I do everything right. I turn off lights around my house when they’re not being used; I take painstaking care to capture bugs, releasing them to the wild even when my kids and wife are screaming for me to killkillkillitnoooww! I do unto others as I would have them do unto me, no easy conceit for an old agnostic/atheist heathen. I recycle like Al Gore on crystal meth; Nothing that’s made of anything resembling petroleum-derived products spends more than a day in my house before I dutifully escort it to the RECYCLE OR DIE bins squatting in ambush in my garage. I vote my conscience, even when it par- broils my wallet. I exercise, donate money to Greenpeace, Move-on.ORG, The Urban League, N.A.A.C.P and Feed the Children. I’m a vegetarian, pro-Earth,Pro-Choice middle-class upwardly mobile arts and entertainment maven with enough liberal cred to make Gloria Steinum look like Dick Cheney at a Buddhist Transvestite Abortion Fundraiser.
SO WHY AM I SO ANGRY?
Recently someone pointed out that I must be ‘dark’ because of the stuff I write, horror that pulls no punches, graphic bits of nightmare carved off the cob of my subconscious and served up American Picnic style- with plenty of vinegar for the fries and just enough ketchup to cover over the whole mess with a layer of ‘just for laughs’ sweetness. But that’s a bunch of horsecrap…I grew up in Chicago. I’m simply angry; permanently frozen years after moving to LA, then New York, and repressed: a Midwestern guy who got lucky, I tick along, with some deeply ingrained issues still steaming inside the runaway locomotive that is my brain. Sure, I could drink myself into a permanent liver-lipped blah-blah frenzy, or dig up some old hooker and lose myself in Jean Nate and watered -down Ben Gay handjobs until I finally work up enough auto-loathing to off myself…but where’s the fun in that? Somehow, a life of Midwestern rectitude has turned me into that oddest of oddities, the ‘Nice Guy Writer With The Deep Dark Alter Ego.’ On the outside I’m a teddy bear, a father of four, a husband of one, a man who suffers to do the right thing, but inside…I’m the Anti-Christ. And I don’t say that lightly: There is a part of me that gleefully waits for the whole societal shooting match to come tumbling down. The part of me that loved Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, or Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. McCarthy’s opus is just about the most difficult, depressing thing I’ve read since my last BMI reading, and I loved it! That part of me capers on the edge of madness. I try to manage it, offer it sacrifices from time to time, but its hungry and it ain’t polite.
Someone ordered my latest book, The Red Wake, then commented, “But you’re so nice. Where does this stuff come from?” Answer…you grow up in a freezing Baptist windtunnel surrounded by alcoholics, drug addicts, drunken teachers and losing sports teams and see who pops out in your writing. Trust me: it won’t be Edith Wharton.
But I digress.
I struggle with this strange duality, and even take some joy in watching where it takes me. Now. For years I didn’t know what to do with my anger, my despair, my evolving darkness. Now I do. I put it on the page, try to funnel it into something entertaining, into something that people can enjoy, even laugh at. So far it seems to be working. I’ll let everyone know when it stops.