Monday, June 04, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the Parochialist. CONCLUSION!!!

2008 started.
Unfortunately, the plan to make Davey G and the Keyboard a household name hadn’t gone as well as I thought. But I see the posts from January 2008 and I just wonder how the hell I ever got this angry. It wasn’t all about the City Paper. I had other things. The Parochialist morphed into more of a general complaints and grievances space, while still providing links to all the usual things. Then I began work on the story that killed the Davezine…which was (no small coincidence) all about a fictionalized version of the City Paper…Davezine 13….

Davezine 13 was a zine that contained Low Level Bureaucrats 3: the Rise of the Collective, which combined two of my axes to grind into one book. I was making fun of a local group that was popular at the time and popular with the City Paper. While it might have been a well written story, I don’t know what the hell my marketing plan was. I didn’t have a release party or any huge push beyond what I posted to my blogs. It didn’t receive the wide release of some of my other things. I have no explanation for that. You might be able to find one in a store in the area. I certainly have plenty left over.

(file photo)
As it turned out, I never hit the high level I was aiming for. You could certainly suggest that I could have tried plying my trade in a better market. I could have gone to New York or LA or something and just gone for broke as a performer, far away from the parochial concerns of a lowly alternative weekly. But it’s not what I wanted, it was never what I wanted. In one of the last posts, I (ironically) tried to get people to vote for The Parochialist for best blog in the City Paper. This time I wasn’t serious. I knew there was no chance of this, and the readers obliged by not voting for me.

The last post of The Parochialist was on December 31, 2008. All in all, it had about 31 posts, a fairly meager output considering. Still, it gave me something to focus on from week to week, and provided a small outlet for at least a handful of dedicated readers. But I just didn’t have it in me anymore, and New Years’ Eve of 2008 seemed as good a time as any to say goodbye, which I did with this post:

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 2008... It's over. Thank God. Parochialist out...for now.

Aftermath.
The City Paper ended its run just this past year after a 40 year run. As much as I goofed on it and hated it at times, the fact that it is gone has made a huge hole in this city.
I was already on to the next thing after I finished with The Parochialist. I started up with the National Novel Writing Month, writing 50 thousand novels in a month. Writing like this for one month a year has made me more prolific than I had ever been before. Starting with The Best of Thunder Johnson and then most recently with Pain Center: the Novel, NaNoWriMo has stretched my writing muscles in a way that nothing else ever had, and given me raw material to work with for the rest of the year. To date, I have 10 of these novels in one form or another, plus a memoir and a novella.
And about a year and a half after The Parochialist folded, I quietly put down my keyboard and walked off the stage.

Check out my latest zine. Davezine Number Fourteen: the Bad Roommates Issue!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the Parochialist (part two of three)

Looking back…I never had a shot at this. I know this now. But at the time, it was a huge labor that I spent quite a bit of time trying to make happen. I’m not above putting my energy behind a stupid or hopeless cause. After all, what is the point of living if you aren’t willing to do something pointless at a 100 miles an hour once in a while? I made flyers, I blogged about it, I posted to my Myspace page (because that was still a thing at the time), I told all my friends from the Pub where I worked, I shoved ballots in front of people to get them to vote for me…it was a push like I’d never pushed before. I tried so hard, in fact, that when I didn’t win so much as an honorable mention, I just said “to hell with it.” And while I can’t say it was the whole reason for project, it was at least a catalyst.

The First post included this explanation for what I was attempting to do:

"There are things in the CP that I do like to read, such as Savage Love, Political Animal, This Modern World, etc. Not to mention that CP is a free source for what’s going on in Baltimore on any given week. How can I still get this information without having to resort to picking up the paper that irritates me so much?

Well, here’s where my plucky resourcefulness comes in. I am making my own bastardized version of the City Paper, for my own personal use, (minus their snotty, annoying commentary) and you can too! Print it out for yourself, add your own columns!"

Since City Paper came out on Wednesdays, The Parochialist came out on Thursdays. The rage that led me to that first post kept up for several weeks, and by the end of the month I stumbled across a hook that kept the fans into it for several weeks. It was my top 5 reasons why I was boycotting the City Paper. For the record, here they were:

5. The Handling of a local club’s closing. I didn’t like the way they smeared someone in the way they did. 4. They reviewed a Weird Al show in a very snarky manner. Which REALLY upset me. 3. Their “Short Fiction Contest” after-comments…which were typically snotty. 2. Their Borat Movie review. Admittedly, I never saw that film. But this review was typical of their style at the time. Unhelpful to simply call a movie bad and offer no explanation. 1. They ignore me. Yeah…this one was the driving factor.

In retrospect…I think at least 4 of those reasons were valid. I’ll let you guess which 4. That might have been the highpoint of the blog’s run. Towards the end of that year, I had called off my boycott. It didn’t make sense for me to dedicate time to making fun of a paper that I wasn’t even reading. I played a CD release party, to relative success. My girlfriend and I flew to Vegas over Christmas to get married in secret…

The Rise and Fall of the Parochialist, Part one.


In an old version of my zine, I was going to put this out as a feature, but I've decided to let it rest here, on the blog. My new zine, Davezine Number Fourteen: the Bad Roommates Issue is available here. http://davecookson.tripod.com/DavezineNumber14.html

On October 11, 2007, partly based on a whim but partly based on some real grievances I had built up against the local Baltimore City Paper, I launched a little blog known as The Parochialist…a cheeky little poke at CP that billed itself as an alternative to the alternative, including links to many of the same syndicated columns as well as my own “bully pulpit” take on the many issues of the City Paper. The Parochialist got its name from the ideals on which it was founded…dedicated to the idea that possessing a narrow view, with blinders to all distractions was the way I would proceed with this project. I was single-minded, I was hungry, and I was FOCUSED. To understand the forces that led to my launching of such a ridiculous project (I mean, who is trying to take down a lousy Alternative Weekly all by himself? A Quixotic quest at best) I have to tell you a little about my mindset back then....

I had been doing a little musical project called Davey G and the Keyboard, which I billed as “Weird Al on a 3 dollar Budget.” In reality, it more closely resembled the late Wesley Willis, with me playing along with keyboard pre-sets and making up funny songs. I’d been doing this off and on since 2000, but I’d had a renewed interest in 2005 that led to a series of live performances. I’d had at least a small amount of success doing this, playing at small clubs in town and releasing a few CD’s. In 2007, I set about recording my masterwork: a polished and well produced album of new work.

I know it sounds stupid now, but in 2007 I really thought this would be my ticket to…whatever the hell it was I wanted. I had fans, I had shows, and I had momentum. People liked what I did, even if it wasn’t a large group of people. It had cult appeal. A well-produced and well-distributed album would go a long way to achieving that larger success I hoped for. So with the help of Reverend Alex and C. Camp, as well as the photography studio at Sears, I made the most polished Davey G album to date. That was “Chairman of the Keyboard.”



Long story short, this effort to push my musical “career” at the exclusion of all common sense led to my quixotic effort to try something I had never seriously tried before: I wanted to win City Paper’s Best Musical Artist....

Monday, April 02, 2018

Roseanne is a performer. Stop taking her so personally.

Allow me to broach the topic of something that I’m pretty sure most of my friends and generally liberal leaning people will probably hate and unfollow and unfriend me immediately because it’s 2018 and we are all very, very sensitive. (Just be aware of these three things: I am creative, I am basically a free thinking moderate/liberal, and like many of you, I also can’t stand the thought of Trump as our President.)

Roseanne.

I am not planning to watch her new revival series. It is not for political reasons. I never did watch her show when it was on in the past. My family never watched when I was growing up, I never bothered to watch and after all these years I can honestly say that I have never even seen one episode. I’m not especially crazy about her comedy, her voice…just her in general. But it’s not political. It never was.

Yeah, I know: she likes Trump. And as much as I also can’t stand Trump (see my above disclaimer), it so happens that I do in fact have a few random friends and family who do. Should I stop talking to them? Have we gotten to that point where someone supporting someone you don’t like is reason enough to not talk to them? Aren’t there other things to talk about? But I am hating something on her behalf, because frankly it wounds me as a writer, performer, and comedic minded person, namely, the inability to separate performance from performer.

Yes, real life Roseanne supports Trump. She’s allowed to. If that is your only reason for hating her, well, that’s your right. Yes, she has done some crass routines in the past (the “Baked Jew” cookies thing has popped up). And I’m not defending her lousy rendition of the National Anthem (though why Trump singles out black football players for kneeling yet says nothing about this speaks volumes. I even tweeted about this recently and got more “likes” than I have ever gotten, so color me hater). But holy fuck, you pick any comic who has been doing his or her thing for as long as she has and you are going to find something off color or crude or questionable. It’s called having a career. I have done songs and stories in the past that were questionable that I probably would not be doing today. I shudder to think if I somehow came out on the wrong side of any one of you and you brought these up in your attempt to ruin me. But I own every bad piece of writing and music I have ever done. Without them, I would not have learned how to do better.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a cop out, but it happens. You try stuff, you try to push the limits, push the boundaries, and sometimes you push too far, sometimes you piss off groups of people and if you really go too far, you apologize. I understand your view that supporting Trump is supporting racism, xenophobia, sexual assault, homophobia, and whole host of other terrible things. And as I always say whenever I post something like this, I hate him, too. But also realize that the people who voted for him are also Americans. And somewhere in there is someone you love.

Be a bigger person. It starts with thinking for yourself, and separating real life from the performance. I know it’s hard. But we have to. We already let Trump ruin football. Let’s not let Roseanne ruin everything else.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"What the Hell Do You Want?"

“What the Hell Do You Want?” In the early 90’s, When I was a teenager back in Massachusetts, me and couple of my friends were in the studio audience of a local cable access show called “What the Hell Do you Want?”—a novel show that featured a middle aged man who went by the name Bob Bitchum. He sat in a bathtub and took phone calls from people watching at home and would answer every call with his trademark greeting: “What the Hell do you want?” It was a classic in the old days of Pittsfield Cable Access Television. As a man befitting the name BOB BITCHUM, Bob was a total crank. Terrifically opinionated and not afraid to tell the truth as he saw it, his opinions carried a lot of weight with the blue collar working class of my hometown. To this day, I believe that his constant hammering on the Mayor, a woman he referred to as “Queen Anne” almost single-handedly brought her down.
One day, as a member of the audience, my friends and I were asked to sing the national Anthem for the audience at home. For whatever reason. It was just part of Bob’s free format, which featured bands, phone calls, diatribes, and this that and the other. He asked us to sing the Anthem. Which we did. Badly. Very, very badly. We were young and stupid and all of 14 or 15 years old. But even so, I never thought we were deliberately trying to disrespect the Anthem. We couldn’t help it if we had spiky hair, safety pinned jackets, (I think I was wearing a sleeveless raincoat indoors and my railroad hat...) and looked like grubby little freaks. We were grubby little freaks. It was just how we dressed back then. However we sang it, not long afterward, one of Bob’s callers called in. “What the hell do you want?” After which the caller took us all to task for our disrespect for the National Anthem in what he felt was a lackluster performance, where we did not do it justice…
Let me tell you one thing about Bob Bitchum: he was a bulldog. A warrior. You want him in your foxhole. Because HE WENT OFF on this guy.
“I WENT TO VIETNAM AND I GOT SHOT AT AND I SERVED MY COUNTRY AND I CAME BACK SO THAT THESE KIDS CAN SING THE ANTHEM ANY DAMN WAY THEY WANT TO!!!” I don’t know how long he went off on this person, but it came from somewhere deep inside that little man…
And at that moment, we erupted in cheers at the man who had defended us while tearing the caller a new asshole.
I’ve never forgotten it.
For on that stage of that odd little cable access show, Bob Bitchum in his own profane and rough way, defined what it means to be an American. Maybe we were stupid kids, punks who didn’t know any better, but Bob was not going to stand for his kids being attacked. Because this was America, and that meant something to him. Right or wrong, he felt that in America, kids had the right to be stupid and sing the Anthem badly. Just a thought.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Goodreads Giveaway, redux.

(THIS MIGHT BE A WORK IN PROGRESS. I'M NOT PROMOTING IT, I'M JUST PARKING IT HERE.)

Because I am a writer and all I ever really want is to be read, and because all I ever need is one person to care, I am writing this expanded blog post to accompany my blog post of the other day…in which I tried to tactfully explain my displeasure with the new GoodReads Giveaway program…all because one person asked….

First off, I have to say that I love Goodreads. I have been using it for 9 years, both as a reader and as a writer. It is a great place to find new books, connect with other readers, leave reviews, and (as an author) find new readers of my own work. Goodreads, however, is owned by Amazon, the company that is taking over the entire world in a very frightening manner. That means it is a business, and business does what business does: operates at a profit motive above all else.

And to that end, it has begun a revision to their Giveaway Program, one that I had been using to great success over the past year, as detailed in a previous post. https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/16253196-i-love-you-goodreads-giveaways-but

I read through their blog post announcing this, I read what the new features of it were, but what really popped out at me was the whopping 119 dollar charge for a standard giveaway, and 599 for a Premium Package. (!) Ok. It’s easy to simply say that this is a lot of money for a simple writer to give away his/her hard work. But I wanted to get into the nuts and bolts of the program and why it irks me so much.

From their post: • (NEW) Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list, promoting your book via updates in their friends’ updates feeds, and building an audience for your title.

• (NEW) The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, creating more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.

• About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read your book too.

Ok. These things are available and they are…nice…but let’s be honest: it’s only marginally different from what they had been offering all along FOR FREE. But somehow being able to add your book to a person’s TO READ LIST, notifying their followers, and then notifying the winners to read and review the book…does ANY of this make it worth 119 bucks?

And What about Premium?

• (NEW) Exclusive placements on the Giveaways homepage on Goodreads with tens of millions of visitors each month, giving your giveaway significantly more visibility and more entrants.

• (NEW) Everyone who enters your giveaway automatically adds the book to their Want-to-Read list, promoting your book via updates in their friends’ updates feeds, and building an audience for your title.

• (NEW) The author’s followers and anyone who has already added the book to their Want-to-Read list get a notification, letting them know there’s a giveaway starting. This helps generate even more entries, and creates more stories in the Goodreads updates feed.

• About eight weeks after your Giveaway ends, winners receive an email from Goodreads to remind them to rate and review your book. This will help other readers discover and decide to read your book too.

• Giveaways are shown in the Giveaways section of Goodreads and the book page,allowing readers to discover new books.

Honestly, it sounds like more of the same. And this costs a whopping 599 bucks.

Here’s the thing: Sending these books out already costs me. Before I’ve even put the Pain Center book in an envelope, I spent roughly 4 months with countless hours assembling the books myself. It all comes out of my own pocket. When I make a sale, I am ecstatic. But because I am still an unknown author, no one is lining up to buy my book. But with the giveaways, I was building an audience. I was gaining traction. Yet not one of these giveaways has actually led to any sales. Now they are making people PAY for this???

I understand they gotta make money. But couldn’t there be a compromise? Maybe a cheap option for the rest of us? There has to be some way that these things can be done without fleecing the authors!

Curiously, and apparently singularly, this blog post announcing this change has been closed to comments. Maybe I wasn’t the only one upset by paying so much for something that used to be free.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Giving Your Cat her Meds in liquid form

Any of my friends out there with cats, I just wanted to share this.

My wife and I have 2 older cats, both with medical difficulties: Cliff (age 10) is a diabetic and requires an insulin shot twice a day, along with checking his blood sugar which is done with a poke to the ear with a little needle. He has been like this for a year, but otherwise he has been fine.

Stella (age 12) is dying.

She has cancer, was given about 30 days to live about 90 days ago. We have made peace with this and are just trying to make her final days as comfortable as possible. And to that end, we have been giving her Prednisone, a steroid, as prescribed by our vet. It has done wonders for her, almost to the point where we forget that she is sick. It has improved her appetite and her energy, and while on this she has even gained weight. We believe it has helped extend her life and made her much happier than when we first got the diagnosis.

But the reason I am writing this is the share something that we learned. While Stella is a very sweet kitty, she is terrible about taking pills. We were stymied by having to do battle with her twice a day for something that was supposed to make her feel better. On top of our other diabetic kitty, Stella’s obstinance was creating a real source of stress, especially at 3:45 in the morning when I am trying to get out the door.

So we asked our vet for help. And she gave us a solution: getting the medicine in a liquid form so we can more easily shoot it in her mouth. We were referred to something called a compounding pharmacy, which we’d never heard of before.

Her meds are now easy to give to her in the morning, as all I have to do is pick her up while my wife shoots the dropped into her mouth. If one of us is not there, it is possible to do it alone. Either way, it is so much easier and Stella continues to do well under the circumstances.

We hope to have a few more months of a healthy Stella. But I just wanted to pass long that information for anyone out there having trouble. Here is a link to the Veterinary Pharmacies of America site, which can help you find a compounding pharmacy in your area.

Hope this helps someone!

http://www.vparx.com

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Today's the Day! Pain Center: the Novel! is out!!!

Many years from now, when people ask you, "Where were you on April 4, 2017, when Pain Center: the Novel! was released?" what will you tell them?
Pain.
Lost Love.
Betrayal.
And most importantly…
Coffee.
When Kyle's headaches drive him to seek the help of the Hartsburg Holistic Pain Center for Hartsburgers with Holistic Pain, he is reunited with a lost love from his youth. But what is the deal with his roommate with the stuffed animal that he uses to take notes after his midnight treks? Why do they make the patients do jumping jacks and pottery? And why do they force them to eat bean bowls and abstain from coffee? As he begins to question his situation, he soon finds that there is a deeper conspiracy that will rock the coffee loving town below...



PAIN CENTER: THE NOVEL!!!, By David G. Cookson!
Available through my web page:
http://davecookson.tripod.com/PainCentertheNovel.html,
atomic books in Baltimore,
Quimby's Bookstore (Chicago area only, for now)
or through the good, old fashioned US Postal Service, by sending 8 US dollars to :

David Cookson
PO Box 23568
Baltimore, MD
21203.

There, I hope you seek it out at one of these fine establishments, more to be added in the future. This is a good book, I hope you check it out!