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eNewsletter #3, March 2000

eNewsletter #3, March 2000


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As I write this newsletter I am listening to Come On, who sent us their CD this month. They played in NYC clubs more than 20 years ago, to fans including David Byrne and Brian Eno. As I listen I’m reminded of the Talking Heads, Eno, Devo and other people and bands who played around with stocky rhythms juxtaposed against odd, fast, clipped vocals and lyrics that consist as much of “hah!”s and “ugh!”s as of words and images. Their CD packet reminds me of Bauhaus, all black and white and full of stark circle graphics and such. They are part of the “non-sense” musical genre, and I like their straight yet complex mix of guitars, drums, all the basic instruments but put together in a way that still sounds fresh. Why don’t bands today experiment like this, and take up where bands of the late ’70s and early ’80s left off?

Most of their songs seem to be “concept songs”: Mike’s mother looks like the Mona Lisa; Where do you keep the silver in a kitchen in the clouds?; Housewives play tennis and drive station wagons; but sung against their jangling, fast guitars and drums the songs seem to hold warnings–“Don’t walk on the kitchen floor!!” is sung with as much barely controlled agitation as anyone could sing about love or death or anything else “important,” and behind the words the music marches on insistently like an army troop toward its death.

The CD I have is “New York City 1976-80.” I don’t know if there are others available, or where; I think Come On is pretty rare stuff, but get your hands on it if you can.


On Thursday night, February 17th, Modern Times bookstore in San Francisco’s Mission district hosted a party and author-reading for Manic D Press. Manic D is another great small SF publishing co.; Modern Times is a great bookstore that hosts events in support of local writers, presses, artists, and other independents.

Quite a few Manic D authors read their stuff, and I was really impressed–usually I don’t like literary readings too much, since it’s hard to find good writers OR good readers. But Jennifer Joseph, Manic D’s founder and publisher, has chosen her writers well. They all gave incredible readings. Joseph introduced one, Bucky, as the guy who “everybody likes because he’s completely loathful.” Hmm. I recognized him as someone I’d singled out from the RE/Search photo archives to approach for an interview. Bucky looked different in person, rather conservative with his bleached hair, black clothes and black-rimmed glasses. “You recognize me from a photo?” he asked me, astounded. It’s true, in the photo he’d had fuchsia hair and wore a flamingo pink feather boa around his neck and a big cowboy hat on his head. I told him he’d had a rather red face in the photo and a huge grin, and he must have been having a Really Good Time. He cracked a smile. “Yep, sounds like me,” he confirmed. Bucky is into writing disgusting, hilarious farce. He will read his “Autobiography in Ten Minutes” at Southern Exposure, at 17th and Alabama, on March 1st. Short notice, but go if you can; he’ll make you laugh in horror and disbelief.

John Longhi, Jennifer Joseph’s husband, works for Last Gasp, a San Francisco independent publisher and distributor (they have the good taste to distribute RE/Search books, among many others). Longhi seemed extremely serious when we talked in the back room at the party, standing over a table filled with cheeses, crackers and bottles of wine. As usual, the conversation turned pretty quickly to the state of publishing and the book business in general. Longhi shook his head. “It’s terrible, it’s dire,” he confirmed. “Over at Last Gasp it always feels touch-and-go.” It’s rough all over, and even with the support of great people and fans like you, dear readers, and the people who made up the audience of partiers at the Manic D bash, we in the independent book business are very worried about the future not only of our companies but of the entire book industry. What happens when fascist corporate control wipes out all the independents and you no longer have any choice as to what books you read, what subjects you study?

So, with all the seriousness I was surprised when John Longhi took the mic and made me laugh uproariously at his story about “the penis bong.” Get ahold of some of his fiction if you want to know what I’m talking about.

One highlight of the night was the attendance and reading of the Unsinkable Bambi Lake (read her book of the same title, published by Manic D). She took the mic, flipped her long blond hair over her shoulder and said softly, “I don’t look fifty, do I? No, I don’t!” She doesn’t. Bambi was a front-and-center figure in the San Francisco punk rock scene from the very beginning, a glam queen who was in a punk band and attended most shows with Ginger Coyote, fellow drag queen and publisher of “Punk Globe.” “She came to shows but didn’t dress like a punk,” says Vale; “she was a drag queen, and dressed like Marilyn Monroe in the ’50s.”

Another Manic D author, Keith Knight, writes “The K Chronicles” and is self-syndicated in various publications across the country, including Salon Magazine (online), the Funny Times, the SF Examiner, and more. His mucho-funny book, “Fear of a Black Marker,” is available at Manic D. He let his dreadlocks fall into his eyes as he read in a very soft, sweet voice from “Black Marker.” I asked him for an interview and we went to tea.

I’m not much of an interviewer and Keith is kind of–well, special–so the interview rapidly disintegrated into tales of pampered Doberman Pinschers and what Keith Knight will and will not fondle; but he wanted me to be sure to mention that throughout the interview he was very drunk, hit continuously and indiscriminately on me and my friends, and will not fondle either Chris Isaac or styrofoam, or anything with a styrofoam-like consistency.

At the cafe we did happen to run into Judd Winick who starred in the San Francisco season of MTV’s “The Real World.” Winick was very friendly and calm, a welcome relief after the time I spent with Knight.

Congratulations, Manic D, for your great team of authors and your unflagging spirit and efforts. Keep it coming. Readers: visit to learn more about Manic D’s titles, authors and history.


Local writer David Pescovitz recommended our own publisher-extraordinaire V. Vale to serve as a Webby judge in the Weird category for The Webby Awards 2000. You know The Webby Awards–hailed as “The Oscars of the Internet,” The Webby Awards has become “the hippest entertainment event for the Internet- celebrating and honoring the most creative and innovative Web sites of the year” [so writes Maya Draisin, Director of the International Academy of Digital Arts, in an email to Vale about the event].

Other judges who will be on Webby panels: film director Francis Ford Coppola, musician David Bowie, Editor Tina Brown and “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. Keep an eye out in May for the awards!

(The Webby Awards are cool, I’m happy Vale will be judging, and the internet is undeniably a force in the art and publishing worlds; but still, it’s too bad there aren’t more awards ceremonies for cool independent book companies and publishers!)


We are diligently working away here at RE/Search on the next manuscript–or is it manuscripts??–to be released in the near future. We can’t give anything away just yet, but I know you’re gonna love our newest line of books, continuing our tradition of exploration into the worlds of music, art, religion…


Nominate us to the 1st annual swing awards! Go to to vote, now through April 5th. There is no category on the ballot for “Best Swing Book” so write us in by clicking on “comments” and suggesting they add a Best Book category to their ballot; then tell them about “Swing! The New Retro Renaissance.” Listen: even if you are not into swing culture you should read that book. I am definitely not a swinger but I read it and loved it. A great thing about Vale’s interviewing style is that he lets people go outside their area of supposed or best-known expertise; for example, in “Swing!” Cindy Mejia talks about fixing motorcycles, low-rider cars and chola culture, and Vise Grip discusses the punk rock DIY ethic. What could be more interesting??


Call, email, fax or write to receive a flyer advertising our current sale, going on through April 30th. On sale now: two books by J.G. Ballard, British postmodern-dystopia writer and RE/Search favorite, are available for a limited time at a very special price; two books by Daniel P. Mannix, another R/S favorite and former sword-swallower, fakir and noir author, are also available together at a special package price; and “RE/Search #11: Pranks!” (my personal favorite R/S book) is on sale at 25% off. In these books you’ll read interviews with Ballard that you won’t find anywhere else; writings that preceded Ballard’s novel “Crash,” which went on to become an amazing film by David Cronenberg; Mannix’s time as a sword-swallower and his friendship with veteran “carny,” The Impossible Possible; pranks pulled by Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman, Monte Cazazza, Jello Biafra, Karen Finley, John Waters, Henry Rollins; and way more.


Thanks to everyone who wrote in with helpful comments/info/ideas about independent book stores and publishing issues, and to everyone who sent in questions this month to be answered in Sally Randy’s column. The new column is up at www.; read Sally’s advice about mother-daughter relationships, sex toys for men and questions you should and should not ask about your lover’s ex-lover by clicking on the Sally heart icon. Email in your sex and relationship questions to and write “Sally” in the subject line. They will be answered in the next Sally online column (next column posted at the end of March).


Catherine Avril Morris

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