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Nifty's boy

Saturday 5/11/24

People who are envious of you just are not going to let you pass if they can help it. That is, if it's up to them. At any level, no matter how low the level. Even if it would benefit them however it might benefit them. Whether in terms of reputation or financially. The more envious they are of you, the more ravenous the need will be not to let you pass, even if that harms or costs themselves. This is just a truth of life. They are not going to compartmentalize, set aside, answer to reason, to morality, behave justly. Make it about business or work. They have control--or power, as in say-so--in the situation and they're going to put it to you.

It's like taking revenge on someone because they're better. Not because of something they did. Preemptive, baseless revenge. Which this journal exposes and undercuts. When you do me like that for those reasons, you are actually arming me because of this journal. You are giving ammunition to my side in what is a war instigated that was instigated by a group of people against an innocent who finally decided to do something and fight. It all gets used. Nothing is wasted. Harm that was done, ultimately is utilized in this other side's cause. Something positive for me now comes out of every instance of discrimination, theft, bigotry, envy, sexism, racism, whatever it may be. It becomes part of a missile that comes flying through your wall. You get lit up, so there's that. And now there's that hole, so people can start to look in and see what you're doing, how filthy you are, how corrupt you are, what you're really all about. There's nothing you can do to stop that save one thing: Pull the 180. And see if I'm amenable to what you want to say then.

I was thinking about Jarret Middleton today. He's the son of ex-Boston Bruin, Rick "Nifty" Middleton. Jarret Middleton had this press of his own in Seattle. He may still have it. Rich guy's son. No ability whatsoever. But he wanted to pretend to be a writer. You can't write worse. You could tie him, but you couldn't be worse. Anyway, for his own press, he self-published this sort of dumb person's James Joyce knock-off where he did "the Irish thing." Stream of consciousness, story going nowhere, "so poetic," etc. No story for starters, let alone a story to go places. Deep. Right.

I met this guy in 2011. He had this party and he wanted me to read something at it. People will want something from me, like the disturbed Matt Hanson, aka, Junior Colin because he so desperately tried to be like me, who further lost his mind--this is the man who sent me an expletive-laden note on here with talk of guns and assassination--when I wouldn't meet with him to help him out in his career. Back in 2011, I went to this house party-reading thing, and it's all of these hipsters drinking Pabst. I read. Goes how you'd expect it to. Everyone into it. It's very obvious when you have people's attention and they want to know what the next word is that's coming.

Then he reads. Remember, these were his friends, and people started talking, getting up to get drinks, because it was that bad. It was so bad it was like it was meant to be understood as being intended as bad, or not serious, or nothing you needed to actually pay attention to. It wasn't that people were trying to be rude. It was just so bad that you didn't think he was serious about it so it wouldn't bother him. It'd be like me saying, "Okay, everyone, I'm going to be a ballet dancer now," and then I started hopping about. I wouldn't expect you to sit rapt, giving me your full attention, for my fifteen minute performance, and I wouldn't be offended as you went about doing whatever, because this obviously wasn't actually my thing. That's what it was like when he read.

I thought, What are you doing, man? Who are you fooling? Are you fooling yourself?

After he made this joke to me about Milan Lucic of the then-current Boston Bruins. How because of his former hockey player dad and his work with the Bruins' alumni group, Jarret had included his bad Irish book (whose title was made up words--he has a thing for that, I guess) in a gift package to various Bruins players, including Lucic. Along with, like, a golf bag. The joke was along the lines of, "Tough to think of an unsophisticated guy like Milan Lucic enjoying my book." And it was like, brother man, he's no less likely than anyone else who'll ever live to actually like it. Gonna be the same with everybody. As opposed to, what? Someone who is like, "Wow, this is super, can't wait to get home from work tomorrow and dive back in." Impossible. The planet of Saturn will emerge from out of your ass before that ever happens. Oh, look, rings.

And I tried--because of the position I was in--to do a book with this guy's awful press. Where it was just amateurs. "I think I'll be a writer today." Fantasy camp. I jumped through hoops with this clown. And here's the guy who had published thousands of things in basically every venue there is. The guy who does the stuff that no one can do. We don't really need to go into all of that right now. It's everywhere. And he wasn't going to let that happen, because I was so far above him in terms of ability, legitimacy, and with that track record.

Then he had a second book. I had mentioned it on here before. I didn't go into any of this at that time or even say who the author was, but I made some joke--it was in a text exchange with a friend, I believe--about imagine if how I was a guy who wrote a book set in Arkansas and it was dark, so I called it...Darkansas. Like if that was what I said or texted to my friend on a given day. We've seen some of those texts about writing in these pages. But me and my friend couldn't be friends because how do you take someone like that seriously?

It almost sounded as if I was making that up. Well, not to regular readers here. They're accustomed to the non-stop insanity.

I'd go into hiding before I told someone I wrote a book and I called it Darkansas. I've thought about taking this book and going through examples of the bad writing in it on here. I actually have a number of them lined up. Have had for a while. Open it anywhere and you're good to go with plenty of that evidence. I have a lot to get to, so it hasn't happened to date. But the reason I'm mentioning this now is because I'm trying to show just how far all of this extends. To the lowest levels. Virtually non-existent levels because they're so low.

And there I was licking boots. Of this guy. This nothing, which I have no compunction saying, because of what was so blatantly happening and what his motivation was. Licking boots on account of the position I was in. Why was I in that position? Because I'd published thousands of things. Because I was the demonstrable, easily seen expert on everything. Because I wrote better than everyone. Because I wasn't one of these people of this system. Because I produced more than everyone. Because I didn't look like these people, sound like these people. And you're dealing with envy.

What happened after I had a story in Harper's? Which really means nothing. It just doesn't. I've written almost 500 stories since then as good. We're talking only a few years. So what happened at Harper's? Someone there simply wasn't insistent on barring me. If you're not insistent on barring me and you read my work, yeah, you're going to think it's better than the other work. Even if you're insistent on barring me, you're going to think that, which is why you're barring me in the first place. It's not an issue of the quality of what I have, save that the extreme gap in quality between this and everything else becomes a bad thing. All of this work destroys everyone else's. We've seen it. We will keep seeing it in these prose offs. If you hate me and you're a writer, and I say right now, "We'll be doing a prose off tomorrow with--insert your name--and their story in The New Yorker at five in the morning to start the day," how are you feeling? Are you thinking, "Yeah! I get to show that Fleming! Screw him, he's going down!"

I'm laughing, because you're not thinking that, are you? You're thinking, "Fuck...I don't want any part of this. The last thing I want is my work next to his." Panic time. Going to sleep well tonight? That's going to suck for you, isn't it? This is outside of the mucky-muck in the circle jerk sandbox. You're not going to win that comparison out here without your log rollers, your bullshitters, your favor traders, your enablers, your plants, your cronies, your relatives, your frauds. The juxtaposition is not going to be good for you. And it won't be subjective. Subjectivity will be removed. That is, no one could say, "Well, I think that Motorollah story from Granta is better than that Fleming story."

It can't be done. I mean, sure, someone could technically say that they enjoyed eating that sandwich of fecal matter more than they did the meal at the gourmet restaurant, but they wouldn't, because really you can't. But after that achievement--and I could give 1000 other examples--actually 1000 examples, hell, 2000 examples--it became harder than ever to give away a short story for free. And give it away to what ends? To be in a place that no one reads because it's just this MFA pablum? This Halimah Marcus type of worthlessness? I send the things now. It's accountability. Yes, you can run the work. You might actually be hurting me, to be honest, by doing so, because putting you up on here, if you're guilty and busted, helps my cause more right now. I know all about you. Did you like that bit the other day about Halimah Marcus having her Electric Literature intern publish her story at Indiana Review? All. About. You. These stories I write aren't meant to be seen by four people in MFA programs. I mean, they can be. It's not like, they work here but not there. No. But they're ultimately for the world. But you know what? I got like 600 of them. I'm always doing more. One masterpiece out the door just means that there's an army of them still waiting, and reinforcements coming in all the time, of every length and every kind. Besides, that's just one stop, not a final stop. That story will have another life after, where the audience is of sufficient and appropriate scope.

But we all know why what happened after that achievement happened and what the resulting thinking was. The guy who is unlike any of us who is better at all of these things got this thing and we must put a stop to anything else happening that is favorable for him, no matter how trivial. It was obviously nothing I'd done to anyone. You'd know all about that, wouldn't you? Do you know how much these people would love to have something on me? Imagine if I was Lorin Stein, who they protected? (You'll enjoy this David Sedaris thing coming up, too. Not actually enjoy as in, "This is fun," but wait to you see what putridity this man is.) Go look up what this low-life cretin did. But Lorin Stein wasn't a bad guy to them. (And The New York Times Book Review hooked up his wife with a job, despite her not possessing any ability, having done nothing to speak of, and being a veritable expert in where the proverbial bodies were buried with the whole shebang--not a pun--herself.) He was one of their favorites. Lionized. No skill. No intelligence. No talent. Nothing to offer the world. Obviously not an iota of ethics. Straight scum. And they all knew what he was doing.

Then you had all of those people--same people who do me dirty--who went along with it, those who fed it, those who encouraged it, laughed it off, awarded and rewarded Lorin Stein, recruited for it. If I so much as crossed a deserted street at three in the morning before I got the walk sign, those same people would be trying to have me drawn and quartered in the public square (a public space? Ah, hold on, we'll be getting to them). But you always know what I'm doing, don't you? I'm working, I'm writing, I'm running stairs. I'm keeping going. I'm here, I'm there. This museum, that ballet, this forest. I'm alone. I'm professional. I'm deeply kind. Not for-show kind. For-show kind is easy for people to glom on to, because it's so fake and they're fake. One person is able to pat themselves on the back via their insincere commendation--via cliche or a "like" or a "Brava" or whatever--of someone else. But actual depth of kindness? It makes people uncomfortable, because they're not that way, and they know that they ought to be. But that would require...yeah. And that's not how people are. They jump ship before they can even start to fill in that list.

You have the three million words here. No one can fake anything for three million words, day in, day out. And the hundreds of hours of radio and podcast interviews. We know who this guy is. We know his character, his standards. If what was being done to me was being done to you, how would you function? What would your anger level be? How could you handle that level of injustice? Which was costing you everything in life. Everything, too, that you earned and deserved. Would you be getting up at three to start working, knowing the fix was in? Would you be FaceTiming your little niece? Would you be helping people? Would you have a journal like this that was millions of words long and share things that bettered lives, that taught, that inspired? Would you be frank about how hard it was to keep going? Would you give up drinking in the middle of that? Probably not, right?

Here, all of that has made them hate me more, because these are good things. They are extreme good things. This is someone who has evolved to such a degree in the worst situation that they have risen above anger. It exists, but it never is brought to bear against their reason, no bait is taken, and every single day of their lives, they try--and it's no lip service--to grow more than they did the day before, to be better in every way. They refuse to do anything but get better, no matter what is being done to them. Which is laid bare here. With evidence. Names. Specifics. Textual proof. And all that person does is try to advance. To get the work to the world. To have an actual chance. I don't even need a level playing field. I just need the chance. That's going to be enough. I won't require more than a chance to do what I'm here to do. It will be game over with a chance. Which terrifies these people.

But it was comical--outrageous, scarcely believable itself--that I was trying to give this guy a book for free. Contorting myself in my attempts to do so. Degrading myself. For my work. Not because of this person. I have more respect for bacteria than I do such a person. I should qualify that. Obviously there are useful forms of bacteria. So, the other kind.

And someone like this--because of the envy thing--isn't going to let you pass when you're up there on your other level and they know the difference between you and them because it's the most obvious thing in the world.


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