Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#228 Nick Kane Collaborates with Everybody

Nick Kane was born in 1983, the oldest of 6 kids. His mom struggled with eating and prescription meds. His dad was abusive. His mom often ran away from home (and so did Nick). To manage, Nick would often go break dancing. He was never home if he could help it. As a kid, Nick loved magic because you can create your own reality with magic. At 12, Nick’s parents divorced. All the kids got put in separate foster homes, which was terrible. Nick didn’t know his brothers and sisters for much of his childhood. In high school, Nick explored many religions and eventually found his faith as an open-minded Christian. He ran an underground dance club and made a public access TV show with dance, improv, and stunts. Nick was also politically active, held office in student government, and started a massage club. In college, Nick studied dance and film. Eventually, he became a dance addict—giving dance lessons during the day and going out dancing nearly every night. When Nick is in motion, everything fits and he connects with people on a spiritual level. In 2002, Nick was carjacked, kidnapped, robbed, and almost murdered. The kidnapper took him to a secret crack house where they thought he was a narc and tried to kill him. Eventually, Nick escaped. That same year, Nick started an arts-based church (ABC) that worshipped god with art. For years, he lived in and ran a coffee shop his friend owned (it had open mics, karaoke, and live bands). Nick was kicked out when he refused to fire an employee unjustly. Then he did fine art photography, had shows, did photos for local papers, and shot weddings. After that, Nick started a non-profit called SAFE (Starving Artist Food and Employment) that brought food to artists and found them work teaching or doing their art. Nick lost his virginity when he was date raped by a girl he knew. In 2004, Nick got his dream job—working the teleprompter and floor directing for NBC. Unfortunately, NBC fired him 2 days from being union. Nick was devastated. After that, Nick was recruited (for surveillance photography) and trained to be a tactical crowd control riot officer, but he ended up using his guard card to work security at Taco Bell. In 2006, Nick moved out to LA with only $300. He lived with a friend (#210 Erik Larson) for 2 months and then lived in his car for a year. Nick took showers at Venice Beach and worked for free as a PA and grip to gain film set experience. Nick loved this life until he got sick and there was nobody to take care of him. He went back home to heal before coming back to LA, where he thought he had a paid post-production job set up. The job didn’t happen so Nick just kept showing up until they hired him. Nick found a place to live, organized his housemates into an intentional community, and taught free weekly dance lessons to the public. Nick has never loved money. In 2009, he got really poor, so he signed up to be a human test subject for NASA, but did not pass the tests. Nick still works as a grip in the movie business (he loves light). He’s really proud of the music video he directed. Besides film crew gigs, Nick does background acting, sells popsicles on the beach, teaches kids after school, does street performances, and makes appearances as a clown to earn money. Nick dresses up as a ninja to make youtube videos and he collaborates with other artists any way he can.

Video of Nick dancing.
Behind the scenes of a music video Nick directed.
Nick doing his ninja thing.
Nick appears briefly in a green suit on Community, Season 1, Episode 4, toward the end, around 20 minutes.
Photo credits: Andre Andreev
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Where Commas Ordinarily Go

I have an interview with Robert Lopez up at my interview column for The Faster Times, Writers on Writing. We talk about his new novel, Kamby Bolongo Mean River, writing with constraints, the revision process, and commas.

More interviews @ Writers on Writing:
I Am Not a Camera: Gary Lutz
A Ribbon of Language: Blake Butler
What People Do When No One is Watching: Rachel Sherman
Justify Every Sentence: Laura van den Berg
Most Violence Is Intimate: Ben Tanzer
I'm Not Trying to Trick the Reader: Brian Evenson
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Rave Review of I WILL SMASH YOU

There's a rave review of I WILL SMASH YOU in the City Paper. Bret McCabe says some really nice things, including this: "What's disarming about the entire process is not the clever, collateral entertainment damage that comes from staged violence; what emerges from these brief snippets are miniature personality portraits of human beings." And this: "Kimball and Dipierro have put together a collection of money shots that make you care about who's coming and why." And this: "It's the reasons why that stay with you when all that's left is rubble."

There's a screening of I WILL SMASH YOU in Baltimore on Friday, November 20th @ 14 Karat Cabaret. It's part of a Shattered Wig night and a Critic's pick.
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I WILL SMASH YOU @ 14 Karat Cabaret

Friday, November 20th @ 14 Karat Cabaret--It's a Shattered Wig evening.

There will be readings by the great Blaster Al Ackerman and the incomparable Ingrid Burrington. Then there will be a full screening of I WILL SMASH YOU. And after that, there will be a smashing performance by the band known as Sweatpants.



[Click the flyer to make it bigger.]
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#94: Tim Hall: Bohemian Rat + Yuppie Queen = Bohemian Prince

Tim Hall has born into a family of English majors and has always loved reading. Besides this, though, his home life was often difficult. His father was a neglectful alcoholic and his mother hated his father. The family was repeatedly evicted from houses. When Tim was 10 years old, his parents divorced and he read The Hobbit—both of which led to Tim creating his own world. He began writing fantasy novels and serialized them for his classmates, though he sometimes got into trouble with his teachers for doing this. Tim continued writing and saw his father sporadically after the divorce. Through junior high, it became more difficult to keep the real world at bay. Tim’s mother often used him as a little soldier in the war against his dad. He developed ADD and couldn’t concentrate enough to write anymore. London Calling came out and he became a punk rocker. Tim often fought with his father and then his father died. Tim was still in high school and his last words to his father were, Fuck you. Tim doesn’t feel badly about this. It seems fitting. Tim went to college and dropped out. He drank a lot and played in hard rock bands. This was most of Tim’s 20’s. Then Tim realized the bad effects that alcohol had had on his family and he quit drinking. He quit music and quit a bad relationship and he returned to writing--founding Typism, co-founding Blacksmiths For Literary Progress, writing the novel Half Empty, and writing the story collection Triumph Of The Won't. These good changes in his life led a friend to set him up on a blind date with the woman who became his wife. Tim was stunned by her when he first saw her and has been living under her dazzling beauty and genuine kindness ever since. He was the bohemian rat and she was the yuppie queen and their little boy George is now the bohemian prince.

[Update #1: Tim’s home life is happy, but he’s worried about the economic disaster, especially since he was homeless as a teenager and is frightened about losing his home. Also, he recently had an inspiration and rearranged all our furniture on the first floor according to our values. The living room, which used to contain the TV, couch, rug, etc. is now filled with guitars, amp, iPod, cameras, and his son's play table in the corners, and the middle of the living room is now a dance floor. Now it’s called the values room and it's changed life for the better. Now Tim feels like he can face anything.]

[Update #2: Tim published a heuristic essay on the epidemiology of control called How America Died, which is based around a concept Tim created, the living book.]

Tim Hall
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Dear Everybody @ Creative Alliance; I Will Smash You @ Shattered Wig; It Will Be Monumental @ CineCity

Tomorrow, Friday, November 13th, Dear Everybody (the short film that I made with Luca Dipierro) is going to be part of an evening of short films at Creative Alliance MovieMakers (CAmm), which also includes Travis Mays' adaption of Poe’s Tell Tale Heart, Ryan Thomas' premiere of The Debt Collector, and other shorts. Q & A follows. Doors 7pm. Show 8pm. $10.




Friday, November 20th, there will be a screening of I Will Smash You, part of a Shattered Wig evening at the 14K Cabaret that also includes Blaster Al Ackerman, Ingrid Burrington, and Sweatpants.







And Tuesday, December 1, there will be a short from I Will Smash You, the segment concerning the awesome Adam Robinson, It Will Be Monumental, at the CineCity Film Festival in Brighton, England, along with shorts by Stewart Copeland and others.
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Peter Schwartz Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #227 D.E. Oprava

David Edward Oprava was born in New York City on Easter Sunday 1973 for which his mother still has not forgiven him. He grew up in a two-bed apartment on the upper West Side a few blocks from Central Park and to this day still remembers the smell of dog crap and sand from the playground. He practically lived in the Museum of Natural History, standing under the nose of the great Blue Whale for ages, quietly peeing himself for fear of its immensity. At five, he saw a ghost but told nobody. At seven, the family moved to a 200-acre farm in rural Pennsylvania where he was the odd kid out and received the usual taunts and teases that go with that. An only child, he spent a lot of time in the woods. There was no trash collection out there; trash dumps were simply scattered across the property. The family also had a 20-acre swamp with horse skeletons at the bottom, which David also enjoyed. What he didn't enjoy was how his history teacher used to make little girls sit on his lap during class. So he asked his parents if he could go to boarding school and at age twelve they relented and off he went. In college, he studied politics, fascinated by the idea of analyzing how and why people control other people. He specialized in demagoguery and his first degree was in international studies, received from the School for International Training in Vermont, a former Peace Corps training school and hippie hide-away. He visited the war in Bosnia as part of his studies and it scared the hell out of him, but the experience fueled his desire to earn a Masters in politics with a thesis written on the demagogic causes of that war in relation to the racism and fascism of the Second World War. This led him to a series of teaching jobs at both the university and secondary levels. For 15 years, he taught in one place or another in almost any subject area: politics, history, international relations, German, environmental studies, English, etc. In 2004, he stopped teaching after being fired from one too many jobs. In 2005, his wife Kate gave birth to their son, Ziven. David isn't exactly sure what happened next, but something in him broke. He knew then that he needed an outlet, a way to face the wild demons he had been chasing across the globe through ten different states and four different countries in less than thirty years. What he found was writing. He wrote a novel in eight months that he considered dreadful, but the important thing was that he was now writing for real. Soon after, he rediscovered his lust for poetry and has been writing non-stop for the past three years. His new book American Means has just been released through American Mettle Books. It goes straight to the heart of modern America: its guts, bones and woes exposed through poetry. David runs his own press Grievous Jones Press Ltd., whose mission is to publish talented writers with something important to say whom he feels the mainstream will never touch. David is proud of his many published books, his children, meeting Allen Ginsberg in a café in Prague, having taught many amazing students and learned from them in his years as a teacher/professor, and having lived exactly the way he wanted for many years, living for experience and nothing but experience.

David E. Oprava’s website
David’s book, American Means
Grievous Jones Press
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I'm Not Trying to Trick the Reader

I have an interview with Brian Evenson up at my interview column for The Faster Times, Writers on Writing. We talk about Fugue State, irresolvable narrative, the ending of The Open Curtain, and form as it relates to the novel, the novella, and the story collection.

More interviews @ Writers on Writing:
I Am Not a Camera: Gary Lutz
A Ribbon of Language: Blake Butler
What People Do When No One is Watching: Rachel Sherman
Justify Every Sentence: Laura van den Berg
Most Violence Is Intimate: Ben Tanzer
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DEAR EVERYBODY: The Innermost Feelings of Real Feeling

There is a really nice Chinese review of DEAR EVERYBODY at Bardon (scroll down), which says, in part, that "Dear Everybody ... touches the heart of hearts ... snowflake-like letters ... exquisite ... the innermost feelings of real feeling."
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#70 Elizabeth Ellen Is the Greatest Thing

Elizabeth Ellen's mother claims that she got pregnant on her honeymoon. She also claims that Elizabeth's alcoholic father beat her and that was why she left him on their honeymoon in Europe without telling him. Elizabeth's mother filed for divorce after returning to the US and because of this Elizabeth has no memory of her father before she was 8 years old, when she started spending part of every summer with him. After that, Elizabeth was rich in the summer (when she stayed with her dad) and poor the rest of the year (when she stayed with her mom). She was an only child, overweight, unsocial. She read a lot. She lived in a different house or apartment nearly every year until she was 18 years old, when went to college and majored in English. That first year, she was put on academic suspension and then things got worse. She tried to go to classes, but had panic attacks and stopped. Her grandmother continued to send her checks for her tuition, though, and she lived off those with her boyfriend for a couple years. A few years later, Elizabeth met her husband at the strip mall where they both worked and they got married a month later, though they didn't tell anybody, in part, because her husband feared that one of his friends would steal her. A year later she got pregnant. The eight-year marriage was incredibly stifling and emotionally stressful on a daily basis, but the divorce was amicable. It was an exhilarating time after that. Elizabeth and her daughter could do whatever they wanted and the simplest things brought them great joy. Around this time, she bought her first computer and began writing seriously for the first time in her life. She had always thought the greatest thing one could be is a writer and now she is the greatest thing. After that, Elizabeth met Aaron Burch online and they dated long-distance for a year before he moved across the country to live with her and her daughter, who is crazy about Aaron too. Elizabeth has a very full, very happy life with Aaron, Andromeda, and Heather (her step-daughter who stays with them some weekends), co-editing Hobart, and writing her own books. She never imagined that she would be this happy.

[Update: Elizabeth Ellen is not as happy now as she was before, but one thing good is that she has a new collection of flash fiction called “Mouthfeel” coming out with Paper Hero Press any day now, in a book called Fox Force Five, which is with four other women.]
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The Baltimore Grill

Baltimore Magazine made me their last page--The Baltimore Grill. We talk about rejection, an obvious motto for Baltimore, smashing things, the value of reducing somebody's life to a postcard, and the most generous and attentive reading audience I have ever been around.

[It's not online, but click the scan. It's kind of big enough to read.]

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#226 Greg Santos: A Romantic and a Traditional Gentleman

Greg Santos was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1981. His birth parents were Cambodian, but he was adopted when he was 4 months old by his Spanish Mom and Portuguese Dad. Greg was an only child and had a happy childhood. His parents gave him so much love and support. The family lived on a cul-de-sac, had bonfires, ate s'mores, played hide-and-seek, and built snow forts. Greg traveled a lot with his parents when he was younger—Scotland, Egypt, Martinique, Spain, Portugal, England, France, Mexico, Italy, Greece—but he doesn’t remember as much about those places as he wishes. Also, Greg owned a pet rock, had Sea Monkeys, and an imaginary flea circus. As a teenager, after watching The X-Files, Greg wanted to be a paranormal investigator in the worst way. Once, Greg saw a UFO (he swears). After that, he started The Bureau for the Investigation of the Unexplained and made his hair look like David Duchovny's. When Greg was 16, his father died. That Halloween, Greg dressed up in white face paint and a black trench coat like The Crow. He went to school that way because he didn't know what else to do. He still misses his dad. Eventually, though, Greg found solace in art, music, poetry, and, especially, theater. The idea that he could be somebody else was comforting. In college, he majored in drama and minored in English. In college, Greg also met Maryn (he was sick at the time and she gave him tea). After that, they dated for 7 years. Greg is a romantic and a traditional gentleman (for instance, he makes an effort to wear shirts with collars). Greg loved acting, but, eventually, he realized that he didn't want to speak somebody else's words. So Greg went back to school for a second degree in creative writing, which is how he caught the poetry bug, which is what took him to The New School for his MFA. Poetry allows Greg to write down thoughts he wouldn’t say out loud and make them into art. Once, he took lessons on how to be a clown and a stuntman. Also, Greg collects wind-up toys, antique books, small erasers that look like things, and nearly anything to do with elephants. Greg knows the professional wrestling isn’t real, but he still watches it, which his wife doesn’t understand. That is, Greg and Maryn are married. She is brilliant and makes him laugh. She is a classical beauty and his best friend. Greg is the poetry editor of pax americana and works for the New Haven Reads Community Book Bank, which provides free books and free after school tutoring. It makes Greg happy that he gets to spread the gospel of poetry—writing, teaching, and editing. He loves his life and his Maryn.


[There’s more Greg Santoa at Greg’s blog, Moondoggy’s Pad, Greg’s website, and Greg’s ebook, Thinking Things Through, which is just out with Pangur Ban Party.]
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