Imagine a low, dilapidated stage. A fog machine is workin’ overtime and there’s a knee-deep mist. A disco ball creaks as it spins. For some reason, the room smells like corndogs. A green glitter curtain rustles as a hand reaches to a side-tabled iPod. Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades” roars into the room. The curtain rustles further, and then ... there’s a stumble.
Or is it a somersault? Either way, I appear on the stage. Mildly sheepish, ear-blushing but makin’ French eyes at you, Durango.
Hiya! I’m Patty. I’m a writer who loves historical oddities and rock shows. I’m a bookworm, a storyhound and a honky-tonk lover. Along the way, I’ve been a reading teacher, a bartender, a novelist, a public librarian, a go-go dancer, a discount theater concession stand worker, an acquisitions editor for “Black Gate Magazine,” a demented dentist at a haunted house and a late-night diner waitress. Some people call me The Dread Templeton; others shorten it to Dread. More often than not, folks just yell, “Templeton!” Say it with a smile, and I’m bound to answer to just about anything – unless it’s “toots.” You can take your “toots” and shove it.
I’m from Chicago. Being fresh to town, I’m lookin’ to make friends. So far, I know approximately two people – one is a fabulously kind barista and the other is my boss. So let’s glad-hand! I may look shy or appear quiet, but seriously, let’s talk. Better still, let’s dance. I’m a horrible flailer, but I enjoy bouncing about. I’m not joking: You wanna shimmy in a hallway? I’m your gal. You wanna dance at a gig where no one else is moving? Find me. You carrying an ’80s boombox down Main and want a street corner skanker? I’m there.
When I’m not at DGO, I’m likely to be found nerding out at a local bookshop, curled up on my couch bookmarking small mutts in need of adoption, drinking copious amounts of tea while pinning cabin porn, dancing in front of my microwave to The Cramps or writing fiction at a coffee shop. (If you’re interested, my first novel was an 1880s ghost story called “There Is No Lovely End” and my current work-in-progress is a short story collection based on union and labor songs.)
Books and music are my life. I’m writing this essay while listening to David Bowie. When I go home, I’ll finish reading Carlos Hernandez’s debut short story collection, “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria.” I cloak myself in the arts – or maybe in these trying times it is accurate to say that I arm and shield myself with the arts. I feel intensely privileged that I’ve been given the opportunity to write for DGO Magazine as its new staff writer. You’re a small town, Durango, but you’re big on culture and I can’t wait to dive into your story-pond.
If you really want to get to know me ... it all began at the Frankfort Public Library, in a town far, far away somewhere south of Chicago. Not sayin’ I was birthed there, but truly, that’s where I got my weird from. At 9, the library allowed me to put my formidable troll doll collection in the display case for a month. They let me wander through whatever stacks I wanted at whatever age. Most importantly, they had a forever-running book sale. It was there, at 14, that I bought a copy of Dan Mannix’s “Step Right Up!”
“Step Right Up!,” alternately titled (or sometimes subtitled as) “Memoirs of a Sword Swallower,” opened a wide world of what-the-hell that I didn’t know existed. It begins:
“I probably never would’ve become America’s leading fire-eater if Flamo the Great hadn’t happened to explode that night in front of Krinko’s Great Combined Carnival Sideshows.”
This strange, strange man chose his profession based on seeing the job’s former occupant blow up? I had found my tribe. Peculiar reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, showed me that you have to make your own magic in this life. We gotta work for our wonder. I learned to take risks. I became a Curator of Curious Histories and Burrower for the Bizarre. I knew that I wasn’t necessarily the type to act out the fantastic, but I could write about it.
It started with reading about eccentrics and oddballs. It became searching out the side-lined or ignored corners of history and modern day. I’m drawn to writing about glister and grit and I want to know what makes you tick. I want to know what matters to you, Durango. I want to praise your art, promote your shows and find the folks who have a story they need told. Please, give me a holler. I’d love to hear from you.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, to steal from Stan Lee ... EXCELSIOR!
— Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer