fucking Shit From Goddamn Hell." One werewolf story appeared in DARK DESTINY back in 1994, and I always thought that if there was a better calling for something other than vampires, I might've changed the ending and tried my hand at a novel. "Go Hungry" was about a lycanthrope (from his daddy's side) who had Huntington's chorea (from his mother's side). My take was, what is truly worse, a supernatural or a human hereditary disease? I end the story with the guy dying on his living room floor from seizures, on Hallowe'en, with the last line being "Outside, a goblin knocked, demanding candy." I was always proud of the line. Damn vampires. Who needs them?...Wayne