Saturday, April 2, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (61)

After concluding in the 1970's that there was little chance that the hip capitalist corporate folks who acted as U.S. music industry/record company gatekeepers/censors would ever be willing to allow me (or anyone else) to record in their studios any songs whose lyrics reflected the anti-capitalist and revolutionary male feminist politics of the folk songs I had written in my late teens and 20's (or distribute any vinyl records of songs whose lyrics reflected such politics), I decided to try to start writing "the Great American" novel in the 1970's, "Generation In Chains." This "Generation In Chains" novel would, hopefully, reflect the 1970's social reality that my post-World War II baby-boom generation was enslaved by the U.S. capitalist economic and political system of the 1970's.

The main fictional protagonist of "Generation In Chains" was a 1960's white New Left Movement activist-organizer named Daryl who, in the early 1970's, was now being hunted by the F.B.I.. And the fictional character in many ways was modeled after the young Mark Rudd, whom I had known in the 1960's before I was suspended by the Columbia University administration in 1968 for engaging in political protest inside Hamilton Hall, during the second New York City police invasion of Columbia's campus in late May of 1968.

Initially, I was able to diligently work on my novel in my basement apartment in Jamaica each evening after coming home from work at my Council on International Education Exchange [C.I.E.E.] student travel agency clerk-typist job, and on my weekends off, in a disciplined way. And, initially, I did enjoy laying out in a fictionalizing way New Left sub-cultural history of the 1960's and early 1970's at the same time. I felt I was using the "Generation In Chains" plot and theme to expose the totalitarian nature of U.S. society and to stimulate the development of revolutionary anti-imperialist/anti-capitalist mass consciousness, hopefully, among those who would eventually read the novel.

But after about a month of working on writing "the Great American Novel" that would be called "Generation In Chains," I concluded that, for a U.S. worker who was economically enslaved in the 9-to-5 work world on Monday through Friday, spending all your limited free time in the evening after work, in the early morning before going to work on weekdays, and your weekends writing your novel was like being stuck doing homework all the time in high school; or having to write term papers, without getting paid, to obtain credits in college.

To write "the Great American novel," meant that I would have to sacrifice a lot more of my limited free time when not in the 9-to-5 working-class cage than writing protest folk songs required. The lifestyle of a working-class novelist, I concluded, was a much more self-enslaving life-style to get into, under capitalism, than was the lifestyle of a working-class writer-musician-activist, who just wrote protest folk songs and revolutionary feminist love songs, rather than wordy novels that took months to complete in most cases (and often years to find some corporate media conglomerate--or even an upper-middle-class-controlled academic or leftist small publishing firm--that would be willing to publish the novels).

So rather than continuing to spend all my summer evening and summer Saturday and Sundays locking myself inside my Jamaica basement apartment writing a novel when I felt more like being outside, I decided to conclude my "Generation In Chains" literary project by just completing it as a novella; and then I mailed the completed "Generation In Chains" novella manuscript off to some 1970's college student newspaper office (where it probably was quickly dumped in the wastebasket by some white upper-middle-class college student newspaper editor). And during the rest of that summer I was able to now have time to ride on local transit system buses that took you from Jamaica to Far Rockaway Beach or Long Beach and then lay around on the beach on a few hot weekend days, with a can of beer, without feeling any self-induced pressure to continue to work on writing my "Great American" novel.