Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come"
Paul's American Tune
the Ballad of Brett v. Blasey
In chapter 16 of King of Soul , the novel about 1969 that I published in 2017, we find Donnie and Marcy dining in an off-campus hangout, when they are joined by Donnie's friend, Kevin, who is a political activist. The setting is near LSU,1969:
“Those Yippies—they were really just a bunch of hippies, right?”
Kevin’s face assumed a professorial demeanor. He was in his element now, and it was evident. “You could, uh, you could say that, Marcy, but these people—they had gathered in Lincoln Park, on the north side, a few days before the convention actually started. They are the political version of those folks you’re calling ‘the hippies.’ Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin and all that crowd—they’re not just into free love and smoking dope and all that flower child stuff—they see all of it as a cultural revolution. I wasn’t there when they started doing their thing in Lincoln Park, because I didn’t arrive in Chicago until Monday afternoon. Their public acts—the skinny-dipping in Lake Michigan, smoking dope, nominating a pig for president—they’re trying to freak people—I mean, like, most Americans, straight, boring people—the Yippies want to rock their boat, make ‘em wake up to really living life instead of wasting away.”
“What is it about the way most Americans live that is, uh, wasting away?” Marcy tilted her head to one side, smiled innocently at him.
Donnie was watching her; his feeling about her was that the way she cocked her head like that was quite endearing.
But Kevin’s appreciation of Marcy was different. He was thoroughly engaged with her worldview. “Conformity,” he said, as if it were self-explanatory.
“Oh.” She smiled and looked at Donnie. He returned the smile and shrugged his shoulders. She continued, “Conformity, okay so, what about it?”
“Well, it’s, you know, the tickee-tackkee house in the suburbs and Ozzie and Harriet and keeping up system and the status quo, which keeps the war going”—
“Wait, wait,” Donnie interrupted. “What does the status quo have to do with keeping the war going?”
Kevin’s face registered surprise. His zeal had brought his posture to an upright position, which he now relaxed somewhat. Looking at Donnie, he replied, choosing his words, “When people are taken care of, when they’re fat and happy, comfortable, mesmerized by the TV, they don’t pay attention to what’s really going on. They’re too caught up in their own lives to notice that their government is conducting a war against a bunch of rice-cultivating peasants in southeast Asia.” Kevin’s eyebrows were raised. The former attitude of amusement had gravitated toward a serious indictment of what he considered to be, apparently, the American way of life.
After a pause, as the sound system was wailing out Creedence . . .
“I see a hurricane a blowing,
I see trouble on the way.
Don’t go out tonight; they’re bound to take your life.
There’s a bad moon on the rise.”
“Kevin,” said Donnie, softly, “you can’t blame the American people for the war just because the government is prolonging it.”
“Oh yeah?” Kevin’s countenance had changed. Now he looked sad. “You don’t know what it’s like to grow up in Cleveland. It’s not like around here.”
Now that you've landed here, have a Listen to some vibes, songs of Rowland:
Louis Carey Rowland was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 13, 1951.
Soon thereafter, his parents relocated the family, including a younger sister, to Jackson, Mississippi, where they resided until 1963.
Then the Rowland family returned to Baton Rouge, where Carey attended Redemptorist High School; he graduated in 1963 after serving as Student Council President.
Moving his educational pursuits across town, Carey attended LSU
until December of 1973, when he attained a BS General Studies, with concentration in English and Political Science. During the academic year 1970-71, Carey served as Chairman of the National Speakers Committee of the LSU Student Union.
After graduation in December, 1973, Carey went to St. Petersburg, Florida where he sold insurance for nine months, and then sold classified advertising for the St. Petersburg Times.
Because Carey, in his youthful carelessness, ran a few red lights and stop signs, his Florida driver license was withdrawn for 30 days. A little while later, he was ticketed for driving with a revoked license and sentenced to spend five days in jail.
On the night Carey got out of Pasco County jail, he went to a movie, Where the Lilies Bloom, which had been filmed in Watauga County, North Carolina. The verdant Appalachian scenery in that flick captured his imagination.
Carey moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Relocating in Asheville, he spent 5 years there, during which he sold printing for a local printing company, sidelined as a folkie songwriter, recorded two vinyl LPs, and drifted into construction work.
In 1979, Carey met Pat Flanigan during a Norman and Nancy Blake concert at the Asheville Junction coffee house, near the Beaucatcher Tunnel entrance.
Carey and Pat married in January, 1980, moved to Boone, North Carolina. They raised three children there: Micah, Kim and Katie, while being active in a local Christian church.
While Carey supported the family as a working carpenter in the Boone area, Pat studied Nursing and entered that profession as an RN at Watauga Medical Center.The three young’uns grew up and, one by one, flew the coop to educational destinations downstate—one Dukie and two Tarheels.
Having wearied himself with carpentry and house-building, by 2005 Carey decided to pursue education as a second vocation. While taking 9 courses at Appalachian State University, he learned how to teach, and acquired four state teaching certifications.
His hopes for a late teaching career were dashed, however, during the economic crisis of 2008-9. However, having taken a few English education courses, his inclinations toward literature were intensified, and so he started writing sociological fiction (even though he had never taken a sociology course.)
In 2007, Carey wrote and published Glass half-Full, which is a story about some good people who live in the Washington DC area, but some bad things happen to them.
During 2008, he hatched Glass Chimera, which pertains to genetic engineering and buried treasure at a university in New Orleans.
2011 brought forth Smoke, a story in which the year 1937 is portrayed, through the eyes of a young American businessman as he travels through France, glancing off the Spanish Civil, befriending a German Jewish refugee family, falling in love, and visiting the grave of his father, who had died in a battle in Belgium in the last week of World War I.
By 2017, Carey had mustered up the words and chutzpah to fictionally chronicle the defining issue of his Baby Boomer generation—the war in Vietnam. King of Soul depicts the coming-of-age of college student Donnie Evans, who did not fight in Vietnam. But Donnie’s young life is profoundly affected by the Ho-induced maelstrom that surrounded Vietnam, and dominated politics in the USA, during that terrible time of our history.
Carey lives in Boone with his wife of 38 years, Pat. As a retired-type person, he works part-time at Lowes Home Center and persists in finding interesting stuff to write about. As an active member of High Country Writers, Carey hobnobs with the wannabe rich and famous literati of Wataboudit County, North Carolina, and learns from them a lot about writing.
Or how about this? Consider this snippet of quasi-fictional dialogue. In chapter 10 of Smoke , the third novel, three men share a meal in a London diner. They discuss what is presently happening in Europe. The year is 1937. Here we find Mark Chapman, an informed Londoner, speaking of current events:
The little German colonel is a troublemaker, a treaty-breaker, and probably a damned lunatic. Nevertheless, Franco’s Falangists, and the Carlists with them, are perhaps the lesser of two evils. I’m not so sure that our deceased, Mr. Wallris, understood that. In fact, though I had a lot of respect for him, I never understood why he was so ardent in his support of the government. He was risking—I daresay I can admit this in your hearing, and perhaps that of the young American here—serious consequences from the British government itself, for defying their gutless non-intervention blockade. And there were elements of our business community here who had detected what Paul was up to in supporting the Spanish government.”
Itmar retorted, “I don’t think Moseley’s blackshirts represent any legitimate part of our City or its business. Most of the fascists out on our streets appear to be unemployed workers who have nothing better to do than make trouble for the rest of us.”
“Those unemployed ruffians are, like it or not, a consequence of our capitalist way of doing things,” said Chapman. “God knows I have little sympathy for them; they are a constant pain in the arse over in East London where our office is. They are arrogant and rude when they come looking for jobs, acting as if they’re entitled to work just because of their British citizenship. But they are just pawns in the game, and there are rooks, and knights—one in particular I can think of—who manipulate their disruptions for their own purposes.”
“And what purposes might those be?” “To prevent the damned communists from taking over Spain, or any other country—Czechoslovakia—that’s what.”
Another long pause. Then Itmar asked, in a low voice, “What would you say, Mark, if I told you—and I know this may be hard to believe—if I told you that Hitler’s Nazis, the ones sending military support to Franco, are systematically rounding up people I know in Germany, then commandeering their personal property and sending them, on trains, to camps out in the country to do slave labor for the Third Reich?”
Mark Chapman thought for a moment. He looked quizzically at Itmar, as if this man-to-man encounter between an Irishman and a Jew in a dockside diner were an event of some fateful consequence, yet hanging in the stars. Slowly, he said, “You mean the Jewish people, your people, are being arrested, as if for crimes they did not commit, and then convicted and sentenced without trial, to some sort of prison?”
“I have heard that,” said Mark Chapman. “I heard it, in fact, from Paul Wallris, about three days before he died.”
On the other side of history-- on the other side of the Big War that came as a result of the German colonel troublemaker-- we find in chapter 2 of King of Soul, the novel published in 2017, a young American, Donnie, and his neighborhood pals making the transition between cowboys/Indians and baseball. On a summer morning in 1963:
The next morning, on the other side of town, three sixth-grade cowboys were running through a big grassy back yard, aiming at each other with toy pistols, whoopin’ and hollerin’ at each other, imagining themselves to be like their heroes in the movies. On this twelfth day of June, summer vacation was still new enough to be a wild pleasure. The boys paused from their make- believe gunfight to sample the plum trees in Donnie’s back yard, but the plums were not yet ripe.
A few minutes later those holstered playthings were dropped on the lawn when Troy and his buddies from down the street showed up.
“Y’all come down to the lot for a game,” Troy yelled from the next yard over. Donnie, Mike and Joe watched Troy and three others as they traipsed through the neighbor’s yard along the backside of the chain-link fence. When they got into Donnie’s yard, Troy voiced his challenge again. “Us against you. Come on.”
“Four against three?” asked Donnie, as if it made any difference.
The point was—it’s time to play ball, y’all. The numbers didn’t matter, especially to Troy, because the score always somehow ended in his favor anyway. “There’ll be some other guys showing up, you know.” Troy responded, with confidence, as if he could make it happen. “You can have the next one who comes. Just like last week, we’ll have a bunch more guys before long, since school is out.” Troy had a fielder’s glove on his left hand. He was tossing the baseball into it, then retrieving the ball with his right and tossing it into the glove again, with an easy fluidity of motion that demonstrated, in the midst of his friendly provocation, his baseball agility. He was doing this little perpetual motion between hand and glove while keeping his eyes trained steadily on Donnie.
So how could he not? Donnie knew it was time for baseball, because Troy said so. Troy was leader of everybody on Meadowbrook Lane. And he actually had a point there. This make-believe with cowboys and Injuns was going by the wayside anyway. Donnie knew it, he just didn’t have any direction about it yet, but he knew that because Troy had issued the challenge, now was the time for something more intense, more real than cowboys, more real even than cops and robbers—baseball. Troy knew. He was always ahead of everybody else, except in school. He was, however, king of the playground, the recess time. He was king of the hill too, although they had not played that one for awhile. Donnie’s mama had said it was too rough a game when Troy was involved. Now Donnie was watching Troy’s face, while the bigger boy moved slowly toward him. Troy smiled. His smile looked like the shark’s smile on some cartoon.
“You ready?” he asked. “You can use my glove.” He paused from his ball toss mantra, lifted the mitt up as if for Donnie’s inspection.
“I got one.” Donnie replied.
“Go get it. What’r you waitin’ for?”
I’m waiting for you to get outta my face.
Troy turned and began his next maneuver, which would be exit. The other three fellows followed dutifully. And so Roy Rodgers, the Lone Ranger and Tonto fell by the wayside, like ole Western clips on the cutting room floor of a Hollywood backlot. Now it was time for the real world. Now it was time for, as Donnie’s friend Chris called it, hardball. Maybe Chris would show up. He was a pretty good player—a better player than Donnie, and a better captain. Donnie would make sure to get Chris on his team, if he showed up.
Now it was time for Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra to step up to the plate. And Donnie and Mike and Joe, and Chris and whoever else would show up. Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Play ball, y'all!
Copyright 2017 © Carey Rowland
Consider this excerpt from chapter 19 of Glass half-Full , in which we find Marcus working hard to remove the stain:
Marcus opened a can of turpentine. He tipped it slightly so that its upper contents would spill onto a rag that lay on the parking lot next to his car. With the rag partially soaked, he began rubbing on the driver's-side door. Someone had painted a black swastika on it while he was working late. His cell phone rang.
Or this: From chapter 8 of Glass half-Full, we find Hilda, a restaurant-owner, telling some friends about an experience she had in Germany.
"Hitler and his thugs tried to take advantage of the situation; they launched a coup d'etat, called a putsch in German. But it failed, and they ended up getting arrested. The event has been named the beer hall putsch of 1923. Well, I was reading about these police officers who were killed by the Nazis that night. And I was reading in my guide book some information about the incident. I kept hearing this beautiful music, really spirited music. We walked in the direction of the music. We turned a corner...and there they were, five musicians playing five instruments: clarinet, violin, accordion, cello, a drummer. I could tell they were Jewish right away. I considered their courage: to stand there at the Odeonsplatz where the Nazis had made their first move to try and take over the world, and declare, with their music, that Jewish people, along with their music, were alive and well in the 21st century. They inspired me. We must have listened to them for an hour...the Bridge Ensemble."
- Or read blog, no blahblah, current entry : "Et tu, Brussels?"
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