Peter Frampton – The Weight

His songs helped me write my history

Peter Frampton, in case you haven’t heard, is doing a farewell tour.

It seems many of the legends of my youth are doing farewell tours. Elton John comes to mind. The Moody Blues will never appear as The Moody Blues again. Such happens if you live long enough. Susan (wife/partner/Princess) and I are spending this year going to final tour concerts.

Bittersweet, that.

Eariler this week we saw Peter Frampton in concert. This is the third time for Susan, fourth for me. We saw him together when he played in David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour, then long ago when he played at an abandoned drive-in theater in Ogunquit, Maine (the first stop in a comeback. He was testing material. And it was bittersweet then. In the middle of the concert he had to put on glasses to read something. He apologized to us. I remember everybody waving cyalumes, not lighters). He’s still got it. He has neurologic challenges that are making it difficult for him to perform. Couldn’t tell by his performance. And gracious as always…

He opened by letting everybody know they could video and take pix of his first three songs, then he’d prefer if we all simply sat and enjoyed.

We did.

But this post is about the first time I saw Frampton perform. I was already a big fan. I told anybody and everybody that he was underrated, that he had serious chops, pay attention.

And we’re talking the early to mid 1970s.

The first time I saw Frampton perform, I was hiking The Dragon’s Spine and came down to resupply. That meeting stayed with me and became a focal point in my Pushcart nomimated story, The Weight. Here’s the excerpt that deals with my meeting Frampton many years ago (read the full story).
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30 Years to Publication

It took two months to write, thirty years to get published. And you know what? It was worth the wait.

I am so proud. I wrote The Augmented Man in April of 1990. Now I’m holding copies in my hands.

 
And the delay wasn’t because of slow mail.

I wrote the novel side-by-side with the novella, The Goatmen of Aguirra (to give you an idea of what my mind was working on at the time).

I’d workshopped The Augmented Man and received high praise. I shopped it around, no publisher was interested. I asked AJ Budrys, my mentor and an accomplished author and editor, if he’d be willing to read it and let me know if I was kidding myself, did it just need work, should I give up my dreams of being a published author…?

What you need to know is I was an accomplished trade technical author in the late 1980s through the early 1990s, at the height of the PC Boom (I discuss this in my interview) and my work was in high demand. I knew the publishing industry at that time.

AJ read it and was so blown away he offered to agent it for me. He’d published some of my short fiction in his Tomorrow magazine and he knew my work from workshops hence was familiar with my work, my style, my weaknesses and my strengths. But The Augmented Man caught him by surprise.

I was flattered, honored. I almost fainted when I read his letter offering to represent the novel (1990, remember? We didn’t do lots of emailing back then).

For reasons that had nothing to do with the book, AJ couldn’t land it. We met at a con and he explained the situation to me. Someday, should we meet at a con, ask me and I’ll share the story.

AJ passed and I got another agent. She loved the book. Could I add 30,000 words to it?

Sure, why?

Because it was too short. Thirty-k words longer and she was sure she could land it. I added 30k words, edited, proofed, and sent the rewrite to her in under a month.

Didn’t hear from her. Called and got “Oh, on second thought, no, I don’t think this is a good enough novel. Besides, there’s too much out there already like it.”

Really? Did you read the novel?

Yeah, sure. It’s about a guy lost in a jungle, right?

On to agent #3. Who was a joke. I finally asked point blank, “How many projects have you placed?” and she responded that she couldn’t work with someone who asked such questions. This was after the head of the agency phoned and talked with me for an hour to let me know how impressed he was by my work.

So I put it on the shelf. I went on with life.

Because I’m patient.

And now I’m holding the novel in my hands.

I’m so proud.


Would you like a personally autographed copy?

(and feel free to pass this on to every one)

The Cultural Anthropologist Visits His Friends

Sometimes Our Simple Joys Are Casualties to Our Awareness

Fascinating experience about a year back.

We visited a friend. He invited us to his house. We’d never been. The plan was to get together for dinner. We brought dessert (Susan makes killer desserts. The main course is often the vector to her dessert concoctions).

We arrived, rang the bell, the door opened, we were greeted. The dessert was put in the kitchen next to a big bowl of salad (talk about nutritional contrasts), our coats were taken (it was mid-March) and then…

And then our friend gave us a tour of their house.

A quick race up the stairs and “This is the guest room. This is the our bedroom. This is Virginia’s office. Here’s the upstairs bath.” Back down stairs. “This is the kitchen. This is the dining room. This is the living room.” Through a french door. “This is our deck. We’ll be dining here, tonight.” There was a chiminea, thank god for warmth (we planned to do some stargazing. I didn’t realize he meant during dinner). Quickly back through the french door and “Here’s the downstairs bathroom and that brings us back to the kitchen.”

How nice. We were almost out of breath.

But we weren’t done.

“And in the basement…”

We only came for a friendly dinner. We’re not here to purchase. What was this about?

The entire time our friend smiled. Virginia chuckled (we learned later she’d been through this before and had learned to enjoy the experience). It was an odd smile. Not happiness so much as joyful. Almost proud or prideful.

We were smiling and thoroughly confused.

Some three hours later, on our way home from a pleasant evening, Susan asked, “What was that about?”

The cultural anthropologist in me was already on the case. “I’m not sure. Some kind of tribal thing, I’m sure. I’ll ask when I think it’s appropriate.”

Now, something you need to know; if you’re Joseph’s friend, your actions, thoughts, words, statements, language, behaviors, … everything becomes storyfodder. Do something that intrigues me and I’m going to ask you questions about it.

Hence about three months ago, during lunch, “Bob, remember that first time we came over?” He nodded. “Was there a reason you gave us a tour of your house?”

Bob stared at me. “I gave you a tour of our house?” I described our first five minutes visiting. “Wow. I don’t even remember doing that.”
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The Gander Gets Goosed Again – Tony Eames Interviews Me!

They Like Me! They Really, Really Like Me!

NFReads.com‘s Tony Eames asked me a series of questions that I floundered through magnificently. Read it all at Interview with Author Joseph Carrabis.

 
Give it a read! It’ll make Tony and me happy. You want us happy, don’t you?

Combating Evil With Good

In response to Brother Steven Taub’s request

A deliberately provocative title for a possibly mundane post, yet I’ve often learned that the best way to combat things that displease us is via mundacity, so be patient with me and let me know if my offering passeth all understanding for you.

Early last Saturday morning, a neighbor brought in a grounds crew to do some mowing and trimming. A team of three young, tanned and able bodied gentlemen, tshirts, cuttoff jeans, workboots and sunglasses all, and each with an incredibly loud piece of equipment, two riding, one strapped to his back, and they had at it.

Early last Saturday morning.

Even earlier last Saturday morning I was already awake. Sometimes I get up early to read on the backporch and listen to the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, bees and the rest of nature fighting for survival.

I heard the truck and trailer drive up and clatter, bang and backfire to a stop. I looked around our neighborhood. No shutters open, no shades up, no blinds withdrawn, no dogs barking, no cats meowing, no children bicycling, no basketballs a’ bouncing, no baseballs a’ batting. It was…

Early last Saturday morning.

About half a mile from my house is a donut shop. While my neighbor came out of his house in his bathrobe and slippers to talk to the grounds crew, hair askew and sleep still muddling his eyes, I got in my car, drove to the donut shop and returned with five large black coffees, sugars, creamers and a dozen donuts. My neighbor was still talking to the grounds crew when I drove down the street.

Early last Saturday morning.

I parked in my driveway, gathered the coffees and donuts and walked across the street. My neighbor and the grounds crew were standing in a loose semicircle looking at and talking about my neighbor’s yard, the other half of the circle was taken up by their trailer and equipment. Their semicircle opened a bit as I approached and I assumed the six o’clock position.

“You guys like some coffee?” I didn’t wait for an answer, I handed them each a coffee, the “man-in-charge” first and my neighbor last as the coffees went from 12 o’clock to five, and I put the box of donuts, opened, on their trailer. “Help yourselves. I got a variety. Sure to be something you like.”

All offered their thanks. We chatted. For about an hour. Sipping our coffees, munching on donuts, listening to the dogs start their barking, the cats start their meowing, the basketballs start their bouncing and children start their playing.

By now Susan (wife, partner, all things bright and beautiful) had raised the shades and opened the blinds, a sign her Saturday had started quietly and peacefully, as all civilized Saturdays should.

I took the last swig of my coffee. “I’ve held you guys up long enough. Have a great day and don’t work too hard.” They offered grateful thanks. I don’t know if my neighbor was being charged by the hour or by the yard and I heard him comment that “Yeah, he’s a good neighbor” as I walked away.

Many Years Back…

…I would walk a mile in the mornings. This was before the donut shop appeared, our neighborhood was still young and grounds crews weren’t needed. One street on my route always had a bit of litter on it. After a week I decided to take a kitchen garbage bag with me and pick up the litter on my walk. There was an ice cream stand next to a ball park on my return route and I could drop the trash in their bins if I didn’t want to carry it back.

I noticed a young boy and his father on these walks. They also noticed me and we got in the habit of waving to each other as neighbors often do. The occasional “Howdy” and “Hello” and “Beautiful day for a walk” and such and nothing more.

Then one day I noticed them ahead of me on that street, garbage bags in hand, picking up litter before I had a chance.

A month or so later a few more streets looked cleaner as I walked.

Wicked Problems, Mundane Solutions

And while we’re busy waiting for the world to change, go buy a box of donuts for those who irritate you. Pick up some litter for no other reason than you like clean streets.

Note: This post originally appeared as the 6 June 2011 Economy of Meaning blog post (now defunct).