The Bootleg Story
Clicking on a Blue link below will open the story in a new window.
It Coulda Happened This Way
The Bootleg Story
All of this happened over four decades ago, well most of it anyway, and I’d thought it had been all relegated to a history nobody cared about. Vesta and I left America with our kids, came back for a couple years so they could finish high school, then left again, for good, or so we thought.
It’s not that we don’t like living in America, we do, but our travels took us to the Caribbean and the lazy languid island life and we fell in love with it. Okay, it’s not always lazy, sometimes the hustle bustle that is Trinidad is mind numbing during the day, but at night people kick back like they’ve forgotten how to do in the flash world of America or Europe, Australia, New Zealand or Asia.
We supported ourselves by writing for sailing magazines. We didn’t make much money, but it didn’t cost much to live in the islands either, so it worked out okay for us. But the writing gigs got fewer as the magazines, like most of the print media today, had to start tightening their belts. Too many people getting their news, info and entertainment off their laptops, even in the Caribbean.
I lost a column I’d counted on. The magazine couldn’t afford me anymore, not that they were paying me all that well, so we came home. It was only going to be temporary, but our grandson Devon came along he and Vesta have this special bond.
And then one day as I was plowing through the third or fourth draft of one of my novels, my daughter Tiffany emailed me about a website that was talking about me. It seems that some people were still interested in what I’d done all those years ago. There are collectors who collect bootleg records. Who knew?
In the Caribbean sailing community I was like a big fish in a small pond. I had an audience, albiet a small one. People knew us. We had friends. We belonged to writer’s groups in Trinidad and St. Martin. Back in America, I was little more than the name on my driver’s license in my back pocket. As a writer I was the smallest fish in the biggest pond in the world.
So here I was with an audience again, yes it was another small one, but they were people who wanted to read something I wrote. So I started writing these bootleg stories for the Record Collectors Guild website, but after a bit I got discouraged and stopped, because in my heart I knew that what I’d done back then was stealing and years and years later I was trying to capitalize on it to further my writing career. I didn’t feel very good about myself for doing it, so I stopped.
That was five years ago. I’ve got a couple new books out, Vesta and I are doing photography as well. I needed a name for our new company, couldn’t come up with one and then I got an email from a bootleg collector in France. He’d wanted to know why I’d stopped writing the stories. He told me he’d grown up listening to those records I’d made and he desperately wanted to know more. He wanted me to finish what I’d started, to take it to the end.
I was so impressed with his email that, like with my small publishing company, I went back to the Bootleg name and called our company Bootleg Photo and I decided to pick up writing the bootleg stories where I left off. I can do it now, because even though it was stealing, it was a long time ago, I’m way older and I just don’t care anymore.
We were crooks, me and Dub and Chris and Greg and Malcome and John and Andrea and Scott and Charlie and Peter and others too numerous to mention, but we were fun people. We didn’t hurt anyone. We made a little money and we started an underground industry beyond anything we ever could have imagined.
I go to sites like Bootleg Tunz World and Soundaboard and am amazed. And I am amazed people still care. Yes, not many, but there are a few and I’m a writer with a story to tell and a few readers are better than none at all.
I’ve included the stories I wrote five years ago and you can read them by clicking on the green links on the left. I’ll try to add at least one story a week till I get to the end of it. It won’t be a book, but it’ll be here for those who care.
And if you’re on of those few, thanks for reading,