Monday, November 16, 2009

What To Do, what to do

I am different from everyone.

I know everybody is different from everybody else and that somehow we are all the same decomposing material and noxious waste. I know how we're all human and alike, but really unique in our own special way, and all we have to do is find our niche.

However, I am slowly coming to the idea that I have no niche, I have no specificity, I am not obsessed over anything, and this just may be my downfall. Especially if I want to be a writer.

Let me explain. I love music. Music is great. Music is something that can get inside your brain and twist it into bows or knots, fold it into an oragami swan or crumple it into a wet ball and toss it in the wastebasket. Music is the one thing that I'd have to say 90% of the world at least can handle on some kind of level. Some people love punk rock, blues, metal, emo, hip-hop, r&b (do they even call it that anymore?), soul, "classic" rock, 80's hair metal, pop, grunge, country, bluegrass, &cetera &cetera &cetera I could go on for fucking days. Some people like one kind of music and THAT'S IT. SOme people have a mixed bag. But me (and a lot of people I know) like ALL KINDS OF MUSIC. And that's where I sit. Somewhere on the gray line between all genres. I like almost everything. Our mixed bags are bigger than most (like those who just like blues, jazz, and swing and big band and...oh sorry), but that doesn't make us any better than those who like trance, house, techno and industrial. We're just different, and I get that.

But here's my problem: can I write about just music? Fuck no. I see what that does to people. Before you know it, I'll hate music. I'll hate the morons who don't listen to the music I've had on heavy rotation the last four months. I'll start looking down my nose at musicians who didn't affect me with their songs when I can't even play a fucking instrument (no hand-eye coordination, and I'm REALLY fucking lazy) .Look at Rollingstone's David Fricke. That guy fucking sucks. There are people out there (me included) who don't believe he EVEN LISTENS TO THE MUSIC HE REVIEWS. I mean, the guy rates an album like Nevermind three stars when it comes out and then retro marks it with five ten years later because he's afraid to look like he didn't know what he was talking about. Of course anyone worth his salt isn't going to Rollingstone's Music-Industry-Spoonfed-Music-"Reviews" anyway, but that 's beside the point. That can't be me. I can't be that egotistical (he said, writing an article about how different he was from everyone). I can't take a job that demands I focus and analyze music as if it was a frog on a rubber plate, it'll kill the whole reason I listen to music: to get away from analysis and get to where I feel good again.

Not only that but I don't know enough. I don't know when Nevermind was released unless I look it up. I don't know how many albums Tool has, I don't know how many bands Jack White is in (3?4?). I don't know my stuff. I can't convince you I know what I'm talking about unless I have that knowledge, and I'm certainly not going to fake it, because then I'm a fraud and have no value whatsoever.

Same thing with movies. I can't review movies, because I have little to no interest in telling people about a movie before they go see it. A preview is enough, but personally I think I'd be a much better person if I didn't even watch them before I walk into a movie. Previews ruin things, they ruin the magic before the movie--they build expectation (which can lead to disappointment) and kill the idea of honest intake. How many times have you watched a preview or read a review that a) gave away key plot points that would have been better left out or b) looked so stupid that you would never see it in a million years or c) got you chomping at the bits to go see that movie only to have you walk out of the theater twenty minutes into the film?

There's no way to solve this, really. Without promotion you can't have movies but that's why I can't review movies: I don't want to give away major plot points and I certainly don't want to take four thousand words and trash something I found no value in that you might really like. Everyone is different. Transformers 2 did really well at the box office, but the movie had no artistic or asthetic value. Yet it made billions (and I saw it in the theater, don't ask). But the key problme I have in reviewing movies is the same as music: I don't know my stuff. I like movies, but that doesn't give me the right to talk about them in anything but vague, compromised terms. I can talk about the thematic elements of The Dark Knight, but the only people who want to read that are decent film teachers and friends who don't mind listening to me ramble at length about morality plays when they really need to take a shit. I can't write a forty-thousand word review and submit that shit to the Times.

Many authors try to stick to one genre of writing: something that they're really good at or know a lot about; Stephen King is versatile, but he watched a ton of movies when he was a kid, mostly the badly made sci-fi/horror flicks made in the fifties and sixties. Dude obsessed over those, hitchhiking back and forth from a neigboring town to watch film versions of penny-dreadfuls. Crichton was a medical student obsessed with technology and the weird relationships of it's advancement and nature and how humans and technology really mean terrible things for each other. John Grisham worked in a law firm and knows his shit when it comes to law. He loves it, and he loves to show the morality between the decisions people make and the law that represents them. He's a beast. Clancy does military stories, Anne Rice does Vampires, Mark Twain did rural South in the 1800's, Fitzgerald did the rich youth of the twenties (well, the white ones anyway), and Steinbeck did the Depression-Era common man. These people all know their stuff and so their art drove them in that direction, they wrote what they knew and they knew what it was about their lives that was interesting.

My thing is, I don't know what I'm into. I know a lot of trivial information about books and movies and music. I don't have a career to use for material. Plus what I do know is boring: I know how to paint a garage and play video games and put off writing a paper. I know how to eat too much and play too hard and how to roll my ankle on a porch step and limp for a week. But is that enough to try and write and sell stories on? Is what I have that churns in me enough to live on so I don't have to worry about stupid shit anymore (something I know too much about)?

I guess I'll just have to do what I can with what I have and hope for the best. I suppose it's something I'll have to learn to do, just like everything else.

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