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Posts Tagged ‘Eric Randolph Rasmussen’

American BanjoThe following is a passage from my novel American Banjo, a story about several generations of an aristocratic American family. It was released earlier this year on Amazon.com.

From the diary of Sandra Eccles:

There is a simple elegance to life. There is a simple elegance to a good mystery. You jump on a ship looking for adventure, looking for drama, looking for meaning. And just as you find the object of your desire, your desire evaporates. I seek drama, and I find drama.

I think of Occam’s razor; the simplest explanation is the best one. The simplest way to write a sentence is the best way.

I wonder if I’m mature enough to live my life simply. I start to think of my father. I hate to think that he might have been right. That my defiance was a play I didn’t understand, and now that I do, the defiance means nothing. But you negotiate the paths to wisdom only through action, through praxis; you may climb a mountain only to find there is no longer a mountain to see. That is mountains. And that is philosophy. The journey was the thing. It was good you made the journey. But the wisdom isn’t what you found. The wisdom came from knowing you had to look.

I think about this after returning home and gazing upon the sleeping, topless figure of the woman who tried to steal money from me—the woman who is now my wife. How we got here is not important. I’ve walked through different rooms of life with her and the room we started in has been demolished. I can no longer know the me before Sieglinde. Nor care about who she was before or who I was.

She wasn’t a thief as I found her. She was asleep. People who sleep are innocent.

I had seen Priscilla earlier that day. Priscilla, the doyenne of my scene, the brilliant lawyer who had helped establish the intellectual underpinnings of “judicial interpretation as violence,” the woman who rebelled through textures, seemed to have become sweet on me … as a mother or something more.

“I have to say, when you were at the party the other night without Sieglinde, I began to worry.”

“About?”

“You two have been together for what … 18 months?”

“Two years.”

“What do you talk about?”

“It was a relationship born in a crisis. We emerged from that together.”

“Crisis isn’t a value.”

Priscilla pushed my hair back where she thought she saw a bruise or something. I pulled away. Evidently, she’d heard things.

“Is this an intervention?”

“I’ve come to care about you, Sandra. You’re focused. You’re ambitious. You hurt Sieglinde with a curt remark and don’t notice. She watches you talking to other women.”

“I can’t think about that. This is my book. My career. I won’t be stopped.”

“But she’s your lover. What if she wanted you to stop? For a baby, maybe.”

“I can’t be held back by that.”

“So leave her.”

I snorted a bit.

“I can’t do that either.”

Priscilla, wiser than anybody I’d ever met, waited for an explanation as she sipped her green tea.

“I can’t do it because she was the one who made me what I am. She brought me out.”

“Which makes her not even as important as your mother, who you probably wouldn’t respect anywhere near as much. You really feel as if you owe her your life? The way a child owes something to a parent?”

“Yes, a little.”

“Well, sooner or later, a child can’t owe something to a parent. She must know that what a parent gives to a child besides life is something more precious. Eventually, the parent must give that child freedom. That’s part of the contract.”

“In what law? Not the Torah?”

“In life. In love. You can’t sacrifice yourself for Sieglinde. You don’t owe her your soul. You don’t owe that to anybody.”

“Stop. I won’t do it. I won’t cut her loose.”

She didn’t talk for a long time, then finally …

“There are other people who want you,” Priscilla said. “Women who want to be with you. Who see your value. You don’t have to compromise. I found out a long time ago, even before I left my husband, what it means to be a whole person.”

“And what’s that?”

“Nobody can take on the responsibility of making you happy. And you can’t take on the responsibility of making somebody else happy. It’s too much to ask. And if you do, you’re not really allowing them to live up to being fully human.”

I drank tea and listened, and she pushed my hair back again.

“Cut her loose.”

Copyright 2012.

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Another song from my album Air Is a Public Good.
Music and lyrics by Eric Randolph Rasmussen.

“Under the Wing”

The devil now I know walks among us
The devil has a condo on Lake Tahoe

I would never know the path
That bell I can’t unring
And the devil had me under his wing

I was selling real estate
To a couple from Sulphur Springs
And the devil had me under his wing

They wanted more than a town house
They wanted to share their lonely love
With me

And now I know the darkness
And now I know the need
And the devil had me under his wing

They wanted to use my body
And prey on my clean living
And the devil had me under his wing

God you can’t sell real estate in this
Sinful town
Heaven don’t have a toilet for fallen angels like me

They wanted to use my body
And prey on my clean living
And the devil had me under his wing

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American BanjoI have just released my sixth novel, American Banjo, as an e-book on Amazon.com. I plan to release the novel in paperback version, hopefully later this year, along with all my other novels.

The plot: An heirloom Federal-style banjo clock build in 1804 is passed down through eight generations of a secretive family of ultra-high-net-worth Americans. Built shortly after the American Revolution, it has come to mean something different to all its holders. To Sandra Eccles, one of the family’s daughters, the clock may prove the guilt or innocence of not only a few founding fathers, but also her storied grandfather, who made munitions in World War II. His possession of a painting that might have been stolen from a Jewish family by the Nazis leads Sandra to try to uncover a puzzling skein of relationships and help her determine how good her forebears really were and what they were after.

I piece together the story line from various “diaries” of the characters, a cast from different times and places in American history, whose dreams and aspirations and ethics are different, even though the ways they aspire are somehow the same.

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There are a lot of Eric Rasmussens in the world, many of whom I’ve recently discovered are tilling the same fields that I am. I’ve seen Eric Rasmussens at work in journalism, law, literary criticism, polemics, music and fiction. That’s bound to create confusion.

Again, my full name is Eric Randolph Rasmussen. I’ve written a companion piece for this post telling you who I am. Out of respect for the other Eric Rasmussens, I felt the need to give you a list of the ones I am not:

Eric Ralph Rasmussen, pro baseball player.

This one seems pretty obvious. This was the only other Eric Rasmussen I’d ever heard of growing up. I never worried people would confuse us. I can barely pitch, catch or bat.

Eric David Rasmussen, physician, medical ethicist, humanitarian

Again, I’m not too worried about you getting us confused. This guy has an interesting career and is worth your attention.

Eric Rasmussen, writer, editor of Barstow & Grand

This Eric Rasmussen is a Wisconsin-based fiction writer and very nice guy who sent me a nice note and has an excellent blog and lots of excellent fiction. I do not wish to steal his thunder.

Why the confusion: We are both literary fiction writers. I do not see any novels on his resume (he mentions an unpublished manuscript), and I have never published any short stories (outside of a few bad experiments on my blog) but there are obvious reasons people are going to confuse us. For that reason, I have made sure to put “Eric Randolph Rasmussen” on most of my fiction, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to see it on my journalism.

Eric Rasmussen, jazz saxophonist, composer, band leader of the Eric Rasmussen Quartet, director of instrumental music at Scottsdale Community College

Alto saxophone player Eric Rasmussen has played with a number of big jazz names (you can find some of his music here), and his musical focus is jazz while mine is alternative rock and punk, but there are several reasons people might get us confused, especially if they knew me back in the day in Oklahoma.

Why the confusion: Several reasons. We have both been New Yorkers, we have both lived all over the country, we are both composers and we both play alto saxophone (though he actually worked at it his entire career while I gave it up for two decades). I have mostly stayed away from jazz on my albums, but Salon de la Guerre fans know that I have wormed my way through all sorts of different genres and finally jumped into some jazz a few years ago, yanking out my long-dormant alto sax chops for two songs on Salon de la Guerre’s album Clam Fake. I have done only two extended improvisations with jazz saxophone, one of which is on a song called “Red Clay Moses,” which you can hear on YouTube.  Jazz sax player Eric Rasmussen deserves his many accolades, but “Red Clay Moses,” a cross between jazz and Sonic Youth guitar, is all mine.

Eric Dean Rasmussen, associate professor of English literature at the University of Stavanger.

I first followed Eric Dean Rasmussen for a couple of reasons: He was a literature guy and, more important, he was the first of us with the cunning to grab the Ericrasmussen.com domain name. There can be only one, Highlander!

That said, most of his work, as far as I can tell, is literary criticism and theory, subjects I’ve studiously avoided since college. I never worried too much people would confuse us. Besides, he was in Chicago and then later, apparently, Norway.

Why the confusion: Still, we are both lovers of literature, and we both somehow at some point met with (and wrote about) famous superhero literary publisher Barney Rosset, founder of the Grove Press and publisher of Samuel Beckett and Henry Miller. Eric Dean met Rosset through his work at a literary organization. I met Rosset at a bar. Though the other Eric was seemingly better prepared for the encounter and knew more about Rosset to begin with, I must give myself some points for not misspelling Rosset’s name. (I have some advantages being a journalist.)

I see that Eric Dean and I also have a very tenuous connection through the website Altx.com. He has articles posted there, and I used to be associated with a literary magazine called Io that had links to the site as well.

Eric Rasmussen, internationally renowned Shakespeare scholar, foundation professor at the University of Nevada at Reno

Again, I wasn’t too worried about being mistaken for a Shakespeare scholar, though we are both authors and we are both on Amazon. He’s even on YouTube!

Eric Rasmussen, actor.

I took an acting class once and I’m enthralled by the subject, but I have mostly left that field to my wife.

Eric Rasmussen, professor of communication.

I don’t see much room for confusion here, though I do have a communications degree (in journalism) from the University of Texas, and it could be somebody somewhere gets us confused.

Eric Rasmussen, Twin Cities broadcast news investigative reporter, KSTP TV

This guy’s been in Boston and Minneapolis. I’ve never been in front of a camera, but we are both journalists.

I will leave it at that. I recall seeing other people with my name also pursuing music journalism (an old part-time vocation of mine) and statistics and hockey, but I’m not too worried about being confused with those people. I’ll add names to this list later if I think anybody is going to mix me up with someone else.

 

 

 

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It was difficult la-okc-trip-2004-029.jpggrowing up with the name “Eric Rasmussen” for a few obvious reasons. It’s a funny name for children to say, and given children’s talent for innovation, a fun name to mock. (“Raisin Muffin” was the sobriquet the junior high kids finally settled on for me.)

My name is now a problem for a different reason: It’s not anywhere near as as rare as many people think it is. “Rasmussen” is kind of like the Scandinavian “Smith.” and “Eric” is a natural fit for it. So not only are there tons of Eric Rasmussens in New York City (I even bumped into one at a party), but tons of them working in the same fields I work in–fiction, music, film and journalism. After I began recently releasing a slate of my novels, I realized there’s another Eric Rasmussen who writes short stories. He, like me, is published in several places.

I’m a hyphenate, which makes things more confusing. I’ve been working in at least four different media for years, subjects I’ve been passionate about since my teens. I never saw a reason not to pursue all of them at once, and I dare say I’m good at some of them. But to the outside world (and definitely to a career coach) it probably looks like I have multiple personality disorder.

So now I realize it’s become necessary to tell people both who I am and who I’m not. I talk about the latter in this companion piece. But for now, I’m going to give you my CV, if for some reason you get confused about which Eric Rasmussen you’re dealing with. My name is Eric Randolph Rasmussen. I grew up in Oklahoma, went to college in Austin, Texas, and I’ve lived in New York City for over two decades. I have a fairly large amount of content on the internet in multiple media.

Journalism

I’ve been a journalist since my college days. I focused first on arts and entertainment; in 1997, I started writing about finance. The following are the publications I’ve written for (if you see my name pop up in a different newspaper or magazine, it is not I):

The Daily Texan (the University of Texas student newspaper)
The Austin Chronicle
The Alcalde (The University of Texas alumni magazine)
Io magazine
Swing
magazine
Civil Engineering
Investment Management Weekly
Financial-Planning.com
Nurseweek
Financial Advisor magazine

Film

I’ve been making short films since 2006, and created a web series with my wife from 2007 to 2009. These are my works:

S&M Queen For A Day (2006)
Scrabble Rousers (2006)
The Retributioners (web TV series, 2007-2009)
Candy Rocks Doesn’t Grow Up (a screenplay and semi-finalist for the Austin Film Festival comedy screenplay competition in 2012)

Music

I am the sole musical artist behind Salon de la Guerre, which released its 21st album in 2019. I worked on music through the 1990s, but didn’t start releasing definitive versions of my songs until 2007 on MySpace and didn’t start publishing them in album form until 2012. As of August 2019,* I had 290 songs in circulation.

I’m listing the albums here with the dates I published them on the streaming sites (these are not the copyright dates of the songs, which go back as far as 1993). My albums are:

Time-Traveling Humanist Mangled by Space Turbine (2012)
Four-Track Demons (2014)
Diasporous (2014)
The Mechanical Bean (2014)
Toe-Tapping Songs of Pain and Loss (2014)
Your Eyes Have Mystic Beams (2014)
Clam Fake (2016)
Roses Don’t Push the Car Home (2016)
Gravitas: A Life (2016)
Liberty (2016)
The Church of Low Expectations (2016)
In the Lake of Feral Mermaids (2017)
The Widowhood of Bunny (2017)
Keep Your Slut Lamp Burning (2017)
Driver, Take This Cab to the Depths of the Soul (2017)
All Else Dross (2017)
Yipano (2018)
You’re Going To Regret What You Did (2018)
Bleed (2019)
Air Is a Public Good (2019)
From Sour To Cinnamon (2019)

Fiction

I’ve been writing fiction for well over two decades; however, for many reasons, most of them banal, my seven novels sat unpublished on my computer for years. A couple of months ago, that all changed: I began releasing my novels as e-books on Amazon, with the hopes of releasing the paperback versions on the platform later in the year. As of yesterday, five of my novels are now available on the site, and I plan to release the other two (one of which has three volumes) later this year. The books are mostly comic, though they also stretch into historical fiction and absurdism.

Here’s the complete list (I’ve listed the dates I released them on Amazon, though many of these books were finished at least five years ago):

Zip Monkey (2019)
Detective J (2019)
Letters to My Imaginary Friend Leticia (2019)
Traffic Waitress (2019)
Did it End? (2019)
American Banjo (2019)
The Ghost and the Hemispheres, Vol 1-3 (planned release date: 2019)

Poetry

My big plan as a teenager was to be a poet, and oddly enough, this is the field I’m least prolific in. I have only some few dozen poems to my name, almost all of which are available on this blog. However, I did get a few bits into the college literary magazine back in the day:

Analecta 1989-1991 (the University of Texas literary and arts journal)

The Blogosphere

Beauty is Imperfection is the blog you are reading right now. I started posting these little musings on MySpace in late 2006 and switched over to WordPress in 2009, moving a lot of the MySpace content over after seeing that the latter platform was dying.

As my long-suffering readers know, even in my blogging life, I’m something of a schizophrenic. For its first few years, Beauty Is Imperfection was a comedy blog with lots of Top 10 lists and other silliness, most of which was meant to help create buzz about my web series, The Retributioners. In 2010, my mother died, and the blog took on a more somber tone, and I also started posting a lot of political material to give the world a taste of my long-stifled polemical voice. My posts have been infrequent in the last few years; occasionally I post new poetry, but otherwise I use the blog to let people know about all these many other projects I’m working on.

Hopefully, this post gives you a more complete picture of me. I rarely talk about these projects with friends and colleagues, mostly because I’m not the bragging sort, I don’t like to shove art down people’s throats and I know how much great, perhaps better art is out there that I’m competing with. I’m offering this summary of my career mostly to help people navigating the internet avoid confusion if they see a name like mine and don’t know whom they are dealing with.

For the record, I haven’t written any plays.

*Updated October 2019.

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Letters To My Imaginary Friend Leticia coverAs longtime Beauty Is Imperfection readers might remember, I used to run a serial work on this blog called “Letters to My Imaginary Friend Leticia.” I promised one day that it would turn into a novel, and now it has. I’ve just released it on Amazon as a digital book, and hope to release it in paperback form in the upcoming months. It’s about a frustrated New York trade magazine writer who longs to be a poet and sends letters of his failures to his ideal woman.

The book’s description:

“He’s not a frustrated poet yet, but he’s working hard at it. A writer in 1990s New York suffering from delusions of literary grandeur ends up writing for a concrete and sewage trade publication. His ideals cannot be crushed, however, and they wrap themselves around a wraith-like feminine figure whose imagined perfection he hopes to one day live up to.”

I originally wrote some 26 entries for “Leticia” on this blog. To comply with the exclusivity requirement on Amazon’s KDP Select platform, I have taken down all but two of the original posts. (You can still read the first one here.) For the novel, I have added much to the original story, including a couple of recurring characters.

The cover art is, again, by my friend Corey Brian Sanders.

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I’m introducing a new song from my forthcoming album Bleed. Written, performed and produced by moi.

“Slow Combine”
By Eric Randolph Rasmussen
Copyright 2019

Show the kids you don’t know your place
The kids are having a harvester race
Trying to win the love of the girl next door
One of you is rich and the other one is poor

Put the combines down and press your bets
Check the gas and check your gears
Make sure that the engine is oiled
And that you’ve controlled your fear

You reap what you sow
And live off what you plant
The combines went out of control after that
No one foresaw what would happen next
The poor boy ran over her parents

Foot on the pedal
You drive that combine harvester
Drive that harvester
But don’t hit the buildings
Don’t rip what you sow
Don’t reap what you plant
Don’t run over people like the ants
Like the ants
Like the ants

Don’t knock down a building
Don’t destroy city hall
And don’t drive drunk
When you climb up on your harvester
You might raze a city
You might raze a town
And that would bring
Everybody down

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