Friday, July 29, 2011

Whale Sound: Tree Reader

Whale Sound is an online project where poems of various contemporary writers are read aloud by Nic Sebastian. 

A few months ago I submitted my piece Tree Reader and this morning it came online. You can hear it read here: 

‘Tree Reader’ by Gabriel Orgrease « Whale Sound 

A writer can write a whole lot of junk and every once in a while they will find a gem. This is a gem. When I hear the piece read it makes me shiver. Nic has captured nuances that I was not even conscious that I had writ. This for me is a most wonderful gift.

The story behind the story. 

I had a new smart phone and I was riding on the Long Island Railroad when the scene occurred. One of the stops for the line is Pinelawn Memorial Park cemetery. 

I like the concept that at one time people were more sparing in their written words because they had to be set in type (or carved in rock or pressed in clay). In my case with this piece it was composed slowly on the smart phone, thumbs and all. 

It never touched pen or pencil to paper. 

Uncharacteristic for me I submitted it to an online publication. It was accepted with one minor change. That felt good. 

Subsequently I was contacted by a textbook publisher who asked if they could include the story in an anthology of American short stories. Like from Washington Irving forward to Gabriel Orgrease. 

I like the idea that HS students somewhere on the planet will get to read my story. Also I can imagine they would immediately go to the shortest story in the whole book then wonder who in blazes is this Gabriel Orgrease.

When I first was contacted by the publisher I thought it was a joke. I got paid $200 for it. The fee paid for the smart phone. 

It all goes along with my life plot to publish good writing in unexpected places.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Men Walk on Moon

David w/ the NY Times 07/18/2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

SOS Gab & Eti 1.53

“Her head was tilted back and with closed eyes she faced the sky, her mouth gentle with the half smile that can only be shown by those whose joy is so private that they have forgotten that other people exist.” -- Howard North

Dear Mr. Falswater,

As per our phone conversation last Wednesday we write you in regard of our business plan that since you have that fifty million venture capital that you got from those Nigerians ready to invest my brother and I have an idea how you can use it very quickly to good effect to help us start our chain of franchise stores. My brother wanted to start a sperm bank for endangered French hamsters but he has run into a snag as to how to transport them via trebuchet from the continent to Bullamanka. Everything is about logistics these days. Logistics, logistics, logistics, you would think it the start of a massive movement. So last night after we polished off seven bottles of Judge Yuro Peese Uckerknobb’s homemade red wine I shut him down and now he has agreed that this is a better approach to satisfaction of a market need that we present to you for your esteemed consideration and philanthropic titillation. We sincerely look forward to your support of our sales funnel. Oh, and before we forget, we have interested Booger King in an action figure set to support the ribbon cutting of our first thirty-seven retail outlets. They will also supply us with an electric brass band. And there is the young lady that used to work for Martha Stewart in laundry to assist us in the shop décor.

Sincerely yours in connubial admiration,
Etidorpha Orgrease


As Swipes, LLC

Toilet paper offers an opportunity to document an underlying trend in human history. With this intrinsic propensity for the value of mythic story in mind our focus in business development would be on the location of retail outlets in upscale historic districts near to the most prominent institutions of knowledge distribution.

Harvard, Cornell, Berkeley, Columbia, Stamford, Liberty, NYU, University of Chicago, Yale and Princeton and such other high-minded repositories come easily to the fore. Places that are certainly in need of unencumbered escape and quick relief from mental strain with the ultimate convenience of novelty. Most likely we would seek a disposable target in off-campus ‘college town’ venues where there is also a high incidence of heritage tourism, independent surplus family wealth, a demonstrated need for the product in volume, and an appreciation for the simpler vagaries of the arts and crafts movement.

In some respects the promotion of a specialized toilet paper store can be approached as a Rorschach test of various popular trends in retail consumption. We perceive models for the business along the lines of candle, incense and greeting card stores. Toilet paper represents an unexploited opportunity for marketing and sales along the lines of the ‘cult of candle’, for which there is a representative shop in every suburban mall in America. We also perceive a symbiotic relationship between the widespread marketing of smelly candles and the need to suppress the downside negatives that the contemporary public may unfortunately notice as associated in their use of toilet paper.

Though toilet paper in the mass market has been highly commoditized and comes conveniently packaged off the supermarket shelf, and it may appear on first approach that there is not an opportunity for retail specialization, there is a great deal of nuance in the available solutions to the human situation.

Toilet paper can be considered in a parallel to the sales pipeline of beer, for which up until the opening up of a deluge of micro-breweries the common assumption was that beer was a fairly mundane and watered down product of modest interest to the drinking public. Whereas now we understand that the pyramids would not exist without it.

Toilet paper serves the need of a slightly different public interest, but serves an essential need just the same. It is unlikely that our modern civilization would have developed to the extent that it has without toilet paper being close at hand. Unfortunately the earliest Neolithic practices cannot be established as toilet paper has always been of a fairly biodegradable and ‘green’ nature. Though we are free to imagine what the first use must have felt like.

As many historians make out that fire was an essential invention toward human progress we need to contend that once it was possible for early primates not to have to scoot themselves through the jungle abrading their posterior apportionments on bushes and tree leaves that it was noticeably the dawn of a new day.

Though the invention of paper had to have come much later in the timeline of the universe, most likely from the Chinese who would have known right off what to do with it, in our study of the subject we tend to equate ‘toilet leaves’ as the equivalent predecessor of toilet paper. Therefore our retail stock would include a variety of heritage leaf selections. A common favorite of our immediate ancestors was catalpa leaves for their broadness of form and ability to hold steady until properly disposed.

One variety of leaf, that of nettles, though not recommended for common application would be made available in our quaint shop as a little known historic curiosity of toilet leaves as a weapon of socio-political resistance for it being offered in the 17th c for free use to the Dutch by the Lenapes in their early exchange of the castorium trade. This also brings along the need for us to stock a variety of small-animal fur pelts to include those traditional of rats, skunks and rabbits. Neither should we not forget feathers, or hemp, or linen or cotton rags.

A brief review of the international toilet paper scene awakens one to the fact that toilet paper is inanely wrapped in cultural aspiration. Whereas the American consumer anticipates a certain width, color, texture, rate of absorption and delicacy of texture in many countries the toilet paper is smaller in width, of a different color, and often rougher in texture. We should look to Brazil for their outpouring of success. These subtleties of national variety, particularly when offered to the market in blind tests through workshops and other promotional venues such as clubs and swap-meets, can make available an intriguing panoply of sensation for the erudite connoisseur similar to the refined sample of our very fine local homemade wines [Hobo's Last Choice].

Toilet paper though it tends to be flat and is most often encountered in the American venue in rolls is not one dimensional in characteristics. It can be made available in designer colors, such as a humorous shade of tasteless brown, made suitable for display or disguise in the most upscale of interiors.

A toilet paper shop would not be complete without an element of humor and we should keep in mind to stock Appalachian hillbilly toilet paper that includes a favored moonshiner slogan printed on every sheet.

Designer toilet paper can also be adapted to floral decorations and highly-refined origami and when printed with a border of holly leaves or bunny rabbits can serve for seasonal celebration. The designer connection does bring in the potential for late night infomercials to be broadcast on cable television. One may even envision airing of a docudrama, “The Quicker Swiper” as a sort of George Simenon mystery take-off. Note that our utopian shop would also sport a back corner shelf selection of religious themed paraphernalia. The Tibetan Book of the Dead has on occasion been referenced as a substitute for the age-old standby, along with the Sears catalog. A free library of relevant literature along with comfortable places to be seated would suit the retail ambience and encourage browsers to linger and contemplate the merits of the proffered quality of merchandise.

Any shop specialized in toilet paper would want to include assortments of corn cobs, for which there is a profusion of literature and opinion as to the appropriate selection of varietals of corn that provide both livestock feed and when thoroughly shucked the very best bum use. And no self respecting shop would be complete without an automatic electric corn cob cleaner with an auto-feed mechanism.

As with an upscale coffee shop that also sells coffee makers and bean grinders a specialized toilet paper shop would also provide an assortment of accessories. For every bathroom in America there is a toilet paper holder and the extent of the variety of these utensils is staggering to behold. They can be made of a whole host of materials, natural and synthetic, double-decker and speedy unrolling, uplifting muzak chimes, pipes and gongs, to environmentally friendly dispensers connected to digital consumption meters with usb connection to your home computer. Design can range from the most utilitarian stewed-tomato can with a spindle to the heights of titanium Frank Gehry knock-offs.

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