Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I keep finding cool pictures of people from the early west coast punk rock scene on face book and am now in Portland and running into some of those same people.

But my favorite pic of late is this one of East Bay Ray, the guitar player of the Dead Kennedies. Here looking very stylish and not so Dead Kennedies really. Awesome shoes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Figment has launched! Very excited about this multiple purpose reading and writing post for teens. I especially love the stories and writings of actual teens. And check out the book muncher (pictured), which will have a ton of YA book reviews

And keep in mind that you can continue to read Dream School. I think we're up to Chapter Nine. Dream School is of course the sequel to my first book Girl.

The best thing about Figment is that it's creators are very open about what it will be. They want it to form itself. it's really an all encompassing forum. So check it out and see what you like and--especially if you're a writer, or just want to have a voice--contribute!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Outtakes and B-Sides

I was looking through some old versions of Destroy All Cars in preparation for the Sister Spit tour, and I found some funny bits that did not make it to the final version.


At my high school, when school lets out, many students have to cross Hillsdale Blvd. to go home. THERE ARE SO MANY CARS ON THIS ROAD, THE STUDENTS CANNOT GET ACROSS. They have to walk all the way to the light on 72nd street. There, they push the WALK button, and stand and wait. First all the left turn cars go. Then all the right turn cars go. Then all the straight ahead cars go. The students observe this endless flow of cars as they stand pathetically on the side of the road with their rain-soaked backpacks and their dripping rain-ponchos. They see the people in the cars, talking on their cell phones, drinking their Big Gulps, but do those people see them? Of course not. Why should they? People without vehicles are second class citizens. People standing on the side of the road are of no consequence. People who walk are laughable. ALL SERIOUS PEOPLE ARE OPERATING VEHICLES. Thus by the process of humiliation, we teach our young people that they must join into the fiasco that is automotive transport or be cast aside onto the pedestrian crosswalks of life.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


A friend writes:

Totally burst into tears on the bus this morning after reading this part of Prom Anon, which undoubtedly alienated the Mexicans around me:

"I think I love Zach, she said quietly.
"You do?" said Jace. "But you just met him."
"I know. That's what's so scary about it."
"How do you know?" asked Jace.
"I just...I just want to run away from him forever and I want him to always be trying to catch me."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I just saw TINY FURNITURE and I know that all the cool people are all over it and Lena Dunham is already a superstar Judd Apatow prodigy, and all that, so I am not going to pile on and say how great it was, even though it was totally great.

I just want to say that this guy on the right (picture), both the actor and the character is perhaps the greatest douchebag in all of the recent cinema. This character was so perfectly slimy and hilarious and brilliant and dead on, he was worth twice the price of admission.

In my head, I am still hearing him whine and smarm his way into poor Aura's life. I am having dreams about him wanting to hang out. He's the WORST. Oh my god, and so fitting that he's reading Woody Allen. Remember Paul Simon's portrayal of the music producer in Annie Hall? That's the level this is on.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


So what do you do when it's late November and an actual cold snap hits LA and everyone is shivering and hiding in their houses? You bust out Sergie Bondarchuk's 6-hour Soviet era film adaptation of WAR AND PEACE. Winner of the Academy Award for foreign film in 1968.

It's amazing! And beautiful and so shockingly sophisticated and well made and worthy of it's source, you have that thing of "WTF? Someone made a classic film in the Soviet Union?" It's their GONE WITH THE WIND. And just as good.

This sent me back to my own ideas of what exactly the Soviet Union was. Who were these horrible Communists that put artists and other free thinkers into prisons? Was it possible that some of those Party Members were artists themselves? All the "Communists" really were was a class of people who were smart enough or rich enough to weasel their way into "The Party" and who then got to live like all the other elite classes throughout Russian History.

I remember meeting an East German couple, in their early twenties, in Greece a few months after the Berlin Wall had fallen. They were good looking, they had plenty of money, they were having a great time. I couldn't figure them out. They were East Germans? Weren't they terribly oppressed? Weren't they broke? Wasn't their currency worthless in the west?

No. Because they were probably Communists. Or the sons and daughters of. I was uncouth enough to ask them point blank: "Were you Communists?" They got this horrified look on their faces and said, "No, no, not Communists!"

But they could have been. Somebody was. And that would explain their lifestyle.

So who was this guy Sergie Bondarchuk who made this amazing movie? Was he an oppressed artist, or maybe he was himself a member of the party?

It just shows how all the propaganda we absorbed during the 70s and 80s warped our minds to the point we can't picture accurately how the Soviet Union actually functioned. We just think "evil" and dismiss the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


DREAM SCHOOL, the GIRL sequel is up. Very excited. The Figment people did an awesome job!

This is another picture we almost used for the front page. Funny where we had to go as we looked for good images. Googling "hipster college girls" doesn't really get you where you want to go.

Thanks to everyone for checking out DREAM SCHOOL. And if you know any GIRL fans who might want to see it. Pass it on to them!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


So I've been re-reading the sequel to my first book GIRL. It's called DREAM SCHOOL. It's basically "Andrea Goes to College". At a fancy East Coast college.

I'm getting it ready for who are going to serialize it when they launch their teen reading/writing site.

I have resisted re-reading DREAM SCHOOL for a while now, knowing myself and that I would want to fiddle with it and change things and get all perfectionistic on it. The novel already had a weird time problem being written five years after the first book ended, but having to start basically right from that same point the first book left off. Which would be like the mid nineties.

And now of course the time thing is even weirder, since it's seven more years, etc. etc.

But so then I did have to go through it anyway, so I did, and I made some super light little changes for technological reasons. Not really updating it just getting rid of things that won't make sense to Figment readers, but leaving it kind of vaguely around the 1997-2003 era. But not really being specific about it.

Anyway, the surprising thing was, it hardly matters. It's just fun classic college fun. And it's really fun to remember it and discover all these characters I'd forgotten about. I totally enjoyed reading it again. It's like more GIRL. which is exactly what it's supposed to be. Except now she's in this new scary environment. Which she does not always find easy to adjust to.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I once heard Billie Joe Armstrong of GREEN DAY use the phrase, "Here today, gone later today" and I always think of it as the never ending streams of new bands, new writers, new films, new everything goes pouring across my computer and TV screens.

But for the moment there are two cultural figures I have bought into and am not going to buy out of anytime soon. The seemingly over-hyped TAVI (pictured), always seems to be doing something simple and interesting on her blog, no matter how "hot" she gets, and OBAMA, our poor beleaguered President, (my beleaguered President, since I actually voted for him), who no matter what happens to him, or what setbacks he must deal with, always seems crisp, calm, reasonable, rational, solid and good.

I am grateful for their poise under pressure.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Being a writer all this time, you'd think I would know more about John Cheever than what everyone else knows. The terrible truth is, I know what "Cheever Country" is. It's Westchester and upper middle class people riding the commuter train back and forth to work in Manhattan.

I also knew he wrote FALCONER, which I read in college, in a literature class, and therefor read with almost zero comprehension, and probably never finished and came away from it knowing it was about a guy in prison who comes to love another guy. And it was boring.

But I did remember the huge THE STORIES OF JOHN CHEEVER, which showed up in my parent's house back in the 70s and how this book was a big deal. Partly because it was so large, and had such an elegant cover but also because it had one of those magic buzzes about it. It seemed to glow. Like THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP and BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS or, out west where I lived SEVEN ARROWS and a few other things. It was one of those books the grownups handled reverently ... you knew it was important and awesome ... and I must have read that first story, "O My Brother", once a decade my whole life ...but probably never read another story ...

Anyway, so now I am reading BLAKE BAILEY's bio of John Cheever and am sort of having my mind blown. John Cheever isn't some upper class Westchester stuffed shirt, like I thought. He was sort of a wild child. He didn't graduate from high school. He lived on people's couches for years. He was wildly and pretty openly gay. He was a good old fashioned liar. All the great luminaries of his day were all over him. They adored and protected him. It's really an amazing story and it totally changes my thoughts on him.

I always thought he was one of those boring writers that kind of overachieve because they were in the Ivy League crowd. And the critics like them. In fact, he is a chronic underachiever, he was constantly told that HE was the voice of his generation and he needed to write his great first novel that would define his group and make him famous. But he couldn't! he kept writing New Yorker stories for the money.

I won't say anything more because I am only up to age 30 in the bio. But it's great fun. And a great biography, giving all sorts of fun tidbits and giving you a good blast of the feel of the times, which of course make us look like a bunch of new age wusses, which of course we are....

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Generally when I sell stuff in foreign markets I never really know much about what happens. I get these long threads of emails that go through several agents in various locations that conclude with my American agent saying: "I think we should take this."

And so we do, even though I don't really have any idea who exactly is going to do it, or who will translate it or what it will look like.

Then a weird contract shows up that is badly translated and has some weird local dialectical flavor to it. Or it's for some large looking amount of money that turns out to be not much money at all. (Or the reverse: it looks like a relatively small amount of Euros, which then, once you calculate the exchange rate, is actually a nice little chunk of change.)

Anyway, so today I got a really nice note from my German editor at Beltz (who have done a bunch of my books now, starting with GIRL. "Cool Girl" they called it.) Oh my god, I thought, an actual person! He sent along the cover of the forthcoming German edition of ROCKSTAR SUPERSTAR.

And so I wrote back to him and told him how as a student in Berlin, I would spend hours at the bookshops checking out the awesome German Editions of all my favorite authors: Bukowski, Kerouac, Tom Wolfe, etc.

I used to be amazed at how the German Shops seemed to ONLY carry my favorite authors. No crap here. And if it was something I didn't know (like Musil's THE MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES) I could pretty much know that I needed to read it. Sometimes I would even BUY it and read it right there.

The Germans had amazing taste. Or at least the Berlin Bookshops did. Of course that was in the days when the wall was still up, and Berlin was this brave little island of artsy coolness, in the then-dangerous East Bloc ...

Anyway, all I was meaning to say, was how it really is such an honor to get published in cool places. You know you are in excellent company.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I just saw the best movie. SEVERED WAYS: THE NORSE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA. I don't recommend it though. I can't think of who I would recommend it to. Film students. 19 year olds. People who are smoking pot. It is too weird. But it is absolutely perfect for what it is.

What it is: it is a mumblecore Herzogian black metal prose poem of what it would be like to be alone with a sword and an ax in eleventh century Massachussettes. It is also funny! And brutal. It is so weird and 70s like but also totally up to date and also funny! I don't know how to describe it. Nothing happens. These guys just wander around in the woods. It is beautiful.

The thing I thought as I watched it is: this is the kind of crazy genius shit people do when they are making their first movie, writing their first novel, making their first album. There is weird genius in every scene. And none of the flaws hurt it at all. And there are lots of flaws. But you feel the sparkling energy of "beginnerness" all through it. And an unexpected historical intelligence--that you never see in American film--slipped in almost as an after thought.

What fun. I stayed up until 3:30!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Awesome NY day

I'm in New York this week and sort of freaking out how awesome it is. And how well dressed everyone is. And how smart. Like on the local Sports Radio, they let the callers talk and the callers always say something intelligent. And then the host talks and he says something intelligent. Or on the street, nobody takes any shit from anybody else, but instead of this resulting in fights, it results in serious conversations which improve all concerned.

In NY men are flexible. Women are shrewd. People know what to do in difficult situations. Almost nobody is stupid. The general excellence of everyone keeps everyone's ego in check. The few people who are genuinely "slow" or overwhelmed, do the sensible thing, they read the bible on the subway and people don't bother them.

Today I saw Michael Musto wearing a zoot-suit and riding his bicycle up Seventh Ave. Today I saw Liv Tyler and her mother chatting with a classy grey haired paparazza. Today I had coffee with Susan Colasanti who is fast becoming the break out star of YA literature. (she's the next Sarah Dessen.) Today I went to my favorite Buddhist meeting and talked to my favorite teacher, who is going to Brazil next week to help open a temple. Today I missed Lauren Cerand's event at Barnes and Noble and blew my chance to hang with Nick Hornby. Today I got caught in the rain and later had to run through Grand Central Station which is my favorite vortex in the universe, and I ran to the train, and just caught it and had to sit with all the Cheever people, who are all handsome and serious and have iPads or read the Wall Street Journal. Awesome NY day.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I am thoroughly enjoying the total blow up of 27 year old author Tao Lin. His books are awesome. He's funny as shit. He takes the piss out of everything. I caught his reading at Santa Monica BARNES AND NOBLE for which four people showed up. (Santa Monica is an old folks home, really...) He did his robot voice answer thing. It was great.

But like in all situations where some cool obscure thing bursts out into the mainstream, you kind of lose your personal stake in it when it reaches a certain level. It stops being something you can excitedly tell your friends about. They already know. They already have their opinions. When other people mention it, you just have to stand there.

Tao Lin is really a singular talent though. And it's funny to watch the mainstream media make asses of themselves trying to fend him off. Charles Boch's silly review of Lin's new book in the NYTIMES confirms yet again, how the Establishment can never really deal when something genuinely fresh and interesting pops up. Josh Ferris they can deal with. The weird Asian bro who talks like a robot, not so much.

Also, for me, I like how Tao Lin is just more genuinely outside of things. Like I love Sam Lipsyte too, they have some things in common. But Lipsyte's somehow more "in" the lit world. He's kind of part of it. It must suck for him, he probably thought, "I'm the most off beat dude on the block". But alas, he's been outflanked!

Someday, Tao Lin might get outflanked too, but right at the moment, he is in a zone. He can do no wrong. Even his worst robot mumblings seem fascinating. Which makes it fun for all the rest of us writers too. It is like a fresh breeze has blown through the whole writing world.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Just got in the first batch of ARCs for my new book RECOVERY ROAD. It looks great. And the blurbs on the back are a writers dream.

A couple of my friends have already run off with copies and so far the reviews are awesome. Scholastic will send out an official ARC mailing at some point so if you are a blogger or reviewer send me your address and I will pass it on to them.

I think Recovery Road is my best "girl book" since GIRL. Madeline is this really funny, bad-assed girl who parties her way into rehab. She can barely be bothered to pay attention, when dark, mysterious Stewart shows up one night at the rehabs "movie night". The two of them are basically major league f--k ups. But that doesn't mean they can't fall in love.

It is based on a real story a friend told me years ago. I love stories when people meet someone at the worst possible times in their lives. When they least expect it, that sort of thing.

Anyway, I am really excited about this book. I hope people will check it out!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ireland Reading List

So I went to Ireland last month, and had a great time. Really interesting. The people were so awesome. And the country was really a surprise.

Since I was traveling with my hyper literate family we of course had like twenty books between us. I tried to read ULYSSES, again, and got through a couple big chunks of it. The inside-the-mind-of-a-woman part at the end being a lot of fun and extremely provocative for it's time I'm sure, and still kind of amazing now if a little confusing ... and actually, in my opinion, pornographic, despite the judge's opinion in the front of the book. Not that I object. I love stuff like this. When books can't tell you the truth about how people think what's the point. Zombie and Vampire fans, exempted of course. Nerds of all eras flee reality, it is their historical destiny, but I digress ....

Anyway, I tried a bunch of different books but got truly swept up in one nonfiction worked called PADDY'S LAMENT by Thomas Gallagher. An Irish American writer, not able to grasp why his countrymen hated the English so much, investigates the Potato Famine and the British role in it. Well he gets pretty pissed off as he does and this book is his pissed off near-rant against the brutal British gutting of Ireland. (see photo of farmers being thrown out of their houses and into the bogs)

Structurally a little weird, the drive of the book is the great descriptions of the actualities of what went on when the potato crop failed two years in a row and the British used it to genocidally reduce the Irish from being poor to being dead.

Anyway, I generally stay away from "righteous anger" books, but this one totally sucked me in, especially as we poked around Ireland and came to see how TOTALLY DIFFERENT the Irish are from the British. It is two different worlds. So that was my fave read in Ireland.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I'm reading this biography of Led Zeppelin this week called WHEN GIANTS ROAMED THE EARTH. It's I guess what they call "exhaustive" since it just goes on forever about every little detail of everything, which I like, and even has these weird interludes where the author creates "fictional flashbacks" wherein various people featured in the book are taken back through their life stories. All of these interludes have the same, "Those sods you knew in your early days, they never knew what you were capable of, but you knew ..." It is a very odd device and I find it kind of fascinating as a writer, because you really shouldn't be able to do that, especially if you are giving everybody the same resentment-based perspective, but in another way, it kind of works and nicely breaks up the story. So funny too, Zep was one of my favorite bands in highschool but was usually put down by my frieds as being kind of lower class, metal type music. They all preferred The Stones and the Dead and crap like that. Which I liked too but I ALWAYS knew that zeppelin was by far the most accomplished band musically, which is what is so fun about reading this book. They really were that good. They were like frickin' Beethoven or something. So now I'm listening to all their records again and getting these weird junior high school flashbacks (white bellbottoms and feathered hair), yes I am that old. And also thinking about the very short life-spans of even the greatest bands. By the time Zep was done the guys were barely thirty!!! What the hell did they do with the rest of their lives. Garden, I guess. That's what Voltaire advised at the end of Candide.....

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Like many people there're all sorts of "important" books I've never slogged through. This is because, like important people, and interesting new food concepts, these works are intimidating and unintelligible and not relaxing. However I have found ways over the years, to find my way into such works.

1.Don Juan by Lord Byron

I forced my way into Don Juan when I was an undergraduate transfer student at NYU. I had to make up some classes since I'd missed some things when I was in a punk band. So I was stuck in New York City, taking summer school classes, without really knowing anyone and with not that much to do so I would ride the F train to Coney Island every day and sit on the beach and read Don Juan, which, of course, once I got going on it, was a totally awesome, addictive, sexy and hilarious read. Also, much of it is set on beaches where the main character is seducing exotic beauties from far away lands. The combination of being on the beach and having no other choices with me, forced me into it. I can't recommend this book enough. It was beach riding in it's highest form.

2. The Bible by Various Artists

I was in Israel once, just wandering around, and a guy in a youth hostel gave me a bible he had, which cross referenced everything in the index by location. So then, whenever I went anywhere I looked up all the stories that location was featured in and read all the stories about it. This made it all really fun and interesting, and as I had never really been able to crack the bible, suddenly it was relevent and fun and you really wanted to know what happened in a place where you were actually standing. Over the course of the month I was there, I read a big chunk of it.

3. Ulysses by James Joyce

I am about to go to Ireland. I could barely get through Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. I could barely get through Dubliners. Now I am going to be stuck with Ulysses and NO OTHER BOOKS for eleven days. Because I have failed to read Ulysses so many times, I am going to START in the MIDDLE, and just read the good bits. And then if it catches hold, which I'm hoping it will, I will somehow become smitten and work my way through.

Monday, July 19, 2010


When I first got my office down here at Venice Beach, I kept thinking I should write a little memoir thing called, "My Year At Sea" about living on the beach. Everyone wants to live at the beach at some point in their life. Maybe it'd be interesting. I guess it has been, but not so much as I thought. Every once in a while I come up with some little insight like: "People scream a lot at the beach." This I guess is due to the cold water splashing on them periodically. Or the fact that they are already half naked and their friends are trying to pull down their pants. Or they are just very happy and they are girls and girls do like to scream I've noticed. Why is that?

Another observation about the beach, it calms you down. I don't know why more people don't take advantage of the soothing quality of large bodies of water. Why would you take some pill that costs twenty bucks when you can just go walk by the ocean? In NY I used to walk along the Hudson when I was stressing. Always fixed me right up.

So, if those are the only two insights I have I guess I don't need to write an article or a book or whatever. One blog post will do. My Year At Sea.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


A friend of mine is reading GIRL, my first novel, and we were talking about it and I ended up reading a big chunk of it the other day.

I hadn't read more than a page or two of it in years, so this immersion was kind of revelation. Mainly I was shocked by the sex and drugs and carnage and brutality of Andrea's high school, the so innocent sounding "Hillside High." There's race riots, rape, murder, suicide, people stopping being friends with people without communicating about it or providing closure. And of course everyone's having sex with everyone all the time. And not in committed relationships!

And in the middle of it is Andrea Marr, who in my fond memories is this charming, lovable, observer just doing the best she can. But NO! Andrea is as bad as the rest of them!

I sort of understand a little better, the shift in Amazon commentary from the 90s when teens were so consistently positive about GIRL, and the newer comments in which today's teens struggle with all the mayhem and loose morals. They just don't know what to think about it, you can tell. Which is fine. I understand. Times have changed. I also don't feel so bad that I've kind of cleaned up my later books. I did the right thing. The whole world has "cleaned up" in a way. And when I think about it, and am honest, I think I'd rather be a kid now, in the Glee era, the time of the High School Musical. It just seems so much easier now.

Friday, July 16, 2010


So psyched about this awesome new cover for DESTROY ALL CARS. And so funny that I'm the one who gets the "punk rock" treatment on a book, since I have now lived through every version and mutation and re-treading and reworking of "punk" since it's beginning. Oh my god, who will forget the taking over of 77 Poseur Punk by those horrible barbarians the '80 Hardcore Punk revolution. It was practically war!! Well, that was just the beginning it turns out ...

And you gotta love the floating Karl Marx head. That has become a favorite section of the book, (the short essay on Karl Marx's "influence" on main character James Hoff, which is mainly that James thinks "huge beards are rad".) I was so worried no teenagers would know who Karl Marx was. Which in fact is generally the case, but the floating Marx will help the kids. "He's sort of like the Santa Claus of Political Revolutionaries" his head seems to say.

Awesome cover. And big thanks to my bud David Levithan who somehow got it for me ...