I have seen Trent Reznor live in the past when Nine Inch Nails closed the main stage at the Virgin Music Festival in 2008 during their Lights In The Sky Tour. That show had an impressive visual aesthetic, with Reznor and the band in a LED cage producing all sorts of visual insanity. The light show of the How To Destroy Angels show from last night was a different beast altogether.
The silhouettes of the four members of the collective (with longtime NIN collaborator Alessandro Cortini on backup duties) appeared behind a fiber-optic installation that served as the foreground to the visuals being performed live by Rob Sheridan, shifting from art director duties behind the scenes for NIN to performing onstage as part of the collective . In a sense, he was the source of power of the show – it was him that produced spinning isometric shapes and streams of color coming down the wires in this Matrix-esque drip (Note: my blog was having issues putting up this rough gif to give an example, so I put it up on my Tumblr ). The band’s clothing served as an easel as well- they all wore a very uncharacteristic white that made all the fans in the crowd wearing black band t-shirts look out-of-place.
Reznor played a more subdued role in comparison to singer/wife Mariqueen Maandig Reznor. She commanded the stage, swaying in her white gown in a way that made her look like a specter. At times the fiber veil was retracted and she came out. One moment in particular was her performance of “Ice Age” that was so emotion-wrenching she made a few pauses to hold back her tears. On the other side, when the veil moved back in its original position she pushed through its fibers violently as she screamed during “Welcome Oblivion”. Her range of soft melody to industrial shouts showed the difference in the band’s sound in comparison to that of Nine Inch Nails – the unrelenting sound of the latter replaced by an ethereal harshness of the former.
A friend invited me to explore the Freedom Tunnel in NYC a few weeks back. For those that don’t know, the tunnel is a part of the Amtrak rail line near Riverside Park. It was known for its shantytowns and massive assortment of graffiti. Her and I, along with two of her classmates, bundled up on a cold Thursday afternoon to go around and take photos (and not get smashed by on coming trains, of course).
These last few months have been pretty busy for me. Besides the day job that forces me to work under two assumed names, I have worked alongside two projects.
WHO WANTS TO BE A CULT LEADER?
My good friends Phil and Cindy, who work on Cram Magazine with me, have created a card game based on their interests in the modern skeptic movement popularized by Carl Sagan and others. The premise of the game is that the player takes the role of a cult leader, and has to gather the most power through numbers of followers and renown. I jumped into the production, serving duties as the writer of the story and world the aforementioned followers are a part of. I don’t want to get into many details as I am writing my process on the Cram Games blog (yep, we’re keeping the brand name). There is a more detailed take on my role in my first post.
TUNING THE TRANSFREQUENCY
The simple synopsis is that it is a story about two friends stuck traveling through universes after a freak accident where one of them attempts to see his girlfriend via a exportation device. It came from an old idea we came up with when we were making strips about ourselves back in our college days. We took ourselves out of the equation and took the original idea of multiverses and make, I’m not going to lie, a pop-culture blowout. Kirby dots, Civil War robots, mysterious travelers, are parts of what will mostly likely become just a parody/love letter to all the genre stuff we’ve both grown up with.
The website is still clunky, so I won’t bother putting up the link yet, but Rob is drawing and I’ve stopped re-editing and just straight-up write the damn scripts that needed to be written.
That’s all I can say at the moment. I’ll start putting down some of the research for Transfrequency from time to time on the main blog. Now, back to the grind.
I had been to smaller conventions before – The Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition in 2011 and PAX East this year, but New York Comic-Con was the first time I almost felt overwhelmed going through crowds of cosplayers, garden-variety geeks, and bewildered parents of tween Homestruck fans (which I honestly don’t get, or maybe I really am old). I didn’t really take in the full con at first due to working on Thursday and my Friday was severely cut from an immense pain in my feet from a beforehand walking from the New York Public Library down to Union Square in a “team-building” exercise for work.
I did manage to get a primary target out of the way on Friday despite the pain. I wanted to get my copies of Pax Romana and The Nightly News signed by Jonathan Hickman, the writer/artist of the books. For those that don’t know, both are indie graphic novels in which the former’s premise answered the question of what history would be like if the Middle Ages had never happened, and the latter involves terrorists against the media. Hickman’s current run on Fantastic Four was pretty good as well, seeing as you know, actually got me to read FF comics for the first time without tossing them back into a bin somewhere.
When it was my time to speak to him, I told Hickman as he signed my books that his run on Fantastic Four was the first time I had ever cared about them.
“Me too!” he responded.
I had my friend Phil take a photo of me with Hickman.
Oh, one more Friday photo of note is that of writer/artist and Kabuki creator David Mack.
Saturday was the true slog, however. I had convinced to take my mother, sister, and brother-in-law around the convention to their first huge convention. I had no internet/phone service from the moment I got within yards of the Jacob Javits Center, and after finding all of them more than an hour later, I lost them in the first fifteen to twenty minutes of walking around with them. I knew it would be pointless to find them in the crowd, so I walked around until more of my friends showed up. From there on out I walked around, taking photos of cosplayers. Here are some of the greatest hits from the entire con:
The above photo is a good segue for an interesting part of my con experience. I am fascinated with the steampunk scene. I used to own these great goggles but I lost them in the move back to Jersey. I saw this old man from Michigan selling them at a reasonable price (as if there is a reasonable price for gear of that sort) which included magnifier glasses. Phil said something that proved to be correct: ladies love cool goggles:
To be a complete attention whore about my new gear, I kept them on my head. even when I left the con to get food. I had a female tourist sitting outside a restaurant ask about them, and I had a group of women staring at me the entire time I was at a nearby dive bar. I wasn’t in the mood to start a conversation, however. The real test of the theory though? Her:
She politely complimented me on my goggles after I took this photo. That pretty much validated the purchase.
My final (and probably most important) target of the convention happened on the final day. I wanted to meet Phonogram and current Journey Into Mystery writer Kieron Gillen. To put it simply, Gillen is one of my new heroes. Gamer writer (he founded Rock Paper Shotgun), music geek on a level I’ve never been to (seriously, read the original and see just how much Britpop you really know), and apparently pretty solid at conventional comics seeing as the line in the 3:00-4:00 time frame comprised entirely of his fans, mostly young teenage girls obsessed with his Journey Into Mystery run. I normally like to chat with people in line, but seeing as I along with my associate Rob were probably a good ten years older than the people behind and in front of us, we both kept quiet.
I had brought two things for him to sign: one was a trade of his short run on the quickly cancelled SWORD from Marvel, and his sequel to the original Phonogram, The Singles Club. When it was my time to speak, I had put the SWORD trade on top. I slid them over to him and said:
“I bought the first one to keep the Marvel thing going but..”
I then slid it over to show the Phonogram trade. He smiled and did that British thing where they tip the side of their nose. I went off and told him that Phonogram was my Velvet Underground (to understand that, there’s this old anecdote that the first VU album did not do well financially, but it helped inspire and start many bands) in that he helped validate some of my old ideas of the connection between music and magic. I also told him he stole my idea of using TV On The Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” as a story title and premise. He told me that the same thing had happened to him, only that it was Alan Moore of Watchmen and V for Vendetta fame that took it.
“I took that as compliment,” he said. After that, he asked me if I’m still writing, which is very much the case. He signed my copy with the words “WRITE!!!” and “Music=Magic”, which is the tag of the entire Phonogram series. Rob took this photo of me with Gillen:
Afterwards, I walked around and bought more random stuff in the name of consumerism and went home. Overall, I had a blast. Can’t wait for next years.
I hate doing the “oh I’ve been away” part of this entry. Makes me feel like a chump, but I haven’t been. I dropped a new issue of Cram, got a poem published, found employment, and in a sense regained the part of myself I had been missing for a while. Vagueness of that last part aside, I feel and think clearer now than I have in a long time. Now, for the details.
Things did slow down a bit, mainly because both Cindy was busy with her new gig and I was in a state of flux for a good chunk of 2012. I’m still really grateful that we have been able to pull this off as much as we can, but I’m still hungry. I’ve been researching to write an essay for the blog, seeing as we need more content than the weekly Crams. Also trying to make moves with other ideas stirring in my head. also doing a project with Phil and Cindy with me on, of course, story duty.
I’m Going Going, Back Back, To Jersey Jersey
In I’m officially back in the mother country of New Jerusalem. The best way to describe my feelings is this: picture an archaeologist trying find his oldest tomb. Then picture that person now trying to ship ancient relics to a mausoleum, only to return and find out no matter how much you can move, the haul is endless and makes it a Sisyphean nightmare. That was just in the second week alone. I’m lucky I have a place to stand in my old room.
However, it has its moment of greatness. Holding my sister’s and her husband’s wedding rings as my part as her witness to her civil wedding was something worth being home for. That was a while back now, after reunions with old friends and abusing my ability at reconnecting with the newer ones, and blacking out for a good portion of the summer due to helping preparing for the (happy) clusterfuck that was my sister’s wedding party. I actually got back into the swing of writing because of this. and made up a magic realism story about a pilgrim coming home to a family of gods. A the moment there’s only one entry, but I’m cleaning up the next part which is an epic poem about the family dog.
The Job, Or How How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Become A Woman on the Internet
I finally found employment after a year of not having any. It’s not at all like what I was doing in SF. I’m still staring at Excel sheets, of course, but that’s interspersed with a crap-load of comments I put up under the pseudonym of Jamie. To date, Jamie is a mother, dancer, crafts and superbike enthusiast, nurse, customer sales rep, and recently Portuguese. I’ve had the opportunity to write blog posts, which is great. There’s a serious difficulty with the distractions of working from a home office however. I’m sure I’ll get it down right.
Badass and Published
That’s what I said I’ll be a few years back. Out of a lark it finally happened, thanks to Saul Williams and his Chorus book. Of the 97 poems in the book I’m number 21. To see a poem that I wrote in my sleep-deprived night owl phase back in 05 come to light in 2012 is crazy. I’ve been dabbling in poetry again, to see if I still have it. I probably don’t but you never know.
That’s it for now. you can find me on Twitter (@TheJesusGaray) and Tumblr (jesusgaray.tumblr.com), fyi. I’ll put up some of the content I put up there here.
Damn, just made it. To be honest, the quality isn’t as great as the stuff in my other goals. Here’s the breakdown:
My running playlist – 814
A rambling mess of a poem that also needs heavy editing – 129
my interview for verbal PHANTOM for Cram issue 3 – 660
My small post on my first memory of being in the US – 412
The bulk of it was an additional 2,691 words added to a new story involving urban exploration and cults. It’s almost done.
I’ve been productive lately both physically and literary, but I need to put myself more. So with that in mind:
Some ideas on how I’m going to do that:
Go through my “Potential Stories” folder and see which one is doable. I’m only seeing two at the moment .
More short stories for the urban fantasy epic. Or even write entire chapters of the novel.
Keep working on the dream dealer story for Kali and that potential movie.
Let’s see how that works out.
“Fifteen minutes ’til we’re out,” my boss said. I chuckled and pulled out my wallet, checking to see if I had any singles on me. I knew that they’d be needed soon. Ten minutes later, I got up from my chair and walked with him to the office door. He kept going towards the elevator but I waited for the remaining three coming along: a girl with long curly black hair and a valley girl accent, a middle-aged lifer that had been in the company longer that most of the executives, and the new guy sporting industrial earrings.
My boss jumped onto a closing elevator. The rest of us waited for another, giving us time to laugh at how ridiculous it was to be eating lunch at a strip club at one in the afternoon. When we reached the lobby, I could see el jefe out on the sidewalk texting. We met up with him and walked south on 4th St to meet up with the final member of our party, the resident gambler on our team, puffing away at a cigarette.
“So how many singles do you have in your wallet?” my boss asked the gambler.
“Uh, y’know, enough for the buffet an makin’ it rain.” he said as we all walked down Howard.
We continued down a few city blocks until I saw a blue carpet leading to a wall of a man in a black suit standing next to a door with the word Gold Lounge written on a royal blue awning. After the card check and paying the five-dollar cover to a disaffected cashier in a tight black dress, I stepped into the darkness and blue glow of the main floor of the club. The music geek in me immediately noticed the song playing, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Like in most strip clubs, you can tell a good deal about the girl on stage by their theme song before you even see her, so I assumed she was pale, skinny with absolutely no curves, and covered in tattoos. I looked over for confirmation and, lo and behold, I was right. I would have checked to see if there was any image of Cobain on her skin, but I was very hungry, so I made a beeline to the buffet line.
My father picked me up in the winter of 2004 from the office where I worked as a telemarketer during my senior year at high school. My boss found me sitting down unconscious against the wall of the bathroom — my last memory was of washing my hands and face.
My mother told me a story about something that happened to me back in the old house in Lima. My late uncle Paco found me standing up behind the couch in the living room, catatonic and ice-cold. He called my mother over, who immediately wrapped me in blankets and rubbed me down. ” In that hour you were staring off into space,” she said, “I’ve always wondered where your mind was going.” I was two when this occurred, so I don’t remember any of this. I didn’t think there was any relationship between the Lima event and the office one. I know better now. The kink in the right hemisphere of my brain might have made my brain go haywire when I was a toddler. It just took nineteen years to show me what really happened that night in Lima.