Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Peel Slowly

I set aside a twelve hour period where I did nothing except read books and listen to music (non-radio). I used to do that years ago because I was broke and single and had nothing else to do aside from sit in a dark room and listen to music or read via candle light. Today I have to force myself to do just that. For twelve plus hours I did not write or watch TV. No internet and definitely no email. I also avoided human contact and shut off my cell phone. I wanted to allow my brain to soak up a half of a day of literature and music. I don't think my experiment will make me a better writer. That was not the point. It felt calming to detach myself from the hectic world for a few hours and let my brain marinate in the arts instead of being bombarded to buy stuff that I don't need.

I alternated between sitting in silence and reading with lots of light, or sitting in the dark and listening to music. I avoided mixing both in order to allow my mind to focus on one thing. But I usually went in 90 minute intervals.

I completed Bukowski's Hollywood and reread Alan Watts' The Wisdom of Insecurity. Watts book is so short that I finished it in one sitting. I read a few chapters of Blue Blood, which was written by an alumni of my high school who went to Harvard then became a cop in the Bronx. I also have a compilation four Woody Allen screenplays that I pick up from time to time. It had been several months since I flipped through the pages of Interiors, one of his most overlooked films. I finally got to read Allen's words as opposed to seeing his films. You forget how amazing of a writer he is until you see the words on the page.

I immersed myself into a lot of jazz including Coltrane, Bird, and Monk. I also had an old Miles Davis bootleg from France and hearing that was like talking to an old friend. In the past week, I've listened to several Miles Davis records from start to finish including Bitches Brew and Round Midnight. I've also been on a Grateful Dead kick and been taking time to listen to several old bootlegs (1977-78 era) that I've uploaded to my iPod. As the sun rose, kept myself awake with Velvet Underground's Live from Max's Kansas City, Peter Tosh, and the Allman Brothers Band's epic double album Live at the Fillmore East.

When my experiment completed, I wrote for two hours on different topics including several thousand rambling words on the variety drugs that Miles took and how each drug affected his music differently. My mind was allowed to roam unfettered onto the pages. Since I knew no one was going to read it, there was no pride or ego involved. No showing off. Just me unleashing my thoughts. They flowed out quick and fast. I didn't bother to take time to edit and make sure words were spelled right. That's called editing. Writing is when you just sit down and write. Stopping to pee is not an option as long as the train of thought flows. I avoid cellphones when I write. It's my biggest distraction. Email is even worse. That urge to see who won the Yankees game had to be stifled.

After about two hours of non-stop writing, I got a glass of water then went to sleep. I had a dream that I lived in Iowa and I ate at Sizzler four nights a week. I guess you can consider that a nightmare. The Iowa part, not Sizzler.

When I woke up, I erased about 60% of what I wrote. Usually I send 87% of it to the trash. I'm writing better these days and that's been keeping me in a positive mood.

In the last month I had been turning my cellphone off for long stretches of time. I'm blogging less. I'm checking my email less frequently. I'm almost stopped reading blogs aside from a handful. It's hard to read about people struggling when they have no desire to actually improve their current conditions and live more in the moment. A lot of people who blog are lost souls hoping to connect with other lost souls. Sometimes they get lucky. But even the lucky ones are lonely at the core.

My bloglines folder is becoming obsolete since I just erase everything in there anyway. I've been putting that extra time into reading books, watching flicks, and listening to music. Spending less time online and attached to the computer has relaxed me more. I can't explain it. I think all those ads I see are killing more brain cells than a weekend bender with AlCantHang. I'm pretty sure I see more ads on the internet than on TV and in the subways and on billboards these days.

I'm no angel. I have ads on my blogs. I got habits to feed. I guess that's why I haven't been looking at my blogs much the past month or so. I'm sick of it all.

Widespread Panic starts their summer tour and I decided to go see at least two shows... one in LA and the other at Red Rocks in Colorado. I've had Red Rocks and WSP on my "To Do List" for a decade and I keep pushing it off. No more. One of the hard things about covering the WSOP this summer in Las Vegas is that I have to trade poker for music. The summer is when a lot of my favorite bands tour and I'm going to miss a ton of Panic shows along with Trey opening for Phil & Friends. Being stuck in Vegas for two months sucks. That's why I decided to head out to Bonnaroo this year and skip off to see Panic for a night in Colorado and in California.

I got a new assignment for one of the magazines I write for that's due in two weeks. I have another deadline in 10 days or so. I haven't started either piece. I'm pitching the piece I wrote up about the Wall Street Game to a few print publications. Aside from that, I haven't had much work which also means... no money coming in!

You can't put a price tag on free time. Alone time. Time to sit and do nothing but write and listen to music...

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