A different Baxter Black book
While browsing in the wonderful western bookstore at Wall Drug, Wall, S.D., I came across a book by Baxter Black titled Lessons From a Desperado Poet, the paperback edition was published by TwoDot in 2011. It has a foreword by Wilford Brimley.
What a find! Baxter talks about the philosophy of his career and that he’d done some 1,500 shows by 2011; I wonder how many total he’s presented by now. He missed only four performances, one due to the birth of his son. That is the kingpin — you show up when you say you will. It might surprise those in the entertainment industry to know that once he was on his way to a gig, he handled all of the changes that had to be made in scheduling by himself. He had a list of other potential flights that he could take if the occasion arose. He also rented cars and drove some of the legs of a trip to make good on his word. Times when the planes couldn’t fly due to blizzards, he went anyway in a rented vehicle.
He writes of getting books published, using an agent (or not), his office crew, and how he ended up on National Public Radio by sheer doggedness. Readers learn about his appearances on Johnny Carson and why he self-limited his appearance on Carson. Throughout the book, Baxter has written 118 short lessons, two to three sentences long, good points all.
He credits FFA with a big boost to his public speaking abilities. When he was in college, he used every opportunity to make a few dollars, always as an entrepreneur. He realized hot coffee would be welcome in the vet lab, so he bought a second hand coffee percolator, cheap coffee grounds and every morning arrived before anyone to brew the coffee. He made some money from this project. He hand-carved leather belts, cut hair for other students, and ran a laundry concession for vet students. Baxter sent the dirties to a laundry, paid the bill and when the clothing came back clean, he sorted and arranged the clothing, billing each customer and adding a little into the price for himself. He also earned by playing and singing in a country western band. In Lesson #18, he writes, “The singer in the band is often not the best singer, or the best musician. He is the person who knows the words. Be on time and know your part.”
The Solid Gold Mailbox by Walter Weintz, helped Baxter with his mail-order business in the pre-internet days. Through this inspiration, Baxter sent out several thousand large mailings, which included a “by two, get one free” coupon, that had an expiration date. Now that is promotion, and it’s one he continues to utilize, because it works.
This book should be required reading for post high school students or anyone who isn’t sure about life’s challenges. Baxter knows where to draw the line due to his principles and his examples teach it. Interspersed are poems, illustrations and more fun stuff. There are many suggestions for writers of prose, poetry or those who just enjoy Baxter’s writing and appreciate his deep faith.
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