Monday, October 24, 2011

The Band is Still playing Waltzing Matilda, the beauty of Neal Pollack, and how Charlie Chaplin nailed what life is about in a poem instead of a 450-page self-help book with charts and graphs and implements of destruction. . .


I wanted to start off by talking about why we still need Peter, Paul and Mary.  But, alas, Mary is forever gone from us.

But, unfortunately, the need lives on.  Because this still goes on today:


. . .this song was written in 1971 by Eric Bogle.  There are many, many versions of the song. . .and although the song was written about Gallipoli, like all "good" anti-war songs, it is transferable.  .  .unfortunately. . .because. . .


.  .  .the war drags on. . .

Wars drag on. . .

. . .all this madness needs to end. . .

so that this little guy. . .


. . .I found so innocently running through the woods yesterday with abandon. . .

and most certainly this little guy. . .


.  .  .my youngest grandson, The Fabulous Baby J. . .

. . .never have to experience the horrors of war. . .

. . .but, that's really not what I came to talk about today. . .although, probably the most important. . .

I wanted to talk about the beauty, the charm, the wit of Neal Pollack and why we need writers like Neal. . .

My love affair with Neal dates back to 2000 with the publication of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature.  Neal, at the time, was one of the hot young writers. . .and one of the things I loved about him and the book is that he made fun of himself constantly. . .I liked the fact that on the cover of the book he had:

FUTURE WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD


There are so many priceless moments in that book. . .in the chapter INTERLUDE: THE PARIS REVIEW INTERVIEW JUNE 27, 1976:


INTERVIEWER
What is the best advice about writing anyone ever gave you and who gave it?

POLLACK
When I was a boy of 12, Papa Hemingway sat me on his meaty haunch and said, "Fella, you are going to overtake me faster than a jeep on an elephant hunt."  When I saw him 10 years later, he was sleeping off a drunk and I didn't want to bother him, but I wanted to say thank you, because he had been perfectly correct.".  .

I bring up Pollack because, today, he is self-publishing.  After many books with mainstream publishers.  He's self-publishing.  And so what?!  He is still brilliant.  

Neal says this:
"If you'd download a copy, I'd be extremely grateful. If you'd tweet and Facebook about it, I'd be even more grateful. This isn't a book that's going to move via traditional channels. Its success won't and can't be easily quantified. But if the Internet does what it does best--spread the word about things that are awesome--then Jewball stands a chance in the glutted digital marketplace.
So enjoy the book, and, if you feel like it, help a brother out. Thanks so much. See you on the court, and hopefully not in court."
So, Neal, I'm attempting, in my small way, to help a brother out. . .
I also bring him up because all of us writers, whether we are published, not published, get Dan-Brown-like-advance-money, go with a small independent press, or self-publish. . .have to write. . .it's in the blood and there is no choice in the matter.  .  .and we can care or not care. . .but, most likely, 99% still dream of having the little circle on the front of the book that says something. . .even if it's future winner of the National Book Award. . .
. . .which is why when I post little bits of my novel Dreamers on the Rise. . .I put . . .from the forthcoming novel. . .when I can remember to do it. . .because, even though it's not published yet. . .you gotta have. . . .
. . .but, that's not really what I came to talk about. . .
I wanted to get to this:
At the age of seventy. . .Charlie Chaplin had a few things to say about his discoveries in life.  .  .if you don't take something away from this poem. . .please check your pulse. . .
I was going to close by picking out just one stanza from the poem. . .I was unable to do so. . .because it was all precious wisdom. . .
Go. . .do. . .be. . .
. . .and if you get a chance. . .maybe sit. . .and love yourself. . .









2 comments:

oldben said...

You sure did cover some ground in this one. I doubt Eric Bogle and George Michael have ever been mentioned together in any blog! I recently attended my granddaughter's ninth birthday party. I often dream about her future. Her great grandmother and I hit on that topic today. My mother thinks she will eat too much. I think she will be the next Elle MacPherson. I fear war will be the constant it always has been. We need to stop giving them names. They aren't hurricanes. Or pets. There is nothing living about war: no force of nature, no beating heart. When we examine the songs written about war, we often discover that they are really about humans: heroes, cowards, politicians, grieving families, veterans (dead; wounded; scarred for life - on the outside, inside, or both). Our grandchildren may sing these songs, or at least hear them. I share your prayer that they never have to go to war. But this planet's history indicates that we do not pay attention to this planet's history, or to our incredible wealth of musical lessons, laments, and warnings. Your selections are good ones. We need a video for Tom Paxton's "Iron Man" trilogy one of these days. And no, kids, that's not about the comic book hero. It's about World War II. It was what has been called "the last good war." It was called that because we won.

Floyd Garrett said...

Oldben. . .thank you, as usual, for the wisdom in your comment. And, also as usual, you sum it up brilliantly and with stunning clarity in your last sentence. Thanks, friend. Your writing always amazes and humbles me.