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Shave I the Chin Whiskers Austin Billie Lee Brammer, who once upon a time marched up to New York City and got published a fine novel \(which plagued thang near-about ruint the whole Texas Legislature and Scholz Beer Garten and a certain current President The Newited States in their frentic exertions to adjust upward or downward, as each case may who was brought out in prestigeous flaming red hard-cover under the more ethereal name of William Brammer for to impress old friends and fool old creditors, and took to wearing flitty-looking Tattersall vests and noxious violet blazers for a spell and who spent a whole buncha money getting his teeth honed and capped and otherwise fixedand then even went and became a staff writer for Time, where if you have got teeth they pull ’em,and who had earlier strayed off the L.B.J. Washington range where he was a promising young wrangler among the old waddies, and who contracted for mysterious duties at the Youth Festival in Helsinki but could not fulfill the pact on account the crippled ship on which he booked hobo-type steerage could not surmount outgoing tides surging along at six knots, and who finally hitch-hiked all over the face of Europe and flopped maybe in purls naturalibus in Paris, France and Madrid, Spain and funny places like that there, and lived off the largess of Warren Miller and other prolific writers who are not easily parted from their wampumOle Bill Brammer, who did all those weird things, finally got broke and hungry and Recovered His Lost Values and Went Home Again. To Dallas. this very fine Journal of Free Voices, B.L.B. had the double-barreled audacity and uncommon cheek to write how he could so flaunt the Talmuds of Thomas Wolfe and go home again as Famous Arthur, and had. Like he got away with something, was the way he told it. THERE BREATHES no soul in Southern meridians who has watched popeyed for more dawn-kissed hours than has Larry King has been administrative assistant to J. T. Rutherford when he was congressman from West Texas and has held a similar position on the staff of Cong. Jim Wright, Fort Worth. King was in Austin this summer but has now repaired to other haunts to finish a novel. 6 The Texas Observer Larry King your present hero while Billie Lee gorged himself on Dr. Peppers and Mars Bars and Fig Newtons and his_ very own specialty \(hot strawberry jello water consumed from murky quart milk bottle, which B.L.B. claimed had powers to cure chillblains and himself of wisdom on Proust, Freud, Othello, John Lee Smith, Allen Ginsburg, Charley Bird Parker, Freemasonry, goat roping and wing walking. It was all mighty heady stuff to an innocent heart who cannot discern the difference between Ginsburg and Gildersleeve or Bird Parker and Kate Smith. But I huddled at my mentor’s feet there in the squalid clutter of his rowhouse hard by the turgid Potomac, experiencing the birth pangs of The Gay Place, exchanging with the budding Famous Arthur the verbal vehicles in which we would rip off in wild pursuit of carooming dreams. It was there and then I decided what I wanted to be in Life: a Famous Arthur like William Brammer. Only taller. Well, if there is a point to the parable, the first pinprick is simply this: I am already taller than my idol and have an uncertain leg up toward becoming a Famous Arthur. True, I have not actually published anything. But unless the good grey men of McGraw-Hill prove unworthy of their corporate word, they are pledged to bring out my first novel come February next with appropriate thumping of tubs. And, unless Observer-Ex Willie Morris was talking through his grog some months ago at rendezvous in Washington, am destined to appear Late This Year in the hallowed pages of Harper’swhich magazine does not make burderfsome disposition of gold nuggets upon its authors, but which most definitely assures them of how literary and academic poobahs will sit up ‘and take slack-jawed notice of their Art. And if a boy’s head is easily turned, that will reach out and grab him some. The second point of the parable has to do with other correlating similarities between your current celebrity and the more lionized Dr. Brammer. Like mine mentor, I cannot spell cat without using a X. And that is a fack. Like him, my literary outpourings are largely of hoo-hawing, knee-kneading, goddamn-ing, flesh-pressing Pols from pot-likker and pellagra latitudes. And I, too, toiled some years in Washington for Texans of unusual piety and trust, my latest keeper having been Congressman Jim Wrong. \(Only the name has been B.L.B., I threw up the whole shebang in a flight of vaporous huff, high-tailing home to Texas when hungry and broke and haunted by the Muse. WELL, not really Home. Home is Midland, where what passes for skyscrapers rises off the bleached face of the vast and mismade plane. Where the .oillionnaires and neanderthal Republicans with low, sloping foreheads and angry John Birchers \(in full tremble over fluoridation of drinking water and impeaching cloudy all dayso long as the 27 1/2% dodge does not run afoul of unlikely applications of justice, and the Railroad Commission grunts up a sizeable monthly oil allowable, and boom-times do not bring in any more of those Undesirable Democrats who agitate for living wages and Ralph Yarborough and I-don’t-know-whut all. Yeah, I remember Midland like some folks remember Mama. She was a hard old mother, this Midland, where in pre-World War II days the Cowdens spoke only to the Scharbauers, and the Scharbauers spoke only to Him. I do not know what Professor Brammer recalls of his Dallas youth, but I recall of my halcyon years sandstorms and talking in Tongues at foot-stomping Baptist Youth Crusades for Christ and mowing rich folks’ lawns under parboiling sun without being offered a snort of ice water and infuriating the school board for joining the Army when I had a year of football eligibility left and weighed damn-near two hundred pounds besides. And later, the advance guard of the invading Yankee come to wear big hats and play Wheeler Dealer and get more chauvinistic than a native Texan possibly could. And being turned in to the F.B.I. by a well-meaning matron with unsightly bosoms because I was for Adlai Stevenson and Ralph Yarborough in the same year. For all the crusades were for Saint-Ike-The-Clean then and Christ would just have to shift for Himself. Oyez, I will put up my Home of Midland against Brammer’s Dallas and throw in my Landon button to boot. SO THE MOMENT OF TRUTH approaches. My three children, who have discarded for the summer their christening names to masquerade improbably as Esther Faye Gooch, Fredericka Peckinpaugh and Nonny Teeves, respectively \(their idea not ring in the genes and bawl to trek west