I guess the news of the weekend was that yesterday I began formally composing the Beatles book. I'll have at least one chapter ready to show this week to this person at Da Capo who will be taking a look. I could say that I was born to write it, but you can't really say that unless it's true about one thing above all, and it would imply I was not born to write "Girls of the Nimbus" or whatever else. With me, once begun means mostly done. I have myriad aims with this book, but these are three of them: 1. For it to be the most knowledgeable Beatles book there is. 2. To change--in a positive way--how people hear and look at the Beatles. 3. To have a work of art that stands on its own, too.
Tomorrow will be book today. I will be ensconced in four books at once and it will be a long day.
Yesterday I walked eight miles after working on the Beatles book, and then I ran the rest of the stairs at Summit Way that I had mentioned earlier, but only twice. As it turns out, there are 210 of them. I learned that they rise to 260 feet above sea level, going up the side of what is called Corey Hill. I've staked out this hill as a gym. It's a six mile walk to get there, and I can run the stairs on one side, and run up the hill on the other.
As with my Twitter and Facebook pages where I post interesting items and no one follows or cares because no one likes anything interesting, I have an Instagram page where different things go and no one sees them, like this photo of the stairs from over 100 years ago. I put up mostly different content from place to place. But it doesn't matter. Still, it's a cool photo. The very bottom of the photo is where the C line T tracks now are. The far right is just outside Coolidge Corner. Can you spot the person in the photo? What were they up to on this day? Were they just taking a walk? Was it very early and that's why no one else is out? Did something happen that gave them a greater need to take this stroll? Could they have imagined that someone a century later could be looking at them in that very moment and wondering what was going through their head? Did they fight in WWI? Had they read William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham which was set in this very area and one of whose main characters was named Tom Corey?
Upon returning to the North End, I walked another three miles, though it had started to rain. What I say to myself is, "Okay, you have a lot to withstand, these people want you dead, don't give in, every extra three miles is something for the heart, and the heart being strong enough to handle the stress, come on, let's go." It's miserable, man. It's like drill camp for surviving hell. And it never lets up. Believe me, you're so conscious of that as you're totally alone, despised, miserable, with no quality of life, nothing to ever look forward to. I'm walking, there's no one out, I'm soaked to the skin, it's raw, and I'm doing this because of what publishing is and all of the people in it against me. This is what I have to do. After creating constantly. While they're sitting there in nice places, having everything handed to them, with no accountability for anything they want to do, no matter how base or wrong.
Those are lonely bloody walks. I mean, it's all lonely. At the same time, you're also conscious that because this is who you are, and that you constantly create, that there has never been an artist like you, that you produce a lifetime of art every week, that you fight and keep going, that you get better, also and always increases that hate, if it were even possible. So what do you do? Sit back and wait to die in poverty and anonymity? Because you were the best there was? I think the best there ever was can only try. And always get better. And eventually, the solution comes. This is something in which I have to try to have faith.
I cannot imagine a greater challenge of faith, to be honest. I don't think Job was comparably tested, because the nature of Job's sufferings were also an indication of what could be in store for him, in that they proved the existence of God. For Job, anyway. The only place I see God in my own life--as interwoven in it--is in my work. That I can do what I do, which I know is beyond what a human could do on their own. I have faith that way, though it's so hard to maintain a single shred of it, which may be a kind of faith in God, but Job also had the advantage of just how splashy his horrors were. They were like big special effects. Whereas, my devils live in details. And nobody has time for details. Nobody is interested in details. Though the details, when they accumulate, when they are boundless, kill in ways that no plague of locusts could. What I am experiencing has more the quality of the curse. The curse is self-sealing. The curse protects itself. For instance, the nature of the curse could be that you suffer the worst thing anyone has suffered. But to have that understood, would require time and energy few people would expend. Thus, the curse is protected in that only the one who is cursed can even fully understand what has happened, is happening.
But I still hope my story gets to come out soon. Or, rather I should say, is known soon. By enough people.
Yesterday marked 1736 days, or 248 weeks, without a drink. I don't know how I managed to give up drinking while enduring all of this.
Downloaded a newly discovered Jimi Hendrix bootleg comprised of two sets from a show in Milwaukee in 1968. Quite distinctive setlists, with rarely performed songs.
Came up with an op-ed idea for September, regarding Dante.
Bloomsbury sent me a file of the Sam Cooke book today, which I need to go through. I hope it looks okay. There's been a lot of pressure and remains a lot of pressure with these various upcoming books. My inability to deal with much of anything has not helped. You do reach a point where you can't take any more. For a lot of people, it doesn't take much to hit that point. For me, it took years and years of being battered, attacked, shunned, banned, loathed, locked out. I went years where every single day was worse than what you'd think was the worst day you'd have. A death in the family. Then I couldn't handle anymore, though I fight back to being able to handle what must be handled, to fight against what must be fought against. And I will. Sometimes I see these small steps. I always come back to what I have to come back to. What I've been able to do is create, and then try to keep my body a way so that I can continue to create, to come back, and to get where I am trying to go. Then have my time once I am there.
I went to a White Stripes concert in 2003 here in Boston--and recently downloaded the bootleg--and they played a song called "Red Bird" that I am not sure they played anywhere else. It might have been a one-off. I've had it in my head for several weeks, for some reason. Normally that is a part of me trying to tell me something.
Turned on ESPN2 to watch the BC/St. Cloud NCAA hockey tournament game yesterday and they didn't show most of the first period because of a softball game. When the game did come on, was pretty obvious that BC was being outworked and what I call out-desired. I don't understand that. They have this all-time winningest coach, and certainly a lot to atone for after the debacle collapse in the Hockey East Tournament, and this is the level of effort? BC's forwards were routinely being beaten to spots by activated defensemen in the BC end, with players not picking up their man. That's not a skill thing. That's accountability and desire. I expected them to lose, because they struck me as a broken club with a broken goalie, but that was a one-sided game. The score might not say as much, but if you know hockey, you know when you got your ass kicked. There are people who will say that this is largely because BC has one of the younger teams in college hockey, but that's hogwash. Other squads may have older players, but that's because those players are not as good. They're not going on to to the NHL at twenty-three, twenty-four. Their hockey journey is coming to its end at the DI level. A team like BC is stacked with future NHL contributors. That makes up for the age difference.
Watched the rest of that Joan Crawford picture. Didn't end as I expected it to. Earlier in the film, Jack Palance, who has married her just for her money and plans to bump her off, makes a comment about these stairs in a cliff without a guardrail and how anyone could fall to their death. I figured he'd expire that way at the end, after lunging for her or some such. But it just fizzles out in another ho-hum way. I can watch a Joan Crawford film, but I'm unlikely to rewatch one. She's pretty annoying. Having said that, Gloria Grahame is always good as a nasty piece of work. Her characters are often like what someone I know would call "bad news." It's a telling term. Someone who is bad news is someone who can only channel a kind of death in your life. Destroy. Often insidiously, because they're not stupid. They're that person who, even in the best of times, when they contact you and they make it look like they have some concern or want to do something for you, you wonder what they're up to, because there's always something else they're up to, and it's not good. Interacting with them at all is this human form of "buyer beware." No good will come of knowing them, unless it's a kind of simple good, on your terms, like in a foot soldier way, where maybe they perform this task they've offered to perform, and you keep them at a distance, and halt everything there. You let them get no closer. Nor will they ever change. The best course when they phone--because they tend to circle back at some point--is say to yourself, "no way, no how," and not even answer, or reply to the text. Because it's always a way to get back in and perform acts of destruction. Bad news. They'll come armed with better rhetoric than the last time, but you have to be aware, and keep this person away from your life. I've known quite a few people like this. It's a person-type that tends to have a thing for me. I let people know me on a different level, and I'm not manipulative, and people often think, too, that I will hear them out and work to give them the benefit of the doubt. They'll also come to me when they have no one else, as if I'm this last lighthouse standing. But ultimately they'll do what they do, and seek to destroy, because that's what they are. It's not even a who thing. It's a what thing.
Someone I know who is my age and fit got the vaccine Saturday and then spent all day in bed yesterday with a fever. I'm not sure why they were eligible yet. I know nothing about that, though. Who can get this, where you get it. I really have not given it much thought. I do see many people in publishing who write nothing save, it seems, whinging FB posts, go on and on and on about their vaccine, over weeks, as if they've recently stormed the beach at Normandy and, having lived to tell the tale, must tell it nonstop. That's the level of perspective one tends to see in these people. It's also why they can't handle a real story of truth and emotion. Too much for them. They run from life. This takes all forms. In how they conduct themselves. In what they pretend to like. In what they put forward. The less life, the better. Numbness and safety are what matter. It's all about the absence of things, not the presence of things. This person was told by a doctor that that had likely had COVID and that was why they had this particular reaction.
Also, "many" or "most" does not mean all. We can be very quick to self-ascribe what someone is saying to us.
Wrote the Easter cards for my nieces and nephew. I write them each a little note. Seems silly to just send a card and only sign it. You get value with a C-Dawg card.
I have to replace these shoes and sneakers and re-up at the MFA and Aquarium. I can't get my mail. They replaced the boxes and now I don't have a key.
It's later now. Walked five miles. Again, not much, but it starts to add up. Twenty-one miles since Saturday.
I feel more artistic responsibility than I've ever felt. What I mean by that is that I have more going at once than at any other previous time, but also that four "Fitty"/"Nimbus" level stories are happening simultaneously in "Up the Sea," "The Neighborhood Leo," "Pre," and "Eede Upstairs." I don't know what you could compare this state of artistic affairs to. Certainly nothing that has come before.
The Deshaun Watson situation is ugly. One way or the other. I have no idea what way that is. If he did what he's alleged to have done, or if he's done nothing and all of this was invented. A trend I've noticed--and people can't stop themselves from doing this--is for people to leap--in print, or social media, or both--to the conclusions they want, before anything has played out or is revealed. You'll see some editors do it, showing what true bigots they are. Then they lose their job. Happened a bunch with the Boulder shooting. I don't understand how you can't understand that you can't be like this. These people will often have made up titles--like the Race and Inclusion editor or whatever--and after they're fired, they cry victim. And it's like, look at your title, look at your made up job, what did you think would happen if you led with your agenda rather than waiting, seeing, confirming, processing? So many people owe their fame and platform and income to the Race Industrial Complex. Firstly, you shouldn't have a skin-color based agenda. Against or for anyone. I hear people say things like, "The internet is not your personal diary." Of course, I find this somewhat ironic, given this journal. But this journal is not piecemeal; it's not fired out as shots from the hip. It's a record of cognition, and it's composed as a series of books, self-consciously understood to be books. Secondly, these people are often so entitled, have never worked for anything in their lives, have never earned, that they have no idea what "no" or consequences mean. They expect every road to be paved for them, never mind that they're a lazy, shiftless moron. And it usually works out. Sometimes it doesn't, and that's nice to see. What must happen is for society to tilt back towards a meritocracy, which means these same people would never sniff what they now have handed to them. You can't root for race, though. You can't be like, "I hope this person is this color so I can advance this narrative."
Two things I've noticed about people with large Twitter followings: One, they say next to nothing. It's mindless, prosaic, and anyone could say it and does. Your idiot ex-roommate from college. Zero intelligence, insight, humor. Or, two, it's hyperbole. I have a theory about fireworks: you've seen them once, you've seen them all you need to see them. Fireworks bore me greatly. Hyperbole is this way. The person with the large following makes some giant claim meant to be significant, but it's just padded overstatement. Then they want to reach those "heights" again, so an hour later they do the same thing. It's cartoonish. A cartoon on a loop. You look at what they post for three days, and it's three dozen statements of hyperbolic nonsense. Their shtick burns itself out immediately. So why keep coming back? What could you possibly be getting? You're getting childish stupidity. Which comforts people. Because you never look at these people and think, "Hmmm, this is intimidating, they're much smarter than I am, I wish I was smart like that." Being able to say this to ourselves now matters much more than actually finding something interesting, humorous insightful, and possessing value. The driver of the market is "they're not smarter than I am," rather than "Wow, this is really good."
Other stories: "Sensible Heat," "Wellness, Check," "Peaceable Assembly," "Mount Edifice," "Fancy Rats," "First Eye," "Water States." Those are all also longer stories. There are others.
Quite the comments by the Baylor women's basketball coach after their victory about jettisoning COVID testing for the Final Four. My views on health and COVID diverge greatly from those of most. But you can't tell the world that you want to "dump" testing because a portion of a tournament takes precedence. The verb is also part of the problem. Language matters, whether people like it or not. Normally they don't, because they have so little control over their language. "Dump" is flippant. Here, it's abrasive. That doesn't mean this verb is always flippant. Context is a matter of tonal shading. So is the linguistic setting.
Saw a poll where people were asked how many unarmed Black citizens they believed were killed annually by the police. The majority picked the option that the number was in the thousands. Which is probably along the lines of what the number of deer shot each year is, right? Rather than a dozen, or whatever the exact number was. What a terrifying time this is, where we wield so much hate, revel in mob rule, as we go around in such darkness, so uninformed. I liken it to large chunks of society being like someone in a car, who enters the vehicle staggeringly drunk, then floors it with their eyes closed, running down who they run down, making others dive for cover. And then thinking they're a hero and that they've done right. When confronted, in whatever form that takes, they'll drink more, drive more, all but pluck out their eyes, speed faster. That mode of driving is the societal norm now. It's how we "navigate" the freeways of thought, discussion, conduct ourselves in the public sphere, which are these social media platforms, and which are also all that anyone reads now, for a variety of reasons, including that an industry fails to provide much of anything worth reading.
Hills matter to me. I guess that's a funny thing to say. There is the myth of Sisyphus, pushing his boulder up the hill, always having it roll back down, so that he must start again. I don't look at my personal hill that way. I try not to. I look at it as the tallest mountain a person has ever faced. Which no one else would even try to mount. My boulder does not roll back down, as if I've come to the cusp and been thwarted. I climb through clouds. I climb through snow. I climb through gales. When a limb dies, I hack it off, and regrow myself. My summit is not the top of the slope. It's something beyond. I don't retreat. I don't regather. I don't take the breather. I ascend. I think of that song by the Loft, "Up the Hill and Down the Slope." I think of how when I start going down the other side, it's going to be a huge, sprawling expanse. And having climbed so high, there will be that much more ground that I cover as I greet and explore, and explode into, the other side. And that will change the world. Until then, I just keep climbing.