April 2nd, 2007


The Sycophant Revolution Begins

This is where the future political aspirations of friends and family go to die, for this is where I expound at length about my baby, my creation, my wart of the state. My Literary/Arts journal.


Because I'm a sucker for self-promotion. And because I believe in corporate synergy. The Steven A. Taylor franchise has gotten 1 louder this week thanks to the addition of Sycophant Picnic into the Internet world. Now, let's take a look at the first issue, which I like to call, "Issue 1".

To start things off, we've got one of the weaker segments of the issue, the "Ask Miss Bitters" column. The whole thing is produced by me, regardless of what the fake bio says. Actually, I got ample help on the questions - which I feel are top notch, but I'm only taking partial responsibility for the haphazard answers given by Miss Bitters. See, the idea behind having an Advice Column was Kelsey's, and she was supposed to be the answer-woman, but it fell through (mostly because there wasn't proper advanced notification). As a result, the day before the launch, I was hungover in my bed attempting to provide fake advice to the fake questions that I'd already written (for the most part). Not a good way for the old creative juices to flow. I think, in the future, it'll be a much stronger piece if either A.) I get other people to send me letters or B.) I get someone else to provide the advice. REALLY needing a writing partner involved with this thing if I want it to be a success and continue on.

As far as the lineup is concerned, I'm kinda glad that Miss Bitters was followed up by the issue's strongest piece, Jake's "Sex Gravy". As many of you probably don't know, Jake and I have been lyrical writing-partners in the world-famous juggernaut of a band Big Sarah. As it stands, we've compiled lyrics for the single greatest half-an-album the world has ever known (now, all we gotta do is learn how to play some instruments). Anyway, this is a Jacob Lodge solo piece (with only minor details in format provided by yours truly), and I couldn't be more thrilled to have it on board.

Corkscrew has been with the site from the beginning; it was the first piece of visual art affixed to the site. As such, it provided the template for the color scheme of the first issue (color scheme to be altered month-to-month to coexist with the featured visual art piece). It's from Donald's personal website (hence the text on the face of the pic), and it goes along with the theme of Sycophant Picnic: "Things that look cool."

Ulysses R. Mohm (U.R. Mohm ... do the math ...) is actually Matt W. Roarty. I hate to blow your minds on this one, but it's true. I sought Matt out with a personal plea to be on the first issue because I've always been a fan of his e-mail work and his writing in general. Plus, at the time, I was staring down the distinct possibility of my site going far-too-girly and I needed a little manly touch. Which is why I'm EVER so glad he decided to give me a sports op-ed piece (in a sense). With Sycophant Picnic, I want to be as far-reaching as possible; I don't want to deal with the same old short story structures, the same old poetry schemes, and the same boring visual arts. I want to stretch the boundaries of creative thought, and I DO want to have something for everyone. People should be exposed to more than one damn thing on these Literary/Arts journals! So, I'll take Matt's take on sports or anything else any time he wants.

In keeping with the pseudonym tradition, Arthur Vandelay is indeed Konstantin Y. Zak. And when you go to read his story, keep in mind: no, that's not a typo. Anywhere. What you're looking at, my friends, is the cutting edge in storytelling. Art Vandelay decided to come up with a computer program to tell the story of a certain 4-West alum. To the untrained eye, it makes absolutely no sense, but see if you can at least TRY to follow along and catch the essence of the story. I think it's a genius way to go about fiction-writing, and it's EXACTLY the kind of thing I'm looking for. Plus, it'll frustrate anyone who tries to read it and who has no idea what the hell bool means. I'm all about sticking it to the reader.

Thankfully, I had Emily around, because this site was looking awfully wordy. Her painting is of the little corner store across the street from where we live here on Halsey. The painting was inspired by the corresponding blog entry describing one of the first shootings right after I moved in last summer. It's just an awesome painting, if you'd seen the view she's painting, you'd be knocked out, I guarantee it. In the future, I'm hoping to get the visual arts to be half-and-half with the written pieces, but I didn't have a whole lot of options with this initial issue.

And finally, we close out with a couple of longer short stories. A couple of love stories too, in a sense. Well, Celina's is more of your traditional love story, set in a fictional fantasy-type land. Celina was actually the first person to give me submissions, which was awesome considering all the stragglers coming in at the zero hour on Saturday evening. You know who you are! Anyway, her story has exceptional pacing, but more importantly, I like how it contrasts with my official contribution to the first issue. Because my story is a deranged kind of non-love story, and there's a reason for that.

There's a story behind the "Warm Love" title. I received this writing assignment from Jenny before I even moved to New York. Considering I've yet to write a decent, pure love story, she put me to the test. I thought about it and thought about it, but anything I came up with sounded trite and boring and cliche. I was decidedly unconvinced that I had what it took to follow through in a grand fashion. So, on the back of the envelope I sent to her the following week, I wrote out a short-short-short story (maybe 90-100 words long) about a guy who uses his wife's back as a table for his beer. I called it "Warm Love" as a joke. Anyway, recently the subject of my Warm Love futility came up in conversation. A few days later, I came up with the story you find in Issue 1. I'm planning on a whole series of Warm Love stories in this vain. All with the title Warm Love. Now I've got two, eventually I hope to have many (and, perhaps in the process find out what Warm Love really means? Nah, probably not).

Anyway, so that's it. I've got May all set and ready to go, but the issues are semi-flexible in that I have an extra link lying around there unused and ready to go. Anyone who's anyone who knows anyone who's got anything to contribute should be alerted. I'm not above providing special privileges to friends.

The Girls In The Band

Let's just get Saturday and Sunday out of the way.


I woke up hungover, fighting through the urge to spring from my bed, run into the bathroom, and barf my guts out. Granted, those guts included 10 White Castle hamburgers from 3am that morning, but fortunately, I held my mud. I spent all day in front of my computer putting the finishing touches on the website; when I wasn't doing that, I was out. I bought oven mitts, a small pot, a strainer, and a push cart (though, no toaster as of yet). Finally got the website done at 12:15am Sunday morning, went to sleep about an hour after that.


Woke up, ate some Kraft Cheese & Macaroni, watched some Season 1 O.C. action and some Freaks & Geeks action, went grocery shopping, made some Italian sausage & pasta concoction, watched more O.C. and Freaks & Geeks, visited with Jenny and Emily as they moved more stuff over to their new apartment, watched an Eddie Izzard stand-up set for two hours, read a JFK article in Rolling Stone, and went to bed far too late for words.

This Post Is About Friday:

I was highly agitated on Friday, what with my impending doom here at work, my up-in-the-air apartment situation, my continuing debt, my website not being finished, and everything else. I needed a drink. I needed many drinks. But, not this chintzy beer or wine kick I've been on so far this 2007. Oh no, tonight was about one thing: Vodka. And lots of it.

I almost pounded down an entire fifth by myself. I probably would've if I had one more fucking phone call. After downing about half of a fifth with my 2-liter bottle of Vanilla Pepsi, I was prepared to either go out and see a movie or go out and see some live music. I was on the fence the entire night, but didn't really have time to make a proper decision because of the solid 2-3 hours of telephone conversation I was hit with back-to-back-to-back. I mean, it was fine, because I enjoy gabbing when I'm drinking, but by the end of the night my phone was DEAD.

In the end, I made due with going to see some live music. I asked Liz where a good place to go was in the Lower East Side, and she directed me to Ludlow street, which had two happening places. I picked one, went inside, paid the $10 cover, and was not disappointed.

First up was a band by the name of Surgeon. I only caught a couple-two-three songs from them, but they were servicable: rocking, loud, yelling, two guitars and a bass guitar, cool name, lead singer with one of those 1950s Greaser-style hairdos straight out of Rebel Without a Cause (or like one of John Travolta's goony buddies from Grease).

Here's something that spun me around for a bit of a loop: the lead guitarist was a woman. In a 4-piece with three guys. Well, maybe that isn't all THAT surprising, except for the fact that she was actually pretty good. If you don't know my theory on female lead guitarists, it's this: women can't be lead guitarists. Chauvinistmuch? Well, riddlemethis, Chickenfucker, have you ever SEEN or HEARD a quality female lead guitarist? There are plenty of perfectly NICE female lead guitarists (I'm a big Sleater-Kinney fan, and ... I suppose if I'd ever seen Hells Belles I'm sure they'd rock reasonably hard), but no one in the league of Jimi or Clapton or Allman or even Mayer (wait, John Mayer isn't good enough to be referred to solely by his last name, fuck John Mayer!). Then, if you think about rock bands with female lead singers, generally you're looking at a man playing lead (Hole, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & Holding Company, The Distillers). Anyway, I probably SHOULDN'T say there "can't" be a female lead guitarist, I'm just saying I've yet to see one and I'm not damned bloody likely to be proven wrong anytime soon.

The chick from Surgeon was capable; she even managed to rip off some fairly menacing solos, but she had no passion. No soul. She stood straight and tall, stoic, emotionless. Sure, the way her fingers moved up and down the guitar neck made me wonder what she'd be like while playing my penisflute, but it was all technical. She might as well have been playing a recital in front of a group of crater-faced, metal-mouthed nerds. Meanwhile, her male counterpart on the other side of the stage - while an inferior player - was at the very least getting into the music and being all Rock N' Roll for us. One of these days, Alice.

The final band I saw went by the name of The Jealous Girlfriends. I'm officially in love with the lead singer. I don't know her name, I don't know where she lives, if I had a pair of testicles about my body, I would've found this information out after the show, but I'm MySpace friends with the band and I plan on seeing them again and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to pronounce my everlasting affections to this exquisite vision of eternal beauty.

Wait wait, hang on, I'm sorry, that was a typo. What I MEANT to say was, "I officially want to DO the lead singer of The Jealous Girlfriends in multiple positions, in multiple holes, for 92 hours straight and then hang out watching TV in her bedroom while she goes out and buys me some well-deserved White Castle." I don't know how I screwed THAT up!

Seriously tho? (why "tho"? are you so important you can't spell "though"?). Seriously tho. She was so hot, yo. Like, she's been yelling a lot (or ingesting lots of semen orally), so her voice was all husky and weathered, but in that sexy way where you can't help but imagine her saying something like, "and then afterward my twin sister will come and sit on your face." AND she was wearing a wifebeater. AND she was just my body type only with dark brown hair. Kinda on the shorter side, petite, really skinny ankles (ooo baby, skinny ankles), appropriately-sized rack (in other words, not to big/small for her frame). And she's a smoker. Not that I'm, like, into that or anything. Not that that's, like, a turn-on in any way. Not at all. Not ...

And yeah, their music was good too, but seriously? It's one of those situations where nobody would give two waterlogged shits about this band without the lead singer. There's just something about an average-to-above-average band with a hot, spunky, female lead singer. You think the Yeah Yeah Yeah's would be ANYTHING without Karen O? You think I'd be as gaga over the Schoolyard Heroes or Pretty Girls Make Graves or Tsunami Bomb?

I may piss and moan because it's a stone-cold fact that every woman in America wants to be with a rock musician (and, I mean, EVERY. WOMAN. IN. AMERICA.), but that thing swings both ways. Because there is NOTHING hotter than a rocker chick on stage thrashing around. It's the same sliding scale: ugly chick I wouldn't give the time of day to + guitarist in a band = I'd totally do you with little-to-no alcoholic accompaniment. Hot chick I'd sever my left arm to be with + lead singer in a punk band (without TOO many tattoos or shit pierced into her face) = I'd sever both legs, an arm, and donate my eyes to charity RIGHT NOW to do you.

OK, now I'm getting all worked up about this while I'm still at work. I better cut this one off, I think I've had enough.