Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Meaning of DIY

BEING AN UNDERGROUND WRITER means having to fight for every inch of progress against those who would keep us down.

I notice reviews of faux-underground books appearing all over the place; of Bolano's Savage Detectives and Pahalniuk's Rant, even of the book by the dishwasher indie guy who took his quick payoff from a conglomerate, but scarcely is there a review of a ULA Press book anywhere yet to be found. We can get articles about us which treat us like clowns or psychos-- but to be taken seriously as writers? No way.

As I'm running out of review copies of our books (particularly of Security) I'm planning to institute a new personal review policy. I'll be enclosing a SASE with all review books sent out. Those who've already received copies from me, I'll ask to mail back. (The corporations they work for should be able to pay for mailing.)

The Underground Literary Alliance is a Do-It-Yourself organization operating on a shoestring, with no help from any foundation, government, university, or corporation. The cost of our review copies comes directly out of our own pockets. The books we send out, we pay for. We work hard on ultra-shitty jobs to pay for them.

The review copies I've sent have been to individuals who I thought would give us a break; supposed progressive open-minded folks who would see the importance of creating an alternative to the stale produce of media monopolies; who would recognize the ULA as the leading edge of literary change. (As acknowledged even by Britain's The Guardian.)

Most (not all) book reviewers are from upper-middle class backgrounds and have never had to face directly the economics of daily survival. The books they normally review come to them in an expensive stream from the Time-Warner etc. conglomerations as if dropped from the sky, an endless flow with no cost; no connection to reality.

What do we ask for? Open access. Equal treatment.

Some reviewers should know better. I question the thinking of a local reviewer who I met at a radio show taping recently. Several years ago this writer interviewed myself and street poet Michael Grover for an article which never appeared. For the non-existent article, I mailed the person a small sampling of rare zeens (one by the great and very DIY Violet Jones) as a way to show what underground literature was about-- how exciting and precious it is. Lo and behold, the person became afterward herself a zeenster-- but still doesn't understand that DIY is more than occasionally making your own publication. DIY is a philosophy: a state of mind and a way of life. DIY is a movement intended to return culture to the people. It means looking out for other DIY people. All of this, all of this, to an undergrounder should go without saying.

Instead this comfortable individual like a paid mercenary produces review after review about books from the monopolistic mainstream. She raved about the Pahalniuk book. A mention of Wred Fright's The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus or James Nowlan's Security? (Good mention or bad?) Nowhere to be found in the pages of her newspaper.

Maybe I shouldn't say these things. Maybe we should wait like other humble writers silently in line, heads bowed, hats in hand. Obsequious and obedient. But that's not why the ULA was founded, not how it was designed to operate. Enough of our number have tried things the acceptable way and against the barriers and inequities of this starkly inequitable society gotten no place.

Will my new personal review policy, asking for the return of review copies I gave or sent (expect e-mails in the coming days), piss off literary mandarins? Heavens! Golly gee. It'll be tough to disturb their sensibilities, but they'll survive, as will we, as we always survive, eyes opened wide to this society's realities.

I'm of the attitude: For those who don't want to participate in the ULA party, to help us make history, rebellious and necessary history, fine. This is a big country. We'll go out into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt. We'll read our books to the homeless and the blind. We'll stand on streetcorners and in parks as we've done before, reading our words to everybody.

Have a good day.


King said...

p.s. On the other hand, those who would genuinely like to read and review ULA books from ULA Press or LitVision press, please e-mail me at the e-mail listed on this blog and I'll happily send you (or arrange to have you sent) a free review copy.

jimmy grace said...

You insult the hosts and then complain you don't get to be at the party. My art doesn't get mention in Artforum, and I don't give a fuck. They're a crap rag that reviews crap art. Yet somehow you crave the acceptance of people that won't have you. Why is that?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to send my posters to the Guggenheim with a SASE - they can return my unsolicited art!

Oh, wait a minute, the S stands for stamped. No sweat, King - I typoed DIY and you never left me alone.

King said...

I'm curious what excuse you have for not using your real identity when posting on this blog. Please do so-- or get off. Thank you.
(It seems you won't leave ME alone.)
p.s. The ULA is throwing the party-- sending invites around, that's all. And yes, we're trying to compete with the big conglomerates. We ask for equal treatment. Insult who??? My man, I've been insulted by this society my entire life. After awhile one gets tired of being disrespected and starts striking back. Oh, I have a lot more to say, including fresh insights into the corruption of some of your buddies.
Wake up! The upper classes are shitting all over us, on a daily basis. They've been doing everything they can to destroy working people. This is one dog who isn't going quietly.
Stay tuned-- I have more to say.
p.p.s. You said you'd leave when requested by me. Yes, I want you off-- don't have time right now for your phoniness. Please carry through your threat to leave

King said...

For the record: Where does being polite get us? Noplace. We're thrown occasional crumbs to keep us quiet, but that's it.
We've been around as an organization for over six years now (as writers, longer of course) and in that time did the genteel folks at places like the Book Critics Circle ever deign to acknowledge us in any way?
Now they censor my posts (others as well I see). How, in response, are we expected to behave?
Those who've met me in person know that I'm a very nice guy. Just an ordinary person who gives everyone-- everyone-- the benefit of the doubt the first time. But again, I get tired of getting shit on by people.
Why have ULA books not been receiving the attention they deserve?
I notice the mainstream media is falling all over itself about the book by Dishwasher Pete.
What's the attraction?
Isn't it because he's NOT the ULA?
Isn't it because he's been published by Harper-Collins, part of the Murdoch media empire?
How is his book? Have you read it? It's not bad-- but the two recent ULA titles are way better as literature, and better reads. (The most exciting part of the Dishwasher's book is a letter at the end of it from a former ULAer.)
Dishwasher Pete of course, unlike Wred Fright and James Nowlan, is predictable and safe. Kind of like a hamster in a cage. Sorry to insult the guy-- but what other course is there to take?
Do we instead "take arms against a sea of troubles" and start blood flowing in the streets?
We'll not do that-- but that doesn't mean we're satisfied.
At least speaking for myself, I'm not satisfied. More in the mood to start fucking people up.
(One of the things I'm writing, before I leave this cesspool of the east coast and return to Detroit, where at least people are real, is a story about a strike I witnessed in the 90's that tore from my eyes any last illusion I harbored about the real nature of this country. I still have a few things to write, but I'm taking the gloves off this time.)

King said...

Sorry to put another post up about this-- but I'm pissed off that someone would think I'M insulting "my hosts" (what are they, gods??) when I've bent over backward to try to accommodate such people to get any ANY kind of attention or space, to help sell underground writers.
I mean, what kind of sucker do you expect me to be?
As I said, in trying to accommodate said unnamed journalist several years ago I sent some of my very best zines (received not even a thank you). I talked Mr. Grover into accompanying me to speak with the person, telling him how important this was etc etc and of course when nothing came of it Grover was rightly disappointed in me. I've talked many undergrounders into similarly following my lead the last several years because I naively believed there was still a smidgen of good faith among literary people. Yet every time we were shit on. For undergrounders like myself, Jack Saunders, most of the rest of us, getting shit on has become almost a way of life. Yet we still believe in the importance of writing. Total suckers, I guess.
Well, newsflash, assholes. I can do other things, and soon enough will be-- but not before I say a hearty "fuck you" to the lot of literary assholes in many various and sundry ways.
Good night!

King said...

To the ULA: Sorry for going off just a bit, but there seems to be an attempt by the mainstream to completely co-opt us, as if they're saying, "Drop dead."
First the Bolano thing, with as noted so many parallels to what the ULA is doing.
Then Palooka's "Rant," which is simply a rip-off of 90's-style zine attitude and writing. (And the asshole who books shows at the Philly Library celebrating the guy when he's shut up the ULA and tried to ban me permanently from his place.)
Finally, the great mainstream media celebration of the pathetic dishwasher guy, an available substitute with enough real underground credibility to undercut what the ULA is doing.
They will do anything to insult us and destroy us. The insults have just been piling up. I've given you merely the highlights. . . .

jimmy grace said...

Although I am posting under my real name, and have nothing to do with mainstream art/lit, and your accusations about me are all totally bogus and disproven,at the King's request I'll stop commenting here. Clearly, your call for open debate is bogus, too.
I'll knock this blog off my bored-at-work reading list, and enter into honest debate elsewhere.
Allow me to wish all the bonafide artists in the ULA good luck. A lot of your art is great. Your King is just a drunken ranter.

King said...

Goodbye, liar. Anyone can find plenty of admissions from you that you were NOT posting under your real name.
But then, aren't you a member of the Cult of the Lie, those who believe that "fake is the new real"?
Good riddance to all your kind.