Monday, June 30, 2008

I have been remiss in posting lately, sorry about that. My plate is full and I haven’t been very motivated to blog about the goings on. It occurs to me that I haven’t taken a long Paris stroll in sometime -maybe that will help. Anyway, I sent out an article about my Moroccan trip to a slew of newspapers and magazines. My New Zealand friend edited it down from 4,000 words to 900 and with a few other tune-ups it is out. I’ll let you know how it does.

I’m at a stand still with the book. I have it down to three acts but I feel as though I’m forcing some of the newer characters and story lines that are introduced. I like them but they don’t seem to belong and I hate to get rid of things I like. This, of course, explains why I was edited down from 4000 to 900 words. I had it explained to me like this; “You put all the babies on the porch (ideas, sentences, words) the next morning you keep the ones that are still alive and get rid of the dead ones.”

Don’t let the lilt in their voices fool you; New Zealanders are a dark people.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

There were over 50 of us that gathered at the American Library to hear Edmund White read from his new book “Hotel De Dream”. It was an excellent time. I’ve never gone to one of these free gatherings- the wine was flowing much like wine, which doesn’t mean anything to me but the bottled water was cold and I appreciate that.

The audience was probably one of the friendliest groups of people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Obviously, the word “gay” comes from just how friendly gay guys are. Edmund White attracts a gay audience because his books are high in the gay factor. Unfortunately, I think that some people don’t read him because of this- big mistake. I’m reading Hotel de Dream and, so far, it is fascinating and tough to put down.

Hotel de Dream is about Stephen Crane, author of The Red Badge of Courage, and his wife Cora. Historically, there has always been a rumor that Stephen Crane began writing a story about a boy prostitute named Elliot that he happened to meet in New York City. Crane, supposedly, had never met a homosexual before although it is rumored that he was fond of hookers and the seedy underbelly of New York life, He spent a great deal of time following Elliot around and interviewing him. Crane wrote about 40 pages and showed them to his friend Hamlin Garland. Garland read them and said, “These are the best pages you have written and if you don’t tear them up, every last word, you’ll never have a career.” He convinced Stephen Crane to throw the pages on the fire. It is from here that Edmund White begins his fictional story. Stephen Crane is dieing and decides he needs to write the story of Elliot's life.

I’m surprised that Edmund White doesn’t do more readings- he is a very entertaining man and added a great deal of flair to the event. As he read aloud from his book he would break off to tell a little 19th century gossip- he was especially humorous about Henry James (someone in the audience actually took offense- which wasn’t very gay at all). Other than the loud mouth that felt he needed to “set the record straight about Henry James” it was a wonderful evening. I got my book signed and he asked about my writing. "It's crap" I said. "Well, maybe it isn't as bad as you think." He asked about my corner of the Midwest which is where he was born, we shook hands and said goodbye. All and all it was a very nice evening. Keep you eye out for his new book about French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I’ve been a bit out of the loop lately- I don’t watch the news so I get behind on what’s going on. I just heard that George Carlin died of a heart attack, very sad. I was immediately transported back to my young adulthood. In our basement was an old record player- the needle was worn and it seemed there were more crackles heard than music but that is where my brothers and sister listened to our records and played pool. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Who, Frank Zappa and George Carlin are the performers that come to mind.

I feel as though I grew up with George Carlin. My older brothers bought the albums FM & AM, Toledo Window Box, On the Road and my favorite, Class Clown with “The Seven Dirty Words You Can Never Say on Television.” I would listen to these albums constantly- having them memorized. My parents let us listen to him, I suspect because, while he may have been talking about the seven dity words, it was genuinely funny.

I saw him in concert in 2001. He was funny but it seemed a bit tired. Some of it seemed to be crude for the sake of being crude- or maybe I had gotten older and wasn’t titillated (which is not one of the seven words) by that kind of humor anymore. I didn’t follow him too much after that although from the review it seems his HBO specials were pretty cutting edge and he had gotten back to what he did best, which was make people laugh.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

On the first day of summer Paris throws a party to beat all parties. Le Fete de la Musique encourages musicians to play for free throughout Paris and beyond. It seems that every corner and every public park has the volume turned up to 11. I believe that all of life is a lesson and if la Fete de la Musique has taught me anything it is that techno music really, really sucks.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In Brief

Edmund White will be speaking at the American Library Wednesday June 25th at 7:30. He wrote “The Flaneur” and “Our Paris”. I’m always surprised to find Paris lovers that haven’t heard of him. He is a must read. Word on the street (Nerd Street that is) is that you should get there early as they are expecting to fill up quickly.

The American Library hired a new guy and he is…wait for it…an incredibly nice person. His name is Ed; say hello and he will respond. He also will kill anyone that talks on the cell phone in the library. That is the one time capital punishment seems fair and reasonable.

I have become a bit of a handshake whore. A friend and I go to at cafĂ© everyday at 3:00 to take a break from writing. I won’t leave until everyone one that works there shakes my hand. (They are very good sports about it.)

A while ago we discussed butt crack being the new cleavage. Amazingly there is something even more annoying than that- pants hanging low showing the back of the thong. I’ve heard this referred to as a “Whale Tail”.

Once a week I go to a writers group we don’t often talk about writing- actually I’d be hard pressed to explain what we do talk about. I heard about the ‘Whale Tail” there if that gives you an idea. Email me and I can fill you in on when we meet. It’s really fun and a nice way to meet people- I think we are meeting for a picnic this week.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

When I first moved to Paris I met a man that told me that this was a city of lessons. I immediately tuned him out, these ambiguous statements are too convenient and they are often accompanied by an exaggerated, world-weary look. Despite my obvious disinterest in his observation, he continued. “People that come to Paris are looking for an answer to a question they weren’t aware they asked.”

I don’t know if that is true or not but I thought of it yesterday as I was crossing the Pont de l’Alma. I watched as a man removed a ring from his finger, considered it for a time and let it drop into the Seine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Well I turn another year today. I’m too jet lagged for reflection. Actually I’m getting tired of reflection- maybe a year should just go by without soul searching- maybe it should just be enough that it’s another year done. I’m 4 years older than John Lennon was when he died. How is that possible?

My trip home was wonderful. Sometimes you need to step away from a place to be reminded of its qualities. It was hot. Not a little hot, but HOT, 95 degrees and humid as hell. My parents sit on the balcony of their downtown apartment and read. I try to sit with them but end up complaining and watching mold grow on the pages of my book. Sitting in a puddle of my own sweat, I ask them how they can stand the heat. They respond, “Well it’s a little warm but with the breeze it’s not so bad.” Depression babies are like that- we must be patient with them. They also claim there is no such thing as free lunch of course by now they must have noticed that I stole all their peanut butter so I guess that little chestnut has been debunked.

I went to my secret superhero meetings, which are always entertaining and sometimes informative. Best show in town for a dollar. It gave me a chance to see some of my superhero friends. I had the opportunity to sit down with a couple of writers and compare notes with them. I have much to learn about the craft of writing but I also need to learn about the business of writing. I have no clue how this works but if I can shut up for a few moments or two there is a lot of good information out there and kind people willing to educate.

In my 44 years I guess I have learned that I am a wimp, a thief and not as clever as many of the people around me. That’s probably why I’ve never been a big fan of self-reflection.

Saturday, June 07, 2008