I’ve never considered myself anything but a fiction writer. I had complete drafts of my first three novels before I was 23, and three more by the time I turned 27. Five of those are now online for your reading pleasure. But you’ll have to work hard to find more than The Salvation Shark, Dollars Per Hour, and Here in this Sorrow. I’ve done mostly shorter work since, numerous short stories, more than 100 poems, four produced plays and a handful more that never made the stage. I wrote one fictionalized biography of Binghamton’s greatest inventor, and I even wrote a childrens book about an elephant and rhinoceros that must become friends. My paycheck says I’m a photographer, and I’ve also starred in two feature-length horror films. Until William A. Mays popped the question, I’ve never been a journalist.
The last few months have been difficult to write for the National Police Gazette, especially as I continued to be recognized from that stupid hat picture. Some even remembered that hat from my one-man-show where I performed as Ted Nugent running for president. This was five years before the real Motor City Madman decided he may dip his toes in that water. Yes, I did send him a copy of the book, and yes I was using that design before he released his own book, Red White and Nuge. Sweaty Teddy never responded.
The opportunity to write regularly for a print magazine has been special. I only had a few print credits prior to the NPG, and all were one-offs. Most were unreadable poetry magazines published in basements and hand-stapled during those archaic days before Print On Demand. All attempts to sell my novels resulted in rejection at a time that digital tech was crippling the arts industries. Napster single-handedly defeated the music world and started a war between artists and middle-men.
When I was taking Dollars Per Hour to Book Expo America with Lulu.com, I sat down with my creative writing teacher Bill Paccone and edited the novel line by line. At the end of the eight-hour work day, I was about to collapse. But the 90-year-old man was still spry on his feet, having already driven from Brackney, PA, through the snow. For the first time with the Police Gazette, I had an editor to do that for me. WAM did actual editing and correcting, not just committing whatever I sent him to print, every misspelling intact.
I love digital tech, and I love all it’s done to help me reach new readers worldwide. But I’m old fashioned. When I was in school, teachers were telling students that computers were fine for games, but good writing should be done on a typewriter. They fondly remembered the days their teachers told them not to write in ball point pen for the same reasons. I use the internet through blogs and eBooks and email and spam. It’s great. Print is better.
When you read a book, you see light reflected and diffused by white paper. It’s more pleasing to the eye than direct light from an illuminated screen. I like the convenience of eBooks; I love the simplicity of blogs. I prefer print.
The Police Gazette will be going online, which is where it needs to be. I’ve known that since the beginning. The history of the Police Gazette has been cutting edge. My hero Hunter S. Thompson clearly read this same magazine when he was a boy, and I am proud to have my name attached to such a venerable institution. There would be no Playboy and no Daily Show. No America’s Most Wanted, and no legal boxing. As a child I read Mad Magazine regularly, but as an adult I read Cracked every day. The Police Gazette needs to be online, and I’m still on board for the next phase.
“The City From Another Universe” is ending though. This is the NATIONAL Police Gazette. I wrote about Binghamton and Upstate NY because that’s where we printed and distributed. Print is a labor of love, and I took on distro for Ithaca and Cortland myself. I was also touring my childrens book Danglehorn, and I left a stack of back issues at every gas station that filled my coffee cup.
My favorite writer has always been my grandfather, Dr. John Sulich Jr., who left a legacy of raging letters to the editor of the local fish wrapper. I have a binder full of his published rants, from his comparison of the Kerry/Edwards ticket to urinals to his witty diatribe on the “Big Bodies” that blocked his path when he walked the Oakdale Mall. My grandmother hated when he took out his “poisoned pen,” which I lovingly emulated for the pages of the Police Gazette. I hope he’d be proud as I investigated murder conspiracies and interviewed top local candidates in their offices and bars, only to call them jackasses in black & white. That gives a person a warm feeling inside.
If anyone takes anything away from this series, you people in Ithaca need to start spanking your children. Seriously. I love you at the Short Stop, and I love you at Green Star. I love you at the library, and I love you at Autumn Leaves. I love you at CTB where I get my before-work drink, and I love you at the Ithaca Ale House, where I get my after-work drink. Ithaca is a great town with amazing colleges and some impressive naturally occurring geographical features. You have great culture and great music. Greg Graffin, give me a shout if you’re reading this! You have great beer, and you have pretty good food, most of the time. I love coming to Ithaca, but your kids are getting out of hand. Spankings are the only answer.
Thank you for your time.