Thoughts after Attending a Book Festival as an Author

The book festival yesterday was thought provoking. Lots of thoughts were provoked. Here are a few of them. As a young person (and today as well) I read a lot – I was inspired by great storytelling from the likes of Tolkien, Verne, Piers Anthony, Robert Heinlein, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dickens, Twain, and London. I am inspired by well written history, thought provoking philosophy and spirituality, and approachable, practical how-to books. I like books that allow me to learn. I love books that allow me to visit far off destinations and exotic cultures and landscapes.

As a younger adult – I was also dazzled by the reckless and dangerous lifestyles of many writers. Hard drinking, hard drugging, hard loving, emotional roller coasters – like Hank Moody from Californication – I wanted to live like that.

I was never inspired by popular fiction like detective novels, thrillers or best sellers. I never wanted to be some boring baby boomer slaving away over a word processor and sitting in empty halls filled with tables behind which boring baby boomers sit eyeing potential readers with hunger.Yesterday, I found myself right there. Best selling author Philip Margolin was there too, sitting behind a table, trying to smile, signing books. I had no desire to be him. I had no desire to read his books.

I’ve not wanted to be Hank Moody or Jack Kerouac or Hemingway for quite a while now. The desire has passed. The idea of being an older Jack London type, building a ranch, hosting friends, fighting for good political ends…that appeals to me. I’d still love to write compelling stories…but they need to be stories with a purpose, stories that have more substance than a Moody-esque “I drank, I got fucked up, I got fucked, it was awful, I survived, I did it again, something awesome happened, I was miserable, I did it again”

My books previously have been a combination of how-to, travel to exotic places, introduction to exotic ideas, and fucked-upness with an over-exaggerated desire to attract attention by offending. I was using offense as a hook…which was (perhaps) novel in the 80s and 90s but now, in the age of the internet, is just boring.

I’ve changed a lot. I admit it. Enough that I can see foolishness where before I thought there was brilliance. Enough to see problems where before I thought there was quality. I was in love with my title “Douchebags, Fags, and Hags” I thought it was hilarious…yesterday, honestly, I was embarrassed by it and while I still love the novel – am pretty sure I would have sold a lot more if I had called it “The Sultanate of Baboob” or “Pig and the Sexy Nun” or even just “Pig”. There were other things I noticed and was shocked by, such as my putting of an ancient pre-Columbian artifact showing two dogs fucking on the back of my rather serious “Liminal Travel” – I remember thinking it was funny – an artifact from the MET referencing an off-color joke on the back of my book – but it has nothing to do with my book. Why did I put it there? Probably the same reason I put the horrible back cover on Smooth Living – enough to see that Slackville Road is a good idea with bad execution…and an ugly cover. I was blinded with love for my own creations…and I think the time I’ve taken off from writing has been a good thing.

The money and time I spent yesterday did not yield a financial return, but even so, I think it was well spent.

Buy My Art!

This is your chance to own an original oil painting by me. Chances are that I will never be a famous artist or famous anything else – but maybe you like my style, maybe you like my art. These are available for sale. One of my goals this year is to sell a piece of my art to someone who likes it – and isn’t related to me and so possibly inclined to look on bad work favorably. Maybe these aren’t the paintings that will sell – but I will keep trying. These are all oil on board – which is new to me.

1) MonaLisa Simpson $68





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2) The Fool SOLD
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3) Hot Virgin Mary $125





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4) The Scarlet Letters $95





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5) Rising Spider Sun $40





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6) Poof Room SOLD
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7) The Dictator Strong Man $95





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8) Doc Bugeyes $77





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Pair of Tribal Totem/Tiki Statues (probably from Solomon Islands)

I bought this pair of tiki totems which stand approx 25″ and 28″ from the Estate of Jean Fish (iconic Hollywood model and fashion designer) and actress Edna Skinner who was most famous for her role as the neighbor on the TV show Mr. Ed. Both women lived in North Bend, Oregon and traveled the world extensively during their lifetimes. These statues were bought at the first of several estate sales at their ship shaped house on the water in North Bend back in November of 2015. The agents at the sale were unable to confirm where they were from, but my hunch is they came from the Solomon Islands. My first hunch was that they were Native American, but I was told by the head of Ethnography at Bonham’s that they were not Native American. All I’m certain of is that I like them and their cowrie shell eyes. Actually, they remind me most of a piece of outsider folk art I gave to my brother a few years ago…see a picture of it at the bottom of this post when I can find it. The price for the statues if $350 each or $575 for the pair.





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Turner Gallery with Engravings

Turner Gallery with Engravings

[A Series of One Hundred and Twenty Engravings. From works of the late J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Text by Cosmo Monkhouse. New York: D. Appleton and Company; undated, circa 1870. 15 x 11.5 inches.] These are loose and not in bindings, the originals were sold by subscription in installments.

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L’Exposition Universelle 1889 Heliogravure

I found this in a box at the Flea Market – unfortunately, I wasn’t the first to go through the box and many of the engravings were missing. Still, it turns out that the Smithsonian only has 31 of the engravings and the truly rare part – is the manuscript and the folio binders. Extraordinary hand colored steel cut engravings printed in a limited number for the American VIP attendees of the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris.

Edition De Luxe L’Exposition Universelle 1889 Heliogravure containing the complete text and photogravures plus 17 of the loose hand colored heliogravure/photogravure plates of selected paintings from the 1889 Paris Exposition. This De Luxe Edition was printed for Mr. D. W. Briggs of Saginaw Michigan – presumably an attendee. 6 Folio Binders – Elephant folio





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