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Cross section

Sunday 3/8/20

* I was watching Game 2 of the 1975 World Series and a Red Sox batter tried to bunt. The ball was foul, so it wasn't even really a play, but I have never seen a catcher move as quickly as Johnny Bench did. Has a World Series ever had two better catchers in it? Maybe Berra and Campanella.

* Two cases of coronavirus were traced to the Marriott down the street next to the Aquarium. I must be careful, because that's on my beat and just a couple blocks away from my Starbucks. I have not been speaking to or seeing Emma because, frankly, she has little regard for me and also our friendship and only contacts me when she needs something, but I probably should text her about washing her hands. I will do this now. (Done. I am sure her mom said something to her, but they might not know about the Marriott yet.) Meatheads is dedicated to her and I will just leave it that way. Truth be told, as I look back on them, most of these dedications don't mean anything. And if I looked at my own books with pleasure (I look at nothing I write with pleasure, because I know how great it is, and it kills me, it burns my soul alive, to look at something like "Fitty" and to know these people will not let this story that would impact millions of people be seen) I would see names in my books that I would rather keep separate from what it was I wrought. I'm dedicating If You [ ] to Dan because he has taken it upon himself to put the time and energy into trying to help me (it was his own initiative to look up contests and print out Cheer Pack: Stories and enter the book--which should have gone with a major long ago and would have if someone else wrote it--to help try and get me some money), and if I ever move Glue God: Essays (and Tips) for Repairing a Broken Self I'd like to dedicate that to my late sister. But maybe, going forward, I should just do away with dedications. (Really, what I'd most like in the future is to have a group where I can say, "this is my family, these are my friends," a start-over kind of thing. You know how there is a different line-up for a band as in Deep Purple MK1, Deep Purple MK2? I need my MK2.) As I decided to do away with blurbs. There will never be a blurb again on a Colin Fleming book. Never. If I get to the point that I am making millions of dollars per book there will never be a blurb on a Fleming book. The people of this system decided I was their pariah, I was the person who couldn't come into the club, use the water fountain, play in their reindeer games. Blurbs are such insincere bullshit anyway. Blowjobs in the sand box. I run in fields.

*The way a virus would knock out humanity would be like a dark horse in the NCAA tournament. People wouldn't see it coming. There wouldn't be advanced warning from scientists. It would sneak up, then wreak havoc, and people would look at it after the fact and see how it was built to do max damage, but by then it will be too late.

* The end of the world would never come while people are getting ready for it.

* Having said that, I am here for the future of the world, and I think I can impact that future to the good more than any other person. If I can get past this industry.

* I climbed five more times yesterday and the day before. Ten straight days. I wonder if the Monument will be shut down and am a little surprised it has not been. People come from all over to go up the thing. There's a railing. There's coughing, heavy breathing, sweat. I'm talking about all of the out-of-shape people who go up once. Obviously I leave tons of DNA in there. You can actually see a trail of my sweat by the time I'm done.

* I was going to go to a screening of Diabolique a couple nights ago at the Brattle, but on my way home from climbing I saw that McCoy Tyner had died so I wrote an essay on him, looking at his finest album (The Real McCoy) as a leader. I sent it to three people at The New Yorker, where I have written on jazz, but just about everyone--if not everyone--at that magazine wants me dead. I will do a blog post on David Haglund soon, who used to be a kind of friend of mine. It's typical of these people, how they think, act, are okay with conducting themselves. I've delayed in putting it up because you must understand, I hate this kind of thing. I hate having to do it. And I already do so much, have so much to do every day in this hellish, lonely grind. But I can't sit back and let them end me and keep me from the world, from a life, from what I am here to do.

* One of those people at The New Yorker is Michael Agger. I wrote for him when he was at Slate. I did it for free one time when he said he couldn't pay me. Then he said he could, after all, after the piece ran. And you know what I said? I told him I wanted to honor our agreement. He could keep the $500. I thought this was right because it was what I had signed up for, and I thought acting in good faith like this would be worth more, anyway, down the road with our relationship. Stupid of me. I wrote a piece for him at The New Yorker on Coleman Hawkins. He accepted it. Was going to run. Had a date and everything. He then unaccepted it. Professional, right? I sold it to The Atlantic, where I have a unique set of problems right now and would be the lengthiest blog, near about, on the whole, "get this out into the open" front, which I have tried to refrain from doing, but we are at the point where I have no choice but to pull all of this out into the open. (Someone at The Atlantic threatened me not to tell the truth, too. And it's like, you took it here, not I. Just treat me fairly, treat my work fairly. That's it. Treat me and it fairly and it works out wonderfully for all of us, and we make a big splash. This was a place I gave so much work to, too. They are going to run more fiction than ever. They were going to run a short story of mine called "The Last Field," then changed their minds, back when they were all but dropping fiction completely. So I sent "The Last Field" back to them, now that they are going to run more fiction than ever--most of it on their site-- as well as "Fitty." "Field" is great, but "Fitty" is the story that would make people talk, that would explode. I try. I try to hang in until the last possible moment, even with all that has happened, and it's like, do the right thing. Treat me and my work fairly. You do that, and we walk together in tandem, on the same side.) That was the last I ever heard from Agger. This would have been many years ago. He acted completely unprofessionally, with no competence--it's a great piece; look it up--and then he got angry or miffed or whatever, when The Atlantic ran it. So then it became a case of, "I'll show you, Fleming, I'll make you pay, I will never respond to you again about writing for our site," which absolutely anyone knows I am so far past qualified to do. They can't even face you. They can't even act like an adult. This is what you're dealing with. Agger is also intimidated by me because he has this odd, quaking fear and respect for people who write a lot in a short amount of time. His comments to me once on Christopher Hitchens are very telling. In terms of productivity and rate of production, I make Hitchens look about as fast moving as sludge. So he's also suspicious of that. Ben Greenman, also of The New Yorker at the time, told me it was complete bullshit that Agger would have un-accepted the piece, which made him, Greenman, angry.

* But this is where the banning always comes from. I don't do anything wrong. I don't fuck somebody's wife. I'm not trading favors, abusing power, discriminating. It comes from the genius and it comes from the publication record and it comes from being the self-made white male and it comes from how much I produce and it comes from the absurd range of expertise and it comes from me always having a new idea or a story to try. That's where it comes from. Then they take their ball and go home. I'm not some asshole, clearly. I don't do anything to these people. After you've fucked me and raked me over coals and discriminated against me for seven years, yeah, I might say something prickly. But even that is pretty rare. And even then, what I am saying is true.

* Met three people the other day. Two in their twenties, one early thirties. A subby ad person, an art conservationist, a lawyer. The lawyer I cannot stand. Very dumb. Speaks in acronyms. Simple. But one of those people who speaks in acronyms who is also a schoolmarm, so like a cross between a seven-year-old and a nonagenarian. The first woman, who is twenty-seven, is easily the most interesting. She's well-spoken. I also respect her candor. I asked her if she wanted to get together for a walk today--yes, I prefer to simply have a coffee and stroll when I meet someone, then you can improvise along the way and you're out in the fresh air in the beautiful city and moving and talking--but she had a bridal shower to go to.

* The refrigerator floods the kitchen every morning--"kitchen"; yeah right--and rusted chunks of it fall off. The mattress is warped to the point that it resembles a new shape. I need something big to happen and to get the hell out of here. I look longingly at photos of Rockport when they come up online, and everything feels so fresh and clean and open, and I just want to be back there, back in my house, I don't even need anyone, it can be just me.

* My legs are crazy jacked. It looks like I do leg steroids.

* I might not formally write today and just start hard tomorrow. Over the past week I wrote five short stories, an essay on Bitches Brew, half an essay on Sherlock Holmes and breakfast, an essay on McCoy Tyner, did radio and a podcast. All of these blogs. Does that seem normal? Does that seem like a man who should be buried alive? Should that person--who does this every single week--be buried alive, or should they be put out into the open with a full-throated shout, from many throats, of "look, world!" I also climbed the Monument forty times. And if one wishes to do the whole left-handed compliment thing about my energy or hustle whatever, stop it. Has nothing to do with it. Nor does genius, in a way. We are past genius.

* I'll go to a couple Agatha Christie films later at the Brattle hopefully. Maybe I will do ten climbs. Without a day of recovery in quite some time, I find that my legs feel strained, but I don't want to be a pussy. And if I am not going to compose, I need to do more exercise so I am contributing something that allows me to keep going, which means making my heart strong. My calves feel tight. I should also get to Trader Joe's.

* Things I need to do, quickly, or fairly quickly, or at the least start imminently: 1. Finish an op-ed 2. Do edits for The Smart Set on a piece on Ernest Renan, Christ, and Easter 3. Re-read the proofed version of Meatheads that Tailwinds just proofed 4. Turn in this proposal for the short book on the BBC's The Office 5. Beginning proofing--there is a lot to fix/correct--If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fuckery, Fabula, Hope, and get a better manuscript back to Dzanc 6. Finish the Sherlock Holmes/breakfast piece 7. Complete the short story, "Wellness, Check" 8. Complete new version of short story "That Night" for London Magazine 9. Make edits on short story "Post-Fletcher" and get it back to Friction 10. All of my nonfiction book stuff which is stressing me out 11. Turn in jazz piece to The American Interest 12. Compose new story begun a couple days ago, plus "Make Me Out of Light," "Boone," and figure out story conceived in the Monument which can be a special story 13. Proof/fix--and see if you even need to--the short stories "Dunedin," "Nacho Cheese," "Pillow Drift," "Big Bob and Little Bob," "Funny Lines TK" 14. Put up the blogs you do not want to put up but must.

That's the short "to get you started" list. Not even the full overture. I need to go through emails, which produces days I barely make it through, but something also kicks in where I say, "right, you want to do it this way, welcome to the war, asshole," and I do what I need to do. I have to figure out something to talk about on Downtown with Rich Kimball and I'll tape another podcast with Ryan over at Songs of Note, on Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me." He also wants to do a Zeppelin cut and I think I will do "Riders on the Storm" as well, unless he already found someone else. I don't get paid for these, but I do them because 1. I like the people and 2. It's more art I'm making, more documents to be studied, I'm adding to the body of work. These are not mere conversations, segments, or pods.

* The hurt done to us by another can be so deeply embedded and unmoveable that it becomes calcified. No drill bit can penetrate it, it's too heavy to transport, dump in another ocean. It sinks down so low that the attendant pressure prevents humans from venturing there. It can't even really be discussed with the person who helped situate it, who led the ossification. It's just how it is.

* I have been coughing the past few days. I would prefer not to get the coronavirus because that will mean I won't be climbing. The only reason being that I would not wish to get anyone sick. Normally when I am sick, what I do is continue to climb; I don't believe in giving in to sickness. If I cannot do things like that, that means I am in a bad way, like when I had the pneumonia in 2016 with my 105 degree temperature. That was the most pain I have ever been in. It wasn't just being sick, it was the pain with those headaches. When I had the pneumonia I gave myself a deadline of two weeks to be sick before I returned to my workouts. I'm a big believer in mental ferocity in difficult times. Ten days of at least five climbs is pretty good, all in all. If I got the coronavirus I would run instead, early when no one is out.

* 1372 days (196 weeks) without a drink.

* I think on Downtown this week I'll discuss films from 1940. You know me--I like the things between things with these things, not the super obvious things. So I'll plan to look at The Sea Hawk, Mark of Zorro, Saps at Sea (Laurel and Hardy may be the greatest comedians of movie history), The Long Voyage Home (pioneering, pre-Citizen Kane deep focus from Gregg Toland), Stranger on the Third Floor (the first noir).


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