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Stories, frontiers, covers, uninspiring Sox, V-discs

Sunday 7/26/20

Heading out for a quick workout. Today marks 1512 days, or 216 weeks, without a drink. Wrote a story this morning called "Misplaced Merely." Wrote four last week: "Third Party Skin," "Samwich," "Bracing," "Sand Dollar." All five are for Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives. Two of those five are first person stories, three feature female protagonists. They are each replete and tight. That's what you want--replete, but tight. Replete with what? Well, a lot. This isn't the space to get into that. That's for readers to see when they see them. Whenever that might be.

Last night I thought some more about the sci-fi/horror stories and novels I will write, made notes. Because what's going to happen here is I am going to move from frontier to frontier, which is also what I've essentially been doing for my entire career, and certainly over the past eight years. When I started, I was someone who merely wrote piddling album reviews. By started, I mean when I began writing with some stakes, at age twenty. Soon I moved to fiction. I extend out into jazz after doing the rock stuff, then classical, and film, art, then sports, and I kept adding in all areas. All the kinds of fiction. New kinds of fiction. For a long time my fiction featured male protagonists, and animals, standing in for humans, for a spell. Then that changed, and most of my protagonists became female. Works were of a certain length, then they became of different lengths, and they became very short lengths that were longer than novels at the same time. And then it was all happening at the same time, all being created simultaneously. I wrote Meatheads, another departure. I added op-eds to the nonfiction arsenal. I added horror, a whole new kind of ghost story. I began writing sci-fi. I come to a frontier, I colonize it, I fill it up, I move on to the next frontier. And one of those I will fill up is sci-fi. We'll do mystery, we'll do thrillers, we'll do children's books, we'll do memoir. Fill up the frontiers. I arrive and overrun, I don't stop and stay indefinitely. And I know exactly what a lot of that is going to look like.

Today I added the cover of If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fabula, Fuckery, Hope, to the panel rotation on the front page of this website. On Friday I spoke with a potential new webmaster. My thought was that she is quite smart. Also, confident. She was going to venture inside the guts of the site and ascertain whether she thought she could do what was needed.

Have to figure out what to talk about on Downtown. I know at some point I want to discuss book covers. But really get into it. Not have some glossing conversation. Get into the philosophical importance of a book cover, what it should do, what no covers do now, because this is a conversation, I think, that changes how one might look at a book as physical object, how one might look at what the text of a book can do, too, what it is trying to do and is doing when it's of real value. And you might be like, "What's that have to do with a book cover?" but the answer is a lot. There are similar premises behind both. I think by talking about book covers, I can alter how someone views the words of a book. At another point, I'd like to discuss the art of baseball cards. I have a few other ideas that I'll shape into something as well.

Yesterday's Red Sox game told me most of what I think I'll need to know about this team. Giving your best player the day off, in the second game of the season, in a sixty-game season, after being off for nine months or whatever it was, in a series you need to sweep, tells me the manager is inept. Devers, meanwhile, needs to get in shape. There is something galling to me about men paid millions of dollars to play a child's game, and then being in drastically worse shape than I am in. What is this guy, twenty-three? And you're that out of shape? This is your job, and you can't take care of that most basic part of it? And NESN's thing with piping in the fake crowd noise is enough to make you stop watching. All of it is enough to make you stop watching. The gross, insincere, hypocritical ownership group, the lackluster team, the apparent casual attitude to what has to be a season of urgency, and then you have to listen to fake crowd noise as you're looking at empty seats. Most of us played at least backyard ball as children, and we loved those sounds--the ball into the mitt, the ball off the bat, foot landing on a base. To use a Beatles phrase, get back to the roots. Just leave it as a game. A pure game, with these particular sounds. Or are we so stupid now that we can't concentrate on the game, we can't operate with a degree of quiet? Is that the thinking?

Progress with a couple sections at The Wall Street Journal. Finished an op-ed on purposefully getting lost in the woods and turned that in, but not sure what will happen with it. Atlantic fiction editor commented that the cover for Meatheads looks awesome. He has "Fitty" presently, so we'll see what happens there. I'll write about Art Tatum's V-discs for JazzTimes, but that won't be for a bit, which is fine. What were V-discs? Well, during WWII, there was a recording ban in this country, on account of shellac being rationed for the war effort. But someone had the idea to make music for the troops, with these V-discs, the V standing for victory. The musicians would often include a spoken introduction, wishing the troops well. You couldn't sell these discs, they were not for the general public, and after the war, there was a mandate to destroy them all. You could actually go to jail for having them. But, many survived, including those made by the pianist Art Tatum. If you wanted to put Tatum in hockey terms, you could say he was the Dominik Hasek of pianists. There was nobody like him. No one with his style, his approach. (Having said that, I think Hasek overrated, Tatum underrated.) And his V-disc recordings are some of the best stuff he ever did, but not a lot of people know about it, or even that the recordings exist.


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