Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘William Kotzwinkle’

 

wp-1459709892376

 

During my travels, like many who go on vacation, I like to send to close and not too close friends emails (today’s postcards) regaling them of my good fortune in traveling the world and their ill-luck at being forced, for whatever reason, to remain at home. Not too long ago, I settled for a while in Jomtien Beach, Thailand and began to send out an incessant stream or emails regarding my new life. During a particularly frustrating period of trying to adjust to life there, I received a few emails from some of my correspondents commenting that my recent emails dwelled too much on the difficulties of my ex-pat life and were becoming a bit of a downer.

 

Although I thought I was just providing a humorous take on the foibles of my current situation, I took the criticism seriously and I realize that perhaps I may have fallen into a rut. So one morning when I awoke I decided to do something different. A quick check of the internet turned up the report of an algorithm that measured how many times Pun Day was mentioned on social media. The leading date turned out to be May 15 which also happened to fall a few days after my search. Further research turned up that in the UK, P:un Day falls on February 8. Other days also have been proposed. Austin Texas held an O’Henry Pun-Off World Championship on May 16. So, armed with this copious research, I declared May 15, Pun Day and communicated that to my correspondents. My announcement was met with a resounding Meh by all that took the time to notice it.

images-1

 

I got the idea for Pun Gay, as I usually get most of my ideas, from one of my favorite authors, in this case, William Kotzwinkle. As with Henry David Thoreau, he is a favorite of mine, not necessarily because of his literary output (Although he did write the screenplay for “ET the Extraterrestrial” and the stories for the “Walter the Farting Dog” series), but for the audacity of attempting a literary career with a name like Kotzwinkle.

 

 
Anyway, in his novel “The Fan Man,” about an archetypical New Yorker who, during the hot sticky days of the New York City summer, travelled about the City holding in front of him one of those little battery operated fans to cool himself off (Hence “The Fan Man” in case you have not already guessed). In one of the chapters of the book our Fan Man wakes up and declares that day to be “Dorky Day” in which he would only speak the word Dorky throughout the day [By the way for those with interest is such things Dork is a common and respected name for boys in Armenia, Also, July 15 is “National Dork Day.” so mark it on your calendar].

 

The remainder of the chapter, for about 10 to 12 pages, consists exclusively of the word Dorky repeated endlessly (Dorky,Dorky, Dorky… for those who may need help visualizing) broken only by the variously perplexed or angry responses of the other citizens of the City whose paths may have crossed that of our hero on that day.

 

Shakespeare must have eaten his heart out. Can you imagine what the world of the theater would have been had Hamlet instead of “The play’s the thing, in which we’ll catch the conscience of the King,” announced, “Today is Dorky Day?”

 

Anyway, the idea for Pun Day comes also from one of my other literary mentors, Cuzin Irwin (to whom I beg forgiveness) who sent me the following:

 

it’s Snow White’s birthday.
 The dwarves buy her a camera as a present.
 She is ecstatic and takes pictures of every thing she sees.
She takes the film in to be developed.
 She goes back the next day to pick the pictures up.
 The man behind the counter shakes his head as if to say, “No”.
Snow White cries.
 the man behind the counter says
 “Don’t worry Snow White, someday your prints will come.”

 

Alas, with the coming of the smartphone, poor Snow White’s prints never arrived so she went home with an Android.

 

And for all you Snow Whites out there, may you prints come soon, but please always use protection or you may end up with a Kotzwinkle.

Have Pun

Ciao

Read Full Post »

In one of my favorite books, written by William Kotzwinkle (E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Walter the Farting Dog) the main character Horse Badorties carries a battery-operated hand-held fan everywhere to keep him cool in the NY summer heat. In one chapter, Recently I ran across the following blog that captures the essence of the novel and I thought I would share it with you.

Why “Dorky Days”?

There is a book — a novel — called The Fan Man by William Kotzwinkle. It is about a hippie named Horse Badorties who lives in New York City. To the reader, he has no job, no life, no direction, no this, no that, etc. To HIM, he is a very busy, important man. Think of The Dude, and then take away the White Russians and the car and replace them with bottled Piña Coladas and a stolen school bus. You end up with Horse Badorties….

…Horse Badorties spends a lot of time recruiting fifteen-year-old chicks to join The Love Chorus, a choir he instructs at St. Nancy’s Church. Horse Badorties is also very much sexually preoccupied with fifteen-year-old chicks. He isn’t a pervert — he just likes ’em that way. In fact, I think that Horse Badorties just prefers to assume that every attractive woman he sees is fifteen-years-old….

…Horse Badorties is dead set on making sure that The Love Chorus gets to perform a concert live on television. This book has no real plot (fuck plot), but if any Hollywood asshole ever gets his hands on a copy of this book and decides to make a movie, I’d say that the bit about The Love Chorus going on TV would probably be distorted and exploited in all sorts of bullshit ways. Anyway, our hero manages to tell the head of NBC about the concert. How? He’s Horse Badorties….

…Horse Badorties may also be a drug dealer. Well, I guess he pretty much is. Throughout the book he makes phone calls to various people regarding recent shipments of “carrots,” or how he’ll be by later with the “Swiss Chard.” He and a beautiful girl smoke “alphabets”…

…All right. I say I don’t identify with Benjamin Braddock (From The Graduate) anymore, and then I go on this long tangeant about a transient named Horse Badorties. First of all, he isn’t a transient — by the end of the book he has four “Horse Badorties pads.” Second of all, I don’t identify with Horse Badorties, but I dig his dogma: every day is an adventure, nothing is that big of a deal, and every woman in the world is a beautiful fifteen-year-old chick with a voice like a lark.

There is nothing wrong with the book. The book is perfect. It’s hilarious and irreverent and unpredictable and unpretentious. It’s about packing up your Horse Badorties satchel, getting on the subway, and seeing where the Hell the day takes you. It’s about playing bizarre musical instruments with people on the street and making thousands of copies of rare sheet music. It’s about freedom and love and hope and nirvana.

Sometimes, it’s also about loneliness.

So what the Hell is Dorky Day? Once a month, Horse Badorties spends an entire day repeating the word “dorky” over and over. Out loud. This day is called “Dorky Day.”

Constant repetition of the word ‘dorky’ cleans out my consciousness, man, gets rid of all the rubble and cobwebs piled up there….
fan_manhttps://dorkydorkydorky.wordpress.com/

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

Note: There have been times in my life when I thought of myself as The Fan Man — the reincarnation of old Horse Badorties himself. At other times, I believed Horse Badorties emigrated to California where he became our beloved Maurice Trad. Actually, Horse Badorties was really Keith Lampe, that irrepressible hippie that haunted the streets of San Francisco during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Keath hauled around with him a seven-foot single stringed instrument he called a drone that he would thrum and accompany with incomprehensible wordless lyrics often while sitting on the back seat of a Muni bus. Keath decided to give up speaking. Instead he chose to communicate with various shouts, growls and whistles. Occasionally at night, he would climb out onto the balcony of my upstairs neighbor’s apartment and bay at the full moon.

Read Full Post »

Since I have returned to California I have experienced a sudden decline in almost everything; vision and hearing, strength and endurance. Perhaps it is temporary and will pass. In the past during my bouts with depression and its physical effects, I have always been able to convince myself they would soon be gone. Now I feel like a specter or ghost watching life go on around me through an ever darkening scrim, unable to do anything about it until I eventually disappear into the wherever or whatever; something like the ineffectual angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I wonder if I will get my wings after it is all over. (This last is an allusion understandable only by those over 70 years old.)

After finishing Sheldon Siegel‘s book and being in the mood to read more in the Jewish policeman genre, I began Michael Chabon‘s “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.” It is a novel of dazzling style and inventiveness but lacking a soul. I prefer Sheldon’s relentless humane optimism to Chabon’s unrelieved cynicism.

I like William Kotzwinkle however. He is an incurable optimist like Sheldon. He wrote “ET.” I do not think he was all that proud of it. But hell, it’s a living.

Like Chabon he could unleash the literary pyrotechnics. In one book, he was able to fill an entire chapter with the single word, “dorky.” Dorky repeated 400 times a page for the 10 pages of the chapter, 4000 dorkys (or is it dorkies?) in all. And this was while everyone was still using word processors.

Chabon, were he the one writing the same chapter after about the first hundred or so dorkys would probably write something like, “Shit, if I have to write dorky one more time, I going to plunge a zhmenye of cyanide up my tokhes” or something like that. Like I said Chabon is a real stylist.

To Kotzwinkle’s character, however, Dorky Day was the day he looked forward to. It was the day he said nothing except dorky. It was his favorite day, better even that Christmas or Passover or even Presidents day.

Speaking of President’s Day, what’s that all about? Why did we change from honoring two of our greatest presidents, one who wore wooden false teeth and liked riding his horses almost as well as sleeping with his slaves and the other who had a glandular dysfunction and was always hearing voices in his head, to honoring them all, even the non-entities and borderline loonys? Do we really want to honor, Chester A. Arthur, George Bush or James Buchanan at the same time as we honor Washington and Lincoln?

Buchanan by the way was our first openly gay president. He was called “Miss Nancy” by his political enemies and affectionately “Aunt Fancy” by his friends.

Miss Nancy was born on April 23rd. Wouldn’t it be appropriate for that to be the day to celebrate gay freedom, or better yet marriage equality day? April 23 is celebrated in England as Shakespeare’s Day. It is also the feast day of St. Adalbert of Prague, National Book Day in Canada and English Language Day in the UN. Unfortunately, I do not know the actual date of Dorky Day, but April 23 would be as good as any.

While I am at it and since I have little to do for most of the day except sit around the coffee-house and fool with my computer writing messages to myself like this,… why do the self-proclaimed serious literary critics appear to so often look down on “genre” fiction? Why do we so often consider the literary pyrotechnics of the borderline depressive, even a humorous one, serious literature while gentle optimism is dismissed as superficial? I am sure Ruth knows. She seems to understand these things.

Is it simply the strictures of plot required of genre fiction somehow make it more artificial than the meanderings through the minutia of life of much of modern “serious” fiction, even if that minutia is outside anyone’s experience, or beggars credulity? I mean, have you read “War in Peace?” Do your really give a shit about Pierre or Prince Andrei? As for other characters in the serious literary pantheon, most were despicable. Roskolnikov, Ahab and even Achilles were assholes. You can add Heathcliff to that list and don’t even mention Dorian Grey. OK, I admit Jane Eyre has something to recommend her, but talk about missing the obvious…. Did the reprobates that peopled Faulkner or Williams’ novels really do anything for you. The characters dreamed up by Elmo Leonard or Carl Hiaasan probably appear just as real, perhaps even more so, to most of us.

If one reads at all, by all means, one should read the classics and as much so-called serious fiction as he or she can digest but not too much. It can give one gas.

Nevertheless one should also read those authors not cursed with seriousness. Authors like Leonard, Hiaasion, Siegel, Weber (the Honor Harrington books the rest of his books suck), Terry Pratchett, Nora Roberts and on and on; even Danielle Steel (well maybe not her). There are thousands and thousands of people out there writing fiction. Even if they have little to say, they say something.
IMG_20150202_102913_390
Elmo Leonard’s tips on writing fiction.

Alas, in the age of u-tube and instant communication among perfect strangers, most of whom appear quite willing to spew out the most intimate and often embarrassing details of their lives, who needs fiction anymore? Maybe we are all becoming ghosts, viewing life through a LED display in a darkened room or an internet café somewhere.

Even that may be a passing fad. Given the amount of time we spend on our computers or smart phones socializing and collaborating or whatever, who has the time any more to take a video of oneself trying to jump off a roof into a tea-cup? Will future generations feature prehensile pinkies and double jointed thumbs?

Stay tuned to life, it always surprises.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: