Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I Occupy Baldwin-Space!

Evidently I blog a lot less when I get really busy. After This American Life, two things happened almost immediately: 1.) I met a potentially interested agent, who I'm trying like hell to perfect my proposal for, and 2.) I got a phonecall and was invited to perform on the Moth's Mainstage.

See, the Moth isn't just storytelling slams. They also do regular storytelling shows, with actual ticket sales and actual paying gigs, and these often include luminaries like Margaret Cho, Lili Taylor, Moby, etc. The show I'm performing in is called "Going South" and will include Tony Hendra (founding brainchild of The National Lampoon, but mostly famous for being Spinal Tap's cricket-bat-wielding manager) and Curt Anderson (founder of Spy Magazine, and now host of NPR's Studio 360). There may be others, including (I presume) folks I already know from storytelling shows around town. (We're about ten in all, I think.) But you know who won't be there? Daniel Baldwin. Apparently he cancelled, and apparently that's why I was called.

So when I perform on Tuesday---a story you may be familiar with, which I call "The Most Heartwarming Wet T-Shirt Contest Ever"---I will actually be occupying the same space as the co-star of John Carpenter's Vampires. (Though it was really James Woods's movie all the way.) Breathing the same air! Hanging out in the same green room, maybe! So this is obscure, loosely defined, VH1's-I-Love-The-Eighties level celebrity! Can someone tie me off? There's a guy here with a great price on smack.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Worst. Clue. Ever!

I just ran across what I think may be the worst entry, and clue, I've ever seen in a crossword:

Entry: ENRI

Clue: Matisse, to a Cockney

If there's a bounty for finding stuff this bad, I'll take my money now.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Title Update

While discussing my book with Jane, the director of my piece for This American Life, she referred to it as How To Love God Without Being A Jerk (as opposed to And Not Be), and the more I think about it, the better I like it. (Among other things, it feels more grammatical.) So I have hereby changed the title. Please adjust your schemes of perception accordingly. Thanks.

With any luck, I'll be finished with the proposal in two or three days. The hard part has not been writing material, but finding which material to actually open the book with. I think I've solved the problem now, and I owe it all to Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, for writing such great books with (alas) such irritatingly snide sentences. It's time someone came out with a polite case for atheism that distinguishes good religion from bad and understands why atheism as we currently conceive of it might not be the most appealing life choice for many people. You're welcome.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Star Wars Mailbox

34th and Broadway. I'd heard about them, but don't know why. Is this supposed to make me want to send things?


Must-Read Ecology Satire

Dan Savage has just written what may be the best takedown of far-left ecological thinking I ever hope to see, as he reads an issue of the Nation and concludes that, apparently, for the sake of the planet, none of us should ever move. The last line is pure fucking brilliance.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This American Life, etc.

My friend Ryan, back in the days when people wrote letters, noticed that every letter always began with "Sorry it's been such a long time since I wrote..." and he decided to save everyone some time and replace the entire sentiment with a single symbol: *

And so: *

A number of things have happened since I last posted that are not only newsworthy but explain why I've been busy, not the least of which is this: in the middle of trying to write my book proposal for How to Love God And Not Be a Jerk, I was contacted via e-mail by Lisa Pollak from This American Life (if you were on my team at the MIT Mystery Hunt, that was her, following us around). They liked a SECOND pitch I'd made, for an upcoming show on "The Ten Commandments." My idea: to talk about adultery using the fundamentalist concept of "committing adultery in your heart" (i.e., having lustful thoughts) and talk about how it nearly killed me. This time, I'm "contributor David Dickerson" and they're paying me as a writer. I can't tell you how excited I've been. So just a few days ago I was actually in a read-through with Lisa, senior producer Julie Snyder, a director named Jane, and Ira Gla--fucking--ss, reading through my story and trying to find the best pace for it, the best beats, etc.

I've never been so well edited in my life. It verged on maddening at times, because I think the quality of a really good editor is to obsess about details that not even the writer is particularly motivated about (which is why most great writers come out of great writer-editor partnerships). Then yesterday I actually taped the script we finally came up with, and I learned what makes Jane so great. Reading is easy until you notice every goddamn thing you're doing. Then it helps to have a professional nearby. "Breathe more in between your lines," she'd say, or "That sounds like you're reading it off a page. Pretend you're talking to a friend." I raised my chin. I tried not to turn my head. I spoke at an angle to the mike. I tried it again only this time more flat. I tried it again without dropping off tonally. I tried it again for reasons I can only dimly remember. Being a director is probably really good training for being a dominatrix.

Anyway, the show will run on the 4th, and it's available on iTunes and at their website. The show has ten segments. I'm somewhere around number seven. (It didn't occur to me to ask which version of the Decalogue they're going by. I assume the Judge Roy Moore version. [correction: ex-judge.])

In other news, I bought an exercise bike (Thanks, Andy, for the moving help!) which actually fits in my tiny-ass room, and which is actually so whisper-quiet I never need fear getting beat up by the neighbors. I swear to god, if you live in a Manhattan apartment, you couldn't ask for a better machine. A Schwinn 105p. I feel lighter already.

And yesterday, in my How To Love God research, I bought Christopher Hitchen's new book, God Isn't Great. I actually didn't have many hopes for it, because while Hitchens is a master of elegant vitriol, he certainly has irritating opinions (he wrote a piece in Vanity Fair about "Why Women Aren't Funny" that was so smug I just want to slap him), and sometimes you get tired of all the hectoring. But this is a worthy addition to the sort of modern atheist trilogy (which includes Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion and Sam Harris's The End of Faith---with his follow-up book, Letter to a Christian Nation considered as an appendix to the latter). And, I'm happy to say for my sake, that none of them obviates (so far) the points I am hoping to make with my book: that the atheists who have written these books don't actually understand religious people; that if atheism is ever going to become popular, it needs to look unflinchingly at why people might find it unpleasant; and that before we talk about getting rid of religion, we need to first distinguish between what good and bad religion actually is. With any luck, I'll have this proposal completed by next weekend. You know, when I'm not exercycling.

In other news, Ryan Wyatt, my best friend in town, just left Manhattan to take a really exciting job at a Science Center in San Francisco. Among other advantages, the Center is apparently going to be the largest green building in the ... um, United States? World? I keep forgetting. Probably world, because Ryan seemed very excited. When he got there, they actually had a press conference, which I'm hoping will show up in the boondock areas of YouTube.

That should do it. I should write a bit more now that I'm not constantly fiddling with an actual script that I'm actually getting paid for. But boy, do I feel smart for having moved here!

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