Some More Summer Musings

I work assiduously on my new book about the homeless. It was incredibly liberating to cut 190,000 words from it.

I am reading Sometimes a Great Notion again. This is the fourth time. Something new and masterful always emerges from a rereading. I plan on teaching a writing workshop related to the novel in the fall. I sense this might be the last one I ever teach. I’ve just moved so far beyond my teaching persona that the act of teaching, even for only a few hours, seems increasingly irrelevant. I love interacting with the participants in the workshops, but the actual teaching doesn’t really interest me all that much anymore. I have always wanted to teach a workshop about Sometimes a Great Notion, so this is why I’ll probably end on this note.

I recently watched the new Viking movie called Northman. It might be one of the worst movies I have ever seen. A total mess. To think of the amount of money allocated to finance such a terrible project is mind boggling. Was there no one smart or brave enough around to tell the director the truth during the production?

I picked up a George Jones greatest hits CD for a buck and listened to it driving around Portland. I’d never really listened to him, and man oh man, the lyrics are heartbreaking. “The Grand Tour” might be the saddest song I’ve heard heard. But for some reason, listening to country songs like this one feels strangely cathartic.

I’m also reading a history of Jimmy Carter’s presidency and the gradual rise of Ronald Reagan as a viable candidate. If Carter had merely serve alcohol at White House social functions and drank some bourbon with Democratic House Leader Tip O’Neil, the course of American history would have been changed forever (better) and we wouldn’t be where we are today. I’m not kidding. The Democrats had massive majorities in Congress Over 200 in the House! Insane! And they never passed a significant bill in Carter’s only term!

No national health care plan. No national child care plan. No codifying abortion into federal law. Hardly any movement on the federal minimum wage. Nothing.

As I read this book, it is clear that the radical Right outworked the mainstream Democratic Party and the Leftists by an exponential factor. They never gave up and never got sidetracked.

I continue to see homeless men and women exhibiting new types of deranged behavior on paths, sidewalks, streets, roads and highways. The most recent sight was an older man wearing a tiara and a Marie Antoinette-costume-ball-kind of mask while pulling a piece of luggage.

I watched Raging Bull the other night for the first time in 30 or so years. I first saw it in high school my junior year and it was the last time I was ever carded for an R-rated film. I think I reviewed it for my school newspaper.

What a film and dissection of unique American brutality.

The city is wearing me out.