R.I.P. Tom Wolfe (1931-2018)

Thom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe died today of pneumonia at age 88.


Kesey, then Hunter, and now Tom Wolfe.  He was the only one of the three I didn’t get to meet.  I’d go reread The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but I’d memorized that book by the time I was 23.

I learned a lot about writing and style from Mr. Wolfe, but his most valuable lesson, I think, was from his dedication to the art.  Every single day, without fail, he would put on his suit, sit in front of the typewriter, and bang out 10 pages, regardless of how long it took.  If he could rip through it in 2 hours, great.  If he was still there when night fell, so be it.  That is how it’s done.
Rest in peace, Mr. Wolfe.

Postscript:    Goddammit.  I have a lot of opinions about the state of “journalism,” about writing, about publishing, about contemporary readers, and about society in general that contribute my disinterest in publishing anything “significant” these days.  I’m not sure exactly where this fits into all that, but it’s generating the same feeling of disgust and hopelessness that I feel right before I throw my hands up and walk away from the keyboard and think something along the lines of, “Well, if they aren’t going to bother trying, why should I?”  Barnes & Noble posted this:


The problem is that Ken Kesey said that, not Tom Wolfe.  Yes, the quote is from a book written by Tom Wolfe, but he is quoting Ken Kesey.   You’d think the cretins at Barnes & Noble might have someone on staff who had read Wolfe’s work and could pull his actual words to use as a eulogy, but then I remember the times we live in and realize that that would be expecting far too much.  But Jesus…hundreds of thousands of original words to choose from and you pull a quote of someone else?

Big ol’ finger to Barnes & Noble.

For what it’s worth, here’s the actual quote from Kesey (as quoted by Wolfe).  It’s long been one of my favorites:

“None of us are going to deny what other people are doing. If saying bullshit is somebody’s thing, then he says bullshit. If somebody is an ass-kicker, then that’s what he’s going to do on this trip, kick asses. He’s going to do it right out front and nobody is going to have anything to get pissed off about. He can just say, ‘I’m sorry I kicked you in the ass, but I’m not sorry I’m an ass-kicker. That’s what I do, I kick people in the ass.’ Everybody is going to be what they are, and whatever they are, there’s not going to be anything to apologize about. What we are, we’re going to wail with on this whole trip.”

Anyway, it’s time for desk whiskey.  Meet you back here soon.

N.P.: “The Garden of Allah” – Don Henley



Most Literate and Tasteful Reader,

Don’t think I haven’t been thinking about you…I have.  And apologies for the lapses in missives on this end.  Suffice it to say I have been extraordinarily busy.  Regrettably, I can’t tell you with what, but yeah.  I should be writing more regularly here very soon.  In the meantime, I just wanted to say hi.
I’ll meet you back here soon.

N.P.: “A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free) – Megadeth

Yeah, I see you

That man of loneliness and mystery,
Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh.
He knew himself a villain—but he deem’d
The rest no better than the thing he seem’d;
And scorn’d the best as hypocrites who hid
Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did.
He knew himself detested, but he knew
The hearts that loath’d him, crouch’d and dreaded too.
Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt
From all affection and from all contempt.
~ Lord Byron, “The Corsair”


Dracula had it right: sleep all day, live alone in a castle, and explode into a thousand bats to get out of social situations.

N.P.: “Young Blood” – The Naked and Famous

Review – The Official Annotated Prince Discography

The Official Annotated Prince Discography

Reviewed by Jayson Gallaway on 29 April 2018 .

4 out of 5

Prince and mgmt

The Official Annotated Prince Discography put together by the good folks at the Prince Estate (princeestate.com) is fucking amazing.  Spending a minute on the site wondering why Prince hadn’t been able to do this himself whilst still with us.  He had tried with his NPG Music Club and other online ventures, most of which ended up being one-off websites that may have promised access to a library of music and video, but were ultimately just publicity tools for the latest album which would be stop being updated shortly after the albums release, and usually totally shut down within a year.
It was so frustrating to listen to Prince rail against the record industry and music business year after year and how badly he wanted and needed total control over his music, not only it’s production but it’s distribution and use.  One just wanted to grab him by his ruffled collar and yell, “Dude! You were lucky enough to be born right about the time the internet happened, which enables you to do exactly what you want to do!  Total vertical integration.  You write, record, produce, license, and distribute your music entirely in house, and keep virtually all the money.  Retain all the rights.  Pull things offline if you feel like…throw something new you just finished on there and see how people react.  Total control.  It could have been perfect.  But he never seemed to be able to get his digital shit together.
But now, his estate has quietly pulled it off.  The website is beautiful: clean, easy to navigate, but very Princely.  Even the cursor (a familiar drawing of Prince’s eye (which shifts from right to left depending on what side of the screen your cursor is on)) is brilliant.   Here you will find all of Prince’s Studio Albums, Legacy Releases, Live Albums, Compilations, as well as albums that he produced, listed and annotated with reviews, quotes, pictures, and videos.  It’s actually a rather dangerous time-killer for some of us, but that’s likely because suddenly, instead of employing a cadre of attorneys to constantly patrol YouTube and issues take-down orders like parking tickets, the estate is organizing and encouraging participation, which is rather a sudden shift.
The only “fault” I can find with the website is that it is somewhat less complete than what I’d hoped the actual estate could put together, and I’m not entirely sure why.  When Prince started experimenting with alternate distribution methods and unorthodox arrangements with traditional record labels, his albums got difficult to find, and my personal collection reflects that: I’ve got everything right up to “Crystal Ball” and things get spotty.  Some stuff was never released on CD at all, some CDs were only distributed with the purchase of a concert ticket.  Some albums were distributed in weekly newspapers in the U.K., and never even released in the States.  Most of the albums on the site have track listings, and if you click on any song, a 30-second snippet plays.  So you can click on the first one, let it play the entire album in 30-second snippets while you’re reading the material below…it works out well.  But it turns out the estate’s collection has the same limitations I do: no track listings for certain rarer albums.  I can only assume that this is due to licensing issues, and I’m hopeful that these issues will be resolved.  The same issue is true for all of the albums listed in the Major Albums Produced by Prince.  Some of them I understand: the actual artist was on a different label, and now they’re dealing with licensing issues.  But the early stuff by The Time, Sheila E, Vanity, Apollonia, etc, was all Prince, on the exact same Warner Bros. contract.  But this is clearly a work-in-progress, and the estate makes it very clear that this is just a beginning.

  1. fill er up
I am blaming the current sorry state of the writing on a very poor and ill-advised decision to “experiment” with the desk whiskey.  The usual menu goes something like this: in times of destitution, it’s a bottle of Evan Williams Bourbon, cheap and dirty.  I got into this shit in Seattle when the only way to get hard liquor was from state-run liquor stores that had very temperamental hours and didn’t even pretend to bother on Sundays.  Coming the first commercial distillery in the US, this shit is what the cowboys drink.  It’s American as fuck.  The folks at Evan Williams describe their product as “smooth,” and that’s fine…that’s their job, but this is not smooth: it’s about as harsh as your ex when she finds out you gave her the herp from a ho.
Unfortunately, there has been much destitution in the last decade or so.  Ha.  Writing.  I should have known when I was getting hammered with my editor in Manhattan and he said, ” So…when are you going to make an album and make some real money?”
Anyway, when things are north of destitute, the next step up is Jack Daniels.  Fucking right.  Uncle Jack.  Also American as fuck.  I don’t really have to say anything here: it’s Jack.  Bonus, pro-tip, however: Jack Fire is significantly more smooth than Fireball.
When things are going well, when you are flush, or when you want to write The Greatest Thing Ever, the desk whiskey simply must be Chivas Regal.  Scotch.  From Scotland.  This stuff could be from the moon, it would still be amazing.  (By the way, the moon has really been pissing me off lately.  I’ll get into that another time.)  It’s a blended scotch, which also happens to be the case with this swill I “experimented” with.  But I don’t think this crap was blended using 12-year-old scotch: this stuff was aged for about 10 minutes.

To properly reset the Desk Whiskey scales, the next bottle will be Chivas.  For the sake of the writing.   If I decide to do any more “experimenting” in the future, it would likely involve Four Roses Single Barrel.  If that happens, you’ll be the first to know.

N.P.: “Would That Not Be Nice” – Divine Fits