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Scarlet O'Hara's


I've been thinking on a field note all week, what involves a story going back to the '80s. In another forum I've posted a novel I call "Open Faces, Opening Places." Set in a north FL town, St. Augustine, looking to tell a story of what it means to live by the logic of the emotions, really a flamenco thing, musically expressed. The novel has as its focal point a bar where live music gets played nightly. Each chapter includes a band up on the stage, band or, in the case of one chapter, a solo performer whose thing is to sing and play on his guitar all the songs he knows in the range of 25 years or so of Rock n Roll's cannon, and singing them in the mode, manner of their originators. Can't remember the performer's name. In the novel I call him Sag Boody.

But I'm not looking to talk about the novel. It's here on our board and will keep here for as long as the board keeps active. I'm looking to write about what became a kind of sociological study of a bar scene.

The name of the place was Scarlet O'Hara's. In the novel called Tara's Place. Last time I checked it's still in operation only not the same. It has become a tourist spot in a tourist town. Back then only known locally. Customers were townies or maybe from as far away as Jacksonville. The music was local or, again, with bands as far away as Jacksonville. In those days north Florida was still a happening spot for music. It's where Leonard Skynard got its start. Where the Allman Brothers band got its start too. Not quite Southern Rock yet. Not quite R n B. Those north Florida bands had their own sound. I don't know. Call it the Tidewater Sound. So I followed every band that played there. One in particular. They called themselves Decoy. In the novel I called them Duck Blind. A trio of rhythm guitarist, Mike, fretless bass player, Sonny, and drummer, Noel. That band I followed most closely of all. They figure prominently in my story. With some several pages I try to carry over, in words, the sound they made, how they made it, the musical, manic depressive rises and falls, the steady, hard driving bass playing against the rhythm, all snare drum punctuated. Their sound almost a character in the story in its own right. And another band too who had about it an Appalachian sound. Husband and wife and back up. The wife and I got conversational, a bit dangerously so. From her I learned a fun term. In the old timey mountains when a girl gets ready to go dancing on a Saturday night, she's 'puttin on her silver heels.'

It started out exploratory like. I was in a serious bad way, emotionally, in need of rehab. really. I was also tending bar in an uptown kind establishment, the kind of high class restaurant that closes down no later than 11 PM. I would walk to Scarlet's for last call and for the music. As the saying goes, didn't know nobody. No matter how long I was there, even on days off, I allowed myself 2 shots of Jamesons Irish whiskey, always in a snifter. Jamesons an atypical Irish, fondly known as mother's milk. Leaving out of the account the waitress with whom I became fascinated, and for once in my life smart enough to understand I shouldn't pursue her, mostly because I found in her face my anima, my inside-sister, my soul. I can't remember how it started up, this sociological survey. But, having grown up in the bar and restaurant scene in another seaside town, I figured I was uniquely equipped to tell this kind of tale and from the inside out. Eventually I would become friends with the bartenders, the waitresses in their obligatory short red skirts, and darn near all of the regulars. Also eventually I would let it out what I was up to, there to observe and tell a story based on it all. Band members appreciated that I was actually into what they were doing up on the stage, the licks, riffs, rolls. The guys slowly getting stoned found me to be a good listener as they told their tales. Women, too young and a bit older, one sort looking for the libido adventure, the other sort of a bit edged by too many such adventures, mistaking me for a gentleman because I'd listen without looking to score.

So many stories I heard. And used. The nuclear plant tech who lost faith in his ability to control atomic reactions. The bank officer whose job was killing her witchy soul. The developer who hated what he was good at, scraping to sand, denuding Florida coast's oak and palm scrub. The woman-girl who loved sailing, being independant, but in constant need of a man wealthy enough to see to her independence, the cocaine cowboys you could spot yards away as they constantly bit down on their lower lip, the construction workers looking to put off another sunrise, the photographer who kept chasing down moon beams on his motorcycle, Sean, the queer prostitute, once pretty boy, whose face had been sliced in ribbons by a john because he had fallen in love with a girl, girl murdered. The list goes on. Best of all, most colorful of all, was Hugh Mitchell. he was my piece de resitance. A name you can google. A Canadian, trained anthropologist, paratrooper in the Suez Canal Crisis, gun runner during the Angolan crisis, a polio, and, back then, owner of the famed schooner, The Lord Jim. Sociologically speaking, I mined him big time. There is one scene I'll mention. The narrator, Richard, has just witnessed a friend killed in self-defense in a convenience store parking lot. Richard had been bound for Tara's Place (Scarlet's) to meet up with his new girl friend, Melissa, my waitress. But he couldn't shake off the horror that Saturday night. So he walks down to the docks where the fishing and shrimpboats are tied up. Leaning against a dumpster, smoking a cigarette, he hears a voice from inside the dumpster. It's Hugh who figured he was old enough, had seen and experienced enough, that it was time to get compacted and taken home. Only, defiantly, he decided he couldn't give up on the assualt heroic. So he asks Richard for a cigarette, climbs out, and together they walk to an all night eatery. Even there I found a bunch of characters to draw out, drawn people I had observed. You have to admit. That dumpster scene is a pretty good touch. I had in mind Bloom and Daedalus finally crossing paths in Dublin.

Not sure what this field note comes to. What it's about. Sure of one thing. Any novel not sociological in motive, or psychological in impetus, has no philosophical underpinning. I've always maintained the first psychologists and sociologists were the novelists of the 19th C. Something story writers have forgotten, maybe too focused on just telling a good story. Camus said it best. Novel writing a combination of philosophy and story telling. Too much, too little of one or the other and it falls flat.

Almost forgot. When I left town, left FL for WA State, one last night Scarlet's servers and regulars gave me a party. Still have the card with all their signatures. Even my waitress was there. Sweet.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Feb/8/2015, 4:40 pm
Feb/7/2015, 9:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: Scarlet O'Hara's


Terreson,

I agree with you that at the end I wasn't sure where the piece was going. The incidents themselves, like the one in the parking lot, are gripping, if the rest of the novel is similarly blessed. Not sure if the novel was structured around the various bands; I went back to try to find the place where you may have stated that but couldn't find it. But I was sure I read it somewhere.

One of the things about serious novels that happened after Joyce (or maybe even before Joyce) is that the old linear and logical development kind of went away. I'm talking serious novels, not commercial noves (and there are always exceptions; good ones, too) and so I wonder if this novel isn't "de-centralized," meaning that it covers a lot of situations that are not necessarily linked by some forward thrusting development. Maybe just the observations of the narrator? Zak
Mar/5/2015, 10:10 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Terreson Profile
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Zak, you didn't get around to reading the novel did you. I posted it here. In full.

Tere
Mar/10/2015, 11:37 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Terreson,

I was replying only to the posting. I'll be glad to completely remove my comments if you don't feel they are appropriate. I understand the problem, I think. Zak
Mar/11/2015, 11:11 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 


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