Criss-Cross Applesauce

love or hate ... life or death ... Betty or Veronica

On Importance
Smiling Kev
kev_bot
I've been writing novels since 1999 - seventeen years now, and I like to think I've gotten better.  My first book was written in the shadow of an old relationship that faltered and in the brightness of a new relationship that seemed to be working out.  Shawn's also been seventeen years now, so that's been kind of tidy.

I've been writing seriously for a long time.  A little while ago, when I turned thirty and had a crisis of confidence, I came to terms with the fact that I wasn't ever going to write an "important" novel.  Nothing that changed people in a big way.  Not only have I found it very difficult to secure an agent or a publisher interested in my books, I've sort of resigned myself to the idea that the books I want to write are accessible, and fairly contemporary, and not about Big Themes.  I'm never going to write 1984, for instance.  I'm not going to write The Grapes of Wrath.


I came to that way of thinking at a time when I was freaking out about being 30 and not having published a great deal of my fiction.  My nonfiction has done well.  I've written a few monographs of Stephen King and I'm well-known in that world.  I'm writing a bio/exegesis on one of my favorite bands' albums, and I hope that will be something, too.  But I've written 22 novels and only one of them has been published, as an ebook.  My short-fiction collection is available in paperback, but that hasn't really done gangbusters, either.  None of this matters and all of this matters.  I take my writing seriously, and not being published in the traditional way has been this huge burden I sometimes think about and sometimes don't.  I want my name on the dustjacket of a hardcover book you can pick up at the supermarket, you know?  Maybe all that's beside the point.


In 2009, following the completion of Roller Disco Saturday Night, I fell into a writer's block.  When the thing you love doing the most is something suddenly shut off from you, you feel adrift.  I'm sure a lot of it had to do with my impending fourth decade.  I spent three years writing about another writer's work and life, editing I'm On Fire and Roller Disco, and attempting a couple very long novels that shit the bed (Tangerine and American Storm).  Then, in 2013, something in me snapped and I sat down to write what I thought would be a novella called My Agent of Chaos.  It turned out to be more than that - not only a full-bodied novel, but also my writing salvation.  It was a serious book with something to say.  I don't know if it was Important or not, but it was real and it was something I could be proud of.


And look, I don't know what Important means - to readers, to myself, to publishing houses and agents.  I'm not sure.  What I do know is that I followed up Chaos with a book called Panic Town, the fifth book in a mystery series featuring private eye Wayne Corbin - a man I've followed since that first, furtive year of novel-writing in 1999.  Panic Town isn't really "Important" except how it's important to me.  It allowed me to remember, in a way Chaos didn't, that writing was hard work, but it was also super fun.  I wrote the book in a white heat and marveled that I'd finished in in three months. I'd blocked out nine.


I got to thinking about the books I'd liked so much in the past that I'd written - books the few readers I'd had seemed to like the best.  Find the River, written in 2001 - my first big books with a big cast.  The Legend of Jenny McCabe, in 2006 - a book from which I took minor characters from most of my previous books, made them major characters, and put them all in Minneapolis. That book was massive, nearly 300,000 words.  Maybe You're Right, written right after, a book about sex and love and writing.  Those were the ones I thought of as my "high points" of my literary work (though I'd argue that my fourth Wayne Corbin book, The Taste of Concrete On Your Tongue, might function that way, too).


My Agent of Chaos turned out to be good, and hard-won, but I don't know as if I'd put it on the top shelf of my work.  Right after Panic Town, I decided to jump back into National Novel Writing Month and bang out what turned out to be Things Have Changed, a book that felt Important in my head but turned out not to be.  It's pretty slight, despite the fact that it opens on a grisly suicide and features a character with possible multiple personalities.  It worked, but barely.


Then I decided to write Eating Animals.  A book that started out being about a cooking show competition and turned into a treatise on S&M and sin and evil and generational misdeeds.  The longer I wrote, the more I realized I wanted to write my own East of Eden, and that I was succeeding at doing so.  It's a nearly 200,000 word book that I managed to write in 4 months.  I wrote one 5,000 word chunk in a single afternoon, fewer than 2 hours, just because it was too strong not to.  That book made me believe I could write Important things.  Stuff that mattered.  I think Eating Animals might actually be Important.  I don't know.  It was important to me.


When I wrote Who We Are, What We'll Do, and What We Won't, I intended it to be a little slight.  Of course, that didn't work out for me, either.  I wrote it for NaNoWriMo, anticipating a similar experience to Things Had Changed.  What I got was another My Agent of Chaos - almost among my best work, but I didn't stick the landing and it needs fixing.  And I will fix it.  It means more to me now than it did when I started.


What now?  What next?  I'm working on a nonfiction book about the band Blitzen Trapper right now, and I'm editing a book my father wrote.  Then: what I anticipate to be a long, long book called American Lonely.



My three favorite novels of all time are It, by King; East of Eden, by Steinbeck; and The World According to Garp, by Irving.  I've written my homages to the first two.  I think I want to write my homage to Garp next.  Not the story or even the style of writing, but the scope, the thrust, the intensity.  I want to write something that, even if it doesn't turn out to be Important, will be something that Matters.  I thought, when I was going through my writer's block, that I had not only ceased to write, but that I would never again write work that Matters.  I proved myself wrong.


I'm a good writer.  I'm a smart guy.  And I have a feeling that, if I treat it right and don't prioritize speed and page count over story, American Lonely can be Important.  That's how I want to start my forty-first year: doing something Important.



I'll let you know when I get there.

Why I Blitzen
Smiling Kev
kev_bot
All right! A few (many) people have written to me and asked, "Hey Kev, what's the deal with you and Blitzen Trapper? Why are you writing a book about them? Why should I care about your Kickstarter?"
Awhile back, my friend Paul Chapman made a mix CD with the song "Furr" on it. I fell in love with it, because I apparently love songs about werewolves (see also Warren Zevon & MST3K). Later, another friend introduced me to "Black River Killer" and the casual evil in it just thrilled me - it was like the audio equivalent to Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me. And, because this is what I do, I decided not to explore any further. I don’t know why I do that.
Anyhow, in the meantime I’d become a Drive-By Truckers devotee. I was having an experience with them that I’d always wanted with Springsteen - the ability to follow them around, get close to the stage and the rock, all for a reasonable price. When they came to Boston a few years ago, I was excited that Blitzen Trapper was opening for them. The problem was that I also had tickets to see Patton Oswalt that night, and because I’m the world’s biggest dummy, I chose to see Patton over what would become a dream double bill. (Patton was awesome, by the way.) My rationale was that I was seeing both bands the following two nights in DC, so it was okay to skip one night. STUPID.
However, the next morning I flew down to DC and met with my buddy Ian Lekus, who’d gotten into DBT at roughly the same time as me (it might have actually hit harder for him because he lived in Athens for awhile). We waited the band, excited but not, you know, champing at the bit for Blitzen Trapper. Then the band took the stage and, sure, our first thought was prurient. Was EVERYONE in this band hot? Then - then they kicked off their short set with a song called “Fletcher,” off the album AMERICAN GOLDWING. Ian and I became psychic buddies right then, falling in love with the band IMMEDIATELY.
We went back to the merch table between sets and I picked up the album FURR, from which the title track, “Black River Killer,” and a whole slew of other fantastic songs come. The band played the next night and I was in heaven. We connected with the Trappers via social media pretty rapidly, and they were immediately responsive. At some point, I mentioned that I’d listed their live albums on their Wikipedia page, and they wrote back, “Thanks. Yeah, that Wiki page is so janked. Sorry about that.” I took that as a personal mission to write their entire page and make it one of the most thorough, well-researched, and accessible Wiki pages out there. The band was ecstatic.
Soon enough, I hit on the idea of writing a book about them. They were similarly into that idea, and eventually we whittled the concept down so that the book would be on their breakthrough album, FURR - what went into it, how it happened, why it was big; everything. It was going to be a labor of love for me, but one I really wanted to see published. When you’re passionate about stuff, you do it for the love ... but hell, I don’t make a whole lot of money, and being able to write a book like this with an advance (like real authors do) would be such a load off, and an incentive to get this book written quickly, and well.
That’s why I launched this Kickstarter, and why I’m asking for your help. I love this band, and I’m so excited to write this, but I could really use this advance money. It’ll help me get the time for research, some new hardware, and all the other expenses that go into constructing a nonfiction book. I ask, if you can, to help me out on this one. The band is super involved, and has even provided all the incentives at all levels, including backstage passes. I think that’s so cool, and I hope you do, too.

BLITZ THIS
Smiling Kev
kev_bot

Hello all!

Once more on my book!  Onbly 6 more days until the hype is over and the book - hopefully - becomes a reality.  It's a passion book for me, sprung completely out of my love for this band. I hope to do a whole heck of a lot of research and intense reading about the guys (including interviews!) to make this book accessible, fun, and academic in the best possible way.

BUT! We're still only about halfway there. Halfway is GREAT, but I now only have 6 days to get over the hump of $4k! I'd love it if you could spread the word, tell your friends, and really get this project over the finish line. There are still 4 sets of backstage passes and 4 sets of show tickets up for the offing, plus a bunch of stickers, T-shirts, signed albums and more. Let's get hype for these last 6 days!  This is gonna be FUN!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/521727074/furr-inside-blitzen-trappers-breakthrough-album


New Kickstarter! First Nonfiction book!
Disco Television
kev_bot
You guys know I'm writing a book about Blitzen Trapper, right? It's going to be a slim little volume about the album FURR, which was a big deal nationally in 2008. I'm doing boatloads of research, I need some new hardware, and I'm interviewing the band themselves for this thing. Trying to get publishers interested. But I need a little help. If you've enjoyed my writing in the past and want to throw some cash my way to make this a real thing that makes people happy, please do!

What the project is.

I am going to build a book around the band Blitzen Trapper’s seminal album, Furr. Cited as one of Rolling Stone’s best albums of 2008, Furr was a centerpiece of the alt-folk explosion of the late aughts, gaining mainstream prominence in the post-grunge scene that also elevated groups like Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes. After toiling in self-published near-obscurity for years, Blitzen Trapper finally landed a deal with power indie label SubPop; Furr was their label debut, distilling and honing their unique and nearly uncategorizable sound into a record Pitchfork called “an essential 13-song LP with no filler.”

My aim with Furr: Inside Blitzen Trapper's Breakthrough Album is to track the why, how, where, and when Furr was so important – not just to Blitzen Trapper, but to the fans and bands of the late-00s Pacific Northwest rock scene. I’ll be interviewing the band and those influenced by the album and scene, and going into deep research mode. From the bizarre creation of the album (spent living and recording in an old telegraph building in Portland and playing on a partially-broken piano) to the background of their significant debut on the important indie label SubPop, this book will discuss the multiple facets of this constantly fascinating album.  The book will also function as a critical look at the themes and imagery inherent in the record, and do it in a way that is both academic and accessible. My hope is for Furr, the book, to become essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in the band, the music of the era, or the thrilling intersection of folk, rock, country, and pop. The first work of its kind on this band, written in the style of the books in the influential 33 1/3 series of album guides.

The publisher’s next pitch session is this fall; I’ll have to not only construct a compelling case for them to want to publish a book on Furr (including a 2,000-word introductory essay), but I’ll also want to have the majority of the book written in advance, offering me plenty of time for rewrites and fact-checking.

Because I’m writing this book on spec – meaning without an advance or any guaranteed money from the publisher – I’m hoping to use this Kickstarter as its own advance, allowing me the time and resources to work on this book without having to get a second job. Because a nonfiction book, especially one adhering to certain specifications, requires deeper and more thorough research than a novel, the money generated from this campaign is even more important.


Some guarantees.

Anyone who has ever donated to a book Kickstarter for me knows that my success rate is 100%; each of the four novels was completed and delivered to readers before my self-imposed deadline. I have also written seven nonfiction books, each published through a legitimate nonfiction publisher, with another on the way. I know what I’m doing, and you are right to have confidence in my ability to finish this project, and well. The most exciting aspect of the writing and campaigning part of this book is that Blitzen Trapper is fully on board every step of the way. Their commitment to my project is so deeply embedded in its fabric, they have offered to provide all the prizes for the various levels of donations – everything from stickers and T-shirts to concert tickets and, holy wow, BACKSTAGE PASSES.  This is firmly a “hell yes” situation.

TL;DR

I’m writing an awesome book about a landmark record, and Blitzen Trapper will give you concert tickets and backstage passes if you donate enough. So please, consider donating to this project, and share with every single friend who might be into a book like this! Thanks!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/521727074/furr-inside-blitzen-trappers-breakthrough-album


Eating Animals Update!!!
Smiling Kev
kev_bot
Guys, with just about 2 days left for my Kickstarter campaign, things are really heating up. Many, MANY thanks to kylet for his generous donation, pushing me to just about $300 until I hit my goal!

If you'd like to help out my campaign, take a look at what I'm trying to do with my novel. Watch the video, think about supporting independent writing and publishing, and let freedom ring!


Eating Animals, by Kevin Quigley, on Kickstarter!
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Migrating Animals
Smiling Kev
kev_bot
Things were weird for me in 1994. I was living alone in a rooming house, along with a sore clutch of dying old men and junkies literally itching their way into overdoses. I supported myself with two to three retail jobs at the local mall, minimum wage at all of them, and the bus came intermittently - sometimes not at all. The cliche of eating Ramen to survive was my real life - Ramen and store-brand soda and Little Debbie snacks, because they were affordable.

During that time, I wrote a short story about two guys my age - 19 going on 20. It was the first time I used my own name as the lead character's name in a story. Kev was the hero of the piece, sort of. He has a work friend named Wade, a miserable, sad wretch of a guy, who tries to kill himself in Kevin's car. A melee ensues. Things end up okay. Back then, it was wish fulfillment. The last line of the story is, "This kid's got places to go." And I did. I ended getting out of the rooming house I was in and moving into a studio. I got out of the relationship I was in that ... he wasn't a bad guy, we just were wrong for each other. I made my life better through sheer force of will, which made me believe that Kev was the main character, and that knowing he was on the righteous path was enough.

But it wasn't.

Wade appeared again in a novel I wrote a decade later, a very long book called The Legend of Jenny McCabe. He's had a rocky road to get where he was. Along the way, he's discovered some weird sexual stuff about himself. And he's become a chef. It was around this time that I started to realize what that long-ago short story, called "Last Night at the Bear," was really all about. Kevin was who I wanted to be. Wade was who I was. And in 2007, Wade was still who I was.

I'm entering into a new novel called Eating Animals, whose title is a bit of a description and a bit of a metaphor. In the book, Wade has to go back home to confront his dying father - a father he hasn't seen since 1997. And I realized that this was the perfect time for me to actually go back and confront the guy I was back then. I kept records and journal entries and stories from 1997. I want to know who I was then, and how that's shaped who I am now. I want to figure out Wade from two different sides of the spectrum.

I'm nervous to start. That's part of why I decided to set this up as a Kickstarter - because I always finish my Kickstarter projects, meaning that having an advance on this book means I have a responsibility to write it. If you'd like to help me on this journey into my past, why not kick a few dollars my way? Check out the project, watch my goofy video, and consider backing me. I'd really appreciate it, and thank you!

Eating Animals, by Kevin Quigley: A Kickstarter Project

Eating Animals!
Disco Television
kev_bot
Hey everyone!

The world of publishing is changing, and on my long, rocky trip through it, I'm changing, too. It used to be that publishers, upon accepting a new novel, would provide an advance for the writer in order to keep writing and focus on her or his craft. That doesn't happen as much anymore, and as self-publishing has gained both traction and legitimacy, I think it's important to maintain some hold on what originally made publishing so great.

I write books. I write a lot of books. Eating Animals will be my twenty-first novel. In the past, I've gone the more traditional route with publishers. Sometimes I've gotten published, sometimes I haven't. It's always a crapshoot. You do it because you love the work, you love the craft, and you love the sense of accomplishment watching the stuff in your mind coming together on the page. It's a thrill unmatched anywhere else.

But it sure isn't lucrative.

Eating Animals is a passion project for me. It involves a character named Wade Gimble I've had in my mind since 1997, when I wrote my first short story about him. Since, I've touched on him lightly in other books, but I've never really explored who he was - and, by extension, who I was - when I first made him up. I want to go back to those two young guys, both the nascent character and the nascent me, and find out who they were, and why they needed each other then. It's also a book about chefs, and cooking, and fathers and sons, and the sometimes destructive nature of love. Some of it's gonna hurt, but I'm aiming for laughs.

Why should you support me? Because even though I write my books for free and for me, sometimes it helps to have a little more money to keep the gears turning. I do a lot of work every day, and I don't get paid for any of the creative stuff. It'd be nice to have that advance, in order to keep doing what I love, and in order to feel like what I'm doing is worth it.

Thanks for supporting me, and my novel. Eating Animals is going to be a rollercoaster of writing, and I'm glad to have you with me for the ride.

Eating Animals is on Kickstarter!
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Weird Porn Question
Smiling Kev
kev_bot
Hey all,

So here's a weird porn question (which is why I'm asking here and not FB). I watch a series of films called Bound in Public. In them, there's often this one guy in sunglasses and wearing a hat. I have no idea who this guy is but he's my favorite porn star. He's featured on this page:

http://www.gaydemon.com/blogs/muscle_studs_foot_smothering_ordeal.html#Collage2

Does anyone have any clue how I can search for his other movies, or narrow him down? Thanks!

Lucky 67
Smiling Kev
kev_bot
Today is Stephen King's 67th birthday. I've loved Stephen King most of my life. I inherited most of my first books from my uncle Doug, who had gone away to school and my grandparents shipped a carton of his old books to my Dad's house. I remember loving the lurid covers, and putting them on my shelf next to the kiddie horror books by Daniel Cohen and, of course, my Judy Blumes and Roald Dahls and Beverly Clearys. I never really intended to READ them - there was a book called It that was over 1,000 pages! And still they sat there, enticing me.

One day, bored (I got bored back then), I pulled Night Shift off the shelf and decided to try reading a few of the short stories. "Strawberry Spring" grabbed me at once. "I Am the Doorway" was like science fiction I'd never read, full of body horror and squeamishness. "The Man Who Loved Flowers," a straightforward story about a psychopath, became one of the templates on which much of my early high school fiction was written.

Eventually, I selected The Bachman Books and read Rage, with which I could immediately identify (but benignly). Then, all at once, I gave It a try. And fell in love.

I never looked back. For about seven years, Stephen King was ALL I read. Limiting, yes. But he had so many books that it almost didn't matter. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was go to the bookstore on Saturday afternoon and buy myself a “new” Stephen King book, then buy myself a movie ticket for a couple hours away and sit on the steps of the movie theater and read my book. I distinctly remember doing that with The Dead Zone and Back to the Future, Part 2. Christmas of 1990, my Mom gave me the first two hardcovers that were ever bought just for me: The Stand and Four Past Midnight. (That year, I also got Danse Macabre, The Gunslinger, and, from my Auntie Marg, Christine. Best. Christmas.)

At some point in my fifteenth year, I got a paper route and was suddenly rich, and could afford to buy myself hardcovers. I remember walking into Infinity Books in Quincy Center and pointing to Needful Things the day it came out and saying, “Yes, I would very much like that book, please.” And walking out of the store! With a hardcover novel!

I’ve loved this writer for most of my life. Very few things have brought me as much joy and sustainable satisfaction as this man’s body of work. Happy birthday, Stephen King. May you write forever.

Earliest SK
Three of my earliest SK books. Christine is the newest, from 1990. Drawing of the Three came from 1988, while I got Night Shift in 1997 - 27 years ago.

Howling and Tumbling
Smiling Kev
kev_bot
It was supposed to be a calm night.

I’ve been sick. I’ve An Illness, which basically means I thought it was strep and it turned out to be a viral infection, which is a scary term for a bad cold. I prefer the scary term because when you tell someone you have a cold, they’re all, “Have some orange juice, brah, you’ll be aight in the morning.” (Everyone I know is in blink-182.)

But here’s all the context: we’re coming at the tail end of a month and a half during which Shawn pulled a tendon in his hand and has been unable to do most of the at-home stuff, so I’ve had to do both of our chores – cooking, dishes, all the laundry. Because I didn’t want him to get bored with Kev’s Delicious Meatloaf every single night, I jumped back into my more culinary habits, trying to give him somewhat exotic meals every night. (Part of this is that he finally relented and watched Ratatouille, the film that made me want to learn to cook, and liked it.) At the same time, a friend of mine got West Nile Virus and I had to travel back and forth to the facility that was taking care of him (about three hours each day) and bring him stuff from home and do a little shopping for him, all without the benefit of a car. Toss in the fact that I direct or produce four different shows, was working to finish my novel, and I was still trying to have my normal routine (all the gym workouts and writing and appearing on other shows and cycling everywhere and so much writing, guys, so much). It was a bad cold – severe, some might say – but it was also just exhaustion.

The Sunday night things got really bad, I stared down at the lid of a pan I needed to wash and I literally could not lift my hands. I just stared at it, zoning in, and I could not move my hands anymore. That was when I collapsed on the couch and barely moved for a week and a half. It was cool. I took a lot of ~Quil products and watched Svengoolie and healed.

In increments, I’ve been rebuilding my life. Monday, I hosted my first show since I got sick. Yesterday, I stayed out all day to work on editing My Agent of Chaos. Today, I went back to the gym. But last night was supposed to be the real reward for recovering well: a Gaslight Anthem show with my buddy Rich. I’d seen Gaslight Anthem a year before with another friend who hadn’t liked the show as much as I did (too loud for him), so I was eager to rock out a little with a guy who got it. However, life intervened, as life likes to do, and Rich couldn’t make it. While the thought of not rocking with him saddened me, I kind of relished the idea of going solo. I half-heartedly offered tickets to the folks in my comedy group, and when they all demurred, I headed out to the House of Blues alone.

I wandered onto the floor with my Red Bull and everything I own stuffed into my jeans pockets as the opening band, TwoPointEight, was doing their thing. Loud and melodic, not my thing, but I nodded along. I knew Against Me! was going next and I didn’t know what to expect. They were harder rock than I’m used to in my Springsteen/DBT/Blitzen Trapper bubble, weren’t they? All I knew is that the lead singer used to be a dude and now she’s not (and the conversations from the brodudes around me about the subject were vastly illuminating. Every single one referred to her as “her,” and the basic consensus was, “they still fucking rock, why do I care?” I love 2014.) Then they took the stage. My first thought was, “Wow, hot guitarist.” My second thought was, “Oh, there’s a mosh pit right in front of me OMG right in front of me.

james_bowman_against_me

Hot guitarist


The songs poured on; some connected with me, some didn’t, but here I am dealing with a whole new paradigm in my life. Here’s my ignorant suburban take on mosh pits until last night: they’re an outlet for young male aggression who need to rage against everything to feel alive. And, okay, maybe that was some of it there and maybe that’s the total reality elsewhere, but there were all sorts in this crowd. Men, women, some androgynous folks, older, younger, and all of them knew all the words and screamed along. Aggression? Sure. But not … aimless aggression. The crowd slammed into each other to the left, to the right, got pushed back, rushed forward, fell back.

I found my hands pressed against the sweaty back of a bearded hipster and when I pushed him away into the pit, I wasn’t doing it to keep him away. I was volleying him back into the experience he was having. I was part of that experience. Nobody was angry. Nobody was violent. Men and women rose from the ground and floated above our heads on the strength of our hands and surfed to the stage, where security caught them and sent them back to the pit.

Then Gaslight Anthem took the stage. This is a band I’ve carried inside me for a long while. The song “Bring It On” captured me five years ago and I fell into the album it came from, American Slang, when I was in between real jobs and needed an anchor. Then Kelly the Wonder Tattooist played their first album for me while he inked my Steampunk Dr Pepper onto my arm and everything took hold. Their new album, Get Hurt, arrived a few months ago. Some of the songs stubbornly remained out of my grasp, but some of them drifted into the hollow parts of me and took root. And the title, Jesus. Could any other title demand as much attention from the raging angst inside me than Get Hurt? (Okay, Darkness on the Edge of Town. But that’s not fair.)

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They started with a song called “Stay Vicious,” and I don’t know what happened. I threw myself into the pit, shoulder to thumping shoulder with the dudes and ladies moshing as if their lives depended on it. In seconds, my shirt was soaked through with sweat, my hair was plastered to my skull, and I was screaming, screaming these words that I’d learned so recently and was desperate to shout into a space big enough to hold them. Tubby bearded guys and skinny bearded hipsters bashed me from all sides. Was it erotic? Sure it was erotic, and I had the goofy teenager grin to prove it most of the night. But erotic glances the surface of what this was: camaraderie fueled by pure adrenaline and rock and roll.

At one point, a hole opened up, and a dude in a Hold Steady shirt rushed in, glancing at me and this skinny guy I’d been pressed against for three songs; Hold Steady was smiling maniacally and jabbing his index fingers at his feet. Never have I been in this situation but instinctually I knew what that motion meant. Up. I got his left foot. The skinny guy got his right. Two tall girls behind him got his back. And up he went, screaming. I was screaming.

Right before the band launched into “Howl,” euphoria whipped through me like a goddamned hurricane. I shouted, “I’m fucking forty,” even though I’m not quite. This androgynous college kid in front of me stared at me for a second, then clapped me on the shoulder and said, “Yeah you fuckin’ are! Wooooo!” And then up the kid went, because that’s how it is when you’re happy and healthy and things are finally kicking ass again.

Usually when I take in a show, I pray for one song I can’t live without. Lately for DBT, it’s been “Natural Light.” For Bruce, for whatever reason, it’s “I’m Goin’ Down.” For this show, all I wanted to hear was “Selected Poems” from the new record. The harder edge of the night seemed to go against it, but right there, mid-set, Brian Fallon took to the microphone and sang those first words: “Honey bee, she say I got too much sympathy…” And then the chorus:

And all I seemed to find is that everything has chains.
And all this life just feels like a series of dreams.
Selected poems and lovers I can't begin to name.
And all in all I find that nothing stays the same.

Maybe, but sometimes you figure out how to break those chains. I was shoved to the front and security poured water in my mouth and I threw my hands up, because Lorde is wrong, I’m not getting kinda tired of that. Sweat-drenched and half-crazy, I was young, I was new, and I was ready to howl.

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