Billy McEwan met Tammi Honig. He does not save her life, but
she saves his. Thanks to her, he enjoys (or experiences, at least)
many adventures on New York's Morningside Heights, back in the
when the City was still dangerous, dirty, and romantic, back in
days of punk rock, Thai stick, and Checker cabs. His adventures
eventually lead him beyond the boundaries of the Upper West Side.
ventures far south of West 72nd Street and far north of West 125th
Street, even as far afield as the San Fernando Valley...
sat down on a bench on the 10-foot-wide median
strip that runs down the middle of Upper
Broadway. The median strip had many rose bushes
on it, and the roses were just starting to bud
out. Tammi's apartment was just around the
corner, on a narrow side street that ran
downward towards the Hudson River. He pulled out
a 4x6 spiral-bound notebook from his jacket
pocket and wrote Tammi a love letter. He wrote
her a love letter every day. Tammi sneered at
these letters and made fun of his cliches and
dead metaphors, but Frosty kept on writing them.
His excuse was that it was a good exercise for
preventing writer's block.
started laughing softly, but not at Benjie's
last remark. Rather, Frosty thought he saw
someone playing with a helium-neon laser on top
of the World Trade Center, projecting a
1000-times-lifesize hologram of Otis Redding
onto the smog layer over the city. Frosty found
the sight of a 6000-foot image of Otis Redding
hanging over the world's largest city to be
Jones And The Elvis Clones
Block Party was sponsored by the fraternity
council, ostensibly for the purpose of funding
some public-minded activity or another. Actually
it was just an excuse for todo el mundo to stand
around in the street and drink beer. I used to
enjoy helping clean up after the Block Party:
the block would look like it had been struck by
a blizzard of celluloid beer cups. The beer cups
would be piled up literally 3 feet deep in the
gutters. We shoveled the cups up with snow
shovels into 30-gallon bags. In 1977, Martin
"Doc" Thompson (head resident of Carman Hall)
and I counted 325 black plastic bags of beer
cups at the end of the evening.
Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion
pointed me out to Tammi. They both cheered,
threw their shrubs in the air, and ran over to
me. They pulled me to my feet, and we joined
hands and whirled around and around in a Dervish
circle. The iridescent aluminum towers of the
World Trade Center zoomed in front of my eyes
once every 1.7 seconds.
Proper Degree Of Chaos And Darkness
walked out of Ruth's bedroom into the adjoining
living room. There was no door in the door: just
an opening. The party wall seemed to be covered
on both sides with the same satiny
wall-covering. "Oh no, it's still undulating!"
he said out loud as he stared at the eastern
wall of the living room. He started to feel
Girl With the Beautiful Yams
marijuana was a fragrant Christmas-tree variety
(pine-green with dark red buds embedded in it)
very expensive and very classy. Veronica
slithered off the desk, and leaned out the
window to admire his view of New York City.
"What a gorgeous view! It's panoramic!" she
thought someone had sneaked into my room and was
now sitting at the foot of my bed. The person
smelled like coconut-oil. I assumed that I was
hallucinating. I groped for my glasses. They
were bent out of shape, and the plastic UniFit
bridge was missing. My eyes were fogged over
from the previous night's drunkenness, and the
perspective through my glasses was skewed. I had
to look at the person a couple times before I
recognized her as Tammi Honig. "Hi, Billy," she
said in a perky, matter-of-fact tone of voice
followed a circuitous route to Asbury Park along
potholey highways that always had signs
directing us to the Garden State Parkway (but we
never actually saw the Parkway itself.) We
stopped just once, at an isolated 7-11 in the
midst of an invisible but foreboding swamp.
Tammi and I stood in the brightly-lit entrance
to the 7-11 and listened to a series of eldritch
howls being howled somewhere out in the darkness
of the swamp. Tammi said, "It's the coyotes, I
bet. They've finally made it all the way to the
thought I heard something exploding outside, but
I didn't worry. I just assumed I was
kissed me on the lips in front of the Eastern
Air Shuttle terminal. It was only a brief
lip-peck, but to me it felt like one of those
sparkly, extended, delicious kisses you see in
old black-and-white movies. "Have a great
Thanksgiving," Tammi said as she gently pushed
me out onto the sidewalk. "See you Saturday."
stadium fell completely silent. I could actually
hear a city bus grinding its gears on a steep
city street across the Harlem River, in the
Spuyten Duyvil section of the Bronx.
Five Ton Block of Bleachable Beef Tallow
these blocks expensive?" I asked her as I moved
closer to the block of fat to get a closer look.
The fat was quite beautiful: it had the lambent
opalescence of fine marble. I saw why we talk
about steak being "marbled with fat." The guard
glowered threateningly at me and began moving
his hand towards his gun, so I backed away from
the block of fat.
Suitable for Our Needs at This Time
though, the Orange Bowl was sinister because of
its logo: a gigantic, anthromorphized,
cold-eyed, evilly-grinning orange that always
reminded me of something I might see on a bad
acid trip. This was one psychopathic-looking
orange: I'm talking about the kind of orange
that goes on serial-killing rampages, the kind
of orange that would deliberately inject itself
Live By Night
wanted to talk about Course Guide business. (We
hadn't had a chance to sit down since we came
back from winter vacation.) But I (probably
rather annoyingly) replied, "Oh, right now, the
Course Guide just seems like a tiny speck of
immaterial reality within the materiality of the
larger metareality, if you know what I mean, the
larger metareality of the universe as a whole."
delicate pearly-gray haze hung over the Hudson
River. "See that fog?" I said enthusiastically.
"That's part of a sphere of thoughts, dreams,
ideas, and whatnot created by the collective
mental processes of all us sentient beings here
on earth. You can only actually see it right at
dawn, but it's always there." (I was
bullshitting, of course: the haze was just a
normal morning fog.) "This is the NOOSPHERE!"
Bells of Corpus Christi
of going straight to the BHR vestibule, we made
a slight detour. We turned right instead of left
at the gateway, and sat on a bench in front of a
statue of a peplos-clad virgin who was carrying
a javelin. The statue was seriously corroded.
"Acid rain," Tammi explained. "I feel kind of
guilty about this, personally, since most of the
acid in the acid rain here in New York comes
from smokestacks in Detroit."
Stravinsky During the Tea-Party
handed her the present, but first she made me
sit on the bed beside her, and she put her arm
around me. We sat together for about half an
hour without doing anything except munching
I Can't Feel
is total crap. I've read Hallmark greeting cards
that were better than this. I mean, take an
image like 'The fog came in on little cat feet.'
That's sentimental garbage: it doesn't tell the
truth, and moreover it just isn't very good.
Even Dylan Fyfe could do better than that."
could see her reflection, but I couldn't see my
own. I wanted to say something, but I could not
was sleeping next to the softly-rumbling
typewriter, with her head resting against the
table. I examined her face carefully. Most
people look peaceful when they're sleeping, but
tonight Tammi looked even more troubled than she
usually did while awake.
hadn't been listening very intently to Byron's
and Genevieve's conversation: instead I had been
staring up at the REINHOLD NIEBUHR PLACE
street-sign below the regular W 120 STREET sign.
I was trying to remember who Reinhold Niebuhr
was. Genevieve looked up and saw the same pair
of street-signs. "Let Reinhold Niebuhr worry
about Tammi! Whoever the hell he is." Then Byron
started to tell us who he was.
Joy For Ever
spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around
in a seemingly aimless fashion, dropping small
bundles of records and tapes at ugly doors in
some of the scariest Loisaida tenements
imaginable. "Don't worry about the junkies,"
Charles remarked. "It's the record reviewers you
really have to look out for."
Is Within Our Grasp
was wearing the same outfit as the night before,
but it was wrinkled and stained. She had a
different, muskier smell than usual. She sat
down next to me, and without even saying hello,
she abruptly said "I slept with the Senator last
of Hawaii appeared behind the newsreader's head,
along with Carter's smiling face in a box off
the coast of the Big Island. Then we were shown
a chart which indicated that Hawaii had finally
been called for Carter: with 96% of the
precincts in, he was ahead by 2000 votes.
time, though, the Pinhead's sign just said,
"GABBA GABBA", and Tammi came out, also dressed
in a red and white smock (but no mask), carrying
a sign which said "HEY!" The crowd went nuts: I
had been to a dozen or so Ramones show by this
point, but I had never heard such Gabba Gabba
of my friends from the period depicted in The
Forgotten Liars, the actress and screenwriter
Catherine Lloyd Burns, has just published a memoir
entitled It Hit Me Like a Ton of Bricks.
It covers some of the same ground as my book,
though it's mostly about what happened before and after.
For me, and for my fictional alter ego, the early
1980s were an amusing adventure. For Cathy Burns,
it was the low point of her life. In any case,
please buy and read her book!
I definitely hope to make some personal appearances
bookstores, etc. at some point, and I would of course have books
sale at such events. If you have any questions email me.
June 2005, I donated five copies to the 2005 Northfield
Mount Hermon School annual alumni auction. I (or— more
accurately— the winning bidders) raised $450.00 for NMH.
I was only going to donate one copy, but I brought a few extra
me to my 30th reunion, and one thing led to another...
The best way to get my book is from a local
If the store doesn't have my book in stock, simply
them the ISBN (1-4134-5442-9), etc. above and they will be happy
track it down. (See below for comments on wholesale
sales.) The list price is $28.99. I know that's not cheap, but
worth it! The books are (generally) printed as needed (hence the
"Print on Demand"), and are very nicely produced trade
paperbacks; if you are in Europe, your book can be printed in
places where my book is available on-line. The best way, from my
perspective, is for you to order it directly from Xlibris. (I
largest royalty that way.) Go to this web page to buy my book:
I must confess that I know less than I ought to
the mechanics of ordering books wholesale. The simplest way to get
the book for your book store is to order it from the Ingram
Book Company, a leading book wholesaler. Baker
& Taylor is another wholesaler which carries my book.
books will usually be printed by Lightning
Source, using print-on-demand technology. The quality of the
printing is as good as or better than most trade paperbacks on the
shelf at your local bookstore. Many of those books are printed
the same technology as mine.
My book is also available from Xlibris.
The Order Department's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also telephone them at +1 (888) 795 4274 (toll-free from
North America only) or at +1 (215) 923 4686 (from anywhere on
Earth, as well as from the Space Station Mir.)
Check out my "Other
Works" page for more stuff you can buy which I contributed
to (if only in a small way.)