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Sunday, May 30, 2021

A 'Sex, Drugs and Magick' mystery

I have been reading Sex, Drugs & Magick over the holiday weekend, and I've run into a bit that puzzles me.

In the "Interlude: Slouching Toward Bethlehem: The Story of Leonard" chapter, RAW writes about how he "left a good job in the city to work at slave wages on a small-town newspaper."

I'm having trouble fitting this with the known facts about RAW's life. "Small-town newspaper" doesn't really sound like A Way Out, the journal he edited after moving to rural Ohio, in the Yellow Springs area. Yet, I can't remember any other references to writing for a newspaper, and the references to a "small-town newspaper" in the quoted passage and 1-2 places in the chapter seem pretty specific.

I wrote to RAW biographer Prop Anon, and he's puzzling over that, too. "Trouble is RAW was not writing for any small town paper during that time," he told me. "He was moving around a lot and getting occasional pieces published in magazines." He wondered if Wilson "moved some facts around."

Maybe RAW was just referring to A Way Out in a rather poetic fashion, but being a newspaperman myself, I am curious about the passage. Can anyone weigh in?




Anonymous said...


Not sure if this helps the mystery tho the "left a good job in the city" seems to follow the cadence of CCR's 'Proud Mary'.

From wiki...

"Proud Mary's" singer, a low-wage earner, leaves what he considers a "good job," which he might define as steady work, even though for long hours under a dictatorial boss. He decides to follow his impulse and imagination and hitches a ride on a riverboat queen, bidding farewell to the city. Only when the boat pulls out does he see the "good side of the city"—which, for him, is one in the distance, far removed from his life. Down by the river and on the boat, the singer finds protection from "the man" and salvation from his working-class pains in the nurturing spirit and generosity of simple people who "are happy to give" even "if you have no money." The river in Fogerty and traditionally in literature and song is a place holding biblical and epical implications. ... Indeed, the river in "Proud Mary" offers not only escape but also rebirth to the singer.[11]

The song is a seamless mix of black and white roots music ..."Proud Mary" is, of course, a steamboat traveling up and down the river. Fogerty's lyric sketches out a vivid picture of the protagonist finding a comfortable niche in a community of outsiders ... The story connects back to Mark Twain; it brings the myth [of "the rambling man and life along the Mississippi"] into the sixties.[12]

KC from Vancity

Rasa said...

I just asked RAW's daughter, Christina, about this, and she doesn't remember a "small town newspaper," but she said it is possible that the Antioch Bookplate Company, where RAW worked when he first got to Ohio, may have had a small local paper. Just a guess.

Jesse said...

The Antioch Bookplate Company does seem to have owned the Yellow Springs News for a spell, and to have partnered with it at some point after the ownership ended. That may or may not explain the passage.