Tag Archives: punk rock

Girls with Guitars…

…the emphasis on “girls.”

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Working on the Zellots record with Jason Flower of Supreme Echo I’ve had to consider time’s inexorable march, how it treads upon our minds and bodies until nothing of us remains. Also, the folly of youth, the hubris of youth. We were so cavalier about the demo tape we were making, about the band we’d created and the songs we’d composed, cavalier to the point of losing the master and most cassette copies. Oh, and breaking up. We didn’t-perhaps couldn’t-appreciate what we had. The late Peter Draper did a stellar job, recording we fools in the basement of our house/rehearsal space near the corner of 34th and Victoria. I can’t recall where or how he mixed it but lucky for us Peter was a very talented guy. Also fortunately, Jason Flower is a hardcore music nerd, driven in fact to seeking us out and resurrecting our group despite scant traces of its existence. I get the impression it’s like a treasure hunt for Jason. In that spirit and though likely a long shot, we’re going to try to track down a copy of the Lenore Herb video for the launch party. No date yet but the new master is currently in the Czech Republic being pressed. I’m as excited as a teenager about to play her first gig!

 

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Girls With Guitars & *The Truth*-Town Slut’s Daughter excerpts and talk…

…I’m preparing for Word Vancouver, Sun, Sept 27 at 1:30 at Library Square and SFU’s Early Punk Rock Scene Discussion, with Bloodied But Unbowed director, Susanne Tabata, Oct 13 at Special Collections, SFU Library in Burnaby

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bev davies photo

 FREE TO IMAGINE (Redux)

 “Honesty is not synonymous with truth.”-Vera Parmiga, The Departed

This book took a long time to write and the road to publication, arduous. I can’t recall exactly when I started but my son was around 6 or 7 and he is now 20. If I hadn’t been homeschooling a child with special needs, no doubt it would have taken less time but I often got discouraged and shelved it for years at a time. Finally in 2010 I went to Sage Hill Writing Experience to be mentored by award winning playwright and novelist Terry Jordan. I completed the manuscript. Then spent a couple of years, or wasted a couple of years, dealing with an agent who seemed to think the story was YA, and a publishing company in utter tumult until finally I got fed up and in punk fashion, went DIY. In feminist fashion, I will not be denied, set up Howe Sound Publishing and released The Town Slut’s Daughter on Amazon.

Seems to be a dirty word these days but this dialogue is an example of some of the book’s feminist ideals:

Fiona threw down three tickets to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre emblazoned with Hit Someone You Love.

“Great!” said Rita. “What’s with all the misogyny? I thought the scene was supposed to be so egalitarian.” She grabbed the kettle. “Well, I suppose it is if you happen to be young, white and male.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t go.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t. Who is Transformer Productions, anyway?”

“I don’t know. Never heard of them. But it’s a great bill. Rabid, Pointed Sticks, SubHumans, K-Tels.” Angus was a hero for digging up a new venue, O’Hara’s, a derelict nightclub on the pier at the foot of Main. Fiona’s dad remembered it from when he was a young buck roaming the streets. “I wanna go. We gotta see the K-Tels.”

“Okay. Okay. We’re doing our bit to fight sexism, right? We play electric guitars.”

Rock-including punk rock- is a boys club.

A lot of the discussion around my book concerns whether it’s autobiographical or not, which I find irritating. Isn’t that inferring that I’m not capable of using my imagination? To invent? Well, writing is vexing on many levels but I don’t understand all this post modern fuss over genre. As hot as memoir is, I didn’t write a memoir because honestly, my life is not that exciting. And I maintain there is more truth in fiction. It grants one freedom. Maybe I’m a coward, for I do hide behind fiction, wear it like a veil, but it is also liberating. Though the The Town Slut’s Daughter is based on my life experiences-which grants it authenticity-the majority of the story  is feigned. I can say unequivocally that I am not Fiona and Fiona is not I. (I fear she is smarter than I am. ) If you want reality, read my blog, One Life, at heatherhaley.com wherein I stated, “Our hunger for realism, hence the reality show phenomenon, and rise of the documentary fuel such expectations, pressure, to write a memoir. I never doubted my instincts, knew I was framing narrative within a novel. Works for me. Autobiographical novel also seems a contradiction in terms. Truth is relative and “honesty is not synonymous with truth.” Let the critics and pundits postulate ad nauseum, I need to focus on process.

I’ve taken an approach similar to EL Doctorow in Ragtime by blending real people and events with characters and things I’ve made up. As I told writer friend Justine Brown the other day, I chose to keep many of the band names because it would be difficult to conjure up better ones. DOA, Dead Kennedys, Dishrags, Subhumans, Devices, Rabid, Pointed Sticks, Young Canadians, and the Zellots, which was my first and all-female group-are portrayed along with various real life events. This scene is based upon the first time the Clash played Vancouver, at the Commodore. I idolized them and so did most of my punk rock comrades. We were thrilled to say the least. By the way, though the novel is in third person, we often we hear directly from Fiona, eves dropping in on her thoughts and feelings in first person. From part one-Girls With Guitars-it could have been titled Punk Rockers in Love. Not!

Does he do this she wondered? Conjure up last night, the things we did, feel an after-shudder? Waiting to see Emmett Hayes, was . . . agony! Fiona couldn’t eat. Think straight. Gawd I hate this! Half an hour late. Again. She diddled her guitar, scanned a book, traipsed back and forth to the fridge, swinging wildly between anger and anxiety. Why doesn’t he call? That dink! She could have gone with Rita and Shannon. She could have spent her hard earned cash on something besides a new silk bra and panties. That bastard. Then, still cursing, Fiona heard his obnoxious Porsche engine out front and relief coursed through her limbs. She barely resisted the urge to run to the car.

“Sorry I’m late,” he mouthed, the Clash’s I Fought the Law blasting from his Blaupaunkts. “Did you hear? The Clash came out and played soccer with us!”

“Yeah! Who won?”

“They did, of course. My shins are covered in bruises.”

Emmett yarded on the gears pinball wizard style. Soon they were pelted with fat raindrops. He pulled over immediately to put the top up. They cruised the block repeatedly in search of the safest parking spot for his precious steed of steel. At last they entered the fading art deco grandeur of the Commodore Ballroom, Emmett waving tickets at the doorman, breezing by security like a diplomat. Christ. He must have been left under a cabbage by mistake.Emmett surveyed the room, refusing Fiona’s hand.

“Fuck! Look at all the poseurs.”

Fiona spied Dennis across the room, stomach tilting at the reproach in his face. A young woman in a booth flanking the stage sat sneering.

“Emmett, who’s that girl glaring at us?”

He ignored the question, wandered off, Fiona following.

The Clash had an excellent DJ spinning a killer mix of ska, punk, reggae and dub. Fiona waved to Shannon and friends. The place was jammed with every die-hard in the city, slam dancing on its famous ballroom floor, originally designed to make any clodhopper hoof it like Fred Astaire. The Commodore had character all right and it was the perfect size. Fiona hated arena shows. The Dishrags opened. It was inspiring to watch fellow females wailing on guitar. They finished with a blazing rendition of London’s Burning. Next up, Bo Diddley. Emmett said the Clash brought the old guy along as a way to pay homage to one of rock and roll’s originators. Fiona shrugged.

“I’m too young for nostalgia.”

Unfortunately, the Powder Blues were his pickup band, old fart-guitar god wannabes and though playing with a legend, forced everyone to sit through a long, boring wank session.

“Fuck this. I wanna see the Clash!” Fiona was not alone in her sentiments.

Shannon walked over and pulled her aside. “See that girl? That’s Electra. One of Emmett’s girlfriends. He told her he was bringing her tonight.”

“Electra! Sounds like an Italian scooter.”

“She’s weird. Really mad, says she’s gonna beat the crap out of you.”

Laughing, they walked over to Emmett. He lowered his drink, deigned to look at them, insisting he hadn’t invited anyone but Fiona. Clouds of tension were gathering on the dance floor as well, burly security guards manning the barriers. Finally, the Clash emerged, a tidal wave of bodies surging forward, the band opening with I’m So Bored With the U.S.A, Emmett off the hook. For now.

Beer. You only rent it. Fiona ran to the bathroom between songs, in and out of a stall quickly. Electra appeared, strutted over and squinted up into Fiona’s face like a Pekinese.

“Hey bitch! Keep your paws off Emmett or I will kill you.”

Looking around, Fiona laughed. “Where’s the hidden camera? Hey, Eeeelectraaaa. I think you’d better stay away from Emmett.”

“Wanna fight about it?”

“Hah! I could squish you like a bug. Fuck off! This ain’t junior high, you know.”

What Electra lacked in size, she made up for in attitude, fueled by four-inch stilettos, garters, fishnets, black leather mini skirt, all of which had nothing to do with punk and everything to do with Emmett.

Electra spit at her. Missing her target—Fiona’s face—the gob splatted onto her clavicle. Fiona looked down. Nearly blind with fury, she handily hoisted Electra up by the lapels. Shannon barged in. Fiona slammed Electra into the wall, back of her head banging the paper towel dispenser. Electra yelped.

“You bitch. You fucking whore!”

Shannon grabbed Fiona by the arm. They walked out dogged by the undaunted Lilliputian. Fiona barreled over to Emmett.

“What were you thinking?”

“I told you! I didn’t ask her. She just assumed.”

Wee Electra was at the bar again, glowering.

“Get lost, you skanky broad!” Emmett hollered at her.

Snotty pose pierced like a balloon, Electra flumped away, people laughing in her wake.

“God Emmett you’re an asshole!”

“Hey, I brought you. What do you care?”

“I care because it’s the same way you treat me. Like shit!”

“Fuck this!” He walked away in a huff.

Fuck this all right! Fighting tears, determined to revel in this night to remember, Fiona formed two fists and shoved her way through the crowd, jabbing, elbowing, bashing. She glanced back. Emmett gone. Naturally. Though the faces on the floor were familiar, the horde formed one huge alien, reeking of stewed leather and body heat, Clash so loud they cloaked the clamor of thumping heart, roaring blood. Fiona was rammed. Hard. She heard the wind go out of her lungs, body boxed about as if by bulls. She slipped, nearly going down, floored by the vision of her fractured skull ground into the boards by dozens of tightly laced combat boots.I am too black in the heart to fall! She carved a line out of the crush to the foot of the stage, stared up at Simonon. He was perfect—angled cheekbones, mouth gaping open like a Lego-focused kid, long, lean muscles. An art student apparently, before hitching up with the Clash, couldn’t play a note till Mick Jones taught him. Like John Lennon. Must be a British thing, that link between art school and rock. So why did I let Trent talk me out of art school? Oh my God. Simonon! He’s looking right at me! Got a girlfriend, according to Shannon, some tart who writes for NME. Strummer strained against his Telly, snaking the mike stand with his body. Tossing his guitar onto his back, he leaned over the crowd, ranting, railing.Loose-kneed Mick Jones was running, leaping, boinging all over the stage, carving out notes with an axe, his golden Gibson Les Paul. Goofy booster Dennis vaulted onto the stage during Career Opportunities, ricocheting off amps and various Clash members, security goons giving Keystone Cops chase. Strummer even let Dennis commandeer the mike and bray out the chorus with him, Fiona feeling a twinge of envy.

 

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GOODREADS giveaway!

I do what I can. So here you go, this coming Tuesday/Wednesday, just for one day. Please enter if you would like to win a copy of my novel, recently reviewed in newspapers across Canada: “Haley has the gift of writing to suit her subject in all its raddled variety, from wired and jarring to lyrical and tragic.” Of course, you can always buy The Town Slut’s Daughter if you can’t wait.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Town Slut's Daughter by Heather Haley

The Town Slut’s Daughter

by Heather Haley

Giveaway ends April 22, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

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Novel reviews are in! And a poem called “Flesh Pot”

Slowly trudging along the dreaded book marketing trail-the main challenge being a lack of both time and money-but so far she’s receiving the star treatment and good reviews:

“The pace is electric, the scenes pulsate with energy, and through the character of Fiona, the reader is pulled into a world that can be beautiful and passionate one moment, and scary and ugly the next. The writing is so honest and direct, and dealing with such powerful feelings and social issues, that it will take your breath away.”-Nick Faragher, author of  The Well and other Stories and No Big Thing. Nick also characterized it as a punk Moveable Feast, which I love.

“You couldn’t ask for a better tour guide. Fiona wants to take you by the arm and show you everything – everything! – and you should let her. She’ll walk you through absurdly dysfunctional families, creatives and poseurs, mountains of cocaine, the thrills and bitter frustrations of band life, a city on fire, and sex that explores a lot of territory: tender, frenzied, exhilarating, surreal, brutal. Fiona tells it all, unflinching, with a survivor’s wry humor. Go on, get in – it’s a ride worth taking. Fiona will drive too fast, and you’ll love it.”-Katy Barzedor

“Don’t let the punk rock scare you; this is a woman’s story of love and adventure and survival. This is about sex and drugs and rock and roll. This is about a woman’s personal journey from young girl to abused victim to scarred survivor. It may begin with the punk rock years, but follows the lead character Fiona through scenes of punk rock violence, to a more insidious violence of personal relationships. Warning: There is quite a bit of sex here, so if you are offended by graphic scenes of sex, stay away. But if you like sex and classic sexy writing, you will love this book. We know that not all sex is good. Sometimes there is a dark side. Poor Fiona discovers this horrible truth as an attraction becomes a trap. The scenes during the LA riots evoke the Jump into the fire scene in Goodfellas, but told through a strong woman’s perspective. Rarely do you read books from a woman’s perspective about sex and music. The Town Slut’s Daughter takes you into the dark side of the music business. Why it makes punk rock seem tame in comparison.”-Dennis Milt

“A whirlwind tale about a girl looking for identity and artistic expression, that takes you from the early Vancouver punk scene through the trenches of rock and roll, life and excess in 1980’s Los Angeles and culminates with the L.A. riots. Intense, passionate, at times brutal, and also funny. The dialogue between characters had me laughing out loud. A rollercoaster ride that raises your hair and lands you back into your seat with a hard bump.”-Tracy Bissonnette

No time to write! But I will be included in several anthologies coming out next year; Love Where the Nights Are Twice As Long, a Goose Lane collection of love letters penned by Canadian poets, edited by David Eso, and a Simon Fraser University anthology of work from their Lunch Poems reading series which I participated in. They selected this one:

FLESH POT 

Born muscle bound

Backboned, map, matrix-

Mother intact

Into families, slums

 

Manors, private

Security firms, institutions.

Pirates or the pious

We flourish. Raw teeth, germs,

 

Clubfeet do not impede us,

Rank and garbled speech fleeting

As tin jeeps, our struggle

Barbie Doll drama, tumult banal,

 

Pain prosaic, strife fueling ripeness

Gauntlets passed through swiftly

Until the day we drop. Nominated,

Cornered, required to wither

 

Under the gun,

Succumb, for we remain

That tender, precious human

Flesh terminators aim for.

 

 

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THE LATEST from “The Town Slut’s Daughter” front

Obsessing over the novel, worrying about how it will be received. Or not. Naturally. Just keep reminding myself that it takes courage, and resolve to write a book, especially one so unruly, uncompromising. I have managed to resist removing the debauchery, the bits that made me squirm. Still do. My son interviewed me yesterday for a school assignment and asked an interesting question. Had I learned anything through the experience of writing this book? Certainly my writing muscle is pumped and I have learned a lot, about myself. ‘Tis quite the effective mirror, and I don’t flinch readily anymore. Whether that’s a good thing is another matter. I’m glad I watched the Wolf of Wall Street despite tiring of its unrelenting bacchanal. (DiCaprio is brilliant and the crawling-on-Ludes scene hilarious.) It put things in perspective. Fiona’s a Girl Scout compared to that dude.

Will go to Word on the Street on Sunday and talk her up. Oh right, it’s been dubbed  Word Vancouver. Whatever it’s called, this book fair is always fun and a great opportunity to catch up with friends and associates. This year several are launching their own new titles at the Poetry On The Bus stage: 12:30 pm Nilofar Shidmehr, Between Lives (Oolichan Books), 12:45 pm Catherine Owen, Designated Mourner (ECW Press) and at 1:00 pm Phinder Dulai, dream/arteries (Talonbooks).

Back to the grind. Formatting for Kindle and The Town Slut’s Daughter should be ready for downloading by Monday. Also, revamping this site with my dear friend Andy Flaster and will launch next week along with the book. And Megan Gray gave us a plug  at VanCity Buzz!

Yikes! Book launch party next Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 pm at Slickity Jim’s, 3469 Main St, Vancouver. Though financially challenged, I was hoping to buy a new dress for the occasion. Oh well, it’s moot as I’m running out of time.

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“THE TOWN SLUT’S DAUGHTER” What’s in a name?

Just so you know, politically correct or not, “The Town Slut’s Daughter” is a spoof on “The Pilot’s Wife,” “The Bone Cutter’s Daughter” and all the rest. And yes, I realize it’s provocative but so is the book. In that sense it’s aptly titled. Several people have tried to convince me to change it, but good for business or not, I just can’t. I’ve been writing and publishing a long time though and I think it’s funny, and intriguing. I’m trusting my gut on this, and have to go indy.  Publishing is in a state of flux and publishers are impotent. No one has the balls to embrace a book called “The Town Slut’s Daughter,” though her time has come.

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FIONA’S ON FIRE!

The fun never stops.  Junior is preparing to attend university, I’m entering the final stages of proofreading the novel and will be able to order copies for the launch Oct. 2 while intensively programming this year’s Visible Verse Festival. My gig at the Visitor Info Centre just finished and so I’m pounding the pavement as well. Here’s the press release for the book launch. I hope to see you there.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE TOWN SLUT’S DAUGHTER

Book Launch Party

Thurs, Oct. 2, 7:30 pm

Slickity Jim’s-3469 Main St, Vancouver

THE TOWN SLUT’S DAUGHTER

Not even punk rock could save her

With a staccato narrative style and singular descriptive cadence, Canadian poet Heather Haley’s debut novel, “The Town Slut’s Daughter,” engages the reader through deftly drawn characters and a series of startling events.

Fiona Larochelle flees a harrowing home life only to land in Vancouver’s violently blazing punk rock underground. Music provides a catalyst when she mines a talent for singing and songwriting to form an all-girl band, the Virgin Marries. After the group breaks up, Fiona is stranded in the U.S. and forced to navigate a minefield of vice, drug abuse, jealous lovers and predatory record producers as she works to rebuild her dream. She discovers that although rage may have facilitated her quest in the beginning, it cannot deliver her. Amid the tumult of the LA Riots, Fiona bolts from her cocaine-fueled marriage to a modern-day Bluebeard. Throughout it all, a fierce, indomitable spirit prevails.

“Haley chronicles the punk scene with insight gleaned from the mosh pit, backstage and onstage fronting her band the Zellots. It was a grimy few years when poverty was a style and anyone with the guts to get onstage could be a star. Haley has written a coming-of-age-novel in which Holden Caulfield is a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.”-Les Wiseman, Vancouver Magazine, Bloodied But Unbowed

“Quick and nervy, this book vibrates with the intensity of the punk scene it describes.”- Janice Erlbaum, author of GirlBomb and Have You Found Her: A Memoir

The Town Slut’s Daughter is a wild romp through the madness of youth, a pagan celebration of life and living. But be warned Heather Haley is no lady. She’ll kick the ball right in your face and it will hurt.”-Chris Walter, author of East Van and Chase the Dragon

CONTACT:

Howe Sound Publishing

778 868-5845

howesoundpublishing@gmail.com

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DIY!

After several years of frustrating dealings with publishers, even with representation by a literary  agent, I’ve decided, enough waiting. I’m going DIY and publish this novel myself. It’s time, time for Fiona Larochelle to enter the world. It’s been a long, brutal gestation but we’re finally entering the final phase. Several talented friends have been instrumental throughout the process; Victor Bonderoff conceived the incendiary cover artwork, Derek von Essen, the fabulous book design, Gabor Gasztonyi, a sublime author photo and Carol Cram, author of the Towers of Tuscany, has kindly guided me through the indie publishing jungle. Today, I need to reload the cover artwork and order a copy for proofing. Once proofed, we’ll go live and then the book can be ordered in e-book or print form. I’ll have copies to sell at the book launch party Thurs, Oct. 2 at Slickity Jim’s in Vancouver.

At this point in my life I’ve certainly gained enough experience and skills to do this. I started my own company, Howe Sound Publishing. Authors have to do most of their own promotion these days anyway. Why should some publisher get the major percentage, benefit from all my hard work? I’m excited! Deliverance at last. Here’s the back cover copy:

Fiona Larochelle flees a harrowing home life only to land in Vancouver’s violently blazing punk rock underground. Music provides a catalyst when she mines a talent for singing and songwriting to form an all-girl band, the Virgin Marries.

After the group breaks up, Fiona is stranded in the U.S. and forced to navigate a minefield of vice, drug abuse, jealous lovers and predatory record producers as she works to rebuild her dream. She discovers that although rage may have facilitated her quest in the beginning, it cannot deliver her. Amid the tumult of the LA Riots, Fiona bolts from her cocaine-fueled marriage to a modern-day Bluebeard. Throughout it all, a fierce, indomitable spirit prevails.

“Haley chronicles the punk scene with insight gleaned from the mosh pit, backstage and onstage fronting her band the Zellots. It was a grimy few years when poverty was a style and anyone with the guts to get onstage could be a star. Haley has written a coming-of-age-novel in which Holden Caulfield is a street-walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm.”-Les Wiseman, writer, editor, Vancouver Magazine, Bloodied But Unbowed

“Quick and nervy, this book vibrates with the intensity of the punk scene it describes.”- Janice Erlbaum, author of GirlBomb and Have You Found Her: A Memoir

“The Town Slut’s Daughter is a wild romp through the madness of youth, a pagan celebration of life and living. But be warned Heather Haley is no lady. She’ll kick the ball right in your face and it will hurt.”-Chris Walter, author of East Van and Chase the Dragon

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Cat fight at the Clash show…”The Town Slut’s Daughter” forthcoming novel excerpt

Does he do this she wondered? Conjure up last night, the things we did, feel an after-shudder? Waiting to see Emmett Hayes, was . . . agony! Fiona couldn’t eat. Think straight. Gawd I hate this! Half an hour late. Again. She diddled her guitar, scanned a book, traipsed back and forth to the fridge, swinging wildly between anger and anxiety. Why doesn’t he call? That dink! She could have gone with Rita and Shannon. She could have spent her hard earned cash on something besides a new silk bra and panties. That bastard. Then, still cursing, Fiona heard his obnoxious Porsche engine out front and relief coursed through her limbs. She barely resisted the urge to run to the car.

“Sorry I’m late,” he mouthed, the Clash’s “I Fought the Law” blasting from his Blaupaunkts. “Did you hear? The Clash came out and played soccer with us!”

“Yeah! Who won?”

“They did, of course. My shins are covered in bruises.”

Emmett yarded on the gears pinball wizard style. Soon they were pelted with fat raindrops. He pulled over immediately to put the top up. They cruised the block repeatedly in search of the safest parking spot for his precious steed of steel. At last they entered the fading art-deco grandeur of the Commodore Ballroom, Emmett waving tickets at the doorman, breezing by security like a diplomat. Christ. He must have been left under a cabbage by mistake. Emmett surveyed the room, refusing Fiona’s hand.

“Fuck! Look at all the poseurs.”

Fiona spied Dennis across the room, stomach tilting at the reproach in his face. A young woman in a booth flanking the stage sat sneering.

“Emmett, who’s that girl glaring at us?”

He ignored the question, wandered off, Fiona following.

The Clash had an excellent DJ spinning a killer mix of ska, punk, reggae and dub. Fiona waved to Shannon and friends. The place was jammed with every die-hard in the city, slam dancing on its famous ballroom floor, originally designed to make any clodhopper hoof it like Fred Astaire. The Commodore had character all right and it was the perfect size. Fiona hated arena shows. The Dishrags opened. It was inspiring to watch fellow females wailing on guitar. They finished with a blazing rendition of “London’s Burning”. Next up, Bo Diddley. Emmett said the Clash brought the old guy along as a way to pay homage to one of rock and roll’s originators. Fiona shrugged.

“I’m too young for nostalgia.”

Unfortunately, the Powder Blues were his pickup band, old fart-guitar god wannabes and though playing with a legend, forced everyone to sit through a long, boring wank session.

“Fuck this. I wanna see the Clash!” Fiona was not alone in her sentiments.

Shannon walked over and pulled her aside. “See that girl? That’s Electra. One of Emmett’s girlfriends. He told her he was bringing her tonight.”

“Electra! Sounds like an Italian scooter.”

“She’s weird. Really mad, says she’s gonna beat the crap out of you.”

Laughing, they walked over to Emmett. He lowered his drink, deigned to look at them, insisting he hadn’t invited anyone but Fiona. Clouds of tension were gathering on the dance floor as well, burly security guards manning the barriers. Finally, the Clash emerged, a tidal wave of bodies surging forward, the band opening with “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A.”, Emmett off the hook. For now.

Beer. You only rent it. Fiona ran to the bathroom between songs, in and out of a stall quickly. Electra appeared, strutted over and squinted up into Fiona’s face like a Pekinese.

“Hey bitch! Keep your paws off Emmett or I will kill you.”

Looking around, Fiona laughed. “Where’s the hidden camera? Hey, Eeeelectraaaa. I think you’d better stay away from Emmett.”

“Wanna fight about it?”

“Hah! I could squish you like a bug. Fuck off! This ain’t junior high, you know.”

What Electra lacked in size, she made up for in attitude, fueled by four-inch stilettos, garters, fishnets, black leather mini skirt, all of which had nothing to do with punk and everything to do with Emmett.

Electra spit at her. Missing her target—Fiona’s face—the gob splatted onto her clavicle. Fiona looked down. Nearly blind with fury, she handily hoisted Electra up by the lapels. Shannon barged in. Fiona slammed Electra into the wall, back of her head banging the paper towel dispenser. Electra yelped.

“You bitch. You fucking whore!”

Shannon grabbed Fiona by the arm. They walked out dogged by the undaunted Lilliputian. Fiona barreled over to Emmett.

“What were you thinking?”

“I told you! I didn’t ask her. She just assumed.”

Wee Electra was at the bar again, glowering.

“Get lost, you skanky broad!” Emmett hollered at her.

Snotty pose pierced like a balloon, Electra flumped away, people laughing in her wake.

“God Emmett you’re an asshole!”

“Hey, I brought you. What do you care?”

“I care because it’s the same way you treat me. Like shit!”

“Fuck this!” He walked away in a huff.

Fuck this all right! Fighting tears, determined to revel in this night to remember, Fiona formed two fists and shoved her way through the crowd, jabbing, elbowing, bashing. She glanced back. Emmett gone. Naturally. Though the faces on the floor were familiar, the horde formed one huge alien, reeking of stewed leather and body heat, Clash so loud they cloaked the clamor of thumping heart, roaring blood. Fiona was rammed. Hard. She heard the wind go out of her lungs, body boxed about as if by bulls. She slipped, nearly going down, floored by the vision of her fractured skull ground into the boards by dozens of tightly laced combat boots. I am too black in the heart to fall! She carved a line out of the crush to the foot of the stage, stared up at Simonon. He was perfect—angled cheekbones, mouth gaping open like a Lego-focused kid, long, lean muscles. An art student apparently, before hitching up with the Clash, couldn’t play a note till Mick Jones taught him. Like John Lennon. Must be a British thing, that link between art school and rock. So why did I let Trent talk me out of art school? Oh my God. Simonon! He’s looking right at me! Got a girlfriend, according to Shannon, some tart who writes for NME. Strummer strained against his Telly, snaking the mic stand with his body. Tossing his guitar onto his back, he leaned over the crowd, ranting, railing. Loose-kneed Mick Jones was running, leaping, boinging all over the stage, carving out notes with an axe, his golden Gibson Les Paul. Goofy booster Dennis vaulted onto the stage during “Career Opportunities”, ricocheting off amps and various Clash members, security goons giving Keystone Cops chase. Strummer even let Dennis commandeer the mic and bray out the chorus with him, Fiona feeling a twinge of envy.

Several encores later, Shannon and Rita caught up with her, the usual confusion about the party location ensuing. Fiona felt a tap on her shoulder, turned around to Emmett, eyes trained on the floor.

“Wanna go to the party?”

“Not with you.”

He threw his bead back, looked up at the ceiling. “Kee-rist! Get over it will you?”

“Where’s Eellectraaa?” Fiona couldn’t say it with a straight face. “Emmett and Electra. Electra and Emmett. Has a nice ring, don’t you think?”

“Look, are you coming or not?”

“Oh, alright.”

Rita couldn’t disguise her disdain.

Shannon watched as Emmett tried to open the car door. “You’re drunk,” she said.

“Hey, I’m the best drunk driver in the world. Just kidding! I’m not drunk.”

“I’ll be fine.” Fiona waved at Shannon and Rita. “I’ll see you at the party.”

Emmett handles his car the way he handles everybody she thought, knowing exactly when to switch gears, drop the hammer, brake. As in broken.

No stars. No moon. They stopped at a light, Fiona watching a man buy a bouquet of roses at a Chinese grocery. I wonder who they’re for? Lucky girl. Or guy.

“Hey, do you know where the word ‘anathema’ comes from?”

“No, but you’re gonna tell me, aren’t you?”

“Aren’t you interested?”

“No. But I am interested in history, theology, philosophy.”

“This is beyond theology. It’s goddess worship. God was a woman two thousand years ago.”

“Pagan.”

“You say it like it’s a bad thing.”

“I think you’ve been hanging out with that bull dyke drummer too much.”

“Hey! Rita’s my friend, you know.” Fiona turned to glare at him. “Anatha was the goddess the Canaanites worshipped, the fierce, bloodthirsty goddess of fertility. Of course Zeus banished her. Anathema’s the only sign she ever existed. Ever since, God has replaced the Goddess, and thousands of women have been accused of witchcraft, burned at the stake, etc.”

“According to who?”

“Whom. Forget it. You’ve never heard of them. All you read is porno magazines.”

“That’s not true!”

“Oh yeah. I forgot. Henry Miller. Misogynistic crap.”

Emmett clenched his fists round the steering wheel. “I read Nietzsche. Ellison. Phillip K. Dick. Kurt Vonnegut. William Burroughs.”

“Oh yeah. The junkie that murdered his wife in Mexico.”

“It was an accident.”

“Like their marriage? Playing William Tell with pistols. Brilliant.”

“You’re such a bitch.”

“You say it like it’s a bad thing.”

Emmett set his jaw.

Fiona sighed. “As far as I’m concerned any woman worth her salt has to be a bitch sometimes. What’s the corresponding male term for bitch anyway? Guess what? There isn’t one! The closest might be asshole, which is a perfectly acceptable thing for a man to be. It means he’s self-assured, determined. A man can bitch all he wants. A woman asserts an opinion and she’s an evil hag. Not a nice girl.”

He accelerated. “You have me confused with someone who gives a shit.”

Engine roaring, Emmett pulled out to pass a little green MG, Fiona’s head jerking back, hands flying to the dash. The MG sped up. “Now that’s an asshole,” muttered Emmett, overtaking the car.

“Yeah, Emmett. Why should you care? You’re in the driver’s seat.”

“And you’re not. That’s no accident.”

“You can’t stand that I have a brain! That I might wanna do more with my life than suck your cock.”

Emmett slammed on the brakes. “You think you’re gonna bust my balls!”

Crash-test-dummy flung forward, Fiona’s head met the windshield with a loud *THUD*. She saw stars. The moon. The sun.

“Talk about assholes!” A warm, sluggish rivulet of blood trickled toward her eye.

Emmett sat dumbfounded, mouth open, loose as a cornhole. Fiona heaved herself up and out of the Porsche.

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” she screamed, guts churning. “I’ll kill you!”

She delivered a mighty boot to the car door instead, turned and bolted, blundering along a row of cars, blindly seeking the sidewalk, cold air whirling around the base of her spine.

Emmett pulled up. “Get in.”

“I don’t think so!”

“Come on, Fiona!” His voice strained containing fury. “I’m sorry. I’m not even gonna get out and look at the damage.”

“No! You’re not sorry. Any kindness from you is just a fluke, as random as all the cruelty and bullshit. We are not going anywhere!”

Lips curdling, Emmett shouted, “Fine!” gunned it and sped off.

Boy, I really know how to pick ‘em. Where the fuck am I? Broadway and Main. Mt Pleasant. Yeah, right. Shit! Fiona couldn’t remember the address of the party. She wiped her eyes, slinging tears to the rain. Who can I call? Stumbling along Main St, Fiona trained her eyes on the North Shore Mountains, deep blue even at night. Nothing open. Fucking hick town! She spied a head full of pink foam curlers in a picture window, in an apartment above a shoe store, wondering what it must be like to live above a shoe store. A woman on a couch. Maybe some guy stood her up. Fiona sighed. If only. She saw lights on in a restaurant across the street. Yes! A Ukrainian restaurant. Hah! She peeked in to see the staff sitting at a table. Face smeared with blood and mascara, Fiona entered. She hated to ask.

“May I use your phone please?”

A hulking, meaty fellow and the cook, a large seasoned woman, frowned. His mother? She reminded Fiona of Grandma Koretchuck. They must think I’m crazy. I must look crazy.

“We’re closed.”

“It’s local.”

The cook shot Junior a No through narrowed eyes. They argued in Ukrainian. He grunted, rose and led Fiona to a red phone on the bar.

“Thank you!”

They sat in their white uniforms staring as she dialed home. Yeah, better watch out. I might steal something or run you through with a butcher knife. No answer. Everybody’s at the party! Having fun. With the Clash! She considered calling Rory. Forget it. She goes to bed with the chickens. God, this place stinks. Trying to make it look fancy but what’s fancy about peasant food? Fiona recalled Grandma Koretchuk, always miffed that her daughter-in-law, the French Mick Jeanette, cooked better cabbage rolls than she did. Of course, her mother’s were weird. They weren’t bland, greasy little green turds stuffed with sticky rice. Jeanette improvised, using an entire cabbage leaf for a single roll, roasting them under a pork rind with tomato sauce. Yum. God, I’m starving!

“What do you put in your perogies?”

The old woman stared blankly. Fiona felt like saying, take your precious perogies and your precious red phone and stuff ‘em up your big bohunk ass, lady. Bohunk. Jeanette loved calling her father a “bohunk.” And he called her “frog” or “pea souper.” What a pair! Nice family. No wonder I’m so fucked up.

She walked out and down the street, passing a derelict dance studio, a deli with checkerboard tiles beneath a shiny, paper machè bull’s head, snout painted on. Oh well, it’s closed too. She stopped at a crosswalk. What a fucked up neighborhood. No one around. What am I gonna do? Fiona found a one-dollar bill in the pocket of her jeans and a diner open. Relieved, she sat at the counter and tried to figure out her next move, ordered coffee. A pockmarked, mocha skinned man with a black eye sat fondling a young woman. Dying for a cigarette, Fiona moved over into his smoke. The man grinned and offered her one, flashing rings on nearly every finger.

“What’s your name young lady?”

“Fiona.” Shit. I should have lied.

“Hello. Perry Kashkouli.” Perry was Persian, neglected to introduce his girlfriend, who was gone anyhow, swaying, nodding off, lit cigarette in one hand, pretending to read the menu.

“So what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

“Are you serious?” Fiona realized he was as serious as the audaciously wide lapels and gold medallions gracing his furry chest. “How’d you get the shiner?”

Perry brightened. “Why, defending the honor of a damsel in distress.”

“That one?” Fiona pointed to the girl about to fall off her stool.

“Oh, she’s just taking a break. She’s a good girl. So what’s the lovely maiden doing out all by herself?”

“Oh, just taking a stroll.” Fiona leaned over an ashtray and wrung the rain out of her hair. The matronly waitress came over and topped her up. “Where’s Victoria Ave from here?” asked Fiona.

“East. About 20 blocks.”

“Can I walk it?”

“I don’t know.” The waitress sighed and set the coffee pot down. “Can you?”

“Hey. We’re leaving,” said Perry, rising, smiling. “We can drop you.”

“Ah, no thanks. I’m fine.”

“No, really. It’s no trouble at all. I insist.”

“Leave her alone, Perry,” said the waitress sternly.

He smiled and bowed, handing Fiona a business card. Shangri-La Escorts. The waitress snatched his bill off the counter and motioned him to the till.

“Call me anytime,” said Perry. “I’m always hiring.” He gathered up his mohair coat, the girl.

“Here,” said the waitress, grabbing a handful of change out of the tip jar. “Go over there across the street, catch a 25 to Kingsway, then transfer to the 20 Victoria.”

Fiona read her nametag. “Thanks Joyce!”

“I’ve got a daughter your age. At home, where she belongs.”

Fiona paced for twenty minutes, happy not to be in a car with that pimp and his junkie whore. And thank God for weary old waitresses. She was relieved finding everyone out when she finally arrived at the house, cold and black as a cave. Icing her bump, Fiona huddled in a blanket in front of the TV wondering why she took shit from anyone anymore.

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THE VIRGIN MARRIES DO MALIBU-”Town Slut’s Daughter” forthcoming novel excerpt


Heading to the studio, they wound their way along the curves of Pacific Coast Highway past sunning sea lions, surfers bobbing at Point Dume, shithawks—seagulls—bombing the pier. Fiona watched Dennis ogling a busty brunette astride a Palomino stallion bareback, galloping through roiling surf.
“You can see the gray whales during migration.” He told them smugglers used to run liquor, opium and Chinese labor through the area.
The studio sat under the lee of the mountains, a veritable citadel by the sea. The massive foyer, a circle of mahogany pillars, opened teepee-like, rays of sun warming the slate floor.
“Hey Virgins, it’s your first time!” joked Dennis. “In a studio.”
Producer Dan Foley ambled in, gently gruff in a RECOVERING CATHOLIC t-shirt, black jeans, lizard skin cowboy boots. He sat, Virgins arranging their bums on a bank of white couches.
“Okay, so what kind of a production values are you going for?” he asked, voice like sandpaper.
“Don’t you know?” Jackie clung to her guitar case.
“It’s your music. You tell me.”
Fiona knew. “Raw. Gritty.”
“Right,” said Rita. “And we want it tight.”
“Monster bass!” said Jackie. “I play bass like no one, melodically, but with a lot of guts.”
“Describe your sound. As a band I mean.”
Gawd. I wish we had a manager. “We sound like the Virgin Marries. Our drummer is a walking, talking, sonic boom. Our bass player is an original. Dolores plays her Les Paul like a band saw. It rips! We write excellent songs. The singer can actually sing. I have great stage presence too. We all do. Right, girls?” They nodded. “We’re talented. Fucking brilliant in fact.”
Dan feigned ducking, as if to avoid a blow. “Alright then. We have a band in the studio. Who’s responsible for the arrangements?”
Dolores groaned. “Arranging is for wimps. We don’t arrange our stuff.”
Rita brandished her drumsticks. “Yes we do! We don’t want a ton of effects, Linn drums, or a million overdubs.”
“No cowbells!” said Fiona. “I hate fucking cowbells. Let the farmers have ‘em.”
“Or synthesizers,” said Dolores.
“I hate saxophones almost as much as I hate cowbells. And flutes! I hate the flute. It reminds me of beatniks. And hippies.”
Dan stood at the window looking out over the mist-shrouded hills. “Okay, so you know what you don’t want. I will venture to say I think you need a clean sound. Organic. Unrestrained. Untainted.”
“Organic?” bleated Jackie.
“Yeah. Organic, as in authentic. Virginal. Pure. Virgin Marries, doing what comes natural.”
“Er, yeah, okay.” Jackie feigned gagging. “But we are not hippies!”

Pink Sombreros

The cowboy led his horse to water
The horse refused to drink
The cowboy roped a steer one day
The steer was full of sawdust
The cowboy saw a sign in the sky
Revolving neon stars

Dudes in white fringes live here now
Dudes in pink sombreros are here to stay

The cows are lowing, the myth is dying
This land can break my heart
I have no place to go
Beyond my wild whisky dreams

“How about piano?”
“Gimme a break! Do you want us to sound like the Eagles?”
Rita glared at Fiona. “We couldn’t sound like the Eagles if we tried!”
“It is a ballad,” said Dan.
“Yeah, it’s a ballad,” said Fiona, “but it’s a cowboy song. I hear guitars.”
“Guitar yes, of course, but this song, a wonderful song by the way, should be played on acoustic. Just the rhythm parts.”
“Acoustic!” yelped Dolores.
“Yes. Acoustic will make it a classic. Showcase the vocals. A little piano in the bridge.” Dan leveled his eyes at Fiona. “And another thing. Hit songs do not have minor chords.”
Let’s hit you. Fiona sighed.
“I thought you were tired of Continue reading

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