A Night Out

On a rare night out with my husband, we drove to an independent bookshop where a guy we like was reading an excerpt from his new book. I felt tentatively hopeful. I almost never go out in the evening.  I was pleased to be doing something arty for a change.

We sat in the front row of chairs, since there weren’t many set up in the aisle at the back of the store. An affable guy read from his book about encounters on the bus. Then, the guy we came to see introduced himself and read a short chapter of a charming, offbeat memoir of his childhood in New York.

Another guy quickly replaced him and introduced himself. His name was Chris D. I should have been warned by that D.

He gazed at his shoes and began a rambling account of his various artistic endeavors:  He was involved in music for 20 years, he had written several unproduced screenplays, poems, and short stories. He noted that some of his stories were based on dreams. He introduced a story about a couple of  war veterans from Vietnam, describing their convoluted situation.

He began to read the worst piece of writing I have ever heard in my entire life. He read in a deep-voiced monotone. Some GI was shooting dope with a Vietnamese prostitute named “Lucky.” The dope-shooting was described in lurid, over-the-top detail.  Veins, blood, abscesses, verbs, more blood, adjectives, then sex. “They fell to the floor and fucked each others brains out.”

I stared at my hands and played with my hair. I wanted to kill that fucker. I imagined a question and answer period after the reading, where I would confront him with the question: “Are you a junkie or just a fucking idiot?”

He read for close to 30 minutes. No cliche escaped him: It was hackneyed melodrama, both dismal and pointless.

We left the second he stopped reading. Outside as we walked to the car, I exclaimed, “What a fucking motherfucker!” My husband agreed. He added that the guy had once been in a band called The Flesh Eaters.

Back home, I googled Chris D and saw how important he was to the L.A. punk scene.

Nothing is sacred, not even old punkers.

I am left with these two thoughts:

1. I am fucking Tolstoy compared to that bastard Chris D.
2. I can’t even enjoy a simple night out.

This entry was posted in Art, Horrible Stuff, Rants, Words and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to A Night Out

  1. Mo'Nique says:

    Numbers 1 and 2 — hilarious.

  2. Eliza says:

    Haha, author readings, my favorite part of working in a bookstore. I especially love the self-published, sometimes it’s alien activity in local ghost lore, cicada recipes, or somebody one of the employees went to high school with who compares himself to Kerouac and Sinatra on the back cover.

  3. Juri says:

    My questions to Chris D. would be:

    1. Which do you think is more tragic: a 57-year-old man’s fascination with shooting up, asian hookers and Vietnam (“you weren’t there, man”), or the existence of something called “punk scene” in 2010?

    2. Would growing up and coming up with just one original idea constitute as “selling out” and lead to immediate exclusion from the punk religion?

    3. Which of the two parts of the quote on your Wikipedia page do you find more ridiculous: the quote, “Live, Chris D. would shriek like he was conducting the last performance before Satan’s bloody rapture, and as if he just might be taking the audience down with him,” OR the title of the book it was taken from (“Heavy Punk Thunder from the Lake of Burning Fire” by Jay Hinman)?

  4. You two thoughts are so funny that even ‘Lucky’ is agreeing with you!

  5. Ann says:

    Damn you, Juri, for making me check out this guy’s Wiki page!

    Sister, in the last several days, you’ve taught me about pony play, Genesis P-Orridge and now Chris D. My cup runneth over! But I am deeply sorry your night out sucked.

    I love you!

  6. annemarie says:

    He probably wrote that wiki entry himself.

  7. Sheri says:

    1. True.
    2. That really sucks. Maybe next time try a tango lesson?

  8. Witch Moma says:

    Keep going out at nite. The good/enjoyable entertainment is out there – sometimes you hit it, sometimes not. The important thing is that you get out & see what’s going on. With your man or with friends too.

  9. Cricket9 says:

    I do feel sorry for you for enduring this. I just wonder how many people (OK, how many girls) get terribly excited over Chris D. because HE WAS IN A BAND!!! Next thing you know, he’ll be married to someone 30 years younger, who will be blogging about her fashion “snags” and purchases…

  10. Bourbon Drinker Known as MJ says:

    I’ve been to many readings, and I feel you. Just when something surprises you as better than expected, someone else introduces a flying turd.

  11. Jill says:

    I’m with Witch Moma…sometimes your sake cup runneth over, sometimes it turns into a rice paddy.

  12. Haha says:

    Cliche punks are so silly. Did you read about Gnarlitude’s inspiration for her new ring with Meadowlark?:

    “My inspiration for the ring was my fucked up punk rock youth. My friends and I were young teens wearing studs and all that long before it was the trendy thing to do. So in lieu of wearing patches all over my jeans, growing my mohawk out again and wearing a studded jacket, this is paying homage to my youth and how it shaped me into who I am today. And it looks sick.”

    From here:http://www.meadowlark.co.nz/shop/index.php?page=product&categoryid=14&collectionid=&prodid=165&productname=Gnarlitute+Ring&x=83&y=60

  13. rebecca says:

    You’re way too succinct to be Tolstoy :).

    I actively avoid the LA art scene for that reason. I have met too many people at coffee shops who proclaim themselves to be artists and poets, only to find that they are self-indulgent to the point of narcissism. These people, in this self-inflated city, do not have internal editors. Children do it– it’s kinda cute when they do, because they’re completely un-self-conscious about whether or not what they do is good. There is no excuse for this behaviour in adults.

  14. Queen Marie says:

    ‘D’ is for Douche…

    How very dare he taint your night out?

    Queen Marie
    x

  15. Simone says:

    There is nothing simple about a night out. And while I’m terrifically sorry you went and didn’t enjoy yourself, I can only thank you for bringing more horrible things to your fans. This crap is fertile compost for us.

  16. Helen says:

    I googled him, found the wikipedia page. Absolutely 100% sure he’s written it himself. It’s quite pathetic, really.

  17. Nausicaa says:

    How do you “shoot” dope? I thought the normal MO was to smoke it….

    Also, that wiki page? Priceless. The guy sounds like a complete jackass, even on a page that he’s highly likely to have written himself. I’m sorry he ruined your night out, Sister!

  18. Angelica says:

    “I should have been warned by that D” <— hahahaha!

    You know this dude never would have been published if he wasn't a "Real Fucking Punk"…just like those "celebrities" where people think that just because they happen to be rich and slutty, that somehow means that they can also act, sing, and write books. I'm not surprised though, since a lot of so-called "punks" will produce absolute crap and do any sort of so-called "bada$$" bullshit and then call it "edgy." No better than those "fucking rad" fashion bloggers, or Ke$ha. Ian MacKaye would never disgrace himself that way….

    Also this post reminded me of this book, which has the exact opposite message but is possibly even worse than "Chris D."'s: "Latawnya the Naughty Horse Learns to Say 'No' to Drugs" For your enjoyment:
    http://pixiestixkidspix.wordpress.com/awesome-resources-for-reading-and-kid-lit/latawnya-the-naughty-horse-learns-to-say-no-to-drugs/

  19. theresa says:

    USC has an amazing grad program for poetry. Mark Irwin teaches there. MARK IS AN INCREDIBLE POET and a fair reader. IF ever you’re in that neighborhood and you hear word of a poetry reading- all of his students are STELLAR.
    he’s taught a lot of feminist phenomenological/lit theory based poets who’ve really gathered a following at a young age.
    and if you were ever to get into poetry, I think you’d like his. its almost like Dali but with words. and very dark.

    Im sure they have an amazing visiting writers program too. My school’s writers series is pretty stellar- I can only imagine the prose and poetry writers who visit there.

    Not sure how far away USC is from where you live….but if you ever feel like making the schlep…I’d highly suggest it.

    Im going to apply to that program, actually.

  20. Aja says:

    Hahahahaa. Shit I hope no one ever talks about my writing in this way!

  21. Natts says:

    Try 5-6 years of creative writing workshops where it’s required to read AND come up with a considerable amount of constructive criticism. Sister Wolf, you really are Tolstoy compared to many of my classmates.

  22. erika says:

    Lots of shitty writing out there. You were remarkably respectful to not leave while he was reading. This experience could be trying to tell you something. You should write a novel. I don’t know why but I keep wanting to tell you that.
    Also the tolstoy comment, I keep telling myself that some day i will be the Tolstoy of chick lit. Ha : )

  23. anonymous says:

    If this guy can get published I have a lot of hope.

  24. Annika says:

    try self-publishing, anonymous!

    My god, this guy is insufferable. Also I can’t believe the Flesh Eaters were a real band. I guess because that band name was used as an example of a “totally extreme punk metal band” that kids listen to in a satirical fashion in one of my favorite books.

    I totally agree with Angelica on this point. I don’t see anything badass or edgy about spending thousands on stupid fucking clothes and then proclaiming how down and hip to youth culture one is (I mean, they may as well be phrasing it that way, in a very dated sounding way that sounds like bad fashion mag copy). I mean, if you want to spend your money that way, fine, but don’t pretend you’re still a broke 16 yr old.

  25. drollgirl says:

    UGH. i don’t go out much at night, and maybe i shouldn’t bother! bah.

    years ago book soup had A SUPER reading series. funny types would read aloud from celebrity books. it was hilarious hearing books by cheesy celebs like sylvester stallone read aloud. i am not explaining it well — you kind of had to be there. and i was so sad when the series ended.

  26. HelOnWheels says:

    His name should be Chris W. The “W” is for wanker!

  27. kt says:

    The D. clearly stands for Douchebag!

  28. Spacekat says:

    But Wyatt Doyle and Josh Alan Friedman were good!

  29. Wyatt Doyle says:

    I’m Wyatt Doyle. I organized the event for Alias Books, and I read that evening as well. I also published Chris D.’s book. I’m using my real name – not a pseudonym, not my initials, not an internet handle. What I do and what I say, I stand behind. Hardly a radical stance, but it does make me unique here.

    Not everyone will enjoy the books we publish. Not everyone will enjoy our readings. Sharing your criticisms – positive or negative – is your privilege. But such a public display of vitriol, contempt and name-calling is a bit jarring, particularly as it’s in response to a single portion of an event you otherwise appear to have enjoyed; an event that was presented at no charge, and one you could have exited at any time.

    A little perspective – if not civility – seems in order.

  30. theresa says:

    hahahahhaha

    WYATT DOYLE. YOU CUNT.

    no civility is in order in the literary community. I turned 21 last week and I understand this.

    now massage your inflamed asshole
    AND STOP BEING BUTTHURT.

    this is writing. WE ALL SUCK IN OUR OWN WAY.
    EXCEPT MAYBE NOT SHAKESPEARE.

    FUCK OFF.

  31. theresa says:

    p.s.

    you’re not-emily dickinson-

  32. Rosa says:

    Wyatt Doyle,
    You are not unique in anything here. It’s just sad that you think so.

    Well done on using your real name to chastise Sister Wolf, who is clearly a talented writer. She writes with abrasive honesty, sharp wit, satirical humour, and a distinct lack of preciousness towards anything or anyone – and it’s so refreshing. But, given you published the nauseating work of Chris D, you clearly lack the ability to deduce talent from trash.

    Here is a little perspective for you: admonishing anyone for responding with disgust to a disgusting piece of published literature (or shit-lit), even as you acknowledge the reader’s right to criticism, is both hypocritical and pathetic. As a publisher – particularly, as a publisher of shit-lit – I’m surprised that you seem unaware of your inability and lack of a right to moderate any given response to the published work. SW’s public response to this published work and its talentless author is completely justified.

    Please go and fuck your sanctimonious self.

  33. Sister Wolf says:

    Wyatt Doyle – What perspective is in order, from me? I write from the perspective of a person who loves language. Therefore, I am qualified to critique Mr. D’s literary enterprise. I did offer a critique, both fair and impassioned. I hate bad writing. Hate is not a strong enough word in this instance; let me change it to “deplore.” Words matter!

    I made a living, almost, as a story analyst, for twelve years. I co-directed a screenwriting workshop/fellowship. I was a ghostwriter for Dear Abby until I couldn’t take her bizarre office culture any more.

    It is a thrill to encounter good writing. It is enraging to encounter bad writing, at the level of badness achieved by Chris D. Deep in your heart, Mr. Doyle, you know the piece he read was shit. Just as you know that Josh Friedman is a born writer, god bless him.

    I was not free to leave, because I was sitting in the front chair, two feet from the readers! I did not want to interrupt Chris D’s performance, but rather to think about it further and then to discuss it here, where I discuss everything that bothers or excites me.

    I am saddened by your use of the word “vitriol.” I was just telling a friend how overused this word is among my detractors. What a stupid cliche, and a misguided one with regard to my blog.

    I hereby forbid in these comments any words that begin with V, if it something that can be “spewed.” That includes “V8 Juice.” Thank you.

    I welcome you response, Mr. Doyle.

    Love, SW

  34. Sister Wolf says:

    Rosa – Thank you, well said, I didn’t see your comment before I replied.

    Theresa – Emily Dickinson: Hahahahaha!

  35. Nikki says:

    Ugh! I’ve endured Chris D-ish types a few times. Beware of the D… Dick, Dredge, Drab, Drain, Dodgy. I do know someone with surname Draine who is a writer… he is aptly named… can bloody well flush all the good out of a room simply by entering it. Dracula Draine. So sorry this was your evening out. My response to awful evenings is, “It was almost better than an Abba concert”.

    On another note on another post… your blog is your expression. We are not the same entity each moment, each day & after a life changing event & our thoughts & words change accordingly. Speak. Please. It’s the way to release pain, frustration & grief surrounded by floods of tears. You need no permission. Those who cannot empathize or are not friends do not need to visit for awhile.

    As a stranger who can offer nothing in the way of comfort, I shall simply say you are amongst my good thoughts. I wish you as much strength as needed to fill a chasm. Time doesn’t heal all wounds… scars form. Scars are reminders of our life’s events & hurt differently. Eventually, scars can be touched without feeling as if one has been plummeted down a shaft & more & more good memories float to the surface. I prefer to say time changes all wounds.

    I can offer only sympathy & empathy… far too simple to be of any soothing. Your story is important. Speak. One way to view your blog is, it is your love clearing the brush for passage. A necessary process. Speak. Please. I wish you & your husband much comfort.

  36. tressie says:

    gee Sister…Wyatt Doyle sure has very thin skin. If you’re gonna put yourself out there…you’re gonna get flung with some pig poop from time to time. Being a writer/artist or thinking that you are one + criticism + praise = Life As It Really Is. And the fact he came here to Wag his finger at you…means he realizes you are a VIP! Huzzah!

  37. Sister Wolf says:

    Nikki – YOU are a writer, clearly. Your message is so lovely, I just read it aloud to my teenager. Thank you, xoxo

  38. Mark says:

    This review of Chris D’s reading reminded me of how much I love your reviews of summer blockbusters that you haven’t and will never see. Are you due for one of those right about now?

    Thanks for making me laugh and think.

  39. Geena says:

    “I should have been warned by that D” – hahahahahahahahahaha! One of the funniest things I’ve read this week. Spot on. Kill him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *