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Anywhere of consequence

Tuesday 6/20/23

The locks aren't going to hold.

Ran 5000 stairs today, which brings the total for the week so far to 25,000. Here's a visual: it began raining as I ran, and about thirty people crowded into an alcove at the top of the three sets of stairs that make up the big stairs of City Hall. They all stood there and watched me go up, then down, then up, time and again, right in front of their faces. It was like watching a tennis match, falling the ball back and forth. Seems like there's a metaphor in this. It's just rain, people. Not everything needs to prove to be too much for you.

I think I'm the most seen person in Boston. I'd have to be at this point. It's me or the one-man-band guy in the Public Garden, but he's not out there in the winter. Inclement weather. I'm not on the City Hall stairs every day, of course, with the Monument. But over these last three plus years, most days I could have been found at those stairs. If you're a tourist, you're on them during your stay. It's as central as Boston gets. Heart of the Freedom Trail. Plus, people going to work in various directions take those stairs.

Worked more on "What the Mouse Knew" and "Fall and Spring." Began that piece on the Beatles' Red Album.

The hockey Hall of Fame announces its new class tomorrow. I'd like to see Vladimir Krutov get in, but I have no reason to think that his name will be called this year. He was among the very best hockey players I've seen. One of the top ten players of my lifetime.

Radio interview from tonight about the 1947 film, Out of the Past, after some talk about stair running and stealing home.

I know people who try to have things both ways. You will never get anywhere of consequence if you try to have things both ways. Note my language: consequence. As in actual consequence. Not bullshit. You either go, or you don't go. Try to keep one leg in the outbound lane and one in the inbound lane and you only come apart.

But I realize that these people couldn't really go anywhere of consequence anyway. It's not in them. I'll watch these people kiss the asses of people who are never going to do anything on their behalf. In time that obsequity becomes second nature, and then primary nature. They can't stop themselves. They know certain truths, they know where things stand, what those things are, why they are what they are, and yet they play into the hands of what these other people want. Which is praise for the sake of praise, and docility. And a concession of geography, too; the assumption of the lower position on the totem pole.

They're also depriving themselves of what everyone needs and so few have: dignity.

As I said, their options are limited. They lack the emotional means, the ability, the qualities, to get somewhere of consequence. They couldn't ever be a leader. Or even a good example, save as someone who is not cruel, which seems like it should be a given--not being cruel, that is. This is what life will be for them until they die. If one morning they woke up and said, "Time for a change, to go, time to have principles, time to believe in myself," there wouldn't be enough there.

At the same time, in doing what they do, they live dishonorably and dishonestly. Just because you don't have what it takes to get anywhere doesn't mean you should be a toady for people who have no regard or appreciation for you or for what you do. You send the wrong message out into the world. You send the wrong message to your conscience, and to your sense of self. Even if you can't go, there are simply better ways to be.

Reading Algernon Blackwood's Incredible Adventures (1914) among other books lately. He was a better writer than M.R. James when he was on. At the level of the sentence. A worldlier man than James. It was hard not to be. James turned his parochialism--and, frankly, some of his appalling attitudes, blind spots, stubbornness, shortcomings, penchant for denial, and hatred of progress--into literary strengths, which was paradoxically possible because he was limited as a writer and those things became his characters' things. Ghosts served to give them what they had coming, as if James was punishing himself, fictionally speaking, for his own defects of character. James could do one thing, and when he did it well, it was effective. Blackwood had more ability and more range within the supernatural medium.

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