I saw that the Cape Ann Brewery of Gloucester has closed on account of the pandemic. I believe the manner in which the pandemic has been handled will do far more harm over the long term than COVID would have in the short term if so many areas of life had not been shut down. Why do we never speak of how people make themselves obese? Never walk a mile, let alone run their stairs? Why do we never speak of the often total neglect people have for their mental health, and the harm that causes not only them, but others? In my business, I pay an incalculable price for the neglected mental health of many people across an industry. Their lack of mental health and disregard of mental health controls so much in my life. Everything. But I am to walk outside in the fresh air, keeping my heart strong, so that I can endure what is happening to me, with a piece of cloth over my face, when I am nowhere near anyone, to humor these people? No. Work on not taking my life apart with your zeal for and encouragement of different forms of disease, which are far more internecine, and then come talk to me.
One cannot convince me that there are better ways to go than physical fitness, mental health, listening to Billie Holiday, reading Proust, creating, growing, walking hundreds of miles, running thousands of stairs, in the fresh air, breathing it deeply into one's lungs. Everyone does that, COVID hardly matters, and we're a lot fitter in every single way that counts. For starters.
I have been revising a book this week called Glue God: Essays for Repairing a Broken Self. The pieces were written in the years 2013-2016, and they document what I did to keep myself not only going, but to grow. Evolve. The essays are oriented around specific ideas--museums in one instance, Christmas in another, the Beatles and the White Album. That is their point of contact. In other words, it's not a memoir--I will do that--those--later--but rather a study in those points of contact, with themes that run throughout the book. I wanted to create a peerless volume of the personal essay form, to do for that form in my century what Montaigne did for that form in his.
One of the essays details a trip to Rockport over Christmas some years back, after I had lost my house. I returned to be in that spot--staying at an inn--so that the spot would not be lost to me. I would have it, still, until I returned for good. It was something I needed to do, or try to do. I arrived in town at night, and within ten minutes of putting my bag in my room, I had a massive panic attack, and I fled back to the train. The trauma--it was so fresh. But I didn't go all the way back to Boston, and instead traveled a single stop, to Gloucester. I went to the Cape Ann Brewery, a place that was comfortable to me, close to the house of my favorite painter, Fitz Henry Lane. And I calmed down there, then returned to Rockport. I could not finish my stay, but I was there one night, and wouldn't you know, but Scrooge came on the TV at like one in the morning. It meant something to me to be able to watch it in Rockport. In the morning I went for a run. No one was out. Upon my return to the inn, there was this woman--and it's all in the essay--who started speaking to me as she took her dog out. She had just moved to the town, had a child with special needs, and she asked me about myself, so I told her a bit about what I was doing. She said to me, "You look like a man trying to put his soul back together again." Anyway. It's in the book. A shame about the Cape Ann Brewery. I'm wearing a sweatshirt from there on the front page of this website, though that sweatshirt was thrown away by a creature in my building last year.
It is my niece's first birthday in a few days, and I did what I've been doing for my sister's kids and writing a little note in their cards to their future selves. My sister saves the cards for the kids--not just mine, but everyone's--so they can see them later. I sent my niece an Eeyore stuffed animal. I don't know if this is very readable--not a great image, and my handwriting is rather disastrous--but the gist is is that Eeyore is pretty cool I think not because he's so glum. That's not really Eeyore's thing. People who don't read the stories think it is, but that's not accurate. Eeyore's thing is facing things heading on, as they are, then trying to find solutions, and that often involves helping out his friends, looking out for them, which is how Eeyore also ultimately looks out for himself, because that's who he is. You have to understand who you are, and you have to be true to who you are, as you work on improving who you are. And he does and he is and he does. When my biological mother gave me up, she sent me into the world with a Winnie the Pooh doll. I've always wondered where she got it. Did she buy it? Did a nurse have one handy and give it to the both of us? Did she go shopping for it for me? But I've always really like Eeyore and admired him, and I think he's funny, too. You'd think Owl would be super smart, being an owl, but he's actually not that owlish. Eeyore is more owlish.
In this country, one encounters bad poetry pushed into the public consciousness because of race, agenda, connection, pandering, not merit, and one must pretend that it is significant, genius, or else one is a bad person, and not simply a person who doesn't want to pretend that what is true is not true. This is awful writing: "The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it – if only we are brave enough to be it." There are no less than two mixed metaphors in the first line. It's the stuff of cliched verse for the high school literary magazine, with a silly bad Beat poetry element. There will, of course, be a big book deal. Racial politics. Not ability. The repetition of "it" is just lazy; speaks to lack of imagination. There is a Primal Scream song called "Rise" where they can't be bothered to write a chorus beyond saying the word "rise" over and over again. This is similar.
Why must we lie to ourselves? Why must we deny truth? Why can't we let things be what they are? Why can't we compete on a real level playing field? Why are we so terrified of having to be judged by our abilities? By merit? Is it because there is no talent anymore? So we need to be carried by other factors? What if you don't have those factors in your favor? You're screwed? Because that is the real discrimination. Is there no one born with talent who is willing to devote the thousands and thousands of hours to developing the talent so that it has valiance for people? True valiance. Not "I heard the tenth grade level poem and cried and what a genius" pretend valiance.
This is the problem. That we subject reality to a kind of rapine, because we will not deal in reality. We brutalize reality, we try to bury reality, and woe is the person who answers to reality, who tries to deal with reality, who makes no pretense of abnegating reality and will not so much as go through the motions of lying or self-deception. But that person is who we truly need. We need their vision. Their words. Their leadership. Their example. Their courage. Their purpose. Their wisdom.
How about we earn things? Imagine that. What a concept. How about we compete, based upon our actual skills?
Moving on. Putting together a feature pitch on Charlie Christian, arguing that his Minton's sessions of 1941 are the most important guitar recordings ever made. I haven't been documenting what I've been doing of late on here because I had been saving it up for a doozy of an entry, but now things are getting away from me a touch, as I've been creating so much. I will get to it later. Walked four miles today, three yesterday. Low numbers, but the salient point is that there has been something of some substance every single day since at least Christmas Eve. I will see how long I can keep that going.