According to John Klima, he and I first met at the SFWA Authors & Editors Reception in 2001, perhaps introduced by Cory Doctorow. I have no memory of that. The first time I remember meeting John was at a party at a convention around that same time (I forget which one) where he was handing out free copies of his new zine, Electric Velocipede. I was dubious, eyeing the cheap, stapled covers, but everyone else around was acting like they'd just been given a gift of gold.

Electric Velocipede, Issue 1 Before I started reading that first issue, I had never given much thought to sending any of my stories to fanzine markets, or even really to the semipros. Electric Velocipede changed my mind. The fiction was good, really good, and John had a keen, idiosyncratic editorial eye. And an air of unlikely coolness somehow clung to the roster of names on the cover. I wanted to be a part of it.

And by Issue 4, I was, with a weird little horror story called "Mrs. Janokowski Hits One out of the Park," a story I believed in but that no pro editor seemed interested in. That was the first of five EV stories over the years (including one under my Perry Slaughter byline). Along the way another story appeared on the EV blog, and John also published my chapbook An Alternate History of the 21st Century, which contained two more original stories that no one else seemed to want to touch. (One of those, "Objective Impermeability in a Closed System," ended up reprinted in Hartwell & Cramer's Year's Best SF 13.)

All this is by way of saying that Electric Velocipede has played a crucial role in my short fiction career, and I owe John Klima a deep debt of gratitude. Now, after a Hugo Award win and something like four World Fantasy Award nominations, EV is publishing its 27th and final issue. It's a sad occasion, but I hope you'll join me and a boatload of other contributors on Friday, February 28th, at Bluestockings Bookstore, for a reading, release party, and memorial service. It'll be great fun, and besides me you'll get to hear from writers like Robert J. Howe, K. Tempest Bradford, Nancy Hightower, Matthew Kressel, Barbara Krasnoff, Richard Bowes, Mercurio D. Rivera, Jonathan Wood, and Sam J. Miller. There'll be raffles and snacks, and a chance to purchase an EV sampler with stories by all the participants.

Please join us in sending a great magazine off in a big way!

Electric Velocipede Issue 27 Release Party & Memorial Service
hosted by Sam J. Miller & Nancy Hightower
Friday, February 28, 2014, 7:00 pm
Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002
facebook event listing | more info


Bill Shunn & John Klima, by Ellen Datlow on Flickr


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
New York's Hook & Eye Theater company is nearing the end of its run of its new play "The Summoners." A surreal, mindbending blend of Groundhog Day and Synecdoche, New York, "The Summoners" tells the thought-provoking story of what happens when the blanket of clouds that has shrouded America for three years parts for five blissful minutes over one Indiana town—and the chilling media circus that ensues.

Our friend Cynthia Babak is part of the terrific cast that together devised the story of this play, which was then turned into a script by Gavin Broady. But it's only running two more nights! See it tonight or Saturday at The C.O.W. Theater, 21 Clinton Street in Manhattan. Tickets are a mere $18! Don't miss it!

The Summoners


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
It seems absurd for me to say that I wish we were in New York City right now, with Hurricane Sandy bearing down, but we are definitely thinking of all our many friends there and all over the East Coast and hoping everyone stays dry and safe.


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
Our good friend Edie Nadelhaft (one of whose paintings hangs on our dining room wall) is participating tonight in Changing the World Through Art, an auction and gala to benefit the Time In Children's Arts Initiative.

New Yorkers, please consider showing up and supporting the gala! It takes place at Haunch of Venison, 550 W. 21st St., from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. (Buy tickets here.)

Edie says:

TimeIn is a unique outreach program that introduces children from some of the most underserved and impoverished neighborhoods in NYC to the arts through activities such as hands on classes, sketching at museums and galleries and listening to opera.

Please make this the first of your 2012 tax deductible donations and enjoy hors d'oeuvres, bespoke cocktails and a live auction of works including my own Cherry Biter No. 12 as well as works by Takashi Murakami, William Wegman, Nick Cave and many more!

Edie-Nadelhaft-Cherry-Biter-12.jpg


Crossposted from Inhuman Swill
shunn: (Forehead)
You Are Here - Roosevelt Island - New York City

you are here

the southern tip of roosevelt island
east river easing by to either side
beside your wife astride the bikes
you rode like phantoms through
the hushed streets of queens
over the red bridge at 36th ave

you are here

inside the four mile ring of the
concentric circles of immediacy
and inverse kneejerk jingoism
the two towers at their center
their sides pierced by spears
gushing ash into waterclear sky

you are here

holding hands in the swelling
congregation of silent cyclists
a u.n. of observers stunned and numb
distant sirens the only sounds
besides the murmuring river
or the murmurs might be yours

you are not here

to see or hear the first collapse
you're riding back over the bridge
retracing miles unwinding the clock
restitching time with no success
at home your t.v. sees just one tower
a dustblinded eye about to close

you are not there


originally read at Tuesday Funk, September 6, 2011 [video]
shunn: (Lavender Mist)
No, I don't mean dancers smoking pot. I mean dance choreographed on an indoor set of living grass and trees. It's "Wooden," by our good friend Laura Peterson (with sets by Jon Pope), and you lucky New Yorkers can see Part 2 at Here Arts Center tonight and tomorrow night only. Please go, since we can't! Tickets are $15.

Laura's choreography always strikes me as supremely logical, whether rooted in organic forms or technological ideas or a hybrid of both, and entirely superior to the hackneyed vocabulary that seems to compose much of modern dance. Here's a link to a video of one of the improvisations that led to "Wooden" to whet your appetite:

VIDEO: Improvisation at MOMA, 2/14/2010


See more of Laura's videos here and here. And here's a past favorite of mine, just because:

VIDEO: Electrolux (2008) )
While Laura and I were in New York City about a month ago, we were introduced to a drink called the "pickle back"—a shot of Irish whiskey followed by a pickle-brine chaser. Yes, I was dubious too, but it was the best new drink I'd tasted in ages. Of course, the pickle juice needs to be of high quality. You can't just use the liquid from a bottle of Vlasic dill chips.

We first experienced the pickle back at Sweet Afton in Queens ([livejournal.com profile] ecmyers was there!), so imagine our surprise when at Whiskey Tavern in Chinatown the next evening we found two varieties of pickle back on the menu! It's apparently a growing trend in bars in the know, as detailed in this New York Post article:

Give Pickle Juice a Shot

Time to invest in cucumber futures?

(To my Blue Heaven peeps, don't lump this tasty treat in with the horror that is Gherkinbräu. Here, of course, the pickle taste is deliberate.)
shunn: (Forehead)
Fans of the monthly New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series in Manhattan are used to gathering for good food, good whiskey, and good beer at Ryan Maguire's Ale House, on Cliff Street near the South Street Seaport. Unfortunately, Ryan Maguire's was destroyed by a fire early this morning:



It's great that no one was hurt, but this is a real loss. It was a warm, welcoming place, and I always looked forward to heading there with Jim Freund and a big, interesting, varied crowd after readings while Laura and I still lived in New York. I'm glad I had a chance to go there one last time, in January, when Paul Witcover and I read together at NYRSF. RIP.
Hi, NYC friends! Yes, it's a last-minute surprise to me too, but I'll be reading with the excellent Paul Witcover THIS COMING TUESDAY EVENING, January 5th, as part of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series at the South Street Seaport Museum. Doors open 6:30 pm, readings begin 7:00 pm. Suggested donation is $5. See below for all the details, and we hope to see you there.

Please note, if you haven't been to a NYRSF reading at the Seaport lately, that the location is slightly different than it used to be....

Event details )
I consciously realized something this evening that has been nagging at me for a few weeks now, which is that tomorrow morning, when the new episode of my podcast goes live, there's going to be a line on the front page of my web site that reads "September 11." I'm not looking forward to seeing that.

It helped this evening that Laura and I had a good friend over, and that date was one of the subjects we chatted about on the back deck amidst the wreckage of banana daiquiris, white Russians, and Tomintoul 27yo served neat with water back. I was glad to hear that I'm not the only one who gets so angry that he has to withdraw from conversations of the sort that I had a few weeks ago, when a random stranger at a bar I like to frequent on Friday afternoon tried to tell me that the American government was behind 9/11. (It's not exactly a counterargument, but my favorite statistic to trot out in such circumstances is that Manhattan [a/k/a New York County], the very borough that was attacked by foreign nationals, voted 80% for Al Gore in 2004.)

Anyway, if you have some time, browse over to my survivor registry tomorrow, read some of the posts from that confusing day, and try to remember what it was like to feel the world changing around us.
My scotch-loving friends in New York will want to hear about an email I just received from the Brandy Library. (Yes, I can't bring myself to unsubscribe from their mailing list.) The 16th Annual Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza is coming to the Roosevelt Hotel on Thursday, May 7. Find all the information you need here. And if you go, knock one back for me.
Seven years on, what does September 11th mean? Nothing.

Perhaps it would be less confrontational to say it means everything, or anything.

I had a terrible argument with a relative of mine during those bleak last months of 2001. I said something to the effect that a person's experience of September 11th was more valid if he or she was there, or at least that's how, in my clumsy way of speaking, my words came across. My relative took great offense at the idea that he wasn't as affected in Utah as I was in New York City. "You're telling me," he said, "that you wouldn't feel bad if someone blew up the Church Office Building in Salt Lake?"

"Of course I'd feel bad," I said. "But I wouldn't feel the same way as a person in Salt Lake. It would be more abstract for me."

This got me nowhere, but I stand by the core argument I was trying to make. I was in Queens when the planes hit the towers, and as much terror and horror as I felt watching from the seat of my bike at the southern tip of Roosevelt Island as all that black smoke roiled into the air four miles away, my experience was nothing like that of the people who had to run for their lives through the debris cloud when the first tower collapsed, or, God forbid, like that of the ones who had to choose between burning to death or jumping to death. And my experience of that day—of seeing the city where I lived and worked and played be attacked and disfigured and transformed, of losing the ugly but somehow comforting giant landmarks that made orienting yourself in the urban maze so simple, of ghosting through the otherworldly hush of Manhattan in the days that followed, of rolling through the deserted and darkened subway station at Cortlandt Street—was quantifiably different from someone whose experience of that event was entirely mediated through television, radio, print, email, telephone, and word-of-mouth, and who maybe had never been to New York City at all.

This doesn't mean someone two or even twelve thousand miles away could not have been affected as significantly by September 11th as someone who was in one of the target zones. I can't even call the spheres of experience concentric, because someone in Japan who lost a family member that day is no doubt still more affected by it than I was. I don't think there's a person in the world who wasn't affected somehow, and to graph everyone's comparative experience would call for the most complicated Venn diagram ever devised.

Only if you grant my proposition that September 11th is in and of itself meaningless can you possibly say that John McCain and Barack Obama appearing together at Ground Zero is not political. Maybe I suffer from a lack of imagination, but I can't see how the sight of opposing presidential candidates, one young and black, one old and white, sharing a stage at the site of the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil can fail to be political. What that political meaning will be will of course be different to each person watching, but it will be there because of the individual emotional freight we all bring to such images as contrasting skin color, American flags, snapshots of the dead, and giant holes in the ground.

And that emotional freight will dictate how we feel, and how we feel will, in most cases, dictate how (or whether) we vote in November. The more I read and listen to voices on the radio, the more elections I live through, the more I'm coming to believe that we vote because of how we feel, not because of what we think. And I think we are feeling our way blindly into deeper disaster.

With Bush's approval ratings so dismal for so long, there is no logical reason for McCain and Obama to be so close in the polls. A Republican administration got us embroiled, bogged down, and distracted in Iraq, wrecked our economy, rolled back our civil rights, and ruined our standing in the world, and yet it's still working for Republicans to say that only they can fix the mess they got us into. McCain's recklessness in picking his running mate is confirmation of his "maverick" credentials, while Obama's long and fruitful relationship with his is swept under the rug. Obama's long experience is dismissed as non-experience, while Palin's non-experience is pumped up to levels of Jeffersonian statesmanship. Her family demands that its pregnant teen daughter's "decision" remain a private matter, while stumping for judicial change that would take that same private decision away from other families. McCain's erratic record is seen as consistency, and Obama's consistency is seen as dangerous. Outward signifiers like flag pins are more important than inward qualities like reason, compassion, and integrity. The levels of Orwellian doublespeak are remarkable, and the mind-bending contradictions make natural sense to way too many people.

Reason does not rule us as a species. The heart does, or some deeper, less specific organ of instinctual decision-making. That's why we're more likely to swallow big happy lies than sober assessments, galloping cowboys than careful blueprints, loaded buzzwords from an old white man than reasoned conclusions from a young black man. It's the same organ that tells us God can cure our cancer even though we know He will never restore our severed limbs. It's because we make our decisions with our guts, not our brains.

Of course, that's just my gut talking. It's just what I see in the meaningless image of those twin smoking towers, the greatest and most crucial Rorschach inkblot test in our nation's recent history. If I hope anything today, it's that we can all see through the inkblot, and not let our vision be clouded by it.
I have quite a backlog of little items I've made notes about that I've meant to blog over the past couple of months, and maybe today or soon I'll start getting to most of them. Though before I get to the one immediately at hand, I just have to note that outside right now is raging the SECOND snowstorm of spring.

Now to the main monkey business. Laura and I are heading to New York tomorrow to spend a lazy weekend. The prime motivator of our trip is to see our friend Laura Peterson's new dance program Electrolux, at DNA (280 Broadway). You should come too. Seriously. Go buy tickets. The run starts tonight and ends Sunday.

Electrolux might look something like this rehearsal footage:



Or this showing:



Laura's previous show, I Love Dan Flavin, was beautiful, brutal, and awe-inspiring. As we watched (and we went twice), we could see the dancers' feet becoming bloody. Check this out (though you'll have to imagine the Kraftwerk soundtrack that is missing from the video):



We're going Saturday. If you miss out, you won't have to kick yourself because I just did it for you.
Going home to New York City is as comfortable as slipping on an old shoe. I flew there Tuesday afternoon with just a backpack and the parka on my back, and I was immediately at ease and confident in a way I don't yet feel in Chicago. The only bad part was that I was alone, since Laura was on a concurrent business trip to Rochester.

But I wasn't solitary for long. I took a cab from Laguardia to my borrowed apartment in Astoria, Queens, dumped off most of the contents of my pack, and headed into the city. After a quick stop at my old office, I met John Klima, in from Iowa way, at the Tor offices in the Flatiron Building. I acquired an advance copy of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, I chatted with Patrick Nielsen Hayden for a minute or two, and John and I hauled his bags back to Astoria on the subway.

We had a full evening ahead, but before I tell you about it I have to back up several months and remind you of the segment of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" that Laura and I caught back in July:



Kabab Cafe is our favorite restaurant on earth, and Ali El Sayed our good friend. John had eaten Ali's appetizers once before at a party at our place, but despite our best efforts we had never managed to get Shai and him out to the restaurant itself for a real meal. What's more, John had seen the above segment on "No Reservations." Since he and I were staying right there in the neighborhood, how could we not head over for dinner? I promised him, though, that we'd have fare other than sweetbreads and testicles.

My promise turned out to be half hasty.

Bill and John take Queens! )
In more news for New York SF fans, check out the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival schedule and start planning your picnic for June 25th.
Let me start by saying that I had a fabulous time over the weekend. I lost a Nebula to James Patrick Kelly, but I wasn't unhappy about it. Burn is a terrific novel novella, and it's pretty incredible that after nine at-bats this is Jim's first win.

Laura and Bill Anyway, the weekend started for me last Thursday afternoon, and between then and about 2:00 am Sunday Laura and I hung out with Sheila Williams, [livejournal.com profile] asphalteden, Bianca Miele, Trevor Quachri, [livejournal.com profile] paulmelko, [livejournal.com profile] paulwitcover, [livejournal.com profile] bobhowe, [livejournal.com profile] eleanor, Jim Minz, Paolo Bacigalupi, Jack Skillingstead, Scott Edelman, Toby and Emily Buckell, Steve Feldberg, Jim Kelly, John Kessel, Craig Engler, Jae Brim, [livejournal.com profile] rajankhanna, Barbara Krasnoff, Jim Freund, Chris Cohen, Marc Zicree, Brook and Julia West, Rick Bowes, Jeff Ford, Wil McCarthy, Daryl Gregory, Shawna McCarthy, Wayne Barlowe, Gordon Van Gelder, John Joseph Adams, [livejournal.com profile] slushmaster, and probably a couple dozen other people who are slipping my mind just now. I also appeared live on Jim Freund's radio program on two hours of sleep, had a lovely breakfast with Jack and Maureen McDevitt, and helped direct Norman Spinrad to the nearest subway station.

Hour of the Wolf
12 May 2007, full audio
 
5:00-6:10 amMP3 file31.3 Mb
6:10-7:00 amMP3 file21.9 Mb
A dinner out that Laura and I organized for a relatively modest-sized group of folks turned out well, and just as we in our nefarious scheming had hoped accumulated many more participants as we strolled across lower Manhattan from the book signing to the restaurant. Like iron filings to a magnet! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha! Good thing Laura had the foresight to make a larger reservation than we believed we would need.

The banquet and awards ceremony itself were interminable. Thank God the novella category came early in the program or it would have been even worse. Even so, the nervousness didn't start settling in until during dessert. Or maybe the delicious cheesecake concealed a botulism virus, I don't know. Laura and I were fortunate enough to sit at the Asimov's table with Sheila Williams and my fellow nominee Paul Melko, who cut quite a handsome figure in his spiffy tuxedo. (Brian Bieniowski and I looked good, but we were still hopelessly outclassed.) As I said above, Paul and I lost to Jim Kelly, but we're saving those acceptance speeches because we'll face off again in Yokohama. Better sharpen that katana, Melko! Dou itashimashite!

And last but hardly least, I can't forget to mention the seventeen kinds of awesome Laura looked in her Nebulas dress!

The photo above is from Ellen Datlow's collection, by the way. Our own photos to come.
He's highstepping up the subway stairs ahead of me—tall, soda-straw thin, hair cut Ivy League style and slicked back on top, long sideburns curving to points near the corners of his mouth—back rigid, knees rising and falling in a bizarrely quick clockwork rhythm. Tight black denim jacket, pegleg jeans with the cuffs rolled up, black sock, Converse hightops.

As he pulls away up the ramp at the top of stairs, twisting the throttle, I think to myself, Now that must be the Stray Cat Strut.
What's that you say, Reuters? New York's pedestrians are the eighth fastest in the world? Are you sure?

Pedestrians in Singapore were crowned the world's fastest movers, walking 30 percent faster than they did in the early 1990s... Copenhagen and Madrid were the fastest European cities, beating Paris and London. And despite its reputation as "the city that never sleeps," New York ranked only eighth in the pace race, behind Dublin and Berlin.
We score that high? Because when I go out walking, I am stymied by the slow. Not sure I want to live in Singapore, though. Copenhagen might be nice.

Short takes

May. 2nd, 2007 03:28 pm
A big cookie lies pulverized in a tight accretion disc in the bus lane of Madison Avenue. Two black (soot-stained?) pigeons peck away at the unbelievable bonanza. Peck peck hop peck.

Cars are coming. A gray sedan bears down. Fly, pigeons! Get out of the way! Pigeons, why can't you hear my telepathic command! CAR!

Black wheels chew up the meters. With an annoyed flutter the pigoens hop aside at the last possible instant, wings a finger's width from rubber mayhem.

Hop hop peck peck peck.

A bus is coming. One-way telepathic communication to pigeons is too stressful. I must turn away.



Ah, so that's why no one is in line at the Starbucks registers. Everyone in the world is waiting in a crowd at the coffee bar.



If we remain at our present level of technology, Future Man will need to evolve a second pair of eyes in the top of his head so as to avoid sidewalk collisions whilst hunched over his BlackBerry. Sonar, at the least.



And how is your Spider-man Week in NYC going? Mine is going just swell, thanks. I wish Spidey would come clean up all his banners, though.



Also spied on the walk around midtown, some Lyndon LaRouche activists manning a table on 34th Street. The best of their posters depicted George Bush as Alfred E. Neuman and read:

LIKE A ROCK
BUT DUMBER
A delightful Times article about New York City's speakeasies:

One person who probably did not patronize the place was William M. Bennett, who in 1929 ran in the Republican mayoral primary as a dry candidate. One of his campaign promises was that he would close a speakeasy that sat "in the shadow of Police Headquarters"—very possibly Onieal's predecessor—along with what he estimated were 100,000 speakeasies in the city.

His threat did not go over well. He lost the nomination to a wet candidate named Fiorello H. La Guardia, 62,894 to 17,100. Which might explain why your flight to New York will not be landing in Bennett Airport, and why you can have a drink at the bar upon arrival.  [full article]
Why are we moving again? Oh, yeah, Prohibition is over.

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