This 1970 noir-style detective story titillates with an engrossing story and a queer protagonist.
Joseph Hansen was a famous poet and novelist from the ’50s until his death in 2004. I had never heard of him, which honestly is strange as a gay dude living in tinsel town. He was part of the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood and was notable in the community.
Fadeout is the first in a series of 12 books in the Dave Brandstetter mysteries, which now, of course, I’m going to have to buy all of immediately. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read the rest.
Our protagonist is an insurance detective working for his father’s insurance company. He is a gruff and dutiful mid-40’s who also happens to be unabashedly homosexual. The story opens with a car accident and a missing body. Brandstetter’s company doesn’t want to have to pay the 150k life insurance policy on the man in the car because, well, his body is missing. Did he wash up in the sink somewhere unseen, or is there something more sinister going on? Of course, sinister! Everyone has secrets, and everyone seems to know the missing wannabe writer and mayoral candidate Fox Olsen. Brandstetter uses his skills of people reading and offering cigarettes to get down to the bottom of it.
Throughout the book, we’re given glimpses of Brandstetter’s life, and this is where I read with my mouth open. I’m ecstatic that Hansen could write this, a hard-boiled mystery, with an openly queer protagonist who doesn’t hide who he is. He has the typical drinks and cigs, gay flings, lesbian besties, and a penchant for dark young men. Throughout the story, you can see people around him use words like fag, flit, and queer without Brandstetter batting an eye. He watches them go about their homophobic rants without feeling the need to tell them who he is, even though a few throughout the story peg him pretty quick. He does the job, and the job is what matters. The story runs parallel with troubles in Brandstetter’s own life which gives you a good feeling of who he is.
At times there were too many characters introduced in a short time that I had trouble keeping track of who was who and how they were all related. However, it was still a fun mystery to unravel.
Or, at least, to say, I have taken the first steps to join the bandwagon. The wagon is empty. Or, not empty – you can see it filled to the brim from a distance, like a mirage. The closer you get to the wagon, the more you realize you can’t actually touch any of the stuff in that wagon. That wagon is filled with NFTs.
TF IS AN NFT?
Non-fungible tokens. You can google them for a week and barely wrap your head around what that means. It can be anything – a piece of music, a painting, or even a tweet or meme. It is sold or traded like a cryptocurrency. Unlike cryptocurrency, not all NFTs are created equal. You have probably seen NFTs’ as extensive collections of 8-bit or low-res characters that have thousands of different iterations. A single key or group of keys, made in photoshop or something similar, and mod-ed with varying numbers of teeth, tops, chains, jewels, etc. I saw one of these low-res keys going for $14; on the same page, I saw one of these keys from the same collection going for $95 million. Yes, that’s with 6 zeros.
It’s all so…well, intangible. But there is something there. Something that, once the hype dies down and the beanie-baby-style collecting of 8-bit characters disappears, could be very tangible – especially for artists. I’ve been learning for a few weeks now. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but I am trying to dip my toe into the deep ethereal waters of Ethereum; the blocks of data that are Bitcoin; the flooded market of adobe pixels with little artistic value. Through all of that, I can see a little of something in there for the rest of us.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR US?
For writing, I can see a market where I publish a book in the NFT space. I have a run of 1,000 copies that sell. I have another run with unique features like a blu ray – versions of the book with extra chapters, maps of my worlds, and languages created during my artism. Character profiles, wiki links, and mythology deep dives. It’s a place for people like me – completionists. It would be really cool to have a place where you give people unique gifts if they figure out some particular puzzle hidden in an NFT. A world where the deeper you dive into a fantasy land, the more prizes and information you can learn about the world you wrap yourself in. That sounds like a fun place. And yes, a lucrative niche for artists.
Of course, I am naïve when it comes to new things. I don’t immediately think of ways to get one over on the population and how to skim the system. Sometimes I wish I was more cutthroat in that way, but I’m just not. I don’t know how evil the crypto and NFT space could be for people, but I would be willing to bet there could be a niche in there for real markets.
FAD OR FUTURE?
One of the most exciting parts of the NFT space is that it exists on the blockchain, public and decentralized. The idea is that when a photographer does a photo shoot, everyone attached to that photo will get a percentage of the profits every time that NFT is sold. If it becomes worth more money, that percentage stays the same for everyone. The makeup artist, hairstylist, wardrobe, photographer, and model can all be attached to that publicly every time it’s sold. When you buy a book at a bookstore (I know, I’m a romantic) and then you give it to a second-hand shop, and it’s sold for half price, in the NFT world, the author would still make a bit of that second sale in the NFT marketplace.
Now, of course, in any market, nothing is stopping that person from gifting that book to someone else or taking screenshots and sending it up as a torrent, but that’s never going to change. The majority of people don’t want to go through the steps to commit thievery online. Most will buy their books on Amazon (and everything else, for that matter). Using an NFT space gives the artists more control of how much money they make on each sale than Amazon.
Regarding the digital Amazon Marketplace, let’s talk about the volatility of buying things online. None of us can see Amazon disappearing overnight. We put a metric boat-load of faith in Amazon for what we buy. Whether it’s MP3s, MP4s, JPGs, or others – when we buy something digital on Amazon, it generally exists in one place…Amazon. What happens if that movie you bought on Prime was not there tomorrow? Somehow, if Amazon goes under or disappears, your digital assets are gone. Poof. The same problem exists for NFTs…kind of.
The silly thing about NFTs now is that the main selling point being worth money isn’t even the artwork they are attached to. It’s all about that blockchain proof that you own it. No one can argue with the fact that you own an NFT when you buy it on the blockchain. Unless you sell it or trade it, it’s yours. Now, what happens if that site you purchased the NFT from disappears overnight? Not much, it seems. Suppose that token gets corrupted or is no longer accessible through its originating server. In that case, the owner can always make a new token and say that the original is corrupt. But then, is it worth the crypto it was digitized on? The bragging rights around NFTs are that proof. People can still use the artwork all over the internet and not get sued, but only that one person truly owns that digitized piece. At the moment, that means very little, but it could mean more in the future. This is what makes collecting NFTs a possible positive investment.
Iffy news, but again, with the possibility of being good in the future. Buy a band’s new album as an NFT. You can download it physically (usually in more than one format or way) and keep it how you want, instead of it only being accessible on the site (like Amazon or Spotify) and trusting that they stick around forever. This is the thing I like about the possible future for the NFT marketplace.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
It means to keep your ears open. This market isn’t new, and even though people say it’s just a fad that will quickly fade, it has been around for almost a decade and only continues to gain more traction. The news surrounding it is not great – with the carbon footprint and energy required to crunch the numbers that make the blockchain exist. With any new thing, it will change and mutate. I don’t want to be one of those old men shaking my head and refusing to use crypto when somehow it becomes the only way to buy stuff. I want to get ahead of it and learn a little about what could make this marketplace the future.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments! Have you had any experience in the NFT marketplace? What are your experiences?
A FUN IDEA: Our favorite classic authors are our favorites for a reason, but because of the times there was a severe lack of gay characters and storylines. Taking your favorite authors from the golden age of sci-fi (from Asimov to Zebrowski), tell us your favorite story and explain in the comments how you’d “queer” it up!
Look out the window,
Find a sign, find a face.
The stacks of well-worn sorrow
are paled against snow-dusted glass.
I hold my hand out to you,
Press the glass, feel my warmth.
Your home is much more than a hearth.
Spent the weekend in chilly St. Paul for Jingle Ball and stayed at the beautiful St. Paul Hotel. It had a very warm and old school feeling against the snow and biting cold of the city.
Just as I was packing for my flight to head home, I pulled open a drawer and saw their beautiful post cards and stationary. Well, I couldn’t help myself. I let my bag fall and pulled the chair out, reaching for my new pen (the one I had stolen from another drawer in that same hotel room earlier) and had to put something down.
This was a nice thing to add to the memory of my trip, so I think I’ll have to do something like this at more of the hotels I visit!
Imagine what the aurora must look like from a planet such as SIMP? A planet where the Sun would be the size of a pin head as it looked towards our Solar System.
Between definitions, not quite a planet, not quite a failed star known as a brown dwarf.
It sits, in the dark, wondering where it belongs and how it fits in to the rest of the universe.
Do you think it drifts ever closer to our family, wanting desperately to be a part of our spinning neighborhood? Or do you think it is happy to be where it is, cautiously looking on, almost invisible, as it watches the rest of the planets plunder ungraciously around a spherical fireplace that wants nothing but to burn us all to dust?
Does it have machinations of being something more? What would we see upon it if we were to sit on its surface?