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The Essay
Show #146
The Art of Grant Writing
David Gunn
Every so often, your genial hosts here at Family Value Vermont Radio take a moment out of their hectic workaday lives to figure out how better to serve you, our listening audient. From a host of possibilities -- such as improving diction, increasing the frequency and quality of giveaways, offering more on-air concerts or bingo, adding an experimental folk singing segment, broadcasting quadraphonically, picking up the pace during tedious interviews, adding video simulcasting, and playing more poultry music -- we keep coming back over and over to one idea: forget altruism; get some cash out of this gig. Yes, we, your humble radiophonic servants, generously offer our services and musical selections out of the goodness of our hearts, not fatness of our pocketbooks. Rarely do we see any recompense for our work. And we would like this to change. Maybe not today, however tomorrow wouldn't be too soon. But welcome fiduciary relief opportunities to entertainers like us don't grow on trees, you know. You have your money from bottle redemption, your girlfriend's wealthy pa, your money laundering, your Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes winning, your panhandling, your -- loathe though I am to admit it -- getting a real job. And then there's the fine art of grant writing.

At first glance, it would seem like a cinch. You fill out an application using a clever combination of chicanery and sesquipedalian words to describe an otherwise cockamamie scheme, mail it to a federal agency known only by its initials, and a month later gobs of cash begin to roll in, thanks in part to pork barrel from a US representative for whom you probably didn't even vote. Ahh, if it were only that simple! No, in reality, it takes a total disassociation from the creative process. Cold data analysis supersedes lyrical thought; aesthetics yields to obfuscation. After working on one of these babies, you're liable to lose all interest in the arts and spend the rest of your cognitive days arguing philosophic non-sequiturs with a helium pancake. Disassembling a Mobius strip in a dank cellar feebly illuminated by stinky ammonia-methane lamps while ravenous hamsters nip at your heels would seem to be less of a waste of time.

But, let's say, hypothermally, that you're determined to submit a grant proposal anyway. You've plugged apocryphal numbers into the budgetary boxes, you've procured the illusion of matching funds from a Chinese junk bondsman, and your project narrative reads like the grand prize winner of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (whose intent, you may recall, is to compose the worst possible opening sentence for an imaginary novel). You've stapled 35 copies of each form to their evil twins into a booklet rivaling in girth The Klingon War Hymns. No matter your good intentions, though, your product is a document of interest only to congenital masochists and maybe a few felons facing lengthy periods of incarceration without access to Oprah. You've just wasted hundreds of hours and umpteen pots o' java -- i.e. the caffeined beverage, not the equally masochistic computer dialect -- on a commodity you'd be ashamed to share with a toxic waste site.

But before you pop your papers into the wood stove, ready to put this ignominious phase of your life behind you, hold on a moment. There's another solution. Find a pro bono attorney who harbors a grudge against the Commerce Department -- and there must be scads of them -- and sue 'em. That's right, take Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program Vs Le Flambeau Oriange all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Even if you don't win, you'll likely wind up with a generous book contract, plus a guest spot on Oprah, or maybe even our show, Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, the introduction to this 146th episode of which is my own tune-up to legal fisticuffs against a bunch of befuddling administrivialists. So before I say any more I may later regret, something which could be used as self-incriminating testimony in a court of law, I'd better cede the airwaves to Kalvos.

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