Monday, July 16, 2007

Trout fishing in Watermelon Sugar

It's possible that that man in the picture may have had something to do with why "Fly Fishing" is so damn popular.
Damn his eyes.  I hate fly fishing.  That man in the picture is Richard Brautigan. He became a popular writer and poet in the San Francisco bay area back in 1968 when it was much cooler to be a musician and  not a very good musician at that.
The Bay Area was full of awful music.  I know. I was there.  Conversely, it was full of good poets and writers, but that Brautigan guy was really more of the "Art Community" that held people like Grace Slick and Janis Joplin in high regard, while somehow guys like Ferlenghetti and Keroac were held at bey, so to speak.  I don't know why,  but it was so. At the time, Richard had two popular books with story lines and a popular book of poetry.
His books were called "In Watermelon Sugar" and "Trout Fishing in America."  The poetry book was called "The Pill vs. The Spring Hill Mining Disaster."  "Trout fishing in America"
was a pretty clever book, although it did borrow heavily n the work of Nelson Algren. The Watermelon book was silly hippy stuff, just like a lot of the music of the area and I don't think the poetry held up very well.  In fact the title poem of the work is just an observation about how when a particular woman takes here birth control pill it reminds Richard of a mining disaster because of the life lost.  Well I am not real sure that Richard had his anatomy and pharmacology straight because I just don't think birth control pills work like cave-ins or methane explosions.  A better analogy might be taking a pill would be more like one of those huge weddings put on my The Rev. Moon and having all the brides not show up, but hey I'm not the poet on trial here.  Anyway, Richard was also in the Rolling Stone back when it was a pretty local news print job and in his by-line photo he wore a worse looking hat than the one in the picture.  Let's talk about the picture, OK? Fine.  First, I think that is Columbus Circle in San Francisco.  People in that city take Columbus Day very seriously, which to me at least, is odd as the Admiral of the Ocean Sea never visited.  In fact he came ashore pretty close to where I write this blog and aside from archeologists and such digging here and there, you would not know much about it.  There are however, quite a number of Italians in the area and that must have something to do with it.  Another thing in that picture is the woman.  Now I always wondered if she was the "Pill girl" and back in the day it was harder to imagine because not being, at the time, the considerer of women that I have become, I found that girl to be rather homely.  Oh well, I was very young.
And now the fly fishing riff.  Brautigan knew far more on the subject of trout fishing than he did about most anything else he wrote and everyone knows you got to be an ace fly caster to catch trout. In fact fly casting has spread to all areas of fishing, even sailfish and that sort of thing.  Still fresh running water for trout and broad shallow saltwater flats for bone fish make for the pinnacle of the sport.  They do fly fish for giant Tarpon too.  When it all comes down to wanting a fish however, there are quick and dirty ways of getting any of those species.  I'm not going to tell you how.  I just want to point out for all his popularity; for a while he was better known than Keroac.  Richard seemed to loose his spin and after having a conversation on 9/14/84 he was found dead by a private eye about a month later.  He had shot himself in the head. Keroac, who died in 1969 had by that time become very popular.  Of Brautigan's work poet Ferlengthetti said he had been waiting for "Richard's writing to grow up"  You know this writing business can do a person in.  Sometimes I feel "in"  You?  Well, if you want to know about "in" write something serious or make up some music and let it out.  It's the only way.

1 comment:

Ms. Moon said...

I have mixed feelings about Brautigan. Did you know that he never did drive a car? Refused to learn. I think of him whenever I watch Deadwood, as the doctor on that show (who is a brilliant actor by the way and who was in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest- Brad Dourif by name) reminds me of Brautigan. My favorite book by him was probably The Abortion because it was the first one I read. I still think about that library in the book where people just brought the books in that they'd written and put them on the shelf. It was a library that people put things in, not took things out of. Sort of like blogging, in a way.
I remember that poem he did about watching a man leering at a not-very attractive girl in a moldy green colored mini skirt and then observing that there are 4 billion people on earth or whatever it was then. I always think about that.
He may not have been the world's greatest writer but he had some thoughts and he had a voice and he had some style.
Not unlike you in that regard. The thoughts, voice and style part, anyway.