Monday, July 25, 2011

Dark Roasted M.Christian

Check it out: a brand new Dark Roasted Blend piece I did just went up: Exploring the Ruins of Gary, Indiana

"Professor" Harold Hill, the charming yet totally dubious traveling salesman in The Music Man, waxes poetic about this town.  But the song he sings is laced with sarcasm: each note nothing but a needle-prick of scorn.

But Gary, Indiana, used to be more than just the subject of a con man's contempt.  For a long time, it was a city bright with prospect, bustling with commerce, bubbling with the laughter of prosperity.  Sure, even at its heights, the town was never as sleepless as New York, flavorful as San Francisco, or sultry as New Orleans.  But Gary was still a place apparently built on a sturdy foundation, reinforced by the seemingly never-ending need for steel.  Boring?  Yes.  So "Professor" Harold Hill put his tongue in his cheek and sang a song of the wonders of the place.

But Gary, back then, was still a good place, a productive place.  Founded in 1906, it was a gleaming city built of, and because of, steel.  Quite literally, in fact; while other cities may have been at the intersections of trails or roads, rivers and rivers, or where sea met land, Gary was built by and for U.S. Steel and even christened for that corporation's founder.

For decades, Gary was as tough and resilient as the metals it produced.  It survived the Great Depression, it fought off the war years, and it forged and pressed through the 1950s.  But during the 1960s, its gleaming life's blood—steel—proved to be its undoing when the industry began to wane, then almost totally collapse, due to cheaper manufacturing overseas.

Now, though, Gary, Indiana has become a visual accompaniment of Hill's song. What he sang in playful mocking has now become a sad ballad of municipal failure, a once-proud and productive American city abandoned to cracks and collapse, ruin and rust, and decay and destruction.  Gary, Indiana, has become its own urban tombstone, with each house, building, and factory an epitaph practically bearing the inscription WHAT USED TO BE.

But even in collapse, ruin, and decay, there is still something oddly special, weirdly beautiful, poignantly lovely about the city of Gary, Indiana.

David Tribby, a truly remarkable artist whose medium is light and film, has pointed his skilled lenses at this city and has captured not just what this formerly great American city has become in its failure and decomposition but also the ghostly after-images of what it used to be. The images show the sadness of its fall from being full of bustling life to whispering ruins.

Here, in these astonishing images, Tribby makes us hold our breaths in reverent silence.  The golden light still streaming through the windows of a church where songs used to be sung.

The windows, some broken, others intact, that used to look out on a lively coming-and-going city, that have become nothing but mirrors reflecting on what used to be.



 
Yet, while Tribby's photographs may seem like a tour through the depressing landscape of a world falling apart, crumbling away, fading into nothing, there is still something magical about the city he captures.  The American metropolis of Gary, Indiana, is all but gone now, but in its destruction, there is also a strange kind of beauty, a haunting elegance to its failure, that Tribby has exposed through his talented eye.

Within these images, the song from The Music Man perhaps echoing in the background, is a kind of shuddering reminder of our own urban mortality.  Gary, after all, is not far away, not foreign, not exotic: it is our own next-door neighbor, and our own possible future.  The dark beauty of Tribby's work says to all of us that while the ruins are in their own way astonishing, they are also evidence of what could happen anywhere, even, as Hill sings, in our own home town: the "one place that can light my face."

Yes, Hill sings his song of Gary with clear sarcasm and bile, but when he sang that it was the town that "knew me when," he could very well be seeing the city as it is now: the Gary, Indiana, that Tribby has frozen in place.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It Only Hurts When I Laugh -

As a few of you may remember, one of my current - and very fun - jobs right now is writing for the great folks at the adult industry site, YNOT.  In addition to doing the Odd Balling column I also did the following piece on everyone's favorite conservative moron, Michele Bachmann - and why we should laugh at her but never forget that she represents something truly terrifying. 

Michele Bachmann's Hatred is No Laughing Matter

Wanna hear a joke? Republican Representative and Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann walks into a bar….

The punchline? Well, you see, that's what makes it all so funny, because she is the punchline. Almost everything that emerges from the woman’s mouth is laughable. Rimshot, guffaw-worthy, wipe-tears-from-your-eyes hilarious.

And it’s bloodcurdling that more people don’t laugh.

There's certainly a lot about Bachmann to laugh at. I could make a never-ending list, but YNOT.com’s servers — in fact, the entirety of the internet — can hold only so much claptrap. One of her recent escapades deserves to be chewed again and again, though, until people get so sick of it — so sick of her — that the populace rises up en masse and laughs her nascent presidential candidacy into a locked room.

I’m talking about The Family Leader’s “Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMiLY,” which Bachmann signed recently.

Much has been said about the document, and a great deal of the rhetoric is worthy of fuming ire — from its implication that African-Americans were better off as slaves to the repellent view of homosexuality as both unhealthy and “curable.” So far, however, there has been a din of silence from far too many about the section calling for “Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy — our next generation of American children — from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.”

[MORE]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Out Now: Better Than The Real Thing - More Technorotica

It's always a real treat when I realize that, yep, we really are living in the future - and here's a perfect example of that: a wonderful new ebook by my all-time favorite publisher Renaissance/Sizzler: Better Than The Real Thing - More Technorotica.  Featuring a lot of great technology and science-fiction erotic stories, the book is a kick ... if I do say so myself!

It's ust $3.99 - and it's up on the Sizzler site right now but will also be available on amazon very, very soon.

Two great things even better together: technology and sex!  

Welcome to Better Than The Real Thing: More Technorotica - a pocket-sized collection of some of machine-obsessive erotica.  In these gloriously digital pages you'll find everything from sexy robots to virtual reality lovers, from shameless science fiction to contemporary explorations of technological impact on our sex lives and our sexuality. And they are all event better than the real thing. Or are they?  Decide for yourself. 

Charge up your own meat-machine processor for a wild and sparking ride into new frontiers of sexuality. In "State" a prostitute who is trained to behave like an expensive robot designed for sex; in "Hackwork" a high-tech form of possession allows a woman to hire her body out for sexual pleasure to clients that will feel her every sensation remotely; and many more outrageous and kinky stories! Pick up even Better Than The Real Thing: More Technorotica and you'll have your erotic world changed in all kinds of hot and interesting ways!  

"M. Christian is one hell of a writer. He paints his universes and characters in full, living color, thrills the reader with non-stop action. A no-holds-barred storyteller, he embraces his reader at the start and doesn't let go until long after the end." - Mari Adkins

Monday, July 18, 2011

Classes! Classes! Classes!

Wow, this this going to be a busy week:  first up I'm going to be teaching my class on polyamory for the great folks at the Citadel on Thursday, July 21st (from 8:00-10:00PM), $20:
Polyamory: How To Love Many And Well

Sure, you've heard of it – and maybe have been intrigued by it – but what is polyamory and how do you love more than one person and make it work? How can you deal with jealousy, time-management, emotional rough patches, and more to enter into multiple sexual relationships? In this  class, participants will learn to separate the myths from the realities of polyamory, how to make tentative steps towards having more than one partner, and how to approach and deal with the problems of sharing yourself with others, and being involved with someone who, in turn, is involved with someone else.

Included in this class will be simple emotional exercises, truelife experiences, unique techniques and innovative approaches to understanding the joys – and the risks – of beginning, or entering into, a polyamorous relationship.
Then I'm going to be teaching another class - this one on tit torture - for the fantastic Looking Glass on Sunday, July 24th (from 2:00-4:00PM), $20.00 - $35.00:
Breast Play Intensive: Tit-Torture And Bondage

Breast play offers wonderful opportunities for intensely powerful play -- but also comes with serious, even dangerous, risks. In this breasts-on seminar, participants will learn how to treat tits, both male and female, with exactly the right measure of sensuality and intensity to play well but also safely. Clothespins, nipple clamps, pinching, suction devices, gentle impact, bondage, and more will be demonstrated  as well as how to deliver effective aftercare. Additionally, participants will be given instruction in first aid, the dangers of breast play, and the limits of what boobs can take.
Check them both out if you can.  Come one, come all (no guarantees) 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kit O'Connell Likes The Very Bloody Marys

I really, truly, honestly have some fantastic friends - take, for example, this very touching review of my neo-noir queer vampire novel, The Very Bloody Marys, by my pal Kit O'Connell ... thanks so much, Kit!
It’s no secret that M. Christian and I are friends. I’ve introduced one of his books and we’ve guest blogged for each other too. So even if I’m not the most unbiased critic, I still like to highlight interesting books I read from time to time even if they are by friends of mine.

One of Chris’ many recurring themes are alternate visions of the police. One of the characters in his wonderfully weird novel near-future novel Finger’s Breadth is a freelance officer who receives his orders and files reports via a distributed police ap on his smartphone. “Bluebelle” in The Bachelor Machine explores a future cop’s intimate relationship with his police vehicle, and Christian even co-edited the anthology Future Cops.

The most recent book I read by him is The Very Bloody Marys. Like Finger’s Breadth, it takes place in an alternate San Francisco but  creatures of the night. Our hero is Valentino, a young gay vampire so uncertain of his place in the world that he can’t even decide how to start telling his story at the beginning of the book, so he begins again 2 or 3 times. Somehow, despite his Lestat-like confidence or prowess, he’s been selected to join an undead police force charged with maintaining the secrecy of the undead and the weird. Here, Valentino laments his own impending doom after his superior officer disappears:
Two hundred years. It’d been a good run. Lots of … well, there’d been blood of course. Moons. Stars. Rain. Fog. Hiding, too: all-night movie theaters, bars, discos, stables, warehouses, churches, a few synagogues (even a mosque or two) [...] Lots of … I was going to say friends but, to be honest, the nightlife might be advantageous to boogying but doesn’t make for long-term relationships. Some back-alley assignations, sticky stuff in my mouth or pants; not blood, or at least not up until a few years ago. 
Two hundred sure sounds like a lot, but … the time just seemed to have hopped, skipped and jumped by. Never skied, never sailed, never surfed, never had two guys at once [...] What surprised me the most, though, was what I wanted more: orchids, bow ties, potato salad, string, oil or watercolor, hooks and line, two of everything.
The book has a breezy, playful noir style which would make it perfect summer reading. Though it doesn’t have the usual romance (though it has a handful of interesting unrequited ones), I found it especially interesting as a queer take on the torrid vampires-and-werewolves subgenre of urban fantasy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Circlet Likes Finger's Breadth

Wow, wow, wow, wow ... if I do say so myself: check out this very touching review of my gay erotic thriller, Finger's Breadth, from the Circlet Press site.

Finger’s Breadth hinges upon a serial crime in a future just a few years from now: someone is stalking the gay community of San Francisco, drugging men one-by-one and cutting off the tips of their pinky fingers. Not quite the bloody stuff of Hollywood thrillers, but scary business nonetheless, and the book has, of course, its cop (freelance, this one) trying to track down the perpetrator, as well as its cast of scared potential victims, hooking up in bars and wondering if the glorious hunk of flesh currently occupying their fantasies is Mr. Snip-it. The book also follows Varney, a newspaper columnist who was reportedly the first victim of this unknown attacker; Taylor, a translator by profession, who had a close encounter with the serial cutter (or so he thinks) and is now shacking up with a former lover, afraid to leave the apartment; Conrad, who goes seeking for the cutter because he wants “to do more than fuck and suck… to feel really big and powerful”; and many others, some characters making only a brief appearance before they disappear again.

But the story is bigger than this crime spree, for as more and more people show up with a bit of their fingers missing, others are soon feeling left out, and some even take to cutting themselves, just to fit in—like a yakuza initiation. And many discover, whether self-inflicted or not, that the experience somehow proves validating, as if the worst that might happen to them is now behind them. In a modern society that has largely left behind rites of initiation, and among a middle-class population whose struggles may seem tiny compared to those of our forebears, how many might long for such a valedictory and validating experience? M. Christian hits upon these questions with full force, and if at times I thought he was reaching too far, exaggerating the extent to which people would embrace injury and harm, I remembered—against my will, almost—a revival I attended in Colorado Springs (very long story). One speaker was a young woman who regaled the crowd with tales of her Christ-less past of rampant drug abuse and wanton sex, yelling tearfully at the audience, “I was a whore! I was a whore before I met Jesus!” I turned to the girl with whom I had traveled to this event, only to find her gently weeping at the spectacle. Finally, she said, so longingly, “I wish I had something like that in my past. It would make my Christian witness so much stronger.”

No, M. Christian nails it right on the head, and beautifully, too, with writing poetically spare (“A scream tried to claw its way out of his throat, the sharp edges of its shame and pain like trying to throw up a breakfast of razors”) and fully realized scenes of sex that run the gamut from the desperate and uncomfortable to the absolutely celebratory, all mixing effortlessly with the horror of the broader situation. Finger’s Breadth may well rank as one of the most psychologically astute erotic novels since Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, and it deserves to be just as widely read.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Amos Lassen Likes Sex In San Francisco

This is just too sweet: my dear pal Amos Lassen just posted this nice review of the anthology I edited for Sizzler books: Sex In San FranciscoThanks, Amos!

One of my favorite erotic writers, M. Christian, takes a break from writing and acts as editor of this anthology about sex in San Francisco. It is certainly one of the things that the city is most famous for and some of the best have come together to give us some very hot stories of Sodom by the Sea. We see why San Francisco is so sexy and we go to the heart of the city with such writers as Donna George Storey, PM White, Renatto Garcia, Adele Levin, Shanna Germain, Craig J.  Sorensen, Theda Hudson, Jude Mason, Neve Black, Mykola Dementiuk, Jeremy Edwards, Anna Reed and Lily Penza. The stories are personal, interesting and above all else, very erotic. Christian has done an excellent job with the selections and you really feel the heat of the city.

Friday, July 08, 2011

What I Think Of Michele Bachmann

FUCK YOU

From Think Progress:
Tonight, Michele Bachmann became the first presidential candidate to sign a pledge created by THE FAMiLY LEADER, an influential social-conservative group in Iowa. By signing the pledge Bachmann “vows” to “uphold the institution of marriage as only between one man and one woman” by committing herself to 14 specifics steps. The ninth step calls for the banning of “all forms” of pornography. The pledge also states that homosexuality is both a choice and a health risk. You can read all the details of the pledge here.

Bravo!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Book Wenches Likes Running Dry

Now here's a real treat: a very nice review of my neo-vampire novel, Running Dry, by Book Wenches!


He might be immortal, but artist Ernst Doud detests his state of being. The method he must use to stay alive fills him with guilt and makes him more a monster than a man. Although his loneliness is crushing, Doud has found that all his attempts to transform a lover to immortality have resulted in disaster, so Doud has chosen to live solitary life. The only person he is close to is his friend Shelly, the jaded and outspoken owner of a Los Angeles art gallery. 

When a man appears at Shelly’s gallery searching for Doud, Doud knows that Sergio has finally found him. Decades ago, Doud converted Sergio into a creature like himself in the hopes of having eternal love and companionship, but instead of remaining his gentle lover, Sergio became a bloodthirsty beast. And now that beast is seeking revenge against the one who made him and who subsequently tried to kill him.

Fearing for Shelly’s life now that his old lover has seen her, Doud snatches her away from her everyday world and runs. He wants to keep his friend safe from a monster who won’t think twice before draining her dry. But when Doud’s own hunger increases and his control grows thin, can he also keep her safe from himself?

#

When I opened M. Christian’s Running Dry for the first time, I expected yet another vampire story. A little extra angst, perhaps, and a GLBT twist but bloodsucking creatures of the night nevertheless – the same old same old. To my surprise and delight, I was completely wrong. This story about love, hunger, self-control, and the terrible cost of immortality is a fresh and intriguing take on the ever-popular vampire. This novel strips vampires of the pointy teeth, holy water aversion, and extreme photosensitivity that we have come to expect and instead offers readers a creature who is a hybrid of human and monster, whose sensitivity and emotions make him real but whose visceral need to kill makes him terrifying as well.

Mr. Christian has a literary and precise writing style that brings the action and the emotion into sharp focus and makes both the story and its characters feel completely real. He writes the way we might think, sometimes slightly stream of conscious but always intelligent and comfortable to read. He very expertly shows instead of tells, giving readers a chance to share in the discovery experience, drawing us in to the story until we feel almost a part of it.

Running Dry is one of those books that begins at a deceptively slow pace but then builds momentum as it goes along. Its short chapters keep the story moving forward at a fast clip, offering many tiny cliffhangers that keep us in constant suspense. I also found myself connecting with both the emotion and the horror of the story. The character Doud’s mental anguish permeates the entire narrative, coloring the simplest items in bleak tones. But even though Doud earns our sympathy, we can’t help but acknowledge the monster within him, because parts of the story are quite gruesome indeed.

I found Running Dry to be a very good read indeed and especially enjoyed its message. Carpe diem, this story tells us. Love is a rare and wonderful thing; use the time that you have in this life to find it instead of reaching for the unattainable. Because where is the joy in a life lived alone?

- Reviewed by: Bobby D Whitney

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sorry -

- to have been kind of out of touch.  Been a crazy week and then-some: first I was at the YNOT Summit in San Francisco (on panels and helping out the great folks at YNOT) and then I turned right around and went down to San Jose for Westercon a week later.  Whew!

But now that I'm behind my desk again expect a lot of project and anthology updates and more cool stuff very, very soon!