Magic and the theme parks

When my daughter was ten years old (give or take), my wife and I took her to see Disney World. She remembered. So this spring, she went back to Disney World and Universal Studios with her husband and two daughters. It was nice to meet them there and watch the reactions of another generation. As before, my brother and his wife were there for this visit.

Gringott’s at Universal Studios in Orlando – Malcolm R. Campbell photo

At my age, walking through theme parks for four days is hard on the legs and ankles and dangerous when one is hit by parents wielding strollers and run into by people gawking at the sights rather than watching where they are going. In spite of the sun screen, it’s hard to avoid getting sunburned.

On this trip, my wife and I enjoyed the nostalgia of the carousels. When it comes to riding in a car on rails combined with 3-D animation, life-sized automaton characters, and the design of the rooms, I thought the most creative ride at Universal Studios was the tour of Gringott’s Bank in Diagon Alley. The train ride to Hogwarts was also fun.

Unlike the children, I see the theme parks as huge, money making enterprises that play on the popularity of films to bring people into crowded attractions where the time spent waiting in lines is the longest part of the experience. Plus, I cannot help but note that the exit to every ride and attraction leads out through a gift shop. I see this for what it is.

I also see it has an experience that, for the children–and the children within each of us–can re-ignite the magical experiences of the films, and also create a few new memories. Anything that reminds us of the magic has my stamp of approval in spite of the commercialization of it. Parents need to hold the reins on spending, of course, but allowing the children time to let their imaginations run free is a wonderful gift.

The magic is certainly well-orchestrated by the parks, but it is nonetheless very real to all who believe,


I use magic in most of my novels and short stories, most recently “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman,”

Revising and rewriting old books

Looking at the older drafts of my book and short story manuscripts is similar to going down into the Grand Canyon and seeing the strata of past eras stacked up like cord wood.

Every revision of a book came at a different era of my life, eras that no longer represent the focus of my thinking in the present. Same story, of course, just as I’m still the “me” of ten or twenty years ago. But the ambiance is different. The emotions change, too, depending on whether I was angry about something similar to an event in the novel or, some years later, felt more mellow about it.

oldbookI’m reworking an old novel now that has gone out of print. I’m surprised by some of the things I find: (a) Wow, did I write that? (b) Crap, why the hell did I say that? (c) I don’t remember this scene at all.

I try never to change the basic story, but tend to polish a little here and clarify the meaning a little there. Of course, Amazon keeps everything, including books that came and went years ago and haven’t been in print for years. So, if I get this book fixed up the way I want it, there will be an author’s note at the beginning that tells readers the names of previous versions. (I’m not into the romance authors’ ploy of releasing old stories with new names and/or new covers so that readers buy them without realizing they read the things 20 years ago.)

Self discovery

A writer’s journey down into the depths of his older work shows him (hopefully) that he’s writing better stories today than he wrote when he first started out. Most of my really old stuff never gets revised! The work also shows him where he might have slipped in recent years as though he forgot about some of his better techniques. He sees changes in himself as well, for the work–as Virginia Woolf wrote in Orlando, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”

If you’ve ever come across a diary you kept years ago or the saved letters you wrote to an old friend or family member who’s since passed on, you know what I’m talking about. No matter how careful or flippant or circumspect you were, your secrets are still there–the secrets about yourself as you were then, whenever you wrote what you wrote. What a strange and eerie way to re-discover the selves we thought we’d outgrown and buried in the past.

I see all this when revise or rewrite old books. In some ways it’s a blessing, and it some way’s it’s not.


If you love magical realism, Florida, conjure or a bit of mystery, I invite you to discover my two folk magic novels, “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman.” 



Out of the Darkness Walks – Team STRAT

outofdarknessThe Out of the Darkness Community Walks are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) signature fundraising campaign, bringing together family, friends, colleagues, and supporters at 3-5 mile walks in hundreds of communities across the country.

When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Community Walks, you join the effort with thousands of people to raise funds and awareness for AFSP’s vision to create a world without suicide.

from Barry Campbell:

We will be walking on February 7, 2015, for David Campbell (aka STRAT) – beloved son, father, rap artist, poet, and friend.  He touched the lives of many and his footprints on their lives enhanced their world.  Although we have lost him in life, he will live through his son Taylor, his poetry, his music, and many wonderful memories.  He will be forever loved and remembered by his family and friends.

We will be joining with many other people to walk in the Orlando 8th Annual Community Walk, benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and we would appreciate any support that you give for this worthwhile cause.


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is at the forefront of research, education and prevention initiatives designed to reduce loss of life from suicide. With more than 39,000 lives lost each year in the U.S. and over one million worldwide, the importance of AFSP’s mission has never been greater, nor our work more urgent.

You can visit the Team STRAT page here. My wife and I miss David (STRAT) as well as his creativity expressed through his songs and poetry. And, like my brother and his wife, we enjoy watching David’s son Taylor growing up even though we live too far away from Orlando to see him as often as we would like.

These walks not only help raise funds but are walks of a million memories.



New STRAT Recording Released

Orlando, FL, PRLOGJun 07, 2011 – A recording of Dave Campbell (aka STRAT) performing his poem “only love”, was released this month and is available from  

Previous releases include the CD “big bad slam poet” which has a collection of 14 poems written and performed by Campbell and a book with the same name as the CD.   

Campbell, who died in 2008, won numerous poetry slams and rap battles.  He is known to many in the Orlando area arts community and beyond as a talented poet and hip hop artist.  He grew up in the Orlando area and refined his poetry and hip hop skills while working at various jobs.


Out of the Darkness

Every sixteen minutes, someone in the United States dies by suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

The AFSP conducts Out of the Darkness walks to increase national awareness and to help raise funds for education and research for suicide prevention.

I am pleased that my brother, Barry, will be participating in the upcoming Orlando, Florida Annual Community Walk on February 5th. He will be walking for TEAM STRAT in honor of the late rap artist and poet David Campbell (STRAT).

“Although we have lost him in life, he will always live on through his son Taylor, his poetry, his music, and many wonderful memories.”

The Orlando walk will be held February 5, 2011 at Baldwin Park: 2420 Lakemont Ave.

Orlando’s Real Open Mic Plans STRAT Tribute

Orlando area poets will hold a tribute to the late poet and hip hop performer Dave Campbell (aka STRAT), on Wednesday, March 17th at Orlando’s Real Open Mic to celebrate the release of his poetry book “big bad slam poet” and his CD with the same name.

Campbell, who died in 2008, is known to many in the Orlando area arts community and beyond for his poetry and hip hop talents. He won many poetry slams and rap battles.

Fellow poet Curtis Meyer wrote, “to see STRAT freestyle was scary, not only because of the quality of his lines, but because he could go on forever. It was as if poetry was trapped in his body possessing him, trying to get out.”

Campbell’s poetry will be read at the tribute by some of the poets who knew him best, including National Poetry Slam participants. Copies of his book and CD will be available for purchase after the show. Orlando’s Real Open Mic is held at Urban Deli located at 625 East Central Boulevard and begins at 8:00 p.m. Admission is free.


‘big bad slam poet’ published

from Barry Campbell…

Poetry by STRAT
A book of poetry, “big bad slam poet,” by Dave Campbell (aka STRAT) was released this month. Campbell, who died last year, is known to many in the Orlando area arts community and beyond as a talented poet and hip hop artist. He won numerous poetry slams and rap battles. He grew up in the Orlando area and refined his poetry and hip hop skills while working at various jobs.

Campbell’s book has insightful poems about relationships and life in general. In addition to the poetry book, a CD with the same name as the book and with Campbell performing 14 of his poems is expected to be released by the end of the year. The name of both the book and the CD are also the title of one of Campbell’s poems.

Curtis Meyer, a five time participant at the National Poetry Slam, said that “it was as if poetry possessed” Campbell. Campbell “oozed charisma and talent” and “epitomized spoken word as an art form” according to Meyer.

Click on the photo link for more information. The book should become available at additional online booksellers in the coming weeks.

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