View Charles Degelman's profile

Gates of Eden: the genesis of an antiwar novel* by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

    My antiwar writing began in a theater. I was working on a new play and the antiwar movement of the 1960s came up in conversation. Several of the actors expressed amazement that there had been a determined movement to stop the war. One actor said something like “Wow! We just thought that all…
Read More

Step Aside by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Politics

/ Stories

A new wave is calling BS on you.
Read More

Holes in my head by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

When I first saw this Retro prompt, a David Sedaris essay* came to mind. Here, Sedaris laments the lack of worthwhile accessories for men. “[Accessories” for men aren’t nearly as interesting as women’s,” he writes. “I have no use for cuff links or suspenders, and while I’ll occasionally pick up a new tie, it hardly…
Read More

Good Riddance — A future retrospective by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

/ Stories

Now we can begin anew.
Read More

The Kiss Messenger by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Fame

/ Stories

I wasn’t smitten by love or lust, but fame, especially when well-deserved, can be, well… awesome.
Read More

Placerville, 1888 — Galoots in mud boots by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Vintage Photos

/ Stories

I had no idea that part of me had come from this place, a California boardwalk town in the northern Sierras. I’d grown up in Massachusetts. Save for one trip to California when I was 10, I knew California as a distant, colorful place that gift packages materialized from, sent by my West Coast aunts…
Read More

The Lost Coast by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By The Twilight Zone

/ Stories

The darkness stretches away in a perfect circle.
Read More

Time is a river… by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

. . . a violent current of events, glimpsed once and already gone past. — Marcus Aurelius
Read More

Sunday Morning at the Monarch Diner by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Restaurants

/ Stories

Ten years feels like an eternity at that age.
Read More

Cranking it out — a reflection on the end of work by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Retirement

/ Stories

Is this retirement? I ask. Nah.
Read More

One year later… tremendo aché by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By A Year in the Life

/ Stories

"Oh, I think the Haitians know how to take care of themselves."
Read More

My friend by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Marijuana

/ Stories

Season after season, he perfects his crop amidst civilization's sturm und drang.
Read More

Technology — Hydra’s extropic head by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Technology

/ Stories

Extropy — an evolving system of tools, methods, and techniques guided by values and standards intended to improve the human condition.
Read More

Recollections: Rocked in Time — blues beginnings… by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

The boy rocked in time to the music, rump bouncing against the back of a ruptured easy chair. He pushed a mouth harp across tiny teeth, accompanying a blues singer over the pops and scratches of a fast-revolving 78-rpm record. The harmonica’s discordant moan caught the rhythm, modality, and feel of the music and bounced…
Read More

A Father and Son Reunion by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Reunions

/ Stories

Reuniting with an unrequited spirit
Read More

Stowaways: Clyde, me, and the CHP by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

He nodded the beak of his perfectly molded, authoritarian-style trooper’s hat in my direction.
Read More

Immeasurable, incomprehensible by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By 9/11

/ Stories

Like matter, gravitational energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
Read More

Enuf o’ this Shit by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

Duck and cover seemed the height of folly, and I'd never felt immortal.
Read More

From Scratch by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

You can make up your own play from scratch. It’s different from interpreting other people's words.
Read More

Outta the West! by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Summer of Love

/ Stories

We were going to a-go-go and the devil be damned.
Read More

4.1 Miles and Three Hundred Fifty Years by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Immigrants

/ Stories

That was then; this is now.
Read More

Periodo Especial by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Travel

/ Stories

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but laugh.
Read More

Science: a future retrospective by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Science

/ Stories

Then, the ecstatic carnival of scientific exploration halted. But why?
Read More

Faith? by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Faith

/ Stories

I’m writing this because somebody asked me about faith and I don’t have any.
Read More

Too many books… by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Altered States

/ Stories

Seeking motivation, the author opened his current lit file and scrolled past folder after folder, doc after doc. Jesus, he thought, this is one big pile of writing, all these little black characters wiggling across a white screen. He recognized travelogues from Cuba, some published, most not; sketched-out narrative postcards about growing up absurd in…
Read More

Tidal Wave by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Women's Lib

/ Stories

exploring chauvinism felt like tumbling through surf
Read More

Trouble in Mind by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By In Trouble

/ Stories

After decades, I’m in trouble again.
Read More

Am I Bourgeois? An unreliable narrative by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By The First Time

/ Stories

What was I doing with this new scheme? Was I planning to…settle down?
Read More

The Lotus and the Schoolboy by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Temptation

/ Stories

I’ve never been big on sin. Sin belongs to a god thing full of good, evil, and punishment, straight-jacketing people with shame, and excommunicating so many nice things. Regardless of my godless stance, at age 11, I helped myself to three temptations. First, I sought out pictures of naked women in magazines, stolen from my…
Read More

The Unrequited by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

My head snapped back and hit the wooden booth.
Read More

Brahmins, transcendentalists, and Sunday school science by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Traditions

/ Stories

...sometimes there would be fresh snow, sparkling white on the granite steps.
Read More

Three American Dreams by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By The American Dream

/ Stories

— I — Tables sag with provender Prime ribs, suckling pigs, purple pomegranates Chewed-on, puked up, wasted detriti Litter the Persian carpets, lounging, waiting not caring Whisked up by a brown man in a white coat Armed with dustpans and broom   Club chairs and sofas gleam with silk and gold fabric Pilfered from global’s…
Read More

Change the world; it needs it. by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

Turn your skills, your craft, your art into a weapon.
Read More

The Great Beyond… Where the hell is it? by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By The Great Beyond

/ Stories

Death? Perhaps I’ve seen plenty of death, although we can never get enough. We’re not allowed to; the damned thing just keeps on comin’. And I doubt that we are morbid by nature; we simply have no control over the end of life beyond the magic and ministrations of good medicine from CAT scans to…
Read More

Scariest halloween ever by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Halloween

/ Stories

...the woman ascending has never visited the devil.
Read More

Dollars, dimes, and the Red Menace by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Best Advice: Money

/ Stories

"Welcome to the American Dream, old man. Not so fast…"
Read More

Monk, Punk, and the San Francisco Deaf Club by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By In the Band

/ Stories

"...one band, one club, and one gig."
Read More

My Last First School Day by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

“Heck,” my partner suggested “Go back to school. Who knows? — maybe you'll even learn something.”
Read More

High Country by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Something Wild

/ Stories

I had been swallowed by the perfect madness of the wilderness.
Read More

Work: a future retrospective by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Working

/ Stories

I am a historian on the interstellar environment Samsara, circa 3200. I explore the many time capsules that were loaded aboard the craft before we departed earth. The capsules were loaded helter-skelter in the pre-launch rush, but I take great delight in randomly sampling their contents. Today I found several intriguing artifacts that had worked…
Read More

Lucky’s Afghans: a 20th-century disaster by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Disasters

/ Stories

How do you reconcile heartbreak and fear, sadness and jeopardy, and the sense that everything is ending? You don’t.
Read More

Wow! I really loved your show… by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By How We Met

/ Stories

The princess lost her startled expression, nodded, and looked deeper. I could see her think, Is this guy for real? How does he know about German expressionism? He’s a musician, for chrissake!
Read More

… to bad rubbish by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Good Riddance

/ Stories

Ronald Reagan, Oliver North, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams and all the other nasty little Neo-Cons… Feel free to add to the rubbish list. It all goes into the dustbin of history.
Read More

Winter Sun by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

/ Stories

Winter Sun was unloading its guitars, the Fender keyboard, PA speakers, and microphones into my Andover Street garage. It was about 3 a.m. and we had just done a free gig to benefit the Dore Street Garage, a woman’s auto repair collective. This all happened in San Francisco when feminism’s second wave was rising strong,…
Read More

Serafina by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By My First Car

/ Stories

I grew up in rural New England and, altho my dad was a scientist who worked in Boston, I spent my school years in a small public school that embraced equal measures of college prep students and shop kids. Many of my friends were the sons and daughters of farmers and mechanics. Out of family…
Read More

Midnight shift at the Bulletin by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

Asshole bosses often don’t realize they’re assholes because they’ve been assholes all their life. Like a frog who doesn’t grok that he or she is slowly parboiling in a pot of hot water, asshole bosses have usually been considered assholes since infancy. Consequently, most assholes develop early defenses to assure themselves that asshole behavior is…
Read More

Johnny never said goodbye… by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Those We Miss

/ Stories

Ever lose somebody without saying goodbye? A friend goes off to war, he wasn’t drafted, he enlisted, it’s been awhile, you’ve gone in opposite directions. No rancor, just divergence, then gone. A girlfriend slides into her father’s car to drive home too late. You lean down, kiss her through the window. She’s so pretty, her…
Read More

I liked Ike, but I was supposed to root for Stevenson by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

Then: Waiting in the railway crossing shack with the gate keeper, hoping for a Boston & Maine diesel to come along. Now: Wishing I could feel the earth shake as a steam locomotive rolled past with a full load of freight, throttle wide open to make the grade.   Then: Watching my mom crank the…
Read More

Rosewood, pewter, oak, resistance, and a friend by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By The Things I Keep

/ Stories

I don’t keep much. Yes, stuff clutters my life but not from way back. Family things went into diaspora after my father died. My mother wisely refused to become the widow Degelman in our little New England town. She sold the house and left for New York University to begin a new life. My personal…
Read More

Stanley Mouse and the little white pill by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Altered States

/ Stories

I set out for California in a three-quarter ton GMC panel truck that burned oil quicker than gasoline. No matter, I had some pals, some cash, a stash, a map, and a mission. When I landed in San Francisco, I re-joined the Mime Troupe, a radical theater company that performed free shows in the parks…
Read More

How soccer saved me from the draft by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Sports

/ Stories

I was too short to play basketball. I wasn’t that great at baseball, although I love the game. Our little high school couldn’t afford a football team. Then along came soccer. Soccer was affordable and — so they thought — less dangerous than football. Soccer was perfect for me. I swam in summer and skied…
Read More

A brief audible history by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

Back in the early days of the Internet, I wrote for a short-lived interactive startup in Santa Monica. I was a practicing jazz musician at the time, so of course I needed the money. Before the interactive outfit folded I happily researched and wrote a brief musical history of Mozart, a jazz jukebox, a classical…
Read More

Charles and Louise — Liars, lovers, and mythmakers by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

I never knew my grandparents. They died long before I was born. My father died before he could describe them to me. Given the circumstances surrounding his time with them, I doubt that he could have told me much. Therefore, my fact-or-fiction report springs from primary source materials including pictures, letters, and newspaper articles and…
Read More

Miles ‘Binky’ Davis — coincidence and convergence by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Pets

/ Stories

Ever confuse coincidence with causality? It can be fun. Somebody you meet on a demo in Madison, Wisconsin shows up at a concert weeks later in San Francisco. Wow! The ex-girlfriend of a city radical materializes unannounced on your rural commune. Both of you are amazed… too weird! People once directed me to the sleeping…
Read More

Santiago de Cuba — a special period vacation by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Vacations

/ Stories

I’ve never been much of a tourist. From my days residing in the Haight-Ashbury to my thin-air existence in the Colorado Rockies, from my street musician days in North Beach to my current residence under the Hollywood sign (nope, not homeless), I’ve been an objet du tourism more frequently than I’ve been a tourist. Nothin’…
Read More

El Año de los Muertos by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Lessons

/ Stories

Some say death can be your ally. Yeah, maybe… If you’re an Inuit shaman or a Yoruba priestess. Some days I can dig it. Mostly I doubt that death teaches us anything. Today marks the year-one anniversary of ZL’s death. I first met Z when she ran into a theater rehearsal and shouted “they’re gonna…
Read More

What I watched, what I didn’t… by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By What We Watched

/ Stories

Television came to our house late in the form of a used 10-inch Motorola with a cabinet as big as the Ritz. Sunday night was family night. Except for dinner, we weren’t big on family rituals but Sunday night was an exception. I’d be called inside to watch “The Ed Sullivan Show” (with varied interest…
Read More

Do you, Mister Jones… by
50
(63 Stories)

/ Stories

Something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, Do you, Mister Jones — Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, 1965   As a teenager I participated with the Quakers to ban the bomb. I celebrated the March on Washington and survived Mississippi Freedom Summer. I learned to play blues and folk…
Read More

Lydia’s Cousin by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Teenager in Love

/ Stories

RURAL MASSACHUSETTS, 1960ish — Over the past year, the girls had shot up… and out. They stuck pink plastic combs into their bobby sock tops and made rude remarks to the junior high girls who had stuffed tissue paper into their bras. Beyond the scent of cologne, deodorant, Clearasil, and cliquish anxiety, the girls were…
Read More

Hair: a devastating dilemma by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Hair

/ Stories

Hair. Always been a big deal to me. I accomplished hormonal lift-off at 11 and immediately shifted into hyper hair-awareness mode. I simultaneously stumbled upon my first rebel role model — James Dean. I became fascinated with him, not for his work in film — Who knew what a method actor was? — but for…
Read More

Can’t Bust ‘Ems by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By What We Wore

/ Stories

I still own a pair of black Can’t Bust ‘Em dungarees that I wore while working as a timber cutter at the Buckshot mine in Eldora, Colorado. I don’t wear them anymore — I’m a little beyond a 1970 waistline — but the rugged old pants still sport the brass buttons sewn onto the beltline…
Read More

Sputnik by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By Lost in Space

/ Stories

We lived at the edge of a forest in Massachusetts. The hay field across the road served as a planetarium surrounded by stone walls and maples. From there, the night sky unfolded for us: an unusual moon, the northern lights, an eclipse, but now. . . who could predict? “Tonight!” My old man shouted. “Sputnik!…
Read More

Digger Bread by
50
(63 Stories)

Prompted By What We Ate

/ Stories

Baking Digger bread had only one stipulation — you had to give it away for free.
Read More