I’m Back, Baby

Feb 5, 2023 | Addiction, Square Tire Concern

When my brother Josh died in 2017, I lost my mind a bit. If not my mind, entirely, then certainly my way. For so long, I’d carried the guilt for his addiction and problems, knowing his death from his demons was imminent; I allowed the anticipation to build, my own anxieties and feelings of helplessness compounded, as I moved toward a nervous break.…

So when that fateful day came in November six years ago, I snapped. I’ve never had the firmest grasp on reality, part of the reason I became a writer. It’s how I navigate my world and changes in it; and this isn’t going to be a dismal post about love and loss. I am currently writing a new novel that is a blend of crime fiction, true crime, and time-travel. I’m working my way through these issues.

The point of this post is to announce: I’m back! (To quote Nick Cage, “Not that we went anywhere.”)

I tried quitting writing; I really did. But it was during a FaceTime call with my friend and editor Josh Kendall, who heads a major mystery division of a bigly press, that the point was hammered home.

Josh—the editor, not to be confused with dead brother Josh—said something like, “Joe, you could tell yourself you’re quitting, but I think we both know, you’ll be writing sooner than later.”

And he was right. Sooner. Much sooner. I have three books that will be coming out. While we wait for those, I sat down last week to begin work on that new novel, a follow-up (loosely) to my newest book, SAY MY NAME, which is coming out in June. And not to brag (but I’m bragging), I’ve written 30,000 words in less than a week because I am a fucking machine. Not a fucking machine. A fucking machine. I used to be a fucking machine but now I’m 52 and my hip hurts when it rains.

That’s the point of this first blog post.

Along with Mike TV of the band Get Set Go, I am joining the Square Tire Concern.

It’s an established enterprise built on the daring new strategy of not making any money. (Trust me, right now, my lovely wife Justine’s eyes have rolled so far back in her head, it’s yesterday, and she’s rethinking her decision to marry me. Kidding. She loves me. I adore her. And we have those two wonderful boys, a darling toy poodle. We also have a shitty Pomeranian. Like the late-great Meatloaf sings, “five out of six ain’t bad.” I’ve never been great at math.)

Mike is opening up a publishing division I will be manning.

This isn’t the first time Mike and I have collaborated together artistically. You might recall this little gem from 2013.

In addition to opening a publishing division to his Square Tire label, Mike also allowed me to achieve a … thirty-five-year-old dream in the making, by signing my band, The Wandering Jews, whose new record, A BETTER MACHINE, will be coming out on Square Tire Records, in June.

There’s a lot more news. But even more work. So I’mma keep this brief. Let’s leave it at: more to come. In closing let me just say this (and as a college professor, I hate hate hate phrases like “In conclusion,” but fuck it I gots to run.

My brother Josh is the one who introduced me to Mike. My crazy-ass dead brother heard Get Set Go’s Ordinary World (the record that featured a few songs on some pretty big TV shows—Grey’s Anatomy, Weeds), and wrote him out of the blue, saying his big brother had written a memoir and inquiring whether Mike would write a blurb for it.

To which Mike responded, “Um…”

But from that a partnership was born. More than that, a friendship. Mike and his band have crashed at my place when they’ve been touring. Mike allowed me to use his song “Won’t Let Her Go” for the Junkie Love trailer, directed by the AMAZING Jamie De Wolf and co-starring a certain lovely leading lady, as well as a spot-on portrayal of a younger Junkie Joe by fellow writer/poet Joel Landmine. (See if you can spot “Evil Ed” from the original Fright Night as “Shady Dealer in Alley.”)

Stay tuned for a revamped website and Square Tire page, and as this thing develops, Mike and I have pledged to provide a platform for artists without a home.

In the words of the great Craig Finn, lead singer of the Hold Steady (whose keyboardist Franz Nicolay plays organ, piano, and accordion on the new Wandering Jews record): Thanks for listening, thanks for understanding. I’ll come up with my own catchphrase soon.

Right now I have a book to finish.

So for all you readers who have been patiently waiting? THANK YOU. Your reward is four Joe Clifford books and a full-length album that will be coming down the pipeline (to fine retailers everywhere) very, very soon.


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