The Red Sox have jumped out to an early lead against the Nationals in a game with an early start. A largely uneventful day. Sent out much. Most of my life goes to begging people who have no idea what it means to be busy, and many of whom nurse a deep grudge, to respond. I would estimate that less than 1% of my life goes to formally composing. At some point, when I get past these people, more than half of my life will go to formally composing, and I don't see why I shouldn't be able to do three to five books a year. That would be a vacation compared to this soul-grinding hell that is the begging. Sometimes, too, you are giving small people way too much power. That is, it's more fun to turn down something of mine now, if you're a petty person, than it was ten years ago. I come along having just done A, B, C, D, and E, in a given week, and it becomes a case of a failed writer, for whom everything is a favor trade--no matter how small--saying, "not on my watch, son." They enjoy the halting of progress. That's worth more to them than publishing the great work, forging an association. Art. Decency. Equity. All that this is going to mean, in the long haul, is a harder fall.
Yesterday a piece ran in Rolling Stone on the Beatles' best BBC session. It was good. I also composed a 1200 word piece yesterday on the new Coltrane set. I don't have a home for it yet. Normally, I don't write a critical piece without a home already in place, though I do sometimes with op-eds, which are a bit different. The op-ed game is tough. You're used pretty capriciously in that racket. A place can think a piece is great, and not use it for whatever whim of the day they please. It's highly random.
I'm pretty sure I'll be able to sell the Coltrane, though. It irks me that people see the name Coltrane and automatically say how much they love any product with that name atop it. I've noticed this with some editors, it's like this contest of wokeness and virtue-signaling. There was this publisher at the VQR who was not a bad person, but epically condescending. He forced out someone who was a truly good editor, because he wanted to be the editor. Then he left, after penning a note in praise of himself as his kind of farewell address. God this guy loved to talk down to me. I'm banned at the VQR right now, because I was being lip-serviced by the editor in chief, who turned down stories, as if he hadn't read them, that were picked up by Commentary, Boulevard, Harper's, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, and on and on. I pointed this out. After a certain point, when you know the fix is in, who cares? So you point it out. Then they take their ball and go home. Blocked my email address. Funny. That's what we're dealing with here. But he'll wave in any piece of Lydia Davis sloppery. (Seriously, how bad is that laughably horrible writing? And publishing people like to pretend this is brilliant. That person got a genius grant for writing like this.) Anyway, the old VQR publisher would tell me I'd be better off writing two or three stories a year. More than that, and they couldn't possibly be any good. Couldn't possibly get anything in Harper's or The New Yorker otherwise. ("First Responder," the story of mine that they did publish--thanks to the editor who later got forced out--was written while I was asleep, then typed out in less than twenty minutes.) Right. Because that's how work is selected for those venues, solely on merit alone. Remarkably naive. All of the artists I've ever cared about were highly productive. That's how genius works. But I'd send this guy links, and it became a running gag with me and my friends, how he'd always single out the piece on whatever artist made him look the wokest. It was always about color and gender with this guy. Not the writing. If you had five pieces, and three were about white artists, another was about a black male artist, and the third was about a black female artist, he'd tell you the last one was the best, and the penultimate one was the second best. Every time. But you also knew that he had never once read anything by the person in question, seen one of their films, heard their music. Wokest! Do I care about saying this now? Not really. Like I said, he's not there, and I'm banned. But, the people in charge will leave, someone will replace them, and in I will go. That's what always happens.
Today I wrote a 1200 word piece for Salon on the restorative melancholia of Yellow Submarine. High-level. Really nice. Aspects of it, and yesterday's Rolling Stone piece, are in a book I'm doing called Same Band You've Never Known: An Alternative Musical History of the Beatles, which I intend to have become the definitive Beatles book. In some ways, I was born to write it, and I've been working up my entire life to write it. Then this evening on Downtown with Rich Kimball I talked about my singular workout regimen of climbing the Bunker Hill Monument five straight times a day. Good talk with the good Mr. Kimball, a man I admire, on numerous fronts. He's good at what he does, and he has character. He's the kind of person my people--my closest intimates and family--would be friends with.
Tomorrow is the Fourth. I'll be on my own. I'll write more. I have to get through about a dozen pieces, quickly. I'll run. The Monument will be closed, on account of the heat. I may walk out to Castle Island, to see the turnaround of the USS Constitution, and I'll probably go to the Brattle for a screening of Jaws 2, which I've never seen on the big screen.
It's okay. Not a great film, not even a very entertaining one. The end is pretty weak. The whole inlet thing doesn't work. I'll probably screen Anthony Mann's Border Incident (1949), as I think there's a piece for me to write there. I shouldn't be adding more right now, but it's tempting, it only takes an hour, and the timeliness appeals to me.