The Great American Road Trip Pt. 2

I had one good day at the beginning of this last road trip where it seemed like everything was going to go off without a hitch. I did a show for a little crowd at this chilled out Charlotte sports pub, ate some fish, read a little. Then I was on the road again. It was going alright for a while, but pretty soon there was a sense of dread. Why had my car tires been doing this weird stop-start thing for a few seconds? It was probably nothing. I’d been stuck in a deluge of awful goddamn rain the previous day, and figured that had jammed up the car a little, that it’d wash out as I drove. Pretty soon I was too tired to drive. The first two hotels I tried were total pieces of shit, with awful cracked up parking lots and the veneer of places you would only stay for a good story. But they were sold out. On this Memorial Day weekend I couldn’t even get a room in the middle of bumfuck SC.

Finally I found an Econo Lodge – and for under a hundred bucks at that. Crazy. I slept pretty well and did a bit of writing that night.

In the morning I drove for a few more hours. Bright cloudless summer day on a holiday weekend and we were in lockstep. My tires were still being a little bit odd. I stopped finally after about two or three hours in Walterboro, where I got some snacks and a bottle of water. Sat there for 10 minutes in the parking lot to take a break. The plan was to stop again in St. Augustine. It all seemed like it would be alright. Then the car stopped in the middle of traffic as I was trying to leave and the car horns started coming. I restarted the car and managed to get it to the parking lot of a strip mall with a sushi place, a clothing store, a KFC, a Walmart and this random sports bar type of place.

For the next few hours on this holiday weekend I tried to call every auto place in the area to find somebody to help. Of course they all were gone pretty much, even at like 11 a.m. on a Friday. The blacktop was scorching and the sun was relentless. I don’t understand white supremacists at all if they’ve ever had to stand in the sun like this. It’s very clear what the truth really is – I got scorched like a fucking lobster out there.

Finally I got a tow truck guy to drive me and the defunct car, which was suffering from a transmission failure, all the way down to Savannah. I was redoing the whole plot of PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES, except with no trains. I was determined to get to Florida. I had some shows to do, and a bachelor party to get to. At a hotel in Savannah on Memorial Day weekend, I drank beers on the roof lobby and then sipped a tiny rum bottle as I was watching GOODFELLAS – Ray Liotta had just passed. Usually I’d be out with the nightlife. This night I had no energy for anything. Completely drained. I woke up and took a plane back to Orlando.

I was able to rent a car to get to Tallahassee on the 31st to do shows with my friend Erick Lutz. We stayed in a weird hotel that was something like a labyrinth, with about three distinct parts that appeared to be upstairs and downstairs areas, even though the parking lot was a continuous downward slant. It appeared to be some sort of place for people to stay long term – there were families in the pool, cooking on grills, all kinds of stuff. The room was small and the WiFi didn’t work. There wasn’t even anybody in the lobby past 11, so if we’d gotten there too late we would’ve been fucked.

And the coffee shop where we camped out before the second show, it was swelteringly hot, with seemingly no air conditioning. Erick dabbed at his head with ice cubes from his drink and I was sweating on my computer trying to work. That whole day I was also on the phone with three different people trying to get my car moved to a transmission shop. I told the AAMCO to use their towing guy, thinking the AAA guy I called had not showed up. The AAMCO guy called me, irate, at 7 pm, saying the car was gone. I rested in satisfaction knowing that the transmission was broken, so no one could’ve stolen it at all, and it must have been taken by the AAA guy after all (It had been.)

The comedy shows went off like gangbusters. The crowds were fun and we got the satisfaction of being traveling bards in a foreign land. There’s a sort of recklessness, in a good way, you get when you’re performing somewhere nobody knows you. It elevates you and the material becomes fun because you know they’ve never heard it. The stage makes you forget all the car troubles and weird tribulations of the trip. One show was at this arcade bar place and at that show there was a woman who heckled everyone. Earlier in the night she’d made a weird crack at the bar on how she couldn’t come see the show because she’s blind. Erick is blind and took this as an opportunity to riff on it all.

The second show was at a place I’d done before, Bird’s Aphrodesiac Oyster Shack. Small crowd but they were into it. It’s one of these places with a bunch of old memorabilia and posters covering every inch of the wall, so I know those places will be good for me. Now I’ve had two great shows there. I felt like it went well. Erick did great too – he did some wild stuff on stage that the crowds ate up. Just first rate comedy. It’s good to have a bit of camaraderie and teamwork in all this mess.

I did some other shows – one of them a clean show at Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Theater. I wasn’t told it’d be clean before the show, so I had to do some mental calculations. I was pretty sure a bunch of tourists wouldn’t want to hear about allergy drug addictions or traffic crashes or animal suicide. I’m usually not into having to do this, but it did go off without a hitch and the crowd was fun, probably not even caring so much about the content as the venue did. Erick put this one on, and he really got a great crowd out of those tourists. The other show was a contest which I lost, held at one of these fancy breweries where you pour your own beer from a big wall panel of selections. I had a fun set though.

Then came the bachelor party in Miami, a sprawling three-day adventure of swanky clubs and all kinds of stuff. Lots of swimming. I drank vodka at one club and chatted with a girl who was from Asheville. Way down in Miami just two Asheville residents. That place is probably as touristy as anywhere now. But I like it. The party was for Colin and it was just a few of us, but it was a good time and we lived it up. At one point we were lounging in a rooftop pool owned by Pharrell Williams, the sun murderous, but there were so many beautiful people around and none of them seemed to care. Miami is a place where everyone there is the most perfect physically beautiful people you’ve ever seen in your life. Like you can barely even imagine them returning to work in a random car dealership or insurance office or fast food place. They’re like aliens.

I finally got the car fixed on June 17th. I took another plane out, then had a two-hour layover and numerous delays. Drove through the worst thunderstorm in at least a few weeks. I’m home now and hoping not to fly anymore for a while.

Otherwise… here’s some stuff I’ve been enjoying.

WATCHING – CRIMES OF THE FUTURE is a gloriously dark, twisty piece of film, fraught with meaning, crackling with its own dark ingenuity at every turn. Cronenberg returns in fine form. MAD GOD on Shudder, by visual artist Phil Tippett, is this trippy, violent haze of creative stop motion puppets and animation. Best looking thing of the year. I’m endlessly fucking fascinated.

LISTENING – The new Jack White album I finally got on CD and the lyrics make more sense when reading ’em. Also the band Crass. A brilliant anarchic punk act. They really live their shit, they believed every word. They were the real deal. And Nuclear Death has been intriguing me. This takes everything just so far out and the lyrics are masterworks of just utter depravity and filth. I can’t get enough. I want stuff with that artistic intent.

Road Trip Prelude

I’ve been back in Asheville for a month now and it’s just gone by like wildfire. I’m gonna leave again pretty soon. This time for longer.

My trip back from Houston was a bedraggled mess in which I got COVID and had to work as well as drive 900 miles northeast. I didn’t get hit by the COVID too hard, but it was a pretty ghastly few days. The sun beat down like an unforgiving cruelty, the snacks and water from the gas stations all sucked. I did like the music. And I stayed in a Quality Inn in north Alabama that was surprisingly nice and got to watch a bunch of stuff and finally fucking relax. I almost didn’t care that the country’s rampant inflation and economic insanity made me pay $159 for that. That much money for a hotel right off the highway. What a time to be alive.

The following week and a half of COVID isolation was a blur. I barely remember the separation between the days. It was as though I stepped through a time warp and came out the other side.

Had a brief online dating fling. Didn’t take. I feel like all of my relationships are either toxic as fuck or some kind of penpal-esque thing where it’s awesome conversation but no romantic attraction or even mild flirting. It’s tough out there.

Comedy is good. Had a great set the other week as the first show of my run for the beginning of summer. You chase the high of the laughs, and there’s an inner satisfaction in pulling off an execution of a set really well. I did a podcast the other night with some guys here in town. Fun time. I really feel like I am getting into the vibe of Asheville. It’s a good thing for me; I am drinking less, comparatively anyway, and I feel more at peace with things. Florida always had too much chaos for it and I fed off that, and it led to a lot of negative interactions with people, and I was not very happy a lot of the time. I hope I can move on and keep doing well here. There’s just places you fit into better, and maybe this is one of them for me.

But I am about to leave again for Florida for a few weeks, for comedy, seeing old friends, a bachelor party and Key West. More soon. I’d be happy just hanging around here longer. I feel I am cultivating something and there’s something to be said for a humble life. But I also do want the adventure stories. It’s just a shame I have to drive all this way on fucking Memorial Day weekend, a day I swore I’d never drive on again after the horrific traffic jam in Florida exactly a year ago. Memorial Day weekend and all these holidays are pure bloat and nonsense. It’s better to stay inside if you can. Or at least off the fucking highway.

Then of course there have been the myriad political situations. This atrocious shooting. Like, we’re all just powerless, so you get the same things every time, a lot of people who are grieving with nothing to do but post on social media about it. It becomes numbing and it’s good to take a break. The whole situation is so pitch-black awful. It’s nihilistic in the ceaseless violence. The country is mired in a toxic mix of gun worship, a kind of religious thing, along with a lot of paranoia. Then add in the fact that there’s no safety net and the government, both parties of it, have primarily served to enrich the rich and protect property and capital, with the cops their arm of that. And so you get this stew of white supremacy, hate, rampant violent paranoia.

I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t think anyone really does. Banning guns would maybe be nice, but I don’t really know how you’d enforce that, especially not when the police seem to be either on the side of the shooter or completely ineffectual.

So instead we get this thing where the country wants you to have the baby no matter what, but wait, there’s no guarantee he won’t get shot in a school shooting.

You can find all manner of similar points everywhere. I’m aware I’m saying nothing new. But writing’s the universal constant. We can be united in our ideas here.

Arcs Of History

People will talk about the long arc of time and history bending toward justice, and maybe it does. But as some protesters today pointed out, that doesn’t just happen by itself – it isn’t some kind of magical wand waving. It requires the work of people on the ground.

And that’s really what I see all the time now. I mean sure, talk about echo chambers, cultivated algorithms, and what have you – but in issues like this abortion ban, there are so many people who are vehemently and vitally opposed. That’s what I see all over. Any time I go out to protest, I see these huge throngs of people of all kinds, all of them from whatever walks of life and all opposed to fascism and right-wing control and the impeding of progress.

It’s a difficult thing because the power is all concentrated at the top, at least in a legal sense. There’s an unelected Supreme Court that can just wake up and do whatever they want with basic human rights like abortion. The politicians increasingly have less and less reason to listen to us on the ground unless we’re lobbyists handing them checks. So it can feel helpless. But I really don’t think it is. Seeing the people who come out to these protests, it’s clear we don’t need to have any fealty to these people. We need to work toward change and sometimes that change will involve just doing things on the ground, being there for one another when that fucking feckless, soulless boot of the state is not there to do anything for us. Whatever happens, I think there will be likeminded folks who are doing good work. This isn’t to say that we have to be unrealistically sunny. But I do find positivity in those people who are dedicated to human rights. And I think there’s a sizable portion of those out there.

I think about exactly how to change anything really. Like being a left political type of person, thinking in that way, that means that you’ve going out there on a limb and saying things need to be radically different. You’re not some kind of defender of a fucking status quo. You’re thinking of things as a great possibility for the future. Of course to some this makes you a spoilsport. You’re not in lockstep with some corporate flunky, so you must be sour grapes for their message.

But those people aren’t really serious folks. Change will come from those on the ground who are moving humanity forward – those in office are pretty often ineffectual or clowns, people with no real integrity. It’s a goofy worthless show. We have to look out for each other. I’ve wondered a lot if change is even possible, and how to achieve it at all, as so much of the time it feels like we’re not doing enough. But it comes in drips and drops, and any little action is still helping to move things along.

I was in the middle of writing this yesterday when the shooting in Buffalo happened. Horrific. A racist Nazi scumbag came into this Black neighborhood and just murdered people. Out for groceries, and this happens. Atrocious – the worst thing that could happen. There’s a growing movement of this kind of rabid, organized hate. You can see it in the movement to legislate trans people, to regulate women. It’s all sort of connected. Society is changing and there’s a reactionary movement that doesn’t want it to, and they come sometimes with guns. This is what we’re fighting against.

The Great American Road Trip Part I

The metal fest in Houston, Hell’s Heroes, was a whirlwind. You realize how little you’ve stood on your feet this long in the past two years of the pandemic. Lots of bands I knew since high school and I was seeing them live for the first time. I met Mike Scalzi from my favorite band Slough Feg briefly. My thing with meeting people whose art I like is that I don’t really need to have some prolonged conversation or even a picture really – I like their art and also just don’t want to bother them. That’s all it needs to be. There doesn’t have to be a breaking-down of any walls per se. But I did have to tell him how much I liked his band. That much I had to do.

The whole thing was a pure bonanza. Energy everywhere. So many people in denim and black band shirts. It was essentially the metal version of a comic convention. That’s really what makes life worth living, the nerdy stuff, the niches. It’s what we do to blow off steam and what gives us joy in the drudgery of the work and the politics. Metal music is its own whole ecosystem and breeds passion. The thrill of finding new bands. The blood pumping energy and aggression. Lets off the steam. There’s nothing like a good old 80s heavy metal album. There’s a joy to it. I bought an obscure live album from the 80s from some South American guy who had a whole table of this stuff, some of it I had never even heard of. Chatted with a guy I didn’t even know just because we’re part of an online community about it. This is all a whole universe that large pockets of the world will never know shit about. But to these people here, and to me as well – it was just what we wanted.

I drove out of Houston in the morning after that. It was Sunday and a clear, balmy day. Winter’s gone. I sipped coffee and listened to Mitch Hedberg and some music for a few hours. When I crossed into Louisiana, the clouds started rolling in, a great storm over the swamp and the Gulf coast, violent torrents of rain, sheets of gray, dismal and wild. Pretty tense. But it makes you feel alive. Not quite summer yet, but that was a classic southern summer storm.

Louisiana is a place I can’t really figure out. Not totally – I’m in this hotel in the French Quarter and I had to work through most of it, robbing me of the chance to really explore and get a sense of it better. I like these close-packed buildings and houses, all old wood and seemingly just people’s houses mixed in with random neighborhood bars and restaurants, a real sense of community, stuff to do just sort of there without any kind of adornment, seeming to pop out at you like from a fog, making you feel like you discovered some place cool.

At one bar, the bartender was taking care of a moth they’d found. A sort of community project. Some asshole threw a hard object at it and hit the wall – it went right by my head. He got rightfully reamed out by the bartender. They got the moth delicately, returned it to the outside. You don’t get this kind of stuff by staying at your house. Interesting pockets of life. Good community.

It’s a different side of this place than I first saw when I passed through earlier in the week. That was downtown. It was a few glitzy shining Vegas-esque clubs and restaurants across from pure grungy urban oblivion, the homeless sitting across the street from all this luxury and the big hotels down the street. That’s not a thing that just happens here. It’s the great malaise of our age. The unfairness and the disparity. That is the big evil of the times and maybe of all times – the wealth-hoarders. That’s the real enemy. It’s no different than in Orlando where homeless people are on every corner of downtown next to rich law firms and consultancies and steakhouses and that gigantic fucking convention center, or Asheville’s downtown where you can get $40 seafood or go to an art museum while drug addicts are being chased out of the park by cops. That’s what we have to be united against, the disparity.

I did comedy at a cool little dive bar last night. Lots of women or feminine comics there – like four or five in a row at the beginning of the mic. It’s good to see all sorts doing this. One of them was in a wheelchair and delivered a brilliant set. I think my own set went alright. I’m working on some new things here and there. More personal stuff. Trying to open up all pores of my creativity. I’m writing this now, even, because I’ve reached the end of most of my fiction projects and don’t have any strong new ideas.

After work I found my way into this old 24-hour dive bar pictured above. It was a cool place, just this classic fucking dive. There are maybe more fashionable places, but there’s nothing like a low-key, unpretentious dive with pool tables, metal walls, a clientele just built in who can relax there.

The drive back’s going to be long. Lots of more stretches of green, of dilapidated gas stations and barren stretches of fucking nothing, and it’s interesting and tiresome in fits and starts. I feel like I’m putting it off by writing this. I’ll be back home soon.

The Rest Of Our Lives

The pandemic’s not over – there seems to be the undercurrent of this virus that will continue indefinitely or for some time longer, anyway. I think about it often, how there wasn’t much for us to do about this after a while. Wear the masks, get your shots. That’s all we could do. I think movies gave us all a main-character syndrome where it’s like we began to think going back to regular life during this was some sort of betrayal, like we didn’t care about the virus or something, like there was something more important we should’ve done. But much of all of this was completely out of our hands. There was nothing for the common people in previous pandemics to do either – there was no time where people weren’t just going about their lives. It just keeps going. This isn’t to defend any bad behavior or downplaying of the pandemic. But I just don’t know what else to do about it at this point.

It really feels like this year is kind of a waking-up after a two-year-long haze of sorts. Like there was a lot of stuff I just wasn’t dealing with at all for most of the past two years – like the pandemic just gave me this excuse not to focus on the long-term goals in life. I don’t know how much longer I can use the bizarre allergy-drug addiction period of 2020 as an excuse anymore, though. I think it’s already just about spent.

I think that’s been the biggest thing fucking with my head lately. That and the impending months of activities hanging over my head – big anticipation.

Ultimately I feel like I have to start thinking about the future more. Building a good life and whatnot. I don’t know what that means. I just know I spent a shitload of time alone writing and reading. And that’s fine by me. But it’s good to have a real community and a richness to life in whatever capacity. I wasn’t finding it for a long time. My friends are scattered everywhere. A lot of the communication is through text now. That might sound like I’m complaining. I think it’s an alright life. I think I’ve chosen solid people to surround myself with overall.

***

I’ve been on the road for days. Going to Houston to do some comedy and see the Hell’s Heroes festival, full of all these bands I’ve liked since high school for fuck’s sake. It was a long dreary haze of the driving. A mass stretch of churches and Dollar Generals, long empty plains, gas stations, cars driving erratic, one incident of a Fed Ex truck that looked to have had a bomb go off inside it off on the shoulder of the road – a burnt out wreck that delayed traffic for a bit. This is such a big country. It’s unfathomable how huge it really is. The great vastness of it.

I spent some time in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. I must’ve been tired in New Orleans, because the whole place gave me a slightly off-kilter energy, and the disparity between the massive shimmering lights of the theater and the grungy abandoned buildings and various homeless destitute folks I saw on the streets, in the exact same area of town, both of these things. But this kind of thing happens everywhere. We have to do what we can to help and alleviate it all. The government won’t help very much. You have to do solidarity, mutual aid, etc. That’s power.

I want to go back to New Orleans soon and give it another go. See what there is to learn. Baton Rouge was peaceful. I couldn’t figure out the energy of Louisiana yet. That interested me. The food was good.

Texas seems like its own whole universe. You could just drive and drive here and there’s still more of it. I did comedy at The Secret Group last night, a big warehouse-like building with a rooftop patio, flashing red club lights, a bunch of various rooms all for comedy. They directed me back to a black wall along a desolate street with red flashing letters advertising THE BOX above a black door blended into the wall. Lynchian – a strange passage for sure. I’ve been doing comedy with only the one hearing aid for a while. That, plus the bright stagelights, made it like doing comedy in a vacuum. You soldier through these things. You just do it with confidence and hope you’re getting the message across. Any hesitation and they will sense it. You have to be impeccable and above the crowd onstage – something beyond human. Then you go in the green room and get a complimentary 4/20 joint as payment.

Trying to get beer after and I learn they stop selling alcohol at midnight in Houston. I got to a gas station at 11:55. The guy working wouldn’t let me in the building at all. He tapped his hand on his own phone which, somehow, said it was 11:59 when mine said it was four minutes earlier. Baffling. Don’t be such a stickler for the rules. Fortunately I nabbed a six-pack at one closer to my hotel, thankfully run by a guy who wasn’t such a rule-minded individual. You find ways.

Toils

I just got two rejections for short stories handed down by email – both within three hours of waking up. I guess it goes that way sometimes.

I like to talk about being rejected because I feel like you just have to be frank about it. No sense in posturing about this stuff. It’ll throw you a little, make you wonder if you were ever any good to begin with. But there’s thousands of people submitting shit every day, and who ever knows why something is rejected? All you can do is keep at it. I think I am writing things that are consistently just not what sells. I need to adjust that and do something else at least occasionally.

The world at large is a cesspool now. War and poverty. People dying and being displaced in Ukraine every day. No one has any money. Things are getting more expensive and even if you got a raise, you’re still probably feeling the pinch in your bank account. That doesn’t apply to the individuals who own all the wealth of course. They’re fine. Fine and insulated.

I was out at Lake James State Park in NC this past Saturday. First nice weather of the year. Shorts weather – as it always used to be back in Florida. I felt like I was back in my usual habitat right down to the sinus allergies that came on like fucking clockwork. It was good to be out there, though. There’s a lot of inner peace that can come with getting outside and away from screens.

Then I almost ran out of gas – I was spinning around those country roads, the needle dangerously in the red. I felt for sure this would end with me stranded out there with no cell reception and at the mercy of whoever’s house I happened to be by. I found my way back to the main road and ran into what I figured was a general store or a gas station, but which actually turned out to be a craft beer brewery. Nestled right there in the thick of the country. Everyone loves craft beer now. I helped myself to some before leaving, and after I’d somehow miraculously found a real gas station out there. It was a decent laid back afternoon once I settled the gas thing. It’s good to be able to go outside and enjoy this stuff again now.

I’ve been enjoying the new Sarah Shook & the Disarmers album, ‘Nightroamer.’ A great breezy country record that draws in all sorts of influences. It’s cathartic and seems to have a feeling of hope. And this Beach House album that’s just come out is good. A light listen like you’re immersed in a cloud.

And I’ve started thumbing through Claire Vaye Watkins’ Battleborn collection of short stories again. It’s a killer collection of dark Western-styled stories, all with achingly great prose, very evocative, putting into words feelings that are complex and specific, luridly detailed places and sensations. Really good.

Time Allotment

I’m very bad at keeping up this thing, which was supposed to be a way to keep some interest in my site. But I haven’t had anything published in a while. And when I tried to upload a comedy video it was annoying and I ended up forgetting to follow through. So this all just seems like a pointless internet vanity project right now.

I can’t help it – I just have more fun actually tinkering with creative shit than doing stuff to build up marketing or whatever. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

It’s been a decent life as of late though. I did a few comedy shows – I drove two hours each way for shows two nights in a row, in different cities. It was like it used to be. There’s something fun for me in the long drives, the playing music, the stopping at random gas stations or hotels. It’s an adventure. I would probably get tired of it if I did it for a living month after month.

The world seems to be a bigger place out here (North Carolina, where I live now). In Florida it was literally narrow – you could drive up and down that state, but it was time consuming to go further. I used to work a desk job as a reporter, and I didn’t have time for it then. I could drive up and down Florida, that thin tube of a state, but the rest of the country seemed a big mystery a lot of the time. It’d been a while since I left.

Now I have the range to drive in different directions and potentially enter two or three other states. I visited Colorado last year and am going to Texas this year. It all seems broader now and I think you need that.

I have been reading a bunch of shit all at the same time – Marx’s Capital and a Keith Richards biography are two of them. It’s not so bad. The Marx is really something – he sure has a lot of ideas. I feel like I’m giving myself the forbidden education that was never in the curriculum when I was in school. I got the old fashioned American dogma so I’m going in another direction now. Here’s hoping a bunch of Republican senators don’t find out. The Keith Richards is good too. He’s a strong writer; funny and to the point. Rock stars can occasionally really pull this shit off.

Politics is the same as ever – endless culture wars dominate while the rich get richer. Seems like the status quo. They are talking about a war with Russia now. I’m sure that’s going to be an entirely noble thing, born solely of good will for the underserved people of the Earth. I’m also very glad our military budget is in the hundreds of billions while nobody can afford rent or health care. Great system.

I’ve been thinking more about anger lately. We all have to live in the world, and the last two years if nothing else have spotlighted just how bad a lot of service workers have it. The animosity directed at them. They get the brunt of the anger from short-fused, small-minded idiots and it sucks, because they are just trying to survive. Now, I would occasionally get drunk and send off some kind of angry email to a politician chastising them for being full of shit. But they aren’t reading those emails. The ones who got the brunt of my own wrath were hapless interns or something, also just trying to make a buck. So the anger becomes impotent. If you’re really deserving of that rage, you’re insulated from it. Money can be a buffer in that way and you can go on and do the same horrible shit you were before.

I think there might be a joke in that. This is how I write jokes. I just sort of type out a bunch of stuff and hope a punchline can be gleaned from it like a nugget of gold. It’s a work in progress.

Anyway, this has all been a hodge podge of random thoughts. Here’s some stuff I’ve been enjoying lately:

MOVIES: TITANE was good. Interesting and artsy and vague in the best ways. Art’s supposed to make you feel things and challenge you. This did that.

MUSIC: Right now I am playing the first Jimi Hendrix Experience album. There’s something to the brevity of it all. The simple, direct musicality. He had something to say and he said it. Also been playing some Voivod. Their Post-Society EP is so good. A true free-thinking band.

Allergen

(Originally posted 12/30/21).

Well a year ago I woke up with a nosebleed and then entered NYE in the ER because it kept coming back throughout the day and wouldn’t quit. By the end of it my bathroom looked like a scene out of a horror film. Out of control.

Turned out I had been way overdoing it on the Flonase allergy nasal spray drugs. I did them so much it burst a blood vessel in my nose. Hardcore shit man.

That also explained the insane out-of-body feeling that had been going on the previous month or two before that. Inexplicable anger sometimes, a weird floaty feeling in my head at others. I didn’t feel like myself. That’s some fodder for horror stories there. It was Cronenbergian type shit.

Looking back, I was in a bad way, doing those drugs earlier and earlier in the morning, later and later at night. Pandemic isolation just amplified it all. Nothing else to do and nowhere to go. And for years it had been slowly creeping up on me and making me feel worse when the allergies were bad. Dependency.

Once I walked out of the ER the second time on 1/1/2021 and then continued with life, I felt better and have become more clearheaded in every aspect. Then I moved to Asheville and have been making a new life there. I’m not there now; I am in St. Augustine being a beach bum, but even so. It’s good to root out the issues in your life. Sometimes they are shitty steroid drugs that slowly rot away your brain. You got to get out from under those types of things, whatever they are.

But I feel good these days.

At the end of the day, it’s just funny that this shit was the worst thing to happen in 2020 to me while covid was running rampant. I can’t ever go along with the mainstream I guess.

New Year

I spent New Years Eve in a delirious haze in my old alma mater of St. Augustine – which is a consummate beach town where I often like to spend a day or so when I get the chance. This time I was all about writing. I had a bunch of projects I was trying to finish up and just send out. I’d been slacking on it. It’s like sure you can be a writer just by sitting alone in rooms and writing. If you’re not putting anything out in the world, though, did it even happen? Like that old tree in a forest adage.

I spent most of 2021 partying and going on sightseeing adventures around Florida and elsewhere. I guess it was some kind of a reaction to the lockdown conditions from before – especially after I got a vaccine, it was like fuck it, why not, I’m driving most of these places alone anyway. Life’s only so long and I didn’t want to spend too much time cooped up. This is a personality defect, maybe, this need to constantly go places. I feel now like I really compensated for a lot of things last year. I was always on vacation. I had the resources from money I earned, so fuck it. Maybe it was a way not to think about anything in my life, as if to permanently put it off, kick the can down the road. So what if life was becoming an unstable, unpredictable mess? I can go visit The Shining Hotel. Maybe it’s really time for therapy now. The comedown. It took about a day and a half without lavish spending on hanging out in cool places to be like ‘yeah maybe therapy is a good idea.’ So I’ll see.

I left the year financially bruised and frayed. I’m 31 in early February. Got no owned home and no stable life – though at the least I’m trying to find one. I think last summer I had something of an existential crisis about all this. What was the point of planning for a future if climate change is going to keep accelerating and the pandemic isn’t stopping any time soon? I did whatever I wanted. I feel like it was aggressive hedonism. A way to fight back against the uncertainty.

But that’s no excuse. You got to have something. I spent a long time just sort of transient. Job to job and not much permanence. So maybe that will bear out. Or maybe it won’t.

The world keeps moving on. It becomes harder by the day to support a U.S. political party. I’ll always at least try to vote for whatever change we can get. But it is tough to support the Democratic party as some alternative to the much more insane Republicans, when the Democrats have mostly just thrown up their hands and shrugged at everything. But at the same time, here and there we’ve been able to bully Joe Biden into sending us things like masks and tests for COVID, even if we have no fucking clue when that will happen. I guess it’s still better than a Republican nakedly and openly hating us, but both of them are such rotten fucking apples anyway.

Like you got both Biden and Harris at this point just telling us to google where to find COVID tests. Yeah, awesome. The effort I’d put into telling a guy I disliked how to find a restaurant is what the government is putting forward. The press secretary openly scorns the idea of helping average people in the middle of an ongoing pandemic – the worst part of it thus far, even. What am I rooting for here? It’s like being asked to choose between which faceless corporate shill you think is mildly less offensive. My God. How great it is to be an American.

Whatever minutiae argument you make, a lot of the political system continues to seem like broken, groaning gears, just cranking out more for the wealthy, and yet inertia for everyone else. There are some who seem like they want more than that. I guess we’ll see if those ones make it further.

Until then, I plan to keep just enjoying life… there are many people not enjoying it right now, many stuck indoors, many with COVID. I do not have COVID as of this writing. I may wake up with it any time. I’m not too worried about it, but then again I have spent large portions of the past two years so drunk I barely cared anymore about the virus. It wasn’t the time to be sober. I’ve spent this particular night listening to the band Budgie and writing after hanging at a comedy open mic. I don’t know whether the writing or the comedy will lead anywhere. But it doesn’t matter for now.

The Grind

I’ve been slacking on trying to promote my existing writing because I have been undertaking National Novel Writing Month and doing new stuff instead. That’s the persistent temptation – I just love the feeling of chasing a new story.

It’s a 1920s historical fiction tale about a made-up blues guitarist back then. I am woefully unprepared for this kind of thing. I’ve never been a history buff and I’m also writing extensively about a Black man and racial issues of the time. All of it could go so wrong this thing may never even try to see the light of day. But I think there is a part of me that just really wants to go after it and try it. What is art if not trying things that could fail? Can’t ever be too safe.

Aside from the specifics of the story, I’ve just been thinking about writing in general. I feel like you’re not a good writer if you can look back at your stuff and be like yeah, all of it was good. My old stuff was good for the time. I can read it now and be like ‘well, there’s a lot I’d do differently today.’ I’ve been trying to shift my writing to a sort of show don’t tell mentality where I just describe things in a basic manner, have some dialogue, and let people figure out the rest in their heads – no need for a lot of inner monologuing from characters if I can help it. I feel like the best writing just transports you and makes you forget you’re even reading at all, skipping along like a rock on water, pure imagination. Too much wordiness or introspection from a character can, in the wrong hands, spoil that.

But on the other hand, the more I write and read, the clearer it is that there are no real rules for anything. Anybody who tells you there are is either an English teacher just trying to get you to pass a class or lying to you. There are infinite ways to tell a story. The fun part is getting it to the point where it can reach people. Maybe I’ll be able to do that some more sometime soon.