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On voids

Tuesday 5/25/21

I had a nightmare that I was drinking again. Also a nightmare that I was in church with my dead father and sister.


As it was, Sunday marked 1792 days, or 256 weeks, without a drink. I don't believe I noted that. I have to change my medical provider on my health insurance so I can see my cardiologist again. I didn't have any reaction to the vaccine yesterday. I don't know if that's good or bad or meaningless.


Today I learned that Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Sarah Vaughn, and Sam Cooke were all once on the same bill. It was at the Ford Auditorium in Detroit, this week in 1959. They played two shows. You could have attended both for a total of $6.


My heart rate is fast today. I can feel it in my wrist. I am almost out of breath just sitting down. The panic, the stress, the terror.


***

It's a little bit later. I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack. Rampant terror. This can't be good. I will start an essay on Young Adult literature.


***

Just wrote a 3000 word essay on the Three Investigators Young Adult mystery series. What a joyless slog that was to maybe get $200.


This is my favorite entry in the forty-three book series. It's from 1975, by M.V.Carey. I think she's the best of the Three Investigators writers, though they're all good. She whips up some nice atmosphere.



A person I know lost their mother last summer, and it is their mother's birthday today, so I texted them, "Thinking of you today. Strength, my man. Wishing you it, sending you it in my thoughts."


JazzTimes re-posted the piece--on Twitter and Facebook, that is--I wrote last year on George Floyd and Coltrane's "Alabama." Do I think Floyd was a horrible person? Clearly he was. The deification of him is disturbing. The monetization of him is also disturbing. But these are separate issues. My piece was about different issues. Humanist concerns. Ideas that transcend black and white. Ideas that get to the commonality of us all, but also leave room for--and address--specific forms of injustice, including what happened to Floyd on that day. Injustice is now viewed in our society as solely a color thing, or a gender thing, an identity thing. Partially because that's where the money is, the clicks are, the laziest sustainable narratives, and the easiest poses that one can strike for good person credit points without having to do the actual heavy-lifting of kindness and decency, which is 1. Usually thankless 2. Typically private and does not translate to social media or the various tools of narcissism that many people are now reliant upon for any semblance of self-esteem, assuagement of guilt for all of the things they should do morally and fail to do, and/or their business model 3. Rewarded with anything but kindness and decency.


A lot of times, when you do the right thing, you're kicked in the teeth for it, or you become taken for granted--and exploited--over time. And you can become resented. Because you're doing the real thing, and a lot of other people are just pretending. The contrast you provide will create very negative feelings. And guess who those negative feelings are going to be directed at? Very few people are going to examine those feelings, live with those feelings, open themselves up to those feelings, and say, "Shit, this sucks, this hurts that I've gone so wrong. But I'll swallow my pride, I'll admit my shortcomings, I'll allow that these things I want to be true about me are not, and by Christ, I'll work to get better, I'll do everything it takes, even as this is so raw and I feel so unmoored."


Hell no, dude. People are not going to do that. They're going to try to rip you a new one. Whatever form that takes. Often, a passive aggressive form. The form of the coward. Or they might just avoid and ignore you, which can make it seem like they treat you in a dismissive way they'd treat no one else, even the worst people you both know. Because they do.


I live the life of someone who knows the greatest discrimination. That's my life and lot right now. So I'm really not the person to appeal to regarding who has it the most unjust at present. And if someone reads this journal, knows my work, understands what I do and the level I do it at, the preternatural/not-human rate and volume at which I do it, my unique abilities, how I stand out in history in what I am and do--this is just easily documented reality at this point--and what has happened to me vs. what happens to--by which I mean, "for"--anyone who has done a single one of the single one of the things I've done, let alone the thousands, I think they fully well know just how many notions in our society I invalidate, my story invalidates. My life invalidates. My personal hell invalidates. Because look what is happening to the athletic-looking white male genius in Boston who is the expert on all of the various seemingly completely unrelated things and creates amazing work every day and has a singular track record and can do it all and has done it all and is loathed, blackballed, denied opportunities, suppressed, locked out, robbed, kept down, and he has not done anything wrong to anyone who is doing that to him. You want to be that person? You want to live like this? Want to tell me about my privilege? You want to know that every great thing you do and achieve will make it worse? If that's even possible? Want to be all alone? In total poverty? Want to work 140 hours a week every single week, no exceptions, year after year after year? Want to be hated? For things that should inspire anything but hate?


People are usually simple. They see in big blocks or not at all. They see, too, in black and white. And they often see what they want to see, or what best fills their own voids. Or, rather, gives them the impression that those voids are being filled, because they're not actually filled; emptiness is the general, prevailing condition in this world right now. But I saw someone post a comment underneath my piece, saying not to confuse Floyd, who they said was a gangster something or other, with Coltrane, a musical genius. Was someone who clearly did not read a sentence of what I wrote. I was tempted to respond and say the piece is anything but an apologia for Floyd's pre-Chauvin behavior (and his behavior prior to that moment is irrelevant in discussing what happened to Floyd on this day last year and why it happened to him with that murder), and instead about something bigger than any one person, which we've moved away from, and which the Coltrane piece that I wrote about can move us towards. And since we're talking about what not to conflate, it'd be best not to confuse being a passive aggressive, fake internet tough guy with actually having a clue or character.


***

Gave a radio interview about postmodern literature, baseball, horror cinema, and the Grateful Dead. Real normal. Nothing to see here. Was what all of these are. Different from and better than. But no money. Depressing. No point, really, save to keep adding more to a body of work that was gargantuan ten years ago. It is so hard to keep going. It's so hard to even begin to give anyone a sense of how hard it is to keep going. Not that anyone necessarily cares. I hope some people care. I hope a lot more care later that I did keep going. If I'm able to.


I'm often torn in what to do with this journal. I don't wish it to be some negative meat-grinder. I think, do I tell the truth, or do I not tell the truth? If I don't tell the truth, what then? I pretend that this is fine and normal and I smile and I just perish so as not to bother those who are doing this to me? Or do I tell the truth and, by telling the truth, does that make getting anywhere all the harder? But how can it be any harder when this is already an absolute of difficulty for reasons that have nothing to do with merit? I knew someone once. I didn't think much of them as a person or thinker. But I'd known worse. They worked at a place I went to alone. We got to talking over the years. They said to me, "people would rather be around someone who smiles than frowns." I shared that with someone I've known for a long time. Someone who knows my situation intimately. And they said, in this wry kind of way, "That's good American advice." A dismissive way, as if to say, "Yeah, great, but what that guy said has absolutely nothing to do with what you're going through or dealing with or who you are or your outcome." I'd have to be a willing suicide to just smile and say, this is fine, it's okay, it's all good. I don't think someone could endure this for a week. I believe that. No--I know that. I know this is what I am here to do and I believe a purpose, act, and art are more intrinsically bound up in this person than anything else has ever been in anyone else. I don't kinda-sorta believe that. I know it. I know it in a way that goes all the way through one end of the earth and out the other. I know it because I am it. I feel it and I also consciously, cognizantly, know exactly what my work is and what its value is. I know exactly what my work is. I know that if I were not it, this thing, this being, I couldn't create what I create, I couldn't carry on doing this day after day after day with how this is, never improving at all. This isn't about me doing the wrong thing or I should have just pivoted. I hate feeling damned if I do, damned if I don't, which is sometimes the only way I feel when I write an entry such as this one. And then I feel like my fate is simply to suffer as much as possible and then die. Like it's written into the universe. It's unavoidable. I know that doing nothing will not fix anything. I know that is what these people and forces of evil wish. But I also know how much they hate truth and how scared they are of the truth, even the ones who do not hate me but will do nothing at the same time because of those who do. Because it's not like they're going to do anything positive and proactive anyway on their own. Certainly not the hate group. I'd have to be surprised by others in the non-enmity camp. And that would be but a dent in the surface of this thing through which I must ultimately make a hole as big as all outdoors.


I want to be writing entries about different things than all of this. About joys and triumphs that come from being earned, and new work that reaches who it reaches and should reach and the celebration of the latest fair chance and how I took that opportunity and gave the world something no one else could. And the true joy and happiness I found in a day, throughout a day, because I wasn't going through this, and because of what those joys and happiness were and how I was open and ready to receive them. I want this to be a record of joy. But it just cannot be that right now unless I was crazy or just wanted to be hurt and destroyed and kept down, like that was my goal in life. I'd have to be insane. Actually insane. Completely divorced from reason or even just what it means to be somewhat human. And that's the antithesis of what I am. So I don't give up. I try with all that I have left to me. The truth. My art. My will. My courage. My strength. I have a fear that you can have something so horrific done to you, that if you talk about it, that will make everyone else want to avoid you or block you out. But if you don't talk about it, it's certainly going to keep happening if you keep trying. And I can only try, because of what I know myself to be as an artist, and what I am as an artist. And things in addition to an artist. Entertainer. Friend, guide, inspiration, representative. Human. It is inhuman what has happened. What is done. How does a human, and the fully human human, not say the truth about that? How could they even keep their humanity?


I hope the readers and future readers of these pages understand and will understand. It's not my intention to be a meat-grinder. It's my intention to document, change, reach, and arrive where I should arrive, and spread what joy and knowledge I can, and much more besides, when I get there. With so much work--and so much work that is already created. Maybe I can't get there. Maybe I am doomed. But I know I can't get there with silence nor lies. I can only get there with something epically human and brave. And the hope that with my art, it is enough.