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The man on the street

Thursday 3/5/20

* Hank Aaron had more than 700 more total bases than anyone else. This strikes me as an amazing stat. 700 total bases represents two all-time top seasons. (300 total bases is a stud season, 400 is hardly ever achieved; you can be a Hall of Fame player and never have a 300 total base season--Carlton Fisk never had one, for instance.)

* The actual worst way to die, and the way I am headed, is to die alone and unloved. But the physically worst way to die, I believe, is of thirst.

* This morning there was a very drunk man outside in the street screaming for quite some time, beginning at six. I heard a man in a car say, "You have to get out of the street, you're blocking traffic." So, I went downstairs and outside to see if the man needed help. I asked him this. He told me he was going to shoot me. I don't think he had a gun, but I did deliberate for a few seconds whether maybe this would just be easier, before deciding, no, I was not certain yet, so I came back up upstairs and began writing.

* Rich asked me today about the promo they do on Downtown, a kind of March Madness thing where they pit guests against each other in a bracket. I had said last year I didn't want to do this again. Not with the way things are in this hell. He's a good guy, so he sent me a nice note asking how I felt this year. This was my answer: "I don't mean to be a spoilsport, but yes, do leave me out. It doesn't make me cross or anything, I just don't need yet another reminder of how disliked I am or how apathetic the world is to what I do at present. It's enough when I see the numbers on my FB author page, my blog, Twitter, and of course book sales with the blackballing. Nobody is going to vote for me anyway, and I put a lot of time into the show over the years, and I suppose on one level it also angers me to see that little support or interest from people I feel like I give a lot to every week in ways that no one else does. I know it's meant in fun and it should be this benign thing, but with everything else I face right now, it becomes one more bad thing, or a bad indication, and I need to cut out the ones that I can."

* I climbed the Monument yesterday five times which marks the first time I've climbed at least five times for seven days in a row. I intend to climb again in a little while.

* I wrote a 2000 word essay this morning for the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew on March 30. The piece is called "Groove Chimera: Miles Davis's Bitches Brew and the Lost Art of Risk. A few lines: "What Davis left out of his many remarks on race was that it wasn’t just white hippie kids buying the rock and roll of the time, it was black youth, and, frankly, black people of all ages, because the music of James Brown, Sly Stone, Hendrix, Sam Cooke a while before, possessed a sophistication that the Bach of Art of Fugue would have understood. A unit like Led Zeppelin were de rigor, needlessly loud ham-fisters compared to these people. With Bitches Brew, Davis was bringing rock and roll home again. But whereas Big Joe Turner and Chuck Berry had done that in the early and mid-1950s with rhythm and blues, Davis did it with jazz. And in doing so, he burned away color lines with this form of molten music that could also cool you down, take away your post-dance sweats without giving you the chills."

* I pitched something on an upcoming female underworld crime noir film set in Maine and also Rebel Without a Cause as the ultimate American Easter film because I need money. I have to do so much at once. Write the pieces, write 200 letters to get one thing assigned, write the books, write the short stories, write the letters to God knows how many people who hate me to get try to just get one of them to treat the work fairly, to just treat the work, to have it just be about the work, write the blogs. And I'm reading yesterday all of these women in publishing carping on Facebook about how exhausted women are because of Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the race and two old white guys remaining, and patriarchy. That exhausts you? You have no idea what exhaustion is. And I'm supposed to think I'm fortunate and it's easy for me because I am a white male, when the person most discriminated against is this white male in this industry. But you're exhausted? I read someone else carping about how awful it was, and how they wept, that a literary magazine sent them a rejection note on the eve of AWP, the most stressful AWP ever (she actually called a conference where these people get together the most stressful conference of this kind yet), and wasn't that awful? And so many of these other people chime in with "I'm sorry that happened to you." "Hugs and kisses." "Prayers." What world do these people live in? I published fiction in Harper's, Glimmer Train, an op-ed in the LA Times, a feature in Sports Illustrated, a feature in Rolling Stone, etc., simultaneously, and because I did that, an industry redoubled efforts to end my life and career. To suppress me. Because someone could do that and he was not one of them. And I fought, and I worked harder, somehow, I do every day. And here is this woman whining about receiving a rejection for what I'm sure, too, is a shitty story, on the eve of a conference. What would they say if any of this had happened to them? But I just keep trying, man. Completely alone. While they whine about the CVS being sold out of hand sanitizer, I run up and down a 300-stair obelisk so my heart will not give out as I keep fighting, keep creating. But patriarchy, right?

* Rich did send me a note the other day, saying better days were ahead, talent would win out. Which meant something to me. I know there is not going to be support from people I've known, people in the past I've tried to think of as friends or family, that it is going to have to almost all come from me and me alone. But hearing things like this can be helpful, they can be another little breeze in my storm-drenched sails. Someone else said that for the sake of mankind I must keep going. There's not a lot to go on, you know? Like, when I send around the cover of my new book to people over text, you know how rare it is for anyone to even respond? To say, "Nice." There was someone I knew for decades years, and I sent them all my stories. Emailed them. And they wouldn't read them. Any. That's pretty typical. It wasn't just wounding, though the wounding was significant. It's the larger concern of can people not care about things that are truly great, and even if some can, can I ever get the numbers I need to do what I'm trying to do, which is also the kind of numbers I know the work merits? It's always more than the one thing. People take me for granted because of my mind and strength and my character. They always feel I'm a constant, I'll always be there, like the weather, the sun in the sky, the force of nature. I'm a good man, and I forgive, but I wonder if anyone I have ever known knows there comes a point for me--I know precisely when it happens--when it is all over, when it is done, when they take away the part of me that was the part of me that had something to do with them. At that point, it can never come back. It's like the life that just left a body. The body a second later feels the same, it's just not breathing. But to the touch it feels the same. But nothing in the universe--that we know of, anyway--can put the life back in that body. And that is how it is for me, with some of the people I have known. And there is a betrayal element as well, and also a playing off of things that have happened in the past, with Molly, and things that happen in the present, with publishing. Once that part of me is gone, there is nothing that could make me care again. To do so would be to betray my ethics, my character, and even my own work. I would walk across a continent of fire before I would betray my work. I would live alone in a black hole in space for infinity before I would betray my work.

* Moving on. Here is the Downtown segment from Tuesday. It is a funny one, but there are serious points that are telling, I think, and valuable. And this is me back again being interviewed on the Songs of Note podcast, this time about the Who's Live at Leeds version of "My Generation." The conversation is over forty-five minutes long.

* It's later now. I walked five miles, climbed the Monument five more times. Proofed, fixed "Room Dark." That is a major piece of work. The level is so high now. I like how the first word of the title, too, becomes an adjective, while the second word is adjective and noun. "Room" is a soul-penetrative descriptor of the story's balance and the relationship context within which it exists. Went to the Brattle to see Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train.

* I need to get some more money coming in.

* Well, that's a peppy little blog post, isn't it? Here, have a song. And an eyeful of James Dean's red jacket.

* No quit now, no quarter later. No quit now, no quarter later. No quit now, no quarter later. Say it, live it, be it. No quit now, no quarter later.


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