Dec 19, 2014

C.J. Campbell

Have you ever heard a song on the radio, gotten goose bumps and thought... that song is going to be big?

I went to my local story night.  I went by myself.  Just like the first time I went to roller derby, all the people I asked to accompany me backed out or got sick before I went, and I wanted to go so bad - I went by myself.  It was fun.  It's always been a treat to me to put my headphones in and cue up This American Life  to listen to before I clean.  I imagined some of the people would be good and some would be nervous. That was true, but I was not prepared to hear someone's voice and get goosebumps. I did.  This chap told a story that made me laugh, genuinely hard, and think, genuinely deep.  I was happy about having gone.

I went back the next month to hear more people and there was the guy again.  I was sort of excited to hear him tell another story.  I wondered if he was a one hit wonder or if his voice was going to hold and what would come out would give me goosebumps again.  This time he made me cry.  Sitting right there in the middle of the back row, trying to be all inconspicuous and cool, he said things that reached way down into the bottom of my belly and made me want to jump out of my chair and scream "ME! He's talking to me! That's me!" I couldn't wait to see the video later of the story he just told.  A week later I messaged the curator of the space and asked when the video would be up.  He said they had problems shooting and the videos wouldn't make it to the light of day.  I spent time trying to remember the story he told and no matter because it's the voice that does it justice.

There's nothing like watching an artist do what they do well, no matter how many time you re-sing it... you just want the artists' voice. So, I went and heard him tell stories a third time and this time I asked if he wrote them down. I asked him for a card, or a blog, a something. He did write. He has a blog.  He has a book.  That was the beginning of this...


I'm helping with this campaign and I am honored to say I'm making the book cover.  As you can see the project is fully funded and then some. So what.  Buy a copy.  It is really excellent art coming out of this desperate place here in the Midwest.  This is the flower that grows in the crack of the sidewalk, the beautiful that grey cement, empty factories and honking cars can't stop.  It's the guy that can make the most hardened middle-aged lady with mascara on, both laugh and cry in the middle of a small crowd of strangers. Go buy it.


The Zen of Beard Trimming: Stories of Punk Rock, Poverty, and the Search For Peace by C.J. Campbell

"Like a modern-day Candide, writer C.J. Campbell started his journey to achieve peace in the bosom of a safe environment with a well-meaning adviser to guide him, and like Candide, he journeyed out into a world where everything went wrong, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in excruciatingly heartbreaking ways, but always in entertaining ways. Seven years of his travels are painstakingly detailed in his memoir The Zen of Beard Trimming. Punk rock meets leaving Christian Evangelism meets Scandanavian models meets a mismatched cast of unlikely characters and scenarios in a fearless, brutally honest chronicling of the time-honored search for (meaning, love, peace, an apartment, food, and a damn microphone that works)."

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