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Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective now on sale


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Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective
AIDS and Class Warfare

By Ginger Mayerson

ISBN 9780982581346; 176 pages

It’s 1984 and Hackenbush’s broken heart is on the mend as she assists the very roguish, but devastatingly charming theater director, Monte Vista, in his last and greatest production. Mabel Hackenbush, better known as the singer, dancer, ukulele player extraordinaire, and front woman for Dr. Hackenbush and her Orchestra, has taken a chance on love and lost. After an epic binge, she can’t sing, won’t dance, and can only get through the day by focusing on her temp secretary job. Add in all this, the band has a big show coming up that Hackenbush might not be able to do in her current state of mind. Could this be the end of Dr. Hackenbush and her Orchestra? Into this dire situation saunters Monte Vista, theater maven supreme, who says he wants Hackenbush to help him write his memoirs. But for what he really wants… well, Hackenbush will have to call in reinforcements for that. And even then the outcome isn’t a sure thing.

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Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective Sample Serialization Part 6 of 6

“News travels fast,” she said. “That’s what I get for betting on Lola Rae to do anything sane.”

“I hear she’s comin’ back,” Cody said.

“Figures. You gonna come see me in my suffering?” she asked.

“I might fall by. Arty said he’s tired of being the only Negro at his nightclub.”

Hackenbush shrugged, but Ross thought it was funny.

“He said that? Hell, Cody, maybe I should come by, too, except lute music gives me hives,” he managed to say between guffaws.

“Laugh it up, cats, at least dinner comes with the gig and you know how good the food is there,” she said on her way out. Eddy was packed up and tapping his foot waiting for her to get with it. They went back to her place; she’d spent part of her afternoon cleaning it up and changing the sheets.

Hackenbush was going to be on a tight schedule that week. Her temp job in Glendale ended at five; she had to get home to Echo Park, warm up, change into the modest and severe black silk jersey gown she’d picked up secondhand, which she now thought of as her “recital” dress. Then she had to be in Pasadena at seven to sing art songs with the lute-playing rocket scientist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The bet she’d lost was that Lola Rae and Mark Wilson would stay together even if Lola went to dance in San Francisco for a month. Hackenbush had bet on love and lost because Mark took a gig in Japan and left town a few weeks later; Lola still wasn’t back. Hackenbush could be forgiven: she was in love herself and her judgment was a little off. But off in a good way, it was “La Vie en Rose”, something she’d never believed in, much less thought would ever happen to her.

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Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective now on sale


Where to buy: see sidebar

Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective
AIDS and Class Warfare

By Ginger Mayerson

ISBN 9780982581346; 176 pages

It’s 1984 and Hackenbush’s broken heart is on the mend as she assists the very roguish, but devastatingly charming theater director, Monte Vista, in his last and greatest production. Mabel Hackenbush, better known as the singer, dancer, ukulele player extraordinaire, and front woman for Dr. Hackenbush and her Orchestra, has taken a chance on love and lost. After an epic binge, she can’t sing, won’t dance, and can only get through the day by focusing on her temp secretary job. Add in all this, the band has a big show coming up that Hackenbush might not be able to do in her current state of mind. Could this be the end of Dr. Hackenbush and her Orchestra? Into this dire situation saunters Monte Vista, theater maven supreme, who says he wants Hackenbush to help him write his memoirs. But for what he really wants… well, Hackenbush will have to call in reinforcements for that. And even then the outcome isn’t a sure thing.

Ginger Mayerson lives in Los Angeles, California. She’s published in the Coe Review, Roux Magazine, The Velvet Mafia, and The Journal of the Image Warehouse. Originally trained as a composer, she now writes novels, poetry, essays, reviews, interviews, makes collages, and edits the Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society and publishes books and magazines at the Wapshott Press in her spare time. You can find the Hackenbush scene at www.hackenbush.net. Or you can get the whole story at www.gingermayerson.com.

Putting my Hackenbush where my mouth is. Or someting

I will be donating $10 to First Book for every four copies of any Hackenbush novel sold. That’s a book for a book.

I’ll also be keeping a tally on the sidebar.

Getting books to kids who don’t have any is a wonderful thing to do and I salute First Book for doing it. Now, if there was only a way to get a ukulele to every kid…

Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective Sample Serialization Part 5 of 6

“How?” Shorty asked. He was a big fan of the willowy, blond dancer, but knew she had certain eccentricities and gave them a wide berth. One of them was that she mauled Hackenbush every chance she got.

“She grabbed my hair at Bart’s Bar and Grill to tell me she liked the way I sang ‘Moonglow’,” Hackenbush said, opening her VW Bug’s door for him. “She could have just told me, but no, she had to bend me nearly backwards to tell me.”

“Well, we are talking about Lola Rae, aren’t we?”

“Yes. Thank God Cody held me up while she did it.” Hackenbush shuddered at the memory. “I might have been snapped like a twig.”

Shorty didn’t comment on Hackenbush’s un-twig-like figure; few twigs of his acquaintance had quite so many curves as she did. He merely smiled, and said he figured Lola was in the Bay Area for good. “She’s knocking them dead up there.”

“Dancing?”

“Of course!”

She dropped him at his new place in Hollywood. It was a nice apartment in a deco building on Bronson. She wondered how he could afford it and she suspected he was being kept, but was too arrogant to ask him. Besides, if he wanted her to know what he was up to, he’d tell her; until then she’d pretend not to give a damn.

Shorty had mixed luck with the men in his life; they were either givers or takers. Hackenbush thought Shorty was a great guy and could never quite figure out why he couldn’t find a man that was a bit more balanced and settle down. “Count your blessings, Hackenbush,” she reminded herself as she merged onto the 101 Freeway south. “Not everyone is as lucky as you and Eddy.”

That night the band played a wedding reception in Marina del Rey. Hackenbush tried to put the idea that she might have one of these one day out of her head.

“You looked nice tonight, Mabel,” Cody told her when they were packing up.

Hackenbush had on her basic-black-combat-casual-job evening gown; legions of waiters had spilled drinks and food on it and it all came out in a cold water wash on delicate. “Thanks, Cody, I do try to look nice at these jobs,” she said. “How’d I sound?”

“You sounded nice, too.”

“Just nice?”

“It’s just a casual, Mabel, save it for the gigs,” Cody said, zipping his bass cover up. “I hear you lost that bet.”

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Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective Sample Serialization Part 4 of 6

Hackenbush was happy; dear God, at last she was happy. All the years of scuffling, starving, working day jobs, suffering, and moments of pure musical bliss, followed by long stretches of creative growth, when all the work paid off and the music was as free and easy as breathing. In all those years, she’d always felt threatened, scared, and watched her back. Shorty was the first person in LA she felt safe enough with to let her guard down and relax a little. And now Eddy: Lordy, did that man make her feel safe and loved. She carried the warmth of his arms through the hours without him. His embrace was the home she thought she’d never find, and she knew it would be there when she got back to him. His love was one of the few things outside of herself she could count on. It was always something to look forward to at the end of the day, there was Eddy Lee, home, and all the peace and love in that.

She had thought that when she found this kind of love, she’d understand all those happy songs. It was not the case. No song could capture what she felt, not even words and music could do it justice. So, she reasoned, either what she had with Eddy was unique or this kind of once-in-a-lifetime love was just bigger than thirty-two bars and a verse could express. Hackenbush now had a better understanding of the dark songs of lost and hopeless love. She felt she knew more about them from her observations of others’ emotional shipwrecks and her own varied and personal experience. She still sang those songs, they were some of the greatest songs ever written; but she now sang them with more hope than tragedy, in an effort to tell her audiences that life is sad, but it might not always be. She kept the message subtle, because she didn’t want to get bashed in the face by some heartbroken poor devil who hated her for her happiness. And Hackenbush could dig it: when she was really down, the last thing she wanted was to hear about somebody else’s joy. It was petty of her, but there it was.

“What’s Ross gonna do?” Shorty asked.

Ross shared a house with Eddy and Hackenbush hadn’t really thought about what he’d do when she moved in. “I dunno, d’you think he’d want my place?”

“Echo Park is a lot different than Mid Wilshire.”

“Well, he’s a big guy, he’ll work it out,” she said gathering up her things. “Are you coming to see me in my servitude tomorrow night?”

“No, but I’ll get there one night,” Shorty said, holding the door for her. “One doesn’t hear you sing art songs very often.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“You should know better than to bet on Lola Rae,” he said.

“I was betting on love, Shorty, Lola just happened to be involved,” she said, sourly. “Although I should know better than to have anything to do with that crazy woman. Six months ago she nearly broke my neck.”

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Dr. Hackenbush Gains Perspective Sample Serialization Part 3 of 6

Shorty was a patient soul and Hackenbush loved him dearly for it. He made her look like a better dancer than she was and made her into a better dancer than she thought she could ever be. So as not to provoke him and because she really was interested in this complicated new dance he’d concocted, she only smoked half her Pall Mall. “Okay, boss, I’m back on the clock,” she said, picking a shred of tobacco off her tongue.

Shorty giggled and turned the metronome back on. He worked them hard for another hour and then they had dinner at a Thai place across from the Samsara School of Oriental Medicine on Third near Rampart.

“You think I ought to let those Chinese doctors stick pins in me, Shorty?” Hackenbush asked over a plate of panang curry. “My right shoulder and thumb are killing me.”

“I think you type too much, Mabel, and should carry your purse on your left side,” Shorty said.

“Yeah, maybe,” she said. “I’ll be typing less when we start the new gig next weekend.”

Shorty’s mouth was full, so he just nodded. Eddy and Mabel had landed the band a peach of a long-term, high-paying gig in Santa Monica. A good room for music and dancing and it was a chain of hotels, so they might be in the money for quite a while. “We can all save a little money on this gig,” he said when he could.

“I’ll be saving a little money when I move in with Eddy,” she said. “You know what they say about how two can live as cheaply as one. I’m giving my fucking landlord notice next week.”

“Hey, congratulations! I would dance at your wedding, Mabel.”

“You dance at everything, Shorty, my wedding would not be exceptional. Except that it would be my wedding,” she murmured. She was distracted with toting up the check, adding 23%, and dividing it in half. “And don’t jump the gun so fast, darlin’, we’re just moving in together.”

“Well, it’s nice,” Shorty said, digging in his wallet for money. “You really love this guy, don’t you?”

“‘Deed I do, Shorty, ‘deed I do.”

They smiled across the table at each other. Shorty had seen her through some ugly, tawdry affairs, one or two married men (until she finally learned that there really is no trouble like another woman’s man), and months of snarling celibacy and borderline man-hating. He occasionally wondered why she didn’t just switch to women, but the lesbians that made the rare pass at her were politely, but firmly, rebuffed. Shorty figured Eddy Lee got in under her radar because they had a foundation of mutual musical respect to fall safely in love on.

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