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The master of this house

Just because I want to share it, because it is awesome, this is Judy Garland singing "Silent Night" in 1937--so, two years before The Wizard of Oz.



I increasingly think she's every bit the singer that Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald were. Mosaic should do a Judy Garland release. And have me write the liners. We could win Grammys.


I did not run yesterday, and now it is mid-morning on Boxing Day and I am sat in my nighttime uniform of sweatpants that absolutely swim on me--I bought the wrong size--and rugby shirt, drinking Starbucks Christmas coffee that has been sitting out for three days. At three days you're fine. You can be fine at four days. Five days is when it's been too long. Usually.


I read at the coffee shop yesterday. And I talked to some women I have zero interest in. Again, all walks of life, all ages, from college freshmen to late forties because I don't care what your age is if you are smart and can hang and stand out and have character (and are fit and hot, huzzah/naturally). But, it is almost always revealed inside of twenty seconds--or more like four--that I will have no interest in that given person. Can no one say something that just beards me and says, "See? I am different! Wasn't that a clever remark, didn't I make you think, you're going to want to buckle up, kid!" Apparently not. I think there's a better chance that someone out there reads my work, sees it for what it is, reads this, sees it and me for what I am, and we almost begin to start a relationship that way, and then they get in touch, with some courage, conviction, a sense of romance. I pitched an op-ed idea to the New York Daily News this morning. Yesterday I came up with fifteen ideas for 2019. I hate having to do this. Hate it. I don't want to have to create a list of ideas for endless pieces to write. I want to be entirely focused on books, on stories that I know will go to places where people will see them if I do my very best--which I always do--and on television, film, radio, speaking engagements. I don't want to make lists of people to follow-up with, places that owe me piddling amounts of money which I nonetheless need. I just had the best year an artist has ever had, in terms of level and amount of creation, level of innovation. I think if I had to pick a year, it'd be this year for me, or 2012. My 2018 destroys Keats' 1819. But it's like I'm shackled, weighted down. I am not running close to freely. There is nothing in terms of larger societal trends that I am not going to be able to impact and inform when I am de-shackled. While it is hard to keep going, it's also hard to wait, knowing that.


I did go to the Brattle to see Keaton's Steamboat Bill, Jr. I was going to stay for Seven Chances and Sherlock, Jr., but I had a migraine coming on. But Keaton. Damn. That's a perfect film. It is so witty. Its humor hasn't aged a bit, and I am convinced it won't. These comedians I'm told are funny? They are never funny. Who was the masturbator? Louis CK? Come on. He's a boor. He was never funny. He's as funny as a drunk uncle at a Fourth of July barbecue. Could you be less funny than Amy Schumer? Here's the thing: people don't like the stuff they "like." The shows they like, the music they like, they don't actually like any of it. It doesn't entertain them. They just flock to what they're told to flock to, what others flock to. Entertainment need never be entertaining now. It simply needs to be talked about and hyped and pitched and marketed. I do a show that a comedian is on. And he is completely devoid of talent. He's not funny, his delivery is godawful, he just knew people. And this person has like 140K Twitter followers. I went and read some of the tweets. And if I asked anyone, "What do you like about those tweets?" there is not anyone who could give me a good answer, or any answer. They couldn't say they're witty, they provide a different perspective, they have edge, they're clever. Nothing. They're annoying, embarrassing, childish, they smack of "please please please like me" desperation, and they're not posted to entertain or inform. I asked some friends to listen to this person, and each one told me they'd flip the dial or change the station. They're not posted for anyone, these tweets. They're posted for this person, so they can feel like they're getting attention. There is no onus on an artist, and entertainer, to give. When, in reality, that's all art and entertainment is. You give to people. You are the giver. Now, you want to be compensated and I intend to make millions of dollars, and I will, and ideally more. But there is value in what I give you, and no one else can provide my services at the level of those services. There is no value in any of this. Not even a chuckle's worth.


Back to Buster Keaton. He's vastly better than Chaplin. Chaplin's work is dated. Keaton's can't date. It's that smart kind of witty, of funny, too, because they are different. And you know what else? Keaton was more of a Modernist than James Joyce. He was better at being a Modernist. He was also, I would say, one of the greatest athletes of the last 150 years. He had to be. The stuff he does--are you kidding me? Jim Thorpe couldn't do it, Rickey Henderson couldn't do it, Jesse Owens couldn't do it. He couldn't do their things, but the level at which he does his things makes this statement true, I believe. It's a perfect film. And people laughed their asses off. When I go to these things, there are people who extend the pose that is their life to how they behave at the cinema. Hipsters try to be hip, with sarcastic comments. People who fancy themselves cinephiles make sure you know they are laughing--and they alone--after some obscure would-be jape in an art film that isn't actually meant to be funny. I remember when I saw Too Late for Tears--which is a good little noir--at the Brattle after it had been rediscovered. And one of the self-appointed experts at the end stood up and said, louder than was just intended for his smug buddy, "It should have stayed lost." Shut up, dude. But people couldn't help but laugh with Keaton. There's usually polite golf applause at the end of the screenings, but it was an applause explosion yesterday. I'm telling you: People love good things. There isn't anyone there who did not love this more than what they're told to watch on Netflix. You can do this (I don't mean a silent film; I mean something legitimately good), and even something better than this, in 2019, and millions of people will go legitimately bonkers for it. And a lot of those people were not Keaton fans coming in. There were just too many people in their twenties, thirties, and forties for that. And I listen. I hear the conversations before the film starts.


I guess that's an okay Christmas. 2500 words to a story that will always last, some Buster at the Brattle. I spoke to no one. I received no gifts. I try to get through. I should have banged out an intro for a book of short stories I need to write. Not my book. It's for a contest I judged. I don't get the $700 until I do this intro. I've written most of it in my head.


I listened to Charlie Parker, live on Christmas Eve, 1949, at Carnegie Hall. And today I am going to the Revels. I will get the time correct. This is the final song of each performance, the Sussex Mummers' Carol. It has been the final song of each performance save once. They omitted it. I don't know why. This was a while ago, before my time. Like 1978. And what happened was, as the players were leaving the stage, the audience stood up and sang this song to them. The highest notes (1:59, 2:09) recall those of the Hallelujah chorus, but there is something less regal, more of the folk, more of common bonds that are never as common as we might like in this song. Makes me cry each year.