Saturday, April 04, 2009

LIfe's got me by the Peter

There are people who tell me I am sucess-shy.
Certainly gun-shy of late.
Every so often I hit a publishing streak, get myself on the staff of a magazine, Wirite up a storm, get an honourable mention if not a premier award, get a writing grant, and they all say "you go boy."
But wise old editors say, more often than not,"Good. But can you keep it up?" Well, usually I can, but after about a year, I run out of gas. Expending all that adrenaline, drinking jugs of coffee and about twelve beers at night to come down with; I do a roman candle. Fizz! The image is more complete since there is smoke seemingly coming out of all my apertures, whoosh!-- from the cigarettes I'm chain smoking.
A friend once explained myself to me. "Nice guy, IQ of probably of a mildly retarded girl, Normal, I guess.
"But then he cranks himself up on all those legal chemicals, does a Brewster McCloud, Icarus with flames shooting out of his ass, Whoosh. Crash. Per Ardua ad Terra.

Brewster McCloud, from that old movie, wings patched back up, climbing the terraces of the Houston Astrodome again, to launch himself once more. And wow. Flight.
But for how long?
If the wings don't melt, the cops'll get ya.

Getting to the top nearly every time, but durn, no stamina.
"Good. But can you keep it up?"
Mostly no.
I got as far as magazine editor. Takes some brains, art aptitude, even cunning, because the young Turks are all around, out for your scalp.

But then the incubus that thing that seem to sit on your chest, draining all that artiificial life out of you, that energy you'd hoarded from all that coffee, all those cigarettes and all that booze.
Struggling with the incubus.
Like a psycho. "Get off!"

The episode passes.
But there is still an enervation. Weakness.
On top, and out of gas.

Perhabs my metaphors are too vague.
Put it this way: A cartoonist become successful. But they put him in a cage, where only a scant lunch is served by a grudgingly admiring jailer now and again. His ediorial keepers demand more and more from him, poor starving pokemon, until one day there is just an india ink splat on the tile floor and the skeleton of a hand.holding pen. This is success? Yes. More often than not.

There are of course those who are like the Enegrizer Bunny, they kee going and going and going. Dave Letterman comes to mind. But then another coronary. Gotta retire. Even Leno is slowing down.
And the life went out of MAD Magazine decades ago.
(I get notes from the wonderful Willie Elder, creator of Melvin Mole, a Man out of Conrol. But with Mr. Willie it's age and not burnout. He never did burn out and keeps drawing up to this day).
But myself, I am Mr. Burnout.

Two years to get an idea. Another six months to sell it.
Sell it big time....They want more material!
And then blank.NeeNeeNanneeNanninoonah!
Ferdinand the Bull. Sniffing daisies." Wha?...Whoaaah."

Peter Principle, I guess. Everybody gets promoted to his level of incompetence.
If I'd only listened to that wise barmaid that night.

"Stay small, or you'll go crazy."



Charles Gramlich said...

Success in the art/publishing worldi is a fickle bitch. I'd sure like to rest on my laurels, such as they are. But I don't see that happening.

Tom R said...

I'd check the signature on those notes, as Will Elder died almost a year ago. said...

Tom R.

Sorry to hear.
Very sorry.
Obvisously, I've bee out of touch. said...


When I was much youger and stupider, I saw success as a trap.
Now that I am out of circulation, I seem to find that I am in an even deeper and longer trap.
Beware of the complacent feeling of "Doesn't everybody?" when you hit the big time.

the walking man said...

Just one question and I agree that it may be trite, but is the success the writing itself or the lucre?

...and if it's a throng of people waving and recognizing you as you pass up the street, there must be a New Market Parade happening soon.

Just keep yourself alive old man to keep writing, fuck the rest of it, it is basically out of our hands anyway, fate has much to do with it. The being in the right place at the right time door. said...

Hard to say, Mark.

Seems when young, I would hardly put pen to paper before the money rolled in. I think it was the right Service time (fer the class) the right school, the right wife, the right job.

This was incredible for a Joe Mxstplk.What made the little Polack run?

Yes, Mark, there was a time when people really would salute when I'd go down the street, but this was fleeting, as you are only as good as your last piece. One bad performance in print or in lifestyle would have the town turn on you

Later, by more luck my Light Over Newmaket became, at least,locally, a critical success. More money came in,though this was from another source.

Like a fool, I blew it. Fell in with bad company (Johnny Walker and all)...Slept in vans. My successful friends began avoiding me especially when I hit the public purse, even though still teaching part time. An editor, at a party, his girlfriend in tow,(she a TV announcer), almost trampled me at a street evenn.t "Lets some peoople through!

But while I lost all the money, I kept up with the arts community, employed people, printers at least--working on my bad novels...became a theatre critic.

Still, I was no longer invited to artsy-fartsy parties.

I went publice. "Hey Mr. Taylor: You and regional councillor Bill Fisch throw this big party for artists and I was not invited? What gives?"

Hey. Luck changing again:


Your wit, humour, and irreverence are always a good addition to any event! And of course you are a walking history of the Arts in Newmarket!"

John Taylor
Regional Councillor - Newmarket

Town of Newmarket
395 Mulock Drive, PO Box 328, Station Main
Newmarket, ON L3Y 4X7
Telephone: 905-895-5193
Facsimile: 905-953-5133


Musn't let the old Air Forec background show, but up and down like a whore's drawers!

Anonymous said...

Hello, Ivan:

I intended to mention it in my last dispatch, but self-absorption once again got in the way: John Slykhuis, you may know, retired last month after a distinguished career of newspapering, defined by many awards, important articles and columns too numerous to comprehend, and providing employment for those otherwise unemployable (ie., you and me). My wife brought me a copy of his final column in the Advocate in which John passionately decried our blind and feckless abandonment of our liberty to bureaucrats, cops and cranks. He concluded the piece with a declaration of his intention to retire to a beach somewhere to read Hunter S. Thompson. To which I commend him.
And congratulate him on getting while the getting is good.
Times are not changing; they have changed. The industry is closing in on itself (literally; our once grand broadsheet has shrunk to a sub-tab format about the size of what we used to call a pony tab, a format generally employed by the advertising department to publicize fishing derbies and municipal recreation programs. I feel sometimes as though I have spent the past 25 years trudging across a barren plain only to arrive at the lip of a bottomless chasm. Men in suits line the precipice, pissing into the abyss. The moment prompts an old torch song to unwind in my head: Is that all there is? Is that all there is?). My colleagues are being discarded, declared redundant, or, worse, unprofitable. The world is shrinking. The sky has fallen.
Thanks for writing, and your kind words. I am reading you each day; you've been bookmarked here, my man, and these days, amid all the distraction and chatter, that matters.

JM said...

...I just had to put up Jeff Mitchell's letter above because he writes so well!

the walking man said...

Next time the whore pulls them drawers up pay her to keep them there.

I am a little confused though was the honorable Mr. Taylor's response an invitation?

I somehow get the idea that listening to you give a lecture or talk would be very similar to hearing Bukowski read his poetry.

Midnighht said...

It's results, that matter.

iv said...


You flatter me with the Bukowski comparison. I am good at hellscapes, but not as rich in human content as Bukowski.
He was very brave, even unto the last amputation as the diabetes ravaged him.
I share with him, at least the alcoholims, and I worry about my sugar rushes.
To look Medusa in the eye and not flinch, one eye on the mirror.

When it comes to Mr. Taylor's welcome, I guess I'll at least be invited to the next artists' ball.
Cinderfella, I guess. said...


Holy cow!

Jo said...

Ivan, I have always thought you were your own worst enemy. But what the heck -- most of us are.

That synchronized "swimming" video was a hoot! said...

Hi Jo.

Yeah, that "synchronized swimming" video from Russia...durn, they're getting as bad as the French...Sylvia Frechettes practising in the office!
Thanks for dropping by.
Yep, we all have this master plan for self-destructing. Dunno why.

the walking man said...

The thing that struck me about the video was that it was good to see some kids having fun. said...

Thanks, Mark.

Your friend Betty from Sweden has just sent an appreciation of your recently published poetry by us in the blog just behind (scroll).

She says,

" so many ways, the poem about the key says it all."

What in thunder have you got? :)

Jo said...

I agree with Mark. It was fun to see the kids having fun. All over the world, people are the same. :-) said...


Healthy- looking young girls, as far as I could see.
Hey, shake a leg!

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