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Saturday 12/1/18

It's early. 5 AM. I am up to do some work because I am going to Providence this morning to take my friend Howard to a production of A Christmas Carol at Trinity Rep. Howard does a lot for me--my first Beatles book will be dedicated to him--so I wanted to do a little Christmas thing in his neck of the woods. My streak of climbing the Monument came to an end the other day at fifty-six days. I was simply too down to move. A day of weeping, working, vomiting. The blackballing in this evil industry, the hate, the envy, it's like these vile monsters own my life, my chances of anything good in this world, with whom I might be with--because who would wish to sign up for what this is right now?--to say nothing of how much I can change this world to the good when I get past them. There has never been an industry more evil, more bigoted, than publishing in this century. There is nothing close. It is stocked with the worst kind of person--a broken, simple, petty, cowardly, covetous person. That was a definite train day. A day where it is unwise to be out, because there is a decent chance I'll put myself in front of a car. And nothing is going to get changed if that comes to pass. Well, I guess it could still be changed posthumously. If a friend or two would do the right thing by my body of work. But I intend to be around for what is coming. Maybe it is is coming soon. Who the hell knows with this unique journey I am on. Anyway, I started a new streak, but that is likely to come to an end today at just two days, given the train schedule. I'll start something tomorrow. Maybe I'll climb ten times again. Realized as well that it is now over two and a half years without a drink. Kind of crazy. I'd like to have an op-ed come out around New Year's Eve on the drink.


On Monday I wrote an op-ed on the demise of FilmStruck, and the larger societal issues as I see them, which no one would buy. I must have written 200 people this week. Want to know what a typical morning looks like here? Let us take Thursday morning, yes? I screened a film, 1938's A Christmas Carol. I wrote a 900 word piece on the influence of Little Women for The Washington Post. I wrote thirty people. I spoke to my friend Lisa about what is happening. I spoke to my friend John. I wrote a 1600 word piece for The Daily Beast on the Gabriel Grub ghost story from Dickens' The Pickwick Papers. I walked three miles. I climbed the Bunker Hill Monument. Cried, was sick. This was all done before noon. The pace was not harried. I had awoken at seven.


On Tuesday I spoke on Downtown about the Beatles. This Daily Beast piece on Longfellow came out. This Daily Beast piece on Lennon's "Yer Blues" came out. (It's meaningless, but it was nice to see this perform so well on so many Beatles forums on FB. A lot more people read and cared about this than White Album retread puff piece #497.) This JazzTimes piece on Bill Savory's collection of live recordings from the 1930s came out. This Smart Set piece on take 20 of "Revolution" came out. A personal essay on my college experience as a writer came out in the New Haven Review. Yesterday, I wrote a 1700 word short story called "Qui Qui Ri Qui." There is no story I've ever seen like it. It's like you're sitting there in Starbucks, and doing whatever, when this power overtakes you, and you must leave and create the work, and at that point it is like something wrapped in blankets, and maybe you can't see all that lies under and within, but you're holding it, you feel it, your hands can move along the contours, and then you set to composing, unwrapping the blankets, and what you find is this beam of pure light, but the light will have a certain shape, shapes, depending upon what the story is. I am operating at an unprecedented level as an artist. I don't mean for me. I mean the statement as written. The hate increases. I am convinced at this point I could cure cancer and win seventeen Pulitzers and the hate will only increase with these people. But yeah. Real normal week. All the publications, radio appearance, and the composition of an op-ed, two literary essays, a short story. Nothing to see here. Just keep giving things to people based on their skin color and gender, their hypocrisy-drenched virtue signaling, and if they went to the right schools, have the right agent, come from the right crowd, trade the right favors, have the right number of Twitter followers, know nothing about anything--let alone the depths of humanity and ineffable, binding truths of existence--write disposable work that no one actually gets anything from, fit the right type in an industry that is not just dying but is killing itself and killing off reading, and couldn't entertain a slug whose competing entertainment on a given day is moving about in its own mucus. I'll say whatever I wish here because it's true. It's backed up by my writing--and theirs--and what I do and what they could never do. And what I know, and what I am only starting to share here. It is, as Orson Welles said, all true. Are you hate reading this if you're one of them? What'd you do this week? Was the high point putting a stone in my passway? Spreading a rumor? Funneling something through the calumnious whisper network? Doubling down? Gutless, talentless, ghost of a human. I'd say enjoy it while you can, but you can't actually enjoy it, because it must make you hate yourself even more. It's just not going to be worth it in the end. And it's going to be quite regrettable. There are only do-overs and expiating up until a point. When this flips, none of the roadblock people are getting out alive. Personally, I'd try and get on the right side of that while I could. I'd also not want to be lit up on here.


Also screened a number of other things. The Thin Man (1934). The Bishop's Wife (1947). Narcos: Mexico. That was pointless. You've seen it a hundred times in other shows. These kinds of things are always the same. Always. Screened The Holly and the Ivy (1952). Good film, a favorite carol. Not very well known as a carol. "I Saw Three Ships" is like that, too. Another fine one.



Re: The Thin Man: I'm a little in love with Myrna Loy when I watch that movie. Two scenes in it strike me as perfect: When William Powell is comforting the girl alone in a room, and they're hugging, and Loy, his wife, walks in. There is not the presentiment of wrongdoing. She knows exactly what he is up to, they're just that secure in how they know each other and their love, and they even make the scene funny when they make slight faces at each other. The other scene is on Christmas morning, when he's on the couch firing a BB gun at the balloons on the tree. There's no dialogue. Nowadays some shortsighted moron would say there's no point to this scene because shit is not exploding or no one is regurgitating exposition for the viewers who are supposed to be too stupid to understand anything. It plays out, and it takes as long as it needs to play out. It's a life scene. It's how life is. It brings the truth, and it rings with truth. She looks at him like, "You daft idiot, I love you so much, you weird little person." It's one of my favorite looks in the history of cinema. He's focused on getting the best angle to take out the balloons. Utterly charming. I love this film more and more the older I get. It's a very wise film.


I read most of Valancourt's third volume of Victorian Christmas ghost stories. If I get on a good roll, I might write a piece on it tomorrow, though I don't have a venue lined up. But maybe I could move it quickly for a few hundred bucks. What is unavoidable is that I am going to have to write as much this month as I've ever written in a month. Given how quickly I can create completely finished work, that is mostly going to mean making sure there is something every day, that days are not skipped. Then I should be fine. It's hard to compose a book that you know right now that nobody will see, because an industry is going to make sure of it. Lisa tells me that she has a feeling that something is going to happen soon, that event that results in so much change, and away we go. She has written me several times on this idea of late, and speaks with such conviction that even though I feel cursed and doomed--again, feel; I'm not saying cognitively accept--I attend her words with more than mere curiosity. They warrant a place on the scale. Plus, I respect her and her acumen as much as anyone I've known. Not a lot of people engender stores of faith in me. These days I grant that she is one of the rare lighthouses in my world atop storm-tossed seas. My boat, with what it holds, is a great boat, there is no boat like it in all the world, nor a captain, but it's all raging storms and fogs and the maps are doing no good anymore. So I try to sail on best I can, in the direction best determined to lead me to the dry land I seek. You need a lighthouse or two--which can be the wise words or differing viewpoint of a friend--to rediscover an ounce of hope. To keep going. Maybe it's to stay alive that day. To keep trying to find a way to give to the world--such that the world sees it--that which no one else has.


I listened to all three hours of Bach's Christmas Oratorio. It is as if something larger than us--you call it what you will--has enveloped us in a bodily embrace, via sonic form, as though to say--to convey--"there is more than what you yet know, keep going, push harder, push through, come see." I then started wondering who would be the jazz version of Bach. I would say Ellington. Charlie Parker would be Mozart. Coltrane is maybe Beethoven. Dolphy could be Schubert. Tomorrow afternoon I am going to the concluding performance of Handel and Haydn Society's Messiah. It's a very White Album-y work, isn't it? The paradoxically cohesive grab-bag. Handel was kind of like McCartney with his gift for melody.


Met many women this week. From college-aged to late forties. But there was no compelling. Flashlights, but no beacons. Someone did allege that I was lying and must have been fifteen years younger than I said I was. That was a welcome charge, admittedly. It's my Portuguese blood, bodily permeating childlike capacity for wonder, resolution, and lifestyle. Listened to Christmas recordings by Ella Fitzgerald--which I wrote on last year for Salon--Elvis, Dean Martin, Jimmy Smith, Dylan. Elvis is so good. Like, damn, dude. And so filthy, too. I like how he makes this sound like it's about anal.


Good, right?