First Atlantic

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If I knew how to play an instrument with any proficiency, I would start a Grand Funk Railroad tribute band. I don’t know why, other than the fact that there are too many Kiss tribute bands, and it seemed like a logical next step for me.

If you’ve ever suffered from heatstroke, please email me so I can figure out if I need medical attention or not. Actually, I’m not too bad today, but I’ve been pretty fucked up all weekend from the heat. I know that everywhere in the world it’s a cliche joke to mention how hot or cold it is, and then support the statement with a bunch of wild exaggerations about frying eggs on the sidewalk or whatever. I’ll spare this to be perfectly clear. Luckily I spent the whole day today on my ass, with a fan pointed right at me and drinking tons of water.

I spent all day Friday exploiting the MTA one-day unlimited ride pass, trying to find various bookstores and Beat landmarks like Chumley’s (MIA) and the White Horse (there, but somewhat yuppified.) There’s no story to tell except that I managed to leave the house and blow the whole day, most of it in air-conditioned subway cars. I brought a notebook and wrote, but this wasn’t a work day. It was a day of exploration and sort of a test to see how well I could find disparate points on a map of Manhattan and navigate between them with the subway. So, I did okay.

Marie’s birthday was Saturday, and we went out for dinner on Friday, to some place I don’t remember. I do remember we ate on a nice patio, and I ordered some pretty incredible bluefish. We also walked to Incommunicado Press a new publisher Michael mentioned that’s on the lower east side. If you’re into new and out there fiction, you should check out their site. We left with an armful of books.

I spent all day Saturday at Coney Island, my first time. It’s hard to describe without getting all retarded, but it was everything I expected: lots of people, lots of rides, lots of food. I liked everything, but suffered from some tremendous heat problems that completely fucked with my head on and off. Despite that, we rode the Cyclone, the log flume, a couple of the throw-you-around-in-a-little-car-until-you-puke rides, and the big car that crawls up a tower and gives you a panaromic view of the whole beach.

We also went on the boardwalk, and saw the ocean. It was actually the first time I’d seen the Atlantic, so we went up to the water and got our feet wet. It reminded me of the first time I really saw the Pacific a few years ago, in Oregon. Beaches in general remind me of Lake Michigan and the Michigan dunes, where my dad used to take us when we were kids. There were a lot of small lakes in Edwardsburg, but Lake Michigan was the first huge, nothing-on-the-horizon lake where we used to swim.

Dammit, I had this huge thought I needed to convey, and then I started reading something else for like an hour. You’re going to have to figure the rest of this out.

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Three dollar shake

There are days when nothing happens, nothing eventful, and I can’t say “I went to the mall” or “I went to the movies” or whatever. And oddly enough, those times seem to happen more frequently when I’m working on Rumored to Exist. I think it’s because when I work on Summer Rain, I actually write for 8 hours straight sometimes, interrupted only by breaks for food, drink, the restroom, or a CD change. So when I do that, there seems to be a greater sense of accomplishment. But when I work on Rumored, there’s a lot of dead space, a lot of looking at books and watching parts of movies and doing web searches and just fucking around in general. Because with Rumored, it could take me all day to pull together 30 lines of writing, 18 of which suck and need to be re-written. It’s satisfying to finally read something that has come together after a lot of work, but it’s also very frustrating to feel like I’m wasting away my time.

I haven’t been reading, and it’s a dangerous situation. I feel like I need to get buried in some books to guide me and reinforce that I’m supposed to be writing a book right now. But I feel like I’ll start ripping off somebody else’s stuff if I do start reading. I tore through some Leyner recently, and it got me started on how cool I could make things, but it also embedded a lot of references in my mind that I don’t want to rip off. None of his books really remind me of Rumored in their structure; the old stuff is much more experimental, and the newer stuff is more linear and plot-constructed. I thought about getting into some Burroughs, but it’s the same problem, and I don’t want to invest all of my creative energy into working through _Nova Express_ or something. I need to start reading obscure technical manuals, almanacs, history texts, cancer handbooks, power tool instruction manuals, and other crap that will get my mind churned up enough to work on new ideas.

I started cataloging new ideas in a leatherbound journal that Marie got me a few months ago. It’s a little unlined book that’s perfect for me to brainstorm a few pages of idiotic ideas while I’m watching TV or whatever. I’m not doing a good job in general with the 87 different formats of journal I’m keeping, but I figure this will be an interesting experience.

IHOP has a $3 milkshake, which is a great shake, but I’m not sure if it’s worth $3. There’s an IHOP in the Bronx (take the 1 train to 231st) and it’s one of the few portals to my previous life. Everything in Manhattan is different, but every IHOP is almost exactly the same. This one is a little weird – no peaked churchlike ceiling – but it’s still a fucking IHOP. Four syrups, big pot of coffee, bizarre blue and wood color scheme – it’s all there. I think we’ve eaten there almost every week since my arrival. There’s no Denny’s, no 7-Eleven, no giant malls with parking lots and air-conditioned concourses. I guess I can get used to that (although I miss Slurpees) but it’s cool to go to the old, familiar International House of Pancakes and eat about 2000 calories of junk.

That’s all.

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Rumor panic

My email is dead, but I can still update my stuff here. I think it’s some kind of networking problem, and it’s stupid that all of my email sits on a machine in Seattle when I live in New York, but you’re talking about a person who still has all of his money in a Seafirst checking account.

I think I am starting to calm down about the major panic attack I was having wrt Rumored to Exist. I’m slowly getting back into it, but I’m not writing any great amounts yet. I’ve set a schedule that takes me to the end of the book around Halloween or so, and I’m ahead of schedule, but then I built a certain amount of slack into it so I could get back up to speed.

I’m listening to a Century Media compliation disc that was included in the last issue of Metal Curse and a bunch of Century Media releases a year or two ago. It’s a fairly diverse sampler of new death metal, and a decent CD to listen to if you’re as out of touch with the metal community as I am. It’s strange, because this disc reminds me so much of a year or so ago, when I lived in Seattle. I didn’t think I would be that nostalgic about Seattle, and it seems retarded to reminisce about the summer of 97 or 98, but I guess I do sometimes.

I’ve often thought that my next big project would be a novel about Seattle, going from when I left Indiana to when I left for New York. On the drive out, I outlined the whole thing, making it work like Bukowski’s book _Post Office_. I don’t know if I could write it or not, but it’s an interesting composition, the way everything is lined up and everything. I’ve got too many other things to worry about now, and I’m not sure I could write another strictly autobiographical book, but it’s always a thought.

My email is back. One thing from a Guns N Roses mailing list, two pieces of junk mail.

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Wasting time

I’ve been very tired. Sick, tired, a lot of small things bugging me which cumulatively make me feel like I’m a car on its last legs, ready for abandonment on the side of an Indiana highway. It’s nothing major, and sleep seems to help, so maybe I’ll spend the week in bed, like one of my cats.

Summer Rain is done, or at least as done as it will be for a while. I read through it enough that I can’t read another paragraph. I’ve zipped up everything, and it’s all sitting on my hard drive, awaiting to be discovered in 50 years.

I’m supposed to be working on Rumored to Exist, but I’ve hit a major wall. I can’t even put together a string of words into a sentence anymore. I am over-analyzing everything and wondering how pieces of writing become good or bad and wondering how thoughts become words and paragraphs and pages and books. It’s like when you pick a random word and say it 10000 times and then wonder why the fuck they picked that phonetic disaster to be the word for zipper or jello or whatever. But on a larger scale. Maybe I just need to sleep more, I don’t know.

I didn’t write all day today. I slept. And I called banks. And I watched DVDs, mostly From the Earth to the Moon. I should’ve read, but I didn’t.

I thought I had a lot more to say when I got on here, but I guess I don’t.

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Death of DIVX

Summer Rain is almost done. I shouldn’t be saying stuff like that, but I now have one of the most complete drafts of the book I’ve ever seen. There are still many small problems, and I’m not really into a lot of the writing in the final third. But there are no major holes in the story, and you could read the entire thing from start to finish without hitting a major construction spot. Now I’m going to sit and read the thing from start to finish a few times and try to iron out any small mistakes I can find.

I’m thinking of publishing a few dozen copies of the book and either giving them away to the people who helped me, and/or selling a few of them in some sort of limited, numbered run. If you think that sounds cool, let me know and I’ll think about it more.

The big thing on the horizon is Rumored to Exist. I’m trying to figure out a way to attack it, become immersed in it, and get rolling with it. I looked at all of it the other day, and I’ve realized that I really, really like 20% of it and the rest of it isn’t that great. And the current draft is only half as long as it needs to be. So there will be major cuts, major revisions, and a lot of new material. I’m excited, and I think this will be my big mark on, well whatever I’m trying to leave a mark on.

DIVX is dead! Can you believe it? I am getting into this DVD thing, especially the director’s commentaries. I just ordered a few more, but I really wish I could get a copy of Slacker with commentary. Or Naked Lunch.

Okay, time to start my day.

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Final SR push

I guess it’s been a few weeks. A lot has happened, but I still find it difficult to regularly update my journal. I’ve been finding it hard to get anything done lately. I’m hoping to turn that around this week, but I can’t really predict or control my work output. At least it isn’t 100 degrees anymore – it’s actually a little cold and rainy today, which might make it easier for me to stay inside at the computer.

Summer Rain came to a halt about a week ago, but I’m slowly picking it up again. Book two has been impossible in places, mostly because of dialogue I can’t write. I tried to get back on Rumored to Exist for a bit, but now I’ve realized that I absolutely need to finish this thing this summer, or it will stagnate forever. So yesterday, I took a bunch of notes and tried to divide up the work as much as possible, so I’ll be able to clean up everything unrelated to this pain-in-the ass dialogue that’s giving me such a bad case of writer’s block.

(The dialogue has to do with a very brief relationship with a woman. I can’t write for her well, and it makes me think I should somehow change her or drop the whole thing. It’s very easy for me to write for some people, but with her, it’s almost impossible. It’ll happen, sooner or later.)

I bought a DVD player. I haven’t been playing with it non-stop, so it’s not the cause of my problems. It’s fun, though. I have about 13 movies and I’ve got about 10 more on the way. It’s pretty incredible, especially on the movies with a bunch of extra stuff, but I’m somewhat disappointed with the selection of movies currently available. I hope more cool stuff comes out eventually.

It seems like there’s much more to tell, but I really need to get back to work…

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1992

It’s still hot here. It is amazing how many times I had to deal with much worse heat than this in my past: the factory jobs, the Indiana summers, my top-floor, no AC apartment in Seattle during the August crawl of 90 degree weather. I’m a complete wimp now. Either I’m getting old, or I have no sense of perception.

I “finished” book 1 of Summer Rain. I “say that” because there are still pieces I don’t like and I’m sure I’ve made some bonehead spelling errors in there. But I’ve messed with these 15 chapters so much, that I don’t want to touch them anymore. The next 15 chapters are watching their intestines spit out of a gaping hole in their abdomen while I’m giving the first 15 a pedicure. I need to go where the real work is needed. And I need to finish this book, and go on to the next.

(If you want to critique or read the book, email me. I can always use another opinion.)

I want to finish Summer Rain, but I want to spend the summer doing it. I enjoy working on this little opus (little – it’s 1200 pages) and it’s a very dear part of my history. Many others from that era need to read the book, to rememberthe times we had together and to see Bloomington in 1992 again. But I know it would never sell, and it’s a first book. So I need to get it done and go on to something which will wow the agents and the publishers and satisfy a greater cross-section of fans. I don’t mean selling out or anything. But Rumored to Exist, the second half-done book in the queue, has satistfied many more fans who think it is genius and funny. I think when it is done, and its sister book is halfway done, some publisher will think it’s the next big deal and get it out there for people to see. I’m not 100% confident, but it’s a decent view to hold when trying to figure out what to work on and how to ration my time.

If anybody ever asked (nobody has, as I’m never on Charlie Rose or NPR or whatever) what my favorite year was, I would say 1992. Everything went wrong that year. I lost a scholarship. I lost my car. I lost three girlfriends and two other women who were mind-numbingly incredible sexual partners, but not girlfriends. I lost a walkman that was like my only child. I lost my first CD player. Me and Ray Miller lost all of our money to a crack dealer in a bad part of Chicago. I lost my mind, many times. But it was my first real year of living. For all of the lows, the highs were incredible. Every one of those problems I mentioned had a flipside that was unsurpassable. I had a scholarship, a car, three girlfriends, two other women into mind-numbingly incredible sex, etc. And I wrote about this whole thing in Summer Rain, or at least the summer part of it. It’s hard to explain, but 1992 was sort of my default year.

And I’ve babbled about 1992 a lot in my writing, and in here. So I’ll stop. It’s still hot as hell. I was going to stay up and work on SR for a few more hours, but maybe sleep is a better option.

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Phantom Menace

It has been hotter than hell here. And the top floors of old buildings aren’t conducive to rapid cooling or anything. I shouldn’t bitch, because it’s starting to cool off now, and I’m sure things will be peachy. Nothing like last summer in Seattle, where I had to get drunk every night just to get any sleep.

I saw Star Wars twice over the extended holiday weekend, and you’re probably expecting me to say that I loved it and I have been waiting since I was a kid, or that it was completely retarded and that George Lucas should shove Jar Jar Binks up his ass, along with his fucking ewok-esque charaters obviously added to the movie to market to 8 year old kids. Well, it’s a little of both, and it’s the biggest and most disproportionate list of pros and cons that I could even list for a movie. Let me try:

Pro

The joy of watching a new star wars film. the fact that i had all of the toys when i was a kid. the music. the sound. the design of some of the new cities. a lot of the lightsaber dueling. the characters that were in the other 3 movies that appear in this one. the way ewan macgregor sounds and moves very much like a young alec guiness. the silver SR-71-looking ship. a lot of the pod race. saying pulp fiction lines during samuel l jackson’s parts. the part where yoda makes a “mmmmmm” sound and it almost sounds like he’s going to imitate homer simpson. natalie portman, when she doesn’t have on all the makeup. there’s probably more, but i’ll stop here.

Con

The entire movie is marketed toward 8 year old boys. Jar Jar Binks. Anakin Skywalker. The killer droids. The pacing. The length. The somewhat cryptic governmental subplot. Anakin Skywalker flying in space and destroying the space station, allegedly by accident. Darth Maul’s total lack of personality. (Darth Vader was a prick, but at least he talked to you during the duel.) The utter predictability of certain plot points. Almost every animated creature. The lack of more personal combat, instead of huge combat scenarios. (A bunch of one CGI character against a bunch of another – who cares?) Natalie Portman with all of that shit on her face, acting like she just overdosed on quaaludes. Anakin Skywalker.

Okay, enough about that.

I am still writing, working on Summer Rain. I shouldn’t say that, because I didn’t do anything over the weekend. But I’m very close to finishing the first 15 chapters and putting them out there for review. If you’re interested and you can give me some feedback, let me know and I can set you up.

I finished HST’s Rum Diaries, and it really hit the spot. I’m now reading Slaughterhouse Five, or at least I pulled it down from the shelves, and the next time I get a chance to read, that’s what I’ll pick up. I saw the movie on Bravo the other night, and it got me interested in it again. My third book, which I’ll work on when I finish Rumored to Exist (which I’ll work on when I finish Summer Rain) is about time travel, and involves part of a premise from SH5, although I didn’t realize it until later. Writing a time travel book is a bitch, because you need to come up with your own entire set of rules and stick to it. And everyone will tell you that your set of rules is wrong, because there’s no perfect set. But here’s a little trade secret: IT’S FICTION! If you don’t like my set of time travel rules (and most SciFi types won’t), then go fuck yourself. Write your own book, and make everyone at your Harlan Ellison fan club proud.

I’m buying a DVD player. I already have three movies: Pulp Fiction, Blade Runner, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I have the player picked out and everything, but I have a temporary financial logjam involving a couple of check deposits in transit. I could order it now, but I should do the right thing and let everything settle, just in case something stupid happens and I don’t really have the money. (Sounds dumb, but a few weeks ago I mailed a deposit, and forgot to put a stamp on it. Fucked everything by about two weeks.)

Tired. Hot. Got a chapter to fix before bedtime. Sweet dreams.

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