Enthusiasts, I have the working memory of a small lamp, or a well-formed puddle; I wandered into my kitchen for no reason ten minutes ago, and in ten minutes I will go to my kitchen with purpose, only to forget why along the way. I have–and not just once–used my phone as a tiny writing desk to jot a note on a scrap of paper, which I then lose. Once on an airport run, I got lost on the way there, while in the airport, in the parking lot looking for my car, and then again on the way home. My default setting is general befuddlement.

But I am good at Dead Picture Concentration. I remember Dead photos very well. Primo Levi remembered Auschwitz very well, but if that’s what it takes to get a book contract, then I’ll stick with the blog. That inappropriate statement was made in hopes of undercutting any sense that I was being braggadocious: I am fully aware that this is a niche ability, and a red flag for potential lovers and/or business partners.

The fact remains, though: I am very good at looking at pictures of the Dead. Nobody looks at pictures of the Dead like me. I’m the best at–


Stop that!

I blacked out for a second. Who started talking?


Oh, that’s no good for anyone.

Let’s just move on.

Sure. Something about Billy’s birthday cake looked familiar, and not just the Stealie: I had seen that cake before.


In Little Aleppo, the sun doesn’t rise: it stumbles in after disappearing all night without a call.

The Morning Tavern opens for the dockworkers and fishmongers and fishmonsters. (Little Aleppo is dedicated to inclusiveness to the point of allowing fishmonsters to drink in bars.) The alcoholics, and the alcoholic insomniacs, and weirdos, and sex perverts join them, and there is a trivia contest every Tuesday at 7 A.M. At noon, the respectable places and classy establishments open up, and the Bartender With No Name shoos everyone out into the shameful sunlight and the Morning Tavern shuts the door again.

All those lonely, miscast actors in there would never admit it, but a big part of the bar’s success (relatively: the floor was repossessed at one point) was the smell. Not the beer piss and cocaine sweat you would expect, no: it was sweet on days, and doughy most often, and sometimes cinnamon would seem to be sitting at the bar, right next to the fishmonster.

That addicting aroma came from next door, which was the only business in Little Aleppo whose lights went on earlier than the Morning Tavern: Anita the Baker’s Cakes That Do Not Have Drugs In Them. (The sign was a lie. All the cakes were full of all the drugs.) But of course not just cakes: there were pies which contained drugs; profiteroles, and these had drugs in them, as well; and cookies (drugs).

But the drugs were secondary, until around an hour later, to Anita the Baker’s wide-ranging confectionary skills. She could make cakes that look like things that were not cake at all, or she could make a cake that looked like cake. Whether you were from the Birmingham in America or England, she could make you a biscuit you would enjoy. She made erotic cakes, and she made esoteric cakes, but only a couple of people ordered them. There were hyper-funnel cakes, which had no inlet and two spouts that existed in four dimensions.

And, of course, Anita the Baker has been the Dead’s baker since the day she opened. In fact, that day was an interesting one, and I hope we’ll get to hear about it.

I hope we get to hear about a lot of things.