Subject: Letter #14

Dear Paco,

This is my 14th letter to the Fringe, please put it in my TAZ
section; I'm also posting it to the AltX list. Mark and Knut,
if you would like any of these for my column let me know. I'm also
sending a copy to AT, since he is afraid of not getting enough
interesting Email. Share it with whom you like, AT.


R 60,I 5,T 5 50,spacing 2

Dear Friends,

First off I want to pass along a great idea I got from Henry Wessells. Henry
wrote me today, I don't know if it's his coinage, or another's, but I think
it's wonderful. Here is what he wrote:

"I wonder if you have ever seen the word electronym,used to supersede the
cumbersome and inelegant term "e-mail address"? E.g., my electronym is:"

This is a beautiful word. I am always on the lookout for the beautiful word.
Writers are a class of scavengers and thieves, after all.

Writers have no innocence. The act of writing takes away a simple
appreciation of the world in front of their eyes. Their ears are tuned to the
narrative possibilities before them, or they are clipping the nuggets of
great phrases from the words of others. Even their best friend's tragedies,
their family shames, the greatest secrets whispered in their ears. I'll give
you a few examples of the process.

One of my dearest friends of many years owns a pot-bellied pig. Now when my
friend and his wife bought the pig, they bought a female with the theory that
the female wouldn't get horny and try to mount everything. What they did not
know is that female pigs are fierce masturbators. They'll masturbate on
anything of the right height. One day the pig tripped my friend and began
vigorously humping his face. She even split his lower lip. We all tried to
urge my friend to seek treatment at an emergency clinic, but herefused on the
grounds he didn't want to say that he had injured his lips on the vagina of a
pet pig. Even though my friend was in pain, all I could think of what a cool
opening sentence to a novel would be, "It's bad to be fucked in the face by a

Another friend told me about her worse Laundromat story. She went to a
neighborhood Laundromat, a very friendly place near a Minimart, where people
hang out drinking coffee and beer and visiting while their laundry is rotated
toward cleanliness. One day she found herself alone with an ordinary looking
guy. Maybe not the best dressed guy in theworld, but men are not known for
dressing well on a laundry day. He began visiting with her and even asked her
out. She told him she was seeing someone. He then began a long talk about how
many people Ted Bundy had killed, what a huge red rampage Bundy had went on,
just because he was turned down by some woman for a date. My friend decided
that it was time to go home then, gathered her wash some clean, some dirty,
some wet and hurried to her car. On the way out the guy told her that he
wasn't there to do laundry. That he was just a bum. Just a "Hey buddy can you
spare a dime?" She reached into her pocket pulled out the first bill she
could find (which turned out to be a ten) and told him, "Have a nice life!"
She bought her washer and dryer the next day. Although she was clearly
hurting while she told the story,still touched by the fear of such a strange
grasping encounter -- all I could think of was that her story would be perfect
if she just added the sentence, "The next day I found out he worked for
Maytag." An innocent wouldn't have had that thought much less written it

When Cadillac Ranch, the world's most famous privately owned sculpture, had its
twentieth anniversary in 1994, the owner Stanley Marsh 3 invited various
members of the Texas artistic community up to Amarillo for a party. He
had painted the Ant Farm's sculpture, twelve Cadillac's buried in the earth, a
pristine white and had a selection of paint cans for us to cover them with our
own graffiti. I had brought a square Magik Marker preferring the
gang-style graffiti of the 90s to the earlier flower power stuff. Stanley had
invited my mother along. Mom was 72 in '94. I asked Mom if she wanted to
write any graffiti, she said no. I wrote a brief Runic inscription in honor
of my friend Edred Thorsson. Mom watched everyone writing, and suddenly said,
"Give me your marker." Mom wrote "Soncy School 1928-1933." Soncy was the
rural school where she learned towrite -- in fact the ruins of the school
were quite visible from the Cadillac Ranch sculpture. Instead of taking
the pure unfiltered sight of my mother writing graffiti -- I was thinking of
some good sentence that captured the two sites -- where she had learned to
write (paid for by the good people of Potter County). I also wanted to
include the fact that the land of the sculpture came from the same family
my grandfather had sharecropped for. A sharecropping that allowed the family
to weather the great Depression. Now Icouldn't come up with an elegant
sentence for this, but that was where my mind was. No innocence.

I remember when a friend of mine told me that she suffered from depression.
This woman, an award-winning novelist, has talent and money and recognition.
I couldn't believe it, and I listened to her tell me about it, and her search
for the right meds, and the whole great awful blackness that swallowed up her
life. All I could think of as she spoke, was how brave she was to speak. How
brave she was to have continued through the quest. How I hoped to god I could
be as brave. Yet despite all of my genuine feelings, I was recasting the
sentence to "The intense dark-haired woman began her story with, 'I take
Prozac and it has freed me from utter darkness.'" That has a bad _Reader's
Digest_ feel to it. And so in the middle of her story of her passage through
difficult territory and being transformed thereby, I was engaged in pointless
internal self criticism. Writers have no innocence.

I watch funerals, weddings, bar mitzvahs, performances of _Die Elektrischen
Vorspiele_, operas, new CD-Rom games and street shootings with the same
story-making eye. I have heard and overheard confessions, prayers, lewd jokes
and stories of great and intricate acts of clever stupidity with that one ear
that listens for the story. Writers have no innocence. In short we are like
everyone else.

Best Wishes,

Don Webb