I never really believed writer's block was a real thing before. I thought it was some made up shit like Havana Syndrome where it just meant the guy was hungover too much and was trying to blame something or someone else. But now I have it for the first time in my life and know it's real.
Complicating things however is that I am also hungover too much. Hm maybe it's fake after all. Maybe I just talked myself out of it.
I think it's been too long since I've seen the ocean to borrow a phrase. God what a song! Fortunately I'm going to have a few chances to do so this week when we go down to the south shore and visit M.'s sister and her family who are up from Georgia and then later in the week for our annual trip up to Kennebunkport. Something about being there in Maine with my old college friends always yanks something out of me. Like this piece from a couple summers ago (that I repurposed a few bits of for a story in ACWF):
I went to the Beach That Makes You Old in Maine this weekend and one morning at low tide I hobbled out along the sand wrinkles on my fucked knee trying to find where the water went because if there is water and I don’t submerge myself in it I’ll die. You had to walk so far to even get to the place where the ocean began in earnest and Michelle was so delighted by all the hermit crabs dinking around in the wind blown rivulets it made me love her they should’ve called it the Beach That Makes You Young in that respect.
I suppose it’s not the beach itself that makes one old to be more specific it’s the fact that I only go to this particular beach once a year to see a bunch of my college friends who are lovely and kind but when I’m there after a year apart I feel weighed down by a sense of our collective and individual aging reflecting off of one another — even though all my friends are keeping it together very nicely! — and it also doesn’t help that there are so many children running around squealing with unbridled joy year by year until one year they arrive as teenagers for whom being perceived at all is abject torture. To be honest I completely relate to them on that part.
I hope no shit like this happens at the beach on my watch. Surely it won't. Surely it will only happen on beaches that aren't my problem and it will stay that way forever.
"Park officials said cooler water is capable of holding much more oxygen than warmer water, and fish that find themselves in warm water can end up in big trouble. When water temperature rises above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it becomes hard for Menhaden to receive enough oxygen to survive."
I do not like "going to the beach" to be clear. I think "going to the beach" sucks my ass. I love being near or even better inside of the ocean though. There's an important distinction there.
Did you read the big Weezer piece on here the other day? God it was so good! I'm very lucky to have such a cool and talented group of friends who write here from time to time.
I fried the hell out of my laptop the other day when I was trying to clean it. It sucked so bad. I need that thing! That's what I do my posts on. That's how I make my house hot.
I was using a Clorox wipe and it was the last one at the bottom of the thing and I guess it was too wet and next thing the machine was fucked. I brought it around to a couple of nerds to tell me how badly I was porked and they said fairly good and well porked so then I had to go buy another one. There's nothing quite like that sinking feeling in your stomach when you chunk a relatively new laptop or phone and basically have no choice but to eat shit and purchase a new one immediately.
In any case if you ever were waiting for a good time to subscribe I could use a few bucks at this point in time.
Meanwhile a nice reader named Red has paid for a year subscription for anyone who has wanted one but cannot afford it. Let me know if you want that but also you probably have to reply really fast when this goes out.
Oh I also have one single invite to Blusky handy so if you want that you had also better reply fast. Although I'm not necessarily sure you want to be involved in all of that they have going on over there.
Speaking of old friends I went back the other night to see a couple of friends I haven't seen since last year. The same group that inspired this story from ACWF:
I told my visiting friend who is the type of friend I can say weird shit to that I thought I had changed in the years since I’d seen him. That I was more nervous now and jittery about being anywhere and less confident and he said haha no that is how you always used to be before too and it was a bigger insight than any I’ve ever gotten in therapy. Oh right haha. Ok. Maybe I’m just who I am still.
To be fair I spent a lot of time around this friend high out of my mind so that could be a factor here.
Then I talked about actual therapy with him floating in the pool there my arm hair bleaching blonde in the sun and I said I had come to this realization talking of late that I was comfortable now at this later stage in my life in reverting to the sloppy Massachusetts townie I had started out as and was always meant to be. To strip away all pretense. All those years in the middle living between Boston and New York and playing in bands and writing for fancy magazines and such were an effort to overwrite my origins is what I learned about myself I said. For example how I had purposefully lost my Boston accent perhaps as a type of class traitorship I said and he laughed again and said wait you think you don’t have a Boston accent?
I guess I thought I was getting away with something all those years.
It's hard to lose track of people you know anymore. Before people just came and went in and out of your life but then we all became connected on social media so now we just have to carry around the details of all these people's lives with us forever even if we don't particularly want to. But that said there are also friends of your friends who you always liked when you saw them exclusively via your mutual friend but may have never ended up officially friending online and so it's nice to hear what they are up to as check in every few years. Kind of a "previously on..." scenario. In your twenties it might be about who is getting married or what job they've taken and in your thirties it's usually about who has had kids and where they've moved to and in your forties and fifties it's about cataloguing who has gotten divorced or else who has gotten sick and who has died from their sickness.
That's one thing we talked about the other night. Have you talked to so and so? I haven't seen them in forever. Yes they are doing fine now after a cancer scare or no they didn't make it.
Almost no one makes it out.
I have a lot of friends who have wisely quit smoking and when they see me they use it as their one little free pass for old time's sake. I was telling my buddies the other night that I need to stop because I really do not want to die which is true believe it or not and one of them said there is still time to stop. It's not too late. Then he smoked one of mine while we were standing there in the rain. I forget why but he asked if I had ever thought about killing myself – not because I was being weird or morose or anything it was prompted by something or other that came up naturally – and I said I mean sure but only in the way that everyone does. I presume everyone does. He asked if I had ever thought of how I would do it and I said no no no you don't do that they say if you have a specific plan for how you would do it that's a real bad sign and then he pressed me and I told him how I guess I would do it if you really need to know and he said Jesus dude. He said his was to cover himself in honey and wait in the woods for a bear to eat him. He said he didn't know we were talking seriously here. He thought we were doing shtick.
Ok fine then I'll do it in a funny way if I have to. I'll drop a cartoon piano on my head and my teeth will turn into the piano keys.
This is going to be a lot of socializing in one week for me. I have barely done anything in weeks. Someone call Vanity Fair. On top of all that I'm going to a Red Sox game on Wednesday. Does anyone know if they still have that little scumbag alley you can stand around and smoke in outside the park?
Did you read about this shit? I was trying to think of a perverted evil take on “the upside of slavery” to satirize how the right thinks (Slaves got to see the world! Grow up in America the land of freedom! Learn useful skills! Have a roof over their heads! Be saved by Jesus!) and I can't do it. They’ve all been said sincerely already by one of these assholes or another.
Tony Bennett who is basically the opposite of Ron DeSantis in all ways died and that is sad because he was a very good singer but also a very good man. He was very old but still. No one makes it out. Did you know much of this about his life outside of music? I didn't really until I read this Daily Beast piece from a couple years ago.
“Anybody who thinks that war is romantic obviously hasn’t gone through one,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Actually the war comedies like M*A*S*H and Catch-22 are probably a more accurate depiction of war than the ‘guts and glory’ films, because they show how pathetic the whole enterprise is…Every war is insane, no matter where it is or what it’s about. Fighting is the lowest form of human behavior…No human being should have to go to war, especially an eighteen-year-old boy.”
Here's a good one from Emily Atkin on her newsletter Heated on the long tradition of fucking with nature as a way of not technically harming your adversaries (related to recent the tree-trimming stunt outside of NBC Universal in Los Angeles).
A common way colonizers weaponized the environment was by killing and driving away wild animals, leaving Indigenous peoples to starve. But the “environmental interventions” Europeans perpetrated against Native Americans weren’t limited to animals. “Pathogens, rivers, forests, plants, and animals all played a part in the struggle,” Ghosh writes.
These were ”biopolitical wars, in which the weaponization of the environment was a critical element of the conflict,” Ghosh writes. They were so brutal that nineteenth century writers referred to the conflicts as “wars of extermination,” because they literally resulted in the extermination of entire populations.
Still, because environmental warfare did not result in bullets to heads and knives to necks, “English settlers believed that they were less cruel than their Spanish counterparts,” Ghosh writes. “Instead of military violence, they were using ‘material forces’ and ‘natural processes’ to decimate Indigenous peoples.”
You know that's a favorite topic of mine. The way the powerful merely set violence into motion and pretend the awful end results weren't really their fault. They were far enough removed from the intended outcome to have plausible deniability.
Politics is making decisions that send people to suffer and to starve and to scrape by and to slowly but surely die. It might take a bit longer than other more reliable forms or killing but it is killing all the same. Almost every single utterance from a Republican (and plenty from Democrats) about their intended policy is an attempt to set real violence against real people into motion by someone else's hands (usually cops but also doctors and landlords etc) which is ok for some reason under the rules of the civility game.
At the same time the whisper of the threat of perhaps considering some kind of light consequences for the powerful such as being told to go fuck themselves by a crowd is considered beyond the pale.
Look at this shit. How venal and dumb do you think Hollywood execs are? Worse than even that.
Not so fast other kinds of media execs.
Tyler and I may or may not have worked together for a while at a certain publication. The bosses saying that type of shit would not surprise me at all. No wonder I was never going to make it. I never stood a chance. No one makes it out.
Fun one here from Gabriella Paiella at GQ about "Husband Meal."
Allow me to offer a more disgusting variation on the theme however.
Now that right there is a reason to live.
Thanks to everyone who's been reading and posting about the book. I appreciate it very much. Even the guy who used it as a coaster.
Ok I gotta go get in the water. Everything is gonna be so good once I do that. Everything is gonna be perfect from that point going forward.
See you in a few days.
In the meantime check out this list of the best 90s emo songs from Hard Times. It's much better than these lists tend to be.