Heading out to run stairs and do push-ups. I worked this morning on the Children of the Stones essay and the short story "Rosa." Also, "A BETTER MAN THAN YOU" is now completely done. That's it for that one. Finest writing there has been. I defy anyone to read that story and honestly say otherwise. Also pitched something about John Lennon, something else about Duke Ellington, and something about Quentin Tarantino, and signed off on the final version of an op-ed which didn't appear to have any changes.
Ran 3000 stairs, did 100 push-ups. Listened to Green Day's BBC sessions from 1994 and 1996. Also been listening to a lot of Michael Hordern's readings of ghost stories by M.R. James lately. I might want to move that essay on To Walk the Night from You're Up to And the Skin Was Gone. I don't know. Going through the process. Processes. Get everything right.
People need their asses kissed or they fall apart. I saw this piece today about musicians offended and hurt by what Dylan said about them in his new book, even when he didn't say anything about them. No one would last two seconds in my hell. Do people really not understand that most of the time when someone praises them it's bullshit? They don't think that. They're saying it to you for other reasons. It's easier, they want something, a lot of other people are saying it, they can't tell one way or the other, it gets them in, they get stuff said back to them, it's a puff piece, etc. It is astounding how weak people are. They can't handle any adversity. They can't handle not being told certain things by a certain amount of people. Doesn't make it true, man. Usually it's the opposite.
I was thinking about COVID. Look at all of the people--and you'll see the ramifications for years--who were already broken and became even more so because of how they shut down while trying to pass it off as something else, or just didn't think enough, weren't reasonable enough, didn't find alternatives, discarded common sense. Just like people can't handle adversity or non-total support, they can't handle being alone with their thoughts for two minutes. People's beliefs in things like crisis actors went way up since the pandemic. Reason broke down even more. Bodies are in worse shape than ever before. I saw this photo the other day of the country's fattest man--that's how he was billed--in the nineteenth century. People would pay to see him. He looked like any one of six guys you'll see at any time on the T. Oliver Hardy and Norm on Cheers were once thought of as fat guys. I think I can use that term. That was the joke at the time. They're regular-sized men now. That wouldn't be the comedic hook that it was with those characters. A hook. Oliver Hardy in particular was truly funny in more important ways. People were always free to develop their minds and bodies. COVID didn't stop anyone at all. In truth, it provided opportunities to improve mind and body, because people had even more time than they already have. But you know what there never was? A line of people at my stairs waiting to run them. It was always just me. You could have read a dozen books on the Civil War, the French Revolution, all of the poems of Emily Dickinson. Made use of your time. But people just broke down even more. You give almost anyone even the specter of an excuse, and they will work harder to take that excuse than they will with anything else in life. The excuse is like a god for them. But then society adapts for these people, to take care of the masses. It adapts by devolving more. Who pays the price? The person not like these people. Who pays it the most? The person least like them.
I am always astounded by how people can believe--seemingly--anything anyone says to them that is positive, no matter how absurd it is. Not matter how far removed it is from the truth. No matter how laughable it is. How does this happen? How do they not say, "Wait? Is that accurate? Am I that amazing at such and such?" Amanda Gorman is a good example. It's like, my God, you are so bad at writing. You're not even a seventh grade level writer. How do you believe these things about yourself? How can you not know that the people who have made you are only interested in you because of your background, privilege, your looks, your skin color, and that you're a puppet for their false morality and virtue signaling and so they can make a buck? Look at what you write! If you were in middle school and you took that home to mom, mom wouldn't be like, "Damn, what a gifted child I have." Mom would just think whatever. You'd be her average kid doing an average kid thing. But the hubris and delusion of this woman. The way she talks about herself.
I don't think people have shame, consciences, or any self-awareness, and I think if they're active in anything, it's in not having these things and doing what is required to forestall their advent or intrusion. Jiminy Cricket would have a very hard time finding work in this world. Cricket on the dole. Could be a dark Rankin-Bass thing.
Listening to the first take of Dylan's "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" it's clear that he knows exactly how he wants to sing the song but he doesn't have the words yet. He has the voice, though, in both the sound sense and the writer sense. He never had a better band than he had on that record. I think of it like the rock version of the band Andrew Hill had for Point of Departure.