Writing Camp: Day Seven at Kenyon College

A writing guidebook doesn’t exist, and if did, it would confuse.

A story can’t be someone reflecting about their self. That’s boring. Same with the Uber Voice. Boring. The first person is interesting because it looks out at the world. The third person examines others in detail as well as, of course, the self. Seeing someone else through another’s eyes just might be the highest level of interiority. Omniscient first person, that’s the thing. Half of us are firsters. Half of us are thirders. In the end, first and third person is mere grammar. Boom, boom.

Writing Camp: Day One at Kenyon College

I’ve arrived in Ohio for a writing conference or, as my niece calls it, ‘camp’. This is actually – her favorite word – a more accurate description given not so much the bucolic atmosphere as the bleak accommodations. It’s the sort of place – despite the well-placed trees and 200-year history – that does not inspire as much as subdue. My best work from the day: The fucking earnestness of discussing the horrors of the world when they are so far away – that deeper feeling of humanity, the western mind – is what is wrong with this fucking world, pretending to care, to love, to be willing to die for, when the truth is, the time will come – it’s called 5pm – when they don’t care because the children have come home and a favorite show is on. And that is all.

Being at a writing nadir, more interested in my video poker than figuring out what I should be writing next, I need more than new writers who think they might be interested in writing but aren’t quite sure.I know I am being judgmental, but I really have to get out of my sci-fi quagmire!

Porter Airlines Deserves to Be Expediaed

There are those who talk of Porter Airlines as a quaint raccoonish airline with prop planes, retro uniforms and free beer, forgetting their essential problem of flights perpetually delayed and cancelled. Returning home to New York, we had yet another cancellation and decided to make the nine-hour drive instead – a prescient choice given that the re-booked flight was also cancelled the next day. The only problem was that we booked on Expedia, who lulled us into believing that they would refund us automatically. Nine days later, no refund posted, I was subjected to the limbo of hold and repeat until, almost an hour later, they released me from their specific hell. And so I propose that Porter merge with the Expedia so they might be grounded together.

Mount Lafayette to Mount Everest

I’ve climbed a few mountains, including Mounts Baker (10,781) & Rainier (14,411).
And now I want to try out Everest (29.029). Sure, it’s more than twice the height of anything I’ve tried, and that hundreds have died in the attempt, but it’s my kind of thing, a straight-ahead venture of just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a simple thing. Just go up. Until the air is so thin that I might dream of being something else, maybe even touch the face of the gods. I’ll start with New Hampshire’s Mount Lafayette and take it from there.

Too Many Spongy Black Fungi

It was the black fungi’s texture more than anything that was intimidating – and the volume – but I like mushrooms and so ate them all while working on a screenplay about taking psilocybes at a Grateful Dead concert and expected to go on a massive involuntary trip. But it wasn’t like that

I just felt wonky and, after reviewing a few more pages, drifted off to my deep-jungle Carlos Castenadian dream-past, escaping savages in dugout canoes only to be cornered, the spears and arrows raining overhead, and then sunk by a polar bear at which point I decided to wake myself up, not wanting to be mauled, roasted or whatever was to come next. I lay in the cold stillness to consider how much we were ahead of that, that I shouldn’t be so concerned with the extra demands at work, just be happy for what I have, even if a tribal chief of the worst order was at the helm of the country, and felt like that on my way to work, until a wave of exhaustion hit me and I wrote this instead.

Post-Pop Idol, Vulvana, reflects on “Manitou Island”

Shortly after the burial ceremonies, Vulvana interviewed with Entertain Me Magazine: Our technological society offers nothing but self-denial and self-annihilation. Under the leadership of Gerbi Norberg, his mother Norma Butler-Norberg, the medicine man Asawasanay and the village elder Pamequonaishcung, these people have decided to forge their own course. They are returning to the essence of life, the earth itself. They are redefining human progress. They’re throwing away technology, building a society where the family and community are not just political promises.This is a land to which the forgotten people can go, you know, what Victor Hugo called the miserable of the earth, the dispossessed. This is their land. This is where they belong.

Friendly Fire: University Band

In his second year at university, Gerbi was in a rock band, Friendly Fire. Like most bands, they had more energy than talent but were booked almost every weekend in the university bars. Gerbi played bass, sang backing vocals and wrote most of the lyrics.Two crowd favorites were Green Desire (I don’t know what it is I want/ I just know it’s not what I got) and Death Squad Jump (How high can you jump?/ Do you want to die?/ Is this the night to die?/ Do the death squad jump!)  Friendly Fire brought a tremendous change to his social life. he was awkward as hell, but he still managed to become a campus slut. His worst moment might have been when he was caught in a hotel room hallway with his track pants down and this girl he had just met pressed up against the wall. He just walked away, never talked to her again.

Canada’s Soul: Reflections on the Trip

I wrote copiously, much of it drivel, during and after my cross-country hitchhiking trip in 1983. The only bits worth anything were my notes on what happened – car types, driver descriptions – as scant as they might be, and my expenses:

June 21: Joe Louis & Pepsi ($1.05), 2 milks & water ($0.70), Quarter pounder w/cheese & root beer ($3.50), Auberge des Jeunesse ($5.50), Bottle/red wine ($6.50), Smokes ($1.90) July 16: Donut & OJ ($1.60), Smokes ($2.00), Big cookie ($1.00), Apple ($0.18) , The Return of the Jedi ($5.50), Alphagetti ($1.00)

I met a hippie who everyone called The General. “So I came home last night and there was smoke everywhere, even out in the fucking hallway. So I went into the bedroom and kicked the bed and yelled, ‘Wake up, bitch!’ I asked her where the smoke came from and she said, ‘Out of my camera! Out of the fucking camera!’ Turned out she was cooking bacon and fell asleep. When she left for work the next morning, I yelled after her, “Goodbye, bacon burner!'”
I found three commonalities throughout Canada: 1) War memorials 2) Globe & Mail Newspapers 3) An abundance of pornography. (Bus driver: “You writin’ a dirty letter?”)

And finally this…Contemplation of how extremely solid the earth is. Just try hitting it.

Canada’s Soul: Whitehorse to Vancouver

I took a bus up to Whitehorse, Yukon. (I didn’t hitchhike because I was scared of being left in the middle of nowhere and getting eaten by a bear.)

July 20: A 24-hour delay seems possible due to the massive bridge washouts – sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Throughout the journey, women – making up the majority of the population – sleep, smoke and drink without complaint. So I’ll smoke my way to sleep.

The silhouettes of the great mountains dominate the scenery. A dark black storm cloud approaches; hell is bound to break loose. The trees await in silence as the silver bus rushes on.July 22: I hiked alone up Grey Mountain, on the outskirts of Whitehorse, and wrote at the top: Humanity – a definition. Impossible. It is so assorted. There are some with no legs, some with no eyes – mentally and physically – and some with no heart. Some cloud their eyes with darkened glasses and some wear not what they need but what others say. (It goes on.)

July 24: I took a 26-hour bus ride down to Vancouver. Graffiti on Pink Mountain Inn: #1: Why did God give seagulls wings? So that they’d be able to beat the Indians to the dump. #2 Toking is like working here. The harder you suck, the higher you get.

Arrived in Vancouver where I stayed at the hostel for five days and saw Peter Gabriel and David Bowie and the newly-opened BC Place Stadium.

Canada’s Soul: Saskatoon to Edmonton

July 15, Ride One: Saskatoon to North Battlefield (Souped-up Trans Am) Nice Indian guy who used to be a dealer; into motorcycles and Van Morrison.

Ride Two: North Battlefield to Peynton (Camper Pick-up) Old Indian man with weathered skin; lived on the reserve, very friendly. Ride Three: Peynton to Lloydsminster (Air-conditioned Oldsmobile) Singer with a thin half-beard. Doesn’t like Indians because they “cut holes in the side of the house so their horse can drink from the bath tub.”

Ride Four: Lloydsminster to Vermillion (Blue Phoenix) Mild-mannered driver who has worked and lived all over the country.

Ride Five: Vermillion to Edmonton (AMC Meteor station wagon) Quite political, doesn’t like sports,sausage buyer, has a water tower for sale.