56 years ago … two things happened that are important to me.
Jackee and I got married …..
Nick, Bob & John did their last show at The Hungry i……
Many of us thought that this was going to be the end of the Kingston Trio ….
I sure did.
Mostly, back then … I was worried about being drafted.
I’d just graduated from college and I was going to begin law school in the fall…
I didn’t know what the future held………
But, for me… life had been a lot better for the last year and a half because of Jackee…..
So, I figured … why mess with a good thing?
Here we are 56 years later…….
Who da thunk ??????????????
A lot’s happened in the last 56 years.
And …. That’s saying a lot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think I’d been in the Army for about a year when Once Up On A Time came out.
I was very lucky…very, very, very lucky.
(I have been all of my life … which is why I don’t understand why I haven’t won the lottery.)
I was living with Jackee in Louisville …. going to law school when I got drafted.
I spent my entire time in the Army at Ft. Knox.
Which was a little over an hour from our apartment.
I got to live in our apartment in Louisville the whole time I was in the Army… except when I was in Basic Training.
So, I was a soldier with a typewriter by day….and a law student at night.
My law school had a night division and I was back in classes after I finished Basic Training.
In the Army I did legal work…..how lucky could I have gotten?
I had a JAG MOS.
The drive from our apartment in Louisville to Ft. Knox took an interesting route.
Here’s the route I followed every morning … leaving at 6:00 am.
After getting off the expressway … I got on to Dixie Highway.
Dixie Highway had been written up in LIFE magazine as one of the 10 most dangerous highways in the U.S.
It wasn’t long before I got the nickname … Crash Schwartz.
During my two years in the Army …. I got rear-ended on Dixie three times.
On a Friday afternoon …. I was coming home from the Army and I decided to stop in Shively Records.
I hadn’t been there in a while.
Shively records was a record store that was located in a shopping center in Shively.
Shively is one of many incorporated areas within Louisville.
It’s right where Dixie Highway meets the Waterson Expressway.
Shively Records was owned by two bitchy old women.
It was the least friendly record store I’d ever been to.
I passed it twice every day going to Ft. Knox and coming home.
This was in 1969 …. I’d say.
I hadn’t bought any records in some time.
There just wasn’t anything that I liked.
I was super pissed because the Trio had broken up.
I was in the Army and I needed those guys.
Where were they when I needed them most of all?
I had no idea.
Where was life …. as it had once been?
Everything was different.
I was living in a new town.
I was married….
My friends were my Army buddies.
I was not a happy camper.
No one else seemed to be very happy either.
A war was going on.
People were coming home in body bags.
I looked around the record store and I didn’t see any albums that I wanted.
This was also something I didn’t like.
There’d been a time when … if I had the money ….
I could have bought more albums than I could carry out of a record store at any one time.
Just before I was about to leave ………
I figured …. What the heck ……
Why not for old time’s sake ???????????
I looked in the Ks.
There it was.
I didn’t know what to make of it.
(I still don’t)
On the outside it said …. Once Up On A Time …..
It was some kind of stained glass window ……
It looked like nothing you’d ever associate with the Kingston Trio.
I looked at it several times to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.
I looked at the back cover and saw a list of familiar songs … and some I hadn’t ever heard of.
It looked to be the real thing.
It was a double record set.
I didn’t know what to think of it.
I was in a kind of shock.
The world that I’d known … that the Trio had been a big part of for so long ….
I was in the ####ing Army.
Life could not have been any more different than it was for me then.
Different from what I thought my life was going to be.
I bought the album and I drove home.
The sides were numbered so that you were supposed to play one side of one of the records and then one side of the other record.
It took me a few minutes to figure this out.
Except, there was a problem.
It’d gotten two of the same records.
I’d gotten the record that started it all off.
It was a recording of a show that they did at Lake Tahoe.
Some kind of funky band played …. The first notes of ….Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley.
I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like anything about it.
I didn’t sleep much that night.
I stayed up thinking about how my life had changed so much since I’d graduated from college.
It took me five years to get through college.
Because I kept changing majors.
I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Looking back …. I think it’s entirely possible that I spent five years in college and four years in law school to try to avoid having to grow up.
I may have been doing this my entire life.
The next morning…which was Saturday (no Army on Saturdays) I drove back to Shively Records and got a new album that had two different records in it…..
And, I drove back home and I listened to all four sides in the correct order.
I didn’t like any of it.
Nick, Bob, and John were gone.
Gone from my life.
Without them …..
I didn’t know what to think.
Here I am …. 56 years later ……
And, I still don’t know what to think.
And …. Dave … Nick … Bob … and … John ….
Are definitely gone.
They ain’t comin back for another reunion at Magic Mountain.
So, where does this leave us?
I didn’t know until a few hours ago.
What I’d been doing the last several weeks finally made some sense to me.
What I’d been doing was …
In the present.
To get through life ….
You have to have some beliefs.
You have to know the difference between right and wrong.
That’s pretty basic.
Then …. There are greater challenges.
If you’re living in a country where its leaders don’t know right from wrong ….
Where does this leave you?
Forget about the greater challenges ……
If you can’t tell the difference from right and wrong ….
You’ve got no business trying to lead a country.
That’s where we are today.
At present ….
This country has no leadership that we can trust or believe in.
It’s been that way for a long time.
As I see it …. We’re going no where.
Reminds me of a song.
Here’s where I first hear it…..
So, what can be done about it?
I began working on this idea a few years ago.
When I first learned that it has been scientifically proven that the human brain craves stories.
Anything that ever happened on this planet that was brought about by humans came about because someone had a vision……….
They saw in their minds … something that might be possible ….
And, then …. they made it happen.
A vision is a kind of story where you tell yourself that something can be done.
I have a book that I read … not all that long ago….
I don’t remember which book it was.
I read a lot of books and now I have CRS ….
(Can’t Remember Shit)
I should probably try to find it……
It tells the story of Orville and Wilber Write.
In the story….we’re told that there was someone else that was trying to build an airplane that would fly.
This person had great abilities and plenty of money behind him.
But, he failed.
The Wright Brothers didn’t.
They had a different vision.
Their vision was the belief that flying was possible and they were out to make it happen.
Money wasn’t important to them.
They’re WHY was better than his WHY.
If you want to find out about WHYs…..
Watch this video…
I didn’t know what to do when I first learned how powerful stories could be …
But, my subconscious did.
It came up with the start of a story.
That was all … just a start.
I didn’t know where the story would go after I got it started.
But, I figured …. Why the heck not?
So, I started writing.
I’ve been seriously studying fiction writing for about five years―off and on.
About a year ago … I got really serious about it.
And, I wrote the start of two stories.
Why didn’t I finish them?
I didn’t like them enough.
They weren’t taking me anywhere that I wanted to go.
I though they would….
But, after I got deep into them …. I didn’t see the kind of future in them that I wanted to be a part of.
Now, I don’t know how much you know about writing fiction…..
But, there are two distinct kinds of fiction writers.
One kind are called “Pantsers.”
That’s because they write “by the seat of their pants.”
They start writing a story and have no clue where the story is going.
Stephen King is the most notorious pantser.
BTW, he’s a big John Stewart fan.
At the other end of the spectrum …
There are writers that are called “Plotters.”
Plotters don’t write a word until they’ve made extensive outlines that tell their stories from beginning to end.
Some of them write the ending first … and then …. they backtrack and they write the beginning.
There’s one school of thought that says you should start in the middle and keep working on the outline until the story has ended. Then, you write the beginning so that it will properly set the stage for what follows.
Then, there are Plantsers. They do a little bit of both.
Here’s what I think. There are people who have written great stories off the tops of their heads without ever reading a book on writing, or by taking a class on creative writing. God gave them the ability to tell fantastic stories, and they didn’t need any help doing it.
These people are few and far between. Everyone else is a rank amateur compared to them. Obviously, I’m not one of those people and neither are most of the people who are writing “Best Sellers.” The craziest thing about this is that people buy the books that the people without great talent write. That’s because they can turn out a new book every year, and they have gained a following of people who buy them. Usually, early during their careers, these not so great writers came up with a unique story idea. And, that’s all.
But, it was enough to get their first book published. They were able to come up with a few more good story ideas, and then, their wells dried up. Everything they wrote afterward was like, and is like what everyone else is writing. People (including myself) buy their books because we’re lazy. We won’t take the time to find better books. Which isn’t easy to do. It’s like looking for a needle in a hay stack. It’s like trying to find new music that we will like.
I’m a business guy. Over twenty years ago, one of the great business thinkers came up with a concept called “Disruptive Innovation.” It’s a very simple concept, and it’s nothing new. All it amounts to is finding a better and more economical way of doing something. What the guy who coined the phrase, Clayton Christensen, a Harvard business school professor, was writing about was the hesitancy on the part of major corporations to scrap what they were doing, and trying something new. For most of them, the risk was too great. They couldn’t see the writing on the wall, but someone else could, and in many cases, the new companies that made the improvements put them out of business. The best example of this is Kodak. Kodak saw digital photography coming , but the company was not willing to go all out in pioneering digital photography and their competitors took their market away from them.
I believe that someone will start writing novels that are entertaining that will also have some other value. What kind of value? Learning … of course!
I don’t believe I will be that person. I’m too old and I don’t have the skills or the talent. But, I’m thinking that I might be able to lead the way in some small measure.
I’m trying to “kill two birds with one stone.” I’ve probably bit off more than I can chew. But, why not?
By creating something like the Kingston Trio I’m trying to write a novel that will take this kind of writing in a new direction, and I’m trying to save the world at the same time. Once again … why not?
Except, I know that writing a novel would be more than I can handle. So, I’m writing a script for a podcast. I’m hoping that someone will take my story and turn it into a movie. A streaming movie on one of the digital channels. Like Apple TV, Amazon, or HBO.
I’ve got a first draft of the beginning of a story that I’m working on. It involves The Kingston Trio. I have some other work that I need to concentrate on before I can get back to writing this story. I know what needs to happen next in my story, but I haven’t figured out yet how to bring it about. I’m going to let my subconscious work on this for a while.
Meanwhile, if you want to read what I’ve come up with so far, e-mail me and I’ll send it to you. I want to hear what you have to say about it. I’ll consider your comments and act accordingly.
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org