August and September burnt fast, hard days and short nights. If nothing else, I put a decent dent in the world’s whiskey supply. It’s been a rough few weeks, but not without something to show for it. So, without delay, some news:
Exploding Math Lab is back, after a very brief hiatus, with new bass player Shaun Paul. As a four piece, we’ve been recording new songs (some of which you can check out at our Bandcamp site: https://explodingmathlab.bandcamp.com/releases). They’re like the old songs, but 33.333…% better. (Can’t argue with that; it’s just science.) We’re currently working on a proper LP release, and we’ve been getting some nice support from the Wilmington music scene to that end. Hopefully, a really-existing, hot-in-your-hand album is in the fairly near future. Christmas is coming, kids, whether you like it or not. It’s thoroughly rewarding and insanely frustrating to write and play original music in a world that doesn’t seem to much care for it, so we’re grateful for every single person we can reach. Spread the word, and – if you live in the Southeast area – we hope to be coming to a city near you soon. Hit us up on Facebook. We’ll play your local bar, your high school, or your fucking backyard.
I should say – that is, I should have said this earlier – that it’s far easier to talk about myself as a musician than a writer. I would never introduce myself as either – my personal rule is that, if you can’t put a roof over your head by plying a trade, that’s not your fucking trade (I’m looking at you, poet-baristas of the world) – but, of the two, guitarist sounds less wretchedly self-aggrandizing than novelist. For one thing, you can’t go into a brick-and-mortar bookstore and find any of my written work (except maybe one place in Brooklyn, but I digress), but you can come down to a bar in Wilmington and hear my band play. For another, playing music is a group activity, and it’s almost intrinsically less autistic and narcissistic than writing. Even if nobody shows up to a show (it’s happened, and it’s mighty grim looking), I’m still playing with three other people. It’s not completely masturbatory. It’s definitely better than eating at Olive Garden.
Okay. That said: I have some new short fiction out – check out the ‘Short Work’ page for details – but, of late, I’ve been plugging way at the WIP (Work in Progress, or Wrangling It Painfully). This is, in large part, the reason for relative scarcity of activity on this site this summer. When I have time to write – which is like saying, when I can manage to tread water long enough to breathe – the WIP is what I’m working on. The goddamn thing is nearly cooked through, and – unlike previous and more narcissistic manuscripts – this one’s been beta-tested a couple-few times. Hopefully there will be no news about it for a while, and then really good news about it. I’ll keep you posted.
Finally, and this is not the total non-sequitor it appears to be, I’ve been thinking about anarchy a lot lately. Not in the navel-gazing undergraduate sense, or the snot-nosed punk sense. In fact, I’ve always found myself disenchanted with the punk-anarchist pose. Sample interview with a punk: Q. How is putting a safety pin through my nose supposed to disrupt an established order so engrained that two world wars couldn’t budge it? A. Fuck you! Yes. It’s not a very satisfying philosophy.
And, intellectually, I know anarchy is a bad idea, for a number of concrete reasons. But, mostly, I know it’s a bad idea for me. Selfishly. I know a lot of people that I care for would perish, pretty quickly, in the event of a complete breakdown of social order. The young, the old, the sick – all fucked. What if my wife, the person I love most of all in this world, got sick? I feel nauseous even thinking about it.
Not to mention that pretty much everything I’m striving for in my life would become overwhelming irrelevant. In an anarchistic world there are no publishing houses, no editors, no printers, no book stores, no magazines and newspapers to review books. No universities or colleges, no classroom and no students. There are no concert halls and venues, no record labels, no Spotify or Pandora. There are no restaurants, no food magazines, no seafood delivery companies. As a writer, or a guitarist, or a teacher, or a cook, I’d be pretty much out of luck.
I’d be hunched over a fire, cooking squirrel.
But the heart wants what the heart wants. A tautology that’s usually deployed to explain unrequited love, or the foolish dreams of the young. In my case, the heart wants anarchy, wants the big wave, Roland Emmerich style, the Zombie apocalypse, the rise of the machines. Whatever. I don’t want to want it. I don’t think it’s a good idea. But, deep down, when I close my eyes, I know it’s what I dream about: the end of everything. Running mad, naked and screaming, through the burning streets of the world.
So, if I can make something out of my life, whether I’m teaching or cooking, playing guitar or writing books, I’ll be happy. I’ll be blessed. But if you run into me, ten years from now, and I’m doing well and the world is still standing, and you notice there’s still something just a little melancholy about me, you’ll know what it is.
Please, please, please, let me not get what I want.
Cheer Up, You Weirdo
Alright, well, that got dark quick. But don’t worry, it was all just a dream. Next time: good Pod vs. bad Pod, adventures in self-sabotage, in defense of Hemlock Grove, and short-short fiction vs. long-short fiction vs. long-long fiction vs. Godzilla.