The Epicenter of My Universe

The Epicenter of My Universe in The Mid-80's.

Behind the writing of every great book there is a great story.

“Beowulf” was written by some drunk dude following a Steppenwolf concert in the year 942.

“On The Road” was written on Route 66 by Jack Kerouac, who was allegedly hit 136 times by passing cars.

Charles Dickens wrote “A Tale of Two Cities” in Minneapolis and St. Paul holding his fountain pen in the toes of his right foot. The original title was “A Tale of Twin Cities & Terribly Painful Toe Cramps”. His publisher made him change both the title and the plot significantly.

Today I share a few entries from a book I wrote in the mid-late 80’s entitled “The Parking Lot Letters (One Man’s Pursuit of Quality Parking)”.

The book has been published by various copy machines I have known over the years. The idea for the book began when the parking lot management company I used when employed by Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt Advertising in Dallas (Las Colinas, actually, a business person’s Disney World) raised their monthly rates. Everyone at the agency bitched and moaned about this action. I decided to take a different tact.

I became a champion of all things related to parking. With every monthly parking payment check I sent, I would include a personal letter written to the “Letter Opening Department” of the parking lot management company. I designed my own visually arresting letterheads. The voice of the letters was an obsessive, passionate fan of parking, and my particular parking lot. Early letters featured arbitrary underlining of words– just because it tickled me.

Later letters got more fantastical and deeper into the character’s psyche. Obsessive anything is always fun.

For two years I wrote these good people my manic letters. Then, I left that job to pursue quality parking elsewhere. Free parking! Did I ever hear from them– the parking lot people? Yes, I did get one letter toward the end of my run, but I suspect it was a prank written by someone inside the agency. It was too hip, too inside, too too.

A few months after I left, a friend went  into the parking lot management company office to pay his bill. He told me he saw one of my letters posted on the wall. He asked about the letter and reported the parking lot management guy said he hadn’t heard from me in awhile… and that he really missed my letters. When I heard this, I balled like a baby.

Enjoy these nibbles, feel free to share your favorite parking stories, and may all your parking spots be      W     I       D      E        !

First Letter/PLL

Sad/PLL

Other Man/PLL

NYC-Parking/PLL


 

Taste some mad gone drizzles, daddy.

Taste some mad gone drizzles, daddy.

Come gather ’round cats and kittens while I laddle a little beat poetry into your soul waffle iron.

Here’s seven slabs from my book of beatnik poems entitled Burma Signs Express: Observational Poetic Hogwash bled from Skids Turmoil. Don’t look for it on Amazon or in Barnes & Noble, it’s published by copy machines I’ve passed along the way on my career path.

The backstory. I worked a couple crappy ad jobs, got fired, saw an ad in AD AGE for “Circus Marketing Directors”, laughed with a pal in a bar about how funny it’d be if I applied for it (sweet beer courage), applied for it, interviewed, got the job and ran away and joined the circus. I traveled ahead of the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus Big Top and pimped the show in glamorous locals like Methuen, MA, Oneonta, NY, Bluefield, WV, Greenwood, MI, Port Arthur, TX– you get the drift. 

I was the lonely carny man, a stranger in town living in cheap motels and hunkered over plates in greasy spoons slurping weak coffee and fighting the madness of loneliness. A young man trapped in a Tom Waits world.

I did that gig for a circus season and came back to reality. Then, at the tender age of 23, finally got around to reading Jack Keoruac’s “On The Road”. Having just come off the road, the manic prose of that way gone daddy was like angels blasting my eardrums out. I had heart palpitations. There were times I had to put the book down. Had to, man, lest I bust.

I had always suspected I was born in the wrong time. Always thought I was born too late. I was late to the beatnik party and beat was what I felt I was. I was young man out of time.

So for the next year and a half, I casually explored my beat soul: working my ad job by day and exploring my beat world by night. I wrote 96 of these beat poems, assembled them in an order that made some sense to me and called it “Burma Signs Express”  because like the old Burma Shave signs that were used along the road for so many years, together these poems would tell a story. Maybe they did, I don’t know, but the beat journey was fun (and much cheaper than therapy).

Oh, and the name “Skids Turmoil”, well, artsy fartsy types call writing under a different identity a nom de plume (pardon my French). I call it a fun beat name. These poems were written on an ancient 1950’s IBM electric typewriter with a gorgeous font and erratic key striking pressure. I think the machine added to the beat soul of the project.

Here then are seven swatches, seven signs along the road. Maybe they’ll add up to something for you, dig. 

widowers-cafe

so-littles-left

everybody-in-place

ears-afire

coaxed-spokes

blank-fewer

aesop-slop