Scott Laudati Talks His Drive Thru Records Days, Touring the Country with Damian Rucci, and His Excellent Debut Novel Play the Devil

Scott put together a playlist of some of his Jersey favorites growing up to accompany the interview

Scott Laudati has lived a hundred lives in his short time on earth. He was a punk about New Jersey growing up, eventually forgoing college to work for Drive Thru Records full time right after high school, touring the country with bands like Hidden in Plain View and the Early November for half a decade. Seeing the fifty states with bands who at the time could not have seemed like a bigger deal was naturally an inspiring opportunity which led Scott to start writing music, poetry, and short stories of his own. He lacked confidence in his voice at first but credits the encouragement of none other than Steel Train‘s Jack Antonoff and his sister Rachel for helping him feel like his writing was worth sticking with. When Drive Thru burned out he finally went to college, getting into radical politics at Ramapo, which really pushed his writing forward. He became a columnist for a number of places, from now defunct canine magazines to Trebuchet Magazine in the UK, taking a job in a ritzy hotel to make ends meet in between getting published. When I first met Scott in 2020 he was a union dock worker, building docks out in Rhode Island as he republished his Pushcart nominated poetry collection Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair, which he originally wrote as a student at Ramapo. As I put it back in 2020, in Hawaiian Shirts Scott ruminates on how capitalism can humiliate the poor by denying them any basic dignity, confronting a myriad of institutional problems that existed but went largely unremarked upon during the Obama years when these poems were originally penned. These tales are interwoven with stories of young romance and the pitfalls that naturally occur, the highs and lows of drug use, and the giddy excitement and nervous longing of being young and figuring out exactly who you actually are. Those themes, the good and the bad, permeate all of Scott’s work, and naturally flowed right thru his excellent debut novel Play the Devil

A video of Scott getting pulled on stage to play with The Atari’s at age fourteen (@ 26:32).

Scott and I grabbed beers at one of my favorite bars last week to talk about his life since he recently re-published his debut novel. Play the Devil was originally pressed in 2017 before it was fully ready, leading to Scott to slowly have to gather back all those incomplete copies himself. He penned the book both to write about life in America as Donald Trump was coming into his reign of terror and, as he cheekily now admits, to win back a now long-gone ex. He finally finished the edits of the current version of the book in 2020 while shaking up out in Rhode Island with his current girlfriend, who he credits for encouraging him to finish the book even if she wasn’t what started it. The rewrite led to the book’s rerelease in 2021 with Bone Machine, a publishing house Scott now helps run. Scott and I talked about how the majority of the themes he covered in Play the Devil continue to be relevant today, seeing as we really didn’t solve anything that was a problem when he wrote the thing in the early 2010s. The novel follows a college drop-out saddled with student loan debt with no real path forward into becoming a functioning member of society. His Italian buddy Frankie Gunnz helps him get a job at a door-to-door pool cleaning service, where our protagonist realizes he is far from the weirdest guy haunting Monmouth County as they clean and collect payment from a dozen pools over the course of one hellacious day. It is hilarious and penchant and extremely fucking New Jersey. Our main character Londi could not be having a worse time being forced into labor. He treats every minute of work as if it could be the exertion that finally brings him to the grave, and he similarly treats every sip of beer, rip of a joint, or minute napping in the car like they are manna from heaven. There are no illusions of grandeur here, their singular goal is making it through the day alive without landing in jail or getting any shit on their flip flops. The book both laments the detestable state of American capitalism and is an ode to the friends who make life worth living anyway, the people who give you reasons to have hope in the most hopeless of times. Despite Frankie Gunnz spending half this novel getting into and out of fights, Londi would be dead in a ditch without Frankie in his life, and by the end we realize Frankie needs Londi as much as he needs Frankie. After all it is a lot easier to get through a shitty day of cleaning pools with a buddy by your side. 

Scott has spent part of the past year touring the US with Damian Rucci, a fellow Hazlet native and punk poet. Damian has built a friend network of older poets throughout the country thanks to connections he made via the Osage Arts Community, meaning that he and Scott have a place to rest their head and tell some poems everywhere from Manchester, NH to San Diego. They’ve been getting an impressive turnout at these shows seeming to average somewhere between 15-50 people a night. They’ve made their fair share of both friends and enemies on the road to be fair. Their first tour together was called The Shape of Poetry to Come, which caused the more geriatric vein of Facebook poets in their circles to ask “who the hell these two think they are?” Scott even got a gun pulled on him at a show in Arkansas after an altercation about whether or not someone had been stealing stories, though luckily he and Damian once again made it out alive. The funniest thing about Scott’s life as one of America’s few touring poets is that in some ways it is exactly the same as his life was when he was just a teen selling merch for bands on Drive Thru Records. He is still driving city to city making friends with any lowlife who’ll let him bum a cigarette, telling truths about the horrors of American capitalism and how the only thing that makes it worth living are love and friendship. The only difference is that his stories are finally the ones people are clapping for.

I talked to Scott about working for Drive Thru, touring the country with Damian, and the process of putting out his incredible debut novel, Play the Devil.

GSC: What’s your name? What is your artistry of choice?

SL: Scott Laudati, writer, poet, journalist, day drinker.

GSC: Are you a published journalist? I didn’t realize.

SL: I used to do actual articles for Trebuchet Magazine in the UK. I did interviews and scene reports and whatnot, they would send me to music festivals. I reached out to them about writing about Bravo Con this year, I’d be very excited if they got me a pass. My girlfriend and I have watched a lot there and I think there is a great piece to be written about it.

GSC: Where in Jersey did you grow up? What was life like growing up in the Garden State?

SL: Hazlet, New Jersey, which is like the bay shore, north Monmouth County on the bay. It was funny, everybody had enough money, but everybody was connected a little bit. It was white trash. But like..

GSC: Everybody took care of each other?

SL: No, nobody took care of each other. Everybody’s Dad was like a stonemason, a paver guy, or a roofer. Blue collar stuff, but everybody was making over $100,000. Middle class. I hated school. I was a loser. I just wanted to move out and listen to punk rock.

GSC:  You went to Ramapo right?

SL: I actually moved to LA the day after I graduated high school before going to college. I worked for Drive Thru Records for years. Once they went out of business, I moved back home and went to Ramapo and that’s where I got radicalized. I had a bunch of professors that were in the SDS, the Students for a Democratic Society, the ones blowing up buildings in the 70s and the 60s. I fell into a bunch of Marxist Organizations. I was coming to Hunter College constantly for forums like how to teach people in NYC how to take control of their buildings so they wouldn’t be priced out.

GSC: What was working for Drive Thru Records in your teenage years like? What bands were you working with then? 

SL: The Drive Thru guys went to Rutgers and moved to California when they started Drive Thru. They’d bring like Jimmy Eat World, Goldfinger, and Blink 182 to the majors and realized they should do things themselves. My junior year of high school, Richard Raines who ran Drive Thru was like, why don’t you come out to LA? So as a teenager I went out to LA. I did a number of different jobs for the label and worked with a number of bands over the course of like half a decade. Richard and I were so close at the time that my parents paid for a car that was delivered to their house on behalf of the Drive Thru guys who paid my parents back right away, which still is a lot to ask your parents to do at like fifteen. 

GSC: Yea talk about some saints. What bands did you work most with specifically?

SL: When I first flew out to LA Hidden in Plain View, the band from New Jersey, were staying at Richard’s house with us. They said to me we need a merch guy for a week, why don’t you come with us? I was like 16 and called my mom and I was like, “Oh, my favorite band wants me to go on tour with them, can I?” My Mom made me promise that we wouldn’t leave California for some reason but we did go to Utah, so sorry Mom. Then I was the merch guy for The Early November for a really long time, though I toured with Steel Train and a number of other bands as well. 

GSC: Any bands you remember from that era that people don’t give enough love?

SL: There was this band Jenoah that almost immediately broke up who were fantastic. House of Fools from North Carolina coulda been Pink Floyd in a different world. The cool thing about Drive Thru was it wasn’t like everyone was like New Found Glory as much as people act like it was, they had a range of sounds.

GSC: Do you ever hear from the Drive Thru guys?

SL: No, we had a really big falling out when I was 22 or 23 and I’ve never talked to Rich or any of them again. It was when Vagrant Records got bought out for like 50 million or so in 2004-5. Drive Thru got an offer, somebody at the UN’s daughter loved The Starting Line and wanted to buy 51% of the label for 30 million, and they were like, “Fuck you! Vagrant just got 50 million!” Literally like three days later CD burning became a thing, killing their value. That led to a whole mess of bands fucking them over and them fucking bands over to try and break even. The owner and I had a real falling out in the midst of all that which is such a shame because we were best friends for a while there. He was always so encouraging of my writing and I’ll always appreciate that, whether he knows it or not.

GSC:  What made you fall in love with literature? Poetry, novels, whatever it be.

SL: My grandma was the town librarian in Hazlet. When I was a youngin I read Robert Comier, he wrote Fade and The Chocolate War, which got me into fiction. My uncle took my cousin and I at one point and was like, you guys need culture. He forced us to read Jack Kerouac, and we read The Catcher in the Rye much earlier than we read it in high school. All of this made me want to be a painter, but my cousin had already started doing that, and he was really good at it. So I was like, okay, then I’m gonna be a writer or a musician. I was raised in sports. I was good at sports and took basketball, especially extremely seriously. But when I found punk rock and writing, I completely lost interest in basketball, but I kept the discipline from athletics. I tried to see it as more than a hobby both writing and reading.

GSC: When did you know that you wanted to write yourself? Was it a person like your uncle encouraging you?

SL: So, Steel Train was on Drive Thru Records. That’s Jack Antonoff’s early band.

GSC: What was their vibe?

SL: Smoking weed, growing their hair out and listening to the Grateful Dead. Jack had the biggest Afro you’ve ever seen, they all did. Jack had this beautiful sister Rachel Antonoff, who was a few years older. Whenever we were out at the diner or whatever, she and I would get sat at the end of the table because we were the least important people, I was just sixteen doing merch. I had a huge crush on her, which all of them knew and made fun of me for, I just thought the world of her. She was world traveled and everything she said sounded so smart. I asked her what she wanted to be, and she said, “Oh, I’m a writer.” So I was just like, okay, all I gotta do is write the greatest book ever written and maybe she’ll go out with me. She actually stopped writing and became a fashion designer where she’s been really successful too. But, I went home that day, and I was like, Okay, I just have to write everyday for the rest of my life.

GSC: Have you kept in touch?

SL: No, I mean this was so long ago and they were right on track to be famous already, like Jack started dating Lena Dunham not all that long after this. But Jack and his sister were always encouraging of my early writing and music which made me feel really cool. That is something I think back of as being a nexus for me really putting pen to paper, people like the two of them, who I could not have thought were cooler, saying that my shit wasn’t that bad really helped me even try to find my voice as a writer.

GSC:  So you graduate high school, work for Drive Thru in LA, head to Ramapo and get radicalized, then what did life have in store?

SL: My roommate in college, who I was in a band with, was from Fredrick, Maryland. Right after college I moved into his parents basement, which I can’t believe they let us do. We were playing in Baltimore and around Maryland. While I was doing that I was also helping pay rent writing for a Dog Magazine called Dog Stir that is unfortunately no longer in business. The dog magazine money all dried up and I moved to California again for a while because I wanted to be a screenwriter. I ended up in Big Bear constantly, somebody’s uncle was always an agent. We thought if we went to Big Bear and worked on a screenplay, it was guaranteed to be sold. Twelve of us would go out there and do coke for three days and get no writing done. It didn’t matter because everybody else was rich as hell. LA is crazy like that. I lived in Hollywood and I had no money, but I would walk to the Comedy Store every night because there was a free room, so you could hang out there for five hours and not spend any money. You’d all go outside to smoke cigarettes, and somebody would be like, “Oh, my parents are in France. We have the mansion in Laurel Canyon tonight. Let’s go party.” And then you’re there, in their Laurel Canyon backyard planning the Big Bear trip.

GSC:  What was your life like as you’re putting together Play The Devil, your first novel? It first came out in 2017, before its rerelease in 2021. It felt very penchant for what was going on then, but it seems to be really resonating in the present day.

SL: Honestly, I originally wrote this whole novel to try to get an ex-girlfriend back. 

GSC: Is she the queen? 

SL: She is the inspiration for the queen in the book. It’s been years since obviously we don’t talk and I am happily with my lovely girlfriend who inspires me every day, but that was the nexus for this book.  I was in that weird period where I was really into radical politics, I had no money, and I was living in my parents house. They hated me, and my friend owned a pool company. So I fell into that and started cleaning pools with him.

GSC: Was this around 2017?

SL: Even earlier. An early version of this novel was published by an indie press in Lancaster, PA. I gave them the manuscript which was not done and they just put it out. It was cool of them in a way, but I was really pissed because it needed a lot of editing, so I had them take it out of print, I’ve been able to get most of those copies back too luckily. Then it was kind of just doing nothing. During the pandemic, my girlfriend and I ended up at her parents on Jamestown, an island right next to Narragansett in Rhode Island. We were there for seven months. I had like 500 Adderall and figured it was time to rewrite this novel. It’s funny because I didn’t realize till I reread it how the themes of student loan debt, societal decay, it’s all become even more prevalent today.

GSC: None of those problems you were talking about in 2017 got solved whatsoever. They continue to be problems. The four people you dedicate the book to: Joy Belasco, Edward Thorn, Ronald Ennis, Ben Matulich. Looking at the names I am guessing Joey is Frankie Gunz in the book, right?

SL: You guessed correctly. So Joey Belasco was the only one of us who at fourteen got a job and never stopped working. He always had money and he would hire all of us when he could. Eventually he started this pool company, which I still work with now and then. After I’d left Maryland my parents split up, they got back together since, but I came back then to help my mom. I called Joey and told him the situation and he was at my mom’s house the next morning cleaning out her gutters, mowing her lawn. Best dude, man.

GSC:  That’s so Italian, honestly.

SL: Edward Thorn, the next one. He’s my uncle, an ex-prison guard, retired now. He is the best story teller. He taught me how to tell a story, it’s all action. Every story he has ends with him kicking somebody’s ass. There are no unnecessary details and he knows where and when to embellish. Ron Ennis is my uncle who like had us read The Catcher in the Rye, thanks to him. And Ben is the guy I run Bone Machine with. He’s out in Texas, he and I have been road dogs for a long time. 

GSC: Can you talk about the lived experience of cleaning pools around Monmouth County? Was it really as bad and grimy as described?

SL: Every one of those pools is based on a real house, not necessarily all from the same opening day though. Usually you get there and the husband comes right out, yelling “What the fuck I paid $10,000 last year to upgrade this pool and now everything’s broken,” The wife is crying because they didn’t have $10,000 to begin with. We usually get a bad storm every year, so oftentimes the patio furniture has blown all over, or there’s dead raccoons in the lawn.

GSC:  They’re not like doing an ounce of cleaning before you come?

SL: No, hell no. No, you’re sliding on dog shit. The amount of dog poop in people’s own backyard is incomprehensible honestly. On the pool cover, on the patio, it’s disgusting. They’d apologize for it but they don’t clean it off. You get frogs, snakes, turtles sometimes.

GSC: Outdoor pools are obviously a seasonal business, does that make enough for Joey to do it full time?

SL: He’s also a dock builder. He just tried to get a job at Costco and lasted two weeks and then quit. After trying to get into the Costco job for like, 12 years.

GSC: It’s prestigious, right?

SL: You can’t get it unless you’re in the know, it’s like everything else. 

GSC: You need the right uncle.

SL: Yeah, exactly. He’s never been in a job where you’ve had to like, not curse. Not have a cigarette, your mouth, or respect your boss. So he lasted two weeks. He’s a Bayonne bruiser. 

GSC: He’s from BayWeez?? You know what they say about Bayonne? 

SL: I do not.

GSC: If they come from Bayonne,,, leave ‘em alone! 

SL: I’ll have to tell him that one. The problem with this job too, is it’s like you give the people a bill each week but they don’t pay or they pay some of it. They’re like, “Oh, I’ll get you next week.” So by the end of the season, he’s owed like ten grand and has to collect up.

GSC: I would not want to owe a guy from Bayonne ten grand. The book mostly takes place over the course of one miserable day with maybe a day and a half before in a day and a half after. Was that always the conception for the book? Or was there a potential where this is going over the course of the summer? 

SL: Yea I wanted to keep everything focused in a short time period. I hate big time skips and whatnot in fiction, this didn’t feel like that kind of story. This book takes place on opening day and maybe someday I might write a book about closing day where we’re collecting up for the season, because it’s a completely different animal.

GSC: Is that something that you’ve been kicking the tires on starting?

SL: Yeah. I’ve been doing pools with him since I was seventeen I think. So many other employees have come and gone in that time. Hyginx, police run-ins, economies have raised up and collapsed.

GSC: The whole reign of Governor Christie.

SL: The pandemic happened. Hurricane Sandy happened. So it’d be interesting to do a closing day like five years down the road from the original or something and see where life has brought these people.

GSC: How does your friend Joey feel about the book?

SL:  He claims that he read it and he loved it. But… 

GSC: You don’t think he read it?

SL:  I have my doubts. He is a real ass kicker, like he beat up everybody in our town. So I was worried if he didn’t like it I’d be the court jester getting sent to the guillotine. But he said he liked it, who knows. Better for me if he doesn’t read it.

GSC: You and Damian Rucci have been hitting the road a lot together, telling poetry all over the country. What has that experience been like? How did you get connected with them?

SL: Damian is from Hazlet, we actually share a birthday, but he’s way younger than me. I didn’t find him until only a couple of years ago. Now we’re road brothers. He’s been paving this road for 10 years. He’s been in cars and buses saying poems all over the country. He’ll have a book out on Bone Machine October 18th.

GSC: Hell Yea. You help run Bone Machine right?

SL: It’s only recently I’ve helped take the reins with Bone Machine. I had nothing to do with them other than getting published for years. It was a bunch of skateboarders I knew in college who wanted to make a Vice Magazine kind of thing. They did a great job with it, they’re graffiti artists so they did a lot of stuff with Shepard Fairey, Indecline and stuff like that. They got into Barnes and Noble and everything but things fell off eventually. Everybody’s married and busy with other ventures. So I was like, you’ve gone far with this. Let me take it over and I’ll start publishing younger folk.  Damian I knew needed a book after going around the country with him. This guy knows everybody. The first tour we did he said we were gonna go to Salina, Kansas, there’ll be 30 people there and I was like, No way. Sure enough, they come out. 

GSC: Where exactly is Salina, Kansas? 

SL: In the fuckin American Sahara, man. It’s further than Lawrence, Kansas. It was a cattle town. There’s like one beautiful street paved in gold and nothing else. You get past Lawrence and all of a sudden the grass ends and it’s just the crag surface of the moon for another 500 miles.

GSC: Do they have a scene of their own? Is it poetry specifically? Or if you brought a band out there they’d freak out, too?

SL: Nobody was young, there were no kids. Everybody was an older poet.

GSC: How did Damian get connected with them?

SL: He knows all the poets from touring over and over. Any city in the country he can turn thirty people out.

GSC: Are you selling a lot of books and whatnot then?

SL: So this is like the trick. The first tour, we called it The Shape of Poetry to Come, which was genius, because we angered all of the old heads. They were like who the fuck do they think they are? They got mad and talked shit on Facebook and stuff. 

GSC: You got 80 year old Facebook poets talking shit about you in Salina, Kansas? 

SL: Yeah, it’s pretty funny. 

GSC: That rocks. That’s like the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. How do the shows work?

SL: Three of you get together. You each put like four or five poems together and you make a chap book that you sell for five bucks at the shop. People buy it and they’re excited about it. We print the chapbooks out ourselves on cardstock. They look good enough to justify the price tag in my opinion.The older people who are excited that you’re coming on tour and aren’t shit talking you on Facebook will give you a lot more than five bucks too. The community is partially spawned from an artist’s residency in Bell, Missouri, called the Osage Arts Community. These two guys bought up all the houses for this artist’s residency on a huge farm where they feed you for free. Across the I-70 corridor from Pittsburgh to Dallas there is a community of people all centered around Osage, so we’ll have a show and usually a place to stay and whatnot.

GSC:  Did Damian do the residency?

SL: He got banned from the residency but they let him back now I guess. Everyone is my kinda wacko with their own press and own form of insanity, my kind of people.

GSC: What are the most or least memorable shows you’ve done?

SL: I don’t know what is the most forgettable. A lot of the rust belt cities are really depressing and sad but it is inspiring how many kids whose older brother’s died from oxys have climbed out of this and built some kind of poetry scene. The best shows ever are always in Texas, I’m left politically but I love Texas. Everybody turns out ready to party. Every time I go there, it’s just fucking debauchery. We did a show in Dallas, everybody was in their 50s, we went back to one of their houses and I got a topless tarot card reading from this woman in her 50s who has an Onlyfans where she does exactly that. 

GSC:  Every show has people too? No duds?

SL: Damian was taken on the road by guys like John Burroughs, Jason Balding, and John Dorsey, who have been doing the road shit since the 90s. It may seem like we’re having a renaissance but we’re just reviving a railway that was built before our time. I am really reaping all the benefits too. I was middling in academia, publishing with universities, trying to win awards. I had no idea that this indie, DIY road thing was happening. I’m stepping now into a completely different world that I didn’t know existed. I’m the only one with stuff published in universities, but nobody cares. So I gotta thank Damian and them for taking me under their wing.

GSC: Yea it’s been impressive, getting such a warm reception.

SL: Well the night after the Dallas party we had a gig in Little Rock, Arkansas where a dude pulled a gun on me on stage, so its not all nice. Another poet, this older guy. 

GSC: Over what? 

SL: He starts telling a story on stage that I thought I heard someone else tell, so I yell out, “That’s not how I heard it,” as a joke. This dude was walking around with a limp and a cane and he started pointing his cane at me. He’s like, “you little bird. You come to my city and you talk shit while I’m reading poetry, little worm!” Then he pulls a gun off his holster and points it right at me. I apologize and after some discussions we smooth things over, apparently the stories were different so I apologized. Then five minutes later, he’s choking out the guy who owns the bar screaming about some FBI conspiracy. Turns out he was in a meth induced psychosis and went to a clinic that night. Apparently he’s since cleaned up, which I was glad to hear. He was the best poet on the whole tour, and honestly I love the guy. He’s like the poet laureate or more like the poet outlaw of Little Rock. I hope he forgives me for interrupting his story, I forgive him for pulling a gun on me. 

GSC: Do you play with bands at any of those shows? 

SL: We played between a couple metal bands at Haus of Yarga, an old manor house in the middle of Philly. It was Desolation‘s first ever show and they kicked ass. I loved that show in Highland Park with your homie Madison from No Good with Secrets too. That was a fun one. I want to do more of that, we should be playing with bands. Honestly, as cool as reading is, it’s not very exciting to go watch a poem. Damian’s about the best it can get, unless you get a gun pulled on you it’s not as exciting as seeing a band. Where maybe instead if you hear three bands with some fucking good poetry in between, maybe we can bring two crowds together. At the show in Highland Park we sold a bunch of chapbooks to people who were there for the bands, which was really really cool. 

GSC: With Play the Devil specifically, is there something different about the crowd who is reading it now than the one that was originally reading it in 2017?

SL: On twitter it has been a lot of women reading and supporting which I was surprised and appreciative of.

GSC:  More women read than men, honestly, especially fiction.

SL: The fiction that I write I thought was for people who grew up reading Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway and stuff like that. Guys guys, like this book is full of fist fights and shit. I had a real influence from the emo scene so maybe I write a little bit more delicately that comes across well to all sexes. Whatever it is, it definitely has seemed to be more women than men.

GSC: Who are some of your favorite newer musicians?

SL: I hate to go here but Bright Eyes is my favorite band of all time and their new record was legit great. No Good With Secrets really impressed me at Highland Park though too man, some fucking hooks from that band. Playing music coming up, nobody could play their instrument at all. It was totally fine to be terrible. Now dude, all these bands are fucking awesome. I love Prince Daddy and the Hyena as you know, their music blows me away. Joyce Manor, one minute songs, right to the point, so sharp and clever. They’re a lot older than I realized too which was comforting. Jeff Rosenstock is another guy like that where its been so cool to see him get exponentially bigger and bigger. That Bomb! The Music Industry documentary online is incredible too. I like a lot of those newer bands like Kerosene Heights and Teenage Halloween too, the emo scene is thriving right now. I also love Blink 182, they will always be a favorite.

GSC:  What kind of writing do you have in the chamber next? 

SL: Now I’m really into nonfiction essays. Zeitgeist Press in Las Vegas is going to put out a full length book of my essays, tour stories, travel writing. An essay on learning how to catch and clean blue fish during the pandemic, my stories from touring with these bands that were huge at one point that everybody’s forgotten. Trying to find peyote in Arizona. All my non-fiction writing with some new stories too. That’ll be out next October 17th on my 38th birthday.

GSC: Who are some of your favorite contemporary writers outside of people that we’ve already discussed? 

SL: I’m reading a book by Walker Rose right now called The End of the West, which I’m really liking. He’s a Vegas guy and the book takes place in Vegas. So it’s all mobsters, hookers, and shoot outs. My friend Tohm Bakelas is a good poet in the Bukowski mold without being a clone. James Norman is a good another like working class union guy who writes about that.

GSC: What is something that brings you joy that people may not know?
SL: I can’t think of a whole lot that brings me joy these days. When I think of what brings me joy, its people really. Of course my lovely girl friend who lets me go on tours that make no money brings me joy every day. But I have also had the same four best friends since fourth grade, which is so special. I don’t appreciate it enough but they have stepped up in my life in ways I can’t begin to explain. We’re blessings and curses in each other’s lives but mostly blessings.

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