Gary Snyder

20 Jul

Its not like I wanted to come over, have tea, read poetry, take mushrooms, smoke dope, and discuss politics. I'd have settled for a handshake.

Its not like I wanted to come over, have tea, read poetry, take mushrooms, smoke dope, and discuss politics. I'd have settled for a handshake.

Dear Mr. McFail.

Gary Snyder says to tell you that he’s older than you think, and retired from teaching 9 years ago. He lives in the mountains a long way from Davis. He is not “Japhy Ryder” but one of several modesl for that character. The “Dharma Bums” is a novel, not journalism. And he says he is not reading any new material.

best wishes,
Jann Garitty, Assistant to Gary Snyder

Well, Looks like I won’t be visiting Gary Snyder after all. A bit of a shame considering his age and and the history he holds within his brain cells.

Dharma Bums is one of my favorite books, and its hard not to fall in love with the Japhy Ryder character. Ladies man, ecologist, and poet, he was one of those characters that embodied what it meant to be a renaissance man.

I have a few friends that fall into this character, a buddy of mine living in Oregon certainly comes to mind when i think of real life examples of Japhy Ryders.

As disappointed as I am that I won’t get to meet the man himself, I certainly understand. I’m sure he gets thousands of emails and letters from “writers” and fans just wanting to be near him.

I can imagine it gets annoying. I do feel quite lucky that he even responded. Years ago, there was a columnist from ESPN named Ralph Wiley who iw as a huge fan of.
I’d spent a summer reading all of his stuff, “Why Black People tend to Shout” and other books by him. He was a great voice for sports, honest and insightful, and one of my favorites.

I remember after one morning of reading his article (hew as one of the few who’d predicted the ’04 Pistons would beat the Lakers), I thought I should email him and tell him how much I loved his work.

Of course I didn’t, ended up playing grab ass with my then girlfriend, or something, and figured I could email him some other time.

Well he died of a heart attack later that week. It struck me as odd, because he was only 52, but also because I’d just finished one of his books.

He was a great writer, and funny, and his death left a big void in the sports writing world. And all I kept thinking was I should’ve emailed him.

I’ve sent letters and emails to various people over the last ten years from Radiohead to Wayne Coyne, of the Flaming Lips, to the Sports Guy Bill Simmons, and not one of them has ever responded.

Well of course, Snyder didn’t respond either. But he at least told his assistant to take the time to write me and tell me to “get lost, scram, to beat it kid.”

I’m honored really. One of the last links to the Beat Generation had his assistant write me and tell me to fuck off, but in a slightly polite way. Seriously I can dig it.

And the truth is, I didn’t email him to be another sychophant scmhuck, telling him something he needs to hear. He already knows he’s awesome, you don’t make it that far, not knowing that. He doesn’t need the ego stroke.

I did it for me. I did it because it needed to be said, just to tell him, “hey motherfucker, I know you could really give a shit, but your presence in this world, turned my life upside down. And I realized I couldn’t live my life the same way ever again.”

and what is a person to say to that? Thanks? Cheers?

No response will be anything short of awkward, and yet its almost necessary to send those sort of letters.

Why? I don’t know, because if you appreciate something or someone, it feels good to tell them. No matter what the response.

“I love you” is one of those weird phrases as well. If you’re saying it for the response back then it aint real. I say it to friends all the time and it gets a bit awkward, but at least they know, and it doesn’t bottle up, and when they go, I can at least know that they knew how I felt.

I say it, I give give gifts because it feels good to, not for what I’ll get in return. Its a totally selfish endeavor nonetheless, and I think there’s nothing wrong with that.

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