I would dominate freelance writer bingo. Here's how it works. Take a 5x5 bingo card and in each of the squares put some random subject. Hand it out to your writer friends, and their goal is to include as many of these subjects into whatever they're working on. I wrote an article about Downtown Arlington for the December 2011 issue of D Magazine, and I was able to mention B.J. Thomas, the Travel Channel, foosball, Joni Mitchell, picnic blankets, and junior high dances. Read the article in all its splendor. Share it with the ones you love. It's suitable for framing and makes a lovely Christmas gift.
My story about Six Flags Mall is now available in the October issue of D Magazine. You can read it online, click here. I'm talking with my editor about two future stories for D Magazine. So, there's a possibility I will be writing more for them. This is a good thing.
Also, in about a month, Triumph of the Walking Dead will be available in stores. I contributed an essay to this anthology. It's my third Smart Pop book. Previously: "A History of Violence" and "Secrets and Secret-Keepers."
In the world of comics, a complete ASTRONAUT DAD, volumes 1 and 2, might be available soon. In time for New York Comic Con? I don't want to make any promises, but we're doing it print-on-demand. And by "we," I mean Brent met a guy in San Diego who took an interest in this little graphic novel and he's been the wind beneath our wings.
Brent Schoonover and I are working on a new graphic novel project. He sent some character sketches, and it's looking good. More information soon, but it's completely different from what I usually write. And unlike the past eight years, it's the only comic book project I'm working on at this moment.
The news is a little late, but yes, if you follow WE'VE NEVER MET then you already know, the newspaper that published our comic was canceled. It's possible WNM might find new life elsewhere. Honestly, the terms would have to be just right. I loved writing it, but I don't want to do it unless we can get it just right. I was spoiled by our previous publisher.
That's all from me. Once again, read my story. I would also recommend buying the magazine, so you might cherish it forever.
My article on Tammi True and Dallas burlesque is available on stands or read the article online...http://www.dmagazine.com/Home/D_Magazine/2011/March/Why_Dallas_Burlesque_Owes_a_Debt_to_Tammi_True.aspx
In September, I pitched the idea for an article on the re-emerging burlesque scene in Dallas. Tim Rogers liked it, and thus I began work on my first feature for D Magazine. I initially requested that the article be 3,000 words long. Tim asked for 2,000 words. In the end, I gave him 2,755 words.
I started by interviewing Shoshana Portnoy who I went to college with at Texas A&M Commerce. She's a show producer and editor for Pincurl Magazine. My process was I'd interview someone -- tape recorder, steno notepad, all that. Then I would go home and immediately write a story about my experience. Without any regard for the final product, I'd just jot down everything I could remember about the interview itself. An excerpt:
We met on Saturday, October 9th at 3 PM at Libertine Bar on Greenville Avenue. When I got out of my car, Shoshana was already there, sitting on a bench outside, talking on the phone and smoking a long cigarette. When she noticed me, she greeted me with “How’s your world?” to which I gave a standard recap of my difficulty finding a book on burlesque at Half-Price Books. Do I look in the women’s studies section or sexuality in culture? “Or I would think it might be in the theater section. Actually, you know why you couldn't find a book?” She gives an answer to my problem and another drag on the cigarette. “#### works there and she snags all the books on burlesque that arrive. I’ll talk to her and see if we can get some of those books to you.”
Shoshana put me in contact with almost everyone I needed for the article. That evening, I went to Teddy's Room to continue my research. The next morning, I met with Pixie O'Kneel. Pixie allowed me to sit in on a dress rehearsal for her upcoming Bewitching Burlesque production. An excerpt:
I parked my car at the corner of South Crowdus and Canton in Deep Ellum. It was Sunday, October 10th at 10:50 AM. I walked across the street to the Hub Theater. Two girls were walking in the front door, carrying various items – PVC pipe, a frilly dress, burlap cloth, a lamp, stilts, a straight jacket, and an axe.
Inside the Hub Theater, it couldn’t be more different than the squeaky clean exclusive Teddy’s Room. I walked past a curtain and into the seating area of the theater. I met Pixie O’Kneel, a short woman with thick dark hair cut short. I introduced myself, and we stepped back into the lobby to talk. She introduced me to her partner Glam’Amour, contrasting in height, she towered over Pixie and myself. Pixie then offered me a mimosa and muffins. There’s some girl asleep on the couch.
Back in the theater, Pixie worked with the girls helping them with their props and set pieces. She steps away to listen to the volume of the music for the show with Tony, the sound guy.
“More or less?” “I think right there is good?” She listens again as the music swells. “That’s a little too much."
A few nights later, I interviewed Angi B Lovely. Afterward, I drove to Denton for the Tiki A GoGo show.
I had a lot of material, and I probably could have continued interviewing performers and attending various shows, but I needed a perspective on old-school burlesque. Shoshana put me in touch with Nancy Myers (aka Tammi True). Nancy was impossible to Google search. There wasn't any information floating around on the Internet. Surprising, since she headlined at the Carousel Club that Jack Ruby owned. Now, if you google "Tammi True," my article is the first and second entry. I talked with her on the phone and then met with her in person. She's funny, candid, and foul mouthed. In other words, the perfect interview. It turns out she hadn't done any interviews in decades. The only other one she gave was to Esquire, which wasn't much of an interview at all. Her whole life, people had been asking her about Jack Ruby. No one asked Nancy about Tammi True.
The problem I encountered was, at this point, I didn't have a magazine article. I had two magazine articles: one about modern burlesque and one about Nancy. I called my editor for some guidance. He suggested one of the stories needed to be subordinate to the other. Either this is a story about modern burlesque with Tammi True as an interesting footnote or this story is about Tammi with modern burlesque as the coda (i.e., her legacy lives on). It was decided that the story needed to focus on Nancy/Tammi. Hours worth of research, interviews, and field trips on modern burlesque would go unused. Literary agents, call me.
I scheduled a second interview with Nancy. A week later, I sent my finished article to Tim.
As you may know, Paul and I produced our last SOUVENIR OF DALLAS for D Magazine. It was featured on their Frontburner blog -- right here. (Fear not. I'm still contributing to D Magazine. In the March issue, I have a feature. You will hear more about it soon.) In the comic, I took this shot at my town: "Does this train stop in Arlington?" "No, they don't believe in mass transit. It's a strange mysterious creature... that helps people commute." This jab refers to the fact that Arlington is the largest city in America without public transportation. Despite the fact that we have a huge commuter population, despite the fact that the geography of the Dallas/Fort Worth area makes it ideal for rail transportation, and that a bus system would make things much easier to connect Arlington, and even though the mayor and almost every council member wants public transportation, the same vocal minority continues to vote down proposals for such an improvement to our growing city. Good times. Why the resistance to public transportation? In part, it's an irrational fear of any tax whatsoever. Believe me, I like low taxes. However, not all taxes are created equal; some public programs have benefits that far outweigh the expense. When you avoid the most straightforward approach to fund a successful program with tactics that avoid a tax, you may create something ineffectual and wasteful (i.e., state lottery to fund public education, what?). I've heard some weak reasoning about public transportation bringing "a certain element" to our fair town, i.e., poor people. I'm sorry to break it to the fearful citizens, but we already have poor people in Arlington. They would benefit from public transportation. And that would help improve all of Arlington. Ideally, when poor people can travel to their jobs, they can make money, save money, and (ta-da) pay their taxes. Yes, hurt and offended middle class, poor people pay taxes too. I could go on a rant about how we've turned poverty into a moral failing, and how some people feel the liberty to punish the poor for their situation (doesn't seem very Christian, does it?), but I'll save my crazy ideas for another day. I also think some Arlington citizens are in denial. Arlington went from a modest suburb located conveniently between Fort Worth and Dallas to being a major city in its own right. We need to start behaving like a city. The problems that major cities face will come to us whether we like it or not, but we are in wonderful position to anticipate these problems -- and avoid them where possible. Cities suffer when they ignore the needs of its citizens.
I also write for QUICK -- right here. Instead of our regularly scheduled WE'VE NEVER MET, we created a special two-page "Welcome to Dallas" feature for next Thursday. It's in anticipation of the Superbowl. Geoff Johnston and I, along with our fearless editor Rob Clark, wrote the feature. My artistic collaborator and personal hero Chad Thomas submitted the final art last night. It looks incredible. Suitable for framing. And yes, I take one or two playful jabs at Arlington.
I should say that I love Arlington. I love living here, and I ardently defend our city to those who still think we're just a place to keep their sports teams and amusement parks. We need to develop our downtown, support locally-owned businesses (you must eat here). We need public transportation. We need to develop our local arts and pub/club scene. The Highlands needs a frickin' parking garage. We need to push the planned bike routes into action. We need UTA to be acknowledged as the tier one school that it is. We need to support the GMC plant and its workers. All of this (except the parking garage) adds up to one thing: Arlington needs to discover its identity as a major city. Fort Worth did it years ago with its investment in Sundance Square and the Museum District, and with its undying support of TCU and the young professionals who live there. We shouldn't simply "follow the formula" and create something artificial. It's about championing the things that Arlington already possesses and focus on the needs of our people. Obviously, this rant is long on ambition and short on actual plans. Blogs are good for that. None of my rambling is too earth shattering. However, I felt the need to tell Arlington: I complain, because I care.
April and I spent our weekend following around the mayor. Click here to read my report, as posted on D Magazine's FrontBurner blog. Seriously, read. I stayed up until 3 AM writing it.
Now onto the script for Souvenir of Dallas...
D Magazine posted my review of Great Wolf Lodge on their FrontBurner blog (click here). Paul Milligan, my daughter Kennedy and I went to the resort this past weekend to do some research for an upcoming "Souvenir of Dallas" comic.
Also, I've joined the community blog for STAPLE! I haven't written anything, but soon I will.
The April issue of D Magazine hit newsstands. Turn to page 18, and you'll see my first published D article. Available online, but it looks prettier in print. And if you ever wanted to know the 25 best chicken-fried steaks in Dallas, that's available as well.
Fanboy TV has arrived. The show is a lot of fun, live interviews with Ed Brubaker and Brian Denham. Plus, Meg does a great feature called "The Fix" and the girl-reads-Luke-Cage piece was lovely.