I knew I was tired last night when I saw a beautiful photo on Facebook of a young Loretta Lynn, her guitar across her lap, reading the paper. Darling picture. But some guy was commenting on and on about how he felt so betrayed and heartbroken that she was a Trump supporter. It was jarring, Loretta fresh as a mountain daisy and here’s some whiny little nothing of a fuck complaining about her backwoods politics. Shut the fuck up, I said poetically, and leave the politics be for a minute and just dig Loretta Lynn. I was tired, the little editor in my head had clocked out hours before and so I posted that comment. Boom. Then I added how much I couldn’t stand you little keyboard warrior fucks whose notion of the Resistance was whining on Facebook and giggling at Alec Baldwin’s Trump impressions on SNL. Boom. Well, not boom. I hesitated before tapping the enter button. I mean I really like the lady who posted the photo and maybe the whiny guy was her boss or something and besides, I was being a tad on the extremely rude side. I get that way sometimes. Perhaps you’ve noticed. Words, you know, they can hurt but sometimes they are so much fun you forget that you are directing them at ordinary mortals and not other people who write words like they breathe air. So I deleted that comment without posting, backspacing the letters out of existence into nothing, like those thoughts that pop into your head just for a second and disappear never to be remembered again unless you write about them the next day. I think the moral of this story is that when we start insulting whiny little fucks just for being whiny little fucks then the terrorists have already won. No, that moral was two presidents ago. I don’t know what the moral of this story is. Though at the time I was too tired to care anyway. Instead, I pushed the keyboard away, fell asleep on the couch and woke, hours later, to the sound of Sonny Rollins, but I already wrote about that.
Some people write poems, I write paragraphs. This occurred to me a couple days ago, and how Facebook and smart phones have made paragraphs the ideal length since it matches both screen size and attention span. So I write pretty paragraphs. People ask me why I don’t write a book. But what is a book but hundreds of paragraphs? I’ve already written hundreds of paragraphs. Thousands. Zillions. I spend my nights in indented servitude, writing paragraphs.
Weird time to be a writer. There’s writing everywhere, a deluge of words, and it’s all free. But in the beginning, when writing was brand new and Iraq was Sumeria, dotted with city states and kings and gods and zigurrats, there were perhaps a few hundred of us, etching sentences into clay in cuneiform, “woven” an ancient scribe wrote, “intricately like a net”. Almost no one could read then, and fewer wrote, and it took years to master their craft; writers were a specialist caste, powerful, feted, privileged. Imagine that. Kings would utter commands, scribes made them real. Now we writers plug away on Facebook between pictures of cats. Lo, how the mighty have fallen.
Yet beneath this very post, in the programming, is the work of coders. I open the source page and see their work, the thousands and thousands of characters, letters and numbers and slashes woven intricately like a net. Few now can read it, and fewer write it, and like the ancient scribes, mastering their craft takes years. I can’t imagine any of them see the irony–they, hunched over in their cubicles, are the scribes now, and if not feted or privileged, they at least make a living. My words are just keystrokes, their code makes them real.
When I was young and buff and gorgeous and 22, I declined an offer from a beautiful blonde acquaintance to appear in porn movies. True story. I think her name was Monica, and she was icy and tall and leggy and serious and a production assistant in the San Fernando Valley. Her studio offered $200 per movie (about $700 today) she said, with the promise of lots of work. The money was tempting, but I had my heart set on being a writer. Besides, you could make a lot more than a lousy $200 (about $700 today) writing an article.
That was the punch line, actually. Too bad it’s not a joke.
Ya know, I spent so much time reminiscing about George Davison in ye olde daze that I completely forgot to mention something I had only discovered about him via Facebook. George was a talented writer. I’m not talking music here, I already talked about that, but language. You can see that almost immediately in someone on Facebook (or in emails or tweets even) because they can spin little stories even if they’re ony a couple sentences long. When he was on the farm you could see the farm, when he was in Santa Barbara could see the streets, and the trees, and feel the sun. You don’t even have to describe it, a reader fills all the background in if you say the right words. Which he did. Towards the end his stuff got very, very dark…he told us some awful things and warned us he was going to tell more. I was glad he didn’t. Maybe he had second thoughts, maybe the drugs kicked in, I dunno, but it spared us an evil side–we all have those, I certainly do–but I don’t recall ever seeing his on display before. Not even in his most punk rock moments in the early days. Those dark stories he forewarned of us were stories that didn’t really need telling, I guess. Cancer was a world we all might face sometime, but no use letting us in on it now. If it happens–and it will, to some of us–it happens. Worry about that when it comes.
I remember how much I admired his skill with language, his flare for words, and I told him so. He was surprised, I think, most natural writers never even think of themselves as such. They just write naturally. I figured as he recovered we would see endless threads of George stories. It would be part of the recovery process. When I heard he’d finally slipped away I felt cheated that he never had the chance to spill like that, to pour it out in that breezy style of his. I didn’t say anything because, well, it was a selfish reaction and would have been just one more thing for you all to be sad about. But it’s been bugging me. So I said it here.
I don’t think there are that many natural writers. It’s a rare thing still. Writing is new, only a couple thousand years old, and it comes far less easy to people than music which is probably a hundred times as old at least. And when I spy someone with talent there’s a bond, like we’re in on a secret most people don’t know anything about. And I always hate to see them go, because when somebody goes they take a zillion stories with them, and we’ll never know what they would have been. And crazy George, like all the rest of us crazies, would have had some stories to tell.