Every City Sucks: Nashville

Hey, guys! All three of you ready for another hip installment of Every City Sucks?

 

Didn’t think so.

Here it is anyway.

 

 

***

 

There are few places I hate more than Nashville, Tennessee. I hate the concept of it (CUNT’RY MUSIC CAPITAL O’ DA WORLD!), I hate the smell, I hate the very sight of it. A lot of people count Nashville as a city, but I don’t; it’s more of a big concrete farm with a few token buildings over fifteen feet.

I was first dragged there in early 2001, so early it might as well have been 2000 still. That time around, I lived with an abusive alcoholic and a loving but retarded mother. For a time we stayed with alkie’s own mommy, then, we she kicked us out, we floated around, kinda living wherever we could: people’s garages (sleeping on old sofas amidst stacks of cardboard boxes, no pisser, no fridge, nothing), campgrounds, trailers, cars. Last was a little apartment in the hood. Now, if you think the home of the Grand Ole Opry can’t boast a few ghettos, you’re stupider than you look. I was basically living in Friday; hookers, pimps, crackheads, Arab-run liquor stores, it was terrible.

And speaking of Arabs, that’s where I was on September 11, 2001. I was at school that day, and heard disjointed talk from a teacher or two that something had happened and the president was in hiding, but it wasn’t until I got home that I saw for myself what kind of silly hijinks our brown friends had been up to.

A few months later, thank God, I was sent to live somewhere else, and didn’t come back for eleven years.

Then, 2012.

I spent a month on the outskirts of Nashville, drinking, doing drugs, and getting jumped when I was too drunk to defend myself. Those were actually some good times. Wake up, turn on some of that nu-rock bullshit, chill, and then, in the evening, classic rock, beer, and pot.

I almost kinda miss them days.

Almost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every City Sucks: Pittsburgh

Hey, you’re back! Awesome. I thought I’d change things up for the third installment of Every City Sucks. That is, I’m reviewing a city I actually like. Come along as I explore the Monroeville Mall!

 

 

I like Pittsburgh; it has a certain working class charm to it. It’s one of those small, marginally-kempt cities where buildings are used until they collapse from sheer exhaustion, meaning it has a faint antiquated air, which I find pleasing. At one point, there’s a tall, green hillside overlooking a river that is simply lousy with houses, and not new houses either. The traffic wasn’t overly bad, the people weren’t total buttwads, and the layout was simple.

I first visited Steel City in the summer 2005; long story short, me and some other people that, unfortunately, I associated with at the time drove up from West Virginia to see the Pittsburgh Pirates get their asses handed to them by the San Diageo Padres. First time I’d ever been to a real ball game. Well…there was that soccer game I saw back in the late nineties, but that hardly counts. I can barely recall it, and all I got was my shirt signed by some minor league A-hole named A.J. Wood.

Anyway, as you might know, I’m a fan of horror movies, and Pittsburgh is home to the holy grail of horrordom: The Monroeville Mall, a vast indoor shopping mall where the seminal 1978 classic Dawn of the Dead was filmed. That was the only damn thing I cared about. Stopping there was out of the question, but fourteen year old me hoped to at least see the damn thing.

And I did. From the corner of my eye.

Sigh.

Then came 2012. In June, I rode out to Ohio for a convention and stayed with my publisher in a shithole called Ravenna. My publisher and her husband proved amiable hosts, and I got to meet some of the other authors in their employ, if you will. At the end of a long weekend, I set off back home, and convinced my awesome girlfriend, who drove, to go two hours out of our way to visit the Monroeville Mall.

And this time, we actually stopped. I got to walk the halls, snap photos, eat at the food court, and peruse this little museum they have dedicated to Dawn.

Pittsburgh is so awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every City Sucks: New York

Hey, guys! Welcome to part two of my series: Every City Sucks. This week I take on the nightmare hellscape some of you call Manhattan.

 

I hope both of you reading this will tag along as I head BACK TO NEW YORK.

 

***

New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town!

 

You know, there aren’t very many places in this country that have the same mythical quality as New York City. I don’t know what it is, but Americans, subconsciously, for the most part, look at New York as a sort of Mecca, a cramped, stinky, overpriced, crime-ridden Mecca. People come far and wide to New York with stars in their eyes, hoping to make it big on Broadway or at NBC or the UN, and soon realize that New York is a shithole.

 

When that revelation dawns on them, they die on the inside. They move into the ghetto, take menial jobs, become bitter, and rush through life in an attempt to get to the grave sooner rather than later. These people are what I like to call “New Yorkers.”

 

My first brush with Big Apple came in May 2012. I was on my way to Massachusetts from Florida (that’s like going from Club Med to Ackswitz, for you history buffs), and the quickest way was to barrel right through the city.

 

This trip was done in one go, so I slept through most of everything between D.C. and N.Y.C., after having left strict orders to be awakened when we were close. When that time came, I opened my eyes and slammed my face against the window, more excited than a drunk on payday, and was slightly taken aback by what I saw. To the east of the highway, there was tall grass, a river, and what I hoped to God wasn’t Manhattan.

 

Oh, but it was.

 

To me, New York epitomizes the BIG CITY, so seeing that it wasn’t the size of God was a letdown, to say the least.

 

We went over the GWB (George Washington Bridge. I’ve been over it, so I can call it GWB. Unless you have too, use its government name, poser) and through the uppermost portion of the city. I wasn’t too happy that it took us twenty hours to cross the Hudson, nor was I especially thrilled that the toll was a million dollars, but I must admit: I was captivated as we drove over Harlem. You know all of those tenement buildings right under the highway? The ones you see in just about every movie about New York’s dark underbelly? Yeah, get this: they fucking exist. Who knew, right?

 

That’s pretty much it. I felt gyped, but I could now brag that I’d been to New York. Fuck you, bitches.

 

Then round two.

 

It was June 2012, one month later. On a road trip from Massachusetts to Ohio and back again, I and my chuffer suffered minor auto troubles, and were forced to rent a cheap motel room from some Indian douchebags on the Jersey side of the Hudson, so close you could smell New York’s armpits. We started off the next morning, and by noon we were emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel (Baby, can you dig your tunnel? It’s a righteous tunnel). All around us, New York towered. The buildings were massive, the sidewalks were crammed with people, and traffic moved so slow even Stephen Hawking could keep up.

 

“That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

 

I was thrilled. I wanted to see the Empire State Building, Battery Park, 5th Ave, Little Italy, Lady Liberty.

 

Instead, we got promptly lost.

 

Now, here’s the thing about New York. People walk for a reason. I swear to God, it took us fifteen minutes to go a mile. And parking? Yeah, okay. We went around and around and around the damn WTC memorial site for what seemed like an eternity; by the time it was to our back, I was hoping the terrorists would get that one, too.

 

Next, two things happened simultaneously. I realized that I had to piss, like really piss, and Jeeves in the driver seat realized that we needed gas, like, really needed gas.

 

In a rural or suburban setting, getting gas is just a matter of pulling into a gas station. In Manhattan, it’s impossible. You might as well try to find a virgin in Queens. There are three fucking gas stations on that entire island. Three! And how many millions of people?

 

Anyway, we set off in search of a gas station and got hopelessly lost in Chinatown. I can’t recall much of it, because I was in the throes of agony; I had to piss so fucking bad; I was ready to leap out of the car and piss on a building.

 

Finally, I could stand it no longer. I fished a Coke bottle off the floor and did my business.

 

It got everywhere. My pants, my undies, the seat, my shirt…I think I even got some in my mouth. Basically, everywhere the bottle wasn’t.

 

About a month or two later, we finally got out of Chinatown, passed a few streets that looked eerily similar to Sesame Street, and found the sole gas station in Lower Manhattan.

 

I took another fat piss, paid for the gas, and grabbed two packs of Marlboro menthols. Twenty bucks. Not counting the gas.

 

Finally, drained and on the verge of tears, I ordered the driver to get me back to Massachusetts.

 

I fucking hate New York.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Guns of the South (Book Review)

It’s time for yet another exciting post from the God of Nothing, Joey “No Nose” Rubass. Here’s to hoping all three of you dig it, baby.

 

 

Alternate History is a fascinating and often overlooked subgenre of speculative fiction (which also includes horror, sci-fi, and fantasy). Intelligent and fresh, it poses the question “What if?” What if Germany had won the Second World War? What if America never gained its independence? What if?

 

One of the most celebrated writers of Alt-History is unarguably Harry Turtledove. As tireless as he is creative, Turtledove has authored in excess of three dozen novels. His most popular remain his long Confederate States series, which imagines a world in which the South won the American Civil War.

 

Turtledove seems obsessed with the possibility, for aside from the aforementioned series, he also published a standalone novel, The Guns of the South.

 

Set in the year 1864, The Guns of the South open with Confederate General Robert E. Lee being approached by a group of strange men bearing AK47′s. These “repeaters” lead to a handy Confederate victory (there is a stunning scene in which Southern soldiers invade Washington, D.C.). As the novel unfolds, the reader learns that the strange men are in fact racist time travelers bent on keeping blacks enslaved. In the end, though, they are killed and Lee assumes the Confederate presidency, whereupon he beings working to free the slaves.

 

Funny, smart, and riveting, populated with a memorable cast of characters, The Guns of the South is a delightful read.

 

Every City Sucks: Boston

Welcome, one and all, to the first installment of a five part series. I’m not a well traveled guy, true, but I tend to form strong opinions about books just by glancing at their covers, so I think I’m qualified to talk (at length) about a number of places I’ve seen, glimpsed, been through, and/or spotted from a distance. This week I’m taking on Boston. Pock the caaaaaar, you Yankee motherfucker!

 

 

 

The thing I remember most about Boston is the pizza; it was garbage. The crust was too flaky, the sauce was bland and discolored, and the toppings…to be honest, I don’t even think it had toppings.

 

When the airhead waitress brought it to the table (about an hour after we ordered it), I took one look at the thing and crossed myself; I knew I was in the presence of evil, and the thing to do was pray. Sure, I could have turned my nose up at the stuff, but it was midnight and I hadn’t had my dinner yet. It was either choke down this train wreck or starve. I chose the former because…well…I have a corpulent figure to keep up. I can’t afford to lose any poundage.

 

So, yeah; it was dinnertime.

 

I survived the first slice, if slice it may be called, and managed to get through the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, but that was it; I’d had enough.

 

Looking back, I suppose the pizza wasn’t all that bad. I mean, I liked it a whole lot more than I like Republicans and Democrats right about now, but I’d have preferred something seasoned with less water.

 

The rest of the city was nice. At least, I was under the impression that it was. See, it was night when I blew into town, so I didn’t see the city so much as I saw the suggestion of a city; lights shining here and there, hulking buildings black against the August stars, planes flying overhead, so low you could see the pilots sleeping behind the wheel. The trip was one of those last minute affairs that pop up occasionally. One minute you’re relaxing with a brandy in your study, the next you’re racing through the night because dear old Aunt Delilah (who you could have sworn died three years ago) is back in the hospital with some strange malady brought on by being too fat, rich, and condescending. My destination was the college district, and I’m sure you can all imagine my absolute joy; every time I set foot on a college campus, I have flashbacks to the late sixties, buildings aflame, Yippies clashing with police, dead bodies lying here and there, and strange music and smells coming from open windows. Shiver.

 

I didn’t find any race riots or blood-soaked peace protests, thank God; what I did find was a quaint and charming section of historic Boston characterized by sloping streets, shady sidewalks, and archaic Brownstones. The traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been in New York, but what Boston lacked in quantity it up for in quality; I came away seriously suspecting that every Bostonian is a maniac, and that the ones who aren’t are psychopaths. People from Massachusetts (affectionately called “Massholes” by everyone else in the country) are insane in general, but this was the gray, seething heart, the capital, the deepest, darkest ward in the asylum.

 

I arrived at my destination in one piece at around ten, and, long story short, ate some of the worst pizza I’ve ever had.

 

I hated Boston.

 

Then came my second visit.

 

Again, it was night when I invaded the city, but this time I got to do a little more driving around. Hell, I even stopped for pizza again, and, you know, it was good! It’s a place called Pizzeria Regina; it was in the food court in this bizarre mall-type joint smack dab in the middle of the city. That was nice.

 

As of this writing, I have yet to see Boston in the daylight, and I’m starting to get a little disgruntled. There it sits, a hundred miles to the east, perched upon the coast, beckoning like a topless mermaid sunbathing on the rocks. It’s so close, yet so far.

 

Sigh.

 

Maybe I’ll get back out there some time soon.

 

Maybe.