Monday, February 6, 2017

Did I ever tell you about that time I met David Morrell, Walt Howerton, Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Gus Hall, and that other guy

David Morrell
(photo by Phil Konstantin)
Looking back on it, TV might have played too big of a part in my childhood. Every memory I have revolves around some sixties or seventies TV series.

I turned five in 1963. The Beatles made their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Later that year we watched JFK get his brains blown out on live TV. For years after that, I remember watching reruns of his horse-drawn casket pulled down Pennsylvania Avenue.

By the mid-sixties, we were riveted to the TV set as “Uncle Walter” Cronkite brought us the war live from Vietnam. War correspondents droned on about guerilla fighting; I read a comic book that showed oversized gorillas carrying machine guns and bazookas through the jungles. Dumbass that I was, I thought they were real fricking monkeys slugging it out over there.

1966 brought us the Monkees. Adam West debuted as Batman. He danced the Batusi, had a way cool ride – the Bat Mobile, and whenever he laid hands on the bad guys, they flashed those really cool signs—Bam! Ka-Pow! Owie!

In 1969 Neal Armstrong walked on the moon. That’s “one small step for man, one large step for mankind.” We traveled halfway across the country in the back of a station wagon, visiting Vegas and California. All I remember is we didn’t have air conditioning. When you rolled down the windows in the Painted Desert hot air lapped your face like a sick dog.

 In 1970 a friend of mine swallowed a strange purple pill. Jughead jumped out of an Archie comic book and talked to him. What the f*#k!

That same year National Guard troops blasted the hell out of thirteen kids at Kent State, killing four of them. Four years later a bunch of self-righteous journalists chased Richard Nixon out of the White House for lying.

I left home in 1976 for this thing we called college. The pungent odor of Mary Jane drifted through the halls of the English Philosophy Building at the University of Iowa. No one gave a second look as teaching assistants smoked pot with their office doors thrown wide open.

One of the Philosophy TA’s, “Bear Grease,” would perch himself on the table in front of us. He was like a chimney puffing smoke and words between each draught on his cigarette. By the time class wrapped up fifteen to twenty smoking missiles stood straight up around the edge of the table.

I met Jane Fonda, and her husband, Tom Hayden, when he was campaigning for president. Gus Hall, the Communist Party candidate, provided comedy relief at another political rally. The rest of that time was a blur of failed dreams, the original Saturday Night Live, and enough booze to drown a fish. I saw Jefferson Starship, the Grass Roots, Charlie Daniels, Linda Ronstadt, and Steppenwolf.

Sometime in the late seventies, I took an American literature class taught by David Morrell. The only thing most of us could think about was this is the guy who wrote Rambo. Walt Howerton, an aspiring poet, taught rhetoric, and I learned to “howl” like Alan Ginsberg.

In between all of that I wrote a lot of crazy ass short stories. So many of them one of my writing instructors asked me if I could even write normal, rather than all this convoluted shit I was turning in. I think I wrote a fifteen-page paper on the presidential elections just to quiet his ass.

Next thing I knew it was 1980, and I had to grow up. No more partying. No more writing. I had to do this crazy thing called make a living. I got a haircut, bought a suit, and became one of them.

And, then it’s 2012. I got a whack on my backside, my head, I don’t know, but I wrote my first book, Freaking Idiots Guide to Selling on eBay.

And, everything changed.

If Kindle had been around in 1976, I’d have probably published a thousand books by now. Instead, I lost the 32 years between the time I graduated from college in 1980 and 2012 when I discovered my writing self again.

The things I could have told you by now.

I’ve got a lot of years to make up for.


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This article is from the introduction to my book, Indie Author's Toolbox: How to Create, Publish, and Market Your Kindle Book. Hope you liked it.