Sunday, July 17, 2011

"badbadbad," Jesús Ángel García (2011): a noir trip into weird America

What does it take for an author to put together a book tour in summer 2011? Jesús Ángel García has one solution: make one up as you go along, and involve as much cross-media pollination as possible.

García's first novel badbadbad is "a transmedia novel" aimed right at the heart of weird America. It makes sense he's first off to points South, blogging his own book tour with three installments so far, documenting stops in L.A., Austin (where the scene is more "a diversion from studies than a refuge for writers, but maybe that’s just me projecting"), and New Orleans. Other stops include Nashville and -- yes -- Atlanta, where he appeared at Joe's Coffee in East Atlanta on June 30.

García is halfway through a tour of thirty-nine shows in thirty-two cities --his roadside tent show continues through the midwest and loops back around to the left coast by the end of August. García's one-man cross-country revival promises to hit all the hot an' dirty spots, telling a noir story that's made of salvation and sin, a pulp tale in shades of light and shadow. Writing on The Outlet site for his tour blog Riding With Jesus, García explains:

A few years back, I wrote the first draft of a novel called badbadbad. Then I started writing songs derived from the narrative, and pretty soon a full-length album magically appeared. So now there was a traditional print book and a CD soundtrack, both called “badbadbad.” Since threesomes are trendy — and the art-making business is all about capitalizing on what’s hot — the natural next step for 3xbad was obvious: get out on the street and make a movie. ... Literature the Father, Music the Son, Film the Holy Spirit. Let’s call it a transmedia novel. I live in San Francisco, after all."

The novel is its own experiment in splicing together elements of religion, technology and 21st century personality crisis. The story of badbadbad (or 3xbad, in the author's own shorthand) is the age-old conflict between want and need, of the search for paradise and lunch, one man's sudden awakening to life's duality ...

In short, after his wife unexpectedly leaves with their infant son, there's the realization that, for the book's fictional Jesús Ángel García faced with no options, everything becomes an option. By day, he works as the humble, God-fearing webmaster for First Church of the Church Before Church. At night, he's a sexual messiah on fallenangels, an online social network for extreme desires:

Jesús Ángel García, making things loud and clear

... It started with a hamburger. Whopper, large fries, Diet Coke. No, something with more meat. A political exchange, at the bus stop outside Piggly Wiggly.

“You’re a fan,” I said, pointing at her badge, The President Is the Commander-in-Chief. It was pinned at quarter-thigh where the denim fringe of her Daisy Dukes peeked out like tendrils. This girl was live.

“The president know what good for us,” she said and I believed her. I gazed at her belly ring, a simple hoop, fake gold, then down to the button fly, unbuttoned, her candy cane triangle below. “We should trust every decision he make. He know right from wrong.”

“I’ll take your word,” I said. “Me, I’m not much into politics.”

“Me neither,” she whispered. “This for work.”

I zoomed in on the red-white stripes of her two-piece. “You’re a lifeguard.”

She poked me in the chest. “Yeah right.”

“Life’s a beach,” I said.

She had never been to the beach, if we’re to believe what she told me, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t. I talked big on my full tank of gas, tried to persuade her to get her feet wet. She insisted she was on the clock.

“You could call it training,” I said. She stared at me with anime eyes. “I’ll drown and you save me.”

“Shut up,” she said, taking my hand in hers.

I was fortune’s son. ...

The novel, the CD, the film: badbadbad is a total package of media immersion that beats corporate American culture to the punch.

Of course, even self-promotion has its costs, and García's trip into America's hard-drinking, sexed-up neon alleys opens itself to new horizons in in cultural underwriting: in his blog, García pulls a routine on various imagined sponsors, like Jim Beam whiskey and Global Protection condoms. One thinks somehow pulp fiction master James M. Cain (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice) would approve. New possibilities in corporate literary debauchery lay ahead.

In an ultimate flip-of-the-finger to boardroom decision-makers García writes on his blog: "I want to bring badbadbad directly to the people. What that means is a hot summer of live performances, readings, and screenings at art galleries, theaters, nightclubs, bookshops, cafes, beaches, street corners, and dark alleys across the U.S. ... There’s a lot of big book stuff happening offline around the country. I hope with this column to report on all the glamour and the goodness."

For more information and all tour stop dates and locations check out García's official book site,

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