Behind the Wheel: A Lyft Driver’s Log

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Piltdownlad #10 – Behind the Wheel: A Lyft Driver’s Log

From the trenches of San Francisco’s sharing economy:
A Lyft confessional.

Ride shotgun with me as I cruise through San Francisco’s latest Tech Boom and divulge the stories, conversations and opinions of the passengers I pick up along the way. 

Read excerpts herehere and here

Most popular so far:
   - The Cult of Lyft: Inside the Pacific Driver Lounge
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   - An Open Letter to Lyft: Since you asked…
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   - Bullet Points from the Class Struggle in San Francisco

You can also “like” the Facebook page.

An eBook version is available now for Kindle and Nook.

The illustrated print copy with navigational maps is coming soon. Preorder to ensure a copy. 

Twitter | Medium | Tumblr | Facebook | Blogspot

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SHUT UP & PUBLISH – The Phony Lid Manifesto

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For five years, before I went broke and half-insane, I was a small press publisher. I started out doing zines and then moved on to trade paperbacks. In true DIY spirit, I handled every aspect of the operation myself: the editing, the designing, the printing, the distribution and the marketing… It was all about becoming the media and my steadfast determination to take a crackpot idea as far as I possibly could, despite the lack of money or the fact that I had no business running a publishing company. 

For most of my career as a publisher, I did odd jobs to survive. For a while, I was homeless and distributed zines out of the trunk of my car. I scammed print jobs from copy shacks. I stole paper and rarely paid for office supplies. To promote my titles, I became an internet flamer and through my reckless harassment, drove one fellow publisher into the loony bin. I finagled. I lied. I browbeat. I was arrested while soliciting ads. I turned my friends against me. I pissed off writers for not publishing their work. I pissed off the writers I published for not presenting their work in a way they preferred. I was threatened with multiple lawsuits, investigated by the State Attorney General and taken to small claims court by a former partner.

And that’s just what I can remember. Most of the time I was in a thick haze of self-importance, fueled by cheap drugs and the effects of untold hours in a small, poorly ventilated room in a burned out garage staring at a computer monitor until my eyes bled.

From the beginning I cultivated notoriety over prestige. I entered the world of publishing guns a-blazing. I embraced infamy, ready to do anything to crawl out of the muck of obscurity. I never intended to create an innocuous rag that might impress somebody’s literary-inclined relatives. I wanted to make something that would get me in trouble.

All the while, I held onto the delusion that what I was doing was noble: I was promoting literature. Real literature. Not the crap that was getting published in the New Yorker or the elitist academic lit journals. The way I looked at it, real literature came out of the trenches of the workaday existence. Real literature was created by true outsiders, not just those who could afford MFA degrees. It came from those born to misfortune and raised in families torn asunder. It rose up from the lost, the mentally imbalanced, the rude motherfuckers everybody loved to hate, the victims, the sluts, the whores, the wallflowers, the creeps, the losers, the purveyors of vice, the drunks, the druggies, the acid casualties, the thieves, the conmen, the liars who make it up as they go along and the liars who have their reasons for lying. Real literature was messy. And if you wanted the grit, you took the grime.

Once I embraced the role of a publisher, it became my life. Publishing was all I thought about, all I talked about, and all I wanted to hear about. In my zeal to publish more and more titles, I assumed more responsibilities than I was capable of accomplishing. I took on projects that were impractical. I turned away those that would generate profit. I was a horrible businessman. Not that it mattered. The small increments of money that showed up in the post office box were never enough to keep me flush, much less print more titles. What I earned as a painter, a handyman, a line cook, a bookseller or any one of my jack trades barely kept me alive. Eventually, I became unemployable. I had my sights set for loftier goals than maximizing the minimum wage. I just kept pushing forward, against the will of the universe, filling a catalogue with titles and announcing future publications, cajoling and lying and making empty promises, always hoping for the best.

Phony Lid lasted five years, all by the skin of my teeth. But in the end, I admitted defeat. Not because I never made any money, achieved any real acclaim or got the recognition I felt like I deserved—sure, there were some accolades, but who cares about that? No, I failed because other people’s writing overshadowed the one story I needed to tell.

And that was the story of Phony Lid.

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from Pamphleteria: The Rise and Fall of Phony Lid

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Piltdownlad #9 – Pamphleteria: The Rise and Fall of Phony Lid

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Piltdownlad #9 – Pamphleteria: 
The Rise and Fall of Phony Lid

Part One: Shut Up and Publish

For five years, before I went broke and half-insane, I was a small press publisher. I started out doing zines and then moved on to trade paperbacks. In true DIY spirit, I handled every aspect of the operation myself: the editing, the designing, the printing, the distribution and the marketing… It was all about becoming the media and my steadfast determination to take a crackpot idea as far as I possibly could, despite the lack of money or the fact that I had no business running a publishing company. 

The first part of a three part series, this is the story of how I started publishing my first zine, Vagabond, back at the turn of the century. I’d just acquired a computer and was ready to take over the world. Or course, life got in the way. So it’s also about dealing with failed relationships, having a fucked up family, working dead end jobs in Birmingham, Alabama, and the search for existential meaning. Or just something to take my mind off all the bullshit. Still, a work in progress.

half-size . 64 pp . perfect bound

trade or etsy

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The LA Zine Fest Reading

la_zine_fest_reading_posterI’ll be one of the readers at the official LA Zine Fest Reading this year. Click the image or here for more info.

 

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The Nasty Oh-Dear (Prologue to A Masque of Infamy)

This is the prologue to the novel A Masque of Infamy. It has also appeared in different form in the zine Piltdownlad #4. The artwork is by Walt Hall.

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The ladies called it the Jackson Home.

“Nobody will be able to find y’all there,” they said as we drove through the black part of town. “So you’ll be safe.”

The silver minivan pulled up to a run-down two-story house on a treeless street among dwellings of similar vintage. We stepped out of the air conditioning and the heat pushed against us like an unruly mob. The sun, directly above in a cloudless sky, beat down without restraint.

At the door, an elderly woman with kind eyes behind a sea of wrinkles greeted us.

“Boys, this is Mrs. Gertie,” said Clorise, the one who had done most of the talking so far.

Joey and I mumbled a feeble hello and followed the ladies up a staircase.

“This here’s the bedroom,” Mrs. Gertie said. “And over yonder, the bathroom.” She gestured at the obvious.

Joey and I walked into the bedroom but the ladies stopped short of the doorway.

“We’ll check on y’all in a few days,” Clorise announced. “So just sit tight and don’t make no trouble for Mrs. Gertie, y’hear?”

“Don’t worry, guys,” the other lady said. Her name was Sandra. She was young and, compared to Clorise, a glamor queen. In the van, I’d watched her apply mascara in the visor mirror and longed to go home with her and watch her put on makeup for the rest of my life. “Everything’s going to be alright. You’ll look after your brother, won’t you, Louis?”

I swore to do my best, though I would have promised her anything so she’d see me as a big man and not some stupid kid.

“Supper’s at seven,” Mrs. Gertie said. “You’ll hear me holler when it’s ready.”

Joey and I listened to their voices fade down the stairs. Clorise and Sandra thanked the old woman for taking us in on such short notice. Read more »

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Piltdownlad #8.5 – The Cult of Teddy Ruxpin

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THE MACHINE

CW_article_machine_UAArticle from the Crimson White on the Machine and their reaction to Cleo Thomas winning the election for SGA president.

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A Masque of Infamy Goodreads Book Giveaway

So I’m giving away 15 copies of my novel, but with a major caveat: the version I am giving away is rife with typos and mistakes (it has since been copyedited), has a unresolved ending that you will most likely hate and/or feel cheated by, the font size of the text is one point too large, the cover features a self portrait that makes me look like a Bon Jovi chick (which may further confuse people about whether I am a boy or a girl), the back copy seems like it was written by a copywriter on a cigarette break, and the subject matter is dark and generally referred to as “not for everybody” and led one reviewer to proclaim, “HUH?” Not to mention the pompous title that doesn’t make any sense. But hey… what the fuck, it’s FREE. And it comes with a money-back guarantee: After reading it, if you still feel like you’ve had a fucked up childhood, you get a full refund. HOW CAN YOU LOSE?!? Enter now:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Masque of Infamy by Kelly Dessaint

A Masque of Infamy

by Kelly Dessaint

Giveaway ends October 27, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

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Piltdownlad #8 – The Olympic Spirit

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Piltdownlad #8:

The Olympic Spirit and Other Stories

Stories from the San Gabriel Valley

“The Baudrey Boys”
At the house there were five of us. We were a pack a marauding pre-teens, wandering the streets of the neighborhood, always on the prowl for trouble. Or candy. Whichever came first.

“The Olympic Spirit”
The Olympics were in town. We were just as excited as everybody else. But not about the sporting events. No, we were psyched about the McDonald’s promotional game called, “If The US Wins You Win.” The prizes were McDonald’s food, which was the holy grail of all fast food. It was the best summer of our lives.

“Emmaus”
Emmaus sucked hardcore. It was better than public school, but we had the stink of poverty and ridicule on us. And the upper class kids had their own methods for keeping the weak ones down.

“A Totally Different Head”
We all had our own theories on how to blow thirty million in thirty days. Mine was foolproof. I’d start a band. Hire all the best musicians and stage benefit concerts that rivaled anything by KISS or the Rolling Stones.

“Ditch Em”
As far as any of the adults could tell, Rick was a good influence. Around adults he was careful to find his manners. But out of view, he was a ceaseless provocateur. A Peter Pan to our Lost Boys.

“The Joyride”
“So here’s the deal: I work your stick and then you work my stick. A joyride for a joyride. Deal?”

The Summer of The Stalker
That summer, there was a killer on the loose. And high school was right around the corner.

“Marlboro Country”
Across from Mark Keppel High, between a dead end road and the faculty parking lot, there was a small patch of scrub with a few palm trees. This was Marlboro Country. Where the cool kids went to smoke. I lit a Benson & Hedges and tried to fit in.

“Parents without Partners”
For years, the old man sat there, taking the brunt of these dinner-time gripe sessions. Until one night, he set his fork down, calmly pushed back his chair, lifted up his plate and dropped it onto the table. Crockery and tuna casserole went everywhere. “Enough,” he said and walked out the door. Never set foot in the house again.

“The Bachelor Pad”
It was hard to believe that my own father lived in an apartment complex. I’d always thought of people who lived in apartments as different from us. Apartment people. Not Baudreys. We lived in run down houses that smelled like cat piss with old furniture covered in crayon graffiti and food stains. When the old man asked if I wanted to spend the night, I said, “Does the pope shit in the woods?”

typewritten | 52 pages | half-size | staple bound | color cover | illustrated

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Piltdownlad #6: INSTITUTIONALIZED

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Piltdownlad #6

This issue features the “Institutionalized” story cycle, which is an exploration of one event told from the individual perspectives of four participants. Picks up where The Nasty Dear (Piltdownlad #4) left off: from the Jackson group home in Anniston, Alabama, to Hill Crest Hospital, a mental hospital in Birmingham, where my brother Joey is put in the Youth Ward and I end up in the Adolescent Ward. Meanwhile, our father and Rick come home to discover their fate: a potential life sentence for child sexual abuse. Interspersed among the narrative are actual court records from the trial, newspaper clippings, song lyrics, photos and other miscellany. As with all issues of Piltdownlad, not for the fainthearted or the hardhearted.

CONTENTS:

INTRO
LETTERS AND COMMENT
The “INSTITUTIONALIZED” story cycle:
1. The Adolescent Ward
2. Shit on A Shingle
3. POW
4. Group
5. The Hanged Man
6. Mister Nice Guy
7. Reckoning
8. Feeling Blocks
THE ZINES I READ
APPENDIX

100 pages
wraparound cover
perfect bound

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