Wrapping up the weekend, which marks for me the start of the new week.
Wrote a 2500 word short story. It's not done. it needs work. Made requested changes to three pieces (Carnival of Souls, Arthur Alexander, F. Scott Fitzgerald), which involved quite a bit of addition, just because that's how I decided to do it. There's one more to go. Added to the Alexander piece:
You also can’t sound more Black than Alexander. I’m being reductive, but recognizing what makes a sound a quintessentially Black sound is one of those things we know reductively, as clearly as we know whether it’s day or night, because first we feel it—it’s a matter of the body—and that impels our cognition. Black music initially lodges in bodily portions of us. Shakes the physical core. Has root there. But then it progresses—from gut to heart, through limbs, and to the mind, where we might apply a label. Soul. Rhythm and blues. Jazz. Black music.
We always know it when we hear it, and that doesn’t mean—paradoxically—that the maker of that music has to be African American. Elvis sang Black music, with many more ingredients amalgamated into his particular Southern brew, and he was no usurper, contrary to the social media drum-banging of those who always see a cause first and reality a distant second, if at all. His musical movement was the same—from the body, to the mind, but always first hitting us in the mid-section as real, lived-in. Still, Alexander is the standard-bearer for this form of the game of “when you know, you know.” Sometimes when I encounter someone describing a song or artist as R&B, I laugh—to myself, so as not to be rude—that they think that’s close to the real deal, when Alexander’s music exists.
I was having a conversation with someone about Meatheads Say the Realest Things, and they expressed how much the book had surprised. That they hadn't seen coming what it really is. Which we talked about. When I gave the main character of the novel the name Chad, that wasn't a name you saw at the time as a stand-in for the terms bro and meathead. That didn't exist. I'm also seeing the word "satire" used all the time now. I notice these societal changes in language. I can pinpoint the week. I read all day. I retain everything. I note everything. I can tell you when "should of" started happening, and "literally" became the most overused, misused word in the history of this country. We use the word "literally" because our language skills have devolved such that we don't have any other words to express what we really wish to get over, so "literally" becomes this attempt to press a magic word button that will make up for our linguistic shortcomings. No one else understands this. One of those obvious things that I know, that people don't know. It's right there. Happening all the time.
I bring up satire because that's the way this world was headed, where reality is itself so absurd that we question whether it could be real. Because of the things we do. How we live. How we don't live. That book was so far ahead of its time, and it always will be. Just as it stands outside of time. But the expectation is that a bro, a meathead, is going to get skewered. Ripped on. Taken apart. "Owned," in the parlance of these depressing times. And that's how the novel begins. You think you're there to witness a pasting. To see this guy torn to shreds, for all of his bad qualities. The bad qualities of that kind of guy. Let's face it: many people hate straight white athletic men in today's world. This guy is also not a good guy. He hurts people.
That's our expectation for the book. But as we go along, much happens, and much changes, much dawns--there's a lot of dawning in the novel--and though the book remains true to its ostensible original intention of trashing this guy, or lampooning him--featuring him in a satire that is also true to life--he is revealed--this figure of revulsion, going by our expectations--to be more and more and more like all of us. With the same fears, anxieties, concerns, terrors. He actually does more than most of us, because he does grow. Not in huge ways. He still is what he is. But he's also more than what he was. Do you follow me? Consider, for instance, when he takes his neighbor to her art night at school. Or when he checks on the old man who lost his wife, and is isolating, hunkered in his apartment listening to Beethoven's late string quartets. Or when he knows he's in a relationship where the other person will outgrow him. He accepts that. He lets the moment be the moment, the time they have together be the time they have together. It's such a human book. I think that probably bothers some people, or a certain kind of person. A misandrist, say. Someone who just wants to see this guy get ripped apart. And again, he does hurt people. Family. Friends. An ex. But we all end up in the book.
An excellent op-ed could be written--by me--about how Tom Brady may well end up the modern Jay Gatsby.
I listened to Louis Armstrong's November 1931 recording sessions in Chicago. Today I walked six miles and did thirty push-ups. An odd number. Just the one set. Much caught up in other things. Yesterday I walked three miles, did 200 push-ups, and did three circuits in the Monument. Today marks 2296 days without a drink, or 328 weeks.
My friend Ben in San Francisco sent me this photo of the Sam Cooke book at a Green Apple Books out there.