Want to know what the start of a week looks like for me? Weeks here start on Saturdays. I am sitting in the bathroom at 4:30 in the AM, because the lights do not work anywhere else in this horror show of an apartment. On a piece of paper, I make a list for all of the things I must write in the coming week. The books to work on. The people who hate me who won't reply that I'll be writing. The people I will be putting up on this blog, who I don't want to put up on this blog, who have left me no choice. The people who owe me money. The op-ed ideas I have, the op-eds I have in a giant stack, the pitches I can make, the problems with the website, lists of expenses, a disturbing amount of things I have to get done apart from the writing (figure out, for instance, how to convert the streaming audio of like 300 radio interviews into mp3 form, and then do the conversion, one by one, of all those segments). Plan the things I have to say to some people that I do not want to say, but again, they have left me no choice.
Here's one of the fun site problems. The host site changed how content is managed back last autumn. I could not figure out how to migrate the content that was in the various sections to their new system. Had to pay someone like a grand to do this. My site is different than the sites of other writers, because I actually write things, rather than do what they do, which is write one shitty thing every five years and then have money, awards, gigs, etc. thrown at them. Their sites have no content because they suck at writing and do not write. Their new content is simply insincere blurbs from people who kiss their ass with empty, platitudinous words, so that their asses will be kissed in return, and reviews that are out and out lies. Puff pieces based on other things. Whereas, I create work and masterpieces daily. And even with an industry against me, I publish more than anyone, even if, right now, one out of every 100 things I create is able to break through the barricade of their blackballing. So my site is designed as a living, breathing museum. Always being added to.
What happened when this site launched in 2018 was that I was staring at 2000 plus links to my work. It was overwhelming. So what I did was I got up what I could so that there would be enough to keep people busy. My plan was to go back when I had time, over time, and fill in everything. There were so many links that it got confusing what was up and what wasn't. It was like trying not to drown in an ocean. There were so many older pieces to get up on the site that in certain sections--the film section, the literature section, the short fiction section, the music writings section--that I stopped updating the new material.
But when the host site made this big change, it made it so that you couldn't reorder any of the links in the giant lists of links. Which is insane. The host site is awful. I should have gone with someone else, but I didn't know. And who does this impact? People don't have giant lists of anything on their sites. And certainly not writers, who, again, almost all suck at writing and hardly write at all. They are just sucked off. That is the nature of publishing. Suck and be sucked off.
So, for instance, the Literature writings section covers only something like the years 2013 to 2017. Obviously that's a very small amount of what I've published on the subject of books and writing. And there are some eighty-odd pieces up there now. What needs to happen is I must fill in those years before 2013, which goes back to, I don't know, 2008--I had some cut off point, and I also don't know where everything I published from 2000 to 2008 or so even is, and a lot of it never made it to the online format--and then add everything from 2017 up until now. But like I said, you can't put a new link below what is already up. Anything you add automatically becomes first. What I'd have to do is erase everything there, start over, and make sure while I'm adding these links not to make a single mistake and put anything out of order, because you can't fix it. Awesome system, right?
Then there are all of these links that don't work. Either the place folded, or they just stopped working. For instance, there was a piece I did for Salon on this live album by the Smiths from outside of Boston taped in 1986. Salon exists, but the link no longer works. The first piece I did for Sports Illustrated, I think, was on Sidney Crosby. And that link doesn't exist at all now. I found a copy of the piece on some random dude's blog, and it was like Bobby69BostonBruinsrule.blogspot or something. So the link now will be to this guy's blog, and the link will exist only so long as his blog from a basement in Fall River does.
I need a team of people to manage the site, to manage the archives. And I should be at that point, and should have been at it long ago, but again, with the blackballing, it is me doing everything, all at once. I know people who don't work, who stay home all day, and they have a housekeeper. And it absolutely blows my mind. People like that actually think they work hard, too. Country club life. But they just get all of the money. Then people can get themselves to believe anything they want about themselves and the world from their position of great remove.
I have to get out of here now to run some stairs so that I don't have a heart attack. I'm working on about twenty stories simultaneously at the moment, and three of them are horror stories. "The Frontage Road," "Possession Day," "Challenge Me." Possession day is the term for when you formally are given the keys to your new house. A frontage road is a service road, which is a road off of the main road used to access a difficult-to-reach property. "Challenge Me" will be heartbreaking, beautiful, and touching. My ghost and horror stories are so different than other ghost and horror stories.
I came up with a new music book, which I began working on that will be called, Resident Masters: Six Epic, Extended Sessions that Channeled and Changed American Musical History. The book will examine Jelly Roll Morton's session with Alan Lomax in 1938, Woody Guthrie with Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress as well in 1940, Hank Williams' Mother's Best material from 1951, Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet's late 1965 residency at Chicago's Plugged Nickel, Elvis Presley's Comeback Special session, and the Grateful Dead's residency at the Fillmore East in September 1970. Brilliant, yes?
I want to explore the ideas of assimilation and appropriation in this music. The notion of "cultural appropriation" is one of the biggest canards or our modern society. This idea that, like the aliens in Invasion of the Body Snatchers when they point and make that noise, one must call out this behavior, when that is never how art has worked, or how art has developed. As each of these artists--a mix of white and Black artists, but with each artist melding forms of whiteness and Blackness--prove.
As for the Williams Mother's Best material: it's essentially his version of the Beatles' BBC sessions. A stunning, under-studied document.
Jesus fucking Christ--imagine when I am not blackballed because I beat these people. Imagine when I'm allowed to live like an actual human. When I am not in the filth and I am not doing 900 other things during my twenty hour days. And I'm not in a war and I'm not fighting and I'm not writing 500 letters a week to bigots who won't reply, who want me dead. Imagine that? Imagine when my road is actually cleared? Can you even imagine how fast and how far I'll drive down it? When I'm just writing masterpiece stories and they are going where they should be going and being seen by who they should be seeing and I'm writing masterpiece books that come out with places that market them and they are seen and they are debated? And everyone wants the words, the input, my time, an interview, and I am not doing this shit where I am sitting in my fucking bathroom that is filled to the ceiling with books and making a giant list of horrific things I have to do that will all lead to nothing before dawn when all of these other people who do nothing are asleep?
Was talking to somebody yesterday whom I've known going back to college. They're a provost now. And they've seen just about everything I've ever written. I remember being in college, standing in this man's office, and we were looking at the review I'd written for the school newspaper on this Bruce Springsteen album. Now, the review sucked. Child's writing. But it was better than what you'll see anywhere now. I'm saying it sucked for me. With where I'd get to in my journey and development. That's how far back we go, though. And I was talking to this guy about the 287 stories I've now written since June 2018. Remember, that was also when the blog launched. So, 287 stories, 1101 blog entries, I've written about ten books in that time, plus all of the nonfiction pieces. We were talking about when Harper's--and I'm sure I'm hated there now--published a story of mine called "Find the Edges" in 2018. We were talking about how we never once talked about it. Never came up. I had this fragment from like a dozen years before just sitting on the floor. I pulled it out one day, and in forty-five minutes I wrote the story. Harper's had an editor who read work and gave it a chance. This editor had wanted to publish other works of mine in the past--"First Responder," "Old Pyke"--but they were not the boss, and the boss hated me. But she left, and this guy became the boss. Briefly. He read the story, he knew how good it was, and you can read it, too, and see how good it is for yourself. It's amazing. But it's ordinary here. So much so that me and this guy never even talked about it. We didn't single it out, nothing like that. He'll have ones he singles out: "Fitty," "Dead Thomas," "Transitionings," all of which I have offered to Harper's fairly recently. "Fitty" drew like one token sentence, and that was it. My conversation with this guy was the two of us considering how many of these new 287 stories are as good as that story that Harper's ran. All 287? Probably. It'd be close. But what is the lowest the number can be? 180? 150? Seventy-five? Think about that. If you want to be a bitter crank, and so conservative in your estimation, I have 100 stories or whatever it is just sitting here that no one will let come out, that no one can see right now, as good as a story that ran in Harper's. Think about it. That's insane. It is insane what these people are doing.
What happens, too, is I realize when I'm given a token blow-off. Just like I know when someone isn't going to reply. Or it'd be a huge shock if they did. Again, I'm not other writers. I don't write one shitty piece every five years. So what I do, having masterpiece upon masterpiece, and knowing the deal, knowing who is getting hooked up, knowing how the system works, know who is favored, knowing it is all about appearances, bullshit that is said that no one actually believes, and connections, I send you what I have. Not all of it. But it ends up being a lot. None of my stories are the same. I know how you're playing, I know how you're playing me, and I am trying to gets somewhere and sitting on a mountain of masterpieces that the world needs to see. So I try. Then you have an editor--who was probably not going to respond anyway, and if they did, was going to boilerplate me, because I'm not their buddy, and I'm not being presented to them in the right way of the system--who has thirty works of mine on their desk over time, and they detest me for that, because they think I'm a pushy asshole, etc. I'm simply trying to break up the pack ice. If you didn't respond to a, b, and c, which were all completely different from each other, then try d, which is completely different.
It's a smorgasbord of masterpieces in endless varieties. What I try to produce, if they are being even 1% open or fair, is that "My God, I need to have this one, gotta text this guy or give him a ring." That capacity for wonder. That ability to just be blown the fuck away by something another human being created. But they're not like that. So what do I do? Sit there and send them something once every year, which they'll token reply to, but probably not even that? That's pointless. Again, it's different if you suck at writing, if you are connected, if you come from money, if you have the right agent, if you race hustle, if you write the same kind of shitty, pretentious, meaningless predictable bullshit once every few years, and the people in the positions to put the work forward know the drill, they recognize your system ID card, and they understand the timing of now is when they slop your shit back into the world that really could never care about it. Then they just think I am a huge pain in the ass, because they're incapable of realizing the situation and dynamic they've set up here, just as they're incapable of thinking critically and independently enough to see what I so clearly am.
As I have said various times in these pages, the last thing, near about, I want to be doing, ever, is writing editors. I don't want to play that game of making a list of stories I might send to so and so, when I've given them amazing works, and different kinds of amazing works, and I know how they're doing me, and yet I still try to think, "well, maybe this amazing work," but I know that the work has nothing to do with it. I could have the cure for cancer in story form, or a story that assures that their children will always be healthy and happy. And it doesn't matter. But it's funny: I look at "Get On My Lawn," "Eyejaculator," "Seedless Cherries," "Head to Give," and I make these lists. And these stories are all so bloody different from each other, and they are things written at a unique level.
Sent three full op-eds to The Wall Street Journal yesterday. Something has been wrong there for seven months. I also made notes on what to possibly do about that. But I desperately need at least one of these to go on the financial front because I have to have that income.