Los Angeles, CA
Whenever I'm holed up during a writing binge, I spend a significant amount of time reading. Although I read every day, I have been limiting myself to a diet of high quality copy. None of that propaganda, hype, sports pages, gossip rags, and fodder in blog form. I dabble and read pages and chapters from selected material from authors I admire. It's a stark reminder, when I read their sentences aloud, that I might be able to fool the masses in poker but I need a full out assault if I expect to come close to the masters of the universe. I know that I have moments... and flashes... but I lack the consistency to be that precise and flawless with every page that I write. Maybe that's why it's taken me five years and why I finally said enough is enough. Now or never.
You are what you eat. You are what your mind reads and sees.
Some of the fun stuff I came across were classic essays in Rolling Stone from a book that Benjo gave me. Compelling journalism via articles and photographs from the 60s through the mid-80s. Couple of gems from Tom Wolfe, P.J. O' Rourke, and of course Hunter. I loved the article about Sly and the Family Stone. Crazy shit. Reclusive coke fiends.
I knocked out reading one book during on an off day. I wish I cold write books as fast as I can read them. I got the Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliot as a gift from my friend Molly. Elliot is sort of a mix between the two Chucks... Chuck Palahniuk and Chuck Klosterman.
Bathroom books are essential. Woody Allen has been filling the void every morning when I take a dump. Conversations with Woody Allen is a book based on a series of interviews he had given to Eric Lax over the years. Woody discusses his process in detail... from directing, to casting, to writing, to producing. Fascinating behind the scenes stories about some of my favorite films. I'm always interested in how other writers approach their craft and intricately create something out of thin air. Nothing to something. Woody says he stares off and thinks for hours on end before he even sits down to write.
I wish I had those time luxuries. Sit. Think. Do nothing. Think. I go stale sometimes because I'm so busy with life, jobs, and working for others that I rarely take the time to think for hours and hours on end. I guess that's why I like long distance driving on freeways and highways because I can zone out and let my mind wander to figure out solutions to all those haunting problems. The real reason why crying babies on planes piss me off is that I prefer to use my time on airplanes to think and relax. I'm not connected to the interwebs or a slave to my phone for those hours in the air and I want to use that time to let the mind amble, wander, get lost, and find itself. I want the time to think and not have a crying baby disrupt that process.
I watched Manhattan. Woody shot the film in black and white, which reminded me of the Gotham of my youth. Ironic that Woody's protagonist in Manhattan is a writer who can't finish his book. He made a Percodan and angel dust joke. Even thirty years ago, people were popping pills and wandering around in a pharmie daze. These days Percodan is not as popular as Percosett. The last time I did Percodan was overseas when I scored it at an ER in Australia when I dislocated my pinky finger when it got into a collision with the taxi door in Sydney. How this for health care in OZ? They treated me for free. The doctor even showed me how to properly pop my finger back in so I'd save future trips to the ER. Heh. It's popped out a few times since then (once in Costa Rica and Miami) and I managed to pop that fucker back into place. Hurts like you wouldn't believe, but self-surgery is much cheaper.
My new guilty pleasure is eating Hostess cherry pies. 1,800 calories of pure sugar. Who needs speed when you have those fuckers drenched in sugar and cherries soaked in high fructose corn syrup for 12 months before stuffed into a sugar-infused apple crust dipped in glaze topping? Silk. Heaven. I got pissed when 7/11 around the corner ran out of them last week. I think the ones I had been consuming were from 2002. Who cares. I'm still buzzed after eating one yesterday. Haven't slept. Oh, the mighty sugar rush.
I prefer to sit and write at the dining room table with the window to the alley illuminating my work space. I see the different alley people come and go at all hours. I hear all. The sounds. The birds. The dogs barking. Children playing. Bums rattling through the dumpsters. The guy across the way laying pipe as he bangs his maid in the pool house adjacent to our alley. Most of the time, the barking dogs go nuts when they smell homeless guys sifting through the trash. The worst are the dogs who bark and whine when their owners go to work. Sure, guess who gets stuck listening to their barrage of howls? It sucks. One of the bad benefits of working from home.
I miss the singing actress in the building next door. Her angelic voice. She used to belt out songs from the shower or during random voice rehearsals. I guess we don't hear her because she's taken on more shifts at the restaurant or sleeping with some dude who has a cooler apartment.
I took out a week's worth of empty seltzer bottles, a bonanza for the lucky fucker who stumbled across the booty. The guys upstairs donated three full boxes of Bud Light cans. That's just a daily tally. In this town you're either working or not-working. When you don't have an assignment, you do things to fill your times. The guys upstairs are in the entertainment industry. Camera man. Graphics stuff. When they don't have work, they sit around, drink cans of cheap beer, and play videos games until 5am. The bums love the guys upstairs and their empty beer cans.
One morning, I was astonished at a pissed off homeless guy who slammed down the bins. What the fuck? Almost all of the dumpster divers try to be as quiet as possible during their alley missions. If they wake up anyone in the building, then they know that someone will call the cops and they'll get hauled off. But this asshole was pissed because he found nothing. I'm sure we were the tenth unit on the block that had nothing. And why? Because he was not an early bird, and early birds get the worms and all the good pieces of returnable bottles and cans. That late adopter showed up fifth or sixth on the long list of dumpster divers who sorted through our trash and recycling bins. In this shitty economy, you can't afford to be late.
Outside of the coffeeshop, my only external human interaction has been the clerks at 7/11 and Jack in the Box. The plight at Jack in the Box is a daily reminder of the decline in the overall human condition. I would never dare eating the e coli tacos, but I dig their iced tea. BIG ASS ICED TEA. I crave it. The nectar of my soul. One big ass container of that tea is all I need along with the sugar rush from the Hostess Cherry Pie is enough to keep me up for 25 hours. Shit that rush of sugar is enough to jolt the most depressed Kierkegaard disciples in Scandinavia.