A note from my publisher:
As you know, Brash Books is dedicated to bringing you the greatest crime novels in existence, and we’re so excited to bring you a brand new voice that’s sure to rock the genre! Brash Books has just signed author Mark Rogers and will be publishing his inventive new crime novel, KOREATOWN BLUES, in February 2017.
Rogers’ debut thriller tells the story of Wes—whose purchase of a car wash in LA’s Koreatown comes complete with a young Korean wife he’s never met. Wes soon learns her five previous husbands were murdered before the honeymoon and finds himself with ring on his finger and a target on his back. Will he become the next victim of this centuries-old blood feud—or will he emerge as the last husband standing?
You’ll have to wait until February for more—but we can give you a sneak peek of the cover here. Trust us—this book is just as stunning as it looks
Greenburg was like a lot of northeastern towns. It was bankrupt, ugly and filled with ignorant people. The healthy ones fled and the maimed, in-bred and elderly stayed behind. Businesses failed. Job lot stores, secondhand shops and filthy, dimly lit restaurants did their best to extract nickels and dimes from the populace. If a newspaper was blowing and tumbling down Main Street in a humid wind, it was more often than not the National Enquirer. But Greenburg had something that other more successful towns didn’t: a preponderance of basements with high ceilings.
From the novel Basement
Order HERE from Amazon.
He often referred to himself as Johnny of West New York. The bravado of the nickname masked a paralyzing fear.
John Langsdorf was the best writer I’ve ever met. Early supporters included Allen Ginsberg and City Lights Books. John was also the most damaged writer, addicted to alcohol and Valium and cloistered away in a Hoboken railroad flat, walled in by agoraphobia.
”When life gets too much that one’s breathing, after frantic hyperventilation, shuts down and a fella gladly takes his mitts and shits his final load. So Charlie stashed 3 bags of D and 20 Percocets and promised not to dabble. They’d be his ticket. He felt relieved and moved about more freely, like a geek in Harlem holding automatic pistols in each pocket. Shoot any badass down, get a bunch of ’em, then off some fucking cops, kill everybody and just before they break in take one real hot fix and blow off to the Lord’s left hand.”
John Langsdorf, from a handwritten manuscript
Down at 410 is the story of our friendship, mixing my prose with John’s writings and pre-dawn letters to me. These letters were never mailed; instead John would hand them over when I’d show up at his door with a six-pack of MeisterBrau. John should have had a brilliant career. It didn’t happen.
I imagined us squaring off down by the railroad tracks. Paper cups a blowin’ in the wind. Friends – some cruel, some afraid and disgusted – ringing ’round us. No sun. No cars. Standing on hard-packed earth that has thrown little pebbles to the surface. Ugly plants dot the ground, with prickly stems and five-starred leaves covered with little invisible needles like velvet. In the distance, as we raise our fists, are many wires of phone, train and telegraph lining the horizon; little ceramic insulators hang on the rubber wire. A PomPom box lies on the ground between us. John is frightened, sweating fear he can’t hide. Myself – all my sadism is riding high. I’m thinking: He doesn’t have a chance. I can hit him hard as I want. Hurt him. Serve him right.
I start hitting him. He covers up. I hit him in the trash heap. He’s in pain. I smoke him.
From the memoir Down at 410
Order HERE from Amazon.
I didn’t grow up in the city. I grew up in the heavily wooded suburbs of New Jersey. As a young man of 24, while studying fine arts at Ramapo College, I heard that Hoboken was on the verge of becoming an artists’ community. This was in 1976. I was looking for the next step in my life and took the commuter train to Hoboken with my younger brother Rich.
Hoboken was a few years from becoming anything resembling a haven for artists. It was still shaking off the racial tension of the 1960s and there was an uneasy truce in the air between all of the ethnic factions, the old timers—the Germans, Irish and Italians—the relative newcomers from Latin America, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the blacks from the projects.
It didn’t take but one visit to Hoboken to get me scrambling to secure the deposit on a two bedroom apartment on Garden Street. Rich and I moved in and I set to exploring the city. It was all new to me and I began writing down things I overheard and describing things I saw.
Breakfast Special isn’t anything like a classic memoir – there’s a lack of connective tissue. What the reader may want to keep in mind is I arrived in Hoboken broke and my first job was working as a cook at Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips, a fast food restaurant. I eventually got a job at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Manhattan, which led to me operating an outdoor bookstand for them in Central Park. During this time, I worked hard on my artwork. I began drawing illustrations for the NY Times Book Review; my etchings were commissioned by the Pace Gallery on Manhattan’s 57th Street; and some of the writings and illustrations in Breakfast Special appeared as a six-part series in the Village Voice titled City Confidential. Week by week saw writers, musicians, dancers and artists moving into Hoboken, until it actually did become a bona fide artists’ community.
Back in those days there seemed to be a bar on every corner in Hoboken and I probably had a drink in most of them. A thread running through all of those evenings huddled over a 35 cent glass of Rheingold was a desire for true connection with a woman.
Order HERE from Amazon.
Heading down from Southern California to spend Christmas in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, with a family in tatters:
Eva decides to give me a Reiki massage, complete with weird vibrating instruments pressed against my scalp, like metallic loofahs, supposedly untangling twisted nerve endings in my brain. What followed was 30 minutes of body massage, which was really a barrage of indelicate pummeling and prodding.
During this, Sophy pokes her head into the room and tells me, “She’s going to give you the treatment next.”
It turns out that the treatment is a huge needle shooting human growth serum directly into my shoulder muscle. It’s going to fix my bum knee and make me glow with youthful vigor. The needle hurts going in, but I have a strong threshold for pain. What’s a few seconds of torture from what feels like the losing end of a knife fight? Especially if it’s gonna set me right with my knee.
But it wasn’t just one needle—it was two…then three…then four. In my shoulder, my biceps, my ass.
When I asked Evie how many needles she was going to give me, she wouldn’t answer. Instead she said, “I know what I’m doing.”
Nine… ten… eleven. The 12th needle goes straight into my knee. Chinga tu Madre!
Sophy leans over and says, “Women give birth and it hurts so much they yell out bad words. But then they get pregnant again.”
I ask, “How many more?”
No answer from Evie.
At 13 needles I yell, “Fuck! This is enough.”
The women think this is really funny.
Evie makes a sad face and pretends to wipe away a tear.
Later I look up and learn a new word in Spanish; my new name for Evie: La Torturadura.
From the travel memoir 101 Ticks: A Christmas in Ciudad Obregon
Order HERE from Amazon
I had truck with Allen Ginsberg in 1977 & 1978. I was about twenty-two and shortly thereafter wrote this short book as part of a longer “novel.” Now, aged thirty, an associate offered to publish the work – the Are You Cute? A Visit with Ginsberg section. So I took the old MS – weeks to dig it out of all my other unpublished horseshit, some pages missing or trashed – and edited, spruced the original piece.
I thank AG for not proffering libel suit against me.
John Langsdorf, August 1986
John Langsdorf was born in 1956 and died in 1996 from a heroin overdose. While a prolific and talented writer, his afflictions – agoraphobia, drug addiction and alcoholism – got in the way of Langsdorf fully realizing a career as a writer. Details of his life are sketchy – he was born in 1956 in West New York, New Jersey, a working class community across the Hudson from NYC. For many years Langsdorf lived in Hoboken, NJ. Even while his writing grew stronger, his life spiraled down and there’s conjecture that his death was an intentional OD – a successful suicide attempt. He published little in his lifetime, most notably a selection of poems and prose in City Lights Anthology #4. Mark Rogers, the publisher of Tar House Books, was a close friend of John’s. In the months to come, Tar House will publish four titles by Langsdorf: Are You Cute: A Visit with Allen Ginsberg; Johnny of West New York; Hoboken Comedy; and Champagne Blowjob. Langsdorf’s writings also feature in Mark Roger’s memoir of their friendship: Down at 410.
John Langsdorf was a polarizing figure and I’m sure Are You Cute? will also be polarizing. I expect some readers will take issue with John’s portrait of Allen. Maybe they’ll pick apart John’s renditions of Allen’s speaking patterns. Maybe they won’t see Allen in this book. When I read it, I see an Allen Ginsberg who has a huge heart – a person who is compassionate, impassioned, patient.
Order HERE from Amazon