Earth Day and “Making Rain” available today!

Happy Earth Day!

Recycle a can, plant a tree, enjoy the spring and remember the Earth!

And enjoy some erotic nature stories with Coming Together: Al Fresco available today exclusively from All Romance eBooks!

I am very proud that my short story “Making Rain” is included in this anthology, with profits going to Conservation International.

HOT stories of outdoor sex by some of today’s best erotic authors!

Coming Together: Al Fresco
Edited by Alyssia Brio

Dark Angels II: Bonnie Parker

A man can break every commandment
And the world will still lend him its hand
Yet, a girl that has loved, but unwisely
Is an outcast all over the land.
-Bonnie Parker

The bloody lady of the Dustbowl, the beautiful balladeer of Depression dreams, and perhaps a victim of her own romantic imagination.

How can you not love Bonnie Parker?

Hard times breed hard men. In the 1930s, Tom Joad headed for the promised land of California while Clive Barrow robbed banks and waged war against the Texas Department of Corrections.

Clyde would have just been another backwoods stickup man, probably not even worthy of a song by Woody Guthrie if he hadn’t met Bonnie Parker. At less than five feet tall and featherweight to boot, she possessed intelligence and foresight, and wasn’t afraid to grab opportunity by the horns. Bonnie’s marriage at age16 left her older and wiser when at age 20 she met Clyde and forged a relationship that would captivate a nation.

The romantic version of their story says she fell in love with him the moment they met and probably saw hope when his flinty eyes grew soft, if not of happiness then at least of excitement. The gossip of lesser women say Bonnie was a tramp, but she must’ve been a girl of considerable vision. She seems to have seen the myth even as she was making it.

More than any of the other Depression gangsters, Bonnie and Clyde played to their audience. Clyde wrote a fan letter to Henry Ford — “even if my business hasn’t been strictly legal it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V8” – and Bonnie wrote an epic poem about their adventures as well as other poems about the outlaw life. They took snapshots of themselves posed like movie gangsters.

Most accounts say Bonnie never shot anyone – she was a “great loader” — but Clyde certainly did. He and the other Barrow Gang members killed somewhere between half a dozen and a dozen lawmen, accounts and attributions vary, in what amounted to a tiny, armed insurrection against the state of Texas. The public loved them, and Bonnie and Clyde molded a unique piece of wholly American legend in their brief time together.

When they were ambushed by Texas Rangers in Louisiana in 1934, they had achieved fame in the hardest way possible – in a storm of bullets and unimaginable bravado. By some accounts, 10,000 strangers attended their funeral. The death car toured the south for decades, like a holy relic. In 1967, director Arthur Penn, along with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, ensured their immortality with a movie that merged romance and explicit violence in a way no movie had before.

A perfect legacy for our second dark angel, Bonnie Parker.

A newsboy once said to his buddy;
“I wish old Clyde would get jumped.
In these awfull hard times;
we’d make a few dimes,
if five or six cops would get bumped.”
-Bonnie Parker

You can find more of Bonnie Parker’s story and poetry at
http://texashideout.tripod.com/poem.html


Dark Angels I: Lilith

Dark angels.

Women with the power to fascinate, to hold the world in their spell, desiring and sometimes destroying, because no one should ever hold an angel too close for too long.

Bad girls who changed the world.

This is the beginning of a series that Drake and I will assemble, our Compendium of Dark Angels.  As we were contemplating and compiling our list, we both came to the conclusion that it was only fitting to begin with the original dark angel – Lilith.

Future entries will be about real women who have shared their dark light with the world, but we thought we should start with the one that is the gold standard of wicked women.

And who’s to say she’s not real?

The word Lilith occurs only once in the Bible, but good King James’ scribes rendered the Hebrew word as “screech owl.” The association of wicked female spirits with birds of ill omen is common enough, so perhaps the scribes felt comfortable with the translation.  Other ancient writings give evidence that the word had a much different meaning.

Lilith was probably born in ancient Sumeria as a demon of primal forces, storm and darkness, sometimes winged and taloned, but always dangerously seductive.  She lived in desolate places, but even deserts could not stop her once she set her mind to something. Jewish tradition adopted her and, by the Middle Ages, had woven her into the story of Eden.  By at least the 10th Century AD, some legends had established that Lilith was the first wife of Adam, created by God before Eve. But Lilith was disobedient and would not lie beneath Adam, insisting that she take the upper position (like this is a problem??). Lilith and Adam parted ways (read: divorced), him to the more compliant Eve and she to the wasteland, where she lurks as a menace to the children of Adam.

Lilith is the original succubus, the ancient queen of delightful nightmares.

Throughout the Middle Ages, she weaves in and out of demon lore, sometimes merged with Eden’s serpent (perhaps confused with the mythical lamia), sometimes as the bride of Asmodeus, always as a seductive emblem of destructive desire, and always fascinating.  By the 19th Century, Lilith had become a symbol of defiant pagan sexuality and, in the 20th Century, an important element in occultism and ceremonial magick.

Lilith is the patron goddess of bad girls. Her disobedience and sexuality openly defy repressive paternal churches and stand in sharp contrast to the puritanical strains of western civilization. But, as we all know, nothing fascinates more than the forbidden. If sin were not attractive, then we would all be saints.

Avatar of female desire, spirit of lust, Lilith is the first dark angel, and all those we will be covering here in the future are her glorious, wicked daughters.

What I Like – The Groovy Age of Horror

One of the things I love about the internet is the countless possibilities and variety available at a mouse click.  Yet with the billions (trillions?) of web sites, blogs, etc. available out there, most people have a stable of sites they return to again and again.  They fill our “Favorites” and “Bookmarks”, clutter up our desktops and can provide entertainment, contemplation, beauty, whimsy, insight, arousal – an endless buffet of experiences.

This is the first in a series of blog entries about my favorite web pages and blogs. I know. I know. Blogging about blogs is cliché, but I think the mix of people who come to my blog is eclectic enough that I may be able to turn some of you on to wonderful things you might not otherwise see.  Some of what I highlight may not be your liking, but I bet I’ll eventually hit on something you do like.  And, let’s be realistic – reading blogs is like trying a food you’ve never had before.  You really don’t know if you’ll like it until you try it!  Think of it as internet sushi…

I can’t think of a better place to start than Curt Purcell’s The Groovy Age of Horror, one of the first places I go on the internet when I’m looking for fun. Curt writes insightfully about so many things that it’s hard to pick among them. His obsessions run from paperback novels about swinging London in the 60s to meditations on the meaning of superheroes. His friend Jakko provides regular glimpses of the world of fumetti – Italian horror comics that mix crazy sex and violence into a mash-up that redefines the word outrageous.

Whether he’s discussing supernatural horror or the decline of brick and mortar bookstores, Curt’s prose is sharp and relentlessly intelligent. An added feature of his site is his novel-in-progress Night Falls on a Fairy Tale, which contains elements of folklore, horror, eroticism, and fantasy.  Also look for a wide variety of video clips on his blog.  From music and video game trailers, to captured commercials, the selections are always entertaining.

After you’ve read Curt’s latest offering, his blog roll is a who’s who of great sites on a stunning array of topics, all selected with the same bizarre but delightful taste he brings to his own writing.

The net is full of sites that reflect the varied interests of their authors, but very few do the job with the wit and intelligence of Groovy Age of Horror. Curt definitely wins a “You Never Know What Wonder You’ll Find” Award, and his blog makes the world groovier and more horrible in the best kind of way.

Review: The Beats, a Graphic History

The Beats, a Graphic History
By Harvey Pekar, Ed Piskor, and many others
Hardcover
Publisher: Hill and Wang
208 Pages
$22.00

Similar to last year’s graphic history of the Students for a Democratic Society, this collaborative “graphic novel” tells the story of a 20th Century movement of potential interest to today’s hipsters.

For any blog readers here who might have only a glancing acquaintance with the mid-century literary movement, the Beats were a group of prose writers and poets whose work challenged many conventions of the 1950s, both in the style of their writing and in content. The Beat trinity was comprised of Jack Kerouac (who wrote the novel On the Road), poet Allen Ginsberg (Howl), and William Burroughs (Naked Lunch), although the movement included many other poets and a few other novelists. Following attention from the mainstream media, this little band of iconoclasts achieved worldwide notoriety, influenced avant garde literature for decades after, and continue to be read and admired today.

Popular depictions of the Beats also, of course, lead to the concept of the “beatnik,” which very quickly became a target for gentle ridicule by comics, movies, and television shows and imitation by alienated young people all over America, creating the first wave of postwar anti-establishment youth culture.

This graphic history is only semi-successful in telling the story of an odd footnote to American history. In the first half of the book, dealing with the three best known Beats, Harvey Pekar’s straight-from-the-shoulder text covers the facts but doesn’t really illuminate why this gang of misfits had such a powerful appeal. A worse problem for me is that Ed Piskor’s art, while adequate, falls short in the most basic task of making the characters in the narrative look like their real-life, iconic models.

Fortunately, the second half of the book is vastly more entertaining. Broken into short chapters, told by a variety of different authors and artists, part two illuminates “minor” Beats and people directly influenced by the Beats, presenting a vivid and exciting patchwork of 50s and 60s American culture. A section by Joyce Brabner and Summer McClinton on women in the Beat movement is especially entertaining as is one by Jerome Neukirch on Chicago character Slim Brundage. Finally, the last piece in the book, on Tuli Kupferberg (by Kupferberg and Jeffrey Lewis), one of the founders of the surreal/psycho/proto punk band The Fugs, is crazy entertaining.

A couple of things struck me reading this book. First was just how astonishing and unlikely it is that a literary movement turned into a cultural one. Later youth cultures – hippies, punks, Goths – were creatures of the media and had little or nothing to do with literature. The second thing that struck me was what a powerful influence homoerotic sexuality had on the Beats – looked at from one angle, they were a gay movement, albeit an unconscious one.

Some of the Beats wanted to turn prose into jazz, lowbrow music that came to be recognized as art, so there is a certain skewed appropriateness in their story being told in another evolved, semi-respectable medium, the comic strip. Pekar and company get points for ambition and innovation, even if the result is mixed.