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Jason Rice Archive

Jason Rice

Crap

October 19th, 2009
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

It’s crap that I can’t afford to buy an iPhone.  Cry me a river, you say.  It’s also crap that I have to spend two hours a day commuting in my car to work a job that is just a job.  When did I become a person who fulfills other people’s dreams at the expense of my own?  

Planes crashed into the World Trade Center, and six weeks later I lost my job at Random House.  A week after that I bought a house.  That was supposed to be my dream. Now I’m living in it, and I can want for nothing.  Is that the deal?

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Jason Rice

This Is Cool

March 13th, 2009
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

What’s cool to me? Well, I used to think it was Nike sneakers, I saw this kid in the fifth grade who kept his white as a sheet, and when he sat down he lazily tipped his feet to the sides and it just looked cool.  Then I discovered The Police, holy cow, was I blown away, until then I was delivering the local newspaper listening to Top 40 on a tape deck strapped to the handlebars of my bike.  My dad brought home Synchronicity, and from then on, it was Sting and the boys, that will always be cool.  After that it was Garry Winogrand, his photography walked on water for me in college, and I thought I was his physical reincarnation…then I moved to New York City and discovered I was just one of a zillion.  Before I left college I picked up a pool cue and played like a house on fire, I thought that was cool, like Winogrand and The Police, even Nike sneakers, I was building a “cool vernacular”.  I went to Chelsea Billiards (RIP) on twenty first street in NYC and realized that I could barely play and had my ass handed to me after five minutes.  I spent the next ten years playing twenty five hours a week, that was cool.  But like Tommy says in the very cool Snatch, “You want to see if I’ve got the minerals.” Now that will always be cool.

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Jason Rice

The Book Business is Dead…Again

February 6th, 2009
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

The first time I got laid off from the book publishing business it was the day before I signed the papers to my first home (Thanksgiving 2001). The second time I had just found out that I was going to be a father in six months (summertime, when book publishing goes on holiday), so it’s not a shock to me that the future of book publishing would come into question.  Time Magazine’s article is fairly thin on the real nuts & bolts and very good at presenting flashes in the pan, especially on the self publishing side of things. Which if you ask me seems like the death of the process as we know it. I’ve written five novels and two collections of short stories, and not once have I thought about self publishing them. I know it works for some people, but it’s like taking your pay check each week and setting it down on black/red at the roulette wheel and hoping for the best. Plus you loose the editorial feedback and the steady hand of an industry that is supposed to know what it’s doing. But it works for some people, so I know I’m wrong.

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Jason Rice

Candy, Cans and Laces

December 5th, 2008
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

I go through these phases of obsession, and I can’t explain it or stop it from happening. Currently I’m working on three things.

1. Canada Wintergreen Mints (the pink mints).

2. New shoe laces.

3. Recycling seltzer cans.

I used to eat these mints when I was a kid. I kept an Olympic sized Frisbee under my bed and mixed a bag of this candy with Mike & Ike’s. As an adult you’re supposed to shed these habits, but I can’t. Some people say candy is for kids. Thanks for your point of view.  If you don’t like it, then don’t eat it.  Some days I really like the chalky residue on my fingers, other days it’s the tough chewy consistency of the candy that appeals to my obsession. Most days it’s the joy I get from candy.  It can’t let me down, disappointment or reject me. Tell me I’m no good, or make me feel less than human. It’s a staple that will always be there. I can count on it making me feel good.  No matter what happens.

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Jason Rice

Confessions of a Don’t Know it All

November 19th, 2008
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

I guess it’s a good thing that Nick Belardes and his post got me thinking about the generation I’m part of. I went to art school and for the longest time, ( I was living in New York City) I thought everyone in my class was the last generation to really make a difference, or a statement, guys like Eric White, Chuck Stone, Jill Greenberg (all graduated in front of me), just to name a few, who were all making their mark.  I started going to parties on rooftops, went to Anthony Avildsen’s place and hung out with other movers and shakers, (his father directed Rocky) and ran into Oliver Berkman from time to time, he wrote Kicking and Screaming with Noah Baumbach, and most of the characters in that movie were based on people from our graduating year at college (I went to school with Oliver, not Noah Baumbach, but the guy named Skippy in that movie is directly based on someone in our class, along with everyone else in that movie, Oliver might argue that, but that’s what I heard, and the real Skippy wanted to play the role).  So I thought for some reason that this would all bleed over to me.  Why not? I was there, part of it all, in the City with all this talent. Then I got the call to go to France and teach photography to American students. A year later I came back and realized no one waited for me.  Everyone was off getting their illustrations published in the New York Times Book review; having one man shows, publishing novels, writing more novels, and then Quentin Tarantino hit and I thought I could be a screenwriter.  God, what a disaster, I wrote like a teenager with Tourettes and dyslexia, a funny combination if your walking down the street randomly talking about the world, not so much if you’re trying to write a screenplay.

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Jason Rice

Am I Don Draper?

October 21st, 2008
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ-

I have strange ability to turn what I see on the television set into a distinct feeling that follows me everywhere. In last Sunday nights episode Don Draper who is MIA in California walked to the ocean and waded in, stretching his hands out Christ like, hoping to absorb something.  I’ve done this very same thing.  He’s searching for who he really is.  He isn’t Don Draper, he’s someone else, and he’s in California for a trade show, and ends up visiting a woman who has direct bearing on his past.  Why is he hiding out? Why did he reinvent himself? Why do I think I’m Don Draper? 

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Jason Rice

Pieces of String too Short to Use, #3

October 16th, 2008
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ -

Joe’s wasn’t on my mind as we walked across the hot white linoleum of the supermarket.  Ray told me after I got picked that I’d get a Cheticamp shirt, a red and black shirt that was mostly woven lines of color, soft cotton and licorice black buttons up the front. This was a shirt that everyone had at camp, most campers anyway, at least those who had been here before this summer.  Last night I saw a girl I’d been trying to talk to pass into the light that was being thrown out the kitchen window onto the sink outside where the dishes were done.  I saw her move down the slick wooden planks that ran parallel between the sinks and the muddy dirt beyond it and just in front of the bushes. She was there just for a moment and her sheet white face and jet black hair glowed briefly in the band of light, and then she was gone. She was wearing that shirt, its black squares blurry as she passed, and she had the sleeves rolled up away from her bony wrists and long fingers. Her name was Kate Clark, no relation to Paul. But everyone asked just because they had the same last name.

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Jason Rice

You Can’t Make This Up

October 9th, 2008
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ -

It was a place that I can’t imagine going back to, sure I’ve been back, and it’s really funny now that I think about it.  I wasn’t laughing at the time.  It was this place I dreaded, you know, in the way that you dread the dentist, a long drive, or the morgue. There was this kid and I mean he was just a kid, like the first grade.  He’s was the toughest kid I knew, at the time anyway, I’ve met tougher since. The first grade is supposed to be a wonderfully comfortable place filled with nurturing and learning.  A place that creates the foundation of your educational experience.  It wasn’t that for me.  I was on the run from Tom West, and the funny thing about it, he looked forward to seeing me everyday.  I didn’t study very hard, never did my homework, I took it for granted.  I knew that eventually I’d pass, whether it was now or later, it didn’t matter to me.

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Jason Rice

Pieces of String too Short to Use, #2

October 6th, 2008
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ -

Sunlight streaked across the wooden floor from the windows behind us, other campers trickled in and out, passing through on the way back from the beach or the community pastures that were located up the top of the mountain above the camp.  Paul had been trying to jump through the window but waited for a few more people to show up so he could have an audience.  Ray, a tall lanky redhead from Massachusetts sat alongside me.  On the bench between us was a much used deck of cards that was minus the two of clubs and the four of hearts, but otherwise was good enough for Gin Rummy.  The windows at the far corner of the main building were five feet wide and about as tall, beneath them was a bench which created a problem for Paul, from what I could see.  Just outside these windows was the path between the pine trees that led up to our tree house.  Paul suddenly ran down the path crouching as ran and shot off the ground with his arms straight out in front of him and passed through the open window like this was the only way you could possibly get in and out of the main building.  I noticed his hair was matted down by the force of the wind he cut through as he dove onto the floor.  He placed his hands in front of himself to break his fall and rolled head over heels onto the floor and stood up.  The jeans he was wearing were ripped at the knees and I noticed that he quickly wiped his upper lip with a thumb and then turned around and ran out the back door of the building.  He did it again and again, and finally Ray got up and thought he would try it, on his first attempt he landed half way through the window on his belly and had to crawl onto the floor in shame.  I could see just as he was approaching the window that he hesitated.  I’ve heard that even in a moment of self-mutilation you pause or flinch just before you commit the act, whether it’s poking yourself with a needle, punching a wall or pulling the trigger of a gun, that your body automatically knows to protect itself against you. 

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Jason Rice

Pieces of String too Short to Use, #1

September 16th, 2008
by Jason Rice

TOMS RIVER, NJ -

When I met Paul I didn’t know he could fly through windows, or wrestle ponies, even walk across fields of cut hay like a man who didn’t know that someday his world would end.  He made me laugh until it hurt and did things I thought only comic book characters could achieve.  He was shaped like a tree trunk; his waist and chest were beveled steel his arms resembled the hind legs of a racehorse.  He had a head of straight ear length hair that made a slow traipse across his perfectly shaped head, and was combed by nothing more than a pillow.  He always looked like he was just getting up, as if everything were in front of him, the day, his life, and nothing seemed out of his reach.       

The first time I saw him he stood with the other counselors near Port Ban along the coast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  The sun was setting over their shoulders and Paul looked like the rest of them, he smiled when the another counselors spoke seriously, like death, as he was tried to scare us with his idea of us walking  five miles down the dirt road to camp.  The front yard of the two bedroom coastal shack with weather beaten unstained shingles seemed out of place in comparison to the surrounding waist high grass.  I looked down at the beaten grass under my feet, it looked like a space ship had just left after a long stay.  Moving away from the group and passing the school bus which had brought us here from Massachusetts I wished it could take us to camp, even though the heat from the motor wafted in my direction and reminded me just how hot it was to ride in.

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