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Thursday 2/4/21

I'm deep into what I have to do in February, so I should be spry and just do a round-up of the month that was January.

I wrote my first film book, looking at Scrooge from 1951 as the ultimate horror film. The book was written in thirteen days. (As a corollary tidbit, the Sam Cooke book was begun on 9/15 and written in fifteen days.)

I wrote nine short stories: "Chore Age," "Movie Tilt," "Woods Girl," "Sir Socks," "Splotch," "The Installation," "The Giver of Care," "Till," "A Listener's Story." The first eight are for Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives, or successive volumes of that work. "A Listener's Story" is longer, and it is a radical, innovative work in that the story told is not the story. The story is how the person who is told a story hears that story. And the idea that stories most belong to the people who hear them. I know nothing like it. Regarding the Longer on the Inside pieces, I would personally say that "The Installation" is as strong as anything I've ever done, belonging alongside "Fitty" and "Girls of the Nimbus." The story is about--and this is misleading, of course, because I'm leaving out most of what it's really about--the installation of one of those chairs that go into the wall and allow a person to sit and ride up a flight of stairs. What matters is who puts it in, and for whom. It's as good as anything I got. And I have no idea when the world might see it because of this hell I am in.

I wrote three book proposals: one about Joy Division, another about the British version of The Office, the third about Billie Holiday.

I wrote three op-eds: One about hockey, another about Frankenstein, the last about Hank Aaron.

I revised two short stories: "On the Cable" and "Captains' Practice." The latter was picked up by Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature.

I published this piece on Billie Holiday with JazzTimes. Also, this essay on Miles Davis's albums surrounding Kind of Blue with The Smart Set. Also, this work of fiction in London Magazine, called "It Was Night." Also, this op-ed in the New York Daily News on Hank Aaron. And I learned that this op-ed on the Amen chorus of Handel's Messiah ran at Christmas in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

On one segment of Downtown I discussed the 1970s BBC TV film The Stone Tapes in one episode, along with an early take of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love," a Stooges live recording from 1970, the baseball Hall of Fame and morals. In another Downtown segment I talked about the animus-driven nature of the NHL schedule, the devolution of language in America--"should of," the real meaning of the word fact, the constant misuse of "literally"; the argument that it borders on the impossible for an intelligent human to have a large Twitter following; and football observations. In another appearance I discussed the Billie Holiday JazzTimes piece, the band the Troggs, the short story in London Magazine and the writerly physics of Longer on the Inside, and the 1980-81 Boston Celtics and the advent of the first Big Three. And in the last Downtown appearance of the month, I talked about the New York Daily News Hank Aaron piece, Asteroids on its fortieth anniversary and the imagination-jogging component of "simple" video games, the Boston Bruins as a team in flux forty years ago, and Lord Byron's poem, "When We Two Parted."

I revised most of a book called Glue God: Essays for Repairing a Broken Self, which I'll finish doing today.

And, of course, I wrote hundreds of letters, most of them to very bad people who own my life right now. Some things have become quite ugly, but I am not sitting back and letting myself be destroyed. I will do what I have to do, say what I have to say, put out in plain view what I must put out in plain view, if it is taken there, and no recourse remains. The hundreds of miles walked, the thousands of stairs that were ran, the sprints up the hill, were all more or less documented on here already. Finally, I wrote nineteen of these journal entries, documenting this singular life and the mind and thoughts and the current hardships of the artist living it, and what he makes and sees and knows and learns and does and watches and hears and reads and faces and how he keeps going.

Someone I've known for two and a half decades said to me recently that any one of the things I do, would be enough, or should be enough, to press my name into the pages of history, and spread it across many pages. Whether that was the fiction, the books, or something like this journal, which they were singling out that day. They opined that this journal makes me the one person out in the world that one does not know in a personal way that one can actually truly know. Just me. People know the people in their lives--or they think they do, though they're often wrong--but they don't know anyone else. People put poses forward. They are rarely themselves in a place of public viewing, and even when they are, what you get is nugatory because there is no length, there is cliche, words that could be said by a billion other people. No one is going to take the time to write millions and millions of words. A tweet doesn't do it, 1000 tweets don't do it, twelve posts a year on a blog about the rewatched episode of Sex and the City or the soup prepared for dinner that night don't do it. I show myself to the world in a unique way. You can know me through the pages of this journal. I would hope that means something in this age of holding back, of shuttering ourselves away, of masking our colors and natures, of indolent, passive existence, and rampant fear of not being good enough, not knowing how to press on, feeling alone, disconnected, overwhelmed, empty. I give myself to these pages for many reasons, but that is one of them. I try to be a beacon. Because I am a beacon, I think.


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