Of late I have been thinking hard about ending my approximately daily posts on this site. The response has been largely positive, and even the few angry folks who have threatened me with fire bombs and mortar have at least been polite about matters. So I have no truck with the readership. You, Tonstant Weader, have been the inspiration for most of the words that have flickered across that mysterious and often bizarre realm known as the Internet.
No, the problem, as a wise man once said--I think it was George Costanza--is me, not you.
The last ten years of my life have clawed and scratched at me like an outraged saber-tooth tiger at a mindless yapping lap dog. I own a mirror (I used to rent one, but that's another story). I can see the ravages in my face from the devastation I've witnessed in others. Just today we got word that a friend from high school died yesterday of breast cancer. Fifty-five years old. She and I were never close. The last time I saw her she and I were both eighteen. And now she's gone. That's another thousand conversations I'll never have and probably wouldn't have had anyway, but she is gone all the same and she is only the most recent tragic example.
I have no intention of getting precious about this. Everyone has suffered. I'm just one of billions. It's all in the specifics, I suppose. No, not so easy. It's actually the fear of not being relevant. Look. In these electronically warped pages, I've written about a Congressman who returned after being presumed dead for forty years, a series of vaguely uninspired rhetoric and fact about nuclear power, a couple hundred movie reviews, notes about thousands of audio recordings, a dash of humor here and there, some stupid lyrics for songs that don't exist, a few dozen short stories, half a dozen screenplays, a smattering of "dialogues" and you know what? I feel my own personal relevance slipping.
Some people have made it clear that they prefer the essay style pieces, while others have made it just as clear that the typically colossal stench of personal arrogance I bring to those writings is as welcome as a shard of glass while strolling barefoot on the ocean floor. Others favor the short stories and leave the prose for the choir to whom I often find myself preaching. I even know of a couple people who never read a word of any of it but display an evident fascination for the illustrations which I invariably swipe from unauthorized sources.
Whatever happens, the site will remain up. I've no plans of shutting it down any time soon. And please, fergodssake, don't misinterpret these remarks as some all too transparent plea for help or attention. That's nonsense. Any writer, painter, singer, juggler, mime, musician or sculptor wants attention, at least in the form of acknowledgement that what he or she has done has some intrinsic value and was not--at least not completely--a waste of molecular structure. But that attention, as I'm defining it here, has to come from the work, rather than from the absence of work. An Oldsmobile is no better automobile simply because they don't make them any longer. Neither are these words a mea culpa for some transgression on my part. Oh, I'm certain to have transgressed; I simply haven't the decency or cleverness to understand in what way it happened.
This I do know: I'm painfully tired of people dying. I watched with some horror this evening as a family that I have never especially liked--in fact, have disliked rather intensely--sat outside their home because it was too hot inside and they didn't have the money to pay the electric bill. That plight wracks my mind in ways too painful to describe here--and I personally cannot stand the folks to which this happened. Imagine how I must feel when somebody I like suffers.
And death, friends and family, is the Big Equalizer. I'm so damned weary of it happening to people I know that I am genuinely in a state of noisy--never quite--reflection on the possible waste of my own life. There was a great line in the otherwise irritating movie Papillon where Steve McQueen's voiceover says "The greatest sin is a wasted life." Ten-four, buddy. It may be time to reevaluate matters before the big man with the glowing black garb and shining scythe decides to chock one up for Reagan and snatch me away against my will. That'd be the perfect cosmic revenge, wouldn't it? To die, go to the Hereafter, and find that greasy-smiling bag of maggots and worms, glossy hair and pancake make-up, tilting his head and saying, "Well, Phil, it's about time you got here." To prevent the possibility of that happening, I need to get my inner essence in some kind of decent shape.
If this all turns out to be the hyperbolic ravings of a lunatic, I apologize in advance. If not, I tried to do my best, as the man said, but I could not.
I hope to be back at this soon. I really do.
In the meantime, remember these immortal words from, uh, hmm, maybe Sonny and Cher, I don't know. The words are: "I'm an artist and should be exempt from shit."