Last Updated: May 30, 2017
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“Two Cents (and some change)” — Commentary by Editor M. Scott Douglass
Main Street Rag will be CLOSED FOR HOLIDAY BREAK December 23, 2016 through January 2, 2017
Much has happened since my last update here and while I’d like to elaborate and give everyone a full page to their part of the ongoing Main Street Rag Saga, as usual, the breadth of my entanglement in all things MSR and the weaving of all things non-MSR restrict the time I have available to write this section.
And frankly, no one else is qualified to do it.
So, I appreciate the indulgence of those members of the Main Street Rag family who have been with us from the beginning, you know: last century. I also want to welcome those who are making a literary pit stop, possibly in search of some nugget ot publishing wisdom.
Not this time, but soon.
For now, here are the headlines:
BACK FROM THE AWP CONFERENCE
Washington, as always, was an adventure. The first conference I attended here several years ago was broken up oddly and we were buried in a basement. This one was wide open. It even had stages in the far reaches of the floor plan. Unfortunately, those who attended seemed to calculate that all the cool kids were parked north of the food court and few traveled beyond it. Good thing I didn’t attend with the idea that I might actually sell something.
THE MAIN STREET RAG POETRY BOOK AWARD
Yes, we did have it this year for those who missed it. And, yes, we did select a winner, URBILLY by Michael Dowdy of Columbia, South Carolina. The runners up are posted on the Poetry Book Award page. Many of these titles are under development and will soon appear on the Coming Soon Page. URBILLY is tentatively scheduled for release in November, 2017.
KAKALAK 2017 Contest
Yes, we held this contest again this year. We even opened it up to “outsiders” allowing—no, inviting—the rest of the world those from outside the Carolinas to participate. I want to send a special shout out to the person in New Jersey who read the guidelines and discovered eligibility. It would have been nice if others had as well, but there’s always next year. We hope to be announcing winners in June.
CATHY SMITH BOWERS CHAPBOOK CONTEST
Not long ago we shipped Good Housekeeping by Jason Gebhardt, the winner of the first chapbook contest we sponsored in Cathy Smith Bowers name, last year. This contest is open for entries right now. You have a little over two weeks until deadline. If you’re a poet with a chapbook looking for a home, you should get yourself down to the Contest Page and get you some guidelines.
We wanted to produce two different anthologies, but it’s looking like combing the two themes. Fast Food /Bars, might be the best solution for the small turnout we had for the fast food anthology. The issue is naming—but that will be resolve shortly and we will be moving ahead with a goal of having it out for the holidays. Because we are combining the two themes, it may end up being a monster of an anthology.
We were also going to read for another Tattoos themed anthology, but the editor has gotten much busier from when she first volunteered to do this, so we have postponed it for another time.
It is intern time of year. I’ve been avoiding bringing interns in because I’d rather use my summers—because they are usually slow—to travel. This year I had two folks ask to participate, one as an i9ntern, one as a volunteer. The intern’s job is to learn how this fuss is done while cleaning and organizing our office for 6-8 weeks. She’s doing a splendid job.
Our volunteer wants to be a publisher. I warned her against it, but you know these young folks never listen to old guys like me. She has already helped organize the Kakalak 2017 contest database and will be taking on some design.
Having these two young ladies here for the summer will allow for more summer releases. We have 4 coming up and the Bars/Fast food anthology won’t be far behind.
In addition, I have another young lady arriving in August who is considering an apprenticeship. She will spend a week here deciding whether she wants to move to Charlotte and make it a more permanent arrangement. As I said in an interview in the Winter issue, I will be at the helm through issue number 100 of The Main Street Rag (another 4 years or so from now). Someone else has to grab the reigns for issue number 101 on and all the books we produce. That takes time and training.
I do have upcoming travel dates—at which time our offices will be closed. Among them: June 2-June 7, several days in July (dates not yet confirmed), and August 4-11.
That’s the quickie update. New items may be posted in the not-too-distant future.
Holdovers from the last Bulletin Board post:
In the past, Main Street Rag has paid shipping for all contributors’ copies. Though I hate to change this policy, when the price of shipping for a year triples the cost of paper (after a 10% increase in the cost of paper), adjustments will need to be made. We’re going to start by splitting the cost with contributors to the magazine, anthologies, and copies of authors’ books. If that doesn’t slow the bleeding, we will need to charge full shipping.
I am the only full timer here at Main Street Rag and too much of my day is being eaten up doing paperwork and answering phone questions or taking orders over the phone. As some have experienced this fall, I stopped taking credit card orders over the phone and went to a process of invoicing THROUGH PayPal which allows me to invoice at my time and buyers to pay when it’s convenient to them. The benefit (for me) is not having to stop in the middle of something to answer the phone and write up the information. That will all be handled by PayPal and the buyer. It also better ensures shipping address accuracy.
OVERSEAS CONTRIBUTOR COPY CHANGES…
On December 6th I spent $247.50 sending 11 packages–16 books–to overseas contributors. I do not want to exclude overseas writers from appearing in our publications, however, at a cost of $20+ (on average), it is simply not viable for us to continue to ship contributor copies outside the US. Starting in 2017, all contributors to our anthologies and literary magazine will be emailed a PDF en lieu of a hard copy. I’m sorry, but postage is simply too outrageous and unreliable to continue to send books the old fashioned way.
TWO CENTS (& some change)
I’ve heard several government officials—both elected and appointed—say, “We have to give the President a chance,” and I wondered where this level of patience was when his predecessor was elected, but more important, I’m wondering what exactly they want us to wait for. Do they want us to wait until Putin and Trump are carpooling? Until Trump has either insulted or confused so many of our allies that they all throw up their hands, turn away, and ignore us?
I don’t care how partisan you are, how much you hate the opposition, how brave of a face you pull out of a drawer in the morning and paste over the scarred remnants of your ideological victory, when no one’s looking, you’re shaking your head in wonder at the massive disaster of this guy’s administration. No one in their right mind can truly believe this guy is a great leader or his administration is a success.
I’ve also heard the kids in the back of the room screaming, IMPEACH HIM, and I think they’re nuts also. We NEED Trump to ride out this term as far as he can go. He’s a wrecking ball. You don’t want to get in the way of a tool doing the only job it knows how to do. By letting the wrecking ball play out we identify all the politicians who are clinging to him and his policies. To impeach him, people in his own party have to turn on him—and we don’t want that yet. We want the Congress and the Senate to brand themselves with his accomplishments, sign on to the demolition of America so that, when a time for reckoning comes, it’s easy to identify the players.
My liberal friends are in the background screaming, But he’ll ruin America. Guys, get real. Corporations are ruining America. They reward this kind of stupidity by giving us little treats they know will pacify some of us as the roof caves in. Sure, we’ve got a struggle coming our way. We may even have a Civil War, but what’s it to them. They’re multi-nationals. If America fails, they’ll move on to the next country, then the next, maybe even the next planetary body. Corporate survival over national sovereignty—that’s their motto.
America will be fine right up until the time that it’s not. When it’s not, there are other places to go. We’ve ensured that for them through treaties. But what about those left here, those who viewed Trump as an American Messiah who would make us all great again? Will finally get it, realize that they were the punch line all along?
Probably not. Some people’s belief system is like an old freezer, stocked full of ideas and concepts that someone else packaged for them in a way that sounded so appealing at the time, they knew it must be true. So, they stuck it in this freezer to preserve it for future family gatherings; to pass it on to the kids. If anyone was to say that it tastes stale, well they’re not welcome at the family table anymore.
That’s where we are in America. Not everyone likes what’s in the freezer. After a while chewing the same old rump roast gets old. Tradition is one thing, but a good healthy diet is another and you can scream up and down that it’s not the diet, but a conspiracy of dieticians lying to us about what’s good for us, but when we see the waistline of everyone around us expanding, isn’t it time we admit that—maybe—we need to eat something else?
Last week Montana elected a guy who body slammed a reporter the night before a special election because he didn’t like the question the reporter was asking. I said to my wife at the time: He’s going to win anyway. He’s in Montana. My rationale was simple: the voters of Montana don’t care about knowing the facts, they just want to hear what they want to hear and anyone who says otherwise, who questions the status quo, is the enemy. These days, the press is the enemy.
Trump started a war on journalism—TRUE journalism. I’m talking about people who research stories, dig to the bottom to get the truth not some watered down ideological Kelly Conway type drivel.
I can’t speak for America. It is a divided house with the folks upstairs hooting and hollering and stomping on the floor as they dance the dance of the privileged on the ceilings of the folks who are working their asses off, double-shifting to make ends meet; trying to at least get some sleep on the way to another day of servitude to the overlords upstairs, hoping they can will at least maintain their health and that of their children so they don’t lose what little they have. What I can say is: Truth is truth. Just because someone comes along and labels it fake, doesn’t make it any less true. If you’re among those who would rather not hear it if it doesn’t already align with what you have crammed into your freezer, I wish you well when the power goes out. And it will.
M. Scott Douglass
Main Street Rag Publishing Company
P.O. Box 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227