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Wednesday 10/16/19

Shiver me timbers. My timbers are shivering. It's cold. Sun is coming up. I'm about to get out of here. "Moon is up, the sun is down/You can't have it both ways 'round." Rolling Stones lyric. I'm sockless, drinking old ice coffee from out of an old cranberry juice bottle, which is what I keep it in, in black BC sweatpants--I hate Boston College--and white Creature Double Feature T-shirt with a blue Cape Ann beach permit sweatshirt over it, Vaccines beanie on. Shower in a second. This is yesterday's Downtown segment. It's on classical music, but there's more, and it is replete with knowledge and entertainment and it makes this stuff fun and fascinating, and it's funny, too. It's hilarious, actually. Someone wrote me to say that the segments I do are universes beyond the segments with the other guests, and not just on this program, but any program, and I should have my own shows. They then enumerated what they thought these shows could be. Arts show, sports show, show about current events, and a show about my life. That was nice of them. As I have expressed before, people are often loath to say anything to me. The people who like me usually take this approach because they want to live up to a standard that they're not sure they'll reach.

I would say I don't know what to say to a person who conveys such things to me, but it's also likely that someone really into my work reads these pages, in which case, I don't have to elucidate anything. Of course the statements are true. They are patently, plainly, obvious. I cannot image what could be more obvious. But, this is a post-entertainment, post-art, post-recognition world. Almost all is slop. The irony being, if you purvey slop, you'll be fine. It is not survival of the fittest. Human evolution has reversed that way. It's ascension of the weakest. If you are the one person who does the total opposite of purveying slop, you are a seventeen-headed centaur in a world of pupa. This is not about being an outlier. (His books, by the way, are so cheap, lazy, and arbitrary; Mark Lewisohn, as a writer, might be the worst to have written on the Beatles, but Gladwell said the dumbest things about them; pseudo-science and cod-philosophy for people who don't know any better. Yet.) We are well beyond that now. An outlier is a common household plant compared to what I am.

I was not able to get into the music as much as I wanted to, but the discussion of Schubert's "Erlkonig" is good, though I would have liked to talk about it as a through-composition, something that's not a familiar concept to most listeners. The Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun" is close to being a through-composition. You'll notice how boring it is when anyone comes on a radio program. Listen for it next time. I'm wrecking listening for you, now that you won't be able to help but notice these things, and then never un-notice them, but so it goes. Note how rote it is. Dry. Ordinary, plain, inept. A friend compares it to overhearing conversations in line at the Dunkin' Donuts. That's what sports talk is. The "experts" say nothing you couldn't get from your drunken uncle at a cookout in Scituate, expressed with no greater degree of felicity. "Yeah, I think, like, um, you know, like um, Brady, if he doesn't, you know, um, you know, like, play forever, you know, it's because, like, you know, he wants to, um, you know, like, make us think, you know, he could have, um, or maybe, yeah, this is it, you know, um, him and Gronk, you know, are like, gonna team up, you know, maybe, um, um, like, in Detroit, in, um, the Motor City, yeah, um, because, like, that is, um, like, the Final Frontier, um, you know, all that is, like, you know, left, like, um, after you ate, um, the biggest steak ever, um, you know, and you're like, whoa, and I think, like, first, you know, they'll probably go 19-0 because, um, Brady, you know, is, like, um, you know, like, the GOAT."

But somebody has to have that job, so here you go, and their knowledge and talent has nothing to do with it. The number of Twitter followers they have might. Note how there are never clean sentences. It's always "um um ah um ah you know you know um ah um um um ah ah ah um you know." Count the the "you knows" with anyone else on the radio. It will now drive you mad. It's kind of unkind of me to point this out, so, um, ah, you know, um, my bad. Note how they are never ready to go after they're asked a question. Never. The pausing, the ums, the wells, the intake of breath, the licking of lips, the gap, the delay, the tedium. This happens while they are adding nothing to your life. There is no humor, no knowledge, no entertainment, no fun, no edge--I mean organic edge, not manufactured, sad, attention-seeking, trolling edge--and there is nothing that relates to your life, that you're going to connect with hard and rewardingly. It's just there. It is just bloody there. That's all NPR is. That's all anything is. It's just there. Everything is space filler. The nursery school part was good, and the Triscuits, and the baby girl, and the Mozart. Where do you hear anything remotely like this? You don't. Why do radio people just want people who sound exactly like everyone else? Why have anyone on, if not just to fill the space, the air? But hey, here is a much better option. Maybe go with that. Maybe get and pay that person. Have them build an audience, a brand.

Yesterday I walked three miles and climbed the Monument once. I came up with and composed a new short story called "Nicked the Pick." 1700 words. It is awesome. One of my best. That is a misleading statement, because I am certain that none of these are any better than any of the others, but some give me a feeling, either right away, or later. "(field watcher)" gave me the feeling a little later. This one, right away. What's happening now is there is this level of structural engineering in my work that you could not develop if you worked on a given work over twenty years. It's coming out that way immediately, or almost immediately. What I mean with the latter is that the story is written, then it is revisited, in the same session, structural parts are added, there are advancements, refittings, sound is distributed differently, sentences are cut a certain different way--cutting sentences does not mean losing words; you're cutting, you're shaping, you're using the blade, changing eye levels, rhythms, topographies, architectures. That's the easy part. The piece of piss part. So I go over it again, then again, and I'm also painting now. Doesn't mean I wait until I get to the end to do this. I'll do it as I do it. The way the story ends up being engineered, the mathematical, geometrical qualities of the story, in the end, is the apogee of sophistication. These are not torrential bursts of passion, Van Gogh having at a canvas. These are bridges between worlds. They are bridges that will last forever.

The story is told by a woman, a grandmother, let's say she's in her sixties. She relates a story that her late husband told to her, involving his grandfather's grandfather, which is going to tie in with something that has happened to her eldest daughter. It's a story in the now, and in the 1800s, about picnics, water moccasins, beaver dens, pregnancies, heroes, ashes, tritones, and something that happens on a homestead. Sent it to some people who hate me, who won't let it come out.

One excerpt:

There were always lots of grapes, because I think he liked to throw what remained of them—and may have eaten less than his wont for these purposes—into the pond just before we set out for home again, in swishing green arcs angling down towards the beaver’s den, though it was the pike that popped to the top of the water with the soft, latex plink of exposed, rubbery dorsal fin, to squirrel the grapes away to the bottom. A funny verb to use in this setting, he’d add, but pikes had also been known to eat baby squirrels that fell out of trees, which wasn’t very funny at all, allowing for balance.


Stories change, that is, and the longer ago that something occurred, the more likely we are to disavow it, unless, of course, it was something that happened to ourselves; that kind of averring takes deeper hold as years stack. Becomes embroidered within our most discernible, earliest growth rings. You always remember the name of your first grade teacher, seventh grade maybe you forget, and I bet Saturn can tell you more about his first ring than his seventy-eighth.


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