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LAist Interview: Jim Pascoe

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Jim Pascoe is an author, independent publisher, and man of style. Jim and his writing partner Tom Fassbender run the crime-fiction publishing house called UglyTown. As explained in the LA Weekly's recent Literary Supplementsection on local independent publishers, Jim and Tom invented the company on a lark by printing up business cards for a non-existent novel, called "By the Balls, a Bowling Alley Murder Mystery" under the pen name Dashiell Loveless, as marketing collateral while hustling for freelance writing gigs. They enjoyed the ruse so well that they decided to actually write, publish and distribute the novel and have gone on to publish more than a dozen books by other authors.

The duo subsequently collaborated on a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" comic book adaptation and Jim continues to write for various kid TV projects. He's written several book adaptation of the "Kim Possible" TV series. His latest Kim installment, "Kim Possible: Badical Battles," a choose-your-own-adventure-style book will be released in early August.

Age and Occupation:

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I'm only 5 in dog years. The tricks I know are writing, producing, and publishing.

How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?

I've lived in L.A. for almost ten years, first in lovely Silver Lake, now in the mysterious hills east of downtown.


Why do you live in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is a magical, mythical place in which fiction is more important that reality. That suits my largely imaginary lifestyle.

What is the purpose of UglyTown, your publishing venture?

UglyTown operates as a creative collective. UglyTown partner Tom Fassbender and I have brought together our combined experience to build a family of like-minded writers who can grow and learn from each other. The visible end product may be the 25 novels we will have put out by the end of this year, but the reason for being is the creative energy we are able to harness. UglyTown is an engine.

Why did you create it and why do you think it is needed in Los Angeles?

It is always better to do something than talk about doing something. Could it be that this is truer in Los Angeles?

Are there any L.A.-focused UglyTown books?

Both of Sean Doolittle's books, "Dirt and Burn," are based in L.A., as are both of Nathan Walpow's, "One Last Hit" and "The Manipulated."

Where is the best place to write in Los Angeles?

I have developed a fondness for the coffee counters at 24-hour diners.

Where is the worst place to write in Los Angeles?

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The worst place to write is LAX. It is also the single location in Los Angeles with the most potential. Airports are horrible places, the air filled with psychology: anxiety, fear, longing, the end of relationships and the beginnings of them. It is a place where no one is home. I dream to write a novel entirely within an airport lounge. The current political landscape makes this impractical.

Do you think writers should always purchase something when they write in a café?

I can't imagine working in a space that I did not patronize.

What are the differences in writing for kids TV or animation and adult-oriented TV/film projects?

All writing is about limitations. To succeed in a project you must explode yourself within the project's limits. Everything I've done -- from licensed comic books and pulp fiction novels to my Emmy-winning work on ABC Family's JETIX Cards Live project -- has been about finding the walls around me and banging my head against them.

What's your preferred mode of transportation?

I prefer to walk. Although the automobile was invented for L.A., wasn't it? In those rare moments, perhaps only in the dead of night, when there are the fewest cars on the road, driving in Los Angeles is sublime.


How often do you ride the MTA subway or light rail?

Not as much as I would like to.

What's your favorite movie(s) or TV show(s) that are based in LA?

David Lynch's Mulholland Drive.

Best L.A.-themed book(s)?

"The Black Dahlia" by James Ellroy


Share your best celebrity sighting experience.

I grew up totally in love with Princess Leia. For many years I wouldn't date because I was keeping my options open -- I thought there was a chance, because I lived in L.A., that I would just run into Carrie Fisher at some party. Two years ago in North Hollywood, at the most unglamorous birthday party I've ever been to, a woman introduced herself to me as Carrie. The printable version: it didn't work out.

What's the best place to walk in L.A.?

The bike path along the L.A. River. The southern end, where the 110 arches high above, is guarded by a trio of homeless guys who are the descendents of Shakespeare's witches. Only the pure of heart may pass by them into the darkness of the underpass's Delphic wonders. A fantastic sight for the brave and/or crazy.

It's 9:30 p.m. on Thursday. Where are you coming from and where are you going?

I'm at home, packing up my laptop to go out to a 24-hour joint to write. I don't like to leave earlier than 10 p.m. -- I've learned to be aware of when the wait staff switch shifts so that there aren't any arguments about splitting the ticket/tips.

If you could live in L.A. during any era, when would it be?

I would live in the future.


What's your beach of choice?

I do not choose beaches. I am able to keep my skin the gleaming color of milk by avoiding the sun as much as possible.

What is the "center" of L.A. to you?

To ascribe a center to Los Angeles would be to turn it into any other city. Los Angeles is an electron cloud; individual locations are always relative and indeterminate.

If you were forced to live in a neighboring county, which would you choose? Ventura County is a wussy answer.

New York County.

If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in L.A., where/which would you choose?

I would live in the Wattles Mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

Do you find the threat of earthquakes preferable to the threat of hurricanes and long winters?

Earthquakes are fun unless you die or lose everything, in which case they are no more or less preferable to any other similar disaster. There is nothing fun about hurricanes and long winters.

Why did you grow a "John Barrymore" style mustache and what is L.A. about it?

Los Angeles is about identity, specifically individual identity. I am a chameleon, having adopted identities ranging from wig-wearing dandy and green-hair punk to my current persona of surreal aristocrat. I hope that these identities cancel each other out so that what's left is a truer essence of Jim Pascoe.

What changes do you predict for men's facial hairstyle in 2006?

More and more beards.

Los Angeles is often stereotyped as a hard place to find personal connections and make friends. Do you agree with that assessment? Do find it challenging to make new friends here?

There is a law of nature called "The High-Five Law." It is not a theory, as it's been proven time and time again. It goes: if you put your hand up and say, "high five!" to someone, they will high-five you back. If you go out and try to disprove this law, by being an ass, you will be summarily and appropriately dismissed. Philosophers would say that what forms the basis of this law is "give and you shall receive." Don't blame Los Angeles.

What is the city's greatest secret?

There are too many to pick just one. The city's charm is its wealth of secrets. They hide everywhere. Forget gold, drive down the alleys of L.A. and become a prospector of secrets.