Category Archives: vanitas

The Dark Magic of Author Photos

I have a confession to make about my author photo: It’s a lie.

Heavily retouched, populated with “reader-friendly” elements, what you see to the right is a complete fabrication.

I don’t own a dog. (I accumulate cats.)

I don’t ride old-school, vintage, soulful longboards. (I ride short boards, newish ones, and I’m an aggro frothing spazz.)

I’ve usually got a beard or mustache going. The last time I was that clean-shaven was for my wedding, in 2003.

I’m smiling, not because I’m happy or friendly, but because I have no idea where I am. My vision is that bad.

I wear glasses. Cliche “author guy glasses.”

And yet, like the extended lie that is a novel, I feel the picture speaks to a higher truth about who I am.

Plus it was my last chance to look young.

(These novels take a damn long time to write. Maybe I’ll use the same picture for the next few books. Won’t be the first time that’s happened, right?)

Below, the original image, before it was retouched by the lovely and talented Ward Robinson.

a 40 oz for 40 yo

40oz by dontoine
40oz, a photo by dontoine on Flickr.

I’m turning 40 on Friday.

And so naturally I just spent a few days scouring the web for a good image of someone pouring out a 40 oz of malt liquor, as a sort of memento mori.

Or, I should say, as a variation on the old school pouring of libations in memory of the dead, a tradition that goes back at least as far as Ancient Greece. You might remember it from 1990s rap videos.

I was shocked (shocked, people!) at the dearth of images. And so I made my own. Feel free to borrow it, if you like.

One for me, one for my homies…


So the other morning I thought of a vanity plate I might like.


Though now that I think of it, that joke could get old very quickly.

Anyway, I checked on it. UNIQUE{1-9} are all taken.

Also, I saw the Sex and the City movie.

It is a culturally and morally bankrupt travesty, a sham in every way…and the most reprehensible piece of filmic shit I’ve ever seen.*

Depressing to imagine that anyone could have possibly liked it, especially fans of the TV show. Seriously depressing.

I want to find the people responsible for this al-qaeda recruitment video and punch them in the face.

* I’m not anti-SATC in general. If the movie had just been a three-times-longer mediocre episode of the show, I wouldn’t give it more than a meh, oh well.

cosmic alignment of whatnot

You might recognize this license plate from The Interloper, chapter three, where Owen mentions having seen it on Palm Canyon Drive.

I didn’t make it up.

I saw it, back in high school, in Palm Springs, and it made me laugh.

For some reason I remembered it and stuck it in my novel almost twenty years later.

Turns out it was on Tod Goldberg’s car.

How effing crazy is that?

UPDATE: He was watching me watching him! With his sister! My embarrassing license plate became an inside joke between THEM! Click over to read his account–and find out what my embarrassing plate was.


Some of you commented that my most recent post was your favorite. Either you like to watch state officials in their youth smoking weed, or you are naturally drawn to the aesthetics of the cameraphone picture. I’m going to roll the dice that it’s the latter.

First of all, loyal readers know that I’ve half-assedly called out several vanity plates on this blog. Here’s where I confess to having had one on my car.

A little background: Before I went off to Iowa, I decided to get myself a new (used) car. My 15-year-old Volvo wagon was on its last legs. I had always dreamt of owning a Lincoln Town Car. I had gone so far as renting one while on a trip to Idaho (of all places), but I hadn’t exactly been scanning the classifieds.

Then one day, my dad called to tell me that the Orthopedic Hospital Thrift Shop in L.A. had an eight-year-old silver Town Car for sale. We went to check it out, and next thing I knew, I was rolling in the Silver Bullet.

My L.A. friends thought it was ridiculous, then stupid, then genius. All it took was one ride to convert them.

The LTC served me well in Iowa and Wisconsin. Of course, it was a hockey puck in the snow. And people kept asking me if I’d inherited it from my grandparents. But it was a great time.

When I got back to L.A., and moved in with my soon-to-be-wife, I realized that the Town Car didn’t exactly “fit in” with the whole Santa Monica / Brentwood culture.

And I wanted to fit in. Or at least appear to fit in. I wanted to disappear into the landscape. But I couldn’t afford a bmw or an SUV. I was stuck with the LTC. So I looked around for camouflage. What did these honking, swearing, swerving fancy-car-driving people have in common? How could I join (or appear to join) their tribe?

[yes, for real.]

Eventually, the LTC died and was donated to the Liver Foundation. I retired the “late for yoga” plate along with the car, in part because I’m in another Volvo wagon now, and the plate wouldn’t work on it. There’s no ironic distance.

It would be like trying to camouflage a tree in a forest.