What is The News Factory about?
The News Factory is collection of stories of some of New York City's most brilliant personalities, people who will never be in feature films or hit the pop charts but who are brilliant, with wonderful ideas, artistic talents, story tellers, musicians and so on. In many ways the stories told in this collection of works, mostly told through poetry, is about the soul of what New York city used to be about, a place to be yourself without putting on airs. The collective meaning of this book is also about what is lost with the white washing of history that comes with gentrification. In many ways this is the most personal of my three books.
What kind of characters are you talking about?
Well it varies from the local corner book seller to SRO tenants. In one case I mention a homeless woman who met on 91st and Broadway about 4 years ago who was a former Glamour Magazine model from the 1980s and who now has AIDS, assuming she is still alive. But I also mention the neighborhood dog walker and so on.
What do you mean this is your most personal of your three books?
I mean the subjects of this poetry and short story collection really holds a lot of meaning for me, I've put many of my friends in there - and enemies too; landlords who hire goons and thugs to drive tenants from their buildings. I mean these operations have real psychological implications for those who have to deal with it. I've seen it happen to my now former neighbors, many of whom still live in my old building. Horrible.
I also feel a certain amount of remorse for the death of the porn houses that use to be in Times Square or the live shows you could see in the back room booths on 8th Ave until recently. It really was part of the scene but they're gone now. I don't think you can really label those guys who went to see these shows perverts, most of them were really lonely or just had a healthy sexual appetite. And like the housing issue this was something I felt close to.
Wouldn't you agree that change is a part of life and some loss is inevitable?
Well in part yes, everything changes but that does not mean that every story has to be whitewashed from history or that neighborhoods have to disappear altogether because some out-of-towner wants to make a killing in the housing market. As it is no one can live here for very long without rent regulation and what kind of change is that? It is recipe for utter disaster which comes with the death of communities. As it is New York is becoming like Paris or London; "Museum cities".
The News Factory is a chronicle of those stories which are far too easily erased from consciousness or just never known.
In your first two books "Last American Roar" and "Organic Hotels" you had a definite political tone to your work, mostly concerning international issues. With the N.F. you seem to focus on local life. Why did you make that change?
That's where my focus has been for past few years. Plus when you meet people going through the same things, it is these experiences that become real to you. I feel for the Iraqis and Afghanis and so on. Truth is I can't imagine the hell which their lives have been reduced to. The same things can be said for the Palestinians who tend to be seen as less than human by the international community these days. My heart goes out to them but, we have a war on the working class in this country and it is our neighbors who are being greatly affected.
What do you think your readers will get out of your poetry and stories?
They will have a whole world opened up to them; the world they already live in - which may be surprising. But, more importantly, I think they will be treated to an adventure where the landscape becomes cerebral and allows the reader to delve into their own fears and apprehensions. But most important, this book is an introduction to everyday people and the humor of their lives.
There is a lot of humor in this book. In one fictionalized story a young man is visited by a giant cockroach which forces him into a modern day "Old Man and the Sea" tale. He tears about his room to get at the insect and at the same time has a mental break down. Anyone who has been in a roach invested apartment can tell you, that problem can drive you absolutely mad.
When should be expect the release of this book?