Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In the past 24 hours...

In the past 24 hours, my life has been a blur of


and this

And, no doubt as a result of angst from the former being relieved by the latter, I wrote this as a part of my bi-monthly tour of duty over at A Good Blog Is Hard To Find

Axes fall. So do chips. So does the sky. The bottom? It drops like my stomach does when I use the word "unemployed" to refer to my status in the current socioeconomic climate. A friend on twitter (or a "twal" as they're referred to in the arcane infantile rebranding of babytalk portmanteaus that passes for a network-specific "language" on there)has informed me that I need to be more sensitive (let's say sensitiver) to the branding needs of all of us super-literate now-jobless folks awash on the dirty, jellyfish-laden shore of the book world. As such, at my friend's request, I am not "unemployed", I am "self-employed". Actually, in terms of putting a big, bright, ravey-yellow smiley face sticker over the stigma of being jobless, I by far prefer the term "under-employed".

At the moment, I am MOST DEFINITELY under-employed...

You should read the rest. It introduces a Springsteen comparison that it fails to fully utilize or flesh out. But that's how I roll (failing to ever fully utilize or flesh out...anything).


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fragments and reminents of a book launch event, or "did anyone get the number of the Sav. Blanc truck "

Anointed was birthed, kicking, screaming and telling bad jokes, into the world this past Saturday night, and as the publicist for the book (and the author, but mostly just the book really), it was pretty much damn required of me to finish an entire bottle of Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc by myself in an hour.

Ok, in under an hour.

Ok, in like fifteen minutes.

What's important to note, though, is that the following brief and mostly pictorial recap of the night focuses less on author/client of mine Zachary Steele and more on...

...the insanity that was this opening "discussion"/"debate" held between myself and a former colleague/current friend who won't be named because, um, he hates it when he uses the "internet" to "read things about himself". That said, I probably could name names, because his idea of "the internet" involves "logging on" via a graphing calculator, so he'd never know. But for the sake of (avoiding any) argument, I'll respect his wishes.

There were several topics of discussion in this debate, the sole purpose of which was to amuse Zach on the night of his first novel's debut. See, this aforementioned "colleague" and I have a history of barbed, sarcastic banter that very rarely takes place in private and has been known to be supremely publicly offensive...and also greatly entertaining. Our points of contention tend to revolve around historical fiction (I hate it, he loves it), food (I've been a vegetarian for about 13 years now), author pin-up Marisha Pessl (that link takes you to my interview with her for my old work blog, I'm eventually going to port it over here), and, well, one of us being right and the other being stupid.

Now, I thought my preparation- opening remarks involving my reading the Websters definition of "right" from the dictionary, my beginning every answer to each question with a "before I answer your question" reframing, my bringing an annotated copy of Pessl's Special Topics In Calamity Physics to read from when the topic of her either being brilliant or flash-in-the-pan inevitably arose-would at the very least put me ahead in terms of sheer "prop" factor in the debate.

But oh, no.

Granted, I managed to work in my reading from Special Topics

but there was absolutely no way I could win when my formidable opponent arrived with the following pieces of propaganda:

Yes, folks, that is a hybrid MARISHA (I excuse my opponent misspelling her name here ONLY because I was too drunk to call him on it at the time) and Sarah Palin...


Suffice to say, I didn't win the debate. "Crushed by a damn landslide" was the term I think I recall Brett, Zach's editor on Anointed, using. I drowned my sorrows in brownies and cheap wine that night, indeed I did.

Oh, and oh yeah-the rest of the evening? A cheap wine-induced blur of hilarity, good times, and me seriously wondering about the phallic nature of those sausages on the "Russ Needs Meat" poster.


Friday, February 20, 2009

The reconnaissance mission

So, I'm sitting alone in Wordsmiths, drinking my first cup of coffee of the day in total solitude and listening to the new (read as: oh god so awful in some parts) U2 album, for the last time. I mean, it's not my last cup of coffee-of the day or ever, god no-and I'm far too much of a masochist and a Bonoist to not listen to No Line On The Horizon again (despite its title being the universal statement for "this party's over, folks"). No, this is my last day at Wordsmiths as Marketing/PR director, and in a month I'm gone from Atlanta, too. And I still haven't found a job. Like, I can hear my mom's voice in my head worrying over me-or at least what I imagine would be her voice if she'd ever actually inquired about my well-being. 

My trip to New York, my new and future home, last weekend, went well. It was really more of a reconnaissance mission (and her "mission" has to be drawn out in a Bjork-ish voice so that it sounds like "mess-see-awn"), a "must get x, y and z done in a very limited amount of time, on limited funds and with minimal airline fuckups" set of days. And, despite that last bit-the minimal airline fuckups-almost taking a turn for the worst (hey, hey Airtran,  I mean Val-U-Jet, I'm talking to you: FOUR gate changes?  At six in the morning? That's beyond annoying, that's obscene on par with, like, you having graphic sex with my grandmother while I'm in the next room. And then a delay? I was prepped to have to miss my job interview on Friday and blame it ENTIRELY on Airtran, force them to rebook me for a later flight back to Atlanta from NYC on Tuesday to allot for a rescheduling of said interview that would be missed, and I'd expect a god damned cookie with it, too, but fortunately it didn't come to that. I would have treated that customer service rep as though he or she was a student loans collection agent-and that's *not* a good thing. Are you still out there Miss Blair, my favorite student loans collection agent of all time ever?), I must say that the trip was a success...

I spent my Sunday afternoon with my wonderful internet friend who is now obviously my real-life-friend Kelly, aka the person nice/crazy enough to allow me to crash on her couch for a month while I, um, acclimate to New York. And by "acclimate" what I actually mean is "find a job".  And by "find a job" what I actually mean is "holy hell, I am moving like 900 miles and at the moment I am unemployed, so unemployed in fact that I didn't even dare to abbreviate the previously-written 'at the moment' with my usual 'ATM' because 'ATM' conjures images of money and oh my god I have no job". 

My first day in New York, though, I was greeted with this:

"What the hell?", you're probably asking aloud. No? Well, dammit, do it. Ok, there-I'm glad you asked! It just so happens the above is self-explaining:

That's right: now you don't have to separate your beloved popcorn chicken and your awesome large cola!

(Side-note: chicken in a cup reminds me of the now-infamous "chicken in a box in a wok" scene from R Kelly's "Trapped In The Closet". Ok, look, my definition of "infamous" is "constantly cited by my friends and myself". Also, I mean really, "Trapped In The Closet" is a work of genius, a masterstroke only capable of being executed by the master thespian that is Robert Sylvester Kelly.)

Any city that can capitalize on my southern-bred love for laziness AND gross food combinations is a city after my own heart. And my wallet. Whether it's empty or not. Which, at the moment (again, no ATM abbreviations here), is painfully, frighteningly empty. 

It's funny, though, because despite having gone on interviews, being jobless and looking out at the bleak market through the lens of someone getting ready to slog to the Unemployment office and say "yeah, I'll have one with everything", I seem to have more projects to work on than ever.   However, saying "oh, I'm super-busy" only makes me feel that much lamer when there's no actual money coming in at the moment. AGAIN WITH THE NO ATM. Because "no ATM" is how I'm going to be living my life for the foreseeable future.  Maybe I should have listened to my family and gone into, um, "computer repair". There's certainly more money in that than in publishing, marketing and publicity. I think...

Oh, a quick anecdote that makes me feel better: while in NY, I got to listen to a superstar A-list renowned author that I've never read and will never read complain, at a benefit event/museum reading, IN A MUSEUM MIND YOU, AND FOR A BENEFIT, that he didn't get any free alcoholic beverages.


He then asked for "baby foie gras". You know what that is. Think about it.

I may be poor, but at least I have tact.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Always Be My Baby

So, today sees me having finally finished what I think is going to be the last "going away" entry I actually find it necessary to write (other than my inevitable "A freshly-unemployed Publishing Professional Reviews The New Springsteen" post for my next go-round at A Good Blog Is Hard To Find), and this one's the hard one. I just signed, sealed and delivered (or some other cliché about being done with something-"nail, coffin" anyone?) my final blog for the Wordsmiths store blog.

*heavy sigh*.

There's been some good that came of today, though-in addition to me writing my three-line bio for BabyGotBooks, some exciting things arrived in the mail (and if I was a faux-Anglophile who said things like "trainers" and "cuppa" I would have said "popped in the Post" or such):

Not to be all like Kanye West screaming "HEY GUYS CHECK OUT THIS FLY-ASS PEACOAT Y'ALL", but those are my new, super-hawt RussComm business cards designed by Amanda Lauter(haus).

Oh, and, also...what's that? What did someone send me to review for Resonator?


I am CONFUSED as to how "Dreamlover" snuck onto a Mariah compilation titled Ballads , but that as possible Mariah Carey compilation trespasses go, that one's minor.

(Gonna overlook the fact that "Always Be My Baby", aka ALSO NOT A BALLAD, is on here as well. If we're going to play "Not A Ballad" Mariah Carey compilation making time, where the hell is "Emotions" and/or "All I Want For Christmas is You"?)

I mean, there's "Hero", I song I played the hell out of when I had it on cassingle, and, by god, "One Sweet Day". The meeting of the brilliant, flaxen-voiced lovebutter-on-silk-on-creme Mariah "The Pipes" Carey with Boyz "The Pipes" II "More Pipes" Men.

Come on, "One Sweet Day" was my and my first girlfriend ever's song.

Now, granted, that song was about a dead Grandma or old yeller or Jesus or Clinton something, but still, I get all misty-eyed and romantic when I hear it, thinking about holding hands and walking the mall, heading straight for Bath and Body Works to watch her buy Peaberry lotion with a gift certificate.

Now that is love. And that is obviously what this fine compilation of brilliant songs hopes to conjur: true, Peaberry-lotion-scented teenage love. Mariah-you, miss, will always be my baby.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

I get your point.

As I was trying to post that last entry here (you know, the super-emo "OMG WOE-IS-I" one about leaving Georgia for New York, becoming unemployed, my relationship ending, etc etc the tiniest violin in the world, with my name etched on it, playing "Hearts and Flowers" or some Bright Eyes song) to my Facebook  (that whole "maximum visability neu-media" thing that I hear so much about), feeling both super-accomplished and empowered having finally "written down the bones" or "chewed on the bones" or "boiled the bones to make a stock" or whatever it is one does when one writes a lengthy, personal blog post about the collapse of a way of life, I was given the following Facebook authentication code request:

Apparently Facebook thinks I'm a slut. Or that I should go into the phone sex trade.

Suffice to say, I get your point, Facebook. Thanks. Thanks a *lot*. 

As long as I'm avoiding getting my Sunday started and not doing anything i should be doing, i.e.laundry, packing for my New York trip this coming weekend, continuing to pass wavering positive/negative judgment on the new Animal Collective album, uh...getting started on hitting the vodka+oj?...

Yesterday, I happened upon this fantastic signpost at the McDonalds here in Decatur:

Jesus God and Baby Jesus, if there's one thing I do *not* want to see happen, it's the current burgere couture fad altering the way McDonalds does business. I need to count on Mickey D's being cheap, gross and grease-pounding. So yeah, while this instance of "the $250 McMuttin" is just an awesome example of what do do when it's your shift to change the signboard because the Dora the Explorer happymeal toys have run out and you don't have any more "f"s, it seriously can't be too long before it's an actual menu item. Soon, the menu boards will be split between the "dollar" menu items (small fries, small sodas, vanilla ice cream cones, bag-o-grease) and the "big ballin' menu", complete with a logo of rapper T.I. happily consuming a "Millionaire McFlurry" (made with endangered goat's milk that had been collected by one individual monk living on a cliff in some remote part of wherever it is that there are cliffs and monks and goats), proclaiming "Whoa, Kimosabe, Big Ballin' is my hobby", and featuring the $250 McMuttin, the $300 Dodo Egg McMuttin and Cave-aged Gruyere served on a biscuit crafted from individually cracked wheat grains and drizzled with honey milked by hand from the glands of bees one-at-a-time, and the $800 Cristal-spiked milkshake, served in a diamond-encrusted pimp-cup.

Mark my words, it's only a matter of time.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Title comes first

I'm really relatively unsure as to how to begin this. When I started this blog, I'd decided that, rather than fill it with sappy mush at a furious pace in the beginning, only to leave it sad and unattended like a petulant child refused its own birthday cake and locked in the closet, I would attend to it with a minor degree of professionalism. As professional as a "blog" with a heavy swear-word count and an open letter to Tori Amos asking her to leave her trash bag and publicly denounce Sarah Palin can possibly be. However, the other place on the internet where my words tend to go, my LiveJournal, lay sadly dormant for a while even before the news of its eventual and impending collapse, and now I'm trying to port anything of any interest, relevance or hilarity over here before I wake up one day to find that any and all trace of my internet "blog" (read as: open diary) presence since 2000 has been wiped by disgruntled LJ employees. As such, I kinda feel necessity, like gravity in that R.E.M. song, pulling me to actually write "down the bones" (a Jeanette Winterson-I-think-not-going-to-google-it MFA class phrase that I hate, because I had a poetry professor as an undergrad at Oglethorpe who used it all the time to describe the type of disclosure she demanded in every piece handed in to her. To boycott, or as protest, or simply because I was bored and had to turn something in for a grade, I wrote a poem about how, when I was like 8 years old, I had a hamster that committed suicide. True story. She loved it. I read it aloud for the class.) here in terms of my current life situation.

So, with that typical digression aside, I've been sitting here trying to reconcile talking openly and not in a voice at all about "things", and have been finding it extremely difficult. Usually, with any/everything I write, be it blog post or, uh, blog post (or that "memoir" I'm writing/not-writing), the title comes first.

I have no title for this entry, and I probably won't even once it's finished. So rather than continue to pretend that my pre-apologies and asides are at all compelling, I'll get to those Winterson-esque bones (which, when written as such, makes her sound like a pro-Anorexia postergirl):

Like a giant oak covered in pictures of obscenely-to-the-point-of-hilariously obese cats and filled with far too many books, the past three years of my life are uprooting as we speak.

For the past three years of my life, I've lived in Decatur, GA, which is a little Birkenstock-clad, tofu-eating, super-artsy suburb of Atlanta. Also, for the past three-ish give or take, years of my life, in addition to various other projects (like, you know, collecting those pictures of obscenely fat cats), I've put my marketing and publicity degree to use by mainly serving as the Marketing/PR director for Wordsmiths, a local indie bookstore that I helped conceptualize.

And now I find that position coming to an end. I mean, the economy's super-awesome and publishing is doing really well at the moment, so of course it's a total shocker to me. Note the sarcasm, because as you may not know the economy and job market are both awful, and publishing as an industry keeps taking hit after hit and then scrambling to use words like "monetize" and "twitter".

Running concurrently with this, the two-plus year live-in relationship I've been in has also run its course.

This is where, dear readers, your mental soundtracking should cue Lauryn Hill's voice singing "when it all/all faaaallls down..."...

As such, on March 27th, I do something that, for the longest time, I swore I'd never do: I become a cliche, pack up everything I can't sell for pretzel money and move to New York.

I've lived in Georiga my entire life, with a minor accidental digression to Las Vegas (where I had to beg a random girl in a Barnes and Noble to go on a date with me-ask me about that later, k?), so this is a little...a bit...um...

it's fucking terrifying, is what it is.

I am a fucking southerner. I like screen doors, porch swings, iced tea (with splenda thx), fried green tomatoes...ok, granted, I DO enjoy a good vegan cupcake, but, hell, I say "y'all". And I can't STOP saying "y'all".

I have a place to stay for a brief period of time, and I have...um, well, basically that's about it. I'm hunting and gathering job prospects, but the whole thing has given rise to me finally launching my industrious, cheeky approach to the freelance media/pr/marketing game: RussCommunications, aka RussCommTM.

Check out the awesome logo:

(super-small version, obv)

designed by my friend Amanda Lauter, of MailChimp and LauterHausProductions LLC TLC OPP. I'll obviously be a success, because, um, hello, no one with a sweet-ass logo has ever failed at anything.

(She's promising me business cards, too. I eagerly await them. NO PRESSURE, LAUTER.)

One of my first "clients" (that's what you call them, right, clients? I misplaced my "Communications In The Aughts" handbook) is my former boss Zach Steele's awesome, hilarious and offensive-only-if-you-don't-read-it first novel, Anointed. You can become a fan of RussCommTM on Facebook-forgive the lack of, well, of anything, really, going on with that page, because, um, I still have this to deal with:

that's right. The past years of my life, as seen as books going into boxes.

Obviously only some of my books, my babies, are going to make the trip north with me. It's that culling, the "do I take things I haven't read and risk them sucking? Do I take old favorites? Do I just re-read Special Topics In Calamity Physics over and over again and sigh myself to sleep every night?", that is making it rough.

Right, Russ. That's the ONE thing making the sorting through and packing up of everything tough. Trying to choose which damn John Updike books to keep.

So, I mean, I guess all this is to say that that, in fact, is what's going on in my life at the moment. A lot of listening to Fever Ray. A lot of Grouper, which you may have read already read about. I'll still be writing here, chronicling the "journey", but when I say "journey" I don't mean it like those women who read Eat, Pray, Love but skip the last two bits and then gush over Elizabeth Gilbert saying "thanks for the journey". Or maybe I do? Dunno. Regardless, that will be here.

I'll still be writing about music at Resonator, and hopefully my relocation to New York, finally again close to the two friends with whom Resonator was begun, will allow Res to become a more active community force. I'll still be writing for the fantastic, literary collective group blogA Good Blog Is Hard To Find. Also, as of today, I'm excited to announce that I'll be doing book reviews and writing for BabyGotBooks, the lit blog that I joined forces with in my previous position to throw some seriously cool rock-n-roll book party extravaganza things.

So, I mean, that's me. Right now. With the emotion swept aside for the moment, and the boxes, like the future, looming. Expect to see more pictures of those boxes.

And yes. I am making this sound way easier than it's going to be.