*It's also in quite fine company.
Currently showing posts tagged Be Cool
*It's also in quite fine company.
*Much less pleasant to learn that Be Cool’s publisher may suddenly be defunct, so if you want to give Be Cool a home, please do let me know.
My relationship to suicide and suicidal ideation is sporadic at best, and my understanding of why it happens, and when, is as surface level as most of us. I am reminded though with the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade that suicide does not discriminate and that being successful, as loaded a word as that is, does not forestall the darkness, fatigue, depression, despondency, anger or abuse, substance and otherwise, that can underlie the act of suicide and the idea that it feels like the best option available when nothing else seems to work. I am also reminded of my own most recent bout of darkness and confusion, how I didn't know what I was feeling and that I found some clarity in Episode 238 of the always terrific Other People podcast, wherein the host Brad Listi talked to Jennifer Michael Hecht about her book Stay: A History of Suicide and the Arguments Against It. Other People re-posted the episode last week and I hope for those of you struggling with trying to make sense of why these things happen you will listen and gain some insight as I did. For those of you struggling with suicidal thoughts I hope you will reach out to someone who cares about you or if needed, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. One final note, it that is this element of success that I know I personally find most confusing in relationship to suicide, that somehow success isn't enough, and I know that I fixated on the suicide of acclaimed YA author Ned Vizzini when I was trying to make sense of my own feelings around writing, success and what it feels like when things didn't happen as I wanted them to. Which is also to say, it's important to recognize your personal triggers and for anyone who will find it helpful I tried to capture these feelings in my essay "Downbound Train," which first appeared in Nailed, and later in my sort of memoir, sort of essay collection, Be Cool, and is briefly excerpted below. I should also say that I'm happy to talk to any of you any time if it helps and there is no one else you feel like you can speak to. I have a wonderful support system, and lots of love in my life, but when I felt my worst I didn't really say anything to anyone, not at first, anyway, and I regret that now. That said, when needed please get professional help as well, there is no shame in seeking help, and things really do get better, even when it feels impossible to imagine that being so.
"What does it feel like before you step off of a ledge? What is that moment like? Do you teeter or plunge? Is it a culmination of steps, moments of constant despair and pain leading to that moment? Or is it impulsive, sudden and volatile, grabbed with ferocity? What does it sound like after that step? Do you feel the wind in your face? Do you wonder if in fact you can float, or fly?
"I thought about all of this when the author Ned Vizzini leapt to his death while home visiting his family on the East Coast, a place that was ostensibly safe for him, a harbor, but in this case, and at this time, was not. Was it easier for him to jump while visiting a place he knew and had roots in? And was it easier for him to know that his wife and child wouldn’t have to find him because they were home on the West Coast? That it would all happen at a distance, thus not quite as real for them? Removing the ongoing reminders that it happened where they live, even while being no less jolting, or painful. Can the victim of suicide even clearly think through these things? Is it possible that this may be the only moment they feel they’ve been able to clearly think in some time? Or is this kind of thinking only available to those left behind?
"I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, and I didn’t know Ned Vizzini. I also don’t know how often he thought about his death, or whether the possibility of it seemed like a gift. Not an end to life, but an end to what seemed impossible to him, living how he was living and had been for so long. But I did listen to an interview with him not so long before he died, where he joked about death constantly, and I wondered later, whether that was his way of coping, and distancing himself from his past attempts at suicide, or whether these comments were the seedlings of what was to come.
"I don’t know suicide either, not the hold that the idea of it must have on your brain once it clenches, or at least I didn’t until Ned Vizzini took his life, and I had to re-order my thinking about all of that."
For more Seth Bergian Be Cool awesomeness do go here post-haste.
Big, and humbling, thanks to Ben DeVos (who's now my best friend) and Clash Media (and yes, I'm looking at you Leza Cantoral). Excerpt? Word.
"Tanzer aspires to the coolness that comes with trying but making it seem like you’re not trying, which is exactly how good writing is, and one of the reasons that Be Cool feels so effortless to read.
Tanzer never stops, and is always in pursuit of the sun, like Icarus. Unlike Icarus, Tanzer lived to reflect on his past and found some nuggets of wisdom along the way. Some of his aged observations are like a fine wine. Others are more recent, late to the party, as with becoming a punk,
“I have become punk, still arguably the least punk person you know, but angry, and impassioned, and wanting to articulate it,” and discovering the punk ethos of “feeling something and expressing it, no matter how angry and exposed doing so makes you feel.”
Tanzer unabashedly exposes everything, past to present, all through which he has been running, never stopping, always chasing something, even if he has to retrace his steps to do so."
Now, please do feel free to check out the ridiculously fine list in its entirety here. And again, many thanks to the Pete Lit, who is, and has alway been, a truly excellent friend of both mine, and my work, and all independent literature at large.
Now, please do feel free to check out the list in its entirety here. Go ahead. Nice. And again, many thanks to the Steph Post, who is, as always, a truly excellent friend of my work, and all independent literature at large.
To quote the most glorious Curbside Books & Records:
"Do some Black Friday shopping from an independent business & take 10% off everything in the store when you show this post!
"Read: @tanzerben’s BE COOL
"Listen: @modestmouse’s THE LONESOME CROWDED WEST
"Drink: @slodownwines Sexual Chocolate"
All things Be Cool, Beautiful, Sentence (or Paragraph), and Patricia Ann McNair can be found here.
It was one year ago that Be Cool was supposed to be released. There were some glitches, and it didn't come out until February, but I've still been hustling for a year, and that seems like enough.
While we never know what might become of our books down the road, hence the pause, nothing more may happen at all, because that can happen too, and so if that's the case, than this is goodbye to all that.
Still, to say goodbye and not take a moment to recognize all of the goodness and good people I connected with, and who supported Be Cool, along the way would be most unfortunate indeed.
There was a kick ass kick-off reading with the Rob Hollywood and Zoe Zolbrod at the Book Cellar; followed by a kick-off road trip with Be Cool's publisher Dockstreet Press and Dane Bahr last August, which took us to Phinney Books in Seattle, and time shared with the inestimable Sean Beaudoin and Josh Mohr, great writers both; reading in Portland as part the Get Nervous reading series with the quite awesome Cari Luna and John Barrios; and then on to Boise for the truly cool Campfire Stories hosted by the truly cool Christian Winn at the truly cool Modern Hotel.
Along the way I also got to read at Kill Your Darlings; Volumes Bookcafe for a second, and now official launch with the Jason Fisk and Eric Spitznagel, easy on the eyes both; Boswell Book Company and Quimby's, with Lee L. Krecklow, Robert Vaughan, Caitlin Scarano, Tasha Fouts, and Seth Berg, great readers and great friends, new and old, all.
Even if the book itself didn't quite be what I wanted it to be, and who knows what that truly is, there were terrific interviews with The Rumpus, Five Questions, Steph Post, and Rick Kogan; wonderful reviews at Spectrum Culture, Atticus Review, and The Coil, among others; and the endlessly cool opportunity to appear on a panel at Printers Row Lit Fest talking memoir with Jason Diamond and Michael Phillips.
Ultimately, I want to thank everyone who did anything to support Be Cool, especially my blurbers Sean and Robert, see above, as well as the Wendy C. Ortiz and Megan Stielstra, who now and forever, will serve as great inspirations and literary guides of mine.
I would also like to recognize some of the many journals who ran pieces from be Cool in different forms at some point, including, but not limited to The Rumpus, Nailed, TNBBC, Thought Catalog, decomP, The Weeklings, Manifest-Station, Collected Poop Stories (for real), Midnight Mind, RAGAD, Entropy, In Case We Die, Revolution John, CCLaP, and Rated Rookie.
Thanks as well to those who read Be Cool and posted comments and ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, you know who you are and I love you for that, and those I never met, but took the time to read the book.
I will always welcome more reviews and more ratings, sorry for that, but it all helps, though I am otherwise going to work on letting Be Cool go, which is always hard, and move onto the next thing.
I'm sure I missed some of you who supported me and I apologize for that, but know you are appreciated and loved as well.
Anyway, thank you all, and goodbye to all that.
"Ira is silent.
"He runs his fingers through his magnificent wavy black hair.
"I wish I were those fingers.
"Let’s pause here for a moment.
"When I later relate this story to my therapist he will say that I was showing-off here and that I was acting needy.
"Okay, he didn’t call me needy, but he did use the phrase “showing-off,” which I interpreted at least in part as needy.
"And I was both, hoping to make an impression, and wanting something so nakedly I was willing to embarrass myself, which sometimes works with the right person at the right time.
"We can un-pause now."
A quite lovely review indeed, and many appreciations to the Kara Vernor who quite rocks. Excerpt? Of course.
"It’s not just that Ben Tanzer remembers the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 00’s much like I remember them, it’s that he reflects with such bald honesty and intimacy I felt I was reading the essays of a good and longtime friend, someone I might talk with over a beer on the porch on a warm summer night, the stories as easy as the silences between them, the company comfortable and exceptional at once."
So please do Northwestern University Summer Writers' Conference and please feel free to learn more about how to register here and if you want to learn more about my session "This Branding Workshop Will Change Your Life: Story, Saturation and Selling Books in the Age of Social Media," you may do that as well and right here at that. Wonderful. Thank you. See you there.
Yes it does. And we couldn't be more excited about it. Join us at the Quimby's, yes? Sweet.
Details here, yo, and I do hope to see you there.
Quite lovely Be Cool review it is. And it is much appreciated as well. Excerpt? Word.
"Tanzer writes a section in this memoir about his origin story as a writer; I would argue that this entire memoir could be read as an origin story of a writer – much like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird or Stephen King’s On Writing. This was a pleasure to read: amusing, sometimes heart breaking, and always engaging."
Quite terrific Be Cool review it is. And it is much appreciated as well. Excerpt? Word.
"It's tempting to say this collection represents Peak-Tanzer, but I'm not sure he's finished climbing. So we'll call it Peak-Tanzer, until the next thing he cooks up."
Details here. As far as the other stuff, patience, yo, it's coming soon.
(photo courtesy of the Art Edwards)
Though please do feel free to confirm this yourself here.
Suffice it to say, there are Be Cool appreciations all-around and excerpt too.
"These are Sedaris-like reflections that span decades and coasts, stories that can be plucked out individually, randomly, over time, or swallowed in one big linear gulp."
That's a lot of quite, grand and Be Cool, but it is all so very appreciated. Excerpt? Word.
"This is a beautiful and honest book about what it means to be alive in the 21st century, to be a sentient being, to be a son and husband and father, to be a boyfriend, to be a drinker, to be a runner, to be an artist, and to be a fuck-up, a fuck-up which is how most of us do not identify but how all of us should. To be alive is to be a fuck-up. Anything else is a lie. Ben Tanzer knows that. Desire, which is what Tanzer means when he says be cool, is everything and it’s a motherfucker. Like his early literary hero, Jim Carroll—who he writes about here wonderfully—and eternal beatnik, Jack Kerouac, Ben Tanzer is on a quest to find out what it means to be on a quest. Unlike Carroll and Kerouac, Tanzer is as close as it gets to being enlightened. No bullshit. No God. No use pretending the world isn’t a total mess."
"Tanzer’s SoCal-set personal Narnia is a risky proposition to introduce, but it works in the case of Be Cool because Tanzer doesn’t come off as overly cynical or out of touch with reality. Instead, his writerly persona comes off as warmhearted and hopeful, which serves the book particularly well in darker moments. Nonfiction is crowded with dark, depressing stories of personal tragedies (which is less the fault of writers and publishers and more a symptom of these dark times), but Tanzer doesn’t go down that road. Be Cool stays buoyant, optimistic and very readable even through cancer scares, personal loss, fertility struggles and other sad times."
Though don't just take my word for it. You can see what Dock Street has to say below. Cool? Great. Thank you.
I have always much appreciated the Sara Lippmann's support, not to mention the Sara Lippmann's presence in the world, and that appreciation continues with her quite lovely Be Cool review. Excerpt? Word.
"But through it all, the intimacy is what pulls (see also: me, stumbling, drenched, lobster red, knife in the knee) -- i'll leave the running metaphors to Tanzer -- but it's that intimacy he establishes, a generosity, writer and reader, side by side, on this worn path, that is what moves us."
Most appreciative certainly and very Five Questions. Excerpt? Yup.
A lot of artists and writers have had calls to action or predictions that art/literature in America will change greatly in this new era after the recent election of Trump. Could you or do you see your own work changing? I saw that you recently attended the Women’s March in Chicago with your son.
The work will change because we will change because the world has changed and because while it will not always be conscious, our work will reflect what’s happening around us. So, will my work change? I’m sure it will. I won’t try to write in anyway that is any more political unless I’m asked to, but I’m sure bullies and liars will certainly become more prominent characters in my work. I have already been thinking of a thing where I can see characters like those creeping-in. Will I become more political regardless though? Fuck yes. I already was, but clearly not enough. I went to marches and I made donations, but I wasn’t in it, or absorbed by it, and I’m going to try and figure out how I can be. One thing for sure, and this may be minor, is that I want to focus more on what’s being said and calling that out. Words matter. Facts matter. Science matters. And when there are lies, and untruths, and alternative facts being treated as actual facts, people have to draw attention to that in the same way we have to call out bullying, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic and racist behavior when we encounter it. We can’t sit by and wait for someone else to do something, because when we do, we get this, and this is fucking terrible. You also get me becoming very preachy and I do apologize for that.
I am talking and I am interview and I am Be Cool and SEX AND DEATH and The Basketball Diaries and I truly am thankful for The Rumpus and the quite awesome Gina Prescott for making it so. Excerpt? Word.
Rumpus: Okay, let’s get into the questions I have actually prepared. My first is broad, and I think it’s fun. What is your personal, down and dirty, definition of cool or coolness? Feel free to provide examples to elucidate your point—cool things, cool people.
Tanzer: That’s a good, fun question. I think the definition—or the version—I’ve spent much of my life striving for—and it’s embarrassing to think about, but fun to write about—is this sense that the choices you’re making, the things that are important to you, the way you want to live or could live, are things that are recognized by the public as things that seem cool.
I’ve always been interested what I’ve been interested in, but I’ve also been interested in being cool, for sure. I feel like as a young adult, I moved away from a lot of what I loved. Consciously, I didn’t think they were cool enough, and I tried to figure out what was cool. Now, I think the important part is that the people you intersect with see you as cool. That’s my personal definition. I think the definition is really the ability to be in your own skin wherever you are and trust and know that whatever version that is that you are living and breathing it and you are unbothered whether people are reacting to it. And that’s what I have tried to do as I’ve gotten older. I’m very fanboy about things that I get excited about. I’m not able to be cool about it. For long time, I suppressed that as an adult, and I decided to drop it. If I’m excited about something, I let myself be excited about it. It’s very freeing. So I think a part of being cool to me when I was younger, was trying to figure what people respond to in a way that gives you a sense of adulation. And now I think being cool is understanding what you love or makes you feel good and embracing it, regardless of how you think people come to it. How’s that?
"IT’S NOT CLEAR that it was a crush, not by any standard definition I was accustomed to at that time anyway:
See person I’m attracted to.
Find them funny or mysterious, both maybe.
Try to figure out ways to be near them.
Soak-up their energy, and possibly consume them, if not physically, than metaphysically.
The feeling will be unrequited of course, at least initially. That’s certainly my experience.
The feeling will also be followed by a crippling desire that dogs me throughout the day, leaving me restless at night, and unable to sleep, with little likelihood of that changing.
So maybe I am incorrect, maybe it was very much like the crushes I was accustomed to. Maybe what was different is that this crush was not only unattainable, but male. Though not unattainable because said crush was male, though that was different than my standard crush, but because said crush was Parker Stevenson, and how was that going to work?"
And so many thanks to Atticus Review and Cija Jefferson - possibly my new friend - for all of it. Excerpt? Always, yo.
"Be Cool is an exploration of life. Tanzer daydreams about a desire for a different kind of existence, a creative life “…is what I want going forward—more art, more beach, more punk, and less worry about structure and everything being taken care of.” He reveals no hint of dissatisfaction; rather, he shows a wistfulness for a life not rigid with responsibility, where he doesn’t need a 9-5 and can live as the writer he is.
Through humorous, sometimes meandering, and always-candid storytelling, Tanzer has invited us in to see him soar as a normal guy—husband, father and writer, and to witness those lows inevitable to life—freak accidents, health scares and death. In letting us witness his journey, Tanzer invites us all to see a bit of ourselves."
This list being the Writer's Bone 14 Books That Should Be On Your Radar: January 2017 list. Big thanks to both the Writer's Bone and the Steph Post.
There is the love and the Be Cool and the massive appreciations and some excerpt too. Word.
"As he tells his stories from his "sort of" memoir "Be Cool," it's almost like he is with you, sitting next to you telling you the story in person in you living room. The voice that comes through in the writing makes you feel like you are with him in the doctor's office about to get a scope put somewhere you do not want it put, next to him having a drink on a Thursday night, in his living room as he beams with pride as his sons start to choose reading the things they like.
I am happy to let you know that there is new episode of This Podcast Will Change Your Life and it stars the Dane Bahr. So, please do check it out.
SP: In writing about your high school years you say, “The real world- school, parents, the endless effort to be cool- may have constantly encroached on me everywhere else, but not on the track.” Obviously Be Cool deals with the idea of being “cool” and as both a high school teacher and a writer, this is something I encounter every day. Both teenagers and authors seem to be obsessed with being cool, but maybe the struggle applies to everyone. Do you have a personal idea about what it means to “be cool?”
BT: I’ve been thinking a lot about this since I finished the book, and my definition has certainly changed over time, but I really believe, for now anyway, that being cool is all about being your truest self, even when embarrassing, or at the risk of not fitting-in. Owning who you want to be, and living it, is when you are happiest and most productive, and people, some people, your people, respond to you, and what you are, and nothing is ultimately cooler than that. Know yourself, love yourself, be yourself. The people who can do that, are always the coolest, even when it takes some time for the universe to catch-up with them.
And for much more on this most excellent list do go here now thank you.
Truly, all of that, and many thanks to the Windy City Reviews for it. Excerpt? Word.
"All good memoirists understand the power of honesty, even when it may make the reader cringe, and cringe you may while reading this essay. The willingness to lay bare one’s body and feelings is not for the timid. Some of the essays start as stories, but along the way, the reader gets more, going a little deeper into understanding the author more and learning something in the process."
I fanboy'd the fuck out of Justin Kirk and Rick Kogan at the Chicago Podcast Festival tonight and they were both quite lovely about it.— Ben Tanzer (@BenTanzer) November 20, 2016
And big thanks to the Midwestern Gothic for that. Excerpt? Word.
What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?
There is a sense of giving here, and support, and while one can probably overstate the whole concept of “Midwest nice,” especially when one is from New York, still sorry, the environment and the willingness to share one’s knowledge, time and connections is my experience of living here, which makes a big difference when you want to create and you don’t know where to start.
"The book is broken into decades — the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s — but this scheme doesn’t necessarily guide the essays in any strict sense. Instead, Tanzer weaves the different phases of his life together, skipping around, connecting this event to that. It’s meandering yet purposeful, akin to oral tradition and truer to how memories actually operate. Some of the best pieces, such as “My (Not Quite) Cancer Years” and “Drinking: A Love Story,” enhance on the fragmented style of Tanzer’s prose, with list forms and collage providing a bit of necessary structural backbone.
All of which is quite a nice surprise indeed. Excerpt? Of course.
"Ben Tanzer pretty much speaks for himself, but I'll just add that his "sorta" memoir is my favorite work of his to date."
Most cool that. And the line-up? Ridiculously cool. Much more information here.
Quite appreciated frankly, and by the most excellent Leland Cheuk no less. Excerpt? Word.
"There’s a line in The Flaming Lips song “Fight Test” from their seminal album “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots” that goes:
I thought I was smart
I thought I was right
I thought it better not to fight
I thought there was a virtue in always being cool
There cannot be a better set of lyrics to describe the premise of Ben Tanzer’s new “memoir (sort of)” Be Cool. Tanzer’s writing persona of the middle-aged, white, do-gooding dad is fully formed. After covering similar ground in his 2014 book of essays on fatherhood entitled Lost in Space, in Be Cool, Tanzer is older, wiser and funnier, and the book as a whole coheres in a way that indicates that Tanzer is at the top of his game."
Most pleased really. And to be honest, I hope you are too. So do "Ira Glass Wants To Hit Me," and if you want some excerpt, I can you some of that as well.
"I do not consider myself to be a stalker. Nor do I think of myself as much of a sycophant. I am a bit of a starfucker though and at one time anyway a lover of anything and everyone associated with Ira Glass and the radio show This American Life.
It once seemed to me that my writing was perfect for the show, but you don’t have to take my word for it, many people told me so. No, you wouldn’t know them, but you can trust me.
It also seemed to me that under the right circumstances Ira Glass and I could be great friends, and I knew this in the same way that so many of my single female friends know that they are perfect for John Cusack.
How do they know this?
They just do.
But how does one get a piece on the show? Or even meet Ira Glass who I understand rests in a cryogenically sealed chamber between shows?
I imagine one could lurk outside the studio or Ira’s home, though again please note that I am not a stalker, and that the charges to that affect that may, or may not, have once been filed by NPR’s legal office here in Chicago did not stick.
One could also submit their work to the show, which I have done, but how well does one’s actual work reflect their wit, timing, and ability to move the public to tears, joy, and maybe even arousal in the space of one sentence?
Not well, not my work anyway."
Feels good. And highly appreciated. Be Cool indeed. Excerpt? Word.
"There's something about the prose in here that makes me pay just a bit more attention to the world, be a little more forgiving with it and appreciative of it."
So much love. And so much line-up. So, to learn more, so much more, please do hit the Midwestern Gothic here. Thanks.
Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here, and I appreciate the chance to talk with you about my new essay collection Be Cool—a memoir (sort of) from Dock Street press.
Well, great, congratulations, truly, should we get right into the questions?
Yes, of course, soft ball questions, right, I hope.
Yeah, sure, anyway, so, navel-gazing…?
You know, the activity of thinking too much or too deeply about yourself, your experiences, your feelings, etc. That’s from Merriam-Webster.
Is that a question?
No, not exactly, that was more of a reaction to your question, which was in response to my initial query. But if you don’t mind, I’m going to ask the questions here.
You know, I had a therapist say that to me once.
Yeah, how did that turn out?
Not so good. But to your non-question, question, am I concerned about there being too much navel-gazing in Be Cool, no, I don’t think so, that never even crossed my mind. Really, it seems like writing personal essays would almost automatically engender that.
Does that mean, that from your perspective, writing an essay collection, memoir (sort of) does not involve thinking too much or too deeply about oneself?
Oh no, it does, but writing, ideally, is still something else entirely to me. You are attempting to craft a narrative that taps into universal themes, which just might offer the reader insight into themselves, if not actual entertainment and escape. And these are good things, and certainly the reasons why I read what I read.
So, do you consider yourself an entertainer?
At times, yes. Am I consciously engaged in the act of amusing or entertaining, also Merriam-Webster, absolutely. I want the reader to be engaged, and moved, and in my head. Does that also mean there is pain and confusion? Yes, of course there is.
"I just ruheally love Ben Tanzer books, books by Ben Tanzer, when Ben Tanzer writes things and also Ben Tanzer. It's kind of (one of) My Thing(s)."
Which is to say that I greatly appreciate - and yes, love - Robert's recent Be Cool review - and yes Robert himself - at the Goodreads. Excerpt? Word.
"His pieces in this memoir are dripping with charm and wit, the whole thing is such an amazingly quick read—which is to say, it was hard to put down—and while I don't read a lot of memoirs, I tend to wish they were more like this: funny, awkward, earnest, sweet, salty, wonderful, gripping. I can't recommend this book enough."
And it really happened almost just like that. That said, we were travel, we were definitely Be Cool, there was much fun to be had, endless shout-outs to the Alan Heathcock, Cari Luna, Sean Beaudoin, Zoe Zolbrod, Josh Mohr, Christian Winn, John Barrios and Len Kuntz among others, and there is now a quite lovely podcast - the third in this series for those of you counting at home - for your Be Cool listening pleasure. So please do enjoy it.
"I lace-up my running shoes and pull on my Dri-Fit shirt.
I fold my bandanna and wrap it around my forehead, spiky hair popping out like the logo for Shock Top beer, sans the sun glasses, big ass smile and orange hue.
I pop-in my ear buds and I fire-up the new episode of WTF with Marc Maron, who’s telling us about Garry Shandling’s wake.
Somehow every time I am ruminating about things, what might be, or has been, it seems to come back to Los Angeles, the city itself, someone there or how those lives are lived.
I was there, again, just weeks ago, it was warm where Chicago was not, and I ran under those piercing blue skies, shrugging off my lingering flu, and dreading my need to return home and re-embrace the cold that would be waiting for me.
I was however ready to re-embrace work, and my creative life, balancing day job, and writing, travel, telecommuting and finding peace with how it all might work together.
Maybe I’ve gotten ahead of myself though.
What’s important now is that it’s spring again, I am home, it is sunny, I have been ruminating on work and life, and I’m thinking that today I will run far, further than I have been anyway."
And big thanks to the Largehearted Boy for all of that. Excerpt? Word.
"I want to open this piece with a shout-out for the song "Wanna Be Cool" by Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, which I have decided is the unofficial theme song for Be Cool.
Donnie Trumpet is part of this wondrous emergence of young rappers in Chicago, including, but not limited to Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, who are producing all kinds of kick-ass work.
They are the products of this time and this place, the Chicago of now, a city of violence and beauty, that is trying to make sense of both.
They are also the products of a scene that is vibrant and collaborative, creative, desperate to be heard, and in so many ways similar to what happened here with storefront theater in the later part of the last century and the small press scene at the start of this one - a scene I have been lucky to be have been around for, and am a product of myself.
I am also the product though of the decades that proceeded this one, the '80s (and '70s I'm sure), the early '90s, the linguistically questionable aughts, and I have drawn on my experiences during these decades as a means for structuring Be Cool, which was conceived as a series of personal essays, but may have become a sort of memoir as well."
Last night's reading was a blast, and I can now confirm, as I've long suspected, that @BenTanzer is wonderful.— Cari Luna (@cari_luna) August 8, 2016
"Apparently every essay in here is homoerotic. I did not realize that." - @BenTanzer, digressing at the Be Cool launch.— Jerry Brennan (@jerry_brennan) August 5, 2016
"Have you ever been 35 and male, white and lost, sober and found, neurotic and doomed? Well, Ben Tanzer has already done the legwork for you, reporting from the trenches of fatherhood, Rykers, Orpheus, Copenhagen (chew) and Genesee Cream ale (No coincidence Hunter Thompson's fave bottle). A memoir that's not a memoir at all. Funny and trenchant and true. Buy two copies now." -- Sean Beaudoin, author of Welcome Thieves
And more to come. Not to mention more information at Dock Street Press for those who want it.
"Oh my gosh, I love this book. Tanzer drops you into a scene like you’re standing right next to him, same sidewalk under your shoes, same heartbeat in your chest. His essays are both hilarious (losing his virginity at the same time he sees a UFO) and a punch to the gut (working cases in the foster care system). You think you’re entering a fairly straight-forward narrative—the 80’s, the 90’s, 2000’s to now—but the genius of Be Cool shows us that memory is far more complicated. These essays talk to one another: a childhood crush becomes an adult meditation on failure; the adult meditation on fear slides back to the child, the teenager, the 20-something. This is Tanzer at the top of the game." -- Megan Stielstra, author of Once I Was Cool
And more to come. Not to mention more information at Dock Street Press for those who want it.
The most excellent Dane Bahr and I are back for Episode Two of the Be Cool podcast series from Dock Street Press - you can learn more about Episode Two here - and we are talking cover, release, Jews and Norwegians, The Basketball Diaries, UFOs, tangents, edits, rejections, Spider-Man, fairness and as always, the incomparable Sara Lippmann.
"I marveled my way through Be Cool, not just the masterful writing, and nuanced storytelling, but at the emotional symbolic power of every sentence. Tanzer maneuvers through this unusual map with elegance, gripping bravery, humor, reaching soaring heights. Nothing about Be Cool is cheaply earned: not its wondrous impact, or its necessary yet marvelous surprise." -- Robert Vaughan, author of Addicts & Basements and RIFT
And more to come. Not to mention more information at Dock Street Press for those who want it.
So, please do hit it, and please do join us, and for more information on the Be Cool release party at The Book Cellar please do go here post haste.
I'm really geeked to have received some letters in the mail, yes actual letters, in response to my letter "Dear Future Husband," which I was thrilled to write for the Letters in the Mail subscription service (it's also the preface in Be Cool, yo) at The Rumpus. Letters in the Mail supports operations at The Rumpus and if you subscribe you will receive letters every two weeks from all kinds of amazing writers. Actual letters. Seriously. So, please do check it out, it quite rocks, and from what I understand, you do too.
"Whether he’s dreaming of the alternate reality of tacos, surfing, and art-making in Los Angeles or running through the neighborhoods of his youth or present-day Chicago, Tanzer takes hold of the reader with a kinetic pull of a voice that courses like blood through the body of this book. The essays in Be Cool circle the poles of sex and death, covering the terrain of family, marriage, children, and the act of writing in ways that are fresh, deep, funny, and unexpected.
Relax. Be cool, indeed. You’ll want to stay with Tanzer’s voice a while." -- Wendy C. Ortiz, author of Excavation and Hollywood Notebook
And more to come. Not to mention more information at Dock Street Press for those who want it.
It is truly all of that. And Punk Rock Glee Club #2 is quite available at the Quimby's too. So please do hit that post-haste. Thank you.
I am quite geeked about this indeed. Dane Bahr and I are talking how Be Cool happened in the first episode of the newly launched Be Cool podcast series from Dock Street Press - not to mention the Sara Lippmann, Robert James Russell, the StartUp podcast, the Beastie Boys, Ramones and much more - and then we are moving on to cover design, edits and wherever our manic energies take us.
Thought we'd share this new cover of @BenTanzer. His new memoir BE COOL out this summer from Dock Street. And we ARE feeling cool today. We're typesetting the interior and listening to Wu-Tang Clan. Our editor Dane will only respond to Typeface Killah! He's dubbed his 8 month old nephew Finn, Baby Cute Bastard. #BringDaRuckus #amreading #books #memoir