The power of the press is quite limited, but the deadliest weapon in its arsenal is ridicule. In politics, as in religion and culture, the dereliction of duty deserves merciless ridicule, because ridicule is intolerable to those being ridiculed, and there is no other method by which a hollowed-out institution is more likely to be brought to its senses before it is too late. – Daniel Johnson
I am The Distributist. I first arrived in Maine to see the Grateful Dead on Mother’s Day of 1979, and I’ve been waiting ever since for the 2nd set to begin.
Why The Distributist? To quote my mother, “Because I said so.” And, as an acknowledgement of my love for everything I’ve ever read by G.K. Chesterton.
My modus operandi is to take select memories from my childhood, that period leading up to, but not including, Right Now, and describe them in a context that fits the recollection into the modern cultural/political jigsaw puzzle that seems to unfold before us, rolling and undulating like a fabric upon which the universe is silk-screened.
Using all that I can remember right up until right now greatly expands the number of arrows in my quiver. And when the arrows run out, I will simply swing the sharpened, double-edge sword of Satire and Sarcasm to lop off the heads of those things that I deem worthy of such treatment.
I’ll use these essays to learn, and perhaps, on rare occasions, to teach. The process of anamnesis and research takes me down quite a few rabbit holes. Sometimes I stumble into the warren of Truth that the white rabbit has stashed down below the surface, in which case I shall emerge as your herald-like servant.
At 55-years old, I’ve decided to focus on the pursuit of my childhood dream, that of being a writer. I’ve had a Renaissance Man’s career to this point, encompassing everything from commercial fishing to corporate croneyism, political hucksterism to restaurant ownerism, community activism to domestic engineering.
But, now I work at home. I’m a writer. I write. As if telling myself over and over will make it so. What you read here may, at times, stray between fact, fiction, and a weirdly obtuse hybrid of the two. What follows, for example, is either how things really are, or an excerpt from one of those writing exercises in which you describe your perfect, dream life…
I write books, short stories, articles, letters, speeches, poetry, journal entries, commentary, e-mails, plays, scripts for TV shows, commercials, book and movie reviews, product reviews, letters to the editor, columns for the papers, copy for advertising brochures, web pages, press releases, and whatever else is called for. I write every day. Never anything too long, like a novel (except for that one I keep in the shoe box.) My personal favorite style is to be both humorous and insightful.
My home office is a room on the second-floor of our small house, richly colored in mahogany tones, fiercely decorated with remnants of myriad facets of my multiple personalities and diverse experiences, and books, shelves of books, with one window looking out toward the lake, and another into the orchard and the driveway. I like to see people coming.
My wife and I are happily married after thirty-five years, due entirely to her persistence, tenacity, and deep, abiding commitment to our marriage, and the children. I married lucky.
We are what popular culture refers to as empty-nesters, although you’d never know it by dropping by. There is a great deal of traffic at The Flying Inn, our cottage in Woolwich, Maine. People dropping by, old friends visiting, friends and family dropping in for a few days on their vacation travels, our kids (and someday, their kids?) and our kids friends.
We live simply, don’t make a ton of money… enough to occasionally send a surprise gift to each of the kids for no good reason other than I figure they’ll enjoy the surprise. That and because I was never able to give them very much when they were young.
We take a good deal of time off, not because of how much we make, but rather because of how simply we live.
I wake up early each day. I hate to miss the sunrise. I get my coffee, correspondence and morning constitutional done before anyone else is awake. Then brunch, accompanied by some research and reading, a bit more correspondence, and I’m ready to go work the grounds a bit.
We’ve half a dozen apple trees that I’m restoring from old age. A couple other fruit trees, a thriving grape arbor, and a garden with all the usual suspects – asparagus, broccoli, garlic, weird types of potatoes, corn, tomatoes, lots of varieties of peppers, carrots, onions, black, rasp and blueberries, lotsa lettuces, spinach, celery, hops and barley, hemp, tobacco, ginger and thyme and rosemary and all the other members of the spice rack family.
Not much in the way of animals. Some hens for eggs and we go back and forth from a pig one year, a goat, a couple lambs, once we had a cow. If it gets too biological I start feeling in over my head. I do, however, finally have a tractor. Nothing big, but it moves big stuff. Like snow, and logs that I cut from over on our writer’s cabin/woodlot. And rocks… lots of rocks. We’ve built rock walls all around the place with rocks that we’ve pulled from the woods. I’m especially proud of the rock foundation I built to put the small post & beam barn on. The thing looks ancient now, and will look new when it is ancient.
We travel by boat, train, truck, bus and bicycle. Never by plane. If we want to travel Europe or Asia, we first boat there, then begin on foot, rail, etc. Often, our kids will join us or meet us there.
Once a week when the weather allows, I join my foursome at the club for a round of golf and drinks and cigars. It took a long time to find four guys that made a worthy foursome, so we never miss an opportunity to play.
None of this is true, except all of it; writing does that.
If you’ve read this far, I probably owe you an apology for boring you to tears on the Internet. This isn’t how the Internet was supposed to be! But, since you read this far, you might be interested in contributing a column or an idea for me to write about, now and again. Send your inquiries and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.