Just so y’all know

Someone just asked me to contribute 500 words, before the end of the month, to his soon-to-be-self-published book. He said he couldn’t pay me and ended his email, “Let me know what you think.” I gladly obliged.
“Jack,
“I’m a professional writer with 20 years of experience. I get paid for my writing. It, in large part, is how I cover my rent, utilities, car payment, car insurance, health insurance and many other expenses, including food.
“You may have heard this analogy before (or perhaps not): Would you go into a doctor’s office, ask him or her to diagnose you, then suggest that he or she do it for free? Of course you wouldn’t. Nor should you ask this of professional writers and artists.
“Sincerely,

“Matt”

Blue Angel prose poem


I wrote a prose poem about the Blue Angel sculpture coming down. Please don’t take it too seriously. It plays on the word “rehab” and humanizes the sculpture as a woman who may have stayed at the motel herself.

Special thanks to Bill Hughes for the pics, and Shaun Christensen and Jarret Keene for guidance on the piece. Also to Jessie O’Brien for publishing it.

From Sin City to the Savior

Somewhat to my surprise, my trip to El Salvador turned into a job interview at a prep school. I toured the campus, talked to the director and dean of faculty and met a few teachers and students. Before I left the country they offered me a job teaching 12th grade English. After returning to the States and giving it some thought, I accepted the offer.
There were simply too many positives for me to turn it down: I can save money, learn Spanish (though it’s an English-language school), see more of Central and South America, etc. Also, after nearly 20 years in Vegas, things feel stagnant. I’ve felt, at times, like a poker player who’s sure he has a full house, but everyone else seems to think he’s bluffing. Perhaps I’ve played this hand a little too long.
I won’t leave Las Vegas until late July, which gives me time to tie up loose ends, work on a few local projects (which you will hear more about), visit one or two state and national parks and get coffee or a drink with friends. Also, I hope to maintain my relationship with Vegas and return once or twice a year.
I’ll post more thoughts on this dramatic change—from Sin City to the Savior (Salvador)—as the date approaches. With love and respect for everyone who has supported my Vegas adventure …

Fun while it lasted

I helped deliver the last issue of Downtown ZEN. Apparently the magazine is not going to be re-funded for the New Year. The timing seems odd, as we had put out additional newsracks, the pick-up rate was increasing, we had hired a proper sales staff, and the editorial product was strong (and getting stronger), but this was out of my control. Who knows? Maybe it will be revived in some form at some point or folded into an existing product, etc. There was, after all, a rainbow above downtown as I made my final rounds.

NHA resignation

After four years on the board of the Nevada Homeless Alliance (http://nevadahomelessalliance.org/), I recently resigned. I want to focus on my own Shine a Light community project, book projects, etc., and I thought the board could use some new blood. If you’re interested in being a board member of the NHA, which, among many other things, puts on the annual Project Homeless Connect, please email me. Thanks!

Crazy Good Turns

The fledgling podcast Crazy Good Turns was kind enough to dedicate an episode to me and my work in the underground flood channels. They also interviewed former tunnel resident Billy Richardson, who, as usual, stole the show. (The feature stands on its own, but also serves as a follow-up to the CrowdRise fundraiser.) I gave shout-outs to Mark Danner, Joshua Ellis, Michelle Neffke, Jason’s Deli, CityLife, U.S. Vets and HELP of Southern Nevada. I think I also said “ascribe” instead of “subscribe” at one point.

http://crazygoodturns.org/episodes/shine-a-light/

Second edition


We’re working on a second edition of my book Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas. The plan is to clean up the writing a bit and add an extended epilogue and an “extras” photo album at the end.

We hope to release the second edition next year on the 10-year anniversary of the book. I’ll keep you updated. And thanks again for your continued support!

Upcoming exhibit

“Nelson’s Landing,” the poem I posted a few weeks ago, is going to be included in an interesting, mixed-media exhibit sponsored by Nevada Humanities. I’ll let you all know more about the exhibit as the Sept. 1 reception date approaches.