New story composed by 5:30 in the morning. "Chore Age." For Longer on the Inside. Have to fix it a bit. Finished watching both series and the two-part Christmas episode of the British version of The Office and making detailed notes for this book proposal I'm putting together. Listened to both editions of Coltrane's Ascension for a JazzTimes feature. The name of the volume containing the longer stories--that is, stories longer on the outside--will be There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness. Tweaked it--took off a couple words. I didn't want to use the word "stories" in the subtitle. Same as with the upcoming If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fabula, Fuckery, Hope from Dzanc.
In the case of There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness, the word "storied" functions both as verb and adjective. That is, the humanness has been storied, as in story-ified. As for these two new books that I am making, I have enough for three full volumes at least of Longer on the Inside, and, I don't know, six volumes' worth of longer stories. There is so much material here that the people of this industry who hate me, who will do less this year than I did on this day before they woke up, are not letting the world see.
As I've said, the title itself comes from a line in "Fitty," spoken by Carlene. There is no greater work of fiction. Ever. Period. Than that story. The world needs to finally see it. Enough of the animus, the envy, the blackballing. The world needs that story.
Also this morning: I walked ten miles and ran the Boston College stairs ten times. I was talking to someone, too, but I am done with that. Bored. I need you to be brilliant and dynamic, or I am simply not interested. I will become bored in seconds. I need brilliance. A supernal mind. At least compared to other people.
Regarding Ascension: it is the record of the most intense solos in all of jazz. I wrote a 6000 word piece last year on Freddie Hubbard which I could do nothing with, that I will put in this collection of my jazz writings, The Root of the Chord: Writings on Jazz's Defining Power and Artistry, that I hope to place soon, and that guy as a player belongs on a very short list of trumpeters. I think his career means more than Dizzy Gillespie's. Gillespie couldn't think like Hubbard. His playing on Ascension is just nuts. Hubbard and Eric Dolphy have a certain amount of overlap to me. What I think I'll write about next Christmas is the December that Dolphy had in 1960, or maybe Louis Armstrong's handful of Christmas sides for Decca. But all of Ascension is intense, controlled, focused. That's a big boy record.
The number of people out there who blithely say that they're simple and they want someone simple. It makes me angry, actually. I know, you're never supposed to be angry, but imbecility makes me angry. Sloth makes me angry. Wasting your humanness makes me angry. You're here to grow every single bloody day. And if you aren't, you're failing. That is the entire point of being on this earth as a human. You grow and facilitate growth for others. There are many ways to do that. You use all that you can. But if you're not growing, you are wasting your life. The more you grow, the more complicated, the richer, the more intricate, you become. The more dimensions you take on. People say that you only live once, and I always think, "You don't know that. How would you know?" But let's say you do. You just want to be simple, mindless, stagnant? That's so cowardly to me. Cowards make me angry. Most people in publishing are cowards. I was thinking too about the introduction I wrote for Longer on the Inside, and how maybe I should add to it something about how people remark that a picture is worth a thousand words. Because that's another thing I hear that produces a question for me: "Whose words? Not my words, mate." A thousand words from whom? A picture isn't worth a syllable of a word in Longer on the Inside.
I think on Downtown on Tuesday I will discuss the 1972 BBC horror drama The Stone Tape--perfect winter viewing; the early, country and western take of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" from January 1964; who should be in and who shouldn't this year in terms of the Baseball Hall of Fame (Kimball is big on Todd Helton, and I was starting to come around, but the more I look, the less I see him as a Hall of Famer); and also the new Stooges archival release, Live at Goose Lake: August 8th, 1970.
I got to speak to my niece and nephew the other day. I like them. I'm not someone who automatically likes someone because they're related to them. I have different things in common with each of them. Little kids usually like me, because they are curious and I am curious and I approach them as people who can teach me something and they approach me the same way. Plus I take them seriously. I care what they have to say, how they say it, their perceptions. They sent me some art for Christmas from a Rudolph-based coloring book. A nice Yukon Cornelius, for instance. The boy likes to be read to, he likes birds, and he likes Star Wars. The girl is a collector, she's fastidious, particular in her ways, tells it like it is with a tart or witty line, even at four-and-a-half. When her brother fights with her, she sends her fists a'flyin' in this maelstrom of counterattack. Obviously I will like a child like this.
As for The Office: The American version is mindless, lowest common denominator, lazy TV for lazy people who can't bother to look for anything better. It's what you have on when you fold the towels and you're plavering away on the phone. I don't know, for the life of me, how someone can watch the resolution of the Dawn-Tim part in the second-part of the Christmas special of the BBC version and ever think about the American one again. All of it is a whole other level--a whole other world--of entertainment and art-making. Don't settle for rubbish. Don't settle for less. Not with yourself, in terms of what you might be, and not with your art and entertainment. It's like you can have Fireball Whisky or a dram of Laphroaig. Don't go dumping the Fireball down your gullet because you're unwilling to ask what else there might be or open your eyes or walk another five feet.
One example of artistic efficacy in the proper version of The Office. In the second part of the Christmas special, Dawn and Lee leave. The camera stays with them as they walk down the corridor. For a long time--the way we might stare at something we care about moving away from us. The shot is objective, but it has that element of the subjective, too, because of the relational--we can all relate to this kind of look. And the shot stays with them for a while as they're moving away, but it doesn't use deep focus, as we get at other points in the series. It lets Dawn become a blur. What this shot is doing is setting us up for Dawn's reentry, when she walks down the same corridor again, but into the frame this time, to kiss Tim. She doesn't just kiss him, though, does she? It's more than that. But our visual memory is almost looking out for her, subconsciously, the way the composition is arranged, with Gareth, Brent, and Tim occupying the left portion of the frame, leaving that alley, that road, the corridor unoccupied in the right background. Our attention, our gaze, naturally goes there now. And when Dawn walks back in, you think, "Sweet fucking Jesus, yes." That's how you make art and move the move the fuck out of people.
The two most moving looks I've ever seen in movies/TV: Orson Welles's Falstaff upon being betrayed by Prince Hal in Chimes at Midnight; and Ricky Gervais's David Brent in the last episode of the second series of The Office, on the word "tits."
I'd like to think that Notre Dame will give Alabama a competitive game today, but I can't see that happening. Expecting something like 48-14. Zdeno Chara moved on from the Bruins. So we no longer share a barber. I always see him around with his kids. Seems like a very nice man. I thought he was wildly overrated when he was in his prime. Turnover machine. Actually thought he was more valuable in a reduced role--he led the team in plus/minus last year. I see these posts on Twitter from people whining about athletes leaving Boston, talking about how they should have savored "the good old days." Like this is just a thing now. It's how always is. How it works. There are no good old days in this capacity. Someone said to me last night, regarding the start of the new year: "We made it." What a loser's mentality. You didn't make anything. You didn't make it to anything. It's not like Proust, he writes the end of In Search of Lost Time, then he can say, "well, I made it." It's another day on the calendar. And the only thing that means is you have another day to grow and to create. That's it. But the Boston sports fans are waxing nostalgic and actually citing the name of Torey Krug. Because people know nothing about even something as simple as sports. I liked Torey Krug. Here is who he was as a player: a power play specialist who didn't score enough goals on the power play. Good assists man. Good at the breakout in terms of taking open ice and being aggressive. A very impoverished man's Phil Housley. And one of the worst defensive defenseman in the entire NHL. Maybe the worst. An absolute traffic cone defensively. Burned repeatedly every game. A minus player on a team without many minus players. An efficient and respected leader. You could tell that he rose a lot in that role during his time in Boston. But very replaceable. And people think this guy was some star. Do you not understand hockey at all? Or math? The Bruins need to add a couple defensemen, and they need Charlie McAvoy to become a top five type of guy in the league, and I just don't think that's who he is.
Last night marked the forty-fifth anniversary of what a number of historians call the greatest hockey game ever played, the exhibition between the Montreal Canadiens--who'd go on to win the Cup that year, restoring, in the views of some, beauty to the game of hockey, after the two-year quasi-criminal debauch that was the reign of the Philadelphia Flyers--against the Soviet Red Army Team. Now, it's not the best game ever--but it's pretty damn good.
Two beautiful woman started conversations with me yesterday and today, and I am cross with myself that I did not make more of these opportunities. I was witty and ingratiating, but in both cases, they were leaving cafes. I was too the first time, and just arriving the second time. I'm not sure you can say, "Want to go back in?" but that's a poor excuse. I should have done something. They both liked me. You don't know someone's situation, of course, but I would not be at all troubled by someone declining an invite. That's not something that would cause me self-doubt or anything. The second woman had studied marine biology. She was as tall as I am, too.
Going to write Valancourt and see if they'd be up for having me edit a book. We'd spoken a couple years back about a possible volume of A.M. Burrage stories. I'll bring that up, and also propose a new edition of Thomas Love Peacock's 1818 novella, Nightmare Abbey. Which is satire, horror, and funny. So, that makes sense, yes? The fellow who wrote Meatheads Say the Realest Things who writes and speaks about horror fiction often, overseeing an edition and writing an introduction for such a work? It's a fine book, too.
This is a photo from Government Center this morning, with the moon still in the air. A bit of lunar overlap from one year to the next.