Rusted out license plate meet jaw harp from the mountains of Mindanao. Weathered metal meet weathered wood. Make a sound. A death rattle or maybe the only kind of life that can persist in scarce times.
The face blacked out. The coconut cap on the honky tonk piano. Music without much ego intruding. Could it be you?
100 years. Still locked in an embrace with magic/faulty logic. Still can't finish this book.
Taintradio meet Fabric. Appreciating the sheer diversity of jazz, I could never get behind the mask. There is no mask with real music. Only instinct not to piggyback on the livelihood and territory of others.
Boracay closuredriftwood meet Vancouver candy skulls. Melting from from mere exposure to air, cold Pacific blast.
[1/20 - As readers of Endurancewriter may have noticed, I am going through the blog backwards and revising all the old pieces before posting any new stuff. I may never get to the new stuff. In the annals of awkward endings that would take the cake, except it doesn’t matter. It never did matter. One sentence is important as the other, in any given moment of time. Particularly meaningful, as time may soon cease to exist for humans.
Global warming matters. 8.6 million pieces of micro plastic in every cubit foot of ocean water matters. The loss of hedges as a place for ecosystems to thrive in the European margin matters. The way opportunists have fracked the American West matters. The far worse situation in every other continent matters. There, I said it. Important, in this moment in time.
This piece is one I have had particular reluctance to edit because it seems to convey a confidence that what I am doing as a writer is right and should be rewarded. Maybe in my heart I believe my stuff is unique and worthy, but the marketplace has not backed that up. What is a marketplace? I think I can say that in this society, it involves rewards going to the wrong people most of the time. Most are now aware enough of how the algorithm and flattened attention span works not to dismiss this as mere Sad Sackism. Evolutionary wrong foot, race to the bottom.
I have scaled my own personal mountain, created some stuff I am proud of and feel may last. The feeling of personal accomplishment is pretty solid. I have even thought out a strategy of ensuring that any money generated goes toward a system that trumps those have expedited global warming, sown hate (and yeah, incidentally, rejected my stuff). The –– of the world, noteworthy not only for their stupidity but their minions. Denial is a hell of a drug.
Another reason why re-editing is challenging: toning down all the ego-driven statements (admitted, there were a few in the above) and burnishing the decent prose to a satisfying glow is a major chore. Yet there is some good kindling here, can’t just throw it all away.…]
In his recent article in The Stranger (February, 2015) Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One, Seattle City of Literature executive director Ryan Boudinot speaks about what makes some writers shine and others not so much. As a creative writer on the cusp [of obscurity] I have a few thoughts on his provocatively titled piece.
Boudinot begins by asserting “writers are born with talent.” I am not so sure––at some level, certainly, the brain chemistry must be there to grasp sounds and murmured intimations from mother and other influencers. However, I am a firm believer that talent isn’t innate––personal evolution as we grow is too complex, talent fixed at birth too static a construct to encompass the sheer malleability of existence.
Talent seems to me related to how much thought and effort is put into any endeavor. [This is different from “practice makes perfect” dictum––mindful no-practice can be the best training, moreover, it clears the palate.]
Maybe talent has to do with whether the palette of vocabulary and experience at hand is sufficient to convincingly capture flitting thoughts. There is an element of play to good writing, of catching oneself off guard––once a certain competency has been reached, the reins should be lax and ego never appear unless beckoned. [How does one beckon ego, which at best is barely controlled? Let stories appear in dreams and dreams appear on the page.]
Boudinot opines “if you didn't decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you're probably not going to make it”*
This statement seems both true and obvious. The necessity of even mentioning an early love for literature as prerequisite for being a decent writer probably has to do with the phenomenon of Baby Boomers (with more time on their hands than talent) entering the creative writing/MFA sphere in droves. [This may stand as an early “OK Boomer” moment, ironic considering that Generation, Inc., now considers me fully in that greybeard category]
Familiarity with the constructs of classic literature is a given among writers worth reading, with well-worn tropes constantly deconstructed. Miles Davis knew the bop canon inside and out before he created modal jazz. Having pioneered the latter form, he was in a nice position to deconstruct further and work toward fusion. [Then cocaine happened. Sad end of many good musicians in the 1970s.]
“If you aren't a serious reader, don't expect anyone to read what you write.” Amen to that, with reservations. I think a lengthy period of serious reading is best followed by a lifetime of reading purely for fun. [Make it seem so fun that no one will pay you.]
These days I have a nearly perfectly random approach to reading and take months to finish most books. I digest a little each day, mulling as I go. If “taking literature seriously” is a no brainer, akin to holding your breath as you jump off the deep end, not taking literature seriously is equally as important. Catching myself off-guard is the only way I know of growing. [Addendum: I will flip through nearly any book but to get me past the first few pages takes considerable authorial skill.]
Example: I just read Dashiell Hammett’s Maltese Falcon for the first time. It really blew me away––pitch perfect descriptions of San Francisco, perhaps the first truly unreliable narrator (Sam Spade) and the debut of the femme fatale. I’m now winding my way through Louis de Berniere’s The War For Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts. Pure Marquezian fable, written at a time when magical realism was all the rage. I find myself intrigued by the idea of how a story could be effectively crafted from a dog’s perspective, so will probably read Jack London’s Call of the Wild next. I am really looking forward to perusing William H. Prescott’s The History of the Conquest of Mexico, a 19th century text about Cortez and Montezuma that details tragedies and social occurrences in the places I may or may not visit along the Yucatan peninsula. The common thread linking these books is that they came to me by chance, at hostels in San Francisco, Miami Beach, and Playa del Carmen.
[Never did get to London or what turned out to be a really dry history book. But I did discover Tulum and fabric flute along the way.]
Boudinot’s greatest scorn is reserved for those MFA students who complain about not having enough time to read. He suggests that they should “do us both a favor and drop out.” I am so far out of the MFA loop that I have nothing to say about this. I do know that I was not accepted into the UC Santa Cruz creative writing program during my tender college years and wear this as a badge of pride. Even then, I realized that the best route toward really having something worthwhile to say involved experiencing life first hand. And it worked––I think I am in, by the skin of my teeth, at age 40. Young for a first-time novelist, even. If I had spent a lifetime coaching writers I considered inferior, I would probably have much the same view as Boudinot––a sheen of bitterness, an instinct to bite the hand that feeds you. [Bitter butter, better butter, buttery toffee tip top––what this slop?]
Boudinot goes on to assert “No one cares about your problems if you're a shitty writer.” This is a truism if I have ever heard one. A shitty writer by definition produces unloved writing. Other than its snarky tone, the thing I object to most in this is the implication that putting personal issues on the page and being a "shitty writer" are intrinsically linked. Admittedly, many pick up the pen as a form of therapy, but Boudinot crosses the line in saying “just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.” [I really can’t believe this line. Why am I even writing about a wanker like Boudinot?]
Yet there is an element of truth to Boudinot's contorted and offensive attempt at humor. Self-effacement and restraint get you far. In Arisugawa Park [now A Beautiful Case of the Blues], I have woven composite fabric from hundreds, probably thousands, of people I have known. I’ve got 99 problems and my own are not among them––on the page at least.
Turning to the emergent Kindle/e-book/self-publishing sphere, Boudinot asserts “You don't need my help to get published.” He talks with apparent glee about the New York publishing industry sliding into cultural irrelevance. Yet, as one online commenter astutely points out, Boudinot has apparently achieved low Amazon sales of his own (highly reviewed) volumes. Having done my homework, I will say that I do think that the literary agent is not outmoded and agree with the late PD James, who said in a 2013 BBC interview: “It is much easier now to produce a manuscript with all the modern technology. It is probably a greater advantage now, more than ever before, to have an agent between you and the publisher.” [Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the agentless, penniless, wonder of the literary world. High on his mountaintop….]
I return to wholehearted agreement with Boudinot in his final assertion that “It's important to woodshed.” His point is so well constructed that I take the liberty of quoting the entire last paragraph:
"We've been trained to turn to our phones to inform our followers of our somewhat witty observations. I think the instant validation of our apps is an enemy to producing the kind of writing that takes years to complete. That's why I advise anyone serious about writing books to spend at least a few years keeping it secret. If you're able to continue writing while embracing the assumption that no one will ever read your work, it will reward you in ways you never imagined.”
This relates to my concept of writing as an unglamorous, hidden, long-slog activity, which I have gone so far as to enshrine as a motivating principal of the EnduranceWriter blog. Now, back to the hard work of creating words and sentences composed of exactly 26 letters. [I think that was a veiled reference to the presumptive heavyweight Twitter novel of the world, Testcut.]
Viva la tortuga.
Note - visit old version of this article with original photos.
New posts start below. This pinned information is response to persistent inquiry. Apparently my stuff is a little mysterious for the Internet.
What are you creating?
I offer a mix of original writing, art, and music across 3 platforms:
• DamonArvid.com = the collected cloud novels and art.
• endurancewriter.com = ongoing blog articles + creative projects
• Youtube = music playlist @ fabric - Summon These Days*
What is your purpose here?
I am sharing what I create, approximately when created. The aim is that everything I put up be transitory and yet lasting. Portable, able to travel well to Mars.
What are you selling?
Glad you asked. merch includes: original artwork and signed prints. Any artwork can be turned into a one-off poster, signed, dated, and delivered for $150. Original art can be priced on request. Fancy way of saying it all depends on supply, demand, and how the kombucha is reacting in my gut on a given day.
I also have several ongoing cloud novels. These are being completed at a snail’s pace, as I have a content gig that pays the bills and takes incredible amounts of time that would otherwise be spent authoring.
You want a section or chapter of a specific cloud novel expedited? The sound of clicks motivates the artist not at all. The cost is $1k, with a month to deliver. You get, in addition to that content you are burning to read, a one-off printed version of the chapter, complete with hand edits, cowbell, and random doodles in the margin.
I am also working toward a new fabric album Avocado Sun. Once completed, the plan is to run off a limited edition lp and do a tour across Canada or Europe, dressed up as Bono as a subway busker. The lps can also be ordered n this site, for $60 each. Expected release mid-2020, a run of no more than a few hundred copies.
How can I pay?
Email damon74 (at) mac.com. Minions will respond and share PayPal details.
Why aren’t you putting stuff up on Amazon, Spotify, or Medium?
There is a reason why I haven’t purchased anything from Amazon in over a decade. Medium has been paying me one cent per quarter for about a hundred posted pieces for years. I guess the endurancewriter content itself will always be free, why not concentrate it on my own site… it is up to the public at large to decide if my output is valuable enough to make the ephemera worthy of paying the artist for.
Ok, why an old fashioned website, Boomer?
Listen hipster, those who never leave their app ecosystem are prisoners of their own device. I don’t really aim at a viral audience of device users, though they are welcome to peruse my stuff. Those who use laptops have the usual bookmarks and organizational options for creating a coherent reading system, Maybe they really like my stuff and sit down and enjoy it as the artist intended, instead of as the feed forces. Groovy baby.
Why don’t I see any live concerts or promotional appearances listed, if you are truly an artist?
Part of my conceit is that I don’t have to deal with troops, run through hoops. I haven’t worked in an office or had a conversation with someone I didn’t want to in more than a decade. Similarly, the music I have created has been developed in less than formal settings. Even in the studio its loose and we have fun. It’s no accident that our best popular musicians lived a half century ago and that many died trying to escape the madding mass-consumer crowd.
Let me live. Please. Insta-hate those who play the game and have the machine to support them or spit them out.
*MediaHuman's Youtube to MP3 is a nice app if you want to add a specific fabric song/album to the old playlist. Go ahead, the quality won't be great, but perfectly fine for device.
[12/19: Looking back on this in context, a full year before Trump's election, I consider it prescient. In recent years the topic has been covered ad nauseam, but at the time it was kind of like piecing together a definition of an illness that didn’t quite have a name. Remarkably, the piece was written when I still had an agent and must still have had some hope, if not reasonable expectation (intuition, the ultimate joy kill) of getting into the literary world through the front door.
Now of course, I don’t care––music, writing, art––we live in a world in which “what’s the diff” is the prime mover and those who go the viral route sell, but are also are dead on contact. It doesn’t matter if fabric makes a cent now or after I am gone, if it is meant to have an impact it will, I can only help it along.]
Raleigh, North Carolina
Cycling through Raleigh, I found myself falling into familiar rhythms. It was winter, the leaves were off the trees and the effect was more Stephen King than Maybury. A feeling of eerie emptiness pervaded the gentle urban folds. History stills hangs heavy on Raleigh, the mists of the Civil War have not quite departed, despite an influx of entrepreneurial hipsters and Research Triangle technologists.
Amid this almost eery stillness, I began to look back at the past year, certainly one of the oddest chapters of my life. I had spent five months in Las Vegas––way too long, any way I looked at it. Enough time in the SF Bay Area to realize I would never be able to afford it. A stranger everywhere I went, divorced from the predominant currents of American life.
I was acutely aware that in any era but my own, 2014 would have been enough. This experiment in coming halfway-out-of-the-writerly-shell to meet the imperatives of self promotion 2.0 has been shredded by the great leveler, Buzzfeed Nation. Leave your brain at the door. Content must fit one, fit all. Bouyah. A belief that talent would prevail over societal apathy left me with a distinct lack of money, a feeling of pinch.
The issue, as I see it, is that very few seem to be actively seeking out well-constructed writing. Has the quick-fire cry and response of the Internet age upset the brain chemistry of entire swathes of our population? Campus torchbearers of envelope-pushing discourse metamorphosed into hipster pablum? Those who once explored the intellectual outer limits, now wrapped in a vortex of device. Reaction to others' devices is not community, it is void.
In some ways my irascible father is right. We have succumbed. There is a definite lack of quality in music, writing, art. All the best original impulses fractured, the old rewards for honest effort vastly diminished. What is encouraged by those inclined to "break shit" seems close to Hallmark drivel (see your average Medium feed).
Perhaps this is because coding is binary, engineered systems coherent in a way that a life set down accurately on paper can never be. A beautiful mess on the page is no easy feat. And those who decide what is administered to readers through feeds, platforms, search engine bumps have decided not to pay real writers.* What we have now reads like Dilbert: square and oppressively correct. Hyper-inflated headlines, underperforming logic. Clicks, likes. All in the service of idiotic zeitgeist.
There was a time when those who defined the conversation did not bow to the whiplash velocities of twitter-framed opinion. When trolls lived strictly under bridges. Such meta-level influencers (once known as lions) are not easy to come by these days. The ability to dodge bullets and slow time, while doing the old aerial 360º, is exceedingly rare. Yet it is absolutely necessary in an environment where reputation has become a form of high-frequency trading. There are bullets to dodge from all directions.
Gaining readers and viewers is a huge double-edged sword. You get your head chopped off unless you are quick on your feet and have a thick shell to retreat into. Viva la Energizer tortuga.
Despite all this agony, I was not completely dissatisfied with the trajectory 2014 took. Sometimes clusters of events occur that convince you there is a reason for it all. The highly improbable one-two punch of a Guinness Record endurance poker tournament and securing a literary agent put me on some kind of map. New acquaintances fought their initial urge to take the piss when I spoke passionately of being a novelist. My aging father railed less often about a career at the post office being the proper setting for my minuscule intellectual capacities. External validation provided the lubricant that acres of self-belief never had.
I was free to roam, by the skin of my teeth. Endurance artist––so qualified by a willingness to live a mendicant existence (ala Henry Miller, carefree and careworn in Depression-era Paris. Entranced with the cavernous excesses of his throbbing mind). Everything connected through––what? To use a dated phrase, the collective consciousness. Not quite that. Fabric––a next gen platform that values creatives and, oh yeah, saves the earth.
And what of my muse? It has not departed. Every evening I hear the train whistle through the heart of a small, no longer time-removed Southern city. It is time to take that train south to Miami Beach. And from there––whatever means will vault me out of the static States.
For the Birds
Flute thrashes time,
Earth a fabric distended
A muddle of marks exposed,
Unspoken vision of calamity asserted
By the mere fact that no one can hear––
I make my way along the beach
where nothing grows,
I see cormorants carve air currents in
shriek of triage, I leave my splintered mark
Would you ever want what you heard
plastered across the wind
If there were not some declarative power
that turned realities upside down,
dangled roots in blue
And reclaimed space as
beyond borrowed-time continuum?
Bring in the donkeys, the brayers, the (re)mixers,
cut and paste soothsayers, who know not what they Google––
what we used to call fixtures.
[This was March, 2015. Out of nowhere my old college roommate, who I may have turned to a path of music and infinite frustration, reappears in the digital realm]
Steve Perry: If your flute thrashes time, I recommend a metronome
Me: I am completely against the metronome, when did anything except that timed to destruct the earth need a regulated beat not coordinated with planting, celebration, ceremony?
Flute playing, cormorants flying, looking at a sky & branches upside down––gaining a new perspective on life each day, or just being heard. Hearing yourself over the din of competing voices and logic. Wilding blend.
Therefore, introduction of metronome is a great idea (Kashup has nothing on this logic, I believe.)
Steve: going hiking you were like "the forest is 3-D and the trail winds one way..." and then I tried to rush ahead and got more lost than ever have in my life....
Me (channeling Dante):
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
In the middle part of my life
I found myself in a dark forest
where the direct way was lost.
Steve: Oh yes, now it all comes back to me. I remember the very class. Sitting in Purgatorio!?? Shit.
Damon: Professor Brose and the sweet new style. That line of Dante's always stuck with me though... I'm just starting to understand it.
Steve: That was a good text. I'm reading the Anthology of English Literature right now, got through Beowoulf. On to Chaucer, which is like trying to read in Spanish.
Damon: Chaucer is awesome... Boccaccio's Decameron was preferred tho...
Steve: Who was the fem fatal in Dante?
Damon: The fem fatale was that dame Sam Spade almost fell for... Eve. man, I think I just finished writing a classic my friend (Arisugawa Park, now A Beautiful Case of the Blues. Eve, now Evena.)
And now for something completely different.
[11/19 - Five years later I return and find that this is no alternate beginning, but a prologue. There is no reason why this can’t fit the same narrative as the Playa episode at Darknur's. The question now is do I need or want to write this… probably fifth on my “list of books to do,” considering that I don’t exactly have many bullets left. Oh yeah, and coincidentally we are back to two bullets. This is no subtle "half is glass empty" shift, it just sounds more dramatic. And less work, considering that each bullet probably deserves a section.]
3/15 - Prose created without a net––here is what I forged in today's workshop. A second potential beginning to Two Bullets Left. Again, far from the version that will make the book––and probably more original for that.
Las Vegas Strip 3:45 am
The Strip never quite sleeps––even at that moment when movement wanes and those tipsy sorts not enclosed in all-night wombs have departed in cabs, the neon lights and video towers flicker out ultra-luxe lifestyles at a bargain. The bridges that crisscross an otherwise pedestrian-hostile desert are empty except for the odd vagrant too out of his mind to make it to the shelter of darker rock and scrub––the vacant expanses that hint at hard times only minutes from the glitter. The plexiglass on the overpasses, designed to halt the fall of brawlers and losers on the felt flicker a hundred fuck-me colors––stimulating aural intimations that one has come to a place where money spent is just a colorform, unfocused, without limit.
The sky lightened incrementally, the form that sprawled against the plexiglass in a half-upright posture exactly mimicking the sort of gone person who would continue to sit in that position, staring epically at the sun, until the midmorning pavement baked. His skin was burnt leather, in a month or two he would be broke, if not dead. Leaving Las Vegas a vacant myth for his type in this car drowned city.
It was not until the sun ran across the steel-ribbed rooftop of the Aria, radiating onto the bridge’s metal railing and creating a vaporous orange taffy reflection, that the municipal services employee noticed him. An older Asian woman with soapy bucket, she had been avoiding the man’s slumped, sure-to-be-smelly form for some time, assiduously wiping down the rails opposite, scrubbing plexiglass into some semblance of transparency.
There was no avoiding it, she was going to have to rouse him at some point. A sudden reflection of sunlight off the Paris hot air balloon, as thin, pointed, and powerful as that which guided hobbits into Smaug’s dread mountain lair, etched a frozen turbulence, a moment of impact––when the blood trickled from the cranium faster than the body sank and smeared a crimson wash down the smooth surface behind his shoulders. She took a single step forward, enough to get a glimpse the unending night in his eyes, and screamed.
“Thank god for barriers,” the junior officer thought, angling a toothpick between teeth. The height and pattern of the blood spatter on the plexiglass indicated that the body would have otherwise fallen off the overpass onto the Las Vegas Strip, pancaked on a 2 am asphalt crawling with taxis. Instead, the body had been framed for four or five hours. It was in good enough condition––forensics would blast through it in half a day, the junior officer thought. He almost recognized what remained of the face––had maybe sat with him at a late-night table once or twice, at the Orleans or the Nugget.
And now for something completely different. This fabric video seems to have Las Vegas all over it.
[11/19: Testcut feels dated in the sense that I would never, ever, post anything on Twitter now. (I post on its erudite cousin Medium with great reservation). Hashtag will have to go through a few cycles of disuse, misuse, before it is cool again. Like holy jeans.
Even if bots, trolls, and lurkers were not the issue.
Yet the hashtag novel is a kind of cool idea. A little cut and paste. A little curry. Accessible in real time. I hear Burroughs did this, but I don’t go near Burroughs. Cold Fish. Let’s just call it a cloud novel, with all the trimmings. I have lots of cloud novels up.
Testcut. This was originally one of the titles considered for Arisugawa Park (now A Beautiful Case of the Blues), relating to the ancient art of tameshigiri. That’s an egg parenting program for device, in case you are wondering. You feed it worms and clean the virtual nest, hoping a vulture does not swoop down.]
Original Post 3/15:
#testcut is not Banksy, not quite. It is the notion that a novel will be hashtagged to the reading public in real time, as it is created.* The equivalent of that David Hockney piece recorded stroke by stroke on his iPad until it was complete. (This was one of my favorite pieces in the De Young's A Bigger Exhibition). The idea that we can watch the act of creation and revision, again and again, in its entirety.**
#testcut is immediacy in writing beyond anything possible until recently. If Dickens released his work in installments and Andy Weir (the Martian) in blogposts - Keroac on an onionskin loop - this is something even more haiku flowing… Each 10 tweets a unit, like movie cuts, but taken from throughout a novel that has not yet been mapped. Subconscious meanderings that eventually thicken, cohere. Or not - high-wire writing, without a net. Here, for clarity, the gestation phase:
First there were skirmishes, then there were wars. Then an uneasy peace pervaded the place. Only the place had ceased to exist.
To a place where time, if not exactly still, is very nearly silent.
When procrastination is not an option, empty your mind & begin without aim. Themes will sort themselves out.
One to admire, one to cast aside. One for the road.
Faced with a decision, circumspect. Timed release, I'll be out of the room by the time you––
Amiable, egalitarian, her hair glinted in a certain light. Foggy.
Truth twisted with a hint of rye. I took the news straight.
Circumstances dictate that I write this on this on toilet paper, in lemon ink. You will know why when I escape. #hethought
You will never know the ways I tried to find a place that we two could share. Hopeless. #shethought
Crisp, her eyes shone in the light. How do we stay afloat?
When the world catches up, it is time to move on.
* If the literary forensics research is correct, Twitter novels have been in existence since 2011, taking form 140 words at a time. Micro novels are particularly popular in Japan, presumably written on crowded commute trains where there is just room to maneuver a cell phone (a phenomenon I knew well).
And now for something completely different:
I peeked under tightly pulled sheets,
to see what items lay there for my acceptance, removal.
The contents were the same, no matter how many
layers I peeled.
Then I opened my eyes and everything changed.
The single viewpoint is not certain––
the multitude are waiting to be uncovered.
Push against the idea that an algorithm
will decide who goes forward.
Burn brightly in self-made domain,
Sense of smell came later and was intoxicating,
Four walls, inert, unless you push
with unceasing labor
and work your way out
Touch, the most far reaching of the senses––
intimations of birth and death.
I heard the gurgling of voices, laughter,
I sensed the grandness of what lay beyond,
I wept and wept when I heard that song
and it still did not hear me.
And finally the hills gained ears,
They were trolls,
Bent on separating self from soul.
Life and forgotten breath.
With listening comes––
**Art can be purchased at damonarvid.com. Get it before it gets you.
An oldie but goodie, all the way from April, 2019. Published on Medium to zero views and zero claps. Which in this topsy-turvy world means I have avoided the algorithm-loop-feed trap.
I will not do anything algorithmically unfathomable and my output will be wiped, should I stray from what the bot gods want expressed. Distractified, sealed, and delivered.
The skin* is my master, delivering views requires running through skin hoops, as set forth in appendix C––monetize or die.
I will not discuss pantheons, anthropoids, metamorphs, or sucubus, in that order, because to do so would incite awakened instinct that all is not right, and virtue is vice. Make nice? No, I will not make nice.
My online future is foreordained, because the feed has so decreed, and in return I will receive x allotment for each day I put x content into the engine. Obey or be cancelled. [App.XXII, Sec. 2i]**
Original work of merit shall be kept off the grid until my demise, when the value will be harvested in weekly increments to feed people who do the opposite of that to which I ascribe. (Yet the word shall live).
Into the donut shop.
Are you ready? Sign with your right retina. Two blinks and a wink.
*Wikipedia: “In computing, a skin (also known as visual styles in Windows XP) is a custom graphical appearance preset package achieved by the use of a graphical user interface (GUI) that can be applied to specific computer software, operating system, and websites to suit the purpose, topic, or tastes of different users.”
**Grease fire, slick, burn baby burn. (Divine luck, who gives a ---).
And now for something completely different: (1. Divine Luck 2. Into the Donut Shop)
[11/19 - A couple weeks into my first extended stay in Mexico, I was still in that heady rush of having gained that agent, vindication of whatever I had put myself through to get there.
Advice from people who never had time to read what I wrote was plentiful, including that I start some sort of travel blog. So I tried this. And realized right after posting that if I had wanted to go into journalism I would have years ago. As Johnny Rotten put it, It's no fun.
Or should I say, it is semi-embarrassing. Writing about real people makes me cringe in ways that fiction rarely does. Even when people think a fictional character is about them, it almost never is––characters take on a life beyond any specific person. With real people... yeah, just cringe and apologize, if necessary.]
CHILE'S NEXT CRAFT BEER INNOVATOR?
Four days into a stay at the 3-B Hostal in Playa del Carmen, south of Cancun. A former fishing town that was discovered by Italian vacationers decades ago, transformed into a backpacker's paradise and then despoiled, with the usual mixture of commerce (cheep trinket shops) and decay. A mini-Cancun that thankfully lacks the all inclusive puke-to-party vibe.
The main street, Avenida 5, is full of invitations to spend, from hand-rolled cigars and Argentinian steaks and live salsa bands. Mexican seaside vacationing with a European flair. It grows on you as you explore the nooks and crannies, try the church-run restaurant where you get 10 hot tortillas and the day's beany soup and rice for 32 pesos. Not a bad place to finish Arisugawa Park [now A Beautiful Case of the Blues], play flute with the rooftop DJs, and do the usual freelance assignments. [It was hard not to sound smug at the time, very triggering in retrospect.]
A typical night at the hostel. A Chilean dorm neighbor of the past several days makes a salad in the common area on his last night in Playa. A recent college graduate, he shares a semi-private double bed with his girlfriend. Since they arrived, I have not exchanged more than a few nods and smiles with this perfect tribe of two. Munching midnight greens, Vicente Espinoza Ashton and I fall into the sort of easy conversation that hostels are made for. The random connections that sometimes compensate for complete lack of privacy.
SON OF SUN
From the municipality of Huelquen in the Andean foothills south of Santiago, Vicente has a vision of bringing craft beer to Chile. Something of a beer connoisseur (whose tastes have inexplicably drifted toward the crisp and quenching), I am intrigued.
As Vicente describes it, his father is a well known hippy vintner who operates the Antiyal winery and is a purveyor of biodynamic vintages. Antiyal means “son of the sun” in the local Mapuche dialect and has an ethos of growing vines with as little irrigation as possible. Organic composts are used to fertilize and grapes matured holistically. Though the yield is lower, the resulting wines are imbued with a distinct sense of place––the essence of the Alto Maipo, with its dry climate and alluvial gravel that has washed down over the centuries from the high Andes.
With his family well established in the wine world, I ask Vicente why beer? He explains that Chile does not have any decent beers, only conglomerate products such as Heineken and watered down national brews. He feels motivated create the country’s first true craft beer, taking inspiration from Stroud in England, where he completed an internship in 2012. I am not exactly familiar with that brewery but a quick Internet perusal reveals it as a British cousin to those U.S. craft brewers who take pride in organic, locally produced ingredients and unique (over-hopped) taste profiles.
I ask Vicente when he plans to roll out this brewery and a couple lines appear on his brow ––with his father renowned as a wine producer, Vicente wants to make it on his own terms. He is young but there is a compelling business case to be made––for one, wine is on a different timeline from beer. You have to wait more than one year after harvest and bottling to sell wine. With beer, you can produce and sell quickly, in quantities that exactly meet demand. Basically then it is a matter of gaining financial backing.
Vicente graduated university in December and would ideally like to learn as his father did, training in locales as diverse as California, Australia, and South Africa. He has however not been given that option. Unlike his brother, who is currently learning advanced irrigation practices in Napa Valley (Chile's Alto Maipo is in the midst of a protracted drought), Vicente must find a way to expand his repertoire beyond the family business. Moreover there is pride. As Vicente puts it “I want to make something different because my father makes wine really good. If I am just doing the same, I’m always going to be the son of Alvaro." That certainly doesn't amount to much, when you are rightfully son of the sun. [I have since realized that Alvaro and sun are manifestations of the same]
I ask if Chile produces quality hops and barley and he tells me no, to his knowledge there is only inferior product available. He will need to import the raw ingredients at first as he experiments with small home batches. He then foresees a couple years of intensive training with international breweries. I recommend finding one in Czech or Northern California and he mentions that his family lived in Hopland, Mendocino, when he was very young. This geographical pedigree suggests that his father may have indeed been a true hippy (a quality prized, or at least not mocked, in Latin America, where rightist dictators and leftist imbeciles have brought a yearning for free-spirited righteousness.
I mention my passing familiarity with Mendocino and we have a moment of recognition––as if over the puff of a joint or first sip of a very good beer. Alcohol-laced reveries of consequence follow, the vision a new craft brewing reality in a land that has no such tradition. I ask Vicente what name he has chosen for this prospective beer company and he mentions Quadreros, the Chilean for bandit. His mountain community is historically known for its outlaw presence––I imagine bad men in creased black hats and improbable mustaches, holed up in some precipitous ravine that lawmen dare not traverse. [Not far from the mark, as a lengthy article about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's time in South America attests.]
As conversation peters out, Vincente's face grows long. Sadly, he will likely need to take a job in the corporate world and brewing beer will be relegated to the sideline.
Conversation turns to my so-called endurance writing and how I have sacrificed family and traditional markers of success for a dream. At age 40 there is finally hope, just––that I may be on a path to success––although I have never equated success with money.
SON OF THE BEACH
Talk shifts to Jesus. Another money-adverse model of delayed gratification. Vicente is most interested in the historicity of Christ. He has received one version of Jesus, via a lifetime of Catholic school learning, and is not convinced that Our Savior is a Superhero. He sees the evidence pointing toward Jesus as the son of a king (David), who was a potent political force against an occupying Roman force. He is looking toward a possibility that, as Leonard Cohen put it, Jesus was “just the man.” [I believe I put all this in poor Vincente's mouth, when it was my own train of sudden reasoning that he somehow agreed with in a fit of generosity. Sorry Vincente, hope I did not get you excommunicado.]
I, who have never put much thought into Jesus’ historicity, peruse an online article by Fernando Bermejo-Rubio, a professor of Greek philology and Indo-European linguistics at the Complutense University of Madrid. The author suggests that “Jesus of Nazareth and his followers were in fundamental sympathy with the principles of the members of the anti-Roman resistance groups, the use of violence not excepted on principle.” In other words, they carried daggers, switchblades, and knives.
Suddenly everything clicks–– the time was ripe, during a time of colonial overlordship, for a figure who represented a still strong cooperative of Jewish tribes to emerge. (No simple seditionist, he was also naturally a moral force who preached a unifying message). To the early Christians of the Mediterranean, I imagine Jesus was emblematic of successful resistance to the overwhelming, exploitative, force of the Romans. I could be Jesus, you could be Jesus, if the timing was right. Gospel of––still searching for the son of the beach.....
With this hazy realization, it is time to bid goodnight to Vicente Espinoza Ashton, leaving him to an early rise for travel to Cancun mañana.
And now for something completely different:
This article was initially posted on Medium*on April 29. It took the mainstream media about six months to catch up with the core ideas. Just saying.
The Uninhabitable Earth directly lays out the cost of doing nothing, which is better than doing something, if something is dredging up more fossil matter and its evil byproduct plastic.
Apian and avian distress, great duress in the too hot to live equatorial band. We are trained by algorithms and factories with orders to deliver yesterday to participate in our own demise.
Nothing can convince someone who has nothing and wasn’t invited to participate, not to facilitate the great delivery spree that those who consume too much foist on them. Starve so I can live triple, quadruple, what is sustainable. Sustain me.
I fly, you fly, everyone needs to get into this or that bag and pull the zipper up to completely immerse in the tragedy of lack of biodiversity, which many associate with predictability and personal comfort. Four blank walls. Monoculture of great minds. Great when you can’t breathe.
It’s not hidden, it’s out in the open. We love bad things to death. That is how evolution works, as those who somehow avoid flying into the sticky tape, getting mind blown by the incandescent bulb, attest.
We learn by paying cosmic consequence, which is no way of learning at all when you think of the stress that near death scenarios embody. We learn through playing the laughing bones, rolling the dice.
Paris accords of 2015, sheer hypocricy when there are no teeth. Teeth? Fascism, if we don’t change our ways when we tell others to pull the belt tighter, hang on for the ride, get off the planet. Gunboat diplomacy? No more sustainable than the rest.
50 year futures on coal, uranium, and competing minion power sources… how do we solve the unsolvable? How do we tell a cartel they backed the wrong horse?
Money launderers and insurance companies are already familiar with the concepts of planned equity depreciation, profitable loss. The loss can always be made up elsewhere, as long as there is a standard and a price point we all agree on. A pain point somewhere south of extinction.
Wanted: an entirely new system that does not do away with capitalism but brings it from the late 18th to the 21st century. That values the not-taking-out-of-the-resource (if not at a rate equal to the original investment, at more than pennies to the dollar). Wealth redistribution using the immense power of the Internet to inform, listen, curate, and reward. Call it fabric, Knowledge Infill (KI), call it what you will.
*Where good writing goes to die.
And now for something completely different: