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Cold hot chocolate, celery, and more

Monday 1/3/22

* It is weird and annoying to me when someone says to me, "I so love this kind of writing that you do!" They think it's some compliment I'll be happy to have. No. Because it's all the same. There is never any drop off in quality. What makes this kind of writing arresting is what makes that other kind arresting. I'm not better at this than I am at that, and if you really understand my work--which is not hard--you'd understand that it is always about more--far more--than its putative subject. It always transcends that subject. Whatever that subject may be. My work is about ideas. It's about connection. Humanness. The relational. They are not different in that way this person means it--that I'm better suited for this or that. Always the same. Always the same level of art, mastery, invention. Like it matters if I am writing a story or about a record or about a film or a novel or doing an op-ed or a personal essay. It's always the same. What you love in one is to be found in all of the others. What it actually means is people are telling you what their interests are in life before they came across your work. They are projecting, and they are also insulting, but they don't see it this way. They are also pushing forth their own limitations and putting that on you and your work. That you can be doing the exact same thing in this piece as in that piece, but because one of them is nominally about an interest they already had--and, in reality, it's not about that thing at all, because when I write about music I am not writing about music, nor am I writing about film when I am writing about film, nor am I doing fiction when I'm doing fiction--they favor that and will 1. Slag off the rest of what you do and 2. Be closed off to it. A very limited way to go about life. Other writers don't have this problem, because they do one thing very basically, and nothing else. There's nothing else to go to. Further: if someone comes upon one form of my work, and they see its quality, that makes them less likely to check out anything else. Why? Because if I'm so great at that thing, it makes sense I'd have to be less great at other, very different things. Because they cannot conceive that the likes of me could exist who can do all if at the highest level it has ever been done. The possibility would never even enter their mind. Is completely beyond their ken of what they think is possible. And, in a way, is invisible to them and their perceptions. There are people who will just read this journal. There are people who will only listen to the radio segments. There are people who will only read the books. There are people who will only read the Beatles-related work. I will not pretend that this is great or I should be grateful. It's dumb. What does it matter at this point if I say that's dumb or not? I am sure as hell not going to pretend and say, "Gee, gosh golly, thanks!" I offer people a lot. Take it. Be open. Not closed. Because there is more to be gotten here than there is anywhere else, with anything else.

* With every single social media post I see by someone else--someone I don't know--I have to decipher it. You can't read it. It will border on the illiterate. Someone responded to something I posted today. I can't read it. Do I want to try and decipher it? Doesn't even look like English. None of these posts do. We talk about how we have no time, but yet everyone has the time for this deciphering? How much time is wasted each year in that deciphering? People write like they are sea cucumbers on crack. I say sea cucumbers because I honestly wonder if people are typing with their hands, if they even have fingers, or do they just slap their head up against the keyboard in some confused, frenzied state.

* 1700 word story completed. It is masterful. I must return to it later, though, and fully understand what I have and fix it.

* I will write a big feature later in the year for what I assume will be a summer issue of JazzTimes on Thelonious Monk's first days at Blue Note in 1947.

* Wrote an excellent--and funny--op-ed for the NFL playoffs with rules and tips for being a less clownish, boob of a sports fan. Boobs will think it's elitist because it's true, but it is pretty fun. There are aliens in it, and John Hannah, and the 1982 ALCS, and Mac Jones, and the Grim Reaper.

* Ran 3000 stairs. I'm coughing, and sometimes when I cough, mucus flies out, which is obviously not what I'm going for, but whatever. There will be no weakness here. I have a rule: pneumonia will stop me. For a while. Just about anything else, you can simply keep going. Embrace it. Let it make you stronger.

* Zulu Zulu Zulu Zulu Zulu.

* Sent the Joyce pitch, wrote Rolling Stone, wrote the person I might do the Billie Holiday book for, wrote Bloomsbury. And then a fiction person at Bloomsbury re: There Is No Doubt who has only ever ignored me.

* Wrote a letter to Willy Staley of The New York Times Magazine that I haven't sent yet. He's not going to like it. But, like I said, you don't get to discriminate against me indefinitely, which is what this man has done now for over ten years, and I will do what I have to do, and I'll do it here.

* Finished reading The Road. Lazy hack work, preceded by undeserved reputation. He just does not give a shit throughout. Not even trying. So many times I just wrote blah blah blah under a passage, because he could have been writing anything and Oprah and everyone would have creamed over it. Fake creamed, but that's all anyone wants--that sweet, sweet fake cream. You can read it, but he's not trying at all. Or maybe he just has nothing to work with. Or very little to work with. Don't know, don't care. Not a book that matters or will last. What he does is this kind of philosophical thing, and it's just so damn vague. That's what I mean by the laziness. Do this faux-Biblical kind of prose, and then the sections just end with that kind of stoned, college freshman, first time away from home, I'm-so-high-isn't-this-deep BS. But it's really just pimply Edgar down the hall talking out of his stoned ass. On the roof. I say lazy because I think he could have done that kind of thing and still done a more convincing job of it but he figured he didn't have to so he didn't. And the non-caps is annoying, the running of random words together is annoying. Why do that? What are you hoping to achieve? You need a reason. The characters are stock. I don't believe in them at all. They're not real. They're not out there. You know how I always talk about how the characters have to be out there? Or as if they were? Fitty is out there. People have said to me how the characters in Buried are out there. Somewhere in the world. You could meet them, but not really. They're realer than real. This duo are not real at all. And the stuff about the guy's wife? He barely throws that in, it's confusing. I'll tell you what McCarthy does do. He knows "manly" things. Like about making a bottle into a lamp. Shit you get from Dual Survival or whatever. But even when he's walking you through that stuff, you can't follow, because he's vague and he's mailing it in. There was one part I thought was effective--that bit about how we learn after-the-fact that the guy had given the boy instructions on how to shoot himself. There was tension and pathos in that part. I laughed at a lot of the rest of it, wrote "come on," a bunch in the margins. I have no problem with the plot. I've seen a lot of complaints about it. Look: people are plot. If you do people right. They'll be the plot. Other things are things that happen. But people are plot. I think McCarthy knew that he was bullshitting, too. Sure, he put it some other way to himself, about how he'd reached a different point or something. But there's not a lot here. You can read it, though. For what that's worth? More than you can say about almost all of everything else that comes out right now. Doesn't make it much good, though.

* Patton Oswalt is only fifty-two? Stairs and salad, son. What did celery do to you? Make up. It is not too late! I saw something about him on Twitter today. Apparently he's in trouble for being friends with Dave Chappelle or something. People have such empty lives. Who cares? Anyway, saw someone mention that he was fifty-two, which I verified. I thought he was like sixty-five or older. Hmmm. You learn something new.

* I actually bought some peanut butter so I can have it with my celery. For sandwiches, I get that almond butter or peanut butter with unblanched peanuts at the Trader Joe's, but you can't really dip celery in either one. They're kind of oily and the consistency isn't what you need it to be, creamy-scoop-wise. Celery is underrated. As is cold hot chocolate. I will get a hot chocolate and leave it in the leaking fridge overnight. When I am on Downtown I am often drinking a cold hot chocolate. Speaking of which: tomorrow I will discuss the Scrooge book on the show.


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