This is going to be one of those commentaries I have avoided making up until now, because although it’s all perfectly true, it just doesn’t sound very nice. We have a lot of those.
I was going to entitle this “reach out and touch someone,” but I am told I need to update my TV clichés from the 1960s and 1970s, because they’re way outdated and nobody gets them any more. So for a phone tagline, I assume most of you remember the Verizon “can you hear me now?” guy. I think that’s fairly recent.
The latest Goat Dance is that I am a sinister and wicked Induhvidual with some deep, malevolent secret agenda, or else a “con man,” because I will neither publish a phone number in public, nor will I call total strangers on demand and spend 45 minutes to an hour per conversation personally repeating to these total strangers all of the things that I have already said publicly on Radio Free Northwest and that I have written in my novels, plus of course unveiling the deepest contents of my slim gilt Bosie-like soul, and talking about all kinds of illegal activity into an electronic device to someone I have never met and do not know from Adam’s house cat.
Unlike most of the smears directed against me, this one is quite true. I don’t do these things.
Let me tell you a little story. (Initiate Grandpa Simpson mode.)
The last time I ran for public office was in 1990, when I tried for a state house seat in North Carolina. (This was pre-internet, remember.) At that time the Movement’s major communication vehicle was Dr. Ed Fields’ Truth At Last newspaper.
Purely in a spirit of being helpful, (I think), Ed published my personal phone number in his newspaper. In those days, as in this, I was pretty much completely alone. I had some help then, just as today I have two assistants who do handle some of my e-mail and snail mail, but like today, the help I had back then were people who had to work for a living and who could only give me a couple of hours a week, so practically speaking it was all on me.
The result was that I was inundated with telephone calls from roughly six in the morning until the last drunk called at two or 3 a.m., and I don’t mean hecklers. There were almost none of those, since TAL was a purely Movement publication.
The people who were calling me, even more so than it would be today, were middle-aged and elderly single men who wanted to help with the campaign, even though none of them lived locally, none of them were registered to vote in the district, and none were sufficiently well off to make significant campaign contributions, or if they were they wouldn’t let on.
So none of them could be of any real use. I could usually persuade these guys, after 45 minutes to an hour of conversation, to drop ten or twenty dollars into the mail, but basically what they wanted was to chat with a fellow racist, because they were so desperately lonely and isolated in their little towns and they wanted to hear a friendly voice, someone to whom they could say “nigger” out loud.
This is pathetically and humanly understandable. It also took up at least eight hours per day of my time, minimum, (and this was when I was working a 40-hour per week shitjob as well) to the point where all of my other racial and political work completely ceased, so long as I was in my apartment. (This was pre-cell phone, thank God.)
I could do some work in the Raleigh Public Library to get away from the phone, but when I came home the answering machine was always full.
If I didn’t return the calls was it became “Hurrold is so rude and stuck-up, he won’t return my calls and talk to me for an hour when I promised to send him ten bucks, who does he think he is, why won’t he talk to his supporters?” etc. etc. etc.
Americans are consumers. They are used to buying things and getting value for their money. In this case what they thought they were buying for their ten or twenty bucks was endless telephone bullshitting time with Hurrold, and they were very upset when they kept getting an answering machine and later on a disconnect signal.
We were dependent on paper correspondence in those days, and I had to spend hours per day sitting behind a typewriter as opposed to sitting behind a computer keyboard today, composing actual personal letters or writing articles at the speed of a Selectric at best, and more often a manual portable. During this entire time period I did not write one word of fiction; I had to wait until I more or less fled to Charleston and had no telephone to start on Bonnie Blue Murder.
If I had answered that phone every time it rang, my whole effort of the time would have come to a halt while I did nothing but talk on the phone all day to lonely middle-aged men. I had to unplug the phone and not take any calls at all, including calls I needed to take, in essence cutting myself off from everybody else completely so I could get some work done.
Eventually, I had to change the number, and that caused all kinds of sound and fury that I was some kind of fraud and con man who was deceiving everyone, “Hurrold is an agent,” etc. because people who wanted to spend an hour a week or more moaning and complaining to me verbally about this shitty world we live in could not do so, something they felt their $10 or $20 contribution entitled them to do.
They were genuinely upset and angry, I know. Americans are consumers, they expect value for their money, and they get pissed when they think they’ve been cheated or disrespected by a vendor, as they often are.
As recently as four or five years ago I got a mail threat from an Induhvidual who ranted and raved that I “disappeared” on him back in 1990 when he called me and found my number had been changed. I could get another one tomorrow. Yes, in the Movement we carry these obsessive grudges for 21 years. All the time.
Anyway, I mention all this because we’re having a recrudescence of such mess, this time on the internet, of course. “Hurrold is rude, Hurrold is stuck-up, Hurrold won’t talk to his supporters, nobody knows how to get in touch with Hurrold, Hurrold is in hiding, blah blah blah blah bleeeaahhh….” Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose.
Whenever there is a new Goat Dancing accusation, if there is anything to it at all besides complete fabrication, I will give one (let me repeat dat) one public response and explanation. This is it, my “canned answer” on the “why won’t Hurrold call this number and talk to me for two hours about all the illegal activity he’s planning” canard. Figured I might as well say something now before you hear it from someone else on Facebook or one of the pseudo-intellectual blogs.
So yeah, there is a little something to this one, but I’m sorry, guys, I’m primarily a writer and now a speaker on RFN and I need to be writing and speaking, not yakking on the phone for 12 hours per day to people basically are just lonely and looking for a friend.
Maybe I can persuade one of my two assistants to get a burner cell phone and allocate a couple of hours per night for phone chatting.
When we get a General Headquarters there will be a phone number, and with any luck somebody to answer it. I’ll be talking about that in a few weeks’ time once I get Freedom’s Sons Volume I up on the Net, at least.