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The aggression will not stand

D.R. Haney Archive

D.R. Haney

The Dark Undone

November 6th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

The thought came to me when I was fifteen and trying to sleep on New Year’s Eve. Nothing I recall had happened to incite it. I’d spent the night babysitting my younger siblings while my mother attended a party, and she returned home around one in the morning and everyone went to bed. (My parents had divorced, though they continued to quarrel as if married.) My brother was sleeping in the bunk below mine, and as I stared at the ceiling and listened to the house settle, I thought: Why don’t you go into the kitchen and get a knife and stab your family to death?

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D.R. Haney

Saved by Demon Song

October 11th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

I’m hungry. I have no money at all, none is expected soon, and there’s no one from whom I can borrow. I pace all night, wondering how to come by a few dollars to eat.

Finally, slowly, a plan unfolds: I can walk down the street to an ATM, fill out a deposit slip for a phantom check, feed the slip to the ATM, and request a cash advance. The bank, of course, will quickly discover that no check accompanied the deposit slip, but once I’m contacted, I’ll simply say that, being in a hurry, I forgot. By then I hope to have thought of someone who’s willing to cut me a bona fide check.

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D.R. Haney

What Child Is This?

October 5th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

A relative is apparently angry at me, or so I was told by another relative. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with my contributions to The Nervous Breakdown (though this piece may well compound the situation). Rather, in his (erroneous) view, I slighted still another relative, so, on the relative’s unrequested behalf, I’m being given the silent treatment.

Meantime, last week, while in the middle of what might be described as extremely trying financial circumstances (including the death of my car), a friend texted to ask why I’d been “talking shit” about him. I could only guess as to his meaning. I’d recently discussed him with a mutual acquaintance, specifically regarding what I considered a pattern of rudeness. I should’ve spoken to my friend, as opposed to about him, but I did so because I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. However, our acquaintance seems to have decided a big deal was in order, and tattled.

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D.R. Haney

How I Became Human

August 30th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

Growing up working-class in a small Southern city, I early acquired a racist vocabulary. This was by no means encouraged by my parents, who were mortified when, at four or so, I referred to a fellow customer at Sears as a nigger. I have no memory of doing that — I was told about it years later — but I’m sure I was baffled by the punishment I received. The kids in my neighborhood used the word “nigger” as a matter of course. To them, it was an appropriate term for a person of color, and I followed suit, even after the Sears incident. Why punish someone for calling a bird a bird? And why would a bird object? So, I think, my reasoning went.
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D.R. Haney

3301 Waverly Drive

August 13th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

Jerry and Mary Neeley used to own the best video store on the east side of L.A. That’s where I met them, and since they closed shop two years ago to sell movie collectibles online, we’ve occasionally met for coffee and talk of, among other topics, true crime. We’ve also kept in touch by e-mail, and last week Mary sent the following message:

As you know, the 40th anniversary of Tate/LaBianca is this August 8th & 9th. (Technically, the 9th & 10th because both parties were killed after midnight.)

I wanted to go to the LaBianca house around 1am on the 10th to see if anyone else shows up. Would you be interested? I don’t want to walk up there alone at 1am.
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D.R. Haney

I Was a Child Porn Model

July 29th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

When I was ten, my parents sent me to summer camp for two weeks. They made the arrangements secretly, knowing a fit was inevitable the minute they broke the news. I was an explosive kid, coming as I did from a histrionic family, and my parents wanted me gone for a while so they could rage at each other without me around to upstage them.
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D.R. Haney

Romance, Bromance, and Déjà Vu

July 12th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

My best friend in my early L.A. days was a German guy I’ll call Christoph. I lived on the porch of a house in Silver Lake, which I shared with a gay musician, a film student from Austria, yet another film student from France, and the birdlike former frontwoman of the noted band A Certain Ratio; and Christoph was a constant guest who’d often stop by at night and drink with me till dawn. Like me, he’d lived in New York, where he worked as freelance photographer, and when I met him, through my Austrian housemate, he was launching his cinematography career. He later progressed to shooting blockbusters, and when he returned from far-flung locations, he was always full of gossip. I heard much that I won’t repeat, though I’ll share this much: If Christoph is to be believed—and, whatever his faults, I can vouch for his credibility—Julia Roberts is a major bitch.
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D.R. Haney

A Thousand Words: Have You Seen My Head?

July 7th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

After one of the first Die Princess Die shows I attended, Pete, the guitarist and co-frontman, asked what I thought. I allowed that the show was pretty good, except I wished the band would break more stuff.

He considered that a lame reaction—or “stupid” is the adjective I believe he used. I was surprised, since we’d initially bonded over our shared enthusiasm for …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, a band notorious at the time for breaking stuff.

Over the next couple of years, however, Die Princess Die evolved into perhaps the most destructive, if not out-and-out violent, band in Southern California. They scared people, and I think that partly accounts for the large following they deserved but never acquired, despite having not just one but two frontmen with movie-star looks.
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D.R. Haney

“Farrah! You’re beautiful! I love you!”

June 26th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

I was a teenager living in New York. George was my brilliant roommate, and sometimes, if we weren’t doing anything, one of us would say, “Do you want to walk aimlessly around?” That was our standard joke. But we did indeed spend much time walking aimlessly all over Manhattan, and one early-winter night on the Upper East Side, far from the one-room hovel we shared near the Williamsburg Bridge, we saw flashbulbs popping a little ahead of us on the sidewalk. A celebrity must be near—a celebrity being hounded by the paparazzi. We kept walking, and I saw that the celebrity was Farrah Fawcett.
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D.R. Haney

The Uninvited

June 22nd, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

One night maybe five years ago, as I was revising, yet again, Banned for Life, I heard a sound: a slight thump, as if a matchbox had fallen to the floor. I stopped typing and, now hearing nothing, decided it must have been my imagination.

Then, the following night, I heard another sound, this one louder. It seemed to come from my bathroom, and when I investigated and found nothing there, I wondered for a moment if my apartment was haunted.

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D.R. Haney

And a New Chapter Begins

June 16th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

I spent nine years writing Banned for Life, my recently published novel. I consider that a long time to work on a book; James Joyce, whose name I’m unfit to mention by way of comparison, worked on Ulysses for eight years, and that book is longer than mine by over three hundred pages. (I post this on Bloomsday.)

Was it worth it? I don’t really know, yet. It will depend, I suppose, on how it’s received. At the moment, a number of friends are reading Banned, or maybe some of them have finished reading, only they haven’t told me, either because they haven’t had time to write me or call, or they didn’t like it and they’re afraid to tell me, or they did like it and they aren’t quite sure how to express it. I’m an Author now. It’s not a big deal at all to me, the title of Author, but maybe it strikes some of my friends as a big deal, because so many people have vague plans to write a book someday but they deep down suspect they’ll never get around to it. I’ve had two friends announce their jealousy, or as one of them, a comely Scot, put it: “I’d like to slap your face!”
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D.R. Haney

The Double Meaning of ‘D.R.’

June 11th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

I’d just woken up when the phone rang. It was my friend Sophia, or so I’ll refer to her.

“Duke,” she said, immediately after saying hello, “I have to warn you: I’ve had a couple of vodkas.”

“This early in the day? What’s the problem?”

I’ve gotten fairly good at this kind of thing, because I’ve slowly transformed from Duke, oft-depressed and occasionally-suicidal writer, to Dr. Duke, the go-to guy if you’re as oft-depressed and occasionally suicidal as the doctor himself.
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D.R. Haney

Norman Mailer and the Shape of My Nose

June 6th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

Back in the good old days, when I was a hipster kid living in New York City, I was friends with a well-known character actor named Sully Boyar. Sully appeared in numerous movies, among them Fort Apache the Bronx, with Paul Newman and Pam Grier; The Jazz Singer, with Neil Diamond and Laurence Olivier; In the Soup, with Steve Buscemi and Seymour Cassel (who, I don’t mind stating publicly, is a world-class asshole); and Car Wash, with George Carlin and Richard Pryor. The last movie on that list was 1970s Afro-cinema, and Sully played the car-wash owner, so that sometimes, when he was walking around New York, black guys would come up to say, “Didn’t I used to work for your ass?” They really thought they’d worked for Sully, who can be seen in this clip from Car Wash at the 2:19 mark, getting wary looks from his employees, and again at 3:05 in a better shot.
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D.R. Haney

The Assholes

May 31st, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

It was the Saturday night before Halloween, and a friend’s band was playing at a party at a gallery not far from my apartment in Echo Park. I was in a bad mood, though I don’t remember why, since this happened a couple of years ago. Then, too, I’m frequently in a bad mood, which I consider a natural byproduct of being a writer.

Anyway, I drove over to this party and parked a few blocks away, about to head inside when I ran into my buddy Pete on the sidewalk. Pete’s one of The Assholes, as this particular group of my friends sometimes refer to themselves. I’ve always maintained that I’m not really an asshole (despite being one of The Assholes), but I can certainly act like an asshole on occasion, and this night was one of them.
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D.R. Haney

Forever Strangers

May 26th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

I passed them, as I’ve by now passed millions, and I shared only the briefest of moments in their company. In some cases, we never exchanged a word. Yet I still find myself thinking about these people, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg—extras or bit players in the movie of my life, as I was or am in theirs.
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D.R. Haney

Words Written in Hell After a Night in Hell — Or Is That Redundant?

May 21st, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

I fucking love the Walkmen.

Do you know the Walkmen?

If you don’t, you should. I would post a video clip for their greatest (or anyway best-known) song, “The Rat,” if I knew how. Brad, how do I do this? I’m a technical moron, and undoubtedly a moron in other ways, as the following will demonstrate.

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D.R. Haney

Death of a Unicorn

May 7th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

I met Alison at a Die Princess Die show almost three years ago. Our mutual friend Christopher introduced us. “You’ll really hit it off,” he said. “You both write about music.” He and Alie and their friend Rhadeka had driven up from Santa Barbara, where they all lived, to see another band, but they stayed at my insistence for DPD. Alie liked them, as any lover of rock & roll would. After the show, she posted a comment on their MySpace page: a swarm of razor blade butterflies to the face. fuck yeah. Her metaphor was right on the money—DPD did sound like a swarm of razor-blade butterflies to the face—but Alie’s face was lightly scarred here and there, so in that way it was a bit disconcerting. I never asked her about the scars. I never asked her anything about her past, knowing through Christopher that she was in recovery, and not wanting to put her on the spot.

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D.R. Haney

My Night of Drunken, Stupid, Mortifying Insanity

April 24th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

Two and a half years ago, my friend Brin (who also now blogs at TNB) was visiting L.A., and I arranged for him to read from his recently-published novel Sic at a place called the Tribal Café on a stretch in Filipinotown known for crack-dealing. I organized a whole night, in which I would read from my own novel, Banned for Life (soon to appear on Brin’s imprint, And/Or Press), and afterwards I’d screen a film directed by another friend who regularly supplied me with writing jobs.

I’m always nervous before readings, so I brought along a bottle of Bushmill’s, which I shared with the audience. It evaporated quickly, so I asked my mentor, George, if he’d mind grabbing another bottle from a store across the street. (I met George when I was a teenager in New York City, and it’s in no small part due to him that I ended up becoming a writer. He was the first bonafide intellectual I knew, and one of the few intellectuals I know still.) He returned with a liter bottle of Cutty Sark—and so the seeds of disaster were sown.

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D.R. Haney

Ice Cream, Heroin, and a Chance Encounter at Ralph’s

April 19th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

In the summer of 2002, I’d just returned to L.A. from Eastern EuropeBelgrade where I could live cheaply and so work full-time on a novel. To my frustration, the novel still required extensive surgery, and one night, in lieu of taking an axe to my computer, I drove to Ralph’s Supermarket on Glendale Boulevard. It was three in the morning, but there was a longish line at the cash register, and the customer immediately behind me was Elliott Smith. The checker wandered off, and I wondered if I should say anything to Elliott.

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