Mar 12, 2008


Here's a treat. I read this book once upon a time called The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's, A Secret history of Jewish Punk by Steven Lee Beeber and really liked it. Then, I wrote about it in passing in November for a piece about Jewish entertainment history and to my delight Steven Lee Beeber wrote me an email, and a little back and forth later, I think he is a rather delightful fellow, I'm convinced we have childhood mutual friends and/or he's stalked me for decades (kidding! ish.)... and here we are. So, for our next installation of Guthmantics, I am pleased to introduce all of you to Steven Lee Beeber.

In addition to his The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's, A Secret history of Jewish Punk, which has just been released in paperback because the hardcover was lovely, he's got this anthology out, an insomnia anthology (Hi, how up my alley is that? Where was I when he was hocking it to writers... sigh) called "AWAKE! A Reader for the Sleepless" (Soft Skull Press, a press I love) and has planned many cool readings and concerts in connection. Hi, cool. For example, next Monday (March 17th), find him emceeing at McNally Robinson bookstore (NYC) with Jonathan Ames, Molly Kottemann and Ed Champion. Wednesday, March 26 -- A Cappella Books (Atlanta, GA) -- Area actors read selections from both books, accompanied by Hubcap City, which features guitar, banjo, concertina and saw! Then, Thursday, April 3 -- The Middle East (Cambridge, MA) -- Steve Almond, Beth Woodcome, Franz Wright, Steve Brykman, Myles Gordon, Amanda Palmer (of The Dresden Dolls-- I might die of forchness) and The Beeb himself are backed up by ambient sounds duo "Kosher Ham" (who will be doubling as either "Ambien Sounds" or "Kosher Hambient Sounds" for the night) and is sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon, which I find terribly funny for whatever reason. Last but not least on Sunday, April 13 -- KGB Bar (NYC) -- he'll be emcee again with Priscilla Becker, Catie Lazarus and Bud Parr with guitar by "the thinking man's ax man," Gary Lucas. (I'm sure they'll stop an raise a glass Chicago-way, in honor of my birthday that evening. Ahem.)

Anyhoop. We tawlked:

Guth: Tell us what you write, what you have written and how you do it?

Beeber: I write fiction and non-fiction, as well as faction, friction, non-fruition and Fructi-Non™. In the first two categories I’ve written books, feature articles, short stories, poems, book and music reviews, obits and even a couple of police logs (only one of which featured me). How do I do it? How DO I do it, you ask?! Work, damn it! Perspiration!! Glistening inspiration!!! An abundance of flowing inside and out!!!! That and lots of coffee. To learn more about my work you can visit my website or check out my blog, the latter of which will keep you posted on forthcoming publications, such as my insomnia anthology AWAKE! A Reader for the Sleepless (Soft Skull Press, 2008), my take on Lower East Side Jewish punk (in Clayton Patterson’s as-yet-to-be-titled LES anthology) and my “first punk experiences” anthology (currently in the works).

Guth: What grand things are next for you? What would you – we’re talking dream gigs and adventures here – love to be next for you?

Beeber: As mentioned above, I’ve got an anthology on “first punk experiences” coming up, featuring contributions from Ian MacKaye (skateboard culture as his gateway drug to punk), Brian Evenson (his native Salt Lake City led him to visit Indian reservations in search of hardcore) and Mickey Leigh (Joey Ramone’s kid brother was also Lester Bangs’ bandmate). But dream projects … Jeez, there are so many. I’d love to write a history of porn soundtracks, looking at everything from the beginning of erotic song (lute players at Roman orgies) to the emergence of a certain kind of techno (in the style of “Metal Fingers In My Body”) via the seamy screen. I’m also in the midst of working on an ever-so postmodern novel about a grad student who tries to find a unique angle on English lit, only to come up with writing about failed, unpublished authors as more reflective of their eras than successful ones. His focus? A certain Steven Lee Beeber. The title of his book (and the book as a whole)? ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Let’s see, I also am finishing up a mystery set in Atlanta (where I grew up and spent my early 20s) that is loosely based on the infamous child murders there in the 1980s and is titled Terminus (one of the city’s original names. Marthasville somehow didn’t seem quite as catchy). I think that’s it. Oh, wait, I almost forgot. I also recently launched my new band, KIKE. Our first single “Ginsberg Trouble” (“I felt my face mashed like egg salad against the prison wall as Allen Ginsberg rammed his poetry up my …”) backed with “(I Am) The Switzerland of Love” (“blood money, neutrality and you and me ba-by…”) is rapidly climbing the charts. As are sales of my spin-off magazine of the same name, a cool-Jew publication that puts those nice boys at HEEB to shame. They’ve got Sarah Silverman on the cover? We’ve got Screw magazine founder Al Goldstein inside – as our centerfold! Feel free to write me ( if you’d like one of our nifty promo buttons which read "I LIKE KIKE" or "The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGBs!!!" A mere sawbuck each.

Guth: Consider that email written. Speaking of music-- What Smiths or Morrissey song or lyric best sums it up for you right now?

Beeber: Now that’s a good question. I can’t remember the name of the song right now, but it’s the one that has the line “I dreamt about you last night and I fell out of bed twice, you can pin and mount me like a butterfly.” Of course, the first part of that line was actually lifted from a movie, one of those kitchen sink dramas from not-exactly-swinging England called A Taste of Honey. That same film also has another great Morrissey line (or rather I should say Morrissey also stole another great line from that film), “The dream has gone, but the baby is real.” If you haven’t seen the film, check it out. It’s kind of a pre-Juno Juno with half the schmaltz and twice the umph. It’s also damn entertaining. Put it on a double bill with another film of the period, Georgy Girl and you could do away with those deathly English costume dramas forever. Nothing against Jane Merchant or Austen Ivory, but if I see another BBC “masterpiece” looking back in soft focus and melancholy, I think I’ll puke. … Now, what was the question?

Guth again. Many thanks, Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeber, for swinging by. Mazel tov to you on that papahback, and do come back and visit again any time. Now, my dear readers, you know what to do. Head out and pick up his book, give rock horns as you read, tell your friends, track him down on GoodReads and LibraryThing and Shelfari and Facebook and friend-request him and show him some love. Go already. Nu, shoyn!

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