September 12, 2000 Mr. George Perkovich, Program Director W. Alton Jones Foundation 232 East High Street Charlottesville, NC 22901
Dear Mr. Perkovich:
As twilight descends on my goatee years, the downwardly mobile bachelor must review his endeavors and assess his prospects. Difficult questions must be answered with courageous honesty and prescience. Should I have used a different font on my résumé? Why am I paying for cable? How much longer will my cynicism and tomfoolery quell a burgeoning nervous breakdown? The answer most relevant to this communiqué is my recent decision to forge a career as a barstool philosopher, injecting that sage with a much-needed dose of profundity, cleanliness, and not infrequent sobriety. From smoky rural saloons to romper room college bars, I will combine a hobo ruggedness and road warrior work ethic with a modest Red Roof Inn lifestyle.
A one-man museum, encyclopedia, sociopath, scholar, shaman, comedian, conflict negotiator, sex object, sex subject, and compassionate asexual listener. From the bullpen of the Chicago Cubs to the bull markets of Asia to everyday bullshit, no subject will find me without an informed and original comment. Kenneth Cleaver will exist as a necessary anachronism to the cultural homogenizing forces of economic globalization, connecting our nation with stories of the road, free from the parade of sycophants that encumber celebrity status. The new picaresque iconoclast understands media, but repudiates its solipsism and megalomania. I will not sell tickets. I will not have a website, I will not give readings to uppity Oprah book clubbers at Barnes & Noble. Ingratiating myself to fellow drinkers from town to town will be my true reward.
From the W. Alton Jones Foundation, I require a modest salary of $20,000 per annum and reimbursement for travel and accommodation, roughly estimated at $600 per week. In return, you will receive biweekly reports summarizing my endeavors with tallies on the number of people I’ve educated, agitated, amused, and copulated with. I hope you will consider this unique opportunity for giving birth to a new American hero.
Sincerely, Kenneth H. Cleaver
December 12, 2000
Dear Mr. Cleaver:
Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding possible funding from the W. Alton Jones Foundation. We were much amused by your creative writing. Unfortunately, as you might imagine, our response to your request must a negative one. The W. Alton Jones Foundation’s Secret World program focuses primarily on the prevention of nuclear war and prevention of the massive release of radioactive materials. Our Board of Trustees has had to make the difficult decision to focus our limited resources only on projects which fall clearly into these specific categories. For this reason, the Foundation would be unable to offer any assistance. We do, however, offer encouragement that you will continue successfully “educating, agitating, and amusing” (if not “copulating”) your way through life. Our society desperately needs the few, rare hobo sages and comic shamans in its midst, whether it believes this or not.
Laurie Blomstrom, Program Assistant (sort of on behalf of the W. Alton Jones Foundation)
From the May 31-June 6, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.