- Turkey legs & turkey leg pie!
- I've written a Holiday/Christmas story—it's in my book Burnt House. It's pretty grim!
- I didn't want to drive a cab any more....
- People have appetites; how do they sate those appetites?
- When people dine together, they talk. Food gives them something to do. (A lot of dialogue I read seems to take place in a vacuum).
- Also, food is itself intrinsically interesting for most people. (Always be looking for ways to connect with an audience).
- Be humble.
- Big picture hope: I'd like to see America healed. It's going to take some time!
- Personal hope: I hope I live long enough to get all my books written. (Which might take a long long time and that’s fine!)
- But there will always be a demand and desire for stories.
- I miss hanging around the Teacher's Bar and bragging about my students!
- Basically, what I said upthread—cultivate Humility and Patience.
- Writing doesn't happen overnight. Many young writers find this discouraging.
- Humility will win the day.
- And I would encourage all of you to follow Lev Nikolayevich's example—be excited about your next project!
- I've learned to adapt and survive (so far).
- Everything is equally easy or difficult, depending on the writer's state of mind....
- But here's some advice: don't wait to tell your stories!
- So I sat on it, and waited until I was "good enough."
- And I never wrote it.
- I should have written it immediately! It would have sucked, but who would have cared? (Other than my ego).
- Moral of the story: don't wait! Write—now.
- Everyone needs to read more.
- Those of you who already read a lot need to read more.
- Those of you who don't read a whole lot need to read more.
- Every book you read helps build your Writer's Toolbox. You'll be able to see all the options you have as a writer.
- I think just about everything is important enough to write about—if the writer takes their writing seriously.
- Understanding what a story is, and making it happen....
- Go with what's in your heart. That's vague—but true.
- What poems do you feel strongest about?
- Activities: keep a journal. It doesn't have to be complicated and sound like the all-knowing voice of whatever. Just write down your observations about what you see and experience. It can be a list. Or photos!
- (Actually, if you use social media, you are in fact keeping a journal).
- The world is always changing and slipping away. Notice the changes! (It takes practice).
- Develop HUMILITY and PATIENCE.
- It takes a long time to get really good at writing fiction. A writer's ego and perfectionism can in the way.
- And also be PERSISTENT.
- Pretend to care.
- Make it a game. In the end, everything you write is just words.
- Watch how one scene flows into another. Look at how the dialogue is edited and cuts from one character to another. Look for how setting is used. Look for how it is lit and filmed. Read the movie like a writer....
- I don’t buy it.
- I’m seeing the Stranger as an idealized romanticized personification of America itself. The Cowboy! Honest, straightforward, kind, respectful. How America sees itself reflected through media/Hollywood....
- That may not be factual, but it's True enough to be a starting point for a novel or a film....
- Though I wouldn't want to hang around with him....
- The drugs are definitely making him irrational.
- There are easy-going, good-hearted stoners everywhere.
- I see him as the innocent victim of capitalism….
- Nihilism is the denial of the value of reality, so here the nihilists are the cats-paw of capitalism, which believes in nothing outside of profit/greed/gain....
- I liked it. Dark and funny.
- We've had some grim readings and viewings this semester—I thought it might be nice to close with a comedy....
- The War on Drugs has been a catastrophe for our country.
- This job is easy when you have a lot of great students!
All the exciting answers, none of the boring questions...Thanksgiving Edition!
Slow-motion coup, people dying of covid. All indices are up up UP--because what other direction would they go? All America is trending negative.
All of the answers, none of the questions....
(If the fucking pandemic doesn't wrap up soon, I'm going to have to learn more Roman numerals).
There was a tiny almost-plateau when Biden's victory was announced, but since then, all indices UP. Terror leading....
America is messed up! People need to stay safe and in seclusion.
Biden has taken the lead in our current election—a good thing!—and is likely to win. But here’s a memory of an election that went—the wrong way.
The stolen 2000 election. I’m still traumatized by that fucking thing.
I was driving a cab in those days. I went and voted (my man Gore!) and then hit the streets, hoping to make good money. And I did! It was very busy. Lots of activity.
At one point in the evening I was dropping off a journalist (from New York Magazine, I think) at the Governor’s Mansion. I was dropping him off on the Guadalupe side, and he was paying, when around the corner came a battalion of drunk frat boys chanting “Bush! Bush! Bush!” One of them had uprooted an unfortunate bit of shrubbery and was waving it around. And there were many other trips, and the night went on, and it got cold and rainy, and my cab was acting hinky—stalling and lurching.
Around 10pm I was going by the Governor’s Mansion again, and a DPS trooper flagged me down. I pulled over. One of the drunk frat boys—well, a drunk frat boy—was with him. “This guy’s had too much to drink,” the trooper said. “Can you take him home?”
That’s always an unpleasant thing to hear. But, yeah, I took the kid. At Guadalupe and MLK he bailed on me. A fare jumper! I pulled out my maglight and took off after him—I was going to smash the little fucker—but he dodged into a convenience store and cowered by the cashier and I didn’t want to smash him in front of witnesses and so he got away and he probably voted for Trump this year, the piece of shit.
I drove on. Made more trips. I listened to returns coming in on the radio, and it was grim. Gore conceded. I was bummed.
Then my cab broke down, on MLK by the university. I had passengers in the car—I called for another cab to take them, and then I called for a tow truck for my cab, and then I called for a cab for myself and I left my cab blocking a lane in the rain.
By the time I got back to my apartment more returns were coming in. I got in my personal car, went to the grocery store, and by the time I came back, Gore had unconceded and was ahead.
Judy Woodruff was on CNN being speechless. (This is about the time I stopped watching CNN—their coverage was lame. Over on MSNBC, Mike Brzezinski was scribbling numbers on a whiteboard and Lester Holt was calm and collected).
Anyway—the election went on for weeks. I was driving days part of the time, nights part of the time. I was watching tv at home, listening to the radio in the cab.
I drove some Japanese journalists around for a couple of nights. They said they were going to mention me in their story, and they sent me a link—but it was in Japanese, so I couldn’t read it.
One afternoon I was explaining the electoral college to a woman who was confused about the process, and she said—“You sure know a lot, for a cab driver.”
Yeah, fuck you, too.
I was in line out at the airport when Gore made his second concession speech. I was just—fucking sad. And angry.
So much was lost.
Terror passed Rage this week! Covid Terror, Election Terror--everything Terror.
And while, as I post this, Biden has taken the lead and looks poised to win--Terror ain't letting up. Covid is still out there, and Trump is very capable of wrecking shit between now and January 20.
I created these people but I can’t control their votes!
So—while we wait the outcome of this year’s election with TERROR—why not a memory?
Election Day, 1980. Tuesday, November 4.
I made the worst vote of my life that year—I voted for the dumbass Libertarian candidate, Ed Clark. And who was the Libertarian VP candidate? David Koch, of the infamous and un-American Koch brothers.
What the hell. I was fucking stupid. I was 22. Everyone is entitled to one bad vote. (Except this year).
I voted in the Morning. Maybe I went to class that afternoon. I don’t remember. Probably. But I went to the Deep Eddy around seven o’clock or so. Bartender KW was taping black balloons along the bar, in anticipation of a Ronald Reagan victory.
Then I went down to Club Foot to see Gang of Four! They were a great political second-wave punk band from Britain. It was a terrific show!
There was a little black & white TV on the corner of the bar, and when I left the music side of the club to get a beer I would check in on the returns. It wasn’t looking good for Jimmy Carter.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I cast my first vote, in 1976, for Jimmy Carter. I liked Jimmy Carter, but I didn't vote for him in 1980. Fucking stupid.
After the show I stopped back at the Deep Eddy. The mood was glum. Two old twin brother rednecks, Hans & Will, were pulling KW’s black balloons off the ceiling and biting them and saying vulgarities.
I went home and drank some cheap vodka and watched the election returns. I was—feeling sorry—for Jimmy Carter. And already feeling guilty about my stupid vote. Would my vote have made a difference? Really? Yes? No? I called a friend in Minneapolis and had a drunken late night chat, then went to bed.
I woke the next morning with a hangover, in Reagan’s America. Morning indeed.
Here’s Ed Ward’s review of the concert....
And here's Gang of Four!