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Cafe music and talks

Thursday 8/25/22

It would not surprise me one morning to awake and learn of a murder-suicide event involving Dave Portnoy and a woman or to see that he had died of a heart attack from cocaine. I see him trending on Twitter and each time it's for some meltdown. This is a completely unstable man, who does not have a real friend in the world, and it's all such an obvious cry for help. Albeit from someone too disturbed to take help. I see a child in the fetal position screaming into an abyss while on a bathroom floor. But also a wretched man and human. Someone who would lure your nineteen-year-old daughter to a mansion and knock her around and spit in her mouth, as he's been reported to do. He clearly has a drug problem. A friend and I were talking about Portnoy's latest outburst, in which his response to someone's valid criticisms was "You're fat" and how he goes on and on saying "You're choking on my dick" and the like for millions of people to see. I was saying this guy has a mother who is still alive. Maybe a father. I don't know. I've just seen a mother mentioned. He's my age. How do you talk to your mother when this is the man you are and all can see? How could you face anyone decent? Anyone who cares about you and has expectations for you as a person?


My friend said, "You're up next." I asked him what he meant. "Someone like Portnoy signifies the end of days. And all of the people in the comments who encourage him, kiss up to him. We have nowhere to go now but up. You're going to lead people out of this. Your timing will be perfect, though you don't know that and think I'm wrong." Also: What is it with men who use a form of the words "my dick is in your mouth" or "you're choking on my dick" as some victory whoop? A perfect representation of what actual toxic masculinity is. Why the dick in the mouth and the choking? It's a very rape-y idea, with the additional aspect of "you will be silenced." Also: to know that if you didn't have the money you have that no one would ever want to talk to you for any reason must be one hell of a thing to live with. I have the worst life there is right now, but I don't have to live with knowledge like that, even alone as I am. I offer. Much. I know this. That I have so much to offer is a reason I'm alone. For now. But there are reasons to know me, and more reasons than with anyone.


Yesterday I had done quite a bit of work--not nearly enough for what I have to be doing, but more than anyone else would do in a long period of time, and sometimes there are days like that--and was at a cafe on Hanover Street reading. I stopped reading and just listened to the music on the sound system. There was the Zombies' "Butcher's Tale," the Beach Boys' "Help Me Rhonda," the Beatles' "Baby It's You" (with John Lennon's cold on the day of February 11, 1963 coming through loud and clear), the Kinks' "Dandy," Peter and Gordon's "Nobody I Know," the Beatles' "Love Me Do" in all of its British rhythm and blues chunkiness, and the Byrds' "It Won't Be Wrong."


The Beatles' "She Loves You" came on and it's just the most exciting piece of music there is to me. It still is. I expect it always will be. It's everything, isn't it? So far as they go. That's them. That's the most them, if that makes sense. What a piece of writing, what a performance. No one was doing anything like that, no one has. I'm sure they knew it was completely new, and they went for it. If the were writers and "She Loves You" was a book that they wrote right now, publishing people would want to know what recent books it was similar to. A publisher asked me that about Brackets. Someone who talked to them said to me, "They think you're a genius." And I thought, "Do they? Well, they should learn what that might mean, then." I didn't say that. I have to let this kind of thing pass in most interactions. What was I supposed to answer? Because if it was this genius work, it wouldn't have been like anything else, and it's not, let alone recent books. It wasn't even books ever--it was recent books. What do you say? What would the Beatles have said if pressed what songs--or recent songs--"She Loves You" was like? The ensemble attack of the number, too. All of them are contributing so much as players. They all shine on that record. The best moment in the history of recorded sound, for me, is at the ten second mark here. What can one compare "Jaw Bones" to? What can one compare that to? There is no comparison. That's the thing. That's the greatness. That's what you go with. That's supposed to be a good thing, not a bad thing. I sent, by the way, Just Like Them to another publisher.


Then the kid in my building texted me and asked if I was available and I asked her for what and she said "bro time" because she is funny so I hung out with her for a while at the Starbucks. I guess she had a really hard time during COVID, with her anxiety, didn't sleep, didn't eat, went down to ninety-three pounds. She's less than five feet, so she's small anyway. She became scared of a lot of things. Or several, anyway. She'll be a high school senior in a couple weeks. I said to her something I've said to her in the past, regarding some of her fears. I tried to make it a joke in a way. She looks up to me, and like most people, she's intimidated by me.


Sometimes I give her something I've written. Back in 2019 I gave her "Fitty," for instance, and a half hour later she knocked on my door. I opened it and she was standing there crying and I said, "What?" And before the word was fully out of my mouth, she gave me this big hug while my arms were still against my side. "I'm in love with a girl who doesn't exist," she said. Then a little while later she got my phone and texted one of my oldest friends who lives in Maryland. "Did 'Fitty' make you cry?" she asked him. That's the power of that story. That's what an industry is not allowing you to see. That's what bigots the likes of those at American Short Fiction, whom we discussed yesterday, would not allow to come out, as they put out what they do. Recently I gave her "My Nickel." I said to her yesterday that if I give her something, she usually doesn't say anything, but I know that's because she's scared. I deal with this all the time with people, even those who don't want me dead. The look on her face. Then she starts stammering. "Everything you do is the best anything I've ever seen. It blows me away. It's the fucking bomb. I don't know what to say. I don't know what I could possibly say to do it justice."


We were talking a lot about fear, and I joked by saying, "I'm going to give you some good advice. And I know when I say that, you're like, 'eh, whatever,' but it is good advice, and I wouldn't say it to you if I didn't mean, and it wasn't true." Then I told her what I've told her in the past. And that is she is always going to be smarter than other people. She just was born with things that most people are not. That's just how she is. So she never needs to worry about that. For instance, she took a class at Harvard this summer, and she said all of the other kids were so academically-oriented, and she's not. She isn't. And she was really scared. She's like me, in a way. She's too smart for academic systems. She's too creative in her thinking. But of course she did better in this class and with her presentation than all of these other kids whose parents oversee every aspect of their academic life and have done for years. I told her that if she is prepared, and if she does her honest best, and if she is herself, that will take care of this kind of thing. And it always will. It's other things to focus on, work on, get better at. The choices she might make. What she can do for others. What she can do for herself. Then we talked about horror movies, Joy Division, and the Sex Pistols. And a mystery was solved. A number of days ago, I went out into the hallway and Hallway Hermey was on the window sill, having been moved, or gotten there himself. Well. I felt violated, and assumed it was one of the drunken idiots of the building or one of their drunken friends. Not so. My neighbor is friends with a guy who steals things, specializing in small objects. He was over at her place, and they were sitting there and he pulled Hallway Hermey out of his pocket. My neighbor freaked, and told him to go put it back. That was quite the adventure Hallway Hermey had for himself that night. I had no idea. My neighbor was excited because she'd been paid a dollar-a-minute to walk someone's dog on our street, and she lamented that she couldn't put the cash in her bank account, given that this was Sunday, so I took her to the ATM and showed her how to do that.


I finished this big piece for Christmas on Elvis's first Christmas LP. I need to go through it and fix it. It's a mess right now. So finished as in written, but not final-finished. It's over 3000 words. Day in, day out, huge amounts of words, on a vast array of subjects, a vast amount of fiction in a vast range of forms.


Ran 2000 stairs yesterday and did fifty push-ups. Heading out now for a proper workout. That was a truncated one just to get something in. I must keep up my physical health so that I can be strong enough to endure all of this and prevail. I look somewhat leprechaun-ish here, but I think there is evidence of the push-ups doing something, though.