At 457 pages, my first book, Brea or Tar, is also my longest.
This behemoth collection of "39 Stories of Lonely Men Oozing Out Like Pitch from the Main Vein of Forgotten Los Angeles" was written and assembled as a sort of alternative map of the City of Angels. Decentering fame, fortune, beauty, eternal youth, and happy Hollywood endings, Brea is a multi-century spanning assortment of literary sandpaper that charts the ugly, tragic, violent and visceral from the city's dawn through it's near future demise.
Short fiction, non-fiction essays, experimental texts, poetry, screenplays, transcripts, and an extensive battery of an epigraph make for a diverse panoply of ideas, scenes, and formats in which the reader is guaranteed to find their own meaning.
1. Physical Graffiti (One Or Many Epigraphs): Ten pages of quotes charting the many origins of the project.
2. Zed: A short poem dedicated to Zed, the wooly mammoth whose death in the titular tar so many millennia ago is a thematic keystone.
3. The Author: A bit of an explanation.
4. Trick or Treat: Inspired by both my time at the Midnight Mission and the two lovers whose drug-addled, high-decibel early morning tiffs were a lot of food for thought about love on Skid Row.
5. Heave: A story about the boat races the Navy held in San Pedro in the years just before WWII. Based heavily on my grandfather's time on New Orleans in '38.
6. Musk: Desperate for love, a rockstar accountant must contend with an overactive endocrine system.
7. Sundance: A quick portrait of Robert Sundance, famous Indian advocate for drunks on Skid Row, as he looks East from his home in the Rosslyn.
8. Fingers: A story about law enforcement and perspective spawned from an interaction I witnessed between a woman and LAPD at the corner of 5th and Main.
9. Order of Mulholland: A dystopian account from the near future apocalypse when Los Angeles runs out of water and the Battle of California takes shape.
10. Luisito: A young boy recalls being awoken by the sound of anti-air fire during the Battle of Los Angeles in '43.
11. Tony the Cuck: The existential musings of a Glendale man embroiled in a complex relationship dynamic.
12. Maple: Half of a two part sequence uniting Bunker Hill, old Wrigley Field, and a pattern of washed up ballplayers in the days before the Dodgers came to town.
13. Fat Diego: A brief account of a botched holdup at a neighborhood dive in Boyle Heights.
14. The Talk: Transcription of a not-unrealistic talk delivered to a high school drama class by a washed up Hollywood actor on the verge of something real bad.
15. Call Me Cass: Mama Cass Elliott is the central fixation of a cabbie who has developed an unhealthy obsession with the singer.
16. Last Strike: This bookend to "Maple" channels accounts of my Dad's terror in the presence of his grandfather, a major league catcher who flitted around the Pacific Coast League in the early-1950s.
17. Goodbye: Thinking about the confusion that would accompany being a father to someone like Eliot Rodgers.
18. Fibonacci's Surgeon: By which a very long history of agriculturally-oriented people being chewed up in the meat grinder of industrial Los Angeles is whittled down to the fine point of MacArthur Park. Partially inspired by the Frank Becerra murders at the Hotel Stowell.
19. Fortunate Son: By contrast, a silver spoon/LA old money type, sues LAFD because he perceives that fire engine sirens have damaged his ability to hear the nuances of the LA Phil.
20. Cologne, Peanuts & Diesel: An entirely non-fiction account of my Dad's deployment to the Persian Gulf in 1990.
21. Mama: Reframing hard-boiled police detective narratives around the sensitivity of an idiosyncratic mama's boy and his suicide note.
22. Sage: One of the longest pieces herein, Sage is a sensory account of Jedediah Smith's journey to Los Angeles in 1826. Equal parts Cormac McCarthy and Steve Roach.
23. Paul: Trying to process what was going through print-artist Paul Landcare's mind during his botched suicide attempt.
24. Steuben Brawl: A love letter to intrafamily violence in and around the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
25. The Eunuch: A distasteful and key piece of fiction, detailing the culture of casual violence that undergirded the city in the 1860s as told in a humorous (if you can accept that) story about the epic flood of 1862.
26. Mr Willie's Video Archive: Documenting source material for my performance art character, Mr Willie, an embittered and zealous employee of DWP whose fixation with mylar balloons and the damage they do finally pushes him over the edge.
27. Statements: A remorseless counterpoint to 'Fibonacci's Surgeon' told from the perspective of a hardened killer.
28. Crash: Drawing untenable conclusions from the death of Darby Crash.
29. YOU TOO: Not everyone was pleased when U2 performed at the corner of 7th and Main in 1987. Recently adapted to film by Grant James.
30. Unbridled Enthusiasm: A prelude to the ensuing story, this copy is the work of a hack journalist chronicling the yangna tree set amidst the Meier and Zobelein Brewery on Commercial.
31. The Conniption Kid: The story of a forgotten rube journalist who is vaporized in the explosion at the LA Times in 1910.
32. Dynamite Dreams: In the course of researching the history of Gus Seyfert's house on Burtz Street, I uncovered a hidden history of a small Japanese enclave that was an appropriate medium for the strands of casual racism and disregard that stitched the city together.
33. Bros: A story of a commercial real estate agent eating humble pie. Something we can all fantasize about.
34. St. Tiburcio: Tiburcio Vasquez and Inocencia Reyes are their own patron saints.
35. Geppetto: The horrors of a jazzy super meth exert their control in the days after the Big One flattens Los Angeles.
36. The Year of the Tiger: A journey to old Los Angeles and the Chinatown of the Coronel Block.
37. The River: A non-fiction collage charting a flow from the first days of the trans-Atlantic slave trade along the Kwanza River in Angola to contemporary Los Angeles.
38. Robert: Regret and a famous 1850s slaying at the Bella Union Hotel.
39. The Full Upright and Locked Position: A meditation on air flight and cross-continent origins set amidst a trip from Washington Dulles to LAX.
In addition to the fiction, I also coordinate the book's layout and design. Jileen Hohle executed an idea for a gallery of symbols representing each story. Summer Woodward executed the cover design complete with Zed the mammoth and fonts inspired by Caddyshack. Finally, Blue Trimarchi of Art Works Fine Printing executed the production and delivery phases.