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Wednesday 2/26/20

Numbers. It was nineteen years ago today that my father passed away. Sunday marked 194 weeks without a drink. I climbed the Monument five times Saturday, ten times Sunday, five times yesterday. I've written two short stories this week, "Starshine" and "Subway Child." I think the ratio of Facebook posts to a single Facebook posts that might actually honestly interest anyone on earth is 7.3 million to 1. When you are able to read as I am able to read and see what I can see you can see how truly and increasingly diseased people are mentally, how increasingly unfit they are. And how simple and how boring. And needy. Desperate for someone to pay attention to and validate their empty lives. I laugh at all of the "writers" (telling my dick it's a crowbar doesn't turn it into metal) who write nothing save to post about AWP. Get some talent. Then use your talent to write things. That aren't about your little conference or your inane, half-baked political rantings.

From March 2012 to December 2012 I wrote sixty short stories. (And also sixty newspaper and magazine pieces and over one million words to an evil wife.) From July of last year to right now, I have written eighty short stories. So, sixteen months of my life account for 140 short stories. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote 120 short stories in his life. What you're going to want to say if you don't like me is they can't all be good. They're all masterpieces. Every last one. Which is quite upsetting. The story I wrote in Harper's, "Find the Edges," I wrote in a half hour. I didn't even have an idea for it. I sat there at the desk, I had been up for less than a minute, I said, "Eh, let's write a story, what do you want it to be about," and i just made it up. And it's no better or worse than these eighty I just wrote. Though I'm a better writer now than I was back in 2017 when I got out of bed and wrote that story. But, of course, that's not the issue here, is it? It's a lot of things, but that ain't one of them. I have to do a big blog post about John Freeman. Which is going to be ugly. Evil man. Pure evil. Told me (I have the email, in fact) if I wrote the Bible he wouldn't publish me because he had his friends to hook up and I was verbally abusive (because after years of his shitty behavior and arrogance I finally said, "there's nothing real about you, John"; quite, as you can see, abusive at that; these people are so delusional; he started a magazine and named it after himself; how much of an asshole do you have to be to name your magazine after yourself?). Looks like he told Patrick Ryan at One Story not to publish me. They're best friends. John Freeman also stole $200 from me. But we'll get into all of that, lay it out definitively. Evil people, man. Evil evil evil.

I gave Emma three items of writing: a children's book my sister had given me (I was done with it), an extra copy of The Love You Make, and a printout of "Subway Child," which is a story that, like "Fitty," would be one of those that makes her cry, I should think. It is a very beautiful one, and just an excellent concept. I've had some that are just amazing concepts. "Sega Man" which is in Between Cloud and Horizon, "Post-Fletcher," which is due from Friction, "Fitty," and now this one. Last night I went to the Brattle to see Out of the Past--which I've probably now seen 100 times--with Ben. He's a composer. I helped get him work, too, writing about classical music for Fanfare. He's a good writer. We met when I was doing a feature for Boston Magazine--their staff is completely incompetent--on Messiah and he did publicity for the Handel and Haydn Society. This was quite a few years ago now--five or six. Ben had never seen the film, and I was interested to get his take. We repaired to a Harvard Square bar, Grendel's, to talk about it after, and many other things. I think I've pinpointed the one plot detail that makes the picture confusing to people. It's when Jane Greer impersonates the secretary in San Francisco as Mitchum hides in the bathroom. It's easy not to think it's Jane Greer. She just decides she's going to be this other woman on the phone in this darkly lit set. But if you know it's her, there isn't much confusion.

Yesterday, as an earlier post made quite plain, I gave an interview on Downtown. Out of all of the hundreds of radio segments I've done, that one might end up being the most important. There's no fucking radio like that. Earlier in the day I gave another interview, for a podcast, in which I fielded questions about the Who's Live at Leeds version of "My Generation." That ran to forty-five minutes.

Someone suggested that I should write a comic book. This would be quite easy for me, and i've thought about it, should the opportunity arise or the endeavor be relevant in terms of where I am at/have come to. I tried to get through the first season of BoJack Horseman. It sucks. I hear how wonderful it is, but I think if you think it's wonderful you haven't experienced that much. It's like me thinking Great White was wonderful in seventh grade. It's not funny, it's not touching, it gets old fast, it's not any kind of particularly well done. Why are our standards so fucking low? And it's like so few people can do anything any good at all, creatively, that we end up call this hack shit awesome. And it's not fucking awesome, it's just low expectations, diminishing taste, and this slack-jawed ennui complacency that seems to dominate our moribund existences, expectations, entertainment. Meatheads Say the Realest Things would piss all over this show as an animated venture, and I don't mean in the happy water sports-based way of tub-centric romance. Wait, that's wrong. I'm tired.

Speaking of Facebook. This is one of the things Ben and I were speaking about. This woman yesterday, a professor, goes on Facebook for her daily helping of attention. Absolutely daft this woman, and so bad at her job. And she posts this long account of how she had a kid read an excerpt from a Faulkner story in class. I used to pretend to think Faulkner was great. He's not. His novels are not very good, but he was better at those than he was at writing short stories. Anyway, she has this kid read from a Faulkner short story to the class. And the n-word is in the excerpt. She gives this kid no guidance on how to handle this. She could totally take care of the situation one way or the other. But she's going to be this hero--and no, I'm not going to write "shero" like an asshole--after the fact, so she can have her moment, get her attention. She actually writes on Facebook something like "I don't think this is a bad kid." She totally sets this fucking kid up. So, he gets to the word, he hesitates, then he just reads straight through. (What would I do? It's literature. I'd just read. I wouldn't go out into the quad and stand on a bench and say the word, but if I was asked to read something to the class, I wouldn't pretend the words were not there.) Then she's on Facebook passive aggressively impugning his character. What the fuck was he supposed to do? And did she not know the words were there, so this was a surprise to her? Which would totally not surprise me. Or did she know the words were there and do it to dick with this guy and then have her special "I need some input, hivemind," moment? Which also would not surprise me.

And if you wish to whine about Faulkner--and I have read every last word, every last letter--I would say check out Pylon. It's kind of underrated. He gets like a nice quasi-poetry-in-prose thing going at the end with the whole bender bit. Faulkner is like Fellini or Bergman--he doesn't age well. Faulkner's letters are more interesting than any of his official output. I wrote a big thing on Faulkner for The Daily Beast a while back. It was a good piece. New issue of JazzTimes came today. I have a nice thing in there on Hank Mobley. Something came from Salmagundi, too. Hopefully it's my check for the personal essay about climbing the Monument. This has been in my head of late. It's the theme and the focus here right now. This is also good. Beautiful story that "Subway Friend." Made me cry.


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