The format may be digital, but the thrill of seeing one’s work on public display is tangible enough no matter what the medium.

I’m among the creative spirits featured in the Spring 2013 issue of The Blue Guitar, an Arizona-based ezine that takes its name from a Wallace Stevens poem, “The Man with the Blue Guitar”.  

As always, I look forward to reading the work of fellow contributors and hope that they find similar enjoyment in reading the featured excerpt from my novel, Shine Like The Sun.

Sometimes it seems that the book world is altogether too preoccupied with celebrity and sales. Of course most of us want recognition. But a publication like The Blue Guitar is a reminder that the essence of creativity is close to home. The themes may be universal, but the details and the passion are right in front of us. And that’s why local support counts for so much. So thank you editor in chief Becca Dyer and her talented team.

http://www.theblueguitarmagazine.org/resources/Blue+Guitar+Spring+2013_FINAL.pdf

The truth is I’m a reluctant “baby boomer”. As that designation proliferated in the media over recent years, I felt blindsided. I was being cemented into a segment of the population which experience had shown to have a tenuous sense of unity. This is a generation, after all, that has produced Clinton and Bush (George W.), Ted Nugent and Morrissey. Any illusion I had that people of a similar age necessarily share values vanished along with the Woodstock spirit.

It’s the same, no doubt, for any generation. Those Xers and Y-ites, not to mention the Zsters on the horizon, will come to ruminate on their divisions. Time may well reveal that youthful exuberance masks serious, perennial ideological differences.

Anyway, so here I am, an enrollee in a boomer group on the book lovers and book creators site, Goodreads. I ask myself: is all this generational labeling just marketing? Or does an age bracket define us better than I’d like to think?

I’m about to find out. Goodreads’ Boomer Lit group invites authors to post samples of their work for something called a blog hop. I’ll try it. Sounds more my style than hip-hop. Maybe those mid-20th century childhoods have forged a common bond after all.

Here’s my contribution (from my novel Shine Like The Sun):

“Light and a beat. The one so piercing it fogged his eyes with iridescence, the other a heart-churning pulse with no discernible point of origin.

He staggered on to the angular wooden deck extending from the house, and skipped over the cracks between the planks in mimicry of a childhood game. It had been so long since he had moved. Really moved, that is. Would anyone care? Was he even capable?

A tremor rumbled through his torso — his own faltering voice, it dawned on him, self-activated by nervous energy. And then, dazzled by shimmering beams from the east and intoxicated by the moment, he could hold back no longer. Glass clapped loudly on wood as the bottle dropped from his hand. Voice synchronized with steps in a self-absorbed fantasia. Yes, he still had it. He could still rock ’n’ roll.”

Can rock stars find solace in retirement? Roy Huntley thought so, but it’s hard to shed the role that had dominated his life. He’d come of age believing music could change the world, and that he could play a part.

As with each generation, he struggles to reconcile advancing years with the aspirations he held in former days. His identity is defined by the spotlight. Can he give it up? Will fans and family let him?

As the new century dawns, Roy Huntley is in his early 50s and well past the usual shelf life for a rock and roll star. He has had his share of fame and fortune, and settled for a scenic Shangri-La in Arizona and a second wife young enough to be his daughter.

Hanging out with fellow British bandmate Chris Russell has passed the time nicely for a couple of years. But time to reflect has had its down side. A chance to reactivate their rock group revives dormant dilemmas. Is Huntley ready to let go of the role that has been so central to his life? Is he still capable of a comeback? Questions of legacy and self worth come into play. After all, performing music and the accompanying acclaim seemed to have come to him as a birthright.

Leaving the old life behind seems to be the rational choice. It’s not so easy to walk away though. There’s one last chance to prove himself. As the group assembles for its comeback concert without him, Huntley confronts his estranged colleagues. His credibility hangs in the balance. Even Huntley isn’t sure what he wants. But his fans have not forgotten him. Whether he likes it or not, he can’t escape what he has become. Even his wife will not allow that.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009F7JKXC

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240012

http://www.xinxii.com/en/shine-like-the-sun-p-337766.html

In watching Roger Waters saunter across the stage during his current presentation of The Wall, perhaps the most striking thing about him is he seems so genuinely affable. Body language, facial expressions and exclamations to the audience suggest he really is pleased to be here and anxious to connect with the masses.

Quite a turn around for a performer/composer who got the idea for this iconic rock opera some 33 years ago after becoming disillusioned with the vast, impersonal, commercialized, egotistic scale experienced by major touring acts. This is a man, after all, who admits to spitting at a fan during a performance back then and who fantasized about lobbing bombs into the auditorium.

The central idea of The Wall — that of alienation, of being constrained by barriers — is permeated with nuance. It’s a psychological statement as well as a political one, sociological as well as personal. And Waters has exploited that flexibility over the years by adding elements. There’s a backdrop, for instance, of portraits and personal details from the never-ceasing roll call of victims of war. Soldiers killed in action, such as his father, are memorialized along with human rights martyrs. Local kids wearing tee shirts emblazoned with “Fear Builds Walls” troop on stage to sing one of The Wall’s perennial anthems, “We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control.” A motto-inscribed inflatable pig buzzes the floor seats, reminiscent of the one that hovered over London’s Battersea Power Station all those years ago when Waters was an integral member of Pink Floyd. Who could miss the message? War, what is it good for? And, at the root of that, restrain your socio-political minders.

Despite familiarity (and its transition from a Pink Floyd to a Waters production), The Wall still packs quite an impact. The best of the songs combine mesmerizing riffs, melodies, themes and catch phrases with a power and universality that make The Wall a signature work for this era. Critics may caution that its material is overly juvenile, but who among us is not influenced by childhood experiences? And how often do those authority figures of early years morph into the tyrants of adulthood?

Could this be the final outing for Waters’ rendition? No matter, one can well imagine his creation being a fixture for generations to come.

At its conclusion, the bricks that separate the audience from the musicians tumble down with symbolic finality, and Waters and his accompanists file out of sight for a well-earned rest before assaulting the next arena. The scale of the operation is indeed impressive. Quite a contrast indeed with Floyd’s early years when oily bubbles in a slide projector constituted the state-of-the-art light show.   

Meanwhile, we who watch and applaud filter out to buy our $30 souvenir hats and $40 tee shirts. Underlying it all is a faint suggestion that, as in Waters’ long-ago audience-bombing fantasy, “people getting blown to bits would go absolutely wild with glee at being at the centre of all the action.”

Us and them? Maybe that’s just the human lot.

As an independent writer with limited financial resources and a desire to take advantage of electronic publishing, a major challenge is coming up with designs for book covers. I’ve managed OK, at least in my opinion, with some short story collections I’ve put on Kindle and Smashwords. But when it came time to publish my rock bio, A Brief History Of Pink Floyd, I was unsure how to do it without running foul of copyright laws.

I didn’t want to risk any conflicts with photographers or music business entities that might result from simply using images from the Internet or from media kits — although, come to think about it, isn’t publicity what those media kits are for anyway?

In any case, I wanted to do something a bit more challenging. The visions in my head were of iconic images from Pink Floyd’s history. The cows on the Atom Heart Mother album cover. The moon, of course, from the title track of The Dark Side Of The Moon. The strange dreamscape from the soundtrack album More, with the windmill as the one defining object.

As a graphic designer, I knew I couldn’t match Storm Thorgerson who, with his company Hipgnosis, did so much to imprint the visual portrayal of Pink Floyd on the popular consciousness. But perhaps I could put together a cover that would strike a chord with fans of the group.

My initial inspiration was a combination of cows, as referenced above, and the sleeve design for the album Ummagumma. Instead of portraying the four group members, as on the original Ummagumma  sleeve, I’d use cows. As on the original, I’d re-arrange the cows for each of four pictures. So, just as guitarist Dave Gilmour moved from the front of the group in the main photo so that he was progressively further back in the other three, so the cows would move from front to back too.

For good measure I threw in an LP sleeve, substituting Syd Barrett for the Gigi soundtrack on the Ummagumma cover, and a glass (actually plastic) bottle as in the original.

In homage to the More cover, I set the cows against a background of rather parched landscape complete with a windmill, and then solarized everything.

The overall concept is undoubtedly better than the execution. As I said, I’m no Thorgerson. But hopefully my book cover will resonate with the group’s fans. And if all it does is generate puzzlement, well it won’t be the first time Floyd-related material has done that.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005TPFLLE