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Let's see focus

Saturday 4/16/22

Okay, look. I want to see novel work this week. This cluster of new stories finished. The longer story "Complete Set" finished. The Billie Holiday proposal done. I want to see "Up the Sea" and "Pre" done, and the airtight completion of There Is No Doubt. I want to see real work and progress on these three chapters and the proposal for Same Band You've Never Known: An Alternative Musical History of the Beatles. I want to see Glue God: Essays (and Tips) for Repairing a Broken Self read through a last time, fixed, and ready to show. I want this Buster Keaton piece written for The Daily Beast, and this essay on Sam Cooke written for the Library of Congress. You know who to put up on this blog, and I want that done, too. Clean up the other Beatles book, and start thinking about where that can go. Do the edits on this essay about Joyce's Ulysses, finish the essay on A.J. Davis's A Meaningful Life, jump back into the Scorsese essay and tidy up whatever needs it and have that ready to go. Start working hard on the assembly of Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives.


The story this is from is very good. Was looking at it as a possibility for There Is No Doubt, where it probably won't go:


We were in seventh grade when Henry Dotson died. I had three thoughts at the time which I did not share with anyone, although we were encouraged to say anything we thought or felt. They were explicit on that point. No thought or feeling was “wrong.” One teacher said, “This is not one of my algebra quizzes, you cannot make a mistake.” I felt bad for her for being so stupid. Not always, but in that moment. Felt bad for how bad she felt before she reached her closing punctuation. When you start a sentence you are usually going to finish it even if you realize how awful it is in the middle. My mother called it the roll of words. These were my thoughts about Henry, who had jumped off of his family’s dryer machine with his father’s climbing rope around his neck after tossing it over a crossbeam:


1. Did it occur to him in his leap or his dangle how skilled a rope climber he had been in second grade? None of us so much as got halfway up the rope to the ceiling of the gym. On balance, the girls did better, which made me proud, being a girl, but I was prouder still of Henry, who had to stop and rest in the middle. We all figured he was done as we watched below, Henry being the last of the climbers. But he was gathering whatever he needed to do the second half. Determination, strength, energy. A combo. Will. Hope.


2. Given that his feet were close to the dryer, and we all learned that your feet kick when you hang yourself, did those feet strike the dryer and make the kind of sound your pillow does when it is in the dryer by itself, which is weirdly like the sound of sneakers in the dryer, even though it is a pillow? When the dryer makes that sound, no matter how many times you have heard it, you worry that the dryer is not working, it will need repairs or have to be replaced. That is both an inconvenience and it can be a financial burden. It’s avowedly a form of stress, even if you are well-off; another issue with which to deal, tend to, cross off a list.


3. Being thirteen, with Henry being a boy, and me being a girl, and discovering some of the things I had, and knowing about boys, did Henry have any orgasms before he died? Or did he jump without knowing what that was like? He was going to miss out on so much, did he miss out on even that, too? I hoped he hadn’t. It was important to me that he hadn’t. I also did not share that thought or feeling, whichever it may have been. Also a combo, perhaps.


Perhaps it will go into No Mercy When We Get There: Stories to Put You On Your Ass (working title that publishing people will find too dirty, unpretentious, scuzzy, colloquial because everything needs to be stiff, fake, forced, awkward, elitist, artistically and emotionally conservative, desiccated, and done for no stakes) or what would in essence be There Is No Doubt II.


Tuesday on Downtown I'll discuss the next four stories in Brackets. Then I'm going to hop off the line and get on Zoom and do my talk about Sam Cooke. That's what I like. Pace. Activity. Whipping from one thing to another. The week after on Downtown--because I had some time and took care of it yesterday--I'll talk about Orson Welles and Heart of Darkness, which was the novel he planned to adapt for his first Hollywood picture, before Citizen Kane came along. He has an intriguing history with the Conrad novel, and I'll look at a radio adaptation he did in November 1938. I'll also discuss a soundboard recording of the first date of Led Zeppelin's 1975 US tour, which also is also the only soundboard recording of "When the Levee Breaks." I'll talk about the Who's performance of "A Quick One (While He's Away)" from the Fillmore East in April 1968, which is a short story in song form. Then I'll talk about my actual story, "Bobby Orr," which is awesome. One to really move people. I added to it yesterday, so it's at 2200 words now. I need to read it back, but then I'll be all done. I've worked on it a lot. And finally I'll cover an episode of the show The Veil, from 1958, a series which starred Boris Karloff. Few people know of this series, which never aired. Isn't that something? But it's a pretty good series and I rewatched two episodes yesterday, "Destination Nightmare" and "Summer Heat."


I located a recording of the Who's Philadelphia gig from 1973--one of the best ever rock shows--with a patched-in audience recording of "Love Reign O'er Me." This is rare. There's the soundboard bootleg, which went out as an FM radio broadcast, and then there's the soundboard bootleg pre-FM edit that has most of the show, but not that one song.


I need to send a birthday gift to a niece, which is way late, and find a card and a gift for my other niece.


My hair is becoming annoying in its length, and soon I will go to the barber and he'll look at me quizzically when I say I want the 1 and the 3 for the razor settings. This is just what I do during this period; I grow my hair out long, and then I get all of it cut off. These are my years in the wilderness. Not the actual form of nature I want to be in, back in Rockport and on Cape Cod.


Worked on two stories this AM, "The Only Live Version" and "Letting It Fly."


Let's go run some stairs.