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Dogs; closeness and writing; bad Benny; Kaepernick essay excerpt

Tuesday 11/19/19

It's 8 in the AM. I have composed a 2000 word essay on Colin Kaepernick.


Someone I am very fond of and whom I care about wrote me a very touching note last night, saying that she has to say goodbye today to her beloved dog, and she wasn't sure why she was telling me this, or if I would care--of course I care--but that my work makes her feel very close to me. Someone else wrote last night to tell me that I touch people in ways with my writing like nothing else does. This is why I have to keep fighting, why I have to try and get past these people with their blackballing. Because this is what I do. It's real. No other writer does that right now.


Everything that happens in this industry happens for the wrong reasons. As further information gathering, I have recently added almost 2000 friends on Facebook. I am not interested in most of these people. I am interested in information. Now, some of these people have become actual friends. If one knows me, they will know that I don't use that term loosely. I've reached out to many. They want to tell you how they got something. It's like they can't help themselves. And what you get is firsthand testimony that whatever someone gets--be it the staff gig at The Atlantic, the short story placement with The Southern Review, the agent, the book deal at FSG--it's for absolutely filthy reasons. Absolutely corrupt. It's never an honest "this was better than everything else we read." Never. That is how everything happens here.


I feel awful for this woman with her dog. My understanding is that he helped her a lot when she was dealing with cancer. I tried to say that memories do not go away, and that an animal such as a beloved pet and companion can sense when we are fully appreciative of the time we have had with them, what they have meant to our life, how much they have given us, and that, I think, gives them a form of peace, and is the nicest thing we can think and feel about a dog. I will write her later tonight after I talk about Ella Fitzgerald on Downtown.


I made Emma's lunch and left it outside. I did get the brown paper bags, finally. She told me that Benny ate her new headphones she had gotten yesterday--he eats a lot of headphones--despite her having put them on a table. As she texted, "It was a skillful advance." She's funny, isn't she? She has both of the stories called "The Brittle Star." I am curious to see what she thinks. I think one of them will make her cry, as did "Fitty"--she lost it over Fitty, and then told me she was in love with a character who did not exist in the real world--and "(field watcher)".


Here is an excerpt from the Kaepernick piece, which is called "Still With You: The kind of person who supports Colin Kaepernick in a post-truth, pro-agenda age that needs to go." The "you," as it were, is reality.


***

When one remarks that there is a certain kind of person who likes Colin Kaepernick, much chop-licking ensues for those who self-style themselves as the moral arbiters—by whatever means necessary—of our age.


They are excited that fresh meat has been laid before them, and they have been turned out to do what they do, which is take to social media and post memes, threats, harangues, and gifs expressing their displeasure and hate—which they will term being a good person. They pound their drums as various people not dissimilar in attitude and methods surge into a digital conga line that all but shakes its collective rump with chants of “you’re a racist,” etc.


Kaepernick has his uses. Being a competent, employable football player at the highest of levels is not one of them. Nor is being an activist, a term that the more I encounter it, the more the shadings of meaning behind words like “charlatan” and “self-promoter” alter for me. Also, notions of someone with too much time on their hands, the void within, a narcissistic complex as big as all outdoors.


So let us re-begin, if you will, with me saying that there is a certain kind of person who likes Colin Kaepernick, or pretends to, though that particular predilection has nothing, in reality, to actually do with Colin Kaepernick.


It is this person who allows for Kaepernick to be the kind of phenomenon that he is; which is to say, not a real phenomenon, but a product of our age highlighting what is wrong with our age; the absence of critical thinking, substance, actually having to be something, rather than presenting a veneer that can be co-opted into various distorted forms that feed one of the relentless beasts of our largely passive—and passive aggressive—times: agenda.


We do not like to do the work of being a good person. We like people to think we are a good person. We brainstorm shortcuts. These shortcuts often take the form of attention we can direct to ourselves. This can be as simple as sharing a link for a charity or cause we have absolutely no interest in giving to ourselves; it can be the use of rainbow-colored filters for our social media avatars, the endless doling out of bromides that “hate has no place here,” despite that most recent stormy trip in the wealthy suburbs to the Starbucks when power was wielded over the beleaguered barista who failed to immediately create a drink to arcane specifications, complete with sandblasting Yelp review; and it can be the ritualistic averring of Kaepernick.


This person, almost invariably, will know nothing about sports. They would have been someone who perpetually sought the note to get out of gym class in high school. They will not understand that the passage of time impacts professional athletes in ways that time does not impact a cardiologist, author, restaurateur. Supporting Kaepernick is their way to feel like they are, at last, sitting at the lunch table where the cool kids, in their minds, gathered. They never understood that that kind of thing matters nothing at all in this life. It’s their way of thinking they have status as someone with knowledge of sports, that they finally not only “get it,” but get it so well that with their voice they are even exercising societal control. They have influence. They shape thought.