I heard from the little girl with the back brace whom I wrote that letter for, and she was really happy and it helped make her feel a little better. And it meant a lot to the family, too, though I guess her sister was jealous that she also did not get a special letter, so I will write one for her too.
I really don't know where my fitness is at. It's hard to tell without the Monument, which remains closed. But when it's open, I know exactly where my fitness is by how I'm doing on those particular stairs. These other stairs, I don't know. I've tried to fill in the gaps, so to speak, with them. Enough, though--open this damn obelisk back up. I ran 1000 stairs at Government Center the other day, then I was an inert blob at the desk for a few days. Today I ran a Government Center best 5000 stairs, but I don't know what that means. You don't get a chance to get out of breath (if you do regular cardio) unless you're working with 100+ stairs. So what I'm doing is going up and down fifty stairs at Government Center. The most I ever did in the Monument was 12,000 stairs. My normal workouts there were 3000 stairs. But it's a different kind of stair, too. Also walked three miles. I don't stretch enough. Truthfully, I don't stretch at all. I must rectify this. It's unwise.
What is far more important is that I came up with an all-timer of a story today. It'll be a longer one. I began it, and one can see the first paragraph of the story at the end of the last entry on here. Then I figured out a lot of it--just came to me--within maybe twenty yards of pavement. I was so overcome by the characters, their story, the power of that story, that I had to sit down because I started to cry. They are so real.
I need to renew my license, which expires at the end of the summer. I was looking at the photo today, which was taken just as I came off the pneumonia. And it looks like it. I look beat down in that photo. But I also don't look any younger than I do now.
I went to Haymarket and got some peppers and mushrooms for my heart and blood pressure. Also acquired lemons. They're for my liver after all of the years of drinking. I still nurse my liver after what I did to it. I cut a lemon in half, squeeze it into a cup, put in a little water, and drink that.
Kimball reached 2500 shows the other day. I think that's a nice achievement. A lot of dedication. My regard for Kimball is known.
Someone who read "The Half Slip" was shocked that I would change any of it because they were certain it was perfect. I was texting with them today, and they just couldn't believe it, so I decided--before they read this other version--to tell them what I had done, and why. Texts as follows:
C: I'll tell you what I did with the story
C: I made it start faster by moving up some paragraphs
C: Those paragraphs also established theme and motif right away
C: Once I did that, the original starting paragraphs actually fit into their new place
C: The new start allowed me to clip some words from the paragraphs that were already there
C: This tightened the effect
C: Also, I put in some clarifying details
C: For instance, I was very specific that they blood test her
C: Also, the new position of the old paragraphs allowed me to insert some new stuff
C: You'll see three consecutive words that start with a g and fill a clause
C: With the new start, I established another layer that the story develops
C: That of the grade. And, further, the in-between grade. Good to very good, for example.
C: It's with baseball cards, but it also becomes something pertaining to the mother
C: How we establish value
C: This theme cycles back at the end now
C: The daughter has more dialogue about the art project
C: She talks about firing the clay in a kiln
C: These are hot images. Dry images
C: See how that plays off the liquid? It represents the mother's victory in another way
C: The terms of the conditions cycle back at the very end
C: Then we get the original final line, made into two lines because it scans better that way now with what is above it. Makes a different sense rhythmically.
C: Lastly, the title now works on three levels
C: 1. Half slip as in one of those in-between grades
C: 2. A half slip as in half a fall but not a full fall
C: 3. Half slip as in what your wife wears under her dress. It's not meant for the world to see. Just like the mother doesn't want anyone to see this battle and how close she was to losing her children. She doesn't want them to know either because it can be interpreted as a lack of love.
C: Now: imagine any of these fuck bags talking to you about their work
A pitch I sent today to The New Yorker. It will be ignored.
I've been working on a Civil War novel, which has brought me back to one of my favorite books--The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. A sobering work of prose art that is so relevant to our time, which cuts through the BS of many a fallacy--including a raft of them that people still cling to. I'd like to get into that, but then there is also the whole story of how this book came to be, which I find fascinating.
Grant was low on funds, having left office and taken a tour around the globe with his wife. He entered into a business with his son, and, trusting the boy, would blindly sign papers. Turns out the entire thing was a Ponzi scheme. Grant began the memoirs out of some financial desperation, and then he completed them as he was dying of throat cancer, for his family's financial future. Enter, then, his best friend Mark Twain, who hit upon what I think is the best marketing idea in the history of books. Or at least in this country. And the story of that campaign should also be told.
Sat by the water and read from Yeats' Autobiographies.
Mosaic sent me their new box set of Louis Armstrong's Columbia and RCA sides.
I wrote Hachette and pitched a Paul McCartney thing to The Daily Beast which I have no expectation will be assigned, but it was one of those, what the hell, it's worth a shot, deals. This person is fair and they're cool.
The other day I saw people on Twitter discussing what the best season is in baseball history. Because no one knows anything, they said dumb things. Worse for me is when people start talking about what the best movie ever is, and they've seen next to nothing, have no idea about the vast majority of the history of film, but they'll be an instant-expert anyway. Dumbasses saying The Shawshank Redemption. A few people mentioned Babe Ruth, which is as far as the knowledge will go, but everyone who did cited his famous 1927 campaign. This is wrong. That season was the Babe's third best. His best was 1921. His second best was 1920. Incidentally, going by WAR, Ruth has the three best seasons for a batter in baseball history. Number four is interesting. I'm not surprised by it--well, I knew it--but I bet many wouldn't expect this: It's Yaz in 1967. Higher than any Barry Bonds season. I don't just go by WAR. It's a small thing for me. But you can make a very strong argument that no position player has had a better year in all of this time since 1967. Pretty nuts what that guy did that season. He did it in the field, too. Then he did it in the World Series.
Starting to really think the Red Sox won the Mookie Betts trade. He was an All-Star? That's funny. I didn't even know that until I saw today that he wouldn't be going. Mookie Betts could hit .263, with 14 home runs and 68 RBI on the season, a .822 OPS, and WAR would be like, "He's in the top five!" This dude must have struck some WAR-based deal with the devil. To me, he's the ultimate indication that you have to tread very carefully with WAR, as it can be such a BS stat. Not always. Maybe not often. But it's flawed. For what it's worth, WAR will tell you that Babe Ruth was better in 1920 than in 1921, but there is no way. Go look at the numbers. I know that numbers exist in context to what is happening in the league that year, but Ruth's 1921 season transcends all other baseball seasons. His numbers that year border on disturbing. I'll have an essay on this out soon. I think. Maybe this week. I don't know.
I can't even conceive of weighing in like I'm some expert on something I know nothing about. That is just so utterly foreign to me. I'd be embarrassed, ashamed, I'd feel like a moronic dipshit. But everyone does it. What they won't do is take a single hour out of their lives to educate themselves at all. They speak as if they're the oracle of truth. I mean, the entitlement, the arrogance, the delusion you need to have. And that's pretty much everybody.
I see a number of conservatives trying to do the whole "Go Woke, go broke" thing with the meager ratings for the NBA Finals. I find a lot of what the NBA has been serving up to be unpalatable--and LeBron James is such an entitled, idiot gasbag racist, in my view, which makes for a less than ideal face of the league--but the ratings are down because people don't care about Phoenix and Milwaukee. I get that Phoenix has a big population, but it's not a sports hotbed. Personally, I think the Suns are a compelling story.
My buddy Howard's daughter turned twenty-one, so I made one of my rare forays to Facebook to say something nice in the feed. She's in college and does a lot of acting. I could tell how proud Howard was. I'm sure he's a great dad. He's a good man. I suppose it's true that there are very few people I respect, but I have a lot for Howard. I wonder what it was like to grow up with a parent who had such a passion for the arts and knowledge of music and film. My parents weren't that way at all, but they certainly didn't discourage me. They just didn't have those interests. And I would bet you anything that when I was in that foster home in New Bedford and a beautiful song was within my hearing, my soul, from the very first, was ravenous to hear it, experience it, be immersed in it. I am story, but art is also all of me.
These are some works of art with which I've recently been engaged.
In 1968, the BBC put out a serial based upon Edith Nesbit's 1905 children's book, The Railway Children. A delight.
I've been reading Lucy M. Boston's The Children of Green Knowe, the first novel in her YA series that ran from 1954 to 1976. It's about a boy named Toseland who goes to the house of the title to live with his grandmother, and ends up meeting all of these ghosts. He arrives via boat atop floodwaters on Christmas Eve.
This is the Dead in New Jersey in November 1970. The acoustic sets in this era were killer. And they use "Dire Wolf" as an opener. I have that song on my mind a lot lately, with its refrain of "Please don't murder me." A rare performance of "Ripple," too. The Dead are the rock and roll version of Duke Ellington's orchestra. Note how the "Ripple" riff just all of a sudden emerges out of the tuning. And right away everyone is into it. I think this is some of the most beautiful music ever made. Jerry Garcia is an awesome singer. No one ever talks about that.
I listen to this performance of "Red Bird" by the White Stripes a lot. It's from a show at the Orpheum here in Boston in 2003, which I was at. I reasonably certain that they never did this song anywhere else. One of the most remarkable numbers I've heard in person. Also: next time you listen to a live version of "Death Letter," note how Jack White plays in 2/2 at certain points. Very unusual.
This is Deep Purple in Copenhagen in 1972. It's before the release of Machine Head. Note how confident they are about "Highway Star." Also, Ian Paice was a fantastic drummer.