Greg Bardsley



“Sex, Thugs and Rock-n-Roll” …. (and Me)

Last week I received the kind of email just about every writer wants to get. I was told my fiction will be printed in book form and sold in stores across the land. Specifically, Todd Robinson and Kensington Books will be including my story, “Big Load of Trouble,” in Thuglit’s second-annual “best-of” anthology, “Sex, Thugs and Rock-n-Roll.”

hardcorehardboiledcover.jpgThis is a first for me, and I’m tickled. It doesn’t really matter that I’ll be paid a very modest sum, nor does it matter that the book won’t hit the shelves until spring of 2009 (yes, 2009). I just like the idea of my story being printed, bound and ultimately coming to rest on some stranger’s nightstand. I also keep imagining my little tale of horny gerbils, snooty intellectuals, paroled Raiders fans and tainted kiddie pools sitting directly below a bookstore sound system trumpeting classical music (the irony!).

But what I’m really excited about is the list of writers Thuglit has lined up for its anthologies. The first edition, “Hardcore Hardboiled,” due out this spring, will include fiction from a virtual who’s who of crime novelists — Ken Bruen, Victor Gischler, Duane Swierczynski, Sean Chercover and Charlie Stella, among others. That’s one badass crew, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the first edition (I’ll be in the second edition).

The funny thing is, half of “Big Load” came from the “cut file” of my novel. Don’t get me wrong, cutting it out of my novel was the right thing to do (it got in the way of the story). And yet I keep laughing at the fact that a slice of this problematic storyline, despised by literary agents and declared “offensive” by Stegner Fellows (again, for valid reasons in the context of my novel), is somehow getting anthologized in book form. Back then, who woulda thunk?

Certainly not me.

“She Don’t Like Hecklers”

Gina Dean don’t like hecklers. If you don’t believe me, you can read it for yourself on a pretty damn cool crime ‘zine called Pulp Pusher.

The Pusher today published my short story, “She Don’t Like Hecklers,” which joins recent pieces from novelists Nick Stone, Dave Zeltserman, Ray Banks and Tony Black. As one article about the Pusher notes, pulp-fiction badasses Ken Bruen, Charles Ardai, Allan Guthrie, Todd Robinson and Duane Swierczynski also have joined in for a piece of the action. With a crew like this, I have to admit it feels good to be a fly on the wall.

The Pusher

Pulp Pusher is one of those rare fiction venues that actually has fun, and it never turns it’s nose up on you. Visit its submission guidelines, for instance, and it wisecracks, “If The Pusher gets an odd chapter from your novel in progress, he breaks your knuckles. Oh, and The Pusher finds your story anywhere else, he breaks your sister’s knuckles.”

Pusher, I promise, my story ain’t anywhere esle. I swear.

“She Don’t Like Hecklers” is here, and it is dedicated to anyone who’s had an asshole sling suggestive comments at her from the safety of his muscle car. That said, if you find tales involving peyote abuse and “crocodilian death rolls” to be low-brow or offensive, you may wanna pass on this one.

Let me know what you think.

My new love affair … with the chile relleno

All those years, and I never gave the chile relleno a real look. All those years, I was enamored with carnitas and huevos rancheros and tamales. All those years, I was missing out on the wonders of my brand new love — the cheesy, plump and complex chile relleno.

Suddenly, I can’t get enough of her.

In my family, Mexican food always has been serious business. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of things like my grandmother, Maria Cristina, making hand-made tortillas in our kitchen, my mom passing her guacamole secrets down to me, and my family driving into Oakland to buy hand-made tortillas from one restaurant on East 14th so we could have them at another restaurant around the corner. Back then, I found the chile relleno to be a too little exotic; the fact we were talking about a big pepper dipped in egg batter and smothered with a mysterious sauce didn’t help with my picky adolescent sensibilities. Decades went by, and I continued to look right through the chile relleno.

Then something strange happened: By pure chance this past spring, I bumped into her, grabbed a hold for a stolen moment and realized I didn’t want to let go. One thing led to another, and just like that, I have become addicted to her, lidding my eyes at the wonderful sequence of senses unfurling in my mouth — first the extreme softness of it all, then the mild tomato sauce with the Mexican kick, then the pronounced statement of the poblano chile pepper, and finally the creamy comfort of the melted queso Oaxaca cheese, the cheese that had been stuffed inside and was now arresting my brain in pure taste-bud pleasure.

So now here I am, completely enamored with the chile relleno, kind of blown away, thinking of this wonderful dish at unusual hours. As for why, maybe my sensibilities have matured. Maybe my physiology has changed in some mysterious way that advantages the chile relleno. Maybe I am simply in the right frame of mind — finally — to enjoy what the chile relleno has been offering all along. And that’s frightening — terrifying, in fact. What else have I been missing out on?

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