Amerika Online: Selling The Dark Soul of Amerika Amerika Online


Mark Amerika

Part One


The Sexual Blood Tour was pieced together with the help of many kind souls all throughout the alt-x network. To them, to everyone who continues to support the expansion of this online publishing network and ALL of the writers/artists involved, THANK YOU.


15 cities in one month. The crowds were great. Very exhausting but very very fun. Great bookstores like Powells in Portland, Elliot Bay in Seattle, Hungry Mind in St. Paul, and Tower Books in New York City. Performance art spaces like St. Marks Poetry Project, Beyond Baroque in L.A. and the Guild Complex at the Hothouse in Chicago. Upon departure, I thought to myself: "Who out there has read The Kafka Chronicles?" By the end of the tour I was thinking something completely different: "The Alt-X network is expanding like crazy and a new tribe of artists, philosophers, critics, writers and way-psyched net-surfers is being born." Right from the start an interesting phenomenon was making itself known to me: most of the people who were coming to my readings were first turned on to my work via Alt-X. More than anything, this was an online audience coming out to press the flesh. The mosh pit at the Philadelphia Barnes&Noble was so ecstatic that I got thrown out the door and onto the street with an unexpected landing. The end result: a minor chip in one of my foot bones. The rest of the tour would be semi-hobbling.


In New York, I met with editors from big publishing houses and had interviews with magazines like The New Yorker. Is this success? I think not. It's true that I honestly feel uncomfortable with myself when I get into these mainstream environments but I also know that as long as we're talking print distribution, the reigns of power are located in Manhattan and Avant-Pop, or whatever it is we call this new networked-narrative phenomenon taking place at this particular point in history, needs wider distribution. There's now talk of me doing a major net column for a few national publications or some other alterna-weeklies. Also, Penguin USA is publishing a major Avant-Pop anthology in September edited by Larry McCaffery who, you'll recall, edited the original A-P antho published by Black Ice Books in 1993. The Penguin version will take the Avant-Pop phenomenon one step further and show how the cyberpunks (Gibson, Sterling, Laidlaw), the metafictionists (Steve Katz, Bob Coover, Ray Federman), the postmodernists (Ron Sukenick, Tom Robbins, Paul Auster, Don DeLillo), the brat-packers (Bret Easton Ellis, David Foster Wallace), and multi-media artists like David Blair & Craig Baldwin, compose a direct and still very active set of Avant-Pop lineages that can be linked to the evolving work of the new crop of writers emerging on the scene (Ricardo Cruz, Euridice, Curt White, Stephen Wright, Lauren Fairbanks and myself). Do the words career, packaging, and marketing concept mean anything to you? Again, I ask the question I first posed in my Avant-Pop manifesto: "What would the Futurists have done with an information superhighway?"


Exhaustion is end-all be-all of touring. What starts off as an energetic blast into the Unknown, ends with a body-from-hell asking for one last chance to recompose itself into an living organism.


Stuck at a convenience store on the outskirts of Portland one hour before the gig and still not sure where we are.


The Q&A in Seattle immediately falls into a discussion of Alt-X. The last question of the night: "What will you do when Time-Warner tries to buy you out?" Well, have you seen the Time-Warner home-page lately? They should be trying to buy us out!!


Both Picasso and Henry Miller spoke of the gut-reaction to beauty and how mild forms of starvation could lead to revelation. Even Hemingway saw that. But I ate like a pig. Revelations came as a result of too much gas, not enough enzymes.


At one point in the journey I was back home in Boulder for a few days. Lots of Denver-metro media interviews. One of the articles referred to my "stopping through Boulder on his 15-city tour."


My big area of growth this time out: performance. There were times when I felt totally dead, where the injection of triple espressos was having absolutely no effect on my heart-rate, and then, when I hit the stage and the audience presented itself to me as so full of energy and smiling and laughing and ready to rip, all of a sudden, I'd be filled up with this extraterrestrial shot of adrenalin whereupon I'd immediately move into that networked-narrative space that allows me to give 'em all I've got. It's the audience that made most of these performances actually happen. I'm already thinking about how I'd like my next tour to include music (yes, a band) and multi-media happenings like video and Alt-X screen projections...


Is HarperCollins really interested in re-issuing The Kafka Chronicles? What would you do if HarperCollins tried to buy you out?


Bowing before a giant screen with a dung-beetle on it, I repeat my mantra: "I am not worthy, I am not worthy, I am not worthy..."


Loose locks of luscious hair traversing my face as I try to sleep. Blue Sky's tender lips. Deep tongue dives that salvage whatever cream I've got left.


Embattled thought process lost to the non-linear prosaic reach of consciousness as it tries to recombine all the elemental happenstance that eventuated itself in acts of pure creation. But how pure is pure? And is Sexual Blood really networked-imagination?

Part Two

Mark Amerika is Director of the Alt-X Publishing Network. He is the author of many books including The Kafka Chronicles (Black Ice Books) and Sexual Blood (Black Ice Books). He is also editor of various anthologies of fiction and nonfiction including Degenerative Prose: Writing Beyond Category (Black Ice Books) and In Memoriam To Postmodernism: Essays On the Avant-Pop (San Diego State University Press).