Monday, October 29, 2018

Catching up August - October 2018

     The year really began to accelerate toward the end of summer - I am writing all of this down for no reason other to just remember my life and keep some kind of order and sense to what is happening, though I can't be sure that will even work. It is a lot.

     It was a darker (than usual) night of the soul summer for me, finding myself having to navigate the aftermath of an epic mind-fucking break-up, along with the inferiority complexes that come from the mysterious fist of the publishing industry, as my book was cancelled a month before its scheduled release. There were many a solitary night were I felt I was floating in goddamned space. All I could do was keep busy, as the second I would stop working I would start to feel the floor drop from under me again, praying tentacles would grab on to my ankles so I wouldn't go floating into the black, unable to speak... just witness my future  - what I thought was my future - slowly fading from view. Then, I flogged myself for letting the illogical, elusive paths of success, domestic and artistic, dictate my worldview - one of the reasons why I left L.A. in the first place - and there I was in the desert, doing that thing again... All I think to do was double-down so I wouldn't obsess over it, hopefully get over myself.

     In August, full band rehearsals commenced for the new Jail Weddings alter-ego SIRENS IN THE NIGHT - our focus to our 60s girl group element but through a futurist lens. I bought my first synth - a KORG MS-20 - and began constructing the writhing, ecstatic tracks with Mary Animaux back in June. I stole the title from the Harlan Ellison sci-fi story for our first demo "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" a song about an abusive relationship - a subject then still too close to my heart, so I took relief in having the girls sing it in order to gain some distance and perspective. I am not singing in this band, just writing the songs / playing the synth. With all the illuminating upheavals we've seen recently, as women's inequality finally comes to the surface and becomes part of an international dialogue, it seems fitting to have Mary and now Rachael Ann (Bird of Paradise) be the mouthpieces for this project. Though at the risk of pandering - I would insist on them singing even if gender politics weren't so deep in the crapper...


 
(Top-Bottom) Rachael Ann, Marianne, and the rest - Seth Miller, Gabriel Hart, Rufo Chan are SIRENS IN THE NIGHT.

 
 












 
   Around the same time I started to take the Amtrak into L.A. once a week instead of driving - and maybe as a result of this - I began to really reconcile my relationship with the city. Not that I would ever move back, but something about the timing of these contemplative train rides gave me a bit of neutral excitement to be "just passing through, folks!" One of the cooler nights in my life ended up being a great reunion of old friends as well as meeting new ones, when I got asked to take part in the Dead Moon tribute show for Fred Cole's 70th birthday - with Toody Cole in attendance, no less - at the Echo last August 28th. I picked my favorite DM song "Runnin' Out of Time" and I was one of the luckier ones to be able to do it as a duet with Toody. She was warm and sincere as always. I watched most of their Unknown Passage documentary with her before the show, and it felt so special every time she grabbed my arm as she leaned over to me, whispering various behind-the-scenes anecdotes in my ear. We were backed up by the Secret Stare, which is Sharif Dumani's new group who clearly did not fuck around, mastering the tone, mood and execution perfectly.



Other standout performances included Pat Kearns (who engineered Exploding Hearts "Guitar Romantic" LP) and his wife Susan doing "Where Did I Go Wrong," Vashti Windish of Warm Drag doing "Kicked Out, Kicked In," and my boy Warren Thomas from The Abigails (and one time Jail Weddings roadie from Hell) absolutely bringing the house down with "I Hate The Blues" and "It's Ok." The next morning I hitched a ride back to the desert with Pat and Susan. I got home and the comedown of a near-perfect evening ushered me into an apparently unshakable darkness again - so much for feeling invincible. Out of nowhere I get a call from Jean-Paul Garnier, who alerted me that there was a local high desert publisher who mentioned they heard me interviewed on the Disinfo podcast earlier that week - where I was talking about my novel in limbo - and they wanted to meet me and get the manuscript as soon as possible. I called this sweet couple Jon Christopher and Tania Leysen of Traveling Shoes Press. We met, schemed, and by the next night they had the cover executed for my debut novel Virgins In Reverse/The Intrusion, out January 8th, 2019. Keep checking back here for pre-order details.



On September 1st at Sun Alley Shops in Joshua Tree, I got to witness the debut performance of Less Bells, the new avant-orchestral project from Julie Carpenter. While Julie plays violin in Jail Weddings, she is a fierce solo artist, first and foremost. The group is rounded out by her husband Dain Luscombe on synth and Leah Harmon on accordion. Their debut album on Kranky! dropped the following week and it quickly became my favorite album of the year. This lush, all instrumental soundtrack is a tribute to desert monsoons, encapsulating all of the dread and beauty one will feel when they finally recognize weather is the boss. Fans of Apollo-era Eno, Julee Cruise/Badalamenti will rejoice in this enveloping spell of an album.


On September 22nd, my dear friend Claire McKeown of Honey Child organized a tribute show to Leonard Cohen at the Echo. While I was a tad self-conscious the night might bleed into overly-precious territory, that such overzealous reverence might some across as trite, fall-short of the man's true essence, or as John Tottenham so eloquently put it, "blowing smoke up a dead guy's ass." I couldn't have been more mistaken.



Over fifteen poets and musicians came together and there wasn't a dud in the bunch. While his songs/poems resonate so deeply with us, Leonard Cohen's output is so specific and so immediately him, that many find his songs difficult to do justice to. With this in mind, every single performer "brought it" that night, if not as a result of their own raw talents, then due to a quaking fear that they may make fools of themselves. 
I got off incredibly easy, being asked to simply recite a couple of his poems - "Song" and "The Priest Says Goodbye."




Every performer was top notch, playing like their lives depended on it. But direct memory standouts for me included Draemings ("So Long Marianne"), Guy Blakeslee of Entrance ("Teachers"), Imaad Wassif ("Hallelujah"), Laena Geronimo ("Bird On A Wire") and Honey Child doing a choral rendition of "Treaty" off his final album "You Want It Darker."
Some welcomed irreverence added to some sorely needed levity to the evening, when "failed visionary" John Tottenham closed the evening with a unique speech, stating that he wasn't so familiar with Cohen's work, so he had cram for research for the evening, arriving at the verdict that "most of it wasn't very good." As the audience slowly died laughing, he continued to pour his acidic wit into our wounds, before ending in earnest with the fact that Mr. Cohen "also saved his life when he was sixteen." 


Also in September, high-desert literary octopus and enfante terrible Jean-Paul Garnier dropped his debut collection of dark sci-fi short stories Echo of Creation (Traveling Shoes Press). So not to be so desert insular with events at Space Cowboy, we had a release party for it at Stories in Echo Park. I read from last years Nothing To See Here. We were joined by Sharif Dumani, Justin Maurer, and an unexpected addition from Martin Atkins of PiL/Killing Joke, who read from his upcoming memoirs... equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. Though he read for an audacious half-hour, he kept all in attendance engaged.  



My comrades at L.A. Record bestowed me a special assignment to interview Australian proto-swamp punk architects THE SCIENTISTS for their first ever U.S. tour. The Scientists have been one of my favorite groups since my late teens, and a chance to see them live - much less pick frontman Kim Salmon's brain - is something many of us thought we'd never get to do. You can read the interview here. Their show on October 3rd at Zebulon was everything we hoped it would be and more, as those songs clearly aged well, molding with even more viral spores as our world becomes this much more savage.


Kim Salmon, The Scientists. Zebulon Oct 3rd


Somewhere around that next week, I did something I never thought I would do. I auditioned for a part in a play called The Seer, written by Jean-Paul Garnier and directed by (and starring) Tony-Award winning NYC theatrical producer Lawrence Lane. I got the part as an overzealous religious painter, who is on the antique end of a karmic wormhole, in which a vampire treads back and forth from, teaching my character and his current day victim (who he is slowly bleeding to death) about the foils of pride and envy. Not only is it a legitimately harrowing play, it is also perhaps the hardest thing I have ever challenged myself with... though I have never given birth, battled a terminal illness, or been to war. The Seer premiered one night only this past Saturday, October 27th in Joshua Tree at Sun Alley Shops at 8pm, right before SIRENS IN THE NIGHT hit the same stage for our debut show.
All right, full circle.

xoxo
gabriel



 
 

Friday, September 7, 2018

My debut twin novels Virgins In Reverse / The Intrusion to drop this Dec / Jan on Traveling Shoes Press


     It is with a large sigh of relief and gratitude to announce that my debut novel(s) will finally see the light of day by local high-desert publisher Traveling Shoes Press. Limited hardcovers will be available in December, followed by official softcover release in January 2019. Nearly ten years in the making, a whole other book could be written about the dramatic saga it took to get this out, but let's not look back... More details soon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

DISINFORMATION podcast interview w/ book review for Nothing To See Here.

Update: Yikes, looks like Disinformation's website is mysteriously no longer. Not to worry - the post is alive and well on We The Hallowed. I spoke with Keats Ross about Jail Weddings, desert vs. city, my expanse into writing, and my favorite Portuguese term "saudade," which pretty much explains everything. In-depth review of my novelette Nothing To See Here in the show notes as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Belated release party for "Nothing To See Here" at High Desert author throwdown / blowout!




It's been such an accelerated year so far that we didn't have a chance to do an official High-Desert release party for my novelette Nothing To See Here, which was released by Space Cowboy in December of 2017. Luckily, 2018 has seen the desert brimming with such exceptional literary releases - by Space Cowboy, Traveling Shoe Press, and Cholla Needles - so we decided to do a kind of aggregate release party for five authors/five books that came out recently - coming up here at Space Cowboy books Saturday, August 25th at 6pm.

Echo of Creation by Jean-Paul Garnier (Traveling Shoes Press) is the debut sci-fi short story collection by the man behind Space Cowboy books. Garnier has a singular, wise-beyond-his years imagination that was born for Sci-Fi. Combining tech-savvy insight, jaw-dropping psychedelia, and the often over-looked sentimental triggers of the common man and woman, the collected eight tales in Echoes Of Creation is the perfect aggregate for one maddeningly prolific writer. The stories follow sci-fi themes yet reserve their own dare for the reader to classify, such as the Black-Mirror-esque title-story that opens the book with a coming-of-age soap opera that ends in a chilling variation on our youth’s mortal coil. Much like the other iconic authors of the genre, Garnier relies just as much on the imperfections of our past as he does the break-neck acceleration of our future, in a brave effort to get down to the bottom of what our disorienting present is trying to tell us.

Moving At The Speed of Time by Jon Christoher (Traveling Shoes Press) - Jon is another insanely prolific writer (by the end of 2018, he will have released three novels in the past year, this being his 2nd) as well as the man behind Traveling Shoes Press. In MATSOT, Christopher successfully avoids all the dorky trappings often associated with marijuana counter-culture. Instead, he weaves a tale that shows the true profound effect that weed has on our lives, often intertwining every day groups of people that wouldn't normally groove together, showing what a divine gift from the God's above - or the underground serpent saints - it can truly be.

Swap / Meet by Susan Rukeyser (Space Cowboy Books) - fierce newcomer to the desert yet accomplished novelist in her own right (author of the sublime Not On Fire, Only Dying), Susan Rukeyser just dropped one of the more inventive, comedic and in turn, heartbreaking chapbooks I have ever read. The book takes nine fictional (?) classified ads where the seller is not only selling something, but severely oversharing scandalous notes of their lives. There is a big reveal hidden in here, but the most relatable one is the reminder of what a lonely world it can be, where people do not only feel alone, but misunderstood and may stop at nothing to tell their own side of things, regardless of an interactive audience. It reminded me of my first job as a teenager, answering phones at Pizza Hut, where I would often get trapped on the line with people who just.. needed... to talk. Highly recommended.

The Third Horseman by R. Soos (Space Cowboy / Cholla Needles) - The man behind Cholla Needles Art and Literary Library throws down a masterful translation of the great Cesar Vallejo. Heavy on the angry God element of Catholicism, other poems in this collection take some reprieve in the ports of Lima where he spent his upbringing. A god-send for someone like me who loves Vallejo but failed Spanish in high-school and can't quite get past the subsequent inferiority complex.

Nothing To See Here by Gabriel Hart (Space Cowboy) - the darkest part of my novel in progress Lies of Heaven seems to stand well on its own - on its second pressing, going fast... Done talking about myself. Click above for more info.


Friday, July 6, 2018



CHOLLA NEEDLES ISSUE 19 OUT NOW!!!

   Once again, I am appearing in a new issue of Cholla Needles, the High Desert's monthly literary anthology. With nine other authors / poets, I have my own six-page section in this installment - a triplet of poems ("If You Only Could Have Known Me", "Patina," and "Untitled") and a short story "Lucid Dreaming In D Major." The latter is a hallucinatory take-over of what may happen when you fall asleep listening to Roger Miller's version of "What Are These Things With Big Black Wings" in the middle of a heat wave if you happen to harbor moral baggage with your estranged editor.
 
   Rich Soos, the man behind Cholla Needles (which is now known as Cholla Needles Art and Literary Library now that non-profit status has been bestowed), has been publishing monthly collections like this since 1973. His early anthology series Seven Stars even published early works by Charles Bukowski, among countless others. Soos, a poet himself, has masterfully focused on the overlooked medium of the Haiku for his prolific output. For me, one of his most visceral efforts is his book "Fiddlin' Around In An Orchestrated War," a war-themed Haiku collection that contains a not just a lifetime... but a deathtime, in each economical, solemn outburst. Your stomach will churn with breathless empathy, thanking God you may live a life of trivial challenges in contrast to these realities of true sacrifice.
 
   A true man of God, Rich Soos has helped ignite a tight-knit yet ever-growing literary community up here through Cholla Needles and his monthly open-mic readings at Space Cowboy on the second Sunday of every month (see you this Sunday), creating a Church of The Word for many of us. While some believe writing is something that is earned for a select few, Soos believes that everybody should write, that it's an inherent other voice in all of us that he implores us to explore. A refreshing perspective, as he altered by own elitist attitude when he expressed this in his own "Personal Poetics" Teddy Talk last year.


Monday, July 2, 2018

A PAGE TORN OUT OF THE WEEKEND - A NON-LINEAR PORTLAND REPORT:




"In The Heavens, Not The Clouds" 6/28/18
   This pen observes me flying to Portland, OR interrupting a book I thought I couldn't put down (Susan Rukeyser's brilliant Not On Fire, Only Dying). The motives for this trip are multi-fold: Tonight, I do the voice and guitar thing at The White Owl, while Saturday I read from Nothing To See Here at Mother Foucault's. In between all of this I will see friends - a vital concentration of them, in fact. All... but one. The one who was often my shadow, and I often his. The one who no longer lives, among the many who also flipped the switch - and those I would never make pale in comparison. But Matty Rue went into the black with such a perpetually irreconcilable estrangement and I will never let the dust settle of his sudden kick up on St. Paddy's Eve of 2015 (St. Matty's Day).
 
   I used to blow through Portland once, sometimes twice a year with Jail Weddings and bands before. But I have not returned in five years, three years since his death. His passing nearly made that city dead to me as well. So, the real reason snaking its way through all of my work and pleasure will be a solemn swear to chase his ghost in order to let in some kind of peace, finally... A guy can hope.
 
   I often wonder if he is still stuck in that train station, where I saw him a week after his death, when Dr. Wagensomer hypnotized me in order to confront my grief head-on. There he stood, suitcase in hand, too ashamed to look me in the eyes. That station was his lonely purgatory, the autonomy of life forever out of his reach. He was now part of the scenery of transition, another sad face awaiting absolute uncertainty. He asked me if I wanted to know what he felt like when he died. Before I could answer, I was engulfed in the most terrifying full-body euphoria, so overwhelming that I too, felt I may have just dissolved into the ether. I heard myself moan, panicking for Dr. Wagensomer to bring me back up. I returned half-gasping, not feeling any where near "at peace," but much more accustomed to his consequence. Baby steps. The biggest step being that I had, without a doubt, made a clear connection to him beyond the urn.
 
   The irony here is that I write this under the unlikely but more practical influence of a kindred drug, having procured a Vicodin for help nurse the residue of a painful concussion I sustained last week, after a psychopathic man-child sucker punched me, apparently for having the nerve to relax on my own property. Fascinating what people do when they don't know how to peacefully break through to the other side.
 
   Ironically, on top of irony, this is how Jackee died. She hit her head and complained of headaches for days after, before finally succumbing to acute trauma. No one took her seriously and many believed she was trying to get attention. What kills me now: I loved her especially when she wanted attention. While I am likely in the clear, now ten days after the assault, I clearly should have seen a doctor. Funny, how we think we are aware of what is going on inside our heads. Like a two-way mirror interrogation, we are questioned on the outside but will never be completely privy to the spies inside of us.
 
   But here I fly, among the clouds. I am trying to feel close to Matty by convincing myself to believe in Heaven. It is not working. To achieve this, I believe we must get even higher. The Heavens, not Heaven. Absolute darkness, to return from whence we came.

                                                                                                        - Gabriel Hart





Reading at Mother Foucault's, Portland. 6/30/18
Photo by Azar Sherine Mahvash

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Video surfaces of my "Teddy Talk" Community Lecture in Joshua Tree from June 16th, 2018. Subject: The Gestation and Fermentation of The Creative Process." Filmed by Jean-Paul Garnier.