The North Atlantic Books List 1: Sources

by Richard Grossinger on March 11, 2010

Chapter Seven
The North Atlantic Books List 1:
Sources of North Atlantic Books

General Strategic Overview

Our list can be viewed as divided into primary domains and their niches, secondary domains and their niches, plus the occasional specialty or general-trade book outside these.  Our primary domains are: alternative medicine and healing, internal martial arts, somatic psychotherapy/bodywork, psychology, spiritual classics, New Age, and radical and avant-garde arts.  Sometimes-overlapping niches within these include: (for alternative medicine): homeopathy, Chinese medicine, diet, herbs, eyesight, migraine, aromatherapy, spiritual medicine, chi gung; (for martial arts): t’ai chi ch’uan, aikido, karate, cheng hsin, capoeira, ba gua, krav maga, escrima, etc.; (for bodywork/somatics): craniosacral therapy, Feldenkrais, Rolfing, Polarity, Alexander technique, Zero Balancing, visceral manipulation, Integrative Manual Therapy, Continuum, etc.; (for psychology): trauma work, sexuality, love, grief, death, Jungian psychology; (for spirituality): Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism, Vedanta, tribal religions and shamanism; (for New Age): Martian studies, aliens, labyrinths, astral projection, reincarnation, psychic meditation, chakras, cosmology; (for avant-garde arts): Black Mountain literature/New American poetry, rock novels, African American literature, underground comics, occult and radical political art, etc.  The niches represent rough, general domains because, in reality, they merge and cross into one another’s territory.

Our secondary domains (also non-inclusively) are: history and critique of science, anthropology, geography, education, environmental biology, ecology, astronomy, sports, science fiction, investigative journalism, travel, ethnic cookbooks, and popular culture.  Niches include: embryology, childbirth, parenting, the collected short works of Theodore Sturgeon, anti-Voyages (radical travel books), Eastern Europe, indigenous land rights, oral sports history and literary sports books (baseball, football, basketball, tennis, surfing, and general philosophy of sports), unconventional schooling, and pop and indigenous musical traditions.

Although our publishing company is a business, there is this aspect too (prepare for a mouthful):  At a deeper level—and to the degree that economic parameters allow—it is a school, a link in a nonsectarian esoteric library channeling a discontinuous and even contradictory set of transmissions from (perhaps) collective, meta-dimensional, and/or transpersonal intelligence about how to make a more conscious and compassionate planet.

We are publishing consciousness though not always secular humanistic consciousness (and yet sometimes very much secular, run-of-the-mill gossip).

Consciousness orientation is what gives the jobs at North Atlantic their daily pleasure and existential justification beyond the nuts-and-bolts mechanism of choosing, assembling, and marketing books—what makes the work meaningful and fulfilling through tedious chores and practical setbacks.

When the folk group of two women, Emma’s Revolution, belts out three songs in the office
(“‘Conference room’ is not our favorite venue,” commented vocalist Pat Humphries wryly, after the little concert), or Alex Grey reflects on his own art and visionary text, page by page, with a group of staff, or Javier Thistlethwaite, director of the Berkeley Psychic Institute, demonstrates in broad daylight how intuition, energy, and miracles actually work in everyday during a book-planning session, the atmosphere sparkles, and publishing is not just a profession or a labor but a revelation and a path.

It is somewhat of a paradox that we are successful because we do not try to be—because we do not develop books with primarily commercial intent.  Yet we are also successful because we are somehow sensitive enough to the evolving market and intentionally publish topics ahead of their time.  Awake intention must meet intuitive vision somewhere in the real world.

As mapped at the beginning of Chapter Four, we strive for an elusive mixture of psychospiritual sincerity and commercial practicality, as it does no one much good for us to publish works that reach no audience, and we could not stay in business for long with too many hangdog titles.  On the other hand, to further explore a paradox, unless we published many books that might reach no audience, we could not stay in business long either, as we would not be on the cutting edge and we would be deaf to remote and obscure voices trying to get into the world.

Just as you have to be generating enough “returns” to be broadly in the marketplace, you have to have enough “bad” books (in a commercial sense) to be publishing seriously—that is, publishing at the edge, publishing on the outside: the lost, the unmanifest, the misinterpreted, the overlooked, the discarded, the contradictory.  You need to go after that tiny tip that looks like nothing, in order to get the occasional iceberg—but sometimes also you are also going to get just what the thing looks like: a swiftly melting cubelet.  We do not always guess right, but we do respect the deeper principle of selection through throws of cosmic dice.

This strategy is not just a matter of successful “front list” publishing but overall title management (backlist, backlist, backlist, as real-estate agents are wont to say).  When an important book swoons initially, we keep it in print for a long spell (usually decades) on the chance that it may have been ahead of its time and, in any case, it should be available, even to just a handful of people who make sense of it and want it: that is our mission.  For that reason many of our books have sold better years afterward than at the time they were published.  A few sold virtually nothing for as long as ten years before taking off.  Even Healing with Whole Foods, arguably our most commercial title, crept out the gate like a donkey in a horse race.

All three entities (Io, North Atlantic Books, and Frog, Ltd.) share the same unique confluence, which tracks, in rough chronological order: a commitment to fine literature; literary roots in the Black Mountain “curriculum for the soul” and the San Francisco renaissance poets (Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Edward Dorn, Robert Kelly, Diane di Prima, and Robert Duncan among the biggies within these overlapping groups of writers); allegiance to the Western esoteric tradition (alchemy, astrology, Gnosticism, anthroposophy); a perspective of ecological radicalism and phenomenology of landscape (arising anew in the later twentieth century from Carl Sauer, Gregory Bateson, Buckminster Fuller, et al.); a multicultural and anthropological overlay (my own Ph.D. work in shamanism, mythology, ethnomedocine, and cultural relativism being the initiating factor in this); a fundamental commitment to alternative medicine and holistic health, including major subcategories of bodywork (somatics) and nutrition/diet; something deeper than just curiosity about paradigm shifts within science (homeopathy, the Face on Mars, remote viewing, Peter Duesberg’s alternative AIDS hypotheses, crop circles, epigenetic self-organization, etc.); a Buddhist/Hindu perspective on the cosmos and humanity; the development of a deep and extensive martial-arts library (a list now being “curated” under the sub-imprint Blue Snake Books); a respectful recognition of transdimensionality, hyperspace, chakras, auras, spirit voices, nonhuman intelligence, and karma, or (to loosely quote Robert Kelly) the birth of a radical new order of things.

The Two Main Sources of North Atlantic Books

Over the years I have enjoyed touting a quippy if partial truth (because of its odd and perverse simplicity)—that the North Atlantic Books arises from two sources: my high-school writing class at Horace Mann in New York (1960-1962) and my maiden t’ai-chi class in Vermont (1974-1975).  Of course, there were not just two sources, but in terms of a map in my brain, a majority of our titles can be traced either directly or indirectly to one of these two events, usually within six degrees of separation, and almost all our titles have an intellectual connection to stuff that I first learned at one or the other of them.

Another way to state this would be to say that the two people who were most indispensable in the formation of North Atlantic Books were my high-school friend Chuck Stein and my t’ai-chi teacher Paul Pitchford (who trained my Vermont teachers Andy Shapiro and Carolyn Smithson).

Little else in my teen writing class beyond Chuck himself fed North Atlantic’s stream except maybe the fact that I started my own writing career there.[1]

Andy and Carolyn learned their t’ai-chi set from Paul Pitchford in Berkeley and then, when they immigrated to Vermont for Andy to build solar houses there, they brought the teaching with them.  I place the crucible in that class rather than Paul’s source class (that I later joined from 1975 into 1979) because it was the actual starting point and because Bob and Anne Bagwell, who arranged the t’ai chi in the hills outside Plainfield, also got me involved in Reichian therapy and the work of Berkeley bioenergetic therapist Stanley Keleman, leading to one of my several pathways into holistic healing and somatics—although (to ever further elaborate this multi-tiered maze) it was actually the poet Diane di Prima who specifically connected me to Keleman or, more precisely, to Keleman’s protégé Ian Grand[2] In a series of life-changing sessions (see Out of Bablyon, pp. 336-352), Ian opened the whole broad realm of therapeutic bodywork to me, and then Polly Gamble initiated me into its wondrous osteopathic and meta-osteopathic realms.  So both my high-school writing class and my Vermont t’ai-chi class led, by different routes, to bioenergetics and bodywork at the same site.

Without Bob and Anne’s earlier introduction to the bioenergetic domain Vermont, I would not have been able to submit a book proposal to Doubleday for Planet Medicine or make a transition to a broader and more eclectic somatics years later.  That is why I set the crucible back a step.  Berkeley is obvious; Vermont isn’t.

You might add Randy Cherner’s somatics workshop in Corte Madera (1989-1992) to the above lineage of primary-source NAB locales. Randy’s seminar was proximally rooted in Paul Pitchford’s class, for he married Polly Gamble, one of the students in that class, and that’s how I came to know and study with him.

Even more ironical (within the algebra of usefully redundant NAB sources) the first person I knew who studied t’ai chi ch’uan and told me about it was Chuck Stein from the writing class, not Andy or Carolyn, not the Bagwells, so the source crucibles are melded at a deeper level.  I would not have even been open to the Vermont class if Chuck hadn’t first introduced me to t’ai chi (gently and in context of a tarot-magical inquiry we had begun together in high school).  He provided a spiritual and metaphysical context in which I could accept Taoist practice, as I was not naturally a joiner, especially in public physical activities that were sort of dance-like and squirmy-wormy.  Uncomfortable with the early clumsy stages of any movement system, I tended to limit my “sports and recreation” back then as a young adult to baseball and its mimicry offshoots (like whiffle ball and Frisbee) or skating/ice hockey.

Chuck first demonstrated his t’ai chi to me on rocks in a small stream in Vermont, hopping from one to another under the general headline of “hurrah, a klutz no longer.”  This long-time yoga student and bowling star had been galumphy otherwise in high school, and he presented his new skill as though using magical tentacles to grab onto stones in the tradition of Don Juan Matus shooting out his superhero energy body for the edification of poor Carlos Castaneda.  And Chuck, having become corpulent past adolescence, did seem to be gliding anti-gravity in some sort of magical fugue like a large ghost raccoon.

Chuck prepared me for t’ai chi; he made it physically compatible and attractive so, when Andy and Carolyn showed up, I was in a mood to let them teach me the real thing, from Commencement, Rollback, and Single Whip to Needle at Sea-bottom, Fair Maiden, and Shoot Tiger.  I was pretty close to the worst student in that class of about thirty but, within a year, only three of us remained—and I am probably the only one still doing t’ai chi at all thirty-four years later.  I am still not very good, but I have published more t’ai chi books than all other trade publishers put together.  So it “took.”

In a synchronistic universe multiple messengers bear the same message at roughly the same time.  It took both Chuck and the Bagwells to get my attention onto the t’ai-chi form, and then it took the Paul’s Berkeley class to complete a somatic loop through Polly Gamble.  Still I wouldn’t have been open to Polly’s invitation if Ian hadn’t gotten me started on bioenergetics a couple of summers earlier.  And I wouldn’t have gotten more deeply into somatic practice if Polly hadn’t married Randy Cherner.

So, again, of my two original crucibles, Paul Pitchford’s t’ai-chi class was not the one that led most directly to our t’ai-chi and martial-arts publishing; it was my high-school writing class that did.  And this was because Chuck (like Meredith Monk) studied with Cheng Man-Ch’ing’s disciples in Chinatown, New York City, all of whom revered Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo in San Francisco as their senior.

When I think about it now, whereas it took two cues to introduce me to t’ai chi itself—the curiosity and spectacle and then the living set as a practice for my own personal growth—it took a third to get me to t’ai-chi publishing.  Chuck handled both number one and number three; Andy/Carolyn, the second.

Just before Lindy and I made our move to California in 1977, my high-school friend introduced us to performance-artist Meredith Monk one Sunday afternoon in George Quasha’s backyard in the Hudson Valley and, upon hearing where we were headed (and that I was already a t’ai-chi student in Vermont), she declared with stern authority that I had not yet experienced the real thing and that San Francisco master Ben Lo was “a can’t miss; there is no one in the West like him.”

I was already loyal to teachers and a lineage, as I had been studying for three years with Andy and Carolyn and then Paul Pitchford (after our initial forays to Berkeley).  “I don’t know what that is you’re doing,” Chuck had noted cheerfully after I demonstrated what I had learned from those folks.  “It’s definitely good for you, but it’s not t’ai chi.”

That remark plagued me over the next two-plus years, so after Paul subsequently left the Bay Area to go back to his native Idaho (1979) and his t’ai-chi class dissolved, I took Ms. Monk up on her tip.   After inquiry by phone and permission-granted, I began a twice-weekly BART commute to the far avenues of San Francisco where Ben oversaw a far more traditional and grueling (and early AM) class.

If Paul did hippie, syncretic t’ai chi, full of playfulness and cosmic affirmations, a style that was a forerunner of The Tao of Physics and A Course in Miracles, Ben taught hard-ass, humorless postures to be held motionlessly while he inspected each person’s pose, one by one, for straightness of spine and “beautiful lady’s hand.”  He was pretending that we were all in training for some world tournament and there was no internal aspect to his art at all.

“What that mean,” he snapped with feigned astonished outrage when a student specifically wondered aloud about the seemingly absent internal instruction, “fight inside your body?”  Then he chortled mercilessly.

But it was our publication of Ben’s class t’ai-chi manual that serendipitously birthed our entire martial-arts list.  And that only happened because one morning Ben announced that he needed help with a book—and the only person who came to see him about it after class was one of his poorer and all-but-invisible chelas in the back row.

Jess O’Brien was a tot in Humboldt County while I was attending Ben’s class, but his subsequent reading of our first t’ai-chi book (Essence of T’ai Chi Ch’uan) and then our other early martial-arts text drew him to North Atlantic.  As a young man in the late nineties, he took it as his personal mission to help develop and fully realize our indigenous Taoist wing, spilling the “internal” beans, as it were, but in a traditional manner, e.g. in words and images translated out of old Chinese publications.  So he should up at our front door, as I shall describe later.

This is the way occult transmission works, across generations and continents.

While she and I were learning the set and push-hands in Paul’s t’ai-chi class together, Polly Gamble began studying manual medicine at the legendary Lomi School in Marin County.   When she asked for volunteers to practice on, I offered.  Three years earlier I would have been mum and shy, but by then I had been initiated by Ian and was curious to learn something different.  Polly gave me my first non-Reichian somatic treatments and breathing exercises and then my first palpation lessons in her inaugural public class.

Polly later introduced Lindy and me to her main Lomi teacher Richard Strozzi Heckler, as she thought we would have things to say to each other.  We certainly did, and Lindy and I both began doing Lomi sessions with Richard.  Soon afterward Lindy signed him up for Shambhala, as she was its West Coast acquisitions editor at the time.  Soon we began publishing Strozzi at North Atlantic.

Richard led not only to various realms of somatic publishing but to other martial arts; first, his own aikido work, then other aikidoists like the soon-to-be-exiled Bruce Klickstein[3] and George Leonard, and then other martial artists in his wider circle such as Bira Almeida, the capoeirista, and Terence Webster-Doyle, the gentle karate giant.

Thus, whereas t’ai chi ignited our martial-arts publishing, it was an island unto itself until Richard came along.  Yet Strozzi’s and our meeting point was somatics, then aikido, not t’ai chi.

So at the point at which t’ai-chi publishing (previously limited to Ben Lo and associates) became general martial-arts publishing, my two source crucibles came together again: Andy and Carolyn to Paul to Polly to Strozzi Heckler to Bira Almeida, and Chuck to George Quasha to Meredith Monk to Ben Lo to Cheng Man-Ch’ing.  Each crucible, my high-school writing class at the end of the Broadway subway line and Andy and Carolyn’s t’ai chi conducted in the misty Vermont hills, led to North Atlantic’s Blue Snake list by separate circuitous routes.  Then these seminal martial artists led to other practitionerss who led to others, and we developed a list over decades ranging from Peter Ralston to Gaku Homma, Wolfe Lowenthal to Christoph Delp, Vladimir Putin to Sid Campbell.  Past a tipping point, everyone notices and they congregate at the doorway.

If Paul’s t’ai-chi class did not per se yield our first t’ai-chi book, it did lead, through Polly and Strozzi, to the development of (1) our somatics list, (2) our entire non-t’ai-chi martial-arts list, and eventually (3) Paul’s own book, Healing with Whole Foods, which opened up the larger nutrition topic and helped transform our press in the mid nineties.  It was our publication of Healing with Whole Foods that led to Gabriel Cousens’s Conscious Eating (see below), and then it was Gabriel’s raw-food diet that led to David Wolfe, Victoria Boutenko, and our whole raw line.

Meanwhile almost all of our bodywork titles trace back in one way or another to Polly because she was our link not only to Richard Heckler but her afore-mentioned teacher, partner, and then husband, Randy Cherner.  When I met Polly in 1976, my view of somatics was shaped entirely by Wilhelm Reich’s perspective, including “character analysis,” orgonomy, and the various modes of gestalt therapy and “bioenergetics” that derived from these.  These were psychoanalytic in etiology and bioemotional in application, relying on transference and psychosomatic modalities over morphology, subtle movement, and anatomical structure.  Or, in the case of orgonomy, the mode went beyond mere transference and sublimation and was paraphysical and off-body energetic at core like Reiki.

Reichian somatic practice was mostly cut off, however, from many, many lineages of manual medicine going back to the Stone Ages, and it did not have either a significant microanatomical component or a nuanced discrimination of the levels and meanings—holistic, physiological, and emotion—of touch itself.  Reichian techniques of course used massage therapeutically, especially deep tissue work and activated breath, but in such a way as to override many of the intrinsic layers and logistics of palpation.  One might say that Reich and his followers derived the origin of body armor and treatable neuroanatomy from emotional life and sexual pathology rather than, in a more Eastern and elemental fashion, from the simultaneity of physical and psychological meridians in the organism.  Reichian bodywork was historically the Freudian logos somaticized, and then later (in Ian Grand’s version) it was Fritz Perls’s gestalt version of Freudian dynamics reconsidered in a biosexual context.

Polly’s radicalization of my somatic viewpoint took me a while to integrate, so it missed the Doubleday Anchor 1978 edition of Planet Medicine and the initial “homeopathy/t’ai-chi” publishing phase of North Atlantic Books, so neither had a somatic component beyond PM’s hefty homage to Reich (and its brief taste of chiropractic from Polly’s prior boyfriend David Riggle).  It took Richard Heckler to make the bridges from there to other somatic disciplines and martial arts.

By the time I signed up for Randy Cherner’s somatics training seminar in 1989, I had learned about many different forms of bodywork previously unfamiliar to me, but I didn’t have enough in my head to either write about them or know how to publish them intelligently.  Osteopathic and elemental somatics were crucial in later editions of Planet Medicine anda bulwark of North Atlantic Books, but not until the nineties.

Randy’s class was the somatics crucible and crossroads. I became both an ethnographer and practitioner of osteopathy, chiropractic, and a manual medical spectrum across Eastern and Western landscapes, at least to the degree that someone who was mainly a writer and publisher, not a practitioner or healer, could integrate these things.  Either directly through Randy’s instruction or by contacts I made with other students in the class (notably Kathy Park and Amini Peller), I gradually got to explore and experience the big modalities that I ignorantly left out of the first Planet Medicine: Polarity, Craniosacral Therapy, Breema, Alexander Technique, and Feldenkrais Method.  Each of those led to multiple books in the nineties, and I enlarged PM in later editions.

Of all of the somatic modalities, it was craniosacral therapy that was m key to breaking through, the Rosetta Stone to the rest. Once I was initiated into craniosacral therapy and its mode of inquiring touch, I was hooked on the vast domain of subtle somatic palpation and energy flow.

After more than a year under Randy in Corte Madera of struggling to feel even the slightest flicker or tremble, I finally got the cerebrospinal pulse and the map that came it (1991).  Gradually I was able to palpate rhythms through the gradients and fluids of the body.  It was a turning point in not only my career as a publisher but my life.  I signed up for the Upledger seminars when they next took place in our area, at the Holiday Inn in San Francisco (about the time that Bill Clinton was picking Al Gore as his running mate in the newspaper headlines—I remember passing the Chronicle on sale in a coin-operated box during a lunch break).  I  then used CST as an entry and portal into other modalities.  This series of personal episodes is described in detail in not only Out of Babylon (pp. 525-529) but the Modalities volume of the revised Planet Medicine (pp. 543-551).

Back to the original crucibles now: Paul Pitchford also gave me my introduction to and first instruction in meditation, the Chinese Buddhist variety.  During his occasional trips back to Berkeley in the eighties, he pulled together students and I sat zazen in his tiny Saturday group below San Pablo Avenue, next to a garage in which motorcycles were being repaired.  Paul always said a blessing for the bikers who provided the perfection of our practice by giving us a bar to go silent against.

Now back to 1960 and the high-school class.  It was Chuck Stein who led me specifically to Tibetan Buddhism.  And both tracks from the early source crucibles directly and indirectly birthed lines of spiritual books for North Atlantic.  If it hadn’t been for my old connection to Chuck, I probably never have met Bay Area Buddhist scholar Stephen Goodman or his colleagues, Eric and Marcia Schmidt, the founders and publishers of Rangjung Yeshe, who joined North Atlantic as a distributed two decades after they and we first explored (and then abandoned) the concept of a copublished Tibetan-English dictionary around 1984.

Chuck also introduced me to modern avant-garde literature and the Black Mountain writers with whom he had been studying precociously because, remember, he had a few of them as poetry counselors at his summer camp, Bucks Rock.  Chuck later brought Bard student Harvey Bialy with him to Amherst to my 1965 Halloween ceremony as I mentioned, and then Harvey, an aspiring poet, magician, and biologist, introduced Lindy and me to his teacher Robert Kelly.  Kelly became our contact and opening to just about everyone else in the Black Mountain and New American Poetry scenes, again either directly or indirectly, initially from Ted Enslin, Diane Wakoski, and Paul Blackburn to Ed Dorn, Charles Olson, Stan Brakhage, and the two larger-than-life Roberts: Duncan and Creeley.  This ongoing lesson, as noted earlier, launched the literary facet of Io and then North Atlantic Books as a small literary press before it became a trade publisher.

The Black Mountain writers collectively brought cosmology, mythology, geography, traditionary magick, alchemy, improvisational performance art, Eastern religion, cultural history, critique of science—the kitchen sink, as it were—into the realm of literature.  They honored the intellectual scope modeled by Ezra Pound and William Butler Yeats (among others of the prior literary generation), but they did so in a wilder, “no holds barred” fashion, with a more esoteric, diverse, and nonlinear range as befitted the continuing globalization of Western culture, the universalization of previously recondite information, and the birth of post-modernism.   

The Black Mountain literary coda of Io and North Atlantic led hither, thither, and yon, as one connection spawned another, year after year, such that we realized fruits at two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight degrees of separation and as many times over too in all directions and dimensions.

For instance, we became the publisher of the collected short writings of the legendary Theodore Sturgeon under the auspices of his daughter, Noel—a project that engaged us through two decades and thirteen volumes—because, at the University of Colorado in Boulder in the early nineties, Noel was a student of poet Ed Dorn, one of Io’s founding voices.  The publication of Sturgeon then led to our procuring other science-fiction authors and hooking up for a time with Tachyon Press in San Francisco.  I cite this as an example of how a publishing network of this sort functions.  When you create a dynamic web over this many decades, the complexity of the mesh and its points of juncture and cross-links are endlessly unpredictable and serendipitous.

For another instance, while Jeanne Rose, author of our first aromatherapy book, was brought to us by her agent, as described in Chapter Five, our more contemporary aromatherapy line originated through Joni Loughran whom I met one day by chance in Randy Cherner’s waiting room.

Chuck’s old Bard College friend Harvey Bialy went on to get a Ph.D. in microbiology, and years late he networked us into the whole contrarian AIDS movement, e.g. scientists who do not believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS or (in some cases) that there is even a clear-cut AIDS disease.  Harvey’s link was directly through the movement’s founder, his old Berkeley graduate-school colleague Peter Duesberg.

Harvey also led us to publish on many other topics, including “DNA and the I Ching”—the premise of a book by Johnson Yan following Harvey’s groundbreaking piece in Io #20, Biopoesis, the issue that he guest-edited.  And Harvey was a primary influence in getting us into Western occult traditions, which eventually led to our Esoteric Masters series and other metaphysical texts.

And these threads continue to keep crisscrossing back and forth.  Thirty-four years after I met Harvey, he intersected an entirely different North Atlantic nexus when his computer art was used on the covers of Chuck Stein’s new translation of the Odyssey in 2008 and a revised Nothing in This Book is True, But It’s Exactly How Things Are in 2009, replacing a classic Spain Rodriguez image customized for the original.  Almost a decade earlier when needing a job—paid work—Chuck edited and partially ghost-wrote Frissell’s third volume, You Are a Spirtitual Being Having a Human Experience. He had no particular love or affinity for this teaching, but he was seeking temporary employment and knew the entire North Atlantic gnosis by heart.

Live-Food Publishing

The informal link between Healiing with Whole Foods and Conscious Eating probably would have been left dormant if Gabriel Cousens and I hadn’t shared many meals at Amherst’s Valentine dining hall.  Given our college camaraderie, Gabriel was receptive to copublishing, and we developed several major books together over the years, including many of his own; one on faster-than-light, so-called tachyon energy that he co-wrote; two on Jewish mysticism by Gershon Winkler, a “crazy wisdom” New Mexico rabbi with indigenous American shamanic connections (see Chapter Nine) that he simply found; his own Torah scholarship and reinvigoration of occult Judaism on a part with esoteric Buddhism and Hinduism; and most notably his works on diet, nutrition, and fasting.

A decade later, as one of the founders of the modern raw-diet movement, Gabriel opened the burgeoning live-food market to us.  Through Conscious Eating, we had been a raw-food publisher indirectly; we began finally directly with the publication of his Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine in 2003.

After the old college football star put us on the “raw food” map, other “raw” authors arrived from diverse sources.  Victoria Boutenko of Raw Family Publishing was directed by her Ashland, Oregon neighbor, our eyesight-improvement author Tom Quackenbush (see Chapter Eleven).  On the other hand, David Wolfe, who is not only a raw-food author but a spiritual teacher and personal trainer, can be traced by a zigzag route back to Chuck Stein, as it was poet and novelist Michael Brownstein, a member of our original literary circle with CHuck who called my attention to this young phenom, and then put us in touch with each other.

In fact I was already vaguely aware of David for a number of years without any true sense of who he was, imagining him to be some sort of theatrical hippie chef.  Somewhere in both of their wide-ranging travels Michael and David intersected, hung out briefly together, and Michael liked and accepted the guy, even though he is a hard sell in general on the New Age.  That got my attention.  He initially described David to me in 2005 as some sort of super Indigo Child with the street name of Avocado, a charismatic rock-star/boy guru in his mid thirties with a “positive thinking” motto as his calling card.

After my bemused response when he cited David as a great teacher, Michael said, “No, you don’t get it. This guy is for real.  ‘Have the best day ever.’  That’s his motto.”  He left it hanging as to whether he was pulling my leg or chiding me gently for being a nonbeliever.

Even with my daffiest, ‘nothing in this book is true’ New Age hat on, the whole thing sounded a bit corny and overwrought.  Yet Michael was someone to take seriously because, as noted, he suffered no fools, especially among spiritual claimants.  He had an old-fashioned Marxist intellect, having started out as an avant-garde intellectual before he gradually morphed into a New Age pilgrim.  He traveled to Peru early on to study ayahuasca shamanism and then participated in Michael Harner’s vision-quest workshops, Byron Katie’s self-reflection sessions, and Stanislav Grof’s holotropic breathwork.  While retaining his old New School hard edge and cynicism, he was a committed seeker who put a premium on authentic avatars and was withering in his depiction of those he deemed posers and frauds.  (Michael was later one of my multiple contact points to Daniel Pinchbeck and the North Atlantic-Evolver imprint, more on which down the road in this blog.)

I sent an email inquiry about possible books to Avocado’s website and, in the burst of ornately enthusiastic exchanges between us that followed— each of his closing with “Have the best day ever”—I lapsed into confusion about what we had actually decided and what the next step was, taking it on blind faith that Avocado was going to hand us his forthcoming book, Naked Chocolate, which he characterized to me as a primer on the health benefits of raw cacao.

I emailed Michael the good news and then, when I didn’t hear from Avocado over the next few months, assumed that he was working on the manuscript.  That was the state of affairs when Michael led me to his favorite live-food restaurant in New York the following summer.  We saw Naked Chocolate on sale there, published under David’s Sunfood imprint.  Only then did I realize that there had been a major misunderstanding, though to this day I’m not sure what it was.  As I have learned since, David is on multiple, sometimes competing reality planes and tracks at the same time.  I have come to think that he meant that he would send me not the manuscript to publish, but a copy of the book once it was published.  I was on one track; he was on another entirely. At the time he was writing me he probably saw potential in our copublishing, but then his attention was seized by other possibilities and, without telling me, he let the collaborative option float away and just did the book through existing channels.  Meanwhile, I lodged the idea in our “holding tank” for a future season’s consideration and assumed David would let me know when it was done.  In any case, all’s well that…and we are now the copublisher with David of Naked Chocolate and his many other books.

For some reason, this confusion reminds me of the Polish publisher who sent Lindy and me a beautiful tablecloth in exchange for, we thought, a copy of Healing with Whole Foods in the early nineties, an accompanying letter explaining that it was all that they could afford.  What we didn’t realize is that they were bartering not for the book but the Polish rights to its publication. It took a while to get that cleared up.

Back then, though, with Avocado, after the moment of truth in the Manhattan restaurant, I put David and his books out of mind.  For every great book idea that comes to fruition, there are a dozen or more that die somewhere along the trail, most of them immediately.   In publishing, impractical and unlikely ideas teem and then pop like soap bubbles, but you need to keep them bubbling in order to find a few that are real:  standard operating procedure in the literary and mind-body-spirit worlds, and particularly where they overlap.

To muddle the metaphor: keep shooting arrows and then forget about them in the air; one of them will hit a target, probably someday while you are not looking.

I routinely send out lots of acquisitions emails (formerly snail mails), some of them quite presumptuous and/or loopy, figuring they are an expedient way to keep things moving without too much labor or attachment.   Maybe they are like someone standing at a casino almost mindlessly stuffing coins in a machine and pulling levers.  The majority go unanswered or draw a quick “not interested” or “how much are you paying?”  Every so often, though, real interest will be elicited and a project will take root, usually from the least likely source and by our author Rob Brezsny’s happy and pronoic corollary to Murphy’s Law: “Everything that can go right will go right”—especially the most stray and futile shots in the dark (see later for more on Rob).

A year after the comeuppance of finding Naked Chocolate naked on the retail shelf, and with our raw-food books selling like, I suppose you wouldn’t say “hotcakes,” a marketing executive at Random House, in the course of a due-diligence Amazon check of the topic, discovered that David Wolfe was the major missing piece of the puzzle and lone all-star not in our lineup.  With no way of knowing that Avocado and I already had logged a bit of history, he and his colleagues wondered if I could somehow recruit this guy.  Of course, being Random House, they meant the old-fashioned way and, being North Atlantic, I took it to mean, “any old down-and-dirty way that works”…even if it means giving away the store.  But they didn’t have to know that right then.  They just had to know that I would try to persuade this author to join our party.

I emailed David anew.

As fate would have it, he was about to hit the Bay Area on his never-ending workshop/road-trip cavalcade, so we arranged to meet for lunch at Café Gratitude.  Trouble was, he meant the one in San Rafael, and I went to the one in Berkeley.  We smoothed over that disconnect by voicemail, trading in lunch for dinner, and I drove the Richmond Bridge just after rush hour.

I beat David there and was informed at the door that I was meeting royalty; then the manager put me at a front-row table.  Fifteen minutes later David and his entourage of les jeunes femmes arrived. I remember that one was named Super Goji Girl; another was a vegetable that I have forgotten but maybe Tomato Girl or Lady Kale, and one or another women (or was it Queen Parsley?) later visited our table.  David was of course Avocado (’Cad), and I became my email name, Chard, not originally the vegetable but a revival of the nickname my students at Goddard give me in the early seventies (as in “Ree-chard”).  It worked.

David is dark, curly-haired, half Jewish (father’s side), half Iranian Zoroastrian Bahai (mother’s side).  He looks Biblical in the sense of “King David” or another of those wandering pre-Christian prophets offering good news and best-ever days.  In fact, one of ’Cad’s childhood camp counselors was Tony Robbins who clearly made an impression on him.  As Avocado put it that night, with more candor than immodesty, “I’m the Tony Robbins of the next generation.  People my age and younger are not interested anymore in the kind of things Tony has to say.”

Once everyone settled and ordered food, it was a matter of hanging out with the group for a couple of hours and riffing improvised cosmic jive and business concepts, hopelessly and brilliantly intermingled by Avocado so that we worked our way to a publishing concept even as we mused about the universe and the nature of consciousness and the next waves of superfoods.  Meanwhile assorted customers came by for autographs, exchanges of live-food gossip, and in one case a gift to David of some super-special raw truffles that he and the “Earth Girls Are Easy” crew oohed and ahed over.  We shared bites.

David didn’t even have to say we were going to play; it was obvious by then.  But he said it anyway.  We were parallel weird and in balance, and he understood the NAB energy wheel perfectly, without the need for even a breath of prompting.  It was a match.

Driving back to the East Bay, I felt elation as if I had just inked LeBron James to his next contract.

The following afternoon David and Super Goji Girl and another vegetable woman amused and delighted staff at our office, and David closed each and every meeting with some variant of “Hey, have the best day ever.”  Yet he was authentic and gracious and spread happiness and hope in his wake.  As baseball scouts like to say, A Natural.  (For more on David, see “2010 Kaua’i Notes” on this website.)

The folks at Random House were pleased, but that lasted only until they found out that we needed to drop three of David’s books into their system immediately without the usual announcement process or the lead-up time of a year or so till publication; these were: Eating for Beauty, Naked Chocolate, and The Sunfood Diet Success System. I barely managed to convince ’Cad to delay another book for a future season, Amazing Grace: The Nine Principles for Living in Natural Magic, a work in the process of being cowritten with personal-trainer Nick Good.  And even that compromise would later under David’s selling a few thousand advance copies at an event a couple of months later, annoying a few Random House marketing people and being the straw that led to the camel’s-back comment that we had  “the world’s most uncooperative authors.”

By the Random philosophy, it was an honor to be published (or distributed) in the real, old-fashioned way, so anyone rational would wait a year or eighteen months (or whatever) for a respectable pub date, especially so that his or her book could be pre-marketed, pre-sold, and released properly into the book trade.  But this doesn’t sell in the counterculture or alternative world.

The seasonal delay BTW was not just some arbitrary corporate rule or sterile ritual.  It represented Random House’s (and the book industry’s) long-term experience that it was the way to give books their one best chance to succeed.  It was for the book’s benefit, not the corporation’s.  And they did not like their dais littered with the failed projects and broken plates of “haste makes waste.”  By tradition they wanted to sell sterling books into a sterling market.

But to David Wolfe, and many of our other thirty-something counterculturally entrepreneurial authors, especially in the runaway live-food market, Random House seemed a dinosaur from a pre-Internet planet who did not understand the instant MP-3, download, iTunes, YouTube, twitter world inhabited by neophyte author-publishers.  A shamanic pilgrim on the road twelve months of the year with a motto and a philosophy, marketing himself and his products, drawing—well maybe not election-year Obama-like crowds but their equivalent at his scale—wasn’t going to pull his books off the docket and wait a year or more for their gala re-release.

In the end, ruffled feathers were soothed, and the people at Random House taught us how to do immediate “drop in” releases successfully.[4] These kinds of books shouldn’t be a regular strategy, and they are never going to get even half the launch that properly announced books will, but there is still a way to debut and distribute them right.

If you have to violate the strict seasonal publishing pattern in order to realize sales, just do it. The publishing cycle is to enhance the sales of books not to frustrate them by hard-and-fast statutes.  Some books have to be published at the moment you get them, and it is self-sabotage to hit these with the rulebook.  These drop-ins sell out the gate because the audience is already there and waiting.  And that is the goal of pre-marketing anyway, isn’t it?

David is now a crucial player at North Atlantic, putting out new Superfood and Longevity titles on a regular basis and both passively and actively drawing other authors into our matrix.  For instance, Ruby Roth was urged by him to send us her illustrated children’s book That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, and we made it a lead title in 2009, and now her book Vegan Is Love is in development with us.

Some of the money from David’s books that would normally go to North Atlantic is donated instead to his Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, which has a goal placing living CO2-convertors at homeless shelters, public schools, drug-rehab centers, animal sanctuaries, Native American reservations, etc.  And, post-Avocado, our live-food list has become, like Blue Snake Books and the martial arts, almost its own self-regenerating publishing imprint with more recent titles like Fresh and Rawlicious.

Other Publishing Sources

Among key connections that sired the North Atlantic list but had little or nothing to do with either the New York City or Vermont-cum-Berkeley lineage:

Dana Ullman, founder of Homeopathic Educational Services and our first copublisher, learned about homeopathy from Io/8 (see below).  Then, during Lindy’s and my visit to Berkeley in the summer of 1975, I happened upon a poster for Dana’s homeopathy seminar wrapped around a lamp-post and I quickly signed up for the event in his living room (see the chapter “Step Back Like a Monkey” in Out of Babylon, pp. 327-355).  My co-venture with Dana, along with my writing Planet Medicine at roughly the same time, jetted North Atlantic into the homeopathy world and then holistic health in general, as Dana recruited herbalist Matthew Wood and naturopath Michael Schmidt, and then each of them brought other authors.

Of course, I could claim that this lineage also traces back to Chuck Stein because it was through Chuck that I met Robert Kelly, and Kelly who put me onto lay homeopath and poet Ted Enslin who sent literary works to Io and then wrote a piece about homeopathy for the Doctrine of Signatures Issue (Io/5 in 1968).   Ted was one of the North Atlantic authors represented on our inaugural NEA literary grants, as we published his long poems Synthesis and then Ranger. I first learned about outsider and naturopathic medicine from him, and a year after his medicinal piece in Io, he persuaded me to write a grant to do my graduate fieldwork in Bridgton, a community served by a traditional homeopath and also the next town over from him in Western Mine.

Even though I never got to carry out the medicine study, Enslin became our guide into the downeast region of Maine which later yielded a variety North Atlantic titles like The Chakra System of Mount Desert Island by Chris Kaiser, Acadia: The Soul of a National Park by Steve Perrin, Working the Sea by Wendell Seavey, and Cooking for the Common Good: The Birth of a Natural Foods Soup Kitchen.

During the summers of 2003 and 2004 in Maine, I took the complete oral history of Wendell Seavey, the fisherman who was my major “informant” while I was researching my doctoral ethnography from 1969 to 1974.  We published it in 2005 as Working the Sea: Misadventures, Ghost Stories, and Life Lessons from a Maine Lobsterfisherman.   Wendell describes being stirred into action by a message from a psychic reader, Elizabeth Paulin: “She asked if I was keeping a journal or writing a book.  I said no, but I said Richard Grossinger wants me to write a book and I didn’t want to do it.  She said, you should do it; it will inspire and influence a lot of people.  I asked if the ancestors had anything to say, and she said, ‘I’ve got your father.  He has a golden dog and a pocket watch.  He is showing me his watch, which is a message to you that it’s time for you to get to be writing that book.’”

Although there have been many books and magazine articles done along these lines (the wry Downeast fisherman), they have tended to be touristy and folksy, or folkloric, almost slapstick.  This candid autobiography captures the culture and nuances of the Maine fishing world.

I got the project done primarily because, for two summers, I sat with Wendell for a few hours each day—after he got back off the water from fishing and before he had dinner and went to bed at sundown in order to get up again at sunrise the next day.  For a long time he wouldn’t give me the goods, preferring the kinds of tall tales and varnished accounts with which he had entertained folks with for so long that, in truth, he seemed to have  all but forgotten what actually happened.

I kept going over the same scenes with him, pass after pass, until, as he rocked in his chair beside me in an adjacent chair, and as I keyboarded away while he spoke, he gradually recognized what I was trying to do and began to “remember.”

After that, the mood and tone changed entirely.  Events came flooding back and, instead of stonewalling, he dug deeper and deeper and began revealing things to the world that he probably thought he would have never even whisper to his closest confidante.  I mean, if he was going to drag himself to my house exhausted from a day of hauling traps, he might as well make it worth our while.  So it became a manic ride.

Before it came out, a local bookseller presumed that this was impossible and that there would never be a revealing book from a Maine fisherman, as told me, “You’ll fail because if he tells the truth, no one will talk to him again and, if you don’t tell the truth, it will be a bore.”

Well, he told the truth and, as Wendell put it, “No one who’s still talking to me is going to stop over this book, and the others, well they’re a lost cause.”

When I presented him with the final page proofs, I gave him one last chance to bail; but he said, “Let it all hang out.”  And so it has.  Even the doubting bookseller had to admit that we created the long-awaited “great Maine lobstersfishing story”—which is a fitting outcome given our partial Maine roots.

I have been astonished since by how well the book has done on the Maine Coast, especially in the Mount Desert area.  The local equivalent to a 7/11, Gott’s Market, sold almost 1000 in a little over the first year—figures that would do a midtown-Manhattan Barnes & Noble proud for a front-list work of major fiction.  The book resonates so well in downeast Maine that it can be put into any kind of store—furniture, gas station, hardware, video, grocery, barber—and it will rack up numbers worth counting.  Nationally it has also done decently in boating, marine, and fishing stores.

The interview that I conducted with Ted Enslin on homeopathy during my year of fieldwork in Maine appeared first in the Dreams issue of Io a year later and then got reprinted in the Canadian Whole Earth Almanack. In the latter version, it was read by Ullman (and Stanford M.D. Bill Gray) to homeopathy—thus leading to Dana putting up a poster in Berkeley for me to come upon five years later.  So the thread was passed back and forth between us invisibly twice such that we were initiated, each by the other—and then we met and collaborated in the publishing realm.   This is what happened later with North Atlantic and our original martial-arts editor, Jess O’Brien, who arrived as a reader of our books (see Chapter Twelve).  (And, by the way, we published Bill Gray too, Homeopathy: Science or Myth?, many years later.)

Our Peruvian shamanism list came out of a different set of ethnomedicine connections: I was an anthropologist writing about and publishing books on ethnomedicine starting with Eduarado el Curandero, a text based on a movie by Richard Cowan that I saw at UCBerkeley. Willard Johnson, a professor in Southern California, tracked me down (1980) and then put F. Bruce Lamb, author of numerous books on Peruvian shamanism including the legendary Wizard of the Upper Amazon, onto me.  Bruce led directly to both Daniel Statnekov (Animated Earth) and Colombian academic Luis Eduardo Luna and his indigenous colleague, ayahuasca artist Pablo Amaringo.  This was an opening for North Atlantic into the metaphysical and visionary ayahuasca subculture.

Richard Hoagland, author of The Monuments of Mars, lived a few blocks me in Oakland in 1985.  Once I discovered him through an article of his on the “Face on Mars” in the San Francisco Chronicle, I wrote to him, and he invited me over.  It was  not long after my own book The Night Sky came out from Sierra Club, and it surprised me that I had never come across this strange and provocative artifact, so I contacted the post office box given at the end of the article.

Our publication of The Monuments of Mars branched into many titles on the topic, from Mark Carlotto’s Martian Enigmas (remember, he was the NASA scientist who substituted a friendly “face on Mars” for the unfriendly one in Io—see Chapter Two) to George Hass and William Saunders’s The Cydonia Codex and The Martian Codex—as well as at least a dozen other related and associated books on megaliths, aliens, crop circles, archaeoastronomy, and the astral plane (see the next two chapters).

As an offshoot of Hoagland we published our one pure astrophysics book, by another person associated with Cydonian research, astronomer Tom Van Flandern.  Later we helped science journalist Barry DiGregorio develop Mars: The Living Planet, co-written with Gilbert Levin, the engineer who designed the first experiment test by a satellite on the ground of Mars for life on the Red Planet.  So Monuments led to an astronomy sublist as well as archaeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy (The Mystery of the Serpent Mound: In Search of the Alphabet of the Gods by Ross Hamilton), and numerous occult lines.

Architects of the Underworld (on Atlantis, Mars, and the Sphinx) by Bruce Rux, an amateur investigator in Denver, was followed by his equally bizarre and even more paranoid Hollywood Versus the Aliens: The Motion Picture Industry’s Participation in UFO Disinformation. Bruce was the genre of isolated eccentric that North Atlantic tends to cultivate.  He came to us through our publishing of Hoagland.  Few other presses would have touched this guy, a conspiracy blogger before the blogging era.

The San Francisco Chronicle also led to several titles outside Hoaglandia.  Chronicle sports columnist Bruce Jenkins was a such lively, smart writer (and still is) that we ended up publishing four quite different books by him over the years, one on surfing (which led to additional surfing publishing and an abortive relationship with surfing superstar Greg Noll—see Chapter Seventeen); one on basketball coach Pete Newell (leading to additional sports publishing, including When the Game Stands Tall, a very successful high-school football book about De La Salle Academy written by Neil Hayes, a journalist colleague sent our way by Bruce); a failed one on an upcoming baseball season (Life After Saberhagen); and Goodbye, a biography of Bruce’s father, composer Gordon Jenkins.

Another author I discovered via reading the Chronicle, almost two decades after contacting Bruce, was Renay Jackson.  Renay’s literary and entrepreneurial accomplishments with his own self-published line of urban-lit novels were featured in a front-page spread in a 2003 Sunday Chronicle, a publicity bonanza that led remarkabaly to a solo appearance by him on the Jim Lehrer News Hour and an entire segment on his career.

Over the years we have had a somewhat-unrequited ambition to publish African American authors, poets and novelists.  The right ones—both edgy and good—have been hard to come by, given that these folks have their own venues and favored outlets.  Jackson had written and printed up funky-looking editions of four novels in the hiphop genre and had already sold more than 50,000 copies of them collectively, mostly in Oakland out of the back of his car, in black neighborhoods and at as varied outlets as funeral homes and hair-dressers.  He had masses of fans among Oakland’s youth and was a legend at Oakland Tech.  In a bit of shameless racial profiling, I happened to mention him to my black dental hygienist just before a filling, not even thinking she would know who he was, and she broke her ritual silence with, “You gonna publish Renay?  Cool!  Renay’s the truth!”

The self-published versions of Renay’s own books were amateur in design, verging on illiterate, but totally authentic to the streets they came out of, plus the stories were wonderful and full of page-turning suspense.  They show in dramatic fashion why the world of drug dealers and pimps is the way it is and how it becomes irresistibly attractive to new generations of youth (from the inside-out, not by the usual suppositions).  The books are almost fictionalized ethnographies of the street because they capture the core motivations and ritual seductions of their culture.  Plus Renay, a former rapper, is a charismatic speaker.  His day job, by the way, is as a janitor at the Oakland police department.

After the big publicity splash a number of New York houses tried to sign him, but he accepted a lower advance from us to stay local, so we did a five-book contract (see Chapter Twenty-Two).

Renay’s four original books are now back in the market in edited Frog editions: Oaktown Devil, Shakey’s Loose, Peanut’s Revenge, and Turf Wars, and we have put out two more from scratch: Crack City and Sweetpea’s Secret. Unfortunately, we have not had near the success that Renay garnered on his own.  We have not been able to break into the urban or hiphop genre nationally despite leading with a strong, articulate author.

Publishing Renay led us to his buddy and opposite, Robert Greer.  Greer is highly educated—an M.D. pathologist in Denver—and had been published successfully as a crime novelist for years by Warner when he decided to jump ship in order to get out of the shadow of a former Goddard student of my era, Walter Mosley.  Greer sustained two successful series, but his Warner editors preferred the second, the medical thrillers, so Robert has moved the other to us, the entire original C J Floyd set about an African American bail bondsman in Denver.  As we have been reissuing past books (The Devil’s Hatband, The Devil’s Red Nickel, The Devil’s Backbone), we have been putting out new ones (Resurrecting Langston Blue, The Fourth Perspective, The Mongoose Deception, Blackbird, Farewell, and First of State).

Greer is a consummate detective-yarner, ranging over the Vietnam-war aftermath, the Kennedy assassination, rare photographs and license plates, and corruption in sports, plus he hits the road regularly under the aegis of his own publicist and sells a good number of books at store readings and by word of mouth.  But we still haven’t caught Walter M. and are not likely to.

Cecil Brown was brought to our office by mutual friend Ishmael Reed.  I, Stagolee, our first title of Cecil’s, is a fiction based on Stagolee Shot Billy, the author’s nonfiction Harvard University Press history and analysis of the famous song covered by Dylan among others. For I, Stagolee Cecil turned the lyrics into a historical novel of nineteenth-century St. Louis pimp culture, forerunner of the world of Hustle and Flow.

Then we did an essay book based on a newspaper article, Dude, Where’s My Black Studies Department (see Chapter Nine), and we reissued Cecil’s sixties novel about African-American male identity, a Tom Jones-like romp of an erotically adventurous black man, the pseudonymous “George Washington” through Europe.  Its first time around, this historic blockbuster turned an ugly epithet into a sobriquet of ethnic pride: The Life and Loves of Mr. Jiveass Nigger.  In that form it helped birth the rap era. Henry Louis Gates supplied a long personal and analytical foreword for our 2008 edition, depicting the book as a bible of black identity for him and his generation in their youth.

A major source of books for our press has been the prominent Berkeley bodyworker, Michael Salveson.  A senior Rolfer and a very literate man, Michael has surprisingly not yet written his own book but has directed trauma-therapist Peter Levine, chi-gung master Bruce Kumar Frantzis, acupuncturist Joe Helms, and fellow Rolfers Art Riggs, Georgette Delvaux (his own wife), and Jeffrey Maitland, among others, to North Atlantic.  Some of these authors have sent us other authors, and so on.  Michael has been, in effect, a senior editor at large for us since the mid-nineties.

John Todd, our first alternate-technology author, taught at Goddard in the Social Ecology program at the same time that I did in the 1970s.  Another key Vermont connection from that era was Ellias Lonsdale whom I met as “William” after he bought some books by me in 1974 at a store in Plainfield and then came by my house to visit.  An anthroposophist and astrologer, he has published numerous significant books with us.  Though none has been commercial, his work informed an entire idioscynratic esoteric path of our publishing, leading in 2008 to Mark Borax’s 2012. More on Ellias and those esoteric books in the ensuing chapters, and more on Mark particularly in Chapter Twenty.

Farting and its Sagas and Subplots

I will tell the short version of the tale of Walter the Farting Dog and his offspring pups here and the long version in Chapters Eighteen and Nineteen:

Lindy and I met Richard Handel,[5] a consciousness networker and New Age merchant, in 1996 on Mount Desert Island[6] in Maine where, twenty-seven years earlier, I had done the afore-mentioned fieldwork with fishermen.  We made this return trip to MDI after Lindy’s and my thirtieth college reunions in Massachusetts on the invitation of Wendell Seavey, who summoned us to a gathering in Tremont for the purpose of us getting together with a countercultural community that had grown up in our long absence from the area.

The next day, as out-of-town publishers visiting Eden Rising, Richard’s bookstore and New Age boutique on Cottage Street in Bar Harbor, we identified ourselves to a clerk, and were introduced at once to the owner.  We became friends almost on the spot

After playing Twenty Questions with us (he promised we would never guess), Richard handed us his surprise runaway bestseller, a ridiculous book called Fart Proudly by Benjamin Franklin.  FP is an idiosyncratic collection of Franklin’s essays and letters curated by Carl Japiske of Enthea Press in Georgia.  At first glance I found the book an uninspired collection of random Franklin; a more thorough perusal indicated that it had zero to do with farting except for a sassy aside by the Founding Father at the end of a letter.

But it was Richard’s belief, based on his success with the book—a thousand or more copies a year from a small shop in which books overall were a distant tenth to crystals, masks, high-end stuffed animals, didgeridoos, imported clothes, local pottery, Putamayo CDs, etc.—that the word “fart” in a title guaranteed huge sales.  When I remarked that Fart Proudly had nothing to do with farting, he smiled and said, “You miss the point.  No one reads it.  It’s just the idea of it being by Ben Franklin.  They buy it for table decoration, as a gift, a novelty.”

For several summers after meeting Richard, we stayed with him and his wife Marilyn in Somesville for a week or so per visit, sometimes informally house-hunting with the Handels, looking for an East Coast base.  Our first two choices were the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires (Maine was, at best, a distant fourth option behind also the Montpelier area of Vermont).  In 2000 we almost bought a house in Kingston, New York, near the Stein-Quasha-Kelly enclaves.  In August we were back in Maine, and Richard tried to convince us that Mount Desert was where we should spend time each year.  He was informally creating a spiritual and literary community comprised of local and part-time “summer” people, and he regularly brought Buddhist, Hindu, and freelance teachers to give talks and workshops.  It was not only one of his life missions to introduce the right people to one another; he had an uncanny intuition about who should connect.  He set up many a meeting for unsuspecting folks and gave huge parties bordering on festivals to that end, including fire ceremonies and other season-honoring rituals.  A true New Age mensch, he also found jobs, lodging, and money for people in need—and, at the same time, he was a metaphysical gadlfy and shameless tease.

On the day that we finally came up with an affordable old farmhouse in Southwest Harbor and made an offer on it, Richard had already scheduled an evening party with the express intention of getting us together with noted hermit and curmudgeon William Kotzwinkle and his wife Elizabeth.  Kotzwinkle, a successful novelist and successful children’s storyteller, was the author of the literarily renowned Fan Man and Doctor Rat. He had been hired long ago by Steven Spielberg, a fan of his writings, to novelize E. T.: The Extraterrestrial, which is how a one-time Lower East Side hippie artist could afford prime ocean-front property on Mount Desert.

Bill had composed (with his Canadian buddy Glenn Murray) the text for a quirky children’s book that they had named Walter the Farting Dog; it was about a pouch that they both knew when they lived near each other in Fredericton, New Brunswick. No one had illustrated the story yet, and for eight years Bill’s erstwhile agent had been unable to find a publisher willing to take on the scandalous project, despite selling several of Bill’s other children’s books and novels during that time.

What was pre-planned that night, unbeknownst to Lindy and me, was that Bill was arriving at Richard’s house with the text of Walter the Farting Dog (and another, out-of-print children’s book, The Return of Crazy Horse).  After dessert Handel and Kotzwinkle were going to make a joint presentation to us.

At that point, Walter consisted, unimpressively, of a printout of a single page.  The narrative told of a dog from a pound that embarrassed a family who adopted it by its hellacious farts; it was about to be returned when he foiled a pair of burglars by doing his thing.  Ha ha ha!

The plot sounded silly and contrived, and we didn’t want to have anything to do with it, especially the expensive process of getting the meager conceit illustrated and turned into a real book.

The story of how we ended up publishing Walter and the outcome is told in full in Chapter Nineteen.  In short for here, Walter appeared in October 2001 and, despite the dark national mood of post-9/11 gloom and economic turn-down, the farting cur sold astonishingly well out the gate.  A first print run of 5000 turned out to be ludicrously inadequate, so did a second, immediate run of 25,000 and, later, a third of 50,000, all within the first six months.  The second run hadn’t even shipped when we put in our order for a third.  Walter peaked as the best-selling children’s picture book in the United States in 2003.

After we put ourselves into this bizarre market, we were flooded with “bodily products” books, from Boogers for Breakfast and Velma the Vomiting Vulture to Billy the Belching Baboon and Kelly’s Not So Smelly, all of which we turned down.  We did, however, develop two projects of our own: The Spitting Twins by Andrea Jones, illustrated by Greg Kulka, and Little Lord Farting Boy by the pseudonymous Scootchy Turdlow, illustrated by Patti Argoff.  For all intents and purposes, these might as well not have been published, as they each sold only a carton or so of books before being remaindered.

Here be the lesson: Walter notwithstanding, the market doesn’t want farting books for children—a likely reason why Kotzwinkle had such trouble hawking Walter to publishers in the first place (most large houses turned it down at least twice before we published it).  The topic is not intrinsically winning or popular, and it comes with occupational hazards.  In some conservative circles, there have even, in fact, been evangelical protests regarding our “farting dog” such that the book has been driven out of a few Midwestern and Southern libraries and bookstores and stirred up local controversies.  Parents have checked out and then destroyed copies.  You would think from such reactions that we had set off a different four-letter f-bomb.

In certain uptight so-called religious circles, there seems no capacity for humor or irony or to recognize the difference between, on the one hand, six-year-olds’ slapstick and, on the other, sexual obscenity and pornography.  Burglars and smells!  Duh!

Chainstores in particular would prefer not to engage with farting any more than they have to and theyu were slow to get on board even after we began selling Walter in legion elsewhere. Now they have to carry it because of its track record, but they will exact a penance from any other children’s farting (or spitting or nose-picking or bodily-functions) titles they don’t have to oblige.

Both The Spitting Twins and Little Lord Farting Boy are viable books in their own right.  The latter combines the dry humor, childlike fantasy, and wacky illustrations of Walter with our top niche: martial arts.[7] The main character, after being taunted for his flatulence, learns t’ai chi, defeats his opponents with moves learned from a Chinese master, gives his farts a martial name, and then gets his malady cured by the master who brews him an herbal formula.

I am willing to concede that the market doesn’t want Little Lord Farting Boy, the young t’ai chi whiz.  The publishing lesson here must be that somehow a quirkily drawn farting dog and an association of farting with one of our founding fathers must tweak people’s interests (and scale their boundary of prudishness) in a way that the overall topic doesn’t.

Once we had a success with Walter, Richard urged us to try to obtain the rights to Fart Proudly. I looked for Enthea online—they were a small publishing company that specializes in novelty books, for instance an entire “Assholes” series with titles like Asshole No More, The Asshole Conspiracy, and Assholes Forever.

I initially demurred on the basis that no small independent publisher wants another, larger small independent publisher coming after their books.  I certainly don’t and I get quite insulted when editors from New York artlessly try take our own books away from us.  But, as before, as always, Richard had more foresight than me, and Carl Japiske was quite happy to copublish his two best farting books with us, the other being The Zen of Farting by Reepah Gudwan (get it?), a pseudonymous monk.

One other raunchy book in this genre that we published came from the ninety-year-old self-proclaimed king of farting. “You better hurry because of my age,” he warned.  But all of our hemming and hawing about whether to keep putting out this sort of raunchy corn, with the PGW bankruptcy in the mix at that time, led to Don Nibbelink passing before we got his volume out.  His widow says that he is enjoying it in heaven.

I’m not much for farting jokes but, if they’re your fare, Fearsome Folklore is blue-ribbon shit, classifying farts by their sound, force, and texture; relating a litany of corny jokes and limericks; and surveying farting lore from all over the Earth: the Pacific Islands, Africa, American Indians, and the Middle Ages.

May Don rest in peace and likewise this topic on our list.

The Search for a Crystal Book/Heaven and Earth Publishing

The North Atlantic crystal grail had something, of course, to do with the growing New Age popularity of crystals as nodes of therapeutic and geo-psychic energy, but it didn’t start there.  It arose from a childhood infatuation of mine with the shapes and colors of stones going back to my rock collection in high school.  During those years I liked to visit the Museum of Natural History a few blocks from our apartment in New York City and stare at the display cases.  I looked at some crystals so long that I virtually memorized them like iconic baseball cards.  Eventually I made friends with one of the geologists in the back office and brought him park and country rocks on a couple of occasions to identify or check against my own stabs at classification.

Crystals as much as celestial bodies formed the heart of Io’s Ethnoastronomy Issue in 1968, for I attempted to bring together stones, stars, planets, petroglyphs, topographies, and topologies in series of poems, interviews, and collages centered around geometry and morphology under a loose theme of—ethnoastronomy is just ethnogeology and ethnocrystallography writ large and set in the sky.

Io/6 included our first piece by Charles Olson (“The Animate Versus The Mechanical, and Thought,” an essay on the roles of turgor, tropism, and phenomenology in the evolution of form).  As described in Chapter Two, the issue also featured interviews with two University of Michigan professors—Paul Cloke, a crystallographer, on homologies, internal symmetry, fourfold axes, axes of rotation, refractive indices, etc., and Fred Haddock, an astrophysicist, on the organization of the Jovian subplanetary system of moons and its radio properties.  I decorated the Ethnoastronomy pages with crystals, horns, spider webs, insects, botanical umbels, snowflakes, underwater plants, Hebrew letters, baseball box scores, micro-maps, and American Indian buffalo-hide constellations in an attempt to explore the hidden numerological and magical connections among these diverse shapes and developmental patterns.

Having launched the topic of crystals into our own little sector of the countercultural grid, somehow over the next thirty years we lost the thread of crystal magic and cosmology.  Nothing of “crystal topic” substance beyond Io/6 ever crossed the threshold of North Atlantic Books, but dozens of other successful crystal titles filled the market, many of them little more than gem “People Magazines.”

For NAB it was: t’ai chi yes; crystals no.

Sometimes the enthusiasm and originality with which you percipiently grab an obscure topic and bring it to light dissolve thereafter in a confusion of irrelevant landmarks and distractions.  Meanwhile, in another match you become the tortoise whizzing past the hare.  We who were self-anointed crystal and Dreamtime nerds more than “carry tiger to mountain” warriors very early somehow became the king of the martial-arts hill while getting wiped out in the crystal and Australian Aborigine wars.

When Lindy and I traveled to England for the first time in 1998, in the bookstore at Glastonbury, one of the key hillocks in the sacred-geometry grid, I found myself browsing the widest and most diverse landscape of pop and naturalistic crystal books that I had ever seen, many of them self-published.  After I scribbled down a few names and addresses of publishers on a sheet of paper borrowed from the proprietor, I went on a new quest for a crystal book of our own, marked by an unsuccessful series of attempts to convince a few of the best of the self-published authors to copublish with us or let us to buy rights.  Over six years I came close twice but no cigar.

These crystal entrepreneurs were for the most part doing too well with their wares and rightly did not want to let go, even a little, or share in the revenue with a stranger, and the books were—sour grapes perhaps—all a little simplistic and shallow anyway.

The idea had lapsed into total dormancy by the summer of 2006 when Lindy and I headed out from our Maine house one morning on a July road trip through New England.  Our first planned stop that evening was East Montpelier, the house of old friends from our seventies Vermont years, Pat and Sue Biggam.

On our way toward turning west toward New Hampshire, we stopped at a New Age book and crystal shop in Bangor, about an hour and fifteen minutes north of our starting point.  Silo Seven was so named because it was situated originally in one of the missile silos ringing Bangor, installations that NORAD ceded to the city when the Cold War ended.  It had recently moved downtown.  Lisa, the owner, managed a hundred or so of our books on consignment because she couldn’t afford the cash outlay for that level of stock.

While I was hanging out with her, counting the inventory, Lindy noticed a center-pieced book on crystals and, after thumbing through it, handed it to me with a comment that it looked really great.  From my own quick scan I could tell that it was a revelation—more intelligent and better written, and more deeply spiritual, than anything I had encountered in Glastonbury—and it had photographs as luminous as the best of those.  I checked out the publisher to see who they were and where they were located, and was stunned: Heaven and Earth, East Montpelier, Vermont—precisely where we were headed!  This was too blatant a signpost to ignore.

When we got to the BIggams’ house later that night, I looked up Heaven and Earth in the Montpelier phone book and left a message on a business answering machine.

Bob Simmons, one of the authors of the book, called me back a few hours later, musing that it must have been fate because he never checked his work messages during the weekend but was bidden to do so this time by, at best, murky glimmerings.  We agreed to have dinner early Sunday evening with him and his wife, Kathy.  They, like Lindy and me, were a couple sharing the role of publishers.

At five we met in Montpelier outside the Pearl of Siam; in fact, we opened its doors.

A brief back story: Our “hurt book” dealer, Ed Mondazzi, who runs a book and crystal emporium in Windsor, Connecticut (see Chapter Fifteen), had warned us by phone a day earlier that Bob was a hustler and to watch myself carefully in our negotiations, “If you could turn shit hard and polish it,” he declared, “Bob would call it shittite and channel it.”

Yet right from the get-go we found no one remotely resembling Ed’s boogeyman.  Simmons and Warner were mellow, charming people; delightful to converse with.  They were also quite discriminating in how they tuned into crystal energies without falling for associated New Age pap.  They had done their homework and lived their beliefs; that was obvious in every disclosure, every nuance of speech.  They were wise and word-conscious throwback to the poets of old Io days.

In Heaven and Earth’s house cosmology the Earth was a great crystal tuned at the frequencies of different stones; people were crystals too who could be sensitized to higher vibrations and inner transformation by contact with the right stones under the right circumstances.  They recognized that our own synchronous connection innately karmic, and, shittite or not, Bob was generous and respectful.  Heaven and Earth not only published books but ran a big crystal warehouse, shop, and jewelry-making factory in East Montpelier and they also had a lot to say too about right livelihood and spiritual commerce—no hustle in it at all, at least that I could discern.

Kathy was a significator for the Queen of Pentacles from the Waite tarot.  Bob reminded me a little of the witty father who founded the funeral home on Six Feet Under, just a wee bit, a first impression that faded more into a tall leprechaun over time.  He was a jeweler with a Yale degree who had made a gradual life transition from skeptic/agnostic to seeker focusing on esoteric energies and the powers of gems, partly with the help of Kathy, an electrical engineer who been aware of her own psychic powers since childhood and had come out as a medium.  In fact, she had been a buddy of seminal Io poet Gerrit Lansing, and the two had shared their psychic experiences and even played cards together in an otherwise-male group back in the days when she lived in Gloucester, which, as the home of Charles Olson, was also the mythological source city of our publishing.

Robert and Kathy met in Gloucester twenty years earlier.  It was there that they founded their crystal shop, Heaven and Earth, which became the genesis of their publishing and gem businesses.  Initiating each other, they began to channel the hidden universe most associated at the time with Pleiadians and the Harmonic Convergence.  About ten years younger than us, they raised two kids together from former marriages.  The older, her son, was an environmental biologist like our son Robin, and the younger, yes, was (although still a college student) a film-maker like our daughter Miranda; his name was Moebius.

The synchronicity vortex entered at Silo Seven continued to be sustained: Gerrit, Gloucester, and our kids; add sharing the same Vermont landscape at different times; and we had our own Crystal Convergence/Morphic Resonance.

Bobkat’s[8] “house” gem and microcosmic link to the avatars was moldavite, a green meteoric stone said to bear and conduct energy and intelligence from greater macocosmic spheres onto the Earth.  Moldavite was an extraterrestrial touchstone self-seeded on Gaia to hasten galactic intelligence and accelerate human evolution.  It had also chaperoned Bob and Kathy’s relationship, bringing them together in a crescent of magic.

Alas, like the crystal entrepreneurs we discovered at Glastonbury, the Bobkats were doing so well with their crystals, jewelry, and books that they hardly needed us.  Of course, technically we didn’t need them either, but synergy was afoot, so we decided to explore a connection if we could. Reconnoitering back at the cars after the meal, we exchanged wares that we had each published, and they also gave Lindy some stones to wear.

We met again in Maine in August, as Kathy and Robert drove over to a party we threw at our house when our kids were visiting with their partners, and they brought Moebius to meet Miranda.  Miranda reported this conversation later:

Moe: “What do you think of all the ridiculous stuff our parents are involved in, all this New Age garbage?”

Mir: “I think it’s probably good for them.”

Bob, Kathy, and Moe stayed at an inn in town so that we could have time the next day to meet and talk privately.  In the morning the three of us (me with the Heaven and Earth copublishers) hiked up Beech Cliffs from the Acadia parking lot on Beech Hill Road.  There we sat in a buffeting wind on the small mountain, close to fast-moving clouds, nibbling huckleberries, for three thorny hours, trying to enact the elusive art of the deal.

I had managed to poke a Q-tip too far into my left ear the night before, something I had avoided all my life to that point (it’s part of the user’s manual for human bodies: when relieving ear itches, don’t insert objects and certainly not past the failsafe point).  I was plagued by ringing noises, and the day was colder than the seasonal norm.  In other words, there was plenty of static and opposition.

Operating now outside of synchronicity or a universe showering us with blessings, we were attempting hard contractual yoga under handicaps.  For a long time it seemed hopeless; they didn’t want to give up their baby, and I couldn’t tolerate any arrangement that let them bail whenever they fancied, a deal that could be broken at any time—for instance, because the book had become more successful, hence valuable.[9] Yet I was challenged by the problem of crafting some sort of agreement, and I turned the elusive equation like a Chinese puzzle over and over and around in all directions.  As long as we remained engaged on the mountain and were coming up with new paradigms, we thus encouraged to keep talking.

I followed my implicit rule that it is always better to achieve accord, do a deal, even a bad deal, even at a huge disadvantage, than to lose the opportunity and the chance to collaborate.  Bob and Kathy must have had some sort of similar belief system of their own because they stayed at it too despite the discouraging circles in which we centrifuged.  They wanted to help create larger network too, yet they didn’t want to give up up their independence or control or their sense of ownership of their own rightful project.

No matter how much we agreed on the harmonies among us and the potential opportunities in working together, the ends didn’t quite meet.   Bob, as well as being a psychic, was a stubborn negotiator, a little bit of Ed’ shittite king.  Every proposal I lobbed his and Kathy’s way, from his standpoint, had them giving up too much money and too much control over the fate of their book to us in order to copublish.

“I want to,” Bob finally said.  “I really like you and what you’re doing, and I appreciate your obvious generosity, but this is the first time we’ve had a bestselling book and we want to enjoy it.  I don’t mean to sound crass and commercial, but why split what I already have?  It is the real world too.  And you do have to convince me.  I mean, I’m a Missouri boy; you know, the ‘show me’ state.”

I totally empathized.  Yet for most of three hours I failed to come up with enough concrete gains to get him over the hump.  It seemed as though, after a while under these strictures, the only way to catalyze a partnership was from the unknown promise and future virtues of a business partnership.  That sometimes does make things coalesce magically, as both partners find a way to yield at the brink to make it happen.  And sometimes it doesn’t.

I have always believed that all negotiations have solutions and, if you intend to make a deal, you will find the way.  You just have to keep traipsing over the landscape and trust to the Force to show where the opening is, the path through the prickly energy field.  Finally I thought of a treasure to trade back to Heaven and Earth, something very close to what had worked with the Upledger Institute, leaving them the basic revenues of the captive sales they already had.  We would cede to them the lion’s share of markets they had developed on their own.

“Now that’s intriguing,” Bob said after a long pondering of my new offer.  They cogitated on it, looked at each there on rock ledge, and, after several minutes, agreed that they couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  “You seem to have broken the deadlock,” Bob finally pronounced. “When you told me that you were good at thinking up models that worked, frankly I didn’t believe you.  I had reached the point where I just wanted to walk away friends and was stalling for time.”

I don’t think that it was anything more, on my part, than sheer persistence, the joy of the game, and the precedent of dozens of other successful copublishing templates to light the way.

In fact, it still took months of back-and-forth nitty-gritty work to put together a contract interlaced with mutual compromises at all levels, and even then, some of our staff are shocked to this day that I gave up so much, and it remains stuck in a few people’s craws.  Yes, I did give up “too much,” but in the first year we sold 15,000 copies of Book of Stones. The alternative for us would have been easy: to “win” the argument and have gotten us a hundred hypothetical percent, a hundred percent of zero.  The real future of the book anyway lay not as much in the accounts which Heaven and Earth was already selling but in markets that we and Random House might open.

And what difference did it make to us in the long run?  A few pennies—or a few thousand dollars—lost one place can always be made up elsewhere.  In the meantime we added a very special title.  No wasted time, no pig-headed “play by my rules or we’re not going to play” concession of a great book.  We had crystals, but more important: we gained wonderful new allies and cohorts in the process.  And The Book of Stones was followed a few years later by Bob’s masterpiece, Stone of the New Consciousness: Healing, Awakening & Co-creating with Crystals, Minerals & Gems. We had out Glastonburied Glastonbury on the crystal front.

The money was secondary; it always is.

During the next few years in Maine Lindy and I took an autumn trip to Vermont, staying with Robert and Kathy before flying back to California.  Each visit we found some new authors:

•Crystal Madeira who, when we first made touch with her was running a catering service in Montpelier and was in the process of writing The New Seaweed Cookbook. By the time that we published her book, she had opened her own natural-foods restaurant called Kismet near the giant food co-op.

•Poet Charlie Barasch with whom I played pick-up softball during the seventies and who appeared in the original baseball anthologies.  He arrived at a 2007 party at Robert and Kathy’s, bearing a book of poems.  I had warned him, “No, we can’t do anything with pure poetry by an unknown sedentary poet.”

To that he said, “I have the one poetry book that breaks the rule.”  I was curious to see what it is.  A year later he was reading from our North Atlantic version at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.  Published during the election drama of 2008, Dreams of the Presidents offered an authentically dreamable dream (followed by back-up historical commentary on the dream’s content) for every U.S. president from Washington to George W.  The son of a psychotherapist, Charlie turned out to be the rare artist who could implode Freudian oneirological densities backwards from life data.  Too bad it didn’t find a market.

•Robert Sardello began his therapeutic career as an existental- phenomenological therapist, then developed that into archetypal therapy, and now he has moved into what is a new field—spiritual therapeutics.  He remains a prominent Hillman-circle Jungian analyst too.  In 2007 he was running his own press called Goldenstone in North Carolina and conducting seminars on the practice of love and ethics in personal and work life. Robert and Kathy hooked us up long-distance, and we copublished a book (three ways: H & E, NAB, and Goldenstone).[10] The full-color project had as its text a spiritual analysis of the images and symbols of a visionary and mysterious painter: The Unknown Hieronymus Bosch by Kurt Falk.  Since then we have copublished several Jungian titles with Goldenstone, three by Mr. Sardello, Silence, Love and the Soul, and a forthcoming book on meditating on and with crystals, Steps on the Stone Path, in which the author distinguishes between wishful New Age projections onto crystals and actual attempts to communicate with the stone consciousness of the Earth.

The second time that we stayed with Robert and Kathy in 2008, Robert S. flew from North Carolina to Burlington and hung out with us for several days during which we brainstormed copublishing involving the Cathars, reincarnation, the British physician-initiate Arthur Guirdham, our author Ellias Lonsdale, and a strange book about a Christlike intelligence and beings of light who visited Russian political prisoners in a cave during the fifties: The Mysterious Story of X7: Exploring the Spiritual Nature of Matter.

•Robert and Kathy knew Daniel Deardorf, author of The Other Within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture, and Psyche, a man confined to a wheelchair from childhood polio, yet a successful rock musician and spirited performer.  Bob played Dan’s CD for us (a few bands of which, including “Earth Father,” “Mirrors,” “Burning Windows, are now on my iPod).  We decided to re-release his book together.

•Rod McIver, a native Canadian artist, is publisher of Heron Dance Press.  While Lindy and I were eating lunch in Kismet and browsing Crystal’s restaurant library, L discovered the products of Heron Dance, a nature and ecology-oriented publisher in North Ferrisburg, Vermont: a sort regional Sierra Club Books.  I liked the content and feel and called the press later that afternoon on the off chance of doing some copublishing.

A day later Lindy and I met Rod at Border’s in Burlington, and there and later we gradually assembled joint-venture project that involved republishing as many as eleven titles in three categories: works of historically prominent nature writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry Thoreau; memoirs of the Canadian Northwest Territories (True North by Elliott Merrick and A Death on the Barrens by George Grinnell); and environmental and ecological anthologies.  Rod’s art and design, a huge part of the books’ appeal, were retained and enhanced..

•Eric Segalstad (and Josh Hunter) are artists and rock-music historians who have created an initial concept called “the 27s”—products about musicians who died in their 27th year, one of which is a high-design book mixing biography, cultural history, numerology, and astrology, splicing narrative and art together in semi-psychedelic overlays and dropped-out and silhouetted color.  We met Eric, a young Norwegian musician and entrepreneur, at dinner with the Biggams on our second (2008) trip to Vermont.   Bearing an advance galley of the book, Eric came by toward dessert as the boyfriend of the Biggams’ younger daughter.  From there, a discussion of the publishing industry morphed, over months, into a co-venture.


The point is less these individual ties and more the way that a multidimensional tapestry forms through sustained intention to practice and process.  The key is maintaining friendships and communication, being receptive to intelligence sources beyond one’s own, and having the desire and discipline to make the available links and keep drawing their threads together.  As the threads cross at multiple points, gradually a nondiscursive pattern forms.  That is the logos and entelechy that drives an independent press.  It is the way that you sew individual threads into a fabric and a brand.

Chapter 8: The North Atlantic Books List 2: Major Categories of Publishing | Table of Contents


One other classmate from way back then, Mark Weiss, resurfaced a few years ago to offer us an anthology of Cuban poetry and then just as promptly took it elsewhere with what I would call a figurative dismissive grunt.
Ian later edited one of the CIIS-copublished anthologies with Don Hanlon Johnson: The Body in Psychotherapy.
After Bruce Klickstein was stripped of his black belt in the mid-eighties for an affair with an under-aged student, the North Atlantic home office (and Cody’s Bookstore too) were besieged with phone calls insisting that we destroy “the child molester’s book.” I finally told the most persistent caller that I had looked through the pages carefully and found it was all aikido instruction, no child molestation—freedom of speech and all, even for criminals—and that they should leave Cody’s alone because some of the major authors in the Western World had less than spotless careers in the sexual domain and were far more dangerous in their day than Bruce ever was.  Plus it was only a charge; it never went to a judge or jury of his peers.  Bruce nonetheless dropped out of the mainline aikido world.
When a book is published immediately without preannouncement or advance sales, it is called a drop-in.
Sadly Handel died in a car accident in 2002. A spiritual adept and philanthropist, he is much missed in the Mount Desert community. I have written a back story about his life and death, which is also an account of Mount Desert Island, the characters who live there, and the mystique and sacred geography of the place. For a few of the mysteries of Mount Desert and tales of Handel, Walter co-writer Bill Kotzwinkle, and our late Mount Desert author, Chris Kaiser (The Chakra System of Mount Desert Island) who drowned during a vision quest among those chakras, see my book On the Integration of Nature, Post-9/11 Biopolitical Notes, pp. 213-236.
Mount Desert is the site of Acadia, a gem of the National Park system. Because of the causeway leading onto it, it is no longer an island in any functional sense.
Of course, being in two niches at the same time is not necessarily a good thing and certainly does not guarantee that you will sell more books because you have two audiences to draw on, as many authors believe it should. Being in two niches may mean that you fail in both of them, having made a book (like the afore-mentioned Waiting Game) that straddles the line and doesn’t commit either way.
Email-ese for Bob and Kat(hy).
A few years later associate publisher Doug Reil came up with perfect language for this: The agreement may not be dissolved frivolously by either party or to enable one party to gain undue assets or avoid fair losses at the other party’s expense.
By the way, Goldenstone and Heaven and Earth also copublish other titles, including an anthroposophical cookbook, without us.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed December 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Enjoyed your writing about Grossinger’s Hotel. I worked there in the mid seventies as a night auditor. It was a great experience living and working there. I especially recall with gratitude how well employees were treated. I felt like a guest. I lived on the top floor of Milton Berle Building. Employee dining room had great food and even waiters. I went on from there to manage and now own my own hotel. Your family business taught me how to treat employees. It was a great lesson that I went on to learn is rarely copied. I would love to visit Grossinger’s one day. Great memories indeed.

Polly Hough November 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Thanks to Richard and responders for an interesting dialogue, some of which seems helpful, but too much seeking to blame Hillary for losing, when she fought as hard as she could to continue what she could of Obama’s Legacy, which has benefited many, though not enough. Thanks also to Congress! I do wonder about her handlers and advisors’ thinking. Trump’s smoke screen of scandalous comments has obscured our view, and perhaps obscured the complexity of the problems. Hillary has apologized for her errors, and had the right to her point of view. I do wish that she had embraced more heartily Sanders’ populist approach and even chosen him to be her Vice Presidential contender, but I think they still might have lost. She had a workable platform, he had charisma and slogans. With work, they could have unified their vision. But neither addressed the “rigging” that I see Republicans do every day here in Utah. Is it so common that we don’t see it?
I suspect the truth of why the Democrats lost lies in the systematic cheating that the Republicans set up long ago, which was not sufficiently revealed and decried. It is time to read Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s,” The Flip & Strip Death of American Democracy…”, ( and look into the rigging in each state, particularly those key ones that lost her the election. She didn’t lose by that much if you face up to the weak democratic institutions we have going, and the way it allows the Electoral College system to malfunction without corrective. Let’s quit grieving and get to work fixing the damn thing. Too much is at stake. Trump’s finger should not be on the Nuclear button.

Linda November 18, 2016 at 3:15 pm

I just finished Ron Sieh’s book and would love to take lessons from him. Can you tell me where is and if he’s teaching?

Vegeko December 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm

You can find pictures of here. Should I aemttpt to preface the city of a hundred spires, its lovely architecture cannot be forgotten. Search in your memory for a name of any style you can think of. Prague will almost certainly have some landmark to offer – be it from hundreds of years ago such as Romanesque rotunda or from numerous eras spanning centuries. The latter can be represented by the picturesque Prague Castle with its truly magnificent St Vitus’s Cathedral or the tiny (and that is probably one of the reasons why) fairy-tale like Golden Lane. The same applies to architectonic landmarks “remembering” merely several decades such as the precious Cubist pearls scattered here and there in Prague’s winding streets, buildings, , theaters, museums.

Richard Grossinger August 16, 2015 at 3:50 pm

Thanks for the comment. It was meant to serve a healing function itself, as there is not really a general cure for optical migraines. But no, I don’t have a lot of specific or topic-oriented feedback. Most of it is on the same level of yours: general usefulness of the book. As probably goes without saying (from my quotes and bibliography), I consider Oliver Sacks’ book Migraine very useful, but the best one is a book that our press published for which Sacks wrote the preface: Migraine Art. It is more than a picture book; it goes into great detail on the categories of auras and their effects. Richard

Jackie Perkins August 16, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Hi Richard,
I read your book about migraine auras several years ago and have reread it several
times. Thank you so much for writing it as it helps me when I have a bout of
auras with very little headache. I was wondering if you have had a lot feedback
from fellow sufferers and if you have learned anything more about them since
the book was written. Can you refer me to any other sources to help me make
peace or get rid to them completely.
Any comments will be appreciated,\.

Jacqueline phillips December 29, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Thanks for sharing. Raised in the village of Liberty. Worked the switchboard at the G as a teenager. Went to school with Sandy. Sad it did not continue.

david hovey August 27, 2014 at 9:40 am

my mother and aunt were bauer sisters..founder of lpga golf association..i spent many summers up there..great..miss it

Richard Grossinger May 22, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Dear Jim, Thanks for writing. You were really there at the core of my time, a rare thing. I don’t specifically remember you, though. Let me know if you want the two books, New Moon and/or Out of Babylon, as I can send them for just the cost of the postage. Richard

jim blankenship May 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I enjoyed reading about your family and experience at Grossingers. I worked there, along with Teddy Howard, as the house photographer from 1958-1961. It was quite an experience meeting and photographing many of the celebrities and sports figures. I had been on the staff at NY Daily news in the city prior to this so I enjoyed the life in Liberty and Sullivan Co. My wife and I live in Atlanta now. We were married in Liberty in 1960……. Jim Blankenship AP Photographer,retired

Richard Grossinger January 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

Thanks, Kris. I have send the review around to our staff, and there is even some tentative thought about including it as a foreword to one of the two 50th-anniversary Io anthologies that we are releasing next year (2015). If we were to pursue that, would you like to rewrite it or perhaps punctuate it more conventionally (close open parentheses, etc.)?
I’d be curious to know your actual critique of my political statements. You don’t actually say, taking it for granted that it is obvious, though part of your point is that it isn’t obvious to me, and it isn’t. I can guess, but I could easily be wrong. For instance, it isn’t actually clear that you are not the Australian (or other) offended equivalent of a Conservative Republican.
Although I do pose those arguments seriously, they are also at the level of myth, and I speak to that occasionally. I have no special insight into political matters, but I do throw myself into the mythology for what it expresses. I think that one can be literally “wrong” and still mythologically accurate. For instance, in the case of Obama, he is not literally who I have portrayed him as, but the myth is still authentic. In that regard, you might note my Facebook post on him recently, also on this website.
Also ironically enough in this regard, enough people are ONLY reading the political parts of my writing, enough so that Andrew Harvey has urged me to collect them in their own book as part of his Spiritual Activism imprint. This doesn’t make me any less off-base any more than that that refutation is obvious.
No complain here. I’m just interested to know what you are actually saying. I have spent most of my life in America, whether in compliance or reaction.
The whole “Ken Wilber” thing is an interesting story of its own, far too labyrinthine to tell. The very short version of it is that a writer friend in Maine with whom I occasionally hiked and whose work I supported and helped get published suddenly went ballistic against me and not only made those comments about me and Wilber, which I paraphrased, but wrote such, strong threatening emails that friends I showed them to urged me to take them to the police. They were what mafia might write.
The thing that set him off was that after a hike I naively wrote a piece (like many of the other pieces in 2013 and Bardo of Waking Life) about the events on the hike and our dialogue and then sent it to him (from NYC en route back to California) with the idea that he and I might collaborate on a piece about our experiences that day. Making him a character in my piece, even though it was informal and unpublished and I was offering him an edit and a collaboration, had the effect of triggering a response so extreme that I didn’t actually believe he was serious at first. I apologized profusely, trashed the piece, and yet the emails kept coming, up to the “mafia” level. What made this all the more inexplicable was the fact that prior to my transgression in writing the piece, he had been a good friend, and I had been pretty much his main supporter in the larger world, finding him a venue in which to publish.
Now that’s the shell of the story, and the piece you comment on came out of that, is my displaced response to it. I didn’t want to repeat the original error by being any more specific and singling him out in any way. The underlying issues are probably of a whole different order.
Since then, we have mellowed out, though are no longer friends and don’t hike together anymore. Meanwhile I have had a lot of indirect contact with Wilber in the sense that two of his main students who live in the Bay Area have read Dark Pool of Light and consider it relevant to the Wilber tradition and thus have spent time with me, talking. So right after I declared myself completely separate from all that, I got brought back into it in more benign and pleasant terms.
I hope that you take a look at Dark Pool, as what I began in 2013 is brought to its culmination in there. Really what my work is about, and what I make my stand on, is not the political ideology or even the literary voice so much, but the cosmic vision, and then putting it into viable literary form. I will post this on Facebook too. Richard

Kris Hemensley January 6, 2014 at 12:47 am

I’m amazed & humbled at yr reprinting of my review… Thank you. Looking forward to reading you anew in 2014! Cheers, Kris Hemensley

Richard Grossinger September 16, 2013 at 4:21 am

They have not been updated, but I have started work on a fourth volume posted on this website. Also the fourth volume is really now the “fifth”
volume because I have rewritten The Night Sky as a de facto fourth volume. It will be out next spring. See the home page of this site for a table of contents. Also I will continue to post interviews with me about the books, audio, video, and text. Thanks for reading them and for inquiring.

Jim Weddington September 16, 2013 at 3:31 am

I have all three volumes of “Dark Pools of Light” in nook book format. I recently heard that this trilogy has been up dated. If so I would like to recieve the update in the nook format. If this is possible.

I have been having some problems with emails. So if you can’t reach
me by email try.

Jim Weddington
105 LaGrange St.
Newnan, GA 30263


Jim Weddington

105 LaGrange St.

Richard Grossinger July 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Dolores, thanks for the touching thoughts. Time does move remarkably fast, especially because it never stops, even for an instant. But it may not be linear, so those times are still alive somewhere in the universe, as you will be.

Dolores Levine Seiler July 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Dear Richard, I enjoyed reading your piece. For me it was nostalgia and sadness, not only for Grossinger’s but for my life which is also nearing its end. My father was Lazarus Levine, and my husband, Seymour Seiler, married me at the hotel in 1953. He was an architect and worked with Harry. My son, now 56, had his Bar Mitzvah celebration at Grossinger’s. My daughter learned how to ice skate and ski at the hotel. I am sorry that my grandchildren could not particpate in the “Jewish” celebrations that were so wonderful there.

Richard Grossinger May 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Well said. Thanks for the comments.

Carol Malloch May 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Hello Richard,
I enjoyed reading your article. I moved to the town. of Liberty NY. in the early 70’s .
I grew up on the West coast up to that point. Liberty was culture shock . For your family to build a world class resort was a testament to their abilities . Your aunt Elaine. was a respected member of the community . She was head of the school board
in Liberty . She handled out the diplomas at the high school graduations every year.
When your grandmother died, the town lined the main st of town for her procession.
Grossinger’s was the castle on the hill and the jewel of the catskill resort.industry . Your cousins Michell and Mark went on in the hotel industry to make their mark . The problem was the weak economy and decline of the whole hotel industry that ruined Grossinger’s . Your father and Aunt Elaine did what they could do to keep people employed . Despite how your parents turned out, they are still your family and you are apart of them . Grossinger’s will be always known for it’s great hospitality . It’s just a shame how she ended up. The Catskill Mountains just reached up and took back what was their’s .

Richard Grossinger May 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I have no knowledge at all. The property was sold almost 30 years ago and has been re-sold many times since then.

Monique DeCicco-Jones May 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner with a few ideas on the restoration of this facility via Health Care grants. Who actually owns this property and what is their contact information? My phone number is (845)292-9114. I am a resident of Liberty and often don’t read my email because I am extremely busy pursuing a PhD in nursing so please feel free to phone.

Monique DeCicco-Jones May 17, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I am a Family Nurse Practitioner with a few ideas on the restoration of this facility via Health Care grants. Who actually owns this property and what is their contact information? My phone number is (845)292-9114. I am a resident of Liberty and often don’t read my email because I am extremely busy pursuing a PhD in nursing so please feel free to phone. I pass the facility everyday and have great visions for it!

Richard Grossinger May 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I am moved by your bringing back the past, and it rings true about my grandmother whom, I always felt, had a dignity and grandeur beyond her public image, and also a kindness and generosity, though she also had her own hauteur and corruptness. The generation that followed just didn’t get it, not that it would have changed anything in the end. I’m not sure that “Peter” isn’t a wrong memory. It’s more likely Michael or James, my adopted half-brothers. Also possibly Jerry or Freddie. No “Peter Grossinger” in that era.

Ron Erich May 10, 2013 at 7:35 pm

So glad and sad to come upon your story. I , and my sister, worked at Grossinger’s for two summers as a waiters, earning money for college. I think it was 1965, 1966. Jennie G. offered us the jobs when she was in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and my father was her Physical Therapist. I remember the two great fun summers there. I did hang out a little with Peter Grossinger one summer and it was always a thrill went Jennie would come into the dining room and give me a hug. It made me feel important and kept the maitre d’s off my back for a few hours, at least.
So sad to see the pictures of the property in its state of abandonment. I saw that the Concord is gone also. Here in southern California one seldom sees beautiful properties going back to nature.
Thanks for your story and bringing back memories that I had almost forgotten.

Shirley March 31, 2013 at 7:23 pm

My father worked as a waiter there during the 70s. Sometimes he would take us there and I would remember swimming, skiing, or just roaming around the hotel with my sister and friend. We loved going there and my father still talks about his wonderful years there. When the hotel was closing down my father salvaged a few things, including a painted porcelain plate I believe that was hung in the dining room. I want to return these items to the family. Let me know if you would like for me to send you a photo.

Richard Grossinger February 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Last I knew, he was teaching at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in the Somatics Program.

William McKeen February 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm


The double slit experiment prove that with observation you can improve the probability of making a certain thing happen. The negative aspect of this is if focus on the particle you lose sight of the momentum. Focus on the momentum, you lose sight of the particle. Another example, focus on the tree you lose sight of the forest. Focus on the forest you lose sight of the tree. Even better one, focus on God you lose sight of reality. Focus on reality you lose sight of God.

The extreme differential of the last example can be explored in the writings of both Schopenhauer and Swedenborg.

MN February 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Hello Richard, I used to know Ian Grand a long time ago in Berkeley. Wondering if you have any idea what’s become of him. Thanks!

Richard Grossinger November 11, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Great WorK!

Richard Grossinger October 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

Thanks for the nice note. I think that the warts ARE history, always. Nothing exists as an idea(l) or in a vacuum or as its mere prototype.

Wes Gray October 4, 2012 at 8:54 am

Dear Richard,

You are an extremely talented writer. A wonderful story indeed. As the internet goes, you end up stumbling upon things you never knew. I learned a great deal about a piece of American history, warts and all. Your grandmother’s legacy is secure for eternity.

ann September 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Regarding, Dark Pool of Light, Volume Two: Consciousness in Psychospiritual and Psychic … By Richard Grossinger, I would like a preview copy. I grew up with Kimmie Ross and we just today discussed Ontology, and her future with that concept. So it was quite a surprise to read your bit on her. Though a sceptic, your writing style keeps me reading….and your education…my grandfather went to Amherst and my mother went to Smith then Univ. of Michigan to join my father (a fourth generation U. of Mich grad). You seem to have fun with your life and family so that is why I am requesting the preview, which you offered.
Thanks, Ann

Barbara Sparhawk September 3, 2012 at 8:39 am

Hello Mr Grossinger. Found you googling Goddard and there were so many cross references historically between us I feel compelled to halloo.
Goddard student in ’62, classmates Charlie Ponce, Eric Saarinen, Peter Pilafian…acted in Charlie’s moody plays, there were many and he was stark drama, the only one I remember the title of is The Cistern, me posed reciting in spotlight over faux hole center stage. I attended Riverside’s Encampment for Citizenship summer prior to Goddard, Ethical Culture Society but as a child, and took Tai Chi in the ’60’s with Professor Cheng M’an Ching on West Broadway. Lived in Chinatown, Brooklyn, bits of the states and world; only female billboard painter; still write and still paint; gallery in Big Sur 3 years, now Carmel Valley.
Interesting to find you and read your history. Goddard produced activists, something that never entirely left the molecules electrified there.

Paul D. Mendelsohn August 24, 2012 at 6:44 am

Hi Richard:

I loved your piece. We must have run in parallel universes. My dad had the jewelery concession at G’s in the 50’s and early 60’s, so I spent a lot of weekends up there as a kid and have great memories. My dad was a good friend of PG’s, Jenny and Elaine and he mentioned the other day that he still runs into Elaine down in Boca. The ruins remind me of looking at the wreck of the titanic, which I also had a fascination with as a child. At G’s I had so many great memories of wandering through the lobbies, watching Jenny on “this is your life” in the lobby in 1954 (I was only 7), the ice sculptures, Lew and Simon Sez, skating with Irving, watching them break gound for the “new” indoor pool, the malts in the coffee shop, the great toboggan rides, but mostly I enjoyed watching the people. It was a great time to bond with my dad in a Camelot environment. In the late 60’s I also worked with my brother Hank in the dining room, but G’s was changing and was already not the same. I also got hazed at the one year I spent at Camp Chipinaw. But I did enjoy the horseback riding, fencing and lake area. Athough I did not like having to carry out “rocks” every time we left the lake to clean out the swimming area. I currently live in Charlotte, Vermont and would love to hear from you.

Richard Grossinger August 20, 2012 at 5:25 am

Thanks, Greg. So great to hear from you. You were my room-mate in Phi Psi at the beginning of sophomore year, a crossroads time. And you were my first stop on my flight west in 1965, the seminal summer of my life. That’s no doubt when I “performed” my orange-juice disaster. I can be very dyslexic with half a chance, and certainly back then. I am still grateful you provided that “safe house” when it counted. I’d love to hear more about your journeys. Is there a way to contact you?

John Prentiss (Greg) August 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Hi Rich. While googling “Sam Lipskin,” I stumbled on your “Best Friends” list and am glad I did. In addition to news of Sam, you shared info about other classmates like Jeff Tripp and Greg Dropkin I’d lost track of decades ago.

You remain one of the most talented, delightfully eccentric people it has been my pleasure to meet. (I still remember my father looking on in disbelief as you tried to mash a 2 1/2 inch wide can of frozen orange juice into a jar with a 2 inch top and his saying to me later, “So how come you’re telling me he’s genius? He can’t even make orange juice.”)
Take care.
Greg Prentiss, former screenwriter, bum, and Chief Deputy Prosecutor for Adams County, Washington, now living in the Ozarks with 6 cats

admin April 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Thanks, Harlan, I appreciate the comments. Probably the only thing further I’ll do on this is rewrite Out of Babylon for an ebook to come out in 2014.

Harlan Friedman April 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I loved this story. My father worked at the G during the 70’s until the parental units decided it was time to take the pilgrimage to Long island and set up shop there. I remember many fun days there. My first “print ad” was a shot they used of me on the playground for a brochure in the late 70’s. Please keep the stories and pictures coming!

admin March 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Thanks, Michael. Are you still around Bar Harbor? Lindy and I plan to be there around July 1 through at least the end of September this year.

michael flahetty March 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Hey Richard! We first met on Mt. Desert Island when we swapped a pizza for Somme of your books(great trade).Hope you and your family are well.Saw your son on t.v. and felt a strange sense of pride considering how little I know you or your family.Hope to see you in Maine!

admin February 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I really don’t remember or, more to the point, don’t think I ever knew. The number “$26,000 a day” sticks in my mind from some discussion in the mid-seventies.

Nick Pjevach February 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

couple of quick questions on Grossinger’s Resort
would you by chance remember any of the operating costs of the resort?
I would be interested to find out what some of the costs are to operate such
a large complex. (just think of the gas bill for those two boilers).
Very sad about Paul losing everything. Grossinger’s $1.8 mm loss in 1985 was
probably (or eventtually) covered by Paul personnally. That kind of loss is hard
for any one person (or family) to cover. (my father also covered losses for a
business and it ruined the last 10 years of his life-he died broke also covering
personally guaranteed debt of a business)
also enoyed your writing above

admin February 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It’s from the 1970s, well before PDF days. Ann Arbor Microfilms made a version in the style of the day, and I know that that’s available in Maine libraries, perhaps by interlibrary loan. Some of the material appears in my books Book of Cranberry Islands and The Provinces.

Deborah Confer February 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I’m a research assistant to someone writing a report for the National Park Service on the traditional histories of Otter Cove and Isle au Haut. I would be very interested in reading your dissertation, The strategy and ideology of lobster-fishing
on the back side of Mount Desert Island, Hancock County, Maine. Is it possible to get a PDF version? Thanks so much.

Geoffrey Brown January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Moving and sad and at the same time delightful. I grew up in Liberty, enjoyed Grossingers mostly from the outside but still able to see the place from my bedroom window. Your aunt Elaine was very kind to me when I was doing some grad school research on migrant manpower in the resort industry. Thank you for writing this.

Magdalena Ball September 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Thank you so much for these detailed and richly presented recollections. I’m writing a novel (as you so beautifully put it, “for curios and mementos, for jewels and heirlooms, and for memes of the elusive and illusory American paradise”) partly set at Grossinger’s in the 1940s, when my grandmother worked as a young singer (family mythology was that Jenny chose her from a competition in Central Park and brought her out to the hotel, where she subsequently met her husband, my grandfather, and changed the course of her life). Every piece of information I can find helps me to better reconstruct the setting and also illuminate my own history. Of course I would love to travel back in time and sit in the audience to verify memory, but your notes are almost as good.

David Gitin July 24, 2011 at 9:09 am

Richard, I love your ability to articulate the ‘dilemma’ (even if that articulation, including the capture as ‘dilemma’ is itself part of the issue). Snyder’s discussion of Buddhism and the Coming Revolution decades ago gave hint of this, forerunner perhaps. Andrew’s responses closely echo the talk we heard him give the other night, but good to have them here as part of the conversation. Thanks for pointing me to your website!

jonah mark bekerman June 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

wonderful reading


elliot was going to give you a copy of breathing in the infinite

did he?

Anita Wolfenberger March 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. In 1964, after marrying (in Puerto Rico) to a Army man, I purchased a cookbook of Jewish cooking put out by your parents hotel. The Introduction is by your father.

I have no idea of the name of the book. The cover long ago gave way to white paper and scotch tape, the pages are missing corners and frayed all around, the book is only partly attached to what is left of it’s spine. In short it is well used.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you this. I just read that the hotel is closed and am sorry to hear that. I believe I was there when I was about five or so, which would be around 1948. I have vague memories of a “talent” show of little kids.

(Mrs) Anita Wolfenberger
New Market, TN

Larry Olsen February 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Good Evening:
My brother, nearly 40 years ago, attended a technical competition that was held up at Grossinger’s in Upstate New York. The night before the competition, the hotel had a number of very talented people who put on various skits and songs, including “The Ballad of Irving” and a song about Washington at Valley Forge. One of the few lines that I remember was something about, “If Washington was Jewish, instead of Valley Forge, The Army would have wintered up at Grossinger’s with George!” Is this the same as the song you list on this site?

Paul February 12, 2011 at 12:05 am

I would add a couple of books that came out later – Henri Bortoft’s “The Wholeness of Nature” and Doris Lessing’s “Memoirs of a Survivor.” Interesting to see a bunch of Owen Barfield on your list. Such a lucid and compelling thinker and writer!

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