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Full disclosure here: I’m not a Frank Lloyd Wright fan. His Prairie Houses always make me flash on Danish modern furniture, which I think is fuckin’ ugly.

I don’t see why form should have to follow function.

I kind of like architectural elements that have no practical use whatsoever.

This makes me the perfect ghost writer for a project that’s a Frank Lloyd Wright hatchet job.

###

Didn’t hear from Celeste for a week, and then yesterday, I did. Your email somehow disappeared, she wrote.

No, no, no, Celeste: The dog ate it.

Anyway, she is game to go. Though we still don't have a contract. And I won't work without a contract.

I am scuttling off to NYC tomorrow to spend a few days in [profile] lifeinroseland’s beyond beautiful apartment and play in museums and possibly go to a play and hopefully finish the Alice/Nell story, which is now up to 12,000 words and has two (count ‘em!) working titles, The Green Sickness and The League of Arbitrary Assuageurs, neither of which is good.

When I get back, hopefully John will have whipped up a contract, and I will have figured out a way to record Celeste when I debrief her.

And then I will debrief her.

Since I am in New York, and Celeste is in California, I won’t be able to feed Celeste psychoactive substances to lubricate the debriefing process – but knowing Celeste as I do, I trust that Celeste will be able to handle that end of things on her own.

###

I’m about a third of the way through The Fellowship, the book that gives the skinny on what really went down in Taliesin. I don’t want to carry it with me to NYC since it’s an enormous tome, must weight 15 pounds. So I’ll try to finish it this evening.

###

Oglivianna, the third Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright, was a Gurdjieff acolyte. She completely dominated Wright for the last 30 years or so of his life. Under her management, Tailiesin drifted into the familiar Scientology/Synanon-style cult. It will give me great pleasure to do a hatchet job on Oglivianna, and I hope Celeste feeds me some really disgusting details about her personal hygiene.

You don’t hear much about G.I. Gurdjieff anymore, but when I was a gorgeous young girl, Gurdjieff was still quite the thing. I may have seen the film Peter Brooks made from Gurdjieff’s book Meetings With Remarkable Men. I may even have read the book. And Luke had an unfortunate dealing with an exceedingly unpleasant woman named Helen Palmer who was a psychic focusing on Enneagram interpretations (a Gurdjieff thing) and who tried to rip him off over some expensive real estate.

I’ve been around many people like Gurdjieff over the course of my lifetime. That's that Zelig thing again: I've stood on the sidelines watching while any number of interesting events transpired.

The success of authoritarian self-styled mystics always amazes me. Most people are sl-e-e-e-e-eeping! sez Gurdjieff. Well, sure. But you don’t have to do ridiculous dances to wake up. All you have to do is pay attention.

Plus I’m not sure there’s any great utility to waking up.

It’s not like you’re gonna be able to change anything.

The more you see, the more you understand. And the more you weep.

###

Also, I’ve been listening to The Maltese Falcon on tape as I’ve been driving the last few days.

It’s really terribly written.

Why is it considered such a masterpiece of American literature?
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Desert-FLW-Olgivanna


The other book I’m reading right now for background on the Celeste memoir project is called The Fellowship. It delves deeply into the cultlike aspects of Tailiesens East and West.

Of course, I’m not gonna start any actual work on the project until there’s a contract in place.

Celeste is in the index. Her father was one of Lloyd Wright’s many “apprentices.” Her mother was Olgivanna Lloyd Wright’s chief handmaiden. Their last name is misspelled throughout the book (though they get Celeste’s last name right in the acknowledgements) as is the index spelling of the first name of the brother who committed suicide. This leads me to believe that The Fellowship must be riddled with other inaccuracies.

But even if only half of what’s in the book is true, what a wild ride, man.

Olgivanna was a Gurdjieff acolyte. You can think of her as the Yoko Ono of architecture. Plus there’s a straight line of descent there that leads back to minor members of the Bloomsbury and D.H. Lawrence circles – Katherine Mansfield, Mabel Dodge Luhan.

My own early immersion in a cult – Synanon – inoculated me and left me quite immune to all that cult stuff. Come to think of it, my Synanon experiences are probably what led me to develop my sense of humor as a tactical weapon. Cults do not like humor!

Anyway, the right voice for this project – assuming it ever gets off the ground, which it may or may not do: I don’t actually like Celeste all that much although as I read The Fellowship, I can see that a lot of the stuff that irritates me about her – a certain cheerful, deterministic obliviousness – are actually survival mechanisms – would be the deadpan voice that Jeannette Walls uses in The Glass Castle. In the opening chapters of The Glass Castle, this voice is used to humorous effect: the outrageous behavior of the adults seen through the uncomprehending eyes of the child. As the narrator grows older, this voice perfectly captures that trapped, exhausted feeling behind the constant vigilance necessary to maintain one’s own safety…

Anyway, we shall see if this project gets off the ground.

###

In other news – speaking of constant vigilance – I, too, am feeling exhausted, physically exhausted, like the way you feel after a coast-to-coast plane trip that you’ve spent staring out the window, willing the plane to stay in the sky.

Charlottesville seems to be an exception to the Five-Day Media Cycle Dictum, which states: Every five days, there will be some new incident the media will focus in an effort to distract people from digging more deeply into systemic, long-term issues.

But even Barcelona terrorists can’t chase Charlottesville from America's front pages.

I am thinking Charlottesville may be an honest-to-God tipping point.

But I am very, very tired of it all.

It is important. Really, really, really important.

But I'm ready to stop thinking about it.

I suppose this is the downside to not having a routine that can co-opt my thoughts and make me think about other things: I don’t have the discipline not to think about it.

unnamed-1


This is the time of year when I would expect to see the first reddening an oranging of the leaves, but everything remains this intense, almost blinding green.

In fact, I read somewhere that this has been one of the greenest summers ever in these parts, though God knows how they measure that one.
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Except that yesterday I slid right back down the Facebook rabbit hole!

And I thought to myself, This is insane. This has reached the level of obsession of some 4chan loser playing first-person shooter games.

###

The big controversies in Facebookland yesterday had to do with free speech and publishing private information: Should Nazis have the full protection of First Amendment safeguards, and is doxxing a good thing to do with Nazis?

I suppose in an era where text messages can suffice as grounds for second degree murder convictions and the Justice Department can subpoena for info on visitors to an anti-Trump website, we can all kiss civil liberties protections goodbye.

But just for the record: I’m in favor of the First Amendment and against doxxing.

I feel pretty strongly about it, too, but no – my opinions have nothing to do with any platitudes about civil liberties.

They have to do with the fact that these things are double-edged swords: They can easily be used against people on both sides, and that it is very dangerous to set these kinds of precedents.

When – for example – Obama decided to rule by executive fiat, he basically manurered the ground for assholes like Donald Trump.

Is this a particularly subtle point or something?

Do you honestly want Richard Spencer’s boy scout troop running your face through facial recognition software and showing up at your condo with a tiki torch next time you attend an anti-Trump rally? Because I don’t – and this is absolutely what is going to start happening if doxxing becomes the default.

Any way you slice it, the United States is tilting toward fundamentalism. Whether it’s Mike Pence (™)-brand Christian fundamentalism or some Leftist fascism cobbled together from competing brands of identity politics, I’m not sure. Probably the future seesaws back and forth between these two poles for the next century or so.

But even if you find Nazis scary – and yes, I’m a Jew: of course, I do! – it’s insane to strip away the legal and social protections that protect you against these types of things.

###

Anyway, about the fourth time I got lambasted for Nazi sympathies and “pearl-clutching” – this time by an overweight white guy who made a killing in Palo Alto real estate 30 years ago and who you just know used to read Playboy Magazine for the articles – I thought, Fuck this shit.

I wrote a colorful reply inviting said white guy to cram his head up his narrow-bore rectum to lick his ulcerated duodenum (commiserating, ‘cause I knew his head was so swollen it would be a tight fit.)

And then I resigned from the Sooper Sekrit Political Group.

This should really cut way back on any time I have to spend on Facebook.

###

In other news, I began reading T.C. Boyle’s The Women because it’s a fictionalized account of Frank Lloyd Wright’s love life.

I’ve always thought of Boyle as an exceptionally tight writer, so it was surprising to discover how bad the prose is in this book. It’s actually banal.

You write just as well as Boyle writes! I told myself.

Part of the rah-rah-rah! internal process.

It’s awfully hard for me to see any relevance to my own thoughts, to my own fictions in a world that’s little more than a conveyor belt for awful political events.

And August is half over.
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detroit


Saw Detroit. Man, that is one harrowing movie.

It’s a narrative I’m very familiar with: I read John Hershey’s The Algiers Motel in 1968 when it was first published. I was 16, and the book had a profound effect on me. It’s a literal reenactment of the infamous Milgram experiment.

There’s no behavior so depraved that a human being won’t do it if the responsibility for that behavior can be shunted up some chain of command. The three people who read this journal may be thinking, No, no, I wouldn’t!

Except yes: You would.

And so would I.

And that right there is the root of all evil.

###

I’m not at all sure I understood the extent of the racial divide in this country when I was 16. New York City in those days was integrated in theory but segregated in practice. For example: PS 87, the elementary school I attended – right around the corner from the Museum of Natural History! – had lots of black students, but there wasn’t a single black kid in my class. There weren’t any black kids at Hunter College High School either, which you could only attend if you scored above 90% on its incredibly arduous entrance exam.

My mother’s family – educated Jews - called black people schwartzes.

My father’s family – uneducated Sicilians - called black people niggers.

I can’t remember what I called them. But I knew that when you met a black person, the doctrine of equality meant you had to pretend there were no differences. I still remember with great gratitude the black nurse who took me aside my very first day on the wards and said, “Our skin gets ashy. Ya gotta use lotion. You don’t brush our hair like you brush your hair. They didn’t teach you any of this stuff in nursing school? Well, no. They wouldn’t.”

###

The 1967 Detroit riots were probably the deadliest and most destructive in American history. That same year, there were riots in Newark and in Plainfield, New Jersey, in Milwaukee and in Minneapolis. The next year, Martin Luther King was shot, and the riots spread to more than 100 other cities – including Berkeley, where your faithful narrator was a member of the People’s Park mob that got tear-gassed and shot at by Alameda County sheriffs.

(Come to think of it, I was a veritable 60s Zelig of sorts, having been present at (1) the screaming hoards of teenyboppers welcoming the Beatles to the Plaza Hotel in 1962; (2) the 1969 People’s Park riots; and (3) Altamont.)

There’s never been a definitive account of the events that took place at the Algiers Motel on the night of July 25 in which three young men ended up dead. Ballistics analyses linked their deaths to firearms commonly used by the Detroit police. Three cops were subsequently charged with homicide, but Kathryn Bigelow couldn’t use their real names since they all got off. She couldn’t use any of the material in Hersey’s book either since the rights could not be secured.

For the record, the cops’ real names are Robert Paille, Ronald August, and David Senak.

Bigelow’s film draws heavily from the memories of the surviving victims and includes a lot of speculation, particularly about the death of Fred Temple who was the last of the three men to be slaughtered. In that sense, Detroit has to be viewed as fiction.

###

Bigelow has always been an interesting filmmaker from my point of view because she defies gender expectations. She makes unsentimental movies about the effects of violence – a traditionally male expertise. (Interestingly, she was once married to James Cameron who makes bloated, sentimental movies about sinking ships and climate change.) She’s a very attractive woman, too, which should be irrelevant to any conversation about talent, but (let’s get real) isn’t.

The critics who liked it liked it a lot.

The critics who didn’t like it didn’t like it becaw-w-w-w-se:

(1) It was excessively violent. How could a director tell an actor to administer these brutal blows, not just once but repeatedly? decried a squeamish New Yorker reviewer.

(2) It was an example of cultural appropriation! Movies about black people should only be made by black people! (Ya gotta believe this line of reasoning was an underground whisper campaign paid for by Spike Lee.)

(3) It didn’t show the rich cultural life of people in Detroit! Well, no. Because then it would have been a bloated, sentimental movie and her X-Husband could have made it.

###

I was the only person in the audience for Detroit – a 6:30pm showing on a Friday night, and this doesn’t auger well for Detroit’s chances of earning back its initial investment. Even black people are staying away from this one, and I can see why: When you’ve moved well beyond dire events in the history of your people, you might appreciate if not exactly enjoy a movie about those events. My mother’s family members were all big fans of Schindler’s List.

But as the failure to convict Philando Castile’s murderer indicates, the United States has not moved beyond the events portrayed in Detroit. Young black men continue to be humiliated and slaughtered by white cops and watching that transpire on a screen without the slightest promise of redress is just too, too painful.

###

In other news, I spoke at some length with Celeste, and the story of Tailisen is even kinkier and weirder than that I’d initially thought.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s third wife Oglavanna is Gloria Swanson straight outa Sunset Boulevard. A Gurdjieff groupie! Taliesen West was just this festering brew of weird sex and egos!

And then there was that whole subplot with Stalin’s daughter!

This will make a fine bestseller! And it’s a memoir! So, you know – someone’s opinion!

The best thing would be if I could stumble across any supporting evidence to prove that Frank Lloyd Wright spent the last years of his life as a bumbling old idiot, being dressed up in white suits and wheeled out on special occasions (his keepers, all the while, hoping that he didn’t pee on himself ‘cause, you know: Depends hadn’t yet been invented, and pee stains white suits.) And that his apprentices designed all the buildings! Including the fuckin’ Guggenheim!

But I suspect that might be a little too much to hope for.

Sigh…

Anyhoo, I must read The Fellowship : The untold story of Frank Lloyd Wright & the Taliesin Fellowship, which apparently is the definitive smear book about Tailisen as well as T.C. Boyle’s The Women, which apparently is a novel about Oglavanna.
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unnamed Celeste has asked me to collaborate on her Tailisen memoir.

Project has lots and lots of commercial potential: Celeste’s father was Frank Lloyd Wright’s second-in-command; Tailisen was a cult without the Koolaide; there were all sorts of kinky 1950s weirdnesses going on there, plus Celeste got polio – and they sent her away (baaaaaad Frank Lloyd Wright) ‘cause you know, disabled children, such a downer. Not good design.

Problem is I’m not at all sure I can collaborate with Celeste. She’s kind of a flake, and her X-Husband with whom she is presently living (though I don’t know whether they’re inhabiting or cohabiting) kind of has a crush on me.

“I’d rather ghostwrite it than collaborate,” I told Celeste. You know me: I like to keep things strictly invisible at all times! “Plus, Celeste, I’m a real snob about writing. I don’t work and play well with others at all. You’d have to give me final cut over the first draft."

Anyway, we’re gonna Skype about it tomorrow.

There’s $$$ involved up front – although not a huge amount of $$$, and since our kids are besties, I’d be reluctant to wring too much out of her. I’m 100% positive such a memoir would capture a commercial publisher’s interest, though, so I could put in for some percentage of the advance and subsequent earnings.

Photo above is the lovely little Celeste aged four or so sitting at Frank Lloyd Wright’s side.

I like the way that Frank Lloyd Wright was carefully costumed – white suit, dark tie, and is that a pocket handkerchief or a boutonnière? – and yet his pants legs are too short!

I’m giving Celeste reading assignments: The Glass Castle (example of a superb memoir); The Astor Orphan (example of a terrible memoir.)

And we’ll tawk.

###

In other news, as a loving parent and a concerned cat owner, you’d think I’d care more about the stories of imminent nuclear showdown with N. Korea being trumpeted throughout the 24/7 news cycle these last few days.

But I don’t.

We have always been at war with Eurasia. Or is it Eastasia? Or is it Oceania? Wait! Aren’t we Oceania?

International politics can be so confusing.

###

Plus – Chris and Summer posted FB pix of a recent trip to Newport, RI, and now I am obsessed with going to Newport, RI, because I want to see the mansions! Big Houses ‘R’ Us!

And it’s only like 200 miles away from where I live so the trip is completely doable except that I’m so phobic about driving these days that I literally spent half an hour last night tracing and retracing the Google maps, thinking, I could do this! (No, you couldn’t.) Yes, I could! (No, you couldn’t.) until I finally burst into tears.

I have felt really out of it the last few days if it comes to that.

Not sad exactly.

But useless.

Irrelevant.
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I have two-thirds of the Eleanor Roosevelt ghost story written. Which is better than no thirds of the Eleanor Roosevelt ghost story written, right?

In any event, I’m off to the Southern Tier in a couple of hours where I will be doing no writing whatsoever.

So! In the interests of keeping some kind of momentum going – it’s waaay too easy to push partly written manuscripts aside and never, ever look at them again – I am posting that two-thirds of a ghost story here.

Where it can reproach me into finishing it when I get back.

THE GREEN SICKNESS

for Brian Buchbinder


(i)

She’d recognized the thing on the street instantly when she spied it from her bedroom window. She’d seen it before but not for a long time. A very long time.

Horseless carriages they’d called them then, and indeed, the vehicle that rolled past her window did look more like a carriage than it did like a modern automobile with its canopy, its oversized wheels, its brass sconces in which - most improbably against this damp dawn - white candles flickered. The horseless carriage glided past the townhouses on Massachusetts Avenue without a sound and disappeared when it made the turn onto Dupont Circle.
She saw it, and her hand fluttered to her throat, her breast. )

(ii)

The closest thing to freedom was her bicycle. She pumped up Connecticut Avenue furiously, feet on the handlebars, just so she could coast down to Dupont Circle at breakneck speeds.

The boys – most of them – fell off their bicycles when they attempted this feat. But she never did.

Twelve hundred miles away, her famous father stormed a famous hill. )

(iii)

“My favorite niece,” Papa dubbed Nell.

A small kindness that cost him nothing – these were Papa’s favorite kindnesses – for no one ever saw Nell after her mother died. Her mother’s mother – the addle-brained Mrs. Ludlow Hall – had whisked the girl and her two younger brothers away to a gloomy estate called Oak Terrace in the far off Hudson Valley.

Shortly upon arrival, the youngest brother had promptly died. )

###

His daughter arrived the following day and missed the jam tarts. She’d traveled first by train, then by ferry, then by train again – and the unexpected snow stalled the train – and finally by carriage. Mrs. Ludlow Hall had sent her in the care of a coachman.

“Most inappropriate,” Edith murmured to Auntie Bye, Papa’s older sister, who’d just arrived from Washington D.C. for the Christmas festivities.

“Perhaps,” said Auntie Bye who was as sensible as she was kind-hearted. )

###

The visit was not a success. Papa had devised a roster of entertainments for the children; Papa’s children knew better than to complain.

But Cousin Nell with her pained eyes, her diffident voice, her habit of putting her hand in front of her mouth when she spoke as though this might disguise her large protruding teeth – it didn’t; it only made it even more difficult to hear a single word she said – Cousin Nell had been so obviously frightened by the physical nature of Papa’s entertainments and by her rough-and-tumble cousins that it drained much of the fun out of the holiday traditions and games.

Christmas was celebrated with a familiar assortment of activities. )

(iv)

Oak Terrace looked like the type of place where the witch in “Hansel and Gretel” might go to seek employment as a cook. It stood in the middle of the wood. The wood was so dark that the trees growing there looked dead even in the middle of the summer.

Just in case this didn’t make the house seem funereal enough, Mrs. Ludlow Hall had had the windows on its ground floor enshrouded in heavy damask draperies )

###

However hot it had been sitting bored and restless in the sepulchral sitting room, it was even hotter outside. Not a branch stirred; not a bird chirped: The silence, like the heat was total.

But then, there came a noise.

And, there! It was again. )

###

Nell did not rejoin Alice that day.

“Your cousin has been taken ill,” Mrs. Ludlow Hall announced when she came into the sitting room later that afternoon. The longcase clock had just struck eleven; Mrs. Ludlow Hall was wearing a pink dress. Alice had never before seen an adult woman in a pink dress.

“Ill?” snorted Alice. “She’s not ill. She’s –“ )
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bard


I continue in this – what would you call it? Very nihilistic mood.

Fortunately, there is social media where I can insult people with impunity ‘cause you know what? They don’t really exist.

In my real life, I am laying low ‘cause when I’m in this kind of a mood, I can do real damage. In fact, if anything, I’m being extra treacly sweet. Classic reaction formation, doncha know.

I’m frustrated by my utter inability to craft anything on the written page in which chance coaligns with choice as perfectly as the two do in my mind. That must mean I’m a baaaaad writer, right? And that I should give it all up and put The Real Housewives of New York on 24-hour playback.

(Presently, I’m stymied by the fact that when Alice stumbles upon Nell sitting in her dead father’s car, and Nell begs, Don’t tell!, Alice is gonna try and extract something from Nell. And the only thing I can think of that Alice would try to extract is a promise to drive that car herself, Alice being a speed demon and all. And this does not fit into the plot as I outlined it at all.)

###

Politics in America continue to be one big fucking mess.

You read it here first: We’re gonna be in a proxy war with China within three months. It’s the only way Trump keeps his ratings up among the base.

An if I read one more come-to-Jesus rant from self-styled Lefties sympathizing with the “white” working class, disguised as a Medium article or a blog entry on sites with names like Uncensored Truth, I will explode.

Fuck the “white” working class!

The working class is the working class. I celebrate the working class!

I intensely dislike attempts to set members of the working class against one another through divisive tactics like pretending "white" working class people have different self interests than "black" working class people or "purple" working class people.

After reading Devil's Bargain, it is well nigh impossible for me to read Come-to-Jesus rants like these without seeing every single way the writer was manipulated by both the "Right" and the "Left."

It's like wearing those X-ray glasses that they used to advertise on the backs of comic books.

Oh, gr-r-r-r-reat!, I’m thinking. You finally got around to reading "Hillbilly Elegy!" Know what? It's a sucky book, badly written, and its author subsequently coopted by Peter Thiel to the degree that his latest crusade is preaching Payday Loans are really a good thing.

Fuck that shit.
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I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock. I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the president. I’m here to serve the country. – Anthony Scaramucci, White House Communications Director

I broke down when I read this.

I cried and cried and cried.

I hate Southern Italian men.

I hate every single fucking thing about them.

That’s because I’m a Southern Italian woman. Thank Gawd, I got away.

But come to think of it, aren’t all men disgusting? All women, too? All human beings?

What’s the point of being alive?

###

After about three hours or so, my sense of humor returned. Isn’t it great that all those years of secret yoga practice are finally paying off for Bannon? I thought. Though, really, someone should tell him that some tasks – blowjobs, for example – are best left outsourced.

The point of being alive is obviously to feed cats, to watch The Real Housewives of New York, to eat ice cream, and to see wonderful things like these in antique stores:

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unnamed-2


Before I had my mini-psychotic episode, I’d spent a pleasant enough day futzing around with various writing projects. The Eleanor Roosevelt Haunted Childhood story has a structural problem: I invented a coachman as the receptacle for the ee-ee-veeel spirit of Elliott Roosevelt, but there’s also an unpleasant male relation lounging around Oak Terrace, Valentine Hall.

Two sinister male presences seems like too many. Plus – Chekhov’s Gun.

The coachman works better for my purposes since I can kill him off at the end of the story. But Valentine Hall is an actual historical element; he lived at Oak Terrace during the same period Eleanor Roosevelt lived there and he was so fucking weird – an 1899 U.S. tennis champion, a mad alcoholic with the habit of shooting at passers-by from the window of his bedroom. It would make a lot of sense (and cut the story by at least 2,000 words) if Valentine Hall becomes Elliott’s ee-ee-veeel introject. Except historically, Valentine Hall doesn’t die until 1937.

Decisions, decisions!

I will futz some more today.

And make money. That asshole apparently is never going to pay me, so I find myself short with all the bills attendant on the first of the month looming ahead. I’ll be able to pay them all, but it’s seven days of ramen dinners for me.
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The ice skating scene.

If I wanted to turn this into an exciting, experimental piece of po-mo fiction, I’d write something like, Then they all went ice skating. Gentle reader, do you really give a shit about what their little ice skating party looked like, what its members did, what they wore? ‘Cause I know I don’t. What’s important is what came afterwards.

But alas! This is not a piece of exciting, experimental po-mo fiction. It’s a ghost story in the classic Edith Wharton style.

Although it might be fun to give it a final po-mo sumdge-over once the realistic scaffolding is in place.

We shall see.

###

Else?

Spent a solitary day hanging out with the cats. It’s odd how when I’m in a baaaad mood hanging out with the cats is prima facie evidence of the complete worthlessness of my existence but when I’m feeling la-la-la, it’s entirely enjoyable.

I’m tellin’ ya: It’s all just brain chemistry.

###

Chatted a bit with L about the Former Democratic Candidate’s memorial, the hour-long stream of eulogies: She was the saintliest person evah!

“But Doris was kind of a bitch!” L said, puzzled.

“Well, exactly,” I said. “And that’s why I liked her. She was incredibly generous, but you know, judgmental, and she didn’t suffer fools gladly. But memorials are for the living, I suppose, and that’s how her daughters want to remember her.”

###

Texted with a bunch of people, thereby adding a satisfying The Machine Stops ambiance to my solitude. BB’s entertainingly nutty friend Malika livestreamed a thunderstorm for me: The thunderstorm was doing its best to take out Ulster County but obligingly missed Dutchess.

Got over my crush on the last male human I was kinda, sorta, maybe on alternate Thursdays attracted to: Alpha Male made him a moderator in the Sooper Sekrit Political Group, and he has been pounding me with avalanches of bureaucratic verbiage about governance and leadership traits and fuckin’ Meyer-Briggs profiles.

What is it with these people and their stupid Meyer-Briggs profiles? How is saying smugly, I’m an INTJ! any different, say, than saying, I’m an Aries with Libra rising?

I suppose the truth is that I’m never going to be attracted to another male human ever again. Male humans are fine as friends. But as limerence objects? I dunno. As a class, they show a remarkable lack of appreciation for the subtle.
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20108428_10211722500011542_8240498731231104013_n



B and I were texting about the latest (awful) season of Orphan Black.

What IS it about television writers and islands? I texted.

B texted back: Well, you know, as a very good writer once wrote: “The thing about an island is that it’s a long way from home, and you have to cross water to get there.”

Good line, I thought automatically.

Then two seconds later, it hit me: OhmiGAWD – that’s my line! From a story I wrote in 1993 called The Hidden Ecology of Islands about vampires who take over an Indian casino .

I didn’t even remember writing it.

###

On the current writing project – I got sidelined after I wrote a close flashback into another close flashback that had nothing whatsoever to do with my outline. Thus wrote 700 words that were completely useless though not inherently bad or anything. But they had to come out, which left me with a sinking, despairing feeling: You are wasting what little life remains on a story that nobody will read when you could be watching The Real Housewives of New York!

Short stories are much, much harder to write than novels.

Anything goes in a novel. You can dump in the kitchen sink! But with a short story, you aren’t describing or even conjuring so much as you’re sculpting empty space (if that makes any sense at all.) It’s not what you write that’s important in a short story, it’s what you choose not to write.

I excised the offending 700 words and put them in the prose burble-over file.

Umbrella phrases, I thought: Expeditions were organized on the days following… The next day, Papa took the children to the pond… Etc.

Stick to the outline.

Snowball fight; Nell gets beaned. Skating party; Nell falls and twists her ankle. We need one more example of Winter Sports Gone Wrong.

###

Then it was time to scuttle off to the Former Democratic Candidate for Congress’s memorial service.

Huge turnout. There must have been 400 people.

And it was a very nice memorial. The fantasy her daughters concocted for public consumption was that the Candidate had died with a smile on her lips while they gathered round her bedside singing If I Had a Hammer (Pete Seeger version not Peter, Paul, and Mary version.)

But. Having been the instigator of one such Death Myth myself – when I told reporters Tom died listening to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony instead of the hiss and sigh of his morphine pump, a fantasy that made it all the way into his Wikipedia entry – I have my doubts about the truth of that bedside performance.

And I didn’t recognize the person whose virtues were extolled throughout the memorial at all. I liked the Candidate a lot, but she wasn’t particularly saintly. In fact, her Serious Bitch Potential was one of the reasons I liked her.

I suppose this was the fantasy the daughters felt safest with. Offspring rarely want to invest the time in learning what their parents were really like as human beings: It’s too threatening; it’s much easier to view them as some sort of primordial monster hunkering down over those deeply repressed feelings at the bottom of the psychic well.

I toasted the real Candidate in my heart as I listened to various speakers eulogize some saintly milquetoast I did not know.

When I slipped out to reclaim my car, there was a crisp $20 bill lying right next to it.

Huh, I thought. The Candidate knew I was hurting for gas money (‘cause the Asshole still hasn’t paid me!) Thanks, Doris!

###

Then I went out exercising. Mid-80s and so humid, I broke a heavy sweat even on the level pathways.

Staggered home and instantly fell into the deepest, deepest sleep.

Dreamed about my mother.

Never dream about my mother.

But there I was in a house, waiting for her. It was not her house, and I had no idea why I’d decided to wait for her there…

Woke up around 9pm. Decided to go back to sleep.

Maybe I needed 12 hours of sleep.

Because when I woke up again this morning, I felt fine. That awful funk I’ve been in lo these five days past completely gone.
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Spent yesterday morning churning out another 1,000 words on ze Work in Progress and the afternoon tromping around the local forests.

While I hammered out ze Work in Progress, I thought about Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald could hammer out an 3,000-word short story in a single sitting, but he was seldom able to produce more than 100 words a day when he was working on anything he deemed serious literature.

Scott Fitzgerald drank a lot when he was writing.

I can understand the impulse.

When you’re writing, you always have this sense that what you’re writing has already been written, that this manuscript is sitting in some locked portion of your brain and that if you could only unlock that portion of your brain, you’d have the whole damn thing – Voila! – without doing a lick of work!

Hence the urge to get shitfaced when you write.

###

I left Alice and Auntie Bye walking in on the two Nells as the latter conduct a kind of ghoulish tea party in the Sagamore Hills nursery.

I’m not exactly sure how one makes a child’s tea party ghoulish, so I am not looking forward to returning to the manuscript.

###

This has been one of the wettest summers on record since the Weather Service started keeping records way back in the 19th century. Nature has run riot. Looking out the window, some Congolese Airbnb guests of L’s cried out ecstatically, “It looks like home!” Meaning that it looks like a rain forest, I guess.

I think White Oaks Road at one time was part of James Roosevelt’s landholdings. It would have been farmland: rocky, unfertile farmland. There’s one stand of ancient apple trees abutting the 9G highway. Could this entire spot have been orchards at one time? Possible. Once upon a time, the Hudson Valley was known for its apples.

Anyway, it’s all forest now and thick twining underbrush laden with poisonous berries. I don’t know enough about trees to look at these and think, Aha! Second growth. I do know that when FDR inherited the holdings, he commissioned the folk at RTT’s alma mater to plant trees.

When FDR’s children inherited the holdings, they promptly sold them off to developers. The houses that line White Oaks Road are boxy, undistinguished. I did taxes for a guy who remembered White Oaks Road when it was a dirt trail shortcut between Highway 9 and Highway 9G, so it wasn’t all that long ago – 50 years?

###

I suppose one of the reasons that I like to exercise is that in contrast to most of my other goals – Write 350 page novel before lunch. Find billionaire who will die soon and is willing to marry you without a prenup. Achieve world domination – exercise is pretty easy to pull off.
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I think the deal for me is that if I don’t write in my diary every day, I literally forget how to write because I have such a short concentration span. These pointless musings play a very important role in my personal cosmology: They warm up the mental muscles. ‘Cause it’s always very, very easy to write about me-e-e-e-e-e, what I think, what I do -- even if what I do is very, very little.

I don’t like the Dreamwidth interface at all.

Plus I miss my little cadre of LJ palZ. Most of the LJ writers whose lives I’d been following for years and years and years don’t write anymore. I miss them. And there’s no kind of accountability on the Internet. It’s like some kind of Easter Island mystery: One day, they got up and walked away.

The Internet is filled with such Easter Island mysteries.

Whatever happened to that feral LDS girl living in the wilds of Alberta whose husband refused to have sex with her but on the rare occasions when he did have sex with her invariably knocked her up so that she had this gaggle of incredibly photogenic but neurologically disturbed offspring? She wrote and wrote and ranted and ranted, and then one day – bam. She stopped.

The incredibly well read lawyer with the wasting disease who lived in the flyover didn’t stop all of a sudden; she kind of petered out.

And then there was the lovely young theater major in Michigan who could have been a heroine in a YA story so plucky and positive and nice was she. She married a man who was much older than she was, who psychologically abused her and – bam: She stopped writing.

I suppose relationships like these are very much like the relationships one forms with characters on one’s favorite TV shows with one big difference: I can’t leave cautionary comments for my favorite TV characters: You know, Cosima, you really should ditch Delphine! Hello, Theresa – James is much, much hotter than Guerro.

Is it a type of voyeurism?

Possibly.

I luv, luv, luv other people’s stories.

###

Getting back to my own story (which strives to fuse the styles of Edith Wharton, the highly under-rated Walter de la Mare, and T.C. Boyle):

(i) Alice looks out the window of her Washington mansion, sees the black car with the flower vase and the white votive candles in place of headlights gliding silently by. Knows at once that Nell is dead. Somewhat sadistically, decides to tell the story of her feud with Nell to a reporter.

(ii) Begin flashback. Alice’s stepmother informs Alice that she is to be sent to spend the remainder of the summer at Oak Terrace in punishment for her wild ways.

(iii) Info dump: Nell comes to visit the Roosevelts one Christmas to spend some supervised time with her dipsomaniac father who is also named Nell. Yada yada yada – poor little Nell, crazy father.

Alice and her brothers play a cruel trick on Nell. Alice then walks in on the two Nells: Paternal Nell is painting little girl Nell’s toenails with a weird expression on his face.

Somewhere in this section, Auntie Bye tells Bunker Hill Teddy the story of how on the sole visit to Oak Terrace that Mrs. Ludlow Hall allowed, paternal Nell took his long black car to Tivoli with his dogs and little Nell. Paternal Nell then proceeded to go into a tavern and get stinking drunk while little Nell waited shivering outside. Eventually, a kindly coachman fetched Little Nell back to Oak Terrace.

Paternal Nell, we learn, died soon after this visit: He leaped from an NYC window while high on morphine. Oh, and there has to be something distinctive about the way paternal Nell walks, moves, bounces.

(iv) Alice arrives at Oak Terrace. Afore-mentioned coachman fetches her from the Hyde Park train station.

Daily life at Oak Terrace. The strange Mrs. Ludlow Hall. The spinsterish aunts who float around the sitting room, vaporish, gaunt and silent. Uncle Valentine who sits at his bedroom window with a rifle so he can shoot any strangers who come up the path. (Fortunately, there are none.) Nell sits passively reading all day, but disappears every afternoon around 4pm.

(v) Alice follows Nell one day when she disappears. Nell goes out into the woods and plays a complicated game with sticks and leaves that she gives names to and pretends are families. The coachman appears, but day-em – he moves differently, doesn’t he? Where has Alice seen those movements before? There is something… unwholesome in the true Turn of the Screw sense about the way Nell and the coachman lean their heads towards one another.

(vi) More daily life at Oak Terrace. Alice confronts Nell with what she’s seen. Nell says, It’s just a game, and invites Alice to come and play, too. Disturbing incident in the woods involving Alice, Nell and the coachman, but of course, it must be cloaked in neo-Victorian propriety: No jacking off in the bushes please.

(vii) Alice confronts Mrs. Ludlow Hall. Unpleasant interview during which Mrs. Ludlow’s Livingston ancestry and intense dislike of the Roosevelt upstarts – whom she calls “the van Roosevelts – is referenced. Alice understands that she must save Nell on her own.

(viii) Paternal Nell’s black car is still in the Oak Terrace carriage house. Alice follows Nell and the coachman there. Get into the-e-e-e-e car! the coachman hisses, and Nell does. OhmiGawd, thinks Alice. He looks like paternal Nell! Even though he doesn’t look like paternal Nell! The black car begins to glide down the overgrown pathway. The steering wheel is on the right side; Alice views Nell’s feverishly excited face. It’s the Peter Quint, you devil! moment. Alice hurls herself in front of the car.

(ix) Alice is not hurt. In the confusion that follows, Alice’s stepmother makes a trip to Oak Terrace and demands that Nell be sent off to boarding school in England. She is. The two girls grow up to be very famous: Alice, of course, is the originator of the phrase, If you don’t have anything nice to say, come here and sit next to me! Nell marries Franklin Delano Roosevelt and invents modern progressivism.

(x) The car that Alice sees creeping down Massachusetts Avenue that morning is not the car in the Oak Terrace carriage house, but has the same detailing as the car in the Oak Terrace Carriage House – candles instead of headlights, a flower vase. (Will need some more weird car design features.) And in the passenger seat, Alice had espied not the adult Eleanor Roosevelt but the girl Nell with her eager, hopeful face.

Story still doesn’t have a name. And though I’d been hoping to keep it to 5,000 words in length – ‘cause let’s face it: Nobody wants to read more than 5,000 words – it’s now up to 8,000.
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Oh, m’Gawd. That storm. Unbelievable.

I’ve seen that erie grey-green before, most notably one afternoon when I was traveling through Tornado Alley with the circus, and the sirens went off while I was inside a Barnes & Noble in a tacky mall just outside Iowa City.

I scampered to the front plate glass windows to get a better look.

“Are you nuts?” hissed one of the store attendants.

(Well, yeah, I thought. Isn’t that the point?)

They herded us into some kind of dark back room for safety.

But the funnel-shaped cloud never touched down.

Yesterday, there were no funnel-shaped clouds, but the entire sky roiled and turned that grey-green, and we were hammered for four hours straight by high winds, sky-to-earth lightening bolts, and torrential rains.

Flash floods all over town. Power outages (though not at my house.) Trees down.

But the humidity is back down.

Which is good.

It hasn’t been all that hot here, but the humidity has made it difficult to move. Like yesterday morning before the storm hit, I went exercising on the Walkway because I figured breeze, marginally more comfortable.



You can practically see the humidity in the air, can’t you? The river is just one big gloopy mess.

This morning it’s quite beautiful out and not humid.

I continue to be in this distracted, fretful mood, but I did solve one major POV challenge with Where You Are When, which should make the writing go much more smoothly. (Of course, it doesn’t solve the underlying dilemma of Why are you wasting time on creative pursuits when you could be watching Season 4 of The Real Housewives of New York for the fourth time?)

Also, I solved the image upload problem on Dreamwidth, which means I can start using DW as my image repository. I'll have to keep the LJ account because there's no EZ way to transfer those old images to DW, and I like them. Also, like I say, I'm fond of my wacky little band of self-selected LJ pals, and most of them have no interest in migrating away from that platform.

But certainly my goal is to use LJ less and less.

I'm feeling this underlying baseline of mild panic all the time. Why? Who knows? As I say, my life is quite cozy these days.

PTSD?

Perhaps. The political situation here, there, everywhere continues to be appalling.

And I’m finding it increasingly difficult to care. Though I know I should
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I did absolutely nothing of any substance all weekend, I mean ab-zo-loot-leee nada! And felt very guilty about it, too, which detracted considerably from the mindless pleasure of nada.

I watched all 10 episodes of The Good Fight and liked them.

I watched a heartwarming movie about a woman and her bomb-sniffing dog, Megan Leavey. And cried. And thought about Milo.

I played The Sims for hours. I’m currently fleshing out the backstory of an autistic genius, so that’s taking up a lot of time.

I read two (count ‘em) biographies of Jerry Garcia and mused for a long time about what an altogether unpleasant little man he was albeit an extremely fine guitar player.

Really, one of the most fascinating things about Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead is that so many of us started out like that – going for adventures in painted buses, dropping vast quantities of acid, cramming together in rat-infested Victorians in the Haight. While a tiny fraction managed to turn that backstory into iconography, the vast majority turned it into failure.

Of course, “failure” is one of those words with no hard definition. I’m alive and in relatively good health two full decades after Jerry Garcia’s expiration date.

But I don’t have the money to plan a spree trip to Cuba let alone to maintain an aggressive heroin habit.

Isn’t that failure?

Can I mention here how much I loathe Jack Kerouac? And Ken Kesey? How I think On the Road and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest are two of the most over-rated books in the 20th century bibliotheca? Badly written and misogynistic.

Meanwhile, it’s summertime in the quaint and scenic Hudson Valley. I have to get out of the house by 8am if I want to go running since by 9am, it’s 80 degrees.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon sitting on a grassy bluff high above the river, occasionally looking up from my books to take a sip of water and take in this view:

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After dreaming about it, I was moved to Google-streetview the old apartment on Telegraph Avenue. It’s still there! And it’s still got the adult bookstore on its ground floor. So funny!

Those bay windows on the second floor are the ones Danny jumps out of. The tree, though, was the merest sapling when I lived there.

###

Dreamed that Max (my oldest son) and I were running around on the subway. And I was in an odd, petulant, resentful mood – Max was not paying enough attention to me! So at some point when he was running to catch a train, I deliberately dawdled behind so that I missed the train. And then it occurred to me that I didn’t have the slightest idea where I was. That the subway system had changed dramatically since the last time I’d been on it. I was now quite lost.

In the dream, Max was very excited because he’d just adopted Justin. (Robin’s high school best friend who committed suicide his first year in college.) “It’s a weird thing to do, I know,” he told me. “But I’m absolutely convinced I can save him.”

###

Weather has turned spectacular, so I’ve been spending as much time as I can outside, soaking up that Vitamin D.

The Goddess of Smartphones has got her fountain back:

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She really is the Goddess of Smartphones, as you can see from this highly pixilated close-up:

unnamed-2


Smartphones would not be invented for another 100 years when this statue was created, so credit those Vanderbilts with prescience as well as with obscene amounts of money.

###

RTT is a bit disturbed by the fact that his father hasn’t contacted him since his father has been in Europe.

What if that woman murdered dad? he texted.

This was the first I’d heard that Ben was flying off to Europe to meet a woman.

I found it pretty amusing that he would keep that info from me. Honestly, B – after all this time, do you think I really care?

B’s always had the capacity to get completely caught up in the adventure of the moment to the exclusion of everything else – particularly when the moment has a female costar.

I’ve seen this numerous times, but this is the first time RTT has experienced it.

I debated explaining it to him: This is the way your father reinvents himself when he finds his present reality too constraining. Likely he’s telling the woman – whoever she is – a complicated series of lies. He’s a bestselling novelist in the States! Or maybe a ghostwriter for a bestselling novelist. Or maybe a lion tamer with a traveling circus.

Avowals of grand passion will be exchanged: I never thought I would feel this way again! I don’t see how I can live without you.

At my present remove, I find this behavior almost endearing.

It wasn’t always.

But then I realized it benefits Robin in no way whatsoever to learn these truths about his father. So I texted him back, Trips are really ABSORBING as you know. I’m sure he’s fine. He’s living a life that’s outside his daily routine and reveling in it, you know?

Robin and Ben have a curiously codependent relationship in which Ben nags Robin relentlessly and continuously.

I’m sure it does feel strange to Robin to have that nagging disappear so suddenly.

But Robin is 22 years old now.

He shouldn’t need to be nagged.
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Vivid dream: I was back in my apartment in Oakland on Telegraph Avenue. My very first apartment! The one that sat over a storefront that most of the time was the Independent Driving School but sometimes turned into an adult bookstore and on at least one occasion took up tax preparation.

I’d arrived there through some sort of vaguely Orphan Black-ish cloak-and-dagger activity. I was hiding out from menacing authorities! My trusty backup squad consisted of two LJ friends whom I’ve never met – smokingboot, a Brit, whom I envision as quite ethereal, and Rob H.

Smokingboot was showing me around the apartment, which she’d decorated entirely with mirrors, stained glass, and quaint Tales-of-Hoffman-ish automatons – I remember one automaton, embedded somehow in one of the stained glass windows, was the simulacrum of a famous 1920s tennis star and would recite the tennis star’s entire biography if prompted.

I was going to have to hide out in this apartment for some unknown reason.

I looked around and thought, That’s not so bad; I kind of like this place

###

The Oakland apartment is a major touchstone in Where You Are When: Ybel lives there, and it’s the apartment where Danny and Megan keep staging colorful suicides in various iterations. That plus special guest appearances by LJ pals made me think: Aha! I’m dreaming about writing.

###

During my absence, western Dutchess County somehow metamorphosed into the Cotswolds. It rains. And rains. And rains. And the gardens bloom!

Mostly it’s been a manageable drizzle, but sometimes it pours. Not something I’ve felt like going out in, so I’ve been under-exercised and generally crochety.

I suppose I’m gonna have to break down and join a gym.

I hate gyms.

###

That Grateful Dead documentary made a strong impression on me. In particular, the Haight/Ashbury footage from the late 1960s.

I was a student at Berkeley at the time – yes, yes, I was only 16, but I’d skipped two years of school – and I hopped the AC transit bus into the City often. Golden Gate Park was one of my very favorite places to drop acid.

In a way, it’s the same thing that appeals to me about small towns – it’s as if remnants of the past are trapped like genies in flat black and white images or in abandoned, dilapidated buildings lining an empty Main Street.

Who knows what powerful magic those genies might be able to perform if released, right?

In particular, I stared at Bob Weir who in my benighted 20s seemed to me the very epitome of male beauty. Today, all I can think is, Damn! What a slack-jawed, country bumpkin-looking moron. Pretty but very obviously dumb as blunt nails.

The editing in the documentary was very weird; it jumped from a scene of Weir on the stage to a shot of Weir as an old man – well: a man my age – climbing into an ecologically friendly motor vehicle and buckling up his seat belt with a trembling hand. The dumbness is a constant. I wonder how come I missed that back in the day?

In retrospect, I can see all sorts of things that were wrong with the Dead scene. It was a complete male chauvinist fantasy. Women existed to be fucked, to prepare food, or to do those weird, whirly hand dances – their straight, carefully-parted-down-the-middle hair flying – while the Dead played Dark Star.

About a year later, I started modeling professionally, which took me frequently to New York where I hung about on the fringes of the Max’s Kansas City/Andy Warhol Factory scene. Incipient punk. A lot more dangerous than the Grateful Dead scene, but – oddly – a lot more egalitarian when it came to gender roles.

Still. There was something about the Dead that spoke to me, and I continued catching the occasional show and doing the occasional tab until Garcia dropped dead.

Whereupon I gave up psychedelics altogether.

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The Former Democratic Congressional Candidate’s brother posted this photograph of her looking elegant and imperious and as though she would snap the head off anyone who made a stupid remark.

This is how I would like to remember her.

Except that I didn’t actually know her when she was this person.
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Came back from my trip and thought about writing and wanted to write – I had adventures! – but did not write.

And I’m not exactly sure why.

Trips are good. Trips reaffirm you as the primary stakeholder in your own life; the center of your own narrative, if not of the universe.

I want to go on more trips.

But I guess I’m so innately lazy and undisciplined that a week is all it takes for me to lose a habit.

###

After a couple of days, the small adventures of everyday life began to take over the brain cells allocated to trip memories.

For example: One afternoon, I was tromping fast or running – whichever one you want to call it – through the Vanderbilt Estate when I was passed by a car. Not a limo, but a black car – Crown Victoria maybe? And inside that car sat the Former Democratic Candidate for Congress. This was really confusing to me because I’d heard through the grapevine that she was desperately ill, too ill to leave her bed, or so, I’d been told.

If the Former Democratic Candidate for Congress saw me, she made no sign.

When I got home three hours later, there was an email: The Former Democratic Candidate for Congress had just died.

And this was just very weird because it strongly suggests that the Vanderbilt Estate is either the hellmouth or the pearly gates, I’m not exactly sure which.

###

And yesterday, which I’d put aside for writing about my trip, I could not wake up. All day long I had that really frustrating feeling of trying to jumpstart my mind as though it was a power mower or a chainsaw, and feeling it sputter and spurt as fuel was fed but remained unsparked.

Finally, I gave up and watched a six-hour documentary on the Grateful Dead.

I would never describe myself as a Deadhead, but I did see the Dead in concert innumerable times. Dead concerts were always a great place to do psychedelics. Plus I really liked the fact that here was this huge underground phenomenon that had received little or no acknowledgement from the mainstream press and PR machines; a whole transient economy and community that came together and then dissipated in the time it might take a handful of itinerant Buddhist monks to make a sand painting. Think Burning Man without the hype.

Still. Jerry Garcia as a Christ figure is stretching it.

###

Before I forget – there are three pieces I’d like to write in the coming week:

(1) The Kathy Griffin saga. Think what you like about the tastelessness of swinging a severed and bloodied head – hey! It worked for Salome! And for Judith! – this was a woman who was prepared to do battle on the enemy’s own turf.

Vulgar?

Sure.

Vulgar to a Trumpian extent, in fact.

Fighting fire with fire is not an inherently bad thing, so I was deeply puzzled when Griffin was castigated by both the Left and the Right.

The Left loves to eat its own.

But this one makes me wonder whether the real reason the Neanderthals lost out to Cro Magnon Man wasn’t because they were too polite.

(2) A deconstruction of the Hillary Body Bag trope. I have a list of all of Hillary's (alleged) bodies, and it’s far more extensive than Seth Rich and Vince Foster. But I'm wondering if there's another episode in American political history where a particular politician was accused of so many back channel murders. I have this sense that it’s a hoary narrative, but I just don’t know enough history to support that contention. So I’m fishing around for 19th century or 20th century examples.

(3) Why Americans don’t care about climate change. And I suspect that Trump called the zeitgeist exactly right here: Most Americans will actually concede that scientists are right and that climate change is happening. But they don’t give a shit. Why? Because climate change, indeed environmental issues in general, are widely perceived to be rich people’s causes. As though one morning, the One Percent woke up and realized, Uh oh! We’re sharing a planet with those dirtbags. We gotta do something.

Naturally, every strategy for reducing greenhouse gases has a disproportionately large effect on the poor.

How many tons of carbon does the Lear Jet that Al Gore uses to travel between climate change conferences generate anyway? But you’re not gonna find Al Gore reserving a seat on Amtrak any time soon.

There’s a huge amount of cognitive dissonance involved with behaviors like this, and mainstream Americans are not blind to it.
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It’s been hot. Very, very hot. Eighty-degrees-Fahrenheit-by-9-o’clock-in- the-morning hot.

This means that by the time I’m coffee’d up and Daily Mail-ed up enough to want to go out and exercise, it’s too hot to go out and exercise.

Consequently, I haven’t exercised for the past couple of days. At the same time, I haven’t slept well for the past couple of days. Are these two things connected? Seems likely.

I felt the urge to become politically involved in the orchestrated momentum leading up to the last Presidential election and the hysterical churn of the first few months after Trump won.

But it’s obvious the Sooper Sekrit Political Group is just another dead-end time sink at this point.

Before I got involved with the Sooper Sekrit Political Group, I was very involved with the Dutchess County Political Action Alliance – but it soon became very clear to me that the only “action” the DCPAA is committed to doing is allying with larger state progressive groups that want to use ground members as background extras in various useless rallies and protests. That’s an insult to my intelligence.

At this point, I’m thinking that all the high drama on the American political stage is just a battle for advertising dollars being waged between MSNBC and Fox News.

The words of the ZMan echo: I slowly came to the conclusion that the whole Right-Left dynamic was just a myth… If the Right-Left construct is just a version of good cop/bad cop where the people in the media hustle the rest of us so they can live above their utility, then what’s really going on in the world?

And the always relevant Bion of Borysthenes quotation. You know the one. The boys throwing stones. The dead frogs.

I care but not in the way I see my agitated Progressive friends caring. I think they’re having trouble separating the Figure from the Ground. And the Ground, she is changing…

###

Also, I have my own Work – which I pretty much have ignored for the past few months.

My own Work may never amount to anything, but it is mine – my own “sensemaking” to borrow Boy Genius’s ridiculously pompous phrase.

Why have I been ignoring it?

Partly a lack of discipline.

Partly the fact that I make my supplemental monies writing and that those writings have to happen on a timeline over which I have no control – so that when those deadlines have been met, I am often all written out and mentally exhausted.

Partly, though, because I’m not allowing myself to be absorbed into my own imagination. I’m allowing myself to be absorbed into other people’s imaginations. It’s more of a social thing, doncha know.

Not really sure what to do about any of this. I’m done being hard on myself in any way, shape, or form. The world is hard enough on me already; I don't see why I should give it any additional help.

But I’d like to figure out a way to get back inside my own imagination.
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Anyone-But-Le-Pen swept to a resounding victory in the French Presidential election. This stays the slouching of What Dark Beast for at least one more decade, I guess.

And if it were up to me, I would never publish anything under my own name. I would always adopt kludgey pennames like Ernest Delving or Frank. B. Leaf.

The whole popularity contest of publishing even in really tiny obscure outlets is just too hard on one’s stomach.

Else?

Boy Genius is having another snit, and this makes me question the wisdom of continuing to work with the Sooper Sekrit enterprise. In general, I don’t like Boy Genius (though I do like Alpha Male.) Dealing with male divas is always a lot harder than dealing with female divas; they’re less easily placated. I enjoy the work with the Sooper Sekrit Political Group, but there’s no denying a lot of opportunity costs are involved: I’m waaaay behind on back episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City, and I haven’t done any of my own scribbling in ages.

I continue in this weird prickly mood. Communicating with human beings other than B and Max feels like walking a runway that’s been placed over a minefield. Human interactions are just fraught with complications. Remaining on the defensive is exhausting.
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I’d forgotten the way that writing something in a single swoop feels exactly like doing cocaine. A cheap high!

Finished the piece around midnight. Texted it to B who turned out to be awake and so was able to spare me the hideous public embarrassment that comes when you confuse the Indy 500 with the Daytona 500.

Here’s the piece:

https://medium.com/rally-point-perspectives/three-trump-insurgency-blogs-you-should-know-about-a40a6c860a9f

In the end, I went with three Trump Insurgency blogs simply because I could not force myself to read five. Piece could probably use some cleaning up, but hey! It’s fuckin’ Medium. It’s not like I’m getting paid or anything.

Overall, I’m not entirely displeased with it. My favorite line? He equates homosexuality with the types of developmental challenges that I believe only the March of Dimes is still referring to as “birth defects.”

###

B and I texted for an hour. The crassest, most politically incorrect jokes you can possibly imagine! That’s one of our secret bonds. Macron’s wife was his high school teacher, B noted. In America, that would have led to a multi-state manhunt!

The way God intended! I said.

Didn’t you interview Scott Adams once when you worked for People? he asked.

I did.

Damn, he said. It’s like missing a chance to kill Hitler.

###

But after we finished texting, I still couldn’t sleep, even though I was dead tired. I watched several back-to-back episodes of Medium on Hulu. Medium is one of my favorite old TV shows. Patricia Arquette as Alison Dubois is a dead ringer for my old Monterey pal Heidi, right down to the blonde bowl cut, the flat blue eyes, and the annoying whiney voice. Joe Dubois is the most perfect husband ever (even though Jake Weber, the actor who plays him – a Brit – does the weirdest American accent you can possibly imagine.)

I still couldn’t fall asleep.

Finally I swiped one of L’s airplane-bottle bonsais of booze, downed it in a single gulp. Spiced rum Ugh! The trick is to find something strong enough to knock you off that plateau of wakefulness. Alcohol works, though it always leaves me feeling disoriented the following morning: I’m not much of a drinker.

Woke up at 7:30 because it is impossible for me to sleep once the morning has lightened.

Now, of course, I feel completely out of it. It was almost too much of an effort to make oatmeal. I know, I thought. I’ll eat stale, tasteless chocolate chip cookies for breakfast!

(It takes three minutes to make oatmeal, and I hate chocolate chip cookies.)

But I must gather my wits together ‘cause the Scut Factory is calling my name. (Cue Tennessee Ernie Ford.)

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