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Monday
Oct152018

Thomas Fuller Writer dot com

My writer friend Thomas Fuller has his own handcrafted blog:

https://www.thomasfullerwriter.com

Since neither Thomas or I do social media (unless Google qualifies)--no Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram--this is about the only place I could think of to notify my readers (and my readers are his readers) of his coming out.

You might enjoy Thomas's writing. I know I do.

Sunday
Oct142018

When Tennessee Williams met Jimi Hendrix

I'm sure that Tennessee Williams and Jimi Hendrix would have been great friends, now that I know a little bit about each of their lives, and that they were destined to meet one another in their afterlives.  

Hendrix, a much younger man, unfortunately dies before Williams and therefore is unable to warn Williams of the dangers of taking too many drugs and of mixing drugs with alcohol, as Williams might have warned Hendrix of the destructive nature of corporate greed when applied to the life of an artist.

Williams would have been good for Hendrix and Hendrix for Williams.

I hear Williams saying to Hendrix, "don't take that gig in London..." or, "you really don't have to make that record, it's just too much pressure..."

And Hendrix saying to Williams, "man, you can't keep drinking a quart of vodka and taking Seconal and shooting up that other shit..."

They're in New Orleans or, rather, in New York City, getting ready for an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, sitting backstage in a room full of exotic potted plants. They like one another instantly, two geniuses, both of whom know they'll die before the other. 

The last thing Williams says to Hendrix is something about the role of Fate in history--to not discount it by thinking you can understand the present moment.

Hendrix then tells Williams that he, Williams, is the one who's had the luckiest life. 

Photograph: STAR movie theatre, Stayton, Oregon, 2016. From the author's private collection.

Tuesday
Oct092018

Living quarters: guest blog by Blair Roddan

Thinking back, I often think of where I have lived at different stages of my life.

I moved out of my mother's house when I was 20. She'd started charging me rent! Her reasoning at the time was that she would not have a two-bedroom apartment if it wasn't for me living there. At my age then I really didn't understand, but that was her logic. Being kind of rebellious at the time, I went out and searched for an apartment. I found a "bachelor pad"--one big room with a bathroom, refrigerator, hot plate and a closet. What else could a single guy want? I created the illusion of extra space by placing a couple of concrete blocks and running wooden slats above them as a room 'divider,' which also had the added advantage of sort of hiding my bed and providing a little 'storage' area.

After about a year in the 'bachelor pad' a good friend of mine wanted to cohabitate, and I upgraded to a one-bedroom in the same apartment building. After all, I could afford it since I had another person to share the rent. It was there that I built a sofa and my roomate made cushions for it. Neither of us were rich, but we always made do and were proud of our efforts. Alas, we each went out separate ways.

So it was on to another 'bachelor pad', this one in Santa Monica. My dear friends Bunky and Elda were managers of an apartment building there and suggested that I move in. It was slightly more spacious than 'bachelor pad' No. 1, and had two entrances. I was on cloud nine!

In 1979 I moved to Las Vegas and rented a one bedroom apartment. It wasn't fancy, but adequate. Although it had a pool, I never swam in it. 

In 1981 I had met a couple that owned a duplex. They had a one bedrooom available for rent and I grabbed it. It seemed so spacious and private. When I got married in 1983 I carried my bride over the threshold there. But certain circumstances arose and we had to move. We opted for a new apartment complex that was in the process of being built. We could check out the progress daily. That was a lot of fun for my wife and I. When we finally moved in it was terrific. We were the first ones to ever live in our unit!

We lived there for only a few months, I'm sorry to say. The company I was working for transferred me to Orem, Utah. We rented a nice two bedroom condo there. Our son was born soon after, but we only spent a couple of months in Orem as I was quickly transferred back to Las Vegas.

Back in Las Vegas we rented a two bedroom apartment for awhile, since we'd started a family.

As I remember it, 1986 was the year we bought our first home. It was small, though well laid-out. Total square footage was 955. We lived in this house for 9 years. But our son was growing by leaps and bounds and soon it was time to move once again.

So we bought a two-story home that seemed like a mansion to us: three bedrooms with 2 1/2 baths. It had a few faults that we thought we could overcome. After 4 years there, we found we couldn't overcome them and decided to look for another house that we could call home.

We looked at many properties with our real estate agent. Our house had sold quickly so we were under some intense pressure to find something. The minutes I walked through the front door of the house we eventually bought I could see the three of us living there. My wife was at work at the time and I called her to say, "I think I've found the house of our dreams." The owners accepted our offer and here we are, 18 years later!

A house is just a structure, isn't it? It's the individuals living in it that make it a home. Wherever we've lived my dear wife has always been able to make a special familty atmosphere.

Please take stock of your living arrangements. Ask yourself, 'is it just a house or is it a home?' It's a home if it's where you feel your heart wants to and should be; it's a place if you can't remember it at all or if your memory of it is indistinct or if you have no memory of it at all.

It was fun for me to recall the places I've lived since I left home so many years ago. What a wonderful, moving, emotional trip it's been. I invite you to go home-by-home through all the places you've lived in and discover what you think and feel about each place now.

Sunday
Oct072018

Mavis Staples & Butch Hancock

Two days at The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park...

 

Day One: two thoughts after Day One: 

1) is all we've accomplished since the 1960s--civil rights, pro-choice, antiwar--been for nothing?

2) if The Right has won as it seems to have won, why doesn't The Left retreat but insist on being left alone?

 

Now, please listen to Mavis Staples doing "Slippery People", much as she did it on Day One.

 

Day Two: no thoughts, just sit in the sun and listen to a all-girl bluegrass band and then to The Flatlanders.

Butch Hancock, guitarist, The Flatlanders:

"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in Hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on Earth and you should save it for someone you love."

Mavis Staples and Butch Hancock: proof that there's nothing quite like the beauty of mixed messages.

Tuesday
Oct022018

White male privilege

Some people are simply superior and as a result are permitted to suffer from insomnia. 

I'm pretty sure the preponderance of insomniac's are male: I'll confirm on Google.

I'm an insominac, an insufferable insomniac who's made peace with his insominia, looking myself in the eye at 2:40 a.m. or 3:17 a.m. and saying to myself, "it's ok, you're doing the best you can."

Sometime during last night's morning I was reading Deborah Eisenberg's new collection of short stories, Your Duck is My Duck (HarperCollins, 2018). Eisenberg is what they now call in the lit trade, 'a writer of sentences,' which seems to me just another way of saying, 'a good writer,' being pretty sure myself that Chekhov for instance, or Maupassant, were never called writers of sentences, though they certainly were, for so many of Eisenberg's sentences are really good, no, they're very good. For instance the last sentence of her story "Cross Off and Move On", which begins "He took my hand with such sweetness" is stunning, as is this sentence that graces her story "Merge":

Beyond the apartment's walls, in the night sky of his closed eyes, little lights charted the streets and broad avenues, the apartments and clubs of late revelers, the tall towers, where five or six guys he knew, guys only a few years ahead of him, would be toiling, even at this hour, in their big chairs, the vast windows of their offices overlooking the city, overlooking the planet with its mines and wells, its fields and great waterways, as they steered Earth's course by the graphs and instruments of their predessors' devising into the hidden future.

A veteran insomniac learns how to move from the writing of Deborah Eisenberg (incidentally, she's a writer not only of sentences but also of long short stories or short long stories) to something that might actually put him to sleep, a book of non-fiction about the rise of the Far-Right in the United States, which must have in some strange way prepared me for this breakthrough: I finally understand the rise of Donald Trump!

Unprepared for the answer to the question I've been puzzling over for several years now, unable for the life of me to understand the appeal of a man like Trump to people so unlike him, I scribbled some notes in the margins of Democracy in Chains so that I wouldn't forget my Trump breakthrough.

I then prepared myself for sleep, first Googling Insomnia, Men and Women to find that women are far more likely to be insomniacs than men.

Do Men Drink More Beer than Women?, from author's sketchbook, 2018.