Tag Archives: Brad Abraham

Let’s All Go Down To The River and See What We Find

28 Apr

Bruce Springsteen opened his show last Saturday at the Barclays Center with Purple Rain. He walked on stage, bathed the audience in a sea of purple light, said absolutely nothing and just started singing. It was a beautiful tribute to a legend lost too young.

Forever Prince. And then he said:

“We’d like to dedicate this show to Prince. There’s never been anyone better … Bandleader, showman, arranger … Whenever I would catch one of his shows, I would always leave humbled. I’m going to miss that. We’re going to miss that.”

Afterwards, he played Meet Me in the City and then as promised he played the entirety of The River and then another hour of some of his best songs: Badlands, No Surrender, The Promised Land,  Backstreets, Because the Night, Lonesome Day, The Rising, Thunder Road. His encore was Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, and finally Shout. Yes, the Isley Brothers.

It was 3+ hours of pure rock and roll like only Springsteen can, and has, delivered for decades. The man crowd surfed at 66 years of age. CROWD SURFED.

At which point my husband leaned over and said, “Oh please don’t drop him. This has been such a terrible year already.”

And while the hits were great, it was really hearing The River in it’s entirety that was really amazing. Like this chilling rendition of Fade Away.

That ending, my God.

And for as great as these clips are, the really amazing part of the concert was not recorded. And that was Bruce, talking about making that album. Before he played Independence Day he said this, “I was 24 or 25 years old and trying to talk to my father. He was never that vocal, so I thought, I’ll write him a song. I’ll write him a song.”

And then he went on about writing The River. About looking around and seeing the things he didn’t have in his life – a love story, a family – and how he thought if he sat down and wrote about all those things he wanted, maybe, somehow they would come true. How he wanted to capture it all, for himself, yes, but for all of us, too.

And I felt so lucky to be there. To be in that space listening to a man whose music I have adored my entire life talk about his PROCESS.

And I looked around at my fellow fans, in the hope of some sort of communion only to find a sea of people dicking around on facebook. I’m not even joking. Bruce Springsteen was on stage RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM talking about how he wrote some of his greatest songs and the people around me were bullshitting and on twitter and facebook.

Why do we constantly devalue art-making? So much of his music is iconic. This is the man who said, “Is a dream a lie if it doesn’t come true? Or is it something worse.” And he’s standing up there telling you how that happened and you’re on…….facebook.

And I know things have changed. I’m not that blind. But in the same way I watch people photograph art at museums and then walk away not really seeing it. Not even bothering to look. Just recording it. The same way people next to me at the concert were more concerned with how many people liked the video of Bruce singing Purple Rain that they just posted.

We aren’t living right now. We aren’t experiencing things as they happen anymore. Everything gets recorded and photographed and posted and paraded around online. We’re losing something here. Something important.

My friend, Brad, said this in a beautiful post he wrote about Prince:

There will never be another Prince or a Bowie. Music isn’t valued anymore. Money (and the lack of it) is the motive. So is social media outreach. So are Facebook likes. Rock and roll is fading from the airwaves, like a weak radio signal as you drive out of its radius, flickering out before going to static. Alternative rock is too fragmented to make a difference. Rap and hip-hop have gotten boring. Pop is disposable more than ever. We’re living in the future Warhol predicted. Everybody’s famous; especially the ones who don’t deserve to be. Our 15 minutes are almost up. Our rock stars are dying off. Soon our radios, our Spotifys, our streams will be filled with the voices of ghosts.

And it’s true. Music isn’t valued. Writing isn’t valued. Art isn’t valued.

I used to drink at a bar and one of the guys there was a big music fan. He used to talk about music all the time and when I called him out for stealing music from the people he claims to love he said, with a whiny voice, “Oh, poor indie rockers!” And all I could think was, yes, poor indie rockers who aren’t going to make it because you can’t bother to pay them for what they do. Because to you, it has no value.

Prince was famous for policing how his music was shared. He’s not an easy guy to find online. But what some saw as greedy, I saw as a calling. Prince believed in the sacred exchange between a creator and a fan. He believed in the value of art.

So when Springsteen is up on that stage talking about how the music that these fans adored came into existence, that it wasn’t just sitting in lyrical heaven waiting to be plucked down, that it took work and heart and sweat and tears and pain and heartache and hope and love because that what it takes to make art….well….when Springsteen is saying that, you better fucking listen. Because  as this year has so painfully taught us these artists are not going to be around forever.

Now I know that in that sea of fans I wasn’t the only one listening.

I just wish there were more of us.

All the same, I heard you, Boss….. Untill the end.

 

 

This Is Sarah Turns One

13 Jul

Hi kids

So here we are….in the middle of July already.

Crazy.

Back on July 4th, THIS IS SARAH turned 1.

this is sarah

Suddenly Claire is everything in the world, everything beautiful, alive, peaceful, and good, and it’s all getting away from me.

The farther she gets from me, the closer she gets to the monsters, and all I want in the world is for Claire to always be safe.

Jesus fucking Christ, I just want to be able to save one of them.

It’s weird to me that this book has been around for a year because it feels so much shorter and then oddly enough so much longer. I was reading through my old journal the other day – seeing what I was up to this time last year…as if I forgot.

One month into diagnosis, my cancer still a secret from my parents, my father crazy sick in the hospital and my first (of three) surgeries looming on the horizon – the only thing that was holding me upright (aside from my husband and sisters) was working on Sarah.

I know that writing is never “effortless” but there are those times where a story wants to be told so badly that it really helps you out in the unfolding. That was Sarah. And thank god for it. Because it was the only time during the day, at 5 am squirreled into my little writing closet, that CANCER wasn’t everything. It’s like my brain shut the fuck up for awhile and just let me work. I’m eternally thankful for that.

Art saves.

If you haven’t read it and you’re interested, here’s what people think and here’s where you can get it. Or email me and I can get it to you. Contact is under the About tab.

In other news, I’ve got some poems published here, here and here. So thanks to Eye on Life and Yellow Chair Review for giving them a home.

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Writing on the new book is going surprisingly well. I’m acknowledging that so that when I get to the stage where I’m all “EVERYTHING IS SO AWFUL WHY DO I WRITE I HATE LIFE” I can look back and remember it didn’t always feel that way. I think part of it is that it’s based on semi-true events (During high school I fell off a waterfall, cracked my skull open and simultaneously got my heart broken) and the characters are semi-based on real people. Also I feel like emotionally, a large chunk of me still lives in that time – when I was sixteen and fucked up and everything I couldn’t say but wanted to could be put into a mixtape. Music spoke for me.

Wound up having an interesting conversation when I posted about the art of making a mixtape and how playlists just aren’t the same. As a friend pointed out, you can make a list on spotify but once someone hits shuffle it messes up your continuity. With a mixtape you were THERE, you were IN, from start to finish. There was an art to it. It was a thing that was crafted with love for a specific person. They were the audience. It mattered what song followed which song.

AND it mattered what sort of tape you used. TDK? Maxell? Memorex? A great mix on a good quality tape? That was love. Real love.

First love.

Like, I said, it’s just not the same with a playlist. Something has been lost in the translation.

At the same time I’ve been working on my query letter for Palimpsest with the always incredible Brad Abraham, screenwriter, creator of the comic Mixtape and the soon to be released Magicians Impossible (St. Martin’s Press). You want to know what I’ve learned so far?

It’s much easier to write a 113K word novel combining physics, Nietzsche, chess, time travel and memory over the course of 5 (ahem) years than it is to write a 300 word query explaining it. I should have started this bloody thing when I started the novel. Basically the problem is that a query is full of all the stuff that your writing instinct says “don’t do.” Like asking a question and then answering it. Things like this:

“So WILL Ally ever learn how to write a decent punchy query that agents will actually want to read? Probably when she’s done banging her head against the wall.”

Brad has been unendingly patient as we go through draft after draft after draft after draft after……

And finally, because it’s time, this is going to be my summer.

Toronto-Book-Fair-Ulysses

As the kids say,

StiflerPeace, love and starbursts,

Ally

Little Surprises Around Every Corner But Nothing Dangerous, or We’ve Got a Delay

27 Jun

cover

 

So….

if you check your calendar today is in fact June 27th which was in fact the day that I’ve been saying THIS IS SARAH is going to be out and available for purchase…

BUT…

we’ve hit a little hiccup. Nothing major, nothing terrible but a small delay that has pushed back publication just a bit.

So the book will be out SOON but not today. That said we’re still having the blog tour so, my lovelies, any help you can offer with retweeting and reposting stuff is always always always appreciated.

The folks at BookFish Books (I’m looking at you Tammy, Mary, Jen and Erin) have been absolutely wonderful and I truly could not have asked for a better editing/publishing/listening to me blather about stupid stuff sort of experience.

So just a bit of a wait.

We’re thinking the same thing aren’t we….

wonka

 

In the meantime, I have been awfully remiss regarding linky things so here we go:

1. There is a really fantastic comic called MixTape by Brad Abraham that you should all be reading. I wrote a little thing about it here. It’s wonderfully written, funny, sad, and heartbreaking all at once. And it’s got a killer soundtrack. Also you know how people tell you to follow people on twitter and they’re the creative type so you do thinking “well this should be interesting” but all they do is tweet about how you should buy their book? I hate that. You hate that, too. And that’s why you should follow Brad on twitter because he’s NOT LIKE THAT and he’s freaking funny and real and he’s one of those people that uses twitter right. You won’t be sorry.

2. Alison  Ross just put out the newest issue of Clockwise Cats and it’s HUGE AND AMAZING. You can read the whole thing here. I’ve got a How To Be An American poem in there and another about the fact that every time a guy gives up his seat for me on the subway, I think that he thinks I’m pregnant. You have no idea what this can do to a girl’s psyche.  Honest.

3. The June writing prompt for The Forked Road blog was to describe the sensation of drowning. Ugh, I know, right? Possibly the worst way to die ever. So I did it and most of the piece is actually written from the point of view of the river, which I admit, is sort of cheating.  It’s called The River Fell In Love.

4. My buddy Jason Baldinger has a new book of poetry out. It’s really great and you should read it. I need to write a review (I suck for not doing that yet). Also you should definitely read this if you’re one of those people who think poetry is “dry, boring and something I’ll never understand.” Mr. Baldinger will learn ya something different.

5. My friend Sam Snoek-Brown has a book coming out this fall called Hagridden. I got a chance to read an excerpt and honestly guys, he’s the real deal. You should also check out his blog cause he’s always posting really cool insightful stuff about writing and publishing and life in general. If you’re on the Book of Face, you can like his page here and get all the goods.  Our paths crossed via Jersey Devil Press, which reminds me, Eirik still needs some lungs. Jersey Devil Press did a special issue for Eirik and Monica– just to let them know they’re loved – but there’s still so much ground to cover. If you’ve got any spare change, pony up for a good cause. Check under the couch cushions if you can. If you can’t, then just send some good juju out into the universe, okay?

6. Also John Grochalski who you all thought was JUST a fantastic poet is actually also a fantastic novelist. His novel is called The Librarian and it’s a wry, biting, booze-soaked ride when you’re riding shotgun with Rand Wyndam. Read it. You’ll laugh. I promise. Also, rumor has it he’s got a new book of poetry in the works from Coleridge Street Books. Jot that one down. You won’t be sorry.  He’s on  twitter but he never tweets so let’s all follow him so he feels awkward about it and is forced to participate in social media.

So that’s about it.

Again, thanks for all fracking support lately. It’s meant more than you guys even know. Trust me.

And soon This Is Sarah will be out. Really soon. Even sooner than soon.

 

spaceballs

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

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