OLD FOLKS AT HOME: A FLORIDA CRACKER'S SUNSET CRUISE
Book I. Florida's Forgotten Coast. May 18 - June 10. 34,000 words. A travel book, a restaurant guide, with hints on ecotourism. A wine tour of Northwest Florida, like Sideways. A trip down Memory Lane. Longing for the old plantation. The darkeys in the song didn't long for the plantation, they longed for the old folks at home, on the plantation. They longed for kith and kin. Compare uncouth. Uncultured, crude, boorish. White folks ain't like us. Book I is a cultural ecology of the mullet culture, in which I visit Indian sites I dug, places I worked, applied for a job at, was let go from. Retired to.
Book II. Florida's Emerald Coast. June 11 - June 16. 10,000 words. I see that Book II is about the corporate cubicle dot-com culture, which I contrast with the mullet culture. I worked in the corporate cubicle dot-com culture, and most of the people who are moving to Florida's Emerald Coast, or come on a visit, work in it.
Book III. Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. June 17 - June 28. 27,500. The relation between, or among, Americana, or roots music, folk, or self-taught art, and vernacular writing. Also more about the corporate cubicle dot-com culture's relation to affirmative action. Nobody working for a living ever owned a plantation. A dead horse isn't being flogged, the wrong horse is being flogged. This is Nixon's Southern Strategy, and it still works.
WHITE FOLKS: OUT OF STEP WITH THE TIMES
Book I. Inside Underground Writing: Two Zine Fests, a Hootenanny, and a Side-Trip To Paradise Garden, With a Death in the Family, in Between. June 28 to August 2. 50,000 words. Brenda and I go Hurricane Dennis evac to Tallahassee; I write an essay on the creative writing program industry; my first book-length book in 18 years, Bukowski Never Did This: A Year in the Life of an Underground Writer and His Family, is published by LitVision Press; I fly to Philadelphia for a book release party at the Medusa Lounge, sponsored by the Underground Literary Alliance (ULA), who hope the event will be like the reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, where Allen Ginsberg first read "Howl;" I give a workshop on DIY publishing at Philly Zine Fest 2005; my mother dies, and I fly to Seattle, where I deliver the eulogy at her funeral; Brenda and I drive to Atlanta for Zine-A-Polooza 2005, where I am on a panel on Marketing, Promotion, and Distribution and I am interviewed for a short documentary on the underground zine, comics, and indy-prod music scene; we go by the Everett Brothers Music Barn, in Suwanee, to see Owen play fiddle with David Davis and the Warrior River Boys; we stay with our neighbor Jodi and her mother Meggie and her sister Lisa in Dahlonega (Jodi and Meggie went to Everett's Barn with us); we go by Paradise Garden on the way home, where the chairman and chaplain of the foundation to renovate the park, Rev. Col. Tommy Littleton, meets us, lets us in, and gives us a tour. As I was on the road so much, the book contains a lot of poems, journal entries, prose vignettes, and letters to people about the logistics of a career as an underground writer: how to get from here to there on a shoestring budget. You deal in herds of cattle, as Thoreau said. However, anything you have to do, as Rahsaan Roland Kirk said, you have to go on and do yourself. Or, as William S. Burroughs told Jesse Bernstein, "Keep it in the family. Stick with your friends." We see the book take shape, as it finds its keel, tacks, and takes off up Harrison Avenue like a new sheet of canvas, tearing, or the fart of a fisherman who was becalmed in the horse latitudes and had to eat dried beans for two weeks.
Book II. The College of Hard Knocks. August 2 to September 26. 127,000 words. I start out writing UNDERGROUND WRITER: A LIFE OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM and JOURNAL OF A MEMOIR concurrently, like John Steinbeck writing East of Eden and Journal of a Novel, concurrently, but as separate books. Then, about halfway through, I combine them, name the book IN ORDER OF COMPOSITION, WITH NOTHING LEFT OUT, and alternate sections "Memoir" and "Journal." Writing a memoir and a journal of a memoir isn't new, but posting them on the worldwide web, daily, as you write them, is. So fresh it smokes, as Uncle Warren said of the turkey shit. I attend Folk Fest 2005 in Atlanta and sell Root Doctor and Dread Clampitt at the booth of Big Chief, Spirit of the Ya Ya Ya. And I reserve a table to sell books at Oktoberfest, downtown, on main street, Harrison Avenue, in Panama City, September 30 - October 1. Balder and Jennifer buy a house in the historic district of DeFuniak Springs. Gerald and Del come stay with us during Hurricane Katrina. They can't find out about how bad their neighborhood in Slidell was hit because no one can get word in or out, but it looks like there was flooding. They are both a mess, psychologically, and we wonder about Larry and Hazel, who are incommunicado. We think they stayed put. I buy the video D. I. Y. or Die: How To Survive as an Independent Artist and the book $30 Film School, by Michael Dean, and think about going into desktop filmmaking next, after I finish writing IN ORDER OF COMPOSITION, WITH NOTHING LEFT OUT. That is, I see the relation between underground writing, Americana, or roots music, folk, or outsider art, and independent filmmaking. I am part of a do-it-yourself subculture. A 34-year veteran of it, in fact. A master, you might even say. Emerson called Thoreau "the Captain of a Huckleberry Party." The ant's a centaur in his dragon world. I am a presenter at the Gulf Coast Writers and Storytellers Conference, on the subject of "The Literary Novel as an Experimental Form, Combining Genres." I sit on a panel with an agent and two other independent publishers. Answer questions on alternate ways to publication. I change the name of IN ORDER OF COMPOSITION to THE COLLEGE OF HARD KNOCKS, with an epigraph from Scott Nearing. "In the College of Hard Knocks, an expulsion is often a promotion." Owen comes down to play fiddle on a track on Dread Clampitt's new album. He asks me to sell his paintings at the next outdoor art show I do. The Saunders Family: Folk Art, Roots Music, Vernacular Writing. The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Tradition. Make Your Own Beer. Corn Your Own Grouper. Write Your Own Book About It. I read Pat Walsh's 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might and write him a five-page, single-spaced, response.
OLD FART IN SPACE
September 28 - October 31. 34,000 words. I order Ron Androla’s Poet Head: Selected Poems, 2001-2005. 250 8½ x 11" pages, single-spaced. Very impressive. I assemble COMING OFF, THEN GOING BACK ON SABBATICAL: POEMS FROM THE DAILY BULLETIN, SEPTEMBER 2003 TO SEPTEMBER 2005. 400 8½ x 11" pages, single-spaced. Equally impressive. I do Oktoberfest. The Northwest Regional Library System Director, George Vickery, asks me if they have all my books. I say, "No, sir." He says, "Bring them by," so I compile a bibliography, and take him what I have. I pitch THE SALVAGE ARCHEOLOGIST OF FLORIDA’S CO-OPTED COASTS: 38 YEARS OF GRACIOUS CRACKER LIVING to Mike Lister, Pottersville Press. I start pitching THE COLLEGE OF HARD KNOCKS to literary agents as the book that’s going to break me out of the underground and cross me over to the mainstream. The library classifies Bukowski Never Did This as 818.5203. Literature written between 1900-1945: Diaries, journals, notebooks, reminiscences. I see that WHITE FOLKS is a book in two parts, rather than two books. I had been calling them A Birthday Present to Myself: A Pair of Books About the Writing Life. I give WHITE FOLKS the subtitle OUT OF STEP WITH THE TIMES. I edit WHITE FOLKS so I can pitch it as a separate book, with a book before it, OLD FOLKS, and a book after it, OLD FART. Old Folks, White Folks, Old Fart. A natural evolution in my acceptance of my status as writer’s writer, whom mass market publishers, and agents who submit to them, screen work for them, aren’t interested in. I call the series Overtaken by Events (OBE): Barnstorming for Poetry Along the Redneck Riviera for Six Months. I pitch COMING OFF, THEN GOING BACK ON SABBATICAL to Rank Stranger Press, who published Poet Head. I pitch OLD FOLKS AT HOME: A FLORIDA CRACKER’S SUNSET CRUISE to Dan Simon, Seven Stories Press. I am invited to be a contributing editor of an anthology, Postcards From Pottersville, from Pottersville Press, ADVENTURES IN THE UNDERGROUND. I start contacting people about submitting to that. I revise THE COLLEGE OF HARD KNOCKS, to send to Larry and Hazel, for the archive. What to write next? I start writing RACE, SEX, AND WORKING FOR A LIVING: A REMAKE OF THE SEQUEL. For awhile, I embedded parts of that book—prose vignettes, mostly—into OLD FART IN SPACE, then I split them up, as Current Book and Next Book, at The Daily Bulletin. The Lifestyle section of the Panama City News-Herald does a feature on local writers and their new books and leaves me out. No local bookstore is selling my book anyhow. What would they say—you have to see the author walking the streets of his native town with his book in a musette bag? You have to drive to a secondhand bookstore in DeFuniak Springs? Maybe if you see him at The Red Bar in Grayton Beach on Sunday between noon and 3:00 p.m. he’ll have a copy. The significance of the musette bag is everybody else carried a backpack, and I call it a Gokey bag like calling a kit with your shaving gear in it a Dopp kit. I buy Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall. Monk really deserved the success he was enjoying (1957). For six years he couldn’t play in New York City because the police pulled his cabaret card. Being able to play regular made him play better. Just like being able to write full-time made me write better. I can’t complain about not being able to write full-time when I am writing full-time. I can’t complain about my books sinking without a trace when my latest book won’t be flushed down the commode but keeps bobbing back up, like an obstreperous turd. A Senator. Nine wrist-rings long. Old Fart lives! RACE, SEX, AND WORKING FOR A LIVING: A REMAKE OF THE SEQUEL turned out to be a novella, "Homage à Pulp," and a collection of poems, "The Beet Poet Tour." "Homage à Pulp" was like the old Ace Doubles pair of novellas, back-to-back (dos-a-dos). Only a single. 15,000 words. What do you do with a 15,000-word novella? Write another one. Or 100 pages of poems. Or 30 pages of poems and a 90-page screenplay. Change the subtitle of RACE, SEX, AND WORKING FOR A LIVING to A NOVELLA, A PAMPHLET OF POEMS, AND A SCEEENPLAY. Dread Clampitt’s new CD, Geaux Juice, comes out in time for MagnoliaFest. It sounds good. Brenda and I and Gerald and Del go to a couples shower for Balder and Jennifer at Mike and Gayle Kent’s in Destin. Their wedding is only three weeks away. The screenplay turned out to be 60 pages. I change the subtitle of RACE, SEX, AND WORKING FOR A LIVING to A THREE-RING CIRCUS. Finish the screenplay and this book on the same day, Halloween. Some unresolved events will go in the next book, or books: Balder and Jennifer’s wedding, what happened to my various unpublished, or underpublished (or published) manuscripts. Whether or not I died.
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