A few years ago, Evan Karp founded this website. I helped get it rolling. The idea was to go to literary events, capture them on video, and post the results on the website. Sometimes Evan or I would write an introduction; sometimes we’d publish a review. In those days, Evan was incredibly enthusiastic about everything. He’d successfully started the reading series Quiet Lightning (he invited me to be Chairman of the Board), and I found an identity for a time following him around and thriving under the influence of his manic energy. I felt like a plant breaking through the earth and finding the sun. Evan told me he felt like a locomotive, stoked and pushing forward through everything at an incredible clip. I joked that I must be the caboose. An observant writer friend called me “the beloved disciple.”
After Litseen was established, I asked Evan if he would be interested in publishing a weekly column under my byline. He was, and asked for a proposal. That column was The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse. In it, I offered various exercises, techniques and approaches to living creatively and producing art, describing my own efforts in the hope that my little breakthroughs and accomplishments, challenges and failures, would be of interest to others. It turned out pretty good, and I continued for a year. I also kept showing up at event after event for Litseen, dropping articles, reviews, video and commentary into Evan’s mailbox like a house cat scavenging for birds and mice. I was terrified that I’d lose my hold on the locomotive and tumble backwards. And, of course, eventually that had to happen. The caboose lost its own identity, and the locomotive became overwhelmed by its weight, and, finally, the caboose was loose, uncoupled, confused and stuck on the track.
But of course I got moving again, the friendship with Evan survived, and The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse proceeded to a successful after life at The Rumpus. Gradually, it transmuted from reflections on the writing process to reflections on my day-to-day life. I wrote about reconnecting with an old love (after 30 years apart) and moving in together. I wrote of the bands of wild turkeys that haunted our backyard in Rodeo, and the humorous trauma of opening a joint bank account. On a less happy occasion, I wrote of the tragic Ghost Ship fire, and the outside-the-mainstream understanding of “safety” shared by runaways, outsiders, and various committed bohemians.
Sadly, it was only two years after my partner and I reunited that he was found to be dying of lung cancer. In response, we got married. The necessity of placing him on my work-provided medical insurance was a factor, but our vows were sincere. He passed quickly, as the doctors anticipated. On the eve of his 68th birthday, he suffered a massive stroke (related to metastatic brain cancer) and was given a prognosis of two months to live. He survived exactly that long, to the day. For those final months he was incontinent, entirely paralyzed on his left side, unable to talk or read a book, but with his personality nevertheless fully present, moment to moment, and still capable of love.
The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse did not survive his passing.
Then came the coronavirus and a new way of life under lockdown. Gradually, I’ve developed a routine that satisfies in its sameness and repetition. It is a welcome experience. I have always been attracted to monasticism, and now I live as close to the life of a hermit monk as I can imagine, outside of taking vows.
And so arises the challenge of reviving The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse. How does one write about daily adventures when there are none?
Well, I intend to find out. This posting represents the birth of The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse: The Covid-19 Edition.
The short take: the Muse can find us, even in lockdown. Welcome to my cell.