Candidate of Janus Party Reveals Platform; Names Moitoret as Running Mate
by Sheldon C. Wesson
My candidacy for President of both the National and American Amateur Press Associations staggers forward in a rhythmically hysterical pattern. Announcement of this generous once-in-a-lifetime offer in APC News has brought resounding silence in reaction. Apparently the announced willingness of a candidate in this day of hyperapathy is enough to freeze the membership into stone images of open-mouthed wonder.
The fact of my registering candidacy in the AAPA (where you have to do it in writing, like a foreign agent, to attract suspicion) was duly recorded in the American Amateur Journalist. Then, because he had space to fill, the Editor saw fit to speculate on my motives.
In rebuttal, let me make one point clear. I have no interest in “harmony,” neither inter-associational nor intra-associational. To accuse me of motives resounding of harmony at this late stage of my 25-year ajay career would be fatuous and vacuous.
Publishing, yes! Printing, of course! Frenzied writing, even of (choke, gasp) poetry, why not? But harmony in Amateur Journalism? Who needs it? If ever we succumb to harmony of any sort, we will have to register the hobby with the Government as a tranquilizer, to be administered by prescription only.
Accustomed as we are, by recent history, to arm-twisting candidates who become lackluster officers, we are suspicious of the motives of one who openly declares himself. Look, children: The hottest political campaign in recent ajay history was the one I waged in the AAPA about 23 years ago for the office of Printing & Publishing Manager, no less. I won by a margin so squeaky that the high note set the whole association’s teeth on edge.
But there was a Principle involved. I forget what the Principle was – some asinine thing about dual association membership versus hundred percent American. But the fact is, it was a Principle, and not some namby-pie popularity contest. Nor was it a reward for failing to wreck the association (as grimly anticipated) in some lower office – the grounds on which we select office-holders today.
My motive is simple: I am sick and silly tired of being importuned year after year to run for office in each association. There are those who figure that one who has been around 25 years should by virtue of his talent for survival occupy office, at least ornamentally.
These people figure that being AAPA Official Editor two years in my silly youth; Editor of The Fossil five years, President of the Fossils; probably life-time tenure as Custodian of The Fossils, manager of the National Amateur Clearing House and (prospectively) of the American Amateur Journalist Exchange – these, they figure, are not enough. You gotta be President. There is a shortage of warm bodies.
I scratch now for time to do what I came into this hobby to do: Write, print and publish. Who needs this President bit? So we may as well get it over with, and I am running for both presidencies simultaneously.
There will be one year of screech and whirl in this already screechy and whirly household, and it will be over. I will bang the hell out of this typewriter and wear out some more type. If I answer letters reasonably promptly (if at all – not like the NAPA incumbent) and prevent a couple of Treasurers from running the dough into the ground, and needle enough placid souls into publishing something more than insipid trash, they will say I was a great President.
If I do practically nothing, I will be no worse than 62.7 percent of the Presidents in my ken of years.
Does that set us straight? Then let’s get on with it and elect me President, and have the noisiest damn year you’ve had in recent memory. Both associations.
It occurs to me with startled delight that this may be the first time in history that the members of one association can defeat a presidential candidate in the other. If I am not elected by the NAPA in July, I will decline to run in the AAPA in September. If I am elected by the NAPA in July and defeated by the AAPA in September, I will resign from the NAPA presidency.
It is clear that the NAPA had better elect a good solid Vice-President. I suggest Victor Moitoret. A more solid head you couldn’t have if I bow out. The coward has been threatening to run for President against me, but not a peep from him do I hear. He’s afraid he might win and be stuck with the moribund NAPA for another year – and actually have to stir some activity out of it.
So let’s get with it – vote the Janus Party Ticket – Wesson and Moitoret and whatever innocents you can persuade to accept the other offices – and we’ll get on with the job.
In Praise of Verse
There has prevailed in uninformed circles, for some time, the canard that I dislike poetry. No candidate for President of the NAPA and the AAPA can afford to alienate those poets, both full-fledged and self-styled, who infest our ranks. It is therefore necessary that the record be set straight by a forthright statement:
I do not dislike poetry. In fact, I like poetry. It is just that I see so little of it in amateur journals. I see lots of prose disguised as verse, in which obscurantism is substituted for imagery and emotion.
Of course I read poetry. Often. I read the editorial page of the New York Times every day. The Times appreciates poetry for what it is: Filler. If the Observer or the Letters don’t fill the page neatly, the make-up editor calls for a dozen or 14 lines of poetry.
The way to get your poetry printed in the Times is to submit poems from one to 20 lines. Then you have a sporting chance, aided by the law of averages. I have read many of those poems in the Times by mistake, thinking they were prose set poorly by an inexperienced compositor in jagged lines. Only after reading a third of the way down have I come to realize that this is not an italicized Letter to the Editor, but is an assault on the English language.
When I was a boy, they taught us that poetry might rhyme, had to be metrical and must generate emotional response. It is obvious that singing commercials and advertising slogans have pre-empted all of those criteria, so the poets and would-be poets have had to turn elsewhere for their ground rules.
Today’s poets have therefore adopted these rules: Poetry must consist of long sentences of prose, containing obscure allusions and confusing language, which can be broken up into short, uneven lengths, like uncooked spaghetti.
I like spaghetti. So this campaign message will reassure all the damned poets, in both the NAPA and the AAPA, that, if I am elected President, I will be their President, too. Their dues are as good to us as anyone else’s.
The Judges Default
The Young Tartars of yesteryear become the ossified conservatives of today as soon as they are elected to the Bench: Executive Judges of the NAPA or Directors of the AA PA. The hell-raisers suddenly become minutely conscious of the words and commas in the Constitution. They lose sight of the fact that the Constitution was not written to perpetuate itself or even the mechanism of an association, but rather to protect and foster the institution of Amateur Journalism.
Last year I initiated a request that the AAPA directors rectify a fraudulent act by one officer. They declined on grounds that the specific act (acknowledged by them to be detrimental to the welfare of the association) was not specifically prohibited in the Constitution. Amazing logic!
Recently, I asked the NAPA Judges to perform a most reasonable service: To remove the President of that association from office.
In essence: The Mailer refused to mail a bona fide amateur journal. The President was asked to instruct the Mailer to circulate the paper. He failed to take any action whatever – not even to answer the letter.
The Judges declined to act on the grounds that the President is not specifically required by the Constitution to take such action. Amazing logic!
The NAPA is a group of publishers and persons who write for amateur publications. The very heart of the operation is the circulation to members of the products of this activity. It seems clear that the President’s first duty is to see to it that this basic purpose of the association is fulfilled. Otherwise, his supervision of the other mechanical affairs of the association, or his hortatory prose in print or in letters, go for nought.
The Judges saw fit to take upon themselves the function which the President had abandoned, and to instruct the mailer to circulate the journal in question. Yet, thus admitting that the President had failed in his responsibility, they still declined to remove him.
The Convention will hear more of this matter, I assure you. I am sick of the sight of do-nothing Presidents shamelessly accepting the reward of Life Membership in the NAPA, and thus gracing our roll of honor forever in a state of suspended animation.
Dead wood we have enough of in the dues-paying ranks. Who needs more in a status of honor?
Siamese Standpipe April ’66
Set and printed by Sheldon P. Wesson (campaign manager) and Sheldon C. Wesson (candidate). Abjured by Helen V. Wesson (co-editor); it ain’t artistic. Sent to NAPA and AAPA for business and APA for fun. Glen Ridge, N.J. 07028