Saturday, July 24, 2010

Freedom is Provided to the Motherless Child

It has been over fifty years since The Day The Music Died- the night a Beechcraft Bonanza B35 descended from the wintry skies and crashed into a snow covered corn field just outside of Clear Lake, Iowa. It was to be the end of Rock 'n' Roll. The end of a rebellion that compromised the values of America's middle class. Yet, here we are in the years, with one of the most popular musicals on Broadway- American Idiot- telling the story of a boys escape from the monotony of the suburban nomenclature. the saga of Jesus of Suburbia's exodus from Jingletown seems to parallel the youthful cries of independence, and the desire to split from the confines of conformity echoed in the lyrics of sixties Rock 'n' Roll.

So, how did this media find its prominence? How did a culture sustain the generations of adverse social condemnation? How did the conformity to the Reconstruction Amendments overpower Jim Crow segregation? How, did the leniency of self indulgence surpass the rigors of temperance? How did freedom of speech combat The Smith Acts? Where did it begin?

The pioneers of the music stood in defiance, shouting the songs of freedom with a civil disobedience void of arms, with words without guns, with guitars instead of bombs. The golden rule was accepted by the common sense- do unto others as you would have them do unto you...let all God's children Rock!

This is the saga of Benson's House, and it begins with the final stages of America's Civil War. The nucleus can be observed in a 1866 editorial observing a musical group of emancipated slaves performing on the platform stage in the basement tavern of The Benson Inn-
The influence of West Africa’s tradition is heard in the compositional reflections of this new music. It is a sound that achieves emancipation from conventions, equal in relevance with the freedoms from the blight of slavery. These songs are significant in meaning to the Black man- who cradles the melodies passionately within the depths of his soul. The great metropolitan cities of the north, who welcome the former slaves as new citizens, will also welcome and host their music and philosophies. The Congo Square Players are taking the pastoral sonnets of the plantation lifestyle and transcending them into a genesis of urban romanticism that will define art and culture for generations to come.

Those not born into slavery were distinguished as Motherless children- souls plucked from their villages and families, forced to be transported overseas like livestock, and sold into bondage by a nation recently proclaiming their Independence as champions of human equality. They were given slave names to replace the identities chosen by their progenitors.

The mark of the motherless child became a symbol of rebellion; a pseudonym identifying a defiance against destiny. Great achievers have strolled from the wilderness and accepted the slave name. For many of my generation the moniker of Bob Dylan was the most perfect example. In the weeks to follow the legend will be further revealed and the lesson will be clearly identified.

RIP: Ben Keith.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Leap of Faith

I don't intend to lambaste the publishing industry for any inability to sensibly provide adequate forums where emerging authors can be discovered. That would be self defeating and perhaps I'm merely unaware of most arenas that exist. I've been told to have confidence in the faith of the industry and eventually my dedication will be rewarded. I can only say that through my experience- so far- the acceptance process seems hit or miss without much feedback to restore my fleeting assurances.
Months elapse without reply and false optimism sets in like that of a innocent defendant awaiting a verdict in a murder trail. The longer the verdict is withheld, the more confident the faithful has in believing he is to receive a positive outcome. However, when the judge enters the court and all rise, the sounding decisions become repetitious: we ask that you accept our apology for the insensitive treatment of the project,but due to the voluminous contributions of daily submitters, we request that you go somewhere else. The project is sentenced to death row.
My all time favorite rejection was when an assistant to the literary agent provided a hand written response on the upper right corner of my query letter. The staggering amount of material received in that particular agency must have overflowed into piles of slush heaps that were blocking the aisles and preventing the assistant access to the copiers to create the standardized rejection form.
It also seems the industry has restricted its scope and is obsessed with accepting only suspense thrillers catering to "who done it" murdering and creatures sucking blood from the necks of female students enrolled in the town's high school senior class- an exception comes to mind of a series about the education of a boy wizard. However, my novel has none of that, which may contribute to the problem.I suppose I'm not cookie cutting my project to fit the paragons of what the industry insists is evidence of mass appeal.
I always felt good literature stood uniquely apart from the norm, consuming the reader, not by cunning sensationalism, but by subtle allure in the context of a story. It is like the enjoyment one savors from a fine wine. It is to be tasted, slowly, and not gulped down. The intoxication should arise gradually, and when the final content of the bottle is poured into the glass, a certain tranquility is achieved that yearns for the experience to continue. I've achieved that sensation each time I've reread To Kill A Mockingbird. I hope future posts will convince followers that reading Benson's House will inspire a similar gratification.
My manuscript seems polished but could use direction I suppose. Admitting such is not a sign of self doubt, only an acknowledgement that synergy can generate a more successful project. My novel speaks to the stimuli of a generation of Baby Boomers. In the weeks that follow I will offer description on the novel's portrayal of the family chronicles that when told traces the evolution of the music that became Rock 'n' Roll!