Archive for December, 2006

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Cheap Degenerate’s Guide To Bars Is Now In Paperback!

December 27, 2006

official-degenerate-cover.jpg 

Okay then,

I had some issues with the original cafe press site, so here’s a second shop address:

http://www.cafepress.com/tomfoolery4

I’ll also throw a permanent link down on the right hand sidebar for this site for future reference and quick click ordering.  Again, this book is an experiment, and if it works, I’ll churn out some other books on the Cafe Press.  If it doesn’t work, no more cheap books, which means I have to take either the traditional publishing route or the print on demand route, which costs you and me more money than it should.  ‘If They Can’t Take A Joke’ is locked in, but anything else is up in the air.  The fate of my books rests in your hands, folks. 

In the span of a week, I converted ‘Clean Up After Me, I’m Irish: A Cheap Degenerate’s Guide To Buffalo Bars’ into a 5×8 honest to god Perfect Bound paperback!  It’s up on the site right now, so order the new book at an eminently reasonable $13.25 and order in bulk!  That week also gave me the chance to throw in one more bar review on King’s Court and Crocodile Bar’s Christmas Parties last week, and while we’re on the topic, that review is in THIS WEEK’S issue of Night Life.  I thought I missed deadline, but apparently my editor squeeked that one in at the last minute, so it’s on stands right now. 

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Monday Update: Merry Christmas!/Night Life update/Chippewa Blues

December 26, 2006

While I have no new ‘Big Words’ print column in Night Life this week (and although this essay was on my YourHub.com site), I’m including my serious column from last week about Chippewa.  I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and if you want to see some of my holiday pics, click on over to the YourHub site.  Here’s the address again:

 http://buffalo.yourhub.com/~tomwaters

There’s not much else to report.  I’ve been posting pretty consistently, so if you feel like you missed something, just scroll down.  Seeya next Monday,

Tom Waters

Big Words I Know By Heart Week 6: Chippewa Blues

The Chippewa Club District in downtown Buffalo has turned into a war zone. Seven years ago, when I was much younger, I used to go every weekend without a care in the world. At the worst, you might see two guys two drunk to fight flailing on top of each other at three in the morning while you were dumping an Italian sausage sandwich all over your jacket or munching on a cold piece of LaNova pizza before making the trek home. Now Chippewa has the distinct privilege of entertaining any number of crimes and misdemeanors from muggings, shootings, drug dealing and known gang activity. I had a friend who opened a club less than a year ago and sold it at a loss because the environment wasn’t conducive to running a profitable business. The police do what they can for the weekend shooting gallery, but Chippewa is only a small piece of the rest of the mess they have to clean up with one man patrol cars, little to no pay raises and the club owners’ reluctance to call in a crime in progress for fear that their business will go down from bad publicity. Something tells me it’s going to get a whole lot better before it gets worse.

The drug trade in this town is like the 800 pound pink elephant in the room. No one wants to acknowledge it and yes, it’s in everyone’s back yard. It’s tough to discourage in the club world because the chain of command travels all the way up and down the pipe line. Its no surprise then that rival gangs from the East and West side of Buffalo flock to the club scene like a lightning rod. At some point it becomes a turf war, and that’s where the guns come in. Rich, pampered suburban kids buy club drugs or coke downtown and the grittier element of the city will follow. These same spoiled frat boys and hop heads end up mixing it up in the clubs or on the streets over stupid, petty things. Someone looks at their girl the wrong way. Somebody bumps into somebody else. The entire chain of events is preposterous.

There’s also a small cult of kids who get their kicks beating the shit out of club goers on the way to or the way home from the bars and taverns on the weekends. They’re drunk, they’re tired, and they’re an easy target. I left my wallet behind at a bar on Main St. that’s no longer there seven years ago and some scam artist contacted my house. These days it wouldn’t have ended as easily as it did. There are a lot of short and long cons going up and down the West and East side. There is a whole new breed of animal in the city, and its preying on the weak and the gullible and the rich. If a plan isn’t formulated and if something isn’t done to spearhead this madness, the body count just might get a lot worse.

Any Buffalo Police officer will tell you that the drugs come from the West Side and the money comes from the East Side. That’s the way it’s always been in this town. So when is it going to stop? There isn’t much of a neighborhood community in the Entertainment District because the area is fortunate enough to be booming with a multitude of great bars, theaters and shops. At the rate things are going, there will be nothing left downtown but deserted storefronts and gang warfare. The West Side will continue to spread out like a cancer and devour one of our best resources. Old Buffalo thinks that it’s a racial thing, and that certain minorities destroy everything they touch. I beg to differ. Every color in the pot is pitching in to this time bomb from the bottom to the top.

Ignoring the problem will make it worse. Lowering the hours of operation will only take money away from the businesses. And publicizing the problem will discourage people like me from going downtown for anything. It’s bad enough that the parking situation is a revolution in the short con. You can’t park and get into a club without dropping ten or fifteen bucks and most people have to pay for a babysitter. How willing are we to drive a half an hour or forty five minutes from all of our boroughs in order to throw ourselves into harm’s way? I’m just about done clubbing downtown. Unless there’s a review or an anniversary party, I won’t bother. I’m in a relationship, I no longer need to impress anyone, and Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs are not suffering for great bars and restaurants. This is a real shame, though, as I there are a multitude of great techno clubs, rock and roll bars, Irish pubs and corner bars. I miss it, but I’m a big fan of keeping my money and my life.

I’ve always been fascinated by how Elmwood Avenue businesses and activities run like a Swiss Clock compared to Chippewa and Delaware. If they’ve got problems on Elmwood, you certainly don’t hear about them. Amherst near Bailey and Hertel is turning into a sizable cavity, but what are they doing on Elmwood that isn’t being applied anywhere else in the city? That just might be the key to solving this problem. Or maybe a small state of martial law should be applied. Police officers on horseback from ten at night until four in the morning from Friday through Sunday backed by city funds. Buffalo PD works their ass off and they’re grossly underpaid. Throw some money their way for a change. What the hell do I know, though? I’m just a guy who’s got nothing to do with the drug trade who travels with a designated driver when he drinks and refuses to go drinking on Chippewa St. There are a lot more like me, and our numbers are growing with every alarmist news story, stabbing and fatality on or near Chippewa during normal business hours. Change up the play, Buffalo, or we’re not going to have a club district left.

Drink local,

Tom ‘re-sheltered’ Waters

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Chasing Deadline on ‘If They Can’t Take A Joke’

December 24, 2006

This really is the worst possible time of the year to get any extra work done on anything, and here I am going over the layout and page setup for ‘If They Can’t Take A Joke’ one final and exhausting time to make sure everything is perfect in time for my January 1st deadline with publisher Trafford.  I cannot fucking stand editing, layout and the like.  I was an editor in high school and I have no desire to be an editor ever again.  Trafford assures me that if I have the manuscript to them by the beginning of January that the book will be ready in time for my self imposed launch on April Fool’s Day.  Not only that, but my editor at Night Life, Ed Honeck, has been dragging his heels on the foreword when I told him over a YEAR ago that I needed the intro by the first of the year.  If it was up to me, I wouldn’t promote the book at all, but this one needs a major splash to catapault momentum lasting enough that it spills over into ‘Slapstick & Superego’ next year in ’08.  Between constructing ‘Clean Up After Me, I’m Irish’ and going over ‘If They Can’t Take A Joke’ again, I don’t even want to look at another book layout for at least six months.  All of these things tie up my time on the computer, invade my free time and cut into time that could be spent writing.  It’s frustrating, but necessary.  I really can’t wait until I get scooped up by a legitimate publishing house so that a) I don’t have to pay for production costs and b)I don’t ever have to worry about layout, copy editing and publicity ever again.  I’m getting too old for this shit.  Hopefully, with the year and a half lead time I have for ‘Slapstick’, I can attempt to send multiple copies of the manuscript out to prospective publishers…

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Cheap Degenerate in limbo for one final, fantastic overhaul!

December 23, 2006

So this started as a whim, but I’ve spent the last week converting ‘Clean Up After Me, I’m Irish: A Cheap Degenerate’s Guide To Buffalo Bars’ into a perfect-bound, 5×8 honest to god paperback!  The manuscript has been tweaked to 100 pages, the price has been readjusted due to production to $13.25 (which is still dirt cheap), and all I have left is the spine art and the back cover photo and text and we’ve got our first Waters portable bar edition on our hands!  I like the idea of a portable paperback since the material is timely and when people buy it they can take it to the bars with them!  The final edition of the book should be done by the first week of January, so strap on your ordering shoes!

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No Big Words Print Column Next Week…

December 22, 2006

Since I was waiting on reader mail that never arrived and sent a column in at the eleventh hour (Thursday) to Night Life, there will be no Big Words print column next Monday.  The next column will appear on Monday, January 1st.  For updates in the mean time or pictures on my upcoming King’s Court/Crocodile Bar review, visit my sister site at http://buffalo.yourhub.com/~tomwaters .  I just loaded the site up with a plethora of new pics.  Sorry for the break in print but you should be ashamed of yourselves for not emailing with comments!!!

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ArtVoice Update: Last Week’s Bookmarks/Cutting Room Floor Bookmark/Ripley Interview in Limbo

December 21, 2006

     I have no goddamned idea why the Ripley interview hasn’t run yet, but I know that ‘In The Margins’ is a cramped section as is and perhaps they had more pressing seasonal articles to run.  We were both told that it would run last week or this week and still nothing, so I give up on looking for it at this point.  It’s looking like it might get stuck in development hell and I put the time in on the interview two months ago, so who knows…

     In the meantime, here are the two bookmarks that ran last week (‘Lost Girls’ and ‘Hellblazer: Empathy Is The Enemy’ along with the graphic novel review they didn’t run (Justice: Book One).  I’m going out to do two bar reviews in one night tonight for Night Life so I’ll leave it at that.  And as far as ‘Cheap Degenerate’s Guide To Buffalo Bars’, if you haven’t purchased it yet from the site, hold off for a week; I’m converting it into a 5×8 paperback for portable purposes.  And YourHub contacted me today about a SECOND lunch to discuss things, so keep your fingers crossed for me.  Great things could be on the horizon.  Seeya,

Tom Waters

It’s been too long since Alex Ross committed to a full project in the field of comics thanks to the runaway success of his career as an artist. Justice: Book 1 (DC, $19.99) with Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite marks his triumphant return to form in a genre he’s a natural at. For what’s conceived as a twelve part hardcover series, one can’t help but feel that he’s feeding off of the introspective and humanizing work that writer Rags Morales accomplished with Brad Meltzer and Michael Bair in Identity Crisis (DC, $24.99, 2006), and while the first volume is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s still imitation. Hopefully the lofty ambitions of a twelve book story arc will transcend it’s humble and unoriginal origins. Justice not only turns the tables on Good Versus Evil, it flips the table over as DC’s greatest Super Villains conspire to cure all the world’s ills in a plot to discredit, dismember and destroy their superheroic counterparts, The Justice League Of America. Ross’ artwork has evolved to the point where his menagerie of characters no longer look like they’re 45, which is a bonus. At $19.99 for a slim hardcover, it’s a small investment for any avid collector or DC super freak. As a longtime Joker fanatic, I hope that the clown prince of evil makes more than a passing cameo in the volumes to come. While nowhere near as flawless and crafty as Kingdom Come (DC, 1997), it still towers over the heart bleeding banality of The World’s Greatest Superheroes (2005).

It’s impossible to dispute the crossover phenomenon that Lost Girls (Top Shelf Productions, $75.00) by Alan Moore and (Moore’s former wife) Melinda Gebbie has become. Well into it’s second printing, the three volume coffee table meditation on fantasy and erotica makes a powerful statement about the enduring force of physical and psychological love in all of it’s forms. The books cover a chance meeting at a hotel in France during the 20th century between Wendy from Peter Pan, Alice from Alice In Wonderland and Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz. Moore plots out a brilliant interpretation of each mythos as it applies to puberty and sexual discovery and interlaces each woman’s anecdote with lurid and powerful pornography illustrated by Gebbie. It was a risky project but it paid off in spades, transcending mediums above and beyond just comic reader appeal. Moore is the greatest living comic writer of our time and it’s a shame that his graphic novels have been so poorly adapted on the silver screen. The odds of Lost Girls becoming a popcorn action movie are slim to nil, which I’m grateful for. His gift and his curse is that his stories are perfect on the printed page only. The pacing is a bit sluggish at times over the course of the three volumes and coldly cerebral at other times but the message is timeless: make love, not war, baby. This series is guaranteed to skyrocket in value so scoop it up if you can find it while it’s still on shelves.

‘It was so tangible I could taste it, like biting into an electrified fence.’ This is how crime fiction author Denise Mina voices a peripheral character’s recollection of a dying infant along with Leonardo Manco’s stark and realistic artwork in John Constantine, Hellblazer: Empathy Is The Enemy (DC/Vertigo, $14.99). The British Magus has never been fleshed out by a female writer, and the results are indisputable. The series is a lightning rod for the finest talents in and out of the comic world and Mina is no exception. A good writer will focus on Constantine’s magical leanings, some will ruminate on his binge drinking and smoking, while others still play up his gifts as a con artist and a Great Deceiver. If you only know Constantine from the motion picture, then you don’t know Constantine. At the heart of every great ghost story is a feeling of grief, dread and loss so overpowering that it smothers the reader. Mina knows this and writes it better than anything Stephen King has written in the last twenty years. And I’m no magician, but I know that spells always leave a dark mark on the caster. These two truisms fuel the story, which is gripping, powerful and magnificent. It centers around the hero being lured to Scotland to uncover a elite cult bent on building a structure that infects every living soul on Earth with an empathy that makes the world a better place, effectively destroying a third realm of pain between heaven and hell.

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Monday Update: What’s left to update? Chippewa Night Life/ArtVoice/Gregg Sansone

December 18, 2006

   Week 6 of Night Life magazine is on stands with one hell of a curveball designed to stir up some controversy!  I dropped a serious rant this week about how badly Buffalo needs to address the various problems going on down on Chippewa and the surrounding area.  The owner of the SoHo already lambasted me over the weekend, so I’m expecting some reader mail on this one.  I told him I didn’t do any research on the piece, but after thinking about it, I’ve talked to a great deal of club goers, Buffalo police and bar owners about their experiences down there of late, so I guess I have put in some research time.  My resident graphic designer Pat Cegieski also brushed up the Big Words print logo, so it actually looks the way I wanted it to all along.  If I can rake enough muck from this week, I’ll run a mailbag next week.  You’ve still got until Wednesday to voice your suggestions, concerns, and your two cents to:

bigwordsmailbag@yahoo.com

Since Alycia Ripley’s interview didn’t run in ArtVoice last week, I’m expecting it this Thursday.  The essay from last week’s Big Words print column (I Don’t Wanna Go On With ‘What Do You Want On That?’) is appearing in my upcoming collection, If They Can’t Take a Joke, so I won’t be reprinting it here.  Sorry.  If you didn’t pick up the print edition, you’re just going to have to wait.  I believe you should be caught up on everything over the weekend from the previous posts, so I’ll leave you with that.  I’m tooling away on the Gregg Sansone interview tomorrow on my only day off and should be shopping it around by week’s end.  Seeya in the funny papers, Tom Waters

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