Brooklyn Rail: Michael Row the Boat Ashore

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Brooklyn Rail: Michael Row the Boat Ashore, An Exposition Upon the Inspirations & Sources for my Historical Novel, “Row The Boat Ashore.”

May 2018 Issue, Fiction


Once upon a time, when I looked at the sky, I saw will. Today, the sky is the disappointments of my ancestors, as many lives as they had, as far as the eye can see.

In 1996, I wanted to publish a novel. I had already written a few, the third of which I believed was good enough to live on as a book—something which hadn't happened. …

Guernica: The Manson Family Dolls Pt. 1 & 2

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Guernica: The Family Dolls, Featuring Charlie, Leslie & More

By John Reed

Parts 1 & 2

Why it's ok to play with Manson family paper dolls: an introduction to John Reed's Manson Family Paper Doll book. Print & Color Yourself!


Leslie had one of those big tooth smiles that makes you want to find a van and coax her in and drive her to the end of the earth and stay there with her.

Guernica: Art & History & The Manson Family Paper Dolls

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Guernica: Art & History

And why it's ok to play with Manson Family Paper Dolls.

By John Reed


I have not been good. I have stumbled into this life with the blessing of God, and rolled through 100,000 years of all the disappointments of my millions of mothers and fathers. I have lived as a cruel, selfish killer among my brothers and sisters. I have hurt those I love and been hurt by them. …

The Seventh Wave: Claim + Thesis = Evidence

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The Seventh Wave: Claim + Thesis = Evidence


A lecture, I can’t quite recall the course title: The Something Something of Power. I was fulfilling a requirement at Hampshire College. Hampshire is a hotbed for creative and political thinking; I was only there for the creative. The course was sought-after, and didn't look too terribly painful. Michael Klare, the professor, is/was a highly regarded activist, author, and political thinker. …

Gawker: My Gay Uncles

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Gawker: My Gay Uncles


When I talk about my downtown life as a kid, people ask how old I am. Growing up in New York City in the 70s was more like being an urchin of the 30s than a silver spoon of the 80s. I'm more likely to share recollections with a 70-year old—playing stoop, jumping off the piers—than to wax fondly upon the boy bands, cocaine, and angular sports cars of Ronald Reagan's second term.

Vice: My Grandma the Poisoner

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Vice: My Grandma the Poisoner


When I was four or five, sometimes I'd walk into my grandmother's bedroom to find her weeping. She'd be sitting on the side of the bed, going through boxes of tissues. I don't believe this was a side of herself she shared with other people; she may have felt we had a cosmic bond because I had her father's name as my middle name and his fair features. …

The Believer: Something Witchy for Leslie Van Houton

The Believer Logger: Something Witchy for Leslie Van Houton


I’ve been thinking about Martha as part of a longer piece about my grandparents.  My grandmother, with Munchausen by Proxy, killed four or five people—mostly by accident, but still. (My experience with the police—I’ve talked to them—is not exactly CSI.)  One victim was her husband (her second husband, who was terminally ill, and took a very sudden turn for the worse), one was her lover (he was younger than her, in his 70s, not 80s, but he kept breaking limbs, and after Grandma’s series of several frantic calls about the level of care he required, he dropped dead), and two were her children. …

Gawker: When God Grabs You By The Balls

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Gawker: When God Grabs You By The Balls


… Late one night: I was in front of the computer, sitting on the Hag, kneeling really, when I said to my wife, "I gotta get out of this fucking chair."

My balls hurt. They'd been hurting for about a week. The chair felt like it was pulling on them. Also: no cup, etc, and I'd spent a weekend at Grandma's pulling up bamboo stumps.

The Believer: YouTube, I'm Sorry

John Reed

When I was first notified that five of my “Seven Sonnets Read by Webcam Girls” had been banned from YouTube, I was quite upset, frightened even.  (YouTube was hosting the videos for a project published by Vice Magazine). The decision seemed arbitrary, or worse—given all the sick, sexy and sexist material on YouTube, there seemed to be a double standard at work.  …



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