Sunday, November 20, 2005

Letter to Two Former Colleagues

The entire team was blindsided by your resignations, myself included. We had not an inkling of your dissatisfaction with me and the ULA. Up until the times you resigned, my correspondence with both of you was nothing but friendly. Now you're trying to gain attention, or curry favor with others, through attacks on the ULA. You behaved in no way-- in no way-- like teammates; like members of an organization. To you, notions of solidarity are without meaning. I was loyal to you both (while at the same time being loyal to the principles of the ULA) throughout your time in the ULA.

My favorable posts about Noah are still on this blog for all to see. A mere couple weeks before Tim bailed I was taking his part in an internal discussion about a name for a publication. The only frustration I might've sensed from them was that I wasn't giving them enough attention. Not enough attention! The micromanager Tim portrays is the micromanager they wanted me to be-- not what I've been in reality. Even had I wanted to "dictate," I don't have the time! Noah and Tim were both free to pursue their projects as they wished, within the framework of the ULA. (Their grievances remain mysterious.)

There was never a question of putting handcuffs on them. In hindsight-- though they raised nary a peep at the time-- it was more they wanting to stifle other ULAers, whether Crazy Carl, or Jeff Potter, or me. Did they approach Steve with their grievances? Did they raise their complaints with the team? Not to my knowledge.

I don't understand what they're now saying. They seem to want the ULA to stop being the ULA; to lessen our vision, our belief that we can change things; to stop our comic-book populism and our in-your-face agitation. They seem bothered that I have a role and voice in the ULA. The question then: Why did they ever join? Obviously they saw us as a stepping stone for their ambition, one stone among many stones along their path, with no sense of loyalty or commitment to anything except their own egos. Noah is a bigger disappointment than Tim, because he professes to wish to change this society. (Tim is about promoting his own writing.) Noah, you don't change anything by abandoning and turning on colleagues at the first expeditious moment or momentary sense of frustration. Like a J.T. Leroy you've become an embarrassment to the idea of a working class as it once existed in this country. Before I was born my old man, an autoworker, was part of post-WWII strikes which built the union movement in this society. I was raised on his history. Through my life I saw the working class gradually knocked down and destroyed. I saw more recent strikers, in 1995, beaten and bloodied by jackbooted union-busters in the same city of Detroit during an infamous newspaper strike. (A story ignored by corporate media.) Their broken faces were right in front of me. Dig far enough into my past and you'll find I was a (very young) union steward and shit-disturber myself someplace-- far more volatile than I am today. I've tried to bring the merest hint of this kind of solidarity and attitude to the community of writers, in order to change the culture, in order to renew this society. The one person I thought would "get" what I was doing was you. My efforts in this regard were a failure, as you wish to be a head-in-the-sand pessimist blind to the realities of literature and the world, abandoning real hope of changing things-- even buying the lie that lower class people don't like to read. (Surely, TV or no TV, the masses are no less deprived or depraved than in Jack London's day. The vast mass of Americans of any class are no less hungry for truth, relevance, soul, and reality, which only literature can fully bring. To think otherwise is to short-sell humanity.)

The founding and growth of the Underground Literary Alliance has been an important accomplishment-- the creation in literature of a truly independent voice. Nothing changes without conflict and setbacks. Ours have been temporary. The ULA's most exciting history will be in the days ahead.

1 comment:

chilly charlie said...

Tim Hall just wanted to take over. That's all there is to it.

The real problem is that goddamn cartoonist wannabe, Dean Haspiel, who keeps putting Tim up to this shit.