Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

New York Tyrant #7

I have a new piece in New York Tyrant #7, which can be ordered here. There's also great work by Alex Balk, Blake Butler, Erich Hintze, Brian Kubarycz, Christopher Kennedy, Joseph Cardinale, Jason Schwartz, Greg Mulcahy, Luca Dipierro, Rachel B. Glaser, Ken Baumann, Peter Gajdics, Peter Markus, Shane Jones, Conor Madigan, Scott Indrisek, Harry Cheadle, Joshua Furst, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.
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B.L. Pawelek Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #230 James Beach


[Click on the postcard to enlarge.]

[Below is the text from the interview that B.L. Pawelek used to write/draw James Beach's life story.]

My favorite thing is a dictionary. My major project is a metafictional novel, begun during a flirtation with Denver and then dropped (temporarily) when my laptop was stolen this month. I’ve got about half of it on my thumb-drive. What’s exciting about writing it is the freedom that trying out a new form (genre) affords. Then I wrote a self-deprecating piece called “I Should Be on Hollywood Squares” due to my crazy side that’s convinced I’m being watched and joked about. I suppose my reasons for writing fiction stemmed from a psychological gob of reasons. My reasons include a) admiration for entertainment; b) a starving ego; c) the autonomous hard-wiring of a Capricorn; d) wanting to “be heard”; e) deep-seated unhappiness with the world forming itself round me; and f) the silly notion that my voice matters as much as that of Baum or Carroll or Cleary or Tolkien or Lewis. I’m so very thankful to all the great writers for sharing their gifts. I don’t know where my home is, anymore. I know my birthplace is St. Paul and yet I think I “grew up” in Santa Fe, in my early thirties. My family is comprised of whichever artists or art-supporters happen to be near me at any given moment. I really want kids. My proudest moment happened in fifth grade, when I won the school’s annual logo design contest and I saw everybody wearing my design on their tee-shirts. Who is your best friend? Why? God. Because. Just be-cause. I’m also suffering from the delusion that the Ego is personal space, and the Id is shared space, and so herein lies the human condition. Describe your writing in 10 words, no more no less. A VITAL INRUSIVE INTENSE BORINGLY ALLEGORICAL ROMP ON THE MOON. Describe who you are in three words. Clairvoyant Sick Id. My inspiration: counterculture, free thought, illicit substances, a high I.Q., excessive teasing from stupider people, the state of our pre-fab nation, voices beyond the grave, a knowledge of what could be/could’ve been, the spin of revolution, a love of literature, an awe for poetry, respect for my elders, my ego/your id. possibly gospel appears in Wood Coin.

[Wood Coin: an Online Magazine]
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60 Writers/60 Places in NYC

There are two screenings of 60 Writers/60 Places in NYC next week--December 11 at Pratt and December 12 at PPOW Gallery. There's more information, plus stills and more trailers, here.

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My Narrative Mind

I have an interview with Joanna Howard up at my interview column for The Faster Times, Writers on Writing. We talk about her new collection, On the Winding Stair, story openings, and how to get from one sentence to the next.

More interviews @ Writers on Writing:
I Am Not a Camera: Gary Lutz
A Ribbon of Language: Blake Butler
What People Do When No One is Watching: Rachel Sherman
Justify Every Sentence: Laura van den Berg
Most Violence Is Intimate: Ben Tanzer
I'm Not Trying to Trick the Reader: Brian Evenson
Where Commas Ordinarily Go: Robert Lopez
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#229 Samantha Peltz: Future Diplomat

Samantha Peltz was born in 1991 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first grandchild for both sides of the family, so everything she did was amazing. When she was 3, she gave an eloquent speech about her Poppy at his 70th birthday, which really was amazing. Samantha was quite verbal as a little girl (and still is). When she was in first and second grade, she had a pink t-shirt that she wore every day. Luckily, she had two of these t-shirts so she could wear one while the other one was being washed. Samantha has always been comforted by clutter and the carpet in her bedroom is often completely covered by all the things on the floor. Samantha has always loved learning things and is an awesome student. She analyzes almost everything and asks a lot of questions. From an early age, Samantha could look at things from several different angles, which makes her good at winning arguments, and may lead to her becoming the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court some day. When Samantha was in 5th grade, she really wanted to be in the Chicago Children’s Choir. Singing makes her happy. She auditioned, but didn’t make it, so she practiced the whole next year and made it in 6th grade. Samantha keeps trying until she gets what she wants. With the Chicago Children’s Choir, she has made great friends and traveled to Japan and the Czech Republic, which opened up the world for Samantha. Since then, she has also traveled to Spain, Italy, India, and throughout the U.S. In many of these places, she lived with local families. Samantha has always been eager to meet people. She is fun and funny. The younger kids that she has taught in religious school and at an arts camp really like her. Samantha is the one in the group who gets everybody to do something crazy. For instance, this past year, history class focused on historic court cases and she role-played some of the people in period costume with great theatricality. Samantha's travels have created some of her great interest in world affairs and human rights. She is an intern at Human Rights Watch and is the head of her S.T.A.N.D. chapter, a student group raising awareness about Darfur. She is also the captain of the Model U.N. team at her school. Right now, Samantha is a senior in high school and working on her college applications. She hasn’t decided on a major yet, but she’s thinking about a career as a lawyer or a diplomat (or both).
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It Will Be Monumental

Tuesday, December 1, there will be a short from I WILL SMASH YOU, the segment concerning the awesome Adam Robinson, It Will Be Monumental, at the CineCity Film Festival in Brighton, England, along with shorts by Stewart Copeland and others--curated by the great Mar Belle, host of Directors Notes, a fantastic podcast for independent filmmaking, which interviewed Luca and me about I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES.
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#78 Timothy Gager: The Greater Things

Timothy Gager was born in 1961in rural Long Island. He had a mostly sheltered childhood and didn’t leave the house much, though he can recite television schedules from his childhood (really, ask him). He had his first crush on a girl when they were in fifth grade. They were playing together when the neighbor’s dog ran up to them, started humping the girl, and then ejaculated on her. That was the end of their brief, traumatic relationship and Timothy didn’t have another girlfriend until college. That was when he started playing in punk bands, the most popular of which was The Maytags (listed on Billboard’s charts for a time), and, well, he was the singer, so he had lots of girlfriends. After college, Timothy worked in a Mexican restaurant by day and played up and down the East Coast with The Maytags by night. Eventually, that stopped being fun and Timothy became a social worker, working his way up to his current position as Human Service Coordinator for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During the band days, one of Timothy’s bandmates hung himself and Timothy started writing in a journal to cope with this loss. It helped and now Timothy’s published three books—Twenty-Six Pack, Short Street, and We Needed a Night Out. Along the way, Timothy also got married, fathered two children, and then divorced. He gets along with his ex-wife better now than when they were married. Timothy isn’t good at relationships, but he’s happy by himself. The other thing that you should know about Timothy is that his spirituality is the result of a near death experience in 1980—when he left his body and had to make a choice: return to his body or continue to the afterlife. If Timothy had continued to the afterlife, then he would have known everything that humans can know. Timothy realized that he wanted to do other things with his life on earth first, but this near death experience gave him insight: a greater knowledge exists and there are even greater things beyond that.

[Update: Timothy Gager's new book of flash and micro fictions, Treating a Sick Animal, is just out.]
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#42 The Possibilities of E


E grew up in a creative family in Teaneck, NJ, and had a good childhood, except at school where she was picked on for being the smart kid. Being the smart kid, she planned to attend Harvard University and then become a heart surgeon, but after working as an EMT in high school she decided that making art was her only option. Her parents were disappointed in this decision and told E that they wouldn’t consider her a quitter if she dropped out of art school at MICA and studied pre-med at Hopkins instead. She continued with her printmaking studies at MICA, but found the medium limiting and switched to oil paint. Around this same time, E contracted HPV and developed cervical cancer. She underwent a series of painful surgeries and treatments. The most painful aspect of this, however, was when her mother told her that it was her fault. Their close relationship changed after that, but E is healthy again, and the difficult experience made her more responsible, more independent, and more self-sufficient. E recently switched from oil paint to acrylic paint and has mostly stopped using paintbrushes in favor of paint scrapers, which, of course, are usually used to remove paint. E’s new paintings exhibit her personal alphabet of abstract symbols that are full of implication. The possibilities for these new paintings—and the new E who creates them—are limitless.

[Update: After graduating, E’s three jobs weren’t enough to live on so she moved back home with her parents where she worked as a receptionist in a warehouse, which she hated, especially since she is paranoid about talking to people on the telephone. She also had an internship at a Chelsea gallery where she tried to be such a phenomenal archives intern that they would have to hire her. She was, but they didn’t. E felt like a failure. Months later, she found a job as a studio manager at a textile design studio and it’s inspiring and she loves it. A few months later, E’s parents put the family house up for sale and separated. E wishes that her parents had done this when she was younger, when everybody else’s parents were doing it, and she had some friends to relate to it. Also, last April, after an 11-year struggle with Alzheimer’s E’s grandfather died, which is still difficult to talk about or think about even though she knew it was going to happen. E’s grandmother donated his brain to Alzheimer’s research, which is a small comfort. In July, E moved to an apartment in the Bronx, which she loves. And she wishes that Nik were in NYC; it’s lonely without him. ]
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Tonight: I WILL SMASH YOU @ 14 Karat Cabaret

There's a rave review of I WILL SMASH YOU in the City Paper. Bret McCabe says some really nice things, including this: "What's disarming about the entire process is not the clever, collateral entertainment damage that comes from staged violence; what emerges from these brief snippets are miniature personality portraits of human beings." There's a screening tonight in Baltimore (click on the flyer for details).

If you're interested in setting up a screening of I WILL SMASH YOU in your city, leave a comment or email me and I'll send you a DVD.

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#228 Nick Kane Collaborates with Everybody

Nick Kane was born in 1983, the oldest of 6 kids. His mom struggled with eating and prescription meds. His dad was abusive. His mom often ran away from home (and so did Nick). To manage, Nick would often go break dancing. He was never home if he could help it. As a kid, Nick loved magic because you can create your own reality with magic. At 12, Nick’s parents divorced. All the kids got put in separate foster homes, which was terrible. Nick didn’t know his brothers and sisters for much of his childhood. In high school, Nick explored many religions and eventually found his faith as an open-minded Christian. He ran an underground dance club and made a public access TV show with dance, improv, and stunts. Nick was also politically active, held office in student government, and started a massage club. In college, Nick studied dance and film. Eventually, he became a dance addict—giving dance lessons during the day and going out dancing nearly every night. When Nick is in motion, everything fits and he connects with people on a spiritual level. In 2002, Nick was carjacked, kidnapped, robbed, and almost murdered. The kidnapper took him to a secret crack house where they thought he was a narc and tried to kill him. Eventually, Nick escaped. That same year, Nick started an arts-based church (ABC) that worshipped god with art. For years, he lived in and ran a coffee shop his friend owned (it had open mics, karaoke, and live bands). Nick was kicked out when he refused to fire an employee unjustly. Then he did fine art photography, had shows, did photos for local papers, and shot weddings. After that, Nick started a non-profit called SAFE (Starving Artist Food and Employment) that brought food to artists and found them work teaching or doing their art. Nick lost his virginity when he was date raped by a girl he knew. In 2004, Nick got his dream job—working the teleprompter and floor directing for NBC. Unfortunately, NBC fired him 2 days from being union. Nick was devastated. After that, Nick was recruited (for surveillance photography) and trained to be a tactical crowd control riot officer, but he ended up using his guard card to work security at Taco Bell. In 2006, Nick moved out to LA with only $300. He lived with a friend (#210 Erik Larson) for 2 months and then lived in his car for a year. Nick took showers at Venice Beach and worked for free as a PA and grip to gain film set experience. Nick loved this life until he got sick and there was nobody to take care of him. He went back home to heal before coming back to LA, where he thought he had a paid post-production job set up. The job didn’t happen so Nick just kept showing up until they hired him. Nick found a place to live, organized his housemates into an intentional community, and taught free weekly dance lessons to the public. Nick has never loved money. In 2009, he got really poor, so he signed up to be a human test subject for NASA, but did not pass the tests. Nick still works as a grip in the movie business (he loves light). He’s really proud of the music video he directed. Besides film crew gigs, Nick does background acting, sells popsicles on the beach, teaches kids after school, does street performances, and makes appearances as a clown to earn money. Nick dresses up as a ninja to make youtube videos and he collaborates with other artists any way he can.

Video of Nick dancing.
Behind the scenes of a music video Nick directed.
Nick doing his ninja thing.
Nick appears briefly in a green suit on Community, Season 1, Episode 4, toward the end, around 20 minutes.
Photo credits: Andre Andreev
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Where Commas Ordinarily Go

I have an interview with Robert Lopez up at my interview column for The Faster Times, Writers on Writing. We talk about his new novel, Kamby Bolongo Mean River, writing with constraints, the revision process, and commas.

More interviews @ Writers on Writing:
I Am Not a Camera: Gary Lutz
A Ribbon of Language: Blake Butler
What People Do When No One is Watching: Rachel Sherman
Justify Every Sentence: Laura van den Berg
Most Violence Is Intimate: Ben Tanzer
I'm Not Trying to Trick the Reader: Brian Evenson
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Rave Review of I WILL SMASH YOU

There's a rave review of I WILL SMASH YOU in the City Paper. Bret McCabe says some really nice things, including this: "What's disarming about the entire process is not the clever, collateral entertainment damage that comes from staged violence; what emerges from these brief snippets are miniature personality portraits of human beings." And this: "Kimball and Dipierro have put together a collection of money shots that make you care about who's coming and why." And this: "It's the reasons why that stay with you when all that's left is rubble."

There's a screening of I WILL SMASH YOU in Baltimore on Friday, November 20th @ 14 Karat Cabaret. It's part of a Shattered Wig night and a Critic's pick.
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