Raleigh Rambles

John Dancy-Jones at large!

The Adventurists, by Richard Butner

The Adventurists. Richard Butner.  Small Beer Press. 2022.

Richard Butner’s new collection of SF stories is a wonderful look at his long-established but back-burner career as a writer of speculative fiction. Richard is beloved by many in Raleighwood for his quirky and often endearing local theatre roles, his championing of local music and its venues, and (among the cognoscenti) his loyalty to Modernist architecture. This review is overtly from the perspective of a Raleigh native who enjoys the many local references in these stories and the bits and pieces of RB rendered in the protagonists.

 

The past, though gone forever, can seem so real. Recognition and familiarity run like reinforcing wire through these stories. The past seems hazy but here the cliched futurism of science fiction is reversed and the past makes the content so real through the tangible details of memory. The past is all the content any of us have, when you think about it. Most of the stories end in an unrealized present that is left in your, the reader’s hands, to make of it what you will- armed, perhaps, with the newly discovered possibilities that have just emerged from the story’s view of the past.

 

Nostalgia for old Raleigh was ignited for me with “At the Fair,” a send-up of the State Fair hoochie-cooch show, which enthralled me as a young teen and lasted amazingly far into the 20th century. But only Richard Butner could make this setting into an anarchic scheme for a socialist utopia. More social commentary is embedded in the most well-known story in the book, “Horses Blow Up Dog City.” Also full of Raleigh bits, from scents of RB’s band, “Angels of Epistemology” to the founder of Humble Pie, it chronicles a viral media star being eaten alive  by his life. Perhaps the strongest dose of Raleighwood is found in “Under Green,” featuring a temporarily homeless young woman who takes up residence in the Rose Garden and haunts Raleigh’s magnificent greenways. In a book full of slightly underemployed, sexually cautious male nerds, this is the strongest female character, whose efforts to be a good Samaritan fail but who nevertheless finds a not unhappy ending.

 

The SF aspects of these stories often involve virtual reality, sometimes close to the most recent developments in the real life versions of the technology. One of the most gripping stories for me, “Give Up,” mirrored my memory of student parents who broke up over the man’s attempt at climbing Everest. In Richard’s story, extreme abuse of the technology is complicated by a criss-cross of realities which sets in with a vengeance. In the final story, “Sunnyside,” the VR is so believable you could imagine donning the all-enclosing suit and joining the wake celebration that brings its subject back to life in the midst of impossibly detailed relics from the past. And if the past is all in our heads, but can become as real as it does in these stories, maybe we really can apprehend the past – or make it more to our liking. These stories make you wonder.

 

Publisher’s Weekly review

The Adventurists on Richard’s website

July 7, 2022 Posted by | literary, Raleigh history, reflection | | Leave a comment

Slide Pastels & Smears – David Larson bonus page

The piece above was used in David’s first major review.

Thanks to Alan Bowling for all his work organizing and sharing art from David’s estate, with a big assist of scans by Grace Jenkins. Here are some of those images. (This is a subpage of Pastels)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

painting on canvas

 

Smears Project

 

from Randy A

 

from Debbie B

 

                 from Britt Z East Coast Fashion

 

from Ginny W P

 

 

 

 

 

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A last David Larson pastel from a slide that I missed posting. Kneaded erasure was used as a tool on the carpet pattern probably done in charcoal. It also puts this upset cornered cat in the smear series using it to accent the upturned fur in the moment of action.  Alan Bowling, de facto executor of David’s art estate.

David Larson Art webpage

April 15, 2022 Posted by | art, Raleigh history | | 2 Comments

David Larson: Dead Dads, Lt Walsh & Karl

Peter Eichenberger, David and brother Karl at Viki B’s wedding

The Dead Dad’s Club, Lt Walsh Day, the Poker Game, the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Party, all were a big part of David’s social life and the action often involved brother Karl and his house on Sasser Street in the Oakdale neighborhood of Raleigh. And David always celebrated not just with drinking but with art.

from Alan B

The Dead Dad’s Club was invented by Karl Larson. David went through training and qualified to make videos for broadcast on Channel 10, Raleigh’s public access station. His video starring Karl and others about the club was banned from broadcast for lewdness ( the urination of Peter E off camera during the filming) but represents an excellent history of the event. Alan B posted the video here.

The annual party was attended only by people who had lost their Dad. David’s Dad died at age 50 (David told friends he thought he would die at the same age). David made a card for some of the occasions.

from Alan B DD stickers

from Bill H

 

 

from Sasser Street

 

 

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Lt Walsh was a Confederate soldier who, perhaps in a drunken angry mood, fired on the delegation of Union officers entering Raleigh to accept the city’s surrender. He was captured and hung at a spot in Oakwood near the Side Street Cafe. His grave is prominent in Oakwood Cemetery, and Karl Larson, a fervent local historian, made adorning his grave a special and sometimes large event every April 13th for over 25 years. David’s portrait was used in the elaborate brochure made for year nineteen.

 

 

from Sasser St

 

from Sasser St

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Karl Larson was a Raleigh legend in his own right and he as well as his hospitable house on Sasser were an important part of David’s life. Karl’s unique take on history was evidenced as far back as high school, when Steve, my classmate, would intimate stories of midnight readings of Poe in City Cemetery. A few years later, he made his claim to fame with an elaborate, well documented funeral for the original Boylan Avenue Bridge, which was torn down amid concerns for the continued existence of Boylan Heights as downtown and its throughways grew. He is seen below with Kathryn Myers at the ceremony.

lovingly appropriated from the News & Observer

Karl had a fine career as graphic designer and publication manager at NCSU, but his reverence for local history blossomed late in life with a post-retirement job as archivist for the state and especially with his magnificent accomplishment in leading the effort to restore Joe Cox’s Light Wall on the side of the NCSU Library. He also became a beloved part of a local scene blog call Goodnight, Raleigh.

“Raleigh Boy” posts on Goodnight, Raleigh

David Larson survived Karl and his brother Steve, but not by much and now Phil Larson is left with the loss of all three brothers in a few short years. Steve’s dog Dup was a favorite subject for David, and below are some images contributed by some of the many people who have shared their art on these posts. Thanks to all, and love you some DEL!

 

from Mary R (cut-out with collage)

 

from Mark H

 

from Jim D (linoleum print)

 

from the Sasser Street collection

David Larson Art webpage

January 24, 2022 Posted by | art, David Larson, Raleigh history | , , | Leave a comment

Larson: Small Press and Zine Illustration

from an early Paper Plant publication

David illustrated several of The Paper Plant’s chapbooks, as well as for Peloria Press (Jim Shell and David Kelly) and the recently published book The Orphan by Dave Wilson. He was a major artist for Scream, the most important creative magazine of its day in Raleigh. His covers inaugurated zines by both Margaret and  Lee Johnson. His band poster work led into fertile ground as the “Mr Creative” of the Rollywood Funny Papers. His pastels graced the covers of the seed catalogs published by the late Russell Boone, publisher of Scream. Any publisher or writer was thrilled to be blessed by his work.

 

 

original sketch

 

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Scream Magazine, published by Russell Boone,  issued 7 volumes.

 

 

Scream # 2

Scream #2 back

 

 

Below is an illustrated story in Scream by David Weaver. He was a close friend and part of the amazing Larson cadre from ECU, so the story itself is also imaged.

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from Randy A – Boone’s Seeds original

 

from Kim B (original)

 

Larson’s work for Russell Boone’s Seed company is archived at Alternating Crimes.

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from John DJ – S. Lifestyle original

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self-published chapbook by ECU friend Roger Lell

Cannibal love

Cannibal picnic

Macho Cannibal

Suicidal Cannibal

Missionary Cannibal

Catholic Cannibal

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David illustrated and lettered a flyer for the Artspace show Hats, Masks & Headgear. The exhibition involved several friends of David who had formed a weekly writing workshop.

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In 2018 Susan Crane and Neal Hutcheson published posthumously The Orphan by Dave Wilson, a Raleigh musician and writer who is as beloved and missed as David. The novel was originally published in blog form, early in that format’s history. David had done the illustrations long before the final publication.

Orphan interior illustration

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David Larson Art webpage

January 20, 2022 Posted by | art, David Larson, Raleigh history | Leave a comment

David Larson Pastels

from Shawn B

 

Here is the heart of the collection, not only in number but the many people for whom theirs is a beloved part of their homes. David was productive and at ease with this form most of his life. We are blessed to experience them.

 

from Cindy O via Alan B

 

 

                from Ann T

 

from Maryls de A

from Marlys de A

 

from Joy H W

 

from Joy H W

 

from Richard B

 

from Richard B

 

from Richard B

 

from Cheryl P

from Cheryl P

Al & Jamie M wedding gift

from Sherry M

 

from Mary Anne H

 

from Kim B

 

from Kim B

 

from Tommy L

 

from Al M

 

from John And Cara DJ

 

from Randy A

 

from Randy A

 

from Richard B

 

from Al M

from Randy A

 

from Debbie B

 

from Sarah G

 

from Cheryl P

 

from Debbie B

 

from Debbie B

 

from Faye L

 

from Tom M

 

from Mary R

 

from Pat M

 

from Pat M

 

from Ann C T

 

from Mary R

 

from Mary R

 

 

from Mary R

 

from Susan C “Sadlacks”

 

from Britt Zaist

 

from Britt Zaist

 

from Peter L

 

from The Paper Plant

 

from Ginny W P

 

from Alan B

 

from Sasser Street

 

from Sasser Street

 

from The Paper Plant

 

Slide Pastels & Smears: A Larson Bonus Page

click above to see slide images of work from David’s estate

 

Facebook post by Alan Bowling with Sasser St. pastels

David Larson Art webpage

January 15, 2022 Posted by | art, David Larson, Raleigh history | , | 1 Comment