Pushing Those Damn Windmills: A Moment With Bill Reflection
The Opening Chapter of My New Book
I am a poet trapped in a prose-writer’s body. I am the long-haired, unwashed, higher-than-a-seagull bong-tokin’ coffee shop muse, staring out over the audience, bongos playing in the background, as I read my latest series of beatnik-inspired tripe.
I am a windmill-tilting, self-righteous sonofabitch, perched precariously on a soapbox hoping the wind does not topple me, and I am the shy little kid in 5th grade who couldn’t buy a date and refused to admit he was sensitive.
Toss a dollar in my jar and I’ll expound on the latest political bullshit or tell you the secret of life, but really, man, it all boils down to love, baby, love, and yes it’s free and yes it’s easy and with it comes that peaceful, easy feeling flying with the Eagles and floating with the Stones.
I am the Piano Man in verse, no accompaniment necessary and applause is not expected.
My parents never saw it coming. How could they? They gave me a damn fine childhood and really my friends, thank God they are both dead now so they don’t have to witness the results. “Toby, you have to go to college, take business courses, and learn how to make money. It’s the only way to make it in this world.”
So sayeth my father when I was sixteen, and so off to the good Catholic university like a good Catholic boy, majoring in Marketing, toss in an Economics degree to keep the old man happy, and then off into the cruel world to conquer and pillage.
Fast forward a few decades and there I sat in Fred’s Java Jive in Portland, Oregon, preparing to read to the masses (all fifteen of them) and hoping to make enough tips to buy me a pack of smokes. How do you like them beans, Dad?
I know where my folks were coming from. They were children of the Great Depression and that shit will stay with you a lifetime. Dad left high school his sophomore year and rode the rails in search of scut-work so he could send money back to his folks. A job was sacred to him, and the memory of eating fried rats in the rail yards, hoping the yard bull wouldn’t crack his skull with a 2x4 well, like I said, that shit will stay with you.
So he wanted the best for his son, and the best equated to a great-paying job, a home, family and two cars in the proverbial garage. Shit, man, I hitchhiked to the Java Jive, and the last car I owned was a Geo Tracker with 250,000 miles on it…broke down outside of Des Moines and is now somebody’s flower pot out behind a barn.
Still, I think Dad would approve of the message I deliver nightly. It might be a silent approval but he would approve nonetheless because hey, he’s the one who filled my head with this shit, the compassion and empathy and looking out for the little guy….words preached at the dinner table and modeled a thousand times during my childhood.
There’s the nod from Burt the manager; time to get to work.
“Hello Portland! My name is Toby King and I’m going to tweak your nerve endings a bit tonight. If you have any valium then take them now. You’re going to need it.”
The reason I write about social change
Fiction or Truth? Who Really Cares?
Like my friend Toby King, I am a writer.
Like my friend Toby King, I am also a coffee shop poet of sorts, a throwback to the 50’s and 60’s when beatniks ruled the original grunge scene and expounded on the ills of society, trying to raise awareness and breathe some life into the consciousness of mankind.
Now more than ever! Those are my thoughts whenever I start to doubt what I am doing as a writer. Does anyone really care? Is there still a heartbeat in the Statue of Liberty or is she just so much copper and steel? Do our elected leaders really believe in the words of the Declaration of Independence? Have they even read the Constitution? Do those who preach from the pulpit on Sundays understand that a week is seven days long?
Now more than ever!
As upset as I get with the politicians, it is not them that I write to. As pissed off as I get at the rich, it is not for them that I construct these essays. I have very little hope for anyone who inhabits the West Wing, nor do I hold out much hope for those who have a corner office with the initials CEO stenciled in bold.
I do, however, have hope for the common folk, and it is to them that I send these messages.
I do not believe our greatest evil is homelessness or hunger, greed or violence. I do not believe our ills can be traced back to a particular date or event. No, I believe the greatest obstacle preventing our advancement as a species in the year 2013 is the twin-headed monster of complacency and apathy.
And so I write!
I write to raise awareness one person at a time, and maybe when my days are done and my last word has been written, I will have reached a fair sampling of our society and will have made a difference.
A great read about change
The Power of the Arts
There have always been splinter groups within the Arts who have taken up the social yoke and decried injustice. Painters, sculptors, musicians, poets, those lonely voices in the wilderness who refused to slink away quietly in the night. They continued throughout our history to speak out against wrongs, to scream with their words, notes and brushstrokes about the subjects that were disturbing and yet needed a voice.
Who will speak for the downtrodden if not the writers? Who will light the torch of change if not the musicians? The Arts have always been firmly grounded in the pulse of society, beating the same beat as those who came before them, those who refused to accept that status quo and who railed against the unfairness of it all.
And so I write!
I could write recipes, but recipes cannot feed my soul. I could write how-to articles, but how-to articles will not mend the psyche of this country. No, I leave those articles for writers better suited for those endeavors. I have my calling; I have chosen my path in this literary world and I am happy with it.
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Humanity One World; making a difference one person at a time.
It is our right to speak out
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Is It a Waste of Time?
I refuse to believe that. My most viewed social commentary has garnered about 10,000 views to date. I know craft writers who get that many views in a week, so compared to them I have been a dismal failure….or have I?
How else are we going to make change in this world? There must be, in every society, some who are willing to shout from the rooftops. There must be, in every society, those who risk failure in order to advance a social agenda one person at a time.
Change takes time. We are a world of 7.1 billion people. One does not affect great change overnight when dealing with those numbers. With hundreds of nations you do not legislate change. Massive social change must begin in tiny increments and spread forth like the runners of a strawberry plant.
And so I write!
And perhaps, one day in the not-so-distant future, another writer will pick up my works, and read them, and find inspiration in them, and his words will form into instruments of change….or a young activist, weary of the corruption and greed, will read my words and find his own soapbox of change to stand upon, and the legacy will have been passed on.
Yes, I am a windmill-tilting, self-righteous sonofabitch, and I send out a peaceful, easy feeling of love to all of you, in hopes that you will pass it on again and again and again.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Raising awareness one person at a time.”