Thanks, Joel.

I was catching up on Facebook last night when I ran across the following exchange:

Chet Farmer
“hey, that guitar looks familiar.”

Joel Frank Black
“Man, that guitar didn’t mess around nohow– it wouldn’t take no jive turkey crap from NOBODY, had solid yttrium pickups, was carved from the finest particle board plank available in Guangdong prefecture, spoke several languages including esperanto, and, when not actively holding the fabric of the universe together, reposed in a case made of interwoven Chic-O-Sticks.”

It has triggered some tremors in my brain. I don’t know what Joel’s day job is, but I don’t think he puts bacon on the table as a writer. My business card says writer, but I haven’t written a thing in years that was as alive and energetic and fun as that post of his.

We knew each other in Hattiesburg, had common friends. We both got out, heading in different directions. He headed west to California. I headed east to Atlanta, and after bouncing around a bit have landed in SLC.

I left to escape the lack of opportunity. I was too special, too free thinking, too creative for that one-horse college town. But after 25-odd years that have passed since burning rubber outta town on Hardy Street, I find myself in another small city, doing work that is in no way special, creative, or free-thinking, at least not in the sense I understood it then.

Joel is still in California. And no matter what his day job is, his post reminded me that he is more creative and free thinking than I will ever be, without even trying. I’m not being self-deprecating here. Joel and his ilk were always able to shake it up and spray it out in the most mind-bending ways. Clearly, that’s still the case.

Maybe the punchline is that regardless of where think we belong, we end up where we’re meant to be. Maybe in spite of all the years of running and working like a dog, I was meant to live in a small town and write dull stuff. In which case perhaps I shoulda just stayed in Mississippi. For all the energy expended, I haven’t really moved forward very much. Not that I didn’t have the opportunity. It’s just that again and again, I chose what I thought was quality of life over career. Which led me here.

Not complaining. Life is good. Comfortable house in a safe place, great coworkers, gorgeous city, haven’t been laid off in awhile. And I had the pleasure of reading that brilliant rant. Now you have, too. What does it all mean? In the words of Mr. Natural, don’t mean sheeit.


One Response to “Thanks, Joel.”

  1. Joel Bulk Says:

    Ann, thank you very much for the kind words for my kinda wordsmithing. I do not write to put bacon on the table, as you wisely figgered out– I am a salesman for an electrical supply co. that caters to ships and terminals here in the LBC. What made my job so easy and perhaps yours so difficult is that I basically had an audience of one, (and whomever else might have have noticed…) Knowing that my interlocutor Chet is a smart guy, one year my junior, spent his formative years in South Mississippi and went to Camp Tiak in the Boy Scouts like I did, goes far in me not having to worry about explaining who I am, and thus spares me the effort of maintaining a particular veneer of sociable chit-chattiness. Unfettered, I am free to drizzle my subconscious all over Facebook’s fill-in-the-blank, write-a- comment discourse, knowing Meester Chet will likely “get” it. The cool thing that I learned was where the geetar actually came from–my slobbering, made- up story elicited the TRUTH from young Chet! How often do you get the real skinny on ANYTHING nowadays?

    You, on the other hand, are (I think) writing for a general reader, and perhaps that colors what you are writing. No matter. It’s good shit, pal. Really. Reading your other entries, I can’t help but BE in that radio station in the outskirts of Jackson cow pasture, or your grandparent’s bedroom, because of the perfect way you described them…just don’t call the police because I’m there in their bedroom, okay?

    I dunno. People need interaction, friction, catalysts. I guess that’s why one writes. I will have to say that the environment there in Mid South MS during mid to late 80’s was VERY conducive to whatever was supposed to be spewing outta me creatively at that point. And again, if there’s no one out there that “gets” it, it is the proverbial tree that falls in the forest and no one hears it, ‘cept the pine weevils that are goin’ “AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! What the fuck just happened to my house?!?!?” Really, the environs were quite the plush endometrium for all of the lil’ creative idears/zygotes zipping around at the time. Not to get too precious about it, but I was never able to find that same artistic connectedness with other humans for many years out here in barren California…only until somewhat recently, but it’s still not at quite the same level of unspoken intuitiveness that like-minded kids have, unhurried and free of adult agendas and entanglements. We were all definitely on the same page, and I left just when it was going good. Why? I can only quote the inimitable Stan Ridgway in “Call of the West”:

    “…And what he left behind had no value, half as much as some things he never knew…”

    Lord knows how many times I heard him sing those words, but I finally knew EXACTLY what they meant only after being in CA for all of these years, and I could finally be comfortable with the choice I made to vacate the womb of So Miss.

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