Wild Dog, Who Are You?

“Welch is a sprightly fellow with (a) spunky mind” who “brings a critical eye and a fresh voice.” – The Washington Post.

Wild Dog’s southernmost camper-van in the continental U.S.A.

THE MAGAZINE.

Boy meets girl and dog.

Boy, girl and dog fall in love.

Boy, girl and dog start magazine.

Hiawatha Moscowitz wanted a newsletter to keep in touch with her many friends and loved ones.  I wanted at least one market – loose term – for my iconoclastic columns.  We both wanted to share our adventures with others.

We call ourselves WILD DOG after a favorite Austrian folk fable about the dog who, having known captivity, escapes to enjoy freedom in the wild.  Such an animal is more dangerous and more cunning, we learn, than wolves who have never known submissive domesticity.  He remembers the chains.  Something like that.

WILD DOG is who we are.  WILD DOG is the spirit of life and laughter.  WILD DOG is about the places we visit, the sights we see, the things we do and the people we meet.  WILD DOG is about listening to which way the wind blows, stopping to smell the flowers, feeling the sun on your face.

WILD DOG is produced by two professional writers, a man and a woman, two people who determined to break loose from the paradigm, two lovers who decided talk is cheap, the time to act is now. WILD DOG is produced by a couple who decided to become their own heroes. And needed an adventure to be in.

 

We operate by a philosophy of life which predates the magazine.  The Code of Wild DOG …. DOGGONE IT! DEFY THE ODDS. BREAK LOOSE. ADAPT YOUR GAME. DO THE WORK. ACT NOW. AMAZE YOURSELF. ASSIST THE VICTIMS. BECOME YOUR OWN HERO.  We know why the chained dog barks, so we challenged ourselves to get off the porch. The magazine seemed like a natural extension of our trip.

Ah yes, The Trip.

Picture this. Called Northwest Portland home for a dozen years, lured there by a beat-up but beatific bohemian atmosphere, artists and writers everywhere, affordable and twenty-four-hours-a-day active. Suddenly!  Coffee shops sprouted overnight.  S.W.A.T. teams of Californians waving gold cards. Valet parking at your own house.

Then This Works, the area’s most prestigious weekly shopper, killed my column and replaced me with Erma Bombeck.  Seems S.I. Newhouse would rather pay twenty-five dollars to an Arizona millionairess, total stranger, than two hundred to a beloved local writer who actually needs the money.  Next morning I found two transients living in my basement.  A huge pile of human feces blocked my path to the washer & dryer.  So I went to the mall.  Ex-governor Neil Goldschmidt was emcee for the shopping center’s grand reopening, with James DePriest and the Oregon Symphony as musical accompaniment.  That day, for me, Portland lost some of its sparkle.

Hiawatha wanted to travel.  We both needed to get out of town.  The first day of National Mental Health Awareness Month.. I climbed behind the wheel, Hiawatha sat shotgun and Andy watched our one-eighty and the Merry Miler, a seventeen-foot-long 1976 Chevy campervan, began a year-long circumnavigation of the contiguous Lower Forty-eight United States.  (Only one dent.)

We visited the Nixon Library and saw no books. Visited Graceland and found no Elvis. Closed on Tuesday. Entered Louisiana and eluded the Klu Klux Klan Visitors Bureau. In Mississippi, even the dirt looked tired. In Miami, we kidnapped nationally syndicated columnist and Beatle impersonator Dave Barry. Found a forgotten friend in New Hampshire who had a huge hideout, rested with him for a month.

We discovered long lost relatives, a few should’ve remained that way.  Made love camped under a “Beware of Poisonous Snakes” sign.  Amazing to me, still, how rude the open road can be. Weeks without a familiar face or place.  Months without sleeping in a real bed. Months.

 

So, we wrote. Living in a van, bugs and rain, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, a foreign country, we started WILD DOG. A literary magazine was the only thing made sense at the time.

Tell you the truth, first few issues of WILD DOG were a bit depressing, bleak. You haven’t lived until you’ve done three days in Key West on seven and a half bucks. Two adults and a dog.  Three days.

Or had a cop pull you out of bed at gunpoint at three a.m. Everywhere we went, the local paper headlined “The Worst Weather On Record.” We were often unhappy campers. Any hack writer knows, the worst experiences are the easiest to write about. Not the easiest to read.

Paid for the printing of that shiny first issue – calendar format – with two credit cards, borrowing fifteen hundred dollars at eighteen percent interest. The second edition, as a cost-cutting measure, we printed on newsprint.

#2, looked like shit and Hiawatha broke into tears.

#3, bought the paper ourselves and spent eleven hours on a concrete floor in the basement of an office building feeding pages into a photocopier. Kinko’s did the binding.

#4, fell victim to a smooth-talking printing salesman who made all sorts of promises he never kept. If he’s smart, he’s still sleeping with one eye open. Hiawatha hasn’t forgotten, I haven’t forgiven.

#5, discovered at last a printer who offered the sort of craftsmanship we were looking for. Keep in mind we are still producing the magazine on IBM-compatible laptops, running Microsoft Word. Hardly state-of-the-art.

#6, same printer, snazzier layout. Superb reviews and not enough money to pay for the next press run.

#7, the breakout edition, Clyde Rice, Walt Curtis, Cynthia Heimel, cover art by Marly Stone, we’re looking for a new printer, someone capable of helping us to the next level.  Someone cheaper. Going four-color if we can find a patron or two.  Hell, I DARE somebody to give WILD DOG a grant.

 

Doggone it!  Suppose a couple of writers defied the odds, started a wildly funny, wonderfully thought-provoking, helluva good-looking piece full of wisdom and happy endings, where other writers are welcomed to slip the leash.  Break loose and go for broke.  WILD DOG, a pair together start art and make myth chief and share friends, with friends.  Chiseled words and fuzzy tummies. Simple.

WILD DOG is a community of the spirit. The spirit of freedom, the open road, new byways, howling at the moon, monogamy in many things.  You know, like the saying goes, men are from Mutts, women are from Pluto.

It’s a man-woman thing, WILD DOG.

Well, a man-woman-dog thing.

Just dig it.

Woof!

 

Postscript.  Wild Dog Number Seven never happened.  Some of the names have been changed.

Let’s be honest here.  That adventure makes me a little proud.

“Welch is a sprightly fellow with (a) spunky mind” who “brings a critical eye and a fresh voice.” – The Washington Post.

A quote like that, you’d think a guy could get a job.

But no. – JDW

 

 

One comment on “Wild Dog, Who Are You?
  1. JDW says:

    Now that I think about it, might not myself hire somebody who was “sprightly, spunky, critical and fresh.” Guy like that bound to piss you off.

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