The catch-all for items related to and/or inspired by the music that shaped me.
Music has played a role in nearly every situation of my life. This is where I'll be collecting items inspired by those moments- poems, lyrics, blog entries- the soundtrack of me. |
I may also contribute blog-style entries here from time to time:
And this month, I've decided to take part in...
Good afternoon, friends and followers! Today I have a special selection...a book I've purchased a few times for friends (including Kåre Enga, P.O. 22, Blogville I believe) because I love it so much and thought the recipients would enjoy it, and for myself because it hasn't survived lendings and moves and such. It's written by a Canadian musician (why'm I always reppin' Canada??), Hawksley Workman, and it's titled Hawksley Burns For Isadora .
The items in this book, while categorized as poems, are mostly short paragraphs of romantic sentiments that originally appeared in print in the Personals section of the Toronto Sun want-ads. For those who don't remember or read newspapers, the Personals section was the place for missed connections, hook-ups, adoptees looking for their birth parents, and so on and so forth. Like a Tinder and Facebook oversharing and Twitter minus the character limit all rolled into one. Like, how dope is that? You open up the paper, looking for a job or a car or whatever, and your eyes fall to the Personals, and there's a fucking love note from one stranger to another that seems simultaneously oddly specific and vague, at the same time. Like, deeply personal. And all of the sudden, there's a book that collects them all.
And I don't know if you clicked on the Amazon link in the opening paragraph, but there's a small illustration of an average naked woman. Top bits, not the bottom. All throughout the book there is very tasteful artwork of women created by, of all people, Hawksley's mother. She's a multimedia artist who says in the book "Feminine based imagery documents beauty literally and symbolically through ample space, texture, bellies and organic elements...giving substance to time." You can't front on that.
I first came across Hawksley when Buffalo used to hold a weekly summer event called Thursday in the Square, a free concert series on Niagara Square downtown. Most went because it was a social event, but I preferred to go for the music if there was a decent band playing. Sometimes it would attract a crowd of around 10,000 people. Gord Downie was playing a solo show (I wrote about him two years ago for "Pursue the Horizon - Open for Signups" ; "Chancellor" ) and Hawksley was the opener. My sister and I giggled like immature schoolkids cuz his merch tent had thongs for sale, but we decided to check him out. Instantly we became fans for his stage presence...it was theatrical and inviting and loud but soft. The way he'd lurch on the stage, take a big step, and do a high-legged kick in the middle of a song like "Tarantulove" was crazy good. I don't care what People Magazine says; he's The Sexiest Man Alive and maybe the only person I've ever said that about. His lyrics can be sweet and biting, his talent is off the charts (he played most of the instruments on his first couple albums, and occasionally will send the rest of his band off the stage mid-song to perform a long-ass drum solo), and he's basically a sweet, thoughtful guy based on his limited social media. Like, I dunno...he put out a Christmas album of originals that blows everything else away, and this book is him basically longing for a girl who we don't even know if she exists or not. He's also self-effacing; if you get a chance check out the song "Fatty Wants To Dance"...he's talking about himself and the little era where he put on some weight and shaved his head. All in all, the man is a good time.
Which leads me to the meat of this entry. All of the prose (if I can call them that) pieces are titled isadora, (lowercase and comma intentional) as if they're a letter (and they're signed Hawksley as well). I'm actually gonna type this one out straight from the book, because I'm not sure it's available online anywhere on the sites that post actual poems.
Pass this one on to the breeze, and keep a kiss. This one is just for you. My lover. My peace. My underwater breath. My green. My blue. We are moss on rocks. Like turtle babies sunning on their mama's back. The heat is ours. The Lucky. The Lovely. Kiss me forever, now. Even as this moment drifts towards its own tiny thimble-size grave, laid to rest beside all the other seconds passed. We celebrate. We move slow. We eat and drink each other. We sing. We scream. We pour. Bulbs flower. Skies dote on our bodies, clumsy and beautiful. We gaze. We know, we don't know.
My first instinct is to paint this as a note to a long-distance lover, something I know a bit about personally. I love the capitalization in "The Lucky. The Lovely.", as if he's solidifying the inclusion of his lover. Moss on rocks, turtle babies sunning, thimble-sized grave, skies dote on our bodies...beautiful lines. Who wouldn't fall in love with someone who wrote you these things?
Yes, I have a soft side. Yes, I enjoy plenty of this man's work, and there are maybe two or three songs that cause me to shed a tear or two in the proper moment. Part of me wishes he were bigger in the US, but part of me also wants to keep him for myself. But I'm a giver and a sharer, so here we are.
I wrestled with trying to pick a Hawksley Workman song to accompany this entry, because there are so many good ones with exceptional lyrics and/or guitar and/or just a fun-ass video. But I settled on this because it's just him and a guitar in a radio studio, and it's something I've had to remind myself of occasionally in order to survive in this world.
"Clever Not Beautiful" -Hawksley Workman
"Poets, lock up your words. Your tongues are all tied!
But let it be in every history book that the poets all tried
to lull us with lilting songs of a struggle
to mountain up a notion that we were something more than animals."
And that's all I got for today, fam. Things are going on that I don't know if I can discuss yet and I've got a lot going on tomorrow regarding my shoulder, so please, immerse yourself in some Hawksley and feel free to tell me about it...I love that shit. I could talk about my music for days. You know where the comment box is, my friends. And wash your hands!! Peace, as we sun our winter bellies, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
Yo yo yo!! Look who's back for "Pursue the Horizon - Open for Signups" ! I feel bad for a late start; I told Cinn that I've got a little stack of poems I'd like to share, and yet that hasn't stopped me from ordering a few more books from Amazon that I used to own. And today, this poem is from one of them.
The book is Verses That Hurt ...it's a compilation I first found maybe 15 years ago when I was working a second job as a bookseller at Waldenbooks (RIP). I wasn't too up on "who's who" when it came to poetry back then, but I recognized a few names and bought a copy on sight. Among the many listed were Allen Ginsberg (a legend), Lee Ranaldo (of the band Sonic Youth), and one M. Doughty. Luckily the book has a section at the end with little biographical paragraphs of everyone in the comp, and my suspicions were confirmed: M. Doughty is Mike Doughty, from the (in my head) legendary and short-lived 90's band Soul Coughing. Maybe you've heard of them; maybe not. I got into them as I was moving into my first apartment and "Super Bon Bon" was blowing up on the radio. I remember laying in the tiny, windowless bedroom I shared with my little brother, and waking up one morning, and turning my stereo on in the pitch blacker than black of the room, hearing this for the first time. To say it was dope would be an understatement.
"Super Bon Bon" -Soul Coughing
"Move aside, and let the man go through."
But since we're here to talk about poetry, let's take a look at one of the M. Doughty offerings in Verses That Hurt...of his six selections, this is one of two that isn't written like a stream of consciousness paragraph.
A girl with a backpack on a cellular phone sighs;
between the exhale and the first consonant
a van barrels through her. And who knows
what the boy thinks, his line slipping from her voice,
her words sucked backwards through the wire?
Two hours from now he’ll be drunk,
his slurred thoughts slobbering over motives,
why she decided suddenly to leave him
and hung up mid-word.
The phone yelps angrily from under a bus,
and she lays splayed like an asterisk
in the dreary sentence of Fourteenth Street.
Man...simple but slightly heartbreaking and graphic. One of the early evils of cell phones maybe, where people are too focused on the convo so they don't notice the world around them? And/or perhaps a poke and a sigh at toxic masculinity, because the poor boy doesn't realize his ladyfriend's been murdered by vehicle, so he does what many men do...get drunk and commiserate over why his girl has left him. Can I tell you something? I love the last three lines. "...splayed like an asterisk" is a fucking immaculate description of someone who's been completely obliterated by a random vehicle. That's a visual that's gonna hang in my head for awhile.
Mike Doughty has since gone solo; performing some Soul Coughing tunes stripped down as well as releasing his own music. I'll leave you with one of my favorites...I think it's about an ordinary girl who you think is the one and maybe she is or she isn't, but you're so jaded on trying to disseminate your new feelings that maybe it's one of the others you're missing out on, and you've forgotten how good it felt to be in love with anyone.
"27 Jennifers" -Mike Doughty
"You might be the one that I've been seeking for.
You might be the strange delightful."
"'It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.' -Rainer Maria Rilke. Use this quote in your blog entry today."
Hey fam!! Been a long time since I stepped into this pair of well-worn shoes my portfolio's closet is storing. Been tryin' to keep up with y'all on the newsfeed here and Facebook and Twitter, but lately it's been #WDCafterdark and OMG Cinn is back and SB Musing is back and and and
And on top of that, I had shoulder surgery a couple weeks ago, but I'll go further into detail about it later (which might not be much later cuz I do get fatigued easily when I'm not in the sling still).
So anyway, Spring. Yeah, I totally get what RMR is tryna say...the rebirth of beautiful things and all. When I was a younger man with seeds a-waitin' to sow, I loved springtime. I felt the renewal around me like it was a second heart growing in the empty spaces the cold, icy NY winters vacated. Sometimes seeing fresh green grass after 4-6 months of it being covered by snowbanks means something...it means your ass better get out there and clean up all the gum you chucked out there before entering the house cuz Pop Diesel can't stand your gum-chewing. Wads of gum are very unbecoming in the front garden, my friends, and they do nothing for the land.
Spring though, seriously, always made me a tinge more motivated and romantic. Renewal. Rebirth. Restructuring. Baseball season starting. Hockey playoffs. Easter and Reese's PB/chocolate eggs. A young man's heart turns to thoughts of fancy, or some shit. And I truly believed in it, whether I was in love or not. And how can you dissuade a man who has all that optimism and everything under the bright yellow springtime sun going for him?
That's why I'm here, brothers and sisters. Pull up a chair and lemme tell you.
At 44 I've lived through enough springtimes to know it's all bullshit (#sorrynotsorry for the harsh language, but it's true). First off, it's the end of February. Spring isn't happening for another month. Last night in Central NY it rained. Hooray! Did the snow go away? No! I live 8 floors up, and I can see the tops of buildings, and the hills in the distance (I have a great view), and the park across the street, and there's snow still all over every-fucking-thing. That's not cool. I don't make the rules, sorry, but that's not cool, and you know it.
Plus, there are rumors being floated by weathermen and weatherwomen that we're supposed to get a major snowstorm later this week. Like, feet, not inches. Of snow. Kiss my ass. My weather app on my laptop said it was supposed to rain all afternoon, so I cancelled my physical therapy appointment (I was also stuffy and feeling not up to snuff as far as the shoulder goes, but whatever). I'm not fond of going outside when I don't have a jacket I can wear over my sling and can basically wear a hoodie and Skidz (yes yes y'all, Skidz are back!! And you know I grabbed a couple pairs, cuz don't front on my 90's style...Kylie, you know you want the tie-dyed joints!). I ain't tryna get sick up in here along with limited use of a limb. Especially not with the Coronavirus goin' around and our president DGAF about it (but that's another blog entry for another time yo). But whatevs, anyway, as gloomy as it's looked all day, it never rained, and I should've gone to PT. February is the worst fucking month ever and should be replaced on the calendar by something involving a beach, drinks, swimsuits, and frolicking. Adults need a damn Spring Break too! Mandatory good weather and a little time off in the middle of the winter blahs (or worse). That's not asking for much, is it? I don't think so, and hell, I usually have no reason to be anywhere important ever. I'm doing this on your behalf, friends. Let's get this, and let us move on.
Ok ok, all y'all knew I was going with my man the diabolical Biz Markie today. I was an even younger man when this joint came out, and you know you loved it back in the day. There isn't much more I can say about this blast from your past. Just enjoy the funk and the amazingness of the Biz.
"Spring Again" -Biz Markie
"Don't you like when the winter's gone and all of a sudden it starts gettin' warm?
The trees and the grass start lookin' fresh and the sun and sky be lookin' their best."
Ok, you know my homegirl Samberine:Thank-u Anonymous is searching for WDC's Heartthrob Poet and is looking for your help! She tagged me at one point and I was like "Yo, I just had my body ripped open, and I don't write lovey-dovey stuffs on the usual anyway" but other people did and you can be heard here:
And y'all know I love Lilli ☕ ! There's a new prompt up at her jam, which is way too festive for me and speaks more about my makeup than anything else.
My💯 homie for life Cinn is bringing back "Pursue the Horizon - Open for Signups" and I can't promise I'll take part each and every day but I may stop in there a lot just to check shit out and scope out some new poets and maybe share some friends I've stumbled on along the way. Kylie needs some donations though, so if you respect poetry but don't get it, here's your chance to show it some love.
And finally, ok. Many of you know. At the beginning of the month I had rotator cuff surgery. It's the group of muscles that holds the shoulder together. Apparently, I had a lot going on in there, necessitating the shaving of my collarbone and rearranging the muscles and tendons after getting rid of bone spurs and arthritis nonsense. Don't take for granted what you can do with two arms or even your good arm. Part of the reason I postponed PT today is because one of the five incisions (the big one) still doesn't feel right (it's not infected though) and the shooting pains I get when I move the wrong way make me feel like I'm not ready for PT yet. But you'd think everyone in town's getting something worked on, with the tightness of schedule my place is dealing with. Til then, I'll do my little exercises at home, loosen it up, and get pissed off at the sling when I try to nap or sleep through the night. "Let your body heal" they said. It'll be great, they said. There is no comfortable position in which you can sleep in while wearing a sling and cushion that is about the size of a brick and a half, with very little give. Oh sure, it looks like I'm injured doing badass stuff, but it's been going on for almost a year. If you're Instagram-friendly you can see the loaded diaper I was packed with upon leaving the hospital. At least my tattoos were not bothered...the snotty nurse, on the other hand, wanted to take out all my piercings (they can't be taken out by me, cuz I have no idea how) and was a total bitch about it, until the anesthesiologist came in and was like "let's tape over them" which was great until I realized I taped my hair to my earrings. Exponentially was the discovery that no care was taken for my chest hair while bandaging me up as if I were being shipped overseas. The swelling, the bruising, the ripping off of everything...I hope you never have to suffer like that again, while witnessing your open wounds. My chest isn't what you'd consider "bushy", but for the love of all things I stand for, under normal circumstances if you rip out my chest hair we're gonna fight. To have it ripped out by what looks to be the color of packing tape, I will just start drama under circumstances of duress while not knowing what I'm doing, and for that I apologize. Whatever the pain pill was, Hydrocodone, isn't my friend and does nothing for me as far as pain, nor does it curtail my whatever it is when I'm under the influence.
Alright y'all...you've heard about enough out of me to last me a few weeks or so (save PTH). I'm gonna go make me some dinner, whatever than means, and take a nap before #Sabresafterdark (and if you don't know, don't bother asking, please). Y'all know I love you guys...peace, thinkin' about the ol' happy days, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
If you don't like this we can't be friends.
"Pick out one of these OMG 200 Facts You Didn’t Know… Until Now . Write a story, poem, rant, monologue, or opinion about it."
Well well well...looks who's back for another day? Guess I just couldn't let the bug go, the poetry isn't coming to me right now, and y'all are just gonna get my verbal spitting in a typed-up format. But you know that's why I love all y'all and I get the love back.
That 200 facts link was filled with a lot of good stuff. I actually read through it all and thought I could talk about a number of things. I may even Pocket it for later "30-Day Blogging Challenge" use. But for now, I've chosen maybe the one fact no one else will...
5. Tupac was the first U.S. artist to have an album reach Billboard #1 while still in prison. It was his third studio album, titled “Me Against the World”.
Let it be known that I love Hip Hop. I won't go so far to say I'm a historian, but I did write a 20-something page term paper on it in high school and I'm not afraid to talk about its early days. As far as I go, that era ended with the Wu-Tang Clan (but that's another entry for another time).
By that point, Rap as a genre had went mainstream. It was being pimped out by the record labels and flashed all over MTV and basically everywhere you looked. Goofy-ass white dudes were imitating it on live TV. I bailed, content with my Public Enemy, BDP, and Beastie Boys tapes. Stuff that was addressing consciousness. NWA was fine when I was an angry kid looking to piss off older people or take an extra rep while I was lifting weights, but guns/bitches/money got old to me fast. I was drawn to substance, not drama.
And that's about the time Tupac broke away as a back-up from Digital Underground. Everyone knows them from "The Humpty Dance" ...and if you don't, maybe I don't trust you .
Unpopular Opinion: I wasn't into him. He was gangsta rap when I was fallin' off it. People would ask me about "Who was better, Biggie Smalls or Tupac?" and I just didn't give a fuck. Like, Notorious BIG's "Hypnotize" has some great beats and samples, but it was nothing special lyrically to what Chuck D, KRS-One, or anyone I respected was up to. I wasn't into drugs and money. I'd already found my soul, and the MTV generation back then wasn't feelin' what I was feelin'.
I'll admit that I bought one Tupac cassette back in the day...but it was part of the typical teenage Columbia House scam (Get 12 CDs for $1!). I think I got it only cuz it had a song with Ice Cube on it, and to this day I have no remembrance of it. It was one of those tapes where I figured out where the good songs were and how to flip the tape over to get to the other good songs, minus the crap. Rockin' rewind/pause like a fuckin' pro on the boombox I got from the neighborhood bike thief that was missing a window.
All of this is not to say I didn't enjoy a little Tupac here and there. I was one whose cup was filled already. I was moving on. But "I Get Around" is dope and I'll still shake whatever's left of my ass to it when the time comes.
"I Get Around" -Tupac
"Gotta get a tight grip, don't slip; loose lips sink ships!
It's a trip; I love the way she licks her lips, see me jockin'.
Yo I wish someone would solve Biggie and Tupac's murders. Even though I wasn't a fan of either, I know it ain't fair. And I know this plea will fall on deaf ears, which bugs me just as much. Can't help it. Alright, I'm gassing out of this beautiful summer Monday, and a nap is awaiting. Peace, still clown with the Underground, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"Make an A-Z list on a topic of your choosing. Stretch your creativity! After you finish your list, write a short narrative describing why you chose the list you did and how it relates to you."
Yo yo yo!! Apparently it's been five whole months since I last posted up in here, and I'm only doing it now cuz I love the topic and I get to share stuff!! I know, right? My blog, my rules...if you don't like it, you know where the X is on the screen of the device of your choosing.
What I'mma do is let my iTunes library play on shuffle, and when there's a song I really like, I'll share it. I'll be going by title, and this list is not comprehensive. I like what I like and whatever I pick doesn't mean it's the quote-unquote best ever or anything. Easy peasy. Here we go...
A: Jeff Tweedy, "Ashes Of American Flags (demo)"
B: Bright Eyes, "The Big Picture (live)"
C: Modest Mouse, "Coyotes"
D: Murray Lachlan Young, "Do Wah Diddy Diddy"
E: REM feat. Patti Smith, "E-Bow The Letter"
F: Matt Pryor, "Freakish (Saves The Day cover)"
G: Beastie Boys, "Gratitude (live)"
H: Atmosphere, "Horny Ponycorn Horns"
I: The Monkees, "I'll Be Back Up On My Feet"
J: Texas Is The Reason, "Johnny On The Spot (live)"
K: Radiohead, "Karma Police (live)"
L: Pat Benatar, "Love Is A Battlefield"
M: Nine Inch Nails, "March Of The Pigs (live)"
N: Bobby Womack, "Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out"
O: Mission Of Burma, "Outlaw"
P: Weezer, "Pink Triangle (Live At Y101 Sonic Session)"
Q: Brand New, "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows"
R: Beasite Boys, "Right Right Now Now"
S: The Get Up Kids, "Stay Gold, Ponyboy (live)"
T: The White Stripes, "There's No Room For You Here"
U: Barenaked Ladies, "Upside Down"
V: Rage Against The Machine, "Vietnow (live}"
W: deM atlaS, "Wannabe A Kid Again"
X: Blondie, "X Offender (live)"
Y: Tom Waits, "Yesterday Is Here"
Z: Aesop Rock, "Zero Dark Thirty"
I don't care if you like them or not...it's just a list, and I felt like I needed to write. I've been in a mood lately, so IDGAF. Y'all can fire up the band, but this entry took a lot outta me and I'mma take a nap soon. Music is life. It's always in the background or forefront of what I do, whatever that is. Peace, A-to-the-Z, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
Please don't ask me to talk about it.
"Day 22: Hong Kong! I don't know about you but I'm ready to do some shopping; maybe even check out a temple or two."
What is up y'all? Figured I'd join you guys on Lyn 's world tour somewhere, and today it just seems right. I have to be honest...I haven't been paying too much attention to what you guys have been up to and what sorts of trouble you're getting into...which leads me to suspect I'm the troublemaker on most of these trips (and it's been proven...ask Char 🌈|Reviewing| or even Kittiara ). Storylines emerge, there's a night out where intoxication happens and people get a little crazy, and there were mermaids and romances and bromances and gummy bears stuck in people's hair...ahhhh, the good ol' days! Anyway, catch me up!
I chose to jump in today because it fits flush with my pick for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" , and you'll find out why in a bit. But first, I'm down to check out the Pak Tai Temple . I'm a little bit (ok, maybe a lotta bit) enthralled as to why their hours of operation are 7:26 AM - 6:57 PM. First, those are awkward numbers for times. I'm a little too OCD about things being in certain sets of round numbers, and if a place has batshit weird hours like that, I wanna know why cuz there's gotta be a reason for it. [Sidenote: This is the part where it becomes obvious I definitely did not do enough research on this place. Carry on.] Second, I am a person who searches for peace but also tends to go overboard with the disaster-causing every so often, and I get the feeling I will not be welcomed back (at best; worst case scenario is deportation) after doing whatever is right and honorable and feeling relaxed enough and at peace to basically cause some sort of embarrassing havoc. I can go from respectful and respectable to distasteful and obstinate in the blink of an eye. I'm better off being tethered to someone with one of those coiled chain/bracelet thingeys where the kid can walk but the higher power won't let 'em get too far into trouble's path.
But let's get to the real reason why I'm here, shall we? Like many Americans my age at whatever time it was in the mid-late 90's, our primary introduction to Blur was the dance floor and arena banger "Song 2" ...WOO HOO!! And back in the day when I'd watch MTV2 with friends because they actually still played videos, sure, they'd show some other stuff. "Coffee And TV" is the one I seem to recall the most from my days at Briarcliff Apartments, and maybe "Parklife" (which is bundles of fun). I liked them enough based on a few of their songs that I thought "maybe it's time to get some of their music on CD". A killer idea!
And don't tell me you ever actually paid for your Columbia House "12 CDs for $1" bullshit. I barely paid them, ever...and I can't be the reason they went out of business, because seriously no one paid them. People got their music and and that was that. But enough about how much of a deadbeat dick I am...Blur's greatest hits CD was one of the ones I copped, because I was caught in the middle of Napster/Kazaa going away and being sketchy, and having very little disposable income. I was starving for an injection of new music because my 600+ CDs at the time had gotten boring. (I know, it's a problem. And one that doesn't go away.)
Anyway, my stepmom's family went on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise, somewhere in the mid-2000's. I remember swapping headphones with my little brother Mike and introducing him to Atmosphere, and causing all sortsa havoc one late night, running around the ship with their complementary bottle of champagne. In the daytime, however, when we weren't off sightseeing or doing onshore stuff, I was laying in the sun with a cold, overpriced beverage, and falling in love with Blur through my headphones. A band that could barely crack the US but was huuuuuuge in the UK. So much so there was an entire special edition magazine dedicated to the Oasis vs Blur controversy, when both bands released competing singles on the same day. I wonder if I still have it somewhere...it was so super British and excellently informative.
The point proper is this: they went from a basic Britpop "guilty pleasure" (enough of this, Jeff !) to a longtime love. Last year I purchased their super-nice box set (from like 2012), of all their CDs (remastered with bonus tracks) and two discs full of rarities, ollllld demos, and live stuff. It looks nice where I've stashed it in my living room, on the bottom shelf of my TV stand.
But then, after a lengthy and contentious breakup and side-projects, they reconvened in, of all places, Hong Kong. They had decided to make music together again!! And in 2015, out came the album The Magic Whip . It's a glorious add-on to the Blur legacy, and one I wish I'd have been able to be a fly on the wall for. Did they visit the temples? What did they eat there? How much of a Hong Kong influence is there on the record besides the cover art?
Well, I'mma tell you. Saddle up, youngins.
The main point of resonance with me is the video for "Ong Ong". It basically looks like a Nintendo game from the early Super Mario Bros. era, with a fun soft-garage-rock sound (if there's such a thing). There's a, ummm, thing, trapped in a temple, and the thing-protagonist has to save her. It's very Nintendo. It's also very sweet and adorable, and the song itself is fun. Let's just enjoy it for what it is.
"Ong Ong" -Blur
"You'll know just what to do."
I've already shipped out a couple #NorbAF t-shirts...who wants one?! There's that and more goodies available in my shop . And yes, I'm self-promoting. Goods cost money, promoting costs time and money, and why the fuck not get on the DIY tip and say "Here's what I got...whaddya want?" Yeah, I feel like it gets annoying, but if you don't self-promote, who's gonna know? Can't take for granted that everyone knows, even after a bunch of texts and IG posts (speaking of Instagram, be on the lookout for a very special one very very soon!).
A reminder: Barnes & Noble is now selling my book. Like, you can go there and if it's not in stock you can order it. But it's for realsies in stock in NYC! My people...the #NorbAF revolution is ON!!
Ok, I'm done with you people for now. I think I gotta figure out if I'm gonna eat or just nap or struggle with that in-between stage of both. Peace, you'll know just what to do, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"But if we stop dreaming now,
lord knows we'd never clear the clouds."
WE'VE GOT A FILE ON YOU!!
"'People stupid. The dream didn't leave, people just don't know a nightmare when they right in the middle of one.' -Marlon James. Your thoughts on this quote..."
Wow Lyn ...excellent find! Gonna hafta read up a little on this guy, fo' sho'. Anyway, hey y'all! I'm gonna start with this for the "Blogging Circle of Friends " because I'm not quite sure how I wanna get into the part for "The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" just yet (Spoiler Alert!! It's gonna be sad.).
This is pretty deep but in a sense it's also very true. It's almost like Stockholm Syndrome in a way, if that makes sense (and in my head it does, at least). Take just about any sort of depressing situation you're in, in all phases of life. Maybe you've got a shitty job but at least it pays the bills, or you're in a lackluster relationship but hey, it's a warm body to wake up next to. Or...worst case scenario: you're livin' on the streets and can't get back on your feet (because maybe you don't want to, or just can't). It reminds me a little of one of my all-time favorite lyric quotes: "One man's ceiling is another man's floor" ...and maybe I've overthinking this now a little bit, so it's time for another paragraph, to reel myself back in.
So let's assume the definition of nightmare is fluid; that it's a little different for each of us. We also have different levels of what makes us comfortable and how much comfort we feel, along with what we can tolerate. There are grey areas where we might not be comfortable with what we're tolerating but depending on the situation is will dictate the response.
Now, go back to the dreams you had as a child, teenager, and young adult. What do you wanna be when you grow up? Where do you see yourself in 10 years' time? And add in all your standards, your own quirks, what you like and don't like about whatever it is you're dreaming of, and how you stack up and fit (or don't fit) in with it. Sure, for some, dreams do come true! Lucky you! And if so, you're probably not reading this anyway, so fuck you. Because for most of us, life isn't set up anymore for our dreams to become the reality we live in. Corporate America will stifle you as soon as you hit mid-management. You're not gonna be bangin' supermodels on a yacht. We have a tendency to dream big, only to settle into our realities until someone's pickin' out a pine box for us. And that's where the grey areas get murkier.
Some will trudge through life happily in the reality they've accepted. And that's fine if it works for them. Others may grow bitter and cold, despondent that the life he's stuck with is the same life the other guy is enjoying. And he tries and tries and tries to make it work and find happiness in it, but there's always another setback, another bill, another promotion denied...always somethin'. And that's his life, until he retires and dies a lonely old man. His big dreams after finishing school never came close to materializing, and now he's struggling to find happiness in even the most bountiful of life's little treasures. He's living a fucking nightmare, but he's basically married to it because of the one thing it provides that keeps him goin': a paycheck. Sure, he could find a better job and eventually hit the same ceiling, but by the time he comes home he's just too aggravated and tired and that's that.
Which brings me back to the point and the quote prompt. It boils down to complacency and how when shit starts to get out of hand sometimes it's easier and more convenient to figure out how to manage in "the new now" than to fix the issue/problem. We become blind to the problem for what it is, and focus on how to get around it instead of the cause of it and a proper fix. And don't bullshit me...we're all guilty of this at some point in our lives. For example: your car starts making a small but funky noise that you can't quite pinpoint its whereabouts. Sure, you could take it to a mechanic, but that costs money...so instead you turn your stereo up louder. Of course, the real nightmare is when that noise turns into a $1500 repair bill down the road, and maybe if that's as close as you can get to that car being your Dream Car, well, now all you're worrying about is how fucked you are and for how long.
And in summation, people actually can become self-made nightmares. They don't know it because they refuse to acknowledge it, and as it keeps getting worse, they just keep readjusting and acclimating to their problems until the levee breaks. They max out every inch of the grey areas in the intersection of comfort and tolerance. Keep pullin' that thread, and someday you're gonna have enough to knit yourself a noose.
Man...today we lost another good one, and this one is really kinda special to me. It was reported that Peter Tork of The Monkees passed away today at age 77 from a rare form of salivary cancer. Fuckin' cancer, man. Always snuffin' out the good ones, 'cuz Big Pharm just loooooves that money associated with keepin' people alive in suffering as long as they can, rather than using science to eradicate this shit .Don't get me started on how much it pisses me off. And "Guilty Pleasures" isn't really a worthy Soundtrackers category anymore, is it? Haven't we all agreed at one time or another that we love what we love, and aren't ashamed about it? I thought we accomplished that back in the Beth days.
Anyway, it's especially sad for me because The Monkees were my first concert, probably in the summer of '85 or '86. It was around that time when MTV and Nickelodeon started showing reruns from their tv show in the 60's, and because my brother and I weren't old enough yet to be trusted to be left alone during the summer, we'd go to our grandmother's house (it helped that she also had cable, which we did not have). And one week out of every summer, our aunt in Connecticut would fly us down for a week. She was awesome...a sweet condo, she'd take us to cool places and buy us stuff, and she had a waterbed! That blew our little 80's minds! It was her that took us to see The Monkees, at a little amphitheater with a rotating stage. "Weird Al" Yankovic was the opening act, and of course because I had some of his cassette tapes too as a fart joke enthusiast preteen, he put on a fun show. I had a camera and everything, but blew all my film on him.
Then The Monkees came on, and they played all the hits of course (minus Mike Nesmith, which kinda sucked but whatever), and we sang along and loved every single minute of it. First concert, one of your absolute favorite bands, the cool and fun aunt... that's legit amazeballs yo. To finally see live music instead of just rockin' my mom's albums on vinyl, or catching a little tape hiss on cassette, that was the real deal.
Sadly, my aunt passed in the early 90's (again, motherfuck cancer) and the band again faded into the dustbin of our adolescence. They'd occasionally creep out here and there for something, but whatevs. It wasn't until the late 90's or early 2000's when, at work one day, our supervisor came in (and I don't think he ever really cared for me). He was high-energy and herky-jerky but beloved by the old-timers in the company. Somehow we got to talking about The Monkees, and he was a huge, HUGE fan (he was easily a generation behind me, so it made sense). And in consumer electronics, our slow-dying fad at that time was the Mini-Disc. We were all required to keep an MD on us at all times to demo it (mine was a beautiful mix I recorded on the job when it was slow...it had everything: classic rock, hip hop, R&B, current alt-rock, techno...this way if I was demo-ing speakers, I could pick a song that played on the customer's taste). I had a CD/MD recording deck at home, a portable one, and an in-dash player in my car. The supervisor (known as "The Wheel", because he was always moving, always rollin') went out of his way to make me a Monkees MD...hadn't heard them in so long, and yet the songs still held up some 15 years later.
"Your Auntie Grizelda" -The Monkees
"Oh, no, don't look at me like Auntie Grizelda. It takes much more to be someone of your own.
You've got to make it free from Auntie Grizelda, or just like her you'll have to make it alone."
Kinda funny how in my head that sorta ties into the "Blogging Circle of Friends " portion of this entry...the full lyrics basically are about someone not knowing her boundaries and basically teaching the nephew to be almost like her, and the narrator is calling him out on it. Like "Bruh, you don't know it but you're living in a nightmare my man. You can't see it because you've accepted it, but we see it, and you're wack as fuck yo. If you don't cut that shit out and get right, you're gonna end up just like her." Don't wanna get too complacent with her, cuz she sounds miserable (and her fudge prolly sucks too). But what do I know? I'm just a fan, with the ability to weave prompts occasionally .
HOLDUPWAITAMINUTE: Wasn't gonna do this part because I didn't think I'd have anything to say...but I've just been handed some BREAKING NEWS!! Apparently my book, 100, is now available in New York City at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square!! Can I get a WHAT WHAT?! from the crowd?? You dope-ass people deserve some dope-ass news, and you're hearing it here first (before it goes on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook ). This is where it started. This is where it all began. If you're in NYC, show me some love and show you with the book!! Spread that love!! #NorbAF
Ok...well, I guess dinner can wait while I share the good news...guess this wasn't a sad-ending entry after all! Let's all be joyful and take a moment to be thankful for what we have, cuz no doubt someone has it worse. No nightmares (hopefully) up in here, and up in there (wherever you are). Peace, be joyful (cuz that shit spreads), and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"For Pete's Sake" -The Monkees
"Love is understanding, we gotta be free!"
TOTW: "A recent study showed that popular music contains angrier and sadder lyrics than ever before. The Billboard Hot 100 songs from 1951 to 2016 were measured using the following metrics: (1) Emotional Tone: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness; (2) Language Tone: analytical, confident, tentative; (3) Social Tone: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, emotional range."
Questions to think about:
Have you noticed this increase in sadness and anger in popular music? What do you think could be causing it?
Do you think it’s helpful or hurtful for someone struggling with a mental health issue to listen to music that contains anger and sadness?
What kind of music do you connect to with your mental health issues? Are there any songs in particular that speak to you?
Hello again, kind people of the internet! It's been too long, there's too much to say now that I've been dormant here for so long, and a little bit of the itch is back...may as well scratch it.
First, I feel stupid bad that this is my first entry (I think) for "Closed - MHWA Retreat" . I love the everlovin' fuck outta Char 🌈|Reviewing| for taking the time out of his busy-ass life to do this. I've been meaning to contribute since Day One here, and have yet to besides a few comments here and there. And this does not mean I'll continue after today; I'm just in the right mood/headspace. You'll have that.
Second (and now finally to address the prompt), Motherfuck the Billboard Hot 100 with a rolled-up copy of that magazine that's been laying on the back of your toilet for 23 years. They don't dictate what I listen to, and if that's your guide, yo, shed your sheepskin. You're being fed! You're a sucka to the radio! The "Top 40" yang is what you listen to when you're a kid trying to fit in with the girly-girls...and that's how you get your heart broken, with nothing solvent to see you past that. You end up bitter and lonely, secluded in your room, writing bad teenage poetry. How do I know? Oh, I know.
And I'm done with "first, second, third, etc..." cuz that's just like Casey Kasem in reverse. RIP to the classiest radio countdown DJ ever.
So yeah, I don't play by those rules, and that's fine because that's what works for me. There is no hiding from the internet and viral hits, but you can limit your exposure. Therefore, I'm unqualified to say whether or not pop music has more anger or sadness. IDGAF if Ariana Grande is calling out exes (though Pete Davidson is pretty much a baller on SNL's Weekend Update , especially when referring to his own mental health struggles). Taylor Swift can live her life and attract all the high-profile dudes she wants, then dump them and write songs about them 16-year-olds will use as their mantras until they hit college, and again, IDGAF. "Popular" doesn't work for everyone.
Now, I can't speak for everyone and will only speak for myself...but when I'm in one of those moods where I'm angry and depressed and don't have any reason why, I prefer to listen to heavier music. I'm a Hip Hop kid at heart, but if I'm out and about with my iPod, I'm gonna throw on Helmet, or older Thursday, or Deftones...something that gets loud without trying too hard. "Opposite Action"- something I learned taking DBT Classes. Wait...maybe I'm mixing shit up. Whatever. Flow into it, and let your mind focus on that instead of why (or why not) you're so the way you are in the moment. Kicking your own ass into being "in the moment" is hard, but so fucking worth it. Especially when you feel like you're your own worst enemy. Luckily, music saves...with the caveat that we let it.
I have specifically claimed one song for my own as far as my mental health is concerned, and I've written about it way too many times to do it again. It's "Smart Went Crazy" by Atmosphere (you can find it in the previous entry), and it really connects me to the first time I was a committed inpatient because of suicidal ideations. That entire album was my jam for weeks on end...and then I lost my mind. The "smart" kid in the family. The "go-getter". "Fun guy". The forgotten one, because he was "so busy" working his ass off and coming home, decompressing with excessive booze, writing until his hands were shaking, and going to bed only to wake up and do it all over again (in an environment that became toxic the more and more he went there, to the point of becoming sick to his stomach upon entering the parking lot). The soundtrack to my second inpatient, where I drove about 70MPH to a hospital about 95 miles away (while blowing well above the legal limit for survival, let alone driving) with a fantastic program in one way and a terrible one in every other way (being allowed to stay up and watch Monday Night Football where your favorite team loses in a last-minute bit of fuckery isn't great). Yeah, that was my jam...and you can posit "jam" any particular way or wording you like, because it really was every which way it could go for me.
Because I'm basically a hermit these days (save for the times I really need to go somewhere), I just go with what I'm in the mood for. I'll waste an entire trip walking somewhere because the shuffle gods are not on my side. I've also stopped trying to associate music to people and/or events. No one likes a song ruined because their ex liked it. No one wants the little indie band they love tainted by something their stupid, malfunctioning brain did. I had an fairly decent polo shirt that somehow accompanied me to not one, but two trips to the Behavioral Health Unit. And in a time when I had a small fraction of my clothes returned to me by the ex, I had to let go of that shirt. I couldn't wear it anymore. Too many bullshit memories about how broken the healthcare system is.
I'm glad I've relaxed a bit and calmed down mentally since the last time I had to experience the depths of the medical system in 2012. And with that came other challenges, of which are neither here nor there. You want music, and that I will give to you.
What once used to be a "guilty pleasure" to me (because my immediate friends were like "IDGAF, let's ball") and one friend was totally down when my sis and I rolled up to play some basketball, is A Tribe Called Quest. I don't really have "guilty pleasures" anymore...I'm old enough to like what I like and not be ashamed about it. I've got shit in my iTunes library just because my mom likes it, and some of it's grown on me. Not gonna lie though...that 160GB iPod is getting maxed, and some of her faves have been whittled away.
I digress. Currently I'm reading Hanif Abdurraqib's Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest . I pre-ordered it, partly cuz it was ATCQ, and partly cuz Abdurraqib's previous book (They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us ) is fucking amazing. If you love music, and even if you hate pop music, or hate classic rock, it don't matter. There's something in it for you. Wow, I'm digressing again, but you get that when you read my blog entries from front to back (you won't ).
Anyway, I'm gonna roll with an undercover favorite that was totally one of mine but not on the radar of the people I rolled with.
A Tribe Called Quest, "Electric Relaxation"
"A gritty little something on the New York street.
This is how I represent over this here beat."
Hey yo...in case you missed it, here's my Hawk & Young interview. Don't do dope and don't be a dope and I'm not a dope but I did a dope interview. About my book. Which you should buy if you already haven't.
And yo...free signed and shipped books and merch up fer grabs! Get up and get down with...
I really really wanted to jump in on the "30-Day Blogging Challenge" adventures led by Lyn , especially in the New Zealand area where we could hang with Elle , but it wasn't in my cards on those days. There's still time for it to be in your cards though, if you're into cards of whatever kinds of cards those are.
Alright, me people to the left, right, and center...I'm done here and I'm gonna grill some cheese (between bread...I'm not a savage) and nosh on that while it's embedded in a little bit of soup (it's shorts weather for me, but there's still snow on the ground, so fuck it...comfort food and let's go!!). Peace, my mind was in a frenzy, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"How did you start writing? Did someone urge you to write, or did it come naturally?"
Hey! What's good, playas?? Just poppin' in to say hi and quickly answer a few prompts before dinnertime in this here place. And I got a couple prompts I love (and would love to fuck with), so here we are.
I think about this randomly; usually at the most peculiar times. When I think about how I really started, my head immediately pushes me back a few years so I can fully encompass the people who gave me time to be an audience and offer their knowledge. Then I get a little sad because they're dead now, and I can't share with them what I've been able to accomplish since.
So technically, my first response would be that on a hot summer night in '93 (right after graduating high school and moving in with my dad and stepmom), I took a notebook my sis was no longer using and sat on the porch, hashing out things and thoughts and feelings I was unable to get across in speaking. The page became my audience; not people (though sis would often read the things I felt most proud of, and she was dope about it). The more I did it, the stronger I felt. I was becoming my own therapist in a way, learning how to understand myself by rereading my thoughts. And it worked for awhile, until it got down to me needing an actual therapist (more on that later though).
And it's fun to think that when I was 18, writing became my prevailing hobby of choice...but without the encouragement of my 9th and 10th grade English teachers, I wouldn't have had that seed planted and stuck and become organized enough to give a fuck about what I was doing. My 9th grade teacher, Mrs. Lindsey, in particular, was so friggin' cool. I could show her things and she could give me tips and we could pick each others' brains. When she taught a poetry unit, I was the only one excited for it. Because of her I actually made an effort after I graduated to come back and speak to one of her classes about poetry. It was really cool and really surreal.
It's easy to say it comes naturally, because you wouldn't do it if you didn't want to. But without someone believing in you and offering support, what else is there to keep you going? All you're doing (without that) is basically journaling to yourself in whatever type of medium you prefer. And that's great if that suits you, but for many of us we want more...feedback, reviews, or even just someone who says "I get you here". Natural wants and desires coexisting with your talent and someone(s) diggin' it are the backbone of most of our time spent writing, I imagine. And maybe I'm wrong, and maybe that's not how you feel, and that's ok...there are- and I'mma say it loud for the folks in the back- NO SET RULES FOR WRITING WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT, WHEN YOU WANT. Actually had this discussion with my psychiatrist today; she thinks all the great writers have a set time each day and they need to write x-amount of words or pages, or they won't be successful. Fuck that. I don't do that. Not saying you shouldn't if that works for you, but that's not how I operate. If you held a gun to my head and told me to write a poem, I'd shit myself and beg you to shoot me. On the flipside of that coin, I'm always trying to pay attention to things that might be inspiring, cuz you can find it in the weirdest places...and even if it only sparks a line or a hook, it goes into a notebook that I can work off of later (like, ya know, when the mood strikes). So, piss on your writer's block and don't hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. You'll just disappoint yourself and that's not good at all for your work.
Didn't mean to go on a rant about it, but, well, here we are. As a side note, thanks again to Emily for all the kickass work she's done this month and basically since she's been back? Do y'all love her like I've been hearing good things about her? Show her some love!!
"If you could only use music to describe yourself to someone, what song would it be and why? If you can, add the YouTube link so we can hear it too."
Y'all know this is a loaded question, right? Man, I applaud you good, kind souls who can distill your lives down to one fucking song. That's great! There should be a trophy for that, or an achievement that unlocks a $25 Applebees gift card for you, or some shit. I don't have time to sort through nearly 20k songs in my library and say "Yes! This is me!!". I hope you all knew this going in, and didn't try too hard to pigeonhole yourselves into something that maybe won't reflect you on the odd chance your life takes a misdirection.
And as much as I hate to say it, when I come across this question there is always one song that comes to mind. I was the smart kid who was expected to be a great adult doing many great adult things. Without going into detail, life did not quite go that way for a long time. Being labeled as "smart" when you're young doesn't necessarily mean you pick up on all the skills you need to be a competent grown-up. No need for me to shame anyone now about it, because what they didn't do can't be undone and there are too many people I could point fingers at that I could put a glove on all my fingers and still need more fingers for all the gloves I'd need. Y'all can figure it as "a blessing and a curse"; I've come to know it as a deathtrap.
My first trip to the psych ward coincided with this song and my fixation on this album as a whole...it was so good and fresh and new and different than anything I'd heard. It struck a solid chord with me. And all I could think was "Smart Went Crazy" while I was staring at platinum white walls while trying to get out and resume the same life that got me there in the first place. I was the smart kid who lost his fucking mind...no boundaries, no self-respect or self-control, nothing. Just a job I hated and a boss that assumed I was basically her and a girlfriend who couldn't divorce her husband but loved me and loved fighting with me more.
It's hard being stuck as the successful failure.
Anyway, that all landed me in the hospital because I was "not myself". In short, I wanted out...I wanted to die and just leave everything behind and be forgotten about. But everyone else I was connected with felt differently, and so I had to push on and live the same life...now with the designation of "he lost his mind". Powerful words coming from the inside of what they used to call an asylum. I'm not gonna go into any bit more detail because I'll be dealing with it next month in an online writing class I'm taking (more on that in a bit).
I'm not gonna say much more about this song that I haven't said already now or in previous entries when I've used it. If I'm not mistaken, it's on the silent list in my head of songs I've retired from using in blog entries...but I guess since I don't blog that much anymore, it's ok to pull it out once in awhile. I guess all I can say is it kept me sane when I was insane. It soundtracked my narrative. Felt good to come home and pump it through my speakers, thinking maybe I wasn't so fucked up anymore.
"Smart Went Crazy" -Atmosphere
"'You're headed for self destruction'; been there, did that.
Kicked back with the wrong angel to fuck with."
Yo, where do they give you trophy for not being a fucked-up fuckup anymore? I've moved a couple times. I traveled a bit since I became like a published author and shit. People buy my t-shirts and other merch. Am I like a legit adult again? I've got an ID. Poetry and Blogging Quills, along with $2+ gets me a cup of coffee around here. Where's my boo-hoo participation trophy??
HEY!! The "30-Day Bloggers Group" is still looking for donations for the massive February fundraiser, my friends!
Also yo...my publisher is looking for people to take a class on publishing memoirs. If you're interested, get at me. It's a 4-week online class for $200. I'll be there, providing levity and purging my soul. Not that a memoir is on my list of Things To Do, but hey if the noggin nudges, I move.
I thought I had more to add, but I got sidetracked by Twitter again and Facebook minutiae and that's fine and all but I really need to decide now if I wanna eat, poop, or nap...these are the things I worry about while you're out in the world being a well-adjusted individual, ya prickfaces. Peace, I don't know where I'm goin' but I'll end up in your arms, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!
"We Will Still Need A Song" -Hawksley Workman
"The poets let a generation down!
And modern music could be a healing sound...
it's the only way."
Yes yes y'all!! I'm reappearing from my self-induced semi-popularity outside of WDC to address a prompt that has hit me deep down...one that has provided me some instant form of response. I'm down with Lyn and I have a boatload of love and respect for her, so I must address this one on a personal level. Now, remember, this is just my experience...and I hate that this is gonna sound like another ad for all the shit I'm into and have done and am still promoting, but y'all are writers and this is the writing life for people who have found their way into the biz.
In this month's edition of Writer's Digest Diana Pho says, "Writing is hard, but writing own voices is harder. Despite recent efforts statistics show that own voice stories are being left behind in the industry. On top of industrialized challenges minority writers deal with added pressure that their individual story comes to represent of the whole of their community." Do you agree with her assessment? Does the fact the majority of the publishing industry are white, straight, able bodied, and affluent affect the decision making when it comes to publication?
"No" -Chuck D
"No lightweight bouts up in the air, shoot outs and no sellouts!
No Negroes with egos, no mo' shows callin' women bitches and hoes.
No thoughtless flows, no woes. No singin' voices, no Rolls Royces, no wack choices."
Sorry/Not Sorry...it's the first song that came to mind. Full disclosure: I'm a straight white male. I wouldn't say I work in publishing, but I do tend to promote a lot on a basic level. And yeah, I did some stuff to help get Eliezer Tristan Publishing off the ground last summer (but I don't like to talk about it, cuz that makes me uneasy...not in a bad way though). Basically, my experience is in Indie Publishing, and I wouldn't have it any other way because breaking into the bigs, or even the mid-majors, is hard. And I've always been an indie kinda guy...I make the rules, I dance to my own beat, and I'll never conform.
ETP is run and staffed by women. Straight up. Their main focus is on Mental Health and stories of resilience. Essays, bios, poems...that's the gig. That's the input/output. Erasing the stigma around Mental Illnesses, which has no boundaries and knows no color, size, personality, achievements, goals, race, creed, financial status, community involvement, and/or cultural fluency. Sorry to go so longform on you there. But it's true. And don't get me started on the statistics that prove 1 out of 4 of us are inflicted in some way with things like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other illnesses.
Me as the straight single white guy, an LGBTQ woman, a Muslim,
a married witchy white lady, a Jew, and a zealot
walk into a bookstore...
And what do many of us who are high-functioning despite our diagnoses do? We write. Writing was my way out of depression when I first joined WDC, and was also my savior during some of my worst moments. But I'm getting off-point here.
Sure, many major publishing houses are bound by their own self-imposed standards of race- and gender-inequality. I cannot dispute that. Like any other predominately-male industry, I suppose...CEOs, CFOs, the dude who runs the pizza place by your house, etc. But fuck that...women are making noise and breaking barriers. Probably the biggest influence on me in the last year or so as far as writing my own poetry goes has been several of the Button Poetry authors. Danez Smith (who is black), Andrea Gibson (an LGBTQ woman), Nicole Lyons, Rudy Francisco (black/Hispanic)...don't tell me voices are being marginalized. Ok, systematically, yes...by major publishing houses, sure. They rely on the big bullshit names to sell millions of books, and that's cute. Old white dudes writing basic mysteries and crime novels, and withering women writing romance novels for the same withering crowd. Nerds and geeks plotting new Sci-Fi and Fantasy landscapes to be explored. Fuck that. Damn the man!!
What I'm sayin' is...seek out what you like, and support the indie authors who make it happen for you. They're out there. They're not making thousands a month off their name...they're bustin' their asses promoting themselves. I've had a book out for six months now through ETP and I'm still more famous on WDC than I am in both Cortland and my hometown, even though I've sold a bunch of books. These are the people you need to be reading- the ones you do the work in researching for- and not what some publication (which is an offshoot of a big magazine corporation) says is "happening now" or recommends for you. Do the work; get the real rewards.
I know not many of y'all will remember my friend Julie D - PUBLISHED! , but her and I grew up in the old blogging community together way back before there were blogging groups and extensive forums and contests dedicated to the craft. Anyway, her book On Purpose just came out from ETP and even though she's not around here very often anymore we still keep in touch and I'm super proud of her for reaching out and getting this work out to the public. I'm even more honored that she included this in her "Acknowledgements" section and I'm super stoked to read it.
Ok ladies and gentlemen, this was my January return to blogging and no, it isn't gonna become a habit as far as I can tell going into the rest of the month, but who knows? All I know is I need to get some food in me and then take a nap. Support your local authors. Go to Open Mic Nights. Spread the word like you would a common cold. That's the bulk of all we've got, most of the time...you. Thanks. Peace, no east coast/west coast beefs, and GOODNIGHT NOW!!