I know, I do it every New Year's Day. We all do it. We make a list of things we want to change to make the coming year better than the last. It's sometime a trap for failure, as we all know. By March most of us are just "fuck it!" and move on. No judgement from me.
And yet, here I am. Ready for change. Is it merely a coincidence that my craving for change lands of the first day of the year? Perhaps, but probably not.
Let's just admit, 2021 and 2020 pretty much sucked. There were bright spots, of course. I just want to hope that 2022 at least shows some positive inroads.
When I opened up the blog, I realize that I needed to write more often. There's my first resolution. Write more. Write poetry, stories, journal, letters to friends!
That was easy. Which comes to my second resolution: read more. Read more everything. More fiction, more philosophy, more history! MORE! I have been seriously slacking in this area. I have so MANY BOOKS to read! It's ridiculous.
Which brings me to my third resolution. This is the hardest one. It's certainly an addiction. It's not a chemical addicton...or well...it is in a way. Dopamine and Seratonin. And it allays the "fear of missing out." You can probably guess to what I am referring.
Yep. Social Fucking Media. Facebook. Twitter. Even Instagram to a smaller degree. Facebook is the biggest one. And it's the first step. Third non-binding resolution: suspend the Facebook account.
I will keep posting on Instagram because it helps me with my typewriter business. Twitter, well, is a connection to an old childhood friend (who also ditched Facebook long ago). We have also started writing letters back and forth, something I miss doing.
So yes, I am suspending my Facebook account. For now. If nothing else, I just need a break. Facebook invades my hermit time. That should be the biggest reason of all.
Jack Kerouac opened a lot of doors for me. I read On the Road as a senior in high school, most likely inspired by my obsession with Bob Dylan at the time. I tried to read as much Kerouac as I could get my hands on, which was actually very little. I grew up in a small town full of narrow minds.
There is never just one door to one destination. I can't chart a specific course that led me to Dylan, then to Kerouac, to the Beat Generation and all the "angel-headed hipsters." I brought away a lot of things from learning about the Beats, some of it good (reading and writing) and some not so great (excessive drinking and a 4 pack a day cigarette habit). Most of the bad things have fallen by the wayside, thankfully. Most of the favorable things remain; the voracious reading, the aspiration to write, the interest in Zen and other forms of Buddhism.
And then there's jazz, specifically Bop. John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker. They all inspire the Word inside me, striving to get out.
Kerouac and the Beat Generation influenced the literary world in so many ways. Many of them, Kerouac included, never lived to realize how much of an influence they were and still are. Kerouac, despite all his flaws and misdirections, was The Word Made Flesh.
So I present to you a playlist. I did not curate this list. I think I will make that an endeavor for later. I think it fairly represents much of the jazz music that Kerouac and his contemporaries listened to. Thanks to Ariana Lara for compiling this playlist.
I hope you enjoy it. And remember, turn up the volume!
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
Presented without comment, because the album speaks for itself.
Personnel on Kind of Blue include:
With personnel like this, the only thing you can do is, well, turn up the volume!
I have fallen in love with TedEd videos. They are short videos that cover a variety of subjects: Math, History, Literature for starters. Most of them are available on YouTube. In fact, it was the Literature videos that inspired me to make the Onerous Reading List. They have sparked my interest in reading quite a few books that I probably would never read (or have never read). Today I present this video, Why You Should Read Kurt Vonnegut. I have read several Vonnegut books since high school. This video makes me want to re-read them. I am not one of those "life is too short to re-read books" people. I have read Bram Stoker's Dracula countless (at least ten) times since I was in elementary school. Each time I get something I didn't catch on previous readings.
So Vonnegut, yes, by all means. Read him. You might like it.
And so it goes...
.Moanin' is what I play when I want to get my brain (and to a lesser degree, body) moving around. It's the perfect way to start a day. According to Wikipedia, This was Blakey's first album for Blue Note in several years, after a period of recording for a number of different labels, and marked both a homecoming and a fresh start. Originally the LP was self-titled, but the instant popularity of the bluesy opening track "Moanin'" (by pianist Bobby Timmons) led to its becoming known by that title.
Originally released in 1959 on the Blue Note label, personnel include Art Blakey on drums, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Benny Golson on tenor sax, the aforementioned Bobby Timmons on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass.
So sit back, but I dare you to try to relax. This is not one of those kind of jazz albums. And as always, turn up the volume!
I hope you enjoy this album as much as I do, even if your neighbors don't...
Ray Bradbury's dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 is the first book I felt I should read from my Onerous Reading List. Perhaps because I have read it before, years ago, probably in high school. I felt is was a way to ease into the task of the list.
I read this passage this morning as I started my day, and wanted to share it. Although the book was published in 1953, it still holds the same truths today. Bradbury wrote it as a warning, and one that we have apparently taken for granted.
Fight Evil, Read Books!
Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was an American comedian, actor, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. He is generally considered to have been a master of quick wit and one of America's greatest comedians. He made 13 feature films as a team with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born. (from Wikipedia)
He is high on my list of personal heroes. One of my goals in life is to make sure more people know who he was and how much influence he and his brothers were on modern comedy.
Song for My Father - Horace Silver
Okay, I'm trying something new. I love music. All kinds of music, except for what passes for country nowadays. I also love to share music that influences my writing and creativity in general. I go through phases. One week I will listen to The Decemberists, the next Max Richter or Alexander Balanescu. This week, though, it's Jazz.
A long time ago, I wanted to be a DJ. Not like DJs today, playing at raves and clubs. A radio DJ, playing jazz in the wee hours of the night. That which was inside me at age 20 is still there. Maybe some day there will be independent, non-automated, radio stations. There are still a few left I am sure.
Each week I will feature an album or artist playlist that I feel the need to share. Please feel free to opine in the comments below.
Today, for the initial playlist entry, I present to you Song for My Father by Horace Silver. It was recorded in 1965 and personnel include Horace Silver on piano, Joe Henderson on tenor sax, Gene Taylor on bass, and Roy Brooks on Drums. The melodies may sound slightly familiar. This album influenced Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder. I'm sure you know the songs to which I am referring.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. And please, turn up the volume...
My efforts to read more are foundering. I am stuck on the the book I am currently reading, Helen MacDonald's H is for Hawk. It's not the author's fault. MacDonald is an excellent writer. I am finding myself not interested. So, for now at least, I will put it aside.
One would most likely think if one wanted to read more that making a list of books deemed "difficult" would be counterproductive. It's probably true. However, there are many books out there that I have always felt I should read. Books considered classics, books that many say are challenging, books I should have read in high school or college, books I did read years ago but want to re-read. And yes, books others have warned me about "Oh that's a terrible book..."
I started this list in my head, on the drive home from work. It is just the start. Some are difficult due to their length, some are simply difficult to read. I need a reading challenge but never seem to want to read books that others recommend. Just by saying "You HAVE to read this book" automatically triggers a lack of desire to ever read it. I can't explain.
So, having said that, this is not a list of recommendations. Most of the following books I have never read. Some, like I mentioned, I have read but it's been so long ago I feel they deserve a re-read. My deadline? I hope to read as many of the books on the list by one year from today.
Here's my Onerous Reading List for 2021-2022
The list is by no means complete. I also plan, for the sake of sanity, to pepper in "light reading," (my guilty pleasure of detective or horror fiction) I want to see how many of these I can finish in six months and re-evaluate then. Until then, wish me luck. I'm going to get started and read a bit before I go to bed.
It's coming. It's only a matter of time. We were warned and most heeded that warning. But the cadre of the willfully ignorant, as usual, made things worse.
One does not have to be clairvoyant. Having a little education helps. Anyone can see the signs if they choose to see. We are most certainly heading toward another Covid-19 related shut down. This time it will be far more brutal and strict. Those who were mewling and puking about the freedoms they were deprived of will be even more inconvenienced. I will lay it all at the feet of these anti-vaxxers, the anti-maskers, and the self-proclaimed "patriots" who deemed the last shutdown as "fascist" and "government control." They are the ones who are to blame, it was their doing (or, their non-doing) that this virus wasn't thwarted the first time. The so-called Fox News is also complicit. Now it seems there is a new variant weekly. With the arrival of the MU variant, we are getting close to running out of Greek letters. And we are most certainly running out of time.
I am however, preparing for the worst. We have food, coffee, toilet paper, soap and other toiletries. I hope that we don't run out and I doubt we will. And yes, these are essential. But still I am hoarding a couple things, the pandemic notwithstanding.
Most of you know I have an extensive collection of typewriters. I think I'm up to seventy now. Admittedly I am running out of room for them. I have never intended on keeping all of them. I recently opened an Etsy shop to sell some of my inventory. At this point I have only two listed. Of course, there are more to come. I am hoping to supplement my income restoring and selling typewriters.
And what else am I hoarding? If you haven't guessed from the photo: Books. Lots of books. Anywhere from light reading, non-fiction, literary fiction (the ones that should have been read in high school and college) and many others. I will never be able to say I don't have enough books. Or, well, I might say it but it doesn't stop me from buying more. Books are essential to my mental health.
I'm not kidding myself. Because of my job I will not be able to stay home due to a lockdown, when it happens. Yes, I'm deemed an essential worker, employed by a clinic in the UW Health system. In the last lockdown, I and my co-workers showed up every day they were able. We didn't have patients, but there were always calls to be answered.
But if it came down to it, when (not if) the lockdown occurs, Valerie and I will have the things we need. Coffee, books, food, shelter, and above all, each other.