Friday, November 20, 2015

Feral Humans?

Seventeen years ago, I had a small webpage devoted to the topic of "feral humans", a term I coined to describe the idea that perhaps, just perhaps, there could be human beings living in the wild in an animal-like state. Perhaps some of them were driven to this by madness, perhaps some were even literal descendents of cavemen who have carried on separately from the rest of the human race. (And when I say I "coined the term", I don't mean I originated it. I'm well aware the combination of those two words has been uttered prior to my specific use of it.)

It wasn't a concept I was particularly passionate about or emotionally invested in. Like many of my ideas, I just tossed it together into a webpage as random food-for-thought, and promptly forgot about it. So when Art Bell called me out of the blue and asked me to appear on his show in 1997, I was stunned. I accepted the mission, of course, what else was I gonna do? The show ended up becoming something of a legend among Art Bell devotees because it was so completely off-the-wall, and the legend only grew with time as the show was never archived. (To this day I still get a few requests each month from people asking if I have a copy.)

And that was that. Or should have been. But seventeen years later, lo and behold, I get an email from Art's producer, Heather Wade (who is wonderful, by the way - she's a dazzlingly energetic hard worker and problem solver. If I had five people like her working for me, this war would soon be over. And she has such a great charismatic voice she really needs to be hosting a radio show herself!)

I told Heather that I had absolutely nothing new to say about the topic of "feral humans" and didn't see much value in rehashing it. She persisted, and we finally agreed that we'd do something that used feral humans as a jumping-off point to talk about a much broader range of related topics, especially the idea of modern so-called "zombies" like the naked Florida face-eating psycho, and werewolves - which would tie in to promote my upcoming new book, Undomesticated and the Hollywood film that is currently, fingers crossed, being planned for it.

So when I saw on the official Art Bell website that the show was listed as "Jeffrey Scott Holland - Feral Humans", I had a slight sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this wasn't going to go as planned. Sure enough, Art chose to disregard a large part of the outline we'd worked out in advance (hey, it's his show, he can do what he wants, but I did make it clear from day one I didn't just want to come on the show and do the same show about feral humans all over again.)

Art has a strict policy of "no cellphones" for guests. I have no landline, and so I had to download Skype and go out and purchase a new headset. When we got on the air live, I realized I could not hear myself - AT ALL - in the mix. All I heard was a booming GIANT ART BELL in my ears. I was told this is "normal" and to just speak naturally. Nevertheless, when you can't hearself in your own headphones, it's a mess because you can't tell whether you are speaking too loud or too quiet, and my own voice tends to modulate greatly from highs to lows to shouts to whispers and vocal-fry (kinda like the way Anton LaVey plays organ.)

It only devolved from there. My Wi-Fi chose to conk out halfway through the show, and I quickly reset it and got Skype running again. During the break, off the air, a cranky Art snapped angrily at me, "WHAT HAPPENED?" I was increasingly feeling like Valerie Solanas being set up and ambushed on that right-wing talk show in the film I Shot Andy Warhol, and was now thinking I should've just not bothered calling back. By the time Art testily asked me, with the show now nearly over, "Well, Jeffrey, is there anything ELSE you want to talk about?", I just said nope. He had no interest in talking about my new book and movie, which is what I was there to promote, so I just sat back and let the dog and pony show play out. I was up way past my bedtime and felt my time had been wasted.

Already, I'm receiving congratulations from people saying what a hilarious chaotic mess I made of Art's show. That was not my intent. Had it been, I would not have sat so politely listening to Art trying to spin my thing into some other thing. I would have done what Alex Jones did to Piers Morgan and just ignore all questions and start rapid-fire ranting about what I wanted to talk about until forcibly stopped. (Next time! See ya in another seventeen years, Art.)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Films from the Florida Zone

You might wonder what's kept me so busy lately that I haven't had time to update this blog as much. Well, looks like we're going Hollywood, and I don't mean Hollywood, Florida.

Out of the blue, it looks like two films of my novels are going to see the light of day sooner or later. The film rights to Undomesticated, my werewolf novel set in Florida, have been sold to an undisclosed agent even before the novel is published. Now, mind you, the gears of filmmaking grind painfully slow - sometimes moving in geological time - so I'm not holding my breath just yet. Taylor Hackford, for example, bought the film rights to Charles Bukowski's Post Office in 1972 and the film still has yet to be made. (Mr. Hackford is now a month or so away from his 71st birthday.)

But The Bartender, I'm thrilled to announce, is a fully-greenlit project. No director has been announced yet, but I'll keep things updated here and on its official Twitter account. "The Bartender" novel is set in Florida in the 1970s, and will probably be mostly filmed on location here. If you have any interest in applying for a position, e-mail me!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Florida Man

Meet "Florida Man", the world's worst superhero!

You see him everywhere, every day, in the news, his latest exploits, foibles and follies, with headlines such as "Florida man run over by van after dog pushes accelerator" or "Police arrest Florida man for drunken joy ride on motorized scooter at Wal-Mart." And, like Kenny on South Park, Florida Man often dies but inexplicably comes back for more mishaps.

Florida Man has become an Internet meme that centers around news stories and articles about unusual or strange crime or events occurring in Florida, in which the headline usually refers to the subject as "Florida Man". The Sunshine State has an especial notoriety for generating bizarre news stories, and our hero Florida Man personifies the legend. It's all part of the cognitive dissonance that Interzone so adeptly manufactures for itself, being a magnet for marginal people doing sketchy things in the most fringey way.

The diligent fans keeping track of Florida Man's adventures are legion, and you can find them on Twitter and Reddit and damn near any news outlet. (His erstwhile sidekick, "Florida Woman", has also made a name for herself.)

Is it the hydrogen sulfide responsible for Florida Man and his army of zombies? The Red Tide? Or just weird drugs like Flakka? Either way, there's somethin' happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear.

Stay vigilant, my friends.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The File Clerks

Some of you may have noticed that I've been churning out puzzling little pieces of piffle on Soundcloud lately. Though for a few years I've been laying low from my old sideline as a purveyor of sample-delic random avant-garde noise, I'm back in the game. For a while, at least, until I get distracted by something else. As with my recent forays into digital abstract art, I don't take it seriously at all and neither should you.

The new project is called Jeffrey Scott Holland & the File Clerks, or simply File Clerks for short. It's basically me, a bunch of laptops and synthesizers, and sometimes various other people I collaborate with at any given time, like my old Cheeseburger & Fries accomplice, J.T. Dockery.

The File Clerks take a wide survey of the digital music field, including but not limited to: jazz, noise, ambient, chill, chillout, dub, industrial, techno, trance, house, acid, drone, glitch, dubstep, dark wave, vaporwave, brostep, brutalwave, hip-hop, trip-hop, goa, and many other sub-sub-subgenres uncategorizable and as yet unnamed by the increasingly aspergian kids of today. Mind you, it's important to note that this is impressionism at its utmost; just because I make dubstep records doesn't mean I like dubstep or that I even truly understand the genre. But there they are.

Jump in here and swim around awhile. A couple of my personal favorites: "To The Cloud" and "Molecules By Night". Oh yeah, and "Insouciant". Headphones recommended.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Raccoon Rides Gator

They say "man bites dog" is news, and I think "raccoon rides gator" is too. This picture has been making the rounds in the media lately, showing a deceptively pleasant scene of animal interaction. But according to this article, the raccoon was only on the alligator's back for a few seconds before the gator slid into the water and the raccoon hopped off. Richard Jones, who was in Ocala National Forest on vacation, managed to click the picture at precisely the right moment.

As the article also mentions, alligators and raccoons are natural enemies. Scientists say gator feces usually turns out to contain raccoon, while most baby alligators and unhatched gator eggs fall prey to raccoons.

Windshield Geckos

When you come out to your car in the garage in the morning and find Mediterranean Geckos crawling on it, apparently fearless of the rubber white alligator on the dashboard.

St. Petersburg Street Musician

Spotted recently in a park in St. Petersburg: this amazing performer who was set up with an accordion and xylophone, both miked and run through an effects rack. Sometimes he would play the xylophone with his right hand while playing accordion with the left, and then sometimes he would use a device to sample himself on the xylophone and set it up in a loop while he played accordion with both hands. Brilliant stuff. I was tempted to stick around and ask him if he wanted to join The File Clerks.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Florida Death Metal

What is it about this peaceful place that inspires so many lugubrious young-uns (and maybe not so young-uns) to form angry little bands that wail, scream, growl, bitch and moan about the darkest, doomiest things they can think of? Is it the Hydrogen Sulfide? The insidious unseen influence of the Hand of Death cult? For reasons unguessed at by this author, Florida has more than its share of major metal bands - and particularly so-called "death metal" - just the sort of cheerful music that people like Rod Ferrell's vampire clan loved to listen to.

Morbid Angel, singers of such catchy tunes as "World of Shit", "God of Emptiness", and "Where the Slime Live", are from Tampa. Don't forget to send Tampa a thank-you card.

Atheist is a great name for a band, I guess, if you think atheism is cool, and I did too, for about a week when I was thirteen years old. They're from Sarasota. They actually employ some jazz fusion with thrash-death metal, which is no doubt a combination the world has been longing to hear.

Cynic is from Miami, and they dabble with jazz fusion as well, and are highly regarded as "progressive" death metal. I actually find some of it listenable, albeit puzzling.

Deicide (whose singer famously admitted to killing small animals for fun and vowed he would kill himself when he reached the age of 33 but then quietly changed his mind) is also from Tampa.

And then there's Death, who broke up when their lead singer, well, died. But we still have their records, like "Bite the Pain", "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" and "Spirit Crusher", to treasure their legacy. (They were from Orlando, so I can't fault them for being very very depressed.)

Hate Eternal, fronted by Erik Rutan, formerly of Ripping Corpse, is from St. Petersburg.

Assück is another of St. Pete's fine contributions to popular culture, and with a name like Assück, you know you've got to be in for a pleasant evening, right? Wikipedia describes their act as a "low-calibre battery of brooding, malicious, doom-ridden grind pitched somewhere between early Napalm Death and even earlier Bolt Thrower". Well then, there you go.

I actually kinda like Tampa's Nocturnus, though, mainly because they've got a science fiction vibe goin' on, and were an early pioneer of using keyboards in death metal. Still, one feels rather foolish sitting amongst palm trees sipping a blue thing while listening to songs called "Apostle of Evil", "Standing in Blood", and "Subterranean Infiltrator".

Monstrosity! Who remembers Monstrosity? They're still around, actually, but some say they're just not the same since their founding vocalist, George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, went off to join Cannibal Corpse. Monstrosity was formed in Fort Lauderdale, where I'm sure tourists and beachgoers swooned over their snappy songs like "Immense Malignancy", "Vicious Mental Thirst" and "Final Cremation". Woo!

Fort Lauderdale, I'm afraid, is also responsible for unleashing upon an unsuspecting world the impenetrably named Kult Ov Azazel. You know, those nice boys who croon that hep pop classic "Bloodstained Path to Victory". And also other exciting numbers like "An Eternity With Satan" and "Trampling the Cross". The band members all have names like "Azagkur", "Hag", "Hammer", "Hellspawn", and "Archangel Sin Scythe". I dunno.

I've never heard of Acheron but they're somehow simultaneously from Pittsburgh and Tampa at the same time. Says on Wikipedia that their lead singer, who calls himself Vincent Crowley (clever, no?) "was appointed a priest in the Church of Satan and began spending a lot of his time debating local televangelists, limiting Acheron's output for a time." Sounds like a real fun guy. Don't these dopes realize Anton LaVey thought "satanic" metal was the stupidest thing ever to come out of the 20th century, and that he frequently stated with absolute seriousness that Rudy Vallee was the real sound of Satanism?

Tampa also gifted us with those little charmers called Obituary. You know, those happy-go-lucky guys with hummable albums like "Cause of Death", "World's Demise", and "Slowly We Rot". I bet these guys are real fun at cocktail parties, especially after they start throwing away the olives and eating the glasses.

Savatage is from Tarpon Springs, and they were a serious MTV-level force to be reckoned with in the 80s and 90s. I'm not sure what they're up to lately. While not as overtly negative and silly as most of the bands listed here, they're still not quite my cup of tea these days. Hall of the Mountain King was a pretty classic album though. (I grew up with all this music same as you probably did, dear reader, so don't flame me for outgrowing it. Why, some nights, when the moon is just right, I even put a little Candlemass on the hi-fi.)

And lastly, those Limp Biskit boys, a band I don't particularly like, come from Jacksonville, a city I don't particularly like. Whew.

Maybe I should do a post on Florida's contribution to the world of Dixieland Jazz next, just to cleanse the palate, eh?

Joe Haldeman

Joe Haldeman is an author, born in Oklahoma but presently residing in Gainesville, Florida. He may not be a household name, but he's very well known to science fiction fans around the world. He's a recipient of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award, a SFWA Grand Master, and a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a combat engineer in the Vietnam war. He was wounded in combat, and received the Purple Heart. These experiences inspired his first novel, War Year, in 1972, and also influenced later books such as Old Twentieth and Vietnam and Other Alien Worlds.

In 1975, he received an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Somewhere along the way, he drifted down to Florida, and why he chose Gainesville as his home, I'm not sure. His brother, the late Jack C. Haldeman II, also lived in Gainesville, and both brothers authored Star Trek novels - Jack wrote Perry's Planet and Joe wrote Planet of Judgment and World Without End.

His greatest claim to fame, some say, is his 1974 opus The Forever War, but for my money you can't beat his novella The Hemingway Hoax.

In 1921, Ernest Hemingway's wife lost a bag containing the manuscript of his first novel on a train. Since that time, people have wondered what the book contained, and whether it could still be floating around out there. Haldeman's story tells of a man named Baird who, along with a Key West grifter named Castle, propose to create a fake manuscript of Hemingway's lost novel and pass it off as a historic discovery.

Baird later finds, however, that there are cosmic time-traveling entities who monitor life in our universe and in parallel universes, and for complicated reasons, anything that affects the cultural influence of Hemingway is a matter of grave concern to them. If Baird publishes the fake Hemingway novel, it will alter the future in ways that will lead to nuclear war, Baird is told, and will create reverberations that will be catastrophic all through the omniverse as well.

Hemingway himself time-travels to 1996 to personally confront Baird on a train from Boston to Florida, and warns him to give up on the idea. What happens then? Well, read the book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bradenton in the Past

Westgate Shopping Center (pictured above) still exists, by the way (see below.) But sadly, the great 50s-style signage is long gone.

The Colonel

My previous attempts to dig up some dirt on my enigmatic obsessions with obscure Florida musicians of the past haven't panned out too well. Take Norbert, for example, or Mitzi Joyce, or Joe Peppy the Singing Bartender. But this one, I think I've got a lead.

The late-70s newspaper ads for the Aztec focus on, of course, the big local star - comedian Don Sebastian (who I should probably get around to blogging about one of the days). But in tiny letters, the ads also mention in passing the Aztec's "Mardi Gras Piano Bar" hosted by someone called simply... The Colonel. The imagination reels.

As with the other aforementioned lounge acts, search engines haven't provided much edification on the subject. But I did find, lo and behold, a post made to by a user named "Canefan", who says:

Oooooooh, that's a BINGO! Now all we have to do is find this "Canefan" and let him spill all he knows about the good old days. Clicking on his username brings also his introductory post to the forum:

Any man calling himself "The Colonel" and running a piano-bar-lounge in a seedy Miami Beach motel in the 60s and 70s qualifies for canonization as far as we're concerned here. Got more info on him? Speak up!

Monday, May 25, 2015


The giant fiberglass Muffler Men of the 1960s were so popular at their peak, that other companies wanted to get in on the act. Uniroyal Tire Co. enlisted International Fiberglass to manufacture a series of giant bikini women to grace their storefronts, and this is one of the few remaining examples left. "Tootsie", as she is locally known as, can be found in Bradenton, Florida, specifically at 6111 15th St. East. There was another in Ocoee, but as far as I can tell, it's now gone.

If you're too lazy to go out there, you can glimpse her on Google Maps (above) and Google Maps Street View (below).

Read more about the "Uniroyal Gals" here.

Fumigation Tents of Florida

I suppose they do this everywhere, but I honestly have never seen these things until I landed in Interzone. In order to fumigate your home, pest control companies as a last resort try to de-bug a hopelessly infested building by covering it in an enormous rubber tent that looks like a circus Big Top.

When you encounter one for the first time, especially if it's a really huge one, it's quite the mind-blower. For me, it was a chilling experience something akin to the moment the teens discovered the alien clowns' giant spaceship-tent in the middle of the woods in Killer Klowns From Outer Space.

I don't really understand the concept. The people have to go live in a hotel or something while the poison gas fills the house for a few days, then somehow the pest control guys just come out and take the tarp off and declare it "all clear" and you just go back home again? Isn't everything inside still covered with poisonous residue? And where does the poison gas go? When they take the giant tarp off, doesn't a giant cloud of the poison come wafting out? And can you really tell me one of these rubber house-sized tarps has never ever leaked? What must the neighbors be thinking when they look out the window and see this shit? And don't some poisoned insects ever manage to crawl out of the house and out into the environment before they die? Wouldn't there be vast underground networks of ant colonies under entire neighborhoods carrying these toxins all over the place?

I'm not into the pesticide scene at all, so if I ever had a house that got this infested with termites, roaches, bedbugs, whatever, I'd probably just burn the place down and start over.

The Titusville Orb

Oh, no. If there's one thing I hate more than "paranormal orb" reports, it's.... well..... okay, no, there isn't anything I hate more.

People desperately see any roundish object in photos and videos as "orbs" and ascribe paranormal circumstances to their existence, despite that you see such things in normal photography and videography daily. Lens flares, insects, raindrops, dust, you name it, once it's been rendered blurry and round by light reflection, it's fair game for the freaks.

What makes this one so cool is that it takes place at the U.S. Space Walk Of Fame Museum in Titusville, Florida, and this has caused some - even people who work there - to speculate it could be the ghost of an astronaut. Weary, weary, yes very weary, sigh.

You can see the video here if you have three minutes of your life to spare frivolously.

Jacksonville's Giant Soda Can

This mammoth-sized 7up is actually a water tower, cleverly designed to mimic a soda can. It was originally a Canada Dry Ginger Ale can but got rebranded, as they say. You can find it in Jacksonville, alongside I-95 between University Blvd. and Bowden Road.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

ABC Liquors

Of course there's no shortage of liquor stores around these parts, and some of them are truly great - Total Wine comes to mind. But examples of that chain are few and far between, and mom-n-pop stores are sketchy and unpredictable, same as everywhere else.

Fortunately, Florida has a network of ABC stores that are damn nearly as ubiquitous as Starbucks. In Florida, at least along the coasts, you are never far from an ABC. As with Starbucks, some may find that disquieting and homogenous; me, I find it glorious. ABC's like an old friend who's with you everywhere you go in your Sunshine State safari, your alligator-infested Interzone vision quest, your sojourn amongst the Floridian philistines.

They're huge, they're well stocked, they're clean (well, there is one in Gainesville that's kinda dumpy) and best of all, they feature deluxe walk-in cigar humidors with a fine selection of sticks. I can't tell you how many times ABC has saved my ass when I've found myself out of cigars some mornings, what with tobacconists in Florida generally opening appallingly late and/or closed on Sundays.