Monday, June 11, 2012

#569: Writing to feel alive

Ah, these Pacific Northwest winters, when the torrential rains & the gloomy, gray, cold, overcast weather sometimes continues in2 mid-June. Like this year. Mon was sunny & in the low 70s, but 9+ months of the year this is no place 4 folks who R prone 2 B depressed.
Last year R local Classic Rock radio station KZOK briefly ran this commercial:
"Wow, Summer in Seattle! What is it -- 58? 62? It's killin' me! And the HUMIDITY?! THAT'S a REAL killer...."
On Fri morn it was in the low 40s & FOGGY here. What's up with that?
Some days when it's overcast & gloomy, sometimes plugging-in & setting-up the CD player -- let alone trying 2 decide what New Stuff 2 play -- is just 2 damn much work.
So instead I read. A lot. Sometimes I re-read old stuff I've had around 4 years. Anything that might help wake me up, remind me that not EVERYTHING is gray & gloomy & overcast. Something with some LIFE 2 it.
I 1st found writing with some real LIFE in it thru music criticism -- in the writings of Lester Bangs, Charles M. Young, Robert Christgau's CONSUMER GUIDES, Dave Marsh, Vince Aletti (he shoulda written more), John Mendelssohn, Chuck Eddy, Chip Stern's great biting jazz reviews, Rafi Zabor, Vic Garbarini, Jill Blardinelli, Dave DiMartino, Bill Flanagan, Matt Resnicoff, & a few others. Humor, Attitude, rage, confusion, depression even -- these folks weren't afraid 2 let it all out -- vividly.
Looking back, some science-fiction -- the 1st stuff I ever read religiously -- had lotsa vivid life 2 it. The poetry & mood of early George R.R. Martin (B4 he got famous writing huge fantasy novels), the late poet Roger Zelazny, early Samuel R. Delany (before 1970), Harlan Ellison's howls of pain & indignation, Frederik Pohl's GATEWAY & others, Kim Stanley Robinson's hilarious ESCAPE FROM KATHMANDU, Ray Bradbury's MARTIAN CHRONICLES, Robert Silverberg's DYING INSIDE, THE BOOK OF SKULLS, & others. Lew Shiner's GLIMPSES. Gael Baudino's GOSSAMER AXE.
In horror, Kathe Koja's SKIN & mosta her other novels rang the bell 4 me. Jack Ketchum. James Ellroy. Peter Straub's KOKO and THE THROAT. Stephen King's IT and THE STAND.
And some carefully-observed general-non-fiction can do the job 2 -- pointing out what's going on in all of its silliness or pain or confusion -- mosta John McPhee's work, Tim Cahill, Hunter S. Thompson's THE GREAT SHARK HUNT and FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL '72.
& more: Richard Di Lello's hilarious THE LONGEST COCKTAIL PARTY. Rob Sheffield's LOVE IS A MIX TAPE. Ian MacDonald's REVOLUTION IN THE HEAD. Jon Savage's ENGLAND'S DREAMING.
I wish I could find more books like these -- stuff that sez in a clear, loud voice: This is what life is all about, what it's like -- it's not all cloudy and overcast and rainy and cold. This is what life was like B4 you forgot about it or got too old 2 remember how 2 feel. This is what life is like 4 people who R Still Awake. So Wake Up.
At nite I read music blogs. Some nites I update this 1. Some days I even play music. What I do here -- & the books I read & the music I listen 2 so that I want 2 write about them here -- is what keeps me going. My job just pays the bills.

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