Despite what I get paid for, you can’t teach a person to write. You can teach them grammar and correct their spelling, but, when it comes to finding their voice, only they can find it. What I try to do is give them examples. I give them examples of other’s writing and let them find their own voice from within the voices of others. All art is a smorgasbord. We pass along the table enjoying it piece by piece. People who only ever order the same item everyday, always eat the same damn thing and that bores me to tears. I try to be a guide and mentor to these students but I think that if 2010 is to be truly the “Year of Baron,” I will need a couple guides and mentors myself. The list is below. I know the people on the list with the exception of three. The people on the list are people who have had a positive effect on all I do. Some have been there for a while. Some are brand new. One is a rediscovered treasure and two are people more dear to me than life itself who I have never met.
Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and Lester Bangs –
Tom Wolfe first coined the term “New Journalism,” as it is used today, in the 1970’s. The New Journalists were writers who believed that journalism could be literature. Unlike Hemmingway, who wrote literature like journalism, these writers came down from the bleachers and involved themselves in the articles they wrote.
Hunter S. Thompson gave us “Gonzo” journalism, his own breed of the New Journalism. He is a mentor to me for his true and undeniable love of life and his unrelentless war on the “new dumb” who preyed upon the underdogs. Some claim his take on the New Journalism killed it by making himself the story rather just including himself within it. Despite his death from a sudden, self-inflicted, catastrophic lead overdose, he was a liver of life and, by most accounts, a true Southern gentleman while doing so.
Lester Bangs wrote music journalism the way the Beats wrote life. Accused of being a loudmouth jealous of the musicians he covered, I read him as a humourous and honest voice in a genre where too many people seek to be rock stars themselves or stop at nothing to destroy the idols they created.
Adam P. W. Smith
Adam is a local, live event photographer. Not the most famous of photographers but he is well on his way. His pictures of the local music scene are always amazing and he is always generous with his advice when I ask. Melodramatic as it may be, the day at Pub 340 that he took a picture of me (as opposed to one I was just in), I felt like my “arrival” had begun.
I met Robyn at Capilano College at couple of years ago and we reconnected on the Internet. A recent grad of SFU’s Communications Program, she is 23, brilliant, insightful, and gorgeous. 2010 will be her year and I am jealous already.
I won’t put up his picture here, but when a 16 month old child displays more courage, strength, and resilience than you have in 37 years, you take notice.
Voice of an angel and a smile Lucifer would be jealous of, her sense of Vancouver warms my heart. She’s a nanny who teaches music to incarcerated juveniles and knows where to buy a gloriously awful grilled cheese sandwich. She has been free and clean for over a year and I can only dare to try.
A writer, storyteller, and one time member of every band in Vancouver, Aaron always greets me with a smile, a story, and a genuine interest in what I’ve been up to. I love his music and his laugh and I am always happy when we run into each other.
A voice from the darkness, Chella and I met in tough times and rode them out together by sharing our insanity and ending up sane. She is a musician, writer, crafter, maker of horribly alcoholic preserves, and a heart to be reckoned with. She loves her kids, her man, her friends, and taught me that a little bit of laughter can take you a very long way. I owe her more than I could ever pay or she would ever accept.
If you didn’t make the list, don’t worry. I’m a day to day type guy and you’ll make the list six months from now when my life falls apart again! :)