#4 Ain’t That A Kick

I’d take my goddam pants off and maybe jump into the shark pool, but I wouldn’t do anything stupid. Not me. Oh no. Time ain’t beaten the old man enough to claim his bicycle soul. Handlebars are as much a responsibility as wheels are, and don’t believe anything different!

Mr. Spot (he said, a bit formally) let me hear a wee bit of the voiceovers he’s doing in Los Angeles for my goddam audiobook and… wow. It’s actually happening and sounds GOOD! Way different than the standard such fare. OK, I’m impressed.

Then he sends me a reading he did of one of my recent blog posts… as a surprise? Said he was just doing a “casual” test 0f some new recording gear?  I didn’t ask for this! And I sure ain’t complaining!

The Voice? You tell me.

Pets: The Fuzzy, Found Loss

 

Writing. Ahhh, the crackle and crock of rules.
Where the adverbs don’t get ya, the GIFs will. All the never-able-to-pause time after time after time. Like a pre-2016 Cubs World Series, the fans can still play the blues in Chicago, and baseball can self-examine on as many repeating, freezing-frame videos as should never exist…
but it’s TRUE, Joe! So whatcha gonna do?
And what (really) are any such unsolicited uploads showing us anyway?

Time-worn advice #1: “Write what you know!”
ball_wordist01A phrase that once had meaning, the evidence now suggests that showing is what most literistas are knowing.
Very few “mature” writers know time-worn, so I’ll raise my hand every time it comes up and hope not to complain about the Tunnel Over The River Carpal. Rules? In a court of law, they’re already over-ruled. Anywhere else, they’re fully overdone and the last literary garage for scoundrels needing a place to park before dealing with the age of pre-FaceTime selfies.

On-the-way-to-being-time-worn advice #2: “Show, don’t tell!”
I honestly can’t recall how many writers’ exercises and blog posts have focused on this well-meaning touchstone without mentioning its devolvement into poorly justified “shows and tells” as useless as they are clever-less. There’ve been quite a few, ir-re-gard-less! If 300 words about a favorite pet or important social concept now demand more dpi than the visible text, that’s when I imagine reaching for well-hidden and loaded revolvers. Giving one’s best written shot is more about the aim than about the target. In 1966, Charles Whitman demonstrated this from the UT Tower and, today, I doubt that entire squads of shouting, gun-waving Second Amendment’ers—insane or not—are any match for one sharp-eyed sniper who doesn’t waste time describing the bullets.

(Wait. Bullets? Weren’t we talking about words here?
Write what you know? Show, don’t tell?)

Candidate-for-next-time-worn advice #3: “Kill your darlings!”
It can be fun. Very fun, in fact. Liberating, even. It can also keep you from realizing they were probably never your friends to begin with. You blew up MySpace, remember? Or you just started ignoring it like you did all your so-called friends, leaving it rotting in the hell-raisin sun? Sure. I’ll let y’all figger dis shit out on your F’book ownz, ese.

We’ve all seen cats. And dogs. And selfishisms. And music videos. ball_GIFsAnd political diatribes. And parades of mobile devices following scenes of police vs protestors. And promoted tweets. And friend requests. And social media this. And social media that. And trolls and rolls of thyroidian reactive psychosis. And boils and bubblings of covens to the left, nazis to the right, clowns above, jokers below, times a’changin’, chimes a’ragin’, bells a’ringin’, feces a’flingin’. And forever, and virtual forever, and time-lined, and snap-chattered, and terrorized, and terrible white spaces between jumps to reticulate paragraphs, and Artificial Intelligence, and one more hungry cat chasing whatever it can for the camera… amen.

But there are rules. Aren’t there?
And there are inspirational vacuums. Aren’t there?
There are monsters over the bed, heavens become hells, gods become devils, devils become gods, become rules, become runts.
“All in a midnight dreaming,” said one hobo’s voice.
And all on the Cubs leaving the field, watching the last fans disappear, all of them thinking, “Next year. There’s always next year.”

Without pain there is nothing.
With contemporary literary rules, even less.
7000 ding dang dead darlings in full dystopianist disarray?
Yes, Mr. DeMille.
New Dark Ages will welcome every clown’s closeup.

Evaluating Voltage Via Vulgationism

It might be harder than it sounds cuz I’m sure it’s harder than it looks no matter who’s measured the current. In merry, Anglican England where a Man was a Mann, folks used to bring it to Jerome rather often and they were happy. “Do Wahs” and “Diddys” neither traumatized nor upset anyone perusing a document called a vulgate, as far as I know.

Then there’s Issue #150 (March 8, 2017) of Joe Carducci’s “The New Vulgate”—a dense blog built upon various violations of rock & roll, punk rock, alternative rock, oldtime (and sometimes newtime) pop radio, the decline of freeform radio, the rise of form-fit financial foolery, left-wing politics, right-wing politics, la la libertarianism, film history, factual fandangos… all the news that both mainstream and anti-mainstream press are hell bent on remaining clueless about so long as the shoes fit. It worked for Constitutionalism, Communism, Spiritualism and the new post-McCarthyism.

open_act10.1Mr. Carducci is the author of “Rock and the Pop Narcotic” and “Stone Male: Requiem for the Living Picture.” No telling if he intended it to appear but I’ll assume that an unnamed friend of mine submitted the unsolicited DaFoAC excerpt to the Vulgate, or maybe Joe just downloaded the ebook and read the damn thing. Stranger and more valiant things have happened in the literary world.

Surviving Civilization? That’s So… Wrong…

bk_cov02…since it was meant to decline. Eventually, many parts of it would decline as would body parts and their various functions. As it did, ideas evolved and books were often written. The literary world only has itself to blame for trying to validate perpetual dynamics. Without undetermined motion we are lost, be existence Titanic or Atomic.

In the midst of all this undetermined mess, I continue with “Decline and Fall of Alternative Civilization”—the novel that isn’t or perhaps shouldn’t be. I’m not attracted to perfection anymore. I guess it was a good idea at one time but all things do indeed pass. And sometimes they fall from the sky in the mid-1990s like “…an air played on the low strings of a fiddle, a viola-toned inflection, the native Irish rebelling against an unfortunate English tongue…” and “…poised on the brink of jailbreak.”

Lofty? You betcha. Improbable? Absolutely. Or maybe more like a flight attendant squeezed dry as airline crackers and “…like Icarus, blasted by wing-melting heat and fallen from grace with flight…” to be “…kicked under a pile of yesterday’s punch lines.” Hoowee! Ain’t that some kickin’ in literary pants that might be hidin’ the doodoo? Proud or not, we all have to sit on our own gamey thrones now and then.

DaFoAC is as finished as it will be. I’m OK with that. And, yes, after a hefty revision, it’s a *super-econo* ebook for awhile. Such a deal. Amazon (CHEAP!); Smashwords (FREE!); uh huh; for awhile; while it’s being pushed into its audiobook version. Uh huh; and it’ll be as optimistically wrong as literary-ness is ever gonna be.

Disclosure: I was never a Philosophy student; nor was I a college graduate who annoyed Mr. Vonnegut’s semi-colonoscopy woes. These parts of life just whacked me from elsewhere without apologizing for any wrongness. Call me crazy. You definitely can’t go wrong with that (but newfangled laws of physics’ll get ya every time).

Hate. The Literary Treat.

Uh huh. First, you can hate me for using the word *HATE* in a blog title. I ball_whiteain’t no nazi or anti-hater or alt-anything, nor do I rely on controversies of political statements or arguments. And let’s face it… that kind of dialectic seems to be all the rage these days. If I were that type of writer I’d probably get a $250,000 publishing advance from Simon & Schuster too; or be hiring ghosters to pound me some unpresidented, rogue-going memoirs; or forcing Kurt Vonnegut to bang on his coffin lid to bitch at me, “Hey, I told you once before. Stop that.”

Semicolons and NYT bestseller listicles aside, I’m again praising the wrongly roads of writing. Yes, that does have a wring:

“Why’d you tell like this when you could’ve shown like that?” Hate me.
The 50 gray greases of shading backstory? Hate me.
“That could’ve all been effective dialog…” So. Hate me.
“Consider your audience age group…” Hate me.
“But what genre are you trying to market across?” Hate me. Aisle 6.
“If only you’d created recognizable characters…” Yeah. Hate me.
Once upon a time, under a spreading chestnut, a tree. Hating me.
“There are no dark and stormy knights. Maybe soccer?” Goal. Hate me.
“You should flesh out the dystopian aspects…” No. Hate me.
“Make it more contemporary retro and…” Hate me. Again.
Darling fields alive with standing waves of gravure. Hated. ⓒ
“But no one gets these cultural references…” Not. Hate me.
“I’d stay away from such violent words…” Nouns. Hate me.
They were the best of mimes and the worst of mimes. (hatefully)
Yes, I stole that baby’s shoes. Never. Hate me.
“Fiction? Real? Surely this never happened…” Hate me. Again. Again.
“Too many notes. It’ll never be a hit.” Suspend me. Hate me.
“Blasphemy! You must capitalize these names!” Hate me. A cross, a fire.
“‘Fuck!’ he said, ‘One exclamation too many!'” Hate me!
Ashburying OK fields of great BJ-filled dicks. The Haight of electric hate.
Diversity, the last exits of Sunnybrook foundries. Hating me. Always.
“Tolkien was a genius. Have you read The Lard of…?” Hate. Me. And yourself.
The hysterectomies of proper. summer. writer. yawns. Hate. Fertilized.
Horrors, he said. Here’s Johnny. Marching home. Hate. A gazebo.
ARC: Macho Feminist Magic Aversion Therapy. Hate. The drag & daily.
“Queries: 7000 Macedonian agents with tails.” Hate. No reply.

There’s never been a good reason to fear literary failure. It’s a kind ofball_black declining and falling that will never stop, and usually better than anything labeled as the next big “new-thing-that-used-to-be-good!” cuz it’s never new, and definitely not good.

And by the way, Mr. Vonnegut, screw you; I didn’t go to college.

Tractatus Von Charybdis…

…und drang revisionist mingus,
mas ah um the wrongest way possible.

“The only things of value in the car were a paperback copy of Finnegans Wake and a borrowed hardback of Fear of Flying. She had read both books but the Erica Jong had one day plummeted from a hole in the floorboard during a parking maneuver in the rain. Kneeling in the gutter, she reached underneath and rescued it from a pothole-sized lake. Its owner wouldn’t be too thrilled upon its return. June never went to the impound yard to claim her nonpareil. It did, however, prompt her to write a thesis titled:

Fifty Ways To Spell Nietzsche
or
Why I Just Kant

A critical dissertation on 20th century reasoning as defined by elements of dystopian ideologies and their resulting cultural ethics, the paper was marked ‘Clever, but incomplete?’

The professor must have driven a Volvo. Or maybe he never had to wait tables. He probably had a spouse’s car to borrow or a AAA card eliminating worries about terms of transportation that kept him from considering how a broken-down Buick could be the main determiner of fate. Attempting to defend her treatise, she watched the professor place both elbows on the desk (the fingertips of both hands together) and rest his chin on the hook of his thumbs. His eyes glazed over in an institutional When-will-you-please-finish-torturing-me? manner. Finally, he raised his head and said, as if quoting from the Chilton Manual of College Instructors, ‘That, my dear girl, is what Mechanics is for. You need to pay closer attention to Pure Reason.’

It was not the first time she understood murder but she stifled a response.”

—the unthinkable Chaper III

A Lofty Log…

…of improbable, grand revisions.
Doing it all wrong and not any other way.

“…poetry was random and […] all of a king’s horses and all of a king’s men could storm in a light brigade and storm and storm and keep on stormin’ and it might all amount to much noise but very little sound. John Steinbeck proposed the automatic story in one of his novels, wherein an eyeful of pages open to let in an earful of tales. He understood that the twists of fate made patterns that patterned out to yet more patterns. One line to another, to a moiré, to a curving of space. This was the natural reinforcement of the infinite—Steinbeck’s Law: to let infinity take care of itself. The random perceptions, inflections, twitchings of ideas could neither be forced onto page nor into the air nor across anything resembling cyberspace. They could be wrestled with but once they are body-slammed no poetry results and only words have been yelled by thyroidian dwarves and fullback artistes who ache to be the village blacksmith smashing a metal dream into its hard shape. But smithies were hard to come by these days and such Neanderthal beauty was even more difficult to approximate.” 

—the unthinkable Chaper VIII

One Perfect Second

marilyn00I resisted posting this because I’d already circulated it a bit, and some poet friends had lately been “de-blogging” since a number of journals frown on such entries as “previously published works.” This is nothing new, but I’ve never considered myself a dedicated poet and I won’t be able to sleep until I do this, even if it is the day after her birthday.

In 1953, Alfred Eisenstadt shot the timeless photos of Marilyn Monroe at home for LIFE Magazine. Despite the pure magic of those images, by today’s standards Ms. Monroe would be passed over by the casting agents and be advised to “augment” her looks by any means necessary. Personally, I would rather have one much imperfect Marilyn than thousands of selfie-validated, booty-praised and perfectly ’shopped faces that glow in the fading stream of Snapchats.

Light. Time. Breath. Without them our memories mean nothing.

f/16 ∞

I knew my kingdom, not on any map 
‘Twas there sitting on Eisenstadt’s lap
Focus, depth, infinity’s mile 
He never asked me once to smile

Floatin’ Like A Butterfly!

The other day I got caught up in some “discussions” on the subject of Sports vs The Arts. I’m not a huge sports fan but I do enjoy the concept of the game and of competition itself. This is not an endorsement of “militarism 101,” as a certain friend of mine will insist. If anything, fair sports play tends to defuse belligerence and violent hostility rather than promote it. Although, I do agree with her that the NFL is a crock of capitalistic shit and, furthermore, it’s my opinion that professional American sports are headed for a toppling of financial importance. But that’s a whole ‘nother rant, and I’m not here to inflict the evils of the game onto its players. Heroes or villains, they’re human beings who have their own share of problems that most non-players won’t understand.

Another friend, who I didn’t suspect of having any affinity for sports, put on the table the words of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton:

“…I just want to become relatable, you know what I’m saying? It’s bigger than race. It’s more so of opening up a door for guys that don’t want to be labeled, that have bigger views and say: ‘Well, I’m in this situation, I’m living in this environment right now, but I also want to be an artist, I want to be a poet. But I don’t have the means, you know, to necessarily do the right things at this point.’ As for me, I just want to give those people hope.”

ali01Smart man. Sounds like he’s got some stories to tell and I hope he writes them down. I’ll read that book, just as I’ve read classic sports writing by guys like Roger Angell and Troy Soos (whose novel “Hanging Curve” I recommend highly). But this whole thing made me remember the poetry of one of America’s greatest athletes and, like it or not, purveyors of pugilism, Muhammad Ali. I don’t care what anyone says, Ali’s poetry was easily on par with the comic verse of Ernest Thayer:

“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale;
Handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail;
Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick;
I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

and

“Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat.
If Liston goes back an inch farther, he’ll end up in a ringside seat.
Clay swings to the left, Clay swings to the right!
Look at Cassius carry the fight!
Liston keeps backing, but there’s not enough room.
It’s a matter of time until Clay lowers the boom.
Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing!
And the punch raises the bear clear out of the ring.
Yes the crowd did not dream when they laid down their money
that they would see a total eclipse of the Sonny.”

Once reviled, the man persevered and proved he was a king. He remains so. The Lord of The Ring. A great American who stood up, ready to fight for what he believed, and knew how he wanted to be remembered:

“I’d like for them to say he took a few cups of love, he took one tablespoon of patience, one teaspoon of generosity, one pint of kindness, he took one quart of laughter, one pinch of concern, and then he mixed willingness with happiness. He added lots of faith and he stirred it up well. Then he spread it over the span of a lifetime and he served to each and every deserving person he met.”

I salute you, Muhammad. Against the world may you have the last word:

“I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be who I wanna be and think what I wanna think.”

Prologue: Decline and Fall of Alternative Civilization

This is a re-edit of the first of SPOT’S audio files from the book project. There’s more to come (I’ve heard them—just not ready to post here yet) and so far I like where things are going. Of course, I’m prejudiced because it’s my words, but I really like this reading!