Morning! Let’s get back on the warhorse, shall we? And don’t grab the reigns or bitch that it’s rickety, it will get where it needs to be in its own time (and it won’t end up where you think it will). Okay, lately I’ve been pointing out that my book, Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch is selling for a single penny on Amazon, right? Okay, the answer to the obvious question — How do I make money from my books selling for a fucking penny? — is, of course, I don’t. I never see a fucking cent of that fucking cent. The only way I can earn a royalty on any of my traditionally published books is if they are sold at retail. That is why Grant Henry (that’s right, I haven’t forgotten about you, motherfucker), is such an oily motherfucking bag of bloody crap by refusing since day one to sell my books at any of his perfectly appropriate venues. I’m his best friend, right? Or at least he was allowing me and my readers to continue to believe that, right? He and I made that pledge together in the beginning “to catapult each other into greatness,” right? So why in the holy hell would he not offer my books — in which he starred and the jackets of which he designed his own fucking self — for sale? What is the goddam reason for refusing to do this one tiny fucking almost effortless thing?
And I want to stop here and explain why it was so important for Grant to put forth an effort here. Most of you know by now I took my end seriously when Grant and I made the pledge, “It is our duty to catapult each other into greatness.” Like I literally brought him to the table to negotiate the sale of the film rights to the book, and when pitching the TV show to HBO and other studios (and he showed up looking like an offensive fucking clown during those meetings), I even designated him to receive my flight benefits so that he could have access to free, first-class air travel anywhere in the world in order to be included in everything. Some of you have said, persuasively, that I was an idiot to do that. But I see it differently. Grant and I had made a pledge to “catapult each other into greatness.” Maybe the TV show wasn’t the path to take to greatness. Maybe it was something we needed to pass on the side of the road to get to greatness, who knows? All I’m saying is that this was a journey, and on this journey I would do my thing to contribute, and thought Grant would do his, and as long as we had the other’s back we would find it: Greatness.
Okay, love can be like a dead car battery. Just because it’s dead doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot of juice in there, you just need to jump start it, right? But to jump it you need both cables to be fully operating for the engine to start. If both cables aren’t fully functioning, like if one cable is good and the other is bad, not only will the battery not revive, but it will drain completely, drain dead as a fucking cinder block, get it? This situation between me and Grant could be summed up thusly: The crusty fucking battery-acid encrusted beating heart of our friendship was kept alive by me alone the last six years in a sucking one-way drain to the point where now, it can’t be revived, people, so stop hoping. It’s just dead like the cinderblock.
But Grant, though, he’s a bad cable, and bad cables will always come out spotless. It’s all the other parts of the heart — the other cable, the battery and the engine itself — that pay the price when the bad cable attaches itself. Then when everything is drained, the bad cable just looks for another source of energy to suck. The world is full of bad cables, people, and they look just like good cables. It’s not until you need them to work that you realize they don’t fucking work.
Anyway, back to Grant not selling my books at CHURCH. I know it sounds like a petty thing to be pissed about, but it’s not and here’s why; Not only would it have provided me a viable royalty avenue for being one of the few places to sell my books at retail value, but a steady stream of book purchases (and it would have been steady, because drunk people will buy anything, I mean, c’mon, just look at the crap Grant does sell) would have alerted my publisher not to back-burner me in favor of other shit in the years to come. That is how we writers stay above extinction, by generating interest in our stuff.
(For example, since I’ve been jokingly goading people to “buy my book for a fucking penny so I can get rich never seeing a penny of that fucking penny,” Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch has risen to the best-seller levels again on some of the lists of the subgenres Amazon touts in order to give writers something to brag about. Anyway, that first day the book literally jumped over a million spots on the sellers list – no I didn’t sell a million one-cent copies, it just means my book jumped a million spots up the list – in one day. A jump like that generated interest, get it? If I’m good at my job, I can hopefully parlay this interest into income. That’s how we writers stay in the game in the digital age. And that is why it’s okay for you to buy my book for a penny, get it?)
Okay, again, all Grant needed to do was provide my books for sale, and, believe me, I did ask him why he didn’t. But remember, Grant says no by never saying yes. That’s how he kept me suspended for five fucking years, kept me assuming any day he’d remember we were friends and come through on at least that tiny, lowest-level-possible minimum-maintenance effort to keep up his end of our promise. But instead he said no by never saying yes. At first it was because “CHURCH is a bar and not a retail space.” Then Grant created a fucking retail space in CHURCH, but he still didn’t offer my books because, “It’s such a small space and there wasn’t enough room.” Then he opened an online retail shop, and then last week an actual retail shop, like a fucking store, where you can physically walk inside and be assaulted by bullshit CHURCH-themed keychains, hats and other cheap-ass fucking gew gaws made from the tears of Taiwanese babies, all that shit but not my books. What the fucking fuck, Grant? I mean you designed the covers your own fucking self, you piece of shit.
Oh, my God, and speaking of designing covers. When Bleachy first came out and was a big deal, Atlanta magazine did a feature on it, and the editor commissioned Grant to create a piece of art that would accompany the article. The magazine then bought the image rights to the art. Note that the magazine didn’t buy the art itself, but the right to use its image in its pages. Grant took literally like 10 minutes to make a hodge-podge assemblage of crack lighters and other trash he collected from the gutter in front of the Local on Ponce de Leon Ave, delivered it to the magazine, and the magazine paid him way more than he deserved for the “privilege” of printing an image of it.
Okay, it’s important to note that a big fucking pink plastic penis figured prominently in the image of that art. This was Atlanta magazine, people, not the most conservative of city magazines, but still, it’s readership was mostly wealthy divorcees sitting in the waiting rooms of their plastic surgeon’s office. The art director of the magazine, or maybe it was the assistant art director (I don’t know, one of them), was a talented young woman with an emphasis on “young,” meaning she had not yet grown the rhino hide needed to survive in the print industry. Anyway, she had removed the penis from the art – I mean, it was only stuck on there with a glob of silicone calk, easily removed – took a photo of the artwork, the outcome of which would be used as art for the article on my book, then sent the artwork back to Grant, because he still owned it.
The only thing is that the poor girl had forgotten to re-attached the pink plastic penis she’d removed. I mean, it was only a keychain charm, really, which didn’t factor hugely in the art itself, but did factor hugely in the image of the art, right? So what does Grant do? That volcanic asshole threatened to sue the magazine for defacing his art. Let me say that again; Grant goddam Henry threatened to sue the people who paid him way too much for an image of his shit, for defacing his shit.
Me? I was busy dealing with the divorce fallout, custody shit-nado, and working my blue-collar job to pay much attention. Because this was between Grant and the magazine, not between Grant and me or even the magazine and me. I did not know how bad things had gotten until I got a call from Rebecca Burns, the editor of Atlanta magazine at the time, and she was pissed, people, AT ME. Let me tell you, Rebecca sticks up for her people. I always admired how she was impervious to social proof and would make even-minded decisions based on actual truth instead. But here, this situation? The actual truth is that Grant Henry was behaving like a fucking bionic bag of dicks, and he had that poor art director at the magazine curled up in a fetal position bawling her eyes out (or so I was told). Rebecca made it clear I better do something to shut that shit down this very fucking instant. I mean, Jesus Christ, Grant, what the fuck?
When I called Grant to tell him to back the fuck off, he was all, “Well, I own that art, they had no right to deface it like that.” And I was all, “Just go back to The Junkman’s Daughter, buy another pink-penis keychain and replace it yourself if it’s that cocksucking important to you!” And he was all, “But it’s the principle of the thing.” And I was all, “Since when do you have principles?” And he as all, “I’m an artist, and they fucked with my expression.” And on and on until I finally got to the real reason he was being such a pure piece of shit about this; it was a stunt to generate media attention. That’s why he did it, for potential media attention. Never mind the mile-wide path of scorched earth it left in its wake, it was all worth it to him if he got media attention. (Well, Grant, here’s your media attention. Fuck you.)
Okay, back to Grant not selling my books, or even of him lifting a single freckled finger to include me in his upcoming project based on a character we had developed together. Me, I was patient. The film deal had tanked because I’d delayed signing the contract until Grant was included somehow, so in my mind I was thinking, “What’s our next move?” Menawhile Grant was very open with his next move. Very excited about his next move. And I was excited, too, and would often ask, “What do I get to do?
Grant, remember, says no by never saying yes. Over time, his answer was clear even though he never said the specific words, “You, Hollis, what you get to do is go away.”
Okay, so remember I said I’d get to the reality show Grant Henry talked me into doing back in 2008? My first response when the producers approached me was, and I quote, “Fuck no!” But I told Grant about the offer, and Grant is nothing if not adept at co-opting spotlights. So he made the sensible suggestion that the media exposure could help push sales of my third book, which was due to launch during filming of the reality-show segment. So I agreed, and it turned out to be a really fun experience.
But during filming, Grant had inserted himself as ringleader with the producers, and would suggest locations that would optimize exposure for his own interests. One of the ways he got his greasy fingers on the producers was he found out the hotel where they were staying, and staged a stunt in which he and Lary tried to kidnap my co-star with the intent to tie him to a tree and talk him out of participating in the show with me. They were successful in luring the poor guy out to the lobby bar, at least, and did their best to berate him there, but here’s the thing. One of the producers passed by, recognized Grant, saw what he was doing, and went ballistic. They threatened to pull everything, dump me, go back to Hollywood and find someone else to work with. All this was happening while I had no idea. I learned about this after-the-fact. In fact, me having no idea was the main criteria upon which the producers would agree to go forward. So Grant promised I’d have no idea, promised not to pull any of these shit stunts again, and then they all shook hands, became friends, and headed back to the lobby bar to belt shots (or whatever).
But mission accomplished. The producers were now consulting him on locations to shoot the show, right? So where does he recommend? His gallery, of course. And the Local, of course, the bar where Grant easily made a thousand bucks a shift on a busy night. One way to keep the bar busy was to wrangle media in there any chance he could. But you know, eventually there is going to be a shark, and there is going to be jumping, and a point where the two shall meet. That point was the night Grant paraded all the television cameras and producers into the Local, where hours were spent filming a stupid scene for the show, hours in which we took up prime space at the bar, and of course the hipster regulars started to resent it. Shark meet jump. The resentment was pretty palpable. Later, while I was teaching a class at Grant’s gallery (for which that fucker charged me a shitload in rent), I found a stack of cocktail napkins from that night upon which “funny” little poems had been written, vicious shit-bomb ditties. I don’t remember exactly what they said, just that I was referred to as “the old lady.”
Anyway, it’s obvious now that this was the turning point, when Grant felt it was necessary to distance himself from me as a friend. Because, c’mon, hipsters as a whole are such an easily-startled mass. You don’t want to scare them away. The last thing you want is a potential dip in PBR sales by standing up for your friend, right? So the obvious choice is to fuck that friend in the face, right? I’m bringing this up because I want to make it crystal clear what a petty, freckled fucking asshole this man Grant Henry is. He dropped me as a friend because I, in his eyes, no longer tested well with hipsters, and since hipsters were his customer base, he saw our friendship as a literal threat to his livelihood.
Because it was at this point that Grant had started bitching at me that my “audience” was just a bunch of middle-aged outer-Perimeter housewives, and he didn’t want them coming to the bar to “queef up the place.” He didn’t even like them coming to his gallery to queef up the place. He started calling these women “queefers.” I used to have to defend them if they showed up at his bar. (“Oh, her? C’mon, she’s hilarious. She won’t scare the hipsters away.”) On Facebook Grant took to denigrating me with shots that I’d gone all “Acworth” on him, with a “Kennesaw claw” hairdo and I wore Christmas sweaters and shit. At the time I seriously had no idea what the hell he was talking about, because in reality I spent my time writing like a dervish, flying to Europe twice a month as a foreign-language interpreter, providing for my daughter, fighting the family-law dragon, etc. When I met Grant, I was living in a loft at the Telephone Factory, a loft that he literally moved into when I moved out, and then later fucking charged me a fortune to rent back two days a month in order to host my writing classes.
But today, looking back, now I know what he was doing, he was building a figurative bus, you know, because he was gonna need that bus to throw me under soon. So, anyway, I wrote this to show that it wasn’t the 2010 Fuck Fat Facebook Challenge that started it all – you know, the one in which he posted, then reposted, then doubled the fuck down on this asinine statement: “Hollis was raised in abuse. To her abuse = love. [So let’s all show her some love!]” It was this, that night at the Local when Grant finally succeeded in pushing his precious hipster fans too far, and it was either defend me or jump on the hate train. I think you know what he chose. And I hope you get this, because it’s important to me that you know just how tiny, how molecular your offense has to be in order the get this man to unleash the monumental ass-Kracken that is his authentic self.
Anyway, one last thing. I don’t usually stop to address comments on my way to the finish line of this book, but I want to address those who accuse me of sour grapes because Grant got rich and I did not. First, I don’t give a single crusty fuck what you think. But you make a good point, so in response I say this: Listen, if your best friend strikes it rich, especially if he does it because you played a big part in his success, at first you’re gonna be really happy for him, especially when there is this pledge that exists between you two (“It is our duty to catapult each other into greatness!”), and it’s hugely obvious that you yourself have upheld your end of that pledge. At first you’re going to be ecstatic. In my case, I hung around like an idiot for five years wondering why Grant wasn’t allowing me to share in the success I’d helped him build. I blamed myself, people. At one point Grant started bloviating about how, if you wanted to be part of his group, you had to “bring something to the table.” So, never mind that I actually helped build the fucking table Grant was talking about, I actually got my real-estate license, because I knew Grant was going to start buying up buildings like a slumlord. I made it obvious I was doing this to “bring something to the table.” (I think I told him something like, “Grant, I am getting my real-estate license to bring something to the table.”) But within about three months after me getting my license, Grant bought and/or sold about $1.5 million in property. However, he never used me as his agent. He used some other agent, someone who’d shown him some properties the year before, because to do otherwise would have seemed “disloyal.” Even after that I hung on like the loyal idiot-squid that I was. It literally took the actual burning down of my house, and Grant’s subsequent assholery, for me to finally cut the tether. And even then I said nothing. For almost a year.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is this; one) writers don’t become writers to get rich. We become writers because we are cursed and can’t help it. And two) what the hell do riches have to do with greatness? Grant and I did not pledge to each other, “It is our duty to catapult each other to riches.” No, we did not. So do I have sour grapes? Fuck yes I do. But not because Grant is now rolling in riches. It’s because Grant traded greatness for those riches, get it? If you don’t agree, then I suggest you go buy yourself a fucking “Pack Your Bags and Follow Jesus” Sister Louisa luggage tag at Church Merch, or a $9 “Peter Meter” that is just a 25-cent Walmart ruler with the words “Fuck Fear” printed on the side. Riches are fleeting, people, greatness is not. So fuck Grant Henry, fuck him right in the face with a broken bottle full of sour grapes for all I care.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for the next episode. In the meantime, YES I AM GOING THERE, below is a button for you to tip me if you enjoyed this installment.