Sunday, 22 August 2010

NYU Admission Essay

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Over the past 18 years since leaving High School I’ve had numerous jobs. I’ve been a manual laborer, a barista at a coffee shop, a cab driver, a courier, a dispatcher, a barback, a doorman, a cable guy, a stagehand, a delivery driver, a pedi-cabber, a pizza delivery driver, a lighting tech, a security guard and I even had a very short stint as corrections officer (not recommended). They were all jobs, a means to an end, nothing more. They’ve all come and gone leaving me nothing but pain in my body, regrets, strange stories and an assortment of odd skills that don’t lend themselves to the pursuit of my passion or the security of my future. My passion, the only thing that has been a constant in my adult life has been my love of books and my desire to one day be able to call myself a writer.

In the past I was willing to sacrifice my present for a paycheck and the obscure promise of “experience” while mindlessly going through the routines of my various jobs trying, often in vain, to keep my passion for books and writing alive in a compartmentalized area of my life. Work, I’ve found, attempts to insidiously invade every aspect of my life working its way through my very essence like a virus, demanding constant attention and crowding everything else out, leaving me little if any, time or energy to pursue other things.
In thinking about all of this and how I’d like to live my life in the future I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s necessary to have my passion in line with my work, otherwise it’s a daily battle to keep it alive, a battle that too often seems to be lost to an onslaught of obscure periphery demands and obligations related to “keeping afloat”.

So to try and keep my passion from being swept away under a never ending tidal wave of meaningless work I’ve decided to make literature and writing the focus of my life from this point on. The first step to this, I feel, is going back to school where I plan on finishing my BA then obtaining an MFA in writing, after which I’d like to teach to further my understanding of the written word and hopefully build a pension for the day that I won’t even be able to pick up a broom. By doing this I hope to keep literature and writing at the core of my life and not relegated to the distant sidelines as it has been in the past, as well provide some sort of security for the future.

I also understand the difficulty in going back to school as an adult. There are time, monetary and relationship constraints that have to be navigated. This is why I’ve chosen The Paul McGhee School of NYU, as the school is built around the understanding of the unique difficulties that adult students face, and is geared towards helping them succeed.

I’m very excited about the prospect of going back to school and pursuing my passion. I hope that you’ll give me the opportunity.

postscript - I got accepted. I just can't afford that shit.


Listenin' to this:


Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

I love Ewoks. I’d like to party with them. Although I don’t really party anymore. It’d be great to have one of them with me here in New York City as a personal bodygaurd/friend, as they’re not opposed to using violence, and because they also seem pretty funny too. I’ll bet we could talk a lot of shit on the trains and stuff. I can imagine us getting into all kinds of fun just walkin’ the streets and pokin’ each other in the ribs and pokin’ dickheads with his spear and stuff and laughin’ as he said something funny to them in his gibberish as they stared at us like, What the fuck man? Also, they make amazing tree houses. And I’d love to build an amazing tree house on the roof of my apartment building in Brooklyn so that we could see the skyline of Manhattan across the water and keep an eye on it, like the death star. Also, it’d be a great place to have people over and hold wild Ewok and hipster rumpuses and light big bonfires. That sounds like a lot of fun. I think having Ewoks as friends would improve my life immensely.


boatloads of shame (dream)

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Thunder clashed with lightning ominously and rain ran out of the sky as the leaves swirled in a chaotic dance, violently attacking one another. I shouldn't have come here, I thought as I sat in the car looking through the streaked windshield at the eerie and darkening woods where a few snakes slithered to safety. It's over between us. I should let it go, I thought. My stomach writhed with tension. For a moment I thought I might be sick. I opened the door and the rain spilled onto me. I grabbed my bag from the back seat and the wind howled and moaned as I ran across the loose wet gravel from the car toward the black imposing door of the house, seeking shelter, seeking her, and a release from the pain. I stepped through into the house without knocking, hurriedly escaping the attacking elements. I could feel her tortured presence. Something was off and everything was wrong. The house was large, monotone modern and vacant feeling. Gloomy lights led down stark hallways to large lifeless windows that stared coldly out at the surrounding woods and lake. A pale sterile museum like house jutted out into the turbulent waves of the water behind the property where Martha Stewart floated serenely in her bikini on a floaty tied to the dock as the storm clouds enclosed.

I looked around for her dropping my bag to the floor and wiping the wetness from my hair and face, sensing her just before she appeared out of nowhere looking white trash worn, wearing cutoff shorts with a tight yellow wife beater t-shirt. Her face was ashen. Her eyes fixed coals. Sadness permeated her skin. She was an empty vessel and I longed to touch her, to stop the aching inside of me.

She took me by the hand without saying a word and guided me to a bedroom where she undressed me in silent distanced regard, then took off her clothes under the dead light as the storm thrashed outside the windows. I put her up against the desk like a porno. The tension, the sadness, and the disgust with myself for returning after the things that she'd done filled me, as sweating, and on the verge of crying she made me cum. She turned to look at me, searchingly, her eyes filled with black shame.

I went to the bathroom to shower, looking at myself in the harsh reflection, noticing the wart that had formed on the end of my dick as panic and anxiety filled me. I walked to her in the other room where she stood looking absently out of the window at Martha Stewart who floated languidly in the midst of the choppy waves and insanity. I felt defeated and ashamed for ever caring about her. Why didn't you tell me? I demanded of her. Her eyes were blank as she turned, her expression dull. What did you do while I was gone? I asked, pleading with her. I did what I needed to, she said flatly. I slept with Joy. You should have told me, I said sadly looking down at my deformed self. You gave me something. You should have told me. I still love you, she said and turned away toward the window and Martha Stewart drifting peacefully in the storm.

broken hindu goddess

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

It was 4:30 in the morning after a Saturday night of work. People leaned into one another drunk and passed out or talking softly as the brightly lit train barreled under the East River toward Brooklyn and home. What are you reading, she asked as she touched my book? I looked up to see her standing in front of me holding the center pole. She looked like a broken Hindu goddess, a sorrow betraying her smile and engaging eyes. Women, by Bukowski, I said. Oh, what have you learned, she asked leaning down closer to me? That a woman will put you under the bridge, I said glancing up at her. Oh, that's not true. I'm a woman. I smiled at her gauging her age - 26 at the most. It depends on what you want from a woman, she said as the train rocked. What do you want? A mousey young girl across the way sitting next to her yuppy collegiate boyfriend scanned me curiously then looked at the dark haired, dark skinned broken goddess standing over me. I don't know what I want anymore, I said earnestly. Neither do I, she said staring at me, the painted blue circling her eyes momentarily swirling, transfixingly. How long have you lived here, I asked, not knowing where to take the conversation. Oh, long enough to know that the ship is going down, sinking you know, with us on it, she said. I know, I told her, I'm leaving to Texas tomorrow. Oh, take me with you, she said urgently, I've been so depressed here lately....

Thursday, 19 August 2010

review of Tao Lin's RICHARD YATES

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

Corey's bookshelf: read

Richard Yates

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Corey Duncan's  book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

Friday, 13 August 2010

Scott Weiland's gone AWOL

Austin Music Hall, Austin, Texas, 2007

I'd been up for several days on a crystal meth binge. Everything felt surreal yet hyper clear. I was doing security, working in the pit behind the barricade center stage when Velvet Revolver kicked in and Scott Weiland slithered onstage. I had my back to him but I felt his presence and reflexively turned as he approached the screaming crowd. For a brief instance his gaze locked with mine. His eyes were slitted black, and in a flash of transference I could feel his suffering, the depth of his pain and addiction, and what he'd given up in trade for his fame - his soul. He seemed like a prisoner to me. He looked like a concentration camp victim, gaunt and frail, yet vibrating electric. I turned away shaken as he planted his right leg on the monitor above my head glowering over the crowd. He leaned his weight into the speaker as he screamed into the song as the speaker threatened to topple off the front of the stage. I stood below, watching, frozen. My friend – the bass player from the notoriously heavy band Buzzoven - working in front of the right speaker stack immediately came running over to hold the speaker from falling, breaking my trance, grabbing my arm in the process, scolding me to get it together, then looking up at Weiland as though to convey - this guy deserves respect, fucking give it to him.

Stubb’s Bbq, Austin, Texas, one year later

I was doing security backstage at the outdoor music venue Stubb’s. Velvet Revolver had just started playing inside, minus Scott Weiland, as the sun started to fade over the amphitheater. Tour management, house management and security were all frantic on their radios trying find out where he was. I was standing on the sidewalk on 8th St at the entrance to the loading dock and outdoor backstage area where the band gear and road cases are stored. The tour buses were parked nearby. I scanned the area spotting a scraggly looking guy across the street coming toward me from the direction of the downtown and bars. He looked like one of the homeless guys that frequent the creek that runs along Stubb's and under the bridge where the buses park, and I thought that I'd have to steer him away. Just then as he ambled across the street with his head down management and security surrounded him yelling into their radios that they had him. It was Weiland. He was directed past me to the small backstage area as his tiny assistant / stylist carrying boas and things rushed to get him some clothes. Weiland began yelling that he wanted a fucking mirror. The assistant darted off as the band continued to loop the same riff building a chaotic tension as the crowd screamed. The assistant returned planting a dressing room mirror in front of Weiland against the back of the backstage wall. "I need my fucking gel!" he yelled as the sun fell. The assistant raced for it as tour management and house staff stood by talking into their radios saying "He's here!" as Weiland slicked back his hair curling his lip into a sneer revealing a gap in his teeth. "I need my fucking tooth!" he yelled and the assistant rushed around maniacally as Weiland glared into the mirror at himself and the black space where one of his front teeth was missing. The riffs of the band rose and fell and the assistant procured a tooth that Weiland shoved in his mouth then stepped through the backstage door and walked onstage into the lights picking up the lines to the song as I heard the microphone drop with a thud as the band tore off and the crowd roared. The bus driver walked over to me after the pandemonium had subsided and said, "This kind of stuff happens almost every night. Sometimes he doesn't even show."

I heard someone say that Weiland had walked from the hotel to the venue and stopped along the way for a drink at a bar where he'd pissed someone off and they'd knocked his front tooth (that was a cap) out. I don't know. But it was incredible spectacle and very Rock n' Roll.

A few hours later as the lights onstage cut and the fans still screamed I got a call on my radio saying that Weiland was leaving the stage and to meet him at the backstage door. His energy hit me like a shove to the chest as he walked through the door with towels draping his head. His energy was insane. He vibrated rock star like no other performer I'd ever been around as I walked him to his bus under the sliver of a moon... Whatever IT is, he had it.

After he climbed on the bus I held the crowd of people trying to get to him. A desperate woman and her husband kept trying to push past me telling me that they were Weiland's ex-wife's parents. I held them there as the rest of the band exited, the woman grabbing Duff's arm as he passed. He told me they were alright and to let them go. Exasperated they raced to Weiland's bus where his assistant let them in. They stayed for half and hour to an hour. When they got off they looked defeated.

A month later I heard that Weiland went back into rehab.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Seattle, 1993

I was there when I heard the news that he'd killed himself. I couldn't believe it as I lay on the futon on the floor of my empty studio apartment staring up at the stark white ceiling listening to the news on the radio. Time stood still briefly, like the first time that I'd seen their video on MTV my senior year of high school a few years before. The news that I was hearing then didn't seem real, in the same way that my life had stopped feeling real, like a bad joke. I walked around the block under the cover of gray, an eerie silence of mourning filling the air of the entire city, feeling something dying inside of me too. Hope maybe? I'm not sure what it was, but it left me feeling emptier, a little colder than I had before. He had represented to the world the pain and the disillusionment that I felt. He'd bared it. He'd made the world stop and look, now they'd look me over again.

I'd moved there because of him only a few months before, seeking refuge from the growing storm in my mind. I'd pictured myself meeting him in a dive bar, a random encounter, where he'd take me into his confidence, confide in me, allowing me to return the favor of acceptance. We'd become friends over beers, nodding hello to each other silently when we saw the other come in from then on, sitting and smiling over drinks at the absurdity of our common understandings. Now he'd extinguished his life, to ease his pain, but I still felt mine. What was I supposed to do with it, I wondered? I had too much to carry on my own.

I went to the store and bought some beer with the fake id that I had from a friend who'd killed himself the same way a few years earlier - heroin, then a shotgun blast to the head. I went back to the apartment in a fog where I sat alone and drank with the pictures of my dead friends lined up next to beer cans opposite of me on the small built in the table against the wall under the bare light bulb and I toasted to life. The sadness of it all overwhelmed me and I began to cry for the first time in a long while. I had to get out. I had to get away, but I had nowhere to run. It was dark out. I walked down to the water carrying the rest of my beer. The air was chill and charged with an omnipresent grief. Music poured out of people's windows, but I heard nothing. Candles lined the streets. There were vigils around town, but I didn't feel like being with anyone. People didn't understand. He had.

I sat on a bench looking out over the lights reflected off of the slick black surface of the lake toward the downtown and drank alone, like I'd been doing a lot of recently, and I talked to my dead friends and to him as the tears ran down my cheeks and I laughed to myself, at myself, and at the world. Nothing made sense anymore.

I woke up, hungover, sick, cold and shivering in the dull, diffused morning light, disoriented, searching for my life in mist coming off of the lake, knowing that I was lost.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Leaving Austin

Before I met her I’d been playing with the idea of moving. I’d lived in Austin ten years and felt that my time there was coming to an end. I felt as though there was part of me that I’d let die there, chasing paychecks, trying to survive. I’d wanted to write when I was younger. I’d written a small book when I was 21, after my life had fallen apart around me. Nothing ever happened with the book, and the grind of work and making ends meet eventually took over - life. I’d recently started writing again after my second divorce at the age of 34, a year earlier, and had begun thinking about leaving town, re-inventing myself, worried that I’d end up a clich├ęd bitter old tattooed bartender in a punk bar in Austin, drinking away the days.