Author Archives: Howard

6—The Journey continues, but

not in this format. Please forgive me. I had forgotten how awkward this site is. So I will continue my daily yoga of a Florentine museum a day, but will only share it with you in an eventual book. Which, in its bulk, will be tedious for you to read. Sorry.

5—Museo Bardini

Perfect place for a quickie before (Saturday) brunch—at my (real) neighborhood trattoria, Bella, which was the site of Nancy “Boulevard” Oakes’s first place, Avenue. Rozanne and I discovered her while she was cooking in the bar next door in 1987. Anyway, Stefano Bardini (1836-1922) “trained as a painter, became famous as a restorer, and put [...]

4—Baptistery of San Giovanni

You can’t very well avoid the Baptistery, but really we’ve got the doors in San Francisco, gracing French Gothic Revival Grace Cathedral.“In World War II, they were under the supervision of Bruno Bearzi, master founder and superintendent of the city’s art works. At first, the doors were sandbagged, then taken down and hidden in a [...]

Day 3-Badia Fiorentina

Before I visit the Badia, I want to reflect a bit on “Water Dress,” the photograph I saw yesterday. It turns out that “water dress” is a fashion meme; everyone’s designed one. But it reminds me of  Ingres:   And Man Ray:   And Fortuny:   And I wonder how many times the model had [...]

Day 2-Museo Nazionale di Fotografia F.lli Alinari

It’s like freezing today, well, 47 degrees, same as in Florence, where I’m visiting the Museo Nazionale di Fotografia F.lli Alinari, listed as the Alinari Museum. I had never heard of it when I was in Florence in 1962 and 1982, which is understandable since it opened in 2006. What I like immediately is its [...]

72 Museums of Florence: 1-Galleria dell’Accademia

I am going to visit the 72 museums of Florence online. I hope to do one a day, starting with the Accademia, which stars the David. The biggest surprise, for me, was the rooms of chalk models—I knew sculptors used clay and even wax, but I didn’t know they used chalk. But the painting that [...]

The Complete A Total Junker

the 18th and concluding volume of my metamemoir, From the Morgue, can be sampled on Amazon:    

SF Gate Interview

Evan Karp interviewed me for the SF Weekly: and for SF Chronicle:

A Total Junker

A Total Junker: metamemoir in eleven slices had just been published by Holy Fool Press, Bozeman, MT. It is comprised of twelve

Great Artists in the Great War

The Great War, which began 100 years ago today, launched the tank, the sub, the plane, and mustard gas, and toppled the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman Empires. All the Great Artists were affected by this war: The French When 1914 rolled around, Bonnard was too old

Foiled, yet again

There’s a retrospective of James Lee Byars at PS 1. I had written about our “friendship” in Art in America in 1978, and, since I’ve been looking for a venue to deploy my 1,000-foot-long roll of aluminum foil, I thought I’d do a tribute to Byars, who deployed a 1,000-foot roll of paper in a [...]

Yo Velázquez

Here’s the first page of my latest metamemoir: I arrived in Madrid, by myself, on April Fools’ and left on Good Friday. There was no fancy rationale for these dates—the first was the earliest flight I could get at a cheap rate by the time I was finally ready to buy, and the second was [...]

Serra vs. Junker

Richard Serra and I agree, I think, that sculpture is not a joke (not Hirst, not Koons, not even Duchamp, except as a limiting case). It is deadly serious, an attempt to reduce, not elaborate, toward an essential gesture. It is the manipulation of a single material—a monolith (single stone)—to define  space.


Some foils (click on images to enlarge)

Artist’s Statement

I started using tin foil because it was there. I had a roll of it in my “workshop,” which might also be called the heater room, or the passage to the mail slot, or under the front stairs.

Scholar’s Rock

Before installing a Scholar’s Rock in the Turrell skyspace at the de Young this morning,

Lost & Found

     My recent work in foil, styrofoam, sandpaper, book jackets, lumber, and found stuff:


Personally, I would be delighted to have Streep play me in the biopic, although they’re saying Swank has more physicality, and given the budget, they’ll probably go with Posey. Either Parker or Buster. Thanks for mentioning Irons, but he’s a bit long in the tooth.

Junker vs. Twitter

I applied to Twitter for a job as an Old Man. My pitch was that, although they did not list any openings as such, I could put them in touch with the past…and help them expand their hopelessly limited sense of “culture.” Foosball tables and free yoga, indeed. They did not reply. I feel that [...]

A Sleepy Intro

When I was a boy, just after the War, in Chappaqua, New York, we didn’t own many “new” books. We subscribed to LIFE and the Saturday Evening Post, and we had a World Book encyclopedia and a multi-volume study of American military campaigns; I specialized in our wars against the Indians. So I don’t know [...]

A Sleepy Hamlet

I’ve started my new book, which will turn  The Junker Quartet into The J Quintet. It deals with postwar Chappaqua, Chappaqua, the sleepy hamlet, a phrase Wikipedia uses to describe the town that inspired the eponymous (1966 druggie) film starring William S. Burroughs, Ravi Shankar, Allen Ginsberg, and The Fugs, which can be seen in [...]

O Heizer, where art thou?

Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass,” a big rock now being installed on the LACMA campus, is almost exactly the opposite of the “Levitated Mass” he did in 1969, a much smaller rock dropped into a trench in a Nevada dry lake. Nobody saw that piece in 1969 except the collector Robert Scull, who had commissioned it, [...]

AOJ Trashed

The venerable AOJ has been trashed by the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review:

The Tetralogy

I have now completed my four-part metamemoir: An Old Junker, a blognovel (2006-2010) Dear Howard, a graphic novel (1982-1986) By, the complete journalism (1965-1969) I, a typographic novel. The search for a publisher may be endless, so if you’d like to see an advance copy, just ask: junker.howard at gmail.


An Old Junker is now available on Kindle and Nook for $2.99. The fact that you can buy it on  paper for $1.25 is no excuse.

Rejection Rejected

My past continues to haunt me: in today’s Financial Times, Lucy Kellaway denounced my attempt to write a decent rejection note: “…Howard Junker, the founder of literary magazine ZYZZYVA used to return short stories with a covering letter that began: “Gentle writer, Please forgive me for returning your work and not offering comments. I would [...]

The Writing Disorder

interviews me and Amanda Field reviews An Old Junker.


Despite my best efforts on behalf of lunner, hipsters in Brooklyn, so Amanda Field informs me,  are now offering drunch. Specifically, Cafe LuLuc on Smith St.; bassackward, if you ask me.


Usually, we take our family photo at Thanksgiving, but this year Rozanne had a terrible cold, and only Madison and I were representable:                 When Rozanne was feeling better, we took the ferry to Tiburon and got shot:   So, we wish you PEACE and merry & happy [...]


Imagine my delight in taking a peek at the ZYZZYVA archive, at the Bancroft Library, UC-Berkeley. An archivist has sorted through

Dugald Stermer (1937-2011)

Dugald Stermer drew a zyzzyva for the cover of the first issue; he had no idea what a zyzzyva looked like, but nobody else did, either.

@the Mechanics’

It was great fun last night at the Mechanics’ Institute, doing my first solo. I read: Editors Anonymous, Bad Boy, Flashback, Dear Mr. President, Kay Ryan, My FB, The Fisher Collection…from An Old Junker. And, when asked what I was reading, answered (truthfully) Wilfred Thesinger’s Arabian Sands, the great late-forties trek through the Empty Quarter…. [...]

Top Ten Gift Thoughts

from the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, hint, hint: 10. Video Surveillance Clock 9. Remote Controlled Rolling

Teasing Jonathan Lethem

In his latest collection, The Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem recalls the fate of the story he hoped would allow him to break into print. It was in early nineties; he was working as the fiction clerk at Moe’s Books in Berkeley. He submitted it first to then-great hero-editor Gordon Lish,

Heizer’s Rock on its Way

A giant rock found by artist Michael Heizer is being moved, slowly, toward an installation at LACMA. In August, 1969, I observed his first Levitated Mass in Nevada. Here’s my take on the adventure. Heizer, then 25, was quite pleased to have found a 70-ton rock. which actually exceeded the rated capacity of

Pop-up Wrap-up

My Pop-Up, Site-Specific Book Tour ran for  nine days: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9. The Bay Citizen ran an interview online. The Associated Press covered the phenomenon; the story

An old street poet

As poet Jean Vengua noted in her blog: I liked the rejection slip I received from ZYZZYVA years ago. It was so


To see me reading at  the Variety Preview room, click here.

Le Diner @ SF

Friday’s all-white, flash-mob dinner at the Music Concourse in GG Park was


Click here for [Joyce Thompson's] HTMLGIANT review of AOJ.

Summer at SPD

Last summer, AOJ came in at 16th at Small Press Distribution.

Tuesday’s pop-up

started at 11 a.m., at SFMOMA, where, in the outdoor cafe, I accosted a woman from Vienna, to whom I read my take on Vermeer (last April, I flew from Amsterdam to

Coming Out

At first, I thought my relationship with Katherine Heigl, star of Zyzzyx Road, one of the lowest grossing movies of all time, would speak for itself. But, as an aspirational public figure, an author seeking to promote his book, it seems I am going to to be forced to answer questions about my sexuality and [...]

Monday’s pop-up

started at 11 a.m., at Omnivore Books, where I denounced foodieism, thence to Mission Branch, Public Library, where I read my take on Hard Times, thence to Mission Pie for some banana cream, thence past some dog shit (which you don’t see all that much on sidewalks any more) thence to UCSF’s Mission Bay campus [...]

Saturday’s pop-up

started at noon, at Whole Foods on Haight: Bodie’s grandmother, in town from Kingston, NY, requested something about “the fifties,” so I read her my piece about my classmate Skinny, who had been struck down by polio in ’54. thence to Coco-luxe: I read my take on hot chocolate to Malik, whose family’s from Palestine; [...]


As a tyro, I’m obsessed with all the trappings of authorship, even Amazon rankings. And so I was depressed that AOJ had sunk to

Rio Liang’s review

“I was quite fascinated…quite  entertaining…most interesting….surprisingly funny…showcasing a man whose various–often strongly worded–views on art, literature, and life combine to define a singular editor.” This review appeared in Ruelle Electrique in August, but has just now crossed our desk. P.S.: the portrait Liang slugs in is of the editor Felix Feneon, by Felix Vallotton—I discuss [...]

Hals of Shame

Imagine my surprise when browsing Peter C. Sutton’s 1986 Dutch Art in America to find, in his survey of the Legion of Honor: Once attributed to Frans Hals and hailed as a masterpiece, the dashing Portrait of a Man in White [you must plug in the name "Hals" to bring up the image] is now [...]

Today’s Pop-up Tour

Today’s pop-up, site-specific book tour began at 12:30 at Browser Books; the plan was to revisit the route described in the opening chapter, “Slice of Life,” a real, closely annotated day in the life, in order to make sure that the reader, who had been alerted by the three epigraphs to expect the frustrations of [...]

Culture Feed on Pop-up readings

Andy Wright of the Bay Citizen chatted with me about my pop-up reading series:

Fan Appreciation Day

Lunched yesterday at Hobee’s, which the new Vanity Fair describes, in its “Silicon Valley Exposed” sidebar, as a “sachet-scented restaurant famous for its coffee cake and for being frequented by Mark Andreessen.” My host was Harry Press, 92,

Pop-up readings, day four

On the way to pick up my noble publisher Brooks Roddan at Peet’s in Laurel Village yesterday, I accosted Candace at a bus stop. She asked  me to read something

Saturday night

Babylon Salon, at Cantina SF, 580 Sutter St., 7 pm., was heralded by an A-frame sign, in the manner of the pop-up,

Pop-up readings, day three

After another late start, arrived at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market at one. Too hungry to read pieces denouncing foodeism. Had chicken salad sandwich on green

Pop-up readings, day two

I was a little slow to get started—what was I really going to do? was it really worth it?—but I finally got my act together and, after finding no one I could approach at the Laurel Village Starbucks or Noah’s (I have a good bagel rant)…I went on to Peet’s and told Jeff, who was [...]

Pop-up readings

I began my campaign of pop-up readings yesterday. The first was on College Ave., in Berkeley, in a clothing store that had a window devoted to Audrey Hepburn. I read the clerk my piece about

Leah: Pass/Fail?

In today’s SF Chronicle, Leah Garchik’s column: Howard Junker’s new book, a collection of blog entries, is “An Old Junker.” Junker, founder and former editor of the literary journal Zyzzyva, is regarded by many – well, let’s say by me – as a person who holds strong opinions. Hoping to mention the book, and having [...]

Ave atque Vale

What a pleasant surprise to see, in the midst of all the tschotskes of this weekend’s SF Zinefest,

Amazing Amazon

It is discouraging that An Old Junker, cover price $10, is offered by one vendor on Amazon new for $4.45; however, it is encouraging that another vendor asks for $48.87 new, and another for $55.29.

9/1/11: Atta

In Atta, a brilliant novella just published by semiotext(e), Jarett Kobek channels Mohamed Atta, ringleader of 9/11, looking back on his life. “This also is my story,” thinks Mohamed Atta, “I too am an immigrant success.” Kobek’s tour de force, his writing-within-the-constraints, is not just a compelling version of the terrorist mindset, it is also [...]

Combs Over

In keeping with the ancient Sanskrit advisory to simplify my life, I chucked my combs yesterday. I had two: a pink one with a handle and a faux tortoise shell with fine/coarse teeth. eBay never entered my mind, but perhaps I should have put them in storage, until Junker House is opened to the public [...]

Vermeer: Nails & Nail Holes

I don’t know who invented the trompe l’oeil nail (sticking out from the surface of a painting); it may have been some dude decorating a tomb in southern Italy circa 300 BCE. It doesn’t matter; it’s always been a popular trope. Vermeer, though, did a great job with nail holes, especially

Shot by Michael Martone

Michael Martone, who never forgives or forgets, has ransacked memory lane to reveal evidence of a photo session with the author (in the basement of the Cliff House) while he (Martone) was visiting San Francisco some years ago to help conduct a ZYZZYVA writers workshop.

U read it here first

The NY Times reports today on a Chicago restaurant that books & looks like a theater. As  An Old Junker pointed out, in March of last year: Dinner at a restaurant is a more satisfying cultural experience than going to the theater because: There’s no service charge just for making a reservation. If you’re an [...]


After I had invented the fireplace candelabra, I went online to see what the derivation of “candelabra” might be, and then, just for the

Quiet Lightning

Last Monday, I read from my short story, “The Other Side,” in the Conservatory of Flowers with Quiet Lightning. Click here.

Mon Semblable

According to FaceR, a free iPhone app, I resemble: 1) Paul Weller, whoever he is 2) Tom Petty 3) Bob Marley This is presumably a beta reading and further

Cold Gratitude

My passion is for hot chocolate, but I was also delighted last week with Cafe Gratitude‘s quite cold “Raw Cacao Milkshake,” despite the artisanal price of $8:

Recent Events

1 August, Monday, at the Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, Quiet Lightning‘s Evan Karp previews the lineup: I read my North Dakota mountain-climbing story, my first fiction in print (photo: Julie Michelle): 29 July, Friday, 7 p.m.: Solo reading at Press: Works  on Paper, 3492 22nd St. (Dolores) Click here for a glimpse.  


D.H. in an e-mail: only on page 33. and laughed out loud twice. K.K. on Facebook: I’m in a swoon over my favorite old Junker. DeWitt Henry reviewing on Amazon: Amongst the charm, the spleen, the flapdoodle and lived personal and literary insights there are two deeply moving thoughts of mortality that are worthy of [...]

Staff Recommends

Meanwhile, I bet  you can’t guess where this guerrilla marketing stunt took place:

Melchester Cathedral

Never mind why Jude is called Obscure or why I was reading that grimmest of late Victorian horror stories. Although I will tell you why I googled “Melchester Cathedral,” because it was bringing me down. Melchester Cathedral You’re bringing me down You stood and you watched as My baby left town You could have done [...]

Hard to See

Michael Kimmelman bemoaned the poor visibility of the Last Supper last week in the NY Times. The Mona Lisa, of course, is the worst. Always surrounded by crowds that have streamed through the approach corridors (oblivious to the several Leonardos, etc. on the way). With flashbulbs reverberating like gun shots off the protective plastic. The [...]

Pie vs. Cake

I’ve always known myself to be a pieman, and that self-knowledge was reaffirmed by last Saturday’s Cake Contest  at Omnivore Books. There were some good ones. (Click and then click again to enlarge.) But they were, after all, merely cakes. It’s the difference between crust and icing. Between filling and “cake,” gluten-free or not. A [...]

One-martini Lunch

The author and the publisher enjoyed a one-martini, celebratory lunch at Spruce yesterday. There were also a few business details to discuss in as much as the publisher is headed off for the summer to his ranch in Wyoming tomorrow afternoon. Shared were: a Caesar, graciously pre-chopped; plus GOLDEN POTATO GNOCCHI MAITAKE MUSHROOMS, PEAS AND [...]

Launch Party

At a party at the publisher’s home in the Presidio yesterday, the author listens pensively as the publisher makes some introductory remarks. Readers follow along as the author reads out loud. After signing a few copies, the author pauses, sighs in relief.

O Dogshit

A dog was shitting on the sidewalk, so I asked its owner, who was standing by with a blue plastic dogshit bag, why she didn’t pull him over to the curb or the bushes. I can’t control him, she said of her ancient tawny Lab. But he’s on a leash, I observed. If I interrupt [...]

Ai Weiwei, Jeff Nunokawa & Me

Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009 was published earlier this year by MIT Press; it covers the same period as An Old Junker. In the July 4th New Yorker, Rebecca Mead reported that Princeton English prof Jeff Nunokawa offers a daily “note” to his 3,000 Facebook friends (mostly his students). He began [...]

How Blogging Saved My Life

I never could have written a book without blogging it first. A book seemed too large an effort, too comprehensive. Maybe a “book” is not as awesome a thing as it once was, but for most of my life it seemed like something other people could do, but I would be well advised not to [...]

Take a Seat

Instead of sitting around all day reading Stone Butch Blues (an incredibly powerful book I had somehow missed, but was reminded of by a Pride Week list of books-that-meant-the-most-to-me), I went down to Fort Mason to see the Seat show. My fav, the exquisitely crafted Japanesque-environment by Paul Discoe (double-click on image to enlarge):

An Angry Old Man

There were Angry Young Men when I was young, but they were mostly British. Perhaps I could be an Angry Old Man now, if I promised not to be crabby. Reading Jeffrey Henderson’s introduction to the Loeb Juvenal and Persius made me think satire is the way to go: Juvenal presents a character who seems [...]

The Danielle Steel House

Many American writers, from Poe through Welty, have had their houses preserved as shrines. Now that her kids have grown, the doyenne of San Francisco writers, Danielle Steel, has mostly moved to Paris. She still goes to the dentist, sees her lawyer, and writes in The City, but… as she explains in her blog…. Perhaps [...]

Bring the War Home

I am tired of our Young Adults (SLGBTQAs) fighting in weird time zones in inclement weather against foes who are driving around in pickup trucks, when they’re not schlepping through the boonies. I am no pacifist and I am not soft on terror, but for the theater of our next military incursion, I suggest North [...]

Matthew Stadler

Matthew Stadler launched his twelve-city book tour last night at The Hub, an incubator space in what used to be the offices of the SF Newspaper Agency on Mission at Fifth. This morning, the NY Times frontpaged a story on how indie bookstores are now charging admission for “author events.” Stadler charged $60—for a copy [...]


It’s hard to be cynical enough when dealing with Big Tobacco, but take a look at the Altria ad in the current Atlantic. There are some gray, that is, brown, areas we should not look too closely at, but, there are also some colorful, humanistic, deeply concerned areas we should focus on. Such as “recognizing [...]

The Long View

I ran into my old friend Dale in the shower at the Koret pool last week. He swims with the Masters (and, a few days before,  had  made another ride for AIDS to L.A.). (I  swim after the Masters finish, to get to the other side.) We’d met in 1978, standing next to each other [...]


I made my debut as an author, reading at Peri’s, one of the great dive bars of Marin, on Tuesday, May 17th. The official title of the event was “First Draught: Pints & Prose.”  It was organized by the Tuesday Night Writers. In my allotted five minutes of open mic, I acknowledged the featured reader, [...]