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Merit

Monday 11/30/20

I'd be mortified if I was given something I didn't earn. I wouldn't accept it, for the simple reason that I could not live with myself. I earn everything I get not just because of the quality of my work, but against great resistance: people--and a lot of them--trying to stop me from getting anywhere. Getting anything. I always wonder how so many people in publishing live with themselves when they've been given something that their work didn't earn, be it a publication, a book deal, an award. And that's how most of everything in publishing happens. Given something because someone likes them. Or shares their agent. They both went to Harvard. They're a certain gender or skin color. They're each equally mediocre and from the right level of the class system.


I couldn't function like that. Can't overstate how that would destroy me from the inside out. Wouldn't be able to sleep, face myself, do my walks and have that knowledge in my head. And if I did nothing, and had garlands of praise thrown at me, I'd find that deeply patronizing. I'd want nothing to do with that, and I'd have no respect for the people kissing my ass when I hadn't done anything at all. I think it's character, on one hand. But it's also conscience. It's an inability to lie to yourself. If I had no talent, and I was in the situation I'm in now, and publishing said, we'll give you millions, we'll call you the best, you can be back in your house in Rockport, have all the houses you want, I'd say no, and I'd live under a bridge if I had to. I don't have that in me. I'll get everything my work deserves, recognition, money, I'll have my impact and influence, and my work will be why. And that will count for even more, because I had everyone against me. One thing I know about most people in publishing is that they don't live well with themselves. They'll often hate themselves--which will up their hate of me, because when they compare, with this level of across the board legitimacy--undeniable, protean, forever renewed legitimacy--that they does not make them feel good about themselves. And they will exist in a kind of opiated haze of denial, furthered by empty praise, students kissing their asses, gushing reviews by people who obviously didn't even read their slop, inclusion in anthologies simply because of their name and what it means to people who are doing the exact same damn thing they're doing, and are about no more than that themselves.


People are treating someone like that that way because ultimately they have no real respect for who they are or their ability. That's why those skids get greased in that manner. It's really almost like being mocked, and so many of these fools can't see it. I think it would formally kill them. But they sense it. And that is why they are so petty, so obsessed with a very petty form of power, and so consumed with animus. It's why they're all but dead, save in official name only, and why their work is never roused to be more than all but dead. Year after year of living like that, interacting with the world in this manner, and in no other way.


Sports stuff. Ugly Patriots offense. Cam Newton might be the worst quarterback in the league. 9 for 18, no TDs, two picks, 84 yards, and it looked even uglier than that. Lowest QB Rating for a winning starter QB going back to 2012. He can't throw. Which is bad enough. He's not athletic. He is so slow in his thinking. Can't read a defense. Can't pick up a blitz. Often looks like a guy for whom the game is way too fast. Then there's Brady, who has not lost anything in terms of physical skills, or not much, but who stupidly put himself in a situation that is almost antithetical to his set of skills. Tampa doesn't know what the hell it's doing. You're just having Brady throw deep. Brady never did that. Even in 2007, when Brady threw it long, he just threw it straight up for Randy Moss to go up and take. It was a jump ball. The Tampa offense is vanilla. It's like a basic high school offense, but with low percentage throws. There's no motion, no picks, no creativity. They can't run, so there's no play action. I don't think Belichick would have given Brady some weapons if Brady had stayed. But had he stayed, and had Belichick done that, I think you'd be looking at a two or three loss Patriots team right now.


Meanwhile, Mahomes. Is he going to have the career that Brady and Manning had? Maybe Manning. Almost surely not Brady. But I don't know if either guy ever reached the level Mahomes is at right now. Maybe. But Mahomes is right there. That Chiefs team is like the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. They're going to win it all this year, and what I'm curious to see is if they can become the first NFL team to win three in a row. I think they can. I think they're that much better than everyone. Mahomes had this one play yesterday where he kept backpedaling, making a half-circle towards the sideline, with his eyes down the field the entire time. But not just down the field--looking guys off, looking where he wasn't going to throw. Then while still moving backwards, he slung a perfect pass, both across his body and his momentum, to where he hadn't been looking. I've never seen a play like that. He's almost like a hockey player--like a great center-man--in how he creates time. It was a Gretzky-type of quarterback play. He has some big-time weapons, and maybe he will never reach Brady's level of efficiency. Brady would carve you up. As recently as 2018--or maybe 2017. I can't say that it's all that upsetting to not see Brady maxing out his ability right now, because he did do it for so long. It's like leaving some toothpaste in the tube. There's some left, and it's just getting thrown away. When you don't have time for that. I wouldn't be shocked if that Tampa team doesn't make the playoffs.


Random fun football stat, which doesn't mean what it might seem it means: Steve Grogan, in 1978, had six game-winning drives. The most Tom Brady has ever had in his career was five--in 2003 and 2013. Now, this is misleading, because if you're a on a team that just stomps everyone, you're not going to have as many opportunities, most likely.


Regarding the woman who kicked for Vanderbilt: the punter was on the team. That reality was kind of pushed aside. And quite a number of male athletes who could have kicked better than a female. Many of them were likely kickers on their high school teams, and have been around a football, and everything you can do with a football, for their entire lives. So how do I feel about this? The young woman was of course named an SEC co-special teams player of the week, having executed a kickoff. Clearly she was named that because of her gender, not her performance, not because of merit. My reaction was pretty simple. If you have people on the team, who are part of the roster, who can handle this job better, why are you bringing in someone else, unless it's for publicity, a statement, that kind of thing. I believe in one thing when it comes to these things, and most things: merit. The best person for the job. That is the only reason. Ever. That I care about. As someone whose entire life is a form of hell because they deal with the converse of this. Someone who is completely alone, impoverished, because they are trying to deal with the converse of this. Get past it. Overcome it. So spare me the whole "you're a white male" thing. Because I am paying the price of my entire life because of my ability, my productivity, my expertise, my range, my effort, my character. Merit. Merit. Merit. The job to the person best qualified for the job. And speaking of pandering, this was pandering, this was condescending, this was using somebody who played along with that. You have to know you're not there because of your ability. Again, for me, I'd never allow myself to be in that position. If I don't earn it, I don't want it. And if you haven't earned it, it's not some advancement for what it is you think you represent. Or pretend to represent. Or act like you represent for attention. If you're better, no matter who you are, it should be yours. And if you're not, it shouldn't be. Otherwise, you're a puppet, you're part of a PR move, and you should be above that and have more respect for yourself, and go out and do something else where you do deserve what you get, and kick everyone's ass that you can kick.


Wrote a story today for Longer on the Inside. Was very good. I need to go over it again later. It's called "Telezone." The story is about a girl who is last in line--well, a circle--of a game of telephone at her school. And what she hears is something--two things, in two separate rounds--truly horrifying. Her best friend is the person who is starting the game, but we don't think that this friend is saying these awful things, and we don't think, in all probability, that what the girl hears is what is being said, judging by the otherwise normal reaction from her classmates. When it's her turn to start the game of telephone, she raises her hand to go to the bathroom, because she's on the verge of vomiting, given what she's just experienced. We find out about the relationship with the friend, and how the friend has helped with what is the horror, the tragedy, of the girl's situation. She's out in the hallway alone after she uses the bathroom, and it's calm. In her thoughts she likens it to a bay, without sailboats. There's a pay phone--it's some time ago--at the end of the hall, which the custodian we've learned about fastidiously polishes, so it's glowing, making her think of a lighthouse. She carries dimes in her pockets, in case she ever needs to make real phone calls, like if she's abducted and has a chance to break away. And she goes to this real phone, which sometimes rings on its own, and makes a very real phone call, and plays a different game of telephone, with the same sort of results as the game she was playing in the classroom. The girl's name is Healy. It's a beautiful fucking story. And it's done in 1250 words.


Speaking of uniforms: I do love that old school Patriots look. The fellow who designed Pat Patriot was actually from Rockport. The current Patriots uniform looks too much like Auburn to me.