I’ve been crazy busy the past five weeks and haven’t had a chance to get online very often, but one thing I’ve been able to make a little time for is finally unpacking some boxes that have been in storage for the past few (okay, many) years while trying to find old contributor copies of magazines and journals that published me, of copies of my OWN books, as well as anthologies and textbooks and more. The “More” has turned out to be a whopper, but I don’t have time for that at the moment and frankly I don’t have much time at all right now, but I’ve wanted to post something so I am. I’ve been running across items in these boxes that have been surprising in that some I don’t recall ever seeing before, writing, editing, collaborating, and on to finding opened and unopened letters from all types for all sorts of reasons, contracts, uncashed checks from universities and libraries for my books, pleas for me to help finance some arthouse films, screenplays with requests for comments and criticisms, art-postcards I literally don’t recall seeing and more! Fun and a little crazy.
I decided I’m going to post a few pics of things I find along the way, some of which I haven’t seen in decades, literally, and some I’ve never seen, or at least that’s what my imperfect mind tells me. Sadly, I don’t even have time for an appropriate explanation, so you’ll just have to take what you see in front of you and maybe a few words of mine too. Caffeine was one of the best, most hip/professional lit zines I’ve ever seen and it was dearly missed when the editor, Rob Cohen, decided it was time to move on. As you’ll see, he wrote that for a good part of the 1990s, it was the biggest damn poetry magazine in the country, and that’s not referring to its dimensions. It came out regularly and it came out it what would be massive press runs for a free lit zine — along the lines of 20,000 copies per issue or so. Compared to 250 – 500 copies for many university literary reviews, more for commercial ones.
I got to know Rob before he started this up. He was a pretty good guy. UCSB grad, big ambitions. We met for lunch in Long Beach one day and he told me he was lining up some heavyweights and wanted to go just as cool and edgy on the graphics as on the poetry, which was great to hear because he obviously knew that so many lit pubs out there may as well have been church bulletins or med textbooks in their eye appeal. And we were both big Bukowski fans. I can’t remember if he met him or not. I’d “known” Bukowski for several years by then, been over to his place in San Pedro a few times, had some books he’d been cool enough to autograph for me and one damn t-shirt which I haven’t been able to find for years. HTH to you lose an autographed Bukowski t-shirt? I thought Rob’s project was great and I asked if he was going to go out of SoCal and he did intend to so I asked him about writers — were they going to be SoCal largely or from a wider base? He did things big. I was able to help out a bit, I like to think. I knew a ton of poets and writers around the world, so he let me have a bunch of fliers and upcoming debut issues and I mailed them around the country, gratified to see Caffeine apparently appealed to a whole lot of people as I saw name after name appear of people who never might have seen, let alone been published, in it if not for landing on some doorsteps of people who then sent some on to more like-minded poets and lit fans. Rob was cool enough to publish me from the first issue on. That would be with Ginsberg and Bukowski, among many others, though admittedly I had been and would be published alongside them elsewhere during my career. Still, not only an honor, but a damn fun, kickass mag overall! I don’t recall if I ever had all of the issues, but it’s irrelevant because it’s been probably around 25 years since I’ve seen any anyway, so they’d all look new to me anyhow. So here are three collages I just made of items of mostly recent findings. I’ll let them speak for themselves. Except I didn’t know which poem of mind the person writing the editor in the Issue 9 collage was referring to. I was curious so I had to start digging. And then I found it! Not the issue, but at least the title of the poem. And then it all made sense. The “goddamn poem” she thought “was so true” was titled “to all you goddamn nature sissies.” Heh.
Next time I post here I may try to write about or possibly post pics of some of the letters, postcards, invites, etc., from the stuff I’ve been running across lately. Might be some fun stories behind them. Like when I was oddly named one of Knoxville’s 10 Most Eligible Bachelors back in 1987. I actually found the letter from the MDA thanking me for agreeing to be a part of the bachelor auction, formally called the Great Date Bachelor Auction. (I had no choice?) Terrifying then, funny now. I guess the word “flattering” should have appeared somewhere. It didn’t. Or invites to some swank Beverly Hills and Hollywood gigs. You couldn’t tell by the invites, but trust me, when you’re wandering around in someone’s backyard behind the Beverly Hilton (where they have the Golden Globes ceremony) with Oscar winners and household names, it’s a combo of surreal and Oh Shit and they make for some funny poems and stories. Just don’t be stupid enough to agree to autograph your new book that comes out a year later with a piece taking some funny jabs and potshots a few Hollywood stereotypes at an unnamed but very obvious such party for the owner of the mansion you’re describing before he’s read it. Or any time. You find yourself in that position, you sign, say thanks and run like hell. Hahaha! We’ll see.