A GUIDE TO THE POESY OF BILL SHUTE
Bill Shute's a guy who really doesn't need any introduction, but for the few slobs out there who don't know who the man is and what his stature remains within the bowels of the under-the-counterculture here goes...Bill (ne. "William") Shute is a fellow Boston born, Colorado raised and Texas bound who is perhaps best known in the world of rockism for his INNER MYSTIQUE fanzine, a quickie one-corner stapled mimeo job which appeared on the boards during the early-eighties, a time pretty much well-saturated with "punkzines" of a stifling sameness which is definitely why INNER MYSTIQUE despite its lowbrow airs proudly stood out amidst the competition. In many ways INNER MYSTIQUE was a remnant of the great personalist fanzines of the seventies (you could draw more'n a few comparisons between IM and Russell Desmond's shoulda been influential CAN'T BUY A THRILL from the '76 to'79 seasons), with the patented (yet unique) cheap layout and loads of in-depth intellecto-punk crankings that sure bring back the fond memories of a thriving underground scene, or at least they do every six or so years while I comb through my fanzines looking for ones to throw out and pop across the two-issue run of the mag still in the original Bona Fide and Shute-stamped envelopes. Bill had a smart sense of low-budget/low-class musical tastes which (like the best of the intellecto-punks from Desmond and Tim Ellison on down) seemed to encompass a whole slew of avenues from early jazz and blues to the cheapazoid six-oh garage reissues that seemed to bypass the usual alternative channels, which is certainly one thing that separated the likes of INNER MYSTIQUE from the big-budget yet horse-blindered fanzines of the day like BRAVEAR f'rinstance. And not only that but Bill was a snat writer as well, being able to describe in a few hundred words what I could only do in a few thousand as to why he liked the Oi groups of the early-eighties and Lester Young for that matter. If I gotta be thankful to Rick Noll it's for one thing, and that's getting me a copy of his INNER MYSTIQUE #2 which I believe was the last copy Mr. Bona Fide had for sale, and that really is saying something about my luck since I'm also the last person to get hold of a copy of UGLY THINGS #1 directly from the source, which is cool even though Mike Stax likes to drop posts about such utter garbage as Morgen on the agonyamerindie comment box even though Jay Hinman hates the bloke just as much as he hates ME!!!
A few of your might also remember Bill Shute from his "Inner Mystique" column that ran (more or less) in my own BLACK TO COMM fanzine from issue #2 (back when the crudzine was actually wrestling under the title FUD!) until #22 in 1997. For many of you upright lapdoggies it was Bill's column (some idiots out there may say "tirade") that made BTC something more'n just another one-dimensional rant and rave courtesy yours truly...whether Bill was talking about old sixties psychedelic records or old cowboy stars or that weird late-night feeling watching ginzu knife commercials on UHF-TV at one inna morning, you knew you were gonna be in for more'n the usual pantywaist young trust fund kiddie self-pity preen that seemed part-and-parcel of the "alternative experience" lo these past two-anna-half decades! Every inch of Bill's desperate eighties living shone through the sinewy stressed-out strut of his emote-packed writing, and even if you didn't know about his personal life you could tell that Bill was living in a cheap garage trying to fight eviction and working as a stockboy to make his collegiate ends meet, which made it even TOUGHER to put together a fanzine (or a column) in the process but he did and the fact that he was able to do so under such exhausting conditions should say something about the MAN as a FAN rather'n yet another cheap knockoff on the rock critic treadmill that one has seen ever since the dusk of the original underground experience (not so surprisingly right around the time Bill started his own rag up when nobody was looking!).
Bill used to call me up a lot...I remember the first time back during the late-summer of 1983 when I was working this midnight shift that was sucking more than the life outta me. I remember he chuckled when I told him that I hadda cut the call short in order to mow the lawn. All these years later I still wonder what that guffaw really meant. The next call was Thanksgiving that same year, with me still on the midnight grind and Bill not doing that much better. However things did improve for both of us and the calls and letters started coming at a slightly faster rate, really picking up by '85 when Bill and his then-new bride moved to the Roanoke Virginia area and long distance didn't cost as much...this was about the time I was starting my own hagiozine up and I sent Bill a copy of the very first one and surprises of surprises he actually LIKED the thing and believe-it-or-not encouraged me to continue on which does seem strange considering the ultimate crudness of those early results. (But it's my crud and I love it!)
Bill seemed kinda reluctant when I asked him to do something for the mag, but he contributed not only the "Inner Mystique" column but various reviews that helped yang my yin so to speak. And true, we've had our quarrels (like the time Bill decided to air in public a matter I thought should have remained totally private especially considering he didn't even talk with me about his misgivings), but I've always considered Bill an asset to BLACK TO COMM, and an asset he certainly was because as soon as he vamoosed the premises (as part of an ongoing slow retreat from the world of fandom I guess, although he sure dropped me like a hot potato when I coulda used a few gabs with him in order to ease the stress I was going through in 1997 just like I tried to help him out five years early when his wife succumbed to breast cancer), sales of the mag plummeted to an all-time low which was only exascerbated by some on-line misrepresentation and bad-mouthing that surely has my voodoo dolls working overtime!
But enough of my lame attempts at laying down a cohesive background for those not familiar with my mag or relevance with regards to a fandom-based circuit of whatever determinacy. Over the past few years Bill has been doing a few on-line reviews of movies (none of which I have read, perhaps because they'd only make me dwell on as to why I got the bum's rush from him even though I already KNOW why!) as well as some poetry books which might seem strange for a guy who used to blab on about Heckle and Jeckle cartoons but at least Bill pulls it off with gracefulness and aplomb which his in-print works would attest to. Volcanic Tongue has some of his wares available, and although his history of the Downliners Sect is nowhere to be found you can still get such fanzine-esque limited edition (press run ranging from 33 to 56!) copies of some of Bill's current poesy, and although this ain't the sorta stuff you read to your gal while in the canoe before whipping out the ukelele to strum a few bars of "Bring Back Those Rock-A-Bye Baby Days" its still something you'd expect from a guy who actually featured a pretty boss article on Jack Kerouac in one of his INNER MYSTIQUEs alongsides a G. G. Allin interview, something which didn't seem so strange to me either then or now for that matter.
TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY is the hardback one. With a really fancy design on the cover you'd probably get the impression that this is destined for the back of the bookstore but if so then some lucky punk is gonna be in for a surprise somewhere down the line, for this 'un features short poetic vignettes dealing with certain Texas cities and (presumably) real-life occurances that probably happened because these writings do seem that washed. Not quite what I woulda expected though it fits in with Shute's own populist pragmatism I guess which someone like me who has actually gabbed with the man would appreciate. Not too much of what Miriam Linna once called the "Glade Air Mist" appears here but you do get a bitta otherworldliness..."The body is made ashamed by both puritan and pornographer; The clock runs backwards, the spiral becomes flaccid, the literal becomes figurative, in junction two wrongs replace the right, while the left remains undefined." Even I (certainly a poetry hater) can see the beauty and energy in that, which does seem to transcend the usual avant garde lollygag seen o'er the past eightysome years, and it even has Paul Williams (a fine writer by any other means, but not too hot of a poet even if Richard Meltzer and Dave Marsh's reviews of his book were hit pieces) and his DAS ENERGI beat all hollow. No need to tell you that Bill is a charter member of MENSA and thought they were a buncha dolts!
However, even doltoid me could find worth and might here such as in "Baytown Texas 10 January 2003" (which tells of a moom pitcher being made by a Spanish producer who actually changed the star's Hispanic name to another Hispanic one much to said star's surprise!) and expecially the strangie that takes place in Pasadena Texas where an INTERNATIONAL CAST helps Bill clear the swamp! I have the feelings that TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY (subtitled "The Labors of Hercules in the Lone Star State") might make it to your bookshelf alongsides various Mayo Thompson and Roky Erickson reads making me wonder if there were any similar psychotropic workings put into this one...
Bill also has about seven other ltd. eds. out, the "fanzine"-like ones as I've already said, and they certainly are worthies just as much as the above. Some of this stuff woulda fit right in place on SEASTONES with Gracie Slick epiglotting it out (imagine this to an electronic adaptation..."reverse/polarity/stop/rationalizing/detach/float") while others slip right back into that spectre of real life which makes you wonder whether/not this actually happ'd or is a part of Bill's fevered nocturnal digressions (take the one about the bought off political election which ain't anything new in TX but I guess since Bill was somehow involved the proceedings do take on an added meaning). Still, it's all engrossing, spacey and downright immersible and about as one-take and even as toss-off as this very review if you can imagine that! Real funny part in SO LONG (subtitled "A Journal: 15-16 May 2006") where Bill, who I guess is back working at the supermarket (his sagas of toiling at a Virginia Food Lion were pretty nauseating, helping me wean off the barbeque chicken pronto!), writes about having to "tune out manager's right-wing hate radio while I work" whis is funny because Bill's the guy who raved on to me about Rush Limbaugh way back in '89, and though I've chilled on Limbaugh (though still listen on occasion) ever since he went big govt. conservative and stopped doing those AIDS Updates (much more preferring the Pat Buchanan/Paul Craig Roberts/Sam Francis [RIP] brand of paleoconservatism over at CHRONICLES which makes a hell of a lot more sense'n anything) I gotta laugh at Bill's remarks considering the MONSTER he helped create!
But still, I am slightly disappointed. Very little (if any) of the fun gulcheral music/films/tee-vee that Bill has championed in his mags and columns is evident. A nice vignette about listening to the Velvet Underground for the first time would have been swell, as would a tribute to Ozzie Nelson. A lot has happened since Bill cut the (phone) cord and maybe he doesn't care for Joe Cook or Jack Webb no more, but sheesh I woulda liked if he paid tribute to the GREATS had he still liked 'em!
Maybe I shoulda given each and every one of his titles a thorough mind-scrubbing before writing this post (updates will follow), but hey, I think I did a good job of describing to you the whys and wherefores of Shute's literary talents. If you're too lazy to write to Volcanic Tongue (or just wanna save $$$ on postage if you live inna USA) maybe you can probably get faster and cheaper results just by writing to Bill himself at 8200 Pat Booker Rd. #399, San Antonio TX 78233 and even if he's outta the books maybe you'll get a nice letter outta him encouraging your writing career (that is, if you send samples!). I'd give you his email address but I don't think it works...I keep writing the man on and on for the past umpteen years and he doesn't even bother writing back! And gee, I gave the pup his first big break...go figure!
One final note...tomorrow marks the big twentieth anniversary of none other than Bill's own son Eric Shute's birth! Born on St. Swithin's Day (as was Roky Erickson...dunno if any similarities have arisen!), I can still recall the phonecall from Bill telling me of the joyous occasion (I do recall that I was preparing for work on the afternoon shift at the time) which sure makes me feel old! I also remember when he called to tell me he was getting hitched (well over a year before Eric's birth...none of this moderne-day birth now, [maybe?] marry later jive!) and the first utterance outta my mouth was "Are you sure???" I really do have a way with words and say the right things at the right time, eh?!?!?! Anyway, happy birthday Eric, and no, my butt is NOT rank (well, at least not anymore!!!).
Friday, July 14, 2006
A GUIDE TO THE POESY OF BILL SHUTE