top of page


Wednesday 5/27/20

I told Emma that if I had to go upstairs and pick her up and carry her outside, we were going to the Starbucks because this child has not been outside in five days. Not even to take her dog out. Believe me, I understand feeling absolutely crushed and under everything, where the simplest tasks--and I have so many simple tasks I cannot even perform right now--is this impossibility. Or feels like it. But you have to try, and you can't be inside an apartment for five days. You don't need to run a race, but you do need some air, some sun, a walk to the end of the block. I downloaded the Starbucks app and put some money on it. I told her we could sit and talk, we could sit and read, but we were at least going to Starbucks. She will probably refuse, but regardless of the state of our friendship right now, I care about this person and it's just what you do with people you care about.

I am going for a run now. It's hot. I don't like the heat. I wrote a 1700 word story called "Acorn Caps" that is just bloody brilliant. I look at it and I think, "How the fuck do you even come up with this?" Me. And I wrote it. I wrote a 2000 word piece about Babe Ruth in 1920, and also an 1800 word music piece, and, further, a piece on Jimmy Cobb, who died a few days ago, because I tired of seeing one lazy ass, lame ass piece after another that had nothing more to say than, "He was the drummer on Kind of Blue," which does the man a complete disservice and fails to comprehend his art and how his art functions.

Anyway, I said I was going to make some art.

I saw Antrum (2018). It was passable. Nothing that The Blair Witch Project didn't do much better. Also saw Uncut Gems (2019) and Good Time (2017). Those guys know what they are doing. The latter was better, mostly because Adam Sandler was so histrionic in Uncut Gems. His wife in the film is right, he's so annoying. What particularly interested me about Good Time was the theme of the temporary home. You see it twice--when the main guy is at the home of the grandmother and the kid, and then when the main guy and the guy he mistook for his brother are at the home of the security guard.

Speaking of cinema--the cell phone has become a way to tailor narrative. I was thinking about this woman in Central Park, who is obviously a racist, and, I think, mentally unbalanced. The panic attack that she had--I think she was oblivious to choking her dog, which was probably the creature she doted upon most in life (I would argue that many people have an unhealthy relationship with their pets, actually)--reminded me of just how quickly some people fall apart. You see it in publishing with regularity. People talk the Woke game, and right and wrong, but in a situation that they deem a pressure situation, they lose their minds, they cannot function. They're not good people, they are not people with values--they are people who espouse and pose. That you would phone the police and term someone an African American person is the argot of the racist. The racist who does not know they are racist. Again, same idea with people in publishing. Some of them think, "I hate that guy," but others don't think that way consciously, they just hate, because of what they see, what they feel is a threat to them. I remember once encountering a post on Facebook where someone said that Bill Cosby was their favorite black comedian. Now, that's a racist. You see it in the need to qualify. They're not thinking of that person as a person, they are applying a disclaimer.

But you also don't know. You never know. You never have totality. You know some things, you surmise others. (The world would be a better place if people had to watch Rashomon.) But you don't know. You don't know even if you see a portion of something, watch a portion of something. Not the totality. You don't know what is in someone's past, you don't know what a given word or phrase might mean to them. I know, I feel, that when someone signals someone out as this woman did, she's a racist. Most people are horrible people. Whites, blacks, everything, everyone. Some are not. Do I think it's strange that this man carries around dog treats while not having a dog? I do. Could I think of reasons why he might do that? Yes, I could. Was it odd and cryptic and somewhat threatening that he said to her that she would not like what happened? Yes, definitely. And what you don't know is what happened before the camera was switched on. Just like we often don't know the other side of the conversation that came before the quote we see that is supposed to make us think someone else is a monster. What I would think, playing the human laws of averages, is that happened is two not very great people had an encounter in the woods. But I don't know. I know that to phone the police, act hysterical, say a black man is threatening you, is well beyond reckless and dangerous. Do I know that you know that's exactly what you're doing? Look, people are freaking crazy. People do all kinds of things, and even people I thought were strong, really were not strong--I've seen people melt under hardly any pressure, or pressure they imagined. Are they evil? No. Do I respect them? No. I can't respect someone like that. Not with where I have come to and gone through. But they're not evil. Can their actions be abusive, can they be cancers you need to remove from your life? Absolutely. But these are different things.

We can shape narrative now with our phones. We can distort it, bolster aspects to support what we want supported. The film is not a totality; there is an auteur quality to the cell phone video, as much as there is, motive-wise, to a picture by any director you like. In fact, I would say that agenda is more personalized for the cell phone auteur. By far. What that means for me is I am going to almost always say, to some degree, "I don't know." I've told you what I know about this. And it's probably not very much. But I think we have to have the humility to get out of the pounce position, get off the fronts of our feet, and accept that you don't know. You can think you know, you can know some things, but someone can love someone and tell them they hate them and never speak to them again. We can do all kinds of things that make no sense, that come seemingly from nowhere. I'm not excusing this woman. She could have gotten this man killed. But I don't know if he didn't get exactly what he wanted, I don't know if he orchestrates confrontations. I have no idea. I don't know if he's the best person ever. I know what I didn't see. And then I have to call it a day. I know that Woke posing rich people on the Upper West side are often not my kind of person, and I also know that I am not in the least surprised that such a person had a total meltdown or could be a huge racist or not really give a damn at all about anyone else's life. Say something true about humans in a story, and people in publishing can become puddles. They cannot handle that. People ought to be held accountable for what they do. But I think there is a big difference between that and being a creature of Twitter frothing at the mouth screaming for death and pain unto others. Even if somebody deserves some pain coming their way? Yes. You still owe it to yourself to maintain your own humanity. There are ways to share what you think, without truckling. I have done that here, sans froth.

Meanwhile, as for the cops in Minnesota--it's terrifying that they were fired, and that was the term used, when one of them, at the very least, clearly murdered a man. What else could you call that? It's murder. You should be arrested for murder. I don't really want to parse degrees of difference here, but mistaken identity in the flash of a second? That's tragic, that can be murder, but it's also different than being consciously aware, for an extended period of time, of what you are doing to somebody, and continuing to do it. You are hurting someone, you know you are hurting someone, and you just keep going. And the way this cop is talking to this guy is like straight out of a film from the 1960s about racism. It's galling. And he sounds like a redneck idiot. You shouldn't be just fired for what happened there. That's murdering a man.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page