Emmanuel Burgin

How Vagabond Blues came to be:  Emmanuel writes:

“I was under contract with the L.A. Thunderbolts football club when it folded. I had given myself a deadline of three years to make it into the National Football League, and after three years of free agent tryouts, the Thunderbolts had been my last and best chance of reaching the N.F.L. 

Not long after my decision to move on with my life post-football, I received a call to play in a league that was transforming itself from semipro into a legitimate Minor League organization hoping to become a steppingstone to the N.F.L. 

After accepting the minor league offer, I found myself in a small city in Northern California, sitting at a raised circular bar with a teammate in the windowless drinking hole called the Sports Tavern. We were looking out over what would become our new teammates. It was a motley group. The team had not officially assembled and players from all over the country continued to arrive and the tavern had become the team’s port of call. 

Looking out over my new teammates. It dawned upon me we were no longer college players playing for the old college spirit. No, we were all mercenaries. It reminded me of scenes from pirate movies where all the pirates sat drinking and singing songs: a rough crew, waiting to set sail in search of pirate booty. We were nothing more than pirates in search of pieces-of-eight, except our treasure was an N.F.L. contract.

The written word and the romance of writing and traveling the world had smitten me since my sophomore high school English class and my introduction to poetry, and to the short stories of Ernest Hemingway and his lifestyle. I turned to my new teammate and said, “I am going to write about these guys. My new teammate asked, ‘“Oh yeah, what are you going to call it?”’ And I replied, ‘Vagabond Blues.’”

Read the Prologue

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Or borrow Vagabond Blues from your public library. If you live in California, just click the link below. If you live elsewhere, consult your librarian, who should be able to order it.

Also by Emmanuel:  The Bean Bandits

San Diego enjoys a long and storied race car and drag racing history, and the Bean Bandits are a huge part of that heritage. Yet their story remains buried in plain sight. Told here in photographs garnered from private, personal, and historical collections, the 1950s pioneering exploits of Bean Bandits leader Joaquin Arnett and his contributions to that racing history come to life.