August 30, 2004


The Republican National Convention. I’ll weigh in, briefly, and then move on. I find it strange that so many pro-Kerry blogs repeat the same information over and over again. I suppose they think they are helping. To my mind, I don’t think the election of John Kerry is going to make enough of a difference. Which is not to say I want to see Bush reelected, but the human race has got a lot more problems than are going to be solved by a Democrat.

This being said, it is important to have someone of basic intelligence to represent the American mind--not to mention the fate of the entire world. I believe Americans have a death wish. The worse the economy gets, the more Americans want to go to war--to take out their aggression and depression on someone else. There is a collective hypnosis regarding George Bush. The economy is tanking, the rich are getting richer, we went to war based on false pretenses, we’re in bed with oil, the man cannot speak and does not read, and people seem to forget that 9-11 happened on his watch. Yet Americans are so hate-filled and isolationist that they want an ignorant dictator for a President. America is a culture that prizes blind worship: in our celebrities, religious symbols, and Presidents.

These are incredibly ugly times. I look at a show like "Fear Factor"--people in pain, people eating horrible things. This is End of the World television. The same people who watch these shows watch war on CNN. Unconsciously they are slightly curious to see just how far George Bush can take us. They wonder how much more fucked up and entertaining the wars can become. Even if the war goes poorly, they enjoy their righteous indignation. There’s a little jolt of adrenaline every time a terror alert goes up--like we’re living in our own horror movie. There may be a deeper seeded desire for Armageddon--to wipe the slate clean and see if God really does land on earth. People might think Kerry delays the inevitable. Very cynical, I admit, but how else do you explain people's support of the Idiot Wind? I begin to think this way when people cheer the Republicans who are so obviously anti-Earth, anti-human, pro-money. Maybe these three things are the root of the American Dream.

This sounds like an incredible batch of paranoia--but look at what we have: a fundamentalist Christian President fighting fundamentalist Islamic terrorists. The Earth is dying. And Bush still has a decent approval rating. I am sure there are alternative energy sources out there that are being suppressed. People are starving, raped, murdered, and tortured. We are a primitive people, living in the dark ages.

It doesn’t make any sense for Bill Gates to have 60 billion dollars, while vast numbers of people are starving and sick. I am not pushing socialism here. We are too primitive for socialism--it inevitably becomes totalitarianism. Though I do think it is a more human and natural economic system--the law of Karma, yin/yang, everything has a balance, tried to make concrete. Until the human race is moved by love rather than hate, systems like socialism or anarchy are not possible.

Which is why I think a vote for Kerry will not make a world of difference. While I hope he wins, the human race has a lot more problems than Republican war/environmental/economic policies. Even with a Democrat in office, we are still going to rely on oil, for one. If, suddenly, we changed our energy source, the Middle East would dissolve into even more chaos--and Middle Eastern countries would probably band together against America. An unlimited energy source would create one hell of a bomb. The economy might collapse before then. It’s a complicated issue, but one that’s obviously worth exploring. It shows just how much we are not ready for massive change, no matter how necessary. The way the human race has changed throughout history is through war, and that's very terrifying. We are closer to Armageddon than evolution.

If Kerry wins, we are still going to have terrorists trying to kill us, and Kerry is still going to have to fight back with another war. There is still going to be a vast amount of unhappiness in the world, which I believe becomes its own organism and feeds on itself. I realize this is far out and pessimistic, but I say this as a secret optimist--one who listens to Bach and knows that humans can touch God.

All this said, we need a President who represents more than wealth, war, and secrecy. It would be incredibly fucking depressing if Bush were to be reelected--something which seems increasingly possible. If anybody is willing to vote for Bush, then everybody is. Kerry is more intelligent, that is a reason to vote for him. He will have better policies, even if those policies won't be enough. I am not even thinking about integrity. I’m not convinced that politicians are capable of integrity. They have to sell themselves with slogans and repeat the same few sentences over and over again. This is not a good way to strengthen sincerity. Who knows who Kerry is actually in bed with--I just know I can listen to him without wincing. And a vote for Ralph Nader is slightly satanic.

August 26, 2004


Last night I saw a commercial for a movie called "Paparazzi." It filled me with a sense of dread and hope. Last novel I wrote was about Hollywood. It’s about a celebrity who starts killing people using the modus operandi of the local serial killer, The Vanity Plate Killer. The first person he kills is a paparazzi photographer who has pictures of him screwing a girl who’s not his wife. License plate: PAPRAZI.

I adapted the novel into a screenplay, hoping that a film sale would help sell the book--and put my daughter through college. I’m not so dumb as to believe this is actually possible, but a writer breathes hope. I’m the son of a producer and a screenwriter who have both fallen into frustration about the movie business. As my father says, "You could die of encouragement in Hollywood."

The coolest thing my mom has produced is David Cronenberg’s "Dead Ringers." My dad’s worked mainly in television. The last thing he had made was an adaptation of "Journey to the Center of the Earth." Find his novel: Out of Body. My family lived in New York City until I was five. My mom worked in publishing and my dad was a novelist. They moved to L.A. and made the transition to the movie industry. Don’t get the idea that I have lived a life of excess. People who don’t know Hollywood don’t realize that it’s like any industry, employing tens of thousands of people---not all snorting cocaine in a convertible.

Though I will admit that growing up in Hollywood has led to my detachment from the world. Hollywood deals in fantasy. Even the real people of Hollywood--the celebrities--live a life of fiction. So I grew up in this world of seeming fantasy which is both separate from the rest of America and also America’s obsession: a mixed message. Because of this, I’ve written two novels about Hollywood, trying to purge the place from my system. There’s a link to the published one at the right.

The serial-killer novel, called "North of Sunset," didn’t get published. It basically destroyed my faith in publishing. It’s a good novel. It should be published. I know when I write crap. It’s something like The Bonfire of the Vanities, but more insane, meaner. (Note: the reason I don’t underline book titles is because Blogger won’t let me.) Publishers used to nurture young writers. Look at Saul Bellow’s early novels. They are not his best--a writer working out his style. There are many instances like this. I’m a talented fucking writer and this does not seem to matter. Not getting "North of Sunset" published is what lead me to blogging. I would rather have readers than have another novel lay dead on a shelf. It’s been a very good experience so far.

I’m getting off the subject again. I found out about "Paparazzi" as my script was about to go out. The movie sounds like crap--a chase movie. But it has some of the same themes as my novel/screenplay, namely a famous actor being taunted by a photographer and going after him. I have the deluded hope that if "Paparazzi" does well they’ll be looking for more scripts about Hollywood. I can bank on Hollywood’s lack of imagination.

August 24, 2004

Virgin Mary

The second novel I wrote, called "Dishwasher," was my attempt and hope to write a gen X On the Road. I had dropped out of college after my freshman year in college and moved to Minneapolis, MN, to live a slacker paradise--$100 rent, washing dishes at an Italian restaurant, living in a house full of people who played in rock bands. This was probably one of the more vibrant times of my life--and I feel now like I’ve lived several lifetimes. It was 1990, before punk broke, in a very punk rock town. I lost my virginity there. I found my first girlfriend. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but "Smells like Teen Spirit" was our song. It was becoming popular just as we were courting each other.

I have been formed in some part by indie/punk rock. I have also always been a little bit behind the times. When Black Flag was peaking in the mid-eighties, I was 12, 13 years old. I was still listening to Rush and learning how to play Led Zeppelin guitar solos--all of which I have forgotten. When I was fifteen I listened to a lot of Black Sabbath, smoking pot. My friend’s Mom let us smoke pot in the house. A hippie, a derelict, purely California--everything I wanted to be and couldn’t, having been raised by New York Jewish intellectuals.

So, fifteen, smoking pot. Shuddering, horrible, insecure. For me, marijuana is a nightmare. It highlights everyone’s embarrassment and insecurity. I am sure that in the sixties this sense of self-consciousness wasn’t as much of a problem. People were more forgiving of each other.

I watched an episode of "Seinfeld" where he is dropped by a woman because she sees him picking his nose. This is an extreme example, but tragically close to the truth. When there are so many people--and most of them are boring and/or irritating--you have to make quick first impressions. If I was more of a depressive I would find this incredibly sad--the way we, necessarily, have to discard people everyday. It cannot be very good for our psyches or sense of empathy. I should know. I discard people before I meet them.

These days, people eagerly look for flaws in each other. People are cynical first and then wait for proof. I can understand it--it’s a bit of a power surge to find fault in other people. I am better. Though there is now an epidemic of insecurity. It ties into our celebrity culture. You are nothing unless you are famous. The result is people start hating themselves and each other. If you’ve been following along, here’s the equation: celebrity culture = a bad high.

I had no intention of writing about pot-smoking when I sat down. Though I guess that’s what this blog is for, getting my life down. At one time pot-smoking meant something to me. I used to believe that if I could conquer insecurity when I was high, it would be conquered forever. I was sixteen and basically dumb. This never happened and finally I gave it up, realizing with a sudden vision that I never enjoyed it. Sixteen-years-old and self-hating, I found punk rock.

August 22, 2004


To the commenters on the first post, thanks for reading. When I said "fiction" I was thinking about writers like Kerouac, Henry Miller, Bukowski, Thomas Wolfe, and so on--people who wrote autobiography and called it fiction. A blog can be something like that. I actually like Kerouac’s letters more than his prose--less filled with attitude, more honest perhaps. It seems slightly illegal to publish someone’s private letters after they’re dead, but I’m glad they do.

My other blog is "The American Book of the Dead." It’s an attempt at sci-fi. I am not a science fiction writer. I like the medium because you can go anywhere. I think a lot of science fiction is too rigidly concerned with story. People also rigidly disregard the medium, which was reason enough to try my hand. I’ve always been a devotee of Philip K. Dick, especially his later Valis novels after he "lost his mind." I am much more interested in going far outside myself than writing about everyday life. Literary fiction often attempts to make everyday situations seem literary. I'm not so interested in doing this. In fact, it can sometimes be a lie.

Part of the reason that I started this blog is that some of the ideas caught up in "The American Book" were overtaking me. A fair number of unpopular, esoteric ideas cross my mind. I’m sure I’ll cover some here as well. I need to get back to my first love--literature. I have spent the last couple of years reading a long list of far-out non-fiction, all the while neglecting less far-out writers. I need to exercise both sides of my creative life.

I agree that a blog isn’t all about self-love. Self-expression is better. Though I do think that blogging is tied into the reality TV phenomenon. Everybody’s trying to get their 15 minutes. It’s not that cynical, however--it’s an expression of the mind, no matter how little thought most people put into what they write. There aren’t many blogs that treat the process of writing seriously. For some reason if something’s on a computer, people don’t take it seriously--readers or writers. People don’t take writing emails seriously either, even though it’s a valid form of letter writing. In the future, they will have collections of emails from great writers. If I see another LOL I’ll kill myself.

August 20, 2004

Richard Yates

I’ve written five novels. Working on my sixth. The first novel was a deliberate rip-off of my favorite writer, then and probably now, Richard Yates--namely, The Easter Parade. I picked up a copy of his stories, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, off my parents’ bookshelf. Eighteen years old and lonely, the title spoke to me.

I get perplexed and even offended when people describe Richard Yates’ writing as spare. I think Richard Ford said something like this in a recent introduction to his stories. The man knew everything that was going on with a person’s mind, hands, and body. It can be brutal at times--showing how fragile and hysterical people can be. It was no wonder Yates was an alcoholic. To him every conversation must have seemed like a symphony of nerves and repression. He needed to drink to drown out all those voices. It’s not surprising that he looks like Zeus in his photographs. Though he looked more and more gaunt as time went on. He was a chronic smoker as well. I think he died of emphysema. Actually, he died as I was writing him a fan letter--the first and only time I’ve done that.

It’s common for a first effort to steal from another writer. In fact, it’s necessary. I found out that I could put 200 or so pages together, and I liked doing it. My father is a writer as well, a screenwriter and a novelist. Throughout high school: punk rock, alienated, thinking about killing myself, but not ambitious enough to do it--I rebelled against my father, which meant rebelling against books and writing.

Picking up Yates was what broke me of the adolescent spell. Jesus Christ, I thought. If this is possible with fiction then, you know, this is what I want to do. It was the most honest writing I had ever seen. Reading Yates was my epiphany.

The novel I wrote, called "Camera Shy," was about two women, sisters--one a blue-collar wife, the other a semi-professional Manhattan type. They were basically Yates’ Grimes sisters. When I finished the novel, I was riding high and proud. I had dinner with some girl--this was in college--and told her the plot. She replied, "Oh, so it’s about hysterical women." A stupidly PC moment. I have an unreliable memory but this sentence has stuck with me.

Yates was cursed by the fact that his first novel was his best, Revolutionary Road. I am still waiting to be as good as him. I dream of having his objectivity.


I probably shouldn’t start this blog right now because I’ve got enough on my plate. I’ve started another blog which can be found somewhere on the right. I spend so much time obsessively checking my hits and referrers that I’ve got to get my mind on other things.

A blog is an exercise in self love. Who am I to ask people to read about my daily life? This is a lie--I’m not that modest. If I didn’t think that my mind had something exclusive to say, I would not bother writing.

I used to believe that writing was enough. It didn’t matter if I had readers. If it was good, that was satisfying. This is bullshit. Or, rather, a justification for not having readers. There’s something beautiful, human, and fulfilling about sharing your work with other people. An online journal makes this possible.

Being able to be read every minute of the day, all over the world, is something that I could not pass up. Throughout my career as a writer I’ve had to do most everything myself--down to designing book covers. I am sick of getting rejection letters from agents and editors who prize "literary fiction" even though it is as pandering as supermarket pulp.

So I’ll enter the future. Kerouac and Henry Miller were never getting published in real time. Blogging is an untapped medium. It may just evolve into a new artform. A kind of living, breathing fiction.

This is my letter to the world. If people read it, good. If they don’t, fine. At least I’ll be sending it into the electronic ether, and these thoughts might live away from my mind.

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