I’m Living A Piece of Crime NONFiction Today

Woke up with a cold medicine hangover today, not so addled though that I forgot to curse the alarm. Skipped the gym and was happy not to have to take The Boy to school. Went upstairs, got started on what should have been an easy work day. Julia was up and moving a little earlier than usual, as she had an AM doctor’s appointment scheduled. She heads out to leave, and comes back in.

“Where did you put the car?” she says, puzzled.

“You drove it last.”

“What about when you took Sid to school this morning?”

“He doesn’t have school today.”

“Chris, the car’s not out there.”

See that dark space not covered with snow? That’s where the car was supposed to be. Some fucker stole it some time after the snow stopped falling last night. Tracks clearly showed it backing up, then heading down the street. They paused long enough to spin a few donuts at the four-way intersection just down the block.

We’re guessing they got ahold of a set of keys. About a week ago both sets were accounted for. About midweek we only had one, but that’s not unusual — sometimes they turn up in pockets, purses, whatever. Julia’s pretty sure the keys she’s been using are the ones still in her purse. So it’s possible the other set was out there and we didn’t realize it, or they were left in it some time over the past week and the fucker grabbed them then with a plan to come back some other time. Once not all that long ago I went outside in the morning and the passenger door was open, so we know there are people with bad intentions occasionally about. We’ve tried to be better about keeping the keys inside, nothing valuable out there, etc. Obviously somewhere we fell down.

So we pile in the truck so I can take Julia to her doctor appointment at the Blue Mountain Clinic — just her yearly, routine check up. No big deal. But there is a little knot of anti-abortion protestors hanging out at the gate, and women volunteers in the parking lot to escort women into the clinic.

I was kind of dumbfounded. Friends of mine have told stories about these protestors, but it’s never been anything I’ve encountered. I dropped Julia off, then as I was pulling out they were yelling at me. I rolled my window down.

“Why is she coming here on killing day?” this old bat hollers.

“Killing day? What do you mean?” I say.

“They kill babies in there!”

I just felt this surge of rage stir. Maybe it was being sick, the thing with the car, I don’t know. “This country kills thousands and thousands of people every day!” I holler.

“I should hope not, I should hope not!” The old bat answers. The two old guys flanking her were babbling something too, but I was so pissed all of a sudden I knew I just needed to leave. So I hauled ass. I was pissed all the way home — I’m talking knees-shakingly pissed. These people are representatives of the crowd that put that asshole in office who started two wars that see the murder of thousands of innocents a year, and have made refugees of millions. And there aren’t any signs of it stopping under the new asshole. No, I’m not a big fan of abortion, but I am a huge fan of a woman’s right to have one should she choose to, or should medical circumstances require it as being in her best interest.

I haven’t been that mad in a long time. I’m really glad I didn’t linger.

So I call the cops on my way home, and ultimately an officer arrives to have me fill out a report.

While I’m inside filling it out, he’s outside doing the investigator thing.

When he comes back, he says he could track the treads all the way down the street. Apparently the asshole was pulling into every driveway down the street, then getting out and checking all the other parked cars. He got good pictures of their shoe prints in the snow, he said.

And pretty much that’s that. In a couple days I’ll call all the towing places to see if it’s been picked up and impounded anywhere. Technically there’s supposed to be communication between the police and those places, but you and I both know how that is going to go down.

So I go back to the clinic to pick Julia up. The asshole protestors are still there.

I didn’t speak to them at all this time. I suppose I should take the high road and say I’m glad they have the right to do this, but it’s still pretty lame. When you consider the terrorist activities of those of their ilk who blow up clinics or assassinate doctors, though, one could say they too are on the edge of that slide into terrorism themselves, if not closer. You wouldn’t get any argument from me if you said that.

Passing their car (I know it was theirs because there was an anti-baby killing sign leaning against the windshield) I had to chuckle at the Ron Paul sticker. I still have earnest people trying to tell me he is “the guy” I should be pulling for. Fuck Ron Paul and his “revolution.”

So it’s been a weird day. Like Julia said, if we knew someone took the car because they needed it to get to work, or really needed a car, or something like that, it would be one thing. But knowing it was probably just some deadbeat meth-head or someone using it as a means to transport other stolen shit to wherever those people take that stuff, sucks. It sucks too because it was originally my mom’s first brand new car, and when she got a new one she signed it over to us to “keep it in the family.” It was kind of a beater and had some problems, but there is some sentimental value there. I hope it turns up.

What a weird freakin’ day.

On a positive note, this long-awaited, much-anticipated comic comes out today. Note the title. Coincidence? Hmmmm. . . .

Happy Dia de los Muertos!

Day of the Dead today, hope everyone is celebrating it. But I doubt you are. As much as Julia and I enjoy the holiday, we really aren’t doing anything for it this year either. Last year Julia organized the downtown parade, and I think it burned her out. I’d really like to get down to Tucson again, or, better yet, go someplace like Oaxaca some year. That would be fantastic.

We did sit up on Halloween night and talk about the different things we feel we’ve gotten from our ancestors. The unfortunate part for me is that I really don’t know anything about my ancestors beyond my parents, and fuzzy ideas about my grandparents. I think that’s weird to some people, but I don’t really know any different. At the same time, I’m happy to have never had to spend every other weekend going to some wedding or something-or-other as the result of having a big, close, extended family. I like that I come from such a creative family. My folks are both very creative, as are my sisters. It manifests differently in all of us, but it’s there.

Speaking of Creative

We were all hard at it yesterday afternoon/evening. Sid was at band practice, presumably cranking out the Metal. \m/. I was in my office working on one of three (?!) novels I find myself in the midst of right now. And Julia was working on a new painting. The sister of a friend of hers is opening a new store downtown and asked if Julia would put some paintings up for First Friday, and she decided she wanted to add a new one to the bunch. Here it is in process, as well as how far she got as of lights out last night.

It’s very inspiring living with people whose primary reason for getting out of bed every day is creative pursuits. I don’t know if Sid thinks about anything other than metal: listening to it, living it, and playing it. Julia always has a multitude of things going on, so many that it’s hard to keep up with them all. It’s a good vibe to have in the house.

El Rey

I mentioned a while back that Orly had gotten some vet work done and how he’s a new dog. It’s almost too much. I mean, this little bastard is 15yo. We took the pack to the bark park yesterday and he dominated the place. I’ve taken to getting up at 4:30 AM to try and get 1000 words or so in before going to the gym and starting the day, and he decided to get up too. And proceed to be a pain in the ass wanting attention. I defy you to try and accomplish much with these beady little eyes boring into the back of your head. Not to mention the little growls and intermittent wheelie-poppings.

Here he is with Darla yesterday afternoon.

These goddamn pets give me no peace. As I’m writing this Puny is lurking over my shoulder, sitting on the back of my chair. I guarantee as soon as I get up to go do anything — probably rotate the friggin’ dogs outside and inside for the nth time — when I return she will be curled up IN my chair, looking like she’s been there for hours. It’s annoying. But at least I get the pleasure of kicking her fuzzy ass off my seat.

Tomorrow I catch the early flight out en route to Houston, TX. I’ve been there a few times. Looking forward to visiting Murder by the Book. And, if time allows, I may drive to Austin to revisit a couple places. At least I won’t have to deal with any bothersome pets. Facebook seems to be trying to organize my to do list before leaving, but I don’t really appreciate them assuming I need any of their goddamn suggestions.

Presumptive internet sons-a-bitches anyway. . . .

Next Time You Make a Mistake I’m Gonna Ride Off and Let You Die

I didn’t get as much done last week on my big writing self-challenge, but I did accomplish a lot. I got a little sidetracked toward the end of the week when the Independent called and asked if I’d do a story/interview with Lita Ford for the upcoming show with Queensryche next week.

I was all over it. I was a big fan of Lita back in the day; she wrote some great songs and could unleash righteous shreddery on her BC Rich axe. In fact, interviewing her was probably trumped only by the interview with Ace Frehley.

Yeah, big hair 80s! That article will run in Thursday’s Independent.

Montana Festival of the Book

I attended two events at last weekend’s Festival of the Book, and both were fantastic. The first one was Thursday afternoon at The Wilma; “The Last Good Kiss: An Appreciation of James Crumley.” The authors involved were Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island, The Given Day, etc.), George Pelecanos (The Night Gardener, The Way Home, writer/producer of HBO’s The Wire, etc.), Laura Lippman (Life Sentences, Tess Monaghan series) and James Grady (Six Days of the Condor). They are all top, TOP shelf writers, and it was a fun and inspirational panel. Lehand and Lippman did most of the talking, and their banter was witty and entertaining. Crumley clearly meant a lot to all of these writers, and I enjoyed myself. Since the panel I have read Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss, which Lehane called “the greatest American crime novel ever written.” I enjoyed the hell out of it. I’d post more of the quotes I wrote down, but don’t have my notes with me. I’ll just say that for where I am with my writing, this panel was perfect timing.

The panel was moderated by Michael Koepf, longtime friend of Crumley. All in all, it was a couple of the best hours I’ve spent.

Julia got home from San Francisco late Friday night, then Saturday we went down to the Festival to see “The Wire: An Interview” with Pelecanos again and David Simon. Simon also happens to be married to the aforementioned Laura Lippman. Anyway, it was an interesting discussion on our latest favorite program, HBO’s The Wire. It was cool to hear how their processes for writing the show worked, the filming, all of it. Very interesting and informative. Another great event.

On the Road in Nebraska

I’m catching up on this thing from a hotel room in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s bigger than I imagined it would be. This is actually my first time to set foot in this state, though I’ve literally been in site of it a number of times. Here’s the glorious view outside my window.

That was taken when I arrived on Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after arriving I went hunting for something on which to feast. I found it on just the other side of the mighty Missouri river in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

It hasn’t been too exciting so far. Here’s the view outside the room I spent my day working in. These yayhoos make radios or something.

After work I managed to find a little culture, though.

You know I made the most of it.

We’re So Noir

The other night after I’d gotten home from this latest trip to Oklahoma, Julia and I sat up watching the film version of After Dark, My Sweet. I had actually just read the book while I was on my trip, so the story was pretty fresh in my mind. I thought it was actually a pretty solid interpretation, despite a few changes to the plot that left me scratching my head. The weakest link was Rachel Ward as the female lead, Fay. She didn’t do a particularly good job of portraying Fay’s personality swings based on how sober she was at any given moment. Jason Patric as Collie, and Bruce Dern as Uncle Bud, though, were awesome.

There was a scene (several, actually) where the three main characters were together in the ugly ranch house that Fay lives in, on the edge of Palm Springs. They’re burning through cigarettes and making a bottle of whiskey rapidly disappear. Julia and I, who often plot our own illicit scores, were in the process of wildly passing back and forth a plastic liter bottle of . . . Diet Pepsi. When I pointed this out, she said, “We’re so noir.” It was pretty goddamn funny. I suppose you probably had to be here.

From the “You’ve Got to be Freakin’ Kidding Me Department

Our very friendly neighbor across the street, Becky, owns the Becky’s Superior Cuts barbershop on South Avenue. I’ve been going there for beard trims and (much more infrequent) hair trims since we found out it was her business. Anyway, Julia went there for a little trim the other day (go ahead, Butthead: trim, huh huh huh . . . trim), and happened to be there when the mailman delivered a bunch of magazines. Most of them are types that Becky doesn’t really care to have in her shop (in particular, women’s lifestyle and fashion magazines, that are somehow automatically sent to her) and Julia managed to work out a deal to have Becky give them to her instead of just tossing them. Those types of mags are a guilty pleasure of Julia’s, but the only one she actually buys is one called Lucky. This jackpot was akin to me falling into a steady supply of free Batman or Captain America comics!

So I’m eyeballing Scarlett Johansson on the cover of Vogue, and Julia asks me how much I think the t-shirt she’s wearing costs. I shrug, I don’t know, $200. No, $5000. What?! Five THOUsand dollars? “What, is it made from the plucked pubic hairs of virgins?!” I ask. No, she says. I just can’t believe that kind of thing. I mean, I could see if it were made of silk pulled from the asses of spiders, but it’s just a goddamn t-shirt . . . and an ass-ugly one too, if you ask me.

Have I mentioned Scarlett is playing Black Widow in the next Iron Man movie? I’d be remiss if I didn’t. That’s pretty awesome. I’ve always liked that character.


Bachelor Week

As I type, I imagine — hope — Julia has her ass planted on the BART taking her to the hostel she is staying in in San Francisco this week. She is there for the big bellydance thing she’s been working on all year. She’s been working very hard to get ready, so it’s quite the culmination of a lot of work. I had originally planned to go with her, but we decided that, for the money, with the level of distraction she’d have with the class we’d be better off waiting. We’ll make it back some other time. Hopefully we’ll go to Tucson some time this winter for a little vacation.

As for me, I have the week off as well. I have some big writing plans I hope to accomplish. At the moment, though, I’m watching the final big shootout of The Wild Bunch, surrounded by empty whiskey bottles and passed out hookers.

I’m just kidding. About the whiskey.

DonkeyGirl Online!

I meant to put this up about a week ago, but I’ve been pretty lame when it comes to updating this blog . . . again. I’ve mentioned before that Julia (my wife, for those of you who don’t know) calls her clothing design business DonkeyGirl; now she’s taken it online! You can check it out HERE.

Neither of us are web designers, which has been a bit of a challenge. We found a host for the site and Julia has done all the work herself using a design template thing provided by the site host. It works okay, with some frustrating limitations, but so far it is serviceable.

I’m pretty blown away by how she can take simple clothes off a thrift store rack and revision them into something else. Besides the purses and stuff she makes out of leather skirts and jackets, she designed these outfits from various articles of clothing. Then we went out around town and took photos of pretty models wearing them.


This one we went to The Wilma to shoot pictures, not realizing there was some country concert going on there that night. That made for an interesting challenge. I wish I could have gotten better pictures.

A little over a week ago Julia entered these outfits into the 1st Annual FUNKY JUNK Recycled Fashion Show & Wearable Art Contest at The Green Light in Missoula. The Missoulian ran a story on this event; you can check it out HERE.

I took rough video of our friend, Sonja, on the runway in a couple outfits.

Julia’s dress won in one of the categories, with big thanks to Sonja for making them look even more fetching. The dress is now on display in the front window of the store with the other winners. If you’re in town, swing by and have a look. She is selling all these outfits as well as custom stuff, so check it out!