The Writer’s Dilemma

A few days ago. I made the mistake of scrolling too far down on one of my books listed on Amazon and noticed two new reviews. Both of them were 1 star, so of course I was curious as to what these people had to say. One mentioned how they liked the story and that characters, blah blah blah. The other made some short statement about spelling and grammar. This had me pissed off for several hours until I went back trying to figure out why I still had a 4-star rating with these kinds of complaints. It turns out that these two people account for 4% of the reviews on this particular book.

I guess the question is why do I care? Who are these people to say such things and why does it matter to me? One of them I have yet to figure out how they even came across my book. Was the algorithm choking on a virus? I looked at other reviews the person had done and none of the martial was anything like my book. As for the other person who said they liked the characters and story, none of the things they reviews were anywhere near similar to things they preferred. I don’t know their story. I don’t know how they came across it.

The reviews pissed me off. People see that shit and while I wish I could wash it away it is there to stay. If that is how they felt I can’t deny it. They don’t know me and I don’t know them but it does help me understand why Hemingway would show up at the newspaper office with two pairs of boxing gloves and would hound the reviewer outside until he was able to knock him out for the poor review that was published. What a fucking legend!

The first response that comes to my mind is “where is your damn book?” These are the same people that while they criticize my work have not written anything of their own. Did they pay for the material they read? Yes. Besides sitting there and reading it what work did they put in? They paid $2.99 for a book. The last time I bought a new book it was $30 and it was the last book that Anthony Bourdain had worked on before he died. I’m not one to pay large sums of money for a book and since I’m not exactly a professional writer by any means charging more than $2.99 is out of my league. That fact they rad the whole damn things says a lot considering the number of books a put aside unable to finish it for various reasons. And here is where I come to my point.

Who am I writing for? Ultimately it is for myself. I write the books that I would want to read. Action? Check. Fast paced? Check. Situations that make you think? You can check that one off as well. A book written for someone like me isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Much like the books I sat down and forgot about not everyone who reads my stuff is going to appreciate it. There is also the other factor that has been suggested to me several times. “Write at a 3rd grade level to appeal to a larger audience.”

Why do I have to dumb down my writing? What the hell is happening in out public schools that this is the level that is expected for a mass audience? Shouldn’t this be a wake-up call for most of society and why aren’t people challenging themselves to something that works their mind? Imagine trying to publish Infinite Jest today. It would never happen. Our society it lazy and wants a whole lot of things for nothing. I charge $2.99 for digital copies of my books to make myself available to a mass audience. If I make money cool. If I could make a living at it, even better. The number of readers in today’s society is small. I think it might be the smallest percentage that it ever has been. Hundreds of books are published every month and those books fight for a really small number of customers who might buy their product. Then there is me. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. If not, I hope that you find something of mine that you might enjoy. If not, thanks for the short review. I’m glad you put as much work and thought into it as I did writing the entire book. Take care.

Standard

2020, The Long Slow Goodbye

A few days ago, I learned that John Le Carre, a veteran of the cold war and seasoned writer of high-quality spy novels, died at the age of 89. The comment had to be added to the official announcement that he did not die from COVID-19. This is a good bye for two reasons, the author of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy would never writer another ground breaking novel again, and we can’t hear about anyone dying without having COVID-19 added to it one way or another.

A year ago, at this time we were living free from lock downs, wearing mask, and election drama. I still called myself a liberal. While I was starting to see a change in the city, I always lived I still had a love for it and what it could be. There was the cushy job that paid too much money with little work and responsibility. The house that I still owned since 2004 that I had already dished out $78,000 for and I still owed $43,000 on a $65,000 mortgage. Don’t ask me how the math on that works out. Life was cruising along and then news started to come out of China.

In the last year we lost Sean Connery, John Le Carre, Kirk Douglas, Kelly Preston, Jerry Stiller, and Eddie Van Halen. The list is longer and people would be pissed if I didn’t mention RBG, but to be honest with you I think that one had been living on borrowed time for a few years already. The year doesn’t compare to 2016 when we heard about a new celebrity death every couple of days but that was the good old days. When all you have to look forward to on the news is who died now maybe life isn’t that bad, for you that is, sucks for the dead guy. What was different was how every death this year was over shadowed by COVID-19. Except for Kobe Bryant there was always the question if the person they were talking about had died from COVID-19, or if they died of something else but had COVID-19. The story was never about the life of the person who had died but instead played second fiddle to a disease.

Celebrities aren’t the only thing dying this year. The country appears to be on life support as businesses shut down and lives are destroyed. Several places I loved going to no longer exist. Restaurants, breweries, and small shops have closed their doors for good. For many, the sense of having a future to look forward to has disappeared. The media continues to ignore the record number of suicides that states have been seeing while they continue to keep people isolated for no good reason at all. The American dream has been reserved for a select few, and unless you are prospering from the current economic conditions then this does not include you. The constitution has been under fire these days and like the bible thumpers I grew up with people have started to take a selective approach to the bill of rights. BLM is allowed to protest because it is their first amendment right. People are not allowed to protest the lockdowns because the government says so. Statues were torn down, building set on fire, people killed in the streets in the name of… something and nobody appeared to be arrested or held accountable. Meanwhile if you open your business to make money, while following CDC guidelines so that you can feed your family and keep a roof over your head you will go to jail. COVID-19 didn’t do this, we did this to ourselves. The government over reacted and continued policies more dangerous than a disease and we as a people let it happen and continue. Vaccines have been administered this week and even if the majority of the country has been stuck in the arm with a needle the government is saying we will still have to continue with our current policies. Democracy, the constitution, and the bill or rights also died this year.

Four states changed election rules without going through their state legislature in accordance to the constitution of the united states. When 20 other states tried to sue over this the supreme court declined to hear the case. Voting machines that had been purchased through Canada have been shown to alter votes, and while people like John Oliver stated a year ago that this was a problem. Now we are supposed to believe that there was nothing wrong with these machines.

Race relations have never been worse. A constant barrage of stories about racism and defining people by the color of their skin has alienated the country from itself.

A job that I thought was secure turned into a SJW cesspool, or maybe it always had been and I just didn’t want to see it. Emails went out to POCs (people of color) to have meeting with only them, segregating the employees. Over a span of two years several highly regarded famous authors died with no presentation, display, or mention of the event on the library website. Jim Harrison, Anthony Bourdain, Philip Roth, Elie Wiesel, Sam Shepard, and Harlan Ellison died during the time I work for the library and out of the list Anthony Bourdain had a display, only because I put one together on a cart and wheeled it out into the lobby. There it stayed for a week before it was taken down and the materials returned to the shelves. I had requested a display for Tony, even suggesting a link to suicide prevention, but I was told that “If we did a display for every author who died we would always have a display up.” Somewhere along the way the library had lost its way as to what a library is. Without writers a library would not exist. Somewhere along the way libraries had forgotten where they started and why they existed. And we wonder why people don’t read anymore?

My city started to implode. It was socially acceptable and encouraged to say that white people were evil. Riots happened downtown with windows smashed, and stores looted. The public sided with the rioters while the store owners cleaned up the mess and had to cover the cost. A year before a few members of the Proud Boys went to Bells Brewing for a beer. An out spoken member of the community refused to let them in the brewery saying they were not welcome here and harassed them until they left, while taking photos of their vehicles and license plates to post them online. These are the “open minded” and “socially understanding” people that had started to take over the city. A year later, nobody spoke up against BLM when they trashed the city while screaming about police brutality. The cops used tear gas when they refused to go home and all hell broke loose. The police were under fire for doing their jobs. The Proud boys came back to hold a rally. I watched the entire 1 hour 45-minute uncut video of their march through the city with the poorly narrated dialogue of a man who insisted on telling the camera the exact opposite of everything that happened. The proud boys marched to Bronson park, said some words, and went back to their cars. Meanwhile counter protesters threatened to hit the marchers with sticks and rocks. Flags were stolen and pepper spray used. The local media pushed the idea that the proud boys instigated the violence by showing up. The BLM protesters were arrested for assault and the chief of police was forced to resign for what the public viewed as a poorly handled situation. Later a memorial to a fallen officer was removed from the downtown mall because of public complaint and constant vandalism. My city, the one that I loved, no longer existed.

A brewery that I had gone to since 2013 closed its doors months before their 7th anniversary. The last day was filled with speeches of gratitude and memories that would live on forever. We tried to remain upbeat but by the end of the night men were hugging and crying at the loss of such a great place.

The union closed their doors after we had moved out of town. A place that I wrote about several times, for their live jazz shows, upscale beer selection, and comfortable atmosphere it had a special place in my heart with good food to add to the list. Reasons for staying were disappearing.

2020 has been a long slow good bye to everything that made this country great. From the small businesses that make up the majority of jobs in this country, to the Bill of Rights that has been under attack by the same people who freely use it while arguing you cannot. In a year we have entered some kind of upside-down world where nothing makes sense and to try to live the way you did a year ago is now illegal and you will be punished several ways for it.

People have talked about the new normal and I will admit that everything is changing all the time. There are some things that we need to hold onto. Change can be good but when you do too much you lose a part of yourself or your culture. The country is divided and as I write this there is talk of dividing the country physically. The west coast wants to be liberal democratic states and they can have it. The Midwest from the Rockies to the Appalachian Mountains want to be conservative republican “leave us the F*ck alone” states. Then there is the east coast that is a little more complicated. While I live in Michigan which somehow went from Trump country to Biden wasteland, I can tell you that if you are not in a larger city you are in Trump country. This land is the opposite of where I left. I have seen BLM bumper stickers on the backs of cars and wondered if anyone was going to say something. But there is a simple philosophy here. You don’t bother us; we don’t bother you. I don’t know why that was so hard in Kalamazoo. The country is tolerant, but remember, when you start crap here, these people will finish it. Burn your own cities. March in your streets. Tear yourselves apart. But don’t bring that shit here.

2020 has been a long slow good bye to a lot of things. I left my job. I left my city. I left the Democratic party. I sold a house that I owned for 16 years. I lost my favorite bar. I lost faith in people. I lost trust in government. The list goes on and on. 2020 has been perpetual loss and saying goodbye is something we are all good at now.

Standard

Twelve days, Twelve books

We are twelve days into the new year and so far, so good. I sent out another check to the mortgage company which means I’ve paid $1200 so far this year and I don’t have a payment due until May. I finally finished reading Quicksand by Henning Mankell and have to say that I really enjoyed it. I felt a bit of quilt having put it down earlier. This was the last book the man decided to write after finding out he had a form of cancer that was usually fatal. Sure enough, it was the last book he ever wrote. I own most of his other work but have yet to read any of it. I watched the Kurt Wallander BBC series and have to admit it was pretty good. Rarely am I ever disappointed by the BBC, they tend to think about quality over profitability. Besides the books I have yet to finish I also took the opportunity to go back and read any of the comic books that I have missed out on over the past twenty years. I have to say it all goes back to The Watchmen. Wolverine, Deadpool, and a few independent titles have been breezing through my hands. The quality of the art and stories haven’t changed much. In an industry that has been struggling for over a decade now I am not surprised at some of the leaps they have taken with different characters. They talk about jumping the shark for television, well, comics have been jumping sharks among a few other things over the years.
The stack of books has been thinning out and the Goodreads list is down to five last time I checked. I don’t know if I will get to every book in the stack although there are a few I could save for when their author’s month arrives. Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, and Will Self all have their time coming and Will has been making things difficult with his last epic novel Phone. I’m finally have way through and with a run time of 21 hours in audio book and over 700 pages in print it is not an easy read. This doesn’t include the lack of paragraphs, jumping around from scene to scene, and the use of UK English to add to the confusion. It is a chore and yet there is something to be said about the depth of which Self dives into with his characters. The Butcher, for all of his gory antics, turns out to be just another person from a shitty upbringing that you find yourself rooting for in a way. Yes, he ahs done horrible things, but haven’t we all?
Today was the first day I can say I didn’t get a work out in. There has been some cardio and weight lifting, easing back into things because past experience has shown me how over doing it can go wrong. You can’t lose weight or get into shape if you can’t work out. For the moment P90x is sitting on the shelf, where it belongs. Not having the time or ability to properly do the program will just frustrate me and won’t help at all. I am still waiting until the end of the month to weigh in and my shirts fit better than they have. During the past two weeks I have used an app for intermediate fasting and already I can tell there is a difference in the size of my stomach and how much I can eat. This diet routine is not the cure all for what I’m seeking but it does help.
My study now has the addition of a reading chair for those nights I come home from work and need an hour or two to wind down. That has been the biggest change I have noticed so far this year, sitting down to read before bed is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Turn the radio on for the local jazz channel and enjoy a story here and there. I don’t know of too many people that look back on there lives and say “I wish I would have watched more movies” but I have met a few that mentioned they wished they would have read more books. So far this year I am at a book a day and while I know it won’t last it is a good start to the new year.

Standard

Intermediate fasting

I am currently at the first hour of a 16 hour fast. I have an app for this that helps me keep track of when my body is burning sugar and when it is eating fat. I once had a job that took care of this for me, keeping me so busy that I would forget to eat for 8-12 hours at a time. These days I factor in my 6-8 hours of broken sleep and a late breakfast to cover the time. I haven’t had any problems yet and even squeezed in a 20 hour fast because, well, I was busy at work. Four days into the year and I already have my 2-3 workouts in for the week. Even with the holiday I have stuck to my 1-2 drinks per week. My calorie count is down at the moment with the fasting keeping me from snacking on the off hours.
Yesterday I was supposed to have my new dumbbells arrive only to have a message from Amazon that UPS “delayed” my package. I don’t know what exactly this means but I wasn’t too happen to see that it was delivered to my city this morning at 2:30am and wasn’t delivered today when it is already two days late. New years resolutions are already hard enough, it doesn’t help when somebody else sabotages what you are already going to sabotage yourself.
Two books I finished so far include: Braided Creek by Jim Harrison and In Search of Reagan’s Brain, a Doonesbury annual from 1980-81. Neither of them were a “deep” read, one being poetry and the other a collection of newspaper comic strips. I’m still reading anything I can get my hands on when I have the time, and so far, 2 books in four days isn’t bad. I have been books on order that I received a discount on from Ebay. These were the missing Will Self books that I don’t have in my library and while I should be upset that I spent the money instead of putting it towards my mortgage it should be pointed out that Will Self is not found on the shelves of book stores in the states. Eventually I will find some crude thing he said about this great country of ours. Perhaps he made fun of our “Freedom Fries” or wrote a short story about Trump’s small mushroom shaped penis, who knows. Either way I look forward to these books and march should be a self-indulgent time.
I received a letter in the mail from my mortgage company informing me that I was more than 90 paid up in advance. I didn’t know that paying your bills was a problem. Perhaps my extra money made them want to spend it on postage thanking me for being so punctual on my payments. Or maybe they noticed that I could end up paying off the principle early, eliminating what is owed in interest and therefore losing the company some money over the long haul. I’m thinking of framing this beautiful piece of office literature as a reminder that I annoyed someone enough by paying my bills ahead of time that they felt they had to send a message that I was tampering with their books. And here I thought they only wrote you when you were 90 days behind, not when you were ahead.

Standard

Unfinished books

Tomorrow starts the reading challenge for 2020, the first month is the unfinished books I have been neglecting throughout the year. The list includes four titles by Jim Harrison, one epic novel by Will Self, Thomas McGuane’s first novel, Henning Mankell’s last book, plus a few about pipes and food. There are also two titles in my Hoopla Audiobook files that I need to finish.
Most of these books I am about half way through and the only time I really have to read these days is after work before bed. Once in a while, who am I kidding, every night my daughter helps by waking up at 3am and not falling back asleep until 5am. I haven’t figured out what I will do with the books when I am finished with them. Time will tell.

Standard

Letters to Harrison: 11

What may seem like poverty to one man will appear to be a paradise to another. The photos of your friend “Bud” were eye opening, seeing the farm and your writing space in the granary. I noticed you were writing with a Comet and knowing how horrible those machines are it is no wonder you chose pen to paper instead.

That moment was captured when you read the letter saying Wolf had been accepted for publication, the cigarette in your hand with a spiral of smoke hanging in the air.

The Library of Michigan put on a decent show although the cheese and crackers might have been an insult to a man of your appetite and taste. Still free food is free food and for some reason I could not partake of the offering. Your desk was on display sealed in by a glass wall with your legal pad and pen sitting the way you had left them. A picture of Yesenin framed to the side, given to you by a friend.

Your assistant was there telling tales of the man only she knew and spoiled the fun of all the emails you had not sent over the years but labeled with your name. Many confessions come out after death and not by the deceased. The tale of Brown Dog was explained with a postcard you had sent.

Your distaste for things modern is well known. Coming to know you has expanded my reading list tenfold. Thomas McGuane, Rick Bass, and Peter Matthiessen have been added to my shelves, thick books that I have no idea when I will get to them. For some people writing is more of hobby instead of a lifestyle. And let’s face it, if it was my profession, I wouldn’t have time to read anyway. I would have some agent, publisher, or bill collector breathing down my neck wanting to know when the next book will come out so they will get their next check. Reading is for the young and I squandered that time with comic books and horrible movies nobody cares about anymore. The art of reading is dying while everyone thinks they are a writer. There are too many chiefs and no Indians to follow the pages being published these days. The world of literature has become a twitter storm of everyone trying to be heard and only the dumbest of comments being recognized by all. Tonight, I celebrate seeing a glimpse of your life with a bottle of Tresor de la Riviere Cotes du Rhone from 2014. I fear it might have gone bad since it was on sale at the local grocery store. They try to be upscale and I can’t fault them for trying. I figured a French wine for under ten bucks couldn’t be too bad, or could it. I guess if I don’t wake up in the morning, you’ll know what happened. Dinner was a meal of French onion soup with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and a sherry cooked into the onions. Stuffed buttercup squash baked in the oven until the goat cheese was roasted brown. It might not have been woodcock or quail but it was a meal to be enjoyed. I started reading Wolf yesterday and life for a young man was different from the environment today. A generation wasting away while a handful of assholes run the place into the ground. To do anything declared manly is to invite trouble. In this day and age men would have to form knitting circles and learn how to lactate in order to gain any attention from women. The whole thing is disgusting and yet in some ways they have not changed. No one should be surprised to see that the bestselling book during the height of the women’s me too movement was an abusive piece of garbage that was so bland the title was even grey. In a colorful world the simple-minded try to turn everything into black and white while the rest of us are forced to form into a pattern of good and bad, male and female, black and white, without asking us if it is okay for us to just be who we are. You weren’t good at life but you knew how to live, getting the most out of everyday until your last.

Standard

Letters to Harrison: 10

How is it that the dead are able to stay with us for so long after their body is buried, covered by the earth? Business is never finished and that is true also for the dead. It has been over a year since my father in law has passed away and we are still handling his possessions. Those who don’t believe in immortality have never dealt with an estate after death. Items remain, bill collectors come calling, houses sit dormant, family photos with people unknown to those who remain are tossed into boxes and stored away in the hopes that somebody still knows or cares about the ghost in the pictures, and there are the clothes. A family of foxes have taken up residence at the old house and it is hard to say if this is a good omen or bad. The fox is known to be sly and could be mocking us at our choice to sell the place, or it was a warning to get rid of the property as soon as possible. Either way you never know until you are looking at the end result and hind sight is always 20/20. Immortality is different for writers, successful ones that is. While your books will appear on store shelves for the next hundred years mine just started to appear in the used book stores. There was a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in seeing my book sitting in a pile of donated material but it was sad to find the bookmark halfway through. The person who doesn’t finish reading your book is the ultimate critic. I was listening to a book yesterday called Inadvertent and the writer, a superstar from Norway, was talking about why he writes. The goal in his mind was to express an idea on paper and to say it so clearly that anyone can understand it. Then in a separate interview he talked about how his essays and books are about nothing and how well he can write about nothing. I started to wonder if these were the same thing, after all in this world where you can find anything on the internet and it would appear that anything that had to be said has been said, then is nothing the new thing to share that people can understand? Nihilism is the new cool and I can tell you this coming generation does not care about the people who came before or the ones who will be here in the future. The 80s notion of not caring because we are all going to die in a burning inferno of our own doing is alive and well, without the cocaine. I’m waiting for the day that someone out there writes a book called “Nothing Matters” and when you open the pages to start reading you find a title page and everything is blank afterwards. That would push the point home. Of course, the book would be declared a piece of genius, the critics would ask the symbolism of why it was 350 pages instead of one or two hundred. People will spend ungodly amounts of money for a signed first edition and people would still spend money to download and almost blank file onto their phones and computers because it is the cool thing to do and nothing matters. Physicist will claim this was the breakthrough they were looking for in quantum mechanics and wars would stop for five minutes. Then one person, the only one who can still think for themselves, will point out that the book is a fraud and that the world had been swindled by a giant hoax. In the end the author, whoever it may be, will still live long after death in the public mind for the grand book they never wrote because it didn’t matter. I laugh at these professors who try to say what the author really meant and what the story was really about. You and I both know that the author wanted to write. If the book was published it was good enough to make money on. If the public liked it, then it was a good story. If it becomes a classic then it was written well. In the end it comes down to the author needing a paycheck, needed to fight boredom, was trying to get out of his own life, or heaven forbid they were hearing voices. People are not perfect and we know that writers are far from that. Will Self is too lazy to write in paragraphs. David Foster Wallace was bitten by the Thomas Wolfe bug and thought good writing was determined by weight and not style. The Russians found a way to make depression a communicable disease. As for you, well we know how you felt about nature, sex, and food. Things that anyone, especially the French, could understand. Through a book we can learn what a person was thinking about at a certain time in their life. In that sense a part of us lives on. Is there anything more we could hope for?

Standard

Letters to Harrison: 9

I came across a signed copy of Julip Saturday and bought it. Maybe you would think of me as an idiot or maybe you would be surprised that someone would keep such a thing, who knows? What is the point of collecting something just because a person signed it, one that you have never met and never will? Your grave is still a mystery and yet you would visit the graves of those that you admired if you had the chance. I can hope that you had your ashes spread and by chance a part of you is somewhere close, inhabiting the landscape in a way that haunts that which you enjoyed and loved so much. There is a film crew tracking your steps, visiting the bars and walkways you once traveled. I don’t know what they will find along the way or how accurate their movie will be. Everything is about perspective and if they want to paint you in a positive light or make you out to be the crass asshole you could be at times. I personally hope they find a middle ground and point out that you were just a man. Your aversion in being compared to Hemingway is understandable, a high marker that no man should be compared to because no matter how hard you try nobody could live up to the expectations one would immediately have on you. How fair is that anyway? It was a different time, a different world and only one person could possibly live the life is the one that he lived. That mold was filled and it was not reproduced with you. I was tempted to try my hand at ordering off of a menu as you had done, pointing to various items and saying “this… and this… oh and this too” going on until the table was filled and I would have to sit there until my buttons popped and people looked at me like I was a crazed individual that had just escaped from a concentration camp. Instead, I ordered the pork belly BLT and called it good. I’m not at that point yet plus I need a reason to go back and try something else. My life isn’t on the road and if I am to be in towns often that I don’t know I need something to look forward to. The sky finally cleared today, the weekend was clouded in gray and the cold rain hung over like a wet blanket of despair. Winter is not here yet and already I dread the lack of sun and the depression that comes with it. On the other hand, it leaves no option than to sit down and write, something I am lacking these days. I have noticed that once in a while you will mention books that you have read over your lifetime and I’m thinking about starting a list. Of course, I don’t know what exactly you enjoyed and what you didn’t but I have to assume that if you liked something that’s what you would have recalled, if I’m wrong you can always haunt my ass and set me straight. The deer are on the move lately, roaming the streets searching for food to prepare for winter. A giant buck has made it clear to me who owns this neighborhood and I am nothing but a nuisance in his eyes. I have considered going deer hunting this fall and after seeing him I wonder if I could actually pull the trigger this time if the option presented itself. There is a big difference between shooting a squirrel, catching a fish and having that disconnect between yourself and the life you took. The deer on the other hand seems to be a beast that knows you are out to get him and has an opinion about it. I suppose if I was hungry these thoughts wouldn’t come to mind and that could be the trick to a successful hunt. Leave with an empty stomach and you won’t have any qualms about taking a shot and dragging something out of the woods. Sorry bucko, I have mouths to feed and you looked pretty good at the time. It is the nature of things. Would things have been different this weekend if I had to shoot the pig behind the brewery to enjoy that BLT? I would like to say not but I know better. There is something different in a person that can take a life and even though I have been the end to many squirrel and fish I don’t know if I have it in me to take something bigger. That could be the next challenge I face this year. What is the worse that can happen? I have a nice day out in the woods? One couldn’t ask for less on a good day.

Standard

Letters to Harrison: 8

Esquire has a podcast now where they go back and look at old articles that had been popular over the years and you will not be surprised that they covered your food column The Raw and the Cooked. They discuss your article The Days of Wine and Pig Hocks which I found to be funny and highly entertaining. Having never been on a book tour, only slinging paperback copies at local libraries and different venues where the odds of finding anyone who reads is like finding bigfoot, I have a hard time understanding the dreaded tour. I was glad to see you made a go of it, ingesting anything that looked or smelled good, and bringing a little extra weight back home with you. Bud is doing a gallery at the Lansing library and I have to say I’m excited to go. You must be the one person on the planet that doesn’t have more that five pictures of yourself on the internet but your friend Bud has enough to do a show. Have it be my luck to drive over an hour one way only to discover Bud has five photos to share and no prints. I could try to be less pessimistic but what is the point. Living my life as if the world is out to get me leaves me with a lack of surprise and yet it still finds a way to throw me a curve ball and beam me in the head. I heard that you had a knack for going into restaurants and ordering everything on the menu. I have never tried this for several reasons, for one my wallet would not allow it and I was raised not to waste food regardless of how bad it is. Well, until my parents tried it and almost threw up in their own disgust. I have always played the Guinea pig and while it has worked in my favor most of the time, I have to admit that there have been long days sweating in bed and mornings that drifted into afternoons while sitting on the toilet. This was in the days before cells phones so a good book came in handy. Try to grab something you checked out from the local library and share the love. There is a local Mexican restaurant that serves traditional tacos not far from my house and while I will say they have the best food in this category their service for the longest time was lacking. My wife convinced us to try it out again and forget the nightmare that happened a few years ago. There was only one thing I wanted to do when I arrived and that was to order every style of taco they had and try them all, which I did. I tried this before and I must have had the order that the cook decided was a pain in the ass. Still, how hard is it to make seven corn tortilla tacos with only onions, cilantro, and a wedge of lime? I waited one hour and fifteen minutes before my food arrived and the server never came back to check on me. The tacos were delicious, that wasn’t what left a bad taste in my mouth it was the lack of apathy to the customer. I ate the food and therefore paid for it but when it came to recommending the place years later, I pointed people to their reviews online and I wasn’t the only one. At some point the manager that the place was presumably named after, a tall blonde-haired white man with Buddy Holly glasses, either left or was finally fired, and the place named the Big White Cock in Spanish finally turned things around. I should do this more often, go into a place and order random things, but isn’t that what a buffet is for? Is the buffet just another form of cheating when it comes to good food even when you simply want to sit on your ass and stuff your face? I had a really good Sangiovese from Tuscany last night and slept like a rock. One of the five wine racks in the basement is drying up and I think it’s time to fill it up again. Maybe I will pick up some lunch along the way.

Standard

Letters to Harrison: 7

Your movie Wolf was about cocaine, right? I haven’t read the book of the same name but I have to assume that with your discontent for Hollywood and the drug seen that the reason Jack Nicholson is running around feeling good, able to smell everything, have a boost in unwarranted confidence, and sleeps for 20 hours after a bender isn’t a coincidence. I have never taken the drug myself but know a few who have. The last man I ran into had just received his disability check and snorted the funds up his nose in one day. All of the Narcan training that people had been given was useless, his heart had stopped from the opposite of heroin. The woods visited me last night, a giant two-hundred-pound deer with a rack that would have made Dolly Parton jealous was standing in the neighbor’s yard when I came home.

We exchanged some snorts and he didn’t seem to care about my presence. It wasn’t until a few trucks drove by that he decided to leave. Before entering the swamp across the street, he turned at me and grunted one last time reminding me that he was the boss. I’m surprised that the neighborhood cats haven’t tried to take him down but it would be like the democratic party trying to take down a republican president. Cats do not form an army well and a liberal party with thirty agendas doesn’t accomplish much. When my non-disclosure agreement expired with my old Hollywood job, I wrote a book called Golden. Maybe it was to burn some bridges and not become caught up in the glitz and glory of a false god. Things must have been different back in your day because if I tried to live off of what I was paid I would have been homeless eating an endless supply of Top Ramen noodles. The last two days have been good except for the endless assault of my daughter who doesn’t have an off switch. The terrible twos is a horrible name for this disease. Maybe it should be called the traumatic twos or the terrifying twos, or the Trumpian twos. the last one might be considered a low blow but there isn’t too much to aim for down there from what I have been told. How is a writer supposed to make a living in a world where people don’t read anymore? Even I have been guilty of this, pulling out my voluntary bugging device and looking at the latest mind-numbing content on the internet. Before we clean up Washington, we should do a thorough flushing enema of the internet first. We can start with rotten tomatoes first who gave your movie between a 62 and 43% rating. I guess the audience didn’t see the point. I will have to grab Wolf from the self sooner than later and see for myself what your first novel was all about. These days good literature doesn’t get publish because nobody reads it and if you want to make a buck these days you have to conform to one or several options for prostitution that are available to be exploded by. I’m tired of getting screwed these days. You spend your time and effort trying to create something real and in the end all you end up with is a bill, lost time, and a sore ass in the end. That reminds me, I need to pick up a new cushion for my chair.

Standard