Well, here we are. Half past eight. Hair sticking up like a mad scientist. No stairs two days in a row. Hard work, though, but not nearly enough. I said yesterday on the radio that I had to do better today. I didn't. But I must also call for some perspective--call for myself to have some. Yesterday I did write two short stories. They're not done. They'll require time with them. I began an op-ed on my infamous, "Great, good luck" line, which sounds like I'm making a joke now, but I'm not--it's about the larger idea of not taking any bait, which is a personal directive I live by.
I'll have to make a point of putting up recent publications, do a post on the latest published book, and get up recent radio and podcast interviews I've given, but here is last night's appearance on Downtown, in which I discussed what I believe is the best song of this century, a portion of a Beatles recording session from Rubber Soul, the excellent new story "Desilva," which already feels old, because of all I've done since, and Jimmie Foxx's eleventh-hour career switch to pitching. As I mentioned earlier, I also completed a new book today, and it is a wonder, I think. Came to 57,000 words. The introduction was written today as well--that took ten minutes.
Watching more of All Creatures Great and Small. The characters are so fundamentally kind--the main characters, that is. On that subject: very few writers are capable of depicting true and organic goodness. Most of them default to narcissism--their characters being stunted versions of their own stunted selves--and attitudinal, two-dimensional rigamarole. Whining and bitterness. The stuntedness prevails. They are very different books, but there is that organic, true goodness in both Buried on the Beaches and Meatheads. Regarding the latter, Chad hurts people. He doesn't try to. Often, he doesn't try not to. But for all of satirizing of this person, and this kind of person, this actual person in the book does grow. A little. There is effort. His victories of growth--for that is what they--are small, but they're hard won. And some, I daresay, even possess a kind of grace. As with Old Grapey, the man who loses his wife, and turns to Beethoven's late string quartets where he tells Chad he's able to hear her. The Chad who begins the book would not be able to understand what that old man means. But he has changed in some ways, and he tries--he stays with it. In his limited way. He understands, and he carries that forward--again, in his limited way, but how many people are ever doing better than that? It's something--and by something, I mean it's human. Human is not a default setting. You're not automatically human just by being one. No--it's so much more. The narrator of "Desilva" is organically good as well. There are certain things, at the same time, that he needs to believe. And while they might not be outrightly true, you can't say they're outrightly not true--or he can't. Is he biased? Does he have need? Yes, but that is life, and if he eggs the emotional pudding a certain way, his choice stems from love. He has found a way to live with his pain, in part by turning it into something else by how he views his memories and a relationship that did not get to have its future, but pressed itself so hard into the fabric of his being, such that it was always present. Present in others in his life. Present in that dog. Present in how he lives his life. The place of wisdom to which he arrives is real. But think of everything you've read--how often have you ever seen true goodness realized on the page? It's one of the rarest things in all of the written word.
I have to do the Jelly Roll Morton piece tomorrow--I cannot put it off any longer. Listening to a soundboard tape of Zeppelin in Minneapolis for the first date of their 1975 tour--impressed with it. Only soundboard recording of "When the Levee Breaks," which they threw out of the setlist, thinking it didn't work, or it was too hard to play, or whatever; I don't know--they don't seem to be struggling with it even on the first night of a tour, and it comes across well. I believe I've heard all of the live versions.
A friend called me last night with an alcohol question. Someone had gotten them a few jobs, and they wanted to thank this person, so they asked them what they drank, and the person said they drank Christian Brothers Brandy. So they go to the liquor store, and phone me whilst there to inquire if I'd ever heard of it. Nope, said I. They find this big bottle, and it's $9.99, which was pretty funny. "I can't get this guy a bottle that costs $9.99. You can't get a six pack of Bud Lite for that. Do you think he was joking?" I said I didn't know. Then I suggested maybe getting five bottles and handing them over in a box, though cautioning that that might send the wrong message, and my friend would probably have to add some line like, "How about we crack one of these bad boys open right now?" So he asked the people at the store. I'm hearing all of this, and not one of these people sounded like they'd ever been in a liquor store in their lives, let alone worked in one. You might as well have asked a cheese sandwich what to get. Finally this one employee makes a different suggestion, recommending it with the line, "You drink this, you go right to sleep, no more day, nothing left to deal with." Ah. If that wasn't a spirited metaphor for our times.