A few quick words before composing. It is quarter of six. I need to finish this personal essay about moving, "Mow the Tiles," complete the edits asked for with my Scorsese/Irishman piece, see where the time stands, and perhaps write a bit of short fiction and/or climb the Monument, but the bulk of my day must be spent reading and listening at the cafe--the real work I need to be doing starts tomorrow with great intensity until it is finished, hopefully quickly. But it will take daily focus and hours. I did not see the National Championship Game because I was asleep, but no surprise that LSU won. I meant to add this bit of info earlier--Sunday marked 1316 days without a drink. I was talking to someone last night and they did not know why I specified when I did the number of drink-free days. I thought it would be self-evident, but then again, nothing is self-evident anymore, it seems. I count from the Sundays. I stopped drinking on a Saturday, for the start of a new week. You do not have to start the Week Game on the day marking the start of the week. You can play it such that you can say, "From Thursday to Wednesday I wrote these X pieces, I published these Y pieces, I walked W miles," etc. But that time I did. Hence why one would see a number on Sundays or referencing Sundays that is divisible by seven.
I was pleased the Red Sox won in 2018. Not that I was really pleased. I have not known what it is like to experience anything but pain for eight years now. I look forward to nothing, I have no quality of life, I live in a hell and a vice and all I do is fight to get out. I have not looked forward to a single anything in my life in that time. I have not relaxed once. I am the most discriminated against person in human history, and the more I work, the better I get, the more I achieve, the more I am discriminated against, though, in reality, that discrimination within publishing reached max saturation level some years ago. The one thing you achieve that would also be something I achieved would make your entire career; here, for me, the achievement of it it will engender envy and hate, made worse by the 1000 other things I achieve and the many more thousands of things I can do that no one else can. Can you imagine what it is like living in that situation? As people with no talent are simply handed things? But I was born with an affection for the Red Sox, they were a part of my childhood when I was happy, my dad and I shared a lot of Red Sox stuff, and I am of New England granite and I feel the Red Sox are, too.
As I wrote in these pages at the time, I was not enamored with the 2018 team, and I recall going on the radio and discussing how overrated they were as a historically great team following their World Series victory. Much was made of their 108 wins, but a lot of teams win 100+ games now and others do it more consistently, year-to-year. I think they won the World Series in spite of their best players--like Mookie Betts, who is dire when it matters. Alex Cora was a reckless manager, a kind of overheated manager, who was too aggressive--almost desperately aggressive. Following the victory, he was an arrogant, hubristic manager who thought his team only needed to show up to win 110 games and repeat. The arrogance, I thought, gave him a short leash. His team was not ready to play last year. That attitude of entitlement trickled all the way down.
Now he is at the center of a cheating scandal. He instigated, it seems, while with the Astros, this whole cheating plan, which was this low-rent deal of banging on trash cans to signal what pitches were coming. The Red Sox will fire him. Admittedly, they are a disgusting organization at present, which does not override my love for the Red Sox as, I suppose, a New England concept. A fathers to sons concept. (And mothers to sons and mothers to daughters and fathers to daughters. I am just talking about my own experience.) John Henry owns The Boston Globe, which embarrasses itself daily with its pandering and blatant agenda-mongering, and owns the station, NESN, that covers the Sox. The Globe has a history of covering up sexual crimes from its employees and drumming up racism wherever and whenever it can. Like, for instance, in this hard-hitting pander-puff piece saying the craft beer industry is racist. Because of course it is. They never police their own, they target the Patriots ad nauseum (and I say this as someone who likes the Red Sox 100x more than the Patriots). They don't deliver news. They try to possess your mind. They want to program you.
You can work at the Globe, exit your home naked, show up on the front doorstep of some women, stand there masturbating until they see you, and the Globe will still employ you and find a rug to sweep this under. Not an anecdote for these pages--these are facts, if you'd like to look them up. Or, take Kevin Cullen, a loathsome person for whom I would say that if there is indeed a hell, at least a part of it must have been engineered with his kind in mind. He is a columnist who lies endlessly for attention. And really sick lies. For instance, after the tragedy of the Marathon bombings, he lied about being there, lied about how he can still smell the burning flesh--really graphic stuff--and how the sound of the bombs still resound in his ears, etc. He invented a column where he sees a victim who lost a leg, and they were friends, and he has a tear in his eye as he sees them walking as he drives, and their eyes meet, and they share a meaningful look before he does this thing he always does in his awful columns, where he repairs to some gritty tavern in Southie and has a pint and the Irish cops love him as that old salt of the street, one of them, one of the good ones, like he is Good Will Fucking Hunting, middle-aged-man version with a newspaper column. And this person said they did not know Cullen at all. He has a career of doing this. Gainfully employed at the Globe. Now, I am not saying the Globe and their cover-ups is at the level of what you got at The Paris Review when Lorin Stein was populating his office with a kind of harem, allegedly (but widely reportedly) fucking his staff, trading sex for book deals at FSG where he also worked (more on FSG shortly), and allegedly anally raping people on his desk at work. Anally raping. On your work desk. The "where" of your anal rapes doesn't matter, of course. But he fucked a lot of people on his desk at work, going by the reports. (By the way: a separate blog about the current situation and staff at The Paris Review is coming.)
The Red Sox pretended to care about black people last year by renaming Yawkey Way, which they never cared about at any other time previously, and only pretended to care for Woke points. Always question timing. Always. To me, if you would only do it at such and such a time, means you get zero credit for it, and, rather, the opposite of credit. The Red Sox will fire Cora, because they have to, but they will find some distancing, slimy way in which to do it. He will be suspended for at least a year, maybe two, so you have to move on. I think there is at least a 50% chance he gets a lifetime ban, which I say he deserves. That's beyond the pale cheating. Makes a mockery of the sport. Strategically, I am glad he will be gone; the loss of draft picks is more damaging. People make uninformed statements about how Jason Varitek should be the next manager, despite the fact that he has never managed in his life, and maybe, I don't know, he should have a practice round or two first? Being a smart catcher is not the same thing as managing, even if a number of smart catchers have made for good managers. They are still different jobs, with different skill sets involved, as well as skill sets that overlap. But the different ones can be biggies. There have not been a lot of lifetime bans in baseball. Ethically, many players and front office people do things worse than what Cora did. But this isn't about ethics--it's about the structurality of the game.
Oscar nominations were released yesterday or the day before--I don't know which--and as I posted on Twitter, one should not care about this at all, because it is rote films and rote directors that win. Just as one should not care about Grammys. Look at the list of Oscar winners. See how many forgettable, cookie-cutter films there are, with some hackneyed, insincere, message? It's a kind of pre-fab drama that wins best picture. Horror films, sci-fi films, comedies don't win. Orson Welles, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock did not win. For instance, consider Psycho. That could never win an Oscar. Why? It pushes the envelope. It's great art that is also great entertainment. No box can house it. It is truly artistically progressive. it is both lurid and artful. It's pure daring right from the title sequence. It is unique. Is it horror? Drama? Thriller? A combo? It breaks form--the heroine dies early. The subject matter is intense and was not done for the 1960 version of Woke points. It's legit, it's awesome, it was thrilling at the time, it will always last.
Do you know how amazing a work of art The Searchers is? Let's break this down. There are a lot of people who read this blog. There are hundreds of new readers every week. I see you signing up. Hello. Thank you. And welcome. We are all friends here. As you are the readers, I give my life to you. You, readers, honest readers, are what matter as much as anything in this world, and are as needed as anything.
A lot of the regular readers here will have seen The Searchers. (And a lot of you have not, given that there are people here of all ages, backgrounds, interests, etc.) So what I'm saying right now will, I think, make you say, yeah, definitely, that's true. The Searchers is one of the great works of art of the last century. In any medium. Now, if you haven't seen it, that might be a red flag thing for you, because what the would-be intellectual elite--the people in publishing, for instance--have accreted throughout culture is this notion that if it is art, it's not accessible. They publish these books that they hail, which are just meaningless clap-trap. A big old pretentious masturbation session from someone with no ability. Then the other people who are as pretentious with no ability, tiny, petty people, laud the book and the person. You buy the book for your book club, you hate it, don't understand a word, read less.
So I want to be careful. The art that matters is art that connects and also entertains. Does not mean it is dumbed down. No--the opposite. This is harder to do. It is far harder to write "A Day in the Life," "Fitty," Beethoven's late string quartets, than some Gertrude Stein crap. Most writers want to prove how smart they are. It's all about their ego, because they are dead inside and quake over the reality of what they are not. They need to be lied to, by others and themselves. I represent truth, I am truth incarnate in my work, no one can deny what I do, hence, they hate me and want me dead (and also why I am going to prevail). It's the contrast. But: if you want to prove to someone how smart you are, it's not about excluding them, trying to show you are better, they are dumber. No. Move people at the level of who they are, their soul. Then they will know how smart you are. Problem is, for me, in publishing, those same people will then want to burn you alive if they could get away with it.
But back to The Searchers. Go see it if you haven't seen it. You probably can watch it on YouTube for like three bucks. It's more than sixty years old, but you are going to be riveted. You are going to be entirely absorbed in the drama. And what a perfect film for our age. Note how it handles racial themes, cultural appropriation, and...what....growth! Remember that--growth? Watch the film, and think about how much better the world would be, how much more audiences would enjoy themselves, if we deal in merit.
So: look at Psycho, look at The Searchers. Entertainment and art, both, in their time. Amazingly prescient and relevant now--so relevant now--sixty years later. And neither had a chance to win jack at the Oscars. Because they were those things.
That is the kind of work that the Oscars hate and/or are oblivious to. Someone scolded me on Twitter saying that they start great discussions about films and there are so many great nominations this year, etc. People will discuss a plate of bananas if everyone is discussing a plate of bananas. There is no amount of stupidity, banality, utter inconsequence, that we will not discuss, if enough other people are discussing it as well. That sidetracks people from getting off their lazy asses and looking around for more meaningful things to think and talk about. Stick something in front of our increasingly corpulent faces (and I know, everything is awesome, and we should be congratulated on reaching four bills now if we say we love this, screw health and screw being cognizant enough--or not brain dead enough--to realize maybe we'd be healthier in every way if we didn't spend so much of our lives staring at our phones and Netflix and social media; binge binge binge binge binge; hmmm; maybe there is a connection between the shape we are in and the word "binge" being a staple of our culture) of enough people, and yeah, they will all talk about it.
And what is the level of that talk? They try to out-wit each other. They write, "Me when I saw such and such was nominated" (only they spell half those words incorrectly) and then stick in the same mindless GIF that 867 other people just stuck in. Un-funny people trying to out-wit each other is painful. This is not discussion.
They need to feel like they are in on something relevant, timely, communal, because they forsook identity. What that thing is is totally irrelevant. It can be any old load of shit. It need not be entertaining, it can be incredibly stupid, so long as it is in front of enough faces. That's all that matters. Merit does not matter, entertainment does not matter, art does not matter. It's all about the numbers, the trending, the sloth--you don't need to go anywhere, there it is--the color, the gender, the race-bating, the not-true-to-life, not-true-to-reality message, etc. Canned messages. Give me a real, fresh message. You don't need to move your brain, there it is. Slapped in front of your face. This should not be confused with worthwhile or intelligent discussion. The Oscars, of course, trend, when the nominations are announced. People who possess no more intellectual curiosity or engagement with the world beyond their Twitter accounts, see this, say their dumb comments. That's the discussion. They act like there are no other films. This is their film input. All they will think.
The sum result, on account of the Oscars: Suck it, cinema.
You could go out and read a book, or check out a Buster Keaton film, try a film noir or two on TCM, get to some funky indie pictures at the local non-profit cinema, start a neighborhood film club that goes a little beyond--I mean, we don't need to have Wednesday nights in suburbia devoted to Brakhage films--the same old, same old, but they are not going to do that, and this Oscar talk/wankery is part of the reason why. Why do you think these films are nominated? Because they are that amazing? Really? Or do you think it's money, payola, it's agenda-vogue, it is rewards for old laurels--which also were often about other things--and lazy narratives?
Do you know how many films are made, of all kinds of budgets? You don't think there were films made really cheaply, with more intelligence, more entertainment value, and that there are thousands of them, and none deserve (remember that word?) to be nominated for an Oscar? You really don't think that all a talentless, repetitive, wholly unoriginal sexist like Martin Scorsese has do is some pretend deep, pretend significant, pretend epic piece of cinematic fecal matter with the right actors--same tired old actors he always uses, in the same, tired, old roles--and he was automatically going to get a Best Picture nomination because of...the Genius of Marty! It's a default setting, the laziest thinking in the laziest age ever.
Of course he was going to. Outside of the echo chamber and our age of the rape and destruction of merit, it's absolutely meaningless as a piece of work. And if you tell me you love it, I tell you that you are the Company Man, and/or that you need to get out and experience things that are actually good (and it's never too late! Isn't that great? Never too late--start today!). I mean, I remember being in sixth grade and I thought Great White was a pretty rocking band. But then I, you know, got out.