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Art

Friday 3/20/20

I have to haul ass. It's almost noon, I had a crippling anxiety attack that I felt was going to knock me dead this morning. I am not functioning at all, I can't function, I can't face anything. What I can do, every now and again, is scrape myself together to compose. I just looked at the mail--the physical mail--for the first time in a month. That's how little I can function right now. Everything gives me a panic attack. I don't know how my heart can go so fast. Can I have a heart attack like this, from the fear? I have ran three miles six days in a row and I'll do that in a few minutes, as soon as this is done. That's twenty-two straight days of either climbing or running. I watched Blow the Man Down this morning. It was good, I liked it. I may have to write about it later today, I don't know. I hope so, because I need money.


I don't have any good news while life is this way and this is the kind of thing that would be good--great--news if life was not this way, but I wrote a major work of fiction called "Shed, A Pandemic Narrative," the story I had begun on Sunday. It's complete now. The story is every bit as good as "First Responder" and "Fitty." I mention those works because they are similar in that they are works of fiction dealing with current events that give us a new perspective on those events while also being works of art that transcend current events. If you put this story in The New Yorker or The Atlantic you would have a viral story about a virus, allowing that I am not cursed and doomed and it's possible for anything with my name atop it to do anything. What is most likely going to happen is I am going to offer this wonderful, gripping, stunning short story to people who hate me, who will uniformly ignore the story, despite what it could do, despite how flat out bloody amazing it is. It's 4300 words long.


This is a piece I wrote for JazzTimes on McCoy Tyner that ran a couple weeks ago but I only saw it yesterday because of the aforesaid inability to face anything. I had offered this to three people at The New Yorker--Haglund, Agger, Remnick--but as I have said and is quite apparent, I am hated there. Obviously it has nothing to do with the work, as this is better than any music writing The New Yorker publishes. All of it is. Am I not supposed to think that? Say that? I was supposed to live my entire life never thinking or saying that? There couldn't have come a point when I probably should say that?


The editor of JazzTimes put up that piece on Facebook saying he likes when art leads to more art, which is nice to have someone say it, because the piece is a work of art. Other people cover things, and not very well, because I think they have limited knowledge and limited prose chops. I don't cover things, I don't even really write about things, in one way. I create new works of art, stand-alone works of art. Even with the "arts" pieces. And no one does that. They write on subjects. I go so far beyond merely writing on a subject. Rarely does anyone say anything, though, about my work, including editors, so it's nice that someone did. I think what happens is that some of this stuff is considered so obvious, such a given, that people feel there is no need to say how great it is, the net result being that no one says anything about any of it and that hurts me, it hurts me bad, it hurts my chances bad, too. Because you end up being marveled at, with no one saying a damn word, no one following, no one awarding, no one soliciting, offering, paying deserved amounts. It becomes this orgy of silence where someone like me hears nothing but rustling grass, if that, sees the ninety Twitter followers, sees the four people each week visit my Facebook author page, and tries not to give in to death and can barely even remember what hope looks like.


The common denominator I see with people who have massive followings is that they are stupid. They say stupid things. I don't mean provocative things. I mean boring ass things of no interest, value, humor. Nothing new, just stupid stuff. But again, I'm not saying stupid as in non-intellectual. I am saying they could say anything. They could post that they just went to Starbucks. There is nothing there. But the common denominator is being stupid. Or simple. Or both. And by simple, I'm not bemoaning a lack of complexity. When you're a kid, Sesame Street isn't complex, but it's not simple like I mean simple. What I think--and fear--happens is that people mostly want to be interested in and follow other people like who they are, only the people they follow have a blue check mark, are a celebrity, work for some media outlet. It's them, but them with a cape. No powers. No new powers. Just the shiny cape. Because I look at this shit, and you can't convince me that any one of these 687K followers of person X finds a single word of it interesting, worth reading, funny, cheeky, compelling, anything.


I think it just parallels their lives. I think it's no more interesting to them than their own simple observations. I think if something is truly entertaining, truly funny, truly compelling, they don't want it. I think that makes them feel shame about what they cannot do. I hope I am wrong, because I need to be, in part, or I am absolutely fucked whether an industry is entirely standing against me or if they all get in a line to fluff my balls, which would only happen if they stand to gain money and fame (by association), if that. As a general rule, publishing people are far more interested in maintaining what they perceive of as power and their hierarchy of clicks than they are of business. And doing the same old, same old.


You know what reminded me a bit of publishing from this week? The Colts. They brought in Philip Rivers to be their quarterback, when they could have had Tom Brady. Bother are older quarterbacks, call that a wash. Brady is obviously better. But they went with Rivers because they have a coach who has worked with him before. It was the same old. It was more conservative. It was lazier. Publishing is like that. Not the new, not the huge ass once in a lifetime opportunity, not something fresh, not something to actually get excited about, not something you feel you need to deliver to the world, that it's your duty, your cause, one of the things you might be here for. No. It's the same old. They don't think in terms of new. They think in terms of same old. It's what they like. And their industry is dying. But they just stick to what has got them to death's door. True, there are not a lot of opportunities to get behind anyone new, because to get anywhere in publishing, for a long, long, long time now, you had to be inculcated in the system, you had to write in these moronic, pointless ways. It is the currency of the system, along with having gone to Yale or some such. So now, nobody can write well, interestingly, compellingly, let alone galvanically, let alone specially. Nobody can write anything that anyone would truly give a fuck about. You see what is happening to the one person who only writes stuff that simply by dint of seeing it you have to give a fuck about it, because it is written so that that could only be the case. They don't want to give a fuck. They are not here to give a fuck. They are here to be entirely passive, and to decide who gets to come into their country club.


This morning I updated the News tab on this site and the On air tab. Everything else is hopelessly outdated, but I will do the best I can going forward to update the other sections. I wrote a fine op-ed on Tom Brady's departure, with, as per usual, a completely different perspective, slant, angle. I don't know what I am going to do with it, if I will be able to do anything with it. I don't want to put it up on here, because that doesn't get me paid. If this blog takes off at some point and is massively popular--which I think it can be, given the nature of its content--then it can be a subscription thing and I think people would pay. There is nothing like this journal, and obviously I give so much time, energy, effort, to creating the content, while doing all of my other work. You can imagine what that's like,what making this journal alone is like. Meanwhile, saw this on Facebook yesterday. "It took six months and a pandemic to get me to write a blog post again." That's one of them. That's one of them who went to the right school, has a book deal with a major, has the right agent, sucks at writing, never writes anything--there it is, her own admission--and that's what they prefer. Not someone like someone who is telling you what they're telling you in this post. I'll continue.


I began an essay yesterday on Samuel Pepys' diaries--as pertains the plague--and the relevance with our COVID-19 situation. I'll finish that today. This morning I also wrote a short story, 1500 words long, called "Sleepies." The beginning is up in the last blog post. You have to realize, this is not who they want, they want that loser who writes next to nothing with her one blog post in six months, the friends who hook her up with some stuff. They want her. That's the speed they go at, the kind of person they want. They don't want entertainment, artistry, genius, productivity. They hate all of it. This is Tuesday's segment on Downtown. It's really short, about the shortest one I've ever done. I don't know why. There was a lot I was going to get to that I did not, but they have a schedule and maybe they had more people to fit in, I don't know.


I came up with ideas for three other stories. There were four, but "Sleepies" was one of them, and that is done now. I also started making notes on the second pandemic story I will write, which is actually the first one that occurred to me, called "Change of Gauge," which I have already mentioned in these pages. Ryan hasn't put up the Sam Cooke podcast I did with him, because he is uncomfortable sharing music-related stuff right now. His show, and obviously he can do what he wants, but I don't think it's very often a good idea to withhold art from the world, especially during a time when people are looking for things to focus on. An exchange between Ryan and myself on Instagram. I put it up because I think the words are important and I have many things like this all over the place that are just going to be lost forever because they're not in any one single, stable place.


C: Appreciate the thoughtfulness. Stay safe, bud. But it seems to me that rarely in the scope of human endeavor and experience are we better off when we withhold art and its connective power.

R: @manymomentsmore love that, and the mark of someone who can truly appreciate art. Would you say that eclipses human relationships in feeling connected versus alone? C: @songsofnote I think great art works on us all, no one is excluded so long as we have the access and are open. Sometimes it works on us despite us. It connects us to who we truly are, which allows us to connect better with others and the world. It’s pure friendship, pure love, pure portal. And it is always needed. There is a vast difference between sharing art and tap-dancing on a grave.


In a way I didn't answer his question. I don't want to downplay human connection. I don't want to take up this role where you have the ultimate artist who is also totally alone in life right now saying you don't need people, art is what matters anyway. I don't want to rationalize or lie. We need people. I have no one. I am not going to lie about the enormity of that problem. Even if it pales, somehow--and maybe this is the tragedy of my life--to my other problems. It's nothing compared to the problem of trying to get past the people of this evil industry and reach the world, and it's nothing compared to the problem of whether or not the world can actually be reached when you get to it, in enough numbers to matter at all. I have told some people how much I, too, need people, need them, someone like John, and they just put the back in my face, and the excuses, and the lies. Knowing if they went through anything, even something that to me would be easy and benign, I'd be there, without fail, without excuse, without lies, every single last time. But yes, I think nothing matters more than art. I think a true friendship is an art, but more than that, art can reveal who you are, help you understand who you are, how the world is, how people are, how the individuals in your life are, how reality is, what hope is, what beauty is, what truth is, in ways that nothing else can, such that you are better off, better served, everywhere else, with everyone else, because of art. A work of art can impact you more than anything else, because it can help you be fully impacted by everything else. There's a quote for the ages for you. But it's true.


Also sent Emma some stuff to keep her mind engaged and met a short, hot, twenty-six-year-old, but nothing ever comes of these things.