My Writing

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tao / 25 / Reading

I had a lot of fun this week. On Tuesday, I went to Quickie's, which is a really fun reading series. It is run by Mary Hamilton and Lindsay Hunter, who are both very nice. In honor of the recent release of Lindsay's book, Daddy's, all the readers did a version or send-up of Lindsay's trademark southern reading voice and imaginatively sexual stories.

On Wednesday, Brett Gallagher came to town again to stay with me. Tao Lin was in town, and we had plans to see both of his readings. Tao had told me when he was arriving. He was going to get some sleep at a hotel after having slept very little the last couple of days.

Brett and I killed time doing various things and then headed over to Wicker Park. We debated whether or not we wanted to get dinner beforehand or not. We decided to head over to Quimby's because the reading was starting soon. We saw Sam Pink. Brett and I said hi to him and talked with him a little bit. Steve Roggenbuck and Leif Haven showed up together. They have classes together at Columbia. I am happy they know each other. We talked and then Tao showed up. He came over and said hi and then he went to get ready for the reading. People laughed at what Tao read, which was the opening of Richard Yates (one man who was standing behind some bookshelves to the side of where people were seated for the reading was "doubled over" "uncontrollably laughing" and sort of "averting"/"swinging away" his face whenever a new "fit" of laughter would begin). I enjoyed the reading. Afterwards there were some questions. My favorite was when a guy asked a long, involved question re Tao being a vegan and how that impacts his writing or what he thinks about it and then Tao said "I'm not a vegan" and everyone laughed. People brought up books to be signed and Roggenbuck had Tao sign his copy of Dante's Inferno.

After the reading, Leif left, and Brett, Steve, and I were joined by Cassandra Troyan and then by this "sex journalist" who had recently interviewed Tao. She said we were getting dinner with Tao. We went to a Chinese place nearby and had dinner. I was glad she was there because she seemed confident and talked about interviewing "johns" and "cougars" and attending orgies. She liked to do "claw hands" and hiss at us. She did it several times in Tao's direction. At one point she got up and walked over to some couches away from our booth and laid out on a couch. She stayed there for a while, occasionally looking over and hissing at us.

After dinner, we said goodbye to the sex journalist and Cassandra, and Tao, Steve, Brett, and I went to a nearby coffee place called The Wormhole. We hung out there for a while joking around and Tao did some internet things. Tao went back to his hotel.

Thursday, Brett and I went to Tao's reading at the Book Cellar. The sex journalist was there and Steve Roggenbuck came again too. There was less laughter at the second reading. Andrew James Weatherhead's parents were there and I introduced myself and talked to them. Afterwards, a guy who had been asking questions/making statements in the Q&A re Richard Yates the person came up to Tao and talked with him for a while. He seemed to have become inebriated during the reading and talked for a long time in a loud voice. At one point he suggested that Tao "make a plaster cast of Barack Obama and sell it on Ebay." After the reading, Tao, Steve, Brett, the sex journalist, and I got Indian food. We said goodbye to the sex journalist at the train.

Tao didn't have a hotel for the second night, so I offered to let him stay at my place. We took the train back to Southport, and then we hung out at my place for a while. I had told Tao that my roommates were going to a Dave Matthews Band concert, and he looked up YouTube videos of Carter Beauford demonstrating various drumming techniques. At some point conversation shifted to death metal and hardcore music, maybe because Steve used to play drums in a death metal band called Scopata di Morte. Brett and Steve discussed what was the "heaviest" song they had ever heard. Tao said repeatedly that he would like to hear "the heaviest song ever made." We looked at death metal videos on YouTube. Tao shot a video of my bedroom to show Jordan Castro and Mallory Whitten. We went up to the deck on my roof and sat for a while talking and trying to load a video of Scopata di Morte playing at Demonfest in 2005. The Internet was slow on the roof and wouldn't load to the part Steve had told us about where he did an impromptu cowbell solo. Eventually Steve left, I went to sleep, and Brett and Tao slept in the living room. In the morning, Brett left to catch a train back to Wheaton. Tao took a shower and then left to work on things by himself. He left me a spare copy of Noah Cicero's novel, The Condemned, for me and Brett and Steve to share. He said he would see me at the reading that night at Cassandra Troyan's apartment.

I edited my piece, "Serious European Art Film," that afternoon, and then met up with Steve and his girlfriend, Jessica, to go to Cassandra's place. It was my birthday. I was/am 25. It was the first time I had done a reading. There was a house party-type atmosphere at Cassandra's place. I was happy to meet Cassandra's friends and happy that people were there (I had already remarked to several people that I was happy to have met Cassandra). I had found out that afternoon that my friend, James Tadd Adcox, who edits Artifice magazine with Rebekah Silverman, coincidentally lives in the apartment directly above Cassandra's. So he came to the reading with Laura Szumowksi, which I was very happy about. Tao arrived, and he had bought me strawberry beer and a pair of organic socks. I felt comfortable and happy being around Tao and talking to him. I especially liked talking to him one on one, pointing at things and talking in soft voices. I was surprised how comfortable I felt after only a small amount of time.

People read: Richard Wehrenberg Jr. via Skype (very charming guy/nice "presence"/reading voice); Colin Winnette (funny/likable); Steve read his visual poems and everyone laughed a lot, it was great (video here, courtesy of Tao); Rebecca Cooling-Mallard read a piece that was accompanied by some nice-looking/intriguing images projected on a screen (interesting juxtaposition between the words and images); I read my piece (video here courtesy of Tao); Cody Troyan read via Skype (he seemed confident/I liked his "demeanor"; I felt an immediate "urge" to come up to the laptop screen after he read and "shoot the shit" with him); finally, Cassandra, who read poems as well as did a performance art thing where she walked out the front door with a megaphone and had someone on the street read one of her poems as we looked through the windows (Steve and I picked up the two laptops with Richard and Cody's heads in them and carried them to the window so they could see too) (there was a loud street festival going on right outside). I liked Cassandra's performance, and also what she did after that, which was stand silently and stare at the audience while "Whatever You Like" by T.I. played.

I enjoyed the reading a lot. I was excited to meet everyone. Tao was leaving to catch his 6 A.M. plane to Michigan. I had said goodbye inside, but when I walked out the front door a few minutes later, Tao was still there, about to walk away with Steve and Jessica. I said something and then they started walking down the block and we waved at each other and I stood on the stoop.

I crashed on Cassandra's fold-out couch. People came back to the apartment from the bars at 5 A.M. and blasted some music, including "Birthday Sex" by Jeremih. I woke up at 8:30, folded up the couch, and left.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this, Stephen.

    Thanks for the invite to come hangout, I had a fantastic time.

    "Brett and Steve discussed what was the "heaviest" song they had ever heard. Tao said repeatedly that he would like to hear "the heaviest song ever made."" haha

  2. that sounds like a fun time. i had the pleasure of watching noah, tao, jordan, and sam pink read last weekend. :)

  3. Haha, so sorry you were woken by "birthday sex."

  4. thank you, alexis. dit fest must have been a lot of fun.

    ha, no worries, cassandra. thanks again

  5. nice, stephen; i also liked reading this. we had a lot of good times this week/end

    'for the record,' i was arguing that the heaviest song is "nevermore" by beneath the massacre.. brett mentioned black dahlia murder at one time, but i don't know if that was his final point..

  6. haha, thank you, steve, i appreciate you clarifying :)