‘Saints in the City’ (excerpt)

An excerpt from one of the main stories in the works about Rawling.

Chapter 1

Jim Morrison died 40 years ago, and Jude Rawling wanted to write the next great American novel, the next ‘On the Road’ or ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’; and there was no denying that this trip was inspiring him to write down fragmented thoughts strangely reminiscent of the styles of both. He wanted to write something that would serve as the perfect lens into the time in which he was living, and more so, something that would change and inspire the people of his generation.

But who was his generation? How could he construct any lens into these times when he couldn’t even define the times for what they were? What were these times? How would they be remembered? Could people be influenced and inspired like they were thirty years–no, forty years ago. Forty fucking years, man. What had his country learned since then? More importantly, what had his people learned? The people. The people of the Earth.

Jude had a strange and disturbing feeling that people these days were no longer looking to be inspired. Jimi Hendrix was dead. People lacked the excitement and drive to look for any substantial meaning in life. Young peoples’ ambitions went no further than wanting to be dentists. Jack Kerouac and was dead. The ideal in the Post-Clinton era was to have a nice family in a gargantuan suburban home complete with a pool, dog and neighbors of the same race and religion. Jesus and Dr. King were dead.

Artists all over the country continued their struggle in reviving the old spirits of the 1960s, endorsing presidents and launching campaigns to combat genocide in Darfur. He wondered how many actors and musicians were genuine, and how many did it in their eagerness to cling to those old activist spirits. Were they like him in that way? Not really knowing what cause to fight for, just that they wanted to have one and that they wanted to inspire a similar eagerness in others; that they wanted to awake others from their horrible slumber that had been blossoming in their complacent stupors since Ronald Reagan took the podium in 1980, when America slowly decided to get more comfortable in their soft recliners and let the giant bald eagle carry them all away comfortably into the mirage of outer space where they would sleep for the next thirty years.

The ramifications of not giving a shit about the world we live in were catching up with us. Prophets warned us to stay out of trouble, trouble that came in the election of incompetence to the presidency that plunged the country into chaos following the fall of the twin towers. Not knowing where to go or to whom to turn, we went with our gut and fired at the most likely enemy like there was no tomorrow. There was a tomorrow, one to which we have still refused to wake up, for the minds of the people still dangle amongst the stars somewhere over Wyoming, carried in their dreams by the bald-eagle Reagan; and people had their iphones to keep them further induced in their catatonia in the false heavens.

‘Yer Blues’ was a lifetime ago. And for those remaining who had lived during that time, they seemed to no longer have any memory of it. When asked, they answered in almost lifeless bewilderment. Not even with any phony nostalgia, but with total ignorance of the bygone era as if it had never happened. You could mention music and they would nod followed by an “Oh yea I forgot they sang that. Yea, that was a good song,” or a “I used to listen to that, haven’t heard it in ages.”

The idea of writing any sort of tribute to these times, then, seemed hopeless and pathetic to Jude. In it there was romance too, which appealed to him, a romance that he longed to grasp for himself and deliver to his audience–whoever that consisted of–in the way that, ‘Desolation Row’ and ‘Howl’ had for him and for people generations ago. More than likely, he would fail in this age of ‘The Bachelorette’. No matter, he had these next two weeks between he, his friends and the open road that lie between Gainesville and Seattle. Perhaps some of that romance would spring for him like it had for Kerouac, Cassady and Ginsberg. Even if it was just for one day, or just an afternoon. Maybe then, Jude would get a glimpse of the America he was searching for, the America that was possible, the America that was still sleeping somewhere deep beneath the desert.

But any resurgence in passion and awareness couldn’t arrive merely for the sake of replicating an era that was dead and over. For the resurgence to take place, not only did there need to be an adequate climate–which there almost certainly was–but there needed to be something unique to spark these passions. Some new way of making it interesting and worth fighting for. It was like some kind of epic movie. This next novel had to be fresh.

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