THE BEST OF KEY WEST
BSC, CA – In the midst of all the recent breaking cannabis activity, ie, the Pot Goonies, coming attractions [Guardians of Health Wellness Expo], fire in the hills [again], and the latest 'bubble news', I wanted to take a break in all this action to give out a 'tip 'o the hat' review to the person who influenced my unique editorial process, artistic eye, and writing finesse, William C. Montgomery, Jr., better known by his scene handle, 'Bucky'. Like our scene Saint Bipsy, Bucky is a multifaceted talent, an artist's artist.
It was a late Fall day in Louisville, KY, circa '82, that I answered an ad in a free local events newspaper picked up from a downtown record store. My mother had passed away some months prior and now I was waiting on the probate of her estate, a house I now lived in with no rent to pay. It's amazing the effect on your life when the necessity of paying rent or a mortgage is removed. [Hint – the idea of ownership will be chucked along with mammon, when JC returns. We don't 'own' shit, we are owned by the people who made this grand experiment. Imho]
As I drove up and parked, a past memory of 20 years haunted me because it was the reason I had moved away from Louisville the first chance I got. Louisville was and still is the 4th most segregated city* in America. Now that can sound bad, but in Louisville it just means two separate social circles, or a central culture and a sub-culture, as a college professor would categorize it. If you are in the center of either culture, life is grand. Scene-wise, Bucky and his model gf were the very heart of a Monet image for poster Louisville. I had been raised at the heart of Louisville working class aristocracy, left town, and now returned to my birthplace at the heart of my own culture [see Memoirs, chapters 2-14].
As I opened the door and walked into the front of the office, the guy I had talked to on the phone looked in my direction. I recognized him as he was wearing the bow-tie he noted he always wore, the only one in the office who wore one. I called his name and went to put my hand out for a shake. Then an unfunny thing happened. As if in a car wreck, the world suddenly turned into slow motion all around me. You see, it was my first real experience at not being the right color.
As I slowly walked back to my car, in my heart I said, “Fuck this place and fuck this town.”
My mother said, “I hope you don't get the job,” when I left for the interview that would take me to Indianapolis some years later in 1970. It was the only time in her life or mine that she ever said anything negative to me. I still get a tear in my eye when I think about the moment. And my first wife probably thought leaving town was about her, or being a dick toward my son, but it was never about them either. I just knew I had no future in Louisville.
Now I was walking into an interview for another job that I could tell was as 'white-sounding' as that office mgr. gig about 20 years ago. This was at a new start-up magazine that was going to cover the happening, cool stuff [my description] around and across Louisville. I walked into the renovated red brick warehouse just a short distance from the downtown bridge to Jeffersonville, IN. I opened the office door and walked in. The building and the office were immaculate and hip-looking in being understated 'today'.
The man behind the desk was dark-haired, handsome, friendly, professional, and about 10 years my junior. Pushing back any past ghosts, I cleared my mind and made my best presentation wearing my present day business causal, which may have been a nice polo and jeans. As the interview progressed I could tell a lot had changed with this new generation of Louisville hipsters. He actually listened as I told him of my degree in Mass Communications, an Associate's Degree received in Iowa.
Later I left the office with my trial assignment, a movie review for the horror film, Creepshow, about to premiere at a local movie theater. Of all the film genres, I liked and still like horror and gore the least. I never told Bucky that as I accepted my first assignment. However, luck was on my side as the movie was a satire of the genre and done the old EC Comics way of comeuppance. I returned a few days after the showing with my review, helped immensely by the press kit Bucky had provided for background research.
I handed the finished review to Bucky, who was sitting behind his desk. He read some of it [or maybe all if he was a faster reader than I], looked up and said, “You're hired.” Then he got up and showed me around the office, introducing me to several other writers who were there. Things had certainly changed in the space of 2 wives. At least for some in Louisville.
Over the life cycle of the Louisville Artist Magazine, I learned editing, layout, composition, and writing for content while injecting a personal touch or viewpoint, although my approach is more heavy-handed than Bucky's artistic finesse. The art of a grabber lead-in photo was something else I learned, a talent grown rusty until the advent of the 420Nurses photo art models into my life.
Also like the 420Nurses, the staff at the Artist was organic and earthy, starting with my first professional relationship at the mag, Bonnie Carlin, Wicca. Although I had gained some esoteric experience by the time I returned to the Big 'L', that was all from a fan's perspective. With Bonnie, I would be invited into and join my first 'magical' group and learn the basic etiquette of circles. For a boy from the North with a cat named JC, it took pulling a rabbit out of my ass, so to speak; more accurately, a cat with 10 lives. Simple as that I was 'in', a magic Christian.
Bucky, as the editor and publisher, was the epitome of Southern style in the way he dressed. He put some blacks' fashion I knew, to shame. His color coordination was off the charts. This feature translated over to his fantasy drawings done for a calendar that was a limited edition. As the problem with many things artistically done, it is the distribution and marketing, not the art contained within. At one time I had one of these magnificent works. I imagine 'Max' in Memoirs has hers packed away somewhere in her storage, as I sent her one of the fantasy works.
Also like Bipsy, Bucky's abundant talent ability wasn't just confined to the graphic arts. Bucky had a band or played in a band called The Dorothy Boys. I never saw them live but I did hear and see the band's name as I wheeled about the East End and the Bardstown Road area of Louisville. Someone around the office once said Bucky could play and write music for 8 different instruments and named them. All I could say was 'wow'! This was a side of Bucky that I knew the least about. So without knowing that curious feature that all Lou'rhvill'ns know, you might call it ironic to find that after losing touch with Bucky in the 80s, it would be music that brings us back together on a social level again.
Everyone reading this column knows, if they've been here a minute, that music is my thing, and now-a-days, the local music scene. I like the freshness, the politics, the genuine lyrics as opposed to the now-a-days MTV made for TV drama music. And we're not talking the Indie music level either. Out here, this style is called 'all-ages' music because it is played at venues that don't serve alcohol. That style of music isn't as common as you might think, what with 300K bands forming a year, all genres, all skill levels. Rarer still is a music scene that produces such music that makes you wonder, why isn't this person/group, the next big thing? Then you listen to the lyrics and understand why. This music is too real for the radio.
Recently as if by accident [but really, when the time was right], I ran across Bucky Montgomery on Facebook. Astounded that after all these years we crossed paths, research revealed that now Bucky lives in Key West, still into art of course, but also into music and compilations of local kick-ass musicians, like here back in the daze of Java Joz, the coolest place this side of Amsterdam. I followed the link, sampled the tunes, but by the time I hit song number 5, Homegrown, I knew I was ordering the CD, The Best of Key West, Vol. 1
This CD is now in my office morning heavy rotation. The music is definitely Southern; this is the Key West night life music scene, hip, poignant, varied, and pure. The songs, styles, and subjects are eclectic, with only track 5 being a reference to today's cannabis culture. The song selection also shows Bucky's touch, a sign of his finesse. The songs work together to form a whole package in presenting a sample of music life in an area that has its own blend of magic.
As I close out my tribute to Bucky who made me the editor I am today, the man who famously put in his Mag's masthead, “Live Music is Your Best Entertainment Value”, I want to leave a plug for a band I know called The Creeping Charlies. Listening to the musicianship of the artists included on your compilation, Bucky, the best thing I can do is share really good music made by extraordinary musicians that I know.
Bucky's artistic magic hasn't diminished either, as his fantasy depiction illustrates a couple of forest nymphs I know who dab a lot of green.
(*- The Kentucky Derby infield has never been segregated in the history of America's greatest racehorse event. For more on this portion of my life, see Ch. 15, WIRED, Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green, Amazon; Audio-book on CDBaby.com)