love the stories, even if they describe events that suck; it's just great to hear from you. Best to Marjie and Jack, and don't be a stranger around here...
GC, dang, I don't think I've got a one. Will rhinestones work?
If any of you kind folks have any kind of diamond jewelry (be it heirlooms or whatever) would you please start wearing them now in hopes for a Further New Years Eve, "Dark Star" ??? ("thru the transitive nightfall of diamonds").........
Hope you and your family do the Alabama Getaway and you don't become a Lost Sailor (bein' way to long at sea). Better to be a Saint of Circumstance -- being at sea when you need to be and being at home when appropriate. I was just talking the other day to a woman whose husband is the captain of a supertanker and she said all the usual things a sailor's wife would say. She worried about rogue waves and bad storms where the crew has to tie themselves in bed and her husband watching the bow of a 1000 foot ship disappear into an 80 foot wave. Jeezum'crow, don't know if I could handle that!
Sounds like a wise decision to give up the ghost on the lawsuit. Jerks! They always get what they got coming in the end though. Karma cuts exactly like a razor blade. They owe you a debt that has started accumulating interest soon as you made a formal demand, don't you know...
About the book... Let me see if I can rough out an outline on the spur of the moment here:
Working Title: To Live & Die in Traphill
Chapter 1: Your first post today. Maybe start the story with the ride to Charlotte and how you lost your wallet there and end the chapter with having your wallet lifted by the Traphill trio. Flesh it out a with a little history of Merlefest and moonshine runners who today have become cash crop runners. End it with with the trio heading for a honky-tonk in Traphill.
Chapter 2: At the tonk the trio decides to be the go between twixt the growers in their county and the Baptist Boyscout mafia who buy the stuff and then have their workers stuff fat buds into half dollar coin tubes which they then use as the skeleton for big fat table soy candles. Then they package em' up and send them North to the big cities where their Baptist mafia bretheren sell it and use the money to fund television, radio and internet programs promoting conservative southern Baptist values.
Chapter 3: You file the lawsuit against the candle company and your intellectual property lawyer hires a private investigator named Guy Noir who starts poking around the candle factory and spots the Traphill trio bringing in a load. He figures out what is going on and reports back to you and the lawyer and... well Hozemeen, you take it from here, any direction you care to.
All you really got to know is that you are building suspense and giving out clues until the big climax at the end where the good guys win. You can make the good guys anybody you want. That is the great thing about being a fiction writer. You have to build your characters carefully so that the reader cares about them or really grows to dislike them. After the big climax, which can be clever and not necessarily violent, make sure you do a good denoumeant
where you let people know where all the characters took themselves to.
Ok, my work is done here. Wishing MacLain & his clan a happy and prosperous new year!
I think I'm gonna take your advice. I didn't wanna do a hatchet job on them, but since I'm not going to pursue it any further I'll give out the web address. Bear in mind that my studio was the back of the candle factory, and my lighting wasn't ideal, so when you see the pics you'll understand that if I were to have gotten paid and not burned this bridge down I would have finished the project and made it look good enough to show off. Anyway, here it is...
www.southerncandle.com They have great candles. Some of their best aromas aren't in their catalog...they do a tomato vine that everybody down there hates, but it smells just like tomato vines, and I love it.
You are right about the psychodrama around here. We didn't necessarily decide to move here. When we left Mobile our son was on the way, and we wanted to position ourselves so that I could go to school and get off the ships. I sailed as an engineer on cargo ships for 13 years. We owned this quaint little 8 acre farm driving distance from Appalachian State University...we had insurance, a couple of cars, a flatbed pickup...we were deciding what to do with ourselves I guess, and there was too much noise in Mobile at the time. Anyway, on day I was out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean...minding my own business...and I got the message that my wife had breast cancer. The ship was traveling from Houston to Durban SA, and we were about halfway. Four weeks later we made Durban...a week or so to get myself a visa...and I flew home not knowing my career at sea had ended...at least temporarily...if we move to Mobile, I may be able to ship out again, but that depends on Marjie, and her ability to take care of our son Jack. Down in Alabama we have the kinda support that might just allow that. It would suck, just like it always sucks to leave your family for three four five or six months....not knowing which, not know where all I'm going...just knowing that I am gonna get in that engine room and sweat my way across the ocean...
It's funny, I was in Durban when I found out Marjie was pregnant. Our ship was in the yard there, and so I've spent a good deal of time in that city. One tip though if you travel to Africa...get a pre-paid cell phone and put minutes on it...don't use your phone to just call and text your wife incessantly during every break and every meal...Anyway, when I found out about Jack, our son, I knew right away that I needed to get off the ships. I also knew that there would be a gauntlet to run in order to make that happen. They say you climb up the haws pipe when you start out unlicensed and eventually become an officer. Well, I was trying to climb back down the ole anchor chain and make a living as a normal human being somehow. All I knew was that I needed to get my ass outa Mobile and get some perspective....cause until Jack was conceived, I honestly hadn't thought about what to do with my life. Now the irony...I would love to return to sea. Don't get me wrong, I love my family, and I especially love being a dad, but the thing is, my sea trips were more than just jobs, they were how I centered myself. A few months at sea and I would come home with a paycheck, a little PTSD, and usually a big bushy beard. Then I was free to explore. Months went by without my working a real job. I would do construction just to commune with my buddies, but really life was pretty good in Mobile on a sailor's paycheck. That's just the thing...I was stuck in a pattern I was afraid I might not break.
Thanks for the honest opinion. I had been thinking something similar...you know, like a poker game...I was thinking that his lawyer took one look at my letter and said, "make him sue you" and that was that...I'm sure that is what happened. I can't really afford an attorney to be honest. I wish I could, but then again this is a fight that isn't worth the effort. At least I'm not working for free anymore. Truth be told, I'm hoping to just skip town and leave all this behind...but you are right....maybe I should write down something about our time here...There is no accounting for what happens within the artist's scope...
...about your dilemma. I think you're going to lose unless you hire a lawyer who protects intellectual/artistic/industrial copyrights. Which category, by chance, I have happened to rail against in another post on this site today... Now, what are the chances of that happening? Like a billion to one? Are you pulling my leg?
If not, and I assume you are not going for my goat, I would say you have very little chance of being paid since you have no written agreement with these hypocrite Baptist mafia bozos. Also, you have already worked for them as an intern and so have established a pattern of working for free. As you say, their word against yours...
Now, how many wholesalers of soy candles could their possibly be on the internet? I looked and I couldn't find these guys. The reason I looked is to see how many candles you could have possibly photographed, of which less than half were used? It can't be that many. So, you have already invested in a registered letter and a small claims action that is doomed to lose and your only hope is to put a intell. prop. lawyer on retainer. I'd say you are doomed on this one brother. Cut your losses and head for Mobile. Only bad things can happen if you push it. But keep us informed -- inquiring minds want to know!
But hey, what do I know? I still think you're trying to involve me in this little psychodrama...
To continue the story of what's been happening to us...I've been working for a print shop since the summer. I made several repairs to their large format printer, I printed out several jobs...basically learned the business. I'd been in the graphic design program at school, and so it was kind of interesting to see the business up close...
First off, the printing company is owned by a soy candle company. The candle company is owned by the local Baptist Mafia...two volunteer firemen and scout leaders...pillars of the town. These two guys grew up here, and one of them inherited the real estate where the candle factory is located and they most likely went into business together, and somehow they were able to attain a fairly substantial wholesale market. They make all natural soy candles, but they make them for all these different people's labels, sometimes fundraisers...and well, there is work work work for graphic designers at this place. I designed several candle labels as well as fundraisers for them...and all of this before school started. So, when school started, and I was registering, it only made sense to knock out an internship credit by working at the print shop I was already working for at for no pay...
Everything was kosher until recently. They just underwent a complete overhaul of their website. They have a new web designer who is excellent, and he is also good at web marketing as well. It was exciting for all of us. Meanwhile, I had just invested in a new Canon 50D...believe me folks, there is yet another long story involved with that, but let me just say that I plan to work in photography either here in NC or back home in Mobile, so the investment remains sound, it just seemed as if I might be cashing in a little bit early. See, the main guy, the owner, told my friend and me that he wanted to hire me to photograph the candles for the website. I joked about the fact that all my hobby photography takes you to India and Africa and Bangladesh, and places in between...and my big jump into professional photography involves a thousand photographs of different candles. It seemed incredibly mundane by comparison, but believe me, it was my first shot at doing a job and getting paid.
I set up a shooting table so there would be no horizon behind the candles themselves. I used a white piece of styrene and some duct tape to fashion what actually turned out to be a fairly nice backdrop. For lighting I used tungsten work lights and adjusted my white balance to compensate. So for about a month my nights and weekends and spare time were all filled with click click clicking my camera with my computer...take one out, put the next one in...then the mouse and click, and start over...it was indeed mundane, but I was still excited. At the end of the day, when the project was finished...almost save a few candles that needed to be poured first...and they were posted on the fancy brand new website along with the factory tour I shot photos for as well...and I ask about getting paid.
I won't go into amounts except to say that I was asking for a standard rate for this type of digital imaging. A buck a photo, and I didn't include the ones that eventually ended up not being used...they had me take each one with the lid on, and also with the lid off...so only half the photos I made were used...and I only expected to get paid for the ones they have posted on their website. A more experienced photographer would have gotten half up front and a contract regarding payment and so on...but see, this was my foot-in-the door job, so I didn't twist his arm about price or anything like that up front, I was just happy to have a paying job. So when the subject came up last week regarding how much I should get paid, this guy all the sudden says...in an email to my supervisor the print-shop-girl...that he thought that the photography was part of my internship. I can't say I didn't see it coming, but I was still surprised when it happened. These guys are Eagle Scouts for fuck's sake...if you can't trust an Eagle Scout who can you trust? I trust my buddy in Traphill to be the criminal he is, which is why it didn't piss me off that bad that he made off with all my useless plastic...no, these guys really put the wrenches to me with this one. I had been planning to spend half the money on my son's Christmas gifts, and the other half on real actual studio lighting...that way whether I stay or go I am still collecting equipment and gearing up to do portraits, weddings, nature, pets, kids, or whatever I need to do in order to squeak out a taxable leaving.
So I had to write a letter. I got it as a template from a pricing and ethics guide for graphic design. The letter was a cease and desist letter, stating that they do not have my copyright consent unless they pay, which they have not. I had it delivered return receipt and all that...and oh boy, what a bunch-o-drama. I was basically calling the guy a liar in writing, but he was basically lying to me when he agreed to pay me for my work. There were threats about taking away my credit, which I told them to shove up their ass for all I care, and I'll never work at any print-shop in town and so on and so on in that very self righteous manner in which they do most of their business. I was banned. My key taken away. No more working for free. I told Marjie I had to shake the tree sometime, cause they would have me work as an intern perpetually, always stringing me along with these promises "When we get some money in this place..."
They blatantly lied to me, and so I sent what I thought was a very professional letter asking them to please cease using my artwork without my permission unless they intend to pay. I gave them until the 24th to respond, and the holidays came, and the holidays went, and they were busy busy busy down there...and needless to say my collection of what I would call mediocre images are still up online without my permission...that's it, my bluff is called...
No, not me, not this crazy dead head...No-Sir-Re-Bob will I lay down and allow this to happen. I'm gonna follow in my mother's footsteps and sue the bastards. Sue 'em for a relatively nominal amount of money. It only costs $75 bucks, plus $15 to get the Sheriff to deliver the summons. I figure I've willingly lost more than that at the casino, so why not. All I loose by filing a small claim and loosing is $90 at most. I've dropped twice that on a night drinking back in my sailor days when I could afford such things. I've never done this before, but I read all the instructions, filled out all the forms, and so now I just have to come up with the money. Who knows, maybe we'll move on the money I get paid assuming it comes through. We are stuck here in this limbo town...we have decided to move.
I'm gonna call their bluff. I checked, they called, and now I'm calling. What do they have? Well there is no agreement that they should pay me, it was a verbal arrangement and is arguable, especially when it comes to price. In my corner, I have the market rate, plus just like I don't have anything in writing from them, they don't have anything in writing from me either. Those are my cards...they are breaking copyright...
All kidding aside, the goodie scout leaders took more from me than the petty thief. Way more in fact. I hope this works out in my favor. I sure would like to be paid for my first professional job ever. It would also be good to find out what my rights are as a photographer/designer for future reference. If anything, I may not get paid, and I may not even get the college credit, but I will be pre-disastered. There shouldn't be any trouble getting paid for my second professional job, thought that probably won't take place until we make it to Mobile.
Whew...I wanted to catch up with you guys, but I also wanted to sort of talk about what has been happening also. I'm sure there are artists in our community. If anyone has any advice...other than "get it in writing" cause I got that one...please share it with me. Much Love from Marjie and Jack and Me
Don't keep us in suspense to long. I feel like I've just started a novel. Some weird psychothriller from down South. I mean really, this would be an excellent first chapter of a book.
I used to live in Furnace, Ky. for a while. I can totally relate. I hope you guys make it outta there...
Hey everyone...I've missed you guys. I haven't been off the grid or in jail or anything like that, just busy busy busy. Marjie and I have been in school for about a year now. She is progressing right along, but I really need to be in a graduate program, so for the time being I'm just biding my time, taking some humanities that I didn't get with my engineering curriculum, and learning about photography and graphic design.
The place we live is just out of reach of two different schools that would be good for me. One of them is UNC Greensboro...home of the Great Deadhead Scholar Rebecca Adams...so we figure we would be better off moving back down to Mobile so we could have that support structure everybody talks about when you have family around. We know people around here, but we'd be newcomers for another ten years if we wanted to make such a commitment...The best thing about this town is Merlefest...
Wilkesboro is where Nascar was born. Moonshine runners used to race their supped up rigs that had been built to out-run the police on moonshine runs. Now the remnants of that past lives on in this place. There are some good people here, almost good enough to stay here for...but the thing is, the town is wrought with criminals. Last week I was tutoring this guy in physics. He had questions about the law of conservation of energy and how it pertains to the equations he was trying to solve. So to preface, he arrives with his girlfriend and some other friend we didn't know...which meant Marjie and Jack were entertaining our guests whilst I studied with this guy from Traphill Road work out physics equations that I honestly think he got...I'd tutored him in Calculus before and I knew he got it in the end...I just couldn't get his attention this time, and there my wife was with his girlfriend and this other guy who for some reason has a fear of stairs and won't ascend the stairwell up to the studio where we usually do our "adult hanging out" if you know what I mean.
Anyway, this guy needs proper description...first off and foremost he comes from a place called Traphill, a place I encountered when we first moved here...a sinister place, a dark place...a hollar. You don't go there unless you are with someone you know. There's no reason for passing through, so even the store owners are suspicious of you when you are in their place buying something even...it's almost as if they wanna deny you the privilege of a fresh pack of smokes or a pepsi or something.
I know this guy from our early days of living here in this new town where we had bounced kind of like plinko chips on a North Carolina shaped plinko board...we were students at the local community college; Marjie to finish up her degree, and me, well you know, I just needed to get a few credits that will help me get into a graduate program that is more humanities related than my original degree, Marine Engineering...so I picked up smoking again which put me in close proximity to other smokers on break...eventually my face becoming familiar, people would talk to me and there you go...its better than joining a fraternity, or at leas quicker and cheaper and no less detrimental to your body...but the thing I was looking for, the thing that always made it difficult to move...a connection...once you have your connections locked in, and you've got your old routine, well then you can stay stocked up on what remains Alabama's number one cash crop...and it was in the smoking section that I met him, this guy I don't wanna say his name, but he was my first connection in town...the only catch is, he has no phone, he has no car, and he needs a ride daily out to his home in Traphill...a good thirty or forty minutes away. Plus he was taxing the shit out of us to boot...but we were new in town, and beggars can't be choosers...and so my adventure in Traphill North Carolina was born out of a need, and this guy just overwhelmed me with daily calling and eventual dropping by unannounced to hang out for several hours till his ride to Traphill came around...and in which case I would just take him right home...making my trips to Traphill a veritable daily ritual. Not only was it a fortune in gas, but it ate up my time as well. The guy wanted to be friends, I could tell...always wanted to smoke and stuff and never - okay see ya later - and he gets out and goes inside...no, I had to spend time out of necessity...
Don't worry, it didn't last long. It was real sketchy to say the least. For one, I could never ride with him where he was going to get the thing I needed hooked up with...so I had to be dropped off, send him with my cash, and wait...sometimes at the local connivence store where I would sit reading Kerouac while being eyeballed by reluctant cigarette salesmen, or he would drop me off down by the river, kind of under a bridge, but where an old saw mill used to be...this was my favorite place cause it was remote. I could stay under the bridge and read....and passers-by were none the wiser, no stares, no rumors, no nuttin' just the sound of the river and the occasional car or truck...I was deep in the country...so deep in fact, that it felt all too familiar, like home...then I would get my car back, my hookup, and drop off the guy...try to get outa there with just a cigarette and sorry I can't come in for a minute, and I'm gone...
Given the nature of his upbringing, doing hard drugs with his mom and all way out there where there is no radar to be under, you can imagine his appearance. Dirty clothes, mostly always dirty, jeans and tee shirts. He either wears a vulgar joke or a pot reference shirt, and that coupled with his outward appearance always made me paranoid to be around him. Black hair...Lithuanian dissent...he kept a goatee but always needed a shave otherwise. I've been guilty of this a time or two in my life, but this guy somehow just always seemed to look like he had been spit out of a blender somehow...pierced here and there and a couple a country-boy tats and there you have it, the only person we knew in town when we first moved here.
Needless to say I moved on to bigger and better things. I know people in town and so on and so forth...and so I've managed to ween myself away from this guy...that is until he needed help with his physics. Well come to find out, the guy with him, his buddy, was definitely mentally ill to say the least. He looked like one of those whipped puppies in trench-coats...the ones that eventually loose track of reality...this is the guy who wouldn't, or couldn't ascend our steps into the studio...and the dude's girlfriend, who is actually an anomaly and was easy to talk to despite the company she kept.
So the next day my wallet is missing. Man I looked everywhere for it...everywhere...and so did Marjie. It didn't have any money in it, just cards, but still it was missing, and I couldn't figure out why my pocket knife and cigarette lighter and phone were all present without my wallet. My only hope in this world is to be a creature of habit...otherwise I am blind to the location of the things I need most, and most readily usually...It had to be in my bag, or in the car under the seat....or maybe the camera bag...but no. Eventually we declared it had been stolen. I don't know for sure if it was "the guy" but it was the day after he had been over here, and he sat right here at the table where I keep my things, and my eye wasn't always on him...oh, and did I mention that he had been arrested for shoplifting and some other stupid thing...so now I've had my wallet stolen for the second time in my life.
The first time was in Charlotte, when Marjie and I came up to scout the area for a place to move way back when we left Mobile. Nothing was lost thankfully...there was nothing on any of the cards, and I always carry my cash separate from my wallet.
So it's time to move folks...the second week of February. All I need to do is call in a few loans, pack up the darkroom and whatnot...and get going on finding a graduate program I can take at the University of South Alabama. We have until then to make our way here. And in this place, everyone wants a piece of ya...it's a hard town.
More on that later you guys, Marjie is beckoning me away from the computer...
As always...Much Love
now levi has a little sis to grow up with. Blessings to you all!
Zoe, and congratulations to your proud parents!!!! What wonderful news, thanks Noonie!
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge.