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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Damn The Darkness

Last month I was in Las Vegas and visited the much heralded Kiss miniature golf course. Prior to going there I fantasized of being in a cool, fun miniature golf course filled with crazy rock & roll props and stuff. It was a little bit like that, but then again…

The KISS miniature golf course can be found at the end of a completely empty strip mall, and unlike many mini golf courses, is indoors. Inside the walls are all painted black with paintings of the band and other images (‘70s hookers) in either blacklight or fluorescent paint. The images are painted with a heavy hand by a man who was probably blind in both eyes.

There are some interesting statues, like a big Gene Simmons head (no pun intended) with an enormous protruding tongue you need to tee your golf ball into. There are lots of fake amplifiers and giant phallic guitars to putt your way through.

The music piped through the PA is largely composed of material spanning the band’s entire career, solo albums and non-makeup period, as well. When a Paul McCartney & Wings track played over the PA it was met like an unwelcome intruder, so yes, there’s some scattered vintage rock tunes programmed in addition to the KISS songbook. By the way, it’s very hard to play below par to “Beth”.

The golf course also had a rock & roll party lounge roped off from us slobs, a fully stocked bar, as well as a KISS souvenir shop. The people who worked there were pretty nice so I don’t want them to feel like I’m fucking with them, but nevertheless, it had a low budget ghetto vibe about it.

I suppose it could’ve been worse: imagine an Oasis or a Smiths golf course. Yeah, a KISS golf course suddenly sounds pretty good.


While I was standing in line at Amoeba Records yesterday the store played a video of Donny Darko, the Magna Carta to all Emo kids the world over, on the monitors. The film raised a multiple series of questions about mortality and other major life issues, but the grim attitude it shipped is what struck me the most.

Every cool person in the movie is pale skinned and glum and all the smiling, happy people came off looking like idiots. Well, fuck us happy people! I was also amused at the myopic view given towards Graham Greene’s story “The Destructors”. Donny interpreted the story of a bunch of street kids mindlessly destroying an old man’s carefully constructed house as “creativity through destruction”. There’s no reference made whatsoever to the story being written shortly after World War II, and that it’s more likely about the brutal bombing of London.

I remembered how ten years ago I threw all my black clothes away and began wearing more bright colored clothes. As ridiculous as it may sound, doing that was more subversive than wearing flat, empty black.

I also discarded that fey hipster negativity, my new mantra being “Damn The Darkness”. It’s too easy to embrace the dark and the grim. It’s not fatalistic; it’s passive acceptance of a grotesque, ugly, horrible world without creating an alternative. You don’t have to wear a stupid pink sweatshirt screaming “CHOOSE LIFE”, but you’re going to have to do more than just frown and say “Everything sucks”. Putting shit down all the time doesn’t make you cool.

Illustration by Yuki Ramaro


Several plateaus are reached when you work on a novel. The first one is obviously getting all that insanity down on paper and the third plateau is putting the final touches to your work. Right now I’m reaching the middle plateau, doing rewrites of all the things banged out for the first draft. Wow!

If you’re a serious writer you’ll know how great rewrites are. You get to read the whole novel back to yourself and keep all the good parts and fix all the shitty, jacked-up sentences and paragraphs, etc. etc. You also get to beef up all the parts that you kicked out so quickly you neglected to fill in with enough details.

The joy of rewrites is being able to step back and fix an already exciting project you’re working on. It’s not unlike Henri-Georges Clouzot’s film “The Mystery of Picasso” where the great master steps back, looks at a brilliant section of his painting, you’re thinking “That’s so brilliant”, and then he literally paints something else right over that section! Picasso’s approach can be applied to all artists. That’s rewriting for you: your novel might read really cool, but you can always make it even better.

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