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Gretzky, squirts

Monday 7/1/19

I am working my ass off.

Wrote a 350 word review of Stan Getz's Getz at the Gate, a recently discovered concert from November 1961. Excerpt:

...but whereas eleven years earlier Getz was decked out in the blues, he’s pushing the pace here, a post-bop man who wants to re-bop, you might say. He tears through “Airegin,” his tone like an advancing gust through a wind tunnel; it rounds the bend, and buffets you—but in a feel-good way—with its physicality. “Wildwood,” contrastingly, has the strains of the concert hall, Kuhn’s focus on providing a pianistic background for Getz’s tumbling cadenzas. “When the Sun Comes Out” unfolds with that effortless ease of a Chopin ballade which, of course, is not so easily done, but it feels firmly ensconced in nature’s corner as a kind of musical given, just as the sun’s appearance is a celestial one.

Made more notes for "Fitty." Read Lord Dunsany's The Curse of the Wise Woman. He was a great writer. He had the gift. Listened to an album of Mozart's overtures, with Neville Marriner conducting.

Walked three miles, climbed the Monument five times. That is 36,000 stairs in four days. Pitched The Washington Post. "Rip Van Winkle." This is the pitch. To give an idea, it's a medium-length pitch. I probably send out fifty a week. How do I know all of these things, one might ask? I just do. It's disturbing, isn't it?

"This is fun: I think it's safe to say that ours is an age where people sleepwalk through their lives. I call it living by autopilot. We watch the same shows--honestly, if I go on one more dating app to see 943 people in a row say they watch The Office and nothing else, I'll start frothing at the mouth--and cycle through a somnolent existence, using modern technology--the internet, social media--to help us with our living Zzzzzzs. You know who tipped us off to this? Or warned us? Or gives us a jolt of epiphany as we need it? Washington Irving, who published "Rip Van Winkle" 200 years ago. Perfect story for our times--it's 2019 in fable form! It's also a pretty funny story (for instance, when our man Rip finally figures out that he's been passed out for more than two decades, and his wife has predeceased him, he is kind of cool with that). Irving had just filed for bankruptcy. He had no money, and this was his solution. Don't be a modern Rip Van Winkle. Which you can help avoid by reading "Rip Van Winkle." This was also a very freeing form of American literature; it traded in whimsy, which no one really did before this. For instance: I would say that we don't get things like Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" without this story. I like whimsy-writing that delivers hard, cold, real truths. It's a lost art that can also be more effective, in my view, than ever before. The mathematical symmetry here is cool, too; he was asleep for twenty years, it's 200 years later, we have 10x the need for his sleep-born lesson."

One thing--there are so many, and many of them are as hard, or harder, than this thing--that is so hard right now is that I have to write everything. I have to do everything at once. I have to do every single one of those things at once at a higher level than anyone has ever done any one of them when they were just doing that thing. I have to write the short form fiction. I have to write the long form fiction. I have to do the radio. I have to write the sports pieces. I have to write the op-eds. I have to write all of the critical arts pieces. i have to write this journal. I have to write a film book. I have to write a music book. I have to write essays. Because with my situation, I can't do one thing. I can't just sit back and write the best novel ever, the most entertaining novel ever, and be able to count on anything, because an entire industry has frozen me out. I cannot do the "eggs all in the one basket " thing. I have to do as many things as possible, to give myself the best mathematical chance that something might happen that triggers everything else happening.

This I have to do while sending out thousands of letters a week. I would estimate that for every 200 letters I send, I will receive one response. That is how bad it is now. Be that to publishers, editors, magazine editors, newspaper editors, agents. That is how pandemic this is. That is the total level of resistance. I have to worry about money constantly, and it is so hard to get $100 to come in. I have to write ten pieces now to sell one and get $100. This I have to do while completely alone, friendless, relationship-less, no emotional support, in a studio apartment with a house's worth of stuff in it--you can't move, no one can come in. Can you even imagine? Today I composed 7000 words. Can you even imagine typing 7000 words in a day? And that's not a lot for me, because I only sent out a handful of letters. I can't take a minute off. That time in the Monument is all spent composing in my head. I only do the Monument because it's the only way to not be physically killed, at this point, by this amount of stress and pressure. You cannot be fat with a weakened heart and survive living this way for any period of time at all.

I had someone, a while ago, say to me, "Are you going to put your big boy pants on and deal with this until it works out?" As though I was being soft to date. My big boy pants. This is how I've lived now for more than seven years, with it getting worse, over those seven years, with each passing week. This year, 2019, has easily been the worst. It's been worse than the last two years combined. I have not even been able to get up the entries yet that detail further how bad things have become. The money situation was always awful, but now it's beyond nightmare proportions. And I didn't have a nervous breakdown in those previous years, though I realize now that that was a matter of things accruing. But my big boy pants. If I kill myself tonight, I've already proven how strong I was. And no on can argue otherwise, because no one else would have made it nearly this long. You see, it's not just that you're doing this, you're living like this. You're doing this and living like this, knowing, completely, that what you do you do better than anyone has ever done anything else, and that there is a huge market for you and what you do, what you uniquely do, but you are not allowed to get to that market, and you are dependent, or so it seems, to this point, on people who'd rather you die, and you're dependent on someone out there having some vision that goes beyond, "this resembles this and this that I put out there, okay, I can put this out there, because that's how things are done, and only that way, the end." Or the "I only support my friends who are people like me" people.

I feel like I am Wayne Gretzky playing against Squirts (that is, little kids) in 1982--the year Gretzky established himself as the most dominant athlete in the history of North American sports--and the scouts in the stands are watching me skate circles around everyone and score twenty-six goals a shift, but they're like, "Say, that kid in the corner, who can't got off his ass, who is crawling around the ice, let's sign him to a contract and put his face on billboards!"

I am certain that no one has ever worked this hard at anything. And that's making me even better at what I do, which is making everything worse. But if I just sit back, nothing at all is going to happen.

I am dehydrated. I have to drink some water now. I just drink coffee and tea. An old hot chocolate from the weekend in the leaky fridge.


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