Do It Yoíself (DIY)
Beat Poet: A Writing Life Outside the Mainstream
I. FAILED WRITER: THE SECRET LIFE. 39,000 words. The 11 published books and a few of the more important pamphlets. ďAre you our custodian? Do you have a secret life?Ē The books are herky-jerky because I wrote them while working full-time, or being the houseperson in the home. Being a househusband interferes with oneís concentration. Think of Tillie Olsenís Silences. I didnít fall silent but it affected my style. Short bursts were the best that I could do. In Bukowski Never Did This I called a section ďOrts.Ē Scraps, or leavings. The pink squiggles an eraser leaves. Most people brush them off. I leave them in, like a palimpsest. I called a book Erasure once. Or maybe it was erased. Under erasure. Theyíre trying to wash me away. Sous-rature. Under erasure. Bunch of Goddamn dancing-masters.
II. OUTSIDE THE OUTSIDER. 16,000 words. The stages of life I went through while writing on the side, as an avocation, almost. The theme of Beat Poet is vocation and career in conflict. The achievement came instead of a career. Thatís how I did it. Created a body of work, my stack, invented a form to present it in, daily typewriting, found an audience for daily typewriting, my coterie of steadfast readers, the Buzzard Cult, and discovered a medium to get the work out to the Buzzard Cult through, self-published pamphlets and a web site on the worldwide web. Iím not immobilized. I went places. Fairhope, Alabama, and Ojus, Florida, to Page & Palette bookstore. To a bluegrass festival at an Optimist Club on Ives Dairy Road. I went to Philadelphia for a book-release party for Bukowski Never Did This and to New York City to protest the 50th anniversary Howl celebration, No Fake Howl! I went to Seattle when my mother died and to Vermont when my brother died. I went to the Seacrest Athlete Reunion in Delray Beach and ate breakfast at the Clewiston Inn en route, remembering principal photography on the movie Cracker Jack. Iím not a cracker Iím the last beatnik. (ďThe Last Beatnik,Ē Steve Glassman, address to Florida College English Association (FCEA), Florida Southern College, Lakeland, Florida, 2006.) I add the subtitle The Poster Boy for Marketplace Censorship to Beat Poet. As Nixon said, it isnít censorship if the marketplace does it. What is it? Natural Selection. Supply and Demand. Primal Forces. The Censor was the Roman magistrate who took the census. There is thus a normative dimension to what is hailed and what is banned. It varies through space and across time. But one thing that always is banned is telling the truth about the censor. The 1%. Book publishers are the 1%. Beat Poet is a stink bomb lobbed over the transom. It smolders in the slush pile like a stealth fart. A courtroom creeper. Whatís that smell? Tear the doors loose from the doorjambs, Whitman said. Let in some fresh air.
III. CHILDREN OF THE DIRT. 11,000 words. I attend the opening of Margo Russellís show, String Notes and Brush Strokes, at an arts center in Troy, Alabama. How do you spell Andalusia? Let him go and weíll catch him again down around Opp. Our kids and Margo and Joe Bellís kids played together at bluegrass festivals, growing up. They called themselves the Children of the Dirt. Theyíre grown up now and have families themselves. Theyíre not in jail or strung-out on drugs. They didnít blow themselves up in a meth-lab explosion. Theyíre not Republicans. Theyíre not the 1%. 2012 is going to be my year. Iím going to occupy myself. Like a cinder. Go out in a blaze of glory. Denser and more concentrated. Iím tamping myself down into a tiny ball, a book-sized introduction to my oeuvre, my stack, my Rube-Goldberg, madcap-titan-of-the dustbin. I read Harvey H. Jackson IIIís The Rise and Decline of the Redneck Riviera. Gerald said he never ate in a fancy restaurant that was any better than a soda cracker. Now thatís Cracker Power, realizing that. Iíd rather have fried mullet and cheese grits than lobster thermidor. I can afford fried mullet and cheese grits. Probably nobody wants to hear me say, ďShit used to be blacker and richer.Ē Probably Iím just old and cranky. I quit my job and wrote a blog. So what? Quit your job and write a blog. If they fire you and blacklist you, so much the better. Theyíre going to fire you and blacklist you anyway, you might as well write a book.
I. ARCHEOLOGIST. 17,000 words. A friend loans Balder a beach house in Indian Pass and he takes a week off with Rowan and a friend, to swim in the surf, fish, cook out, and walk on the beach. We go down on the weekend to hang out. I think about how my training as a dirt archeologist affected my approach to writing, and how, for me, the Redneck Riviera runs along Highway 98 from Nut-All Rise to Foley, Alabama, with side trips to Tallahassee, where I dug at the Old Capitol, and to Ochopee, where Brenda surveyed Big Cypress Swamp. Possibly on up to Andersonville, Georgia, where I excavated the stockade at the Civil War prison and wrote a paper on it. It was so long ago.
II. KNOWLEDGE WORKER. In progress.† I write agents and editors query letters about Do It Yoíself (DIY).† May I send you a proposal?† Do you have a platform?† If you are denied admission to the guild itís hard to break in.† Your bona fides havenít been vouched for.† Anyone can say he is a writer.† I join Facebook.† I didnít know how many Friends I had.† Itís like VD.† Youíve slept with everyone anyoneís ever slept with.† You lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.† I wrote the great American novel at a web site and nobody knows it.
III. PENSIONER.† 5,000 words.† In ten years at the house I worked two six-months jobs and one three-month job.† Facebook gets me mail from people who want me to join Linkedin.† Linkedin wants a password I donít want to give them.† I stepped in a pile of shit I canít extract my foot from.† Also, MyLife is after me now.† Whose life?† I donít want to go to my high school reunion.† I hated high school.† Why would I want to go to a reunion?† Iím practically the Vietnam vet living in the bushes.† I have post-high school stress syndrome.† Post-college, post-graduate school, a robocall wanted me to go back to school and I said, ďIím 72 years old, Iím on social security, Iím not going back to school.Ē