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Deep and crisp and even

Tuesday 12/8/20

* Wrote a short story today called "Traffic Islands." Strong. For Longer on the Inside.

* Here's the op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, which is on John Lennon and the value of "Help!" over the likes of "Imagine." I don't hate "Imagine." I just think it's insincere and not art. But tuneful. I put it on the level of something like "Junk." Actually, I prefer the latter. It's fairly haunting, isn't it?

* I did the final read-throughs of "Girls of the Nimbus" today and made last fixes. There wasn't much. The time had come when it was finished. And I knew the time had come. Someone read it immediately--I gave this one a bit of advance billing with some people--upon receiving the story and said, "Holy shit, brother. I'm sitting here sobbing after reading 'Girls of the Nimbus.' So much beauty...their hands on the piano. 'That was the first time I felt a life that wasn't my own as if it were my own.' Jesus." It's as fine as anything I have ever composed, which, of course, covers thousands of works. I sent it to The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, Granta, The Sun, McSweeney's, Lit Mag, One Story, and The Paris Review.

* Here is tonight's Downtown segment, in which we discuss the WSJ piece, Judy Garland and Christmas, "Good King Wenceslas"--a favorite carol of mine--and an early radio broadcast from 1933 about a ship's ghost off the coast of Maine.

* It is important to me not to speak in grand encomiums or extreme negatives if those words are not indicative of a given truth. To never exaggerate, what some people call speaking in a rhetorical way. If I say I wrote seventy-five letters on a Saturday morning to people who detest me, then I wrote seventy-five letters. Or seventy-three, maybe, or seventy-seven. What put this in my head is that my sister knew I had been walking in a nor'easter, and asked me how much snow we had. I said none, and she may have questioned if I was telling her the truth. Or probably not. That's me being overly cautious, I would imagine. I told her it was the rain portion of the nor'easter. But the reason I must always be precise is because I have a story to tell. The story of what has happened here, with me, in this industry, has to be known at some point. I see these people with large followers on Twitter. A Matt Walsh. Someone like that rage Tweets endlessly. Every single Tweet is about how something is the worst thing ever. The most evil thing ever. Always with that go-to hyperbole. That's how you get a large following on Twitter. You say stupid, simple things in hyperbolic ways. And you never think critically. You hammer away at your one-note theme. Often this is sheer anger, rage, from people with easy lives who make a lot of money despite having no talent. They give their angry "opinions." "I'm an opinion guy," someone like this will say. I never believe these people. I never believe them because everything is hyperbole. If they had a story to tell me, I would never trust them to tell that story in a way that approached what actually had happened. I want to be believed when everything about my story comes out, or, I should say, is seen. I don't want people to point to anything I said or wrote and say, "He didn't actually write 200 stories in two years, he made that up." Because people just say numbers. They'll say some big number when they wish to convey a point that they think is paramount. There is nothing I exaggerate, for "effect" or anything else.

* What this Patriots season is telling me is that you can make the playoffs with a weak roster, with a transformative coach who gets that team playing better as a season progresses, but that will hinge completely on quarterback play. Not good quarterback play--average quarterback play or something approaching thereof. At some points, you will have to be able to make throws to win. You can't wallpaper your way into the playoffs without that.

* An interesting baseball note. Ted Williams faced off against Lou Gehrig exactly one time--in his first game, no less, on Opening Day, 1939. Williams, who had what was surely the greatest rookie season in baseball history, struck out twice. What would be a rarity for him. Gehrig, meanwhile, hit into two double plays, and had only seven games remaining after this contest, which the Yankees won, with Lefty Grove taking the loss. Today was the day in that same year that Gehrig gained entry to the Hall of Fame, the standard waiting period having been waived.

* Ran three miles. It was cold.


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