FURRY CHICLETS BIOGRAPHY, by Charles Carreon
FURRY CHICLETS – TEN YEARS, FIVE ISSUES, ONE UNFATHOMABLE POINT
The year is 1984. The place is UCLA Law School. The mood is grim for a group of young law students consuming the dregs of their youth in a bitter, last-ditch battle for freedom and independence that leads them to bouts of drunkenness, motorcycle riding, manic swings between study and debauchery. To seize the empty pulpit, there appears a fellow referred to gently as "Johnny Appleseed,” a young-dad hippie from Oregon with his eye on the main chance and a mouth big enough to hold his own amongst some eager shit-slingers. That would be me, Charles Carreon, trouble on the hoof, flute player on the roof.
Enter LAWPOETS. I created a club, using a primitive form of spam. I first circulated a cryptic (not) document entitled, “MINUTES THAT LOOK LIKE OURS,” in which a Foole exhorted a group of co-conspirators in the plotting of a public event, a poetry reading with overtones of a Be-in. I was experienced in the production of happenings. The game plan was simple. Start a club, register with the law school, get permission to hold bake sales in the lobby (bagels sold best), recycle the money into kegs of beer, get a microphone from the school audio visual stash, and have a kegger/poetry-bash in the law school courtyard.
Plan worked like a charm. Lawpoets roared through the school like a case of measles in third grade. Suddenly we were cool. Our crazy Dadaist posters were all over, inviting people to drink beer and hear poetry. I made a poster with a cutout of Ronald Reagan in at a state function gesturing broadly with a determined jaw, to which I had appended a dialogue balloon that said “I won’t be there!” issuing from Reagan’s mouth. “One more good reason to come to the Lawpoets poetry reading,” the poster quipped in rejoinder. The only poster that got the thumbs down was a poster of the Challenger space shuttle adorned with “Lawpoets Blast Off!” Since the Challenger had just exploded, some people thought it was in bad taste. I didn’t think of it that way. I just dig space travel.
The event went off without a hitch. Beautiful babes showed up to drink in the literary madness, and the event was ridiculously well-lubricated. Unbelievable I was able to drive home that night. I remember it was like peering through a fishbowl. If Mr. Limpet had swum up to me I would have given him a lift. But my riders said I was “fine.” Iron constitution of a law student.
Did another poetry reading on the same format. Didn’t turn out quite as well, because I wasn’t as tight with the preparation as the first time. It’s all in the planning and execution. Still, it was cool. What was forged out of the Lawpoets experience was a trinity – Charles Carreon, Tom Brill and John Hayes. We continued to be Lawpoets after law school; well, at least Brill and I did.
The first issue was Fin de Siecle, French for “end of the century,” which is the name of a Ramones album, take note. That’s mostly stuff from Tom, Karen Holden, and myself. I played around with the copy machine at the office I was working at. Great copy machine at that firm. Karen’s a poet I met when I was sitting in my law office skytower slave quarters in downtown LA in like 1987, listening to KXLU, the great student radio station of LA. I’m listening to poetry on the radio, I notice. Great poetry. It’s Karen. I call the radio station. We talk. We become friends. We continue talking on the phone for a year. After a year, I drop by and meet her at her house. We buy beautiful tempera paintings from her, the creation of which she has quite mastered. So naturally, I published her work, and she was kind enough to contribute.
Brill took the next step when he signed up Furry Chiclets in the Poets Marketplace listing, and guess what, the submissions started rolling in. After a few months, I was up to my eyeballs in poetry. Maybe six months later, Brill and I started culling through the stuff, reading it over bottles of beer on the porch at 914 Fifth Street, Santa Monica, California. There on the cream-colored wood porch of a lovely old house Tara and I rented for about five years, Tom and I started reading random poetry from all over the country.
Quite a buzz. Tons of absolute shit. Much bad poetry is written. But the gems popped out, too. Tom and I had a lot of cruel fun savaging bad stuff, making wise ass drunken remarks all over people’s submissions, and sending them back in the self addressed stamped envelopes kindly provided for this purpose. That was good sick fun, of the sort that Tom is always good at dishing up.
That labor of love produced Demimonde. Tidied up the production values a little. It contains my “Pocket Essay Re: Ramones,” a poem that charts the rise of hard-assed attitudes in our little lawyer-boy, and “Nice,” a poem that shows I still have a sensitive side. It’s all about appearance in LA, and this issue has some nice moves.
Two years went by before I cranked out Idee Fixee, the biggest of the bunch, and loaded with vitamins. Actually, this was done in a big push right about the time I was blowing out of LA, having worn out my welcome with the employer class. This motha rewards dedicated application of reading time.
The years grind on, and I’m in Oregon, and I’m a prosecutor, so I see the grit in the pit, and produce the charmingly dark Danse Macabre, a production that for sheer style, I much enjoy. The heavy lifting, final printing of this issue was a bleary-eyed labor of stupefaction after midnight in the bowels of the DA’s office. Like I say, the grit from the pit.
Finally, the last issue, Joie de Vivre, was produced during my first years of solo law practice, a time period that left me with a bare minimum of illusions. I tried to apply these in a decent manner to conceal the skull-like clarity of my revelations, so as not to scare the women and children. This production enjoys beautiful contributions, a slightly gothic layout, and some decent work of mine.
So that’s it – ten years, five issues, and one unfathomable point. The Furry Chiclets story in a nutshell.
April 26, 2003