* Middle finger on my left hand hurts. It's the one I sprained three weeks back with my fall on the stairs. Seems like it should be better by now. Certainly not the same or worse.
* My sister posted a photo on Instagram of two of her kids and my mom on my late sister's bench on the day my other sister died. My mom had on a pink jacket and she looked good, healthy. She looks younger than she is and the kids help, I think. She had breast cancer which she overcame, then had to go for a mammogram last week, and everything was good. My nephew is going as Dracula for Halloween. He'll be seven soon. Saw his costume, which was pretty cool--a debonair Dracula, with that little waistcoat thing-y. I remember being Dracula one Halloween. I was pretty into those films. Still am, of course. I loved to have my mom take me to the library. The library was like Christmas in a building. It was magical to me, and excited me so much. My mom was a big reader, and she liked it too, and of course she liked it because I was so into it. The library was in an old building next to my grammar school. It had cannonballs out front. In the basement--which was the kids section--they had these old monster movie books, crammed with stills. Also baseball books that focused on each team. I was into those Remco action figures for the Universal monsters--they were like the monster movie version of Hartland statues, but smaller.
* A truism of our time period is that people do not gravitate towards that which is interesting, or entertaining, or adds value in their lives, or will only do so if enough other people are doing so. What kind of value? It can be any kind. Value is what something offers you that you in turn take from that thing. I always ask myself: What is the point? What is on offer here? What value is there for people? What is it that people get from this?
I was on a radio program the other day, and Jonathan Lethem, who could micturate on a piece of paper and The New Yorker would publish it, was also a guest. I heard his segment. He offers no value. There was no insight, no humor, no expertise, no entertainment. It was just someone talking in a boring way. What do you get from that? Conversely, I do what I do, and I offer nothing but value. In entertainment, insight, inspiration, new ways of seeing the world and yourself, humor. I do it in everything I do. Every story, every piece, every radio interview, every post in this journal. But we don't care about value right now. We care about commonality, and not in the relatability sense, but rather in a manner that we don't trust our own minds to have personal interests, as if those interests are invalidated because we don't see a million other people also with that interest. We wish to be in on something that others are also in on, even if what that is is bland, pointless, infuriating.
It's like politics. All of the Trump and Biden stuff. In and of itself, none of it is interesting. Neither person is interesting. Neither is a thinker. Neither is intelligent. I tried to watch that debate last night. You're not listening to smart, articulate people who are well-read, well-versed in the ways of humanity. Trump just tries to list off a largely falsified press release of achievements. He steamrolls. Even when he doesn't shout, he's shouting, if one knows what I mean. He's a "quantity over quality" person. There's no nuance. It's obvious that Trump the business person would get into rooms, speak in generalities, harangue, do lowest common denominator, and other people, also simple, would find this impressive and give him what he wanted. (Publishing largely works the same way--there's more cowardice, as most people in publishing are cowards, but the thing itself is not vetted or understood to have a value or values through vetting; the checklist is consulted--who is the agent, what does the person look like, who are their cronies, what blurbs of meaningless puffery do they have from upper echelon people of this warped class system, what easily repeated lies and bromides are said in bullet point form about the work, etc. None of it is real, because none of it is about the actual work or the reality of what someone is and something is. Nothing has to be able to hold a single drop of water, if we equate water with that which is real--and that is how the publishing system prefers it, as it kills reading in this country, and so much more.)
I think it is impossible to have an intelligent conversation with him on anything. Biden is no better. You can tell from how he talked about The New England Journal of Medicine that he never reads. He doesn't engage or think. He has bullet points put in his ear. Then he tries to parrot the bullet points. He's a sock puppet who, to me, talks about minorities in a shocking way, as if they were pets, but this is also how a lot of rich white people in suburbia talk about them, so it blends in with that portion of the base and our culture that puts a far bigger emphasis on signposting would-be decency, rather than actually being decent. I don't believe in voting. (I also don't believe in wearing masks outside while we're on it, as I go about my runs and workouts and walks, in my own personal space; I believe in mental health and physical fitness.) That doesn't mean I think that people who do are wrong or anything of that nature. I believe in honestly addressing the self. In dealing with who you are, unflinchingly, and accepting those realities, hard as they may be to address, and seeking solutions to what needs solving, and growing--growing every day. And, while doing this, helping others to do the same. I don't believe in ballot boxes and stickers on the lapel after, and the posted photo on Facebook, and people who pretend to be writers who never write anything save Facebook posts slapping up another poorly written screed for the tenth time that day, which is ostensibly all they write (while hating me for actually writing, and going on, ironically, about discrimination in the world and how they're one of the good ones, when I know them intimately, and I know they are anything but). I believe in this. I believe that if everyone did even a slight version of what I'm describing--and very few people do any version at all--then society would be what society should be. Those are my politics.
But the reason people care about Trump and Biden is because that is what is in front of us. We don't look. We don't search. If you put something in front of us--and it can be anything at all--it will be what we talk about and purport to care about. It's not the thing itself--it's the access to that thing and the reach of that thing, by which I mean, that thing is also in front of many other faces. My interest, what I care about, is always the thing itself. We are intellectually impoverished. We are lazy in most ways. We won't search and put interesting things in front of our own faces--we cede over our minds to whatever happens to be beamed in. It's a surrendering of free will, in one way. It's a lack of self-respect in another. And a lack of self-trust, and self-confidence. The problems with culture, society, how we treat each other, the increasing disconnection in our relationships, our mental health, our self-medication issues, our devolving language skills, our lack of critical thinking, and yes, our politics, largely rest here. And when you worship mediocrity, you have nothing to aspire to.
* People don't understand this, but in reality, it probably takes less effort not to be lazy than to be lazy.
* Editor over at JazzTimes sent me a link for a screener of the upcoming Billie Holiday documentary. I should watch that and write this piece I must do. Also, I have delayed too long on getting some more info about this possible Billie Holiday book to University of Illinois Press. I need to get on that. The book will be a conversational, but learned, look at Holiday's music and why she matters in our world. So, neither a biography, nor a book that covers every piece of her output. It will be enveloping. I also have to get this Ella Fitzgerald live album that I'm writing about, which should have come in the mail but I don't think it has yet.
* Had the mad scientist hair going the other day--haven't had a cut since the Bruins were playing for playoff seeding with that Round Robin thing.
* My buddy Howard sent me the Super Deluxe Edition of Prince's Sign O' the Times. I'll have an immersion in that soon.