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If today was Christmas Eve

Monday 12/24/18

And we go again: a new piece on the friendship of Holmes and Watson for Christmas. And a new piece on the origins of "Silent Night." And a new piece on Dickens's Gabriel Grub, forerunner of Ebenezer Scrooge. This is a piece CBC did on Scrooge, the 1951 film, which I was interviewed for. Worth a look, even if it completely mislabels me as a journalist, which is as far afield from what I do as terming me a dog catcher or a candlestick maker. Yesterday a nice woman got in touch after reading the Washington Post Alcott/Little Women piece, inviting me do an event for Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories for Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls, at an author luncheon at a resort in Chatham this summer. That will be good. Buried is the ultimate beach read, in that it's just perfect for everyone sat on a parcel of sand in front of the water, regardless of how much they normally read, or if they've even heard of Cape Cod, and it's a beach read one could study, teach, write books and papers on in the darkest days of winter. And depending on what you read it as, where you are coming from, any other aspect of the book is not going to intrude upon what you want your experience to be, whether that is flat out entertainment, or whether that is vanguard art that I would welcome being pitted against any, or a blend. My focus has been on other books lately, and other works of art, and I haven't put a lot of time or energy into locking down what I'm going to do in the spring and summer with Buried. This is a good start. There's still some time. There is a story in Buried set on Chatham, incidentally.


Do you want to know what the year has been? I published 100 nonfiction pieces. What if the world's best writer on film is its best writer on music is its best writer on literature is its best sports writer is its best arts writer is its best personal essay writer is its best fiction writer, its best writer of op-eds? What then? What could they do? I published a dozen op-eds in the best op-ed sections of this country, saying things that no one else would dare to say in public. I published fiction in Glimmer Train, Conjunctions, Boulevard, Harper's, Salmagundi. I spoke on the radio sixty times. I wrote eight new short stories. I launched this website, and this blog, which now contains the material for a book and a half. The blog only began in June. The short stories only began to be composed in mid-summer. I spent, in this year, almost all of my time trying to deal with people who might as well have made a blood pact not to deal with me. People whose venues would be made immeasurably better by my contributions, as they know. But the Great God here, the Overlord, is not merit, is not quality, is not growth, it's not what is best for readers, it's not art, truth, beauty, it's not entertainment; it's pettiness. Ego. The placation of a broken person's manufactured, hollow, fragile, self-deluding sense of self. I am their trigger. I am the alpha and omega of triggers for such people. And I became more hated, more envied, more blacklisted, by the publishing system. No one will review my books. I will win no awards, be nominated for no prizes, there will be no anthologies, there will be no representation, no Kirkus, no Pushcarts, no soliciting because the people of the system have locked arms and made their most concerted effort, such as they put actual effort to anything, to stop the person they hate and fear more than anyone. The genius who is going to destroy their system, and get people reading again.


Anything I mount in a statement like this is empirical fact. And anyone who even wishes to try to doubt what I am, need only read some of my work, spend some hours with it, or days, or weeks, or spend time inside the pages of this journal. It is all results-based. I am what I am. And I'm also a good person, which is I think made plain in these pages, in how I live my life, in my relationships, in my many radio conversations. That's a good person, and that is why he must be hated by such people as well. And I think people know exactly what I am as an artist. I don't think there is a jot of mystery at this point. There can be a hesitation to accept what I am as an artist, but that's because of the idea that one person can contain so much, be so much, produces incredulity, confusion, because it is not what we think of as being possible within the intellectual and artistic purview of a single individual. And yet, it is what it is, is it not? It's all there. It's all me. I don't think anything has ever been more obvious, just like it could not be more obvious why what is happening to me and why it is happening. Coming into this year, I knew that the publication of my story in Harper's would make these people wish to destroy me more than ever. And just to make sure, I made sure that when that story came out, it was but one of about a dozen simultaneous major explosions, any one of which would have made anyone else's career, and which does make a career when another person achieves just one of them. And I let it fly, with eleven major things in less than three weeks. Just like I knew, once, that going on NPR would make them wish my demise more. And that's exactly what happened--the doubling down became quadrupling down.


When it happened, my way became clear, after twenty years of trying every other last way: to attack and expose, to say the truth, with zero fetters, as I continued to create and expand a unique body of work that the history of art has never seen. There was no way anything could get worse--everyone who was going to hate me already hated me, and everyone knew who I was. Hell, people in this industry hated me for the life I live, which is one reason I left Facebook; if I walked ten miles in a day, ran three, climbed an obelisk five times, fighting to keep going, to remain alive, to stay strong for the fight, after giving up drinking, after battling on and being so alone, but trying, always trying, and went to the museum, the symphony, and a hockey game, all by myself, in a day that I published three things and talked on the radio, twenty people would defriend me; others would not so that they could hate follow me. Most of my "friends" were in publishing. If I published in Rolling Stone, zero people would hit the like button. If I had cured cancer via a published work, they were going to make sure they expressed no support of anything I did, stood for, or was about, when most of them would have been crawling over each other to associate with someone, devoid of talent, who looked like them, sounded like them, came from where they came from, who did three of the things in their entire life that I did in any given week. I live so deeply and richly, and in this time period I was further hated me for being a self-made athletic-looking white male when people are given things because they race bait and trade and all men are bad and misandry is equated to enlightenment. I had a stroke. I went to the cardiologist after I remade my body and my health, while being completely alone, after enduring a betrayal and the loss of everything that is well-documented--among other things--and was given a clean bill of health, and when I shared that news, ten of them defriended me because I was further from death, which they liked less.


There are all kinds of ways to discriminate. You know what's a very real one? Petty, sick, broken people, devoid of imagination, vision, ability, hating someone so resolutely real, legit, and completely unlike them, who does what they do for real, and for the right reasons, and with ethics, courage, character, and a talent that their combined lot cannot come close to approaching. And you know what? I started publishing--how is this even possible?--more than ever, as I wrote better than ever. Because I cannot be killed, I can only advance, and every last bigot here is going to be exposed and fall. I would advise you, because I am a person who only cares about moving forward, that if you have behaved this way, you desist in doing so, and do the right thing before it is too late, and we can simply move forward. But I have barely even begun getting started. After what you have put me through, with your evilness, your pettiness, your discrimination, your envy, your cronyism, your nepotism, your knowledge that I can achieve more in three minutes than you can in fifty years and how much you hate that. Want to take me on in public? Put your name on it. Come after me. You talentless cowards. You won't. You'll just whisper more in your back corridors with your fellow puppet people. Your days are numbered. Mine are numberless. Do you fall in 2019? 2020? I don't know. But I know that day is coming.


I should be very clear about this: There are plenty of decent, good, hardworking people here, too. I work for some great people. They are good at their jobs. They are fair and they are smart. They play ball, they do what they think is best. Things do not work out sometimes. I couldn't care less, usually, when that happens. I don't need to agree with you, and it doesn't matter if I do. I give you another idea, another piece, we do that one, and what didn't work out works out somewhere else.


You know what's funny? There are people--like Dennis Johnson at Melville House--who ban me for life because they think I write them too much, even after declaring what a big fan they are, as he did. (And yet, they hook up someone who has published a dozen things, for the most oily reasons, to do a book that they know will sell twenty-five copies, with this also being a writer who runs a scam on their website saying how she will use her magic crystals--after you pay her $250--to create a reading list for you, imparted from the divine! I'm not exaggerating. Actual true story. It's yes to that, and fie, fuck off, Fleming. Not that they ever have the guts to actually say fuck off. They are much more passive aggressive than that.) They promise an answer, they don't deliver on their promise, and I have to follow-up.


I am forty-three. I have published 2500 works. I would estimate that less than 200 times have I sent something that resulted in those published works that was responded to sans a follow-up. No sane person can think I wish to follow-up with them. I think, conservatively, that when you factor in the letters I must send, the pieces I write, the stories I write, the pitches, the begging I must do for monies owed going back years, the books I'm always writing, this journal, that no one in history has averaged more written words per day than I have. I bet you no one has averaged half. (Imagine what the body of work is going to look like, what the years will look like, when I can stop pitching, money collecting, following-up, and the words that would have gone to all of that, go to books, stories, scripts, screenplays?) The last thing I want to do is check back with you. If I don't, I would have nothing. The galling entitlement of these people. "Kiss my royal ring." That's what they want. Kiss my royal Boston arse, you fraud. They want you to genuflect and debase yourself, and they have no self-awareness that they didn't do that thing they promised they'd do in two weeks, nor six months later, nor a year after that. Then they see you publish ten things in fourteen days.


And they hate that. You did all of that, they didn't do what they said they'd do--and it's not like they have to write formal works, which is hard, and actually time-consuming--and you've sent them a polite follow-up? That's when the hate really pops. That's when they can just shut you down for life and never ever respond to you again. "I'll show you for that greatness and those excellent achievements and politely asking me to be a person of my word and kinda/sorta do my job!" Sure, if you invent a name and send them a shitty idea the next day, just as a test, they'll have time for that. The people who get the things they get as the preferred sons and daughters of the industry never end up pissing off (though they are nasty little entitled vipers themselves) these people (human-basilisks like Wendy Lesser, e.g.) because they are in the in-crowd, they are targeted and tapped, they aren't busting their ass not just having earn, but to overcome a stacked deck, being not in the namby-pamby in-crowd, where you will find no talent at all. So they never had to hustle, to come around, to try to get those responses from people who were not their friends, not looking to hook them up on the basis of cronyism. It's just mucky-mucks mucky-mucking. Living in glass houses of lies and delusions, with each resident tasked with enabling their neighbors. Lie to me, I'll lie to you, thanks, so long as you help me believe that I have ability I don't have, and I'll help you do the same--that's what this is all about. I'd love to just send you what I have, and you respond when you respond--so long as you respond--and you are amenable to playing ball; and if it works that time, great, if not, that's great, too. We move on.


But it's rarely like this. The preferred sons and daughters are the stars. No one likes their work. Their work is marketed to people in the system who wish to be the preferred sons and daughters. They attempt to kiss asses by posting on social media about how wonderful it is. These works they don't enjoy, which they own and shill for, but don't actually read. It's an increasingly hermetically-sealed culture. Readers are not reached. All is pretend, nothing is real. Saying what you are supposed to say is the industry version of caressing the comfort squirrel. Art dies. Reading dies. The point of there even being books dies. Substance dies. Entertainment dies. Books sales die. There is one person who can reverse that entire trend and inspire others to get involved in that reversal. They avoid him at all costs. Short attention spans and Netflix are blamed, and there being more coming at us than ever before. It's not any of that. It is the culture of publishing, and it is the pointless (seemingly benign and irrelevant, but really toxic) product that culture produces.


Moving on. Yesterday I went out to Harvard to attend the Revels. I go to many things each year--on my own, during this hard period--but each year it seems that the best thing I attend is the Revels at Sanders Theatre. So I show up for the 3 PM show, and discover that I can be a moron who can't understand schedules. There is no 3 PM show. I figure that I must have a ticket to the 5 PM show, so off I go to a bar in Harvard Square to watch the second half of the Patriots' game, and then the last few minutes of the Eagles great win against the Texans. Thank you, Nick Foles! Interesting thought about Foles--he puts an awful lot of air under the ball. He usually throws to a space, rather than a player. Guys runs under his ball. I think that's why he's so hit or miss. And great throw by that third-string quarterback who came in after Foles went out and completed a third and long.


I don't often watch a Pats game play in, play out, as I'm out doing stuff. But when I do, and I read what is written later, I see the dire state of Boston sports media. People try so hard to be negative. They try to make their name on being negative. If your points about negative things are accurate, great; but people just make up shit. I am encouraged by what I'm seeing. I was encouraged after they had the team meeting and the media was all miffed about being kept out of the locker room so long. I think Belichick likes this group. The Miami game was a fluke. Take it away, and they'd be 12-4, which is what they usually are. But as it is, they're likely going to be 11-5 and the #2 seed with a bye, and all people do is piss and moan about how this is a total disaster. No, it's pretty good. And people go on about how Brady is hurt. Didn't look hurt to me. If you had a busted knee, would you hop up and down after you missed a throw? You know that hop I mean, more like repeated jumps. You would never do that. Why did no one point this out? I saw it. They have a good running attack, and it's versatile. Edelman is back, most of the way. I don't think Gronkowski is done. I read how Hogan sucked, because he caught no balls.


Do these people understand football? Because I saw him making a lot of blocks out on the edge, which is where the Patriots' running attack was trying to get to. They ran for nearly 300 yards. Hogan--with no carries--had a lot to do with that. That's not good? There are different ways you can be used. I would give them a 15-20% chance to win it all. Is that super high? No. But it's a chance, in a down-ish year. I like Gilmore, I think McCourty is playing better than he has in a while. I think they can gel at the right time. Let's say they beat the Jets and finish 8-0 at home. Are they going to lose their first and only home game in the playoffs? That seems doubtful to me. Could the Chiefs get knocked off at Arrowhead? I think it's unlikely. But I do think the Patriots should make the AFC Title Game. When you get to that point, and you have some all-time bests and some gelling components, you have a shot. You'd think they were 7-8 and needing help for the last Wild Card spot. That Eagles win was big--as I remarked to Kimball, without that win I would have put the Patriots' Super Bowl winning chances at 4-5%.


There were two attractive women--late twenties--next to me at the bar, watching the Dolphins v. Jaguars game. They knew their football, and really wanted the Dolphins to win. So I asked them what were two Dolphins fans doing out at Joe Harvard's on a December Sunday? We started talking, and when they left, one of them gave me both of their phone numbers--617 area codes--without me asking. Both? Is this a ticket to Threesome Town? No, no, no, just kidding. I shant be returning to Threesome Town. You know how it is. (I once had a barber who was a felon, and he'd be in jail at Walpole a lot. He'd stab someone at Thanksgiving or what not. And he'd tell me these stories--unprompted--as he cut my hair, and he'd say, "So I fucking stuck him. You know how it is." And I'd be like, "sure, sure, it gets like that sometimes." He liked that.) From there I went to Newbury Comics and scored the Colin Davis-conducted version of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti from 1974 for $5! Nice, right? The stereo doesn't even work in this sty of a so-called living space, though it ceased being a functional living-space long ago. So I likely won't be able to enjoy it properly until I am back in my house in Rockport, but who the hell knows, maybe that will be by this time next year. People like to tell me--my closest friends, my most trusted inner circle members, my lighthouses--that when this happens, it will go very fast, and life will be very different in a very short amount of time. And then it will just keep going and building. At this point I walked back to Sanders Theatre, they didn't have my ticket at will call, they sent me to the box office, and it was there that I learned I had a ticket to the 1 PM performance. Nice one there, Doctor Who. Good grief. What an idiot I was.


Yesterday I ran three miles, but I could not climb the Monument, because the government shutdown means it's closed. This is a problem. The C-Dawg needs to surmount that obelisk. I was listening to "Jingle Bell Rock," and I thought, damn, that's Hank Garland on guitar, same as "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," and sure enough, it was. I was reading about him. Dude had some serious demons. But what a player. No one ever talks about him. A friend is urging me to begin writing the screenplay for the short story I just composed, "Pillow Drift." My works are never influenced by any other works--I don't believe in that kind of thing, for myself--but it occurred to me that if you were going to teach "PD" in a class, some interesting companion subjects might be Carl Stephenson's "Leiningen Versus the Ants" and J. Jefferson Farjeon's Mystery in White. Whomever publishes "PD" also stands to look good if film comes to pass. It is such an obvious film to make, as anyone who has thus far read the story likes to attest.


I watched Rankin/Bass's Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July again this AM. You know, there are some weird Rankin/Bass specials, but this one is up there. Scratcher, the syphilitic reindeer. He is clearly meant to be an STD in reindeer form. Thirty-nine years ago yesterday, this happened, the Bruins going into the stands at Madison Square Garden.



I like how Fred Cusick just keeps announcing. He was integral to my understanding, around three and four-years-old, of the relationship of the sound and sense of words. I was scared of the dark, so my parents would let me bring my sleeping bag down into the living room, adjacent to the family room, and I'd go to sleep listening to Cusick call the games that my mom and dad were watching. (My friend Howard was recently telling me how he goes to sleep listening to Orson Welles play Harry Lime on the radio. That's a good option, too.)


I recorded those Christmas readings and sent them to Kimball, and they'll be part of the Christmas show on Tuesday. I did not get the New Year's ones--which was to be an excerpt from The House at Pooh Corner, and Christina Rossetti's "Old and New Year Ditties"--done in time. Snoozed and loozed. For the Christmas show I read Dickens's "What Christmas is as We Grow Older" and John Clare's "Christmas Time." Don't you like that? John Clare poetry read on the radio. That's just...right. I'm seeing lots of year-end top-ten film lists. It's pretty simple: The Other Side of the Wind. The best to the best. Enjoying this Freddie King Christmas blues:



But this is my Christmas blues of choice this year, as it is about an artist being chased down by creatures from hell, and yet this artist is something, someone, elemental, a force of nature and then some, and no matter the pursuer, that artist is going to provide you with an amazing time.