“He plays music by the book”: article on Adrian Butler, Rutgers-Camden pianist and library staffer.

Gleaner Scans 007

 

I loved writing news features. This one was actually for the Rutgers-Camden magazine, I think? It was also a press release, and then it ran in various freebie papers around South Jersey. I thought I’d hit it big. What I remember is how Barbara, the head of public relations, edited it, and I rewrote it, and edited it, over and over. At the time I thought it was because I was a horrible writer, but now I know she needed it to be perfect, and I needed it to be an article. Barbara was beyond generous to me, I know now. And I loved Adrian Butler. I worked at the library shelving books and Adrian, who was a serials assistant, regarded me as a real writer.

Comments Off on “He plays music by the book”: article on Adrian Butler, Rutgers-Camden pianist and library staffer.

Filed under Shader Outtakes, Shader: 99 Notes on Grief, Car Washes, Making Out in Church, and Other Unlearnable Subjects

Just out in Courier-Post: My Op-Ed on proposed Martin Luther King memorial in Maple Shade, NJ.

Screenshot 2015-01-t05 16.11.59b

A 2009 Google maps image of the site of Mary’s Cafe, later The Jade and then Moorestown Pub. It was razed in 2010.

 

For 20 years, I read the Courier Post, and now I’m in its opinion pages. That’s pretty cool. What’s also cool is I got to offer my opinion–and, hopefully, move a conversation forward–about a particular aspect of my hometown, Maple Shade, NJ.

I write about this in my next book, called Shader, but here it is again, in a nutshell, one more time: one night in June 1950, a Maple Shade bar owner threw a 20-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. out, at gunpoint, refusing to serve him, his friend and their dates. (They ordered beers, but also ginger ales, after they were refused the beers. But that’s not as sexy.)

Recently, some activists have proposed to put a historical plaque or memorial there to mark the spot where it happened. There are a good amount of people from Maple Shade–a couple blood relatives–who say forget about it and move on, why dwell in the past, or what good can come from doing that?

I offer my take on it as a native Shader.

I worked hard on this one. It went through a million drafts, loads of research, interviews and emails, discussions with people from Maple Shade. And a lot of soul-searching.

Here’s a core belief I have: history should be acknowledged, good and bad (thus the piece’s title). That’s probably why I don’t think Maple Shade, my beloved hometown, needs to turn away and continue to exclude it from its history, which it does. The more it’s suppressed–and I’ve come to think that’s the right word for it, suppressed, from town histories, historical societies, even the Wikipedia page–the more complicit it looks we were in the event.

How should it be acknowledged? There I’m not sure. I’m not a plaque-maker or memorial expert. I’m also not a historian.

That’s why I spoke with Clayborne Carson, one of the world’s top King historians, for the story. He’s not the biggest fan of historical markers, either, at least next to highways. But I did like his idea of setting up a website, perhaps along with something to mark the spot, which today is just a patch of grass beside Route 73.

Read the piece here. Below is a screenshot from one of the King biographies that mention the Maple Shade incident, To See The Promised Land (page 153).

MLK To See The Promised Land Page 153

 

Comments Off on Just out in Courier-Post: My Op-Ed on proposed Martin Luther King memorial in Maple Shade, NJ.

Filed under Shader: 99 Notes on Grief, Car Washes, Making Out in Church, and Other Unlearnable Subjects, Shameless Self-Promotion

This ad for ‘broadminded swingers’ asks you to send to a P.O. Box in Cherry Hill, NJ.

SwingersCherryHill

This comes from a March 3, 1970 issue of the defunct East Village Other, an early competitor to the Village Voice.

Anyone from Cherry Hill know about this? Please write to me.

 

Comments Off on This ad for ‘broadminded swingers’ asks you to send to a P.O. Box in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Filed under Beyond Camp

Look! My volcano is working!

PeterVolcano2

1 Comment

January 25, 2015 · 4:09 pm

Just up on Passages North: “Type Hard or Go Home: In Praise of the Clicky Keyboard.”

IMG_2412

I am typing these words on an IBM Model M, a behemoth beast of a keyboard that has a solid steel plate inside. For the past fifteen years, I have refused to type on anything other than a Model M. Made by IBM from 1985 until 1991 (successors made by Lexmark and now Unicomp, while good, are not regarded as classic), it weighs in at six pounds, about as much as six iPads, and connects to a computer with a curly cable that resembles something Jimi Hendrix might have used with his Fender Stratocaster. Its clicks rival any Remington’s.

Read the whole thing here.

 

Comments Off on Just up on Passages North: “Type Hard or Go Home: In Praise of the Clicky Keyboard.”

Filed under Creative Nonfiction, Shameless Self-Promotion