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Tuesday 6/23/20

* I could have and should have done better on that podcast yesterday. I didn't get into the BBC versions of "There's a Place," I should have spoken about "In My Room," I had wanted to discuss "There's a Place" in relation to Elvis's "Blue Moon"--they have the same clippity-clop lope and interiority--and also Edward Hopper. I should have also talked about Charlie Watts and "Tumbling Dice"--the drumming on the outro is similar to Starr's work at the end of "There's a Place." It was fine. But I could have been better. I'm disappointed in myself.

* I'm champing at the bit to get back into Musings with Franklin, really throw myself into it. But a couple things need to happen. I need to finish some things first. And I need to know that I'm doing it with a good place. Otherwise it feels like it will sit there for a while because there is so much else to do, but if I am on the clock and the book will be going out into the world I will launch myself into it and finish it. I know what I must do, shape-wise and voice-wise. I know the driver. There needs to be more voices woven throughout, not because those people/characters are present, but they are present in the stories that Writer, Bartender, and Franklin are telling, their conversation with each other. I detest the whole nonsense of "comparables," and I would hold that nothing is like Musings with Franklin, but because I like them I wouldn't mind doing the comparable game with Daniil Kharms, Flann O'Brien, and Tristram Shandy with this book. If I know who I am doing it with I can, I believe, finish the book this year. I know a lot of what has to be done.

* The Ella Fitzgerald piece will be out Thursday.

* Over the weekend I saw Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin (2004). It's just about a perfect film. I've been watching a lot of gay cinema lately. The two best films over the last two years that I had not seen before are this one and Streetwise (1984). I couldn't move after seeing the latter at the Brattle. Mysterious Skin is about two boys we see at various ages, from eleven or so up through nineteen. They were teammates on a Little League team. One kid works as a gay prostitute, the other kid thinks he was abducted by aliens and wants to meet up with the first kid who he believes is the key to some kind of answer. Truly excellent picture. Every relationship in it is believable, lived in, real. I guess it's a Christmas picture as well, too, but don't read too much into that. The film has true energy, the editing results in a perfectly assembled and constructed film. It's on the Criterion Channel right now.

* Speaking of Christmas: I should write about June Christy's This Time of Year (1961) later this year. One of the finest jazz Christmas albums, and the rare Christmas album comprised of originals. Sad but not sad--it's Peanuts-y, that way--Christmas music.

* Don't qualify the word "unique."

* Someone weighing in on "Slung Stack"--“'Slung Stack'...beautiful, powerful, and with a depth that far exceeds its brevity."

* I never think about brevity, I never think about length. No more than I would look at a painting and think it is long or short. What is in there, not how much is in there, determines how long something is. Fiction is a lot more like music or painting--or it can be--than it is like writing. It is music, painting, and human-revealing; even if there are no humans in the fiction. With nonfiction, you're saying things. You're telling. You're putting things in. Fiction isn't quite like that. You're carving, shaping, scumbling one thing, burnishing another; you are working with brush and chisel at once. You're making a word-painting. And that's how it goes, too, for the 5000-word short story that has various plot streams. Look at it this way--nonfiction you can declaim in the city square. Fiction is hung on a wall, you look at it that way. I'm not saying that you can't take "Fitty," "Six Feet Away," "The Roll of Words," into the city square, that they can't be read there. I'm not making a point about "this is for the few, this is for the many." I'm making a design and mindset distinction. There is overlap for me, because what I am always doing is telling stories. I don't write reviews, for instance. A review presupposes you need to know about that given subject or care about it--you're ceding over the focus to what someone else did, rather than your own ideas or art. The story you have to tell. I never cede. At all. It's why you'll also never see me start or end something with a quote from someone else. I'm not giving you that space. That's my space.

* Learned yesterday that Wayne Gretzky had twenty-seven games with at least 3 assists in 1985-86. That's almost troubling.

* I do not understand how these North American sports leagues are thinking they are going to "resume" these seasons. As I pitched in an op-ed, the seasons are over. They don't exist anymore. When three, four months pass, so much has changed. Bodies have changed. For a professional athlete, four months is real age that has been taken on. Players who were hurt and would have been out are coming back--like at the start of another season, which is what this resumption would be. When they are already so close to the start of the season that should be starting. It is impossible for there to be champions of the 2019-2020 NHL and NBA seasons. They don't exist anymore. Beyond that, players are going to keep testing posting for COVID-19. They are not going to be sick, because they are fit. So you'd have to decide if you're okay with playing games and knowing that players are going to have this virus. Personally, I wouldn't care--nothing is going to happen to these people because they are fit. See how that works? Notice how there has not been one story about a fit, professional athlete not feeling well? Or very few, anyway. Maybe someone can turn up several. But you're not reading about LeBron James wasting away and unable to climb stairs for two weeks. These players are not going to stay in these "bubbles" because they're going to go out and drink and hump. They are not going to have the discipline to stay put. So they're going to get more people and players sick. Just let it go. It's so greedy and short-sighted and pointless to me. It's over. Move on. When you can.

* As sports expert, guy who writes on sports all the time and knows what he knows, I don't miss sports at all. I can read sports books, watch games that have historical and artistic value, write sports stories. I really miss nothing that has been put on hold. Part of that has to do with my life and what it is entirely about right now. Part of it, though, has to do with knowing what is important. I think even if I was happy, had my houses, the recognition and money and impact that my work merits and will get at some point--hopefully before I am old--and someone who loved me, I wouldn't turn to her and say, "Sucks that we can't watch the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals tonight." I think we'd just do something else. It could be like Tantric sex/video documentation/let's film ourselves time/listen to Thelonious Monk/read our books in bed/talk night. And I'd much rather do that. Try to cook some new recipe together. I feel some urge to go to the Brattle. My membership has expired now. It's expensive for the year, and this year I only got like nine months' of use. I justify that expense because it's not like I have dates. I'm entirely alone. I don't buy alcohol. Getting the yearly pass is less expensive than if I paid the adult ticket price for each of the films I go to. I'll go to some with the pass that I wouldn't go to maybe otherwise, because you're just covered for the year, then. But the Brattle, for me, is more than going to films. It's a sanctuary space here in my time of trauma, and certainly so after I had my breakdown. I have these little things to try and be able to live with the trauma, the constant fear, the attacks. The Brattle was one. My Vaccines beanie is another. I cry, I vomit, and then I'll sleep with the beanie on, like it calms me. That's just how hard I've been just raped apart. Emotionally drawn and quartered over these eight years. I miss going to the symphony as well. Not that I'd be going right now, in the summer, because the BSO would be at Tanglewood. I'd like to drive out there and stay on getaways in the future, when life is in a better place for me, but I wouldn't be doing that right now. But I'd be going to Symphony Hall in the fall, mostly at those 1:30 Friday matinees, because they're cheaper. Also because everyone else is over eighty and I'm comparatively twenty-year-old Mickey Mantle fresh up to the big league squad.

* I definitely should have done better on that podcast. What I can always say to myself--and it's true--is that no one else is going to think that, and that the result is still better than what you'd get with anyone else, but that's not the point. The point is I should have been better.

* If you're not someone who writes primarily in subject-verb sentences--which I am not--a sentence starting with "The" becomes potentially a very powerful thing, depending upon where and when you use it. The "The" becomes akin to sticking your foot in the ground, hard, and pushing off and blowing up the opponent's quarterback before the tackle can even react. You're past him while he's still rising up out of his stance. You can explode through things out of that "The." But not if you're primarily a subject-verb writer.


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