Listening to: “Fluorescent Half Dome” – Dirty Projectors

And now, a word from Gilbert & George, everyone’s favorite weird British art guys:

We are only human sculptors in that we get up every day, walking sometimes, reading rarely, eating often, thinking always, smoking moderately, enjoying enjoyment, looking, relaxing to see, loving nightly, finding amusement, encouraging life, fighting boredom, being natural, daydreaming, travelling along, drawing occasionally, talking lightly, tea drinking, feeling tired, dancing sometimes, philosophising a lot, criticising never, whistling tunefully, dying very slowly, laughing nervously, greeting politely and waiting till day breaks.

…….

SCARY UNFINISHED PROJECT NEWS: I think somebody else may have finished my story before I did. It doesn’t sound exactly like “World’s End,” but it’s uncomfortably similar. End of days, British slackers, drinking the apocalypse away. Will probably have to give it a quick perusal the next time I’m at the Booksmith.

Listening to: “Rubber Ring” – The Smiths

The weather today (rainy, gray, not too cold) reminds me a lot of London in the winter. I was thinking of London today, how sort of aimless, cash-strapped, seeing lots of plays, drinking lots of beer, I was when I was living there–and it reminded me a lot of now. Oh, how life runs in loops.

Anyway, thinking of that time and that place, I ran across this video:

When I was there, I spent a whole lot of time just wandering the city, looking for weird little bits of historical shrapnel and back entrances to hidden places. The Shunt Vaults, which are mentioned in the video, is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Trippy performance art and tequila shots in old wine cellars under the London Bridge. One of the things I really love about London is how much history is piled on top of other history, how many and old stories you can find just by ducking down a side street. It’s something I really want to poke into in World’s End, once I get up and cracking on that project again.

Blargh. Time to keep searching for gainful employment. Got an interview at Starbucks next week, yup yup.

Somehow this wasn’t where I pictured I’d be three years outta school. Oh, younger self, if you only knew.

…….

In case you haven’t heard, journalism is getting wicked dead. I’m torn between wanting the Globe to hang in there and wanting them to get scared so witless, they actually morph into a decent newspaper. Let’s not talk about possibility number 3 just yet…

Listening to: “Everybody Say” – Takka Takka

So I’m driving to Central Square tonight, stopped at the stoplight at the Harvard Ave/Cambridge St intersection. All of sudden, in the purest sense of the word “sudden,” this dude comes running in the direction of my car at high speed. He’s got this crazed, determined look in his eyes. My first thought is that he maybe just stole something and he’s weaving through cars in the street. But he doesn’t dodge my car, he comes straight for it.

Next thing I know, this guy has jumped on my hood, vaulted over my windshield, and then I hear his feet pounding across my roof, the metal buckling. Then he hits the hood, leaps to the pavement, and is off down the street before I’ve hardly had a chance to lay on my horn.

WHAT THE FUCK? Does this happen to other people? In life?

Part of me thinks it’s kind of awesome, but a larger part of me is pissed off about the shiny new dents on my roof. This after my license plate got stolen two weeks ago. Does my car have a giant “Kick Me” sign on it?

……

Other recent weirdnesses:

I was in New York earlier this week for an interview (!) –fingers crossed. Anyway, yesterday I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Midtown, talking to my friend on the phone. There’s a valet guy sitting next to me, marking stuff on cards. I get off the phone, I’m reading some books I fished from the dumpster behind the Strand (By the way–WTF Strand? Throwing away books? Gross.) And the valet guy says, “Excuse me, miss, but do you believe in God?” And I say, simply, “No” and go back to my Collected Yeats. Luckily he didn’t proceed to try to convert me to whatever-the-fuck, but it was one of those weird beginning-of-a-one-act-play type moments.

Then there was the guy in the line for the bathroom, who tried to guess where I was from. “North Carolina. No… North Dakota! No… Kansas! Wait… Alabama! You look like an Alabaman. Am I right?” Apparently I was giving off some kind of Southern/Midwestern vibe?

And finally, tonight in Central Square, the dude standing outside Phoenix Landing blowing bubbles infused with cigarette smoke. When I first saw them, I thought maybe they were starting to freeze in the air because it’s so fucking cold out all of a sudden. Then some college-looking chick popped one, and I saw the smoke dissipate into the air.

……

I went to the anti-Prop 8 rally in Government Center last weekend. I hadn’t been to a protest since the antiwar march back in 2003. I worry that protests/rallies/etc. don’t do that much good, but considering the national scope of this one, I feel like it made an impact. I’d say more about Prop 8 and all the shittiness associated with it, but I think the public outcry against it, in cities and towns across America, from all ages, creeds, and sexual preferences, speaks for itself. And besides, whenever I talk about it I just get really really angry to the point of incoherence (One of many reason’s I’ll never go into politics–or PR). For more on the Prop 8 madness, I’d point you to my friend R.’s blog post on the subject, which is much more even-handed and eloquent than I could ever conjure. Anyway, here’s a pic of the goodness at City Hall last weekend:

prop 8 rally

And hey Blogland–if you share my rage on this issue: SIGN THE PETITION

……

Been working on “World’s End” again. The weather last week was appropriately apocalyptic to put me in the mood. If anyone has any insider info on working at a CCTV headquarters, it’d be much appreciated. I’m worried the story is getting too introspective. Maybe the first person format isn’t ideal. I say this having recently picked up Salinger’s Nine Stories, which may as well be plays for the way he manages to convey so much interior life without actually going inside any of his characters’ heads. Brilliant.

I’ve also been reading Lonesome Traveler, Kerouac’s quasi-autobiography of his West Coasterly days. He’s not a big fan of periods or commas–we’re talking 2-page long sentences–and I’m pretty sure the original draft (12-foot long typed scroll, that is) of On the Road was a whole lot of really long sentences before his editor got a hold of it. I wonder if a more traditionally punctuated version of Lonesome Traveler wouldn’t net it some more readers. It’s a tempting project, anyway.

T. and I saw Ira Glass do a thing in Northampton last weekend–gawd I love him. He talked a lot about the style and format of This American Life, and how he went about it. Of storytelling, he said: “It’s not about reason, it’s not about logic, it’s about motion.” And my little tattooed heart melted. He also said that Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights was “very Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3,” and called otters “puppies of the sea.”

I could just die.

……

Alright, time to get back to writing and not drinking any hot beverages, because some landlord-and-National-Grid wank has led to our gas being turned off. Le stove, il ne reviendra jamais, jamais.

At the ol’ neighborhood coffee joint, drinking black ginger tea and trying to get some work done before the VP debates. But of course, I’m not getting work done. I’m writing in my infernal blog.

Hate Cowboy (who I really should come up with a new nickname for–he long ago traded his cowboy hat for a leather porkpie one) is at his perch in the corner, muttering not-quite-under-his-breath as usual about The Blacks And The Jews And The Rotten World. A snippet, transcribed as I’m hearing it: “What else is wrong with you? Why don’t you ask your fucking friend what’s wrong with you? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you. Bein’ a stinkin’ asshole is what’s wrong with you. Don’t ask what’s wrong with you. Just fix it.”

I’m pretty sure he was the one who started bleating chaos underneath my window this afternoon when I was trying to conduct a phone interview all professional-like. Thanks, Hate Cowboy. Thanks a stinkin’ lot.

Anyway, who’s as stoked as I am to watch Biden rip Palin a new one tonight? He’d better not screw it up. Judging from stuff like this, he’s more than capable of unleashing all the fury of the Heathen Liberal Gods. (Love those gods.)

It seems like it’s gotten to be autumn in earnest. My favorite time of year, hands down. The light, the temperature, the events, the rewinding of things, the fashion, the apple picking, the beerfests, the blowy, blowy leaves… and of course, Halloween. It’s also when I’m most prolific. In a twisted way, I’m sort of glad I’m sans day job right now–more chances to get outside and breath it all in. (of course, that would involve me going outside much more than I have been… details.) I might try to head out to the White Mountains one more time before it gets too cold. Maybe tackle one of the ol’ Presidentials.

I started working on “World’s End” again–a project I’d put aside for too long. I’m trying to make Alex deal with his imminent zombieism a little bit more; it’s no small thing, after all. And I still want to integrate the bit about the CCTV operator who hasn’t left her post since before the big collapse. Watching the whole world die on 20 TV screens while she subsists on instant coffee and Weetabix…

I finished West With the Night and started reading Death in Venice. So far, Mann’s as pretentious as hell, but it’s a good read nonetheless. I’m interested in his philosophy that “a story must tell itself.” So far as I can tell, his authorial voice is no small peppers.

Well whaddya know… T minus 10 minutes till the debate, and I haven’t done a speck of work. Time to grab some beer and head over to the boys’.

Listening to: “Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads (playing low from the speakers at the Second Cup)

At the ol’ coffee shop again (the one with the actual good coffee), working on a review of a fantastic production of Tony Kushner’s fantastic Angels in America, and I felt compelled to share my favorite quote (in a script full of favorite quotes) from the play with you, O blogosphere. It shows that Kushner’s cut from the same stalk as Frost and Merrill and Blake and yes, Pullman. The passionate declaration that life on Earth is infinitely more precious and holy and kickass than any sort of potential hereafter. This is from Part 2: Perestroika: Prior Walter, dying of AIDS, to a host of angels in heaven:

But still. Still.
Bless me anyway.
I want more life. I can’t help myself. I do.
I’ve lived through such terrible times, and there are people who live through much much worse, but. . . . You see them living anyway.
When they’re more spirit than body, more sores than skin, when they’re burned in agony, when flies lay eggs in the corners of the eyes of their children, they live. Death usually has to take life away. I don’t know if that’s just the animal. I don’t know if it’s not braver to die. But I recognize the habit. The addiction to being alive. We live past hope. If I can find hope anywhere, that’s it, that’s the best I can do. It’s so much not enough, so inadequate but. . . . Bless me anyway. I want more life.


It’s snowing again, which for some fucked reason makes winter much more bearable than when it’s really cold and sunny. Mixed weather makes me nauseas for some reason. And January sun is just perverse. Weak and pale and nickel-bright.

My as-yet-unfinished short story (novella? graphic novel? whatever it ends up as…) “World’s End” is getting published in serialized form in my friend’s Upstate NY literary magazine. I like the idea of serializing fiction. It’s not something you see too often nowadays–the exception being Michael Chabon‘s delightfully overblown Gentlemen of the Road. I feel like it makes the reader part of the writing process in some distant way. It also lights a much-needed fire under my ass to get the damn thing done, or at it least to keep it moving along.

“World’s End” seems to be turning more into a collection of stories about London during my very special apocalypse than an organized, well-plotted thing. At this point, the only real McGuffin is Alex’s zombie bite. Who knows what it’ll become?

Ok. Ok. I’m ending this post right now and writing my damned articles. Fucking blaaarrrgggh! That’s what I say to you, Sirs. That’s what I say to you.

Listening to: “Fools Gold” – The Stone Roses

I woke up this morning, on a friend’s spare bed 1/4 mile walk from my apartment, to what I’ve always envisioned when I hear the phrase “Nuclear Winter.” A fresh foot of snow on top of Tuesday’s older foot of snow, gusting winds, and driving hail that literally stings my cheeks, like those little folded-up paper thingees that people used to fling on rubber bands in elementary school, and they’d leave a welt if they hit you. Like that.

The good news is, my new fairly-fashionable-but-not-necessarily-practical boots withstood the elements.

Been working a bit more on “World’s End,” which I’m increasingly thinking needs to be a graphic novel. I was rereading some stuff I had jotted down in my orange notebook on the T. I had forgotten how awesome the Alex meets Satan scene is. In light of recent weather, I’m thinking there needs to be a nuclear winter scene. Alex is a meteorology student, so it only makes sense that some completely nonsensical weather should enter into the picture. You’ve got a black hole in East London already, so maybe nuclear winter should be in….Kensington? With glaciers in Hyde Park? Yeah. Yeah….

Last night at the Publick House, Ben, Ben, Zack, et. al. and I were discussing who would win in a fight: a werewolf or a dragon.

Ben S. and I agreed that it would be very much a matter of terrain. The werewolf would have advantage of agility, while the dragon would have size and fire-breathyness going for it. Most decided the dragon would win, but I still think there’s hope for the werewolf.

Then we thought: what if the werewolf (even if it ended up losing) bit the dragon? Then you’d have a… weredragon? No, but that’s not right either, because “were-” implies, I believe, that it turned into said beast from a human, and we all know this dragon was never a human. So maybe it’d be a wolf-dragon? Werewolf-dragon? Dragon-were…wolf?

It’s name would be inconsequential, however, because it would be the most powerful fucking thing on the planet. It would rip your throat out in under a second, no doubt about it, before you had the chance to ask it what it calls itself. And if it did keep you alive long enough to answer, it would probably say something like:

“The president of your skull. Bitch.”

Listening to: “Boys of Melody” – The Hidden Cameras

I have to say–I’ve had some pretty bad writer’s block in my day. But this? Dude, this is just bad. An entire weekend spent staring hopelessly at my computer screen. I wonder if my mood’s brushing off on Tucker. Writers are supposed to have cats, aren’t they? That kind of curl around their typewriters and gaze artfully out the window, calling to the muses.

Eh, fuck cats. Even if Tucker doesn’t understand my writer’s block, he can empathize. If that isn’t a gaze of brute intelligence, I don’t know what is:Brute intelligence

So last night I tried booze to fuel my creativity–didn’t do the trick. Tonight, I’m trying tea. Doesn’t seem to be helping either. Maybe I’ll go back to booze.

I finally came up with a title for my apocalypse party story: World’s End. Don’t know why it never occurred to me before. I had already decided that Alex and Ned live in North London, so it was a quick leap to the World’s End neighborhood in Enfield–London’s northernmost borough. Wish I had patron like in olden times; then I could fly to England to check out the area and write it off as a “research trip.”

I know what the story needs is an upping of the drama; but I sort of think the reason Alex lasts for so long is because he flies under the radar, stays apathetic, avoids drama. ‘Course when you get bit by a zombie, no matter how small a zombie, the remaining hours of your life are bound to take on a different color.

I like the idea of “fact” and “fiction” blurring in the apocalyptic world. Goes back to that whole Philip Pullman theory about storytelling as a sort of religion–or a moral code anyhow. Or something. I could never put it as eloquently as he does. Where’s Professor Flesch when you need him?

Did I have a point? Oh yes, the man in Mile End who may or may not have become a black hole. One of those stories. New myths. Linking, perhaps, with the old myths Alex’s grandfather told him about the hidden worlds and layers of history beneath London.

“The heart of modern London contains a vast clandestine underworld of tunnels, telephone exchanges, nuclear bunkers and control centres… [s]ome of which are well documented, but the existence of others can be surmised only from careful scrutiny of government reports and accounts and occassional accidental disclosures reported in the news media.”
~ Anthony Clayton, Subterranean City: Beneath the Streets of London

Ooo speaking of… just did a bit of poking and found this website about London’s abandoned Tube stations.

Camden catacombs

Alright, now I’m getting inspired! Just not to do the work I’m supposed to be doing.

I wish I could draw. Better, I mean. Sometimes words stop working well. <—- [like just there]