Short Story in a Song — “Waiting Room”

Even 30 years after I first heard it, Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” still fills me with angsty anticipation from the moment the opening bass line kicks in. It’s three minutes of post-hardcore perfection that triggers some kind of Pavlovian response in me. And while I may not publicly drool as often as I used to, I do find myself almost hypnotized by the pulsating tension. The mysterious lyrics would make a great short story.

Our narrator sounds like he’s saying a lot without saying much at all. Instead of intricate detail, we get broad strokes and powerful imagery that evoke feelings of frustration and isolation. As if “the waiting place” from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go has been stripped down to its non-psychedelic core to reveal the mind-numbing horrors of inaction. Whether this is a song about a Dante-esque Limbo, the effects of mood-altering prescription drugs, or an actual physician’s waiting room—our hero has had enough and is ready to rise up. He’s calling on all of us to stand up with him and spring into action. Are you ready?

Read the full lyrics for Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” HERE.

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Short Story in a Song — “Date With Destiny”

SoCal’s South Bay community (including Hermosa Beach) has long been considered the cradle of American hardcore. Once home to the legendary church immortalized in The Decline of Western Civilization, this laid back beach town has produced an endless flow of punk bands over the decades including the big four—Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Descendents and Pennywise. Formed a decade after their forerunners, Pennywise picked the flag up and continues to carry it around the world thirty years later with hard-hitting songs that are often about positivity and self-reliance.

“Date With Destiny” from their 1997 album Full Circle exemplifies the band’s sound, but the lyrics would make a great short story. Our narrator opens by describing a series of untimely deaths ranging from a plane crash to an earthquake. It’s clear that he’s having extreme thoughts about the nature of life and coming to grips with the inevitable demise awaiting us all. More than just a morose examination of mortality, our protagonist challenges us to examine the way we lead our lives. He asks what we would do if we only had one hour to live, ultimately pleading with us to live every hour like it was our last.

Read the lyrics for Pennywise’s “Date With Destiny” HERE.

My podcast interview with Pennywise lead singer Jim Lindberg:

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

 

Short Story in a Song — “Nervous Breakdown”

Black Flag’s unrelenting sonic onslaught might make your ears ring, but the visceral anger and paranoid isolation will rattle your soul. It’s an unapologetic approach that’s evident in their earliest recordings, including the legendary “Nervous Breakdown” EP. Released at a time when Donna Summer, The Knack and Bee Gees topped the charts, this misanthropic slice of fury and confusion remains a blistering reprisal against all of mainstream culture. Forty years later, Black Flag continues to define the hardcore sound they helped create.

Which is why the straightforward lyrics of “Nervous Breakdown” would make such a great short story. From the opening line, our narrator declares himself a ticking time bomb. Fed up with the platitudes he hears from the people all around him, he pushes forward against the crowds that he’s grown to hate. But even in his apoplectic state, when all he wants is to end the misery, he cries out for help that he’s certain will never come.

In other words, Happy Monday!

Read the full lyrics for Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” HERE.

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

 

 

Talking To Punks About Books (Podcast)

I recently spoke with two punk singers about their favorite authors and books. If you like punk rock and reading as much as I do, you’ll definitely dig what Joey Cape (Lagwagon) and Jim Lindberg (Pennywise) have to say. These two episodes were part of a podcast mini-series called “Books on the Bus.”

As the Descendents like to say, ENJOY!


S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Interrogation—Robert R. Moss

Who: Robert R. Moss

What: As part of the Washington, D.C. music scene in the early 1980s, Robert played bass in Artificial Peace and Government Issue. He’s toured the country, and his music was released on Dischord Records and other labels. In DESCENDING MEMPHIS, Robert tells a detective/coming-of-age-story set just after the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Where: Portland

Congrats on the success of your debut novel, DESCENDING MEMPHIS. What was the inspiration for this story?

Thank you for asking. It began with a question. What if Johnny Cash never made it as a musician, but instead became a detective with all the character traits, quirks and flaws of the Man in Black? I considered writing such a story, and mentioned the idea to a friend who happens to be a lawyer. He saw it as a legal issue. Meaning, the Johnny Cash estate might not look favorably upon such an endeavor. So I created Tommy Rhodeen, a small-time private eye in Memphis whose dream is to make it big in rock ‘n’ roll. It was the right decision.

Continue reading

New GRIZZLY SEASON Review

Really love this new GRIZZLY SEASON review over at Sons Of Spade. This guy has been a supporter of the Greg Salem character from the beginning. He’s also a big fan of punk rock. Enjoy!

 


BCC Cover FinalS.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October 11, 2016. His novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

“Grizzly Season” Cover Reveal

Grizzly Season Front CoverThrilled to share the cover of the second Greg Salem novel with you! GRIZZLY SEASON picks up where my debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, left off. Rare Bird Books will release it this October, but I’ll have a handful of copies with me at Bouchercon in New Orleans.

Here’s the synopsis: Former Los Angeles police officer Greg Salem and his sidekick Marco escape to a remote cabin in the backend of the Angeles National Forest, only to have their peaceful retreat upturned after stumbling across the marijuana farm operation called Grizzly Flats. When the drug lord Magnus Ursus’ latest marijuana crop leaves Greg’s hometown and closest friends in disarray—setting off a series of explosive scenes including high-speed motorcycle chases, violent porn shoots, high-altitude gun fights, Mexican drug smuggling and murder—Greg is forced out of retirement to avenge his home and save the lives of those closest him.

BCC Cover FinalS.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, will be published in Oct. 2016. His standalone novella, CROSSWISE, is available now from Down & Out Books.

For Your Consideration

rsz_screen_shot_2015-12-11_at_70054_am

As I have previously stated, 2015 was one hell of a year. Not only did I publish my debut novel, “Bad Citizen Corporation,” but I also got to know a ton of kind, passionate, hilarious and wildly talented writers, publishers, readers, bloggers, reviewers and podcasters along the way. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the diverse and supportive crime/mystery community I have found myself a part of.

rsz_lcc_2016As I turn my attention to my upcoming Down & Out Books novella, CROSSWISE—while also making progress on the second Greg Salem book—I wanted to put the word out that “Bad Citizen Corporation” is eligible for “Best Mystery Novel set in LCC Geographic Region” in the Left Coast Crime convention’s Lefty Awards in Phoenix—info HERE. Ballots went out last week and (I believe) they are due Jan. 15. If you are eligible to vote and you have room on your ballot (there were lots of great Left Coast books published in 2015), please consider “Bad Citizen Corporation.”

BCC will also be eligible for various other “Debut,” “P.I.,” and “Best First,” contests in the coming months. So if you read it and you liked it, please keep it mind. If you haven’t read BCC, or you need a refresher, here are a few recent reviews: CRIME SYNDICATE, DEAD END FOLLIES and OUT OF THE GUTTER.

If you want to see a list of some of the books that I will consider voting for, check out my recommended reading list for 2015.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-10-09_at_75727_amThanks for a great year either way. An award nomination of any kind would only be icing on the cake.

Looking forward to connecting with more of you in 2016!

— Steve

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in March 2016.

My 29 Favorite SoCal Punk Songs

My debut mystery novel may be named after a fictional SoCal punk band called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, but the music that influenced this murderous story is very real.

Up above you’ll find a playlist including 29 of my favorite punk songs by SoCal bands from the 70s to the 2000s. I’m loosely defining SoCal as the region between San Diego and Santa Barbara for the purposes of this playlist. Likewise, the definition of “punk” is also pretty loose because it’s one of those words that means something different to everybody who uses it. So save your aggression for the pit, bro.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-09-08_at_101842_am-2The list currently includes Descendents, Red Cross, The Dickies, The Runaways, Circle Jerks, The Gun Club, Black Flag, X, Pennywise, The Bags, Unwritten Law, Minutemen, Face To Face, Agent Orange, War Called Peace, Lagwagon, Simpletones, Social Distortion, Adolescents, Black Randy & The Metro Squad, Wasted Youth, Germs, Rocket From The Crypt, Fidlar, Smut Peddlers, The Vandals, D.I., The Leaving Trains and Fear.

There are, of course, hundreds of other songs I could have included—and my “favorites” change from week-to-week—but I think this list would make my protagonist, Greg Salem, proud.

Take a listen and let me know what SoCal punk songs you would add in the comments below.

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books on November 3, 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#23)

Even 27 years after I first heard it, Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” still fills me with a certain angsty anticipation from the moment the opening bass line kicks in. It’s three minutes of post-hardcore perfection that triggers some kind of Pavlovian response in me. And while I may not publicly drool as often as I used to, I do find myself almost hypnotized by the pulsating tension and mysterious lyrics.

Truth is, this is one of those brilliant songs that really sounds like it’s saying a lot without saying much at all. Instead of intricate detail, we get broad strokes and powerful imagery that evoke feelings of frustration and isolation. As if “the waiting place” from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go has been stripped down to its non-psychedelic core to reveal the mind-numbing horrors beneath. And three decades later that’s just what the doctor ordered.

Read the lyrics for “Waiting Room” HERE.

Check out the “Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song” YouTube playlist:

Previous installments in this series:

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been published by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.