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"He lives in Boston!"

Wednesday 8/17/22

* I've been working on a lot of different things--stories, op-eds, nonfiction pieces, books--the past few days. It's going to be a chore just to relay what that has comprised. There are also about thirty other entries for this journal in the works. But I wanted to get a "regular" entry up here, even as a placeholder.

* It's not something I like to do--address the theoretical reader--but at least when I do so, I also feel like I'm talking to these pages themselves. You're always talking to and with the page when you're writing well. But I should note--especially for newcomers--that the host site is flawed, and there's a lot of content here on the blog, and about to be a lot more, coming in at a faster rate. The way the host site works is, if you've signed up for updates for the site--which to date has really only meant that you get an email alert when a new blog post goes up--and you get three updates in a row without clicking on any of them and going to this blog via the provided link, you don't get any more updates. The host site automatically unsubscribes you, in effect. Why it does this, I have no idea, other than to say it's a flawed set-up. I have no control over it. It's very easy not to click on three straight update emails, even if you want to, because five or six or seven might come in a day, and you're out there living your life, aren't you? Clearly, the system is designed for people who don't write as much as I do, and are ideal for that person who has one update a week, or a month, or every five months, because how would you know there's anything new there otherwise? I would hope, with me, that someone would simply know the drill, which is: "Fleming always has something new. Let me check out the blog today." Then you go into your browser, it auto-fills, and here we are. I apologize for the inefficiency with the whole update/email thing. Someday I will have a different host site, but that is going to require a team of web people working to transport everything over to it, given all of the content and links on this site, which is just a fraction of the published output, and as it is I have a thousand other links to get up, which I keep putting off, because, well, you know--all of the writing, creating, and dealing with the war I am currently in.

* A lot of people bought Salman Rushdie books, because that's how and why people buy books: for reasons that have nothing to do with the books themselves, or their quality. Because they think they should. Because it's hyped. To prove that they are one of the good ones. Why do you think people buy an Amanda Gorman book? Because they love her poetry? Obviously they don't. Do you think there's anyone who has ever existed or will ever exist who is going to spend Friday night curled up with Amanda Gorman's poetry? Ha. Never. Not one of those people who just bought a Salman Rushdie book will finish it. But you know what will happen? They will look at it, having been told how amazing it's going to be, by publishing industry liars, and the liars of academia, and by people who just shill. And on the first page, they will think, "What the fuck? This is so boring. I'm not reading this." They may press on for a bit, thinking things have to get better, more compelling, but they won't. Then they'll give up, and be even less likely to read going forward than they were when they bought that Salman Rushdie book. This is how the publishing industry kills off reading. This process happens all of the time with publishing and readers--including people who are buying a book for the wrong reasons, which is to say, nothing to do with the actual writing. Nothing in the publishing industry has anything to do with the actual quality of the writing, save that the publishing industry is far more likely to stand against good writing that people could actually like as writing, which is one of many ironies of the twisted publishing system. But you are not going to like that Rushdie book, if you bought one. Sounds like it might be fun from the title, right, that whole The Satanic Verses thing? You're in for a surprise.

* On Saturday and Sunday I ran 5000 stairs each day and did 100 push-ups. On Saturday I did the stairs without stopping and also walked eleven miles. On Monday I ran no stairs and did 100 push-ups. Yesterday I ran 3000 stairs and did fifty push-ups. Sunday marked 2233 days, or 319 weeks, without a drink.

* "Lowest common denominator" implies that whatever, or whomever, is in question, has appeal for the most people, because there's no baseline; that is, no matter how unsophisticated, uncultured, and flat out stupid someone is, they'll find appeal in that thing or person. But this is untrue. I look at Dave Portnoy and Candace Owens. They're as lowest common denominator as it gets. I know, though, that no matter how unsophisticated, uncultured, or flat out stupid someone is, they've never gotten anything from something Dave Portnoy or Candace Owens has said or written. They've never been entertained, even if, in the case of Portnoy, they are a person who can be entertained by toilet humor in the rest of their life. Or, in the case of Owens, if their idea of smart political commentary is someone slipping in a "Let's Go Brandon." Why do I say this? Because no matter how low you are, if you are the lowest of the low, there is nothing at all to be had for you in what those people say or write. There's no entertainment even of the lowest order. There's no humor of the lowest order. So what is there with the lowest common denominator? There's nothing. And anyone can partake of nothing, and not feel bad or worse about themselves, because they think they could do whatever that is, too. People are that passive. Their standards are the absence of standards: sea level. Not ten, not -10, but zero. They don't want to laugh. They don't want to feel good. "Nothing" is a neutral move. The lowest common denominator is that which serves up nothing. A sandwich of air.

* In many ways, the key to business right now, to having a platform, a million Twitter followers, to entertainment, to media, is to give people nothing. That's what you're peddling: nothing. Air. Not even breathable air, though: spent air.

* My niece got the teacher she wanted for first grade. She's shy. She'll say that. She is okay with just having a few friends. She's smart. She knows this teacher already, because her brother had her. So when her brother--my nephew--was on Zoom with the teacher, my niece was hanging around in the background, and she must have gotten into frame enough that the teacher came to know her such that she'd say hello to my niece when she saw her in-person. The teacher was teaching the kids how to read, and my niece, by hanging around, and also being smart, learned how to read as a result, so she's going into first grade already able to read books. She read one the other day. That is very cool, and of course I am rather proud of this.

* A friend of mine was on vacation recently, and he took one of his girls to the bookstore in that town which was just off of the beach because he wanted to see if they had any of my books. My friend told me that there was a writer at a table in the middle of the store. Now, my friend knows more about the publishing industry than anyone alive save for me, because we talk about it every day on the phone, and usually many times each day on the phone, and have done so for years. The writer starts talking down to my friend, which isn't a surprise at all. That's how these people are, despite this guy being what my friend described as "a boring fuck stick." Language! But my friend is a sporty looking fit guy, and probably had on like a Red Sox hat, and the writer says something to him like, "Are you a reader?" Tool. The guy is going on and on about his boring book, part of a trilogy, and then he asks my friend who he is reading right now, which is what my friend was waiting for, of course, so he could humiliate this guy, pull up the site, whatever he was going to do. I'm sure he was looking forward to it. But his little girl messed it up, as he told me, because she all of a sudden says, "My daddy's best friend is Colin Fleming. He's the greatest writer who has ever lived. He lives in Boston!"

* Next week on Downtown I'll discuss the last three stories in Brackets, and the week after will be entirely about the Beach Boys' Smile and the Smile sessions.

* Listened to the Vaccines' latest EP and LP, but I do that most days, as well as the Hollies' Evolution and Greatest Hits. Pitched something on the Five Royales. Two op-eds written today. Off to run stairs now and do my push-ups.


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