Tag Archives: writing

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

Available through Amazon.com

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Self-Publishing and Writing About People You Know

mc_press_interviewInterview/article with the MC Press about publishing and writing about the family…

 

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My Virtual Blog Tour – Day One: Interviewed by Alana Munro

So here we go… day one of my virtual blog tour starts with an interview. I answer questions posed to me by Alana Munro, author of the book Women Behaving Badly.

Here are a few excerpts:

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? I’m not a girl.

 What books did you love growing up? I read all the Scholastic Book Club books as a kid, but when I was in fifth grade, the teacher took us all to the library and said we could pick any book we wanted. As I browsed through the titles, I wandered into the general fiction area and came across Mom Kills Two Kids Then Self, a novel written from the husband’s perspective after coming home and finding the carnage. Instead of calling the authorities, he spends the weekend in the house with the bodies just reflecting on his life and why his wife would have committed such a horrendous crime. I learned a lot about interpersonal relationships, family dynamics and sex in that book… more than I certainly had in the other books I’d been reading, that’s for sure. From then on, I pursued adult literature, from steamy romance stuff like Jackie Collins and books about rock n roll to typical teenage books like those by Judy Bloom and Cather in the Rye… I wasn’t that much into fantasy or sci-fi but I read Stephen King and Anne Rice too.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? While I was rewriting and editing, that seemed to be the hardest part. When I was done, looking for an agent became the most horrendous part of the process. Now that I’ve self-published the book and face the task of marketing the book on my own… well, you see where I’m going with this.

You can read the rest of the inverview on Alana Munro’s blog here.

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Rehab Star – A Masque of Infamy Excerpt

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REHAB STAR

An excerpt from A Masque of Infamy

It was only a matter of time before the psych techs at the hospital realized I was sneaking outside to smoke, but I quickly found a new way to maintain a steady intake of nicotine… Down the hallway from the RTW was the rehab ward. They had their own common room, a pool table, a bunch of couches, a television and even a piano. I was already sneaking in there occasionally to snag butts out of the ashtrays, so once they said I couldn’t go outside anymore, I began to spend more time with the rehabbers.

(read more)

 

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“The Detour Guide” published by MC Press

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My story “The Detour Guide” has been published on the MC Press website.

It is also available in Piltdownlad #5, which includes a road trip travelogue, a short confession about my time in foster care, a piece about my attempt to start a t-shirt business with a street person in Downtown LA, zine reviews and a “Letters and Comments” section that focuses on previous issues of Piltdownlad and the papernet.

“The Detour Guide” is part of the series: Adventures in the Tourist Trade

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SUCKS, ALABAMA: The Unexpurgated Adventures of Louis Baudrey vs. Saks High

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Because it was painful (though necessary) to remove several chapters from the final draft of A Masque of Infamy dealing with my hijinks at Saks High when I first moved to Alabama, I decided to put them all together and release it as the novella SUCKS, ALABAMA.

Download the eBook for free from iTunes here.

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Before I left California, all I knew about the South was what I’d seen on TV: The Dukes of Hazard, Roots, Deliverance… So that’s what I expected: racist, good ole boys, playing banjos and speeding around the countryside in souped-up muscle cars, murdering and sodomizing strangers. Despite the old man’s assurance that I shouldn’t believe everything I saw on TV, my enthusiasm waved from one moment to the next. But the truth was, I was ready for a fresh start.

I wasn’t leaving much behind in Rosemead. Just bad memories and the rest of my crazy family. I figured I could write my own ticket in a podunk Alabama town. Nobody needed to know that I was born in the crappy part of a crappy suburb on the wrong side of Hollywood. But while Rosemead was nothing like the Los Angeles depicted in movies and television, I looked totally LA. It was 1986. My style was an amalgam of punk and heavy metal. My hair was long and my pants were tight. My ears were pierced three times in my left and once in my right. I wore the same Iron Maiden shirt almost every day and never left the house without at least one bandana tied around my ankle.

How could I not ride into town and just take over?

Shit, in my mind, as soon as these bumpkins in Alabama got a look at me, the guys would idolize me, the girls would lust after me and all their parents would fear me.

I would finally become the person the audience in my head had always cheered for.

All the way across the country, as I sat in the backseat of my father’s low-rent Cadillac, alternately picking fights with Joey, talking back to Rick and zoning out to the soothing sounds of heavy metal on my Walkman, I felt it in my gut, a rising excitement that everything was about to change.

For better or worse, once I fulfilled my destiny, the name Louis Baudrey would be synonymous with infamy.

— from Sucks, Alabama

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A MASQUE OF INFAMY

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A Masque of Infamy is a ribald story of teenage rebellion and survival. After moving from Los Angeles to small town Alabama in 1987 with his father, his younger brother and this guy Rick, a friend of the family, Louis tries to fit in at the local high school, but the Bible-thumpers and the rednecks don’t take too kindly to his outlandish wardrobe and burgeoning punk attitude. At home, he defies the sadistic intentions of Rick, who tries to rule the household with an iron fist. As Louis is about to be shipped off to military school, he stumbles upon indisputable proof that will free him and his brother from Rick’s tyranny. But just when he thinks his troubles are over, he’s locked up in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital, where he must fight the red tape of the system to save himself, Joey and maybe even his dream of being a punk rocker.

“Kelly Dessaint twists the horror of growing up in a highly dysfunctional American family into a hilarious tale of survival. Detailing the trauma of being institutionalized as a teenager after having taken revenge against an abusive father figure, A Masque of Infamy is a story about stubbornly overcoming the odds to live long enough to tell the truth about just how shitty it is to be a kid in this country.” – Lydia Lunch

“A Masque of Infamy captures the screaming, up-from-the-toes intensity and torment of the United States of Adolescence. No one who reads this book will be left unchanged by its savage and unforgiving beauty.” – Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

“…hypnotizing… complex, multi-faceted, uncensored, honest — yet ‘creatively (and invisibly) engineered’ to provide a compelling narrative that I didn’t want to put down…” – V. Vale, Re/Search

“A Masque of Infamy is my kind of book! A no-bullshit novel – the type that reels the reader directly in with smooth passages, gritty dialogue and countless references to rock ‘n’ roll culture. The world needs less syrupy-sweet superficial feel-good yarns and more stories of surviving the human condition. Dessaint delivers.” – Wes Funk, author of Dead Rock Stars

“The overwhelming rawness of Kelly Dessaint’s story about children attempting to navigate a world completely fucked up by adults is like a punch to the chest.” – Davida Gypsy Breier, Xerography Debt

$14.00 . paperback . 320 pages . 5″ x 8″ . ISBN: 1-930935-33-1

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Check out some excerpts from the novel in the related posts below:

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Rickey the Pirate T-Shirt Fiasco – A Piltdownlad Excert

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RIP Rickey “the Pirate” Taylor

I’ve always been grateful that I made amends with Rickey. Sometime after the events detailed below, I left LA for a few months and gave Rickey the final t-shirt, the one we’d been holding onto for ourselves. They were cool shirts after all. Rickey was ecstatic. Not just to have a shirt to sell, but I think he was also grateful to break the detente that had existed between us for months. Who knows. It was hard to tell with Rickey. When I returned, he ran down the street to greet me warmly, remembering I’d been away and noticing I’d lost weight on my journey. From then on, our encounters were short, but warm and friendly. I never gave him any money. Maybe he asked if we wanted to buy something a few times. He wasn’t pushy. He often tried to hug us or help with bags… the same old Rickey from before all this nasty t-shirt business. And then we moved to Oakland. During our last visit downtown in May, we saw Rickey. It was a pleasant reunion right there on the corner of Sixth and Spring. He tried to sell us a video camera. We kept it brief. Like always. Rest in Peace, Rickey. I’ve had a lot of beefs with people over the years, but none ended with truly letting bygones be bygones. You were a class act. There will only be one Downtown Pirate.

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An excerpt from Piltdownlad #5.

Rickey illustration by Nick Knudson.

Downtown illustrations by Irina Dessaint.

Read more »

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Piltdownlad #3: Junior Careers, Adventures in the Candy Trade

“THE CREW”

In my early teenage years I sold candy door to door for a company called Junior Careers.

Every day after school, the Bossman pulled up to the house in a beige Econoline and blew the horn. You knew it was time to go when you heard that unmistakable pattern, two shorts and a long. Morse code for, “Get the fuck out here! Right now!” The Bossman did not like to wait. You learned fast, if you were gonna make it on his crew you had to show some serious hustle. He had ten rules and “Don’t waste my time” was number one. As soon as that horn blew you hightailed it into the back of the van and joined the other kids crammed against a wall of boxes like chickens in an overcrowded pen. If you were lucky you’d be able to sit down on the floor too, otherwise you’d be standing, hunched over the boxes of candy, hoping nobody pulled a lame-brained stunt like that one time Felipe yelled, “Oh, my god! Stop!” and the Bossman slammed on the brakes. We all tumbled forward into a massive dogpile with the boxes on top, everybody totally freaking out. The Bossman was frantic, shouting, “What is it? What is it?” thinking somebody’s fingers were caught in the door again. But then Felipe goes, “A roach was crossing the street… you almost ran over him.”

We cracked up bigtime. Except the Bossman. He was pissed beyond belief. But that was no surprise. He was always pissed off. If it wasn’t one thing it was another. His patience was razor thin. And no wonder. It’s not like we ever made things easy for him. We dragged ass and talked shit nonstop, as if we got paid more for our snotty attitudes than the candy in our boxes. I mean, none of us really wanted to pound the pavement for hours on end when we could be home watching the tube. We did it for the ten percent of each sale, our cut of the profits. Slave wages, sure, but there weren’t many employment opportunities available to the under-sixteen set. So you dealt with it. Until you couldn’t deal with it anymore. And then you bailed. That was the beauty of the job. You could always say fuck it.

Everybody quit eventually.

It happened all the time. The van pulled up to a house and a kid would come out with a string of excuses. “I got too much homework.” Or, “I gotta do such and such for so and so.” The only thing the Bossman hated more than excuses was being a man short. “If you’re on the schedule and I show up at your house you better be ready to work.” That was rule number two. But it didn’t stop some kids from trying their luck. Except the Bossman had a keen eye for bullshit. No matter what you said you knew it wasn’t gonna be easy.

Once this guy Mike tried to take an unscheduled night off. But instead of facing the Bossman himself, he sent his little brother out to say he couldn’t work. It was cowardly, true, but you could hardly blame him, seeing as how mad the Bossman got when you flaked on the job. You’d be a fool to think you could get out of work that easy. You had to be on your deathbed before he’d even consider letting you off the hook.

Sure enough, the Bossman went off, shouting at the top of his lungs in case Mike was hiding behind the curtains, “You tell that lazy little blankety-blank blank blank if he doesn’t get in this van right now I’m gonna drag his useless ass out here myself.”

And he’d do it too. We’d seen it happen. More than once. He’d march right into some kid’s house and drag the culprit out by the collar like he was a bounty hunter going after America’s most wanted.

The Bossman always got his man.

Mike wasn’t the first kid to try the little brother tactic either. No, the Bossman had seen every play in the book. But this time was different. Mike was playing hardball. He wasn’t coming out. No matter how much the Bossman threatened him. So after a few minutes of hollering he threw his hands in the air and said, “Good riddance. That boy was useless.” Then he gave the little brother the once over. “What about you, kid? You wanna job? Or you gonna be useless like your brother?”

The Bossman had a thing against the Useless. When I first signed up for Junior Careers he met with my mom to give her the rundown and let her know I’d be safe on the job. Not that she was worried or anything. Before I started working for Junior Careers I wandered the streets aimlessly, getting into trouble. Then one day I noticed a flyer stapled to a telephone pole by the Alpha Beta.

According to the bold print, Junior Careers was an opportunity for kids twelve to sixteen to earn extra money, win special trips and have fun.

The prospect of a real job was hard to pass up. So I called the number and the next day the Bossman showed up at the house. He was a big guy, his brown hair kinda long and wavy, like he used to be cool, before he got old, and just forgot to get a crewcut. In this loud, booming voice he went off about the philosophy behind Junior Careers. “This job is about Life Lessons. I’m preparing your son for the real world. And in the real world there are Earners and there are the Useless. Those who go out and make things happen, these are the Earners. Those who let things happen to them, the Useless. The Earners come home with cash in their pockets. The Useless, they just waste my time.” As my mom nodded her head—I could tell she liked the sound of this—the Bossman looked me square in the eye and asked, “So which one are you gonna be?”

“An Earner?” I asked it more than I said it because I wasn’t even sure what he was talking about. But then, I woulda gone along with anything if it meant making a few bucks. It had been ages since I’d had an allowance. Room and board, that’s all we got from the folks. For everything else–candy, magazines, cassettes and video games–I was on my own. The prospect of being an Earner and coming home with cash in my pocket was almost too good to be true. However, after a few weeks it became obvious that it was too good to be true.

I wasn’t much of a salesman.

I was one of the useless.

But I didn’t really care. I was only in it for the junk food. As long as I had a little cash at the end of the day for a trip to the liquor store, I was satisfied. Besides, most of my earnings went to the candy I scarfed on the job anyway. The same overpriced candy I was supposed to be selling. Many a night I came home empty-handed after blowing my meager profits on company goods. It was just so hard to resist opening a box as I went along my route. Dealing with all that candy, I got the munchies something fierce. I’d try to resist the urge, but, consoling myself with the fact that I made my ten percent off what I’d eaten, I justified my splurges with the fact that it was kinda like I got paid to eat candy.

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From the zine JUNIOR CAREERS: ADVENTURES IN THE CANDY TRADE

Available from PILTDOWNLAD or, if you got a dollar burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a copy on etsy.

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Piltdownlad #2: Women Got Me Drinking

Piltdownlad #2 – Women Got Me Drinking

Set in New Orleans during the early 90s, this is the story of my time as a hapless souvenir hawker in the French Quarter after I got a crush on the pen cart girl and my feeble attempt to woo her. Along the way, I describe wandering through French Quarter streets and a few of my numerous misadventures with bums, fast-talking cashiers, gutterpunks, poolhall sharks, prostitutes and my rabble-rousing neighbor. All part of my New Orleans experience.

Part of the series: Adventures in the Tourist Trade

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