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Next and better

Monday 10/25/21

Wrote an op-ed this morning about the World Series. I'll have to do an entry on here catching up with what's been written, published, completed, is coming out, interviews that have been given. There's been a lot over the last two or three weeks, and there was also a big brace of stories in August I believe that I did not account for.


Another one of the advantages of all of the sound of me speaking and being interviewed on this site--and it's one of the only parts of the site close to up to date--is that what are these people going to do? Point to that person, who sounds that way, who clearly is that way, and try to get others, out in the light, to think he's a bad person?


Obviously that won't work. As I've mentioned with this journal, when one puts one's self out there as fully as I have, one can't fake what one is. This is the most honest, accurate portrait of a living human--this journal--there has ever been. By far. It's millions of words long now. And it has existed for less than three-and-a-half years. There are hundreds of hours of interview sound on the site in the On air section. I think it's 300 hours now, but I'd have to re-compute. I need to make more headway this week converting the streams to mp3 files.


Tomorrow I'll be discussing quite a few things, as per usual, on Downtown, but one of them will be the following episode of Suspense, called "Destruction," from summer 1954. There isn't any radio episode we might compare this to in terms of its approach. I wouldn't even necessarily recommend listening. The bleakness is unremitting. I don't know why they did it. Some historians have suggested it's a cautionary tale, but it isn't. A cautionary tale has that built-in factor of "hey, better not do this, or this will happen!" Three moments that stand out: when the wife just says, "So?" One word. Two letters. Devastation. Also, when the maid says that part about not waiting up. And the couple who comes across the main character in the gutter and mistake him for a drunk. The opening sequence does suggest the Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar episode, "The Forbes Matter," from just after Christmas 1956, which I've written about in these pages and talked about on the radio. That's the one where Dollar pulls the guy from his apartment after he tried to gas himself, and the paramedics work on him, with the entire scene playing out. It's an impressive scene--one of the most intense in all of radio. You wouldn't have had that on the thirty minute Dollar episodes. But if you wish to listen to this episode of Suspense--and I would, because it's well done--just consider yourself forewarned.


I watched most of the concluding NLCS game the other night. A team wins 107 games, another 106, and the club with 88 victories takes the Pennant. That's baseball!


Even if I cared about such things, as I hope to at some point, when I am not in this situation, it would be hard to get much roused by something like yesterday's Patriots v. Jets contest in Foxborough. Two bad teams doing whatever, and then the blowout.


Someone I know, who is almost exactly my age, has been getting into baseball after not caring about baseball their entire life. Or not caring much. They have been a football fan--a Patriots fan. They phoned me the a while back and said that football was such a meathead sport. That it was not a thinking man's sport. And you outgrow it. Yes. I follow it, I write on it, I am an expert on it, I talk about it on the radio. But it's not subtle and it's not particularly interesting on its own. And certainly not the way it's presented now, and how it's situated in American culture.


What struck me, again, about the baseball playoffs this year was how when it gets to the playoffs, teams play baseball. They try to win. And to try to win in baseball means--and this is such an irony--doing what isn't done in the regular season. In many ways, the game reverts to its best self. There are bunts, stolen bases, hit and runs. Guys go the other way. Runners are hit behind and moved over. It looks like a different sport, albeit the starters go four innings at best and that damn shift is present on near-about every pitch. The mental aspect comes to the fore, though, and also the athleticism of the players.


Had an interesting conversation with James Marcus the other night about the Grateful Dead. Marcus is one of the best people I have met in publishing. He's an actual normal person and a good one. Smart, and knows music at a high level. He has integrity, too. I didn't know he liked the Dead until a while back, but I am not surprised. I have come to view them as the best band that the US has produced. It's the Dead and the Ellington orchestra. I think the Dead are better. I do have this big Ellington feature to pitch for next year, actually. I've had it in my mind for a few weeks. It'd be one of those really in-depth things like the recent Coltrane/Ascension feature or the Charlie Parker feature from last year on the recording session that changed the course of American music.


Trying to find a way to download an eleven hour sound file of recordings of the Cape Cod Radio Mystery Theater, but it's only downloading half as one five plus hour mp3 file. This stuff is pretty rare, and I want to make sure I have a copy. (Actually, just found individual sound files of the episodes. I will have to make sure if it's everything that survives. This looks patchy to me, but I don't know, and it all has to be out there somewhere.) I have some of the episodes on a couple CDs that are buried in storage, which I used to listen to in Rockport.


Imagine how the first entry on here will read when I have my house back and I am in it? Those will be some nice pages to read.


Saturday night, as I was watching football, I thought, "Why don't you think about some new stories?" and then, just like that, I came up with five, and thought, "You are such an asshole," but laughing. Big part of why these people want me dead. I am a different species of life than whatever they are. I can make art whenever I want, and I can make the best art there is. It's a choice of "I think I'll do this now." Or it will just come to me. Either way.


Listened yesterday to the Dead live in February 1968, Dock Boggs sides from the late 1920s, and LaVern Baker singles.


Also listening to the The BBC Archives mega-set of the Beatles' BBC recordings. It really is time to have these chapters and the full proposal ready to go on the Beatles book. I had spoken to some guy this past week at Columbia University Press. These people just have no clue what they are doing. He edits film books there. And you get these sawdust-dry boring books by these professor fossils about films that no one wants to read, no one does read, which sell nothing, and the world does not care about. It's just for their tenure or their academic career or whatever bullshit. Who cares?


I thought, okay, could do something quick with this dude, and I wrote him about doing a book on A Hard Day's Night, the film, because no one has ever done a great book on that film. And you have the world's leading authority on the Beatles, and on film, and on music, and here he is, to do this for you. For nothing. And the guy is like, "No, it wouldn't be a good fit."


Why? Because it wouldn't suck and bore people off their tits? Real captains of industry, these academics. Anyway, that's a book I want to do in the future, and I'll do it for anyone half decent who reaches out, but of course that's not the Beatles book I'm talking about here, which is Same Band You've Never Known: An Alternative Musical History of the Beatles. The third chapter, which I excerpted on here, is done and needs to be fixed, the first chapter is done and needs to be fixed, I know what will be in the second chapter, and I have the entire outline/synopsis, though I need to update them. I think the Beatles will be the through-line of this book on British rhythm and blues, which I need to do the proposal for, hopefully in the next few days. That would be on the genre as a whole, but I think a lot of it would be built off the Beatles. What's fascinating about The BBC Archives package is that you hear the commercials playing on English radio at the time. How staid it all was. Staid and safe. Then out of the speakers comes the Beatles, blasting away. (NB: Yesterday was the anniversary of what is possibly the Beatles' best concert, from Sweden in 1963, which I wrote about for The Atlantic. More on The Atlantic coming soon. What must be done, must be done.)


It reminds me a bit of where publishing is now, with the staidness. There is no life in any writing out there, especially any fiction. If I've ever made it sound otherwise, I was just trying to be polite to someone I had to interact with. There's nothing of any value.


Went through some old emails I hadn't seen. I had offered some guy at FSG--I don't remember his name right now--Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives, which invents a new kind of fiction. No one has done anything like it. There is more in each of these works than in novels, and they are all less than 1200 words. They are not shorts, they are not vignettes. New form of literature. And I've love to see someone even try to bring off even just the tiniest bit what these works brings off. They've been blowing the minds of the people I've shown them to for the two years I've been writing this book.


I do my cover letter thing, and my career destroys anyone else's, on pure, honest achievement, and that's with an industry against me. It's wild that cover letter. This is not a normal writer, artist. It's obviously one who is unique. Not just now. But someone there's clearly never been anyone like. And you know what this guy says?


"This is all very impressive Colin, but I'll have to pass."


Nothing else. Not a single additional word. No reason. Because there is no valid reason.


He said this minutes after getting the email. See how this works? And it's like, why? What incompetence is motivating you? What bigotry? Because I see the shit they pump out. From nobodies going nowhere. It's what I said yesterday, but in this example it's at the book-level: there is no valid reason one can provide. You scared of me? Gossip get to you? I'm not the right skin color? I'm not the right gender? I'm not trans? I didn't go to the right school? I'm not one of these freaks of the system? I didn't lick your balls? I'm not your wife's brother-in-law? What's the reason, man? Where is the reason in the work? Where is the reason in the career? Where is the commercial reason?


I'm supposed to pretend, like I'm the dumbest person ever, that this unique guy, this unique genius, can't sell books with some support, some advertising, a chance? When so much of the shit they put out does nothing? With the places he's in? With his ability? His drive? His unique mind? His personality? His story? His ability to inspire? He's an industry unto himself waiting to happen. I mean, really? Really? That's what we're doing here? But Emily Nemens shit? You'll do that? That meaningless doily-nothingness written at the level of a not-very-gifted seventeen-year-old for forty people she knows? Light light light light light. The prose version of a third of a pigeon feather. From someone who knows nothing about anything, has done next to nothing. That's what we'll do? These broken frauds. They can only do this in secret. It's like child molesters. Pull it into the light, and if everyone knows, can't do any of this because you'd be laughed and/or shamed and/or ridiculed off of the continent.


The worst question for many people in publishing is this: "Why?"


Because they have no valid answer. And often the answer would reveal, in full, what they truly are.


Why that person? Why that book? Why'd you run that story? This is how publishing does what it does. If enough people knew, none of it would be able to go down as it does. It's important, too, that they've made it so that no one in the world reads or cares about reading. Because then you can just get away with more in their sick subculture. No prying eyes. No one gives a toss to look into it, or even ask a single question. Publishing makes it so that no one cares about reading and writing so that they will be oblivious to how these people in the industry go about what they do. That obliviousness--and also the apathy--is how they get away with it. And so the world becomes stupider, because we have nothing to read that is worth reading. And something worth reading has a power that nothing else does.


An unstable person I used to know texted me last night, after years--I picture her as a Mrs. Halversham type--and simply said, "All of my holes are still just for you."


Hmmm. What can you say? Thanks? "Cheers, baby girl. Keep 'em warm by the hearth for me." Ha. No. I didn't say that. I only move forward. "Next" and "better" are all that matter. In everything. I know what some people are going to want to do there. "So you just meet someone to try and find a better person after?" No. When one comes to something that is worth all of one's self, that dynamic is then cultivated and always grown. Improved. Added to. That's a next and better. All that matters in this life is next, and better. Should write that down.


Multiple times each day on this dating site--which I'm getting rid of in a few days; it brings in nothing good, nothing I am looking for--I get notes about my age. It is one of the most common things people comment on. Yes, I look younger than I am. Not that I am not a young man anyway. Or what I would call one. Is this really so rare? I don't drink (yesterday, incidentally, marked 1939 days, or 277, without alcohol, which is also important with this journal; I am surgical, and there can be no charges of liquid courage; there is only clear truth), I have a boundless spirit for life, I run thousands of stairs most days. I never stop. I add, think, grow, bound. That keeps one a certain way. I give in to nothing. That also keeps one a certain way.


This was another new one. She was nice, in which case I'll reply and be nice as well, though obviously just leaving it there. Because again, it's clearly not what I am looking for. I am looking for someone brilliant compared to other people, dynamic, special, decent, strong. I am looking for someone one out of many millions. I'll know her when I see her. If she exists. And if not, that's fine. That's not what I'm here for, in this world, in this life. I'm here for something else.


Then there's this. "Gotton." Awesome. Though, she does know the difference between "waste" and "waist," which is better than seventy percent of them. Of course, you're banking on a form of minor miracle if you're expecting someone to know the difference between "then" and "than." You have a better chance of chilling with the Silver Surfer tonight a few thousand feet above your building.



Still has more going for it, though, as prose, than the MFA-machined fiction. There's a human in there. There's never a human in there with the MFA-machined prose.


The set-up of Stoker's Dracula is so efficient because Harker is having a grand time traveling along, making notes to himself to ask the Count about the local superstitions and collecting recipes for Mina for when he gets back home. He has no idea what is going to hit him.


I watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown last night. I like when Lucy goes out to collect her brother in the pumpkin patch. Note how bundled-up she gets. The patch is not across the way. (This particular special has a very neat way of eliding distances. It uses imagination--its own and ours--to keep distance in place, but also make it seems like that distance is not there. That theme of imagination in turn works well with Halloween. One could write an entire book on the special.) It's some distance. Note, too, Linus's devotion, now that we know how cold it is. He's in late summer clothing, sleeping on the ground. Both Linus and Snoopy--as the WWI Flying Ace--have passions, of imagination, that they are committed to. Think of how rare that is. How many people have you ever known like that? Probably none, right? You know me, if you read these pages. But both of those characters compel our admiration. We admire them because of their passion, and also the passion of their imaginations.


That's a part of successful imagining. Creativity, yes. Vision, yes. Courage, yes. Wonder, yes. Genius if you have it. But also passion. Sometimes passion is the petrol for the vehicle. I don't want to limit what that petrol can be. The petrol can be genius. It can be abiding concern for one's fellow human. On different days it may be different things. During different minutes it may be different things. Or within the same minute. Or the same second. Energy. Note those two characters, though, and note them well, I would say. This is a cartoon ostensibly for children (though I would suggest that it teaches adults more, and adults are more in need of the lessons and/or reminders), that runs less than a half hour, and we cannot deny the imaginative richness of those two lives. And the straight-up richness, as a result of imagination. The special is bookended by Linus and Lucy first going to the patch, then the latter fetching the former at the patch. The brick wall scene is a coda. It makes me laugh every time I watch the special--which I do throughout the year--when Linus tries to score a point with Charlie Brown, as the credits roll, by flapping his arms in his imaginative imitation of the Great Pumpkin and his means of conveyance. It produces the potentially hardest laugh in the special. I wonder how many people have ever noticed it?