Le Journal de Das Book, Day 0

I am seldom subject to self-delusion. It has been the bane of my existence, this longing for rationality. No, it is not the desire of my dear, sweet frontal lobe, that tattered handmaiden burdened to my subconscious’ longing for prime numbers in all things. The poor dear is merely slave to its master, doing the ill will of that leftist guerrilla that insists that “if it cannot be proved, then it cannot be known.” As such, for all my life, I and my frontal cortex march in enslavement to the structural norms of the multiverse. Indeed, I would insist  that imagination was no thing directly up to and including the time I wrote two novels in three months based on dreaming, despite the fact that I hadn’t dreamt myself in the 30 years prior.

“No,” I’d say. “I’ll believe it after it happens, providing someone smarter than me can prove it actually happened.” Such a soul never appeared, and so, I spat on wishes and dreams and continued my forward, mechanized march.

But now, the MUSE, she screams in my left ear, and I cannot drown her out. I get the idea … no, the insistence, that I am about to write the veritable fuck out of this book … these books, these two or three. On impulse, and in an attempt to free my enslaved frontal lobe and thus cast off the self-identification that has constricted me for these long years, I followed the silly, delusional whisperings, those impulses that I’d long held back.

“Buy those books,” she said. “Your books will be those books, but twisted into a slow, jazz cookbook.” I thought it silly, but this time, did its bidding.

I only vaguely see the connection, and it isn’t in story or plot, because I never read, really, much less follow others’ ideas. Hell, I barely read fiction and most of what I do read, I write. On a whim, and via a pointer by a talented writer who stopped by, I added another to the list, Jazz, by Toni Morrison,  which seemed a good choice given I’d already decided to commit these books as works of music, of long-form poetry that masquerades as prose.

Do I have the talent to do that? Almost certainly not. Can such a style exist in the 21st century without becoming tedious? I’ll let Ms. Morrison answer that for me, but the MUSE has already spoken. “Just you WATCH,” she says, in her shouty, pouty way.

Can one mix tragedy with comedy? Surely, and often. Can one write tragedy so that it makes you laugh in counterpoint to all the happy bits that make you cry? Perhaps. Can I do it, MUSE? Am I enough?

“NO!” she says. “But WE are enough.”

So, there, I suppose, it begins. My antagonist already talks to me, and often, in his Louisiana backwater drawl. I cain’t hardly shut the ol’ boy up, his fat, red-tinged face becoming vivid now. His cheeks are rouge and puffy with the exertion of making his case, but I don’t want to listen. His spiky strawberry blond hair is so loud that even my wife could see it. But then, she often sees or hears a thing if I remember to think it hard enough. I so seldom do remember to do that.

If you knew me in person, and be glad you don’t, you’d likely mistake me for a stand-up routine. So, I suppose that alone qualifies me to write a tragedy. Now to sort through all the literary quarks and bind them into atoms so that I can begin–just a small start–in hearing this lot. I still don’t know how many books this is or why MUSE wants me to write them all at once. She insists it’s all one story, but that makes no sense. And non sense is even worse than no thing to my frontal lobe. But I’ll sigh and move forward.

I suppose I’ve already been given a hint I’m on the right path, guided as I was to Josephine Tey. Long have I ranted about how formulaic books have become, writing has become. We no longer read books, but revisit characters. We are all in a Bizarro Marvel Universe, waiting for the next volume even though we already know what the hell the book will be like before it’s written. And then there’s the soft, straight prose of the book I’m reading, and it asks, “Did no one, any more, change their record now and then? Was everyone nowadays thirled to a formula?”

Yes, Ms. Tey, I change my record quite often. The first Jeanne Dark was Oscar Peterson, in fact. This one is all Coltrane fused with Robert Johnson as he fights off traces of Hank Williams, Sr. It’s old-school, with a touch of 1970s British Rock, thank you very much, and it’s quite the mélange if you get the formula right. Here’s to hoping someone passes me a recipe.

A bad mix is just a bunch of noise, and there’s too much of that already.

So, it’s Day 0, the day I start. I’m writing sequels to books I’ve never bothered to publish. I don’t need to. I like them, so who needs more validation than that? But Hank, my antithesis, he wants his own book, his own brooding darkness and I’m not sure my soul can bear the stain of it. Maybe I can bend him toward the light, just a bit, just enough to wring the Douglas-Adams-infused black humour from him.

That turn would be enough. You with me, dearest MUSE? More importantly, am I with you?

 

We Should Come Back

It has taken me years to find my writing voice, or, rather, to assimilate the myriad voices in my head into a mélange that fits the literary version of myself. I prefer to write in the first-person Point of View, as it’s easier to hear my characters if I allow them to take the pen instead of my poor attempts to interpret their actions and words. I do write in third person, mainly when my hero prefers silence to voice or when the action dictates an independent perspective, but you can tell the ones I love, those my heart has given birth to and whom, in turn, give me life. They speak for themselves and I can but listen.

For the work side, that part of me under the charge of my inner editor, I’ve learned that my voice sounds hollow and nondescript if it isn’t poetic. I don’t mean specifically lyrical, as my Shakespearean aspirations are as likely to come out a wilted-flowered-version of Tupac or Don L. Lee as the Great Bard, but rather I mean that it should whisper on the page as it does over the tinnitus-dampened version in my brain. If the prose cannot be a poem, then why write it? If you cannot sing the book, perhaps it is not a song worth singing.

And so, periodically, I sample portions of the completed works and sing them, in my head, to see if the music is there. This is not how I write. It isn’t my lyrical voice. It is, instead how I think, who I am, how the words originate in my head before I translate them into the gruff patterns of my non-alliterative speech or the stand-up comedy routine that comprises much of my own dialog. The reason I do not speak aloud this way, as I am writing now, is that I am convinced that no one would understand a damned thing I say if I did. I don’t expect them to understand my stories either, in truth, but somehow, miraculously, they do.

Here is a short sample from Jeanne Dark, from a scene selected mostly at random. It feels like a poem, and so, I let it live as one. I pulled out 4 words needed for prosaic grammar that cause poetry to stumble (the ‘hads’ and ‘thereupons’ or the world) but otherwise, it is intact.

We Should Come Back

“We should come back.” He paused awhile
and I thought he had fallen asleep.
“Maybe we should just stay,” he said.

I looked at him to see if he was teasing,
but found no hint of a smile.

We lay there, eyes closed,
listening to the percussive clanging of raindrops that
found twin holes in the roof and were beating
against two steel pots in a tempo
slowed to languid, larghissimo time.
I smiled, remembering
how their allegro rhythms
beat in concert with our impassioned lovemaking
during the prior night’s storms.

I thought, perhaps,
the universe had orgasmed as well and
was smiling at us via the sunrise.

Oddly, it was that the roof leaked—
that little imperfection
in the French Provincial décor
of the  boudoir—
that made it perfect.

I opened my eyes
and began to wonder why
I’d always hated the room
so.

ode to a decade of art (or, i wish i could push rewind)

ten years ago
i took up the knife
held it to my eye and with a flick
felt it cut; just a trickle and a speck,
though
and the city barely felt it
but it was reddish-blue, a royal hue
(though lacking you)
and i cut again, and often.

four-score and seven years ago
minus eighty
i freed myself from my earthbound
enslavement,
wondering if you were out there
‘cause i could taste you
even if you danced just out of reach
of my tongue
and i took up the gun, to shoot, to kill,
and kill me i did, until reborn,
i rewrote myself, with
you as my leading lady

and then four years hence
mass-killer now, and crazy
with the knife, i cut, i kill,
i spin at will, i’m there,
you’re here, but still not near
still out of reach, that tender peach,
i’ll always taste, that bitter waste
my leading lady,
that failing muse, that buys me bullets
i’ll never use, and tears i shed,
we’ll never wed,
but faithful shall i ever be.

Good Jazz

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The way to tell good jazz is that you don’t notice him till the song’s ‘most over. Good jazz sneaks up behind you and pulls down your shorts and then drinks your beer when you to turn to see what’s happening. You stumble and fall, wondering who did the dirty deed, and you look back, but you sure it couldn’t be jazz, ‘cause he sitting yonder in the corner, cleaning his horn and minding his own damned business. That foam on his mouth just blow back from the spit valve.

Good jazz hangs outside the club, under a tattered awning as the rain soaks up the oil from the day’s toil, leaning against the brick wall. He’s out there, cool as fuck in his shades, smoking a shorty and minding his game. Good jazz sees you, and exhales a thin cloud, and says, “What’s up?”

You get excited, seeing his axe and hoping he might play you a bit, but he don’t play, ’cause the music is him. He don’t need to play that horn; good jazz gonna play you instead. You stand next to him, quiet as all get out, listenin’ to his stories and trying to remember the words. But good jazz don’t need no words to tell his stories.

Sometimes, good jazz ain’t a he at all, and when that happens, it’s special, ‘cause you know damn well that bad jazz be trying to keep good jazz locked up all night. You can find bad jazz anytime. He sit in the back of clubs, wearing shiny shoes and a too-tight suit, blowing sour notes from his horn and making a ruckus. You ask bad jazz to chill so you can hear good jazz blowing and singing outside, but he don’t shut up.

Bad jazz always wants attention.

Good jazz, though, good jazz he just play and whisper. He don’t write down the notes and she don’t sing the song the same way twice, but that just bring you back. Good jazz don’t color in the lines, ‘cause the lines remind him too much of prison cells or dirty, smoky nights in the monochrome city with just a needle to keep him company. Good jazz would rather be outside, playing with his girl, sexing her something good, and letting you listen, long as you keep your eyes closed.

Good jazz don’t never seem to stay in the club long, but that’s okay. Better out than in anyway, right?

Writing Prompt: 10 September 2016

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Here’s today’s Writing Prompt:

Background: A 2016 study has found that Acetaminophen (also called Paracetamol outside of the U.S.) the main ingredient in Tylenol and about 600 other drugs, not only reduces pain, but also reduces empathy for the pain in others.

Prompt: There is a global epidemic of a new, virulent flu strain, for which the primary course of recommended treatment is a new anti-viral that includes Acetaminophen. The problem is that the virus amplifies the anti-empathy effect and now survivors are being turned into sociopaths. How does society deal with the effect?

Alternate Prompt: Within 50 years, use of the drug has reduced human empathy significantly. How is society affected? Would the military research and increase the effect for its troops?

The Books Thus Far

Completed:
The Changeling (Fantasy)
Grandfather Time (Fantasy)
Mastery of the All (Fantasy)
Hard as Roxx (Science Fiction)
The Juice and Other Stories (Short Stories)
The Brooklyn Trace (Mystery)
Jeanne Dark (Mystery)
Beyond the Farr Road (Short Stories)

In Progress:
Eddie Daley: Black, White and Blue

Not bad, if I say so myself.

Drumpfing on the U.S.A

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This was always meant to be my writing (only) blog, but since I’ve spent my time writing and not marketing, there’s been nothing to post here. However, I’ve come to realize that writer isn’t my occupation, it’s my identity. I write because I have a boatload of things to say irrespective of whether anyone wants to hear them.

With that in mind, I, like most intelligent people, have been thinking a great deal about the emergence of Donald Drumpf. Like his political-track avatar, Adolph Schicklgruber, Drumpf has capitalized on the intrinsic anger of the downtrodden to emerge as a viable, if reprehensible, candidate. However, what is largely overlooked (on purpose, I think) by the media is the fact that he’s also capitalizing on a large segment of the populous that was and remains racist. Let’s not pull punches: Nazi Germany could not have existed if a large number of Germans weren’t racist when Schicklgruber showed up. My wife, who lived for a time in Germany, assures me that racist underbelly still thrives. ‘Dolph persisted for the same reason Drumpf does–because (some) people were waiting for them.

And let’s not bullshit at home, shall we? Drumpf is an idiot, but he’s a conniving, psychopathic idiot who understands history and can pick up the mood in a room (or a country). He’s running as the overt racist (not the bigoted billionaire who doesn’t care about race because he only cares about himself) because 30% of the U.S. population is racist. How did I come up with that figure? I have a degree from MSU: Making Shit Up.

Barack_Obama_Dope_posterSee, sounding truthy is as easy as asserting a partial truth with conviction. I don’t know how many Americans hate blacks, Mexicans, Jews, Muslims, Hari Krishnas, Jehovah’s Witnesses, poor whites, rich whites, Central Americans, Asians, gays, lesbians, women, or the Dallas Cowboys, but I know it’s a fucking lot. (Y’all don’t hear me. ) These douchenozzles first came out of the woodwork when Barack Obama got elected as the Brotha in Chief. They were pissed his family was never enslaved, so they called him Kenyan. They hated that his “HOPE” platform gave life to the aspirations of those unlike them, so they pretend his presidency has failed and convinced the stupid that our roiling economy is flagging.

So, it’s not surprising when they began using “Muslim” as an avatar for “Nigger,” as in, “He’s a Muslim.” Every time someone says that, substitute the n-word and you get their true meaning. (Yeah, bitches, we knew what you meant, and you meant it in precisely the same way you do when you say Ted CruzMissile is a Canadian. By Canadian, you mean Cuban, and we can’t have one of those either, can we?) Obama looked dope and smoked dope and was dope and that rankled the red-necked shit out of America’s sick underbelly.

We never emerged, fully, into the light. But the thing is, we knew that. When we had our last, secret, All-Blacks meeting, with Barack as the principle speaker, we, the negro collective, discussed how we knew that Big B needed to be the Oval Office’s Jackie Robinson. President Obama could not hit back. He couldn’t point out that most of the Senate is a collection of racist and sexist assholes determined to stop him from doing anything, just as surely as they’ll try to stop Hillary. He couldn’t jump down from the podium and bitch-slap Mitch McConnell or have his boys “influence” Justice Clarence Unclethomas to stop being such a little shit and come to the damned meetings. Obama couldn’t do any of those things, and trust me, he wants to, because others will follow him into the White House.

A woman will follow him. A Latino will follow. An Asian will follow, and it’ll happen soon, and by then, America will finally be who the fuck the world needs us to be. Don’t believe me? Look who’s running for president, who made it to Super Tuesday, and forget they’re all flawed: 3 White Males, 1 White Female, 1 Black Male, and 2 Cuban Males. Huh? Say what? Still not enough women and no Asians, but it’s starting to look like America up in here, even if most of the Americans trying to be in charge are dickheads.

We’re supposed to be the good guys, people. We are supposed to carry the torch for hopefulness, for believing that humans can live together, join their cultures, and make some really fucking cool music. We’re supposed to love those who love god, whichever god, and embrace those who don’t just as lovingly. We’re supposed to not care whom you marry or whether you’re a lesbian who was born with a penis or if you listen to Justin Bieber or if you like ice hockey. And goddammit, I’m tired of sitting here crying because we never get there.

So Big B has done his job. He switched on all the lights and the fucking, hate-filled, cockroaches came screaming out of the woodwork. Drumpf, unknowingly, has done his job too. He’s rallied all the roaches and given them hope they can take the country back. But don’t fear, Europe. Do not be disheartened, Asia. Don’t mourn us, Africa. We know exactly what the fuck we’re doing. Sometimes, the only way to stamp out all of the cockroaches is to turn on the light, put food in the middle of the kitchen floor, and stamp the holy fucking shit out of them.

There’s going to be some foot-stomping coming very soon, and Hill is the lady we’ve chosen to wear the boots. Why?

Because the sexist, woman-hating, rape-as-a-weapon-of-war-tolerating, my-bitches-came-out-of-the-kitchen-to-vote-for-me, flag-waving cockroaches are still in there hiding, and we need a lady badass to flush them out.

Drumpf and Clinton play Election Night
Drumpf and Clinton play Election Night

Shit is going to get really different, America, because there ain’t no country left for the cockroaches to take back. This land belongs to the world, and we’re about to clean the goddamned kitchen.

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You’re welcome.

P.S. Comments are off, because I didn’t ask your opinion any more than you asked mine. If you disagree, get your own soapbox and tell people.