Tag Archives: Houston

Back From the South

I recently got back from a week down south. It was a great visit, spending time with my brother Matt in Houston, and also taking a road trip to New Orleans. I got to read with the fine ladies of the Summer Southern Comfort Tour at Domy Books in Houston and the funky cool Mudlark Theater in New Orleans.

On of the best things about the trip was listening to Bluesville on Sirius Satellite Radio. Which makes me want to post this video by the great R.L. Burnside, surrounded by family and filmed by Alan Lomax.

And here are a few other pics from the journey…

Mary Miller and Ryan Call at Gene Morgan’s store, Settlement, in Houston.

Elizabeth Ellen shopping for bling at Settlement.

The storm clouds (flash floods in Houston!) scattered a little as we drove into Louisiana.

New Orleans guest reader and host, Utahna Faith and me…blurry smiles!

New Orleans street art. Behold Sucker!



Cat on a harness leash. French quarter, New Orleans.


Until next time…


Summer Splash

Hi friends,

Summer is officially here and I’m planning on doing some fun stuff and getting a few important things done. Here’s a quick rundown.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be hosting a kick-ass outdoor reading at Colonel Summers Park. It starts at 7pm and the weather is supposed to get clear and nice by then so we’ll probably even get there early and play some basketball or frisbee or something. I’ll be introducing Eirean Bradley, Diana Salier, and Chloe Caldwell for their short readings and fellow Future Tense peeps Bryan Coffelt and Becca Yenser will also be there. Check out the details here. It was also a featured pick in the Mercury and Oregonian!

Bryan Coffelt and me, pimping some literature (from AWP 2012)

In July, I’m going to fly down to visit my brother in Houston and also read alongside some of the coolest ladies in America (I’m reading at the Houston and New Orleans stops on their tour). I love going to the south, so this should be a blast.

While I’m down there, I’m hoping to finally finish up some of the final edits and revisions of the novel I’ve been working on for twenty months (feels like twenty years). More updates on that as they come.

Summer reading? Well, right now I’m about to finish Ryan Boudinot’s Blueprints of the Afterlife, which is one of the weirdest and funniest books I’ve read in years. I also have the debut issue of Radio Silence that looks fantastic, Pauls Toutonghi’s new beauty, some more poetry by Sharon Olds and Matthew Dickman, the new novel by Padgett Powell, and that newish dirty Nicholson Baker book that I still haven’t gotten to. I like to do a lot of my reading on the Max train or at Bipartisan Cafe, where they have the best pie in Portland.

Summer literary happenings? I’ve set up a reading for Justin Maurer and Lindsey Kugler for Friday, July 27th at Ampersand that should be awesome. And then in August, I’m helping coordinate the Portland stop of the “Lil’ Bitch Tour” with Chelsea Martin, Elizabeth Ellen, and Scott McClanahan. That’s on August 17th, location TBA.

Summer movies? I saw Prometheus with my son a couple of days ago and it was pretty fun I thought. But most new movies have looked real crappy lately, so I’m not sure what else. Ruby Sparks could be a guilty pleasure. Maybe The Bourne Legacy too? I don’t know. Where are the slow, depressing dramas about fucked-up people when I want them?!

Summer songs? I hope to listen to Peggy Lee a lot. Mates of State always sounds good when the sun is out too (I hope to see their show in Portland on June 30th). That new Best Coast is also playing around here.

Peggy Lee!

Also, I’m not a strong swimmer, but I may put some floaties on for this year’s Big Float. (Watch for the awesome promo videos coming soon–written and produced by B. Frayn Masters!)

That’s all for now. See you in the sun!

Wife Beaters, Cut-Offs, Flip-Flops, Sunscreen

I don’t think I’ve ever worn flip flops in my life. And I know that driving through the south in July is going to be sweltery (I’ve done it before). I know I won’t be wearing army boots or anything. But I probably won’t wear cut-offs either. Maybe a wife beater, though, you know, I’ll call it a tank top (still sounds kinda aggro though, right?).

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. First I need you to help me and the wild women I’ll be appearing with to get some gas money for our summer adventure. I promise not to spend any at Whataburger. I’m talking about the Southern Summer Comfort Book Tour, which I’ve helped organize for my friends Elizabeth Ellen, Chloe Caldwell, Mary Miller, Brandi Wells, and Donora Hillard.


Domy Books will host the ladies in Austin and Houston.

Help us raise some moolah on their Kickstarter page. There’s some cool stuff to be had–books, Polaroids, private editing sessions. Hair pulling? If you’re into that sort of thing.

What else is happening?

I’m teaching another class on personal essays. This time with young hotshot, Chloe Caldwell. CC, as you may know, is the author of Legs Get Led Astray, the latest release from Future Tense Books, It’s on June 23rd at the Crow Arts Manor. I think there may just be one or two spots left in the class, so act fast! It’s only $40 for three hours of hard work.

If it’s warm out, we’ll be doing it outside. I won’t be wearing flip-flops.

Tour Diary: More Houston

Yesterday, we met up with Ryan Call, who took us around Houston to see some more sites. Our original plan was to go to the Breakfast Klub but the line to get in was wrapped around the building. We were warned this might be the case. Apparently their chicken and waffles are worth the wait. But then, I thought of a good alternatives: “Why don’t we find some of those breakfast tacos we’ve been hearing so much about?” Bingo.

We went to a place called Tacos-a-Go-Go. I had my tacos with eggs, bacon, cheese, and potatoes (I like my food orange and white colors). They were pretty darn tasty. Frayn had eggs, spinach, mushroom, black beans, and cheese in hers. She was also pleased.

Frayn, post-tacos!

After that, we snagged some coffee (it’s not as prevalent here, but we have managed) and then headed off to see some junk and art. Houston has some awesome art–and we didn’t even make it to the main Museum of Fine Art.

But first, we went to the Texas Junk Shop. We gabbed with the owner and looked for cowboy boots and cowboy hats (there were tons) and Ryan and I played with the various trophies and album covers.

Bowling Champion!


Then we went to the Rothko Chapel. This was something that Mike McGonigal had told me about a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, if you linger inside the chapel for five or ten minutes, the dark paintings start to reveal more than you expect. Like some kind of weird hallucinogenic. I saw a little bit but it was Frayn who had the most reaction the art. I stood beside her and listened to her quietly gasp and whisper things like, “Oh my God.” And I was like: “What? What do you see?” It was kind of funny, especially since I thought my acid-trained brain would see these secret images more readily.

Here. I’ll let Frayn tell you about it:

“Like Kevin said, the paintings seemed to be giant washes of purple, blue and black with no image. The room is dimly lit, but the light fluctuates slightly every few seconds. After turning off my brain and staring at the middle panel of three paintings, the light changed and I saw a pair of what I swear were giant yellow eyes staring back at me. This created my first gasp. Then the nose took form, then the full lips of a man. It was incredible. Because I really thought there was nothing there, I didn’t know what to expect. Then another face took shape in the panel next to it.  With each new painting I felt anxiety and sadness that I wouldn’t be able to see what was there. The most incredible face to appear took some real time to see. It was always the eyes that appeared first and these eyes were almond-shaped and looking off right. Again the nose next, then the lips of younger man. But, then the light shifted and I gasped again because a tear fell from the right eye. It fell. There was movement on the painting. Then behind the head a large, white ’70s office building appeared with green tree leaves in front of it. I saw next that the building transferred over into the panel next to the face. The light shifted again and a word appeared across the face. RELATE. It was a fucking trip. Amazing. These words do not justify the experience.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Frayn Masters!

After that, we went to the Menil Collection next door. They had a great collection of surrealist and nouveau realist work (Yves Klein, Picasso, Ernst, Magritte, and Warhol). My favorite pieces were Maurizio Cattelan’s marble (!) sculpture of nine body bags on the floor (titled All, 2007) and his untitled dead horse with a sign sticking out of it saying “INRI.”

The rest of the day we spent cruising around and then relaxing at Gene’s house.

Now, we’re off to drive to New Orleans. Look for another update sometime this weekend.

Tour Diary: Houston

Well, it finally happened. Frayn and I pulled up to Kaboom Books last night just in time for our reading with Kirby Johnson and Ryan Call and we were the only ones there. I’ve been fortunate to have good luck with my touring thus far, getting good crowds at every event. The previous low turnout was at Books Inc in San Francisco when 15 people came.

It made me feel a little worse last night because the store owners actually had bottles of wine and some snacks spread out on a table. We talked with Kirby and Ryan and eventually a few other people came straggling in. A half hour later, we started the reading and there were 12 people to see us. We read on the back patio. The weather was a little more wet and cool than Austin since it had rained earlier in the day. We were quick and efficient with our readings. Kirby read a funny spoof about Extreme Home Makeover, Ryan read a story about a kid struggling with baldness, and Frayn read a tale about a horny couple looking for someplace to have sex. I finished things off with the ACP chapter about taking nude photos. It turned out to be a pretty great event.

Kirby Johnson

Ryan Call

B. Frayn Masters

Everyone there was really nice, including some dude named “Drummerpoet” who recited a poem to us after the reading. It was about how much he liked TV when he was a kid and it rhymed. It was pretty smooth actually.

About six of us went out afterward and got some drinks and grub at a place called Onion Creek, which was pretty good. I got something called a Frito Pie (ironically, without onions)–it was a mess of chili on a bed of Fritos and cheese on it. For some reason, I thought there was supposed to be a hot dog under all that, but I was mistaken. There was no dog. 😦

After that, we went to a famous place downtown called La Carafe, a cash bar with a lot of years behind it. Not to mention, a gigantic boar’s head above the front door.

The topics of discussion included hunting, cockroaches that hide in ivy, the wonders of Galveston, why some people have southern accents and some don’t, and the dumb controversy about the recent Tin House submission rules.

At the end of the night, we returned to the home of Gene Morgan, who’s letting us stay here while he and his family is away. Thanks, Gene!

Ryan is coming back over to pick us up soon and we’re going to explore the city more with him today. Some places called The Breakfast Club, the Rothko Chapel, and the Texas Junk Shop are on the list of places to go. Until tomorrow…thanks for reading.

Tour Diary: Austin, Texas

Last night, Frayn and I read at House Wine here in Austin, Texas. It was a fun outdoor reading with a good crowd and the host was Tyson Midkiff, who also runs a series called Whiskey Rebellion (“Where we drink as much as we can tell and try to read,” he says). Unfortunately, two of the evening’s readers had to cancel–Elizabeth Crane was sick and Alex Lemon couldn’t make it from El Paso. Too bad since I’m a big fan of both of those folks, especially Alex, who I’ve never met before and whose memoir, Happy, I just finished and loved.

The night started off with a dramatic air battle between a hawk and a bunch of grackles. The grackles were actually bullying the hawk as it flew overhead. Maybe they were protecting a nest or something. One grackle tried to headbutt the hawk out of the air. I didn’t know what a grackle was but I was told they’re like pigeons, but dumber and more squawky. Click here for more information on these fearless, witless creatures.

Our host read a story and was followed by Jeff Chan, who read about staging a fake fight on a radio show.

My lovely lady and travel companion, Frayn Masters, then read a story from her new iPad. She wasn’t trying to look like an asshole, she explained. She just wasn’t able to print up her story beforehand. As our surroundings got darker, it proved to be a useful tool, its screen illuminating her face like someone telling a campfire story with a flashlight. It was great.

I wrapped up the night with a few bits from ACP, getting a nice response and even selling a few books. Internet lit star Tiff Holland was in attendance and it was fun to talk to her for a good spell also.

After the reading, we went across the street and got some delicious cheap burgers (and fries and vanilla shake) from a place called P. Terry’s. It was tasty (don’t worry–we’re going out this morning for those breakfast burritos or whatever it is people keep raving about).

We drove around town a little and parked by the capital building, which is huge (not surprising, I guess, since this is Texas). There was a big crowd of young, attractive bike riders gathered on the front steps taking a group photo. We wondered if they were going on a naked bike ride. It probably would have been a pretty sexy naked bike ride (not like the ones you usually see–sorry, naked bike people). Overall, it does seem like people are maybe more attractive than usual here. More fresh-faced. Earlier, at the reading, I had commented about how most of the girls ordering wine looked to be about 19. “I’m sure there are some fake IDs going around,” said Tyson.

After a good night of aimless cruising, we took our rental car (a white Toyota Camry) and headed back to our friend’s place (Amelia Gray, thank you for letting us stay here while you’re in New York!). Her cats, Turk and Pub, clamored for my attention as I rested on their reclining chair and Frayn played around some more with her new iPad.

We’re heading to Houston later this afternoon and reading tonight at Kaboom Books with Ryan Call and Kirby Johnson.

Did I mention it was hot and humid here? And apparently it’s storming in certain areas. Hope we don’t get blown off the road. More tomorrow, I hope! We’re staying at Gene Morgan’s house in Houston.

Southern Sizzle

Hey y’all,

I am in the middle of setting up some southern road trip readings for July. Take a gander at the Book Tour page and see if I’m coming your way. I’ll be reading with my fiance, B. Frayn Masters, at most stops. So far I’ve got Houston, New Orleans, and Atlanta set. Still working to confirm Austin somewhere (the great Amelia Gray and Elizabeth Crane are helping us iron something out there) and I am also holding out hope that we can do something in Oxford, Mississippi. I actually see that Mary Karr is reading at Square Books the same night we’re there. Should I crash the Mary Karr reading? Ha!

Now here’s the catch. This is going to be an expensive trip. We’re flying to Austin and then renting a car for about ten days. Does anyone want to sponsor my tour and give us money to cover these expenses? We could put an ad on our rental car or something. Imagine, a big RC Cola ad on the side of our vehicle. Or Billie Jo’s Computer Repair. Johnny’s Bar-B-Q?

Thankfully we have some places to stay while on the road.

Can’t wait for that southern sizzle and hospitality.