It was ten years ago today that Molly took my house from me in Rockport. Going to that courthouse, and going through what happened there, alone, on June 8, 2012, would easily have been the worst day of my life, if every single day in publishing was not worse. Most people think of hell, the concept, as this unending blast of total pain. What I've learned in the ten years since, in this evil, bigoted industry, with the worst people who have ever lived--that's not hyperbole, and I think these pages prove it's not hyperbole--is that just because one is experiencing 100% agony and torture, does not, paradoxically, mean there can't be more. This is the same house I fight every day of my life to get back. I never let that goal--one of thousands--escape for a moment from my immediate field of vision. I say to myself, "Is this helping you get back to Rockport?" when I want to stop for the day because I'm exhausted with what I've already done. When I don't want to run stairs, I say, "Are you going to be able to get back to Rockport if you die of a heart attack? No. Run your stairs." The background on my phone, what I see every time I turn it on, is a painting from Rockport.
Pretty poor showing yesterday physically. Only ran 1000 stairs, did forty push-ups. Didn't get out there until late. I started the day by adding on to the Judy Garland op-ed. The way this works is thusly: one place wants them at 600 words. Can't be over. They won't use me more more than once a month. I write them to 600 words. Then I take what I wrote and I send it to someone else who is going to boilerplate me. Almost certainly. Same exact email every time. But they'll use a 600 word piece, too. Then there's another place, who wants them at 800 to 850. So I take the 600 word piece and I make a new version. I offer that. Somewhere in the middle of this, I offer the 600 word piece to someone else, who is going to ignore me. Doesn't matter that every last one of these pieces is better than every other op-ed out there. Nothing to do with it. I sent it to another person who publishes straight-up garbage, the kind of things I'd never write, who is going to respond in ten minutes with the exact same "not quite right for us" line. I've never done anything with this guy or this place. If he left today, I'd be in there tomorrow. This is not a bad guy. You can tell. But he's ridiculous. He's not competent. And I look at what they run, sometimes, after his latest "not quite right for us," and there is nothing there for you to read. It's just lowest-level trash. It's boring. It's not writing. I don't know why you'd do it, why you'd run it. It takes no skill. There's no intelligence, the prose is so vanilla. A computer could write it. A tenth grader could write it. It's dry and lifeless, and yet, lowest common denominator for a kind of make-believe smart person at the same time. I have no idea who it's really for. I don't think it's for anyone. Is it what I do? Well, to be fair, no. I write things that are actually worth reading, that aren't boring. There's no room for that? We can't try, you know, including quality? Can't mix it up? It just has to suck? If you write like what this guy runs, you can't go anywhere in life. There's no real market for this. Can't do anything in the world, can't really get readers, can't make a difference. So you need to do writing that falls within those parameters? Why on earth would you want to do that if you had any talent? So, then, this is set up solely for people without any talent, who could be replaced by a computer or a (very boring) ninth-grader? And we wonder why no one wants this stuff and magazines are dying. So who gets that job? Guys like this guy. His roommate from college. His brother-in-law. A former professor. Some guy from his last job where he did this same thing. Then that person comes here, to this site, and they see me. And that is a problem. What I am is a problem. This guy is a simpleton, and not a bad guy, but you're dealing with a dumb person in lockstep to how they think things have to be, because it's all they experience every day. I've seen this in some of his language earlier on. The words aren't his. You have the sense he's incapable of saying a sentence he hasn't heard from someone else before. Is this even a human? I guess. It's just a job to this guy that was handed to him. He's not going to think anything through. I send him what I send him. If something changes, and he lets something through, and they pay me, I'll do it again. I'd do it as much as I could. In the meanwhile, you're sending what you send to someone knowing that no matter what it is, if it's the greatest single thing a human has ever created, or if it's something that would provoke a huge response, or something that millions of people need to read in this world, it doesn't matter. Doesn't matter any more than if you sent this man a blank piece of paper. Or if I sent him something as mediocre as what he does publish. Because we're not related. We're not friends. I didn't give him the loan of my beach house. I'm not doughy and nebbish-looking. There is a lot of that in my world, that theme of no matter what it is, it just doesn't matter. It could be the cure for cancer and the fulfillment of eternal life for your soul in the form of a piece, a story, or a book, and it does not matter at all. None of this is about any of that. These people can know that's what they have, and it still does not matter, because this is entirely about other things, and they are entirely about other things. I talk to people about it. They have such confidence. They say I have time and I will get there, and when it changes, it will change fast, and there is no artist there has ever been who remotely compares, and no one can deny that. They tell me that they understand how and why I feel as I do, but to keep doing what I do, because there is no doubt, to them, that this is all going to change, because it has to on account of what I am, that there is nothing that could hold back this work indefinitely. I try to have this optimism--if it's even that--rub off on me, because to keep going requires trying to find fuel wherever I can. I siphon some here, siphon some there. This guy I'm talking about doesn't bother me as much, because this isn't what I most do, most am. This is an op-ed thing. It's not There Is No Doubt: Story Girls or a Beatles book. I'm also dealing with a man who will never do in seventy years what I do in a single half hour of my life. And I'm going to him like he knows, which is the ass backwards set-up, like he's the expert, and what, we're supposed to pretend that's the hierarchy here? A big problem, often, is that that person doesn't think that, if they know me or they visit the site. Then they get so angry and defensive. Threatened. It's like there should be a blanket over the site to protect these people in their fragility. I don't think this person is that way. They're just really dumb, simple, and weak. They don't have it in them to think. At all. Whatever. I'll send him the next thing.
A producer approached me about working on a film. It was a bad pitch, with poor grammar, that was also quite insulting, for a bad idea that neither works or is true, so, that's a no-go. And I would imagine they didn't intend to pay. If you want someone to work for you, don't approach them by saying, "I stumbled across your name." Have some respect. Make them feel valued to you, and like you would value their services.
People are awful at just about everything. Excepting my plumber. I find it ironic that whenever anyone is investigated for something about their job, often prompted by some news story, the study shows that they did this wrong, this wrong, that wrong, etc. People think, for instance, that this is endemic to, say, cops. But if you did this with anyone, in any job or position, you'd get the same report of incompetence back. (Can you even imagine doing this with publishing people?) Everyone is bad, for the most part, at everything. It takes care and dedication to be good at things. Some things require care, dedication, and intelligence. Then you're talking a single person out of millions.
I then wrote two prefaces. One for Glue God: Essays (and Tips) for Repairing a Broken Self and one for Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. Those totaled 4000 words. The writing took me until 11:15. Do you know how long it takes these people who are fake-creamed over and awarded, licked and lauded in The New York Times, to write 4000 lousy words? That's six months right there.
Lost respect for Cam Neely in the firing of Bruce Cassidy. If anyone should have gone for the Bruins, it was general manager Don Sweeney. That would have meant Cassidy would have been fired because a new person would be in charge. But to just fire Cassidy is Neely looking after his buddy Sweeney. It's obvious cronyism. Neely was such an honorable player on the ice, but it's clear to me that he's not an honorable man. Also: the Bruins are going to be bad next year. The Red Sox--at two games over .500--have the second best team out of the four major Boston teams. The Patriots will also be bad. I think there's a strong chance this upcoming season will be Belichick's last. They may be a last place team.
Reading this morning about Deshaun Watson. Great guy. Not a sick fuck who uses the hell out of women at all. I wonder if a white quarterback would still be in the league if he'd done what Watson has done. It's honestly sickening. What the hell is wrong with this guy? What a low class piece of trash. I am surprised that it is allowed to go on. His career. And Cleveland brought him in, gave him all this money? Couldn't his career be over any time? Seems like it should be. These are some ugly charges. And sixty-six women in a year and a half or whatever it is? Great stuff. Not an abusive, power-wielding piece of shit at all. And like an animal that can't control itself. It's very strange to me thinking of people watching this guy, hoping he completes the third down pass. I think there's a possibility he doesn't take a snap for the Browns. They may be left holding the bag, which would serve them right.
Then again, Jim Kaat is white, and he still has a job, which blows my mind. He tries to give a pitcher a compliment by comparing him to a molester. This, after last year making one of the most racist remarks I've ever heard in the mainstream, when he went to the well and referenced how slaves were promised a certain amount of acres of land as a post-slavery settlement, and how he'd like to have a twenty-five acres' field worth of players like the particular player of color he was talking about. This is a classic, old school racist. He doesn't even know when he's doing it. There is no way he would have called a white pitcher a molester. That's association. Remember that game where someone says a word and you say the first one that comes to your mind? That's what Kaat does, and the true colors come out. This was some dark stuff, man. And obviously I'm not someone who hunts for those "gotcha" moments. I think sometimes things can be so extreme, that people, being stupid, are too stupid to realize that anything has even happened. Kaat's comments strike me that way.
I wrote a 3200 word piece on rhythm and blues singer Arthur Alexander, which is excellent. I'll go through and fix it up shortly. Here is last night's Downtown segment, a half hour about some of F. Scott Fitzgerald's early writings. Today I located a previously non-circulating Stone Roses tape from Sheffield on February 20, 1989--so it's two-and-a-half weeks after the Manchester Hacienda gig. A fascinating discovery. The tape features what could well be the only pre-reunion live performance of "Bye Bye Badman." Never expected to hear the likes of that.
This is the Rockport painting on my phone. It's called Autumn in Rockport, by Aldro T. Hibbard.