Saturday, September 4, 2010


Outside I'm frozen



The decision

has been made

long ago;

you learned the


of pushing

too far;


all the others

no inch

no quarter

is given.

You try

and you try

to uncover

to discover

a suitable replacement



a reasonable facsimile.

There is none.

For the world

the face is



like my heart.



Inside I long

for the days

past and


It flickers

like an eternal





Left with

no choice





it's done.


No repair

no return to

the way things were.


I still

want to.

And I can't.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

You're Interrupting My Fetishes

It's stunning the stuff that inspires you.

Or inspires me.

I'm sitting harmlessly, reading, with Namaste Yoga from Fit TV on with the sound down, paying half attention to the three young, attractive women with their sports bras, spandex shorts, bare legs and feet doing various stretches and the commercials pop up to instruct and enlighten; there's the one about the metal shed that would look perfect in your backyard; and Oprah rambling about what Oprah's gonna do once Oprah ends Oprah's show.

A note about Namaste Yoga, is there anyone actually doing the yoga poses? I can't imagine that there are people----men or women----sitting on the floors of their homes, yoga mat in hand, mimicking the movements. There are guys sitting around jacking off. (Not me. Not now. But you get my point.)

So there's the shed. Who has room for this thing? And why? Do you have so much crap and the room to build a giant metal shed and store all your junk in there and be so proud of the thing, in addition to the shiny car outside said shed and whatever other useless accumulated possessions you'll have for whatever reason.

Of course, Oprah is an even greater inspiration for rambling questions than the shed that I don't need nor intend to order. I look at Oprah and see this woman----wealthy to a degree that none of us can ever possibly contemplate; a personal life that can only be described as a disaster with weight problems; drug problems; self-loathing; and an ego the size of Jupiter----and wonder....WHO IS LISTENING TO THIS PERSON?!?

Who is so indoctrinated into doing what the television says that they wait for Oprah to instruct them on what books to read; what TV shows to watch; what politicians to support; what newest, latest self-help guru will the be final problem-solver who's going to fix everything. She has her magazine; she has her network; she has all this money. But she's a mess. Every month, on the cover of Oprah's Oprah.

This is the person leading you out of the darkness.

It's not that I'm picking on Oprah just for the sake of it; I'm honestly curious. Are people so completely incapable of thinking for themselves? Do they need to be part of something----whatever it is----just to be part of something. There was the rally in Washington led by Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck, like Karl Rove, always looks like the guy who either just finished or is about to begin masturbating. And this is no partisan political attack because there are loads of democrats who are just as, if not more, sleazy than Beck and Rove.

So you have Beck and Sarah Palin running this rally about God knows what; you have the radical right wing taking their general potshots. If you're paying attention, you'll notice, like calling the Democratic party the "Democrat party, they intentionally refusing to refer to Barack Obama as "President" Obama. I've seen it in two different editorials by two different sources and it's not an accident. While I can't believe that people as intelligent as the likes of Karl Rove truly believe that the president is not a citizen of the United States, that isn't going to stop them from ratcheting up the rumor to suit their own ends. It's not about ideology; it's about the garnering of power.

When people enter into public life in any endeavor, they may have the best of inentions; or it might be a means to an end. Maybe they want money, power or simply want to get laid. Regardless, compromises have to be made; concessions to get the power and pragmatism not in the interests of getting things done, but in staying where they are. It's unavoidable. I have no intention of turning this blog into a second sports blog, but when you have warring factions advancing two diametrically opposed theories there are: A) going to be clashes; and B) going to a bastardization of the original intent, noble or not.

So I sit and I read and I try to evolve and hope that I can manage to stay the same independant thinker that I believe I am and dodge the subtle pull that comes with rising notoriety. Judging from the way I'm pretty much the same as I always was, it's unlikely to happen because I couldn't care less what people think about me to start with, but it happens without warning.

The endless advertisments----GEICO, Budweiser, vapid TV shows, reality shows, terrible movies----what's the point?

It's not as if they can be avoided. I'm sitting here watching a baseball game and I have to endure the "Could switching to GEICO really save you more than blah blah blah and blah blah blah? Is blah, blah blah blah blah," waiting for the game to resume. It's an interesting note that the guy in those commercials, actor Mike McGlone was a regular in the films of Edward Burns and it's an indictment of Burns more than a laudatory assessment of the GEICO ads that the writing in the commercials is a thousand times better than Burns's terrible movies.

So what to do? What's the purpose?


It's not some existential question of what we're doing on the earth; I truly want to know the point. Obsessions with possessions; with doing what's "right"; with their perception. In the time it takes to back up a phony persona, something might actually be accomplished.

Stop interrupting my psychosis. And I'm not turning off the TV, so think of something else.

Moments Of Clarity

Let's see

what we

can do.


with your


and ego;

or you


some would


but not me

I don't

call you


You reached

but did not


is it any


to be born


handed all

you have?

And you

with your



Who cares?




a facade.

It's nothing



you care



more confusion.



with your own


believing what you do

saying what you say


with all

no protest

no argument


and clinging

palpable fear

no truth

no reality

no acceptance

a pointless


I want too




more power

just sit across




to the nonsense

accept it

as it is

that's all there






self-serving and


It's all here

in front of


Ask and

you get.

Is it so difficult

to be what you



rather than

an outside



for me.

I'm not better

that you


to that.

I'm better than yoiu

because I don't care.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010



in my hand

The stories

The games

The torment


has turned

Time spent

Time wasted




Apologies hollow and


More lies

More fiction

Bad fiction

Unbelievable fiction



they don't


I know

One stalker

Two stalker

Three stalker



I think not



polite and


Your selfishness


no bounds

Because of you

I have proof

in my hand

My offer


Tell the truth

if you can

Or perhaps

I'll tell it

for you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Model Roles

There's something of a freedom of disappointment when those you tried to pattern yourself after turn out to be something less than you had imagined. Once you learn that there are no people worth truly admiring to that point, it's a relief.

I've long since ceased trying to emulate anyone else. It's an exercise in futility and sabotages any individualism when you subvert your own personality in trying to copy someone else. Once you realize that there is----in fact----nothing wrong with thinking for yourself and cease trying to become one with the brain dead herd whose general histories are usually embellishments at best and outright lies at worst, you simply stop caring.

At least I did.

This epiphany came, in part, around the year 2002 when I read Dracula.

No, I didn't decide to become a vampire. Not then, anyway.

I'd never read the book and it was assigned for an English class called Reality and its Discontents at Hunter College. I'd just returned to school to finish my degree that semester and went to Sweden for spring break (don't ask); sitting in bed reading the book, I got to the section about the Deaths Head moth. This was like a bolt from the blue because it hearkened me back to reading The Silence of the Lambs.

In The Silence of the Lambs, Thomas Harris used these unique moths decorated with the markings that are said to look vaguely like a human skull (I think it looks more like an executioner's mask; or Dr. Fate, but whatever) as a vital part of the story. Having believed that Harris's work was entirely unique, it further diminished the writer who I was desperately trying to emulate in my own work (and doing a horrible job at it).

This dovetailed with another disappointing bit of information that I found when reading one of the books by former FBI profiler Robert Ressler; Ressler was the agent upon whom the character of Jack Crawford was supposedly based; at least part of him was. It seems that the idea that Clarice Starling, as a student, would be utilized on an errand to speak to the notorious serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter, never would have happened in real life. Never. Ever.

Of course it's understandable that an artist take dramatic license to create his vision, but for someone like Harris who is so precise and does such scrupulous research to make such a decision? It was a wake-up call that he wasn't exactly what I thought he was; and I don't know what "that" was.

It was a disappointment, but a liberating one.

Then came the last Hannibal Lecter novel, Hannibal Rising.


You know when you're anticipating a movie or a date or something and when you finally are in the middle of it, it's isn't that it's not as good as you thought it would be----it sucks? Well, that was the feeling I got from Hannibal Rising.

I loved the other Lecter books, especially Hannibal; but in reading Hannibal Rising it was as if Harris wanted to turn Lecter into something of a hero. Not an anti-hero as he was in the first three books-----someone who you knew was bad, but rooted for and kind of liked (as long as you weren't one of his victims); but in the last book, he became a literal hero.

And it didn't work.

The vain attempt to explain the genesis of Lecter's psychopathy was to imply that it wasn't pure psychopathy at all; it was the evolution of a boy who had a genius IQ and watched his entire family slaughtered at the end of World War II. Systematically, Lecter goes and exacts revenge on those that did the final misdeed by murdering and cannibalizing his younger sister.


Another excuse.

He's not really bad; he's only behaving in an apropos fashion considering the wanton brutality inherent in humanity.

And Hannibal Lecter as Superman.

So at the end of that book you had a writer who I had admired greatly; copied embarrassingly; and read extensively and he'd stolen (or been inspired, your choice) Dracula; used a character who was placed into a position which reality would never have allowed; and wrote sludge in what appeared to be an effort to get paid for a book he owed his publisher as his heart was no longer in it.

This was useful.

While it diminished Harris in my eyes, it also emboldened me that there wasn't a magical gift anointed upon him and other writers; their way wasn't the only way; and if one truly had something to say and some skill, a way to express oneself could be found.

Years ago, I would think about wanting to write and read interviews with such a talentless dimwit as Bret Easton Ellis and try to implement his way of writing. (Or what he said was his way of writing----many times, these stories are utter bullshit crafted by some PR person to make things more salable and interesting.) Ellis was being interviewed in Rolling Stone about American Psycho and talked about how he does an extensive and detailed plot outline before he gets to writing the prose, blah, blah, blah.

Ellis is a horrible writer, but I didn't know that then. Back then I thought that if someone managed to get themselves published, that meant they had some viable reason for getting published. You learn the hard truth as you go along-----that in many cases, talent has little to do with big time writing success. Connections, luck and the buying tastes of the sheep are more important than talent and you see it in every endeavor from cooking to movies to anything else.

You can find the canned quirkiness and unbelievable stories everywhere. That pompous ass Jonathan Franzen goes to great lengths in his interviews to highlight his style. He puts a blindfold on and earplugs in his ears (or something to that effect) to block out any and all distractions when he's writing in the "high art literary tradition". That's the phrase he used when he turned down Oprah Winfrey's attempt to stick her little seal of gigantic sales on the cover of his dull book The Corrections. I'd have said, "gimme the fucking thing!!!" were it ever offered to me.

In fact, it was about that time that my novel Breaking Balls was published and I emailed Oprah's show and said that if Franzen didn't want the financial windfall, I'd take it.

Never heard back.

Since I mentioned Dracula earlier, there's the case of Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian.

I got to page 60 of that book. Literally. And flung it across the room.

The story was so convoluted; so impossible to understand; so boring and poorly constructed that it was enough to bag it; but it was the countless editorial mistakes that finally did me in. I said at around page 55 that if I saw one more mistake (and the book was over 600 pages), that was it.

I saw one more mistake and that was it.

Reading the book bore little resemblance to the hype surrounding its publication. There was a bidding war for the thing; all for a first novel from a woman just out of grad school for creative writing (as I mentioned in an earlier post, a colossal waste of time).

Did someone discover her? Or did someone help her? If she had talent, I'd say the former was possible, but the book was awful; well, what I read of it was awful. Presumably it didn't get any better.

Then there are the likes of Joe Hill.

Joe Hill has a very lucrative career as a novelist going right now. I've never read his stuff save for a few brief passages from his first novel, Heart Shaped Box. It was okay; pedestrian; nothing to get one's panties into a twist over; but he's famous and becoming wealthy.

Joe Hill also happens to be Stephen King's son.

Now, you can believe the story they often tell of Hill using his middle name to "make it on his own"; that he got his literary agent through a simple query letter and became published without his father's help.

You can believe it.

And I don't know any inside information to the contrary. But I can tell you the following: I had a contract for my novel in hand and I couldn't get an agent; I've had people who are relatively famous give me the names of literary agents to contact and drop said names in an effort to secure representation and have still been unable to do so. It's easier to get published than it is to find an agent. Now, I've achieved a bit of respect within certain circles and I still don't have a literary agent.

Do you really believe that someone out of the blue could send what amounts to a slightly better than average bit of writing and succeed on his first try? I got published on my first try and before age 30, but everyone who hears that----people who are successful writers----widen their eyes and say, "wow" because it doesn't happen; and the book didn't really sell that many copies.

So did Joe Hill King manage to do it? Or did he receive subtle help from his ridiculously famous and successful father to make it and take part in a crafted cover story to make it seem more palatable for readers to shell out money for the work of Joe Hill and not for a book that openly said "by Stephen King's Son"?

There are always people who make it on their own terms with their own abilities and don't owe anyone anything. If you find someone who's managed it and not waited until they're 70-years-old to achieve any notoriety, then you should probably take lessons from them.

But don't follow them blindly.

Even as there are people who come up with fiction greater than anything they put on the written page to make their achievements sound more impressive than they are, as you learn and grow you find a way to easily sift through the nonsense and come to a conclusion as to what the logical sequence of events was; but it's a hard truth to accept and sometimes it's easier to believe the lie; to believe that anyone can make it if they work hard; that the "dream" exists. Well, it only exists if you work at it and ignore anyone who tells you you can't do it.

That's the only way.

Ignoring people.

As you move along, you'll find this negativity and jealousy percolating in those who have never had the courage to try and achieve anything for themselves. "Oh, you can't do that!" Ask yourself this: who is anyone to tell another person what they can and cannot achieve? If Ellis and inept people in the aforementioned career paths can make it, then why can't you? And who cares if there's critical respect? Some deserve it; some don't. Ellis is reviled by critics and they're right because he's horrific; but does he care? In an ego sense, he probably does; in the long run, what's the difference?

Role models have a place, but in the final analysis, it's more of an example to follow rather than someone to overtly try and copy because once you delve deeper into their histories and unwrap the package, you might----scratch that, you will be disappointed. But it could be that disappointment that spurs you into finding your own voice.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No Answer

The wall has crumbled



potential limited

and a choice

to be made

Like Borg

and McEnroe

is the desire


A simpler solution

is acceptance

to leave

to quit


there is

no answer


the answer

is too stark

laid bare

too painful

to face

But its realization

causes an escape

To run

And hide.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's Snowing, It's Beautiful

It isn’t so much that I think a degree in creative writing is worthless----I sometimes look at the thing hanging on my wall and think, “well, I have a bachelor’s degree”----and that’s it. I have it.

Without going into a primer of trying to make it as a writer (and I certainly have not made it as a writer) there are two things you have to do: write a lot and read a lot. That’s it. No degree; no amount of Dummies books; no exercises; no nothing are going to overtake those two simple activities to bolster your chance to make it as a writer.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that I did gather some useful tidbits during my time at Hunter College finishing my stop-and-start degree that was spaced out over 16 years. Creative writing courses didn’t do much for my writing, but they did introduce me to people about whom I can tell stories.

One such case was a very tall and admittedly somewhat able would-be writer who is quite possibly the most pompous human being I’ve ever met in my life. What made it worse was that he covered up the pomposity with borderline condescension and a faux personality that was designed to be a canned creation for his future fame as the next James Joyce; a career that, five years since, has yet to come to pass as far as I know.

I’m not expecting it to anytime soon and nor should you.

Creative writing workshops are torture. You have to sit there amongst all the other students and critique their work ostensibly to try and help them; in almost 100% of the cases, the only thing that would help them is the “writing genie” to show up, wave his magic wand and provide them with some talent. So, you read and and suggest and try yo be nice and realize that there’s no one here who can come up with anything at all that’s worthwhile or even salvageable.

Such as it was, I was in no position to say anything untoward because A) I wasn’t then and am not now in a position to tell anyone with any degree of certainty that they were or weren’t going to make it; and B) I can’t say that someone will or won’t make it based on talent anyway because it has nothing to do with being a successful and well-compensated writer in any context.

It’s not within my or anyone else’s domain to step on another’s dreams, as misguided as they may be. Plus, making it in the industry has nothing to do with talent. Look at the utterly inept Nick McDonnell who has carved himself a career as a novelist based on nothing other than his father being a big shot editor at Sports Illustrated and that industry connections paved the way for his crap----and that's what it is----to be published. That also assists in blurbs and reviews. It’s not about the work. There are plenty of clueless writers rich and famous today; maybe you could be one too!!! Or maybe I could!!!

There are dozens of writers----respected and not----who fit into this category. I read Jonathan Safran Foer and can sense that he’s not writing as much as he’s thinking what’s going to make him seem unique. It’s obvious and it’s painful.

My problem with the workshops was more than my basic template of misanthropy. The professor of the last class I took (and my individual tutor), Donna, told me that when I was critiquing someone else’s work, it wasn’t what I was saying that was coming through, but what I wasn’t saying. Apparently it was clear that every suggestion I made was prefaced with the phrase, “Listen you idiot, don’t do it this way, do it THAT way.”

That may have come through so clearly because I was saying it without saying it.

Most of the stories were pedestrian, dull and without much imagination. A few showed promise. Mine of course were, on the whole, generally disturbing. In that class alone, there was one in which the main character----told in the first person----was a contestant on The Apprentice and responded to his inevitable firing by launching himself across the table at Donald Trump and biting several chunks out of his face; another was a heartwarming tale of an individual (also in the first person) trying to better the world through scripture and finding people who were living public lives of blasphemy and sin and converting them to the word of the bashing them over the head with his Bible until they were lying a pool of their own blood.

Now that I think of it, in the prior workshop class I took, I wrote one story that got the class to applaud and there was not a touch of violence!!! Maybe I'll publish it here one day.

One classmate asked me, “Do you have some sort of anger issue?” I told her, “Oh, this stuff is nothing...”

Regarding my pompous friend, we’ll call him Jimmy since he was such an avid fan of James Joyce. I have trouble remembering when the “personality conflict” as Donna called it began to manifest itself. (“Personality conflict!!!” I exclaimed. “The guy’s a fucking asshole!!!”----this was said in the sanctity of Donna’s office; she was mum but agreed.)

That was quite the interesting class. Donna had a certain amount of affection for me although (and I’ve told this story before) saying to me verbatim, with her teeth clenched and hands separated by inches, “Y’know Paul, sometimes I just wanna STRANGLE you!”

I couldn’t blame her.

In addition to that, Donna was friends with the famous author Walter Mosley and he came to speak to us late in the term. I had him sign a copy of Devil In A Blue Dress (which, to be honest, I never read; I did see the movie starring Denzel Washington); the inscription was interesting. He wrote, “To Paul, good luck writing your first book”. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’d already written it, it’d been published four years before and all the luck in the world wasn’t going to help it or me one way or the other.

Anyway, when anyone submitted a story, Jimmy would come up with a critique that was based on rhythm, iambic pentameter or other meaningless crud to build into what he seemed to feel constituted “good” writing. Jimmy suggested to another student that he go to the Basquiat exhibit to experience foundation.

No. I dunno what that means.

He wasn’t mean, but his tone was dripping with his superiority complex that he knew something others didn’t. “Banal” was one of his favorite words. I used the word “fervency” in a story and he wrote in the margin, “stop using this word”; naturally, I found a way to work it into the next story I submitted. For a brief moment----brief say I----I wondered how the word would look on his tombstone after his unfortunate suicide leaping off the roof of the school to be splattered onto Lexington Avenue.

Suicide say I.

When he submitted his “short” story, he couldn’t do what everyone else did and give in a little bitty thing of 6-8 pages.


He gave out a story that was....26 pages long!!!

I read the first page and it was like reading the thesaurus. A convoluted story about a father and son or something and how rap music connected them in ways that they never imagined, blah, blah, blah. Complete with rap lyrics amongst the drivel, I barely read the first five pages and skimmed the rest. It was painful. The next class, I whispered to Jennifer, another classmate, “Is this guy fucking kidding?”

He politely listened to the critiques of his story, which I find difficult to believe anyone read, and could see in his eyes that he couldn’t have cared less what anyone else said about his brilliance. He was going to be the next James Joyce. Presumably, he was one of the few non Joycean scholars in the world who actually read Joyce’s writing rather than the SparkNotes or whatever someone else came up with in terms of analysis on the internet, he knew; he simply knew.


Let me tell you right now that the garbage he wrote is never, ever, ever going to get published. Nor is anyone going to read it if he publishes it himself. If he sent it to a publishing house or agent, not only would they not consider it, they wouldn’t read it. He’d receive the perfunctory form rejection letter that I know all too well.

The second story he submitted was set in Ireland (coincidence!!!!) and had the same type of quirkiness that
.............................. in


I dunno.

But this was indicative of the canned pretentiousness that he exemplified and led me to want to leap across the table and jam a pen into his eye.

If he was writing based on what was popping out organically, then fine; but there was a crafted persona that he thought was going to be salable once his genius was recognized by the upper crust of society and important critics who tell people what’s good and not.

He had writing ability. He was just an annoying, arrogant asshole.

In another instance, Donna had the class on the outdoor deck of the main building and as the class trudged upstairs, he went go to a florist and get a flower to put on one of the tables.

This is not fiction.

It was all a way to show some sensuality and only made his phoniness move self-evident and this was a main factor in my distaste for him in any and all aspects.

I wanted to take the flower and jam it into his eye.

The one instant that could possibly have ended his life----if I was a different type of person without any IMPULSE CONTROL!!!----was during a snowstorm. Now, at the time I drove a delivery truck overnight and the bane of my existence (aside from the people I had to deal with) was the snow. I could deal with rain, cold, wind, heat, whatever; but the snow was the one thing that truly affected my day and cost me at least an extra hour to an hour and a half at work.

I did not want to see, hear or know about the snow.

So, it was snowing and Jimmy looks out the window and said, “OH!” in a tone as if he had someone’s tongue in his anus and followed up with, “It’s snowing, it’s beauteeful!”

How I resisted my earlier urge to leap across the desk and jam a pen into his eye that time is still beyond me.

I’ve done web searches of Jimmy’s full name to see if he’s made it was a writer or anything else and he has yet to do so. Perhaps he’s doing the Joycean thing and writing very, very, very s-l-o-w-l-y. It’s better that way. Less frequency of rejection letters.

Presumably he’s still alive, but if he’s not I had nothing to do with it even if the cause of death was a pen in the eye. Or a flower in his eye. Or a fall from a tall building. Or getting beaten over the head with hardcover copy of Ulysses by...James Joyce.