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Elapsed Times: Embed with The NHRA’s Bakersfield Cacklefest

September 24, 2014
(photo by Ted Soqui)

(photo by Ted Soqui)

Drag-strip journalist Cole Coonce grabs a ride and chases the greatest spectacle in nitro-burning: the Bakersfield Cacklefest. Top Fuelers and AA/Fuel Altered galore!

Read “Night of the Living Nitromaniacs” in Car Craft’s Elapsed Times:

Punk Noir Drops on Amazon

June 27, 2013


Tar Hole Dimedrop is proud to announce its unveiling of Cole Coonce‘s The Ketamine Sun, Part 1, available now on Amazon.

The initial “punk noir” release from the new Tar Hole Dimedrop imprint, The Ketamine Sun, Part 1: Cremora Creamer, The Betamax Malaprop and A Newtonian Bang is the opening installment chronicling the saga of Blackie Carbon, an aging LA punk rocker and now-indentured studio detective. After his music career has imploded, Carbon begins working for the wealthy Toshiro Kamiokande. Toshiro is crippled by his role in a failing Japanese electronics corporation and movie studio, and is being squeezed by an Internet pornographer. He wants Carbon to calm down the situation and eliminate the distraction. But with Cremora Creamer and Chandra Nameesh — Kamiokande’s two wild, untamable daughters — prowling and probing LA’s nether regions, Carbon has grabbed a couple of tawdry and toothsome tigers by the tail — and that’s before the shooting starts.


Vignette New York City, Pt. 1

March 18, 2013

The thermometer said 29º in mid-town so I bought some full-fingered gloves from a street vendor. Having bundled up in three layers, I pedaled to Central Park. I tried not to think about how cold it was. During my last loop, I passed this tall scraggly long-haired kid in a leather jacket, weaving on a fixie and having a thundering conversation with himself in Italian. I tried not to make eye contact with him, because he looked rather unbalanced. I heard the booming monologue get louder behind me and as he went by a copy of “Junky” nearly inched out of corduroy back pocket and he started singing “Ru-dy Can’t Fail!” at the top of his lungs. He resumed his thundering soliloquy until I caught him again on the next incline and I went by singing the same chorus. He caught me again and we tried to have a conversation, but the only words we could agree upon was “Joe Strummer.” Then we sang Clash songs together, until I peeled off on 7th Avenue. This could only happen in one city.


August 29, 2012

(excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)

Mikal Kiev’s video shop was a storefront on the east side of Lankershim, just south of Victory. When I had searched online for Kiev’s place of business, at first I read the results as “Camelot.” When I blinked and saw it actually read “Come-a-lot,” I realized my mind’s eye had defensively conflated a vowel so my brain would not have to endure the pain of the puerile pun.

The shop entrance was in the back, accessible by an alley that buttressed a liquor store, a strip club and a medical marijuana dispensary whose signage featured a dancing, smiling tooth. It was called “Happy Mouth Mental Clinic.” On the sign, the word “Mental” appears to have altered and derived from “Dental” and was the only modification from the previous business’s verbiage. Indeed, before it was a reefer emporium, “Happy Mouth” must have been a dentist’s office, catering to hapless immigrants with or without Medicare or even insurance, but now it went after a more lucrative trade, one that was less bureaucratic, and, because of the vacuum of oversight and regulation, one unconcerned with nagging details like sterilizing instruments. Despite its name, apparently “Happy Mouth” only made its clientele only marginally satisfied, as a menagerie of broken dirty crack pipes circled the business’s entrance like the poison pedals of a fetid flower. Peering inside, I could see the dispenser—a white dude with dreads, sporting a yellow Shabba Ranks t-shirt—rocking on his heels, swaying in time to some mechanical and bombastic reggaeton braying out of high-wattage sound system. The office ambiance of the medical trade has come along way since the days of Muzak. As I walked by, the dispenser smiled wide like his business’s icon. I walked through the alley, looked over both shoulders and entered Come-a-lot.

Kiev’s space was not just a retail outlet, but also a micro video-production studio. Beyond a smattering of shelves housing adult tapes and discs, a concrete floor lay partially covered with a hodgepodge of Persian rugs. Off in the corner, stood a smattering of film lights on metal stands buttressing an unoccupied, unmade king-sized bed. Sex toys and half-empty bottles of water sat on a bureau and a night stand. A candy bar-sized camera on a tripod tilted precariously, limp and pointed towards the unforgiving concrete. Cremora Creamer and similar hot talent could ply their trade here after hours. This was the new dream factory for nubile flesh, streaming live in high-definition, pending confirmation of credit card numbers and three CVC digits, of course.

To than end, egg crates and video boxes were tacked to the walls in a clumsy attempt at sound proofing, but the dampening barely calmed the thumping reggaeton from the clinic next door, thus allowing for an incidental score. Blue smoke hung in the air inscrutably like oxygen-deprived paper moons. Apparently, if the clouds of chronic were any indicator, Come-a-lot and Happy Mouth had some sort of barter and exchange program. The entire place reeked of Bunny Wailer and strawberry-flavored personal lotion.

At the entrance of the store, a bored, stoned, tatted, gum-popping bleach-blond Armenian woman sat at a desk set with a laptop, a cash register and a credit-card scanner. She half-smiled, distorting a pair of lips smeared purple. She had an overbite made for a set of panpipes.


(excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)





August 29, 2012


(excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)

The room was as white as an albino elephant. Central air overwhelmed the heat, the climate control was as startling as an eskimo pie down a steelworker’s underwear. The decor was a tip of the fedora to both show business and modern metaphysics. A brass Buddha sat on the mantle, cold, next to a frame of Mahatma Gandhi. There was a hazy underwater photo of some semi-nude strumpets mounting a dolphin. A piano sat tangential to an eight-foot tall sepia print of a soft-focus Gloria Grahame headshot. This was the only understated element of the Second Sex in the house.

I sat down on a black leather sofa lined with candy-colored pillows and stared at Mrs. Chandra Nameesh the way a card player studies another but tries to appear as if he is not looking. She was facing away from me so I was rubbernecked and gawked out of habit, as I took in her backside and a bottom sheathed by a mini-Somalian sarong tied at the waist and a pair of shoulder blades framed by an authentically weathered scoop-neck tunic. A cozy, vintage worn-in feel isn’t cheap on this side of town, and the price of having no two shirts exactly the same is no object here, as that is what all the girls are wearing. Every body wants to be different. Everybody wants to to be the same. As Mrs. Nameesh knelt in front of the frigid Buddha, she began to chant. “Nam me ko ring ge ko, man me ko ring ge koh, Nam me ko ring ge ko,” ad blah blah blahseum. It was repetitive polysyllabic gewgaw, designed to tap into some greater consciousness and receive some vague spiritual enlightenment or, failing that, another luxury car. Whatever it was, it was self-important if not selfish. One couldn’t be more affluent than this woman, and yet she wanted more. To what end? Any real enlightenment might mean taking an actual vow of poverty and administering polio vaccines to pygmies, but she didn’t look like she was game for any actual sacrifice. Still, her sense of entitlement struck a libidinous chord. When she had reached a certain nirvana she stopped and turned around. She acted like she never heard me enter, like I was never a bamboo shoot away. She was prettier than a pair of queens, and my guess was she was as difficult to play. Apparently exhausted from all that ultimate spiritual truth, she stretched out on an adjacent couch, hiking up the cloth and showing a lot of leg.

“So Mr. Carbon: Welcome to the Palisades,” she cooed. “Is this always where you go when the Santa Ana winds blow?” You could’ve knocked me over with a heron feather.


(excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)


August 20, 2012


(excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)

Leaving the front doors ajar, Simon Drake prolonged his effected smile and escorted me through the echoing length of the vacuous domicile towards the rear of the estate. With its doors open, the Kamiokande place sucked in the blue and green essence of the ocean like the blades of a ramjet inhaling oxygen and exhaling existential smog.

Drake excused himself and handed me my shoes, implying that it was up to me to make my own introductions. Then he opened a set of French doors that led to a fecund backyard sculpted as a shrine to the game of golf. There was a touch of raked gravel here, a pavilion teahouse there, an obligatory stone lantern and a pond, but there was no doubt that this space’s primary function was that of a personal driving range.

To that end, a moist, rotund Japanese gentleman in a white-as-the-man-in-the-moon lycra shirt and tennis shorts prepared to poke at a golf ball. He clutched his putter with puffy little fingers and swung with micro-perfection. The ball rimmed around a hole and spit itself out. Undeterred, he set up another chip shot. He was Toshiro Kamiokande.

“Do you hit the links, Mr. Carbon?” he asked, never taking his eyes off of the divoted orb of his desire.

“I tried it, but I kept hitting the windmills.”

“Both you and Cervantes.” He flicked the putting iron again and sunk the ball with the precision of a puff adder pouncing on a field mouse. He then teed up another ball, and swapped the silver putter for some wood. With the ferocity of a lumberjack, he swung and whomped on the ball. It sailed off the property and dropped below the bluffs. I listened for a bounce but never heard it. I can only assume it bounced off parked cars on Pacific Coast Highway before pinging off a lifeguard stand and burrowing into the ocean, whereupon the currents took it back to Malaysia whence it was manufactured.

MORE – (excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)


August 16, 2012


(excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)

The sun didn’t care about stink. It didn’t care about money. It didn’t care about beauty. It didn’t care about tranquility. It was oblivious to its own reflection glimmering off the placid water, even if the ocean was the only element that could salve an otherwise stifling atomic fury that spoke of the new, inexorable radiation. I drove in to see Toshiro Kamiokande at his post-opulence palace in the Palisades, on an October Tuesday before noon in the heat of an all too obligatory Indian Summer. The planet was melting. The yellow fireball in the sky hadn’t yet crested, yet its sting cracked paint and melted the molded faces of gorgeous people stuck in traffic in West Los Angeles. When beauty gets sticky, it gets macabre and smells of chemicals and decaying flesh. The sun didn’t care about pulchritude either.

I wasn’t stuck in traffic nor was I wearing makeup, so the weather was no bother. Even in the heat and the haze, I felt cool and clean as penguin shit at absolute zero. My sport coat was pressed, my black slacks creased and my powder blue fedora kept my eyes from squinting.

It wasn’t always like today. I wasn’t always like today. Today, I was totally together. Today, I was Blackie Carbon, fit and working and in demand. I had been sought out by corporate Nipponese money to help control a pair of half-Japanese girls whose exploits were besmirching the family name.

I pulled off Pacific Coast Highway and dropped the transmission in low moan, softly careering up a desolate road that led to a secluded bluff buttressed by wrought iron. After sorting out security codes, passing the scrutiny of a cavalcade of private cops and finally parking, I walked past a chauffeur on his knees, detailing the chrome wheels on a neutrino black Cadillac Escalade. He was as overdressed as I was. After climbing a handful of marble steps, I was greeted by a soft-boned Caucasian man in stocking feet and whose suit fit. I introduced myself.

“Greetings Mr. Carbon. I am Simon Drake, Mr. Kamiokande’s personal assistant and the family’s life coach.” His hand was half-limp and wet. His expensive skin had begun to fall and had the tone and sallow consistency of a beached whale.

“‘Personal assistant and life coach?’ In another words, a go-fer with better public relations?”

“That would be a common and uniformed interpretation.”

It was his way of telling me he had heard it all before. In this town, we had all heard it all before. Everything was an echo, but one could suppose that repetitions beat silence—if only barely.

“Please remove your shoes, Mr. Carbon, and I’ll tell Mr. Kamiokande you are here,” Drake demurred and made himself scarce, his words bouncing between opposing 50-foot glass windows in an edifice that was part-Tuscany mansion, part split-level beach motel. The life coach’s words were still echoing in a hallway as wide as a hangar when a door cracked under a staircase.

A pair of hands with ten Kool-Aid fingernails grasped the door’s edge. A black-Japanese girl with metallic dreads and skin the color of green-tea ice cream poked her head around the door. It was a tease designed to paralyze a man like me, as if I had just bitten into the wrong gland of fugu. The hidden meaning of her soft sell being that whatever was still concealed behind the door was tantalizingly toothsome—and lethal.

I said nothing. I contemplated giving my wristwatch a cursory glance, but didn’t as that would be acknowledging the efficacy of her tease and her allure as sure as if I dropped on one knee and cited verses of John Donne from memory. Instead, I turned my back and feigned studying a Rothko on the wall. There was nothing to analyze. It was as blank as anything else in this town. I pretended to look anyway.

I heard the bombastic clacking of heels and caught a ghostly sight of the girl behind the door through a series of chiaroscuro reflections ping-ponging between the panes of the parallel glass. I turned around as she entered the room with a Newtonian bang, bouncing off the glass and then slamming against the door all equal and opposite-like. She wore a firehouse-red skirt whose abbreviated hemline said she was between parties. She looked old enough to drink or at least old enough to know she had the curves and the color to charm some under-sexed university-age geek into Photoshopping a California driver’s license. If there was any doubt about the dubious document, her 36C-cups would sway law enforcement, if not a nightclub doorman.

I went back to studying the Rothko. It was red.


(excerpted from The Ketamine Sun by Cole Coonce)