Mindbenders 2 is coming March 12!!

Mark the date! It’s (finally) coming! Better yet–go to Amazon and pre-order your copy now!

mb2-2-450 copy

 

Mindbenders 2: The Fiery Sky will publish March 12th on Amazon!

The most dangerous enemy is the one inside your own mind.

Max Renn, the legendary Soviet mind control agent, faces a terrifying new threat to the global balance of power—and an opponent who ruthlessly uses Renn’s own deepest secrets to betray him.

Renn and his Mindbenders team race from a murder-without-clues in Belgium to a floating village in the South China Sea, from an amphitheater in Africa to the Australian Outback.

The battle is waged in a world where brutal coercion is an everyday weapon and victory hides even in the doubts of those who seem to know too much.

Stay tuned–I’ll be previewing some of the places and people of the expanded Mindbenders universe in coming weeks.

For those of you who’ve been waiting, thanks for your patience. For the impatient ones (you know who you are), thanks for your passion. The wait is (almost) over!

Words Between the Lines of Age

We went to a New Year’s party last night. I know it’s a night early but who’s counting?

I came from work and met Claire on Sixth Ave near Waverly. And, waiting for her (because the F train was actually quick and to the point for once), I wandered down the block past a magazine stand I swear I remember in that location since the 70’s or even late 60’s (the awning over the place tends to support that memory).

depression newsstandThis is a famous Berenice Abbott photo of a newsstand from the Depression, when a third of the country was out of work and even those earning some kind of living had very little money for frivolous reading. The magazine stand I remember wasn’t quite as thickly populated as this one but I still remember hundreds of publications on display,  such dense variety you couldn’t see the entire cover of more than a handful.

Them days are gone, as they say…

 

newsstand 1Here’s what I saw last night. About ten newspapers, some of them mere classified ad sheets, some Chinese and Russian language, a few rows filled with candy and some soft drink displays–and no magazines. Zero. All those banal and beautiful thoughts and passionate causes and idiotic space filling, gone.

I know we read differently now. Most everything is free (for the moment) and online and instantly searchable and that definitely has its advantages. But I felt very aware, all of a sudden, of how different the experience was of buying magazines at the stand, making a public decision like declaring an allegiance in a public square. And it feels like a connection to the way people got through the Depression with a sense of solidarity that we certainly haven’t been able to muster in a financial crisis that is tiny by comparison.

They made those declarations every day at the newsstand, going to see a movie with friends at the theater, listening to radio shows on the three available networks and discussing them the next day at work. Did that contribute to a level of solidarity and understanding? Certainly the music and film of the day had a sense that we were all in this together, as opposed to the solitary-loner, beat-the-other-guy-to-the-punch nonsense paraded these days by Trump, Cadillac ads and every politician but Bernie Sanders, that wonderful relic.

We don’t really believe in progress anymore and we have plenty of reasons not to. But even where we seem to be moving forward, it seems important to take a few minutes here and there to consider what’s being lost…or what we never had.

Mindbenders free on Amazon Thursday-Saturday!!

Come n’ get it!

What do you mean you haven’t read it?  People who did said:

mindbenders 8-3-350 copy“Left me stunned”

“…fascinating and provocative…”

“…echoes of Jonathan Lethem’s ‘Motherless Brooklyn’…”

“…held me to my chair for one marathon reading…”

“engaging, believable characterization and fast-moving story…”

More reviews here.

Synopsis and behind-the-scenes notes here.

Me rambling on Video here.

Mindbenders 2 is nearing completion – even closer than the last time I said that! Read this one first – it’ll make the next book even better!

 

For you new readers, those of you who’ve lost your copy or who acquired it on one of those pitiful torrent sites and want to be able to look yourselves in the mirror, ‘Mindbenders’ the First will be free on Amazon tomorrow through Saturday.

Tell your friends! Tell your enemies! Why shouldn’t they have something good to read?

 

 

Mindbenders is free this weekend!

mindbenders 8-3-150 copyCome n’ get it!

The new one is nearing completion. How many times have I said that? Too many. I’ve learned a lot of lessons the last few years but we’re nearly there now, I swear. I think it’s gonna be worth the wait. You’ll tell me.

So for those of you who’ve lost your copy or got one on one of those pitiful torrent sites and want to be able to look yourselves in the mirror, ‘Mindbenders’ the First will be free on Amazon tomorrow and Sunday. Tell your friends! Tell your enemies! Why shouldn’t they have something good to read?

 

Into the Light

claire in the light-smFour years ago today I met a woman who challenged me, told me off, laughed at my jokes and then did me one better, showed me new ways to see the world and shed new light on the ways I saw it.

Most importantly, she saw in me the person I’d been working so hard to become and encouraged me to be even more. And accepted me as I am, complete with warts and hump.
We’ll be getting married soon. It’ll be my second marriage and they say a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. But I’ve been saying something else to people when the subject comes up: just skip the first marriage and go direct to the second. You have so much clearer of a concept of what you want and what you really need.

So Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. Here’s to a bigger world, together.

The Question Nobody Asked

Okay, I have to out myself: I’m a Mets fan. Pity me – for a little while. We will have a very good team, sooner or later. Though it always seems to be later and a lot of people in the fan base and now the national sports media are understandably getting tired of waiting. I sent this post to one of the fan blogs today as a response to some of the coverage I’m reading:

Sandy Alderson

Sandy Alderson

I’m wondering if the accounts of Sandy Alderson’s press conference yesterday all focused on the wrong segment: his rambling non-answer to the question (my rephrase but I think I’ve got the gist of it): Do you REALLY have the money to do anything and, if so, will you just ignore that opportunity again like you have all these past years?

Let’s ignore the fact that it’s the baseball equivalent of ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’ and focus on a more interesting question.

The injuries and lack of performance by the team on the field every night proclaim that the Mets should be desperate. The fan base is screaming, the national sporting press is now piling on and Sandy Alderson offers rambling platitudes that say nothing.
Why bother holding a press conference if you have nothing to say?
I think maybe he did have something to say, something he felt he had to say publicly and without qualification:
pitchers
The Mets are not trading Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard or Matz.
He didn’t ramble about that. No equivocation, no fumbling around, no wiggle room.
I think that tells us a lot about what’s going on backstage this week–and maybe last winter as well.
I suspect that every conversation Sandy’s had with Billy Beane and the other general managers has gone the same way: Send us one of your studs. You need hitting, we’ve got it. Balance your team. You can’t have four like that, it’s overkill.
If I was Beane or any of the other GM’s, I’d figure I had the Mets right where I wanted them. All I have to do is wait. With the pressure coming from everywhere, I’ll get what I want. Thinking as a general manager, it’s almost unthinkable that you wouldn’t trade one of the four. Think of the hitters the Mets could pick from if they were willing.
Certainly, Oakland has great offers for Ben Zobrist on the table already (just using him as an example, in case he goes between the time I write this and you read it). I think they’re among several teams hoping the Mets will crack. Meanwhile, Sandy is hoping to find a partner before the deadline who’ll accept he won’t crack, one who’ll make a (smaller) deal for the guys he wants to trade.
This is a poker game and everything any general manager says this time of year is meant for the ears of other general managers. This press conference wasn’t meant for us or the writers and Alderson didn’t call it to ramble and say nothing. He called it to put out an important message that will hopefully clear the deck for the deals he’s willing (or empowered) to make.
In general, I think this front office is talented, not insane, not egomaniacal. It’s trying to play a very tough hand given them by ownership. I’m waiting and hoping and not throwing rotten tomatoes. Yet…

The Weird Shit

David Crosby

All photos by CO Moed

David Crosby was never my favorite.

First it was Stills, then Young. Neil gets all the headlines and respect. Young musicians revere him and play with him. He gets interviewed on Colbert and parodied by Fallon. Stills faded away long ago, Nash is a gentleman, an amazing singer and a fine tunesmith but only occasionally an interesting songwriter.

And then there was Crosby, the egotistical drug maniac, crack addict, heroin addict, cold-turkey veteran of a Texas prison in the mid-80’s, liver transplant veteran since the mid 90’s, sperm donor for Melissa Etheridge’s in-vitro kids and talking head de rigeur for every rock documentary of the last fifteen years. He’s joked for ages that Stills wrote the anthems, Nash wrote the hits and he wrote the weird shit. He was a punchline – so what about him?

What about him is a rebirth at an age rock stars are supposed to be irrelevant, maybe still playing but certainly not growing. First, he formed a band called CPR in the Nineties with his biological son James Raymond (a very talented keyboard player/singer/songwriter in his own right). That band left behind many tours and several now out-of-print albums that didn’t sell much but are continually on top of my playlist. Their live versions of Byrds and CSNY songs put the originals to shame.

Last year, Crosby put out a solo record that offered far better songwriting than anything Neil has done in a decade. He backed the record with a full-band tour and those shows (I saw one and have heard several) were terrific, starting with the album in it’s entirety, followed with gems from the long career.

crosby 1 smAnd this past Thursday night, he played Town Hall in New York solo – just one man and many open-tuned guitars – something he’s never done before in that long career. And he killed it.

His voice is amazing, taking a few songs to warm up but reaching powerful high notes no 73-year-old should even attempt and showing an ability to shape melodies and sell a lyric better than his young self ever could. He played back-catalogue songs I’ve loved for years without ever hearing live (‘Laughing’ ‘In My Dreams’) and found new life in songs I’ve heard many times before (‘Guinevere’, which I thought I never wanted to hear again – I was wrong).  A front-of-the-audience member told Crosby to stop talking politics between songs and sing – Cros told him to go fuck himself, to general chuckling from the rest of the crowd.

The songs were fascinating, especially stripped down like this. The depth of the chord changes reminds you that this is the man who taught Joni Mitchell to open-tune and introduced George Harrison to Ravi Shankar. The sounds would have been profound without the words. And the words were wonderful. ‘Fluttering pages of faces’ is a great image even when he explains it (I’m not blowing the story here).

crosby 4aThe best news was, two of the five best songs of the night were brand-new. One of them was a jazz-inflected number with lyrics that denied the sexism traditionally associated with 60’s Rock Stars.

It was a great show on all counts.

It’s kind of stunning. I look back now on a band I’ve followed over forty years (through fifty permutations) and at the very end, when they should be way past over-the-hill, the most unlikely guy has become my favorite.

If he comes to your town on this tour, just go.

Thank me later.

 

 

 

‘Mindbenders’ is free!

mindbenders 8-3-150 copy

“A dead-on thriller for the decade . . . . I can’t imagine anyone reading this and not wanting more” — Thomas F. Monteleone, author of the NY Times bestseller The Blood of the Lamb and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel.
Mindbenders is a free download today and tomorrow on Amazon! The death of his best friend sends the world’s premiere mind control on a collision course with an international conspiracy. Read it now – Mindbenders 2 is coming soon!

More details on Mindbenders 1 here!

 

 

Wild in the Streets

Two NYPD officers were shot dead Saturday. Their blood isn’t cold yet. Apparently the man who shot them made ‘anti-police postings’ on Instagram before he carried out this assassination.

Pat Lynch, the president of the Policeman’s Union, wasted no time last night saying there was “blood on their hands [of] those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest … [blood] on the steps of city hall, in the office of the mayor”.

“When these funerals are over,” said Lynch, “those responsible will be called on to the carpet and held accountable.”

I was proud of the NYPD this past week or so, since the Ferguson and Garner decisions. Their treatment of the protests in this city was respectful and cautious. They were professional and positive. Anyone who wanted to stereotype them negatively had no ground to stand on. The protesters who attacked two police officers earlier this week were seen by most everyone as morons who deserved to be put away for what they did. We felt those were our police – because they acted with restraint.

protest-8-1204-v2

 

It would have been wonderful if Mr. Lynch had woken up this morning and had the good sense to say “Sorry, I was overcome with emotion last night. I spoke out of turn. Most protesters are trying to make a better world for their families; most cops do the best they can and we all have to work together to weed out the members of both groups who don’t.” It would have been great if somebody had talked that much sense into him.

But of course that didn’t happen. Today instead brought statements by Rudy Guiliani and Scott Brown (and I’m sure plenty more) screeching that the problem is ‘divisive rhetoric from the White House’ and City Hall. Groups of police were shown turning their back on Mayor De Blasio arriving at the scene.

Nobody in any official capacity incited violence. De Blasio and Obama said nothing divisive. What they did – a sin beyond redemption – was acknowledge that not every police officer does the absolute 100% totally correct thing all the time. They made it worse by suggesting that, when police officers screw up, it’s appropriate that they be indicted and stand trial like the other 98% of the population.

A policeman has a difficult, near impossible job. He deals with bad people all the time and good people only at their worst. He is charged with protecting us from unforeseeable dangers and blamed for every bad or even imperfect decision he makes under continuous, extreme pressure. I get that.

But that’s the job, tough. You don’t want to live with that, don’t do it. Be an electrician, a plumber, an architect, a soldier, a writer, I don’t care. When you take on the badge and the responsibility, we demand you be responsible. We demand you live up to that job. And most cops do most of the time. But when dumb cops – or good cops, for that matter – screw it up, they have to be indicted the same way we would.

I said indicted, by the way, not convicted. The protests were over lack of indictments. The man gets a day in court, he gets the chance to tell us all why he did what he did. Maybe we all learn it’s not so easy. Maybe some cops realize that what sounds funny and right in the station house doesn’t always sound so good when you’re saying it out loud to the people you’re supposed to be protecting.

Grand juries indict 98% of the individuals brought before them. They indict 1% of the police officers, even when they shoot unarmed civilians, even when they choke them to death using an illegal hold on videotape.

In a world that pays bosses $100 million a year while workers struggle to get by,

-where Walmart has managers on public assistance while the Walton family has as much money as the bottom 42% of the American population,

-where citizens defaulting on their mortgages lose their homes and savings while the banks that sold securities based on those fraudulent loans get bailed out and pay hundreds of millions in bonuses the same year,

-where a man gets tackled by a gang of cops for selling loose cigarettes while Jamie Dimon can call the Attorney General’s office and have them postpone an indictment against JP Morgan Chase over $7 billion in fraudulent transactions because when Jamie Dimon calls, they pick up the phone and say ‘Yes, Sir!’

– in a world like that, the bottom-line issue for a whole lot of us is fairness.

We’re fed up with a system that’s rotten and corrupt to the gills and that is treating us like what’s left on the bottom of someone’s shoe at the end of a rainy day. So it’s not your guys, Pat Lynch, it’s certainly not just your guys – but the cleansing starts here.

The favoritism ends, the favoritism that’s everywhere, has to end and it’s the rest of us, the millions of the rest of us, who are demanding that guilty parties large and small be called on the carpet and held accountable. Not just the powerless ones, not anymore; we want to see in the block even the ones who can call the Attorney General or pull out a police courtesy card.

That’s how this is all going to end. It can take a while or it can happen fast. It can end with political reform, voted in by the legislature and signed in polite solemn ceremonies by humbled politicians – or it can end with rows of guillotines in the public square and who the fuck knows whose head is coming off today.

Let’s all acknowledge it would be really horrible if it turned out to be the latter.

The difference between one and the other might be restraint on all sides, not escalating at a reflex, not tarring everyone you disagree with because of the tragic acts of today’s headline lunatic, but instead making an effort to understand how the other side feels. Believe it or not, Pat and Rudy and Scott and Bill Bratton and the good cops I see on the streets, I’m trying real hard to see your side.

Try a little harder to see mine. Please.

 

Today’s Reading…

Ahh, it’s a good day. Two items with the scent of clear thinking (so rare, these days)…

Ford’s unofficial rebuttal to Cadillac’s sleazy ‘Let’s all work ourselves to death because we’re Americans!’ campaign (I recommend watching the Cadillac ad first).

ford-cadillac-poolside-hed-2014

 

On a more serious note, Ursula LeGuin’s comments on the future of writing and our society. Makes me proud to be a genre writer and sad to living in this time of misbegotten values. I’m copying this from the parkerhiggins.net  blog, all thanks to him for this (click on the photo to see the original post):

ursula leguin

 

Thank you Neil [Gaiman, who presented the award], and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It’s name is freedom.

Thank you.