We haven’t featured any Tenderlocals in a long time, and that’s not because of a shortage of interesting residents but more the opposite…
So without further ado, meet writer Jim Nelson, one of the best-dressed guys you’ll ever see in the Tenderloin, always wearing a coat and fedora, always looking like an intriguing character from a hardboiled novel.
As you all know, the Tenderloin has a very rich literary scene, with several reading groups and writers based in the neighborhood and drawing inspiration from it. One of such characters is Jim Nelson, who has been calling the Tenderloin home for the last six years and counting. More precisely, he lives on Geary between Jones and Taylor very conveniently across the street from the famous glass dildo store. He says he enjoys the neighborhood a great deal and has no intention to move, I mean, who would when you’ve got such rampant access to a glass dildo store (among other things)?
Jim is not only a writer, but also one of the founders of an unusual literary group, Flat Earth Collective. This is the description from their website: “for the last four years, as members of the Flat Earth Collective, Jim Nelson, Andrew Touhy, Tom Andes, and David William Hill have been subverting the notion of a writers’ group by not meeting to talk about writing. Join the conversation they’ve been avoiding”. Although it seems that their original intention was to not meet, about two years ago Jim came across an exhibit that caught his attention at Kokoro Studio on his way home. After meeting the lovely owner of the gallery, Keiko Kuramoto, they decided to start holding quarterly readings (in the first one she even sketched the attendees). The last one, which was cryptically titled “The Headbanger’s Bütterball”, took place on November 20. Although we only attended it part of it, due to the conflicting schedule of The Tenderloin Reading Series that same night, we must say we quite enjoyed it.
Jim has been writing for a long time, but about 15 years ago he gained some notoriety with a web zine (that we would probably call a blog today) named Ad Nauseam that he maintained for a few years while he was a software engineer in various Silicon Valley startups. It was even nominated for a Webby Award, in the Weird category (we wouldn’t have expected less from him). Since then Jim has published his stories in a bunch of online and offline magazines and journals, including We Still Like, North American Review, The Erotic Review, Instant City, Switchback, SmokeLong Quarterly, Watchword and Cosmopsis Quarterly. Jim has written a few Tenderloin-related stories, of course, including this one in “The Loin’s Mouth” pondering the distinction between a dive or a dump bar (a fine subject of debate for sure).
Jim tells us that he met the founder of the sadly defunct zine The Loin’s Mouth, Rachel M, while studying at SF State together. Back then, he was living in North Beach and (like every San Franciscan living elsewhere) didn’t think much of the Tenderloin. But hearing her talk about it he become interested in it and wrote a couple of articles about the neighborhood, which made him realize that’s where he wanted to live and has enjoyed it ever since.
Although Jim has several projects in the pipeline but he’s now working on a book called Everywhere Man. He says it’s a high tech ghost story/mystery set in San Francisco that revolves around the cable cars. Union Square and Nob Hill feature prominently in the story (but, unfortunately, not the Tenderloin). It should be released in September. Other projects include the novel that inspired the title of his current website, Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People. Until it gets published, you can read the first chapter here.
In case you’d like to know more about Jim, you can often find him hanging out in the neighborhood finest drinking establishments, such as the Geary Club. Don’t let the suit in a sea of frump make you afraid to approach him, he loves to chat. Also, stay tuned for the next reading of the Flat Earth Collective that should happen some time in the next few months (keep an eye on our Tender Calendar).