Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Book Is Out!

FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT is now available as fast as I can sign each copy. The brains behind Annihilation Press is Roger Dale Trexler, who is publishing a collection by Lawrence P. Santoro, JUST NORTH OF NOWHERE, early next year. You can order the book by checking the website at or by ordering a copy through Hardcovers and paperbacks are all going to be signed and are available at a price that is not eye-gouging. Two photos are published here, the latter is my author photo on the back cover, also by the legendary Greg Loudon, who made the cover as memorable as it is. Examples of his artwork, as mentioned in a previous post, can be seen in his sketchbook, CRUEL & UNUSUAL (with an introduction, "The Corpse Men Like," by some balding hermit in Burbank, Illinois, or at Why these two guys would put up with a crazy bipolar bastard like me is beyond me. The first photo was taken at the Red Lion, home of the Twilght Tales readings, and from left to right are myself, Larry Santoro, Roger Dale Trexler, Marty Mundt, with John Everson kind of squatting the way John Everson seems to enjoy doing. I have a funny look on my face both because Larry is leaning on my shoulder and (off-camera) Marty has his friend Giddyup Bandito dressed in a blood-stained clown suit, standing on a stack of CAT FANCY magazines, and seconds away of shooting a seltzer gun filled with bacon grease at my crotch. Enough of the past, what a silly night that was. Just wanted to tell you all about the book, because that is what literary whores do...I'll let you get back to your regularly scheduled life now...Wayne

Monday, September 25, 2006

VonCon 1993

The photo quality is bad, but here's the dilly-o. Von replied to my last post about where those 19 years have gone. A few of them had quite a few of us writer types ganging up on each other, either at a VonCon (where a spinning fan leapt from a shelf of cookbooks trying to kill me; there were witnesses and I made a girly-scream like Will Smith in I, ROBOT) or out in Virginia at Beth Massie's Pseudocons. Here we all are on a Saturday afternoon on Von's big, giant back porch, left to right, me with hair, Kathleen Jurgens, Don VanderSluis, Rodger Gerberding (who is now Mr. Kathleen Jurgens), Alexa deMonterice (who worked so close to Ground Zero I was frantic on, a trying to hide Beth Massie, Dolly Nickel, Brian Hodge, Bunny & Snake (ok, ok, Jessica and Sean Doolittle), and Cathy Van Patten and then-fiance Jeff Osier. What a crowd. Back in the day, Sean was the new kid at the dance. His third book, RAIN DOGS, is in print now. You can Google most any of these people without getting slapped, but my reading recommendations would be Von's AFTER AGE, Jeff's DRIFTGLIDER, Brian's WILD HORSES (though reading PROTOTYPE was the only text besides Philip K. Dick's personal letters that wanted me to commit suicide, and that's a high compliment), and, hell, where to start with Beth. Her first novel, SINEATER. Her story "Abed" in one of those Skipp & Spector BOOK OF THE DEAD anthologies, like I said, Google away. Dolly & Brian blew out of southern Illinois for Boulder, Colorado (near my own ghosts in Denver) and Sean and Jessica now have Kate and Jack to keep them even busier. Me, I just keep telling my stories or reporting the truth, whichever you want to believe at the time. I thank Christ every day that I got to know these wackos, pictured here on a porch in Hanover Park, October 1993. Wayne

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Skin of Buildings

Yvonne Navarro, who I have known longer that just about anybody outside of my immediate family and imaginary playmates, going back to 1985 and when we were just starting to, well, I blatantly whored myself, Von, being able to type 3,000 word a minute, simply sent out several hundred stories a day, but that was back in the day. And, yes, the above sentence has about 47 punctuation errors in it, but writing about Von can do that to a guy. A link to her site can be found in the margins, and you can see how she has totally eclipsed my output as of, well, 1987. But we were discussing the fact that the old First District station house is now a building of condos called State Place. She mentioned that even though the old police HQ was gone, that there must still be the ghosts of the victims and the jailed souls hanging around. I was reminded of a line Meyer Meyer tells Steve Carella in one of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books, he ponders "what goes on behind the skin of buildings?" I always look for building that are soon to disappear, and was finally able to get to Wolf Road off the Tri-State Tollway and take some photos of the old Sante Fe Speedway. Richard Chwedyk sent me the radio catch-phrase, "Only one speedway has a track of clay and you aint seen nothin' 'til you been to Sante Fe." Sante Fe Springs was a town lost once Route 66 died, but Sante Fe was around until just a decade or so ago. I passed the building back in June on my way to that funeral in Hampshire, and knew if I didn't get the photo soon, the building would collapse in the next big storm. From the Tri-State, you can see the sign but not be aware that it is attached to a building. There is residential housing nearby, the suburb is now Burr Ridge, and an older woman in a muu-muu watched me take photos with my friend Ray (who drove me there), as if we were Al-Queda scoping out local monuments. Which, as far as I'm concerned, the Sante Fe Speedway sign is. Wayne

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Always My Anchor

The photo itself is of Ashley in 1999, 9/9/99, in fact. Dressed as a "Jailhouse Rock" convict to fit in proper with my surprise 40th birthday party, complete with an Elvis impersonator. But the computer page, straight from GOODFELLAS and (mis)spelled probably less than something Joe Pesci's character might have typed , was one of the many notes and drawings that Ashley has left me over the years to keep me sane. Well, sure, I was the one who taught her the phrase when she was seven, just like her first catch-phrase in kindergarten was "Hasta la vista, baby!" I thought this post might be a good transition in getting past the past and moving on with new thoughts. At least, until that next bright September day comes around next year...Wayne

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A 9 Year old's Drawing

The attacks of 9/11 eventually shut my mind down, turning my hands to cement. I was writing nothing at all, I would have strange dreams of fighting Mohammed Atta in the mouth of a gigantic dolphin, waking up feeling as if the barometer had dropped to an all-time low. Ashley would often have a Saturday night sleepover, mostly to play games and use my computer. I had various superhero action figures that perched on my bookshelves, Hourman, Green Lantern, good old Superman. Even bad buys like Psycho-Pirate, if only for his garish costume. To cheer me up on one of these sleepover weekends, Ash drew this scene of the heroes in my room saving people jumping from the towers. My brain started working again, I ended up writing a story called "I Know I Can Never Save Her," because I realized that what 9/11 had truly done to me was take away my invincibility. I always believed that I would give my life for a stranger as well as Ashley or any family member. My niece is now in middle school and at times, I think of Columbine, but I still have the stark realization that even though I believe that I am unbreakable, we now have to deal with suicide bombers who will eventually find a way to blow themselves up wherever they please wearing explosives under a Nicoderm patch. ...Wayne

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Here Is New York

The week continued here in Chicago just as it did five years ago, the day of the attacks passed and images become blurred again, a photo album being pressed into murky waters. "September 11th happened." As if a calendar date could "happen." This seems like a phrase that George Carlin would have drawn upon; the younger generation would liken the following riff to something Jerry Seinfeld would have come up with, but Seinfeld pretty much followed with the every day observations Carlin started, just as Bob Newhart and Steve Allen opined on the 1950s. Over the last week, going back five years ago, every day in my AOL mailbox carried a letter from Rebecca Maines, and these five letters can be read if you visit her web blog Re: Maines and read her own Five Years Later entry. Becky reminded me of exactly how powerful the written word can be. There are times I forget myself. The photos came after. The HERE IS NEW YORK exhibit came to Chicago sometime before the end of the month. Individual still photographs were for sale, with hundreds on display, many clipped from wires as if it was a gigantic but well-lit darkroom. Outside on Lake and Wabash, buses, the elevated trains hitting the noisiest turn in the city, conversations, curses, cell phones chirping. Inside the revolving doors, I might have well been inside the Great Pyramid.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Ago But A Few Hours Earlier

The Loop had been evacuated. I recall the compression of time because Flight 93 was still in the air when I walked towards the train and yet both towers of the World Trade Center were gone during my trek four blocks south. The Orange Line elevated train winds southwest to Midway Airport, and if I was at all baffled by the enormity of that day--having no cell phone, lap top, or radio headphones--I climbed the steps towards the area where the buses pull in and found an equal amount of people streaming down from the escalators leading towards the long maze of hallways that cross through the parking garage to the inside of the airport. I had never heard so much confusion from two different directions. My bus to 87th was standing room alone and filled with people from England and Oregon and yes, NYC, all of whom disembarked near the string of motels at Marquette Road. At this same time, amidst all the chattering of voices and people conveying pieces of news they knew or had heard or had overheard, all planes were being grounded. I could get only one good photo because of the crowds bumping past me. But I will always remember plane after plane after plane lined up past the White Castle's and Continental Foods to land, little more than two to three minutes apart. The sounds of the engines over Cicero Avenue was like a monstrous turbine fan amplified to the highest level. Walking to my house, I saw three guys working with jackhammers on LaPorte, thinking, man, I bet these guys don't even have a clue. Wayne

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Granddaddy Grover

Most of my life, I'd see him every Father's Day, whether he had driven up from Hialeah, Florida, or down the short distance from Dry Ridge, a little speck between Cincinnati and Lexington. But the family would all meet in this big Quonset hut in Eastwood, everyone eating KFC back when it wasn't abbreviated or pot roasts and pies. Today is Grandparents' Day, another one of those holidays that Hallmark or Lex Luthor invented. Grover was the last one to go, my mother's folks died back in the 1930s, and Busha passed away in 1992, four years earlier than my granddaddy. At the funeral, I turned to my cousin Denise and said "We are our parents now." She remembers those words well. Some lines don't need to make it into my stories. My baldness is a gift from him, the whole skipping generations thing. When I was younger, he ran a Sunoco gas station in Florida, and I would get the mascot dinosaurs made out of soap, long necked brontosauruses. I suppose I could make an aside to sitting the wrong way and getting a better understanding of what prison life might entail. But I won't. I'd rather remember our shiny bald heads and how if it wasn't for Grover I wouldn't look like The Hills Have Eyes dude (never mind my father has resembled James Rockford for three-quarters of a century). The way I've been putting these entries down lately, I might as well mention that, aside from the real anniversary tomorrow, Johnny Cash will also have been gone two years. I'm getting to the age where the dead outweigh the living...soon enough, I'll be saying "Here's my ride!" Wayne

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dipple's Printshop and Joe Incredible

It was Joe that emailed me about Dan's passing, dying peacefully in his sleep last Saturday. Dan Dipple ran InstantPrint, across from the Loop Station Post Office, where I had gone for twenty years to get things velo- or spiral-bound. Dan was a big fan of Clint Eastwood, and even had a letter from Clint, thanking Dan for the offer of printing up flyers for when the actor was running for mayor of Carmel-By-The-Sea. So when I needed a cop tavern as a device for story telling, I created Dipple's PrintShop, setting it on Eastwood Avenue. The fictional in-joke was that the cop bar used to be joint that printed counterfeit money in the back room. When my fictional Dan Dipple took ownership of the place, he called it the PrintShop in honor of the cops who gave him the opportunity to buy the place. Dan was pleased to find himself tending bar and hearing cops narrate stories in "This Old Man Came Rolling Home" in the TwilightTales' BLOOD & DONUTS anthology and "The Jazz Cat of Division Street," from, um, 100 CRAFTY CAT CRIMES. In the time since I lost my job downtown, I'd known his health had worsened, though he'd had the gravelly voice of a pool hustler or card dealer for as long as I'd known him. I had expected to see Dan and give him a copy of FIENDS BY TORCHLIGHT later this month when I also inscribed one for Joe. The guy won't tell me his last name, I'm stuck with Incredible because I once had him jut his chin out for a photo so I could cut and paste it (the old-fashioned way, with scissors and tape) over an advertisement for THE INCREDIBLES video game or DVD release, something like that. Came out good, and I knew I was right, because an old black gentleman in the shop when I first told that to Joe, about his resemblance to the cartoon father, nodded his head and laughed. Blogger being what it is, it seems as if Joe and Dan are looking away from each other, Joe with a spurned look on his face. I hope Dan's laughing up in Heaven at this lucky mistake. For now, I have another immortal in my fictionalized version of my reality. Raise a glass of water or ale or mango juice to my friend Dan Dipple! I'll catch up to you one day, chum. Wayne

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Real Me

I'm the guy in the background, that's how my form looks when I am most comfortable. Hunched and agonized. Pissed me off enough that I had forgotten for most of the day that a close friend had died in his sleep Saturday, and I was told this in an email early yesterday morning. But I mourn him and my next post will be about his effect on my life. The illustration is by Douglas C. Klauba, who illustrated many of my stories, such as this one, "Corky's Quickies," for GRUE magazine. He got it pinned down right and after reading the story told me that it scared the hell out of him. The real me will do that to people. I tear holes in the back of my shirts by grabbing the dead muscle around my shoulder, the latest casuality is a grey Honolulu lifeguard t-shirt I bought at the Salvation Army three months ago. I claw at my back like a werewolf or a zombie with no real clue. Then, as I wait for the bus today, the guy who gets off reminds me of this fucking reality game even more: he has a muscular disease, stepping off the bus after some impatient asshole on a cell phone boards before he can even move. He has a beat up black briefcase in one hand, and the clumps it makes tells me there is little in it, a resume and newspaper, perhaps. He has to back out of the bus, I hold his back and feel my own. Taut muscle over a skeleton, a body defined by the disease, strength in different areas than those in the members of the Tuesday night Jazzercise class . When he walks off, thanking me for my little effort at trying to be human, he looks like a man in a spliced film. He handles this better than I do, the interstices in my brain leave me insane and suicidal. On my worst days, I'll run into somebody who has things much, much worse than I do. But wheras I admire their courage, I prefer to remain delusional. A 46 year old virgin who turns 47 two days before the five year anniversary of 9/11. In a body that cannot focus its eyes or handle things with two hands independent of each other. Sick of taking medication that blocks a certain amount of the pain after it leaves my brain and spins around in some receptor. There is a country song by Big & Rich called "This Life." One of the phrases is "...I'll live this life 'til this life doesn't need me anymore." When I fall into these deep holes I wonder just why the hell life needs me here in the first place, never mind needing me anymore. Show the ending credits, for God's sake. Wayne Allen Sallee 1959-2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Marvin Walked On Water

Marvin Melone was one of my favorite people to talk with when I was on the farm. He had been hit in the head by a horse in his younger years, and walked to church several miles away every Sunday. I often thought of us being kin, the outsider kind. The same kind of stuff that went on in his head mirrored my own nonsensical bipolar brain. Along with his other belongings, after his death I was given this photo. Several years back, I added the clipping--taken from some magazine--because Marvin looks like he could've been in Bonnie & Clyde's gang or Ma Barker's crowd. There is a country song by Randy Travis with a title that sums up my truest memory of Marvin. "I thought that he walked on water." Wayne

Monday, September 04, 2006

Busha's Farm

A year ago, I was in Shelbyville visiting my family, and my cousin Danny and I went down Flat Rock Road to my grandmother's farm. Grace Melone--Busha is grandmother in Polish--passed away in 1992 and within days of our visit the building was razed. I did retreive a brick from the chimney, not really caring if half the house caved in on me. This room looked almost like the photo but for the phonograph on the floor, which had fallen off the chair pillow when I stepped through the doorway. I wondered how many days it had sat on its side, waiting to fall. This room belonged to Marvin, my step-grandfather's brother. When Marvin passed away, Danny's sister Denise saved me his glasses, wallet, and Bible. Each item is on my dresser, stacked neatly in a pile a short distance from my mug of flags. I do not know the story behind why his door--leading to an outer porch and past that the water pump--was painted lavender, but there it is. Well, there it was. Wayne

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Labor Day Flags & Maurice Kindness

For many years I only knew this guy as the flag man. He'd move from street to street downtown, mumbling in a way that had me believing he had a muscle disease, not someone shuffling words through a personal purgatory. He'd never ask for anything, just wave his flags. His eyes would catch yours, but never plead. I knew him when his hair was black, not grey. The flags have always been the same size, proportionate to a bar of soap being an aircraft carrier or a slice of the lunar surface. I had not seen Flag Man for many months until he reappeared last winter and I was actually surprised that I could understand him, though not on every day. He would sell his flags in the rain, or in the cold, accepting a dollar, a quarter, a handshake. I asked him his name on one of his better days, when his face was missing the facial tics I had become used to, and he said his name was Maurice. He pointed at the badge on his jacket, but it held meaningless information. Perhaps on the back a concerned family member had camoflauged his true name and address if he was found in some sad way by the police. I asked him his last name and he said that he could not pronounce it for me. But he told me that I could call him Maurice Kindness. I have kept every flag I ever bought from this man, this laborer who shares the street with a man with a tobacco spit cup who can't even take the energy to pronounce "gimme change" properly. I work in Alsip now and have not been in the Loop at any proper time that I might see my favorite flag man. But I look at my Dog 'N Suds root beer mug filled with the tiny toothpicks and the red, the white, and the blue, as I put my change and keys into my pocket. And I get my first smile of the day. Happy Labor Day, gang. Wayne

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Loyola Elevated Stop, 1984

Next to the Wendy's was the coolest used bookstore in Chicago, Project 1999. You had to climb ladders and across planks to get to various books. I still have a Polish Bible and a WHO'S WHO IN CHICAGO 1926, bought for seven dollars because there is a water stain on the inside front cover. Most of my Ed McBain 87th Precinct paperbacks were purchased in two visits. It is hard to see, but the billboard--the actual reason I took this photo, was about animal experimentation, and there is a photo of a cocker spaniel in a glass bottle. I use that image in my free style 30 page poem DESMOND'S INFERNO, with the line "the el train throttles past puppies in bottles." An odd phrase until you see the image actually existed. Later, Wayne

Block 37, 1988

Earlier this week, Salma Paradise over at Live Journal mentioned my Red Lion reading and how I surprised her by not reading blood & gore but rather images of good old gritty Chicago. So it seems best that I add a photo entry that substantiates my original intentions of this web blog and the pictures I post. The block here is almost twenty years razed, only recently having been excavated to make room for the new CBS studios. Block 37, or The Spaniel Block, was a bizarre place in the 70s and 80s, back when the Greyhound terminal was still holding court at the corner of Dearborn and Randolph, off the right side of my photo. From the vantage point of where I was standing, there is now a Border's and an Argo Tea shop. I have thrown away many photos over the years, but have always held onto this one, because of the woman passing before my camera. I always--always--wonder where she was headed after the shutter clicked and I turned back to wait for the 162 Archer Express bus. --Wayne