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Karma, defined, and some other things

Tuesday 5/14/19

I could say I'm working my ass off, but that's not really true. I am producing my ass off. There's a big difference. I don't like when people give me left-handed compliments about how hard I work. The level of ability largely dictates the quantity of what will be produced, just as it dictates the quality. Mozart wrote a lot because he was Mozart. I write a lot because I am Fleming. I will be working my ass off, truly, when I get out of this situation and I know that the work of art I just created will immediately be going to a destination where it will be seen by many people. When I do not live behind an eight ball. Pretty much all I will do at that point is 1. Compose 2. Enjoy my life and enjoy creating new works of art. (That's not all I'll do; it will be a perpetual global explosion; but that will be facilitated, at that point, by nos. 1 and 2.) This, though, is not hell right now, it is whatever is the level below hell. I aspire to hell, presently. Then I will keep fighting up. The knowledge that the work of art--I can create several a day--will not be seen right now because of hate and discrimination--and obviously a penchant for looking for bad to mediocre work that regurgitates and mimics other bad to mediocre work--is a kind of torture that is beyond the physical. It is the worst, most powerless feeling I can imagine, because the creation of more of that art, and better art yet, cannot fix the problem. Maybe it could, in the sense that one of those works is the work that, for whatever reason--a struck chord, luck--liberates all of the other works of art, and the power paradigm reverses.


As it were, I finished the essay titled "Dark Angel Shivaree: The Mutation of the Mob," the first 850 words of which I had composed yesterday. It ended up being 3500 words. Can I sell it? I don't know. Excerpt from today's production:


Media outlets ran with this story. They have a financial reason to do so. These outlets often try to placate the new mob. They do not wish to offend it. Because what the mob will do is use its gang-up scare tactics of trying to destroy and end lives via harassment, by doing this to the advertisers. The advertisers care about bang for their buck. They could care less if the publishing product is dreadful. They don’t want their inboxes blown up and people picketing outside their headquarters.


Publishing is terrified of losing yet more money, which publishing already had a hand in by making the quality of the product increasingly fatuous, lowest common denominator, thoughtless, rendered without care. The wiser course would have been to stay the course and put out the best work possible, by the best people, not play the publishing game of nepotism and cronyism, and not trade in the schlockiest things that might be “covered” so that clicks could be maximized by people who would then click on that article, stare at it for seven seconds, which is all you need to know that there is nothing here for you to actually read or even skim. Publishing and the media made itself vulnerable to the mob—or, anyway, especially vulnerable to their mob-based fears.


The new mob does not believe in second chances, nor apologies. An apology, rather than satiating the mob, enrages it further. The mob has one goal: to end a person’s life and livelihood. The mob will speak—as any quick read through Twitter comments will tell you—in terms of karma, which you could easily believe, before you knew better, was the mob’s official currency.


The mob, though, does not understand the concept of karma. First off, karma probably does not exist. Things happen in this world through a series of causes and effects. If you are a spiritual person, as I am, you might have faith in larger designs, too, where we both have free will but also maybe a larger, higher purpose, which we fight to realize. Via our free will. I would buy that. But karma, as a concept, does not mean, “This person did something wrong, and now they must be destroyed.”


That was never what karma meant. What karma actually means is there is a reciprocity; that this thing that was done that was wrong, will come back around, to the same degree, to the person who did the initial wrongdoing.


I walked three miles to Charlestown and back, in hopes of climbing the Monument five times, but there were field trippers in line outside waiting to go in, so that quashed that and I returned home and composed a 1100 word piece on Doris Day's best jazz album. Can I sell it? I don't know. Excerpt:


On “With a Song in my Heart” Day channels some of the honey of early Billie Holiday, then intertwines her voice with the ascending and descending patterns of James’s trumpet, like a vine threading itself through a trellis. She has a way of singing such that her words don’t really feel like they have ends, no final syllables; they flow into each other, as if they have also ceased to have opening components. It’s pure vocal flow, and it can be dead exciting, lines delivered less as lines and more as expressions of an overseeing jazz conduit who has our best interests at heart—as listeners, and as people. You might say that Day personified what the singing voice of a friend sounds like.


She takes “Too Marvelous for Words” at a slower pace than just about any other singer, wrapping us in a dream rather than hastening us along in a surge. Both approaches have merit, they certainly have their time and place, but only a singer like Day could make us feel like we should be going no faster. This is jazz singing that is in total control, knows exactly what it wishes to do, then realizes those ambitions with breath control and diction—note how Day always rounds harder syllables, ear-proofing, if you will, sharp-edged consonants.


Thought I'd have a couple pieces out this week already on the novel Detour and on jazz films, but I am not sure what is going on there. Patience. Today on Downtown I discussed half a dozen of the best albums from the first half of 1969. Pitched The New Yorker on a very interesting, I think, Woodstock wrinkle for an August piece. I want to do something no one has ever really done before, regarding the actual music, and I think I would do a bang-up job with it. I have another idea for them which I am keeping tucked away, as I also offered the above-excerpted mob piece, which also went to The New York Times Magazine--where I seem to be banned--The Baffler, The American Interest, and The New Republic (where I have never received a single response in twenty years, save one time from a crazy person who liked an idea, told me to follow-up, and who then banned me when I did because I did).


Quick hockey thought: I liked Rob Brind'Amour as a player--he was like a poor man's Doug Gilmour, which is not an insult--but he made a rookie mistake as a coach. You need goaltending to win in the playoffs. If one goalie gets hurt and the other comes in and performs better and you win, you can't reinstate the first guy when he is better. That's a total misread of the situation and context. Having said that, I don't think it would matter.