Do you walk the walk or catch the train?
I am performing at a high level. Yesterday I worked again on "Funny Lines TK," the short story that was formally started on Saturday, creating the second section. I have shared it with my inner circle in installments, and the people who were knocked on their ass before--the notes have been coming in--are now going to read things they never could have seen coming. The story was so emotionally intense, and both brutal and beautiful, that I had to take a walk down to the water to try to scrape myself together, for it laid me out emotionally as a reader, which is what a writer really is if a writer is any good when they are writing. Today, I completed the work, with two more sections, bringing the story to 4700 words. For two and a half years, I have worked at this story in my head, shaping it, giving it life, coming to know the characters better, but I did not see how the ending was going to transpire, that was all new, a flash of inspiration and I have never seen anything in literature like the ending of this story. It actively uses the TK--"to come"--device of the title, to became an organic, malleable work, with authors one might not have expected partaking. It is also a story that reads backwards as well as forwards. That is, when you get to the end, learning what you learn, you can then read it backwards, reading it anew.
First I had written a review for JazzTimes this morning, after doing one yesterday. I ran three miles upon the completion of the story, same thing as yesterday. No climbs of the Monument since Monday, when I also ran three miles and walked five, and went to a screening of Welles's The Lady from Shanghai at the Brattle with my friend Ben. JazzTimes made another feature assignment--this one on Jimmy Blanton, for his centennial. Duke Ellington's bassist who opened up the possibilities of the instrument--and modern jazz--before his tragic death aged twenty-three. On Monday morning I wrote an op-ed pertaining to the police, and how we are compromising their efficacy in their ability to do their job as protectors and servers of the community, for fear of the mob. This was in relation to the murder of Michael Chesna in Weymouth and the murder of the elderly woman--both by the same person--who was simply sitting on her sun porch. I'll tell you a few things about op-ed sections. They might talk about wishing to be cutting edge, but by and large, what they really want is the most prosaic, vanilla opinions. They want you to be safe. In a sense, they want things in this society to remain exactly as they are. They don't want to be involved. They want to be spectators. I know this going in, and it was immediately obvious to me when I started publishing op-eds last September. You have to be the exception. The person who writes well and says the truth is going to be the exception in most op-ed sections. It can be tough to place those pieces that fit that double bill. But I will. I always do. And when people start coming along with what is happening, it will eventually become dead easy, and be one of a number of full-time gigs.
You also run up against terrible writing. Note the number of cliches next time you read most op-ed sections. So much is lazy and soft-sold. I'll tell you something else: saying anything about police that is not negative is largely frowned upon. (I am not a political man, in a sense. Your parties do not interest me. What interests me is all that I think matters: right, wrong, human growth, answering to the truth, not "my truth," not invented narratives, but reality; decency, consistency, character, not just walking the walk behind your talk, but being the very road upon which others may walk, as they find themselves, as they answer to reality as you strive to.) To the point that violence against police is almost countenanced. Like having an edgy poster up in your dorm. That is how little police lives can be valued by the media. All is attitudinal pose now, like that poster. Maybe that poster is the visual representation of something horrific. But the hanger/mounter of the poster isn't thinking about the reality behind it, it's just part of their pose, their whole collection of poses which is the totality of their life and existence. There is so little concern with reality and right and wrong--and consequences--in this world right now, to say nothing of truth. I took the piece and I added on to it, by about 400 words, so now it's essay length, and we'll try and go again. I also put another 800 words or so to my film piece on The Ox-Bow Incident. The Daily Beast made me a feature assignment for a piece on the Beatles' greatest blues song, which is part meta-joke, and part abyssal mind fuck of pain, with both a Lennon and Harrison guitar solo, and links to Robert Johnson and John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. And yesterday on Downtown I discussed my New York Daily News op-ed on Laura Ingalls Wilder, which became about many other things. I thought this was quite strong, really a good one, with me hiding out from the rain under an overpass by the harbor. You know I've never once heard myself on the radio? Have literally never listened after the fact. Because I know exactly how it sounds.
Here's a song. Tonight I will go to the Hatch Shell for a performance of Holst's The Planets, which is marking the 100th anniversary of its premiere. The Boston Landmarks Orchestra is teaming with the St. Paul's Girls' School Choir from London. Why is this super cool? Because when Holst needed singers for his very impromptu premiere of the work 100 years ago--the musicians got the sheet music like an hour beforehand--he raced off to find the nearest singers, which took him to, that's right, the St. Paul's Girls' School. This is pretty neat. So I'm not going to miss that.