Our Mission: Ending the Turf Wars

Our Mission: Arrival

When publishing changed, everything changed.

I founded Round Bend Press in 2010 initially to publish my own writing. It soon evolved into a unique experiment destined to test the old edicts about how books might be produced and distributed. RBP now stands as a vanguard small press, one example of the uprising. A number of fellow authors who discovered RBP and decided they too wanted to publish their work under our banner have contributed to this lively catalog of books. What the authors have in common is a belief in printed books and the power of writing. They are beholden to printed books and to the allure of the new small- press dynamics--an important aspect of the future.

Terry Simons

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Observation Post/Our Writers

Conversations with Dooley #2/Terry Simons

From time-to-time Buddy Dooley tapes our rambling conversations and transcribes them.

Then he sends them my way as e-mails and I attempt to correct his many, many errors before posting the texts at my blog. Buddy and I have had a recent civil period that I'd like to maintain. It is, however, Buddy's call.

BD: When we left off you were talking about power. How does power work in your estimation?

TS: Power is often a subtle phenomenon. At other times it works quite openly. It works in various ways, but it always has similar results; the subjugation of a particular individual or group of individuals whom elites have determined are threatening to a long-standing imposed order. When talking about subjugation you are actually referencing control mechanisms that the stakeholders determine will best undermine rebellion, or the potential for rebellion, in all its manifestations. Order is of utmost importance to the stakeholders. Money is merely a symbol of power, then. Money hasn't any real purpose except to assist in the imposition of control. War is the most fundamental example of the imposition of order. Quite simply, the stakeholders will train their subjects to kill to maintain the control that has evolved from hierarchical systems over time. We refer to such a display as defensive. The point is to keep what's yours.  But the powerful are often not satisfied with simply maintaining the control—say of resources—they are also interested in obtaining more, a surplus of whatever it is—minerals, which is land, navigable waterways, airspace, etc. It is very easy for the defensive posture to mutate into an offensive quest. The shift can be subtle and is often explained away with organized propaganda, intimidation, fear mongering and a regeneration of newer and even more subtle symbols.  If control is to be maintained it must be wrapped in this increasingly subtle and tentacled apparatus. Symbolic order is the highest manipulative form of regeneration. Power is dynastic and clannish. That's sort of basic, isn't it? Power isn't a very complicated process at all. The key lies in training and organizing killers.

BD: Well, war seems to be an open example, as you say. What about the individual. Those levels of power? Let's talk about relationships...I guess that is what I'm talking about.

TS: Power is weighed and measured in its most rudimentary personal formulations. I've been taking a long look lately at techniques of cognitive manipulation...

BD: As among prison populations...

TS: Yes, that, but not that alone. But since you brought it up. Prison is certainly the most obvious control mechanism when it comes to the individual. And the work that is usually done there is an important aspect of a trend that is seeping into other areas, too. The lessons of control have jumped the line, so to speak. There is a whole area of the sketchy use of cognitive manipulation that is bleeding into ordinary society. This has been going on for a long time; its impetus is obviously growing and the influence of the technique is skyrocketing. It's one thing to attempt to teach moral conation to a killer and quite another to use it while reflecting what I consider to be a very presumptive understanding of morality overall. I was talking with a gentleman just the other day, a very nice man, whose work is in this field.

BD: The field of...does he work with prisoners?

TS: Moral Conation Therapy. He works with many ex-offenders, parolees, etc. Actually what he tries to do is make people employable, which is reasonable. This man is very concerned with moral judgments. He didn't really have much to say about markets and the constriction of the economy as such, situations that are making even non-offenders sweat out the job market. But that's another story. He's not an economist and neither am I. It was interesting in talking to him how he used as his primary example of immorality the recklessness of Bill Clinton's sex scandal. He was simply aghast at Bill's use of the Oval Office as a sex den, though I doubt Bill was the first to ever do that. I had just met this person, a very nice and earnest man; a man whom I believe is sincere and actually desirous of helping people find jobs. He's a strong mentor figure. His next example was Tiger Woods. Look, he said. Bill and Tiger are just terrible, terrible and so immoral in their actions.

BD: Whoa....I see what you're getting at.

TS: Yeah, imagine it. People are dying in America’s ongoing wars and this guy is talking about the immorality of sex in the Oval Office, or on the putting green, or wherever Tiger gets it on. If you're going to express a moral tale about politicians you'd be better off going with something a little more pertinent to the job politicians are supposed to be doing. It is a very conservative ideal to pick up on sex scandals when you have real evil at hand, highly organized, deadly evil in the highest and most revered institutions in the land. I mean war is immoral. Collateral damage is immoral. The very notion of collateral damage as being acceptable is an awful immorality. Much worse than a blow job!

BD: Sinful...just awful. The BJ, I mean...

TS: Well now, let's not play down how hurtful Bill and Tiger were in their shenanigans. Their wives and other girlfriends were no doubt dismayed...Anyway, this is the point. My friend's concerns are an aspect of the illogical that is often tied in with judgments of moral reasoning. Logic and moral questions aren't necessarily inclusive of each other. To claim they are can become downright frightening if the evidence demonstrates they are not. Sure, get the killer or bank robber to rethink his actions, or think ahead, or consider others, or accept himself, or to achieve self-awareness or whatever it takes to quit crime. Protest sin if you like. But be very, very careful in your moral judgments.

BD: He's a Christian I take it?

TS: Of course, but this is where misappropriations of power in individual relationships may subtly go beyond the norm. Moral Conation Therapy was designed by a pair of psychologists working with prisoners in Memphis in the early or mid-80s. They've made studies that demonstrate successful cognitive regeneration at work in the field of prison science. The notion is to cut recidivism among offenders. It works, evidently.

BD: Then where exactly do you see the quandary?

TS: In that we are all susceptible to cognitive control and the potential of the stakeholders to make prisoners of even the mildest rebels.

BD: Do you think that is happening?

TS: I know it is.

BD: I'm not as certain about this as you are. We'll pick it up next time with some examples if you have any, which I doubt. Also, I'd like to talk about poetics if we can.

TS: Whatever you say big shot.


Marginalia and Its Discontents/K.C. Bacon

Tearing open the brown sleeve it arrived in, I immediately began scanning the book of personal essays by a dozen or more well-known writers, some of whom I had actually read before. I had been looking forward to the essays ever since I'd ordered it from an Amazon.com vendor in Connecticut, eager for what I might learn about each writer's rendering of whatever they felt meaningful in their personal lives. I thought it would be like listening to a good friend's good stories about good times, even if those good times weren't so good. It would be a feast of sorts, a high repast at my reading table.

Or so I thought.

But when I opened the book at its middle, to fan it as I usually do, letting the pages breathe, so to speak, like one might do with a bottle of wine, I saw the first portend of trouble. For in pencil, on both pages, with several arrowed lines pointing to circled words in the text, and alongside underlined passages, one of which took up a third of the page, were the scribblings of a former reader - marginalia!

I fanned the pages. Acht! The thing was replete with pencil jottings on nearly all its pages. I felt like I'd woken up after going on a three-day binge with a novice tattoo artist whose idea of a practical joke was to graffiti me while I was passed out. The marks were everywhere.

I recoiled as from a bee sting. No, rather more like from a swallow who, upset that I had strolled too close to its nest, had made a strafing run at my head. I twinged. I might as well have been having lunch next to a table where a single person sits, talking to someone by way of a black and silver phone beetle stuck in their ear. When I see those weird contraptions in someone's ear, I think of an alien sucking the life out of another alien.

And I felt invaded, my private peace assaulted. The image of my car after it had been vandalized came to me. The thieves, finding nothing of value, hence upset, had torn my glove box off its hinges, a rushed epithet hurled at my stinginess.

Marginalia, by itself, is reasonable in reasonable hands. After all, we all jot in our books to celebrate a thought, or to simply join in the writerly fun. But this was overkill, a crime against human intercourse (perhaps done by a reader with a genetic predisposition to vandalism?). Whatever the reason, it was irritating in the same way public bad manners are irritating.

I guess bad manners existed even in Og's cave, though every age since has offered up its own special annoyances. Og, probably, was lucky in this regard. He only had to put up with his she-person sitting on his dinner, or doing that ridiculous shadow dance with the bear skull while he was trying to have sleep visions. I can see Og time-capsuled forward ten thousand years, popped up and standing in a Safeway checkout line next to someone chattering into the empty air like a lunatic and saying to himself, "She-person might sit on my dinner, but at least she isn't rude."

Some of these lunatics also employ hand gestures, an added weapon in their arsenal of bothersomeness. With the alien phone beetle in their ears (some have a bristle-arm sweeping around their cheeks with a microphone on the end of it, sitting in front of their swamp mouths like a bug morsel awaiting the long tongue), they stride the streets and public places gesticulating like mimes who have not captured the fact that mimes are not supposed to shout.

But the serial marginalia-ist is the best of breed. I guessed the one that Jackson Pollack-ed my book of personal essays was a she, given the soft teleology of the script. It had a forward tilt, but only just. It had a look of practiced purpose, done by a disordered, distracted mind.

I remembered the time when I waited on a fastball when my teammate decided to steal from first and I could not help but see him in the corner of my eye for just the second it took me to strike out. He of course was thrown out for a double play. And everyone blamed me. "For Christ's sake," I wanted to complain, but was only twelve and not yet given to blasphemy, "it wasn't me…he sidetracked my eye." Now, these decades later, a time when I am able to curse or blaspheme happy and free, it neither does any good nor pleases me to report that there are among us shitheads who are still blaming the wrong person for the errors of themselves. And no one performs this crude duty with more brio than the l'enfant marginaliste.

The overzealous marginalia-maniac has cousins, too. For example, there is the man of interesting observations from whom we must listen to the cost of his newly repaired car, or how he came to name his dog, Fred. Well, he finds it interesting, and that's enough for him, isn't it? Any conversation with him is limited to silently thinking, "Do you actually believe me to be such an imbecile that I am grateful to hear you rattle on about why you didn't have lunch at noon today?"

And there is of course the ubiquitous performance jokester. This is the guy who wears the baseball cap that either has stitched seagull poop dripping off its bill, or pronounces, DAMN IF I KNOW.

It was still early evening as I turned to a Max Beerbohm essay I thought I might enjoy, and saw another barrage of !!!!!!s lining the page edges like pert schoolgirls at a prom. So I shut the book, drove downtown, and drank two glasses of red wine next to a woman who was running away from her husband and had lots to say about the matter.

But even she spoke with her hands.


Water to Land/Charles Lucas

My shadow gently cast along the shore,
where the water meets the land.
That moment in time before the water
recedes back to its source.
 A pivot point in memory,
as the wing of the bird rises and falls.
As the shuffle of phases the moon expresses,
as day becomes night, snow to rain, and twig to limb.
Cast my thoughts into the water, back to its source.
No longer do I own them, now empty to receive.
The chasm of sorrows, carved by past errors and
misgiving now filled with joy in a silent moment.
The personal faded like the morning star.
A true friend, to return again.
For now, a nameless rod and staff to witness through.
To taste the salt of the earth in the air, to gaze to the horizon.        
Then revel in its translation.
Water to land, land to water, fire from the
sun through the air.
From the source, then return, between these pillars the expression. 
A legacy to the use of breath and a beating heart.
Ever translating movement, joy, mixed with the
      poignancy of the salt in a tear. 


Never-ending Piss and Lelonie/Lee Santa

Sacramento, December, 1965

I came home on leave for the holidays from the Army and Ft. Gordon, GA.  My friend Lucky took me to meet a “cool chick” named Lelonie.  She was about five years older than me, had a couple of kids and was really hot. We were sitting around in her living room smoking pot and drinking beer when at one point I had to take a leak real bad. The toilet was situated through a bedroom which was just off the living room.  Since there was no way my friends could see me I didn’t see the need to shut the bathroom door.  I started taking my leak and the stream made that sound we’re all familiar with.  My pissing seemed to go on forever and I remember wondering about half way through it if they can hear it out there.  A few moments later this endless piss struck me as funny and I started giggling to myself.  Then I heard chuckling coming from the living room.  By the time I ended my chore and gave a couple of squirts into the toilet bowl for good measure, I could hear my friends’ loud laughter.  When I come walking into the living room, pulling up my zipper, everyone, myself included, was breaking up.  My loud piss was the funniest thing imaginable at that moment because we were all stoned out of our minds.

Once, after being discharged from the Army, I looked Lelonie up.  I was sitting in her living room visiting when I noticed this huge patch on the ceiling.  I asked her what happened.  She told me that over a period of time she and friends would notice nail-size holes mysteriously appearing in the ceiling.  Finally one evening during a friend’s visit, they were sitting in the living room when an old boyfriend, "Barefoot" Larry, came crashing through the ceiling, landing on the living room floor in front of a startled Lelonie and her friend.  Larry got up and ran out the front door. "Barefoot" had been living in the attic unbeknownst to Lelonie and spying on her.


Henry Aaron/Buddy Dooley

In 1980 I researched and wrote a series of historical pieces on the Portland Beavers while working for a community monthly in Northwest Portland. I dug into a trove of microfiche files at the Portland library to find material dating from turn-of-the-century newspapers, and I leaned heavily on many stories by a long-time Oregonian writer, a legend in Oregon named L.H. Gregory, whom I could remember reading as a kid.

Gregory was among the last of the old-time sportswriters. He referred to the ball players as "lads" and extolled their virtues as "fine young men," and once described a manager as having a "Romanesque stature and nose," a man whose "dignity" surpassed even his managerial skills, etc.

A night on the town would include players under Gregory's watchful gaze "ice-skating in Fresno" on an off day, and "cutting manly figures" as they circled around the rink and "impressed the local ladies."

It was good stuff.

I used as much of the material as I could find and put together six pieces covering professional baseball in Portland between 1901 and 1980.

Lo, I had a minor hit in the community! One friend urged me to start going to spring training in Arizona and freelance baseball stories. People, generally old men, but a few old women as well, wrote to the newspaper thanking us for the memories of Vaughn Street Park, Portland's home field for over fifty years. Built in 1901, Vaughn had once been the finest ball park on the west coast, people said. Everything changed when they tore that old stadium down in 1956.  It just wasn't the same.

Baseball is American society's biggest nostalgia hook, even when the nostalgia is phony and trumped-up by baseball's never ending self-promotion. Or George Will, the waxiest of the baseball philosophers.

I understood baseball because I played the game. I played Little League, Babe Ruth, high school and junior college ball. But I swear to God baseball doesn't make me nostalgic at all. In fact, I don't even care for the game today.  It's too money-centric now, and as with every professional sport most of the players are all about the money and little else. When Curt Flood sued baseball to free players at the negotiating table, the game changed, not just the ball parks, which always get rickety and old.

Curt Flood started free-agency rolling. That was good for the players, but bad for the fans. I knew Pete Ward, who played for the White Sox and Yankees for a decade, from my work in the bar business.  He was a beer rep for a Portland distributor when I met him, and we once talked about the big money that came into baseball after he retired. He seemed a little wistful about the entire situation.

The baseball strike in the '90s was the last straw for me. I've seen a couple of games since then, but honestly the game bores me to death now, in part because I don't have the interest one must have to keep up with the revolving door of trades and salary disputes and drunken driving charges and dugout tiffs and on and on.

Throw in the "juicing" controversies of recent years and you have a yawner.

I wrote a small book about the Beavers, which in hindsight isn't really a very good book at all, and then I essentially lost interest in the team. Over the ensuing years I watched a handful of games, and I didn’t miss the game at all. Just a year ago the team's final owner, a rich kid whose father is Henry Paulson, and who is a soccer fanatic, sold the team out of town.  He reconfigured the old baseball park into a futbol stadium.

But to get back on point, my baseball history was noticed. The Beavers' organization in 1980 had just switched hands again, this time falling in the lap of a young, aggressive Philadelphia native named David Hersh. Hersh favored long, thick, expensive cigars and nicely tailored suits and had a promoter's sensibility, like Charlie Finley, the then owner of the Oakland A's, and like one of the game's greatest-ever promoters, Bill Veeck (as in wreck).

Veeck, owner of the Chicago White Sox, made an early name for himself in 1951 when he hired 3' 7" Eddie Gaedel to pinch hit against the Detroit Tigers. The opposing pitcher walked him, of course, unable to find the six-inch strike zone a hunched over midget presents. For their part, Finley's Athletics kept a mule as a mascot at the ball park in Oakland, a symbol of the owner's stubborn personality they say. Finley's teams were the first to wear white shoes and lobby for orange baseballs, which never happened thank the good lord lollipop.

David Hersh was 23 years-old when he came to Portland.

Never mind his relative inexperience, Hersh had somehow managed to find a list of investors who backed his dream, for a while, of placing Major League Baseball in Portland within a few years.

Like orange baseballs, it didn't happen, and Hersh moved on, dashing the hopes of Portland's smattering of hard-core fans.

I liked Hersh for his brashness and early willfulness to get it done and bring real ball to Portland. The Triple-A Beavers were good, but there is a considerable fall-off between the second highest level of baseball and the pinnacle league Babe Ruth helped build while nailing the grandstands together in Yankee Stadium. Anyone who knows baseball understands this, so the excitement Hersh brought to town was tangible.

I met Hersh at the stadium, where I'd been summoned by his Director of Communications, a Rick somebody (I've managed to inconveniently forget his last name; perhaps because he was somewhat of a dweeb). The organization was interested in my baseball history. I let them use whatever text they wanted to promote the team in their program, and in return they issued me a press pass, which I used sporadically for the next couple of seasons. I had asked for money, and Rick had said, "We're not that interested!"

The pass gave me access to the press box behind home plate, where I sat and daydreamed throughout the few games I attended. I may have even fallen asleep on occasion, to tell you how interested I was in the proceedings. I didn't write any more baseball stories that year.

Hersh walked up and down press row at times, doling out free food to the writers, which must have included me because when I was there I ate really well. Big, tasty sandwiches and all the pizza I wanted.  Plus salads and savory desserts, cakes, trays of donuts, veggie plates--damn, I'm getting hungry recalling it all.

Hersh was a hand-shaker of course, moving around the ball park in an effort to meet as many paying customers as he could. He was a back-slapper, touchy-feely, spreading his warm dreams to the writers and fans in the sincerest terms, with a perfect white smile, billowing cigar smoke as he laughed needlessly hard at poor quips--an honest to God salesman.

Hersh the promoter had worked out an affiliates' agreement with the Pirates, the team he brought to town for an exhibition at mid-season his first year. He held a home run contest, and the sight of Willie Stargell hitting the ball over 500 ft. to a balcony overlooking the ballpark in right field was an unforgettable sight, it really was. Hersh, smoking his cigar, stood near the on-deck circle with a wad of hundreds in his fist, and every time Stargell or the other derby contestants hit one out the kid would make a show of giving the batter a hundred. Two hours of this during pre-game, and the tab ran into the thousands.

A year or two later, Hersh brought Mickey Mantle and Henry Aaron to town for a special promotion. I heard later that Mick had been in Joe's Cellar on 21st Ave. with other baseball-types the night before and had drank a few and made an ass out of himself, which might explain why I didn't see him at the park the next night.

But I'm not absolutely sure he wasn't there, all I know is he didn't make it down to the press box, or I didn't see him at any rate.

I ran into Aaron after the game. The stadium offices were under the grandstands and I was down there, had just turned a corner out of the press box and I practically walked into Hammerin' Hank.

You know, Aaron wasn't a very large man, which was surprising given the number of homers he hit—755. They say his power came from his wrists. When I saw Hank I naturally looked at those wrists, and I said, "Hello, Mr. Aaron."

He nodded and kept moving, until I said, "Could you please sign this for me?" I was holding a scrap of paper I'd just ripped from my notebook.

Hank looked at me with curious discernment and said, "Aren't you a little old to be asking for an autograph?"

Perhaps I was at 29. After that I don't remember what else I said, or how I justified myself, but Hank signed.

I owned that autograph for 20 years before losing it in a move.  I should have given it to someone more responsible than I.


The Huncke Poems/Sam White (RP Thomas)

Herbert Huncke

where is your
through the sunny fog
i heard your horn pass
by my cheap
hotel window
on a stolen
rug guided by
a rudder that
i swore was
a shovel

just a glimpse
reflected my eyes
from the neon
sign that
flashed through
silver and light

Dutch Schultz Hotel

and you
in search of
your published
not alone in
that seizure
as others were
laughed at
in city lights

Herbert Huncke

where is your
is it not on that stolen rug
where the
cheeks of your
ass so paregorically


your soul
lost forever
but herbert

Texan Herbert

you know how
low the wind
can stream
in the

the land
at your feet
plugged in by
your magic shovel
your most intense
connection with
the earth

another spike
and the
camusian sun
your face


never in a
bath tub
but on the
wall i saw your
you on the
land with
hungry cells
waiting for
“god’s medicine”

the sun hit
you in the face
like a
nuclear neon

filtered by
sweat in
your hollow

the smile
stayed deep
left with
the soul

a fix to mourn


An Interview with Charles Deemer (Video)

A Deemer Essay

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