This one is important to me. It came to me during a difficult patch of my life, the saga that leads to this manuscript ending up in my lap starts a few months after my father’s death.
The project description and the photos of Steve’s Café don’t address how this story spoke to me and captured some sensory moments of my Generation X childhood better than I can at this time.
I encourage you to check out this discussion of The Death of Big Butch. In the story, Jimmy Washburn has to face his responsibility as a father and his role in his small town life. The year is 1974, almost one year to the day before I was born. The town is a fictionalized version of a town a county away from my hometown.
Jimmy works primarily in auto body restoration. My dad, Jimmy, was a diesel mechanic for most of my my childhood. Jimmy likes to “have a couple” with the guys in the local quiet barroom. So did my dad, Jimmy.
Jimmy has a son, Little Jimmy. My older brother was Little Jimmy until he aged into “Junior.” Jimmy has a baby girl born during the course of the story, like I said, a year before me.
Jimmy has a good friend, Butch. My mom has a Butch in her life that my daughter treasures as a grandfather figure. Jimmy has a friend, Cheesy. My childhood dog was Cheezie.
I see a lot of my dad in Jimmy. I think some of Jimmy’s struggles my dad probably shared. And like Jimmy, my dad was raised and lived in a Blue Collar version of America that doesn’t exist anymore, at least not where we are geographically. Maybe it does in pockets somewhere.
And we don’t talk about this, but I’m going to say it. In America, of my parents generation, men didn’t show feelings. You didn’t do that. Together, in the bar, that’s where men went to hide or quell or ignore their feelings. You could be a sloppy drunk, but you couldn’t be a sensitive man.
People didn’t go to therapy then. Especially not in Blue Collar America. People didn’t get treatment for depression or anxiety. That meant you were weak. So they drank. Everybody drank to their issues, and many people still do.
But this story is about escaping that, about making change, about what inspires people to change.
The core staff of Parisian Phoenix— Publisher Angel Ackerman, Art Director Gayle Hendricks and photographer Joan Zachary— met today with author and …“Birthing” The Death of Big Butch