From the Mad Mind
of Anthony Watkins
A Few Words about this Column
As publisher, and until recently Editor-in-Chief, I am, or was, the only person who could write anything I wanted on my column and no one could tell it wasn’t fit to print. This is a lot of fun sometimes, and scary at others.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have not, to my memory, ever told a page editor they could not put in whatever the heck they wanted, but we have an understanding they will “swim in their lane.” Vera selects, comments on, and publishes formal, Kevin, the same with haiku and very short poetry, and so on with each editor. But I am allowed to wander all over the map.
As this is a literary publication (in my mind I always first type on paper, and then replace it with publication - I am a “paper and ink” man at heart), I feel I have a certain responsibility to comment on something of a literary bent, but a quick review of my first 19 columns shows I strayed from anything remotely literary in most of them.
This month, I am staying literary in the sense that I am telling a couple of stories, but my message is hardly literary, except in the sense that dreams are literary.
What I would like to know, from you the reader: do you like what I am doing here?
Do you wish I would use it more as a conventional platform to look at issues strictly within the poetry and literary worlds of today?
By the way, if you have something to say, in the form of your own essay or any comment longer than a couple of paragraphs, I am open to having a guest post on the from the mind of. As we have Better than Fiction, most non-fiction should probably go there, but if it fits, and you would like to be the guest columnist for a month, let me know.
1515 Bream Dreams
Between the ages of eight and 28, a few times a year, in some family setting, we had a big fish fry. Occasionally I had crappy, never bass, rarely catfish. Sometimes other people in the family would catch bass and they would fry them. I didn’t need bass, only bream and crappy.
Another thing, about a decade ago, after the 2004-2005 storms hit South Florida, there was a building at 1515 Flagler Drive. The 1515 building it was so badly damaged that it had to be imploded. It was 20 something stories. I got my then two-year-old set on my shoulders, my then 20-year-old took his phone or camera or something and videoed the collapse as we stood a couple blocks away watching it happen.
When I was younger I had a little fantasy when I was older (like the age I am now) I would be rich. Then I would have a country house, not a big house, more of a cottage, with a nice big porch that overlooked a small pond. I would have a johnboat and I would go out every day and poke around and catch a few bream, have a fish fry, maybe not every day, once or twice per week. Maybe not every week, but if I was rich enough, this would be my winter or summer home where I would take off work for a few weeks or a few months out of the year and in my well-stocked little pond I would catch what we would call a mess of bream, slightly more fish than a medium size group of people can eat in one sitting.
When I was little, my uncle was in charge of the fish fries. He died 20 years ago, maybe longer. I was never the fish fry guy. His youngest son took over the duties. I had that son teach me because I live a long ways away from where we used to do the fish fries. In fact, I’m not very close to that side of the family anymore. They may still be having fish fries a few times a year but I’m not part of it.
In fact, what I didn’t realize in my dream/fantasy world is, family is a big part of cooking up a mess of bream.
We would gather about 15 family members together and the shared experiences of catching, cleaning, cooking, and eating the fish were more important than how the fish taste. Now the only part of my family that’s close by, my wife and my youngest son, have no interest. The “frying side of the family” and I are not close. The part of my family that I am close to, my two older sons, my brother and his family, mostly live between 500 and 1000 miles away with the exception of two nephews who live pretty busy lives.
The other thing is I’m now old enough to know I am not going to get rich or even rich enough to have a little cottage with a little pond out in the country so this morning as I was taking a shower I decided to resize my fantasy and I thought about maybe I could rent the rights to go fishing at a nice cottage and pond where we could, three or four times a year, gather friends and family and re-create the whole fish fry experience.
That’s when I had the visual of my bream dream imploding and collapsing into a pile of concrete and dust, just like the 1515 did. Because there’s really no way, unless I were to develop a whole new set of friends who had an interesting bream fishing or at least bream eating, maybe bream frying.
To be honest with you, most of the people who share the love for bream, I share very little else with. I don’t know that many liberal atheist Democrats who are into bream. These are actually some of the reasons I’m not very close to the family that still fries fish, if they do.
I’m aware there are a lot of our family traditions that will die when I die in about 15 or 20 years, and I’ve come to accept that, but it’s a little harder to watch the traditions you care about in your life die while you are still alive.
If I Shopped
for hair color
smell of grease?