Decker will debut his first-ever book on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 9 p.m., at none other than Ocean Beach bar and music venue Winstons, 1921 Bacon St.
Published through Puna Press, “Barzilla” is a collection of what Decker calls “hack poetry,” with cover artwork by David Lonteen. Each poem stays true to the voice Decker has developed through his CityBEAT opinion column. Decker’s humorous and often morbid prose speaks to life’s truths about death, romance and a dog named Rusty who sends postcards from Europe.
Decker moved from Monroe, N.Y., to San Diego in 1986. He worked as a bouncer, D.J. and M.C. at The Bacchanal. His passion for writing and music led him to start writing professionally for Slamm magazine in 1988.
Decker has written for The San Diego Reader, The Union-Tribune, No Cover Magazine, Modern Drunkard and Smash Magazine. During his journalism career, he has interviewed musicians and artists such as Henry Rollins and Gary Numan, he said. However, it was his time as a bartender and master of ceremonies that provided fodder for what would become the CityBEAT staple. Sordid Tales of a Bartender in Heat first appeared in the monthly music magazine, Slamm in March of 1997, according to Decker’s Web site, www.edwindecker.com.
The column originally told of bar scene misadventures and comedic stories, said Decker. When San Diego CityBEAT bought Slamm, the column expanded its scope to include local and national topics and the title shortened to Sordid Tales.
“It became a column about the world, highly satirical, on the fringe [since] bartenders tend to be fringe citizens,” Decker said.
Through his column, Decker has tackled issues such as gay marriage, eminent domain and religion. He unabashedly pokes fun at the absurdity of society with a dry wit that has made him the object of death threats from time to time, he said. An advocate of individual liberties and free speech, Decker pushes the boundaries of social issues. When most political commentators would handle sensitive topics like homophobia with surgical tact, Decker’s affinity for political incorrectness reads like a refreshing dose of blunt force trauma.
The Nov. 2 column pushed the envelope with a searing, insulting, inflammatory and profane rant against President George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for embedding an anti-online gambling measure in a port security bill. But behind the incendiary language lies a well-crafted message, which is the whole point of the column – it’s not just fluff.
His liberal viewpoints have gotten him in trouble with the anti-defamation league, he said. Yet pushing the boundaries to get people thinking is what Decker is all about.
“I would rather you hate [my work] than just not care about the issues” Decker said.
Decker has recently reduced his Sordid Tales workload from a weekly to a biweekly column to accommodate his other writing endeavors, including “Barzilla.” It has given him the time he needed to finish his two novels, he said.
However, Decker hasn’t completely left the bar scene for the book club. He can still be found working as the karaoke M.C. on Tuesdays at 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach. In an Oct. 18 Sordid Tales column, Decker remarked how he has given up drinking alcohol in an effort to lose weight. Except for a few occasions – his book signing, the upcoming release party at Winstons and a New Year’s tradition – Decker said he won’t drink until he accomplishes some of his personal and professional goals. He said he is a little concerned, however, about the effect a reduced tolerance the alcohol will have on his ability to sign books for readers that night. It would be interesting to line up all the books at the end of the night and see the gradual declining of the quality of his signature, he said.
For $12, patrons, fans and barflies who attend will receive a signed copy of Barzilla and enjoy live music from Superunloader and Sweet Tooth.
For more information on obtaining a copy of Barzilla through Puna Press, visit www.punapress.com. To read Sordid Tales, visit www.sdcitybeat.com.