Book I. Employment History. November 1 - November 25. 45,000 words. Marriage, the death of parents, the birth of children. Jobs. From laborer in a feldspar mine to senior information development specialist, Lucent Technologies. Born, died, in-the-service. Like Trollope's chronicles. Begin editing anthology Adventures in the Underground for Postcards From Pottersville series from Pottersville Press. Sign books at a table at Books-A-Million with three Pottersville Press authors. Relatives come to town for Balder and Jennifer's wedding. Gerald and Del are already here, staying with us, Hurricane Katrina evac from Slidell, Louisiana. Brenda bakes a six-layer wedding cake. I do a drop-in, meet-the-author event at a fan's house. I schedule a book-signing at Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama, for January.
Book II. Education. November 26 - December 21, 2005. 51,000 words. Public school, military training, industrial schools. University, graduate school, the College of Hard Knocks. Gerald and Del go to Mobile for Thanksgiving. They hope to have a FEMA trailer set up in their yard in Slidell. We eat Thanksgiving dinner at The Lake Place restaurant, and have their signature crab bisque soup. Brenda cooks a turkey the next day. Jodi eats with us and tells us about her trip to Paris. We watch a Korean movie, Oldboy. Gerald and Del come back a day early. Their FEMA trailer will be on site within 20 days. Might as well stay here for Christmas and New Years. We go to see the Seaside Rep production of Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, starring Craige Hoover, directed by Laley Lippard. The last production we saw was Laley Lippard as Sylvia, directed by Craige Hoover. Teance Selfridge, who was Patsy Cline's pal Louise, in Always...Patsy Cline, is painting sets. Sam Bush sits in with Electric Dread at a private party. Sam and Balder tear it up. Brenda tapes Oprah on Letterman for Del. "You're so beautiful, your career's so hot." "You're so beautiful, your career's so hot." A love fest. I revise EMPLOYMENT HISTORY, making it a memoir, in the first person, taking out the dates, the query letters, some of the questions for the anthology. Like Charles Willeford, writing Something About a Soldier as a novel, then deciding it is autobiography, and changing the names back to the names of real people.
Book III. Honors and Awards. December 23 - January 6. 29,000 words. Attaboys and gotchas. Del flies to California to visit her grandchildren for Christmas. Gerald hears he has a FEMA trailer being hooked up in his yard. I send Dan Roth the first three pages of HONORS AND AWARDS. 2007 is the 50th reunion of our high school Class of '57. The Class of '57 had its dreams.
Book I. I Drive to Fairhope, Alabama. January 6 - January 16. 21,000 words. I drive to Fairhope, Alabama, to sign books at Page and Palette Bookstore. In planning what this book will be like I see that it is followed by I DRIVE TO OJUS.
Book II. I Drive to Ojus. January 18 - February 28. 103,700 words. I decide to write a book for my 50th [high school] class reunion, next year. As research, I plan to drive down to the Everglades Bluegrass Festival, hosted by the South Florida Bluegrass Association, and held at Ives Estates Optimist Club, off Ives Dairy Road, in Ojus, Florida, and tent-camp. The book is mainly prose vignettes about how I went from loving bebop to loving dawg music, and how I became a vernacular writer instead of becoming a mainstream writer. An explanation to my classmates. An accounting of my stewardship. There are also some poems, essays, letters to friends. We go to see the Lewis Family at a church on Transmitter Road. Little Roy loves Owen. I attend booksALIVE 2006! and have a book-signing table, at Gulf Coast Community College. Brenda and I attend a Joe Bell Memorial Pick-in in Andalusia, Alabama. Joe Bell was 66. My age. His kids grew up with our kids. At bluegrass festivals. See that READFEST 2006 combines with BLUE-COLLAR REDNECK and the next book, FLORIDA WRITER, to form the three-book series Underground Writer Makes Good. Like Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man. Butcher Shop Press asks to see a manuscript of poems from The Daily Bulletin. [Reference ro secret project redacted.] I send Bobby Bradford a Bukowski Never Did This, a copy of Root Doctor, and a CD of The Saunders Brothers: The Doghouse Sessions and he sends me two CDs, Purple Gums and Bobby Bradford and the Mo'tet Live at the Los Angeles Museum of Art. I realize I am not writing to justify my life to the Class of '57, The Class of '57 Had Its Dreams, but to the men I was in the Air Force band with in Waco, Texas, in 1957. Did any of my classmates become avant-garde musicians or underground writers? No, they wanted to be dentists, CPAs, doctor's wives, lawyer's wives. They wanted to get a secure job with a big corporation and make napalm until they retired to shop, dine out, and play golf. Fuck the Class of '57. I lived my dream. I get to Ojus after dark, and try to put my tent up in the rain. I look like Buster Keaton, or William H. Macy hitting his windshield with the ice scraper in Fargo. I leave the tent in a sodden heap and drive up the interstate in search of a motel room. I stay at the Boca Inn, a red-dot motel on Federal Highway. Decide to drive over to Pahokee, Belle Glade, and Clewiston, see old football-rival towns. Stay at the historic Clewiston Inn. Visit Fisheating Creek. See Gatorama. [Reference to secret project redacted.] A lot of memories come back for the next book.
Book I. Florida Writer: A Life Under Erasure (Sous Rature). March 1 - March 27. 41,000 words. FLORIDA WRITER is my 275th book. [Reference to secret project redacted.] I call it my secret project, like Marcel Duchamp working on his last assemblage, Etant donnés: 1. la chute díeau 2. le gaz díéclairage, in secret. The Winter 2006 issue of Forum: The Magazine of the Florida Humanities Council is called Cracker Country, and has articles on cracker music, cracker cuisine, cracker architecture, an interview with Patrick Smith, who won a prize for his historical novel of three generations of Florida crackers, A Land Remembered, ads from the University Press of Florida and Pineapple Press, repeated rejecters of my multigenerational cracker novels, but nothing about me, Jack Saunders, Professor of Cracker Studies, Emeritus, like the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry leaving me out, the real outlaw is the one left out of the Outlaw Bible. Professor of Cracker Studies? Are you nuts? The Florida cracker is prima facie a racist, a sexist, and a homophobe. Who says so? Someone with a race, gender, or sexual preference card to play. Eh, what? Hell, Lawton Chiles called himself a cracker. I realize I am a Rode Scholar. Rode hard and put away wet. Possibly driven over a cliff, like the buffalo. My book takes the bit in its teeth and bolts. I hang on for dear life and try to enjoy the ride. My last road trip, I went and saw for myself, reported back what I found. When I got home, the village burghers didnít want to hear it. They couldnít see from their angle of vision what I could see from mine. Thatís pretty much the definition of a Rode Scholar. He went on the ride. Now he has to pay for it. My LDA grant is running out. Iím in a horse race with disaster. Last Ditch Attempt. The year I gave myself to sell Bukowski Never Did This and write about how that went. I rode around. Watching Larry McMurtry accept an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain, I decide to give myself a Lifetime Achievement Award, for my Body of Work. In case I donít live long enough for the National Book Awards to do it. I say that Stone Hick is writing BROKE-DICK DOG: REFLECTIONS ON APPROACHING 67. Then I see that itís a Team Wuppie Award, and should include Brenda. There is no I in team. This changes the whole focus of FLORIDA WRITER. Itís not how Stone Hick was stopped, or erased, itís how we prevailed, in spite of attempts to stop us, or erase us. Itís nonfiction and fiction. And poetry. And raw footage for a screenplay. Brenda and I drive to Fairhope, Alabama for the 54th annual Arts and Crafts Festival and share a book-signing table with Timothy Weeks. They are related. He knows all of her fishermen relatives and she knows all of his. He is selling The Wise Mullet of Cook Bayou, a childrenís book he wrote, illustrated by his mother. Itís rated at reading level 3.5, but has a few advanced vocabulary words. I tell customers Bukowski Never Did This is rated High School Drop-Out, but has a few autodidact words. I sell one copy to Weeks and one to a pedestrian. Brenda and I eat at Gambinoís, on Mobile Bay. The ULA invite me to participate in a Howl protest at Columbia University, April 17, so I write a pamphlet for the occasion, Yawp. I write a pamphlet of poems to read, and give away, at the Gallery Above, in Panama City. No Oprah. No Oprah complements Yawp. A sort of a one-two punch. I watch Bukowski: Born Into This and the additional material on the DVD. I wonder, What would he have written in the absence of a career? The years from 50 to 60 were good years for Bukowski, and the years from 60 to 70 were very good years. What if he never had a good year? Would he have gotten crabby and hung-up about rejection? Would anxiety about money have killed him? Could he have continued to write, and work at a job that ground his guts to glass, and drink, and not make one red sou, writing? How long could he have kept doing that? I am doing that. Well, I quit drinking. And I sold Bukowski Never Did This. But Iím running out of money, and Iím scared, discouraged, and at a loss for what to do. Wouldnít you be? Wouldnít you?
Book II. I Accuse. March 24 - April 19. 30,000 words. Brenda and I go to SpringFest in Live Oak, where Dread Clampitt are playing. They close the show Sunday evening. [Reference to secret project redacted.] I refuse to be erased. Instead, what was hidden in the closet will be shouted from the housetops. The ULA plan to picket the 50th anniversary of Howl reading at Columbia University featuring Mark Doty, Ann Douglas, Margo Jefferson, Philip Lopate, Rick Moody, and Jason Shinder, and invite me to attend. I write Yawp and No Oprah for the event, to hand out. I thought that FLORIDA WRITER would take two months to write, but I finish it in March and have April to write I ACCUSE. That will make seven books in six months, but the last two books are short. Man, these guys are playing into my hands. Iíll be like Jesus throwing the moneychangers out of the temple. Woe unto you hypocrites, lawyers. Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. I write a third pamphlet, Free Speech, and combine all three pamphlets into a chapbook called FREE SPEECH. I add an afterword, "Afterword." I buy a new used car, a classic land-shark station wagon, an Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser SL, and have a CD player installed. I put new tires on Brendaís Japanese pickup truck and have the front end aligned. [Reference to secret project redacted.] Brenda and I drive to South Walton County and interview Jennifer Steele, Woodie Long and Dot, Eileen West. Stan opens Eat-Rite Produce & Fruit Co. and has a Home Grown Emporium, featuring local artists, including me. The manager of Sun Dog Books orders copies of Bukowski Never Did This from LitVision.org. I read at an open mike night at the Gallery Above, and Brenda films it. I hand out copies of the three pamphlets of FREE SPEECH. I continue writing the fourth pamphlet, Afterword. I fly to New York for the ULA protest of the symposium on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Howl. I make up a flier of "Howl Protest Talking Points." A single sheet. Iím a sheet writer. Shee-it! Afterword goes on and on. I rename FREE SPEECH.. A GOOD SCOUR. From a chapbook to a short book. A meditation on howling, a banshee keening, a ululation, like Bobby Bradford taking 30-minutes solos, one fertile phrase generating the next fertile phrase. The Howl protest goes well. I fly back to Parker, Florida, and begin my job search. I started writing POTTERFEST. I am pleased with the way Underground Writer Makes Good turned out. Itís a leviathan, a white whale, ramming the brick stone wall of the worldís indifference with its head. A coelacanth. A living fossil. Thar she blows!
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