Leather Jacket exchange

It’s been raining, POURING, for two days straight. I spent all day and all night at work on Friday; came in just after nine AM and left just after midnight. I’ve got an early morning and a lot of work tomorrow, and then I’ve got jury duty on Tuesday, which also requires an actual 9:00 start, so that shit’s bugging me. But the two things that have permeated my dreams are heavy duty cut-and-paste on a 200-page sales document, and the next book, whatever that might be.

So it’s been raining, and I spent all day yesterday inside, doing nothing. I finally left the house a bit ago to go for a walk and a sandwich, and I came back with a new leather jacket. This is the third in line, of a now-old tradition. I like to wear those generic leather biker jackets that the Ramones and everyone else has that you can get at Wilson’s in the mall for a hundred bucks. I got my first one in 93, and an identical replacement in 97. Now, it’s time for another changing of the guard. These jackets are as tough as hell, and the shell could take anything shy of a nuclear blast with no problem. The real issue is the inside liner, which gets all ripped apart and starts to smell like ass after you walk home in too many rainstorms and sweat it out on the subway every day. These jackets are fairly disposable as far as the lining is concerned, and it would cost more to get a new one sewn in than to get a new jacket. On the way to Subway, I saw a leather shop that was closing down and having an “everything must go” sale, which pretty much every shitty store in New York is always doing. But I went in, found the jacket, and got out for only $99. It looks a bit cheaper than the last one, but I think the leather sort of firms up after you wear it a while. I did a side-by-side of the old and new to see if there were any other differences, but not much. The left inside pocket on the new one has a zipper, which the old one didn’t. And the new one is a bit bigger, but then so am I.

BTW the last time I did this exchange was on 4/23/97. It’s weird that I have a journal entry from then. I wonder if I will have one in five years when I need to buy another damn coat.

I watched a shitload of a lot of TV yesterday. I was so bored, I watched about half of the movie Over the Top. This movie was a total disaster, which makes it an excellent bit of comedy in my eyes. It has every bad 80s cliche you could possibly imagine, from the costumes to the acting to the Rocky-like plot curve. This movie really tries to cash it in like Rocky, the underdog-comes-back-and-kicks-ass angle. The problem? It’s about ARM WRESTLING. Rocky has all of this preparation for a serious fight, the drinking of eggs and running up the steps and punching the pieces of meat. And when he gets pushed back in the plot, he gets his ass kicked, and he’s all bloody and beaten. So they try to legitimize this sport where you essentially move your arm one way or the other, and in the final match, there is the infamous Stallone “preparing for battle” montage, but it’s just a bunch of fucking meatheads putting powder on their hand or strapping up their arm or yelling and posturing. It’s stupid, but I love it.

Pro Wrestler Terry Funk, the “living legend”, has a small role in the film as the bad guy’s bodyguard. I totally forgot about this, and when I saw him, I jumped off the couch and started yelling “Funk! Funk! Funk!” Unfortunately, it is a very small part, but it is funny to see him with his 80s hair. Also, the music in this was that really bad power-ballad inspirational rock shit you saw a lot of in this era. Frank Stallone gets a cut in there, along with Asia, Kenny Loggins, and Eddie Money. Sammy Hagar (pre-Van Hagar) has one of the main cuts, “Winner Takes it All”. The funniest part was when I saw the end, where they drive off into the sunset and the credits roll over this Larry Greene song “Take it Higher”. Before I knew the title and before the singing started, I thought “I bet they rhyme fire, desire, and higher. The actual lyrics: “something something desire, fight the fire, take it higher, over the top.” I about had a seizure when I heard that.

So last night I started reading Summer Rain again. I skipped around a bit and read about the last 20%. I always put down this book, especially compared with Rumored, but I really liked reading it, and I’m very happy with the prose in there. It’s been about two years since I’ve read any of it, and that’s enough distance for me to really look at it and enjoy it. I know it has some problems, mostly with small stuff though. If I had to do it all over, I would keep it the same size, the same pace and everything. It could have used another month of copyediting, but I really like the size and level of depth of the book. I can still get lost in it, read for an hour and forget I’m in New York and really enjoy the story. What was the true test for me was reading the final third of the book, the love story between John and Amy. The funny thing is, that is entirely fictitious. I made up the character of Amy because the previous Amy, based on a real person, wasn’t really working out. And now, I read the conversations and exchanges of emails, and I wonder where I got all of this shit, because it’s all fabricated, but it all looks real.

On that note… I woke up thismorning from a nightmare, about not being able to write the third book (I shit you not.) And I thought about Summer Rain, and I thought about how I always say in interviews it was such a mistake to write a first-person book based on my life. And then I thought about how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading 200 pages of it last night as the rain fell on the sidewalk outside my window last night, and it really made me wish I could do it all over again, write Summer Rain from scratch to 660 pages available on Amazon. It was a lot of fun to write, it is a lot of fun to read, and it didn’t sell shit. But what’s really important?

So I’m back to this: I have five really good stories about Bloomington. Maybe I should write fifteen more, and have an arc of stories about Bloomington. I don’t know how it would work, but in the shower thismorning, I thought of at least four or five stories that would easily play through for 5,000 words. It wouldn’t be an entire novel like Summer Rain, but it would let me write some detailed stuff, some straightforward fiction, and it would let me get some stuff out of my system.

So that’s the plan, for now. And it isn’t raining, so my plan is also to go to the bookstore, and try out my new jacket.

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Interview in Dark Legions

I’m starving and ready to head out the door for some food. I drank an entire quart of Tropicana Season’s Best orange juice, which seemed to have temporarily slowed the cold. And I talked to Ray last night for about two hours about all of the shit going on with the book, and I think I have a possible structure for #3, and I need to get going on that. But I can’t start until the cold is gone.

Here’s something for you to read – I have an incredibly long interview in the Dark Legions Archive. It’s with this dude I’ve known online for over ten years now. He used to do a Death Metal radio show at Pomona, and got online to track down music and to start an online zine. Over the years, we’ve both done tons of reviews, shows, interviews, zines, webpages, and everything else. It was very cool to do the interview with him, and I think it’s good reading plus it has a layout with photos and stuff. So check it out.

I’m going to get lunch now…


Zappa and experiments in form

Not much is going on here. The Zappa book I am reading is Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa by Kevin Courrier. I’m about 200 pages into it, and I like it sofar. I think in some sense it fails to be critical about Zappa’s shortcomings, but it does give a different perspective than Zappa’s first-person biography, which is the only other book I’ve read about him.

I’m not interested in reading about Zappa because I am the sort of person that has memorized every single song of his. Rather, I am interested in how he created this whole monster, the way he started making very confusing and confrontational music and brought it to a worldwide cult status of attention. I wish I could do the same, and it makes me jealous in a way because music and performance is such an easy to comprehend format for people. It has such a legitimate place in society, it is easy to distribute and easy to perform live, and it can be a very active performance or a more passive thing to enjoy. I feel the literature’s downfall is that in order to enjoy it, you have to sit there with a book in hand and get through 200 pages of it. The bar is so high for entrance to it, that it’s hard to get a large number of people interested. I wish I would’ve asked my parents for a guitar when I was ten, and then played it for hours every day. It makes me very confused and depressed about what I am doing, and what I should be doing, not to mention that I just put this book out and I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever done and the only legitimate feedback that I got was that I should go back to writing stupid first-person stories or that I should find a psychiatrist and make them read the book so they could “cure” me.

Of course, the only answer is that Rumored is the right direction for me, because I don’t think there’s any legitimate value in me writing another book like Summer Rain or some kind of Cometbus ripoff stories like Air in the Paragraph Line. I think there are a lot of popular writers out there that are selling lots of books writing coming-of-age, punk-rock, brat-pack stuff, and there are a lot of writers doing the whole Oprah, politically correct thing. And I think my only tangible skill is to take what they do and destroy it, satirize it, blasphemize it, and take their bold statements on society and laugh at them. I feel more people, or at least some people, should see this and enjoy it as the opposite of these books that are easy to hate. Rock and roll was created because people didn’t want to listen to “Who’s that Doggy in the Window”. I don’t want to read Wally Lamb. I’m sure others don’t want to, either.

I guess a lot of Rumored was the beginning of an experiment to find my own form and technique that isn’t just a story about a boy and a story about a girl or whatever. The way I structured the book was an attempt at changing that, and it didn’t work as well as I wanted, so the next book will pick up on the flaws in structure and story. But it won’t change with regard to tone and content. It will still be obscene, and dark, and violent, and funny. (It may not have any puke jokes, since that pretty much threw everyone.) I don’t want to go down the road that Burroughs did with cutups and stuff. I am finding less and less value in Burroughs as I continue. (I now find almost no value in Kerouac, and I’ve always hated Ginsberg, both as a person and a writer.)

Anyway, I have an idea for a book, but I can’t talk about it. But I think it might work. I’m going to take notes on it all weekend. I think I might do NaNoWriMo again in November, and write a draft then, but I will continue working on it after them. I’ve come to realize that writing fast is not my forte, and it’s better that I take my time and nurture my thoughts a bit more, so I can come up with stronger writing.

I just ate Chinese food, and I’m ready for a nap.

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Freaks in Manhattan

Why are there so many freaks on the streets of Manhattan this week? Is there some kind of convention I’m unaware of?

Wait, wait, wait. I better back up and define “freak” so I don’t somehow politically demean some important post-urban cultural artisan. But when I see someone who looks like they just took a hit of crack, with one shoe on and one off, writhing around like a snake in some kind of Mexican religious painting, talking and laughing at some imaginary person and smelling so much like piss, that I’m not really sure it’s just their piss, because even if you pissed on yourself for weeks, it wouldn’t have the marinated, deep-baked piss smell, I often think that person is in the freak category. For the sake of this conversation, I’m not talking about the people that have completely tattooed their faces, and drilled holes in the sides of their noses so they could stretch them out and put frisbees in there. Or the 92 pound, 6’1, 38-FF women I see walking around the city. They are freaks in another capacity, and at least they don’t try to talk to me. I’m more worried about the street prophet sorts, mostly because I don’t want to smell like piss when I get back to the office.

The homeless situation is strange in this city. In most cities, there are a few homeless, and that’s it. Either you ignore them, or you cook them dinner on Thanksgiving at the YMCA, and then it all goes away for the rest of the year. Here, there are so many factions, that it’s hard to figure out. In New York, the homeless have more representation and lobbying than some tobacco companies. Plus, there are people (usually from Europe, or from snobby art schools) that think the homeless population is some kind of art project or something, that bums are really cool and graffiti on trains is some kind of tribal marking. There are people who think projects will help, things like food banks and shelters. There are others who think that because we pay so much damn tax, there should be a better solution provided by the government. And there are people who think homeless people should be lit on fire, or maybe put in arenas to fight to the death like the good ol’ days.

I’m not sure what I think, which is why I’m babbling about this. It’s easy in some aspects to just ignore people. I don’t give out any money,

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