Posts by Patrick Stephenson

I hate commies!

I’d Buy That For a Dollar

[To understand this entry, you must first read this entry. I originally posted this on my own blog, so keep in mind that it’s written from that perspective.]

My dad—briefly discussed in my entry I’m Not Counterculture beneath an excellent photo of Allen Ginsberg—happened to visit my blog Thursday afternoon. He mentioned this when he called at 7pm Thursday night and criticized the entry. He felt it was too personal for the Internet, and that by the end it became muddled and confusing. I thought about what he said all night.

What is writing—fiction or non-fiction, blog entry or not—without confession and revelation? I don’t necessarily mean confessions of past trauma, e.g. A CHILD CALLED IT or A MAN CALLED DAVE. I mean saying, ‘This is what I think about and who I am.’ Should I be a drone and JUST link to other sites, expressing myself by proxy, or should I be explicit? If a piece of writing isn’t to some extent personal, then I believe it’s merit-less, processed like SPIDER-MAN 3 through a billion people and corrupted by financial interests. Processed cheese, inorganic and cow pus-filled. Continue reading →

The Outlaw Vern

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Since there has been some confusion on the subject, and I feel embarrassed that Patrick’s hard work is being attributed to me, please note that this post was authored by the fantastic Patrick Stephenson and NOT, repeat NOT, Edward Champion, who is a literary interloper of the first order. Thank you.]

Outlaw Vern

I feel I should let you in on The Outlaw Vern, an ex-convict film-reviewing genius whose site is here, whose reviews are here. Vern’s site is called THEN FUCK YOU JACK: THE LIFE & ART OF VERN. Vern has one book out, and another in the works. The first is 5 ON THE OUTSIDE, the second is SEAGALOGY, a collection of academic analyses of Steven Seagal films. I interviewed Vern by e-mail in March, for an article I’ve submitted to THE BELIEVER that I hope finds its way from that journal’s e-slush pile into print.

Vern isn’t only my favorite film critic, he’s one of my favorite writers. Everything expository I have to say about him I included in my introduction to the interview I submitted, so I’m duplicating that introduction here. Get ready!


“Few good writers come out of prison,” wrote Norman Mailer in his 2003 hodgepodge, THE SPOOKY ART. “Only the best survive to write once they get out.” The Outlaw Vern—ex-convict film critic, champion of Badass Cinema—is among those: the best, the strongest, who not only survived prison but channeled the experience into a creative endeavor. Actually, the Outlaw Vern’s aspirations were inspired, not deadened by prison. After his release in 1999, he turned toward writing as an outlet for his criminality, as a salve to his violent urges, alcoholism, drug habits, etc. Now, having dedicated his life to movie-reviewing (primarily genre films [aka Outlaw Cinema] and Steven Seagal DTV releases), The Outlaw Vern is crime-free and sober.

“As an armed robber and criminal, I was an ‘outlaw’ in the classic sense of the Old West,” wrote Vern in 1999. “Motherfuckers like billy the kid, bonnie and clyde, eddie the splayer, etc. That is NOT what I am about anymore although I do like a good cowboy movie now and then.” — “Now that I’m smarter and especially older,” he continued, explaining how, despite reforming, he has retained his outlaw status, “I am a different type of outlaw in my opinion, which is a man against the system and the status quo… a man against the system of rules that is the English language and sentences.”

During the late ‘90s, Vern described his prison time unprompted. “[This reminds] me of… a few Christmases ago when I was inside,” he wrote of one experience in his first column. “This was WAY before I was clean and sober and I would smoke or shoot anything I could get my hands on. At the time believe it or not some of the screws were under investigation so for almost a month there was virtually no blow or anything going around. This was a vicious drought and everybody was hungry big time. Things were REAL fucking tense in the yard, people getting in fights, arguing, two dudes getting shanked in one day a couple times, people getting nervous, paranoid from withdrawal, and just wanting some kind of buzz.”

“The Cage,” a poem Vern wrote in 1999, also describes his prison life: “Metal bars and ce-ment floors / Heavy locks upon the doors / Spoons are sharpened into knives / Buildings filled with ruined lives / Empty eyes give icy looks / Lifting weights, ignoring books / Angry cons, no-thing to lose / Picking fights with bitter screws / Taken, locked inside a pit / By yourself you cry and sit.” Since then, The Outlaw Vern’s been shrouded in a Pynchonian secrecy, refusing to discuss his past or current life. What does he look like? What, outside of his film-reviewing, does he do for a living? Both mysteries, both apart of the Vern mystique, etc. Like Pynchon, all we have of Vern is his writing. Unlike Thomas Pynchon, Vern’ll submit to the occasional interview. Continue reading →

Get Stewed

I’m not quite done yet, so this isn’t my closing post, but I—like Tao—will post a poem. Okay, two poems, one of which you’ve read a thousand times before but that I [heart]. Deal with it!

First poem:


When getting my nose in a book
Cured most things short of school,
It was worth ruining my eyes
To know I could still keep cool,
And deal out the old right hook
To dirty dogs twice my size.

Later, with inch-thick specs,
Evil was just my lark:
Me and my coat and fangs
Had ripping times in the dark.
The women I clubbed with sex!
I broke them up like meringues.

Don’t read much now: the dude
Who lets the girl down before
The hero arrives, the chap
Who’s yellow and keeps the store
Seem far too familiar. Get stewed:
Books are a load of crap.

Philip Larkin

Second poem:


How to kéep—is there ány any, is there none such, nowhere known some, bow or brooch or braid or brace, láce, latch or catch or key to keep
Back beauty, keep it, beauty, beauty, beauty, … from vanishing away?
Ó is there no frowning of these wrinkles, rankéd wrinkles deep,
Dówn? no waving off of these most mournful messengers, still messengers, sad and stealing messengers of grey?
No there’s none, there’s none, O no there’s none,
Nor can you long be, what you now are, called fair,
Do what you may do, what, do what you may,
And wisdom is early to despair:
Be beginning; since, no, nothing can be done
To keep at bay
Age and age’s evils, hoar hair,
Ruck and wrinkle, drooping, dying, death’s worst, winding sheets, tombs and worms and tumbling to decay;
So be beginning, be beginning to despair.
O there’s none; no no no there ’s none:
Be beginning to despair, to despair,
Despair, despair, despair, despair.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

My last two posts’ll be up today and that’ll be adieu.

Ames et Manson

Jonathan Ames, favorite author of P.S. and writer of such novels as THE EXTRA MAN, I PASS LIKE NIGHT and WAKE UP, SIR!, plus three collections of comedic essays, has interviewed Marilyn Manson for the newest issue of Spin! There’s a preview available on Spin’s website, with the full article available only in print. A preview of the preview:

The door swings open and Manson lopes in, carrying his own goblet of absinthe. He’s wearing a black T-shirt, black leather pants, and gigantic Frankenstein boots. He’s six-foot-three and looks to be all narrow torso and legs. I’m middle-aged and completely bald and immediately assess that Manson’s black hair is beginning to thin, probably from multiple dyeings. [Patrick: This line is so Jonathan Ames.] His face is sweet, and his eyes, without his usual colored contacts, are kindly. [Patrick: As is this one.]

We start to talk, and Manson is sniffling a little. Right away, he starts to tell me about the breakup of his marriage to burlesque queen Dita Von Teese. They were together for six years and then, in their seventh year, they got married. “It’s the old cliché,” he says. “Marriage changes everything.”

The behavior he had manifested for the first six years — such as living like a vampire — became unacceptable to Von Teese, he says. But he wasn’t willing to give up his vampire’s hours. “I’m my most creative between 3 and 5 A.M.,” he says. “That’s the way I’ve always been.”

Going to sleep at dawn and rising at dusk was not the only issue of contention, though. Before they were wed, Manson and Von Teese were never separated for more than five days; after they got married, he wasn’t seeing her three out of every four weeks, due to her own hectic schedule. Manson is very needy, and with Von Teese on the road all the time, he started losing his mind. And he started believing her when she said that the way he lived was wrong.

It’s funny. Marilyn Manson is, if this article depicts him accurately, a very Amesian character. [Via Tiger Beat]