I got an extremely late start today, sleeping until 9:06. This is shocking for me. But, I was up until well after three in the morning. I had a long conversation with John Musok, my friend of twenty plus years, to whom Dark March and The Anglerfish Comedy Troupe are dedicated (the latter is actually dedicated to a number of people, including my friend Peter Norberg, with whom I go back even longer than John, who is the English department chair at St. Joe's in Philly, and Laura Simons, who was eighteen when I met her a few years, going through much in her life, as I was in mine, who became a dear and trusted friend, someone for whom my affection became like the affection one has for family; she lives in England now, married, with a young boy; she actually proofed Anglerfish something like ten times in a weekend. I'll never write a better book than those two books. I'll tie them, and I do, but I won't beat them, nor do I believe they can be beat. To write those books, I had to go to a place that I don't think people go to, in terms of human experience, and I had to be able to channel that hell into works that were not hell, that were life, that were humor, that were pure imagination grounded in the most resonant of human experience, an empathy well, via fiction forms that were new; a few years before, I could not have done those books; I had to evolve to become something beyond everything I had been, as a person, as an artist; it was almost like I had to become post-human, in a way. Of course, they sold nothing, given that publishing has made a point not to cover anything of mine, review anything of mine, stump for anything of mine, and no one saw them, or knew they existed, but I am going to get past these people--this site will help, and this blog will play a part, the telling of a story, the exposing of truth--and those books will rise again, and they'll be seen, and they'll do what they're going to do in this world. It's like the Beatles when they were on that Veejay label with their first couple of American singles. Nothing. But then their proper chance came, and something.).
I started screening Anthony Mann's Border Incident from 1949, given its relevance as a picture about Mexican border controversies, and also the complete Game 7 of the 1952 World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. Utterly fascinating. Then, I wrote a poem, called "Furled/Unfurled," and sent that to a few places. Someone was laying on the buzzer downstairs multiple times throughout the night/morning. I guess all of this--the conversation with John about serious matters, the Mann picture, the composition of the poem, the buzzer layer--got me going so that I couldn't sleep. Not even my normal fitful, nightmare-laden sleep. I watched some of Christmas in Connecticut--I love Barbara Stanwyck--on TCM, and then began reading August Derleth's Solar Pons stories, which are a pastiche of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Basically, Derleth carried on writing them after Conan Doyle stopped, but Doyle wouldn't give him person to use the names of his characters, so Derleth just changed the names. Funny. When I am dragging, here in this awful apartment, of filth, stacks of books and records and DVDs toppling in on me, as I watch people with 1/697th of my achievements be handed awards, money, plaudits, ease, people whose entire careers don't match a week here in the life, or even a pacey Monday, I will think about my beloved house in Rockport, and that will give me some push from the back corner of my soul, to keep trying, to keep going, not to kill myself, to remain the person I am, the artist I am, to get the future not only that I deserve, but that this world needs, for what it would mean, the good it would spread, the meaning it would bring, the purpose, the truth, the direction, the beauty, the examples. One of the things I imagine with that house, built the same year of 1840 that the town was incorporated, being 1912 square feet, so by no means some giant house, is quite simple. And yet, it's also not so simple.
I imagine a night like last night, with me up late, but under completely different circumstances. I am choosing to be up. I'm in my beloved front room of the house, on the second floor, where I wrote Dark March. (If you don't know me, or have not encountered writings that touch upon this subject, you may be wondering what happened to me, to cause me to leave this place, to lose it. There are words out there on the subject, and more words will come in the memoir that shares the name of this blog, Many Moments More. For now, I think it's enough to say it was simply something beyond the pale of what one human normally has it in them to do to another, and that kicked off six plus years of a kind of suffering that left that original suffering, that original evil-doing, far, far, far behind, as life became a series of someone--God, the devil, an inventive Fate; I have no clue--either rending someone, in unique fashion, or forging them in a fire to get them to become what they're going to need to be to do what they're here to do.) I'm in that front room, in this fleeting vision of a daydream that reminds me to keep going, reading something like those Pons stories, listening to Beethoven's late string quartets, or Kind of Blue, or the Beatles' White Album demos, having a dram of whisky--well, provided I ever have whisky again, about which I'm not very sure--with the kind, brilliant, dynamic, talented woman who loves me, as I love her, asleep down the hall, whom I will join in bed before too long, another day about to follow in each other's company to delight in, grow from, come the morning, with maybe some, shall we say, extracurricular romping, to start the day, a long talk following over the breakfast table about anything and everything she had been thinking about something of late, because every thought of hers will always stir me at my core, me going into some breakthrough I had in inventing a new form of fiction the night before, before I rewarded myself with that reading of Pons, the listening to Kind of Blue; then the day with the hike, the trip to the museum, maybe, the visit to the antique stores along the marsh road in Essex, picking out something for our home, as story ideas come to me, and come to me, and come to me, which I will soon put on the page, which will get to the readers they are supposed to get to, now having the platform that was denied me for so long, as I stand, reap, and aid, as the artist I would never have become if I hadn't had to evolve to keep going, to create more, to create deeper, to create faster, to become a stronger person, a person who could move from books to radio to fiction to nonfiction to adult literature to kids literature to TV to movies, and there we were, knowing love, knowing friendship of the truest kind, which is also to say, knowing the kind of art that these things are. Artful debauchery--o dear--works as well, too. I'm the sauciest of rakehells at the foundation of my nature, with someone to whom I handed my heart. I have a squirt mug, for instance. No no no. That was wrong. Or was it?
Ah, some levity. I don't know this person yet. And I don't know that all of the specifics would fit. Maybe she wouldn't like the antiques barn along side the marsh road in Essex, or my hikes would be too long and that would be a thing I do on my own, and it's something else I'm not aware of yet that would rechannel that particular form of energy or desire for me, something that comes from her, which brings me to something that also becomes mine, and ours, only I had not foreseen it, though receptive to a gift so generously given. I have to believe that she is out there somewhere, just as I try to believe what everyone in my life tells me, that this is going to happen, what I am here for, what I am trying to do, will all come to pass, and that's going to be very important.
Anyway, this isn't something I really set out to do right now, writing all of this, on the morning of the Fourth of July. I'm in my disgusting workout clothes, because I'm going for a three mile run. I sent a very strong op-ed pitch to The New York Times a few minutes ago. It was an idea that also occurred to me last night.
I considered watching the turnaround of the USS Constitution here on my solitary Fourth of July, something I used to do with my dad when I was quite young and he'd take me to Fort Independence out in South Boston, where Edgar Allan Poe was stationed and where he came up with the idea for "The Cask of Amontillado." The burying of the enemy is a theme that drives me, but not in that way. More in the way of Franz Kafka, when he wrote in his diaries, "Ride your enemy's horse." That means you've knocked your enemy the hell off it, and you're charging into the future. I get that, believe me. I'll probably see some of the Constitution stuff on my run, if it's not too late. Then I thought maybe I'd see Hereditary at the movie theater by Boston Common, perhaps Solo, but I dragged my ass and now maybe I'll just go to the Brattle later after I've worked out and read some more of Hunter Davies' The Beatles--I'm writing a piece about it for The Daily Beast--for Jaws 2. I usually go see the original Jaws at the Brattle, which screens first, but I admit, I get tired of the hipsters forcing their laughter and applause over the "You're gonna need a bigger boat" line to show how cinematically woke they are. People trying to prove to you that they are cool is an instant emetic for me.
This is a recording I always listen to on the Fourth. This is the cut-down version, but man, if this doesn't get you going, get you bopping around, I don't know what music could. The person who put this video together didn't a really nice job with how they tease everything out in the writing/captions. Paul Gonsalves--a tenor player I have always dug--is like a player in baseball who has an MVP level season, but isn't anywhere near a Hall of Fame talent. I increasingly love these hard-charging, tenor players who bring loads of soul and rhythm and blues. Hank Mobley (he was a great thinker, too); Ike Quebec; Junior Cook. I remember reading an interview with the Strokes in 2001 where Julian Casablancas said, "We just wanna do what we do, rock your balls off." This does that to mine. Gonsalves starts his twenty-seven chorus solo at the 3:46 mark. The second starts chorus starts at 4:01, to give you an idea, if you're not familiar with these things, what a chorus is in jazz. When he starts the chorus at 4:44, you can tell he is really starting to feel it. This is not a normal jazz solo. With the chorus that starts at 7:47, Gonsalves might as well own the entire bloody world, because to hear this, I don't care who you are, is to be in this man's hand.
Motherfuck, I am now ready to pop someone. This is just the beginning indeed. Getting where I'm going.