Today will be a hard and demanding day, on various fronts. I will warm up the fingers.
Someone phoned me asking for advice about their dad. I don't have any friends, but people will reach out to me when they don't know what to do with something in their life that is harder than other things have been in their life. This individual's mother died during the summer, and doctors told him recently that his father could be dead in months if he keeps going like he's going, because he's lost the will to live. One of this man's kids was hit especially hard by the death of her grandmother. She's been struggling with that, as far as I understand. The man's father has people come to his house each day to make sure he takes his medicine, that kind of thing. Hired medical help. Because he won't do it on his own. I told this person to see if they could get their father to come and stay with them. Not for good--not to pitch it like that. But for a vacation, or to get away, and to say whatever he needed to say to make this happen. That the kids were really having a hard time since mom died, and they want their grandfather with them. Or that he's having a hard time personally, and it's taken a toll on his marriage, and he and his wife are struggling, and could really use the help. Whatever he needed to say, even if it wasn't true. I said that feeling useful, even in small ways, and being around children, can help immeasurably. They could have a routine, where this person who contacted me could have the morning coffee with his father, watch him as he took his medicines, all of that. I reminded him that winter is harder for most people anyway, even if they're staying primarily inside. And hardly anyone is strong enough to be alone for any amount of time, never mind after having lost someone they'd been with for decades. This actually happens a lot--people desperate for some kind of solution will turn to me, rather than, say their spouse, their family. And I am entirely alone myself. It seems that the more I grow, the further removed I become from everyone, the less possible it is for any kind of symbiotic relationship, the more removed I am from the world; while, ironically, creating art that is all about this world and what it means to be a part of it, with a knowledge of that part-ness, if you will, a wisdom, a humanness, unlike any I think there has been in art.
Steps have been taken to get this website back on track--to fix the problems, resume the updates, make it so that the News page doesn't take five minutes to load, get the blog notifications going out again, have the search engine work. Andrea has found me a new webmaster. She had found one before, that woman who ghosted me, which was jarring, but it seems that she was struggling with anxiety issues. I wish she could have told me that, because I would have been understanding and wished her all of the best, but I also understand that sometimes we are incapacitated. Readers of these pages and people who know my history with an evil person to whom I was married, will know the effect that any kind of ghosting will likely have on me. I changed the security measures of the site, so that admins have their own log-ins, and don't require mine, which is just another level of protection. Andrea has been very nice to me. Kind. I am quite grateful. She didn't have to do any of this liaising and find me a new person. I've known her for almost seven years--she turns twenty-seven soon. We dated at first, fell out, were later friends, fell out, and she somehow ended up as my web person, and did an amazing job. She's responsible for the look of the site. I'm going to get her something for her birthday and as a thank you. She's really into transportation, and the history of transportation--buses and such--and I found this book about the history of the bus, how buses evolved, with text and photos, so I'll get her that, I think. She's sharp, Andrea. Very smart.
Chick Corea died. Pitched a piece to JazzTimes about the three albums he made with trumpeter Blue Mitchell in the mid-1960s. Overlooked, and give some indications of directions Corea would take as a player and composer. Not really expecting that to get off the ground. Editor also has two short stories of mine, one dealing with Billie Holiday, the other Lester Young, that I'd like to see run for Black History Month. They're called "Billie Now" and "My Favorite Is Lester Young," both of which have been discussed in this journal. They're part of the now very-extended Longer on the Inside project--by very-extended, what I mean is that there is enough material of this unique stripe to fashion three complete books. The length of these two stories--and the nature of the relationship between Lady Day and Prez--would allow them to run back-to-back on a single web page. They're powerful, so I'd like to see that. I will be writing a feature for JazzTimes about Charlie Christian at Minton's in 1941 and how the recordings made during those late nights might be the most important guitar music ever committed to tape.
I took the Valentine's Day/Charlie Brown/courting rejection piece to several outlets in addition to the other I mentioned earlier: Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, The Arizona Republic. Also a terrible person at The Boston Globe. Pitched another idea to this guy at the Criterion Collection who oversees the the articles on their site. It's the type of thing I should be able to land without much effort, which I'm well past super-qualified to do, and the ideas are killer, but he doesn't respond. What I know is that it has nothing to do with my writing, my track record, my ideas. So what is it? Personal? Discrimination? At what point do I put someone up on here? Because it's not merit or quality. It's something else. I wait a while. But the time comes when I do what I have to do. Anyway, that idea pertained to the liminal horror elements of the non-horror picture I See a Dark Stranger--an early Deborah Kerr film--which create the terror atmosphere. England didn't really have horror pictures in the 1940s, but horror was back-loaded into other sorts of movies. Speaking of putting people up on here: the editor of the Letter of Recommendation section at The New York Times Magazine has discriminated against me for years. I did an experiment--I gave my ideas to others, and, less-than-shockingly, he assigned them. What am I supposed to do? Let you get away with it indefinitely? And then just die in poverty and anonymity? I'm not going to do that. Tried him again yesterday, with this brilliant pitch about Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, which tied into the dramatic impact the show--and that character--has had on my own life and recovery from a breakdown. You don't want me putting you up on here, because I have so much information, and what I say--reveal--will be the absolute truth, and there will be no defense for it. Any objective third party will know exactly what you were up to. I only move when I have you absolutely bang to rights. I only move on fact and evidence, and fact and evidence that is often gathered over years. The alternative is simply to play fair. Or at least not totally unfair. Because that's all I need to carry the day.
I don't normally comment on Facebook, but I did so a couple times yesterday. An editor at BOMB was asking for advice on how to focus better. People are rubbish with advice. They have nothing to say. Someone remarked, "It takes a lot of energy!" Great, thanks. So I provided some input that was different. Elsewhere, I saw someone grumbling about how they don't like it when someone says Buster Keaton was better than Charlie Chaplin--it's not close, actually--and artists aren't in competition with each other, which made me laugh. People are so soft. Of course the best artists are in competition. They want to torch everyone else. Yeah, Beethoven wasn't competitive at all. The Beatles? Come on. Me? You don't even want to know how I wish to make you feel if you're out there thinking you can write and you want to compete. I pointed out some historical examples--Beatles and Beach Boys is a good one--and of course everyone lost their minds. Like you're the Big Bad Wolf having come to Care Bear Town. No one has any knowledge, they have no familiarity with the lives of artists, they know nothing about the letters these artists wrote, their remarks, what is in a stack of biographies. People just say things. Then they hate the person who actually knows the things. Pretty big piece of the pie right now for me. People also hate competition, merit, and those who outperform and outwork them. It's upsetting, stressful, and makes people even more insecure when it seems like almost everyone now is a walking crisis hotline of insecurity. They think they're not good enough, they lack. No one wants that. It's why I'm completely shunned by the world right now. Why my work can be in front of three million people in a given week and I don't pick up a Twitter follower.
Pratt brokered an introduction to the editor of Portland Magazine, a monthly in Maine, which publishes a short story in every issue. They have a circulation of 100,000 and, as I said, I have 300 available works right now on the fiction front, so I thought I'd try and move on there. They want them under 1200 words, so it's like, hello, Longer on the Inside. I sent along four, to see if any, or two, or three, or all, did the trick.
As I lay in bed last night, I worked in my head on "Water States" and "First Eye." They are longer stories. Not the writing business of right now, but that's how this goes--I wasn't doing anything else anyway. So when the head goes on the pillow, I continue, I think about what I can put work to, and then I do more of the work. I don't take a single second off. I also came up with a bunch of Halloween and Christmas ideas--features and op-eds--for later in the year.
Walked a quick three miles yesterday. It's not good, but that's all I've been able to sneak in lately. This is a mallard having a peaceful swim in the harbor.