Monday, November 30, 2009



1. Went back to Porn Valley, wrote and published an essay about it, loved it, hated it, got 850,000 page views, wished I could go back, turned my back on it, wondered if I should leave it all behind or do it again, again.

2. Drove to DC, got cold as fuck, holed up in a hotel, went to Walter Reed, saw a freaky baby girl in a jar, freaked out about it, wandered around the J. Edgar Hoover Building, saw stuffed wild animals attacking one another, drove home on a bridge that sat on the water and then dove under it, came back out the other side.

3. Flew to NYC, partied, drank, smoked, dated, saw the future, saw a graveyard, saw a woman dressed in meat, saw a man pretend to be Tolstoy wishing he was dead, came home, went to bed.

4. Worked on my novel, hated it, loved it, broke up with my agent, cried, gave up, tried again, despaired, conflicted, got really into it, concluded it was super great, sent it to some people, they loved it, they hated it, tried to finish it, revised it, wondered if it would ever end, if it was a Gordian knot, if it was the story of my life, if it was something in between.

5. Blogged, quit blogging, took a break from blogging, started a new blog, decided blogging was dead, decided I needed to blog, couldn't figure out how I got eaten by a blog, blogged, blogged again, blogged some more, couldn't figure out what to write about, wrote anyway, that is, blogged.

6. Took photographs, liked that it's one of the rare times in which I do not think, wanted to think less, thought too much about thinking less, went to sleep and never thought again, until I woke up and started thinking all over again.

7. Went on some dates, met some men, couldn't figure out what to do with them, heard Wendy when she said, "Keep your light on," cleaned the apartment, bought some clothes, lost some weight, got my hair done, kept the goddamn light on.

8. Did yoga, sucked, got better, relapsed, tried again, bowed, lay on the floor, sweating, in the dark, waiting for something to happen.

9. Decided I'd move to NYC, decided I'd move to DC, decided I'd move to LA, decided I can't stand people who can't make up their minds, tried to leave it all behind, wanted to let it all go, leaped, retreated, moved forward, went backwards, sailed in circles.

10. Got on my knees and prayed to God for a 2010 comeback, sat in the bathtub and thought, Asperges me, and waited for deliverance.

Friday, November 27, 2009


The other day, I was looking at this, and I was going through some of my books, and I found this, an anthology called Homewrecker to which I was asked to contribute several years ago, and which includes a story I wrote, "Belonging Impossible, Longing All There Is," which I believe I wrote in late 2004. In any case, I thought I would republish it here.


The relationship between the husband and the wife was in a bad state. The husband had cheated on the wife. Now, there were a great many walls between them. Something had to be done. One day, the wife woke up, and when the husband went to work, she went to the store around the corner. There, she bought herself a sledgehammer. She took the sledgehammer home, wrapped in a sheet of brown paper, and with it knocked down all the interior walls of the apartment in which they lived. That night, the husband returned home. He was surprised to find the mess the wife had made of their life. There was dust everywhere--in her hair, in his gin and tonic, in their underwear drawer. Over dinner, the husband asked the wife what she had done. The wife shrugged her shoulders and smiled at the husband as if to ask what else could she have done? At this, the husband realized he was sorry. From that point onward, the husband decided he would be true to her. Afterward, things were better. The husband and the wife could see each other when they were at home in their apartment; it was hard to hide anything from one another when everything could be seen. Eventually, the wife returned the sledgehammer to the store, explaining to the young man working behind the counter why she didn't need it anymore. For his part, the young man was helpful and obliging, as if he understood what the wife was saying, even though the young man was soft in a way that reminded the wife of the husband years ago. Later, the wife found herself in the storage room of the store, her rear end situated atop an unvarnished wooden workbench, where, it appeared, she was having sex with the young man from behind the counter. After that, the wife went home. In a way, she felt better, as if somehow things had swung back into balance, but she also felt worse, as if what had swung back into balance had at the same time lost its moorings altogether. She considered this as she made dinner. The husband was sitting in his armchair at the other end of the apartment with no walls. He appeared to be reading, but he was watching her from over the top of the newspaper that he was pretending to read. There was something different about her, he knew, and while he suspected it was unfamiliar to her, it was familiar to him. The wife looked over her shoulder at the husband, across the great expanse of space between them, and she recognized that she did not know what this situation was or what to do about it. The wife turned away from the husband. She went into the bathroom, the last room with walls. The husband came to the door and told the wife to come out, but she did not; she did not even reply. Instead, the wife sat on the lowered toilet seat lid, her chin on her palm, thinking about how while it had seemed on the outside that things had gotten better, she had come to find that on the inside, things were not better at all. The husband stood on the other side of the door, listening to whatever it was the wife was doing. The wife picked up a small dictionary sitting on the tank of the toilet, and she began reading out loud from it, making her way through the As. When she arrived at the word "adultery," she paused. She could hear the husband breathing on the other side of the door. Here was the entry and the meaning of the word. She read it loudly, as if she was trying to make some kind of a point. On the page, she could see, there was an illustration of an adulterer, a companion for the words that described it. She looked at the drawing, and she realized it was a portrait of herself; although, when she closed her eyes and opened them again, the drawing looked like her husband. It was hard to tell. On the other side of the door, the husband was frightened; the words the wife had spoken made him anxious, but the silence that had followed was unbearable. He asked the wife why she wouldn't come out so they could talk about this like adults. The wife heard what the husband was saying, but she didn't want to do that. There was nothing adult about any of this, especially when she had been in the storage room with her legs spread wide amidst all that white plumbing, feeling like she was fourteen again. The husband could hear the desperation in his voice as his words bounced off the bathroom door and back at him. It was impossible, he feared, to reach her. The wife stood in front of the bathroom mirror. She balanced the dictionary on her head like a beauty queen and pirouetted once, sticking her tongue out at the bathroom door. On the other side of the door, the husband fell to his knees, and through the keyhole demanded to know what she was doing. The wife got on her knees at the door. She could see the eye of the husband peering in at her through the keyhole. With one hand snaking up the wall, she turned the bathroom light on and off, watching the husband's pupil contract and dilate as she did so. She had a powerful effect on him, located at such a deep level that even he could not control it. In the past, this knowledge had kept her company, but she felt sad and lonely with it in the bathroom. The wife went to the bathtub and turned on both faucets, creating a racket that drowned out the husband. As the tub filled, the wife focused all her energies on ignoring the small person inside herself who wanted to turn the doorknob and let the husband into this interior of hers. She had to do something; she knew this. So, the wife took off her clothes, unlocked the door, ran across the bathroom, and leaped into the tub, submerging herself under the surface of the water. In one hand, she held a tampon insertion device, devoid of its tampon, above the water level. Through it, the wife breathed like the deep sea snorkeler she knew she could become if she dumped all this and moved to Australia, or Fiji, or some place like that. There the wife lay, staring at the ceiling. The husband's face entered the frame of her vision. The husband was talking to the wife, but she couldn't understand what he was saying because the only thing she could hear was the vast nothingness of water pressing in upon her, making her feel safe, which was all she had ever really wanted in life. If it was water that would be there for her in this, then water would be it. The wife watched the husband's mouth say the letter I, then M, then S, then O, then R, then another R, then a Y. She was angry, self-sunk in this sea of hers, because Y was it, wasn't it? Why the husband had done this. Why she had done this. Why they had come to this, her with a tampon insertion device in her mouth and him apologizing to her over a toilet. She could stay like this for the rest of her life, coming out only to de-prune and loll about on the bathroom rug, but it was possible that one night, gazing out the window and staring at the moon, thinking about the boy at the store, she might see the boy below her in the halo of the streetlamp, walking home with a young girl tucked under his arm, and the only thing she would be able to do would be to toss a roll of toilet paper out the window at him. Here, at least, the husband was sorry. The wife moved the tube to her eye so she could see the husband better through her periscope. It looked like he was crying, there was something falling from his eyes, but the wife couldn't tell if it was tears or not, since she was in the water. She had to know. She sat up in the tub, and she threw the tampon insertion device across the room. The husband stood limp before her. The only thing the husband knew was that he didn't know what he knew anymore or what to do about it. The wife waited. Slowly, the husband peeled off his clothes, and he climbed into the tub, sitting in the water across from the wife, so the two of them faced one another. There they were, this husband and this wife, two piles of skin stretched over taut muscles hung on fragile bones. He had done something terrible, put himself out for sale on a fluorescent-lit supermarket aisle like a package of chicken parts, all pink flesh and yellow skin, and some woman had come along, eyed his price tag, checked his expiration date, and thrown him into her basket. He had gone home with her, laying himself upon her plate, sacrificing himself to this cannibal of their marriage, making a totemic feast of their life. Still, the husband and the wife knew there was something here between them, something more dim than bags of meat and bone. They had slipped out of one body, into the arms of others, and, within these four walls, discovered they only had each other. They were intertwined like legs under a table, on loan between God and the grave, two books checked out from the library with a debt to be repaid. Belonging impossible, longing all there is, he was the man of her days, she was the apple of his eyes, and it was in each other's company that they hoped they would one day die.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009


TORO Magazine interviewed me about "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?"
Q: What do you think of the psychological, emotional unease that runs through your narrative, the sense that working in porn has become harder?

A: It's tough. Being a porn star isn't easy. I don't fully understand why that's some kind of a shock for people. What did they think? That getting fucked in the ass for a living was a fun time?
There's also a gallery of my photographs.

TORO: "The Business of Porn."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I've written previously about Condition: Critical, an online project created by MSF, otherwise known as Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders. The project focuses on the ongoing conflict in Eastern Congo, particularly the women and children who have been victimized by a civil war in which rape is used as a war tactic.

(For expert coverage of the conflict, Jeffrey Gettleman does it better than anyone else. See: "Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War" and "Rape Victims' Words Help Jolt Congo Into Change.")

Today is the launch day of the final chapter of Condition: Critical. This week, the site will feature a series of videos, including that of Françoise, who was severely burned when her home was set on fire, and the door locked. One of her children died in the fire. The other died at the hospital.
Whichever way I look, forward or back, I can't see a beginning or an end. I ask myself, how will I live my life? The pain of my body is bearable. It's nothing compared to the wounds in my heart.
If you want to donate to MSF, you can do so here.

[Condition: Critical, YouTube, Blip]

Monday, November 23, 2009


Today, I got my contributor's copy of the new issue of Fray in the mail. The theme is "Sex & Death."

For my contribution, I wrote about The Letters Project, a year-long, two-part online project I created, which consisted of Letters from Johns and Letters from Working Girls.
If the question is, Why do men pay for sex?, their answers are legion. Because they're lonely. Because they're bored. Because their wives won't screw them. Because they're stressed out. Because they want somebody to touch them. Because they want to fuck. Because girls are pretty. Because sex is everything that they aren't feeling. Because they can.
The issue also includes two letters from the project.

"I Am Ashamed of Nothing I Have Done":
One can try to hang a sign on us, the collective john, as perpetuating the global conspiracy of sex/slave traffic, and I'll grant that my Thailand trip may have/probably did contribute to some sort of thuggery. But in the end, I am ashamed of nothing I have done.
"I Am a Journalist Call Girl":
I am not terribly good at writing letters, which is strange because my day job is one for which I write constantly. I am a journalist call girl. Or at least I was, until recently. I met someone. I quit before he had a chance to ask me to. It's just easier that way.
The illustration editor is my pal Chris Bishop, who created the site for and illustrated "They Shoot Porn Stars, Don't They?" Other contributors include Dan Savage, Jack Boulware, and my friend Eric Spitznagel.

Thank you to Fray creator Derek Powazek for including me.

You can buy a copy here.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Ever since I stopped writing about you know what all the time, I have no idea what to blog about. In the meantime, I can't decide whether to move to NYC or DC next, probably in January.

In that spirit, I created a poll, which can be found in the left-hand sidebar of this blog. Since I couldn't make up my mind, I figured I'd let random strangers decide.

Your choices are: a.) NYC, b.) DC, and c.) Mars. If you all vote for Mars, I guess I'll have to do some additional research. If you all choose either NYC or DC, I'll move wherever wins. The poll decides at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Remember, my future is in your hands. Vote with reckless impunity.

Have a great weekend, because you're awesome, and you voted.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of the highlights of my trip to New York City last week was a visit to The Strand, one of the oldest bookstores in the city, which features 18 miles of books. I about died. It was this book-lovers dream come true.

And it wasn't just the books, right? The place was packed, filled with people who had come from all over the city and all over the world to stare at, and fondle, and buy books. Nothing but books, everywhere you looked.

In 2005, I lost most of my books, but I am slowly replacing them. I bought a trio of Faulkners -- As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and The Sound and the Fury -- and I even found a copy of a book I never expected to find, City of Glass: The Graphic Novel. I've read them all before, but nothing beats having them in your possession. Then they're there for you whenever you need them.

When I got home, I started re-reading As I Lay Dying, which is probably my favorite Faulkner novel, although that's like picking your favorite child.
And at night it is better still. I used to lie on the pallet in the hall, waiting until I could hear them all asleep, so I could get up and go back to the bucket. It would be black, the shelf black, the still surface of the water a round orifice in nothingness, where before I stirred it awake with the dipper I could see maybe a star or two in the bucket, and maybe in the dipper a star or two before I drank. After that, I was bigger, older.
I wondered what agents and editors would say today if Faulkner wasn't Faulkner. What's with the bucket, Bill? Enough with the bucket already! Get on with it and tell the damn story.

Last night, I dreamed I was trapped in a bathroom with Paul Auster. I put my hands over my face in horror. "The only way this could have been worse is if this was Faulkner!" I wailed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


What I've been listening to lately ...

The Scientists, "We Had Love."

Diddy and Dirty Money, "Love Come Down."

Beyonce and Lady Gaga, "Video Phone."

Optimus Gryme remix of Lil' Wayne, "A Milli."

Denots MCs, "Movimiento."

Nicki Minaj, "I Get Crazy."

Ohio Players, "Pain" (via Kevin Depew).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Here's an excerpt from my novel, Happy, and a photo I took last week of Andy Warhol's Skull at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Over time, there was a certain numbing. Occasionally, it was as if he was observing his actions through a pane of smoked glass. With increasing frequency, he awoke from night terrors in which he could not locate his firearm. In the company of Charon's chattel, he had been forced to admit that whatever delicate system enabled him to do this job was likely being irreparably damaged by doing it. Of course, it was hard to know, when you were surrounded by homicidal maniacs, when you bore witness to death every day you lived, when you got home at night and the guy in the mirror looked a lot like you, only deader.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Back from trip to New York. Spent, tired, sleepy. Trip was way better than I expected.

I took this photograph of a girl statue in some hall at the Met.

She was sleeping, amongst the Warhols and Pollocks.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Having an amazing time in NYC.

Plan is to move here early next year.

I. Can't. Wait.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Party for The Frisky at 1 Oak. L to R: Drew, Wendy, me, Joanne, Jason. Wendy was the dance floor queen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Today, I came to New York City. Hopefully, I will never leave. Not soon, anyway.

Linda worried the whole flight. I, on the other hand, never worry.

Hello, lovah.

Later, she will shake her groove thing on the dance floor, and you will think, is this New York?, shaking your booty?, if so, I want more.

I am Michael Clayton.

Does your bathroom look like this? Me thinks not. We spent the night at a party, but I didn't bring my camera, because I wanted to remember how things were, not what they looked like.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


In the early part of next year, I'll likely be moving. To either NYC or DC. But I can't decide which one. DC would enable me to do a new project that I've had in mind for some time. NYC would be, well, a dream.

I don't remember a time when I didn't want to live in NYC. My father grew up in Brooklyn, in Flatbush. I love it because it is larger than life, like me.

DC is sort of like the opposite of everything I know. Cold as fuck. Built like a prison. A weird kind of wunderkammer, if you dig deep enough in the right spots.

For a while, I was hoping I would return to LA, but it seems like that's not going to happen. The old life is dead. The only question that remains is where the new one begins.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Looking for more photojournalism on the web? Like big pictures? Here are some of the photojournalism sites that I check daily ...

Lens. As usual, the does it better than anyone else. Nice emphasis on keeping it timely, understanding words are as important as images, and bringing compelling stories alive in dynamic ways. Often focuses on the stories behind the images. A few favorites: "In Dark Corners, Hope," "To Publish or Not?", "Chop and Crop," "Digital Manipulation," "Afghanistan."

Photo Journal. The Wall Street Journal's online daily roundup of photojournalism. Sometimes shocking, sometimes schlocky, the large format and brilliant colors make up for what's lacking in terms of originality. Where to go to get the day's news in pictures. Here: "A mental patient participated in a therapy session at the Galuh foundation in East Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday. The facility houses underprivileged mental patients. (Beawiharta/Reuters)"

The Big Picture. How the Boston Globe got it right before anyone else will forever remain a mystery, but The Big Picture set the bar high on large format news pics and remains the king of visual storytelling. The only problem is that posting is definitely not daily and seems somewhat irregular. Still, searing, encompassing stories like "2009 UN World Drug Report" have no peer.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Someone has been clever enough to uploaded the HBO documentary "Alive Day Memories" to YouTube.
In a war that has left more than 25,000 wounded, ALIVE DAY MEMORIES: HOME FROM IRAQ looks at a new generation of veterans. Executive Producer James Gandolfini interviews ten Soldiers and Marines who reveal their feelings on their future, their severe disabilities and their devotion to America. The documentary surveys the physical and emotional cost of war through memories of their "alive day," the day they narrowly escaped death in Iraq.
Watch: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6. The doc reairs on HBO On Demand starting next week, or you can buy the DVD.

Michael Jernigan, who was blinded and severely injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, is now a contributor to the Home Fires blog. From "The Minefield at Home":
Rewind to 2005. I am sitting in the house alone in the dark. I do not know where the light switches are. What does it matter anyway? I cannot see light.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Susannah Breslin

This is the home of my new blog. I'll be blogging here from now on, about everything under the sun and then some. Stay tuned.