Will be writing a big feature for the September issue of JazzTimes on arguably the best jazz concert ever given in North America.
Yesterday I ran 3000 stairs and did 100 push-ups. I'm well over a million stairs for the year. It's a little harder to tell with the push-ups, because I didn't start them until March or April or whenever it was, but I'd estimate I've probably done 40,000 this year. Allowing that I make it through the next few days, this will be my sixth straight full calendar year without a drink of alcohol. I feel like that's pretty good. Many years of drinking twenty to thirty units of alcohol a day, and then drinking no alcohol. Much tea. A lot of green tea added to the mix of teas this year. This will sound perplexing, maybe, given how much I wrote before and all along, really, but a lot of what I've written in recent years wouldn't have been written if I'd still been drinking. If I was even around to write it. There wouldn't be a million stairs, and my strength--the strength I need--would be different as well.
Tomorrow, on the final day of the year, I will do something that has never been done in publishing, and which no one else could do. The result will be more envy and animus because it is not something that anyone else has done and that no one else could do. This is is how it is until it isn't. It'll play out this way in social media and with people who learn about the feat. The turning of the back and attempted suppression. Eventually, the opposite will occur. That could start anywhere or at any time.
As I work on "Net Drive" I realize one reason it's so successful as a work of art--it actually takes the breath out of your body. To read it is a breathless experience. The excitement. I don't mean that it has a frantic pace. That's the how the story has to function and something I've kept in mind while doing it, especially on this third pass. The reader is ready to explode at the end, even more than they would be if it were someone watching some dramatic, high-tension sporting event for all the marbles. This is for more than marbles, so to speak. I'm ready to go nuts when I get to the end, flip shit over, scream. Release it all.
Someone told me that they read "Best Present Ever" as Christmas Eve became Christmas morning, and then they read it again immediately and have tried to dream about it. I'm going to send it to a bigot at a venue because I'm about to expose that bigot on here anyway--this place features horrible people, and once this venue even got someone to kill himself--and I will also be able to say that they had the story, it was offered to them.
If they want to knock it off and stop the discrimination, then we can talk. I met with a guy from this venue--or formerly of this venue, though they still use him--and unwisely, he provided me with lots of galling information about this institution. We walked for miles, and he kept telling me things. He was so focused on bragging about himself that he spilled one thing after another. Still, it's technically a formal offering of a masterpiece of a story. We can call this off at any time. But there's nothing anyone can do to me that they haven't already done. I am in the right and when it comes out it is plain what has happened and what these people are about and have been up to. They can only look horrible when it does come out. There's no debate to be had. There's no, "it's kind of this and it's kind of that, and he sort of did this and such and such wasn't quite good enough." None of that is possible as a defense. Those things are false, and often risible, if we are talking about my work v. other work. The pernicious behavior is blatant. So is the guilt. Once it goes up on here, it's impossible to defend, because it is impossible to defend. And it's bad. Very bad. Undeniably bad. And obviously bad.
Another person brought up their kids and their reaction to the story. How he can't take them to a movie and have them sit still for fifteen minutes, and they were riveted by the story. He talked like it was some miracle. Not that he was surprised, but they don't focus on anything. I'm not surprised. I speak in these pages about what I call the other side of the table. I write for the person on the other side of the table. I know how kids think. I know how anyone thinks. In this story, I knew how a child would take a certain line, how they'd apply it to themselves, and I knew that would fascinate them and more than hold their attention. I'm not just speaking their language with the story--I speaking that specific child's interior emotional language. I'm speaking how they think.
The other side of the table is everything for me at this point. When I write, that's really all that exists. I'm thinking through the reader, existing through the reader, writing through the reader. Everything is made through the perspective--the external and internal perspective--of that reader. Everyone else whom you read right now who writes fiction--what some people call literary fiction, a term I detest, because it's so limiting--is solely concerned with their side of the table. That's why none of it is for anyone.
I put an excellent proposal together for another Beatles book.
I did not know that Wisconsin produces the bulk of the country's cranberry crop. I would have guessed Massachusetts. I'm very partial to a good bog. Give me a Cape Cod cranberry bog, and that is my idea of one of the finest places on earth.
Another Bruins the other night. The calendar hasn't flipped and it's still the first half of the season, but insofar as those temporal metrics go, I've never seen a Bruins team like this. I bring up the 1982-83 Bruins squad from time to time. The reason being, they were the best regular season team that year, which felt special--this was the era of the Islanders and Oilers. That's why that season probably stood out as much as it did to Bruins fans. They had the best record again in 1989-90, but it wasn't the same. The 1982-83 Bruins were 50-20-10. Big-time year. They were stomped by the Islanders in the playoffs and exposed in general in the postseason--after all, they barely got past Buffalo in seven games, and that last contest went to OT. The Islanders series went six, but I feel like that's misleading. You never really thought the Bruins could advance. Watching this team I see a player in Patrice Bergeron who has a lot of hockey left in him. I know this is likely his final season, but I wonder if he's rethinking that at all.
Is this the year Pastrnak hits 50 goals and 100 points? Looking that way. McDavid will probably have 70 points by the new year. That's a lot today. Best player in the world, but I don't think he's the player who helps you win the most. He's one-dimensional. Sure, it's a big dimension: offense. He's over 30 goals and has become a better goalscorer. But he's not that much better than anyone else--that next little group of guys--offensively. He's better than all of them, yes. But you can be in shouting distance of him as a scorer. No one does anything as well as what he does, but I think other players do more to help their teams win. Especially in the playoffs.
The Red Sox are supposedly listening to teams about trading Chris Sale. I would expect that if the Sox dealt Sale, he'd go somewhere and be healthy and productive, but I want this guy gone. I don't like anything about him. As fake an athlete as I've seen in Boston sports. Fake tough guy, fake competitor, fake good teammate. I'm looking at the staff the Sox have right now, and I'm seeing a bad team. How are you going to win with that pitching staff? Not that rest of the team boasts much. Who hits in that line-up besides Devers? I don't like the closer. I see last place all over again. The Betts trade always looks more horrible. Verdugo is what is left from that? Verdugo? One hopes to be wrong, as I was about the Bruins. I thought they were going to be average or worse, or maybe a little bit better than average at best. A bubble playoff team. I couldn't have been more incorrect about them so far. When the Bruins have a game, you want to see it.
Here's a good pitch that didn't lead to anything:
We write and read pieces on music that exists. What about a highly creative piece on music that didn't happen but could have and what it might have sounded like? Hendrix tried to organize a session for a full album with Miles Davis, Tony Williams, and Paul McCartney. I can totally imagine what this would have sounded like and why it would have worked. That would be an exciting idea for a unique piece.
The Las Vegas gig on the new Guns N' Rose Use Your Illusion I & II box set is a stunning piece of music.