A Personal Milestone

I used to pretend I was alone. I'm not. Never have been.

I used to pretend I was alone. I’m not. Never have been.

I am overcome. You can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have your life’s work available to everyone in a handful of headers on a web page. Yes, there are still missing pieces, but they’re not as missing as they might seem to be. A good chunk of the text that’s not available at Shuteye Town 1999 (excepting the infamous ‘Zeezer Bible’) is available at Instapunk. You have to do an advanced search at the IP site for “punk writing,” “Pangloss,” and “the naked woman.” And the old Boomer Bible website is still sitting in the limbo of the Wayback Machine, along with links to the old Delphi Forum, where lightning struck me onto the Internet. Still. What’s here is the lion’s share of my writing career.

What I feel most of all is gratitude. To Lake, to Guy, to Brizoni, to Rob Davey, to George, to my wife, to countless others who believed enough in what I was doing to make it translatable to the Internet generation. (Null, Winston, Malechai, Kajeshell, you know who you are.) The online Boomer Bible is, to me, a miracle. I wrote the Intercolumn Reference before there was a technology to make it as instantaneous as it was in my head. Now, thanks to more hours of hard labor than I can imagine, by more people than I can ever hope to meet and thank, the impossible is a pulsing computer simulation of my mind.

How could anyone be justified in hoping for such an outcome? When I succumb, as I often do, to despair about my country or my fellow men, I am yanked out of it by the extraordinary good fortune I have had in this life. There have been many bad moments in that life, but the truth is that the bad times were always fuel for my writing. And now I feel the warmth of being surrounded physically and electronically by good people who continue to inspire me with their courage and vitality. Sue, Marge, John, Jay, Sandy, Robby, Elle, Don, Peg, Shelby, Matt, Mel, Dave, Stephanie, Linda (both of them), Rita, Janet, Michael, Genevieve, Emily, Sarah, Josh, and of course James, Sarah, Austin, Mary, Emily, and Anna. And always and transcendently Pat. Plus all the others whose names will become headlines in my consciousness after I post this. (Eddie, Helk, FA, Barbara, Peregrine John, Suds46, DRV, and on and on…)

I look up to all these people. Writers always exist on the sidelines to some degree. We are watching and making notes while everyone else is getting on with the substance of life. Raising kids, turning houses into homes, teaching the ones who can be taught, striving in their individual ways, providing the living example of what goodness is in fact, not theory.

All these years in, I am experiencing a sense of humility that did not come naturally to me. Because I’m so late to the party, I feel now my multitudinous flaws with a sense of shame. All I have to throw into the balance is the set of headers at Deerhound Diary.

Elation mixed with disappointment. I wanted to be Doctor Dream. What I am is an old man whose best days are now and seem wildly undeserved.

What a writer does. He makes things up.

What a writer does. He makes things up.

A long long way of saying I value your responses. Let me know, good, bad or indifferent, what you think. I promise I will be listening.

17 thoughts on “A Personal Milestone

  1. Keep on keeping on Robert and know that you inspire others as well. You inspire them to actually freaking think for themselves, and more importantly, stand by principles and not popularity. God Bless!

  2. I am incredibly happy to hear you in this spirit, glad that I could contribute. You are most sincerely welcome. While there are still challenges ahead, both technical and temporal, this milestone makes me overjoyed for you and with you. I, too, am amazed that my path in life has carried me here, this far. You went from an idealized super genius as I read the Boomer Bible and tried to fathom it to a father figure at a key crossroads, saving me from a life enslaved to one machine or another. Then, as I grew into my career and family and you into your prolific blogging and web communications mode, you’ve become a devil’s advocate, a real advocate, a provocateur, a mentor, a catalyst, and above all, a friend. I couldn’t have imagined it this way, and this short moment of reflection is making me realize what a road it’s been.

    Congratulations, my friend, on this monumental volume and quality of work. I don’t doubt that your works will be studied and admired long after you’re gone, but you’d better be far from gone. I’ll keep working if you will, and together we’ll refine and promote this Monte Cristo trove of treasures. Thank you for letting me be a part of it, it’s a privilege and an honor.

  3. You probably give me too much credit by including me in that list of contributors. I haven’t contributed very much, mostly just been a reader here and at Instapunk. But I will echo Dave W. above and say, “Keep on truckin.'” And, yes, I am old enough to remember the Robert Crumb comics. I spent a fair amount of time, 1970-71, in the San Francisco area and flirted around the edges of the hippie contingent. I suspect it was my early exposure to Ayn Rand (high school) that prevented me from buying into that scene. (Note: This is not a defense of Ayn Rand in her totality.) I haven’t really delved into The Boomer Bible and related writings very much, but plan to do so. Thanks for helping preserve my sanity in these strange days.

    • Suds, dive into any part of TBB and laugh your ass off, it’s the funniest book I’ve ever read, really. Laugh at the history and the VIPs of the Past, meet Harry and his Harriers in the Present, then stoke the fires and hang on to your heart as you learn about the Punks and the story behind the Boomer Bible.

      If you’re like me, you’ll be fascinated by the number of puzzles embedded throughout, like the SPOON acronym and the secret symbol of Harry.

      Once you riff through the text, try following a twisty path through the Intercolumn Reference. Then realize how many ICRs there are, and try to fathom what they say — new jokes, surprising connections, and lo, the real messages of The Boomer Bible.

      It’s incredible, just amazing… and it’s freakin’ hilarious!

  4. I don’t think I’ve told you about the analogy that, relatively recently, helped me understand the flaw in Biblical literalism. (This is not off-topic; I’ll try to keep it short.) Since I was a kid, my dad has steeped me in a book called “A Treasury of the Familiar.” It was published in the 1940’s, I believe. It’s exactly what the title suggests. Famous poems mixed in with the Gettysburg Address, Biblical passages, Shakespeare soliloquies, and anything else the editor saw fit to throw in. Things that, to an educated person of the mid-20th century, were familiar or probably should have been.

    My dad’s emphasis was on poems like The Face on the Bar-Room Floor, Somebody’s Mother, Abdul A-Bul-Bul Amir, If, Abou Ben Adhem, I Had but Fifty Cents, and The Cremation of Sam McGee. If there was a common thread to them it was that they kept the reader’s (or listener’s) interest and stuck in his mind. And if some were more obviously ennobling than others, nonetheless all of them merited further thought.

    What quashed my literalism was realizing that the Bible itself was the Treasury of the Familiar of its time and place. Not a technical manual for salvation, but an anthology of inspired authors, each writing according to the vision he was vouchsafed.

    All of which I mention because I believe you’re inspired. Sometimes cantankerous, sometimes frustratingly opaque, but the inspiration is there.

    • Guy. To whom I owe so much. A single word of praise is enough. And that’s precisely what you’ve given me. A feat I thought only I could achieve. : )

      You do, you must, know how much I… Oh forget it. You know.

      Abou Ben Adhem. I remember that. Goodness. How many silly things I remember. And I struggle to recall people’s first names. I’m betting you know something about that too.

    • Wow! The Face on the Bar-Room Floor, Somebody’s Mother, Abdul A-Bul-Bul Amir, If, Abou Ben Adhem, I Had but Fifty Cents, and The Cremation of Sam McGee. I hadn’t though of those for many years, but I remember them now, at least most of them. I think my dad used to play some of those for me on his guitar and sing them when I was a kid, along with The Wabash Cannonball and Jambalaya. I actually saw the face on the bar-room floor when I was about 8 years old. Memories.

  5. Your writings, both interactive and non, have had a huge impact on me. I’ve spent countless hours for well over a decade mulling over, laughing at, and fighting with your words. I do not understand you, and probably never will. But I do not wish you to ever feel that the tremendous effort you have expended on your art has been for nought. The Harrier Trinity of Desire, Certainty, and Blame has made so much of the world around me understandable (especially the corporate world). Phrases and rhythms from the Boomer Bible have woven themselves into the speech patterns in my house. There are only two books I quote more. Once, when I was exceedingly tired and distracted, I went to recite the Lord’s Prayer with my sons when putting them to bed and actually absentmindedly said “Our Father, who art in Rio”. My wife, who is of German descent, has come to understand her father better since I explained to her how Krauts Do It In A Big Way. One day, one of my children will say to me “I behold your certainty, and am impressed”, and I will know I have succeeded in passing on a legacy.

    • “I do not understand you and probably never will.” But you have tried your heart out, M, and I have long respected your sturdy reluctant nature. You’re the backbone of the whole enterprise. If I’ve made a difference with you, I am content.

        • A quarter century for you. But I’ve only been at it since…. oh… ’98 probably. Pre-ST99. Delphi hadn’t been up for very long when I stumbled on it.

  6. I am moved by everyone who has spoken. Incredibly. Both the personal and the electronic friends have weighed in. My heart soars. But I also want to hear from those of you who are navigating Shuteye Town for the first time.

    Don’t be intimidated by the old ones. Play with the app and tell us what you think. It’s all okay.

  7. None have proven more inspirational to me. There are none who see as you do. At least, none that have appeared on my journey.

    I have been absent but around. There is something brewing that has been missed by almost everyone. It is happening now and it will change a lot of things.

    You likely foresaw it in one form or another but I am watching the thing grow and it will consume everything holy before it is done.

    Keep the faith.

  8. I used to religiously browse the usual blogosphere suspects like Ace of Spades, Red State, Hot Air, etc. I have not been able to read them since stumbling upon InstaPunk several years ago. They just aren’t that interesting or well-written and the writers there are usually self-contradictory pussies on a few key subjects.

    Thank you for everything you’ve done as well as allowing me to make my own small contributions. Sorry I am occasionally not able to keep up but I am very appreciative of all the comments section banter and side conversations you’ve taken time out for. I’m grateful, too, for some of the fine fellow readers here I’ve been introduced to. Looking forward to those other, forthcoming books. I will be buying them all.

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