Yesterday I helped paint and spruce up ElmCor, a community youth, senior and rehab center in Flushing Queens. Here is a photo of us painting the boxing gym:
Afterward we had our holiday party, which included a silent auction for Aero Cares, a charity that helps fellow employees in time of disaster or hardship (it helped a lot of employees out during Sandy, Katrina, Irene, and recent snowstorms). I donated three signed copies of Blade of Dishonor, and raised over $300 for the cause:
I also bit on a nice lino print of an Imperial Walker from Star Wars and lost, but I did win a funky archival ink print that reminded me of the writing process. I’ll share a photo once I pick it up.
I love those German portmanteau words where they just mush a bunch of words together to make a new word, like schadenfreude or arschgesicht. I made a new one: Schandenichtlesen, which means shame-not-read, that shame you have for not having read a good book.
To my great shame as a fan of crime fiction, I have never read any of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels, despite their reputation for rich characters, a gripping storyline over dozens of books, and for defining the New York police procedural.
When Erin Mitchell heard this, she rushed to my rescue, staunching the gaping wound of my ignorance. She was giving away copies of her dupes, and I waved my hand and told her my predicament. Instead of sending me the books she was giving away, she bought me two new copies of Calypso and Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here.
That’s one of the many things I love about the crime fiction community. The people love books so much they’ll give them to you. And very likely, someone gave some to them earlier on. We pay it back and forward, sideways and around the corner.
Thank you, Erin!
What authors have you shamefully not read? Name the book you’re avoiding, even though you know you will love it.
For every comment I will donate $1 to the Philippines Red Cross, to assist in recovery from the typhoon. And I will choose one lucky commenter and buy them the book they have been shamefully avoiding.
Just got some great news- the anthology written to fund jaw surgery for my dear friend Sabrina Ogden, Feeding Kate– is now available on Kindle, and the proceeds will benefit the Lupus foundation.
If you didn’t jump on the Indiegogo campaign, the book is now available on Amazon for $5.99 in e-book form. It includes my story “Kamikaze Death Burgers at the Ghost Town Cafe,” a Jay Desmarteaux yarn. If you enjoyed Jay’s exploits in “Gumbo Weather” in the latest issue of Needle, or his brawl in Hills of Fire: Bare-Knuckle Yarns of Appalachia (which is nominated for best fiction anthology by the Appalachian Writers Association) you will want to read Jay’s biggest, baddest story yet:
Jay is “just getting by” running contraband in a pristine ’57 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham when he crosses paths with a criminal biker gang, a murderous truck driver, and the mysterious Kate. Jay is forced to take sides when all three converge for an explosive battle in the Utah desert.
This story is a favorite of mine, and if you’re wondering what Jay’s novel is like, this is the best taste you’ll get. It’s all for a great cause and includes fiction by this amazing roster of authors:
Chewin’ out a rhythm on my bubble gum
The sun is out and I want some
It’s not hard not far to reach
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach
Up on the roof, out on the street Down in the playground the hot concrete Bus ride is too slow They blast out the disco on the radio
Rock Rock Rockaway Beach
The Ramones sang its simple pleasures. The boardwalk is now at the bottom of the sea. The homes all along the thin witch-finger of the peninsula are soaked to eye level and silted with muck. Superstorm Sandy did a number on the Rockaways, and all the way down the Jersey coast. I volunteered with New York Cares to help homeowners with the demolition that comes before rebuilding can begin. It will take a long time and a lot of work.
My co-workers and I worked on three houses. We tore out sodden paneling in one, ripped up a ruined hardwood floor in another, and tore the moldy drywall out of an entire ground floor of the third. That’s the house I worked on. Out of respect for the owners, I took no photos of any homes we worked on. I flip 700lb truck tires for fun and wrestle maniacs on Saturday mornings when I could be watching cartoons. Let me say this: demolition is hard work. Smashing walls is fun. Shoveling hundreds of pounds of mushy sheet rock into trash bags and lugging them to the curb, not so much. But that is the job. You’re not there to have fun, you’re there to help people who have lost so much. The worst thing I saw was the door to a girl’s bedroom, polka-dotted with stickers, with nothing inside but sagging walls and sea wrack.
The good folks of Team Rubicon, veterans who mobilize to assist with disaster relief, were the first on the scene. AmeriCorps and Conservation Corps took over, and New York Cares is mobilizing the employees of many companies who bus their workers to these sites to offer the manpower needed to make a dent in this enormous tragedy.
I won’t call the scope mind-boggling. You can open Google Maps and trace from Connecticut down to Delaware to see where the storm’s fist landed. The damage is comparable to Katrina, but not the loss of lives. The east coasters were lucky. We had a bigger public transportation system, and many of the shore homes were owned by folks who could afford to leave. A thousand died in Katrina. Sandy killed over a hundred, counting the Caribbean islanders who died in its wake. And most of all, we had seen Katrina. We had not been teased with smaller hurricanes. Irene threw us for a loop, and when the NOAA said Sandy was her big bad sister with a razor in her shoe, we took notice. And she dragged her nails down the coastline and tore our sandcastles apart.
If you want to assist, I recommend you contact New York Cares and Jersey Cares to see what help is needed. If you don’t want to don Tyvek suits and masks to tear down moldy houses, you can help sort relief goods and equipment, or deliver meals to the elderly who were displaced by the storm, or help schools and kids in the areas.
And so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually…
Until December 31, we are accepting submissions of humorous fiction and non-fiction—up to 3000 words—that are about experiencing a disaster, surviving a hurricane, or living in New Jersey (a lot can be said humorously about New Jersey without being cruel) to publish in OH SANDY! An Anthology of Humor for a Serious Purpose. Submissions not accepted for the anthology may still be posted on this website with your approval.
My gears are turning, to bring some humor to this tragedy, and I hope you’ll consider joining the cause. Either by writing a story and submitting it to her, or by purchasing the book. Or donating to the charities listed on the website.
I’ve had the blessing to work with many hard-working and generous people since we embarked on this project. One of them is Seamus Bellamy, who contributed the excellent story “Larry” to volume one of the Lost Children charity anthology. Seamus purchased three SIGNED first editions of crime writing legend Lawrence Block’s book After Hours, and we are raffling them off for the next ten days!
Anyone who buys the anthology, either for Kindle or in paperback, email the Amazon or Createspace receipt to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered into the raffle. There are three chances to win:
If you’ve already purchased the book, buy one as a gift. PROTECT and Children 1st UK will thank you!
(The book is currently in the Kindle Select program, but if you require it in Nook or any other e-book format, I will e-mail you those editions upon request, and assist you with transferring it to your e-reader.)
Anyone that buys Lost Children: A Charity Anthology between June 6th and Saturday June 16th will be entered in a draw to win one of three signed hardcover copies of After Hours: Conversations with Lawernce Block. They’re first editions. Don’t try and tell me you don’t want one.
In doing so, you’ll be helping out a pair of great charities, wind up with a great anthology, and if you’re lucky, a signed hardcover copy of a book that lets you take a boo at the mind of one of noir fiction’s greatest living legends.
It ain’t no velveteen day, but it sure as hell ain’t a poke in the eye either, now is it? Get to giving and good luck in the draw!
If you can’t see your way to agreeing with me that stripping the innocence right out of an innocent kids isn’t the worst kind of crime that this dogshit world of ours has to offer, then we’ve got nothing else to talk about. While most of us bop through our days oblivious to the abuse inflicted on so many of the kids on a daily basis, a few tenacious souls are strong enough to do something about it. Tommy Pluck’s one of those. Last year, Tommy and Fiona Johnson put together Lost Children: A Charity Anthology. It’s a book that I was proud to contribute to, and one that you should be proud to buy. Y’see, all proceeds from the book are donated to PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children and Children 1st Scotland –Two fine charities that work endlessly to protect the kids that the rest of us are too wrapped up in our own lives to keep safe or too damn oblivious to see as needing protection.
Seamus Bellamy is a warlord, author and journalist who’s work appears frequently in print and online. You’ll find his portfolio and other undesirable things at www.seamusbellamy.com