Goodbye To All That

My friend Thom Greaney died on Sunday.  My first reaction was total disbelief.  He couldn’t possibly be dead.  He wasn’t old.  He was full of life.  He’d survived 25 years as an NYC Firefighter.  9/11.  The whole bit.  He was a surfer.  A farmer.  A handsome man.

When he retired from the FDNY, Thom took up organic vegetable farming in Olivebridge NY where we were neighbors for a while.

He was one of the most vigorous humans I knew. His back hurt and he had various other ailments that would flare up some day more than others, but  he was always doing things with tractors and shovels and power tools and hoop houses.

Thom dropping by

He dug and planted and also endlessly tinkered with his house, a work in progress that he would sometimes threaten to sell when it vexed him. The house had actually been the brainchild of his brother, who had died suddenly a number of years earlier.  Thom’s building  -and then continually working on – the house seemed like a way to keep his late brother with him.  Now they’re both together.  Somewhere.

Mickey at Thom’s house

My friend Kate called to tell me Thom had died.  He’d been sick but hadn’t told many people.  Definitely hadn’t told me.

Then, I was angry. I thought I was angry with Thom, then realized, no, I was angry at myself.  I’d had a little voice telling me I ought to go over to Olivebridge to visit.  But there were always things to do.

We all always have things to do. And then people we care about die.

So I was angry with myself.  Then that abated and I just wept and missed Thom.

Today was his funeral, out in Rockaway, where he’s from.

One of the things Thom used to rib me about was what a brazen hussy I was to write about the Rockaways and get things wrong.  I always had small details off.   And he’d point them out.

I never got to show Thom an essay I wrote recently that makes mention of Rockaway.  Actually, this blog post was meant to be about the anthology that essay is in, or, specifically, a reading I’m doing for the anthology, but I was thinking about Thom too much.

Let me pause here to say:  Goodbye To All That, a collection of essays about people who loved and left New York City.  I’ll be reading, along with “Darling” Chloe Caldwell, Dana Kintsler and editor Sari Botton on Fri, Feb 7th at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck NY.

There.  I said it.

Now, back to Thom.

In the essay, I wrote about riding my bike out to Rockaway, to what felt like the very end  of New York City. I think Thom would have liked the essay.  Though he’d have found something in it to rib me about.  He always did.

Here is Thom in his hoop house, with his strawberries, last spring.  He was showing me the gnome he’d picked up at the town dump.  He said when the gnome was done scaring invasive species from the hoop house,  it could  could come live with me. 

I don’t want to be one of those creepy people who, after a person dies, contacts the family asking for a promised gnome.

I don’t know where Thom is now.  His body is in Rockaway, surrounded by family and friends, which is as it should be.

His spirit? It’s probably in the ocean. Surfing.






Flog Me

For those in Upstate NY, I have two readings on the horizon.  You have to come.  Otherwise, I will probably hunt you down and flog you. Unless that would please you and serve as motivation for staying home waiting to be hunted down.  In which case, no way I’m flogging you.

Saturday November 16th  at Spotty Dog Books and Ale here in Hudson.  I’m reading with dear friend Karen Crumley Keats,  Norman Douglas (who I used to hear read at ABC No Rio open mic a long long  time ago,) Melissa Holbrook Pierson, whose work I haven’t read but have heard about for years and Sara Kendall.  And the whole thing will be hosted by Karen Schoemer -who has great hair.

t’s FREE.  It’s a 7pm.  There is a LOT of other stuff to do in Hudson before and after if, say, you  live in FRANCE and want to fly over to make a day of it.

You can go to Carrie Haddad’s gallery to admire the truly excellent show “Storytellers and Conjurers” which I saw last night.  I wanted to buy half the work in the show. Of course, I’m broke, so I couldn’t buy any of it, but it’s that kind of show and, the work is affordable to those of you who’ve had a good year.

Kahn&Selesnick print

Also, there are many good places to eat and many cool stores, including the totally eccentric Joe Doe Records (no relation to the guy from X) and two incredibly well-curated (and reasonably-priced) clothing stores, De Marchin and Kosa.

So come on.

I’m also reading Saturday Dec 7th with my friend Peter Aaron over in Saugerties, NY, at Inquiring Mind Bookstore.  Peter will be flogging (in a different way than I was threatening to flog, here, let us visit definitions of my two uses of FLOG:

beat (someone) with a whip or stick as punishment or torture.

”the stolen horses will be returned and the thieves flogged”

sell or offer for sale.

”he made a fortune flogging beads to hippies”

Origin late 17th cent. (originally slang): perhaps imitative, or from Latin flagellare ‘to whip,’ from flagellum‘whip.’ )

Naval flogging

Peter will be flogging his new book, “If You Like The Ramones”.  I will not be flogging anything.  Except, as threatened, Y’ALL if you don’t attend.  But I’ll read some things and possibly wear a really short dress.

This reading is also at 7pm and also free.  And there MAY be an Extra Special Musical Guest Appearance by the astonishing August Wells, but I’ll keep you posted on that.

Until then, don’t flog yourself too much.




Dirty Love

For the people of NYC (and those wishing to fly in from exotic locales to hear me read for twelve minutes):

I’ll be reading Saturday September 14, 8pm, at 2A (25 Avenue A) as part of LITCRAWL (a pub crawl type thing for people who like to wander around attending consecutive literary events).

It’s free.  I’ll have two drink tickets I won’t use so, first person to come up to me and show me a picture of their dog (you can fake it and just SAY it’s your dog, I’m really gullible) can have the drink tickets.

I’m reading FIRST.  So if you’re dawdling around somewhere, missing the days when people sold stuff on blankets spread along the sidewalks of the East Village (like John S. Hall’s detachable penis - (watch the video, it’s great!)) stop dawdling.

The theme of the reading is DIRTY LOVE (I think).  I’ll probably read two short passages from Book-#2 –In-Progress, which doesn’t really have a title, (Okay, it MIGHT be titled The Story of Giants, but I’m not certain.)

This book features dirt and love and, sometimes, dirty love.

So come on.  Don’t be like the people of the Northwest:  AFTER I’d left Seattle the other day, a dozen people got in touch saying: “Oh, I didn’t know you were reading in Seattle, I totally would have come.”

It was not a state secret.  I put it up on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  If you like me even slightly, check the blog or Facebook page from time to time. I can’t personally come to your house to tell you I’m reading.  I mean, I would if I knew where you lived.  But I don’t.   So just come on.

I regret to say Mickey will not be attending, though he will be coming to the city with me.   Bars are too loud for him so he’ll stay in Brooklyn, chumming around with Cousin Spike.

Mickey and Cousin Spike, not to be confused with Brother Stevie, though there is a resemblance



The Killing Type Is Killing Me

So it started as a very short short story.   A woman saves a dog destined for terrible things, kills a man in the process.

You know. That old story.

Then, the short short story wanted to keep going. So I obeyed it and kept writing.  It started turning into a revenge novel.  Two more wild women characters made themselves known and ganged up together to pursue a mutual stalker.

Now, it seems there is a heist on the horizon.  And half a dozen more characters.  And a dog sanctuary in Mexico.


This thing will either be a total train wreck or a nifty book.  Jury’s still out.

I posted a link to the opening of it when I first wrote it as a short story for the Akashic Booksblog back in January, but here it is again, at the bottom here, if you missed it then.  It was called THE KILLING TYPE (yes,  title is a vigorous nod to Amanda Palmer, who I ran into at yoga last week and who, I can report, has an exquisite handstand-into-wheel move in her repertoire.) I think the title still fits.

Amanda Palmer Not In Handstand

In other news, if you live in Seattle, I am reading there Monday, Labor Day, with cohort Amanda Stern, at the Bumbershoot Festival.  Also, I’ll be reading Sept 14th in NYC for a LitCrawl event and then again October 13th  in NYC for a Nuyorican Poets Reunion Thingamajigger (this will be REALLY COOL).  I’ll post more details when I get back from Seattle.  And if you want more info on the Seattle reading, drop a note to

This concludes this newsy blog post.  Well, not quite.  Here is

The Killing Type

The sun wasn’t thinking about rising yet. Neither was Lincoln, the guy I had come to Cancun with.

“I’d really like to take you to Cancun, baby,” he’d said two weeks earlier, on our third date.

I laughed.

“What’s funny about that?”

I pictured high-rise resort buildings choking coastline. Portly Americans choking resort buildings. Me choking Lincoln.

“Nothing,” I said.

* *

Eighteen hours into our trip, after we’d had sex in the very large hotel bed and Lincoln had swigged half a bottle of tequila, he passed out. I got up and stood staring at him. He looked rugged, smart. He was neither.

I put my blue dress on, stuffed toothbrush, wallet, and passport into my handbag. I might come back in a few hours.  Probably not.

 * * *

I went to the reception area, asked the concierge for a cab. In butchered Spanish, I asked the driver to head away from the resorts and into the actual city of Cancun.

“Where?” he asked in English.

“Anywhere,” I said.

“My name is Jin,” he said. “Not Jim. Jin.”

“Okay,” I said.


We were stopped at a traffic light in a barrio of low, shambled buildings beneath a highway overpass. An old man crossed the street carrying a chicken in a cage. Two women, maybe hookers, wearing glitter and not much else, teetered after him. Just past the light, a pickup truck was parked and I watched a man in a straw hat hoist a dozen reluctant, emaciated dogs into the back of the truck.

The light turned green.

“Please pull over,” I told Jin.

“Pull over?” he turned back to look at me.

“Yes. Please,” I said.

  * * *

As Jin edged in behind the pickup, the man in the straw hat hopped back in his truck and nosed into the street. I asked Jin to follow.

“Amo perros,” I said, in Spanish.

Jin thought a few things, but didn’t say any of them.

The pickup made its way to Carretera Federal 307. Maybe we would drive all the way down to Belize, chasing the truck of emaciated pit bulls.

  * * *

After thirty minutes, the pickup made a left onto a road lined in scrub and swamp. Rising sun burned pink halos around the shrubs.

The road came to a village. The pick up made a sharp right and, after a few miles, turned right again onto a dirt path. Jin tried to follow, but there were too many dips and pits.

“Nothing down there anyway,” he said, in English. “Swamp and crocodiles.”

“If you wait for me, I’ll give you a thousand pesos,” I said.

“What are you going to do, Miss?” he asked.

“My name is Eloise. Please just wait, Jin,” I said, digging five hundred pesos out of my bag. “I’ll give you more if you wait. Please.”

I got out of the car.

It was already hot out, the air starting to shimmer. Mangrove swamps on either side of the dirt path. Stubby trees between swamp and path.

I heard a man’s voice, yelling.

I looked all around me, found a rock with a sharp edge.

A few more paces, and I came to a clearing. The man in the hat was pulling a brindled dog from the truck over to a tree, attaching him to a chain there. About ten dogs were still in the bed of the truck. Off to the side, the bodies of many dead dogs. Left to die some previous day. Picked open by vultures.

The man had his back to me. The dogs had all seen and smelled me, but none barked. Maybe they’d had their vocal cords cut—a popular operation among sub-humans who make dogs fight.

I walked forward, creeping along the sandy dirt surface. I got very close to the man in the hat before he finally felt me there and turned around.

He said something in fast, Mayan Spanish. He was several inches shorter than I. He pulled a gun from the pocket of his polyester trousers and pointed it at my heart.

I peed in fear. Felt the urine stream down my bare legs.

I ducked to the side, lifted my jagged rock, smashed it into the side of the man’s face.

He stumbled, put a hand to his head, but didn’t drop the gun. He fired at me. Missed. Went to fire again. Gun jammed.

One of the dogs, no more than a puppy, tan with a white chest and a bite wound on his leg, ran over, stood over the felled man, barking. The other dogs had been beaten down too long for an uprising.

The man tried to fire once more, aiming at the puppy this time.

I don’t kill spiders or even ants. I’m a vegetarian. I’m not the killing type.

As the man fumbled with his gun, I brought the rock down so hard, his entire face turned to pulp. The gun fell from his hand. I picked it up. I had only ever fired a shotgun. I braced myself and tried firing into the man’s chest. It worked fine. But scared the puppy.

“It’s okay, Perro,” I said, crouching down. The puppy came closer. Licked my hand.

I wiped the gun down on my dress then, using the fabric as a glove, put the gun back in the man’s pocket.

The puppy watched as I rolled the man’s body over to the edge of the swamp into the water.

I got the remaining dogs out of the pickup and tied them to trees so they’d be in shade until I could get help. The dogs had big heads and starved bodies, butchered ears and open wounds. But not one of them challenged me. The only one who would even meet my gaze was the puppy. His eyes were bright green.

  * * *

Jin had waited. I climbed into the back of the cab, holding the puppy to my chest.

  * * *

The sun was all the way up now.


Readings, Mandatory Attendance. Also, Gratuitous Pretty Pictures.

I have two readings on the horizon and am giving a heads up. Attendance is mandatory for all people living even vaguely in the region of one of these two events.  No excuses (not even involuntary hemispherectomy) will be accepted.

Here is a dramatic cloud picture I took yesterday.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the readings. 

Both readings are in support of Akashic Books’ The Marijuana Chronicles (which you can purchase following that link, or at either of these events) so I’ll be reading about, possibly talking about, weed-smoking zombie hookers and, depending on the format/situation, possibly reading a very short excerpt from one of the two books I’m working on right now. Also, I will sign anything you would like signed.  This does include limbs.

One of the books I’m working on is about revenge and animal (and people) rights, the other is about poverty, wealth, and two women who swap lives.

Here is a picture of two of my mom’s horses, Lance and Romanche.

 Romanche is a grass-eating fiend so he has to wear a mask, otherwise he would eat so much grass he would explode.  This picture doesn’t have anything to do with the readings either, though the second of the two books I’m writing does prominently feature an eccentric horse.

Both readings involve other readers I adore and admire and the Spotty Dog event will also have INCREDIBLY GOOD live music from August Wells (video there, album forthcoming any minute) who sound something like a mix of Nick Cave, Ennio Morricone and Leonard Cohen as filtered through a craggy, Irish sensibility with a lot of jagged cliffs and beautiful, desolate women wearing tattered dresses.

Sunday August 4th Spotty Dog Books and Ale 

440 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

4pm -FREE- Readers:  ME, Jonathan Santlofer, Linda Yablonsky

Music: August Wells


Monday September 2nd  (yes, Labor Day) Bumbershoot Festival

Seattle Washington- 6pm

Reading/Q&A and possible circus antics with me, Jonathan Santlofer, and the indefatigable Amanda Stern

(I have currently misplaced the info on the exact venue at Bumbershoot, but, if you live in Seattle and/or are attending Bumbershoot anyway and wish for more details, send me a note and I’ll get you the details.)

That’s it for now.

What’s He Vacuuming In There? (& Reading!)

Our neighbor vacuums his garden.

The first time I heard it,  I peered out our second floor window. I figured he was vacuuming his living room and it just SOUNDED like it was coming from outdoors. But there he was, in his gardening outfit (tank top, khakis, flips flops and  striped gloves if you really want to know) vacuuming the garden.  With a Shop-Vac.  His garden is a REALLY serious and beautiful garden. But, still, should gardens be vacuumed?  Shouldn’t SOMETHING be left to nature?

This garden-vacuuming got really annoying today because I’ve been felled by a freakish flu.  Yesterday, I vomited bile all day, shivered and sweated, went in an out of fitful sleep with concurrent fitful dreams, almost all involving an unfavorable outcome of the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot where Animal Kingdom, a racehorse I admire, who is trained by a good horseman, was running the final race of his career.

Animal Kingdom photo Barbara Livingston

I had wanted to watch the race at 9:30am US time but was in a deep sleep, only coming out of it to run to the bathroom to vomit. Then going back to sleep dreaming headlines of Animal Kingdom getting soundly defeated.  Which is in fact what happened, as I learned 36 hours later when I could look at a computer again.


Some people have really cool dreams and hallucinations when fevered.  Why do I  have factual (albeit at least prescient) dreams? These days, I pretty much always have factual dreams. Like about buying a new toothbrush.  Where absolutely nothing weird happens.  Once in a great while, I have dreams about racehorses.  Usually sort of disappointing ones, like knowing Animal Kingdom lost his race.  But once, for no reason, I dreamt of a horse named Napoleon Solo. Later that day, I looked in the paper and saw he was running at Aqueduct.  His morning line odds were 50-1.  He actually went off at 60-1.  And won. And yes, I had put $2 on him.

So that was a useful dream.

Today, no dreams.  I’m getting better.  No vomiting.   I ate some grapes.  Went downstairs and stood outside for three minutes watching the dogs sunbathe and fretted about all the garden work that needs doing (sans Shop-Vac.)Then, I got woozy and went back to bed.  Which is when the neighbor started vacuuming his garden.

It’s like that Tom Waits song “What’s He Building In There.”

“What’s He Vacuuming in There?”  Or really, it should be  “What the FUCK is he vacuuming in there?”

I bet they don’t even vacuum Royal Ascot. 

I should tell the neighbor that.  Except I’m scared of him.  He seems thorny.  And I’ve seen him urinate in his driveway several times.  And now I’ve written about it in public.

Did I mention I’m unwell?

I’m not really fit to be typing yet and just wanted  to post something about the upcoming reading at the wonderful St Marks Books in NYC.  Next Tuesday, June 25th, 7-9pm.  More details here.

I’ll only be reading briefly, from the Zombie Hookers of Hudson story, my contribution to Akashic’s The Marijuana Chronicles, but there are many other great people reading, among them, editor Jonathan Santlofer and my friends Linda Yablonsky and Amanda Stern. The atmosphere will be festive, it’s FREE,  and it’s a great bookstore.  And I promise I won’t vomit.  Or try to buy you a toothbrush. And, If you’re really nice, and buy a book, I’ll even tell you the next time I have a dream about a horse.


I’ll be reading Saturday June 1st in Tompkins Square Park, E. 7th and Ave A, for the HOWL Festival.

It’s FREE.

I’m scheduled to go on around 4:00pm, give or take. No idea quite what I’ll read, though probably at least one old and one less-old poem mixed in with some short short prose.  Each reader has about ten minutes.

It’s entirely possible my dog Mickey will be at the reading.  He’s never seen me read before.  He is an avid reader.  

Many others will also be performing, see link  for full list, but among these, Todd Colby, Mike Doughty, and Edwin Torres.

It’s possible Mike Doughty will have his dog along too.  She is very small.  And I don’t have a picture.  But perhaps you’re okay with that.

Allen Ginsberg will probably be there in spirit.  And his was an excellent spirit.  He gave me very useful critiques when I was starting out, and I also had the honor of opening for him at NYU not too long before he died. Best part of it was coming off the stage and Allen standing there beaming, then giving me a bear hug and saying: That was magnificent.

It meant the world to me.

Also, one time, my kid brother Chris was visiting me at my hovel on E. 5th Street in the mid 1990′s.  He casually asked me for Allen’s street address and then said “I’m going for a walk.”  Chris came back several hours later to report he had randomly rung Allen Ginsberg’s bell, said “I just want to shake your hand” into the intercom, then was buzzed up.  Allen showed him his library (really, his library) and made him some oatmeal.

So I’ll think about all these things as I take the stage there in Tompkins Square Park.  And you should come.  And bring others.  And then we’ll all get really really festive.

Not reading!

For logistical reasons, I’m NOT reading May 13 for Henry Miller thing in Brooklyn.

So, next reading will be for the Howl Festival, Tompkins Square Park, NYC,June 1st, 2013, afternoon.

Of note:  This will be the first time my dog Mickey will get to hear me read.  Stevie, the one on the left, will not be attending as he has an engagement in Vermont that day.  

Some readings, three.

Some readings coming up in NYC (also Hudson, NY and Seattle, but those are a ways off). More details on times, other readers, and admission as they are fed to me.

June 1st 2013 Tomkins Square Park, NYC – The HOWL Festival.  Again, details when I get them and….

June 25th 2013 St Marks Bookshop, I’ll be doing something brief as one of several contributors to Akashic Books’ THE MARIJUANA CHRONICLES. It will be a festive night. I won’t be stoned, but I’ll be reading about zombie hookers so that’s even better.

New Years Day

Hello.  I’ll be reading (briefly, each reader has just two minutes and my old friend John S Hall sent out a note reminding all readers not to be greedy jerks, not to go way over allotted time) at the annual St Marks Poetry Project New Years Day Marathon Reading.  I’m slated to go on between 6-7pm.  I actually wrote a POEM last night for the first time in several years. So there is some chance that I’ll actually read a POEM at this event.   Here are the details.

St Marks Poetry Project 131 E. 10th Street, 2pm to Midnight, admission $20 (It’s their big fundraising event so, really, when you consider how, for $20 you’ll get to not only hear me, but potentially Patti Smith, Phillip Glass, Emily XYZ, Penny Arcade, etcetcetc, this event is practically FREE.)