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August 23, 2015 / thackersam

August 23 – John Barleycorn & What That Has To Do With Writing

BarleycornSome people in certain types of businesses have a misconception about writers. As I have supported myself for more than a dozen years working as a writer for several organizations, I have encountered such issues. Issues like – you’re a writer, that’s communications so you can be our spokesperson. No I can’t. Like many people, and many writers, I would rather get a Brazilian wax in Macy’s window than speak publicly (that was the line with which I opened the two-minute speech I gave at Vicki’s memorial at the beginning of the year, for which I fortunately got a laugh). Or – you’re a writer, so you’re the one who should take the minutes. No, I’m not. If you want notes taken of the meeting, either invite a secretary or have someone do it who actually cares or knows what you’re talking about. Truly no disrespect meant, but it should not be tasked to the person whose ears will only perk up when she hears something that will make an interesting story, and is otherwise concentrating more on her doodles than the conversation in the room. I have found this particularly true of certain non-profits that favor services over the marketing department, as it should be, but please try to understand our existence. (In the very much for-profit environment in which I currently work, not in the marketing department but in a service function, the marketing people are practically treated as gods, while my department is treated as a nuisance, no lie.)

Regardless, I must say that I have turned out some really good stuff: newsletters, brochures, annual appeal letters and reports, and some very reader friendly manuals and guides. But I really, really need to concentrate more on my own work, and therefore must make sure I stay away from home more, where I am bound to glue myself to my old dinosaur computer that has the version of spider solitaire that I have been playing for YEARS and is my preference. So, this weekend, which started Friday afternoon, I took the laptop to a place not far from me, ate outside and chatted with the young waitress, who recognized me as a fellow writer by the notebooks and scribbled on pieces of paper I had anchored on the table. And I wrote.

Then yesterday, I walked around trying to find somewhere to eat lunch and write, without winding up at my favorite Indian buffet on Greenwich Street, where I would undoubtedly have too many portions of goat curry and rice pudding, which would not contribute positively to my weight loss plan. I managed to resist, by the skin of my teeth when I spotted a sign that read “John Barleycorn.” I had to go in to what turned out to be a large street-block long Irish bar, where I got a lot of writing done and ate totally inappropriately. And no one there had heard of “John Barleycorn Must Die,” not even the guy behind the bar who looked as if he could be about my age.

The significance of the reason I walked into the bar, which was not to start a joke, is that just the night before, I decided that I wanted to listen to my cassette tape, on my new cassette player, of Traffic’s John Barleycorn Must Die, if not just to hear the title song. People of my generation were supposed to like John Barleycorn Must Die, and I did, even if the album was not on my shopping list back then. But I did like it enough to purchase the tape many years later, probably from a discount rack (like another can of beans-Billy Joel “The Entertainer”). I thought I was in for a strictly meditative, yoga-laden workout when I hit play, however there was much movement added to the cobras and the cat/cow repetitions before I lied on my back, legs up against the wall and mellowed out. For those of you who own this album, CD or are looking for something to download, this is worth a listen, maybe two.

The short-lived Traffic consisted of Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and the late Chris Wood, and this utterly swell record came out in 1970.

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