Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"No Alternative" by William Dickerson: Excerpt, Guest Post, Book Feature and GIVEAWAY!!

Today I welcome William Dickerson to Now is Gone.  We have a book feature, excerpt and giveaway here, so let's start, shall we?

NO ALTERNATIVE is a coming-of-age drama that drills a hole into the world of suburban American teenagers in the early 90's.

Thomas Harrison is determined to start his own alternative band, an obsession that blinds him to what's either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his little sister, Bridget. Bridget boldly rejects her brother's music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers, by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta' rapper named "Bri Da B."

NO ALTERNATIVE probes the lives of rebellious kids who transition into adulthood via the distortion pedals of their lives in an era when the "Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll" ethos was amended to include "Suicide" in its phrase. 

COMING SOON!! No Alternative Tour with a huge TOUR WIDE Giveaway! Contact for more information!!


"A sympathetic coming-of-age story deeply embedded in '90s music. Reflective, unafraid of big-picture pronouncements--'nothing is more do-it-yourself than suicide.' The cool, casual tone results in knockout diagnoses of the '90s teenage condition: 'You feel older as a teenager than you will ever feel in your entire life.'" -Kirkus Reviews

"The novel--with its clear-eyed glimpse into the lives of a troubled family--satisfies." -Publishers Weekly

"Simultaneously brutal and funny, caustic and caring, 'No Alternative' is a sacrament to be shared by all the survivors who grew up at the tail end of the fragmenting century." -Jack O'Connell, author of "The Resurrectionist"

Now, before I tell you all about William Dickerson, let's take a look at a most interesting guest post he had provided to me today.  Oh, I also want to mention, while I can, that I will be reading and reviewing No Alternative at some point.  So be sure to watch for that!  Now, a guest post!

To Tattoo Or Not To Tattoo? That Is The Question

I’ve often said that if I ever made it big as a rock star, I would get a tattoo. 

It’s a bit of an empty threat, considering the chances of me, or anyone really, becoming a rock star are so infinitesimal that it’s almost not worth the breath to even suggest such a thing.  This sentiment of mine is literally echoed by some of the characters in “No Alternative” –

“Would you ever get a tattoo?” Connor asks.
“Maybe,” Thomas replies, nervously.  “You?”
“If we make it big, I’ll get a tattoo.  Not sure what, but I’d get something.”
“Where would you get it?”
Connor slaps the inside of his left forearm, where he’d shoot heroin, if he were into that stuff.  “Right there.  So I can show it off when I play.”
“Dave Grohl has one there.”
“And Dave Grohl was a guitarist before he became a drummer.”

Even still, I’ve had my eye on this for a while:

It’s the image most associated with Nirvana; if they had a logo, this was it: a smiley face with crossed out eyes and a crooked mouth.  I would get it on the underside of my wrist, I think, and it would be small. 

Tattoos are fascinating, not only as an art form, but also as a commitment.  They become, quite literally, part of your body.  Some people are attracted to them as art, some as fashion, some as personal mission statements or memorials for those they’ve lost.  There has been a recent dustup in the film industry over tattoos on film.  Basically, if an actor’s on camera and he or she has a tattoo, the producer must get the permission of the tattoo artist to feature the design on screen.  Without permission, the artist has the right to sue for copyright infringement.  The precedent for this was just set in a lawsuit against the producers of THE HANGOVER 2 filed by the tattoo artist who created Mike Tyson’s famous (or infamous) face tattoo.

The artist, S. Victor Whitmill, claimed ownership of the copyright; and therefore, the producers needed his permission to replicate the design on actor Ed Helms’ face.  The case settled out of court, presumably in Whitmill’s favor, and this raises some interesting questions.  In light of this, producer friends of mine have been taking precautions on sets, covering up actors’ pre-existing tattoos with fake tattoo designs that they have previously cleared for use on screen.

What about satire?  What about fair use?  The tattoo on Mike Tyson’s face is synonymously associated with him.  So much so, that merely seeing it on Ed Helms’ face, outside of any context, conjures the image of Mike Tyson in most viewers’ minds.  Not just Mike Tyson’s tattoo, but Mike Tyson himself.  Tyson and his tattoo are one in the same; no one can really argue against that, it’s literally a part of his skin.

I grant Whitmill and others who agree with him that in this case, the design is one step removed.  He created the design, he created it for Tyson, and now someone else is wearing it in a commercial film.  However, what about Tyson himself on screen?  What about other actors who appear on screen with their personal tattoos visible?  I’m assuming most actors who have tattoos did not ink themselves; they likely hired an artist to ink them.  What are the ramifications of being commissioned to create art and then having clients showcase that art on screen without the artist’s permission?  Normally, the artist would have a solid claim of infringement.  But, here we have art that has become a part of the client’s body itself. 

Who owns it then?  If there’s ever a good reason to claim ownership over something, it’s when that something is a part of you.  It doesn’t get much more clear-cut than that. What about when the color fades, or the design stretches as skin stretches over the years?  The body itself is altering the image, is contributing to the art…the body as co-artist, co-copyright owner.  When the canvas is a living, breathing, evolving organism, it is as much part of the art as the inked portion of the art is, if not more so. 

So, is a tattoo a statement of one’s individuality and freedom, or are we being scammed into paying others to use our bodies as canvases for their paintings? 

If I were to get the Nirvana “Smiley Face” tattoo, would I be expressing my individuality, or would I be arresting it?  More importantly, in the future, would I potentially have to pay royalties to the band, their corporate subsidiaries, and/or the graphic designer of their logo?

Some really interesting things to think about!  As a person with lots of body art, I have to admit this is something I have thought about; the next tattoo I have planned I found in a book, so I sought out and obtained the permission of the author of the book, the book's publishers, AND the artist who did the drawing. Now I just need the money to actually do the tattoo!
Now, let me provide you a bit of information about our author, before I finally let you read the excerpt!

William Dickerson graduated from The College of The Holy Cross with a degree in English and received his Masters of Fine Arts in Directing from The American Film Institute. He is an award-winning writer/director whose work has been recognized by film festivals across the country. He recently published his first novel, “No Alternative,” and completed his debut feature film, DETOUR, which hits Theaters and Video On Demand (VOD) this year. He is currently finishing up his second feature, THE MIRROR.

He is hard at work on several new feature films and is writing another novel. In his spare time, he creates music for his band 9068dash39.

He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Rachel, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Duet.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, the EXCERPT! (and don't forget the giveaway at the bottom)

No Alternative, Excerpt 2


William sips a cup of instant coffee at the kitchen table, reading the Sunday Edition of The New York Times. It’s not that he dislikes coffee beans; he simply acquired a taste for stirring grounds into a steaming cup of water, because this was how they did it in the army. He’s a creature of habit, a man who is happy with routine. He’s also a sitting Supreme Court Judge, in the Empire State of New York, and he sits at his head of the table as though he’s on the bench. He looks the part, he always looks the part, minus the robe. He has just settled into enjoying this weekend ritual when crunching guitar and thunderous drumming reverberate through the walls, circumventing the insulation, shaking the foundations of the house. He removes his reading glasses, looking up with subtle disdain.

In the lush backyard, Thomas’s mother, Maureen, waters a flower garden. If Martha Stewart was a hippy with a biting sense of sarcasm, she’d be Maureen. Noticing the impending noise, she halts the hose. A small poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel skitter around her. The dogs of the privileged. The King Charles was bred to warm the bed of the King of England, and warm the bed it did. Now they warm the beds of American politicians. The perfect lap dog, foot and leg warmer, cursed with a mouth filled with absolutely terrible teeth, either on account of generations of inbreeding, or on account of their British birthright.
Meanwhile, Bridget listens to rap music in her bedroom, her foot pumping anxiously at the base of her easel, as she continues to labor over the sketch of fruit. Bridget likes rap because her brother hates it, because her family hates it, her friends hate it. Thomas tried to sell her on the idea that if music is defined by the counterbalance of melody and rhythm, then rap is not really music, since it contains no discernable melody. It’s nothing more than performance poetry set to rhythm. As if some grunge-addled white boy is in a position to define the merits of rap. Bridget, on the flipside, sees it as the most daring of contemporary music, full of energy and anger and perfectly expressive of her own teen angst. But is she really in any position to define it either? She stares blankly at her sketch. She hasn’t made much progress. She feels like she’s having trouble focusing. Understandable, given her nature. Bridget’s appearance is neat, she’s at least showered this morning, but her room is an abject mess: grimy plates tilted haphazardly on something that must be a desk; empty packets of cereal; half-full mugs of coffee; shattered pieces of saltines; pencils stuck in the ceiling, suspended above her like stalactites; globules of glue adhered to the fibers of her wall-to-wall carpet; a suspension bridge of empty Gobstoppers boxes connecting her dresser to her windowsill, just waiting for the wind of her presence to surge past and upend it.

Hurricane Bridget.

Posters of assorted hip-hop artists line the walls – Wu-Tang Clan, and their 36 Chambers, ain’t nothin’ to fuck with – and a spirited hamster, Bumpy, runs in a caged wheel on a shelf. Bridget erases an edge of a peach, which she’s added to the apples, then stops, distracted by the repetitive assault of garage rock blasting from below.

“Fucking hell.”

She cranks her rap music all the way up, adding insult to aural injury. Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” promotes rawness, but in no way is that rawness associated with the low-end his clan produced in the studio. Unfortunately, the bass from Bridget’s modest tweakers isn’t nearly substantial enough to provide adequate consolation, but she bumps her boombox to the max anyway. It’s the intention that matters to her.
In the garage, the scene of this domestic disturbance, Thomas pounds the skins of his new drumheads as Connor strums a hand-me-down Fender Stratocaster, its distorted sound driven through a decent combo amplifier, solid state, but doing its best to replicate the sound of vintage tubes. They play the same three chords over and over again, religiously, immersing themselves in a blanket of unadulterated noise. It feels like only this vibration exists, as though nothing else flows within the winds of this world. If all of humanity is connected by one underlying force, the unity proposed by followers of Yogis worldwide, surely it’s connected via the vibration of the electric guitar. B, to C, to E minor. Power chords, the index and ring finger, clamping down on tinny and tiny strings, sliding from fret to fret, as if charting the path toward sonic salvation. Or oblivion, the apocalypse, depending on your point-of-view and taste in music.

The overhead light in the garage flickers on and off, three times in regimented intervals, as though William is trying to communicate a message in some kind of covert Morse Code, as he had once done as a soldier in the jungle years ago. Thomas and Connor cut the song short and look up at Thomas’s ‘rents, perched at the top of the small staircase. Maureen squints down at the teens.

“What are you guys doing?”

“We’re playing,” Thomas says.

“Can you play softer?”

“Not really…loud is the whole point. You said it was okay, Mom.”

“I didn’t know that Tinnitus was part of the deal.”

The youngsters just stare at their elders, who in turn, stare back at them, a Berlin Wall of understanding between these people.

“If we’re going to be forced to listen to you, how about playing something we like? Or at least know?” 

Maureen asks. “Do you know any Grateful Dead?”

“Don’t you have to be on acid to enjoy that stuff?”

William, who’s trying real hard to let Maureen do all the talking in this situation, can’t bear it any longer. He chimes in, ominous and monotone: “Thomas…”

“You guys have one hour,” Maureen says.

The parental units leave the teens to their order of business. Thomas and Connor erupt into a fit of laughter. Thomas turns to Connor, egging him on, “Turn that shit back up, man, and make it louder.”

Connor grins like a spoiled little kid, “Fuck the Grateful Dead.”

Thomas smacks his drumsticks together, firing off a four-count, launching them into the throes of the next song. If you can call it that.

Very cool, huh? So, finally, here we are... the giveaway. Thanks for reading, this is your reward!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: Now is Gone is not responsible for providing the prizes for this giveaway.


  1. Thank you SO much for having William on your blog today! I want something to do with books, for sure, for my next one but it is going to have to be thought about a lot. I have many pieces myself and I think the next one will be behind my ear and I am pondering a small tiny book but .. it is still in thought! Thank you again!

    1. Hey, I am always happy to have quality content like this!

  2. There was an issue with a guy who had the rights to a tattoo on a UFC fighter when it was reproduced in a video game as well. Seems crazy that the tattoo artist retains artistic rights even though it is on someone else's skin.

    1. If it is a custom creation of that artist, then yes, to me it makes perfect sense they retain the right. Think of it this way: When you ask for a custom piece of art, like a painting or a sculpture, the artist retains the rights, correct? In the late 1990s I became acquainted with an artist and offhandedly mentioned to her that I'd love a painting of Winged Isis. A few weeks later, the artist sent me a .jpg of a painting she had just finished based on my request and offered me the original painting. One could say she made that painting for me (I did buy it), but she still retains the rights and sold postcards and small copies of the painting. To me it's the same with the tattoos.

      Still seems a little crazy with the movie thing, but I guess if they figure Coke can receive a payoff for every time a can of Coke is shown on-screen, why not do what they can for their own payoff, right? LOL

  3. NO ALTERNATIVE does look fantastic. A great post thank you.

    1. Thanks for dropping in and commenting; and if you signed up for the giveaway, best of luck!


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