Showing posts with label audience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label audience. Show all posts

10 August, 2016

Synthesis and (never) forget it

 Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. - Carl Sandburg

Ain't no money in poetry, 'cause that set the poet free. Well I've had all the freedom I can stand. - Guy Clark

My old high school guidance counselor, at least two different college academic advisors, and more well-intended but reductive thinking givers of advice have regurgitated in my general direction that statement often attributed to the father of the pedantic fortune cookie fortune, Confucius.
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
This statement is, of course, complete and utter bullshit; but it sounds good when intoned in the ear drums of tween, teen, and college age (and older) "lost" kids who haven't chosen a path to tax-paying socially defined success.  The caveat is, of course, that whatever job it is that you love, make sure it's something reputable and reductive so that when people ask you what kind of work you do, your answer doesn't challenge their basic assumptions about the nature of the life, the universe, and everything.

Of course, everyone likes a writer. Everyone likes a musician. But when either a writer or a musician has the temerity to expect to do what they love* for a living, we are told that's all really cool and all but shouldn't you just love DOING it? Isn't art for its own sake enough?

Art for art's sake is a nice argument for the wealthy class. But it doesn't address the truth that for most of us to create art for its own sake, we have to spend eight or more hours a day NOT CREATING ART and doing something we don't love -- and really, in most cases, don't really like.

But, I still continue to look a jobby-job** in order to do my part for the Parsons/Hay household. As I look for stable work in this "recovered" economy*** I keep running up against the same issues:

  1. There are more people looking for work than there are jobs for which they are qualified. I've applied for work that I'm absolutely qualified for and did not get a call back. It's not personal. There are a lot of people out there with similar qualifications, and a lot of them just out of college who will work for less in the name of getting experience.
  2. There are plenty of unskilled jobs; but employers have no motivation to hire people with skills and trades to fill them. I'm no snob. All work is noble and deserves respect. But when I apply for those kinds of jobs, I never get a call back, either. Common sense dictates that an employer sees my work experience in the classroom and as a freelance journalist and is inclined to NOT hire me to be a cashier because they assume I won't stick around.
  3. The industries I've worked in the before (writing and teaching) thrive on low morale, low pay, and a disheartening work environment.
So when I'm not looking for work that I know I will neither love nor like enough, I spend my days down in the basement, writing, podcasting, and looking for ways to use my various talents to earn a little scratch.^ As such, I'm making a few changes to my blog that will hopefully enable me to help keep the lights on and food on the table.

If you are a regular reader, you will notice a few changes.

  1. First, I'm using Mail Chimp to set up an email contact list. This is for blog updates and information about my projects ONLY. I will not sell your emails or contact information to any third party.
  2. Second, I've decided to reopen my archives. So, you all have access to my work posted at Fictions from the Dead Machine and American Re:Visionary.  Enjoy.
  3. I still have a link to my work published on Amazon at the bottom of each post. E-books and actual books are available.
  4. I've set up an account through for readers to become patrons. It's crowd source funding that allows anyone to set up monthly payments at different levels. Each level carries it's own level of rewards, included secure and dedicated content for some sponsors If you read the blog and like it, please consider giving $2.50 a month to help me keep the lights on. It's about the price of a cup of coffee -- less if you are a complicated coffee drink connoisseur.
One of the perks of that dedicated content is that you'll get the first whispers about my new projects... including the new podcast that it currently in pre-production.

Thanks for reading.
*To create art, sometimes you hate it. But mostly, you love it.
** A "career" is a jobby-job with retirement benefits.
*** Obama: savior of underpaying, unskilled jobs everywhere.
^ My goal is to make a living with my art, not a killing. I want to live, not work to death.

If you like what you're reading here, I also have work for sale on my Amazon Author Page. Thanks for reading!

13 August, 2012

Southern Jaunt: At The Risk Of Being Instructive

I cannot keep from talking, even at the risk of being instructive. - Mark Twain

The Prince of Peace
No less a personage than Jesus -- upon whom a whole mess of a religion was hoisted in spite of anything he might have preferred (Not that he was ever asked, as far as anyone knows, whether it would be fine to rape, pillage, maim, and kill in his name; and it probably is the more expedient and judicious thing to hedge our bets and guess that it might be alright.) -- is supposed to have complained about going home. You'd think that a guy who spent 40 days in the desert, came back to town with a dozen other guys who think he's smarter than anyone around, and -- so says the book -- was responsible for a few miracles might actually manage to garner some respect.

It was apparently not the case. All anyone saw that funny acting kid who never really looked like his dad and who's mom, according to the old biddies at the temple, gave it up before the rabbi said "Shalom."

Not that I'm comparing myself with the foundation of anyone's religious beliefs; I'm merely pointing out that even in our mostly deeply ingrained myths and beliefs, that returning to a place you once thought of as home can be both a blessing and a pain in the ass.

One of the things I looked forward to as I made my way back through Mount Carroll, in the State of IL(L) was visiting again the monthly 5 Minutes of Fame Open Mic ... which I helped start ... at The Kraft Building. In my absence, I am happy to say that it has grown and taken on a feel all it's own under the expert leadership of Heather Houzenga: friend, local artist, and all around cool chick. As I suspected, my absence drew out folks that had previously avoided the open mic, maybe out of some personal aversion to me or (more likely) some aversion to my occasional use of so-called "colorful metaphors" that my Dear Sweet Ma has objected to in my work more than once over the years.

"You're an educated person," she would say. "Why do you have to write like that?"

Well, hell. Educated though I may be, I try not to act in a way that will cause people to hold it against me. I certainly try not to hold it against myself.

And although most everyone I've run into since being back has been happy to see me -- people generally greet with that subtle and stoic combination of  "Why'd you leave?" and "Why'd you come back?" that every road worn traveler likes to hear -- there are a few, though they haven't said so directly, who are wishing that I had lost my memory in that Minneapolis casino instead of merely losing my official photo proof that I am, in fact, a citizen of Pax Americana. One such person was sitting near the front row when I took the stage last Thursday to tell the story of Cletus the Dog Man, his too skinny not to be a drug addict girlfriend, and indeed, the most adult of the trio. (That would be the dog.)

The woman in question is a particularly pious member of the county board. Her job it seems, other than to scrupulously avoid the use of a computer or even a typewriter when making notes for the press board packet, is to read the prayer into record prior to the Pledge of Allegiance. A member of one of the many churches here in town, she reads from the carefully scripted officious prayer that is supposed to indicate that Carroll County's elected leaders -- most of whom twiddle their fingers or stare at the ceiling during said prayer -- are religious and divinely (one would hope) inspired.

It may indeed be a stretch to presume that the county board --mostly populated by agri-business people, the spouses of people who work for those same agri-businesses, and a few tired local officials who didn't want join a club or group that might require more of them than their occasional physical presence and an even more rare need to take a definitive stand on some issue or another -- would be divinely inspired. It is worth noting, however, that County Board Chairman Rodney Fritz behaves as if he believes his election to the big chair and gavel lends him divine strength and guidance, not to mention the right to ensure that his trucks have clean roads to run on while simultaneously trying to gut the budgets for employee wages and benefits, the Health Department, the Veteran's Assistance Commission, and The Department of Animal Control.

So as I got up and did my bit, recounting Cletus, his woman, his dog, and the fact that he is just one sample of a larger group of people wandering the country on the buses looking for work in this great recovering economy that's built on schemes by corporations and banks to line the pockets of their executives, as well as consumer credit and the accumulation of shit made in China and Mexico.

The pious reader from the county board was not amused.  I suppose the mention of methamphetamine and micturition had something to do with it, or the fact that I went as far to talk briefly about the fact that there are people in the world who have no home, who might not have a sane girlfriend, but who can have a well behaved dog -- and indeed, even individuals who might seem a bit shady... which Cletus was in many ways... can have enough heart to make sure the dog eats even if they don't.

Or maybe she didn't like the reference to pit bulls, which, everyone knows are dangerous dogs... when they're trained to be.

But there are some audiences that would rather be entertained and placated than have an informative and useful experience. There's no way to please everyone.

And in case you missed it, I'm attaching the audio of Cletus, and another bit from an open mic at Charlie's Bar and Grill... an open mic that runs every Sunday from 4-pm, by the way.