Monday, June 14, 2010

"Copy boy!"

Some random thoughts here regarding the previous entry. What was that all about, you might ask. And then again, you might not. But no matter. "On Turning 31" was an article I had written in September of 1980, near my birthday, as a loving parody of Henry Miller's work On Turning Eighty.

In 1980 I became associated with a bi-weekly newspaper in Santa Barbara called Night Light. It was a counter-culture, arts and entertainment periodical going head-to-head with the already established weekly paper, the Santa Barbara News & Review. I was going through a conflict with KTYD and my show Space Pirate Radio got taken off the air, which resulted in a cover story for the fledgling bi-weekly. The magazine was founded by Randy Campbell and the article on me was written by Heidi Benson. She also wrote a column for the News & Review called "Tiki Beat," which had printed favourable lines about the show. This article introduced me to the paper and opened up my continued desire to write satire, so I proposed the idea to Mr. Campbell of doing bi-weekly satires for the publication. I suggested the byline "In Light Of" for an ongoing series of parodies similar in spirit to what I was doing on the air. Randy was a fan of the show and has written elsewhere that he would be putting the newspaper together in the wee hours of the morning and listening to the esoteric sounds of Space Pirate Radio. So I found a little outlet to indulge more of my conceptual follies, make a few dollars, and have the agreement that the articles were still mine and would one day be compiled in some form or other (like Woody Allen had done with his articles for the New Yorker and Playboy).

My first article was a continuation of my yearly attack on the Santa Barbara Fiesta Days entitled "Viva La Fiasco." It was near Fiesta time when the article came out and I had done the live Viva La Fiasco parade coverage with David and Tiny Ossman and Mark Ward on KTYD in 1974. More on that later. Anyway, I was submitting articles regularly and Randy would publish each and every one; that is, until I submitted my Henry Miller parody. It didn't knock him out so he asked for me to do something else. Fast forward to 1981 and I have submitted another piece of timely comic observation. Up until this time, I would type the articles out, make a copy at Kinko's or somewhere and that would be that. So on this particular occasion, I figure, what the heck, you don't need to make a copy, time was permitting, whatever...I give the original to Randy. He phones me up a few hours before his print deadline and informs me he lost my manuscript. "I don't have a copy," I tell him. "You will either have to skip my contribution this issue the article that you didn't run in September." So there it is. Miller is revived.

I'm glad it did get to run finally. It was obscure but I liked the work that was put into it. The photograph was taken by a gentleman named Don Ury. The lovely model was his girlfriend. She was meant to represent Henry Miller's last wife Hoki Tokuda and longtime love and muse in his later years, Brenda Venus.

I was never totally immersed in the works of Henry Miller but I knew enough about him and Anais Nin to kind of replicate a loving parody. Playboy had done a wonderful interview with Miller in the '60s, which I enjoyed. I later had the pleasure of speaking to Erica Jong who had written a marvelous book about Miller called The Devil At Large. This was after the fact in 1994. But the parody itself still contains my love of books and writing and that's what I enjoyed most about these little journeys into arcana. Kind of like a psychedelic Robert Benchley. It was always fun to have these little frivolities printed in the newspapers of Santa Barbara. I was able to get this trash printed in all of the local papers, at one time or another: the daily Santa Barbara News-Press, the Santa Barbara News & Review, Night Light (which later became the Weekly, and ultimately merged with the News & Review to form the Santa Barbara Independent). I believe I also wrote for the Goleta Valley Today and the Isla Vista Thrift Shopper. These were placed under the windshield wipers of cars at various locations.

There were many fine writers and artists working for those early papers. Matt Groening and Bill Griffith had their early work printed there. And Heidi Benson went on to be the Book Editor for the San Francisco Chronicle and have quite a prolific writing output.

Of course, there are many people who never actually read the articles but did use the paper as a rustic alternative to Charmin. Handy, yes. But it did cause the outdated ailment known as Minstrel's Buttock. Hey, don't yell at me. It's in the medical books.