Thursday, December 4, 2008
Kristina has a vested interest in this because, being a transient between-houses child, for a while there her room was also my office. (Sorry, Krissy.)
The photo gallery is great, much fun. I guess I come from a completely different generation, though. The laptop has really changed everything. And maybe I've changed, as well.
I used to think I needed a grand space. Books all around, solitude, great desk, notes tacked everywhere. Over the years, though, that concept has just drifted away from my life. When we gutted and rebuilt our house a few years ago, it finally died for good, I guess; we didn't really build a "writing place." I do have an office with a desk, sort of. But it's also the dog room, and more for paying bills and storing things. I do write in there from time to time, when I need to close a door and have silence. But I'm more likely to be at the kitchen table, or maybe up in the play room, which has a great view of the woods. Or, this time of the year, sitting in front of the wood stove in the living room. And those are just the home options. Fact is, most of my writing is done on the train these days.
Below: the laptop in action on my kitchen counter.
This pic below was shot moments after our first gig (a 60s-theme dance in the old Girls' Gym at the high school). I'm quite sure I will be hunted down and hurt for posting this picture on the internet.
Check out the suede-fringed boots and coral necklace. Yeah, baby. I really made some stunning fashion decisions at the age of 15.
Say what you will, though. We had a great time. And I don't know too many high school bands with the balls to attempt "Scenes From An Italian Restauant." A few of these guys are still out there playing (Matt, Gregg, Karl).
Matt got married this summer, to another old friend of ours, Beth. We posed for the occasion in the pic below...not a pair of parachute pants to be found...
The great news is that Beth and Matt are now proud parents of baby Maeve. Congratulations guys.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
And now, on the afternoon of the fifth, that's exactly how I feel, but in the present tense. That is, for the first time in 8 years, I feel like there truly is the potential to again have my country be as good as its promise.
I'm writing today from Pittsburgh, the left coast of my fair state. There is no significance to that except that I am reminded of how damn long my state is, a fact I sometimes forget.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
And RIP, Studs Terkel.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
For the upcoming election, though, I set out a three-book process. I'm halfway through.
1. I wanted to be inspired, presidentially, and at the same time fill in some large blanks about a president I know woefully little about. So I went with the big book of Lincoln.
2. I wanted a reminder (as if I need one; Christ) of how important my vote is, and how much damage one man can do. So I went with "Angler," the new book about Cheney. I'm halfway through that now.
3. To cap it, I'll turn to my man's own words, which I have not yet read. Not sure which I'll read, "Dreams of my Father" or "Audacity of Hope." Probably the first one.
(And just in case you're wondering...yes, I have decided what I'm reading on the heels of this presidential swim. The new one by Marilynne Robinson, "Home.")
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
In other news, two old musician friends have new releases (recent readers of In Hoboken can decide if they want to play "Who's that character based on?").
First is the amazing, the lovely, the talented Linda Sharar. Linda, Gregg, and I have spent more time together cramped between guitar cases in small vehicles than any three humans ought. We explored the burnt-out remains of Woody's childhood home together, we picked ticks off each other (same trip, oddly), we...well, you get the point. Her new album is called Everyday. It's wonderful. This is Linda's first outing post-motherhood, and that experience has added in richness to her lyricist's pen. And of course, as always, Linda packs a killer band.
Also new in the world is a project from Jack Hardy. Jack and his old pal David Massengill have taken to calling themselves the Folk Brothers, and did a CD to prove it. That's Jack on the right (if you didn't already know that...)
This one I just got in the mail and am only halfway through, but fantastic so far. Mark Dann on lead guitar, two great songwriters (and singers, let us not forget), and a song called "The Worst President Ever." What's not to like?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
In private conversations with writers and other artists I trust, I’ve been known to discuss dividing the world of novelists (and maybe the whole world) into two camps: those who get the joke and those who don’t get the joke. You know, “the joke.”
D.F. Wallace, though, was a different stripe of cat altogether. Even saying “gets the joke” has a certain finality to it; i.e., to get the joke, the joke’s been told and done. But Wallace seemed to play on the plane of the never-ending joke. Hey, I’m not talking about the title of his novel here.
Anyway. You had to walk away from your life to read Wallace, slip through the door. And you had to bring a fork.
And now it seems David himself has slipped through the door; his method was different, but he’s laid the terrible master to waste. Poor David. His poor wife.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
It was my 20th high school reuinion (North Hunterdon Regional, Class of 88...barely, in my case) right before I left. I couldn't make it, but Gregg and Karl did.
I haven't made a reunion yet, and doubt that I will. High school and I had a less than comfortable relationship. If they had reunions for grade school, I'd go to that, I think (not that my relationship with education was any stronger in the younger grades). 4th through 8th grade I went to Franklin Township School in tiny Quakertown, NJ. We were still partially a farm community back then. There were only two classes for each grade, so maybe 40 kids total per grade. It was awful, frequently, because we all knew each other and each other's business in inescapable ways...there were no secrets and no hiding. But like prison or the army, those close-quartered bonds come to mean something. You get a group protection mentality, even when you're eviscerating your own members inside. It is possible to hate and love someone at the same time, and I learned that at FTS.
But then we all left and went to the huge regional high school (of the aforementioned reuinon).
Anyway, I didn't go to the reunion, but I (surprise) wrote something for the local paper's (Hunterdon County Democrat) monthly magazine about it. You should be able to right click it below then blow it up to read. It's about me and Gregg. Yeah, those are our Senior portraits to the left. Yuck it up.
In other news, Obama picked ol' Joe Biden for his running mate last week. I'm okay with that. Joe is a good guy, and a native Pennsylvanian. I met him, twice, although he certainly wouldn't remember. Two years ago, when my daughter Kristina was a freshman at college in New Hampshire (this before transfering to UVM). I flew up twice on the Saturday morning dawn patrol from Philadelphia, and both times ol Joe was onboard. A Senator, visiting New Hampshire regularly, a year before a Presidential election? Not hard to figure that one out.
Speaking of Kristina, she's a diehard Nader girl. And this will be her first votable presidential election. It's kind of fun, having differing politics in the household (fun unless there's a slide to the right, and then someone loses an eye). Krissy is collecting her own political meets already. This is her and ol' Ralph, from a bunch of years ago:
The setting was the National Press Club in Washington. The occasion can be found in the essay link to the right labeled "Mr. Bauman Goes to Washington" or something like that. Anyway, I like ol' Ralph a great deal, I think he's a kind of a genius, an often-unheralded gift to this country, and he had or has my support in most everything he does...I just wish he'd stop running for president. It's just that one tiny thing I don't agree with him on.
Anyway, Autumn approaches, thankfully. Happy time. And writing time, too. Happy September... time to lie down in that September grass.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Soldiers, Survivors, and Storytellers Talk About War
edited by Marc Aronson and Patty Campbell
"The most important Young Adult book of the year, tough, smart and clear-eyed about a topic more taboo than sex - going to war - a topic teenagers need to know about before they make real life and death decisions." -- Robert Lipsyte, author of THE CONTENDER
Marc Aronson thinks war is inevitable. Patty Campbell thinks war is cruel, deceptive, and wrong. But both agree on one thing: that teens need to hear the truthful voices of those who have experienced war firsthand. The result is this dynamic selection of essays, memoirs, letters, and fiction from nearly than twenty contributors, both contemporary and historical -- ranging from Christian Bauman's wrenching "Letter to a Young Enlistee" to Chris Hedges's unflinching look at combat to Fumiko Miura's Nagasaki memoir, "A Survivor's Tale." Whether the speaker is Mark Twain, World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, or a soldier writing a miliblog, these divergent pieces look war straight in the face -- and provide an invaluable resource for teenagers today.
In a provocative anthology, two editors with opposing viewpoints present an unflinching collection of works reflecting on the nature of war.
The interviewer was Jessa's sister Jen Crispin, who I'm a big fan of because she's written flattering reviews of all my books (I'm easy like that). It's rare, too, to have a reviewer who actually gets what's you're trying to do. So, you know, the whole Crispin family is basically aces in my book.
Anyway, we did this by email, and I was in Paris at the time. Here's how my side of the conversation started:
"Hello from Paris, where I’m answering these questions. The weather is milder over here this week than at home in Pennsylvania, and for that I’m thankful. The weather and the foie gras, thankful for both. And I saw Jeanette Winterson today. Not in a “we shared witty conversation and a bottle of wine at a small table overlooking the Seine” kind of way, but in a “I walked into Shakespeare & Co. wondering what the line was about and there she was, signing books.” Unable to browse the stacks because of her line, I wandered over to Notre Dame just in time to have the guard lock the gate on me. A wrinkled little pear of a street woman saw my defeat and showed me how to get in through the Exit, so she got my 5 Euros directly, rather than me having to pass it through God’s hands first. Okay, let’s answer questions."
We go on from there to talk about In Hoboken, my other books, Silas House, singing with Woody Guthrie's sister, Stephen King, and the Dragonriders of Pern. It's all here.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Fratellis, Costello Music
Steely Dan, Vol 2 and 3 of the boxed set
Paolo Conte, Best of
Chet Baker, a concert bootleg Gregg got me from someone in the Netherlands
Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
Blue Oyster Cult, Agents of Fortune
mix CD daughter Kristina made for my birthday
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
It's at the Bat Segundo Show...direct link here...or straight to the mp3 here.
Ed Champion: You have this particular rock ‘n’ roll novel dwelling upon Hoboken, as well as Mona Smith, who is this Erica Jong-like figure, who is the mother of Thatcher. But I wanted to ask you about this. Because it’s very fascinating to me. I have the belief that if you write a rock ‘n’ roll novel, there needs to be some additional element. Some additional hook. Because if you dwell too much on rock ‘n’ roll music, well, it’s going to possibly be something of a circlejerk. So I wanted to ask you. Was this a consideration in setting this book in Hoboken? The Hoboken aspect came first? What happened here?
Bauman: Yeah, I think the Hoboken aspect came first. Well, first of all, I should point out that everyone keeps calling it a rock ‘n’ roll novel. It is actually a folk novel. So we should just be clear here. There’s a lot more Woody Guthrie here than anything else. But it’s a good point. You know, the whole thing I wanted to do, in as far as I wanted to anything and it didn’t just happen the way it happened — I was trying very hard this time to do two things. One was to write about a place. A very specific place to the point where the place became one of the characters in the book. And of those places where I’ve either lived or been alive in my life, Hoboken was one of them that stood out as a good place to go. And the other one was that I really wanted to try and write an ensemble novel to the best of my ability. And I kind of failed in that aspect.
How's that for a good time? Hot, hot, hot.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
What I really want to talk about is chatting. So much jawing, with a new book. We begin with Ed Champion, one of the two best long-form lit interviewers online (and the only one doing it audio; the other is Birnbaum, of course...we had coffee in Boston a few months back, he and Rosie are resting). Me and Ed attacked blue cheese burgers at the Moonstruck Diner on 37th and Madison in NYC the other day, then blathered into the microphone awhile. I'll post it when the link goes up.
And then there's Vin Scelsa. Respect the elders. Embrace the new. Encourage the impractical and improbable, without bias. I'll do some blathering about In Hoboken on Idiot's Delight, probably Saturday May 31, I'll let you know airdate for sure when I know. There is no one living cooler than Vin Scelsa. No one.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This club provided one of those experiences I always love: someone pointing out something VERY OBVIOUS about the book...that I hadn't realized. Which always elicits this response from me: "Oh yeah, glad you noticed...I meant to do that. Completely intentional."
I'm just not that smart. Fortunately, my readers are.
Speaking of nice, smart readers, here's one from Seattle who had lunch with me and I didn't even know...
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
And there was Maxwells. For those who live elsewhere, Maxwells is...well, hard to describe. The New Yorker calls it the best club in New York, and it isn't in New York. It's in Hoboken. Some of us used to drink there. Some of us used to work there. Some of us used to live there.
It had been an awfully long time since I'd visited.
We started, of course, with a reading. Because that's what you do at these things.
A quorum of the Camp...for the first time, I think, since The Bottom Line, 1998.
Many, many thanks to Annalee Van Kleeck for the photos. And huge thanks to all of you who came out and packed the joint. It was the most fun I've had this decade.
Monday, March 24, 2008
And for In Hoboken? Turns out of all things the first review is fromThe Star-Ledger (for those of you who don't live in the greater New York-New Jersey area, that's the paper that used to slam down on Tony Soprano's driveway every morning). Can't argue with the cosmic appropriateness of the venue.
"Ambling to their own beat"
Sunday, March 23, 2008
REVIEWED BY BETSY WILLEFORD
a novel, by Christian Bauman
In 1995 gentrification is merely nibbling at the edges of the "mile-square city." Bauman's characters live in sixth-floor walkups; use pay phones, not cells; eat in unretrofied diners. Some commute to day jobs across the Hudson. But music is the passion that draws them together -- wood music, folk songs they write and play on acoustic guitars, earning "tens of dollars." There's also an artist, and a pair of buddies right out of Simon and Garfunkel's "Old Friends" who spend the day at the local behavioral institute, formerly the mental health center.
Remarkably, for an ensemble story, Bauman has created nearly a dozen fully rounded characters, each of whom could be the core of a novel.
Thatcher Smith, 24 and newly released from the Army, and his high school friend James, recently released from Rutgers, both amble in slow diagonals when they walk, a block up, a block over, taking it all in, the crowd flowing around them.
That's how Bauman tells his story, too. Marsh is a middle-age dad with a lifelong polio limp, eking out a living promoting marginal groups to marginal album labels. Quatrone is the painter who lives with his 80-year-old mom in an apartment downstairs from James. Bruno, who works in Manhattan, had a minute of almost-fame on a Bananarama tour in the '80s. Lou is a singer whose departing lover schleps her to a shrink for "closure."
A lot of comic stuff about language here, but so deftly interwoven you have to read the novel at James' walking pace to notice. Orris, one of the day patients -- clients, they're called -- at the behavioral institute where Thatcher works as a file clerk, remembers that when one of his friends died, the hospital staff didn't want him going to the funeral. "They think the funeral might be disturbing."
A lot about Hoboken, too. Elysian Field, where Alexander Cartwright's home team lost the first recorded baseball game, 27-1, to the New York Knickerbockers. Guglielmo Marconi -- who, it could be argued, made Frank Sinatra possible -- lived in Hoboken. Willem de Kooning supported himself as a sign painter for a year before crossing the Hudson.
Quatrone explains to Thatcher how de Kooning's early work has changed over time because of the materials he used. "Materials decay." Like a song, Thatcher thinks: You play it, and it's yours. And then immediately it's not.
Bauman's throwaway lines resonate. He's wise enough to let the echo do the work. Having helped his son move furniture into the sixth-floor apartment, James' father says, "I worked my whole life to keep you out of this." This being the Hoboken that energizes Bauman's people and his story. No easy revelations or resolutions. The material is frayed at the start, loosely woven at the conclusion, a year in the life.
Tempting to call the book a tour de force, but that suggests a neon light flashing a*c*h*i*e*v*e*m*e*n*t. What's amazing about "In Hoboken" is you're unaware of the writer's hand.
Having been on the receiving end of reviews that -- even when positive -- were clearly written by someone who didn't "get" the book, I can't tell you how nice it is to have the first review of In Hoboken be by someone who so clearly got it. A nice feeling. And now I can go back to pretending I don't care what the critics say...
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
List to come soon. As well as pics and stories from last week's release events at Maxwells and Farleys. (Odd, that: the release parties have come and gone, the book is available on Amazon, yet it's still not "officially" released. Whatever. If you need a bookstore to make your purchase, it's coming, man, it's coming.)
Friday, March 7, 2008
And you know you want free shipping, so you might as well order two or three copies.
Followed by my all-time favorite photo of The Marys...
And then, for some reason, Don cut his hair. Nobody knows why. Here he is at the first Camp Hoboken photoshoot in NYC, circa 1996 I think. From left: moi, Gregg, Con, and Don.
And to round it all off, a man I haven't seen in a long time...he'll be flying into Newark on Tuesday afternoon just in time to join us Tuesday night. Seen here on the woodline up in High Camping at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival somewhere back in the mists of time, using a Bud bottle as a slide on his guitar, the legendary Rich Grula.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Two of my favorite pieces I've done for NPR's All Things Considered over the years were the two about music. The first was called "Rules of the Road," a memory of Godfrey Daniels, Passim, and Caffe Lena, among other places and things. The second is one of my all-time favorite things I've ever written. It's called "Traveling Companion," and is about my then-seven-year-old daughter Kristina (now 19!) keeping me company on a road trip up to the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass. (Those links above will take you to the audio at NPR's site. For the text of the pieces, see the links to the right.)
In Hoboken comes out officially in eleven days. I got a couple of copies of the printed book in the mail yesterday. As I've said, I dig Melville House's design for it. And the proportions are slightly odd, too, which is cool. It's kind of square-ish. Big fun.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Not to be outdone by Grula, Gregg sent this one below in the middle of the night. Pic from a long-forgotten newspaper feature, that's Carol Sharar with the violin, Gregg and me, a few minutes before we walked onstage for my set and to sing one with Pete Seeger at an outdoor benefit concert circa 1996 (Pete joined us for Woody's Do Re Mi; thanks Pete).
It was that same summer that I was working on a short story called "Two Soldiers" that, a few years later, became the basis of The Ice Beneath You.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
[UPDATE] Funny...after I posted the above, I saw how the picture in the right column looks like an old-age re-creation of the one from 1993. My daughter Kristina took the one to the right up in Burlington in the fall. So, somewhere between my early 20s and mid 30s I lost the cigarette and the hat, and gained hair and pounds. Fun for me.
For more of what we look like now, check out this down below, Carbone and Cagno at the Kitchen Table reunion at the Hoboken Museum a few months ago. Nice.
And, for more of what we looked like then, scroll way down to the old Camp Hoboken touring poster I found a while ago. (What I'd really love is a jpg of the circus-type original Camp Hoboken poster that Grula designed...I have the poster, but not electronically. Hint hint.)
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
But boy do I digress. So to your right is the cover, and down below is the back-cover copy, as it will appear on the printed book (for those of you concerned about the "seedy" controversy of my previous post):
As in Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments and Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, IN HOBOKEN is about the music that makes it all worthwhile when you’re young and struggling—but in this New Jersey waterfront town, there is as much soul in the place and the people.
In the mile-square city of Hoboken, a twenty-four-year-old Woody Guthrie-obsessed guitar player named Thatcher Smith has come home from the army to a clerk’s job and a circle of unlikely friends trying to form a band. Critically acclaimed novelist Christian Bauman—himself a former soldier and itinerant guitar player—has returned with his finest writing yet, drenched in time and place and the vivid colors of its characters: Marsh, the polio-crippled rock & roll king of Hoboken; the bachelor painter Quatrone and his ancient Italian mother; Thatcher’s “brother” the virtuoso James and their “sister” the folk chanteuse Lou; the half-blind, half-mad Orris. Drunk in a sea of failed relationships, distant celebrity parents, and the certainty he was born fifty years too late, Thatcher navigates a year of life and death in Hoboken, New Jersey, the Bohemian city alive and kicking in the shadows of New York.
Christian Bauman’s first two novels The Ice Beneath You and Voodoo Lounge were based on his experiences as a young soldier in the combat zones of Somalia and Haiti, and on his wanderings around North America. Bauman is now a regular contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered and an editor-at-large for IdentityTheory.com. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and daughters.
Publishing is a funny thing, for many reasons, one of which is that these books are usually finished long before they hit the shelves of your local bookstore. In this case, In Hoboken was done last year, and I'm knee-deep in not just one but two new books (a novel called The Dog House, and a young adult novel called The Night Door). So it's kind of like by the time a book comes out, you've already moved on, you know? But it's fun, especially I think in this case, to come back to it, and see it come to life for everyone else. I'm very, very happy to see this one in the flesh, and really looking forward to it's publication next month.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Let me just say: Hoboken isn't seedy. I'm not even sure what seedy means, but whatever it is, Hoboken isn't it. It isn't it now, nor was it in 1995 when the novel is set. The publisher put that word on their original draft of the back cover, and I requested it removed. It HAS been removed, in as far as it won't be on the actual printed book, but I guess the old descriptions of the book (along with the old draft of the cover art) are still up on amazon.com etc. I'm in the process of begging to get the new cover art and especially the new book description up, but these things are slow-moving unfortunately. Meantime, rest assured, there's nothing seedy about nothing.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
And then two nights later, on Thursday March 13, we'll do the hometown version for friends and neighbors out here in Pennsylvania. Some wine, some cheese, some books. All good. We'll be at the fabulous Farleys Bookshop in New Hope.
For you New Yorkers: we'll do a little something in Manhattan, and also in Brooklyn at Melville House. Details to follow.
But now...time for Quebec. J'ski.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
And Ed Champion, one of the few really interesting long-time book bloggers, closed down shop but is doing something else very cool and completely different.