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Erased in

Thursday 6/2/22

Working on a new story called "Grrrr." A form-exploder.

Here is the altered full title now: There Is No Doubt: Story Girls. The word "story" becomes honorific and descriptor. So there we have it. I want the cover to come from this working image, which is an X-ray of human heart muscle.

The words will be "erased into" that image. So they'll be white--paper white. Thick--like glue stick thick. Someone who knows their way around photoshop should be able to do it in minutes, and it will look better than every cover out there, and be better, because of what it also conveys. Do you ever see a cover that works in tandem with a book? Shouldn't everything on the book work with everything in the book? Shouldn't everything bolster everything else? This seems like such a simple idea, a given, the way things would have to be if you want to approach doing them right. But I am the only person who thinks this way. I have a second X-ray--it's a different shade--that could be used for the back. There has to be more text on the back, and smaller text, and this X-ray of human heart muscle is lighter.

Possibility: Put the words in descending order. For example:





All centered. So that mimics a voice being extra clear, extra reassuring. Cadence-wise. Then, drop through a bunch of space to create separation, and put

Story Girls

together on same line/plane. Slightly smaller size. Then my name, smallest by far, in bottom left, also in the white.

It is wild that the person who wrote Meatheads Say the Realest Things wrote There Is No Doubt. As if I needed to prove it again: there are no limits here.

I've written two op-eds today. The first was on Judy Garland. This is from it:

Not a lot of artists have ever made me say, “Wow, how talented do you need to be?” as if they had an impossible surfeit of ability. Judy Garland, who was born 100 years ago on June 10, is one of those few, and I have loved and studied her artistry as a singer, actor, and radio performer for decades.

As a straight male in his forties, I don’t represent the Judy demo. When she’s spoken of now, it’s usually because of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. But if you don’t partake of this titaness’s work—and she stands up there in American art and entertainment with Miles Davis, Orson Welles, William Faulkner—you’re not just missing out on a cornucopia of enrichment, but also a way of approaching the world that opens up other avenues.

Ask someone their interests, and they tend to be boxed-in. Netflix gets cited. In my experience, older people—senior citizens and up—are the most likely to surprise you. That’s where you’ll find the Civil War buff, the gardening expert, the individual ready to quote some lines of Whitman. Society now expects everything to be brought rather than sought. To be put in front of our faces. Most people don’t journey, and it’s bad for all of us.

What I’ll call my journey with Judy began with her 1961 album, Judy at Carnegie Hall. When I heard Garland on that album—sounding wiser than she did as an already wise teenager in The Wizard of Oz—I heard a jazz singer that no one classified as such, disassembling expectations. Her torch songs torched me, and the technical perfection of her singing was matched by the authenticity of the palpable emotion.

She died at age forty-seven, after years of self-doubt and abuse. Her own movie studio branded her an ugly duckling, and she finally gave out. Items auctioned from her life brought shockingly low figures in return. She was discarded.

And yet in the work of Garland, one experiences an accession of human triumphs. She wouldn’t stop ranging. Six years after Oz she appeared in future husband Vincente Minnelli’s The Clock, insisting that this time she wouldn’t sing, would act only, and she acted the hell out of the thing.

The second op-ed was for the Fourth of July. This is from that one:

Each year, early on the morning of the Fourth of July, I hew to what has become a tradition for me. I take the train from Boston to Concord, and I walk to a very old house.

Here, on the banks of the Concord River, the first battle of the American Revolution was fought. It’s what you would have encountered on another morning, that of April 16, 1775, when the shot heard round the world rang out. I’m alone, and yet I feel as though I am surrounded by freedoms. The wafting presence of individual choice. But mostly I feel as though I am a country unto myself.

That house at my back—known for centuries as the Old Manse, though it’s a humble structure—belonged to the Emersons. Ralph Waldo boarded here, and in 1842, for the sum of $100/year, Nathaniel Hawthorne became the tenant with his wife Sophia. They etched their declarations of love into a window. They’re there to this day in what may be the same window through which Ralph Waldo's grandfather William watched the battle between the Redcoats and local farmers in his backyard.

No place I’ve ever been to feels this way. I read here—some Whitman, Twain, Hawthorne’s own Mosses from an Old Manse. I hold a kind of communion with ghosts—or I should say, perpetual spirits of necessary ideals.

The Colonists must have been terrified, these men accustomed to working fields rather than the wages of war. Amateurs against professionals. Together, as individuals, they made a choice, and they advanced for the first time against British troops.

I wonder how often we do this now. Exercise our individuality. Exist in unadorned, heroic purity for a cause. Not to be platformed. Not for money. I wonder how skilled we are now at the very concept of freedom. Because it is a skill. There’s a freedom muscle. And that muscle is rooted at the core-level of who a person is. So that is why I stand here alone.

There was actually a dip in production regarding this journal over the last three months. Essentially, there were two fairly long stretches of no posts--two weeks, I believe, at one point, and then over a week more recently. Having said that, from March 2 to June 2, this record totaled 125,000 words.

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