Paladin, the Berkeley Biker-Poet:
Every Damn Body Was Born to Die

What the hell was this guy doing on stage at a poetry reading? He appeared to be an outlaw biker. He’d been introduced simply as “Paladin,” grabbed the microphone as soon as he hit the stage, and started strutting back and forth, loudly clomping his boot heels on the wooden platform, shooting confrontational glances at anyone who was talking, until he’d shut the whole place up—which was not an easy task.

The Starry Plough was a rowdy Irish pub on the south side of Berkeley and the poets who read on open mic night generally had to put up with the less-than-polite din of the drinking crowd. Decked out in traditional biker garb—very grungy leathers, a dirty bandana tying back his greasy-looking black hair—and displaying a shut-the-fuck-up attitude that was highly abnormal on poetry night—Paladin finally stopped strutting when the crowd quieted down. Then he launched into a loud, abrasive, rhyming poem that went something like this: Continue reading DESPERATELY SEEKING PALADIN . . .

Thy Neighbor’s Wife (a short story)

by Arnold Snyder

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession. I disobeyed my parents twice last week. I talked back at my mother yesterday and didn’t clean my room when she told me to. I stole fifty cents from my father last summer. And I committed adultery… a whole lot of times. I’m sorry for these and all the sins of my past life, especially for the sin of adultery.” Continue reading Thy Neighbor’s Wife (a short story)

Henry Miller’s Black Spring – Always Merry and Bright!

Initially published in 1936, Black Spring was banned in the U.S. for almost 30 years as obscene, suffering the same fate as Tropic of Cancer, which was published two years earlier, and Tropic of Capricorn, which was published two years later. It was only as a result of Grove Press’s sheer doggedness in the early 1960s  in appealing the obscenity rulings that the U.S. Supreme Court finally overturned them, and declared Miller’s works to be literature in 1964.

Continue reading Henry Miller’s Black Spring – Always Merry and Bright!

Sheep in the Slaughterhouse (a short-short story)

by Arnold Snyder

Rudy picked me up at McCarran in his new white Thunderbird convertible, and after a twenty-minute drive in an afternoon sun that could melt brass, we left his car with the valet and stepped into the cool lobby of the Desert Inn. We headed straight for the casino. Rudy was a professional blackjack player and he’d convinced me to come to Vegas to join his team. Continue reading Sheep in the Slaughterhouse (a short-short story)

I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter: Carlton Mellick III vs. Thomas Aquinas

Those of you not deeply indoctrinated into the Roman Catholic faith (and by “deeply indoctrinated” I mean you studied for the priesthood, or at least took graduate- level theology courses) probably know little about “succubi.” Even many devout Catholics are unaware of these demons, as the Summa Theologica is not studied in catechism classes for the laity. But it’s okay. That’s why I’m here. I spent a critical formative year of my adolescence in the Holy Ghost Fathers Seminary in Ann Arbor, Michigan, so let me clue you in. Continue reading I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter: Carlton Mellick III vs. Thomas Aquinas

Excerpt from RISK OF RUIN, a new novel by Arnold Snyder

 Chapter Ten

It was in the parking lot of a Raley’s supermarket in Reno. He was giving her a ride home from work and they’d stopped for a quart of milk and a Hershey bar. It was a sticky summer day. Leaning up against a side wall of the store, gulping down a few swallows of the icy milk, he saw her photo on the milk carton. He looked at the photo, looked at Stacy, looked hard at the photo again. It was definitely her. No doubt. He read the bad news …

Have You Seen Me?
Julia Gwendolyn Thomas
Age: 15
Height: 5’6″
Weight: 112 lbs.
Hair: Auburn
Eyes: Green
Last seen: Milpitas, California
Call: 1-888-FINDERS

She was licking chocolate off her fingers.


She looked up, responding to her name, then—in a split second—he saw a chill run through her. “Why did you call me that?” Continue reading Excerpt from RISK OF RUIN, a new novel by Arnold Snyder

Above the Saints & Angels
A Short Story

by Arnold Snyder

Detroit had three burlesque theaters in the 1960s, all of them downtown—the National, the Stone, and the Empress. Rudy and I had been watching their ads on the movie guide page of the Detroit News for as many years as we could remember. We discussed what we thought might go on in these places. The only thing we knew for sure was that there were women who would take their clothes off. Exactly how much they took off was a topic of endless speculation. Continue reading Above the Saints & Angels
A Short Story

Blue Vegas by P Moss – Nostalgia for the Bad Old Days

All 14 short stories in this collection by P Moss take place in modern day Las Vegas, but most of them also have links to old Vegas through the characters and their memories. By “old Vegas,” I’m referring to pre-corporate Vegas—Vegas before the Feds squeezed the mobsters out on behalf of the multinational corporations.

A lot of us who remember old Vegas have fond memories of what this town once was, and it wasn’t all that long ago. A thousand articles have been written in the past thirty years describing the Disneyfication of Vegas and all the attractions added to widen the consumer base—the pirate ship and the volcano and the roller coasters and white tigers—but not much ink has been spent describing what was subtracted. Continue reading Blue Vegas by P Moss – Nostalgia for the Bad Old Days

How to Overcome Writer’s Block: Advice from a Write-aholic

I’m a write-aholic. I get writer’s block about as often as an alcoholic has a day where he just can’t force himself to drink. It doesn’t happen too often. So, maybe I’m not the best one to give advice on how to overcome writer’s block. Then again, maybe I am…

If I take my car in for an oil change and I have to sit around for half an hour in a Honda dealership waiting room, where the accommodations include weak coffee and back issues of People magazine, I write. I always carry a pen and notepad. I’m always writing something in my head, even when driving, walking, eating. I get it down on paper as soon as I’m able. I pull over to the side of the road if necessary. If I take myself out to breakfast, someplace where the coffee’s good and the refills keep coming, I write. As I write these words you’re reading now, I’m sitting under a tree in Red Rock Canyon while my dogs are frolicking in the creek. I get quite a bit of writing done on my daily dog walks.
Continue reading How to Overcome Writer’s Block: Advice from a Write-aholic

The Las Vegas Art Scene – Sin City Goes Boho

Illustration by Joseph Watson

One interesting development in Las Vegas in these lean years is that the downtown area is turning into some kind of artists’ colony. There are galleries and poetry readings and street musicians and guerrilla theater and contortionists and coffee house hangouts and freaks carrying signs. It looks like Greenwich Village in the 1930s (like I was there), or SF’s North Beach in the 50′s (or there), or the Haight-Ashbury in the 60s (Yay!).

Continue reading The Las Vegas Art Scene – Sin City Goes Boho