planet news

When I got out of the shower there was the mail plopped inside the front door, including this postcard from Allen Ginsberg. I didn’t dry myself off before reading it and as I read water fell off my wet head onto the card making the ink run and the words blur but I kept reading, too dumb to stop before the whole thing turned into Ink Lake.

In 1970, with Johanna just born and an apparent need to make a living somehow, I got my dad to co-sign for a 500 dollar bank loan so I could buy a beat-up old van and deliver groceries. My friend Ted was doing that and made out okay when he wasn’t spending the few bucks he made buying heroin and fucking everything up. I wasn’t a junkie so it seemed I was sure to be a success. Soon as I got the thing – a 57 VW bus – I called Dan McLeod and asked him for a job delivering the Georgia Straight around to the stores. Four years later I was an experienced magazine and newspaper distributor and started my own business. I arranged to flog the beautiful Swiss photography magazine, Camera, and a newspaper that Susan Graham was publishing in New York called Changes. Before long I had a basement full of Cameras I was too stupid to sell and a lawsuit from the publisher for the money I didn’t have. (The publishers were cool at first but then the magazine was sold to some European capitalist pigs, and then the trouble started.) Susan’s paper folded after just a few issues but in the meantime we had developed a relationship consisting of latenight phone conversations about Charles Mingus, whom she eventually married. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wanted to call my business enterprise “Planet News Company”. Some of my best ideas are stolen from other people smarter than me. Allen Ginsberg had published a book of poems called just that. It seemed like the perfect name – more for the association with my favourite childhood reading, Superman (Daily Planet), than anything else. Still, it seemed slightly dubious so I thought I’d ask Allen if it was cool with him.

I webt ahead and used “Planet News” regardless but was out of business in no time, anyway.

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