top of page

The next target

Tuesday 9/28/21

Heard a (brief) discussion tonight about Tom Brady's best moment--his most Brady-esque moment, is how I think the talk was intended. What I'll say is that Brady's achievement last year may well be the most remarkable anyone's done in American professional sports. It's not seen that way yet--but it's going to age that way. At his age, going to a new team after two decades, a perennial sad sack of a team, with the COVID situation and all of that meant in terms of less prep work going into the season, then beating who he beat to win it all...that's tough to top. But his most emblematic performance, to me--and other contenders are that fourth quarter against the Seahawks, the AFC title game against the Chiefs, and of course 28-3--is the Snow Bowl game.

I don't think, even now, people have a clue how good Brady is and has been. On this hockey history discussion forum, people were debating if he was as good as Jordan and Gretzky, and no one thought he was close. They said he never threw the ball far enough. Other guys had more talent. That's bullshit. I'll tell you what: people look at athletic talent as what I look at lowest common denominator strengths, if you will. Speed. Size. They don't look at vision. They don't look at accuracy. The don't look at a quarterback's release. Where he puts the ball. The decisions he makes. What he sees that others do not. What he senses that others do not. No one ever cites the amount of ice traveled for a Gretzky assist. Whether it goes ten feet or twenty feet. Because that's not what it's about. The game manager thing about Brady was never close to true. He came out in the second half of the Snow Bowl game, and the Patriots--obviously in the snow--threw on every single play, just about. Did they run the ball more than twice in that second half? Who throws in that weather? And he was just lighting up the yard. That was as un-game manager as you can be.

I don't get caught up in the Brady and Belichick stuff. A lot of sports fans are children. That is, adults who have never grown up. Life changes. Situations change. Desires change. We find new ways to reinvigorate ourselves. We recognize what persists, we recognize what has come to an end. We look for new challenges. We can come back to our memories later, when time has played its part in letting them be the best memories that they can be. We assess a situation, we accept life and reality as it is. That doesn't mean we give in. We never give in. We forge forward. We recognize that goodbyes can be a part of the journey, too. Had Brady stayed in New England, I don't think they would have won again. That was over. It wasn't going to work anymore. Not everything is this way. Relationships can be. Working relationships. Marriages. I hope I find someone amazing, and I spend fifty years with her. But I'm also changing, I'm always moving forward. It's what drives me. I'll be honest: this Sam Cooke book just came out, and I feel weird talking about it. I can speak brilliantly about it, and that's what I'm doing a bunch of lately. But what do I care about? There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness. The new stories like "Earwax" that I'm doing now. Finding a home for Longer on the Inside. Getting this Beatles book deal. Getting Cheer Pack slated in someone's publication schedule. Doing this book on British rhythm and blues. Getting the Billie Holiday book commissioned. Moving the first essay collection. Writing EU. Taking down this system.

I get that you have to sell your work. And believe me, I want to be in a position where I'm selling a million copies of something, and I will flog that product. But I won't say the same thing twice about it. You can interview me a thousand times about a work of mine, and I promise each time that I'll give you a new work of art about the work. Tape the conversation. Save it. Because that will itself be a new work. I have an endless amount to give. An endless amount to invent. But I'll tell you this: there is no way I could talk about a book of mine that had come out, or a book of mine that had been turned into this huge movie or Netflix series, if I was not creating dozens and dozens of new works at the same time. I wouldn't be able to live with myself. I'd feel like a loser. I always need to be making the best art there has ever been. And if I made the best art ever last week, and I haven't made the best art ever this week, I'm failing. I'm not being who I am. Because that is exactly who I am. And I think that's why I can change the world to the good more than anyone ever has. I believe that. I hope I get the chance. Because I think that's all I need.

But yeah, you just move on. Live your life like a thrown knife. And always hit your next fucking target. It's always about the one after that anyway.

I started an excellent new story this morning, by the way. There's a lot being done at once right now.

Ran another 3000 stairs.

Went to Starbucks and gave that nice woman there some mini-pumpkins I'd gotten at Trader Joe's. To decorate her apartment. If she wanted.

Here's tonight's Downtown segment, which was entirely about the Sam Cooke book.

I'm doing five guest posts over on the 33 1/3 blog as supplementary material for the new Sam Cooke book. I think the biggest thing for me in writing anything is connecting with people. Leaving no one out. Writing so that everyone can see themselves in the work. Whether that's with fiction or nonfiction.

Regarding the latter, the way I would say it works, almost without exception, at every venue, is that if you don't have a prior interest in the subject matter, you're not going to get anything out of what you read. The piece on Beethoven is for Beethoven people; the Faulkner piece for Faulkner people; the Michael Jordan piece for basketball people. You're not going to make it through, even, if that stuff isn't already your stuff.

That's not how I believe in writing. My policy is no reader left behind. One way I do that is the thing I'm "most" writing about, in an exacting, thorough, learned manner, isn't really the thing I'm truly writing about, in another way. I'm writing about something beyond that thing. As with everything I do, these five blog posts were written in that spirit, with that aim. I think they're a lot different than what other people do, and I think they're pretty good. Here's the first one, which went up today.

Do better tomorrow. Light these fuckers up. You're not here to lose to bigots who can't touch a single thing you do.

bottom of page